The Bristol Mercury Tuesday February 22nd 1887.

ALLEGED NEGLECT OF AN INFANT. – ADJOURNED INQUEST AT BEDMINSTER. Yesterday afternoon, Mr.. H.S. Wasbrough, city coroner, held and adjourned inquest at the Bedminster police court touching the death of Alice Elizabeth Oatway, aged eight months, the illegitimate daughter of Tiney Oatway, a laundress, living at Long Ashton. On the last occasion the mother of the deceased and Drs. Fuller and Logan gave evidence.

Lavinia Martin, widow, living at 24, Greenway Bush Lane, said she was the sister of Tiney Ordway, and took charge of the child for some time before Mrs. Mitchell had it. When the child was brought to her it appeared to be in good health, and was very hearty. She fed the child on milk and biscuits, giving it a quart of milk in a day and night, on which it appeared to thrive, and when Mrs. Mitchell first had the child witness considered that it was in good condition, and it had no sores about it. A month ago the child was again brought to witness, and it was then in a dreadful state, with numerous sores on different parts of its body. There was a quantity of dirt between the child’s fingers, and when this was removed the parts were very sore. She did not consider the child improved at all before it’s death, except that some of the sores healed a little. Its head was also very sore, and witness drew the doctor’s attention to its condition. The child died on Monday last.

Dr.Logan, recalled, said that having heard Mrs. Martin’s evidence he was of opinion that the state in which the child was, as described by her, would have a tendency, combined with other causes, to produce the state of body in which the child was. He considered that Mrs. Martins feeding of the child was most injudicious.

Acting Sergeant Furze, stationed at Long Ashton said that on January 29th the mother of the deceased called at his house with a bundle of the child’s clothes for him to look at. He saw that the clothes were very dirty, and they smelt very disagreeably. They were mouldy.

Elizabeth Mitchell expressed a wish to give evidence, on being sworn, said she was the wife of George Thomas Mitchell, quarryman, of Providence, Long Ashton. She kept the child for about four months, and received 4s. a week for its keep. When the child was brought to her it was clean, but it was never a healthy, strong child. At first she fed the child on “tops and bottoms,” boiled and beat up in milk, but afterward she gave it Bath biscuits and new milk. She took the child to Dr. Fuller, who ordered her to give it milk and water, but subsequently the mother told her to continue with the same diet as at first, which he did. The mother came to the child regularly every week, and saw the child every time, except on two occasions. On January 23rd witness gave the mother notice to remove the child, as she had a bill from Dr. Fuller of £2 16s., and she wanted to go to work to pay for it. During the time witness had the child she used to go to work for four or five days a week. When the child was returned to its mother it was very clean, as witness washed it every morning. The child was always sore. Witness complained to Tiney Oatway of the infant’s condition, and was told it was in consequence of the child not being washed properly from its birth. She denied that the child was dirty when it was removed, but admitted that the night clothes were dirty. When she went to work she left her house at eight in the morning, and returned between seven and eight, and before going witness took the child to her mother-in-law’s house. The reason the clothes were not washed was that she had been to work several days that week. She did not insure the child’s life. She was sure the child was well attended to by her mother-in-law, and she paid 3s.a week to her for taking care of the deceased and her own two children. The Coroner at this point said he was sorry he should be obliged to adjourn, and the further inquiry was accordingly deferred until Thursday next week at four o’clock.


The Bristol Mercury Saturday February 19th 1887.


Yesterday morning, Mr. H. S. Wasbrough, city Coroner, held an inquest at the Avon Packet, Coronation Road, touching the death of an infant named Alice Elizabeth Oatway, the illegitimate child of Tiney Oatway.

The Coroner said that the case was one of supposed neglect. Whether or not it was so they would find from the evidence, but the medical man who last saw the child did not feel justified in giving a certificate in consequence of the emancipated state of the child, which he attributed to neglect and bad feeding, and the fact of it being an illegitimate child necessitated that inquiry.

Tiney Otway, mother of the deceased, living at Long Ashton, a laundress, said the child was over eight months old, and was healthy when born. At first witness attended to it and suckled it for about six weeks. After that time witness gave the child in charge of her sister, a widow, for six weeks, and subsequently it was taking to a Mrs. Mitchell, living at Providence, Long Ashton. The child was perfectly healthy when taken to Mrs. Mitchell, and in good condition. Witness paid 4s. a week for the child’s keep. Three weeks ago the child seemed very ill, and she therefore took it away and placed it with her sister again. On the morning she removed the child, her sister took it to Mr. Fuller, surgeon, who had on a previous occasion seen it. Mrs. Mitchell took the child to the doctor once, and on Saturday last Dr. Logan, went to see it. When the child was removed three weeks ago, it was in the same wretched, emancipated state in which it was when it died. The child was not kept clean, and witness found at its clothes were in a filthy state when she received them a week after the child was removed. The child died on Monday last. Witness was not aware that its life was insured. About a month after she took the child to Mrs. Mitchell, witness told her “she had a mind to insure the child.”  Mrs. Mitchell replied she thought of doing that herself, so that if it died, witness could pay her so much you week back. Witness replied, “No; if anyone insures it, I shall do it myself.”

In answer to Mrs.. Mitchell, the witness said that she did not have notice to remove the child, but did so because of its condition.

Dr. Joseph Fuller, practicing at Long Ashton, said that on October 5th, last year, the child was brought to him. It was suffering from whooping cough, and from the effects of injudicious feeding. He asked Mrs. Mitchell what the child have been fed on, and was told, “on bread and Bath biscuits.” He told her he did not think the child digested its food. He formed that opinion from its condition. Witness prescribed for the child, and ordered her to give it milk and water in the proportion of two parts of milk to one part water. He did not see the child again until three weeks ago, and it then appeared more emancipated than when he saw it on the previous occasion. There were abrasions on the back and leg, which should not have been there if the child had been properly washed, kept clean, and attended to. He came to the conclusion that the child is dying from consumption of the bowels. This might be produced by ill feeding or neglect, and might follow whooping cough. Anything that would depress the system would be likely to bring on general tuberculosis. Bad feeding would certainly depress the system.

By a Juryman – He did not consider, taking into consideration the child’s state when he saw it on the second occasion, it would have been improved, however carefully it was attended, during the last three weeks.

Dr. F. T. B. Logan, Southville, deposed that he saw the child for the first time on Saturday last, when he was fetched by the mother. The child was in a dying stage when he saw it. It was too ill to be much examined, and it was difficult to form an opinion what it was suffering from. The child at that time was very clean. He prescribed for it, and again saw the child on Monday morning, when it appeared to be just alive. He did not see it again, and he believed it died a few hours after he last saw it. He made a post-mortem examination on Thursday morning. The body was most emancipated, and there was not a particle of fat on any part of the body, either externally or on the internal organs. There was an abscess on its head, and two partially healed sores. Round the buttocks, and inside the thighs of the child was one mass of abrasions and sores, which might be produced either by some lowering cause or by dirt and neglect. The most frequent cause was children not being kept clean. He found the lungs one mass of tubercle. In the left lung the tubercle had broken down, and formed an abscess. The heart appeared healthy, except from it being somewhat enlarged. the liver it was also full of tubercle. The spleen was very much in enlarged, and was also full of tubercle; and the kidneys were similarly affected. The stomach and intestines were destitute of fat, and very transparent. There was milk food in both.  The mesenteric   glands were infiltrated with tubercle. General tuberculosis was the cause of death, and would fully account for the emancipated state of the body. Improper feeding and neglect would produce the state in which the body was, and the two were the most usual causes of tuberculosis in infants. It might be brought on by whooping cough, cold, or any disease which would lower the system generally.

By a Juryman – In the state the child was, it was impossible that any feeding could have produced an improvement in three weeks.

By the Coroner – The child only weighed 8 lb. The average ordinary weight of a female child of eight months would be about 14 lb. He should think, from its appearance, that the child was of ordinary size when born.

The inquiry was then adjourned until Monday at 4 at the Bedminster police station.