A WORKHOUSE NURSE IS CENSURED - DECEMBER 1882 SHEFFIELD

In Sheffield's City Road Cemetery, there is a section that contains many public graves - section x

Part of Section X - City Road Cemetery Sheffield

In one of the graves William Blackshaw was laid to rest - over time 13 other people would be laid to rest with him

Blackshaw, William (Cutler, age 40).
Died at Union Workhouse; Buried on December 13, 1882 in Consecrated ground; 
Grave Number 11933, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

But the circumstances of his death warranted a report in the Manchester Guardian. This is from the edition dated 19th December 1882

Laudanum was widely used in the Victorian era for a variety of purposes, but it is basically a derivative of opium. And taken in excess it can be both highly addictive and fatal. The inquest did not enquire as to why the laudanum was placed on a "rack" above William Blackshaw's bed. The inference is that Clara Thompson had administered a small dose of laudanum to Blackshaw who was after all in one of the medical wards. She then  placed it on the rack instead of keeping it in her possession and walked way. But the remarkable part of the report is that after administering the drug, she then absented herself for several hours. No reason is given for the absence but it is clear from the Coroner's reprimand that he viewed the matter in a very dim light. A prosecution for manslaughter would have been harsh for an act of carelessness and forgetfulness, but if if it was compounded by neglect and dereliction of duty then the Coroner was certainly within his rights to consider a committal. 

Sources

Sheffield Indexers

 Manchester Guardian dated 19th December 1882

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