Sturgess, Sarah

Sturgess, Sarah      1888 April 28th

An inquest was held at the Black Horse, Castle Street, on Wednesday afternoon, by Mr G Smith, the city coroner, touching the death of Sarah Sturgess. Mr S J Wooff was foreman of the jury.

The Coroner said that the deceased was a young woman he believed about 17 or 18 years of age. She was supposed to be in her usual health on Tuesday morning, but suddenly died during the day. Dr Gordon would give evidence before them. He attended her about 12 months since, but declined to certify the cause of death on the present occasion. He did not see her until after she was dead, therefore he (the Coroner) considered it necessary to hold the inquest and he should have some questions to ask one of the witnesses which should probably show still more the necessity of an inquiry.

Rachel Singleton was the first witness. She said that she lived at 110, Castle Street. Her husband was a laborer. Her first husband’s name was Sturgess and the deceased was witness’s daughter. Deceased was 19 her last birthday and lived at home with witness. She had not done anything since last harvest, when she was taken ill. She had not been ill ever since. About three weeks ago she was unwell but did not have a doctor. She complained of her stomach and a cough. On Monday morning she was down in the town. On coming home in the evening she complained of being ill, again speaking of her stomach. She did not say that a man had given her something which made her sick, but Albert Jones came up on Tuesday and said that he gave her a pint of beer, which she threw up. After that he gave her a pint of cold water and she also threw that up. On Saturday she was out with Jones. Witness was at home when she returned. She did not complain of anything until Monday evening. Witness did not send for a doctor directly for she did not think it was more than a cold. She asked witness to make her a cup of mint tea and witness did so. She died on Tuesday about nine o’clock. The doctor did not see her until after she was dead. Had witness known that she was so ill she would have sent for him before. Nobody was with her during the day. She was at home by herself. She did not take any food on Tuesday.

By the jury : Jones came up on Tuesday evening but did not see her as she was in bed. She was in bed all day. Jones gave her a slap in the face on Saturday night, she was told, and she believed that he broke a tooth. On a previous occasion she had two black eyes. He burnt her eye with the poker one Sunday evening at the Pheasant.

James Henry Gordon, medical practitioner, said that he was called to see the deceased. When he arrived she had just died. He had since examined the body. There were no external marks of violence. He was not in a position to certify the cause of death. He attended the girl on many previous occasions and as far as he could remember she suffered from heart disease. He thought that she died from natural causes. He had heard the mother’s evidence read and was of opinion that deceased’s stomach was probably in an irritable state. He did not think that anything stated by the previous witness in connection with the man Jones had anything to do with her death. She appeared to have been leading an irregular life.

Amelia Hunt (whose husband is employed at a malthouse) said that she was sister of the deceased. She lived at 50, Scot’s Lane. She saw her sister alive on Tuesday. She was sensible but could not speak. Witness went for the doctor. She saw the deceased on Monday, and witness did not know but what she was pretty well. She did not see her again till Tuesday night. Deceased had spoken to witness about a man named Jones. She had complained of having been struck by him. She never told witness that he had given her anything. Witness was not with her when she died. She got back about two minutes after the arrival of the doctor.

By the jury : Two or three weeks ago, Jones, she was told, beat the deceased very cruelly. She appeared to be in much pain on Tuesday. She complained of pain in her chest. Witness asked her if she wanted anything and thought she wished to have some water but the deceased shook her head. Witness applied a linseed meal poultice to the chest. Deceased did not complain of her stomach.

The jury retired to consult, and having re-entered the room, after an absence of a few minutes, returned a verdict to the effect that death was due to “Natural Causes.”

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