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An inquest touching the death of James and Arthur Penny, infant twin sons of James D. Penny, waiter, Somerset Hole l ,

was held yesterday, in Baldwin’s Hotel, before Dr. Trevor, coroner, and a jury, of whom Mr W. T. Davison was chosen fore-

man. After viewing the bodies, the coroner said it was impossible to finish the inquest to-day, as there was a certain amount of mystery about the case that could only be cleared up by professional evidence, which was not yet at hand. It would therefore be necessary to take what evidence was available, and adjourn the inquest to some day this week. Mrs Margaret Penny, wife of James Downey Penny,'the mother of the children, said the children were three months old on the day they died. The biggest boy, James Downey, had always been healthy from his birth ; the other one, Arthur Henry, was not healthy at his birth, but became stronger. Put the children to bed on the night of Friday, the 21st, at half past 10. Both seemed to be in their usual state of good health. At eleven o’clock, when going to bed, saw the children again, and they were then all right. At three o’clock in the morning I again saw the childrens’ faces. They appeared to he quite well—they were sleeping soundly, and I could hear them breathe. Did not feed them at that time, as the biggest, James, had been a little cross during the day. It was my custom to feed them in the early morning. I next saw them at six o’clock, a.m., when I rose to dross. They were then both foaming at the month, and a little blood was exuding from the nose of the biggest one. Called my neighbor Mrs. Cullen, who came in. She lifted the biggest boy and I lifted the smallest. James only breathed once or twice after Mrs. Cullen lifted him, and I think Arthur was dead when I first saw him. Sent for Dr. Ross, who arrived twenty minutes afterwards. I gave the boy James a little aniseed mixture, but not any to Arthur. I had often given them the same mixture. I did not give James any more than one drop of the mixture on the night in question, and that was the qnantitj 7 I always gave. Am quite certain only one child got the mixture. The children slept in a good sized cot by themselves, and not with me, I covered the children myself, and they were only covered up to their shoulders. I could see their mouths from my own bed, —they -were not overlaid at any time during the night. My husband was the only other person in the room, and ho went to bed at half-past eleven. Ho went for the doctor in the morning, without waiting to lift any of the children. There are no animals kept about the house, and I connot account in any way for the death of the children. They had never had convulsions before to my knowledge. By the police—Their food has always been the bottle, and lately bread and milk in addition. The children were horn somewhat prematurely—some two or three weeks. The usual milkman supplied milk that day, but I do not know his name. My husband does. Mr Neate supplied the aniseed. The aniseed had been in the house since about three weeks after the children were horn. I was in the habit of giving the milkman a bottle to get the milk in. On Friday he brought my milk in a bottle different from the one I gave him. He usually got an empty bottle from me in the early part of the day, which he returned later on full.

James Downey Penny, father of the children, sworn, said he was a waiter at the Somerset Hotel. His evidence was mainly corroborative of that given by the previous witness. At six in the morning of Saturday, his wife remarked that the children had been uncommonly good all night. Turning round she looked at them, and suddenly said, “Jim’s face is black, I believe he is dead.” Seeing the children both looking black, I went for Dr. Ross. Believed they were both dead before witness left the house. Could not account in any way for the children’s death. The children’s milk was supplied by a man named Rattray. Mrs. Penny had often complained of the milkman changing the bottles.

Mrs. Penny, recalled—The body of the little child was quite limp, and not rigid, when I lifted it.

Eliza Cullen, wife of Robert Cullen, carrier, said she resided in the same house with the Penny’s. About half-past six on Saturday morning went into Mrs Penny’s room, in answer to her call, that her children were dying. Picked up the biggest boy, the little one being already in Mrs Penny’s lap. The child in Mrs Penny’s lap was beginning to get black in the face. The other child, which I took up,was dead. Both Mr and Mrs Penny were much distressed over the death of their children. They have been in my house a month, and have been very attentive parents. There was no extreme rigidity of the limbs apparent to me, but the one I took up seemed to be a li+tlo stiff. The children were quite warm when I saw them. Cannot in any way account for the children’s death.

By juror Ben. Smith : There is no fireplace in the room.

The Coroner here announced that lie had not called any professional evidence seeing that as yet the needful analysis was not complete of the contents of the stomach, food, &o. He considered it advisable to hold over the medical evidence until the full analysis was before they jury. Nothing had transpired in the evidence to remove the mystery at present surrounding the death of the children and he would therefore adjourn the inquest till Thursday, at 10 o’clock.

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Bibliographic details

INQUEST., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 26, 25 November 1879

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INQUEST. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 26, 25 November 1879

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