52 Ancestors #44 – Frightening

I’m resurrecting a post from four years ago to use for the prompt “frightening”. On my father’s side of the family, through his mother Annie Cripps nee Lymburner, we have the surname of Delisser/ de Lisser. The story about how the name was changed from Delisser to Lymburner was written about in an earlier newsletter this year.

My great great grandfather was born Adam Lymburner Delisser and due to an injunction in a will, he changed his name to Adam Lymburner Lymburner to continue the surname of Lymburner. Read about the name change here.

When Adam was just 21 years of age two of his siblings died within 4 days of each other. Ellis William Delisser was just 19 years old when he died from ‘pains in the head’. During the inquest into his death, their sister Adelaide Anna Delisser, aged 14, fell from a window and died from the fall.


Their death certificates that I bought back in 1995, didn’t reveal anything and no coroner’s reports were available so the research could not continue. At the time I had presumed that Ellis either had a brain haemorrhage or possibly a brain tumour and Adelaide was so distraught that she threw herself out of the window!

As the years have gone by, more and more content has been made available online and several years ago the British Newspapers were made available on the National Library of Australia website. I quickly signed up for a free National Library Card and started looking at the newspapers from the comfort of home. I have to say I was horrified when reading what had really happened to young Adelaide. In this article, she has been named Matilda, which is either a mistake or a nickname.

Appalling Death of a Young Lady during the holding of an inquest on her brother: – On Friday forenoon Mr. Wakley, M.P., opened an inquest at the Masons’ Arms, Devonshire-street, Portland-place, on the body of Mr. Ellis William Delisser, aged nineteen, a student about to enter college, residing with his mother and family, at No. 1. Devonshire-street. The deceased, who was one of the sons of the late Dr. Delisser, had recently returned with his family from Italy, and died suddenly on the evening of Monday last. The jury had viewed the body, and Mr. C.B.Brearey, surgeon, 73, Great Portland-street, who attended Mr. Delisser, was under examination, when suddenly the court was thrown into the greatest consternation by the arrival of a servant, who begged the attendance of the medical gentleman, as Miss Matilda Delisser, a young lady, only fifteen years of age, and sister of the deceased, had fallen from the second-floor window. Mr. Brearey, the surgeon, rushed out of the room, followed by the jury, and subsequently by the coroner, Mr. Wakley being requested to attend by some of the relatives. On arriving at the mansion, which is on the corner of the Portland-road, and exactly opposite the Masons’ Arms, the unfortunate young lady was discovered lying on the stones of the area weltering in blood, which was still flowing from a wound in the head and from her ears. She was conveyed into an apartment, and on examination by Mr. Wakley and Mr. Brearey, it was ascertained that the skull had been completely driven in upon the brain. Mr. Liston was promptly sent for, and every effort that medical skill could suggest was used, but without effect, as the unfortunate young lady only survived the occurrence one hour and thirty-five minutes. The window from which Miss Delisser fell was that of her bedroom and from a large cut discovered behind one of her ears it was supposed she must have struck against some object in her descent. This proved to be the case, for on examination a pair of mirrors placed outside the drawing-room window, immediately under that from which she fell, for the purpose of reflecting passing objects, were shattered, and the iron-work supporting them almost doubled. No one was with the young lady at the time, and therefore, it is impossible to say whether the occurrence was the result of design or accident on her part; the general impression, however, is that she was endeavouring to reach out of the window, which is very low, in order, if possible to see into the inquest-room at the Masons’ Arms, and overbalancing herself fell into the area, a depth of forty feet. The state of the mother and other relatives of the deceased at so sad an affliction may be more readily imagined than described; and in consequence of the necessary absence of medical man, Mr. Wakley was compelled to adjourn the inquest he had opened on Miss Delisser’s brother. Dr Delisser, the father of the young lady and gentleman, died suddenly only fourteen months since.


SAD CASE – During an inquest, last Friday, on a young gentleman, named Delisser, of Portland road, London, who had died of effusion on the brain, his sister, aged 16, either fell or threw herself out of the window, and died in three hours.

Frightful Death of a Young Lady During an Inquest of her Brother – On Saturday forenoon Mr. Wakley, M.P., resumed at the Masons’ Arms, Devonshire-street, Portland-place, an inquest on the body of Mr. Ellis Wm. Delisser, aged 19, a student, who died suddenly on Monday last and also opened an inquiry respecting the death of Miss Adelaide Delisser, aged 15, who fell from the second-floor window of the house No.1, Devonshire-street, on Friday, whilst an inquest was being held on her brother. The evidence of Mr. Brearey, surgeon, of Great Portland-street, having been completed in the first case, and a verdict of “Natural death” recorded, the inquiry respecting the death of Miss Delisser was entered into. Elizabeth Jeffs, lady’s-maid in Mrs. Delisser’s family, was the principal witness called. She said that when Miss Delisser fell, she was kneeling on a chair, and looking out of the window under the blind, which was down. She slept with the deceased, and had no reason to suppose her mind was in any way affected – believed she was interested in what the jury were doing. The instant she fell, witness ran down stairs into the area, and there found her covered with blood, in the arms of the cook. Mr. Brearey and other medical gentlemen attended, but she lived one hour and thirty-five minutes afterwards. Witness believed deceased had overbalanced herself accidently. Elizabeth Walters, the cook, and Elizabeth Nicholson, another servant to Mrs. Delisser who had seen the deceased sitting in the chair but a few minutes before the occurrence, each expressed belief that it was decidedly accidental. Verdict “Accidental death.” Dr. Delisser the father of the young lady and gentleman, died suddenly, only fourteen months since.

Note: Elizabeth Jeffs, the lady’s maid to Mrs. Delisser was to later marry Adam Lymburner in 1848 and came to Australia to start a legacy of Lymburner’s in Australia and was the grandmother of Norma Lymburner.

Note 2: There were three servants with the name of Elizabeth. Elizabeth Jeffs the lady’s maid, Elizabeth Walters, the cook and Elizabeth Nicholson, another servant. Could get pretty confusing, although I imagine they would have been called by their surnames. Miss Jeffs, etc.,

What a sad and frightening story. The family would have been devasted, not only did they lose their 19-year-old son and brother, but to also lost their 14-year-old daughter and sister and just 14 months previously, husband and father, Alexander Delisser died aged 48.

While researching their father Alexander, I’d come across an entry on Ancestry for his death that had occurred in Florence, Italy and below was written NB: The bodies of a son and a daughter of the above Dr Delisser were brought from London and interred in the Protestant Burial Ground at the beginning of 1846. No service was performed.

Florence Burial Entry

As they both had died in 1845 and they weren’t interred in Florence until 1846, where had their bodies been buried?  Some more detective work was needed to come up with the goods which I eventually did.  Both Ellis William Delisser (aged 19 years) and Adelaide Delisser (aged 14 years 6 months) of 1 Devonshire Street, Portland Place, St Marylebone, were buried in the Highgate Cemetery of St James, Middlesex on the 21st July 1845.


Sources: The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, July 26, 1845; Issue 1808
Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, July 20, 1845; Issue 139
The Standard (London, England), Saturday, July 19, 1845; pg. 8; Issue 6544
The Hull Packet and East Riding Times (Hull, England), Friday, July 25, 1845; Issue 3158
The Bristol Mercury (Bristol, England), Saturday, July 26, 1845; Issue 2888
The Ipswich Journal (Ipswich, England), Saturday, July 26, 1845; Issue 5545
The Morning Post (London, England), Monday, July 21, 1845; Issue 22349. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.
The Northern Star and National Trades’ Journal (Leeds, England), Saturday, July 19, 1845; Issue 401.

About Jenny MacKay

Just a person who is looking forward to retirement and enjoying the golden years!
This entry was posted in 52-Ancestors-52-Weeks, Blog, Delisser and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 52 Ancestors #44 – Frightening

  1. Colette (Ruth ) Francis says:

    Hello Jenny!
    I am so happy that you are able to write the family’s history the way that you have everything set up so well. I haven’t forgotten about you even though I haven’t been in touch for quite a while.What I know is that the Delissers originally were from Portugal (1600?) and they went to live in Brest France and then to East London. My grandmother and her sisters and brothers are Delissers.
    And so in the 1780s they began to leave England and go to Jamaica. They lived in Sephardic communities in Jamaica. In later years Alexander studied medicine with doctors in Jamaica.

  2. Pingback: 52 Ancestors #45 – Bearded | jenealogyscrapbook

  3. tstatton says:

    Glory be! What a tragic story and all in the one family! We never know what is in front of us. Your research has been very successful as most would have not gone on to see where the brother and sister were originally buried until their bodies could be sent to Italy. Thank you for a very interesting retelling of those unfortunate ancestors’ lives.

  4. My goodness – what an unfold. Life is full of twists and turns.

  5. kardu13 says:

    Wow Jenny, what a tragic story of one family.

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