Unit 37

Item 32


Emma Simmonds 

Aged 7 months

11 March 1856

Death from natural causes accelerated by an infection of the lungs – on Monday the tenth inst accelerated by medicines accidentally administered to the deceased but which were made up by and directed from another person.


Henry Prosser

John Chadwick

Moses Langdon

Thomas Watson

William Dorrington

George Carter

Peter Wilton

Thomas James

Andrew Pope

Robert Hunt

William Williams

Witness: George Edward Simmonds, butcher

I am the father of the deceased who was about 7 months old. That on Frid last the deceased got cold and I sent for some medicine to Mr Newman the druggist but it did not seem to relieve the child and I then sent my servant man to our own medical attendant, Dr James Sutherland for some medicine for the deceased on last Sun morning. The man returned with a bottle of mixture and a box of pills. I now produce the labels which were on the bottle and box On the former there was written “A tablespoonful 4 times a day and an extra dose when the cough is troublesome. On the latter (the box of pills) there was written “One pill every 3 hours. Miss Simmons.” 

There was one pill given immediately to the child and a dose of the mixture. The child fell asleep immediately and continued so until late that evening. I never heard her cough after taking those medicines. She did not sleep after awaking during Sunday night until about five o‘clock am on Monday when she fell asleep again and awoke at 8 o’clock an and as she appeared very weakly I went myself for Dr Sutherland who came immediately but the deceased died between ten and eleven o’clock am. When I went to Dr Sutherland and told him that the medicine he had sent did not do any good to the baby after which Dr Sutherland at once said that he did not know that baby was ill and that he had not sent any medicine for the baby. The medicines he did send were for the mother.

Witness Edward Swantson

I am in Mr Simmonds employment fro the last three weeks and I was sent last Sunday morning to Dr Sutherlands for some medicine for the child. On seeing Dr Sutherland I told him that I was sent by Mr Simmonds of Madman’s Flat for some medicine for the baby who passed blood occasionally and had a severe cold. Dr Sutherland asked me again how the baby was getting on and AI told him that she was getting on very well until the last two or three days. Dr Sutherland asked me if it was Mrs Bets that nursed the baby and I replied that I did not know. Dr Sutherland then gave me a bottle and a box with the labels on each which are now produced. I can read and write and I saw “Mrs Simmons” written on each which I understood to mean it was for Mrs Simmonds to give the baby. I then returned home and gave the bottle and box of medicines to Mr Simmonds himself. Mrs Simmonds desired me to tell Doctor Sutherland that she would like him to come and see the baby if he could do so. But I did not give this part of the message to the doctor. I forgot to do so.

James Sutherland

That on Sunday last … a man called on me at my residence about 1 o’clock pm saying that Mrs Simmonds wanted some medicine for a cough and a purifying of the blood and that it was for herself. I then made up a cough mixture and some ante dysenteric pills putting on each the labels now produced. I had frequently attended upon and prescribed for Mrs Simmonds. The man told me incidentally that Mrs Simmonds had the child home from nursery – and then asked how the child was and he replied “quite well” I explained to the man how the medicines were to be taken and I read the labels on the bottle and box to the man.

On Mon morning Mr Simmonds came ot my residence and told me that the child was no better and I said that I would come down immediately and reaching there AI expressed great surprise that the medicines sent for Mrs Simmonds was given to the child. I found the child labouring from an affectation of the lungs and throat as if unable to cough up. I then tried to produce vomiting and other remedies but without effect but the child died about eleven o’clock am.

Henry Tapley surgeon

On examination of the external surface I found left part of tongue furred showing a febrile affection. On opening the chest I found both lungs highly congested with dark venous blood. There was more fluid than natural in cavity of pleura. The bronchial tubes … an abnormal quantity of mucous of a semi purulent nature. The heart was healthy. On opening the abdomen I found the stomach slightly distended with wind and with undigested food with some points of inflammation on mucous membrane of same. I consider the cause of death to have been from an affection of the substance and mucous membrane of the lungs accelerated by influence of the medicines administered.