Coroners Report in the Lancashire Evening Post 1913
Mary Ann Rice nee Myerscough 1869 - 1913
STARTLED BY SCREAMS
PRESTON MAN FINDS HIS WIFE IN FLAMES
DRAMATIC EVIDENCE AT THE INQUEST
Mr John Parker conducted an inquest at Preston Infirmary this afternoon relative to the death of Mary Ann Rice, who received serious burns owing to her clothing becoming ignited
on Tuesday night and succumbed to the injuries early yesterday morning.
James Rice, outdoor labourer, husband of the deceased, said he last saw his wife alive about 8.45 on Tuesday, when she was leaving the house to go out cleaning.
Witness went out about dinner time the same day, and returned at 10.30 in the evening under the influence of drink.
He did not see his wife in the kitchen and went to sleep in an arm chair in front of the kitchen fire.
At 1.45 the next morning he was awakened by hearing screams
and he saw his wife standing in the middle of the door with her clothing on fire.
She opened the front door and tried to rush into the street, but witness prevented her,
and tried to rip off her clothing and smother the flames with his coat.
His hands were burned in attempting to put the fire out.
She somehow managed to make her way to the tap and tried to extinguish the flames. Assistance came and the flames were put out By the Foreman:
He did not know anything until he heard his wife scream. He did not notice if there was much of a fire in the fire place.
Gertrude Myerscough,43, Savoy Street, said deceased was her mother-in-law
She was a steady hard working woman.Witness was with Mrs Rice from 7pm.until 9pm on Tuesday, and when she left her she was sitting on a low stool in front of the fire
Deceased told her she was sleepy and said she felt as though something were going to happen.
She said she would lie on the sofa until her husband returned. After the accident witness asked her how it occurred and she replied that she could not tell.
Witness advanced the opinion that deceased clothing might have been smouldering earlier and then burst into flames.
There was no burnt paper or spent matches about the floor.
P.C. Lee said he saw the woman lying on the sofa, and nearly the whole of her clothing was burnt off.
Underneath the sofa witness found a small quantity of burnt paper,
and one spent match was lying on the top of the ashes in the fire-grate.
The Coroner said the evidence did not clear up the cause of the accident
and the probability was that she had somehow caught fire accidentally.
She and her husband had lived very happily and he appeared to be a steady man though unfortunately he took too much on the night in question.
He had given his evidence quite frankly and straightforwardly.
The daughter-in-law’s suggestion might be the explanation.
A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned.