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Homeless and distressed woman resuscitated and given shelter

Year 1776, Mr. Beaumont

Read by Andrew Chapman – Secretary, Royal Humane Society

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July 11, 1776

Copy of a Letter from Mr. Beaumont, Medical Assistant, to the Treasurer.

“SIR, The following are the particulars of the recovery of Elizabeth Jones. I feel great pleasure in having it in my power to add one, to the many pleasing instances of success, since the happy establishment of the Humane Society, of which I have the honour of being a member.”

The Case

About a quarter after nine at night, on Thursday the 11th of July, I was sent for to Black Lyon Stairs, where a poor woman had been just taken out of the Thames. Being fortunately at home, l immediately went, and, as the distance is small, was there in a very few minutes. I found her amidst a great crowd of people, supported by men and women, in a lifeless state, quite stiff and cold, her feet contracted, and her neck, throat, and lips, livid.

As it was near the Black Lyon publick house, I had her brought in directly and carried up stairs, and laid on a bed. I then ordered two women to strip her of her wet clothes and wipe her quite dry with warm cloths, which being done, I got a warm blanket and wrapped her in it, with her head raised higher than the body. I now sent for Mr. Hawes, willing to have the opinion of so able and judicious a practitioner.

In the meantime the women used frictions, with warm salt to the arms and legs, and I rubbed her breast, shoulders, and spine, with a flannel dipped in hot brandy. I likewise applied volatiles to the temples and nose, and by persisting in these methods, in about a quarter of an hour I perceived symptoms of returning life; such as a gradual warmth, or weak pulsation at the wrist, and slight convulsive motions in her arms and shoulders. These symptoms pleased me much. A little time after she sighed feebly, and in a few minutes was able to swallow a spoonful or two of warm brandy and water. Her lips and cheeks began now to assume a more natural colour, and she spoke, though in a very faint voice; and on my asking if she felt any pain, she put her hand to her stomach.

Mr. Hawes being now come, he concurred with me in the methods that had been made use of, and as the warmth now began to be more general, we left off using the frictions, (except to the legs and feet, which were still cold and contracted) and in a little time she took some warm wine, with a bit of toasted bread; her pulses was yet very languid and irregular, and she complained much of a pain across her breast. We therefore persuaded her to take some more of the warm wine; and as the warmth in her legs and feet now returned, and on her complaining that her legs were sore from the frictions, we now desisted.

The room she was in being very small and confined, we caused her to be moved to another more convenient and airy, and put in a warm bed. She was now better, and inclinable to sleep: we left her, and sent some cordial medicines to be taken occasionally, as she was very languid.

I called on her again in about an hour and half, and found her in a gentle perspiration; but still complaining of the pain and tightness across the chest. 1 ordered two women to sit up with her, with directions, that if any alarming symptoms should arise, to send for me; but it seems she rested tolerably well.

Mr. Hawes and I called on her the next morning, and found her much better. Upon enquiry, we learned that she had thrown herself into the Thames, being friendless, and in distressed circumstances; and as she had no residence, she was sent to St. Marlin’s work house, where she was received with great humanity, and proper care taken of her by Mr. Jarvis the Surgeon, (one of the Medical Assistants) and Mr. Harding, Apothecary to the house.

This woman was in the water above five minutes, and full ten minutes more elapsed before any means could be used towards her recovery. She is forty years of age.

I called on her at the work-house three days after the accident, when she showed great contrition and remorse for the crime she had committed, and expressed much gratitude for the mercies she had received. I am, Sir, Your most obedient, humble servant, JOHN BEAUMONT. Villier’s Street, York- Buildings, July 29, 1776.

We have the pleasure to inform the Public, that the Directors of the above work- house have generously promised to take in any unfortunate object, in cases that may happen in the neighbourhood; and that they will administer every assistance in their power, without the Society’s being burdened with any expense.

Samuel Wigg, the publican, who received the body into his house; lsabella Ogilvie, and Elizabeth Davey, the two persons who assisted in the recovery; and Robert Stedman, (Mr. Wigg’s servant) who was principally active in taking the body out of the water, being properly recommended by Messrs. Beaumont and Hawes, received the rewards promised by the Society.

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