Gale, Emma

Gale, Emma             1880 January 10th

An inquest was held at the Council Chamber on Monday afternoon, by Mr Smith (city coroner) and a jury of whom Mr Feltham was foreman, on the body of Emma Gale, wife of Thomas Abrahams Gale, labourer, of Endless-street, who died during Saturday night. The immediate cause of death was explained by Mr Lee, but death was undoubtedly accelerated by neglect.

The first witness called was Mr Frederick Fawson Lee, who said that on Sunday morning he was sent for to see the deceased, and on arriving at the house he found her lying on her right side in the bed with every appearance that she had died during her sleep. He had attended her on three previous occasions for threatened inflammation of the bowels; and he presumed there was another attack during the night, and she died from failure of the heart’s action.

The foreman : Do you think, Mr Lee, she was properly nourished? For a long time she had a poor look; but I should say she had been very improperly fed.

A juror : And want of healthy food was likely to accelerate the complaint? Want of necessaries was.

Hannah Essex, of 17, Endless-street, was next examined. She said : I am the wife of Samuel Essex, and daughter of deceased. On Saturday evening I called at my father’s house, and found my mother in great pain. I asked if I should send for medical assistance and she wished me not to. She complained very much of pain in her left side. At about half past eleven I quitted the house, leaving my father, who was far from sober, my brother, aged 12, and my two sisters, aged eight and three, with my mother. On Sunday morning I was sent for, my mother having died during the night. I, on arriving, immediately procured a doctor. I have not of late resided with my parents, but have been in the habit of daily visiting them. My father’s age is 63 and my mother’s 48. My mother was not treated properly, and I believe she died from worry and neglect.

The foreman : Did your father allow her sufficient food? No; my father is of very intemperate habits, and he used only to bring home about half his money.

Your father, I believe, did not sleep with your mother that night? No, and he hadn’t slept with her for three years.

In answer to further questions, witness said her father had not been out of work for the last twelve months, and for the last few weeks past he had been in constant employment, and as handy labourer earned something like £1 a week. Of that sum her mother received about 13s, out of which she had to pay 3s 3d for rent. With the remainder and 1s 9d a week the boy received for wages, she had to feed and clothe five persons including herself. Her father spent the rest in drink, and her mother was often kept very short through his conduct. In fact, out of his wages she had to pay in addition to maintaining the family, a certain sum weekly for debts he had incurred.

Frank William Piggott Gale said : The deceased was my mother, I work for Mr Laversuch in Winchester-street and receive 1s 3d a week. My mother has of late been in a bad state of health, and complained of pains all over her body. My father was at home when my mother complained of an attack on Saturday afternoon, but he was not sober. My sister came to see my mother in the evening, and induced her to go to bed. I don’t sleep in the room as my mother, and few minutes before eight on Sunday morning I went into her room to get a candle. Seeing she looked different to what she usually did, I spoke to her, and gaining no reply I shook her. Then I found she was dead, and I directly went and told my father. He, however, told me to go and shake her again. I did so, and found that my first conclusions were correct. I again told my father and he then went to see for himself. Shortly after I went to work.

The jury then expressed very strong remarks against the husband, and he was called in for the purpose of being censured for his conduct and examination. He, however, appeared in such a state of maudlin intoxication, that, after a few interrogatories were put and incomprehensible answers received, on the suggestion of Mr Fulford it was decided that no more questions should be put, and he was ejected from the building. Outside his conduct became so disorderly that Mr Superintendent Mathews was obliged to procure assistance to take him to the station, where his behaviour became still further reprehensible.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that though death resulted from natural causes, it was accelerated by the neglect of the husband.

On the following morning the husband – Thomas Abrahams Gale – was brought up before the Mayor and Mr Stokes, charged with “drunk and disorderly behaviour.” After the statement of Mr Mathews and the Coroner, the Mayor said : “Gale, your conduct seems to have been very brutal and shocking; in fact, so much so that the great question whether, had there been more evidence, or not, you would have been charged with the manslaughter of your wife through your neglect, might have been discussed. Under the circumstances, that you should get drunk as you did, seems doubly reprehensible. The sentence is that you be imprisoned for 21 days with hard labour.

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