Wednesday, July 14 1756

At home all the forenoon. Paid Joseph Fuller for a bullock’s heart 1½d. We dined on the heart baked in the oven and stuffed and a pudding under it.

About 4 o’clock Mr Porter came to me and told me he thought it was the parish’s duty to examine into the death of this poor creature who died yesterday, and have her opened. For there was, according to all circumstances, room to suspect she or some other person had administered something to deprive herself or child of life. For they had agreed with a nurse to come on Monday, which she accordingly did, and was agreed with for only a week–and a person an entire stranger.

Now this creature was very well all day Monday and baked. And after she had taken the bread out of the oven, she took a walk and returned about 8 o’clock. And about 10 o’clock, or between 9 and 10, she was taken with a violent vomiting and purging and continued so all night until Tuesday, 5 o’clock, at which time she expired. The latter part of her time she was convulsed, and if asked where in pain, she would answer, “All over.” Now what was very remarkable, she had not above 2 or 3 days more but her time of child-bearing was expired. And during all the time of her sickness she never had any pangs or throes like labor, nor no external symptoms whatever, and complained of great heat, and was afflicted with an uncommon drought.

What more increased our suspicions was as Mr John Vine’s two men and apprentice were a-coming home from work on Monday night, they saw Peter Adams’s horse stand tied up at a pair of bars which lead into a very remote and obscure place in a wood. They immediately concluded to see whether he was alone and accordingly placed the boy at or near the bars while they went into the wood. Before they had gone far, they saw Mr Adams, who made directly for the bars where the boy sees him get on his horse and ride off, and the men also knew him. They went forward, but not far before they found where two people had stood and also two places where people had lain down. They then agreed to separate and endeavor to find out his partner. One of them had walked but a little way before he saw this unhappy creature, with whom he shook hands and talked to. And afterwards they all three saw her together. This the men offer to swear before any magistrate. And as the affair has occasioned much talk, it led Mr Vine the elder to see if there was anything in what they said as to there being a place as if people had lain down. He found two as they described and also found a horse had been tied up at the bars. They were also seen on Saturday night by another person, conversing over a pair of bars, he on horseback, leaning over his horse’s neck, and she a-leaning over the bars.

And during the whole time of her illness they never sent for any midwife or apothecary, nor did not call in any neighbors till near noon on Tuesday. And then only 2 or 3 simple creatures and he, Peter Adams, were with her a great part of the day on Tuesday until she became speechless. Then he shook hands with her and parted. For a great while past they have been as conversant and familiar as if they were lovers though he was a married man. To do him justice he has had one child before by another woman, and his wife, poor woman, is now big with child. Upon this suspicion we went down to Mr Jeremiah French’s to consult him, whom we found of the same opinion. From there we went to Mr Coates to consult him, and we found him already very strong in the same opinion. We all agreed to have her opened in order if possible to discover whether she or any one else had administered anything to deprive her or the child of life.

We stayed and drank a mug of beer and all came away together, Mr French going home and Mr Porter and I coming up the street, it being then bout 6 o’clock. Mr Porter lent me a horse upon which I immediately set out for Luke Spence’s to ask his advice and which way to proceed, but he not being at home, I went forward to John Bridger Esq [another J.P.] and very luckily met him a-walking in his garden near Offham. He told me he thought it was our duty and also very proper to have her opened, and as she was an inhabitant of the parish, [neither] her friends nor no other person could prevent our doing it. I then went to Lewes to get Dr Snelling to perform the operation, whom I found at T. Scrase’s. But he told me if there should be anything found in the midwifery, he could not report it; so it would be proper to have a man midwife to assist him. On that account I did not agree with him to come until such time as I had again consulted the parish.

I saw Mr Tucker at T. Scrase’s, who informed me that at Windsor Fair wool sold for no more than 6d per lb, which he said was about of equal goodness with our common wool, but not go clear from filth; and lamb’s wool was from 5½d to 6d. He further added that Mr Thomas Friend’s orders out of Yorkshire were all stopped. I stayed at Mr Scrase’s while my horse was a-baiting and drank one mug of mild ale between Mr Tucker and Scrase and myself. I came home just at 10 o’clock. It lightened very much all the way I came home at times. I went directly to Mr Porter’s to consult him again in the affair. He seemed to blame me a little for not getting Dr Davy, or some other man midwife. However, we agreed that I should set out early tomorrow morning in order to get Snelling and Davy both to come along with me as early as possible. I then went to Joseph Fuller’s and borrowed a horse to go upon tomorrow. (I found them all in bed, whom I called, and they accordingly promised me I should have one). I came to my own house about 11 o’clock. Spent this journey; to wit, and which is on the parish account:

Ringmer Turnpike0.0.2
Offham do.0.0.2

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