Liverpool Mercury, Oct 3rd, 1890

Suicide of a St Helens girl, father censured

Mr S. BRIGHOUSE, coroner of South west Lancashire held an inquest at the Griffin Hotel, Peasley Cross, St Helens, on Thursday, on the body of Ann MAKIN, aged 15, who was found drowned in the old quarry pit, Sherdley Park on Tuesday. Inspector GOODALL was present on behalf of the police authorities.

James MAKIN, chemical labourer of 50 Sutton St, said the deceased was his daughter and she acted as housekeeper. His wife had been dead for 10yrs. On Thursday, 18th ult, he was told by his eldest daughter, who was married, that the deceased had some girls in the house to tea, but deceased had never told him anything about it. He asked the deceased who she had been making cakes for, and she mentioned two girls. He then told her she had no right to do so, but if she wanted to make cakes she should make them for her brothers and sisters, and not fetch girls out of the street. He also asked her to account for a bruise on her younger sister's forehead, and she said she had taken something and she gave her a push, causing her to fall against the grate, cutting her forehead. He told her she had no right to do that. If there was anything wrong she should tell him and he would chastise the children. He also asked her why the children had not been at school, and she said she had not had time to take them. He told her it was her place to see that they went to school, and to make time. She then went with the children on the way to school, and he told her to be quick back.

The Coroner, "You seem to have given her a general "rowing"

Witness, "Oh no!"

The Coroner, "But about the currant cakes, about the school, and about the bruise, she does not seem to have satisfied you in any way. What had she to do ? she was only 15 years of age, and had to take care of the house?"

Witness, "Yes"

The Coroner asked how many persons lived in the house, and witness replied there was himself, two sons, the deceased and two younger children.

The Coroner, "And she had to attend to the whole of the household, the cooking and everything?"

Witness, "Yes" In reply to further questions he said the deceased did not return home after leaving with the children, and he made inquiries, but could not find her. She was brought home dead last Tuesday. He had not heard that the deceased had threatened to drown herself several times. He did not know that she had wished she was dead.

The Coroner, "A girl of 15 won't go out of the home and take away her life for no reason. What is the reason of this?"

Witness, "I cannot say."

The Coroner, "It is because you were too severe with her?"

Witness, "No sir."

The Coroner, "You seemed to have scolded her"

Witness, "She had most of her own way, too much I think."

Mary M'NAMARA, a girl, stated that about a month since, the deceased accompanied her to Roughdale pottery with her [witness's] brother's dinner.

The Coroner, "Well, what did she say to you?"

Witness, "When we approached the delph pit she asked me if we should both drown ourselves and I said, "No" and persuaded her away. There is another delph nearer to Roughdale's which is deeper than the other, and she again wanted us to drown ourselves. When we were coming back it was just the same"

The Coroner, "She wanted you to go and drown yourself too?"

Witness, "Yes sir."

The Coroner, "Did she ever tell you anything why it was so?"

Witness, "She dare not stir out of the door for her married sister telling tales about her."

Ellen LYNAN, another girl, deposed that on the Sunday afternoon before the Thursday on which the deceased disappeared they were together in Sutton Churchyard. The deceased said that if her father beat her or sauced her again she would drown herself.

Joseph GERRARD, said that on Thursday afternoon the 18th ultimo, he was walking in Sherdley Park with his wife and son. They saw the deceased standing near the water, and she seemed somewhat strange. William CARNEY, of Clarence-court, gave evidence to seeing the body floating in the old quarry pit on Tuesday afternoon, and he gave information to the police.

PC LITTLER, said he received the information from the last witness and he got the body to the side. The deceased's dress was pinned tightly around her. In reply to the Coroner, he added that after the girl had disappeared on the Thursday her father made the first inquiry about her on the Saturday night and was then under the influence of drink.

James MAKIN, deceased's father was then recalled, and in reply to the Coroner, said he first inquired of the police on the Saturday when he heard that his daughter's hat had been found floating in the pit.

The Coroner, "You do not seem to have been particular about her being missed."

Makin, "Yes sir, I was."

The Coroner, "Why did you not go to the police office inquiring about her ?"

Makin, "I never thought she would do a trick like that."

The Coroner, "But she told a girl that if you beat her or sauced her she would drown herself."

Makin, "I never knew about that."

The Coroner, "Have you ever beaten her?"

Makin, "It is a long time since, 3 or 4 months since."

The Coroner, "But girls of 15 are not like grown up people."

PC, LITTLER, then stated that about 12mths ago he was several times called to the Makin's house by the neighbours, who complained that Makin was killing the children. He always found the door fast, but could hear the children inside crying.

The Coroner, in summing up, said the case to his mind was as simple as it could be. Here was a girl, 15yrs of age, having full charge of the domestic duties of the house with a father and five children, and that child had the full care of the house upon her shoulders. It was quite clear from the evidence that the father had, rightly or wrongly, scolded her on several occasions, and it was quite clear that her married sister had told tales about her. About a month ago she confided her little grief to her companion, and said if her father scolded or beat her again she would drown herself. Children of 15 had not the same organisations as grown ups, who had experienced some knocking about in the world and had got a little hardened. If they cast their minds back to being 15, they would find that very small things hurt them very much then, and perhaps an unkind word had a great effect upon them./ Even if the girl did bake cakes for some children, that was not a grave offence, they could not expect children to have all the virtues and none of the vices, or all that was right and nothing that was wrong, they must have their failings. On the day in question, the father scolded her, she went out, took the two children to school and then drowned herself. It did seem a terrible state of affairs, if one of his children took away her life under similar circumstances, he should never forgive himself. It was for the jury to say if the girl took away her life and whether she was of unsound mind.

The jury deliberated in private, the foreman afterwards stated that they had come to the conclusion that the girl had committed suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity. How it had been caused they had not come to a decision, and had not agreed to add anything about a censure.

The Coroner called the deceased's father into the room and, addressing him, said the jury perhaps because they disagreed did not express any opinion as to how the insanity had been caused or brought about, but that did not prevent him expressing his opinion. He was the judge of the court, and had a perfect right to express his opinion apart from theirs. He was strongly of the opinion that it was caused by the father's misconduct towards her. He [the coroner] was perfectly convinced on the evidence that Makin had not behaved as a father should. Children had very delicate constitutions, and could not stand hardships as grown up people could. The father should have behaved kindly and not harshly towards her. He [Makin] had other children to bring up, and he [the coroner] hoped he would do better to them than he had to the deceased.


Liverpool Mercury Nov 12th, 1890

St Helens fatalities

At 8pm on Monday a shocking accident occurred in the Higher Florida mine of the Bold Colliery, St Helens junction, belonging to the Collins Green Colliery Company, by which Hugh JONES, aged 33 of Earlestown was instantly killed and a contractor named WALL sustained dangerous injuries. WALL and a man named WILLIAMS were engaged tunnelling down the mine when a large quantity of stones and dirt fell from the roof on the three of them. WILLIAMS succeeded in extricating himself and with considerable difficulty released WALL who had sustained fractured ribs and a scalp injury. A search was made for JONES and when his body was recovered it was found he was terribly crushed and life was extinct. The body was removed to the Boundary Vaults at Sutton to await the inquest, whilst WALL was removed to his home in Foster St, Parr, where Dr JACKSON, assistant to Dr GASKELL, attended to him. Yesterday he remained in a precarious condition.

Level crossing fatality

Yesterday Mr S. BRIGHOUSE coroner, resumed an inquest at St Helens Town Hall, touching the death of Jane FAIRCLOUGH, aged 9, daughter of Robert FAIRCLOUGH, collier, 74 Back Grove St, who was killed at Marsh’s level crossing, Grove St, while on her way to school, yesterday week. The inquiry was opened last Thursday , when, evidence having been given that it was the duty of Thomas BARLOW, gatekeeper, to keep the gate closed when a train was passing, and on the occasion in question one of the gates was left open.. BARROW requested an adjournment in order that he may get legal assistance. At the resumed inquest yesterday Mr J. O. SWIFT appeared on behalf of BARROW, Mr PRESTON and Mr BLAND represented the London and North Western Railway Company.

The deceased girl’s father and Thomas DICKINSON a number-taker in the employ of the railway company, repeated their evidence, and the last named in answer to Mr SWIFT said, it was usual to keep the gates closed when any train was passing along the lines. On the occasion in question, the Grove St, gate by which the girl got on the crossing was open. BARROW attempted to save the girl and was himself caught. Witness thought BARROW was pulled under the train until it passed. There was a lot of traffic over the crossing every day and BARROW had always been a most careful man. The engine used on the lines crossed the road about 100 times a day.

Michael HEBEY the driver of the engine said, he always understood that when the engine was crossing the main road the gates had to be closed. He had known BARROW for some time and he had always been a careful man. He had seen people often rushing across the front of the engine.

Police Sergeant STRONG, deposed that on the morning of the accident he spoke to BARROW, who stated it was against the rules to leave the gate open when an engine crossed the road.

Thomas BARROW, the gatekeeper, then gave evidence that before the engine reached the crossing he looked round and saw everything was clear. He did not think there was any necessity to close the gates. There were printed rules in the cabin, but, there was no reference to closing the gates. The rules stated it was his duty to protect the crossing, and no vehicles must pass when a train was approaching. There were no express words that he should close the gate.

The Coroner in summing up said it was up to the jury to say whether or not BARROW had been negligent, and whether the negligence was censurable or culpable. The way in which BARROW was to protect the crossing was not stated in the rules and he had courageously attempted to save the girl, to the danger of his own life.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death. And adding that the railway company did not supply sufficient appliances for opening and shutting the gates, BARROW did all in his power to prevent the accident and was not to blame, the only efficient way of working the crossing with safety for the public would be to provide a bridge or subway.

The fall of a works chimney

Mr BRIGHOUSE also held an inquest at the Town Hall yesterday on the body of Thomas ERLAM, aged 53 of 26 Havelock St, engine-tender of the Ravenhead works, of the London and Manchester Plate Glass Company, who was killed by the fall of a chimney during the gale on Friday morning last. Mr J. O. SWIFT attended on behalf of the firm and Mr J. P. MEARNS on behalf of the relatives of the deceased.

Before any evidence was called Mr MEARNS asked if it was not unusual for the Government inspector to attend inquiries of that nature - The Coroner said, he did not think it had anything to do with the manufacture of any substance - Mr MEARNS said, he thought it had, and he should have thought it was the inspectors duty to attend and make inquiries - Mr SWIFT stated notice of the accident had been given to the inspector.

Moses WYNNE was then called, he said, he was near the engine house when the chimney fell. He did not see it fall as the bricks knocked him down before he knew where he was.

John ASHCROFT, 8 Mill Rd, Ravenhead, a foreman at the works said he had been there for 8 or 9yrs, and the chimney was always considered safe. It was lengthened about 12mths ago.

Leonard WEST, manager, said the chimney had been 20 to 23yrs in existence and was originally 35yds high. About 18mths ago it was considered desirable to raise the height in order improve the draught to the boilers. Before the work was commenced the base and foundations were examined by himself and the foreman brick setter, Andrew FORBER. The brickwork was thoroughly sound and good. The work was afterwards carried out by Joseph BALL of Oldham. - In reply to Mr MEARNS, the witness said there never was any doubt of the stability of the structure. He had heard an observation made that the chimney was crooked, but, it was always found to be perfectly straight. The engine-house was at the root of the chimney, but the vibration was very slight, if any.

Joseph BALL, chimney builder and repairer, Oldham, stated, that before he carried out the work of increasing the height of the chimney 10yds he examined it and informed the firm it would be perfectly safe to build it 20yds higher. He never had any doubt about its stability, and he durst have lived on it. He could not explain why the chimney should have come down. It had stood very strong storms and high winds during its construction - Mr MEARNS, said he had intended to call one or two other witnesses as to the condition of the chimney, but on consideration decided not to do so.

The Coroner in summing up said, if the jury considered the chimney was safe in ordinary gales, then the firm had done every thing expected of them. On the morning in question the gale was running at 75mph, if they thought the proprietors had done everything expected of them, then the man had come by his death accidentally - verdict accordingly

Sudden death

An inquest was then held on the body of Margaret Susan CREGAN, infant daughter of Michael CREGAN, a teaser in a glassworks, of 28 Mount St. On Friday morning the child coughed badly and was carried to Dr KNOWLES’S surgery by her mother. On examining the child the doctor found her to be dead. A post mortem was made by Dr F. KNOWLES, who stated the lungs were in a state of acute bronchitis and collapse sufficient to account for death - verdict accordingly.

Death under chloroform

Mr BRIGHOUSE also held an inquest at the Town Hall yesterday on the body John GOULDEN, aged 7, son of John GOULDEN, a joiner, of 190 Westfield St. The Coroner informed the jury that the deceased had been under the care of Dr MASSON for some time and it was considered necessary to perform an operation on him On Sunday in the presence of Dr MASSON, Dr SCOTT and Dr REID the boy was put under chloroform but expired before the operation could commence. Without reflecting upon either of the gentlemen named he asked Dr KNOWLES to make a post mortem examination as an independent witness.

Mrs Mary GOULDEN then gave formal evidence and stated that after hearing of the condition of their son she and her husband did not object to administration of chloroform or the operation.

Dr MASSON deposed, that the deceased had formerly suffered from typhoid fever and in March last commenced to suffer from a diseased knee joint. It got worse and the boy had been under chloroform three times to have the abscesses opened in attempts to save the leg. He came to the conclusion that the only chance to save the lad’s life was to amputate the leg and on Sunday he in company of Dr’s REID and SCOTT attended the boy’s home for that purpose. They administered two drachm’s of chloroform by inhalation and shortly afterwards it was noticed that he looked pallid, his heart was rapidly failing and they used every means to try to restore consciousness, but, were unable to do so.

The Coroner asked if the number of such deaths was increasing - witness replied it seemed to be in that neighbourhood - The Coroner said he did not mean just in that locality, but according to statistics - Witness said he had not seen the statistics. Dr SCOTT assistant to Dr MASSON gave collaborative evidence - Dr F. KNOWLES, deposed that yesterday morning he had made a post mortem examination. The boy was much emaciated and thin, all the organs were more or less diseased. The child was in a very unhealthy condition, the lungs being especially so. Judging from what he saw he considered that amputation of the boy’s leg was necessary and he thought there was every justification for the administration of chloroform.

The Coroner in summing up, said, that unfortunately cases of this kind were on the increase in that particular locality and in the district where he had control. But an anaesthetic was a very great relief and saved suffering humanity a great deal of pain. In that case the boy was in a very bad state of health and the medical gentlemen had done everything they possibly could under the circumstances. - The jury returned a verdict of “death by misadventure” everything having been done that was possible.


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