1889 has a mere 25 cases, though I have to admit to some frustration in their transcribing. There are a couple where a mere paragraph is all we have, and three comprising a whole half-page of typescript. Several are clarity itself, and some follow the later trend of neatly paragraphed editorial pieces, concise and readable, but at least one this year – the case of John Barber – reproduces almost every word Coroner George Smith said, despite it being a straight forward Natural Causes case.
Among the major cases is a terrible case of child neglect in the death of Sidney Ford.
Midwife Catherine Bunsell was seemingly at fault for not realising her patient (Elizabeth Warne) was in grave danger, and calling in a doctor. She also was central to a case of puerperal fever the previous year (Martha Alsford) in which three women died. In both cases one can’t help feeling that other people carried elements of blame, and that communication was the serious delaying factor.
The town of Devizes seems to have all the drama this year. Firstly there is poor Schoolmistress Emily Lister, who is seemingly being harassed by Augustus Keeling, an ongoing situation that ends in a shooting and a falling from a train. Then there is Enoch Murfin, being prosecuted for assaulting children, who managed to suffocate himself in a police cell. Lastly, there is a brutal axe-murdering by the canal, the victim being Emily Purnell.
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