Unit 23 1854/55
25 May 1854
Inquest held at Eureka Ballarat
Death in a natural way
John May X
Frances Osley ‘good and lawful men of Eureka’
Deposition of Witness
On Eureka, 25 May
The deceased Sarah Skinner was confined upon Saturday. The day afterwards … was apparently doing well but at night was seized with cold shivering and on Monday deceased still complained of feeling unwell. The doctor Wills who attended her said it was a touch of fever and ?? by the milk coming from that time deceased began to get worse complaining of pain in her bowels and left side mostly.
Q by Coroner Are you a regular midwife?
Ans No but I have attended a few families their confinement.
Q Did you follow up all directions you need from the medical attendant?
Coroner Was the child born alive and healthy in appearance?
C Did you see the infants cord properly tied by the medical attendant?
C What caused the child’s death?
Ans The Sunday week after its birth I washed and dressed the child the coming of the same day it sufficed from bowel complaint and passed a little blood the night was shown to the medical attendants
C What was the medical attendants opinion as to the childs illness?
Ans The contentment it couted by the mothers milk.
The child got no medicine for the bowel complaint.
Coroner How long did the child survive after Sunday?
Ans Until the following morning before twelve o’clock
Coroner Did you give the child any medicine yourself?
Ans No the doctor’s orders were to nurse it well and keep it covered which we did.
Coroner Did the bowel complaint continue long?
Ans No not
Jane Julian xxx her mark
William Allan Skinner
On Sunday night May 14 my wife the deceased complained very much and continued doing so all night. On Monday morning Dr Wills came but I was not at home when he was present. I asked my wife when I came home what the doctor had said. She told me he said it was a touch of fever from the milk. The doctor gave her some medicine the same day which eased her for the time The flowing night the pains came on again more violent than ever. I expected the doctor on the Tuesday but he did not come and on Thursday afternoon I went for him. He said deceased was suffering from inflammation in the bowels and ordered turpentine the next day and a blister to be put on her bowels and ordered an injection. She felt easier when the blister was put on but she felt bad again on the Friday. She always had medicine given to her ordered by the doctor. On Sunday last she was very bad. I fetched the doctor who said the inflammation had returned stronger than it was before and the next day told me that my wife was doing well and kept on saying so. I said I thought she was getting weaker. He said he did not mind the mind the weakness if he could remove the inflammation. There was medicine given to her all the time and injections on Monday last. I went to Dr Wills and asked him if he had any objection to meet Dr Stewart. He said he could meet any gentleman I chose to mention I told him I should wish to have Dr Stewart, when Dr Stewart came he said there was only one chance for my wife and ordered Dr Wills what to do. My wife died yesterday morning May 24
Q by Coroner
Were you satisfied in the manner Dr Wills treated your wife?
Ans Not for the last 2 or 3 days because I thought my wife was still growing weaker and therefore I wished to have a second doctor
William Allan Skinner
Puerperal Peritonitis Examination Dr James Stewart
I found the tongue dry and brown in the centre She was constantly attempting to vomit and had a tendency to hiccough all the time
Q by coroner
What had been done by the medical man who had attended her?
- She had been blistered over the abdomen and it was said she has mercury, but mercurial action had not set in. I believe she also got infections when I saw deceased mercurial friction had been used but at the same time I gave no hope of her recovery
Q Was she bled
Q Is it not usual in cases of puerperal peritonitis to bleed or blister the abdomen and salivate the patient as the only means to save life
Q by juryman – Did you tell any one here that she ought to have been treated more?
A The case had gone to far to admit to any hope of recovery. I said she ought to have been well salivated previously with the water running from the mouth.
Q Did you consider she had been skilfully treated?
A The approved system is depletion and salivation which ought to be adopted in 48 hours if possible which had not been done.