Death of Tom Smith
Posted by on January 01 1970 00:02:26
Local newspapers are an important source of social and economic history. An example of this is the report of the Coroners Inquest into the death of Tom Smith who was found dead in a shed on Monday 30 January 1912.

Headlined "Stroud Labourer's sad death" it records that he died as a result of breathing in the fumes from a lime burner adjacent to the shed in which he had been sleeping. 

In terms of the industrial history of the town it records that Charles Webb was a lime burner who owned a Lime Kiln at the Conygre, Bisley Road Stroud. This may be a small detail but shows that the trade was being conducted in the town at this time.

Even the details of the Inquest - held the day after the body was discovered - show considerable difference in practice from today. The Inquest and post mortum was held at the Target Inn before a Jury with the whole . Today the official procedure would hold a hearing as to identity and adjourn the main hearing for weeks if not months. 

We also learn what may appear to be insignificant details about the Target Inn - long gone - except in the memory of drinkers in the top of Stroud, because the local constable records moving the body to the skittle alley. 



Stroud  News - January 3 1913 

Stroud Labourer's Sad Death

Inquest and Verdict

Mr R H Smith (Deputy Coroner) held and inquest at the Target Inn, Stroud, on Tuesday evening on the body of Tom Smith, labourer aged 54 who was found dead in a shed at the Conygre, Bisley Road, Stroud on Monday Morning.

Ada Witts, wife of Walter Witts, gas fitter, of Tower Hill Stroud, said the deceased was her husbands half-brother. She last saw him alive near the Cross on Saturday night, but she was not near enough to speak to him. Deceased often called at her house for food, which was given him, and she did not think he ever wanted for something to eat. He was a labourer and did odd jobs.

Charles James Orchard Webb, lime burner of Tower Hill Stroud said that at 9.30am on Monday he had visited a shed near his limekiln at the Conygre, Bisley Road. He saw the deceased lying there wrapped in bags. He was quite dead and had apparently died in his sleep. The door was tied with string and witness had some difficulty opening the it. He had never given the deceased permission to sleep in the shed.

Dr Whitley saide he had made a post mortem examination of the body. The righthand index finger and thumb had been eaten away by rats. The body was that of a well-built and well nourished man. Death was due to asphyxia caused by the fumes from the lime-kiln near where the body had been found. The body was in a filthly state.

PC Aston said he had removed the body from the shed to the skittle alley at the Target Inn and examined it. He found 1s 2 ½ d in his pocket and a stamped national insurance card.

The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.