Sunday, November 11, 1878
The inquest is now over. I suppose I don't have to write anything down now, as my job is over. But I think it is important that I record what happened.
I was very nervous when the coroner for Kent, Mr. Harris, asked me the questions about what happened, but I answered them honestly. I won't repeat it all again.
When they called Thomas to the stand, he was almost trembling with fear. They asked him to describe where Fredrick was when Mother threw the knife. "There was a table between them," he answered.
"And what sort of mood would you say Mrs. Day was in," asked the coroner.
"She was in a temper," he replied.
"And then what happened?" he was asked.
"She left the room to go to the shop, but she didn't know that she had cut Fred," he replied. "Charlie went after her and she came right back."
The only other witness called was the doctor, and I have already written down what he said to us, and that is what he repeated there - asking why we hadn't called him in earlier - and then giving his results of the autopsy he did.
Then the coroner did his summing up of the case and said to the jury, "Upon the evidence that you have been given, you would be perfectly justified in returning a verdict of wilful murder against Mrs. Day, the mother; but you could also give a verdict for the minor offence - manslaughter."
The jury were not out very long, and when they returned, they unanimously returned a verdict of "Manslaughter."
Mother, with Father accompanying her, was taken before Mr. Athawes, the stipendary magistrate for Chatham, who admitted her to bail. Mother was overcome with grief. Father filled out various forms and Mother was granted bail, upon Father's recognisance. I'm not sure what that means but think it means that if Mother ran away, Father would take her place, would be responsible in her place. The trial will be at the Epiphany Assizes in Maidstone, on January 14th.
Mother broke down completely even though she was back home with us. Father said that I should stay off school and manage the shop. We couldn't just abandon it, and Mother was in no state to deal with anything. Our school is Trinity National School, next to the church. He wrote to the Headmaster, Mr. William Wainwright. I am nearly finished at school anyway, so if I have to quit school in order to help with the shop, I am prepared to do that.
Mother wasn't in a state to make any decisions about the funeral, so Father said he and I would have to do the arrangements between us.
We decided that my youngest brother Sam, should stay where he was for the moment, with Uncle Joseph Leech, Aunt Eliza, and their family, as he was too young to take in all that happened. Father had gone to visit Joseph on Saturday morning, appraising him of the situation with his sister.
We sent off a telegram to Father's sister, who is two years older than he is, Aunt Emily, Mrs. John Stanley, to give her her proper married name. She is the Matron of the Workhouse in Calne, Wiltshire. Father very much hopes she will be able to come and help, as she is very practical.
We also sent a telegram to his younger brother David, who lives with his wife and baby in Oxfordshire. He is an organist and music teacher at a school, and Father said he doubted whether he would be able to come.
Our grandfather, Samuel Day, is still alive, but we will not contact him just now. He probably will not be well enough to attend. Our grandmother was his first wife, and she died a long time ago, and he remarried Charlotte Roberts and she died earlier this year. Now he lives at the Watts Charity Alms Houses on Maidstone Road in Rochester.
There are other children from Grandfather's second marriage, William, Mary Ann and John. John is now working in Worcester, wouldn't be able to come, so there is no immediate reason for us to contact him. Father can write to him later. I'm not sure where Mary Ann lives. William works at the Gas works in Rochester, and lives with his wife Julia and little girl, May, at 9 Orange Terrace, so they might well be able to come.
Father went to see the Vicar, Rev. Daniel Cooke. Mother and Father want the funeral to be as soon as possible, and he agreed to have it next Saturday, November 18th. We will let our friends and neighbours know, but for Mother's sake, there will not be the usual wake one normally associates with a funeral. I'm sure Mother will not be well enough to attend, and it is not customary for women to attend anyway.
The funeral went as planned, with perhaps 50 of our friends and neighbours. None of Father's or Mother's extended family were able to come for it, except Uncle Joseph. We buried poor Fred in the churchyard. I was glad that Mother wasn't there, as the Vicar talked about how Jesus loved little children, and said that if any should cause harm to any of his little ones, they would wish they had never been born.