In the autumn of 1856 Elizabeth Passmore was employed as a domestic servant by Court Barton Farm, Lapford. Her job included making daily dinner deliveries by horse and cart to labourers harvesting crops. She was in desperate need of the work; her husband, Joseph, had recently been jailed for stealing cheese from a house in the village.
For large farms like Court Barton, providing on-the-go food was productive. It helped to motivate labours and ensure they remained fit for the long, arduous harvesting days. But, on 11 August 1856, Elizabeth’s daily dinner delivery met with an unexpected accident. Her horse bolted and Elizabeth fell under the cart which then passed over her face, badly breaking her jaw.
Mr. Beasley, a surgeon from Morchard Bishop, attended the scene. Elizabeth was transported to Exeter hospital where she was reported to be in a precarious state. It was uncertain that she would survive but, slowly, she made a recovery. Her injuries were long-lasting, but nothing compared to those sustained years later by her husband who fell face first into a smithy’s fire.