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Homeless woman rescued from water at Limehouse

Year 1817, W. Woodward

Read by Jeremy Spencer – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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September 22, 1817

To T. J. Pettigrew, Esq.
Registrar and Secretary of the Royal Humane Society.

Dear SIR,

On Saturday last, the 20th instant, I was going through Stepney-fields, in company with three gentlemen, on my road to Limehouse, about a quarter past eight in the morning, when I saw a man rush into a pond a short distance before me, and immediately observed something floating on the water about four yards from the bank. I ran forward and reached the pond side in time to assist in drawing out the body of a woman apparently dead.

I immediately assisted in carrying her in an horizontal position to the nearest house that was open (there not being a public-house upon the spot), where she was received. I then dispatched one of my friends for a surgeon, and another to get a little warm brandy and water; during which time I had the body undressed and wiped perfectly dry, and a bed laid upon the floor, on which the body was placed. As it was extremely cold, feeling like marble, I was desirous of warming the bed, but no fire could be obtained.

I then found some hot water, with which I filled two bottles, and placed one under her feet, and the other on her chest, after which I pressed my hands on her stomach, a woman stopping her nostrils and opening them as I raised my hands, and after about half an hour’s exertion in this manner, we had the satisfaction to observe the first return of life by a groan.

I then succeeded in getting some brandy and water down her throat by the aid of a spoon: it caused a cough. By this time she was able to speak these words, ” Let me die:” she then groaned for some time, and at length went to sleep.

I then left her for a short time, and upon my return found her able to talk, but very unwilling to communicate any thing respecting herself. I caused some tea to be made for her, found out the beadle of the parish Mile-end Old Town, and had her conveyed to the poor-house, where she was well known. Her name is S. D. She appears to be an abandoned character, having a family, but no real place of residence. I have thus taken the liberty of relating the circumstance as it occurred, and recommend to the Society for reward, Alexander Chambers, the man who went into the pond, and afterwards assisted me in getting her to the poor-house. Also Anne Shearman and Rebecca Morgan, who assisted in the restoration, as well as the inhabitant of the house into which she was received.

All of them did every thing in their power to enable me to pursue the means recommended by our valuable Society in the best manner I was able, where every thing presented a scene of the utmost distress, and medical assistance was not to be obtained.

I am, dear Sir, yours truly,

W. Woodward.

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