Overlaying Case at Denaby – Life On 18s. A Week.

October 1910

Mexborough & Swinton Times October 8th 1910

Overlaying Case At Denaby.

Life On 18s. A Week.

A case of death by overlaying was investigated at the Institute, Denaby Main on Tuesday afternoon, by the Sheffield Deputy Coroner, and a jury, of which Mr. W. Milner was foreman.

The victim was nine weeks old Violet Hartland – the second child of Benjamin and Violet Susan Hartland, who lodge with the wife´s mother, Louisa Heathcock at 23 Cliff View, Denaby Main.

Mrs. Heathcock said the deceased was her grandchild. Her daughter and her husband, Benjamin Hartland, had lodged with witness for four months. Altogether there were seven people in the house. Deceased´s sister, aged two years slept with witness, but deceased slept with her parents.

Witness went into the bedroom on Monday morning at 8-45 for a match for the fire. The mother was then just awakening, and the baby was on her right arm. She knew there was something very funny when she saw the child, and then she noticed froth at the mouth, and knew the child was dead. It was not cold. Mr. Hartland sent for a doctor, said witness.

Went For A “Bobby.”

The baby, witness continued, was alright on Sunday night, but it twitched just a little bit at half-past eleven, when it was taken to bed. The child´s face when she saw it was right against the mother´s breast. It hadn´t been necessary to fetch a doctor to the baby at any time, but it was a “terror” for crying. There was no cradle or cot in the house.

The Deputy Coroner : Was the child insured ?

Witness : Well we paid one penny on it. I don´t know whether we´ll get “owt or not.” The man didn´t come.

” Most Dangerous.”

Dr. John McArthur, who was called to see the child about ten minutes past nine on Monday morning, said it´s face and lips were of a livid colour, and there was a little froth at the mouth. He told the mother straight out that she had suffocated the baby from overlaying, and advised her to see the police. There were no marks of pressure. The mother told him she had been giving the baby the breast at the break of day. Having regard to the evidence of the previous witness as to how the child was found, he should say it was suffocated by the mother´s breast. It was most dangerous to have a child of that age in bed with the parents ; it ought to be in a cot by itself.. He made a post mortem examination of the body, which had confirmed his opinion as to the cause of death. The child was very well nourished, fat and plump, and there were no signs of any disease.

The mother, Violet Susie Hartland, wife of Benjamin Hartland, a filler, who had been ” in the market a nice few months ” until this week, said his average wages weekly were 18 shillings. On Sunday night they took the child to bed ; it lay on the outside. The child had the breast about half-past ten, and again when it was ” peeping daylight.” She took the breast from the baby, which remained on her arm. Witness knew no more till the mother woke her up. No one had told her that she ought to have a cot for the child, except the police and doctor after the affair had happened.

The Coroner : Did you or your husband have any intoxicating drink on Sunday ?

No, I had a gill of beer on Thursday, but none since. My husband does not drink.

” Accidental Death ” was the verdict returned.

At the close of the inquiry the Coroner, calling the two female witnesses to him said, ” I don´t allow expenses in these cases as a rule, but I make an exception in this case. I think both of you have given your evidence fairly, and told me the truth. I think it was clearly an accident, and there is no blame attached to anybody. But if there are any more babies it would be well to have a cot for them.”

With tears in her eyes, the mother promised to keep the Coroner´s advice