Sunday 11 September 2011

Victorian Childcare

I've seen quite a few of these grim cases ... what did you do, after all, if you had no-one to watch your kids?


Yesterday an inquisition was taken before Mr. Stirling in the Board-room of Middlesex Hospital, on view of the bodies of Ann and Sarah M'Grath, aged 4 and 5 years, who were burnt to death under the following lamentable circumstances.
    John Ainwrignt, a labourer, No. 19, Oxford-buildings, deposed, that he lived in the room on the second floor, under that in the occupation of the deceased children's father. About 12 o'clock on Thursday witness was in his own room, when he was alarmed by seeing flames burst into it from the room overhead. He rushed up stairs calling for assistance. The door of the room was padlocked. Witness broke it open, but no one could enter on account of the smoke and flames. Thcy obtained some water, with which they put the fire out. The children were then found huddled in each other's arms. They were quite black, and all their clothes were burnt off. Some persons took them away to the hospital. Witness found two pieces of wood in the window-seat. Everything was destroyed in the room.
    By the Jury.—The mother of the children is in prison, and has been away three months. The father is sometimes away from 4 o'clock in the morning till 7 at night.
    The Coroner ordered the father to be brought in. Mackintosh, the beadle, said that he heard from the neighbours that the father was attentive and kind to his children, and that whenever he could come home he did.
    The father stated that he left home that morning about 7 o'clock. He lit the fire, and then locked them in. The Coroner asked him if it were proper to Iock children of so tender an age in a room by themselves?
    The father said that he usually left the key with a woman, but who was out that day. He worked for Mr. Nicholls, the dust contractor, and was in all parts of the town. When he came home at night he heard them say their prayers and put them to bed. (here the poor fellow burst into tears and left the room.)
    Mr. W. T. C. Robinson, house-surgeon, said that the children were so severely burnt that it was impossible they could survive. One died the next morning at 5 o'clock, and the other at half-past 10.
    Verdict-- "Accidental death."

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