1886

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” !

Bush, Helen

Smith Ellen                                          Gomeldon

Lamport, Maud                                     Chippenham

Hinton, John                                        Sutton Veny

Townsend, Frederick                       Trowbridge

Elkins, Amelia                                Trowbridge

Smith, Ann                                     Upper Studley

Vickers, James                                Holt

Page, Harry                                          Wilton

Gough, Emma                                      Chippenham

Mursell, Christopher                             Bemerton

Pearce, Elizabeth                                 Warminster

Cross, Reuben                                      Andover

Phillips, George                                   Ringwood

Witt, George

Baker, William                                      East Tytherley

Strong, Thomas                                    Romsey

Hodder, Henry                                     Romsey

Minchington, Charles                            Romsey

Newall, Elizabeth

Shergold, Ernest                                   Woodfalls

Morris, Caroline                                    Westbury

Macey, Alice

Sladen, James                                       Poole

Draper, William                                     Chippenham

Rogers, Richard                                    Bishopstoke

Webb, Charles

Hunt, John                                            Compton Chamberlayne

Dowling, Mary                                       West Tytherley

Snelgrove, Mary                                    Heytesbury

Todd, John                                            Westbury Leigh

Wright, Cecilia ; Phillips, Frank ; Hobley, Sarah       Devizes

Gill, William                                          Bishopstoke

Blore, Herbert                                        Tisbury

King, John                                             Bishopstrow

Sapp, Arkas                                           Bishopstoke

Culverhouse, James                                Trowbridge

Emm, William                                         Coombe Bissett

Smith, James                                          Shrewton

Holland, Mary

Poole, George

Ashford, Louisa

Smart, John                                             Devizes

Doling, Charles                                       Romsey

Patient, Thomas

Whittington, George

Bailey, Mathew                                        Martin

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