21 May 1904

Action in a London County Court

At the Marylebone County Court (London), last Friday, Mr John KEATING, grocers’ traveller, 39, Powis-square, Bayswater, W., brought an action against Mr James GRIME, grocer, 6, Astley-street, Dukinfield, claiming £10, balance alleged to be due on the purchase of a cash register.

The plaintiff’s case, briefly, was as follows: In December last he advertised in one of the trade journals a second-hand cash register for sale for £30. The defendant wrote in reply to the advertisement, and plaintiff sent the register to him, subject to approval. The ordinary custom of the trade, said plaintiff, was that anything sent in this way on approval, and not accepted at the price stated, should be returned immediately.

After some correspondence had passed between the parties as to the working of the machine, plaintiff wrote pointing out that defendant had detained the register “beyond the usual time.” This letter was followed by a wire, in response to which the defendant sent a cheque for £20, with an intimation that he would write more fully at the end of the week.

Plaintiff accepted the £20 on account, and then awaited further communications, for the defendant had written that he would send an “explanatory letter.” In a letter dated January 10th defendant wrote to the effect that in the meantime he had seen another register at a lower price which would suit him, and that he was not prepared to pay more than the £20 already sent for the machine in question. Plaintiff, however, maintained that this alteration of intention was too late; that the contract was already completed, and that the machine had been detained beyond the time customary for approval.

The defendant admitted that he had the register on approval, but did not approve of it at the price asked. He then sent on £20, the amount which he was prepared to pay for the machine, and the plaintiff accepted the cheque. He also sent a letter saying that if plaintiff did not care to accept the £20 would he send it back, when the register would be returned carriage paid. References were submitted before the plaintiff sent the register on approval, and nothing was said as to limiting the time for approval.

Plaintiff: But it is customary in the trade to send a thing back immediately if not approved. Plaintiff went on to deny having received a letter to the effect that if the £20 were sent back to defendant the register should be returned. — Defendant: Then there is a letter missing. Only fifteen days after the register was received I sent a letter to the effect that if he was not satisfied with the £20, and would send the cheque back, I would return the register.

The plaintiff: In the ordinary sense or course of business that cheque confirmed the approval of the register. — The Judge: Looking at the whole of the correspondence, I find that the defendant decided to purchase the register on the terms offered. I find for the plaintiff. — Plaintiff asked for costs, but the judge only allowed those of the summons.

This (Monday) morning and inquest was held at the New Inn on the body of Thomas BRADSHAW, who was found drowned in a reservoir off Lodge-lane, last Friday. Mr F NEWTON was the coroner and Mr S HAGUE, borough surveyor and waterworks manager, and Mr C LINGARD, waterman, represented the Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, and Dukinfield (Joint) Waterworks Committee. The following evidence was given:—

Martha BRADSHAW said: I live at 144, Oxford-road, Dukinfield. I identify the body viewed by the jury as that of my husband. I last saw him alive on January 21st, when he left home about 7.45 a.m. He had been out of a situation about a fortnight, and had not been regularly employed for two years. He had been considerably upset on this account, and for two weeks prior to his disappearance he had not been in a sober state. He had never threatened to commit suicide. Beyond the fact that he was out of employment he had no trouble. — The Coroner expressed his own and the jury’s sympathy with Mrs BRADSHAW in her bereavement.

Thomas WEIR said: I reside at Ashton-road, Newton. On Friday afternoon, at 1.30, I was walking on the banks off the waste water reservoir off Lodge-lane, belonging to the Ashton and District Joint Waterworks Committee. I noticed the body of the deceased floating in the water. I secured a rake and pulled it to the side. The man was quite dead and I notified the police, who subsequently removed the body. I was not acquainted with the deceased. I visited the reservoir the previous day, and did not see anything of the body.

The Coroner: Have you any further evidence? — Constable KENNY: No, sir.

Mr HAGUE desired to say that the men working under him had been at the reservoir regularly in the course of their duty, and had never noticed anything in the water. He would like to state that the water was not used for domestic consumption, but simply and purely for trade and manufacturing purpose. On behalf of the Joint Waterworks Committee, he asked the Press to make this fact as public as possible, as a feeling existed in some quarters in the district that the people had to drink the water.

In reply to the Coroner, Constable KENNY said there was reason to believe that deceased had not been seen since a quarter to eight o’clock on the 21st of January. Handbills had been issued giving a description of the man, and every effort made to find him.

The Coroner: Was the reservoir dragged? No, sir. — Is it presumed that he has been in this reservoir ever since he was missed? Yes. Was anything found on the bank? No. — A juror said the deceased belonged to a suicidal family. He was a simple-minded man.

The Coroner said there was no doubt he has committed suicide. The question was as to the state of his mind at the time. — After a brief consultation, the jury returned a verdict of suicide by drowning whilst in an unsound state of mind.

A Dukinfield Widow’s Claim — A Question of Dependency

An interesting case under the Workman’s Compensation Act came before his Honour Judge Reginald BROWN, K.C., at Hyde County Court on Wednesday in which the claimant was a young woman named Elizabeth GOODWIN, a widow of 118, Church-street, Dukinfield, and the respondents were the Newton Moor Spinning Company.

The claim was for the loss of her husband, Jesse GOODWIN, who was an overlooker over the spinners at the company’s mill, who fell down a hoist on January 25th, 1901, and died from a fracture of the skull on the same day.

Mrs GOODWIN stated that her husband died on January 25th as a result of an accidental fall down a hoist at the mill. Her husband was earning 30s per week, and she was earning on average 17s 8½d per week. Her husband kept two or three shillings a week out of his wages, and she paid all the bills, rent, etc. The furniture was obtained on the hire system and they were paying for it by weekly instalments.

She had no money in hand no money in hand at her husband’s death, and as he was not in any club she had to borrow money with which to bury him. She had been working since the death of her husband, but owing to illness she had been at home three times, and the doctor said she was suffering from shock. They had only been married three months and a fortnight when her husband died.

Mr SAUL, for the defence, said he had no witnesses to call. It was a question as to what his lordship considered a proper sum to award to the dependent upon her husband. Of course, if this woman had been fully dependent upon her husband, the minimum allowance by statute was £228 10s 0d, as being the amount earned by the deceased in the three years preceding his death. Even if the woman was only partially dependent, of course, there was nothing in the Act to prevent his Honour granting her the same amount as if she was wholly dependent upon him.

He submitted that she could not be fully dependent upon him. At the date of his death, the woman was earning the sum of 17s 8½d as an average, and the deceased was also earning 30s per week, and therefore £2 7s 8d was coming into the home. Out of that she said that her husband kept 2s or 3s per week.

He had tried to find out from the application what they had spent for the household. The rent of this house was 4s 6d, about 15s was spent in food, which was supplied by a penny-in-the-slot meter, came to about 7d a week, and this was, of course, during the winter months. Her coal bill could not be very large, as the house was shut up in the day time.

There must have been a good deal more coming into this house than was being spent because they were able, during the husband’s lifetime, to pay the sum of 10s, sometimes 8s, for the furniture, so that in course of time this £15 furniture would be paid off. They all knew that the shock of losing her husband must have been a very great one, but shocks diminish as time went on, and she would then be able to go on working.

His Lordship desired one or other of the counsel to direct his attention to some cases of this kind that had been decided. He had not had a case of this kind, of partial dependency, before.

Mr JORDAN: It is for the judge to say after he has heard what amount was expended, to what extent the wife has suffered in her dependency by the loss of her husband. If you include this furniture, it seems to me that the whole of this income was expended during the lifetime of her husband, and she was dependent almost to the full amount that he was making.

His Lordship: I am waiting for tuition by the Court of Appeal. They tell you everything that you should not do, but they do not tell you what you should do. — Mr JORDAN: I know of no mathematical method by which you are directed to decide the question.

His Honour said, as the counsel had observed, it did not seem to him that the Court of Appeal had said exactly how they were to proceed in a case of this sort; but he thought he found from the evidence before him, and from one’s knowledge of these matters, and cases, that about 30s per week would be about the amount of household expenditure here, and he thought he must regard it as if the husband and wife contributed about half each towards that.

On the basis of the husband’s contributing everything of it, the wife would be entitled to £228. One half of this would be £114. There were expenses which the wife had to pay which he could take into consideration. Those expenses amounted to £37. What he considered to be roughly half of this amount, that if wholly dependent she would be entitled to, he would make an award in this case of the sum of £150. His Honour directed that all expenses for furniture, etc, must be paid out of this sum, and the rest invested for Mrs GOODWIN.

The Manager at Newton Moor Spinning Company that the claimant was a cardroom operative, which was very heavy work. She was totally unfit for this work. In the course of a week she would turn over about 8,000lbs of cotton — His Honour: Do you mean to say that she will not be able to do that work again? — The Manager: Not unless she alters very much. We want strong women. She does not work for us.

His Honour: I can see that the woman is utterly broken down, and it seems to me that she ought to go away. — Mr SAUL: I have just been instructed that she is a very good worker, and that her employers will be willing to find her work. — His Honour ordered that £5 be granted her with which to go away, and that the rest of the money be paid her at the rate of 5s per week, or 20s per month.

On Monday an accident, which might easily have been attended with serious consequences, occurred at the Woodpark Pit, Saturday. It appears that a man named GREAVES was following his occupation as usual when, without a moment’s warning, a large portion of the roof under which he was working collapsed, and the unfortunate man was buried for an instant. Happily, however, help was close at hand, and his comrades soon rescued him, and he was sent to the surface without delay.

Dr HEAP then attended him, and dressed his injuries, which were found to be serious enough to preclude him working until at least after Whitsuntide, and consisted of two or three nasty abrasions on the head and a painful injury to the ankle, with several bruises on the body. The accident is rendered all the more sad by the fact that he lost his wife only a short time ago, and the sympathies and hopes for a speedy recovery go out to him.

Dr THOMSON, the Oldham borough coroner, held an inquest at the Town Hall on Monday afternoon on the body of Robert FRASER, of 113, Roundthorn-road, Glodwick, goods guard, who died from the affects of injuries sustained at Greenfield on Thursday.

Sarah FRASER, widow of the deceased, gave evidence of identification, and said her husband was in his usual health when he left home at 7.30 on Thursday morning. Deceased was 51 years of age.

Dr NIELD, house surgeon at the Oldham Infirmary, said the deceased when admitted, about 2.45 on Thursday afternoon, had the right leg crushed, and the tissues were reduced to a pulp. The right thumb was also dislocated, and the man had lost a lot of blood. It was thought necessary to operate upon the limb, and witness was in the act of administering chloroform when the deceased suddenly stopped breathing, and his pulse ceased action. Everything possible was done to resuscitate him during the next hour, but the man expired.

Replying to the Coroner, witness said the chloroform consisted of from twenty to thirty drops — not sufficient to put a man under its influence. He attributed death to shock and haemorrhage from the injury. The chloroform might have been might been a contributing cause.

George PAYNTER, of 80, Oldham-road, Springhead, gave evidence to the accident. Witness’ engine was attached to a brake at the Greenfield Station. They had the van on the main line in order to give it a start on the next one, which had a falling gradient. Witness was on his engine. Deceased walked on the footboard in the end of the van. Deceased then said, “Give it a start,” and immediately put his coupling book in order.

He then gave witness a signal to start, and then another to stop, uncoupling the van with the second instruction. Witness then shunted the van on a siding. Meanwhile deceased began to walk on the footboard again, and had reached the door of the van on the return when he fell to the ground. The next thing witness saw was deceased’s leg across the line. Witness called out to several railway servants near by, and they ran up to FRASER, and picked him up.

Replying to the Coroner, witness said he could not properly account for the accident. He surmised that deceased must have been walking along the van footboard by the aid of a longitudinal bar which runs across the brake until it reaches the door. At this point there is on all vans an upright bar, and witness thought deceased must have let go his hold of this horizontal bar before he caught the perpendicular bar.

Coroner: I suppose it is quite a usual thing to do to go along the footboard? — Witness: Yes; it is the safest plan, because you have no points or weights to fall over.

Michael HOPKINS, of Shaw Hall, Greenfield, inspector at the station, said he was hailed by the driver of the engine. He found FRASER lying in the six-foot way with his right leg over a rail in the four-foot way. Witness picked the man up, laid him on some boards on his back, after which, upon assistance arriving, the leg was bandaged and the bleeding stopped. FRASER was put on the 2.10 p.m. train for Oldham, where the ambulance met and conveyed him to the Infirmary.

In reply to the Coroner, witness said he found Fraser’s coupling hook in the van, which suggested that he was in the act of entering it. The Coroner, summing up, said it was obvious that the injury to the leg played a large part in causing death, though the chloroform, always a risky thing in cases of this description, had been a contributory cause. “Accidental death” was the verdict.

Carried Out Her Threat

An inquest was held in the court-room, Ashton Town Hall, on Monday forenoon by Mr J F PRICE, district coroner, on the body of Sarah Jane BANN, wife of Henry BANN, 1, Victoria-street, whose body was found in the canal on Friday of last week.

Henry BANN, butcher, 1, Victoria-street, said the deceased was his wife, and she was 41 years of age. She had had good health, but had unfortunately been addicted to intemperate habits, especially during the last two years. She had been drinking last week and there had been some unpleasantness in consequence.

He had returned home often to find her in drink. She had threatened to commit suicide on several occasions, apparently in order to aggravate him. He last saw her alive on Friday morning, when he left home to go to his place of work in Cavendish-street. He returned home at 12.30 noon, and his wife was not at home, and one of the boys told him she had been away about an hour. He never saw her alive again.

She was sober when he left in the morning, and he asked her to keep straight, and she said she would. He had not been out of the house ten minutes when, according to his boy’s statement, she went out. She told one of the children that she was going to drown herself, but they had heard her threaten it so often that they took no notice of it.

A Juryman: Had she had any secret trouble? Oh no, nothing at all to trouble her. She had always plenty of money to go at. — The Coroner: Too much, perhaps. — A Juryman: That’s about it.

Annie HAMMOND, wife of John HAMMOND, Earle-street, said she worked for Mrs BANN, and was engaged cleaning the house last Friday. Deceased went out and came back again, apparently sober. About 11.20 she said she was ill and complained of pain in her head.

She said there was a train which came up from Manchester at twenty minutes to 12, and that she would throw herself under it. Witness asked if had gone mad. She replied, “Never mind gone mad, I’m going.” She left the house at once with a small plaster on her head. Witness did not think that she meant to commit suicide, as she had threatened so often. She did not know of her having had any drink that morning.

Walter FLETCHER, canal agent, Great Central Railway Company, said he saw deceased on Friday morning about 11.45 walking along the canal towing path near the Cavendish-street Bridge. She appeared to be perfectly sober, and there was nothing unusual about her, or suspicions about her actions. She looked remarkably neat and clean.

Henry HEAP, of 27, Wharf-street, Dukinfield, said he was a porter at the Manchester Ship Canal Warehouse, Lower Wharf-street, Ashton. On Friday, about 12.25 noon, he was in the warehouse and near to the edge of the canal, when he saw the body of a woman floating face downwards in the water. He got the body out. There was no sign of life. He notified the police, and the body was removed on the ambulance to the mortuary at the Town Hall.

The Coroner said the facts all pointed to suicide. It was a very sad case. The jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst of unsound mind, induced by excessive drinking.

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