Extract from The London Medical Gazette, 3 February 1838
Editorial – Inquest on boy flogged at Lambeth Workhouse
The gist of the case may be comprised in a small compass. The boy, whose age is not stated, had been in Lambeth Workhouse, where he was flogged by a Mr Rowe, with such severity, that the body, when viewed by the jury, bore evident marks of blows, the back, thighs, legs and arms, being nearly covered with black marks, there was also a bruise on the forehead. Bailey had been removed to the House of Industry at Norwood, for the infant poor of the Parish of Lambeth, on the 13th January 1838, and died there on the 19th January 1838. Now as it appeared that on the post-mortem examination there was a disease of the lungs, it would be difficult to say that the punishment had absolutely caused the death of the child, but must have accelerated it.
This fact did not escape Mr. W. Street, a surgeon of Norwood, who gave evidence. He was not conclusive on the situation of the death conceding that it was a “very nice legal point”. Surely this is sad stuff. The severe whipping which would cause “much constitutional disturbance” in a child labouring under disease of the lungs, must inevitably hasten death.
The perpetrator of the deed was beyond all human censure, having died on the very morning of Bailey’s removal to the house at Norwood. The question should also be considered whether the inflictors knew that the child was seriously ill when they so misused it?
If they did, it is clear that they were guilty of manslaughter, not to say of a graver crime. If they did not, under what kind of inspection, medical or other, are the children in the Lambeth Workhouse?
The deceased, with his father and brothers, being homeless, had been received into Lambeth Workhouse, but were turned out again to shift as they could, and slept several nights in a stable. This had occurred in the very cold January of 1838. The verdict finally given was that the deceased died of disease of the lungs.
This, inquiry, if it can be called one, was badly managed in many particulars. A juror wished to examine the father and brother, who, however, were not called.
In such a case as this it was imperatively required that the professional witnesses should not only be free from all local partiality or bias, but from all suspicion of it; and therefore the services of some distinguished London surgeon should have been procured. Mr Watmore, indeed, the Clerk to the Lambeth Board of Guardians, stated not only that this inquiry was instituted at their particular desire, but that they had directed a post-mortem examination by two most eminent surgeons. Neither their names nor their opinion, however, are to be found in the report.
Source: The London Medical Gazette (3 February 1838), Vol. 21, No. 1053, p.741.
A Night in a London Workhouse (song)