This story, whilst being one of the shortest in the series of “What’s in a Name” is important because it sheds light on “what lies beneath” and indeed “behind” the sad demise of many whose names appear in the St David’s burial register. At first glance of the many names inscribed, especially those of an advanced age, one perhaps automatically assumes that their passing was of “natural causes”
However as this short story reveals – not all is what it seems when reading the register and it is only when further research is carried out that the truth and full extent of the story is revealed. Elizabeth Williams lived in what was then a large street called Goose Street.
Whilst it is not in existence today, Goose Street stretched from the junction of St Davids Avenue to the Water Street Junction and during the 1850’s it disappeared from view and became an extension of what is now St Catherine Street. In 1841 it is recorded as having 56 properties with 236 occupants. A blue plaque now records GOOSE LANE for posterity which I unveiled when I was Chairman of the Carmarthen Civic Society many years ago. It was named as such because of the geese that were walked to market through this lane and street by local Drovers near and far. The feet of the geese were tarred to enable them to walk long distances to market without injury. February 1845 was a particularly cold month, one of the coldest on record. Whilst the inquest report is unclear on how it came about that Elizabeth’s clothes caught fire, we can only assume that it was nothing more than a dreadful accident as the report concludes, either resulting from a spark from the fireplace or a lit candle. Elizabeth has no memorial headstone in St David’s Cemetery, and her last resting place remains unknown within the cemetery, but like so many others, she will not be forgotten.
The Welshman February 28th 1845 page 2
INQUEST.—an inquest was held on Monday at the Mermaid Inn, Lammas Street, before George Thomas, Esq., Coroner for the Borough of Carmarthen, on view of the body of Elizabeth Williams, an aged woman residing in Goose Street. It appeared that on the preceding Friday, the deceased, who had been left all alone, set her clothes on fire, and after suffering the most excruciating agony, expired on Monday morning. A verdict of “accidental death” was returned.
** The Mermaid Inn was located between the Golden Lion and Christ Church in Lammas Street.