New Zealand Herald - 11 December 1871


An inquest was held at Mr Lawless's Newton Hotel, on Saturday afternoon, on the body of Christina McVicars, who had died the day previous, at her own house, West-Street, Newton, whilst in a state of intoxication. Dr. Philson, the Coroner presided. A jury was empanelled, consisting of the following:- Francis Marriott (foreman), H. Pritchard, F. Lee, J. Hardy, G. Bellingham, J. Davis, D. Olpeat, W. Dick, E. Phillip, A. Alexander, L. Turrell, A. Campbell, and D. McCay. The Jury having been sworn, proceeded to view the body, after which the following evidence was taken:- Mary Ann Porteous, a neighbour of deceased's, proved seeing her on Thursday evening in bed, drunk, at her own house. Witness went there in company with, a Mrs. Jones, in consequence of the deceased's daughter complaining that she had been beaten by deceased, and was afraid to return home. This was a constant occurrence when the deceased had been drinking. The deceased was asleep at the time of her taking the child home, and was breathing very hard. She was lying on her right side with her clothes on. Witness and the daughter attempted to wake her, but without effect. Was aware that deceased was drunk. A bottle half full of rum stood at her bedside, which witness emptied into the yard to prevent her from taking more. As she failed in rousing deceased, she left, taking the child with her to sleep, and did not return until next afternoon, when she found her dead. Witness gave information to the police, and was present when Dr. Nicholson examined her. Deceased was about 48 years of age, and a widow. She had been living with a man named Underwood, who was now in the Waikato. She was in the habit of receiving remittances from him occasionally. The child living with her was this man's daughter. All the time witness had known her, the deceased had been addicted to drink, but was not aware she was in the habit of taking laudanum, or any other drug. - Dr. Nicholson proved having examined the body of deceased, but could find no marks of violence, and was satisfied that she had come to her death from a large dose of alcoholic spirits, administered to a subject debilitated by excessive drinking previously. Could detect no signs of any opium, prussic acid, or chloroform having been swallowed or inhaled. - Mrs. Hannah Jones gave similar testimony to the first witness. - Constable Clarke proved finding the body in the same position as described by the previous witnesses; he also said the body was cold, although slightly warm under the armpits; the mouth emitted a smell of rum. He fetched Dr. Nicholson. The only property about her consisted of 27 pawn tickets for articles of clothing. Deceased used to take washing; and, from inquiries he had made, found that most of the property belonged to others, and he had handed over to them the duplicates. - The jury, after a brief deliberation, found a verdict "that deceased had died through excessive drinking."
The Daily Southern Cross Newspaper, 11 December 1871