Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Portsoken Ward Inquest

 Inquest Members:
Titles: Blackbookmen, Collectors, Benchers, Fewellers.
Cornhill had also:
Foreman, upper speakers, under speakers, controller, butler, gentlemen ushers, prickers, scribes within, scribes without

Walbrook had:
Surveyor of Highways
Surveyor of Arms
Treasurer of the House
Steward of the House
Treasurer of the Poor
Steward of the Poor

Ward Officers: The Bellman would ring out the hours:

In consequence of complaints from residents, an Inquest Jury of Portsoken Ward was held on November 25, 1847, when the Court proceeded in two divisions to inspect the state of the ward as regarded the cleanliness and drainage of the several courts and alleys; that, on reassembling, the Court reported that several of the courts, yards, and alleys, particularised by name, were in a filthy state, dangerous to the public health; that some of them were undrained; that the privies in general were in a disgusting state; that in one house, two or three yards from one of the said privies, a man named Allen had been ill of fever and died at the Fever Hospital; that the corpse was brought back to the said house and waked according to the Irish custom, and kept eight days uninterred; that within a short time the man’s mother, wife, and child died in the same house; that on the opposite side of the court two poor women were severely ill, and that the medical gentleman who attended this district (Mr. Baller) had also died of fever caught by his attendance on these poor people; and that the general appearance of the inhabitants was squalid and unhealthy. It is further stated that on the reassembling of the Court on November 30, 1847, the foreman reported that he had, accompanied by several members of the Court, made the presentment to the Court of Aldermen; that he felt it to be his duty to represent to the Court that two more deaths had occurred in the locality referred to within three days after the examination by the ward inquest, and he urged upon the Court the necessity for immediate abatement of the nuisances. Thereupon, the presentment having been received by the Court of Aldermen, it was referred to Mr. Alderman Moon to investigate and report again to the Court; who did report to the Court to the following effect: namely,that “it having been referred to him, as Alderman of Portsoken Ward, to make inquiry into the statements in a paper presented by the inquest of the ward, complaining of the existence of horrible nuisances in several of the lanes and alleys in that crowded and indigent neighbourhood, he had paid immediate attention to the subject; that he had certainly had to encounter not a little in the revolting adventure upon . he considered it his duty to go ; and that all he could add upon the subject was, that HE was Astonished How ANY HUMAN BEINGS COULD CONTINUE TO EXIST IN THE MIDST OF SUCH ABOMINATIONS AS HE WITNESSED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THE MELANCHOLY DUTY.” On the same occasion it was stated by Mr. Nell that he had brought all these facts under the notice of the proper officer two years ago, but that all his representations were totally unheeded. Notwithstanding such accounts of the state of numerous places within their jurisdiction, brought under their notice officially and most earnestly by members of their own body, the City Remembrancer declares that “the whole City of London is well and effectually drained, and a complaint is scarcely ever made of any inconvenience from smell;” and the City Commission of Sewers has persisted in affirming its deliberate conviction that “the City of London, for effective drainage, cannot be surpassed.” What confidence can be placed in an authority which requires or allows its chief officers deliberately and repeatedly to make such unwarranted assertions?