Denaby Wife’s Tragedy – Husband Reproved – Father’s Sad Discovery.

January 1931

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 23 January 1931

Tired Of Life.

A Denaby Wife’s Tragedy.

Husband Reproved

Father’s Sad Discovery.

“This is a very distressing case,” said Mr. W. H. Carlile, the Doncaster District Coroner, at an inquest on Evelyn Bray (22). 5, William Street, Denaby Main, on Friday.

Mrs. Bray was found dead in bed on the previous Tuesday. “It appears,” said the Coroner, “that the woman has not had the support s h might have had, and part of that may be due to the fact that she would not help herself and did not care for others to help her. She had got into a low state of health, so that she did not care whether she lived or died. At the same time, I do feel the husband might have done more to give assistance to his wife. Apparently she thought a good deal of him and refused to take proceedings against him. In the first place he entered into an agreement to separate and pay her 30s. per week. That agreement was never completed. When he was in full work one would have thought he would have kept his word. Throughout, it appears he might have done more than he actually did. l think he fully realises he might have done more. I hope it will be a lesson to him and he will make up to the children what he has not done for the wife. I hope he will bear this in mind in the future. ”

There is no doubt the cause of death was valvular disease of the heart, and there will be a verdict of Death from Natural causes. I want to stop any rumours going about that this woman did away with her cell, and I hope these rumours will cease.

Husband’s Story of Estrangement.

James Bray, a glass worker, living at 74, Loversall Street, Denaby Main, said he last saw his wife alive about a month ago. He was not living with her at the time, having left her on Aug. 1st. There had been trouble between them for some time. “She was always at me when I was in. It seemed I could not do anything right for her, so told her I was leaving her. She agreed to a separation, and I agreed to pay her 30s. a week.” There were two children, one aged four years and the other eighteen months. The agreement to separate was never signed because his wife would not sign it. The second week he was away from her, he was on short time, and had 8s stopped fur rent. He paid his wife 17s. that week, and sent 12s to her for four weeks afterwards. Subsequently when he was getting £1 16., he sent her 10s. each week.

“When I got working on my own job I sent her 21s., and there was 8s. a week stopped for rent. That meant she was living rent free and getting 21s. I sent. The week after Christmas I had hardly anything to draw. I had 24s., and sent her 10s. I have sent her £1 a week since.”

Coroner’s Reproach.

The Coroner: Why did you not pay the 30s. you agreed to pay when you were on full time? You had your wife and two children living on less than what you had for yourself.

I sometimes gave her three or four shillings extra.

You might have given more than you have given? – Yes.

Witness admitted that he knew his wife was going to have a child. She had a premature confinement a month ago.

The Coroner: You appreciate that at such ‘times a woman wants treating with as much consideration you can give her? Do you realise that?—Yes, sir.

Do you think now you have done as much you could have done?—l think I have done well.

You realise that had you treated her with more sympathy she might have got through this?—Yes.

Answering further questions, Bray said his father lived with them while he was at William Street.

The Coroner: It is suggested that she has not had as much attention as she might have had. Do you realise to-day, after what has happened, you might have been more sympathetic and given her more help? —Yes.

You realise the position in which you have placed yourself, and it will give you something to think about?—Yes, sir.

There was nothing serious between you except a few high words, I suppose?—Yes, sir.

What sort of health had your wife before you left her? —She was not so grand.

What was the matter with her?—She had been to the doctor, but he did not say what was the matter with her.

You should have made allowance for the words between you when she was not in good health? – Yes.

I want you to realise that you have not done as much for your wife as you might have done. You do realise that, do you?—Yes.

Come Or Stay Away.

Thomas Swaby (father of the woman), of 19, Cliff View, Denaby Main, said he had not worked for three years. He lived on what he got from national health insurance and the County Council. He went to live with his daughter at 5, William Street about eighteen months ago. He had been getting ‘ 15s. a week for two years, and was now getting 28s. a week. He had a boy aged 13 to keep. He was living with his daughter when her husband left her. His daughter had this premature confinement on Dec. 18th. What the husband said in regard to the amounts he had paid her was true.

The Coroner: Why did you leave William Street?

The husband sent a letter when he had been left two months that if I went he would come back again. My daughter told me, and I left straight away on Oct. 4th.

Witness added that the husband knew he had left, because he used to go there at weekends to take the money, but he did not go back to her, though she had told witness that she would have her husband back if he wanted to come.

The Coroner: Is it true that she agreed to live apart from him if he would pay 30s. a week?—Yes, but she never signed anything. I don’t know why. She always said that if he cared to come back he could do so, but if he did not, he could stop away.

She was not bothered ‘about it.—No. I think there was a kit of trouble between them, but I do not know what it was about.

After she was confined on Dec. 12th did you go back to the house?-I have had to keep going back to the house to look after the children, to feed them, and her as well.

Every day?—Yes.

She was in such a weak condition?—Very weak. Just

As far back as October?—Yes.

Not Enough Nourishment.

What was the cause of that? Was she not getting proper nourishment? – I do not think she was. Did you do anything to help her? —l could not help her. I had plenty on, keeping myself and my lad.

You saw – her go to bed on the night of Jan. 12th?—Yes.

What time was that?—About 9-30 p.m.

Did she get worse after the confinement? — She weakened week by week.

How was she on that day? Did she complain at all?—I told her she did not seem so well, but she said she felt all right, and just the same as usual.

Did she get anything to eat? – Yes, she had her snap all right.

Was she getting proper meals?—Bread and butter and anything she fancied I fetched if I had the money.

She was in search a condition that she wanted extra attention, did she not?—Yes, she wanted some other food.

Did she ever apply for relief or attempt to get anything from any other source?—Not until she was confined. Did she get anything?—Yes. She got one lot of money about two weeks after she was confined.

How much did she get?—10s.

Did she try for any more, or wouldn’t they give it to her?—She never applied for anything else from anywhere, because she sold her furniture. Do you mean she did not like going to the Guardians or what?—She said she would sooner sell the furniture first, and then she would have to get some.

A Pathetic Scene

You saw her go to bed, and then you went home and went to see next morning? – Yes. I went the next morning at 945, and found her dead in bed lying across the little boy. The boy was lying on his pillow as usual, and she was lying across his body. She was fully clothed. The children were not asleep, and the little girl was running about the floor. My daughter was quite cold. I lifted her up and liberated the little lad and fetched him out of bed and put the children in the kitchen. And then fetched Doctor McArthur, and went straight from there to the policeman.

She refuses help, what was the position? – I don’t know, I am sure


Did she not want to apply for relief in other ways? You say she only applied once?—She would not go against her husband. She thought so much about him.

You mean she thought the Relief Committee might take proceedings against him? — Yes, that was the reason why she sold her home.

Refused To Take Proceedings.

She refused to take proceedings against him herself?—When the maintenance agreement came for her to sign she went to Doncaster, where she was told to take proceedings against her husband and not to sign the paper. After that she never went out again. She would not take proceedings against her husband.

Did you ever think during the last few days of sending for the doctor again?—Dr. McClure called to see her on the 10th, and she died two days afterwards. I was not there when the doctor called. Dr. McArthur was attending her, but Dr. McClure called and left a note for a quart of milk per day and eggs. The doctor went again on Tuesday, the day she died, but I was not there I then. The neighbours told me he had been. My daughter sent the note to the Welfare on the Monday, but she never got anything before she died. The second time Dr. McClure called was after she had died.

The Coroner: I should like to know who told Dr. McClure to go. Had the Relieving Officer been round?—Yes. When he took her the money after the confinement in December. I was not there when he called.

Did he make arrangements that she should have a supply of milk and eggs, or did he call again?— No. The Relieving Officer only called once before she died.

Tired Of Life.

Swaby added that he was on “good terms” with the husband before the latter left. There had been no rows about his being in the house, and he had never caused any trouble between the couple. “If you wanted to do anything for her, she would not allow it. She would not allow anyone to help her. She did not care whether she lived or died.”

The Coroner: Did you ever suggest that you should get the doctor or the Relieving Officer?—l used to call and see the doctor while I was there and get medicine for her.

The Coroner asked Bray if he wished to make any comment on the evidence of his father-in-law.

Bray: Before I left her, she would not hear of anyone coming in and helping her. I wanted to get someone to do the washing and cleaning, but she would not hear of it. The reason why I did not go back was because the furniture was not there. I should have gone back if it bad been there.

The Coroner: You knew she was in a weak state of health. Would it not have been better if you had gone and looked after her a bit?—Yes

Weak but Cheerful.

Margaret Ann Medfield, certified midwife, 6, Strafforth Terrace, Denaby Main, said she attended Mrs. Bray on Dec. 12th. She had not been previously engaged. She went about 6-30 a.m. It was a premature birth. She attended Mrs. Bray for ten days. Mrs. Bray was in very poor circumstances. She was rather weak, but cheerful and in ten days was up and in the kitchen. Witness asked her every day if she was having plenty to eat, and she replied that she was. She would not hear of the clinic, and told witness not to bother to attend to her but witness told her that she had to attend her for ten days.

Mrs. Bray said she was need to doing things for herself. “While I way there her father was there getting her breakfast ready for her every morning.”

Needed Nourishment.

Dr. J. McArthur, of Denaby Main, said Mrs. Bray first went to see him on Nov. 2nd, when she was very distressed by a cough she had. He reassured her, and told her that her heart was causing the trouble. She had valvular disease. She went every week to his surgery for four weeks, but stopped going when her cough improved. “The next call I had was on Dec. 12th from Mrs. Hadfield, on account of a premature birth. The baby was half-an-hour dead when I got there. I saw her again on Dec. 22nd, and she did not look well, although she said she was all right. I sent her some medicine. About a fortnight ago I gave her father a note for the Public Assistance Committee, as he complained that she was not getting sufficient nourishment. It was this recommendation that Dr. McClure was sent to verify. I did not see her again until Dec. 13th, when she was dead. That was about 11-30 a.m. I consider she had been dead about ten or eleven hours. She did not like the idea of going near a doctor at all. Valvular disease of the heart is one of those cases where one might die at almost any moment. I did not think she was getting enough food of the right kind. She wanted extra nourishment.”

The Coroner: There has been some suggestions —rumours going about —that she had taken something?—l don’t believe it at all. You were there and noticed the lips were blue but that was consistent it this heart trouble?—Yes. In my opinion the cause of death is valvular disease of the heart.

A verdict as stated was recorded.