The summing-up by The Coroner

The Coroner, in summing up, said it had been a long time since he heard a more pitiful story than that which had been unveiled by the man Jodrell. He had no doubt he was known to everyone of them, and he (the Coroner) was very much deceived if he had formed an erroneous opinion that a better, or more decent and thoroughly honest man could have existed. He appeared to have been in the regular employ of a good railway company, and where his wages were sure. Well, he and his wife had lived together happily for eight years, and during that time, he told them, she had not cost him a farthing for doctors.


He had had three or four children, and the whole of them had been born without any mishap whatever.

When he returned home on Tuesday night, at eleven o’clock, he found his wife sitting up for him. She had been expecting him all day, and had given him up, thinking he was not coming. They went to bed together, she saying she did not feel very well. Pains came upon her, and the man runs off for a midwife. They had heard the evidence, and were quite capable of forming an opinion. If the man was not a truthful, honest and decent man, he was grievously mistaken. When he found he could not get one person he came back home. He found that the child was born.


Then he goes back for the medical man, and after knocking for half-an-hour he aroused him from his bed. He does not take the trouble to open the door, but talks to him through the slit in the letter box.


He is there told the circumstances of the case, that the woman has been prematurely confined, that she is lying there a death’s door; he is earnestly implored to come to their assistance.


He says, “I never come without a guinea.” He had a perfect right to say that. The man says, “You know who I am, you are my club doctor. I shall have my wages on Thursday, and I will pledge you my word that I’ll pay it.” He goes again with the same result, and he turns him off and says, “Go to the Workhouse at Chapel-en-le-Frith, they have medical men there for such cases as yours. I won’t come. I never do come without my guinea.”


In consequence of that the poor man is driven almost to distraction; he goes back to his mother and gets his coveted guinea from her. Whilst the grass is growing the horse starves; the poor woman is dead; she is beyond recall. The Jury could for their own opinion of these hard, stern facts.

He (the Coroner) did not like to express an opinion. As he had said, any medical man had a right to charge what he chose, but he (the Coroner) could not see how it was to be reconciled with the ordinary principles of humanity. The man could do as he chose. Medical men attended with scrupulous nicety to almost every case; he never knew a case where a medical man declined to go in a case of emergency.


It was a hard life, that of a country surgeon, an extremely hard life, and he knew, professionally, that a worse paid class of men didn’t exist. They had of course to give that their consideration. But the woman died, and the verdict would be that she died in childbirth. They could express their sympathy with the poor man under his bereavement. He did not see that they could come to any other conclusion.


Mr George Pearson, foreman of the jury, after a couple of minutes’ deliberation, said they were unanimously of opinion that the deceased died in childbirth.


The conduct of the doctor was referred to in strong terms by the jury, it being considered a cruel thing

to tell the man he might go to the Workhouse.


Deep sympathy is felt for the bereaved husband throughout the village.