A Child, Poisoned

Listmaking duties yesterday brought this family unit to my attention. Thanks to the kindness of a LORRIMANdescendants, I was already familiar with some of the people and sensed immediately that there was something amiss with the picture presented by FamilySearch Tree.

FST_LorrimanBuckleThe FST system wasn’t concerned that “Sarah Duckells” was 48 years old when she gave birth to Harry and one research suggestion was to look for a missing child between Frederick and Sarah A. Hardly any of the many sources available online have been co-opted to build this family.  Just two or three of them, well-chosen, would transform the family. Father William, for instance, married Sarah BUCKLE in the summer of 1859 and died twenty years later, not long after the birth of Frederick.. Sarah’s maiden surname is given as Buckle for each of her eight children in the GRO Index. (Missing from the family, left, is Charles, born in the third quarter of 1874.) The 1891 census places the family in Albion Place, Filey and clearly indicates that Sarah A, Annie and Harry are grandchildren of widow Sarah. She told the enumerator they had been born in Filey but a careful search of the GRO Births Index indicates that the girls are sisters, born in York, to Sarah Buckle’s son William LORRIMAN and Sarah Ann ROBSON. I haven’t been able to find a birth registration for Harry (or Henry) so, until evidence to the contrary is discovered, will consider him to be the brother of the two girls.

Sarah Ann ROBSON married William LORRIMAN in York, in early June 1883. The birth of their first child, Sarah Ann, was registered the following quarter. Young Sarah joined a half-brother, George Arthur ROBSON, who had been accepted by William as his own.

Towards the end of April 1884, when he was three years old, George took advantage of his mother’s fleeting absence (to talk to a neighbour) and drank the contents of a medicine bottle she had left in the middle of the kitchen table. It isn’t clear from a local newspaper report of the coroner’s inquest what ailed the mother. The bottle, however, contained strychnine in the smallest of concentrations – but enough to kill a toddler. Little George staggered into the backyard, fell over and damaged a leg. It was thought initially that this was his only injury but he began to spasm. Someone ran for a doctor who arrived quickly, sensed the damage was internal and gave the lad emetics. These did not help, so the doctor dashed back to the surgery to get something that would control the spasms. When he returned, the child was dead.

Dr Hill, who supplied the medicine, had not given the mother special instructions about the danger the liquid would pose to a child. It contained eight doses, of which Sarah Ann had taken three. One dose would have been enough to kill George.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death by poisoning”, and the Coroner, at their request, impressed upon Mr Hill the desirability of cautioning patients, particularly when young children are about, to whom he prescribed medicine that contained poisonous ingredients.

Yorkshire Gazette, 3 May 1884

Learn how strychnine was once thought to be good for you (in very small doses) here.

I don’t know what became of George’s half-brother, Harry. Sarah Ann, pictured below, married James MILNER in Tadcaster in 1905 and bore him four children. James died young and Sarah raised the children mostly on her own.

SarahAnnLorriman_m
Photo courtesy of Rose Toye

Annie married Alfred Henry Pritchard, an Essex man, in 1912. They raised their small family in Canada.

1921_Pritchards

Annie and Alfred with children Gladys, William and baby Frederick (known by the family as James and the father of Brenda Pritchard, who donated the photo to Looking at Filey).

Annie and Alfred are buried in the small town of Kars, Ontario.

Pritchard Gravestone

I will add to the World Tree as soon as I can. Meanwhile, find “Sarah DUCKELLS” here.

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