Copyright
Frederick Henry Seddon.

Trial of the Seddons online

. (page 14 of 57)
Online LibraryFrederick Henry SeddonTrial of the Seddons → online text (page 14 of 57)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


We have had some evidence that she was a woman who experienced
considerable difficulty in her breathing after she had been up and down
stairs. She was the sort of woman whose appearance would convey that
to you as a medical man, would it not? No, I do not think it would. I
did not notice anything wrong with her breathing.

Would you say she was above or below the average weight? If
anything, I should say she was a little above.
88



Evidence for Prosecution.

DP. John Frederick Paul

You say she complained of asthma, but you did not yourself hear any
asthmatic attack? No.

Of course, asthmatic attacks are intermittent? Yes.

And it is a fact that very often they are very much worse at night
when the person is lying down? Yes.

I notice that you mention an American drug you gave her, grindelia.
I see it is a specific " for reducing the frequency of convulsions and
spasmodic attacks which occur in asthma"? Yes.

So, although you did not see it, you accepted her story that she was
suffering from asthma? Yes.

On 2nd September, Saturday, Miss Margaret Seddon did come to fetch
you? Yes.

And you were very busy, and you advised that they should fetch
another doctor? Yes.

Cross-examined by Mr. RENTOUL I think it was Mrs. Seddon who first
brought Miss Barrow to your house? Yes, it was.

Further cross-examined by Mr. MARSHALL HALL Mr. Seddon, I think,
when the inquest came on, asked you if you would attend the inquest? Yes.

Dr. HENRY GEORGE SWORN, examined by Mr. TRAVERS HUMPHREYS I
am a doctor of medicine and licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, 5
Highbury Crescent, Highbury. I am and I have been for over ten years
the family doctor of the two prisoners. On 2nd September last I was
telephoned for to attend Miss Barrow between ten and eleven o'clock at
night, and I went to 63 Tollington Park and saw Miss Barrow in bed.
Mrs. Seddon was in the room at the time. I do not remember any one
else being there. I got the history of the case from Miss Barrow and
from Mrs. Seddon, being told that on Friday, 1st September, she had
diarrhoea and sickness. I mentioned the fact to Mrs. Seddon, that she
appeared to be very ill, and asked how long she had been ill. She said
ehe had been ill on and off for a long time, that she had had a liver attack,
and that she had suffered from asthma.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL I asked if she had been attended to by
any other doctor about that time, and they said that she had been attended
by another doctor, that they had sent for him at twelve o'clock that day,
and again at eight o'clock.

Examination continued I examined Miss Barrow, and found that she
had pain in her abdomen, sickness, and diarrhoaa. I was told that she
had been vomiting. I prescribed bismuth and morphia.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL The bismuth was to stop the sickness and
the morphia to soothe the pain. I gave her ten-grain doses of bismuth and
five-minim doses of morphia in the same mixture. She was to take a dose
of that quantity every four hours.

Examination continued I saw her again next morning between eleven
and twelve, and found her to be still about the same as she was when I
saw her the day before. Mrs. Seddon was present, and told me that Miss
Barrow was no better. I prescribed the same medicine. I saw Miss Barrow
again on Monday, the 4th, and found her to be the same.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL She was being sick two or three times a
day, and being purged; it was not continuous. The diarrhoea and sickness

89



Trial of the Seddons.

Dr. Henry George Sworn

had not stopped ; my prescription had been ineffective. She was not much
weaker; she was about the same she was no weaker. I was not satisfied
with her condition upon that day. I mentioned the fact, and Mrs. Seddon
told me that she would not take her medicine. She said that to me before
I went up and also before Miss Barrow.

Examination continued Miss Barrow was deaf, and I should say
that she could not hear what was said if it was spoken in an ordinary
tone of voice. I gave the patient an effervescing mixture of citrate of
potash and bicarbonate of soda, which would be administered in two
separate parts. On that day the diarrhoea was not so bad, and therefore
I gave nothing for the diarrhoea. I told Miss Barrow that if she did not
take her medicine I should have to send her into the hospital, and she
said she would not go. I called again upon the next day, the 5th, and
found her to be slightly better. Mrs. Seddon was there when I saw her,
and she said the sickness was not so bad, and that the diarrhoea was a
little better than the day before. I did not alter my prescription in any
way on that day; I continued the effervescing mixture. On the 6th, 7th,
and 8th I found the patient to be slightly improved, and I continued the
same medicine.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKMLL On the 4th I dropped the morphia, because
the abdominal pain was less.

Examination continued On the 9th I found her to be about the same,
but on that day Mrs. Seddon mentioned to me that her motion was so
very offensive that I gave the patient a blue pill which contained mercury.
I told Mrs. Seddon that if the patient was any worse on the Sunday she
could telephone for me, but I did not get any telephone message. I did
not call again until Monday, the llth, when I saw her, I think, between
ten and twelve in the forenoon. She was about the same as when I saw
her on the Saturday. I saw Mrs. Seddon that day, but she did not tell
me whether the diarrhoea or the sickness had stopped, or anything about
it. On that day Miss Barrow was suffering principally from weakness
caused by the diarrhoea and sickness that she had had. She had not
any pain; if she had had any I should have sent her something for it.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL I was keeping on with the effervescing
mixtures at that time, and I ordered her to take Valentine's meat juice
and also some brandy for the weakness.

Examination continued With regard to the diet, I instructed Mrs.
Seddon, while the sickness was on, to give soda water and milk, and then
I advised her to give her some gruel, and then later on I told her she
could give her some light puddings milk puddings in addition to the
Valentine's meat juice. I do not think Miss Barrow's mental condition was
ever very good; on the llth it was not very good. Nothing was said to
me by anybody that day about Miss Barrow making a will. I looked upon
her as a woman to whom you would have to explain a thing like a will
if she had to make one; she would not grasp the whole of the facts, but
she would be quite capable of making a will if you explained it to her.
Her mental condition did not improve at all from the first day I saw her on
2nd September; I did not consider it got any worse; it remained about
the same. I think it was some time after the 4th that I first ordered
Valentine's meat juice for her. I did not see her on Tuesday, the 12th.
90



Evidence for Prosecution.

DP. Henry George Sworn

I saw her on Wednesday, the 13th, I think, between eleven and twelve-
in the forenoon. She was rather worse; she had diarrhoea on again, but
she did not seem to be in much pain, and I gave her a mixture for it. She-
had a little return of sickness, but it was not much. I gave her a bismuth,
and chalk mixture that day.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL She was still about the same so far as her
strength was concerned; in fact, she was a little weaker on account of the
diarrhoea coming on again.

Examination continued I saw Mrs. Seddon, and I simply told her
that the patient was worse, and I would send her up a diarrhoea mixture-
that she would take after each motion. I do not remember giving any
instructions as to diet on the 13th. I thought that she was then in a
little danger, but I did not consider her to be in a critical condition.

Did you expect her to die that night? I did not expect her to die-
any more than I should expect any patient to die in that condition. Any
patient who had had an attack of diarrhoea and sickness, and got weak,
would be likely to die would stand a chance of dying. The patient might
die from heart failure or anything like that.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL Her pulse was rather weak, it was weaker
than on other days, and I put that down to the purging. It was not
intermittent, it was weak.

Examination continued The 13th was the last time I saw her. During 1
the time I was attending her I took her temperature twice, as far as I can
remember. On the one day the temperature was up to 101, and on other
days it was fairly normal. I think it was on the 7th that the temperature
was up to 101, and some days it was 99. It was not a continuous tem-
perature. I never found it subnormal. I did not take the temperature
on the 13th. The next I heard about Miss Barrow was at 7 o'clock on
the morning of the 14th, when Mr. Seddon came to my house and said
that Miss Barrow had died in the early morning, about 6 o'clock, I think
he said. I asked him how she was, and he said that she seemed to have-
a lot of pain in her inside, and then she went off sort of insensible.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL He said that they had been up all night
with her, and she had been in a considerable amount of pain, and then went
off a sort of unconscious, insensible. Nothing else was said. I do not
remember him telling me of having put a hot flannel over her stomach.

Examination continued I do not remember whether he said that they
had given her anything at all in the night ; I did not ask him. I said to
him, " I am going to give you the certificate."

You gave a certificate then? Yes.

As I understand, you had not seen the body after death? No. The
last time I saw her was about 11 o'clock the day before. I certified the
death as due to epidemic diarrhoea. Exhibit 41 is the certificate of death,
and it states, " Cause of death, epidemic diarrhoea." All that I certified
was the cause of death, and "duration of illness, ten days." That was
a mistake in the duration ; a miscalculation. I attended from the 2nd
to the 14th, and I stated that at the coroner's Court. The information-
as to her rank or profession was not filled in by me.

Was there any arsenic in any of the medicines which you prescribed ? *
No, there was not any arsenic. There was no reason for giving it.



Trial of the Seddons.



Dr. Henry George Sworn

AB a, fact, there was not? No. I have the prescription here.
Cross-examined by Mr. MARSHALL HALL When you say " no arsenic "
you cannot say, of course, that carbonate of bismuth does not contain
minute quantities of arsenic? No, without I tested it. Carbonate of
bismuth has been known to contain arsenic.

I do not suggest that there would be sufficient arsenic to account
for the death, but you cannot say that carbonate of bismuth does not
contain arsenic it is well known as an adulteration of carbonate of
bismuth? It has been known, but I should not think that what we have
from our chemist would have it.

Do you make up your own medicines? I have some one who makes
up my medicines.

But you would get the best drugs you possibly could? I do.
You had attended the Seddons for about ten years? Yes.
You had not attended Miss Barrow before, because we know she had
been attended by Dr. Paul? Yes.

And you knew, or you know now, at any rate, that Dr. Paul had
said he was too busy to attend her on that day, and therefore you were
sent for? Yes.

There was no question of professional etiquette, because Dr. Paul had
refused to come? I asked about that at the time, because I would not
have taken the case.

Now, Dr. Paul has told us that Miss Barrow had been complaining
on and off from about 3rd August of congestion of the liver. Dr. Paul
told us I do not know whether you will agree that congestion of the
liver would itself produce severe colic pains 1 Yes, it would.
Is that due to the improper action of the bile? Yes.
Bile is a very acid and a very irritant thing, and if it is not properly
secreted it would cause a great deal of pain and intense pain? You get it
sometimes if you have too much bile secreted, and sometimes if you do
not have any at all you have the same effect.

Dr. Paul had been giving her rhubarb and magnesia as early as the
1st August of that year. Did you notice any signs of asthma at all when
you saw Miss Barrow? Yes, I told Mrs. Seddon that she appeared to me
to be a woman that suffered from asthma.

Did you infer that she was a woman rather above the average weight
for her height? Do you agree with that? Yes.

And a woman of a somewhat full temperament? There were appear-
ances about her as if there was a certain amount of arterial tension from
attacks of asthma in the blood vessels.

When you saw her for the first time on 2nd September was she in
the condition of a woman who had been passing through the incipient stages
of an attack of epidemic diarrhoea? No.

You did not see, then, any evidence of acute diarrhoea at that time?
No, I saw no evidence of it being previous to that. She had diarrhoea
at that time.

According to you, as far as you knew, it had commenced on that
day? Yes, the day before I saw her.
That would be on the 1st? Yes.

92



Evidence for Prosecution.

Dr. Henry George Sworn

The condition of diarrhoea was fairly acute on that day, was it notl
Yes.

Was she in a condition to go to the lavatory on that day or any othei
day ? I should think she could go to the lavatory ; she was not so bad
as that.

But you would not have advised it? I should not have advised it,
but I have no doubt she could have gone. She might have had heart
failure there.

I think, as a matter of fact, you inspected the stools and the vomit,
did you not? Yes. Mrs. Seddon showed me one of the motions.

Were they particularly offensive? They were, very.

And I think you gave her a carbolic sheet to put up to counteract the
smell? I ordered her to put a carbolic sheet up.

Mrs. Seddon described the symptoms to you? Yes.

Have you any doubt whatever that Miss Barrow seemed very ill when
you first saw her? Oh, she was, yes, very ill.

Did Mrs. Seddon tell you that she had been ill on and off for some
little time? Yes, but not with this attack.

And that the vomiting and diarrhoea started the previous day? Yes.

Did what you saw of the case lead you to believe that that was a
true statement on the part of Mrs. Seddon? Yes.

The symptoms you found were consistent with that state of things?
Quite.

Mrs. Seddon was in attendance there was no nurse? No.

Later on, when you threatened to send Miss Barrow to the hospital
if she would not take her medicine, did she say that the Seddons could
manage for her very well? She said that Mrs. Seddon could attend to
her very well indeed, and she was very attentive.

As far as you could judge, during the whole time that you saw Miss
Barrow, did she seem attached to Mrs. Seddon? She did.

And as far as you could see was Mrs. Seddon very kind to her? As far
as I could see she was very kind.

And attentive? And attentive.

You called, then, on the 3rd, we have heard, and on the 4th, and
on the 4th you thought she was getting better ? Not on the 4th ; the 4th
was when I changed the medicine.

The diarrhoea was not so bad? The diarrhoea was not so bad, but
the sickness was bad.

She was, of course, getting weaker naturally? Yes

I suppose the weather was very hot? Yes, very hot.

And, of course, owing to the heat of the weather, with a woman with
her asthmatic tendency, and this arterial tension about her, and things of
that sort, she would very rapidly get weaker? She would.

May I take it that one of the main dangers in an attack of this kind
was the danger of heart failure? It is.

I think you said that even if she went to the lavatory, although she
might have been able to do it, she might at any moment have failed from
heart failure? Yes.

Now, it was Mrs. Seddon who told you, was it not, that Miss Barrow
would not take her medicine? Yes.

93



Trial of the Seddons.

Dr. Henry Geor-e Sworn

She objected to this bismuth mixture, which would be chalk and milk?
3Io, Mrs. Seddon did not say that; Mrs. Seddon said that Miss Barrow
would not take her medicine, and asked me to give her a good talking to,
-and I said, " I will go up and talk to her," and so I told her. I said, " If
jou will not take your medicine you will have to go to the hospital," and
I gave her a dose of medicine.

That was the chalk mixture? The chalk and bismuth, and I said,
" She is very thirsty. She is fearfully thirsty. If I send her an
effervescing mixture she will be only too pleased to take it." The patient
herself said she was thirsty.

Thirst is the normal condition of that illness? It is quite a normal
condition.

And, if I may use the expression, an abnormal thirst is the normal
condition of that? That complaint, yes.

Of course, this first medicine you gave her, this carbonate of bismuth,
would have to be suspended in some gummy solution? It is suspended
in mucilage gum and sugar.

So you would have a thickish sort of medicine which would not be
very thirst quenching? No, it would not.

And you could quite understand the reluctance of a person who is
thirsty to take this symppy white milky stuff? Yes.

You suggested a change by giving her citrate of potash and carbonate
of soda, an effervescing drink made in two mixtures, each being non-
effervescing by itself? Yes. The little boy told me he did see Mr.
Seddon give the mixture, that he had two glasses, and he poured the con-
tents of the one into the other, and it effervesced.

That would be your effervescing mixture? Yes.
And that would be white? Quite clear, like water.
Did she give you any reason for disliking her medicine? No.
Did you talk to Miss Barrow in the way you are talking to us? Yes.
And you made her hear? I could make her hear quite easily. She
was not stone deaf.

When you said that you would send her to the hospital she heard
clearly enough then? She heard that. I never found any difficulty in
speaking to her.

Did you hear on the next day that Miss Barrow had left her bed and
had gone into the boy's bedroom on the night of the 4th? No.

Did you hear it on the 5th? No, I heard that she had been out of
the bed.

Did you hear that she had gone to the boy's bed? I did not hear
that she had gone to the boy's bed. I know she could get out of the bed
if she liked. I did not remonstrate with her. I told Mrs. Seddon that
she was not to be allowed to get out of bed.

As a matter of fact, do you think it was a very good thing for a boy
to be sleeping with her when she was in that condition? No, I never
knew the boy was sleeping with her. I do not remember seeing him in the
bedroom.

Did Miss Barrow say anything to you about being plagued with the
flies in the room? No.

There was a very big epidemic of flies about that time ? I have never
94



Evidence for Prosecution.

Dr. Henry George Sworn

seen so many as I saw in that room. I put it down to the smell of the
motions which would attract them.

Do you happen to know that the medical officer of health for the
district had circulated a bill about flies (No. 137)? No, I did not know.
It had not been sent to the medical men it is sent to the people, I think.

On the 5th did you notice any fly-papers in the room? No.

I suppose you would not go much near the mantelpiece? No, I
should not go near it.

The temperature on the 7th of 101 was the maximum, as far as you
know? Yes, as far as I know.

But you did not take her temperature on the 13th? No.

I think you said that she might have some brandy? Yes, I told them
to give her brandy.

Did you find any blood in the vomit? No.

Did you notice at all whether she had any signs of leaky eyes, or
running eyes, or anything of that sort? No, she had not.

Nothing of that sort, nor any rash? No.

When you spoke just now about the will I think you also said this,
if the things in the will were properly explained to her she was in a con-
dition to understand it? Yes, that is the view I took.

You never thought her mental condition was very strong? I never
thought she was very good mentally, but if you explained matters suffi-
ciently she could understand them.

Now, on the 13th there was again difficulty about the medicine, was
there not? No, not on the 13th. On the 13th I gave her diarrhoea
mixture because she had a little diarrhoea come on again.

The diarrhoea having returned you were bound to revert to the bismuth
mixture? Well, I gave her a different mixture.

Bismuth and chalk? It was aromatic chalk mixture containing some
bismuth, and that was only to be given after each motion not to be
continued.

The dose of bismuth which you were giving to her on the 13th was a
fairly stiff dose? A ten-grain dose. That is not a stiff dose. You can
give twenty-grain doses.

On the 13th did you realise that she was in danger? Yes.

Although you did not expect her to die that night, were you surprised
to hear that she was dead the next morning? No.

Her pulse, you have said, was weak. Was it fairly and easily com-
pressible? Yes, it was weak compressible.

A weak, compressible pulse fast? Yes.

Thin and fast? Yes, it was not very

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL Fast thin and weak? The pulse was.
By Mr. MARSHALL HALL What was it beating at as a matter of fact,
do you remember? I do not quite remember.

Valentine's meat juice you had ordered, as far as I remember, from
the 4th? Yes.

Valentine's meat juice is a concentrated essence of beef or meat of
some kind? It is the compressed juice, and it is diluted with water.

Now, the next morning, assuming that this poor lady had died at
.30, 7 o'clock would be as early as you would reasonably expect anybody

95



Trial of the Seddons.

Dr. Henry George Sworn

to come and see you if he had been up all night? Yes, I should not have
thanked him to come before.

He told you Miss Barrow was dead? Yes.

You then asked the questions. Did he ask for the certificate, or
did you give it to him? No, I gave it to him.

If you had wanted to see the body, or if you had in your discretion
thought it necessary to see the body before granting the certificate, do you
anticipate there would be the smallest difficulty about your doing so?
No, there would not. I should have gone and seen it.

Did you as a medical man, having regard to what you had previously
seen, think it necessary to see the body before giving the certificate?
No, I did not.

Had you any doubt in your own mind at that time that what you
stated on the certificate was correct that she had died from exhaustion
brought on by epidemic diarrhoea? I stated what I believed to be true.

There was a great deal of epidemic diarrhoea about at that time, was
there not? Yes.

In epidemic diarrhoea, however carefully it is looked after, there is
always a danger of a sudden relapse? Yes.

And if there is a sudden relapse in epidemic diarrhoea which has been
going on for ten or twelve days would you expect death to result from
heart failure? Yes.

It would, of course, be accompanied by a comatose or unconscious
state? Yes.

Re-examined by the ATTORNET-GEJSTERAL When you left this lady on
the morning of the 13th, did you anticipate that she would die within
twenty-four hours? Certainly not. I should have gone back later on in
the day if I thought there was immediate danger, but heart failure is a
thing that comes on suddenly in these cases. If I had gone the same
evening I should not have expected it, but yet it might have happened.

What I was asking is this, having regard to the condition in which
you found her with regard to the pulse, had you any reason to expect
that she would die within twenty-four hours? I had as much reason to
expect that as in any other case that dies. She was not in what I should
call a dangerous condition. There are many cases that die from heart
failure. There are some cases in which you can say how long the person
is going to live. I have known a person to be told there is no danger
and to die an hour afterwards from heart failure. My own father died
in that way.

I am not disputing that. What I want to get at is this. I really
want to understand from you \vhether you thought that at that time she
was in such a dangerous condition that she might die within the twenty-
four hours? She might have died five minutes after I left. She was in
that condition that I should not have been surprised if they had come
back ten minutes afterwards and said she Avas dead.

Surely there is no difficulty in answering a simple question? No, I
am telling you.

But apart altogether from what might happen, what I want to know
is what your expectation was as a medical man attending a patient who



Online LibraryFrederick Henry SeddonTrial of the Seddons → online text (page 14 of 57)