[The Daily News, 29. Januar bis 12. Februar 1869]

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The Daily News. Nr. 7097, 29. Januar 1869. S. 6.
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Jan 29 Anmerkung von Jenny Marx

Yesterday an inquiry was held at the Folley-house Tavern, Cubitt-town, Isle of Dogs, by Mr. Humphreys, respecting the death from alleged starvation of Catherine Spence, aged 34 years, and her male child, who expired on Thursday week. Upon the jury going to view the bodies of the deceased, they found them lying upon the floor in a top back room, which was miserably furnished. The bed upon which the deceased woman and child had died was composed of rags, and there were no bed-clothes upon it. A small box placed upon a broken chair had served as a table. Upon it lay a tract, entitled, “The Goodness of God.” The only article of food in the room was a piece of salt, of which the deceased woman had eaten part before she died. The whole place presented a wretched appearance. The windows were broken, and an old iron tray had been fastened up against one of them to keep the rain out. Another window had a board up against it. The house, which was No. 1, Steward’s-terrace, Cubitt-town, was a six roomed one. In every room in that house a distinct family lived. Two families lived in the two kitchens. All the people in the house were in receipt of parish relief, and they were all connected with the iron shipbuilding works, and they had lost their all shortly after the works were closed, during the commercial crisis of 1866.

Great interest was felt in the proceedings, and several of the local authorities were present during the inquiry.

Mary Boney, a miserable-looking woman, who stated that she lived at 122, High-street, Shadwell, said that she was the wife of a shipwright out of employment. The deceased was the wife of a labourer. Witness saw her three weeks before Christmas. She then complained of the state in which she was, and she said that she did not think could not give her any assistance.

Hannah Rollinson, I, Steward’s-terrace, said that she was the wife of a man out of work. She paid 1s. 6d. a week rent for her room. The deceased paid a shilling a week for hers. She was very poor. She lived with her husband. He went mad two days after her death. She died on Thursday, and he became insane on Saturday.

Mr. Dowse said that the man had to be taken to the workhouse where he was kept in confinement. He was not taken to the asylum, for it was crowded with mad people, and there was no room for him in it.

The witness said that the husband had been a long time out of work. He had relief from the parish. The woman never had any money to get anything with. During the whole of the Tuesday before her death she had no food to eat. Witness took her a cup of tea in the evening, and she drank it. A month ago the Rev. Mr. Carpenter gave her a ticket for meat. She had pledged all the clothes they had to buy food. A little time ago she had some of her furniture seized by the brokers for rent. She pawned her last blanket for 2s., as there was nothing in the house to eat. All the families in the house were badly off for food, and the deceased never wanted for food more than they did. The six families in the house paid the landlord 5s. 9d. a week for rent. Witness did not think that the deceased’s death had been caused by want of food.

Maria Holt, a married woman, living in the back kitchen of the house, said deceased had often wanted bread all day, “like” witness “and all the others in the house.” She had never had what she really wanted—food; but witness was in the same state.

Mr. J. J. Delany, relieving officer, said that the deceased’s husband applied for relief on the 5th instant. He came before the board of guardians on the 6th; they ordered him the stone-yard, one pound of meat, 2ozs. of tea, and a pound of sugar.

Coroner—Did he come to the stone-yard?


Coroner—How much is a man allowed to earn in the stone-yard?

Witness—Sevenpence, but never more than eight pence.

Coroner—So that. If a man has ten children and he can earn 1s. 6d. in the stone-yard during the day, he is not allowed to do so?

Witness—No; but then he gets a loaf of bread every week for each child.

Coroner—How long had he been out of work?

Witness—On and off, for two years and a half. I have heard that he earned 14s. one week. Some men told me that he did so at the beginning of this year. He only got the relief for three weeks.

Dr. J. Sarjant said that he attended the deceased in consequence of a parish order being sent to him. She died on Thursday. The child died shortly after its birth.

Dr. G. B. Phillips, 2, Spital-square, divisional surgeon of police, said that he had only been able to find three ounces of fluid in the stomach. The intestines were empty, and collapsed from want of food and privation. They were thin and transparent from long want of food. The woman had suffered great privations. She had got into a weak, low, nervous condition from long want of food. Her death had been accelerated by want of food.

The Coroner said it was a case for grave consideration whether a man with a family ought not to be allowed to earn more than 8d. a day in the stone yard.

A juror said that 8d. for a whole day’s work was ridiculous. A man ought to be allowed to earn what he could, particularly when he had a family to support. Why any of the jurors there would eat more than 8d. worth at a meal. He had known cases in which men with families who had been ordered to the stoneyard at 8d. a day, knowing that they could not keep their families upon it, had said—“I will not go there. It is no use. The parish must bury me.”

Another created some surprise by stating that it was no use returning a verdict of death from starvation. It would only cause the distress in the island to be talked about in the newspapers. What use were people when they were dead? He thought that they might be buried in an egg box, or perhaps it would be still better to bury them without a coffin at all.

The speaker, who was a well-known employer of labour on the island, was not applauded when he had ceased to make his remarks.

The jury returned a verdict that the deceased woman died from exhaustion, privation, and want of food.

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The Daily News. Nr. 7106, 9. Februar 1869. S. 2.
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Feb 9 Anmerkung von Jenny Marx

Yesterday Dr. Lankester held the adjourned inquiries at the College Arms, Crowndale-road, St. Pancras, on the bodies of Geo. Joseph Airey and John Fowler. Several serious charges had been made through letters sent to the coroner by an inmate respecting the treatment of the two deceased men, and it was thought that a thorough inquiry into the charges was necessary. Upon the opening of the court yesterday the coroner read a letter from the inmate who had written the complaints referred to, stating that all the witness who were to give evidence to the court had been called before the workhouse officials and examined as to what they were going to say before the coroner; that a wardsman who was to give evidence, and who had been suspended, had been reinstated, and put on extra diet, which was not usual.

Preliminary evidence in both cases was taken at the first sitting of the court. Yesterday the first cases proceeded with was that of Airey.

David Brown, an inmate of the workhouse, aged 74, said—I knew the deceased man, Airey. He was brought to the bed-ward, No. 253, on the 14th of last month. I am wardsman. All the men in my ward are able to take care of themselves. I was told by another wardsman that deceased was not right in his mind, and I must look after him, or he would not be able to find his bed a second time. I put him in a bed next the door, and gave him an extra blanket. The night of the 14th he made a great noise, and I got out of bed to him. I asked him if there was anything the matter with him. He said no. I got into bed again, and he commenced making the same noise as before. I did not get up to him then, as he had said there was nothing the matter with him. On Friday morning he saw Mr. Hill, the doctor, and afterwards went to bed. He did not get up on Saturday on Sunday, but he said there was nothing the matter with him. On Monday morning I found him dead in bed. I might have ordered him to get out of bed, but I do not remember. I am obliged to order a good many who lie late to get up, so that I may put the bed in order. The doctor did not see deceased from the Friday. I have been examined by the master and some of the guardians as to the evidence I have to give. A man named Edmunds did not say that deceased had been shamefully treated, and he should like to be called as a witness.

Mr. Longden and Mr. Watkins, guardians of St. Pancras, appeared to watch the case, and asked the witness several questions.|


Mr. Longden said the inquiry made by the guardians referred to was for the purpose of ascertaining what answer there was to the complaint that had been made.

Witness, continuing—I have had a pint of beer a day since this happened instead of half a pint, but that was because I said I would resign unless I had the extra allowance.

Mr. Longden confirmed this statement.

Mr. Joseph Hill, resident medical officer of St. Pancras Workhouse, said—The deceased when admitted did not complain of being ill. Nine days afterwards he complained that he had had an attack of paralysis in the legs during the night. As he could walk very well then I told him he was mistaken, but from my examination I found he had had an attack of syncope, and I prescribed for him accordingly. The next time I heard of him he was dead. I made a post-mortem examination, and found that death resulted from fatty degeneration of the heart. The wardsman ought to have told me afterwards of the deceased lying in bed two days, and he is to blame for not doing so.

Brown, the wardsman—I told the doctor’s man both on the Saturday and Sunday.

Mr. Hill—My “man,” as he is called, is a pauper who arranges my books and the medicine bottles, &c.

By Mr. Longden—There are about 1,200 able-bodied persons in the house who might come to me, but it is quite impossible for me to inquire personally after each person who has complained to me. It is their duty to come to me, or if they cannot do so the wardsman should come.

George Mummery, an inmate of the workhouse, said—Deceased complained very much on Sunday night of being very ill. He fell out of bed, and I put him in again. His hands were very cold, and he said he could not live long. About one o’clock he screamed enough to unnerve any man, and wanted to go to the infirmary, but Brown refused to go to the doctor. Deceased was convulsed. From four o’clock in the morning he breathed very hard, and at 8 o’clock he was dead. On Sunday morning I told Brown the man was very much worse, and he said, “D—your eyes, what do you know about it?” Brown never got up from his bed to the deceased. I have never had any quarrel with Brown. It was no use of me complaining to anyone but Brown, because they would not have interfered if he did not. It was no use speaking to Brown, because he knew all about it as much as I did.

David Kirkland, the pauper attendant on the doctor, said—I saw deceased for the first time last Friday week, when he came to the doctor. I saw him on Sunday and asked him what was the matter. He said “Nothing.” I don’t recollect Brown saying anything to me about moving Airey from the ward.

The Coroner said the case seemed perfectly clear to him. There was no doubt that deceased was most grossly neglected on the Sunday night referred to by Mummery. The only nurse in the ward was an old pauper, who would, of course, look more to his own ease than anybody else. Pauper nurses, as they were not allowed to receive any pay, were not incited to do their duty by fear of dismissal. The man Brown even discharged himself, and was induced to again undertake the duties for half a pint of beer a day. On Sunday night, when deceased was in convulsions, it was clearly a case in which the doctor ought to have been sent for. In wards which were full of old men there were sure very frequently to be some requiring attendance, and under such circumstances there ought to be paid nurses. Pauper nurses ought not to be depended upon.

Mr. Longden—We don’t defend the system; it is forced upon us.

Brown—There are 76 men in the ward, and at least 50 between my bed and the one where the man was laid.

The jury, after deliberation, returned a verdict of “Death from Natural Causes,” but added, “We consider that a pauper 74 years of age is not fit to discharge the duties of wardsman, especially during the night, in a ward in which so many aged people sleep, and we suggest that a better system of attendance in the wards should be adopted.”

The case of the deceased John Fowler was then proceeded with, the jury finding that there was no proof that blame attached to any of the workhouse officials.

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The Daily News. Nr. 7109, 12. Februar 1869. S. 4.
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[The Daily News, 12. Februar 1869]

THE fearful flood of distress and misery which has during the last two or three years overwhelmed the poorer districts of East London appears to have reached its maximum a few weeks since, and the overburdened ratepayers, it is hoped, now possess good reasons for believing that the general stagnation of trade and enterprise, which has so long deprived thousands of artisans and labourers of their customary means of employment, is about to give way to an improved state of things. Of course, few persons are sanguine enough to believe that the present year will behold the great industrial establishments of East London restored to their former state of activity and prosperity; but it is something to be able to believe that the worst period of the crisis is over. Already in some of the shipbuilding concerns on the Thames employment has been found for additional numbers of workmen, and although there are yet several yards remaining empty and desolate, and years may elapse before the Thames shipbuilding industry can hope to reach the magnitude attained previous to the conclusion of the great American conflict, there exist numerous indications that it is not likely to be driven wholly away from the metropolis to the Tyne or the Clyde, as frequently predicted by those disposed to take a gloomy view of industrial prospects in East London. The improved state of the eastern metropolitan districts is unmistakably shown by the latest returns published by the Poor-law Board. According to these, the number of paupers in the East London district—comprising Shore-ditch, Bethnal-green, Whitechapel, Stepney, St. George-in-the-East, Mile-end Old-town, and Poplar—during the fifth week of January last was 34,580, being a decrease of 6,817, as compared with the corresponding week in 1868, when the number was 41,937. The decrease is largest in the two hitherto most distressed parishes—Poplar and Stepney; the number of paupers in the former having sunk from 9,626 in 1868, to 7,467 in 1869; and in the latter, during the corresponding periods, from 6,396, to 4,666. The single exception to the general decrease is in St. George-in-the-East, the residence of a considerable number of men, chiefly Germans employed in sugar refining, a trade at present in a most depressed condition. In Bethnal-green the decrease has been large, being no less than 1,344. It has occurred chiefly amongst the migratory population.

   1868. 1869. Decrease.
Shoreditch 6,058 5,459 599
Bethnal-green 5,861 4,517 1,344
Whitechacel 5,076 4,692 384
St. George-in-the-East 4,607 4,624 Inc. 17
Stepney 6,396 4,666 1,730
Mile-end Old Town 3,773 3,155 618
Poplar 9,626 7,467 2,159
  41,397 34,580 6,817

Two causes have assisted materially in promoting this decrease of pauperism, viz., the gradually improving condition of trade, assisted by the exceptionally mild weather prevalent during the last few weeks, and the greater amount of discrimination exercised in the administration of parochial relief, combined with the partial check given to the system of wholesale and indiscriminate charity so long prevalent in East London. It is the general opinion of those most qualified to speak on the subject, that the amount of charitable contributions flowing into the eastern metropolitan parishes has this winter been, on the whole, far less than has been known for several years past. For once the numerous tribe of cadgers and vagrants who, during winter time, migrate eastwards, have found themselves to a great extent disappointed of their customary harvest. Hence the extensive removes to other metropolitan districts such as St. Pancras where the number of paupers has risen from 10,026 in 1868 to 10,133 in 1869. A similar increase is observable in Kensington, Fulham, Paddington, and Marylebone. This rise in the rate of West-end pauperism is also partly attributable to the distress existing amongst the building operatives, in consequence of the great depression from which their trade is at present suffering. An attempt is now being made to stimulate the emigration movement in East London which has hitherto made little progress. The unemployed, as a rule, know little respecting the colonies, or how to proceed thither; and where it is otherwise, the want of means for procuring the necessary outfit furnishes a formidable obstacle. With the revival of local industrial energy and enterprise the feeling in favour of emigration will, in all probability, subside almost as rapidly as it arose, the habitual disinclination of the working classes to leave the mother-country being far more general than is commonly supposed. Yet the destitute labourers and their families possess few inducements to remain in London. Probably at no former period were the homes of the unemployed metropolitan poor more miserable and cheerless than they are at present. The recent case of alleged starvation in the Isle of Dogsafforded a glimpse of what may be seen in some of these abodes; it also revealed something of the effects of the great vice of the laboring classes, a vice which does more than almost anything else to render them poor and helpless, and against the results of which the parochial authorities strive in vain to make headway. The intensity of the passion for beer and gin is fearful. The mania for drink follows a certain class of the poor to the very doors of the workhouse. The men employed in the stone yards will often be found spending their scanty earnings in beer and tobacco. Sometimes the loaves received by them are bartered for pints of ale, although at home the wives and children may be starving. In the |23 same way many of the females receiving parochial relief will adjourn to neighbouring public-houses and expend a portion of the money assistance received by them in the purchase of glasses of gin, although aware that their vicious expenditure must entail on them the misery of a state of semi-starvation until the weekly day of relief again comes round. It is amongst this class that the cases of destitution and starvation with which the public have of late years become so familiar are most frequent. Nothing can exceed the state of wretchedness and suffering in which they usually live and which, in nine cases out of ten, is the result, rather than the cause, of their insatiable craving for beer or gin. It is a well-known fact that in many parts of East London the takings of the publicans have not become in any way diminished throughout the whole period of the prevailing distress.


  • Social cases. 1869