A corpse in a house for 20 years

A  curious discovery was made at Birmingham on the 9th inst. An old man, named William Owen, who has been living by himself for the last eight or nine months at Hockley Hill, and been known in the neighbourhood as the “old miser,” was visited on Wednesday by the relieving officer, as he was in necessitous circumstances.

The officer noticed in one of the rooms a large box, and was informed by Owen, on his being pressed, that it contained the body of his sister, Ellen Perry, who died in Islington Workhouse in 1863.

His sister always had a horror of being buried by the parish, and she was promised by Owen that she should be buried in Birmingham. He had the body enclosed in a zinc and wooden coffin, and brought to Birmingham, where he expected the family to help him defray the expenses of the funeral, but as they did not do so he determined to keep the corpse in the house as long as he lived.

This he had done, and when he moved from one district to another some months ago, the box containing the coffin was taken with the other things.

Owen was always an object of considerable curiosity and suspicion, and for 15 years no one entered his door. He lived in one room, and was never known to have a light in the house.

As the certificate of his sister’s death was in Owen’s possession, no inquest will be held. The man has been taken to the Workhouse.

The Western Gazette, January 18, 1884.