Over Darwen

Sunday’s Obituary – Susannah Musgrove (1856-1869)

Susannah Musgrove is my great grand aunt – a sister of my great grandfather Thomas Ainsworth Musgrove.

Susannah was born on 2 August 1856 at Over Darwen, Lancashire. She was the first of five children born to my 2x great grandparents John Musgrove and Catherine Ainsworth.

I had known for a long time that Susannah died young at the age of 12. However I have only just found a newspaper article with details of the circumstances of her death. This report is from the Preston Herald of 6 February 1869.

Susannah Musgrove - Preston Herald 6 February 1869.png

A GIRL KILLED AT THE BELGRAVE PAPER STAINING WORKS

On Monday afternoon a fatal accident happened to a girl named Susannah Musgrove, aged 12 years, daughter of Mr John Musgrove, who was employed as a short time tearer in connection with the block printing department. It appears that she had been to school on Monday afternoon, and on returning called at the print shop to see if her master was there, and was seen playing about in the room on the second floor. About 5.40pm a man named Joseph Riding had occasion to use the hoist, which is in one corner of the room, and used for the purpose of raising goods from one room to another. As the hoist did not descend lower than the second floor, the man Riding went to see what was the cause. On getting there he found the deceased laid down on her belly on the floor, with her head underneath the hoist. The hoist was at once raised, but the unfortunate girl was dead. She must have been in the act of looking down the hoist way into the lower room, and therefore could not see the hoist when descending. An inquest will be held on the body.

You know sometimes you just wonder how much tragedy one family can have.

Susannah’s grandfather, Joseph Musgrove (my 3x great grandfather) died in 1858 as the result of a fall at home when he dislocated his neck. I blogged about this here.

John Musgrove, Susannah’s father, committed suicide in 1884 – see blog post here.

Of the five children that were born to John Musgrove and Catherine Ainsworth only two survived to adulthood – Thomas and Joseph.

Susannah died as the result of the accident. Her brother George died on the day he was born 20 August 1857. And another brother, James, died at three months old in 1868.

So sad.

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Sunday’s Obituary – John Musgrove (c1833-1884)

John Musgrove is my 2x great grandfather. He was born c1833 to parents Joseph Musgrove and Jane Dewhurst.

On 6 October 1855 John married Catherine Ainsworth at the Parish Church in Blackburn, Lancashire. They had at least 5 children:-

Susannah – born 2 August 1856 – died 1 February 1869
George – born 20 August 1857 – died 20 August 1857
Thomas Ainsworth – born 12 December 1860 – died 16 April 1928
Joseph – born 13 April 1864 – died 3 June 1948
James – born 5 August 1868 – died 23 November 1868

I have found John on the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1881 census returns. His occupation varied over the years and he was described as a crofter, a carter and a general labourer. In the 1871 census Catherine is living at 18 Ellen Street, Over Darwen, Lancashire and I assume that John was away from home at the time of the census.

On the 2 December 1858 tragedy struck the family when John’s father, Joseph Musgrove, died as the result of a fall at home. Here’s a blog post about his death – Sunday’s Obituary – Joseph Musgrove

Ever since I started my interest in genealogy and researching my family history my mother has regularly told me of a story about a suicide by hanging somewhere in the past. So I was aware that at some point I may find the evidence.

Back in August this year I finally got round to ordering a copy of John Musgrove’s death certificate. And now I have the confirmation of the family story – cause of death was “suicide by hanging – unsound mind”.

John Musgrove - Death Certificate

According to the death certificate John died at Railway Road, Clitheroe, Lancashire, on 17 September 1884. An inquest was held by the Deputy Coroner J C Anderson on the same date.

The family story was that John returned home one night and the door was locked. Whether he had been drinking, whether John and Catherine had argued, I guess I will never know. Catherine refused to let him in and John replied that he might as well kill himself. If the story is to be believed then Catherine threw him a rope.

Despite my best efforts I have not been able to find any record of the inquest. I have tried Clitheroe library and been to Blackburn library to search the newspaper archives. I’ve also spoken with the Blackburn Coroners Office.  There is a death notice in the local Blackburn paper but no report of the inquest. I discovered during this search that inquest records/reports were considered to be the property of the coroner and were most likely destroyed when the coroner retired.

So sadly it seems I will never learn any more about the tragic events of Wednesday 17 September 1884.