Home Site Map Back

Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1803, Sunday, October 17, 1830.

Inquest on two children.


In consequence of the extraordinary rumours, which for some days past have prevailed in Pimlico respecting two children, who were represented to have died in consequence of a course of treatment adopted by the medical attendant, similar to that observed by Mr. St. John Long towards the late Miss Cashin. At two o'clock this afternoon a very respectable jury was sworn, at the Shakspeare's Head, corner of a Eaton-street, Pimlico, to inquire into the cause of the deaths of the deceased children, Elizabeth and James Chandler, the former between eight and nine years of age, and the latter not quite five years old.

Mr. Wm. Neville, of No. 1, Upper Eaton-street, Pimlico, surgeon, deposed that he had been in the habit of attending the deceased children's family. On the 9th inst. he was called to attend the deceased, and found them labouring under an malignant scarlet fever, and he proscribed leaching, and an aperient draught with calomel; he also precribed an ointment, composed of tartaric of antimony, which was to be applied to their chests; all that he prescribed were the usual applications, except the ointment, and that he deemed necessary for the deceased's malady. He constantly attended them gratuitously, for he expected no remuneration until their deaths; one of them died on the night of the 11th, and the other on the following night. Both of them were a mass of disease when they died : and he was of opinion they died natural deaths; he had since seen the bodies opened, and the internal appearances had not changed his opinion. They were opened by Dr. Thompson in the presence of numerous other medical gentlemen, an occurrence which, as well as the holding of this inquest, he attributed to malice on the part of some persons.

Mr. Adolphus, who attended on behalf of the witness, asked him whether he had not applied the same ointment to a third child who had recovered from the fever, and he replied he had.

Henry Chandler, the father of the deceased children, stated that he lived at No.1, Eaton-court, and was groom to Mr. Finnes. Owing to the illness of one of his children, James, he, on Saturday night last, sent for Mr. Neville, the first witness; and on Sunday his daughter Elizabeth was taken ill, when Mr. Neville also tended until they both died; he had two other children also taken ill, but, owing to the death of the two first in so short a time, he sent for Mr. Griffiths, another surgeon, and they were now live and nearly well. The bodies were opened at his request, in order to be satisfied respecting the cause of their deaths. Mr. Neville had attended his family on former occasions, and he had every reason on those occasions to be pleased with that gentleman's attentions. The witness stated, that he had no reason to believe but that the deceased children died natural deaths.

A long discussion here took place between the Coroner and Jury, all of whom thought, with the Coroner, that the deceased children had died from natural causes. A great many medical gentlemen were however in attendance anxious to learn the result, and it was suggested by one of the jury, that it would perhaps be better to hear the evidence of Dr. Thompson relative to the post mortem examination. He was accordingly called in.

Dr. Alexander Thompson deposed, that at the request of the deceaseds' friends he opened the bodies in the presence of about a dozen other medical men, and he took notes of all appearances which were in his opinion unnatural. He then read a very lengthened statement of every minute details, and stated that he could not say what was the cause of death; it was possible there might have been fever, but he never saw a body after death caused by fever in which there were so few appearances of fever as in these bodies; he could not even say there was fever present. If it was a simple scarlet fever, he should say that the applications used by Mr. Neville were not correct. From the appearances, he should say there had been no malignant scarlet fever about the deceased children. Dr. Thompson then entered into a statement as to the motives which induced him to attend to open the bodies, and said the friends of the deceased children had informed him that Mr. Neville used an ointment to rub them with, which he would not leave behind him, and which he stated he would not divulge the secret of making for 500l.

The coroner said they seemed to have been rumours mixed up with this case, but the jury had nothing to do with them; they had simply to ascertain how the children died, and all the evidence proved he had died from natural causes.

The Jury returned a verdict accordingly.

Shortly after the proceedings terminated, Dr. Thompson and the father and uncle of the deceased complained that the case had ended so soon without further inquiry; they expressed themselves much dissatisfied with the result, and Dr. Thompson declared that another inquest must be held.