Amelia Kennedy (1852 -1871) was just nineteen years old when she performed her act of heroism that cost her her life.
Her memorial in Postman's Park reads, "Amelia Kennedy, Aged 19,Died In Trying To Save Her Sister From Their Burning House In Edward's Lane, Stoke Newington. Oct 18 1871"
Reports of the tragedy tat ended her life began appearing in newspapers countrywide the following day.
On Thursday 19th October 1871, under the above headline, The Yorkshire and Leeds Intelligencer, carried the following report:-
"About three o'clock yesterday morning a fire broke out in the laundy of Mrs Kennedy, who occuppies two small houses in Edwards Lane, Stoke Newington, London.
A young woman names Amelia Kenedy, aged 19,was unable to maKe her escape, and was burned to death.
One house was completely destoryed, and the other was injured on the ground floor.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
The occupier was not insured."
On Saturday the 21st of October 1871, The Hackney and Kingsland Gazette hailed Amelia Kennedy as "a young girl who bravely rushed to her doom after having been instrumental in rescuing her own family from their impending fate..."
The subsequent article then went into detail about events as they had unfolded on the night of the tragedy.
THE FATAL FIRE AT STOKE NEWINGTON
"On Friday morning Mr. Richards held an inquest at the "Rose and Crown," Church-street, Stoke Newington, concerning the death of Amelia Kennedy, aged 19, residing at Nos. 1 and 2, Edwards-lane, Stoke Newington.
Superintendent Green, of the N division, watched the case on behalf of the Commissioners of Police.
George Edward Kennedy, carpenter, 3, Elizabeth-terrace, said his deceased sister was the youngest member of the family.
She was employed at home in the laundry belonging to his mother.
On Wednesday morning, about half-past 3 o'clock, he was awoke by hearing someone in the street calling out "Fire."
He got up and went into the street, where he was met by his two younger brothers, who told him that a fire had broken out in the laundry.
His own house was only a few doors from that of his parents. The family oecupied two houses, which were connected by a door which had been made in the partition wall.
His parents and two brothers slept in No. 1, and his two sisters and two servants occupied sleeping appartments on the second floor of No. 2 house.
The ground-floor of that house was used as a laundry, and the room immediatley below the bedroom of his sisters was kept as an ironing room, in which there was a stove placed in the middle of the room with a conducting pipe, which led into the chimney.
During the wet season clothes were dried in that room, and the fire was not allowed to go out at night.
When he got to the house he inquired for his sister Milly, and he was then told that she was all right, and had gone to the back of the house.
He afterwards became aware that she was seen to go into the house, and not finding any trace of her, he went into the back court and tried to open the kitchen door, which he found fastened. He knocked and called her by name, and got no answer.
He eventually succeeded in bursting the door open, but owing to its great strength he could not get it off its hinges.
When the door was about 11 inches open he saw the feet of his deceased sister. She was lying on her face behind the door, which prevented him from getting it open. The flames and smoke were then bursting out at the top of the door. He believed that she was dead.
In a few minutes his brothers came in to his assistance, and they were able to force the door about 18 inches open, when the younger brother got on his hands and knees and attempted to enter, but was forced back by the smoke and flames.
No part of the body was then burnt.
The fire engines did not arrive for fully half an hour after the alarm was given.
His father locked up the house on Tuesday evening, and he has since been suffering from an epileptic fit, and was unable to give any account of the circumstance.
Elizabeth Frances Kennedy, sister of deceased, said she occupied the same bedroom as deceased, but in a separate bed.
She awoke on Wednesday morning about three o'clock, and felt a sensation of choking and heard the crackling of wood.
On looking up she saw flames coming through the floor close to the window, and at once aroused her sitter and the servants.
Deceased ran down-stairs to give the alarm to her brothers, but when she attempted to follow she was stopped by the flames and smoke.
They got out at a back window to the tiles of a neighbouring washhouse, and escaped into the back yard.
John Wigton Kennedy said when deceased aroused them he at once got up and partially dressed himself. He got water and threw it on to the fire in the hope of extinguishing it, and deceased insisted on rendering him help, but he told her she could not aid him.
She then expressed great fears about her sister, not having heard of her, and desired to go and assist her.
He then observed deceased rush along the lobby, and he followed her. She got past the laundry door and seemed to be making for the back door. He got about four feet after her and was beaten back. The fire was so strong she could not live in it many seconds.
George Bailey, No.47, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, said he was called to the fire on wednesday morning at 3.57, and was on the spot in about 11 minutes afterwards.
The horses were kept in a stable about 470 yards from the station, but they could yoke and be started in 11 minutes from the time of the call.
They were unable to work after reaching the fire owing to the scanty supply of water, and the fire plugs being in such bad order, some of them being covered over with granite.
He asked when they arrived if any one was in the house, and was answered in the negetive, but subsequently ascertaining that a young woman was in the back kitchen, every effort was used to extinguish the flames at that point and save the body.
Several hours elapsed before the body could be recovered. It was dreadfully burnt, the legs being burnt to a cinder. He did not know when the turncock arrived, but it was some time after their arrival before he saw him.
John Balaam, firemaster at South Hornsey, corroborated the evidence of last witness.
The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death,""