Macey, Alice

Macey, Alice             1886 June 3rd

On Monday afternoon an inquest was held at the “White Hart” hotel, before Mr G Smith, the city coroner, touching the death of Alice Macey, which occurred suddenly on Sunday morning at the establishment just mentioned.

The Coroner said that he was told that the deceased only came to the establishment on Saturday last. She was previously at the “Shoulder of Mutton.” From circumstances which came to his knowledge he thought it advisable to have a post mortem examination. There were bottles found in the box of the deceased by the Superintendent of Police. He did not know what they contained and therefore he considered it necessary to have a post mortem examination, and see that she had not been tampered with in any way with poison or anything of that sort, or that she had not tampered with herself. He was very pleased to inform them that the post mortem had cleared up any suspicion that there might have been. The doctors found the body perfectly healthy and everything perfectly natural, therefore it was so far satisfactory.

Ellen Norman was the first witness called. She said that she was a servant at the establishment, and the deceased was also a servant there. She came on Saturday afternoon. She was a pantrymaid. Her breath seemed very short, but she did not complain at all. Witness saw her on Saturday at a quarter past ten. On Sunday morning she saw her at half-past eight in the servant’s hall. She did not see her again till she saw her lying on the floor, in the w.c., with her head against the window, and her legs against the door. She was then black in the face. Witness could not say whether she was dead or alive. Witness ran for Miss Burch, the house-keeper, who came immediately, and Dr Lee was sent for.

By the foreman of the jury (Mr J Naish) : Witness did not know her before she came to the hotel.

By another juryman : It must have been a few minutes to ten when she found the deceased lying on the floor.

Sarah White, also a servant at the establishment, said that she saw the deceased about ten o’clock on Saturday night. Witness showed her to her bedroom. Deceased told witness that she suffered from heart disease. She volunteered that statement when they were in the bedroom. Deceased appeared to be short-breathed. Witness saw her at about quarter past seven on Sunday morning. She came downstairs at that time and appeared to be all right. Witness also saw her at breakfast time. They had breakfast together. Subsequently witness had her attention attracted by groaning in the w.c. The door of the w.c. was bolted. The last witness, who was with her (witness) at the time, went downstairs and got a pair of steps, and witness mounted them and looked through the fanlight over the door, when she saw the deceased on the floor. She thought that she was in a fainting state. The last witness then went for a waiter, who came and forced the door. The last witness went for Miss Burch. Witness heard no groaning after she went up the steps.

By the foreman : They had bread and butter and tea for breakfast. The kitchen maid slept in the same room as the deceased.

Mr Mathews (chief constable) said that the age of the deceased was 24. When he had been informed of her sudden death he searched her boxes. He found amongst other things three bottles (produced). He showed those bottles to Dr Lee.

Sarah Edwards, kitchen maid, said that she did not sleep with the deceased on Saturday, but slept in the same bedroom. The deceased was in bed when witness went up. It was then about 11 o’clock. Witness did not get into bed until about half past twelve, as she sat reading in her bedroom. Whilst witness was reading the deceased was very restless. She did not appear to be asleep. She did not speak at all. She spoke to witness downstairs, but did not complain of being unwell. Witness thought that perhaps the restlessness of the deceased was due to her being in a strange place. During the night the deceased woke witness up by her restlessness. In the morning deceased did not allude to her health at all.

Dr Lee said that he was sent for about ten o’clock on Sunday morning and arrived about five minutes afterwards. The deceased was quite dead then. He found her in the position described by the last witness except her head and shoulders had been raised by one of the establishment. There was no indication of struggling and no odour or anything showing what death was due to. Witness, in conjunction with Mr Wilkes, acted on the Coroner’s authority to hold a post mortem examination. They carefully examined every organ of the body. The deceased was pregnant with a female child of over seven months’ duration apparently. The stomach contained about a breakfastcupful of soft semi-digested food. They found no cause to account sufficiently for death. Both sides of the heart contained dark clots of blood, and the heart was under average strength. No valvular disease was detected. The kidneys were dark and congested. The brain was healthy. The membrane covering it was a little thickened. All the other organs appeared natural. He was of opinion that labour was threatening, and that, as was sometimes the case, she might have been seized with an epileptic fit. He believed that the heart stopped.

The Coroner : Did you find the slightest indication of her having taken anything which might have been contained in those bottles? There was no smell of anything in the contents of the stomach.

It was too late in pregnancy, was it not, to procure abortion? It might be brought on at any time. There was nothing to indicate that.

In reply to a juryman, Dr Lee said no doubt worry and excitement would tend to bring about the attack he had described.

Mr W D Wilkes, medical practitioner, said that he agreed with Dr Lee in every detail that he had stated. There was no indication of any foul play of any sort. He attributed death to natural causes.

No other witnesses were called.

The Coroner, addressing the jury, observed that he thought they could come to but one conclusion, namely, that the deceased came to her death through natural causes. There was no evidence of any foul play, which he was delighted to be able to state.

The jury immediately returned a verdict of “Death from natural causes.”

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