Date: 18 Nov 1932
Florence Nola Stedman died from an illegal operation on 8 November 1932.
She had been living apart from her husband at the time. Her husband, who lived in Rectory Gardens, Clapham Common, said that he had not seen Florence Stedman for about a month before she was taken ill.
Florence Stedman had been living with a clerk for the previous seven weeks at 7 Sherbrooke Road in Fulham.
After becoming ill she was admitted to Fulham Hospital on 4 November 1932 where she died from general peritonitis and septicaemia four days later.
When she was admitted she told the doctors that she had taken some pills. However, at the inquest the doctor that spoke to her said that any pills that she might have taken would not have had any relation to her death.
When the coroner asked the doctor if he thought that the septic condition and peritonitis could be due to any interference such as from an illegal operation he said 'Yes'. When the coroner asked if it was a sort of state that would rise naturally he said 'No'. When the Coroner asked him whether such a condition might not arise without some cause, the doctor said, 'No. It was a virulent general peritonitis' such as would be brought about in an effort to terminate her condition which he said was what he thought had happened, noting that it could have been brought about herself or some other person.
The medical evidence showed that she died from acute blood poisoning. The doctor said that he thought that Florence Stedman had been in a septic condition for at least three days before her admission.
However, the pathologist said that he found no internal injuries.
When the Coroner noted that obviously Florence Stedman had thought that she was in a certain condition he asked the doctor whether she had made any statement to him about any steps that she might have taken to terminate that condition, the doctor said, 'No'.
When the Coroner summed up he said that it seemed likely that her condition had been caused by interference which might have been done by herself, but said that it was more likely to have been done by someone else and said that that doubt had to be reflected in the finding of the court.
He said, 'I do not think I need take any further evidence. This woman has died from very acute blood poisoning, and there is hardly any doubt that an effort was made to use some instrument which might well be done without the post-mortem showing any evidence of interference. The condition was so acute that one feels that is probably what happened. If there was such interference it might be by herself, but more probably, by someone else. That doubt must be reflected in the finding of the court, which will be that this woman died from blood poisoning of unknown origin. That is an open verdict. Inquiries in this case have not led to a complete solution of what happened and an open verdict does not hamper any future inquiry'.
A open verdict was then returned.
see West London Observer - Friday 18 November 1932, p9
see Fulham Chronicle - Friday 18 November 1932