[Reynoldsʼs Newspaper, 14. Februar 1869]

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Reynoldsʼs Newspaper. Nr. 966, 14. Februar 1869. S. 3.
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Feb. 14 Anmerkung von Jenny Marx

On Monday, Dr. Lankester held adjourned inquiries at the College Arms, Crowndale-road, St. Pancras, on the bodies of George Joseph Airey and John Fowler. Several serious charges had been made through letters sent to the coroner by an inmate of St. Pancras workhouse, 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, the Coroner read a letter from the inmate who had written the complaints referred to, stating that all the witnesses 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.

David Brown, an inmate of [the workhouse,] aged seventy-four, said: I knew the [deceased man,] Airey. He was brought to the bed-wa[rd, No. 253, on the 14th] of last month. I am wardsman[. All the men in my] ward are able to take care of the[mselves. I was told] by another wardsman that deceas[ed 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 g[reat 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 a]gain, 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. O[n Friday morning] he saw Mr. Hill, the doctor, and afte[rwards went to] bed. He did not get up on Saturday [or Sunday, but he] said there was nothing the matter w[ith him. On Mo]nday morning I found him dead in bed. [I might have ord]ered him to get out of bed, but I do [not remember.] I am obliged to order a good many w[ho lie late to get u]p, so that I may put the bed in orde[r. The doctor did] not see deceased from the Friday[. I have been exam]ined 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 s[hamefully treated, and] he should like to be called as a w[itness. I have had a pi]nt of beer a day since this hap[pened, instead of half a pint,] but that was because I said [I would resign unless I had] the extra allowance.

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 com]plained that he had ha[d 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 exam[inations,] I found he had an attack of syncope, and I p[rescribed] for him accordingly. The next time I heard [of him he] was dead. I made a post-mortem exami[nation, 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 eight 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 the 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 mov]ing Airey from the ward.

[The Coroner sa]id the case seemed perfectly clear to [him. There was no dou]bt the deceased was most grossly [neglected on the Sund]ay night referred to by Mummery. [The only nurse in the] ward was an old pauper, who [would, of course, loo]k more to his own ease than any[body else’s. Paup]er 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 seventy-six men in the ward and at least fifty 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 seventy-five 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 wa[rds should be adopted.”]

[The case of the d]eceased John Fowler was then [proceeded with, the ju]ry finding that there was no proof [that blame attached to any of the work]house officials.|


  • Social cases. 1869