27 April 1901

Supposed Poisonous Sweets

On Monday afternoon, Deputy Coroner NEWTON resumed the inquiry at the Court House, Dukinfield, into the death of the little girl Bertha BAYLEY who died on March 12th under somewhat sudden and peculiar circumstances.

William ASHTON said: I live at 11 Foundry-street, Dukinfield, and am a dyer by trade, but have not followed the occupation for seven years. The deceased, Bertha BAYLEY, was my granddaughter, and was five years of age. She lived with me and my wife from her birth. On Saturday, the 9th March, she went to a children’s party at the Reform Club, Town-lane, and I saw her there several times. Before she went she was in the enjoyment of her usual health, and as merry as a cricket. She was naturally a healthy child, with the exception of measles &c. I saw her in the club during the evening, but she did not complain of anything. When I got home at half past nine o’clock, she was at home and asleep, and nothing was said about her being ill.

On the Sunday she seemed in her usual health and went to Ashton with her grandmother. About three o’clock on Monday morning she was in bed and called out to her grandmother that her belly hurt. Grandmother and her aunt got up and found her vomiting and relaxed. She was very ill and did not seem to get any better. At ten o’clock in the forenoon Dr PARK was consulted. He did not come, but sent some medicine. He, however, arrived at ten o’clock at night and examined her, and expressed the opinion that she would be all right in the morning. At three o’clock on the Tuesday morning she became worse, and I went for Dr PARK. He came back with me. The child was then dying and expired between three and four o’clock.

The Deputy Coroner: Can you tell us what she ate at the party? No. — Can you tell us what they provided for the children to eat? Well, there was currant bread, sweet bread, nuts, sweets and oranges. — Could they take as much as they wanted? No, the nuts, sweets and oranges were "allowanced" out in bags. Some had to do without. Bertha was one as someone said she was not a member’s child. She began to "skrike" (cry — Ed) and Mr WILLIAMS said "You shall not go without," and gave her some. He had given the sweets to all the children at the party Can you give me any idea of the exact quantity of nuts and sweets given to each child? No. Dr PARK said after she was dead he was afraid she had been poisoned.

Dr J R S PARK said: In the afternoon of Monday the 11th March, between two and three o’clock, Mrs ASHTON, of 11 Foundry-street, came to my surgery. She said her grandchild, Bertha BAYLEY, was suffering from vomiting. She did not appear to attach any great importance to the matter. I gave her medicine I prescribed in the usual way. About ten o’clock the same night I was sent for to see the child, the messenger saying that she was worse. I saw her at 11 o’clock. I found her vomiting and purged with pains in her stomach and bowels. I elicited that she had been to a tea party on the Saturday night, and I expressed the opinion that she had upset her stomach. She was then weak and exhausted, but I attributed it to her relaxed condition. I advised them to continue the treatment — fomentation — and did not think the case very serious at the time.

At three o’clock the following morning I was again sent for. I went immediately and saw her. She was then in a convulsed and collapsed condition. She died in about half an hour. The cause of death I diagnosed to be inflammation of the bowels. The symptoms were such as were due to partaking of indigestible food. After certifying that death was due to gastro enteritis, information came to me that several other children who had also been to the party were more or less similarly ill. On inquiry, I found that the deceased had been given a packet of sweets. The fact of other children being similarly ill pointed to the sweets as being the possible cause of such illness. The sanitary inspector got some sweets from Mrs ASHTON and also some from the shop where they had been purchased and these were forwarded to be analysed.

(This was quite a long report, so I shall summarise — Ed) The analysis did not reveal the sweets to be poisoned. Dr PARK carried out a post mortem and found the child’s stomach was inflamed. It was questioned whether it was wise for Dr PARK to carry out the examination since he was also the doctor who had attended the child, but the coroner said this was the custom. The child’s condition was a common one and the cause could not be proved. The coroner was also satisfied that both the doctor and the child’s family had done all they could for her. The jury returned a verdict of death from natural causes.

Prosecution at Ashton - A Peep into the Lark Trade

At the Ashton Borough Police Court on Monday, Edward TOWNLEY, bird dealer, 25 Bow-street, was summoned under the Wild Birds Protection Act for having in his possession on 11th April 20 larks recently caught. He pleaded not guilty — Inspector POCOCK, RSPCA, said the case was of a somewhat peculiar nature, and was taken under the Wild Birds Protection Act 1880. Under an Act of the following year, certain exemptions were made, but in no case did the exemption apply to birds alive. It only applied to birds which had recently been killed.

The Act of 1881 was the outcome of a little difficulty which arose whether birds caught in France or in other countries came within the meaning of the Act. Some justices held that they did, and others that they didn't, and in order that there might be no doubt, an amendment was passed to the original Act to this effect — "No person between 1st March and 1st of August, after the passing of this Act, shall knowingly, wilfully shoot, trap or ensnare any wild bird, or shall expose or offer for sale, or shall have in his control or possession on 15th March, any wild bird recently seized or taken, shall on conviction be liable to a penalty."

The defendant was charged with having in his possession after the 15th March twenty larks which had been recently caught. On the day in question, the 11th April, in company with Sergeant TOLSON, in consequence of a number of complaints received, he went to the defendant’s shop, which was on the opposite side of the Market Ground. He asked defendant if he had any fresh larks for sale. He replied: "Yes, I have a great lot if you want them," and pointed out twenty in the shop, adding: "I have a lot more upstairs, and some more in the back room."

He asked to be allowed to look at them, and he was permitted to do so. He saw the larks were in cages, and that they had been recently caught was evident from their activity in flying about the cages. A lark that had been in captivity any length of time did not do so. He asked defendant where he had got them from. He replied: "I don’t see why I should tell you my business." He refused at first, but afterwards said: "Three of us brought them from Ludlow," and afterwards said: "I did not buy them, they were brought from Ludlow within the last fortnight in February, and I went to Manchester to receive my share of them." He subsequently said he got them in Salford.

He asked defendant if he would show him any invoice from the place he purchased the larks, and he replied in the negative. Mrs TOWNLEY then spoke, and said "Larks are very dear just now. We have to give 14s a dozen for them. Defendant also remarked that he got birds from all over the country, but he refused to give any names.

(Again, quite a lengthy report, but basically, the RSPCA was trying to prove that the birds were caught out of season. "At the close of the case, the Bench expressed their opinion that there was a doubt in it and gave defendant the benefit of it." What people did with the larks is illustrated from the following separate item in this week’s paper:)

LARK SINGING — The Easter lark singing contest was concluded at the house of Mr John WARBURTON, the Sportsman Inn, Hall-street, on Saturday. There was an entry of 44 members. The birds were hung half an hour and they sang very well. The timers were Messrs W RIDER, REDDISH and J WILLIAMS of Gorton. Over 23 were awarded in prizes, which took the form of eight-day clocks, blankets, crockery ware, shawls, hearthrugs, bed quilts, kettles, sheets and other useful articles.

The "sing" was a great success and among the winners were: J WARBURTON of Gorton, T KAY of Gorton, F CRABTREE of Denton, R ANDERSON of Ashton, J WILLIAMS of Gorton, G HARRISON of Dukinfield, W ARTINGSTALL of Reddish, J SIDEBOTTOM of Reddish, S REDFERN of Gorton, W BIRCH of Reddish, R KITCHEN of Droylsden and W HYDE of Denton

Sarah DODD, committed from Ashton, was charged at the Manchester Assizes, on Friday, with bigamously marrying John YOUNG at Great Marsden on the 14th January 1896. It appeared that the accused and YOUNG had lived together before going through the form of marriage, and there were two children. YOUNG gave evidence and in answer to the Judge said he set the prosecution in motion. He did so because he wanted to get the children, and as the prisoner was living with someone else and there were more children, he did not want his own brought up with them.

The Judge said he supposed the witness was a reformed character and was shocked at his former life. YOUNG, who treated the matter very lightly, said this was so. — The Judge left it to the jury to say on the evidence given by several witnesses who were called whether the prisoner had reasonable ground for believing that her husband was dead at the time when she went through the form of marriage with YOUNG, who, it was stated, had himself told her that her husband was dead, and there was no reason why they should not marry.

The woman was found not guilty and discharged, the jury expressing the opinion that YOUNG ought to be reprimanded. The Judge agreed, but said he doubted whether any thing he could say would have any effect upon YOUNG from what they had seen of him.

The Ashton fire brigade were fairly on "active service" on Monday evening, their services being in great demand to quell the numerous fires which occurred in the town. At 7.24 p.m., Constable CORBETT received information from Robert HAINS, 24, Albion-street, that the shop of Messrs GOODSONS' Limited, mantel manufacturers, 150, Stamford-street, Ashton, was on fire.

The fire alarm bells at the Town Hall were rung and the float dispatched along with a contingent of firemen to the spot. On the arrival of the brigade the fire was extinguished. The fire was supposed to have originated through a mantle coming in contact with a gaslight in the shop window. The damage done was slight.

At 7.20 p.m., Inspector KNEALE received information from Thomas ROAKE, 50, Tatton-street, that the dwelling house of Ellen HEGINBOTTOM, 5, Robinson-street, Ashton was on fire. The fire alarm bells at the Town Hall were again rung, and the float, along with a contingent of firemen, despatched to the scene of the fire. On the arrival of the fire brigade, it was found that the fire had been extinguished by throwing buckets of water on it. The fire was caused by the explosion of a paraffin lamp which had been left lighted on the table, and which set fire to the furniture.

A 9.05 p.m., Constable STEELE received information from Thomas BRACEGIRDLE, 46 Delamere-street North, that the stable of Jesse CARTER, Back Pitt-street, Ashton, was on fire. The fire brigade, which had only just returned, again turned out, and was quickly on the scene. A quantity of rugs, owned by James BANKS, Carter's lodging house, Pitt-street, which were stored in the stable, were found to be ablaze. A few buckets of water sufficed to put out the flames. The origin of the fire is at present unknown.

The inaugural run of the season took place last Tuesday afternoon in beautifully fine weather. The whole of the members, including the president, put in an appearance, and a start was made from headquarters soon after two o’clock. The route taken was via Dukinfield Hall, Hooley Hill, Denton, Brinnington, and on to Cheadle, where the president called a halt for rest, refreshment and repairs.

Some time was spent at the hostelry of Harry LEES, formerly of Ashton, whose stone-pop can be recommended as "grateful and comforting" on a hot and dusty day. It was intended to make for Knutsford, but on account of the president showing symptoms of fatigue, this idea was abandoned, and the return journey was made via Cheadle Hulme and Adswood. The president again called a halt in order to view the interior of the "Greyhound" and to renew, at the latter place, his acquaintance with the landlady. After a somewhat lengthy stay, the journey was resumed just as the sun was setting. The whole party arrived safely in Dukinfield at 7.30, having spent a most enjoyable afternoon.

DRUNK AND DISORDERLY — At the Ashton County Police Court on Wednesday, Mary BRODERICK and James CONNELLY were each fined 5s for being drunk and disorderly.

PERMISSION TO SELL — On Monday, at the Borough Court, John Edward LINNEY was granted permission to sell at a beer off shop in Mossley-road, formerly held by Elizabeth SCHOFIELD. Councillor OLDHAM was called to speak to the applicant’s character.

CYCLING ACCIDENT — On Saturday night, a man named Joseph HAZELHURST was riding down Cavendish-street on a bicycle when he came into contact with a foot passenger, the force of the collision throwing him to the ground. He was carried into the Wellington Inn, and from there conveyed to the Ashton Infirmary. His injuries were found to be of a serious character.

A DESERTER — At the Ashton County Police Court on Wednesday, Harry WOOD was in custody charged with deserting from the 5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers Militia in Bury in July 1900. — Defendant pleaded guilty and was remanded for seven days to await an escort. — Constable MOLYNEUX, who appeared to have been at much trouble in making enquiries and effecting the capture, was awarded 10s.

ALBION SUNDAY SCHOOL BAND OF HOPE SOCIETY — In connection with this society, a meeting of exceptional interest was held in the large room on Monday evening last which took the form of a social character. A very good programme was gone through, including selections on the concertina by Mr Thomas WROE, for which he was greatly applauded; Minnie KAYE for her elocutionary powers in the poem entitled "Condemned to be Shot", and Ernest HEIGHWAY. Mr A OWEN occupied the chair and made a few remarks in regard to the temperance cause, urging the children to keep by their pledge.

NOT HOLD OF THE REINS — John Arthur BUCKLEY was before the Ashton County Justices on Wednesday, charged with riding a lorry without having hold of the reins of the horses at Hurst on April 2nd. — Defendant pleaded guilty and was fined 5s.

WIFE DESERTION — At the Ashton County Police Court on Wednesday, William NEVITT was summoned by his wife, Rachel NEVITT, for desertion. — Complainant stated that her husband returned home a fortnight ago and turned her out of the house. He afterwards deserted her, leaving her with six children. — Ann Emma ASHTON of Hurst deposed to the defendant running complainant out of the house. — Defendant denied the charge and said it was his wife who had deserted him. — The Bench granted a separation order and defendant to pay 10s 6d a week towards his wife’s maintenance.

ACCIDENT TO A COLLIER — On Monday midnight, a serious accident occurred at Astley Deep Pit to a miner named BRADLEY, of 3 Vale Cottages, Flowery Field. Whilst at work, a fall of roof took place which struck him behind the head and felled him. A severe scalp wound was inflicted on his head, and a wound on the forehead. He was stunned, and was conveyed up the shaft as quickly as possible. He was taken to Dr BOOTH’s surgery where the injuries were dressed. BRADLEY was afterwards taken home and is under the care of the doctor, doing very nicely.

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