Wooton, Bertram

Wooton, Bertram            1883 May 19th          Bemerton

A sad death occurred at Bemerton on Monday evening. A boy ten years old – the son of William Wooton, groom, residing at 5, Sidney Cottages – had bought a half-penny worth of what are termed marble balls. Giving one to his little sister – a child of three, she in turn, while the mother’s back was turned, gave it to the infant of the tender age of nine weeks named Bertram as it was lying in the cradle. The mother’s attention was attracted by an exclamation from the little girl. Every effort was made to dislodge the sweet which had evidently stuck in the larynx – the child was turned upside down both by the mother and by a neighbour, its back was patted, it was put in a warm bath; but all were unavailing. In the meantime medical aid was sent for, but when Dr Straton’s assistant had arrived from Wilton the little one had been dead some short time. An inquest was deemed necessary, but there was some delay holding it owing to there being – by the death of Mr R M Wilson – no coroner for that division.

The inquest was held in the house of the parent on Thursday morning before Mr F Sylvester, coroner for the northern district of Wilts, and a jury of whom Mr George Smith was foreman.

The first witness called was Ann Elizabeth Wooton, the mother of the child, who stated that her little boy of ten having a half-penny given him on Monday evening went and bought some ball sweets. He gave his sister – a little girl of three – a sweet, and she apparently gave it to the baby, for a moment after she heard her say “Mamma baby’s got my sweet.” On looking around she saw that the baby was apparently choking, and she immediately went and called Mrs Bundy who afterwards put it into a warm bath. The child died before medical help could be obtained.

Elizabeth Bundy, wife of George Bundy, brickmaker, stated that on answering Mrs Wooton’s call she found the child already turning black. Blood was flowing from its nose and mouth. It also vomited. She unstripped it and put it in a warm bath. The mother had previous to this turned the child upside down but without avail. In about a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes the child died- before the doctor had arrived. Nothing during the whole time came from the child.

Sarah Barrett, wife of Henry Barrett, mason, another neighbour, who was also called in, stated that she found the child in a dying state but it did not appear to be convulsed. She turned the child upside down and loosened the clothes but without effect. The child did not appear to struggle.

Edward Wooton, an intelligent boy of ten, said that on Monday he bought a half-penny worth of marble balls, receiving four, and gave one to his little sister. He did not however see her give any to the little baby.

This was the only evidence adduced. Mr Sylvester said he had expected the medical man, but he had not arrived, and his evidence would not have been of material value. The ball had apparently got into the windpipe and stuck in the larynx instead of going down the throat, and thus prevented atmospheric air getting to the lungs. The blackness of the face might have been thought to have been caused by convulsion had there not been the distinct evidence of the sweet being given to the child. The child, young as it was, must have made a great effort – this was evident from the blood exuded from the mouth and nose. Children would have sweets; and he did not think they would say the parents were in any way to blame.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,” and entirely exonerated the mother.


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