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From: "Petra Mitchinson" <>
Subject: [CUMB] Carlisle Journal 11 Nov 1853 - Inquest on John COLQUOUN (2)
Date: Sat, 31 Dec 2011 15:36:40 -0000


Friday, 11 Nov 1853 (p. 5, col. 5-6, Article)

EXTRAORDINARY DEATH OF A LUNATIC PAUPER.

[continued]


Joseph LAMMONBY. - I am relieving officer of one district of the Longtown Union. The deceased, John COLQUHOUN, was an in-door pauper in the Longtown Workhouse about sixteen months ago. He appeared rather weak of intellect at that time, but could answer any question. He remained about three weeks, and was then removed to Wainsgate Union, having been sent for by his own son. He was sent by rail, and the Longtown police-officer went with him. He was afterwards removed as a lunatic to Bensham Asylum. He was at that time maintained by the Longtown Union, and has remained chargeable to it since. He got better, and was discharged. There was £25. 5s. paid for him, so that he must have been in about twelve months. He returned to Waingate, but was again sent back to the asylum, where he remained till now. The following letters, which had been received by the witness, were now produced by Mr. HODGSON, clerk to the Longtown Union, and read by the Coroner:-

"Bensham Lunatic Asylum, 18th Oct., 1853.
"Sir, - I beg to inform you that COLQUHOUN, sent here from Easington, is quite capable of being managed in a workhouse, or any such place. He is nearly well, and can be removed from here immediately - he will never be better than he is now. Be so good as to write me to say when you will remove him from this establishment.
"I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
"FREDERICK GLENTON, Overseer."

"Newcastle-on-Tyne, 25th Oct., 1853.
"Sir, - Not having heard from you regarding John COLQUHOUN, who is desirous of being sent to your place, and who is not now insane, and only labouring under weakness from age, and would do as an inmate in a workhouse, I am anxious to know what you intend to do with him. There is no doubt of his belonging to you, and therefore you had better take and provide for him yourselves, than leave him here at a cost of 9s. a week to you. Will you write me immediately regarding him?
"I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
"FRED. GLENTON."

Witness - I wrote in answer to the letter of the 25th, that I could not well get up for him, but that he was to send him on Wednesday if it suited him; and that he was to write before, and state by what train he would come, and I would meet him. I received no answer till Wednesday evening, although I called at the Post-office on Tuesday afternoon. The next post was due at ten o'clock on Wednesday. The letter ran as follows: -

"Bensham, 31st Oct., 1853.
"Dear Sir, - I will send J. COLQUHOUN to Carlisle on Wednesday by the first train, which arrives at half-past nine o'clock.
"I am, dear Sir, yours truly,
"FRED. GLENTON."

The letter bore the Gateshead postmark of the 1st of Nov. I posted my letter on Sunday afternoon, so that it would not go till Monday.

The Coroner inquired if Bensham was under the superintendence of the Cumberland magistrates.

Mr. C. HODGSON - (who attended as solicitor to the Longtown Union, and also on behalf of the Lunacy Committee) - said it was not. They visited Dunstan Lodge Asylum, but had nothing to do with Bensham.

The CORONER inquired if the deceased would be discharged on a magistrate's certificate.

Mr. HODGSON said he did not know what the practice was at Bensham, but at Dunstan Lodge no patient was discharged without the certificate of three magistrates.

Mr. McALPIN said all private asylums would be alike in that respect.

Mr. GARBUTT said they were all the same; and the magistrates had a right to visit wherever they had a pauper patient. Bensham was the asylum for the county of Durham.

The CORONER said that deceased had been sent from Waingate, and would be under the superintendence of the Durham magistrates.

Mr. GARBUTT said that made no matter.

Mr. C. HODGSON said that the deceased was not exactly chargeable to Longtown union, but had been maintained by them to avoid legal proceedings.

The CORONER asked in what way deceased would be sent to Bensham. Would it be on the certificate of a medical man?

Mr. McALPIN said he would first of all be removed in the usual way, and then an order of maintenance would be applied for.

Elleray ARMSTRONG - I am medical officer of the workhouse. I saw deceased on Wednesday evening about half-past five. He was sitting in the lodge. I asked him his name, and he told me. I asked where he had come from that day, but he could not tell me. He appeared to be wandering. He put his hand to his forehead, and seemed weak and exhausted. His legs were swollen. He expressed a wish to be put to bed as soon as possible, and was then put to bed. He was not suffering from cold. There was a stove in the lodge, which would keep him warm. I should say his mind was affected to a certain extent. He was put to bed and I told Mr. WOODALL to give him anything he could take - tea or anything. I did not prescribe any stimulants. I saw him next morning just before he died. He was then quite unconscious. I have made a post mortem examination of his body in conjunction with Dr. ELLIOT. - [The result of their examination was then read. They had found that the deceased had been labouring un!
der inflammation of the bowels or peritonitis of a recent date. They likewise found the heart diseased, but they stated the immediate cause of death to be inflammation of the bowels. The report also mentioned that they had found indications of bed sores on the back.] - I am of opinion that the removal of the [half a line missing due to crease in paper] certain extent hastened his death. I think he was in an unfit state to be removed.

The CORONER - Would it be apparent to a medical man on the Tuesday night or Wednesday morning that he was in an unfit state for removal?

Witness - It is possible that the man might not at that time show any decided symptoms, or that they would be so masked that a medical man might not think there was any danger attending the removal.

The CORONER - But do you think it is probable. Is it likely he would be reduced to such a state in such a short time?

Witness - I don't think it is at all probable. At all events when I saw him he was in an unfit state for the journey.

Dr. ELLIOT - I assisted to make the post mortem examination. The report is a conjoint one. I quite concur in this that the inflammation of the bowels was the immediate cause of death, and must have been in existence I think some time previous to his removal. Like Mr. ARMSTRONG, I would make allowance for any medical man in making a diagnosis in the case of a person imbecile or insane; yet although the minute causes of disease might not be made out, and of course could not be so clear as they were to us at the post mortem examination, I cannot understand how the effects of these causes could so far escape notice as to allow the deceased to have been sent on so long a journey.

The CORONER - It seems from the evidence of one of the witnesses that he was in a state of extreme weakness when he came here. Could he have been reduced to such a state by the journey?

Witness - The journey could not produce the symptoms, though it would aggravate them.

Mr. PARKER said he had omitted to state in his examination that the deceased's bowels were much disturbed when he was at the station, and he had to be carried to the water-closet by the porter.

The CORONER (to Dr. ELLIOT) - Can you give an opinion whether the officers of Bensham Asylum were justified in sending a pauper away in that state?

Witness - Not having seen the patient before death, what I state must be merely an opinion, but I cannot think it possible that deceased would be in a proper state for removal at the time he was removed. The inflammation would of course be attended with a great deal of pain.

James ALDERSON, the railway porter, in answer to the CORONER, said deseased's feet were swelled, and he could not get his shoes on. His waistcoat was all loose, and he (witness) wished to button it to keep him warm; but deceased said, pointing to his stomach, that he was sore, and could not bide it.

Dr. ELLIOT continued - The disease in the chest must have been of old standing. We found a good deal of water, apparently connected with a disease of the right side of the heart. Of course the disease of the heart may have existed for some years, and would certainly have some effect on the system, and would eventually have shortened life, although it was not the immediate cause of death.

The CORONER - Is it your opinion that symptoms of this additional disease could be seen?

Witness - The other symptoms might be overlooked, but I think the disease of the bowels could not.

The CORONER, addressing the jury, said that this was the whole of the evidence producible at present, but he could scarcely recommend them to close the inquiry then, because it was evident that Mr. GLENTON had something to explain away, to say the least of it. He thought they should give him an opportunity of explaining under what circumstances the man was removed, because there was certainly a prima facie case of negligence against him.

A JURYMAN said the deceased had been improperly removed, from what he had heard.

The CORONER said that it would be very un-English to give a verdict against a man without hearing him in his defence, and it was quite possible that if they gave a verdict now, they might see reason to alter it after hearing the evidence of Mr. GLENTON. He would, therefore, adjourn the inquest till Friday morning, at eleven o'clock.

In answer to the Coroner, Mr. GARBUTT said that Mr. Fred. GLENTON was the proprietor, and Mr. Paul GLENTON the medical officer, of Bensham asylum. Mr. F. GLENTON was a spirit merchant, but he (Mr. GARBUTT) believed he did not attend to that business now, but merely to the asylum.

The inquest was then adjourned till Friday (this day), at eleven o'clock, and summonses were sent to Messrs. Frederick and Paul GLENTON to attend.




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