Harsh times

Shields Daily News
Saturday 7 March 1903


A single middle-aged woman, Mary Ellen Buckley, who lived by herself in Jerry Clay Lane, Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, was yesterday removed to the Clayton Hospital under singular circumstances.

As the woman had not been seen by the neighbours for several days, the house was forcibly entered, and she was found lying on a bed upstairs in a very weak condition. She was conscious, and said that she had been in bed since Sunday without food.

She also admitted having taken a quantity of laudanum, and two small bottles were found on a chest of drawers.

It is stated that the woman has been in straitened circumstanced for some time, and as she was in arrears with her rent she was afraid of being ejected from her house.

‘Spanish juice water’

York Herald
Saturday 21 October 1843


On Sunday last some little boys were playing together at Potovens, when two of them, called William Spawforth and James Wood, the one aged 12 years the other 10 years, produced a liquid in a small bottle, which they called Spanish juice water, and poured some of it down Francis Lumb’s throat. They let other boys taste it, but Lumb was the first. Immediately on Lumb swallowing it he screamed violently and ran home. On further inquiry it appeared that the lad Spawforth’s grandmother having left home for the day, he took the opportunity of searching her cupboard for a file, when a playfellow who was with him, found a bottle containing oil of vitriol used for dyeing silks, which he tasted, and finding that it blistered his lips offered it to other lads apparently for a joke, telling them it was Spanish juice water. The unfortunate deceased, more confiding than the rest, swallowed a small quantity, and although every effort was used to destroy the effect of the poison, he died about half past ten o’clock the following morning. Deceased was about five years of age and the son of a coal miner named Whitaker Lumb. The two lads Spawforth and Wood were apprehended and remained in custody till the termination of the coroner’s Inquest, when a verdict being returned of “Died from taking Oil of Vitriol, not knowing what it was”, they were liberated.