Tuesday 23 March 2021

Annie Shimlisky (1904-1922) Shoreditch London "Amazing Letters of Girl Suicide"

The third and final post today and again it concerns poison. Carbolic acid is still widely in use today in the manufacture of industrial products, and as an anti-bacterial measure.   

The cutting is from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 22nd January 1922 and refers to an inquest that had taken place the previous day in Shoreditch London.

The victim was 17 year old Annie Shimlisky not Shimnlisky as in the report. The sentiments expressed in the letter have a modern ring to them, and I am sorry to say a certain amount of truth. There is no doubt that Annie was sane in the legal sense when she made the decision to end her life and that the verdict recorded by the Coroner was an incorrect one. Annie did not act on a fit of "impulse" and she was "responsible" at the time. A verdict of suicide due to chronic or acute depression may have been more appropriate verdict than the one delivered by the Shoreditch coroner. 

Messrs, J.T. Leaper, Ltd of Crookes Sheffield - Dispensers of Strychnine - 11th July 1939

 This is from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 11th July 1939 and relates to the sale of a "medicine" by a chemist in Crookes Sheffield

Messrs, J.T. Leaper, Ltd of Crookes Sheffield were a wholesale as well as a retail chemist and I was amazed that strychnine was dispensed and sold in such a fashion.

For those readers who are not familiar with properties of strychnine these are its effects

" it can fatal to humans and other animals and can occur by inhalation, swallowing or absorption through eyes or mouth. It produces some of the most dramatic and painful symptoms of any known toxic reaction, making it quite noticeable and a common choice for assassinations and poison attacks. For this reason, strychnine poisoning is often portrayed in literature and film, such as the murder mysteries written by Agatha Christie

Ten to twenty minutes after exposure, the body's muscles begin to spasm, starting with the head and neck in the form of trismus and risus sardonicus. The spasms then spread to every muscle in the body, with nearly continuous convulsions, and get worse at the slightest stimulus. The convulsions progress, increasing in intensity and frequency until the backbone arches continually. Convulsions lead to lactic acidosis, hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis. These are followed by postictal depression. Death comes from asphyxiation caused by paralysis of the neural pathways that control breathing, or by exhaustion from the convulsions. The subject usually dies within 2–3 hours after exposure."

From Wikipedia

The fact is that Mr Leaper was not prosecuted for selling the preparation but was prosecuted for not being present when the drug was sold over the counter. It was considered at the time a tonic but if taken to excess it "produces some of the most dramatic and painful symptoms of any known toxic reaction"

Needless to say, strychnine is now longer on sale in Crookes!  


Private Richard Lancaster (1882 - 1914) No 8372 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers 2nd 12 Bde 4 Div

I came across this article from The Metro newspaper dated 05th July 2007 concerning the delated funeral of Private Richard Lancaster (1882 - 1914) 8372 who served with the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers 2nd 12 Bde 4 Div and was killed in action on 10th November 1914, aged 32.

Richard's body remained buried undiscovered for 90 years before it was unearthed. He was identified by his identity disc and regimental cap badge. Two other soldiers from the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers were found nearby but they were not identified. All three received military funerals

Further details can be found on the Burnley in the Great War website