Starrett of Derryview Terrace…
“On Friday a very sad burning fatality occurred at the Waterside, resulting in the death of a little girl eight years old, daughter of Samuel and Ellen Starrett, of Derryview-terrace, Waterside, lately of Rosemount…”
Born in Marlborough Park, Londonderry in January of 1886 she is second daughter and third child of nine born to Samuel Starrett and Ellen Beattie. Her name is May Louisa Starrett and she is my 1st cousin 2x removed; her mother and my great grandmother were siblings.
“…Mr. Starrett is employed as a machinist in the Journal Office, which necessitates him being at work all night. After he had gone to bed on Friday morning his wife had occasion to go to Rosemount to see some friends, and left the children downstairs in the kitchen, where there was a fire burning in the range. The little girl, it appears (who was in her night-dress), reached forward either to close or open the damper of the range, when the nigh-dress caught on fire. The screams of the child awoke the father, who hurried downstairs, and with all haste extinguished the flames, getting very badly burned himself about the arms and face in his efforts.”
On 23 Aug 1882 in Christ Church Church of Ireland Londonderry Samuel Starrett and Ellen Beattie were joined in wedlock by Rev. Francis Lewis Riggs. Their union was witnessed by Joseph Edward Woods and Mary Anne Beattie, the bride’s sister.
“The child had an inside flannel wrapper on at the time, and this becoming ignited as well as the night-dress the poor child was horribly burned from the toes to the head. Dr. M’Caul was sent for, and did all he could to alleviate the child’s sufferings, but the injury was of such a serious nature that it gradually sank, and died in great agony a couple or three hours after the accident. Great sympathy is felt for the parents, who are naturally much distressed about the accident, and are very highly respected in the neighbourhood.”
After their marriage Samuel and Ellen initially lived in Marlborough Terrace where their first six children were born. By 1895 and the birth of their seventh child the family was living in Derryview Terrace.
“On Saturday morning an inquest was held at Derryview-terrace, the residence of the deceased’s father, before Mr. Thomas Lindsay, Coroner, and the following jury: –
James Irwin (foreman), Denis Bradley, Robert M’Cullagh, Henry Doherty, Edward Logue, John Archibald, Patrick Brolly, Joseph Gormley, Patrick Harkin, Samuel C. Donnell, John Donnell, and Thomas Watts.
Head-Constable Funston and Sergeant O’Hagan were also present.
Ellen Starrett, mother of the deceased, May Louisa Starrett, said about a quarter to eight the previous morning she went to Rosemount. She left three of the children in the kitchen all right and the eldest, Daisy, in bed with her father. The deceased was in the kitchen with Samuel, the oldest boy, and the baby. When she came back at ten minutes to nine o’clock the deceased was burned black. She was not dead then. Witness had been in Derry four times before she died. Dr. M’Caul had been sent for and was present when the deceased died. Her little brother tried to get assistance, but could not get the passage door open. Deceased’s nails were burned off her fingers she was so long burning. When witness came home her husband met her at the door and told her what had occurred. He was burned about the face and arms.”
Deceased’s father was too ill to be examined.
Samuel Starrett jun., a very intelligent boy, who was in the kitchen at the time of the unfortunate occurrence, was not sworn, but stated the deceased was in the kitchen, and in reaching over to pull out the damper in the range her nigh-dress took fire. Witness made to run upstairs to tell his father but could not get the passage door open. When he did manage to get the door open and call to his father the deceased was in flames. His father on coming down caught the deceased in his arms and put out the flames. Witness brought down some blankets, which were put round the deceased.
Mrs. M’Closkey, a neighbor, deposed to being called in and finding the deceased badly burned. Witness applied lard to the burns but the child expired about two o’clock.
Dr. M’Caul, who was called into see deceased, said about ten o’clock the previous day he saw her. He found her hands, and almost the entire body, badly burned. It took him nearly two hours to dress the burns. The deceased died about two o’clock, the cause of death being shock to the nervous system, consequent on severe burns.
The jury returned a verdict accordingly.” Published in the Derry Journal 22 Jan 1894
Three days before her eighth birthday, May Louisa died from a fatal burn in the kitchen of her family home in the presence of her father and brother Samuel.
Sadly, many of Samuel & Ellen’s children did not live into adult hood; those however, are stories for another day.
“Deaths: Starrett – January 19, at her father’s residence, 1, Derryview-terrace, Waterside, Londonderry, May Louise, second daughter of Samuel Starrett, aged 8 years. Her remains will be removed for interment in Glendermott Burying ground this (Monday) evening, 22nd inst., at half-past two o’clock.”
May She Rest In Peace!