Death of Ann Plumb, January 1890
The following appeared in the Royston Crow on 17th January 1890:
Found Drowned – A woman was found drowned this (Friday) morning at 8 o’clock, near the road near the Cross, Meldreth. The deceased when found had been in the water some hours. The body is not yet identified.
Woman drowned at Meldreth is the wife of John Plumb, carpenter, Meldreth.
A longer report appeared in the same paper the following week:
Mr C W Palmer (County Coroner) held an inquest at The Green Man, Meldreth, on Saturday last, on the body of Ann Plumb, aged 57 years, the wife of John Plumb, carpenter, who was found drowned, as announced in our last issue, in a brook, or Marvell’s Moat, near her house, on the previous day. The following evidence was taken:
Lydia Plumb, living at Meldreth, said the deceased was her daughter-in-law. She last saw her alive on the Thursday afternoon, she was then cleaning her house, and seemed cheerful. On the Friday morning she went to wake the deceased up (she lived next door) thinking she might have over-slept herself. She woke up deceased’s daughter, who had slept with her mother, and asked her where her mother was, and she said she did not know. She then went round to the back part of the house to search for deceased, thinking she should find her there, but could not find her.
The daughter of deceased, who is afflicted and did not appear to understand the nature of an oath, was also called but her statement was confined to the fact that her mother went to bed in her usual health on the night previous, and that she did not hear her get up in the morning.
Ruth Hale, the wife of Arthur Hale, wheelwright, of Meldreth, said on Friday morning about half-past seven o’clock she went to draw up her blind, and then she saw the deceased lying opposite her house in the river called “St. Thomas’ Brook” or “Marvell’s Moat”. She went to Mrs Farnham’s and sent for her husband directly.
Arthur Hale, husband of the last witness, deposed: between half-past seven and eight o’clock I was sent for by my wife. I went to the river just close to my house and saw the deceased in the water. The whole of the body, with the exception of the face and hands, was in the water. She had a dress on. She appeared to me to be quite dead. I ran for assistance, and then I went back and pulled the body out. There is a dipping-place close to the spot. There was no pail or other utensil near the place. She had no boots on, but she had stockings. She was looking black all round the neck.
Dr L M Earle, residing at Melbourn, said he had attended deceased occasionally, but not lately. He made a post-mortem examination of the body. There were no external marks of violence. There were the usual signs of asphyxia resulting from drowning.
In answer to the foreman Dr Earle said that it was possible for the deceased to walk there in her sleep, and there was nothing to indicate that she had had a fit.
The Coroner remarked that there was really nothing in the evidence to show on the one hand that the deceased had been accidentally drowned, nor on the other that she had taken her own life, and the jury returned an open verdict of “Found Drowned”.
At the close the Coroner referred to the absence of one of the jurymen, Mr Rumble, who was not present to answer to his name, and another juryman had to be summoned in his place. It was not fair to the other jurymen who attended to their summons to be kept waiting, and he fined Mr Rumble 10s. Upon the suggestion of some of the jury, however, that as Mr Rumble had gone to Cambridge and might have missed his train and so have been prevented from attending, the Coroner said he should be sorry to enforce the fine if it was accidental, and if Mr Rumble could show that it was through no fault of his own that he was absent, he should not enforce it.