Kelly, Eliza

Kelly, Eliza      1919 April 11th          Berwick St John

Widow Suffocated

Mr F H Trethowan (Coroner for South Wilts) held an inquest at Berwick St John Reading Room last week in connection with the death of Mrs Eliza Kelly, a widow, aged 92, who accidentally set fire to her bedclothes and was suffocated by the smoke and fumes. He returned a verdict of accidental death.

Frances Powell, wife of George Powell, of Tisbury, said Mrs Kelly was her mother, and at her own wish lived alone. She had a pension and was not in want of anything.

Florence Hoare, the wife of a cowman at Berwick, said she was accustomed to look after Mrs Kelly, and saw her at 9.30 on the night before her death comfortable in bed, with a night-light burning in the room. A candle was in a candlestick on the landing. Next day, on being told that there was a smell of burning, she went to the house and found the upper room full of smoke.

Thomas Chown, a gardener, said he went upstairs with Mrs Hoare and they found Mrs Kelly’s bed on fire. A shawl on the bed burst into flames as soon as he opened the window to let out some of the smoke. He pulled off the burning clothes and saw that Mrs Kelly was dead. He was almost suffocated in the process.

Sarah Tilley, the schoolmistress, said that she was called to the house at the same time and met Mr Chown coming down the stairs. She went up into the room with Mr Ingram and they threw water on the flames which had burst out. She found that Mrs Kelly had not been burnt. She picked up a candlestick from the floor by the side of the bed, in which the candlestick had burnt itself out, and there was a hole burnt in the floor where it had fallen.

Dr A Brown, of Tisbury, who arrived at 11 o’clock, said Mrs Kelly’s death was due to suffocation, not to burning. She was very old and feeble and spent most of her time in bed.

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