Thomas Edward Douthwaite
Born: 1900
Buried: 10 October 1900
Age: 10 months
Grave No: A120
Notes: Side by side with Hilda Pick, 9 Lorne Street, Shipley, aged 8 months, also buried 10 October 1900
On 13 October 1900 the Shipley Times & Express reported a coroner’s inquest into the death of ten-month-old Thomas Edward Douthwaite, who had died suddenly at the house of his faster-parents at a late hour on Saturday night. “Some ugly rumours having got afloat in Shipley as to the death of the child, an inquest was held and post-mortem examination ordered. “Happily the result showed that the rumours were unfounded and that the child had died of natural causes.” Those rumours, no doubt, arose from the circumstances of Thomas’s birth and a court case concerning his mother that had been reported in the newspaper, the previous January. It concerned the arrest of Elizabeth Douthwaite, a domestic servant from Marske-on-Sea, on a charge of stealing a purse containing a gold ring valued at £2 and £4 in cash. It had belonged to Mary Ann Viney, wife of a confectioner, at 9 Briggate, Shipley, where Douthwaite had taken lodgings the day before. Douthwaite pleaded guilty to taking the purse and money but denied there was a ring. Clever A witness, Mrs Pearson, said that Douthwaite had lodged with her for about three months up to the day before the robbery and said she had always been perfectly honest although she had had plenty of opportunities of taking both money and other things. She was a clever girl and held good situations in Shipley and could do anything in a gentleman’s house. She also revealed that the prisoner had given birth to a baby while living with her, the father of the child being a married man who had led the prisoner astray under a promise of marriage. The child’s father had promised to pay Mrs Pearson but had only made two payments. On the previous Friday it appears that
Douthwaite took the child and left it with the father and his wife, who was quite willing to adopt it. Mrs Pearson added that the girl’s mother was in good circumstances and she had written to ask her to come down but so far, she had not. Tears The baby was produced in court and the prisoner, with tears running down her face, earnestly pleaded to have her child. The prisoner was bound over to come up for judgement in a fortnight, meanwhile the baby to retained by its foster mother. Mrs Pearson had been so incensed by Douthwaite handing over her baby that she had refused to have anything to do with her but now relented and allowed her to live with her until her case was heard. Two weeks later, the newspaper reported that before her own case was heard, Douthwaite brought a case against Harry Flander, an ostler at a hotel in Shipley and the father of her child. He admitted paternity and was ordered to pay 3/6 per week. Speaking at Douthwaite’s case, Mr Bell, an officer of the Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society, said he had tried to find the prisoner a job after her parents refused to have anything to do with her. When he went to see Douthwaite, she was coming out of a public house with a soldier and she said she didn’t want a job. The chairman of the magistrates said that they wanted to give her every opportunity to lead a proper life. What did she have to say for herself? Douthwaite replied that the soldier lived next door to Mrs Pearson and as he was going to the front next day, he asked her to have a drink with him and she thought there was no harm in doing so. As to saying she did not want a job, she intended to go home in a day or two.
The chairman said the amount involved was too large to allow a fine and sent Douthwaite to prison for ten days. The prisoner was then removed from the court, weeping bitterly. Her baby remained in the care of Mrs Flanders where he died the following October. At the inquest, Harry Flander, of 23 Regent Street, gave evidence that he had not seen the boy’s mother since she left Shipley.* Scarcely get his breath The child was 10 months old and had been in good health up to the previous Saturday. His wife, Annie Flander, said the child had had trouble with his teeth for the last two or three days and seemed to be very quiet and coughed, but not much, and seemed to have difficulty with his breath. She added: “On Saturday night, about 10-10, there seemed to be a change and he could scarcely get his breath. I turned him over on my arm and tapped him on the back. “When he turned up his eyes turned dark round the nose and mouth and he died almost immediately.” Dr D’Darcy told the inquest that he had made a post-mortem that showed the child was well nourished. There were no marks of violence. The left lung showed signs of old pleurisy. The heart was small but healthy. The lungs were congested and showed signs of recent inflammation. A verdict of natural causes was returned. *Research in Ancestry suggests Elizabeth served her sentence at Wakefield jail, where the admission book describes her as 5ft 3½in tall with dark brown hair. After her release on 27 January, she moved back to Marske where around 1902 she married Thomas Upton. At the time of the 1911 census, the pair had five children. She died in September 1948.
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