Inquest into Child's Death at Goadby Marwood
In the autumn of 1839, a lapse of attention by one teenage girl in the village would precipitate a terrible event for her family.
Sisters, Mary and Elizabeth Foister, were born in the village of Goadby Marwood, their parents were Solomon Foister of Scalford and Anne Lowe from Goadby. The Tithe Survey of 1839 recorded the Foister family living in one of the two small cottages which today have been combined to form Field Cottage, just off Main Street. Like most of the men in Goadby at that time, Solomon worked locally as a farm labourer.
The sisters had four younger siblings, John, Thomas, Ann and Charles. In the summer of 1839, their mother gave birth to her seventh child, William, but sadly she died during or shortly after the birth leaving Solomon to raise his large family alone. With Solomon out working in the fields for long hours every day, the household and childcare duties would have fallen on the shoulders of his two young daughters, Mary, aged 19 at the time, and Elizabeth, who was just 16.
On September 23rd, one of the sisters was at home caring for her younger siblings when a terrible accident occurred resulting in the death of her six-year-old sister, Ann. The inquest into the death was reported in the Leicester Chronicle on September 28th:
An inquest was held before Thomas Clark, Gent. Coroner on Tuesday last at Goadby Marwood on the body of Ann Foister, an infant of the age of 6 years.
On Monday morning the 23rd inst, having been left with another infant of age of 3 years, in the house of her father, Solomon Foister, whilst her sister had gone upstairs for a few minutes, the deceased attempted to take a kettle from the fire. When her sister came down, hearing the child scream out, she saw her all in flames. She instantly covered her with a blanket, which extinguished the fire.
Medical aid was called in but the child died at one o'clock.
Verdict “Accidentally burnt”.
It is to be hoped that the family was able to put the tragic events of 1839 behind them when, in the following year, eldest daughter, Mary, married farm labourer, Henry Ward, at St. Denys' Church in Goadby Marwood. Mary and Henry settled in Goadby where they had three sons and a daughter, whom they named Mary Ann.
Elizabeth Foister married just two years after her sister, her husband was William Allen, a farm labourer from Hickling. The couple lived in Scalford for a few years before moving to William’s home village of Hickling. Elizabeth went on to have 11 children of her own, eight sons, one of whom died in childhood, and three daughters. She named her first-born daughter, Ann.
Field Cottage (north) just off Main Street, photographed around 1970. The Foister family lived in this cottage in 1839.
An aerial view of Field Cottage taken in 1979, which clearly shows the original two semi-detached cottages.