Symes, Sarah 1882 February 4th Gillingham
A inquest was held at the Phoenix Hotel, before Mr W J Bell, coroner, on Friday, on the body of a widow named Sarah R Symes, who was found dead on the preceding day.
Edward C Edwards deposed that deceased occupied a cottage of which he had the letting, and which adjoined his own residence. He had been in the habit of seeing her daily, except when she took to drinking, at which times she would keep indoors for a fortnight together, without showing herself to anyone. She had been in one of these fits for nearly a fortnight past. The door of her house was locked, and the key taken out. She answered a knock at the door from him on Wednesday, but on Thursday morning he could get no answer. Later in the day, being again unable to get a response, he obtained a ladder and got up to the window and knocked, but could get no answer. The blind was drawn, and beyond a heap of disordered bedclothes he could see nothing. He knocked again between four and five o’clock, and not getting an answer, he sent for PC Sprackling, and with his assistance burst open the outside door and went upstairs. They found deceased lying under the bedclothes on the floor (she had no bedstead) partly dressed and quite dead, with an empty jar by her side. Her drinking habits had become worse of late, and she had frequently told witness when he knocked at the door to mind his own business, and that she should get up when she liked.
PC Sprackling, of Gillingham, stated his attention had been called to the house on the preceding Saturday, by the witness Edwards, and on that day he got up to the window and rattled it. Although the deceased returned no answer, witness saw her move under the bedclothes. The witness Edwards then went up the ladder and received an answer to his calls. On Thursday, deceased was again called by Edwards, who this time could get no answer. Witness then corroborated Edwards’ evidence.
Theophilus Woods deposed that he had that day made a post mortem examination of the body. One of the valves of the heart was thickened, and the liver was much enlarged and diseased as from chronic alcoholism. There was no food of any kind in the stomach. From what he had found as the result of his examination, and from what he had heard of the habits of the deceased woman from the other witnesses, he was of opinion that she died from a diseased liver, and that death was accelerated by lack of proper care and nourishment.
The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.
FreeBMD gives deceased’s age as 60 – ED.