Pain, Bertie 1885 March 28th
On Tuesday an inquest was held by the City Coroner (Mr G Smith) and a jury (of whom Mr A Wyatt was foreman) at the Council Chamber, on the body of Bertie Pain, a child three years old, who had resided with its parents in Bedwin-street.
The Coroner, in opening the inquiry, briefly detailed the circumstances under which the child had met with its death. It appeared that the mother of the child on Sunday afternoon left it in the care of two children, one of whom was aged nine, while she went to church. During her absence the child by some means got the kettle of boiling water off the hob on which it was standing, put the spout into its mouth, and drank a quantity of the liquid. That, he was told, was the cause of death. The father, he was informed, was at home at the time, but was upstairs asleep. Whether it was imprudent for the mother to have left the kettle of boiling water on the hob was a matter for the jury to consider. If they were of opinion that it was, it would perhaps be well to administer a slight caution to her not to repeat it. At all events, the father was at home; and no doubt she thought he would take proper care of the children while she was away.
Dr J H Gordon, who was the first witness, said he was called to see the deceased at about five o’clock on Sunday afternoon. It was then alive; and remained alive until the next morning. The deceased was very much scalded about the throat, parts of the lining membrane being detached. At that time the child could swallow. He prescribed for the child accordingly. At about eleven o’clock he again saw the child, and then found that its condition was much worse. It had great difficulty in breathing, the throat being very much swollen. He went again to see the child the next morning at about eleven o’clock, and found that it had died half-an-hour earlier. There were no external scalds. His opinion was that the child died from suffocation resulting from the obstruction of the air passages caused by the scalding.
Elizabeth Louisa Pain, the wife of George Pain, bricklayer, residing at 90, Bedwin-street, the mother of the child, gave evidence which bore out the Coroner’s remarks. She said when she went to church she left her husband and two children besides the deceased at home. One of the children was younger than the deceased, the other being between nine and ten. She returned from church at a quarter or twenty minutes past four. As she entered the house, she heard the deceased make a peculiar noise. She at once inquired as to the cause; and the eldest of the children told her that Bertie had drank out of the kettle. The peculiar noise was made by the deceased in breathing. At once she sent for Dr Gordon, who was in attendance within a few minutes. Her husband while she was absent was upstairs; and he heard nothing of the occurrence, the eldest child not calling him. The kettle of water when she left home was not boiling; she had placed the kettle on the fire, and during her absence it boiled, and her eldest child then put it on the hob. It was while it was on the hob that the deceased drank the water.
A Juror : You have left the child like this before?
Witness : I leave it every day to go to my work, sometimes for the whole day.
A Juror : And I suppose it’s a low hob?
Witness : Yes.
The Coroner : And I suppose you had no guard up?
Witness : No.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,” and expressed the opinion that there was no blame attaching to the mother.