Smith, Emily 1902 March 21st
Milford Street House Unfit for Habitation
On Monday the District Coroner (Mr R A Wilson) held an inquest at the Salisbury Workhouse on the body of Emily Smith, aged about 66, lately living at Mists’ Court, Milford Street, Salisbury.
Mr R Lyle, Master of the Salisbury Workhouse, deposed that the deceased woman was admitted to the House on Saturday morning in an unconcious state. He immediately telephoned for Mr Luckham, the medical officer, who arrived about 20 minutes afterwards.
Ann Lodge, wife of William George Lodge, of Rollestone Street, said deceased was her mother, and was in receipt of outdoor relief from the Salisbury Guardians. Witness last saw her alive on Friday at Rollestone Street. On Saturday morning witness was called by a messenger at about 7 o’clock, being told that her mother had fallen down stairs. On her arrival witness saw the serious condition of deceased and obtained an order for her admission to the Workhouse.
George Small, of Milford Street, deposed that on Friday night he saw deceased standing at the end of the passage leading to her house. She asked him for a couple of matches and witness gave them to her. He bade her goodnight and she went up the passage to her room. On the following morning he saw the deceased lying at the bottom of a flight of stairs in a pool of blood. Witness sent for her daughter.
Emily Spencer, a widow, residing in Mists’ Court, said she occupied a room on the second floor of the house, and deceased lived immediately above her. Between four and five o’clock on Saturday morning she heard a moaning noise. She lighted a candle and went outside but could find nothing. About six, she again heard the noise, and this time on going out to see what it was she found the deceased lying at the foot of the stairs. Witness could not say whether the woman was of temperate habits or not. Deceased was only partially dressed. She did not hear any sound of falling in the night, and she had never heard of deceased having fallen downstairs before. There was a lamp lying on the floor close to her.
Alice Mallett, single woman, of Mists’ Court, said she was called by the last witness to the deceased, who had apparently fallen down the stairs.
There seemed to be a question as to whether deceased had really been to bed at all that night, and the daughter recalled said that from the appearance of the bed it had evidently been disturbed.
Mr W G Newbery, relieving officer, said he gave Mrs Lodge an order for the Infirmary when he heard what had happened to her mother. He saw that deceased was placed in a cab. He found the woman still lying at the bottom of the stairs unconcious, with her head close to the wall. He had known the deceased for a considerable time, and for the last five years she had been in receipt of 2s and a loaf per week from the Salisbury Guardians. In his opinion the house in which this woman resided was not fit for human habitation. The staircase was most dangerous, and anyone moving about there, especially at night time, risked falling down and breaking their neck. There was a whole nest of rooms let there, to women, and as the partitions were all of wood, if the lamp which was found near the deceased had been lighted when she fell down stairs, the consequences would have been most terrible.
In answer to a juror, the witness said that nothing seemed to have been done to make the poor woman comfortable during the time between her supposed fall downstairs and the time he saw her.
Mr L S Luckham, medical practitioner, of Salisbury, in his evidence said the deceased had a scalp wound at the back of the head. There was considerable bruising on the face and arms, and there were symptoms of a fracture at the base of the skull. The woman died on Saturday evening without having regained conciousness.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death” from injuries resulting from the fall.