Tales of a beacon bet, and other things

 1832 – Illegal medical Practitioner caused death of Child?   Very Flawed Inquest

Ann Roberts, an 11 year old girl, became ill and her father called in an illegal medical practitioner who treated her for a few days then didn’t see her again.

Ann deteriorated over the following days until her father finally called in a surgeon who found the child near to death.  The surgeon questioned Ann’s father regarding her symptoms, and he said that the disease was sub-acute inflammation of the brain, or brain membranes which was causing death.

The child had been neither bled, leeched nor cupped and it was confirmed that the man treating her was an illegal medical practitioner.

The Inquest

Although the jury returned a verdict of “Died by the visitation of God”, it was said that there were aspects which should be explored.

Samuel Mallard of Whitchurch

Samuel Mallard sent a letter to the Monmouthshire Merlin detailing the above, and making his views known as follows:

First, where was the man who gave medicines to Ann?  He was the only one who had done this and he should have been at the inquest – it was supposed that he had not been told of the inquest, but had he been there he could have been asked whether he was legally authorised to practice.

Secondly, four surgeons were present at the inquest, but the body had not been examined by any of them.  Had it been so, the opinion of the surgeon who saw the dying girl could have proved either right or ill founded.

Thirdly, if a physician or surgeon treats a patient and that patient dies unexpectedly, then it is neither manslaughter nor murder and he should not be accused as such;  however, if it is NOT a proper doctor or surgeon who gives medicine or performs an operation, then it is manslaughter at the very least.

Finally, the question was asked – what was the point in an inquest when the key person was not even there to answer the question as to whether he was qualified or not, and on that the whole issue rested.

Samuel finished by saying

“I would now inquire whether in the above case, the law which demanded the inquest has been enforced, or whether there hasbeen merely the pageantry of an inquest, which has failed in protecting the public from the fatal effects of the maltreatment of empirics? – and thus has not the law of the land been violated.”



1856 – Beacon Fire leaves Ganarew Cold

In 1856 there were two instances where a beacon was lit on the Malvern Hills, one at the end of the Crimean War, and one to settle a bet between two men who disagreed about the distance from which the fire could be seen.

Preparations were impressive, and a massive bonfire was built.  As well as the expected flames, there were to be blue and red rockets.

The people of Ganarew joined in the experiment with alacrity but were sadly disappointed.  No blue lights, rockets nor indeed fire were seen, in spite of the hardy souls waiting for hours in the bitterly cold wind.  Eventually they headed for home, grumbling all the way no doubt.

As a matter of interest, this is the result, and bear in mind that the night was frosty and starlit:

Hereford – just a red haze seen.

Worcester – suffice it to say, there were a huge number of very disappointed people.

Robin Hoods Hill, Gloucester – Very clearly saw it.  I should hope so given how close it was.

Dudley – they thought they saw it;  pretty certain actually.

The Wrekin – Salop – nothing seen

Tewkesbury – signal clearly seen.

Bath – not a sausage.

Bristol – (where they hoped to see a reflection of the fire), nothing.

1861 – Animal Cruelty not Tolerated

This is just one of many such cases in Herefordshire – it is heartening that 19th century folk generally abhorred ill treatment of animals.

Thomas Taylor was charged with cruelty to a donkey at Ganarew, which resulted in the poor animal’s death.

He was ordered to pay £1 for the value of the donkey, plus 10s 6d costs, as well as being fined 11s for the cruelty with 8s costs.  In default of payment, he was sentenced to three months hard labour.

1866 – Marriage of the Widow of the late Rev. J. Clarke M.A.

The marriage took place in Ganarew in August, of Mrs. Clarke, widow of the late Rector of Stretford and Rural Dean of Manchester, and youngest daughter of the late Roger Hunter of Liverpool, married Major General Carthew of Her Majesty’s Indian Army, of Bradenham Hall, Oxford.

The villagers determined to make an occasion of the event and turned out en masse in their Sunday best to welcome the wedding party who arrived in six carriages.  The old church was beautifully decorated.

1884 – Extreme Summer Heat

An exceptional heatwave during the summer of 1884 led to several people dying from heatstroke.

One such person was a labourer by the name of Daniels who was working on a farm at Ganarew.  He suffered for two days before dying.

1897 – Doctor Thrown by his Horse

Dr. S.H. Wright of Ganarew was killed when he fell from his bolting horse.