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Rushden Echo, Friday 28th September 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins
Mrs Amy Marina Smith
Chelveston Widow’s Sad End
A Tragic Occurrence
Killed by Debris of Falling Cottage When Seeking for Fuel
Three Orphan Children

A painful sensation was caused in Chelveston last Friday evening when it became known that Mrs Amy Marina Smith, widow of the late Mr Alfred Horace Smith, formerly for several years schoolmaster at Chelveston, had been found lying dead beneath a heap of debris in a disused cottage in Water-lane. It appears that the deceased lady, who was 46 years of age, had during the past few weeks experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining coal, this also having been the experience of other inhabitants of the village. On Friday she went to the partially ruined cottage, which was her mother’s property, with a view of obtaining some wood for fuel purposes, and it is probably that her efforts to detach some of the woodwork must have caused some part of the structure to collapse, and as a consequence the unfortunate lady was buried beneath the debris and suffocated. Since the death of her husband, about eleven years ago, the late Mrs Smith has suffered from partial paralysis of the lower limbs, and it is probable that had she been of average strength she would have been able to extricate herself from the heaps of rubbish. Deceased was first missed by her elder daughter on Friday evening on her return home after blackberrying, and on a search being instituted deceased was found lying beneath a quantity of debris in the partially ruined cottage and quite dead.

The deceased lady, who, since the death of her husband, has resided next door to her mother, Mrs Coton, in Water-lane, Chelveston, was well known and respected in the village. A sad feature of the tragedy is that three children are left to mourn their loss, the eldest of whom is consumptive.


The inquest was held at the Star and Garter Inn, on Monday morning, by the Coroner, Mr J T Parker. Mr Charles Britten was chosen foreman of the jury.

Jessie Emma Coton, sister of the deceased identified the body, and said: I lived next door to deceased. I last saw her alive on Friday morning, and she was then at home, apparently in her usual health. I went out blackberrying shortly after dinner with deceased’s eldest daughter. We returned about 5p.m., and not being able to find deceased, we commenced to search for her. Deceased’s youngest daughter, who also assisted in the search, called our attention about 6p.m. to a heap of rubbish in a partly ruined cottage which adjoins deceased’s house. Mr Frederick Rollings, who accompanied us, removed the heap of debris, from which I saw my sister extricated. Apparently she was then dead, but we sent for the doctor. My mother is the owner of the cottage—which is too dilapidated for occupation—where my sister’s body was found. My sister was in the habit of going to this cottage to get wood, as we were short of coal. On the day after the body was found my sister’s basket was found in the front garden of the disused cottage, and, outside the door, a heap of wood was found, which deceased had apparently collected and broken up. The cottage was in a dangerous state for anyone to go in.

Frederick Rollings, shoehand, a neighbour of the deceased, said: I was called to assist in the search for deceased on Friday about 6.30p.m. I was told that some more rubbish had fallen down in the disused cottage next to deceased’s house, and there I found her body, covered with mortar, straw, etc. I removed all this debris, and got deceased out. A good weight must have been on her body. With assistance, I got deceased outside, and then saw that she was quite dead. The debris had fallen from the ceiling.

Dr D G Greenfield, of Rushden, deposed: I saw deceased soon after 10a.m. on Saturday at her house. She had then been dead some hours. Deceased was very blue, this being probably due to congestion, but there were no other marks of violence. Death in my opinion was due to suffocation. Deceased had a large goitre, which would impede her breathing.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.” The funeral took place on Tuesday.

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