Pearce, William

Pearce, William      1887 April 9th        Winterslow

An inquest was held in this parish on Monday last by – -Wilson, Esq., on the body of William Pearce, labourer, aged 62, at Winterslow, who lived with his wife and a grown-up son and daughter in a wretched dwelling almost entirely void of furniture and quite void of bedding. Considerable interest was manifested throughout the village, it being generally believed that the poor old man was starved, as on several occasions he has begged a crust from others and not only appeared to be but said that he was starving.

He has had regular work at hurdle-making but being a slow hand and weak likewise he only earned about 4s weekly, whereas a good hand could earn 3s 6d a day. His son is in constant work and receives 10s weekly, paying as stated 6s or 7s a week towards the support of his family. The evidence of the mother and son was to the effect that the deceased was regularly supplied with sufficient food but the last few days he could not take any owing to a sore mouth and a difficulty in swallowing.

The evidence of Dr Gordon, who saw him on Monday (5 days previous to his death) at his dispensary in Winterslow and gave him some weak brandy and water and other refreshments, was that the deceased could swallow food, but that he was in a most exhausted condition so that he could not converse intelligently with anyone. Dr Gordon gave orders to the police constable to furnish him daily with proper food, but it appears he was too far gone. He lived till 8 o’clock on Friday evening, partaking of but little food during the week.

On viewing the body, which was in a most emaciated condition, there was no appearance of ulcerated mouth and the tongue was likewise clean and healthy, a contradiction to the statements made by both mother and son. The verdict of the jury was in accordance with the testimony of Dr Gordon, which the appearance of deceased fully tended to confirm, that the deceased died for want of sufficient nourishment.

The Coroner severely reprimanded both mother and son for their neglect towards the deceased, which, though not proved at the inquest, is believed to have been systematically carried on for years, the wife and daughter being inveterate smokers and laudanum drinkers, for which purpose a considerable portion of the weekly income had been spent.

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