"A Shocking Case of Child Starvation"

This report is from the North East Daily Gazette dated 21st November 1881 but the same report appeared in many local and regional papers in the UK. A reading of the report and the comments of the surgeon, are the subject of horror novels rather than the national press.

The mother was clearly unable to look after William as she was seriously ill with TB and heart disease. She was thinner than the deceased and he was "almost a skeleton". What care William did receive came from his nine year old sister and two younger siblings. The father it appears did nothing. In fact some of the neighbours stated that the child had been neglected by both parents.

The post mortem stated that William was "almost a skeleton", the stomach and intestines were "not good" and the body did not contain "one particle of fat." Death was caused from "congestion of the brain" which is really a catch-all phrase but the surgeon was clear that death was due to malnutrition and the lack of suitable treatment. But this was still not enough for the Coroner to instruct the jury on the possibility of a manslaughter charge or any other charge for that matter. The coroner merely issued a severe reprimand!

Burial record for William Lucas of Allen Street Sheffield - St Phillips Church Shalesmoor Sheffield


The unusual point about William is that he had three Christian names - he was registered at birth as "Willie" - at the inquest into his death he was referred to as "William" and his death certificate and burial record uses the name "Will".


North East Daily Gazette dated 21st November 1881

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This page was last updated on 09/09/17 16:22