Russell, Eliza

Russell, Eliza         1883 January 27th            Stockbridge

The county coroner held an inquest at the Knowle County Lunatic Asylum on Saturday, on the body of Eliza Russell, single, described as a needlewoman, living at Stockbridge.

Dr J Smith, assistant medical officer, said deceased was admitted on the 4th inst., upon an order of the relieving officer of the parish to which she belonged and the clergyman of the union. She was demented, and in a feeble state of health. On examining her he found a large bruise under her right collar bone, which was broken, and other bruises on various parts of her body. He handed to the relieving officer an order, with a memorandum setting forth in detail her injuries. She died on the 15th. Three days later he made a post mortem examination of the body and found that the fracture of the collar bone was not of recent date. From the internal appearances of the body he concluded that death was caused by apoplexy. The collar bone was broken from three to five months ago.

Thomas Hill, bootmaker, deposed that deceased for about two years lived opposite to him when alive, with a Mrs Holloway, her niece, and was in receipt of 2s 6d a week parish relief. She became very peculiar in her manner about three weeks or a month before she went to the workhouse. She often fell about and for this reason came to live with Mrs Holloway. On December 29th, it would seem, Mrs Holloway put deceased to bed and went to the Town Hall to a tea, but deceased got up about 6.30, and was heard moaning by a servant in the employ of a congregational minister, who, being afraid to go into the house, called witness. He found her at the bottom of the stairs, down which she had fallen, and picked her up, and sent for her niece, who took her upstairs. Witness should say that deceased was more in a dying state than out of her mind. He never knew that she had a broken collar bone. Mrs Holloway always treated her kindly, but, as she had to get her living, they thought it best she should go to the union.

Mildred Pottle, nurse at Stockbridge Union, stated that deceased was brought to the house on Saturday, 30th December, and was received by witness. She was rambling in her mind and did not know what she was about. Witness undressed her and placed her in a warm bath, although she struggled against it, and the doctor afterwards examined her. Deceased was very dirty and her head was full of vermin. She received no bruises in her struggles, nor any while she was in the workhouse. She was removed to the Asylum on the 3rd of January, having been in witness’s care during her stay. Witness did not consider her fit to be removed from her residence to the union, although she was afterwards fit to be removed to the asylum.

Harriett Holloway, widow, of Stockbridge, stated that deceased was her aunt, and came to live with her two years ago, ever since when she had been failing in health, and had had several falls, sometimes very heavy ones. Deceased was fast asleep when witness left her to go to tea at the Town Hall on 29th of December last, and on her return she found her downstairs, but witness did not know that deceased’s collar bone was broken, although she knew she had bruises. These, she supposed, were the result of her falls.

The Coroner left it to the jury as to whether he should adjourn the inquiry for further evidence. For his part he saw no reason for adjournment, as from the evidence of the medical gentleman the cause of death was clearly from natural causes, and not resulting from the broken collar bone or bruises.

The jury decided that sufficient evidence had been submitted to enable them to arrive at a conclusion, and returned a verdict of death from natural causes, adding a rider to the effect that deceased, when taken to the asylum, was not in a fit state to be removed from the workhouse.

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