Thursday, 27 October 2016

Week 43: Inquest on Preston Woman

Every once in a while I will find a newspaper article about a Palin that I just cannot place, whether the Palin is in our tree or another branch.  Today’s blog is about one of those instances, and finally able to put all the pieces together.

Sarah Ada Palin was born in 1886 in Wolstanton, Staffordshire to Frederick Bygrave Palin and Eliza Scragg Bourne.   When Sarah was just two years of age her mother died and in the 1891 census we find Sarah and her father living with her uncle William Scragg.  In the 1901 census we find Sarah still living with her uncle, her father is not there and she is listed as adopted daughter.  I am not able to find her father in any other later census.

The next I find is the probate for Sarah and she left her meager savings to her father.  She died rather young and I thought that odd.  But it was the address listed in the probate and the fathers name that was the clue to link Sarah with the person in the following newspaper article.

The newspaper article is quiet lengthy and impossible to get a total picture of it where one could read it.  I have transcribed the article taken from the Lancashire Evening Post February 5, 1935, page 10.


“In appearance she went from 40 to about 80 years of age” stated a witness at an inquest at Preston today, on Ada Palin (46) a single woman of Preston Road, Lea, who died last Wednesday night.
The same witness stated that it was her opinion that Miss Palin had not been getting proper food and was being punished.  On many occasions Miss Palin was seen with black eyes and other injuries.
Mrs. Ellen Bradley, with whom Miss Palin had lived for five years, was represented by Mr. K Burke.
Police evidence was that information of the death of Miss Palin was received on January 31st.  On the body there were signs of a cut on the bridge of the nose about a quarter of an inch long, discolorations of the right eye and other abrasions.  The marks were consistent with a collisions with possibly the sharp edge of a door.  There was no suspicion of foul play.
Emily Margaret McQueen, widow, Gleneagles, Preston Road, Lea, Preston, said that she had known Palin for about 18 months.
The Coroner (Col. Parker): What was she like when she first came?
Mrs. McQueen, A woman about my age, brisk walking and energetic.  She was of good appearance.  She knocked about quite normally – went to shops, and then I used to see her with a couple of more black eyes.
When did you notice anything unusual?
Well, I use to feel anxious when I saw her with the bruises.  I haven’t seen her outside since August last year.
When did you notice anything unusual?
Well, I saw her knocking about quite ordinarily for a long time.  Then I gradually saw her failing in health, and she went from about 40 to look about 80.
Have you seen these black eyes on her more than one occasion?
They had hardly time to get better before she had another one.
Anything about her nose?
Yes, her nose was bruised.  She gave the excuse that she had dizzy fits and falls.
Did you hear any noises?
On one occasion only.  I was busy upstairs when I heard a noise coming presumably from her bedroom.
What were they like these noises?
Groans of agony.  The last time I saw her was on the Monday.  She was pottering round putting some clothes on the line.  She was tottering and I felt that she wasn’t getting enough to eat and was being punished.
Did it upset you at all?
Absolutely.  She was cowed and daren’t speak to anybody at all.  I never had a chance to speak to her at all.
I assume from what you saw that you realised that this woman was not getting proper treatment?  Supposing you held that opinion for something like a few months, didn’t you think it was a proper case to get in the people who would investigate?
I went to the police.  I did my duty all through.
When did you go to the police about it?
In the middle of the summer and the first week of this year.
Witness, who was dresses in nurse’s uniform, added that the police constable she visited said he was going to see the “cruelty” inspector.  Nothing came of it and she was waiting to see her Medical Officer, and was going to ask him is something could not be done.
Mr. Burke: Did you ever inquire from Miss Palin as to what caused these black eyes and bruises?
No, she would never tell anyone anything.
Did you ever speak to Mrs. Bradley about the injuries or about Miss Palin’s decline in health?
At this juncture witness broke down and the proceeding were held up until she recovered.
From the first to the last did you ever receive either from Miss Palin or Mrs. Bradley any complaints that these injuries were due to violence?
No, sir.  I did not.
Sarah Grundy, a weaver, of Railway Road, Addlington, sad that she had stayed with Mrs. Bradley and also at the Fiddler’s CafĂ© nearby.  On one occasion she had been told that Miss Palin had been locked in the house.
Asked by the Coroner what Miss Palin’s physical appearance was when she saw her, witness said she looked very ill.
“She would eat any food that other people left over”, the witness went on, “whatever there was on a plate she would eat, whether it was finished or not.  She would eat pieces of bread with lard on it.”
Questioned by the Coroner, witness said Miss Palin’s legs appeared to be badly bruised or burned.
The Coroner:  Have you ever seen Mrs. Bradley ill-treat this woman?
No, but Miss Palin told me that Mrs. Bradley had pushed her fingers into both her eyes.
In answer to Mr. Burke, witness said Miss Palin appeared to be a bit simple.  “She must have been, “she added, “or she would have hit her back.”
Constable Rutherford, stationed at Clifton, said when he first saw Miss Palin she said she was looking for work,  One of her eyes was very discoloured and when he asked her what was the matter she said she had fallen.
Witness saw her on several other occasions, and in consequence of what he had been told by Mrs. McQueen he spoke to Miss Palin, but she refused to make any statement.  He had never spoken to Mrs. Bradley because of what he had been told by police officers lodging with her during the latter part of the Blackpool illuminations.  As a result he did not think he was justified in interfering.
Dr. Mary Lowry said that she conducted a post mortem examination on Thursday January 31.  Externally the body was in an extremely emaciated condition.  There was a cut on the right forearm, some discoloration under the right eye, and a cut on the bridge of the nose and an abrasion on the right shin.
These were consistent with a recent fall or tumble.  Internally there was very little blood in the body and the heart was pale and small.  The stomach contained a water fluid and there was evidence of bronchial pneumonia in both lungs.  The walls of the stomach were very pale, and the small intestine was empty.  There was no fat at all in the abdomen.  There was no disease in any other organ in the body.
In her opinion death was due to bronchial pneumonia accelerated by want of sufficient nourishment.
Questioned by the Coroner, Dr. Lowry said anybody in an emaciated condition similar to Miss Palin’s would not stand bronchial pneumonia very long, probably only a day or two.
Mr. Burke:  Is it not a characteristic of people who are rather dull mentally that they tend to starve themselves?
I do not agree.  My experience is that they eat too much.
The Coroner asked Mr. Burke whether he was going to call his client, and he replied: I do not think it prudent, having regard to the implications.
It was agreed that Mrs. Bradley should not be called.
Addressing the jury the Coroner reminded them that a doctor was called in when the woman collapsed on the Wednesday night, and he issued a death certificate.
“Then he heard some remarks, although I don’t know what they were, and he rand me up and told me he didn’t feel very happy about the case and thought I ought to know about it.”
“According to Dr. Lowry’s evidence death is due to bronchial pneumonia, but not having been able definitely to satisfy herself one way or another about the diabetes.  She came to the conclusion that death was due to bronchial pneumonia and want of sufficient nourishment, having regard to what she found and the emaciated state of the body.”
Obviously Mrs. McQueen had been very upset in the witness box about something that was going on.  “It takes a good deal more evidence that that,” he went on, “to bring home anything of the nature which has been hinted at in this case against anybody.”
The suggested the jury returning a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, and to add that in what circumstances that condition was brought about, there was not sufficient evidence to say.
“This would be an open verdict,” he went on, “and it leaved the police with an open mind with regard to any other investigation they light like to make.  I am sure there has been some suggestion that the police did not do all they might have done.  All they could do, however was to see the person who was supposed to have been ill-treated and ask what happened.  Constable Rutherford did everything possible in the circumstances.”
There was any amount of rumour, but when they had boiled it all down it came to was somebody had told something to somebody who told somebody else.
After retiring the jury returned an open verdict, as the Coroner suggested, in accordance with the medical evidence.
Western Daily Press February 6, 1935
I have not been able to find any other later newspaper article regarding this case.

(NOTE TO SELFremember that a lot of our ancestors went by their middle names!)

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