The Warning Voice (Part Three)

Smith gravestones, Warton Church
Image courtesy of Mary Eaton

I was interested in finding the identity of the people mentioned in the poem “The Warning Voice” by James Brown (1817-1886), about sudden deaths in Warton in 1875-76, a copy of which was brought into our history group.

Finding out more

I first searched the 1871 census to find villagers that matched the clues in the poem. Then I checked the death registers to find out when they died. Alison Meredith confirmed some of the names from the burial register of Holy Trinity Church, Warton (this research can be seen in The Warning Voice parts one and two). I sent for the death certificates, which gave more fascinating details.

Poor Charles

The member of the history group also brought a report from The Tamworth Herald (9th October 1875)

Fatal Accident at Warton- An inquest was held at the Boot Inn, Warton, on the 30th ult., by Mr. T. Dewes, Coroner, touching the death of Charles Baxter, (40), landlord of the Boot Inn. About ten o’clock the previous Tuesday night the deceased was returning home in his cart from Atherstone Statutes. He had with him about fourteen people and as they were approaching their destination the shaft broke, and threw them all out of the vehicle. Deceased fell on his head and sustained such severe injuries that he expired at half past ten the following morning. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

The death certificate states that he died on 29th September 1875 from “Effusion of blood upon the brain caused by an accidental fall from a trap on the twenty eighth September last.”

Farmer S (The Smith family)

William and Annie and their daughter Annie are mentioned in the poem, but later their son died as well. This information is on the attachment.

There are two graves with inscriptions in the churchyard (shown on photograph):

  1. Sacred to the memory of Annie Smith who died April 3rd 1876 aged 27 years. Also of William Smith who died April 7th 1876 aged 37 years (burial register gives age as 34 years).
  2. Sacred to the memory of Annie Smith who died August 28th 1876 aged two years and 10 months (She is referred to in the Burial record as Annie Porter, resident of Castle Donington) also William Smith who died Febry 24th 1877 aged one year and five months (he is named in the burial record as John William Smith).

Annie Smith’s death certificate states that she died in Warton on 3rd April 1876, age 27,  wife of William Smith (farmer). The cause of death was Phthisis Pulmonaliis (Consumption) 2 years. Haemorrhage from lungs. Sudden death. The death was registered by Alice Porter, sister in law who lived in Lockington, Shardlow, Derbyshire.

William Smith died 7th April 1876 age 34 of Phthisis Pulmonalis 3 years. The death was registered by Decima Jane Edwards, aunt living in Austrey. She was an innkeeper (from 1871+1881 censuses) presumably of The Bird in Hand.

Young Annie

After their deaths, their two year old daughter went to live with Alice Porter’s family in Lockington. She died four months later. The son who was only seven months at the time of their deaths. He died the following February (from Burial Register).

Young Annie (named Porter on death certificate) died in Lockington on 28th August 1876, of Consumption Diarrhoea and again the death was registered by Alice Porter. Confusingly Annie is said to be  “daughter of Annie Porter now the widow of William Smith.”

Alice’s family are recorded in 1881 census in Lockington Village, Shardlow, Castle Donington.

John William Smith died on the 24th of February 1877 at Long Whatton. He was 18 months old and died of Tabes mesenterica, (seven days). This is Tuberculosis of the lymph glands in the abdomen, caused by drinking milk from cows with tuberculosis. The death was registered by Emma Cartlidge (marked not signed). In the 1871 Census, she is given as living at The Square, Long Whatton, Loughborough, Leicestershire.

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