Margaret Francis (1850-1887)

On 13th December 1887 a fire broke out while John & Margaret Francis and their 8 children were asleep over their carpenter's shop in 44 Planet Street, Roath, Cardiff. With the front of the building ablaze the family made their escape to the workshop at the rear. With all other escape routes blocked their only method of escape was through a trapdoor into the washhouse below. John lowered the children one by one. Mary Ann (16), Alfred John (14), Elizabeth (13) and Adeline (6) were lowered down but as 2-year old William was to be lowered, John tumbled down the hole and knocked himself unconscious. He and the 5 children were dragged to safety by neighbours.

As the police thought all the people had reached safety, no attempt was made to save the other children still in the building - Margaret (wife, 37), Margaret Eugene (9),Thomas Arthur (10 weeks) and John Evan (11).

Although the cause of the fire was not established, there was a strong smell of furniture polish at the scene. The Inquest revealed that someone had broken into the shop and piled up bundles of cloths, intending to steal them. The intruder then turned on the gas taps and set fire to the building. None of the doors or windows had been tampered with and no footsteps found in the garden.

The Jury returned a verdict of death from suffocation on Margaret and the 3 children and the origin and cause of the fire could not be determined. All were buried together on 17th December in plot U100.