Unsolved Murders

Florence Madelaine Bromley Smith

Age: 31

Sex: female

Date: 23 Mar 1901

Place: Chelsea

Florence Bromley Smith died from an illegal operation.

A doctor was tried for her murder but acquitted.

Before she died she made a statement which read:

My name is Florence Bromley Smith. I am 31 years old. I believe I am going to die. I do not know what was done to me. Something was put up my body. It was about a month ago. It lasted about a minute. No blood came. I miscarried about a fortnight ago. I had a Turkish bath about three weeks ago. I was ill the next day and miscarried the next day. The doctor took the miscarriage away with him. His name is xxxx. He lives in Wandsworth, Bridge Road. I paid him twenty pounds. He did what was done to me. No one was present at the time.

Florence Smith had married in 1891 but had lived apart from her husband for the last 4-5 years and was living in Sydney Street in Chelsea and was supported by her relatives, not her husband.

She took to her bed on 7 March 1901 and died on 23 March 1901 in the morning.

Her sister said that she didn't know that Florence Smith was pregnant or that she had been consulting a doctor although she said that Florence Smith's spirits were depressed in January and February 1901.

The sister said that she first knew that Florence Smith had taken to her bed on 10 March 1901. She said that she first saw the doctor who was tried for her murder on 21 March 1901 at the house adding that by that time he had ceased his attendance. The previous day the sister had found Florence Smith to be alarmingly ill and wrote a letter to the doctor which prompted him to visit the next morning. In the meantime, the sister had asked for another doctor to visit Florence Smith.

The sister said that when the first doctor visited on the morning of 21 March 1901 she was surprised to see him and apologised for sending for another doctor but added that she had done so because her sister was so ill. She said that the doctor told her that jaundice takes a long time and the sister said that she didn't think there was much jaundice about it. The sister then said that the doctor then said something to the effect that she might have given him a chance and that she then replied, saying that he had been attending Florence Smith for a fortnight and that she had been getting worse each day.

The sister then said that the doctor said, 'You all have to die of something', which she said Florence Smith heard and which upset her. She said that they then left the room and went out onto the landing and the doctor then said 'I suppose you will call in a doctor till she dies if this one does not do', and she said that she told him, 'No, I know this doctor', and that he had replied something to the effect that that was an advantage and then confirmed that she didn't want him coming anymore and said goodbye adding that he would send his account through which he expected to be paid immediately.

The sister said that Florence Smith was worse on the evening of 21 May 1903 and even worse on 22 May 1903 when she was attended by the new doctor and that Florence Smith then died on 23 May 1903.

In the evening of 22 May 1903 a barrister at law was called in to take Florence Smith's dying statement.

The new doctor said that when he saw Florence Smith on 20 March 1903 he examined her and said that he could find no sign's of jaundice. He said her pulse was 48, her temperature subnormal and her respirations 15 a minute. He prescribed her some medicine and stimulants and took a sample of her urine which he tested that evening stating that it's specific gravity was 1010.

He said that the next day, 21 May 1903 he saw Florence Smith again and then examined her vagina. He said that the mouth of the womb was open and there was a slight foul discharge, little in quantity but foul in character. When he saw the discharge he asked Florence Smith what her ordinary time for menstruation was and said that she told him that she had miscarried. The doctor then said that after the examination, and what she had told him he had formed an opinion of what she was suffering from.

He said he saw her twice that day and that she was getting weaker and then saw her the following day 22 May 1903 and said that she was still getting worse. The doctor then called for a 2nd opinion and a gynaecologist was called out and they agreed that the matter was of great gravity. The doctor then agreed that the womb should be thoroughly cleansed as there had been a fresh haemorrhage that day and they wanted to remove any clots that remained behind. He said he used a blunt curette and pipe on the end of an elastic tube and douche and used a solution of carbolic acid 1 in 40. He said that at first some dark coloured blood clots came away but the rest of the solution was unchanged and there was no sign of anything of placenta character.

The doctor then said that he told Florence Smith that he thought that she might die at any moment and that he was going to get the magistrate to take her statement. He said that she died the following day.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

see Gloucester Citizen - Monday 25 March 1901

see Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Friday 17 May 1901

see Shields Daily Gazette - Friday 17 May 1901

see National Archives - CRIM 1/67/2