Phyllis Emma Paley is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. Her parents are John Robert Paley and Beatrice Bailes. Our common ancestors are William Paley and Mary Blackey, my 3x great grandparents.
Phyllis was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, her birth being registered in the September quarter of 1916 under her mother’s name of Bailes.
I found the following article in the Dundee Evening Telegraph of 19 July 1922.
DROWNED IN SEWAGE TANK
Council’s Insufficient Safeguards for Children
Phyllis Emma Paley (5), Wigton, near Leeds, went into the field to gather flowers. Two hours later she was found dead at the bottom of a sewage tank, the property of Wetherby Urban District Council.
At the inquest Mrs Beatrice Paley, the mother, said the child left the house about 8.30, and when she did not return by ten o’clock witness went to look for her. The door in the boarding that surrounded the tank was open. By means of a fork, John Paley brought up the body from the bottom of the tank.
Paley said that he had been cutting grass round the tank on the same evening, and noticed that the door was open. He shut it and held it fast with a stone used for the purpose. There was also a bolt, but it did not fasten properly. The child had been with him on previous occasions when he was working near the tank, and he had told her not to go near it.
Dr Tempest said the child could easily have removed the stone that held the door. Death was due to suffocation, caused by drowning.
The Coroner, in returning a verdict of “Death by misadventure,” said that though he would say nothing about the legal position of the Wetherby Council, it seemed to him quite clear that sufficient precautions had not been taken to prevent children from going, out of curiosity, inside the enclosure. “It is no use saying the children ought not to go inside these places, because we all know that they will do so.”
I did wonder why the only newspaper report I have been able to find was from a Scottish newspaper and that there doesn’t appear to be any report in the local Leeds papers.