Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Mary Kelly's Inquest

Perhaps John Kelly moved his family from Tarraville to North Melbourne because his wife was ill.

John, his wife Mary Ann nee Francis and their two daughters, Mary and Alice were living at 73 Melrose Street North Melbourne in August 1888.

Mary Ann died on the 16th of August 1888 of a Lumbar abscess and debility for which she had been seeing Dr. Howitt for 4 months.

John and their daughters must then have moved to 35 Mark Street, North Melbourne where tragedy struck the family again.  On the 22nd of November their seventeen year old daughter Mary caught her clothes on fire while doing the laundry at the copper situated in the back yard.

Mary was taken to Melbourne Hospital where she died on the 13th of December from the effects of those burns.  An inquest was held into her death.

Page 1
December 15th 1888
Proceedings of Inquest held upon the body of Mary Kelly at the Hospital Melbourne.
Received at the Crown Law Offices 18th Dec 1888
signed the coroner

Page 2
Proceedings before coroners
Colony of Victoria To wit.
An inquisition for our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria, taken at Melbourne Hospital in the Colony of Victoria aforesaid, the Fifteenth day of December A.D. 1888 in the ?? year of the Reign of our said Lady the Queen, before me Michael Gaul Gentleman, a City Coroner of our Lady the Queen for the said Colony, upon the view of the body of Mary Kelly.
(signatures of 5 jurors)

good and lawful men of Melbourne in the said Colony, who being duly sworn and charged to inquire, upon the part of our Lady the Queen, when, where, how, and by what means the said Mary Kelly came by her death, do say upon their oath in the Melbourne Hospital on the thirteenth of December ? the deceased Mary Kelly died from the effects of Burns accidentally received.

Page 3
In witness whereof as well the aforesaid Coroner as the Jurors aforesaid, have to this Inquisition put their hands and seals, on the day and year and at the place above mentioned.
signed by the Coroner Michael Gaul and the 5 Jurors.

Page 4
Russell Street Station.  Melbourne Police District 14th December 1888
Report of Const. Davidson relative to death of a girl in the hospital.
I have to report that Mary Kelly 17 years of 35 Mark St. North Melbourne was admitted to Melbourne Hospital on 22nd November 1888 suffering from burns of the legs & arms caused by her clothing taking fire accidentally when washing or boiling clothes at a copper.
She progressed fairly well till the change in the weather yesterday afternoon when she ? and died in 20 minutes.

signed M Davidson const. 5269
M. Gaul Esq. M.D.
City Coroner

Page 5
This Deponent John Kelly on his oath saith I am a Tanner residing at North Melbourne.
The deceased was my Daughter her name was Mary Kelly her age was seventeen years.  She was unmarried?
On the twenty second of November last my daughter was washing in the yard.  She had a fire under a boiler her clothes were set on fire.  I heard her screaming I went to her assistance.  I found her in flames running up the passage.  I tried to put it out but she got away from me and ran into the house where I was when the fire was put out she was severely burnt.
I had a Doctor to see her who advised me to take her to the hospital.  She was alone in the yard.
Signed John Kelly

taken and sworn before me, the 15th of December 1888 at Melbourne. Mich Gaul Coroner

Page 6
This Deponent Frank Smith Crowther on his oath saith, I am a duly qualified medical practitioner residing at Melbourne Hospital.
The deceased Mary Kelly was admitted into the hospital on the 22nd of November about 4 p.m. and on examination was found to be suffering from a burn of the left arm and extensive burns at the back and inner side of both legs extending to the ankle on the left and to the knee on the right side.  There was also a burn at the lumbar region of the back.  Patient remained in the hospital and was under treatment up to the 13th inst. when she suddenly took? an attack of collapse and died at 9.40 p.m.
The cause of death was the burns.
signed FS Crowther
Taken and Sworn before me, the 15th of December 1888 at Melbourne.
signed Mich Gaul. Coroner


  1. Kerryn, what a very sad document this Inquest is. Poor Mary :(

  2. I have to admit to shedding a tear when I read it Aillin.

  3. how very sad! She must have been terrified to run and yet to have rolled on the ground might have saved her, but fear is a terrible thing, and to be on fire even worse.