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Adapted, Eric Jenkins, 16th February, 2013, from The Northampton Mercury, 16th June 1877, page 2.
Jane Wheatley

An inquest was held at the Forester's Arms, Raunds, by W. H. Parker, Coroner, on Monday morning, 11th June 1877, to establish the cause of the death of Jane Wheatley, of Raunds, aged 65, who died suddenly on Saturday morning, 9th June 1877. Her body, viewed by the jury, was still in her residence, and in an advanced state of decomposition, and scarcely recognisable.

Owen Cobley (a boy), sworn: I live in the same house as the deceased. She was my aunt. I saw her on Saturday morning, after breakfast, about nine o'clock. She said she felt sick. She said there was a letter on the table to take to the post office.I took it to the post office. When I got back, I called to her, upstairs, but there was no answer. I went upstairs, but she did not seem to be breathing. I went back down and called my other aunt. The deceased had been alone while I went to the post office, except for a little child who stayed with her. The child was there when I got back. My other aunt came, and found Jane Wheatley dead. She said so.

Keziah Chambers (sworn): The deceased was my sister, and lived in the same house as me. I saw her on Saturday morning, and gave her a cup of tea. She complained of feeling sick, and after drinking the tea, she vomited, and threw it up again. I got a flannel and wiped it up. She said she felt a little better, but she would go and lie down for a while. I thought she would be all right then. I saw her go upstairs. Then I left home, and went to work in the field. I saw her no more until the boy, Owen Cobley, fetched me from the field. I went and found her dead, [cross-examined by the Coroner-] The deceased has been sick many times before. About five minutes before I left home, she went to the well to fetch some water. She has been living with me since Easter. Before that, she was in the Union [workhouse]. She came out of the Union on Easter Wednesday. The parish allowed her nothing. She might have gone back in the Union, but she said she would sooner die than go there. She was badly treated there. She had plenty to eat while she was with me. My son and I kept her entirely. She has got a doctor in the town, but he would not do anything for her. She did not complain before that morning. She has been sick before, when she was living with me. She ate a piece of light pudding on Friday, and an egg the previous day. She complained of sickness before she drank the tea.

P. Mclntyre, F.R.C.S. (sworn): I did not attend the deceased before her death. When I was called on Saturday, I saw her dead in bed. I have known her for nearly two years. She has complained of various ailments, such as irregular heartbeats, fainting, and great debility. She was a very enfeebled person. I have examined the body, and I have no doubt that the cause of death was valvular disease of the heart. The advanced state of decomposition of the body is to be attributed to her rather irregular habits.

The jury verdict was: "Died of valvular disease of the heart"

The Coroner: I must state the desirability of erecting a mortuary for this parish; as a corpse in the advanced state of decomposition as the deceased, which the jury has seen, shut up in a house with the inhabitants, is injurious to their health, and also of those next door. A mortuary would entail little expense to the parish.

NRO Ref: ZB1478 318A
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