1889

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.

Loder, John

Wallen, Hugh                                    Whitsbury

Whalley, George                               Barford St Martin

Foster, Elizabeth                               Quidhampton

Field, Eleanor

Warne, Elizabeth

Ford, Sidney                                     Redlynch

Noyce, James

Giles, James                                     Warminster

Rolfe, Edmund                                  Heytesbury

Holbrook, Edgar                               Portsmouth

Barber, John

Cox infant                                       Swindon

Rolfe, James                                    Andover

Cooper, Bessie

Keeling, Augustus                            Devizes

Carter, Louisa                                  Trowbridge

Hayter, William

Hinder, Eustace                                Melksham

Smith, Richard

Murfin, Enoch                                   Devizes

Alexander, Jane                                Devizes

Doughty infant                                 Wardour

Mills, Frederick                                Andover/Hurstbourne

Purnell, Emily                                  Devizes

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