Home Crime Suicide Lady Health Visitor’s Death.

Lady Health Visitor’s Death.

December 1919

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Monday 15 December 1919

Lady Health Visitor’s Death.

An inquest will be held at Barnsley to-day relative Mary Adeline George (34), single, lady health visitor for Darfield, who died in the Beckett Hospital of supposed blood poisoning


Barnsley Independent – Saturday 20 December 1919

Wombwell Nurse’s Death.

Sad Inquest Story

The regrettable circumstances surrounding the death of Mary Adeline George (34), single, County Council nurse for Wombwell district, were enquired into at Barnsley Town Hall on Monday morning by the Coroner (Mr. C. J. Haworth) and a jury.

Deceased was a very popular nurse. She resided in lodgings at 83, High Street, Wombwell, and was also well-known in Darfield district. Towards the end of November deceased fell ill and was medically attended, but her condition became such that she was removed to the Beckett Hospital, Barnsley, where she died on Thursday.

Mrs. Sarah Washington, wife of Mr. Irving Washington, sanitary Inspector, of The Limes, Wombwell, gave evidence of identification, and said deceased was a health nurse employed by the West Biding County Council. She had known her for two years next January. Deceased came to her hones on December 6th, and remained there until she was removed to hospital on Tuesday, December 9th. Witness had had no conversation with her with respect to her illness, and had not been told anything about deceased taking any drugs.

Mrs. Annie Maria Duke, 83, High Street, Wombwell, said deceased came to live with her in March, 1918. About a month ago deceased first complained of there being anything wrong. She complained of pains in her back, but did not stay away from work at first. On Thursday, November 27th. deceased took to her bed saying she did not feel well, and Dr. Atkins came two days later. Witness did not suspect what was the matter with her and did not see any drugs about the house. Witness did not know that deceased had been keeping company with anyone.

Dr. G.E. Atkins, of Wombwell said he knew deceased very well. He was called in to see her on November 29th. She was in bed and complained of feeling very ill and of pain in her back. She said she had had a severe chill. He gave her medicine, and her condition began to improve, though it was somewhat obscure. On Friday. December 5th, he saw her again late at night and told her he was not satisfied with her condition. He examined her, and came to a certain conclusion. She admitted this when he taxed her, but he could get no details. He asked her if she had been taking anything to cause this, and said she had taken some pills and drug. The quantity of drug she told him she had taken was very dangerous but she would not say where she got it. She implicated no-one. He advised her removal to Mrs. Washington’s, as she would get better nursing there. She remained much the same until the Tuesday morning when she had a rather bad heart attack, but he administered the usual heart remedies, and in half an hoar she was much better. He then ordered her removal to the hospital.

In reply to a juror, witness said he advised deceased’s transfer to Mrs. Washington’s home because he thought she would be better there as she would have someone to look after her.

A Juror: You didn’t think she would receive better attention in the hospital?—Witness: Not at all. The emergency for the hospital wan when the heart attack came.

Answering further questions by the same juror, witness denied that deceased was practically in a dying condition when taken to the hospital. He came over in the afternoon and made arrangements with the house surgeon for her to be admitted the same afternoon. The condition which came on the next morning was entirely unforeseen and unsuspected.

A Juror: Did you not consider it your duty to refer the case to the police? —Witness: Not at that stage.

Dr. Raymond Eustis Four, house surgeon at the Beckett Hospital, said he saw deceased on admission on Tuesday morning, December 9th. She was in an almost collapsed condition, and died on the following Thursday. He made a post mortem examination, and in his opinion death was due to heart failure following irritant poisoning.

Dr. Atkins, recalled, said he entirely agreed with this witness as to the cause of death.

Arthur W. Lewis, chemist, High Street, Wombwell, gave evidence as to selling a certain drug to the deceased. He sold her 4 ozs. about eight weeks ago, and he thought she was purchasing it for use as a nurse as he had sold it to her regularly ever since she had come to the district.

Witness said it was not necessary to keep a register of the sale of this drug to deceased as she was a superintendent nurse and a certified midwife.

Questioned by the Coroner, witness denied that 4 ozs. was a large quantity to sell at once. Deceased had a number of nurses under her, and he presumed that the drugs, etc., which she bought for professional use would be distributed amongst them. The jury asked the Coroner whether a chemist was allowed to sell this drug to nurses without registering the sale, and the Coroner replied that not having a copy of the regulations with him he would look this point up, and communicate his finding to the police.

Mrs. Duke and Mrs. Washington were re-called and denied having any knowledge of deceased’s condition, or that he had been keeping company with anyone. Deceased went away on holiday in August, stated Mrs Duke. The Jury returned a verdict that deceased killed herself whilst committing an illegal act.