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From: "GKnapp" <>
Subject: Amusing Coroners Inquest
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 14:08:07 -0700


The following is an excerpt from the Batley newspaper "The Reporter" regarding the death of my GG Grandfather, James Staincliffe. The inquest concluded that his age at death was 96 years old. However, his age it seems was not quite that advanced. James was, in fact, born in 1814 which brings his age to 85 years. Still, the article gives some insight into what life was like in 1899.

Gillian Danby. Armstrong, BC, Canada

BATLEY "THE REPORTER", FRIDAY MARCH 24, 1899

SUDDEN DEATH AT BATLEY

AT THE AGE OF NINETY SIX


A Witness Creates Some Amusement.

Mr. Maitland, on Monday afternoon, at the Batley Town Hall, held an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of James Staincliffe, a farmer and gardener, living at Branch Road, Batley. Staincliffe was said to be nearly 100 years of age, and it was in consequence of this suggestion that more than ordinary interest was evinced in the proceedings. He died suddenly in bed at his home early on Saturday morning. Mr. Armitage Colbeck was chosen foreman of the jury.

The first witness examined was JOHN STAINCLIFFE, collier, of 29, Branch Avenue, the son of the deceased, who created some amusement by the bluff manner in which he gave his evidence.

The Coroner: What age was your father?

Witness: Ninety-six on the 1st of January, or summat!

Have you any proof of that? – No. We have nothing to go by except himself. He has a sister that’s over 70. There is plenty that would like to know how old he was, but we have no proof at all except what he said himself.

Do you believe that he was 96? – Well, I don’t know. There are some folks that say they knew him 40 years since and he reckoned he was 80 then – (laughter) – so we cannot dispute it. (Loud laughter.)

Witness repeated that "they couldn’t dispute his age being 96 at that rate."

A Juryman: Did he say in what year he was born?

Witness: 1863, I think – (renewed laughter) – but I’m not such a good scholar you see.

The Coroner: We are in the year 1899 now, and if he was 96 he would be born in 1803.

Witness: Yes, I think that is it.

Witness went on to explain that he had been told that many years ago his father was an over-looker in a mill, but for 30 years he sold milk for Mr. Brown, farmer. He had had three wives, and the last one died some 12 years ago. Deceased was born at Addingham, near Ilkley. Some six or seven years ago his father was taken ill at the garden at the top of Field Hill, and "they thought he wouldn’t live five minutes." They were living in Skelsey Row at that time. Witness added that "so long as his father kept on living, he didn’t care how near he was being dead." Deceased had been in feeble health for some time, but had been able to go out of doors. Indeed, he was at the garden on the Wednesday before his death. On Friday night *** as was the custom, he and his father slept together, but the latter did not retire until about half-past eleven, and at that time he was asleep. In the morning about half-past two, he was roused by hearing his father making a peculiar noise as though he!
were going to cough. By the aid of the lamp which was burning, he looked in his face and saw that he was very ill, so he called for his sister Fanny and immediately the old man died before a doctor could be called. He breathed about three times and then his jaw dropped and he was dead. His life had been insured for 20 years.

The Coroner: Can you write your name?

Witness: No. Well, yes, I can write it but I shall nearly cover all that paper. (Laughter, in which the Coroner joined.)

The Coroner: You had better go to a stationer’s shop then.

On being asked what age he was, witness replied that he was 26, but "he went to school middling oft."

FANNY STAINCLIFFE, single woman, a daughter of the deceased, deposed that she had kept the house for her father. She did not know how old he was, but she had heard him say that he was born in the year 1803. He had not been in good health for the past ten years, though at times he had seemed quite cheerful and well. Some four months ago he seemed rather worse than usual, and she called in Dr. Woods, who told her that he was in a feeble state, and that he might go any moment, or live for some time. The deceased was working in his garden at the top of Field Hill so late as Wednesday last week. On Friday night he went to bed about eleven o’clock, and she saw him half-an-hour afterwards. About half-past two her brother called for her, and her father died in the course of a very few moments. She corroborated the evidence of the previous witness, so far as the facts concerning the circumstances under which her father died were concerned. He had always been well cared for, and was n!
ever in actual want to her knowledge.

The Coroner remarked that there was nothing in connection with the case which was exceptional except the great age of the deceased. It was a wonder that a man could live so long and go about as he apparently had done. It seemed to him that he had died from old age rather than from anything else.

It was remarked that deceased had been known for 20 years and more by some of the jurymen.

In the end a verdict of "Died from natural causes" was returned.

Miss Staincliffe thanked the Coroner and the jury for the kindness they had extended towards the deceased’s family.



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