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A tragic accident from 86 years ago in Ramsey, The Isle of Man


My Dad shared some tragic papers with me today, from an inquest into the accidental death of my GG Grandmother. I thought I would share the story of what happened with you.

A synopsis of an Inquest:

The coroner, William Lay opened proceedings on 3rd January 1934 into death of Elizabeth Mclaughlin from 13 King Street, Ramsey, The Isle of Man. 

Elizabeth was 68 years old. She died from shock due to extensive burns when her kitchen caught fire on 1st January 1934.

David, her husband had returned home and settled down in the room next to the kitchen. He noticed the kitchen was on fire. He rushed outside after shouting upstairs. He thought Elizabeth was perhaps in a neighbours house. David said when he eventually saw his wife in the street, her clothes were on fire. Neighbours were trying to put the flames out. He assisted by putting his jacket round her. David said he couldn't remember much else as he'd had a lot to drink the night before. 

David said there was a paraffin oil lamp on the mantle in the kitchen. That was the only lamp that they used. He didn't know if Elizabeth had knocked the lamp over. He said he didn't.

The lamp was recovered 2 feet away from the fireplace. That part of the room was more burnt than any other part.

Fred Faragher, a Police Constable stationed at Ramsey said he'd received information of a fire at around 10.50pm on the 1st January and proceeded to 13 King Street. He was informed that Elizabeth had been badly burned whilst getting out the house and had been removed to the house of a neighbour. The officer examined Elizabeth and found extensive burns over her entire body. She was removed from the house later that evening and sent to hospital.

Upon questioning, Elizabeth said "I was in bed. I had to come down the stairs through the fire."

Later, the officer went to the house and he found that to get to the bedroom to the street, Elizabeth did indeed have to pass through the room where the fire would have been burning fiercely.

The officer stated that he saw David drunk around 10.25pm. He saw him again after the removal of Elizabeth. He was still drunk. David and his wife got on quite well. David was not helplessly drunk.

William Perry who lived at 28 King Street said he was in his bedroom on the night of the fire. He said he was called downstairs by his wife who had said there was a woman on fire in the street.

He went outside and saw Elizabeth enveloped in flames. He, and a Mrs Brew pulled burning clothes off Elizabeth. He carried her to his house. She remained there until taken away to the hospital.

Catherine Ann Brew of 2 Ivy Lane, Ramsey, lived on the lane to the back of Elizabeth's house. She was sitting having supper when she could hear a noise like wood crackling. She ran around to King Street and saw David smashing the window of his kitchen with his foot. The house was on fire. A little further up the street, she could see Elizabeth running around. She was enveloped in flames. She ran to her.

Catherine asked Elizabeth, "My God Nellie how has this happened?"

Elizabeth replied, "I don't know how it happened. I was in bed at the time".

She kept saying "Kitty put me out".

William Henry Clarke lived on 18 King Street. He went to the door of his house for a smoke and saw a glow in the kitchen of Elizabeth's house. He went across and saw David coming out of the house, holding his hands over his head. William asked "What's up?"

David only mumbled in reply.

William saw the kitchen on fire. He ran to the police station and found it locked. He then ran to the Fire Brigade Superintendents house. A few minutes later the Fire Brigade were at the house.

George McGeagh was a GP, living at 14 Lezayre Road, Ramsey. He attended the scene. He said Elizabeth was severely burned from her head to her feet - back and front. Elizabeth was sent to the Ramsey Cottage Hospital, but despite treatment she died at 9pm on Tuesday 2nd January 1934.

George said the cause of death was shock following burns of the head, face, trunk and limbs. The verdict of the Jury was that Elizabeth died from an accident.


I hope the story of what happened to Elizabeth hasn't put a dampener on your New Year. Unfortunately tragedies like this do still happen. Hopefully, something can be taken away from this, even though it was 86 years ago - never leave an unattended flame


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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: A tragic accident from 86 years ago in Ramsey, The Isle of Man
A tragic accident from 86 years ago in Ramsey, The Isle of Man
Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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