Denaby Youth Censured – “Clear out of Denaby”

June 1919

Mexborough Times, June 7th

Denaby Youth Censured
Shocking Inquest Story
Coroners advice: “Clear out of Denaby”
A Soldier´s Tragic Homecoming

Some shocking details were given at an inquest conducted at the Doncaster Guildhall, by Mr R.A.H.Tovy, the Borough coroner, on Wednesday evening, concerning the death of Sarah Wright, 29, wife of William Henry Wright, miner, 19 Adwick Street, Denaby, who died at the Doncaster infirmary on Tuesday afternoon.

The husband at first refused to give evidence until the press retired, but eventually consented.

Mary Ann Wren, wife of Caleb Wren, miner, 17, Adwick Street, said she had known the deceased two years being a next-door neighbour. The deceased had two children, a girl and a boy, aged 10 and eight. She was a very decent woman, and so far as she knew she lived in the house alone during her husband´s absence. Witness used to assist in the washing and cleaning after she complained of internal pains. She looked very ill. When she was ill so long she asked if there was anything wrong with her, but she never gave her a decided answer. She asked more than once on different occasions. She remembered her husband coming home on March 30th. Deceased knew he was coming a day or two before. She did not seem upset at all when she knew he was coming.

She seemed rather worse then than she did in January, and soon after her husband came home she took to bed. Witness looked after her. Before her husband came home the deceased had not been seen by a doctor, but Dr MacArthur was eventually sent for by the husband. After he had been she asked the deceased what he had said, and she said he was going to get a recommend to go to Jessop Hospital, but she said she would not consent to go. Later Dr Ford, the colliery doctor attended her. On Sunday, she was very ill, and witness told her she was dying, and Dr Ford was sent for. Upon his arrival he called in Dr Forster, and she was removed to the Doncaster infirmary.

Replying to further questions by the coroner, the witness said she had seen a young man visit the house regularly. She first saw him go there about Christmas, but she had not seen go there since the husband returned.

She said she had remonstrated with the deceased about it, and she told her she ought to turn him out, but she did not say anything. Witness had never spoken to the young man. He had been in when she had gone in on occasions she had never seen any other men there.

The coroner: it is pretty well-known in Denaby? – Yes, all the neighbours know.

I mean, since she died? – Yes

Everyone knows about it? – Yes

You don´t think if this gets into the newspapers. People will know much more than they do now? – No

Dr Margaret W Shirlow, house surgeon at the Infirmary, said she asked the deceased what was wrong, and she said she had been trying to kill herself, and she explained what she had done. She was afterwards operated upon. She appeared to be getting on all right, but had a relapse and died on Tuesday afternoon. When admitted she was suffering from septicaemia. Deceased told witness that she alone was responsible for her illness. Witness would not care to give an opinion as to the possibility or otherwise of this; she rather thought it would not be possible. There was clearly an attempt to procure abortion.

The husband said he joined the Army on December 11, 1914. He was married in October 1907. Last time he was on leave prior to being demobilised was in November 1915. His wife was then all right. He went to India and then to Mesopotamia and had had five attacks of malaria. He returned home on March 30. Prior to arriving he sent his wife a postcard from Marseille saying that he was coming home, and he also sent her a postcard from Southampton. When he got home about midnight on March 30th, he knocked her up, and the first word she uttered when she opened the door were “Harry, I´m dying.”

She complained of internal pains. She did not improve. He sent for Dr MacArthur, and he treated her. Later, Dr Ford was called in, and on Sunday last Dr Forster. Witness asked her many times about it, but she would not say anything until Saturday night, when she told him everything. She told him also that the young man mentioned in the case brought her home from her mother´s on Christmas Eve. She admitted misconduct and alleged the man had threatened her. She told him that another woman told her about getting this particular stuff. Deceased admitted having done it herself, and told him she was afraid of him coming home and seeing her like that.

The coroner: were you very cross with her? – Yes I was mad all the while over it. Every day I used to be on to her to tell me.

Herbert Day, a clipper, aged 18, of 24 Adwick Street, Denaby, said he had known the deceased since Christmas. She used to come to their house. He never took her home. She used to send him packets of cigarettes, and she used to fetch him. He admitted misconduct. Deceased never told him of her condition, but he knew she was ill a week before her husband came home. She did not tell him what was the matter with her.

Are you the father of this woman´s child? – I don´t think so.

Do you want this poor woman´s husband to believe his wife had been going with some one else besides you? – I don´t know whether she has or not.

You have never seen her with any other men? – No Sir

Are there any other soldiers wives you have been with besides this one – No, sir

Proceeding, the witness denied that the deceased had given him any money with which to buy anything from a chemist shop, and he had never made a purchase for her.

Replying to the husband, he denied that he took home on Christmas Eve and knocked her down when she got inside the home.

Wright: I shall knock him down when he gets outside.

The coroner, summing up, said it was a very shocking and sad story. He did not think they could believe the last witness. So far as one can judge the husband seemed to be quite a respectable and a sensible man, and they forgave him for not giving any evidence at the outset. It was a peculiar case, and he had never known one like it before. The woman was quite old enough to look after herself, but the boy did not, judging by the manner in which he had given his evidence, seem to realise that he had done anything at all wrong. It was more than probable that the statement that misconduct first took place on Christmas Eve was correct, but whether or not the man Day knew what she was doing to herself they did not know. They had only got his word that he did not, and they did not believe his evidence. If it could be proved that he assisted in attempt to procure abortion then he will be guilty of felony, and would be liable to be sent to prison. So far as evidence went there was no doubt that the woman had tried to procure abortion, and in law, she committed suicide.

The jury found, in accordance with the coroner, summing up, that deceased did, in law, commit suicide, and that there was no evidence to show the state of mind at the time. They required the coroner to censor Day.

The coroner (addressing Day): do you still live with your father and mother?

Day: Yes, Sir.

What do they say about it? – They have said nothing yet.

The coroner: The jury wish me to censor you. You ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself, but a young man like you should not only go into another man´s house, a man who had gone to fight for his country, not only into his house where you had no right to be, you should also interfere with his wife, and get into such a condition that she should become terrified ofher husband’s return and go and commit this illegal act. Don´t you realise now what you have done?

Day: Yes, Sir

I´m sorry to say that the jury do not believe anything you said in the witness box. They don´t believe you have told us the truth. For your own safety and comfort your best plan would be to clear out of Denaby.


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