Bridgend Workhouse: Post Mortem of Susannah Thomas, 1839.

Bridgend Workhouse

An important inquest was held at the Wyndham Arms Inn at 12 noon on the 9th of March, 1839.

A female, aged 23 years,, with abdominal pain for 4 months had died about an hour after taking medicine supplied by a visiting doctor from Swansea, known as Baron Spolasco. A verdict of Manslaughter was passed at the inquest but the Baron was deemed not guilty at the Glamorgan Assizes at Swansea. He was later fined and imprisoned for issuing false prescriptions, but soon released. Another Court case was held in July 1840 when a further 25 charges were brought up against him, but somehow he was again found not guilty. He was undoubtedly a quack with an amazing ability to take advantage of the superstition and ignorance of the age. There was no further mention of him in the local press after 1845.

Precis of Post Mortem Report on the body of Susannah Thomas.

On that day Dr. Abraham Verity, surgeon of Bridgend (practice for 30 years) - produced a post mortem report on the body of Susannah Thomas, aged 23 years old.

"My son assisted and also nephew. Wall of stomach thickened with patches of gangrene. Perforation near middle - peritoneum inflamed. Fluid present, took fluid from stomach into house. Evaporated it and tasted. Bitter? aloes 10-12g.

Fluid in abdomen strained, decanted, filtrated, and evaporated - light brown, greyish powder - probably jalap with oat meal. Tasted and gave to dog. Purged. Quantity 55g (10 - 12g jalap)"

John Llewelyn (Cowbridge): " I attended her for 2 months and then she went to live in Bridgend. Irritability of stomach from sluggish state of liver and intestine. Last time I saw her was six months before her death"

William Henry Wood (Cowbridge): - MRCS, LRCP

"I attended physicians practice at St. George's Hospital, London, for 4 years and was clinical clerk to Dr Hope for 3 years. Post Mortem: Liver and spleen healthy. Perforation size of 6 pence centre of great curvature -  margins thickened. Small ulcers near pylorus. Blood extravasated between muscular and mucous coat simulating gangrene. Medicine was not cause of death."

Verdict: Manslaughter

Post Script:

Dr John Llewelyn was on of the Medical Officers of the Board, and Dr William Henry Wood was proposed in 1839. The nephew was probably Fredrick S. Verity who was reported as having passed the examination of Apothecaries' Hall in the Cambrian, September, 1837. The son was Abraham John Verity who became a member of the College of Surgeons in 1840, was Medical Officer of the board. His deputy, Abraham Verity (Senior) must have been the Abraham Verity who performed the post mortem.

(Source: Workhouse and Guardians)

1 comment

  1. Hi there, nice site ! Just a comment to your postscript on this story.... The nephew in question is not Frederick S Verity, but the William Henry Wood mentioned in the Post Mortem record.
    William Henry Wood (1814-1850) is the son of William Wood and Maria Verity (lived Ash Hall, near Ystradowen) . Maria is Abraham Robert Verity 's older sister.....hence William Henry Wood is his nephew !
    Victoria Jaenecke (a Verity family descendant)


Professional Blog Designs by pipdig