There were 49 cases in 1886, though several are reduced to a mere sentence or two.
Harry Page fell off a roof, and the evidence clearly showed how dangerous general building used to be – the safe way up the roof was by several iron bolts in the walls – apparently – but deceased climbed by a ladder, falling seven feet on to a lower roof, and falling again to the ground. It was also a frosty day.
The most contentious case of the year – by some degree – is the death by poison of Elizabeth Pearce. I read the twice-adjourned inquest, and the court cases, and first I thought of suicide of the deceased, then of murder by the husband. The jury must have felt as I did, they did not know either way in the end. Chemical analysis, DNA and fingerprinting did not exist then, of course.
Alice Macey was 24, and, we later read, was seven months pregnant, when she moved from working at the Shoulder of Mutton to the White Hart hotel, where she was probably in a stressed state already, and died soon afterwards. But she appears to be single, and one wonders if she is another silent victim of the Victorian stigma against illegitimacy.
Widow Mary Snelgrove lived in the lodge of Heytesbury Park. That sounds reasonably comfortable, until we read that she spent her afternoons gleaning grains in the harvest fields.
Ann Adams was looking after her sister’s child, Herbert Blore, aged 21 months, and let it out to play with its six-year old sibling, right next to the Chicksgrove level crossing. Some of these cases beggar belief….
George Whittington was ill from school, and whilst recuperating (we assume) he kept company with his teenage brothers in Mr Bowles’ corn store, playing about in close proximity to the machine and the shafting thereof. Fortunately, Major Beadon, Inspector of Factories, happened to be in town to advise Mr Bowles how to avoid a future recurrence.
Mathew Bailey (rather like Mary Ando and several others in this collection) fancied a large lump of fat beef, some two inches by four in size, and paid the ultimate price for it. One can almost sense butcher Charles Feltham, whom the deceased had just refused to buy from, thinking, “Serves you right” !
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