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Sarah Dazley - Murder

Sarah Dazley - Extract 4 from Newspaper Report on the Inquest - Comparison of the inquests

Newspaper report, April 1843

The Inquest at Wrestlingworth - William Dazley

On Thursday, Superintendent Blunden, with his prisoner in custody, arrived in Biggleswade from London at the Spread Eagle Inn, where Sarah Dazley was lodged for the night. Two women sat up with her, but the miserable creature exhibited too much distress of mind to sleep, and cried all the night.

On Friday morning she was conveyed over to Wrestlingworth, and on the reassembling of the jury, at ten o'clock, she was brought into the inquest room…. The prisoner appeared to be much affected at the charge against her, and the levity of demeanour which characterised her when brought before the Lord Mayor on Thursday, was no longer observable in her manner.

The medical evidence

Mr George Dixon Hedley "The parts removed from the body of the deceased were put into a stone jar, tied over with a bladder and a paper, and sealed with the Coroner's seal. He took them home with him, and kept them locked up that night, and the following day removed them to the Bedford Infirmary, where the jar was opened in the presence of the Coroner; and with the assistance of Mr Hurst, he examined the parts.

On opening the stomach two ounces and a half of dirty brown "coloured fluid escaped; it was poured into a glass measure, and a white powder subsided at the bottom; there was also some of that white powder scattered over the surface of the stomach…

…. The third portion, which was very small, was introduced into a glass vessel, called Marsh's apparatus, with some distilled water, sulphuric acid, and a piece of zinc, - the gas formed by this was set on fire, and a piece of plate glass held over the flame. A ring of metallic arsenic was deposited on the glass. …( and several other proofs of arsenic through the Marsh Test)

By the Coroner "Are you of the opinion that there was a sufficient quantity to cause death?

Witness "Certainly; and from the appearances which I have described I have no doubt that the deceased died from the effect of arsenic. I also believe the extraordinary preservation of the internal parts of the body have resulted from arsenic.

The Verdict at the Inquest

The jury retired for a few minutes, and on their return pronounced the following verdict; - "That William Dazley died from the effects of arsenic administered to him with a guilty knowledge by Sarah Dazley, his wife.

The Coroner remarked that the verdict was equivalent to wilful murder against the accused; and the witnesses being bound over, the prisoner was fully committed to Bedford Gaol to take her trial at the next assizes.

The Inquest on Simeon Mead

Mr George Dixon Hedley, surgeon of Bedford, deposed to having been present at the exhumation of the deceased's body; on opening the coffin there was found to be little of the body remaining, except the skeleton.
All the soft matter was removed in a jar and had since been subjected to a careful analysation, but no poisonous substance was discovered.

Hannah Darts… knew Simeon Mead, who married Sarah Reynolds; witness was with him on the night before his death; he complained of his throat and mouth; he said he was in great pain, and asked for drink; his eyes were red, and his face swollen; he attempted to swallow but could not; he complained of great heat and thirst; he appeared to be in great pain and died on Tuesday the 9th of June.

Elizabeth Dazley said she was the wife of William Dazley, a labourer, and recollected the death of Simeon Mead; he was ill nine or ten days before he died, and complained of great pain in the bowels; his tongue was much swollen, and he complained of heat in his throat, but witness never saw him sick; about three quarters of a year before his death deceased quarrelled with his wife; she had a shilling in her pocket and he wanted to get it to spend; he said he would have it and knocked her down and took it away from her; witness afterwards heard Mrs Mead say "Damn him! I'll poison him but what I'll get rid of him!" Deceased asked for a drink before he died, but could not swallow.

Keziah Mead "Lived at Tadlow, in Cambridgeshire, and was the mother of Simeon Mead, who was a labourer living at Nuttingworth; he died on the 9th June 1840. He was ill about a fortnight and was taken worse sometime on the Sunday before he died, he complained of his throat; do not know that his bowels were effected; but he was unable to take any food; did not see him take any medicine while witness was there

Betsy Mead, servant to Mr Waldock, of Astwick, said she was sister to the deceased Simeon Mead; he was taken ill on the Thursday and died on the following Tuesday; witness saw him on the Saturday, he then complained of his chest, white froth running from his mouth, his bowels were not then effected; witness sat up with him the night previous to his death, and heard him say to his wife, "My sins lay before me; but I never should have done what I have done if it had not been for you." He The Coroner observed that after the evidence given by the medical gentlemen, it appeared to him that it would be useless to carry this case any further, and the jury coinciding, immediately returned the following verdict -"That Simeon Mead died on the 10th of Jun after an illness of six days, but that there was no evidence to show whether his death was caused by natural causes or otherwise."
also said he hoped if he got better they should live happier. He was unable to swallow.

Mr Haynes attended him and saw the deceased on Sunday morning; his breath was very much effected and smelt offensively; he was continually complaining of thirst, but the little he took could not pass down his throat; witness had frequently heard the deceased's wife say that she wished her husband was dead, and heard them quarrel very frequently; had also heard her say "---------- you, I wish you had never come near me."

The jury decided that there was no evidence that Sarah had killed Simeon Mead.

The jury decided that medical evidence showed that the infant Jonah Mead had been killed by arsenic poisoning, and so found that he had been murdered by Sarah Dazley.

This information is also available as a word document - see below.


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