Saturday, October 15, 2011

Death by Misadventure

Merton is a Devon parish a few kilometres south of Great Torrington. Perhaps best known as the birthplace of General George MONCK (1608-1670) — the architect of the restoration of CHARLES II — Merton is also the birthplace of my ggg-grandfather Thomas SMITH (1807-1841).

This past summer during my trip to Devon, I spent some time viewing microfiche of the Merton burial registers, and noticed that in the mid 19th century the curate of Merton, John C. FISHER, and later the rector, J.C. KEMPE would include details of accidental or unusual deaths. Here are a few of the entries:
  • Jane HEYWOOD buried 30 Apr 1837 aged 4 "accidentally drowned in the Torridge"
  • William LUGG buried 4 Nov 1838 aged 40 "died of small pox"
  • Fanny MAYNE buried 19 Nov 1838 aged 5 "accidentally burnt five weeks before she died"
  • Eliza ELLACOTT buried 3 Feb 1839 aged 4 "accidentally burnt about a week before she died"
  • Thomas STACEY buried 29 Oct 1843 aged 22 "died from injuries received by a Waggon going over him — surviving only a few days"
  • Mary JOHNS buried 10 Jun 1845 aged 15 "accidentally drowned at Beaford Bridge"
  • Hannah BALKWILL buried 18 Aug 1847 aged 33 "killed in the harvest field by the cart going over her chest"
  • Priscilla CUDMORE bur 14 Aug 1859 aged 5 "her clothes caught fire during the temporary absence of her mother & died within 6 hours by the effect of the burns"
William LUGG's death from smallpox is somewhat unusual as it occured more than forty years after Dr. Edward JENNER discovered that immunity to the disease could be produced by inoculating a person with cowpox pus.

According to a brief article in Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, Eliza ELLACOTT "was accidentally burnt during the temporary absence of her elder sister who was left in charge of her."

No comments:

Post a Comment