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Help and advice for Inquests 1869-1909 - from the Dartmouth Chronicle and Brixham Advertiser

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Inquests Taken Into Suspicious Or Unexplained Deaths

For the County of Devon

1874-1909

Articles taken from the Dartmouth Chronicle and Brixham Advertiser, Dartmouth and South Hams Chronicle

Inquests

Coroner's Inquests were usually held within the space of 48 hours following a death that appeared to be of a suspicious or unexplained nature. They were usually held in a local public-house, ale house, municipal building, or parish workhouse, but sometimes in the building where the death occurred. The Coroner usually came from a legal or medical background and more often than not, appointed for life by the respective County. The Coroner and a Jury of between 12 and 24 persons, usually men of substantial standing, were empanelled to examine the body, hear witnesses, and the Jury then to come to a Verdict as to Cause of Death. The account of the Inquest appearing in local newspapers, included the name of the deceased, where they died, and how they died. Sometimes, age, occupation, parish or address, and other relatives' names can be found. In later years when Hospitals appear, people can be dying away from their parish after having been admitted to that institution, and the Inquest is therefore conducted where the death occurred, rather than where the person was living.

Provided by Lindsey Withers

Names included: Adams(2); Allen(2); Andrews(3); Angus; Anniss; Baker(4); Ball; Barber(2); Barchard; Bastard; Bates; Beall; Bearman; Bell; Bennett; Benson; Bickerton; Binmore; Bird; Blake; Blank(2); Bonstow; Bowhay; Brealey; Brewer; Brooking; Brown; Browne; Buckingham; Burton; Buttle; Cameron; Cannon; Carter; Chadder; Chapman; Chope; Churchward; Clements; Cole(2); Coombes; Corner; Covell; Cridge; Crute; Curling; Dare; Davey; Davis; Daw; Dennis; Devereaux; Dimond; Dixon; Down; Durant(2); Eales; Easterbrook; Eden; Edmonds; Efford; Elliott; Ellis; Fairweather; Farrier; Ferris; Foale; Foote; Free; French; Furze; George(2); Gifford; Gill; Gillard; Goad; Goddard; Good(2); Gore; Grant; Groves; Gurney; Hall; Hanger; Hardy; Harlow; Harris(3); Hawke; Hayman; Head; Heal(2); Heath(2); Heawood; Hellier; Hext; Hill(3); Hiller; Hine; Hoare; Hockins; Hodges; Holliday; Holmes; Hooper; Humphries; Hustis; Hutchings(3); Ingham; Jerwood; Jones(3); Joslin; Keeley; Kelland; Kelly; Kemp; Kingwell; Knapman(2); Knight(2); Lamble; Langley; Langworthy; Lavers(2); Lear; Leare; Lee; Legg; Lesson; Lethbridge; Loram; Lowden; Luppage; Luscombe(3); Mabin; Mandley; Marks; Marsh; Martin; Mason; McKeon; Medway; Memery; Mesney; Middleweek; Milford; Miller(2); Millman; Mills; Mingo; Mitchell; Moore; Mortimore; Moses(2); Mugford; Murrian; Norris; Norrish; Northway; Odgers; Oldreive; Opie; Page; Pascoe; Payne; Pearce; Peddle; Peek; Peeke; Pengelly; Pengilly; Pepperell(2); Perrett; Perring(3); Perry; Petherbridge; Pettigrew; Phillips; Physick; Pinhey; Plater; Pollard; Pope; Pound; Prosser; Putt; Pye; Reed; Remington; Rendell; Rendle; Roberts; Robinson; Rowe; Ryder; Sage; Satchell; Saunders(2); Seabrooke; Shapter; Shillabear; Short; Simes; Slee; Small; Smerdon; Smith(4); Soulsbury; Sparkes; Sparks; Stapleton; Start; Steere; Stentiford; Stephens; Stone(2); Stranger; Symons; Tabb; Tanner; Tapper; Taylor(2); Thorne; Tibbs; Tierney; Timewell; Tinkler; Tippett; Towl; Townsend(2); Treleaven; Tribble; Tucker(4); Tuckerman; Uren; Vickery; Wallis; Waugh; Weeks; Wellington; Western; White; Whiting; Widdicombe; Williams(3); Willis; Wills(2); Wilmott; Wilson; Withycombe; Wood(2); Wyatt(2); Yelland; Young; Youngman

Wednesday 1 September 1869

An Inquest was held on the 2nd inst., at Tipper's Marine Tavern, before J. M. Puddicombe, Esq., Coroner, on the body of DANIEL PAGE, aged 18 years, a seaman on board the yacht Maratina, Lord Louth. From the evidence, it appeared the deceased was going on board the yacht about 10 o'clock on the evening of the 31st August and fell over the post placed at Mrs Swaffin's corner, whereby he sustained fatal injury. The verdict was as follows:- "Death from peritonitis, caused by a violent blow on the region of the bladder."

SLAPTON - Fatal Occurrence. - A melancholy and fatal occurrence took place at Slapton on Tuesday, the 24th ult., which cast considerable gloom over the numerous visitors in the neighbourhood. On the previous day, MR GEORGE WAUGH, of New-square, Lincoln's Inn, London, a gentleman of the Equity bar, arrived at the Sands Hotel, accompanied by two friends, Mr W. H. Rennolls, and Mr T. E. Lucas, both London Solicitors, intending to spend a few days in pike fishing on the Lea. After a late dinner, MR WAUGH and his friends took a stroll on the beach, and doubtless attracted by the extreme beauty of the sea, under the influence of the almost cloudless sky of the harvest moon, MR WAUGH proceeded to bathe, much against the expressed wishes of his friends and swan seaward about 300 yards, when he turned. He went into the water and swam against the tide, which was running strong at the time towards the Start. After going in this direction for about 100 yards, he suddenly disappeared without any struggle or giving any sign of distress. He made some remark a minute or two before disappearing, but what it was, was not distinguishable. Every effort was at once made, boats launched and later the seines were hauled, and the entire night spent in fruitless efforts to recover him, but without avail. The following day his body was found floating near the Langstone Rocks, Start Point. An Inquest was held at Hall Sands, before Mr Gay, Deputy Coroner, and from the medical evidence adduced there is every reason to believe that death ensued from apoplexy, doubtless induced by bathing at night so soon after dining The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death by Drowning." Deceased was 34 years of age. His remains were removed to London for interment.

Friday 1 October 1869

Sudden Death. - An Inquest was recently held before Mr J. M. Puddicombe, Coroner, to Inquire into the circumstances attending the decease of MR PROSSER, late of London, who had succeeded to the school recently kept by Mr Chevalier. MR PROSSER, it appears, was in the habit of taking a short walk every morning, and had done s on the day in question, and whilst seated at the breakfast table, suddenly fell forward and expired. The Jury returned a verdict of "Died by Visitation of God."

Friday 20 January 1871

KINGSWEAR - Coroner's Inquest. - The Inquest on the body of RICHARD PUTT, whose death we recorded in our last, was held before the District Coroner, H. Mitchelmore, Esq., at Kingswear, on Monday last, when a verdict of "Found Drowned" was returned.

Friday 3 March 1871

Inquest. - On Saturday last an Enquiry was held at the Market House Inn, by J. M. Puddicombe, Esq., Coroner, and a Jury of whom Mr J. M. Mollon was chosen Foreman, to Enquire into the death of MR JOHN PEEK. The Coroner at the commencement of the Inquiry observed that he should not have held it had it not been that the deceased had of late suffered from mental derangement. The evidence taken was very clear and distinct, and showed that on the afternoon of the previous day, the deceased came home and complained of being unwell. He went to bed and in the morning when his cousin, as was her usual custom, took his breakfast to him she observed a handkerchief on his face, which she removed, and as the deceased did not answer when spoken to, she considered that he was dead. She awoke deceased's wife, and then called for assistance. The Jury returned a verdict of "Died from Natural Causes." The deceased was 69 years of age.

Friday 14 April 1871

TOTNES - Fatal Accident Near Totnes. - On the evening of the 10th inst., an accident of a fatal character occurred to a young man named ANDREWS, in the employ of Mr Ellis, brewer, Harbertonford. ANDREWS had been his rounds during the day, with a dray and was returning from North Huish towards Harbertonford. At Rolster bridge, about one mile from Harbertonford, the horses and dray were observed to be going without a driver, and about a mile from thence the missing man was found in the road dead, with the skids of the dray near him. His skull was fractured and death must have been instantaneous. The body was taken to Harbertonford, and examined by Dr Cape, who pronounced life to have been extinct for some time. The position of the barrels in the dray led to the supposition that the deceased must have been jerked out, by the skid, on which he was sitting, jumping out of the socket. Where the accident happened two deep gutters cross the road, and the sudden jerk caused by crossing the gutters was supposed to have been the cause of the calamity. At the Inquest held on the 12th inst., before Mr H. Mitchelmore, a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned, and the Jury recommended that a representation should be made to the highway authorities that the spot in question was dangerous to travellers, and that the gutters should be carried under the roadway. ANDREWS was 19 years of age, well known in this town, and was a steady and sober young man. It has been suggested that in future a pin should be placed in one end, through the skid, into the cart.

Friday 26 May 1871

Fatal Accident. - On Monday evening last three men, named John Bennett, William Rogers and SAMUEL GURNEY, junr., all belonging to Dartmouth, took a winch from the railway jetty, Kingswear, for the purpose of putting it on board the barque Happy, laying near the Floating Bridge, on the eastern side of the harbour. The boat employed was small, being only ten feet long, and when the men neared the vessel, Rogers and GURNEY stood up. Rogers advised GURNEY to seat himself, but before he could do so, the boat capsized, and precipitated the men into the water. Rogers and Bennett rose and seized a rope, which was attached to a boat near them; but GURNEY, although he came up to the surface, sank again immediately, and was not seen afterwards. The other men got on board the barque, and hailed a man in another boat, named Peter Ferris, accompanied by two females, and who refused to render them any assistance. At length a boat put off from the yacht Fair Rosamond, and took them ashore. The sad news was soon spread over the town, and search was at once made for the body, which was recovered, in about an hour and half, with the help of drags, by three men, named Henley, Fisher and Blackler, and conveyed to the residence of the deceased. On examination, a mark was discovered on his forehead, and it was supposed that the winch struck him as the boat toppled over. The men were cautioned against the use of the boat, on account of its size before they started. An Inquest was held on Tuesday evening last at Mrs Tipper's Marine Tavern, by J. M. Puddicombe, Esq. Mr W. L. Pillar was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The evidence taken was in accordance with the above facts, and a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned by the Upsetting of a Boat" was returned. The Jury remarked upon the inhuman conduct of the man Ferris, in not conveying the two men ashore who told them of the disaster, when he could see they were streaming wet and had no means of getting ashore. The deceased was a steady young man, about 28 years of age, and leaves a wife and two children to mourn their loss.

Friday 4 August 1871

DARTMOUTH - Melancholy Case Of Drowning. - On Saturday, 22nd ult., a gloom was cast over this town and Kingswear, as the news became generally known that MR THOMAS SHORT, a much respected builder of the latter place, had lost his own life whilst trying to rescue a female servant in the employ of Colonel Maitland, of Kingwear Castle, who had fallen overboard. The facts of this melancholy case will best be known by the following evidence taken at The Inquest which was held before H. Michelmore, Esq., County Coroner, at the Steampacket Inn, Kingswear, and a Jury, of whom Mr Paddon, station-master, was chosen Foreman. Thomas Langmead Casey, who deposed that he was a carpenter and resided at Kingswear. He knew the deceased and had been a companion of his for nearly 60 years. The unfortunate man was a mason and builder. Both himself and deceased were working near Kingswear Castle. On Saturday, 22nd inst., he saw him shortly after two o'clock, when he was making a hole for a bolt. The next time he saw him, which was after the lapse of a few minutes, was in the water. He heard deceased call "Casey, rope" and went to his assistance. He did not know how deceased got into the water; but when he saw him he was quite erect, supporting a female. Witness exclaimed "for God's sake, SHORT, why don't you swim!" Deceased did not answer. Witness then called the assistance of a strange gentleman, and by their united efforts succeeded in cutting a piece of rope which formed a portion of a fence. The deceased and the woman were about 5 feet from the steps, and in about 8 feet of water. Witness, seeing that the deceased was helpless, said to his wife "for god's sake come here and help." One end of the rope was thrown to SHORT, and the other to the woman, who grasped it, but SHORT did not. He thought at first that both had hold of the rope, and said to the gentleman "haul away, sir, they have got it." When pulling the woman to the shore, it was found that deceased had not got hold of the rope, but of the woman's dress. The woman being somewhat able to help herself, witness's attention was paid to deceased, who did not as much as move after he was drawn ashore. Witness was given the rope by the gentleman, and put it under deceased's arms, and held him half out of the water. Witness himself sat in about a foot of water. In answer to the Coroner, witness said it was impossible for him, with the assistance at hand, to carry the unfortunate man up the steps. Owing to his not seeing any further assistance, he told the gentleman to hold deceased as he had done, whilst he went to Kingswear Castle to hail for help, but there was none to be found. He made every possible sign for help. On his return, he again laid hold of the rope, and the gentleman himself then ran to look for assistance, but could find none. Presently, however, a boat came from Dartmouth Castle, the deceased was put on board, and conveyed to the ferry-slip and from thence to Pitts Steam-packet inn, and subsequently to his residence. On landing at the slip, a gentleman, who announced himself as a physician, gave directions with a view to recover life, and his orders were strictly carried out; flannel, &c., having being provided instantly. Deceased's arms were exercised, and his limbs rubbed with flannel, but all was in vain. The gentleman who assisted in the boat as soon as he saw deceased pronounced life to be extinct. Mr R. Soper, surgeon, of Dartmouth, was in attendance almost immediately, but by request proceeded to Kingswear Castle to attend the servant, who had been left in charge of his (witness's) wife. Witness sobbed aloud at times whilst giving his evidence. Sarah Ellis, on being sworn, said she was a servant, in the employ of Col. Maitland, now residing at Kingswear Castle. On the previous Saturday, whilst going down the steps, near the castle, she spoke to MR SHORT, who was at work a little way off. She went to the water's edge to wash her hands, as she had been in the habit of doing. She was standing on the last step out of the water, and had just immersed her hands, when her foot slipped and she fell in. She screamed once, and the deceased came to her assistance, but how he got into the water she could not tell. He caught her hold under the arms, and then it appeared to her he lost all power. He called out "Casey, rope." Casey and a gentleman came, and a rope was thrown to them, one end to each, and she believed deceased as well as herself grasped it. She was assisted to the top of the steps, and then she was able to take care of herself. She did not see deceased after. Joseph Rowe, waterman, said on the day in question, as there was nothing for him to do at the Dartmouth quay, he rowed to the Castle in quest of a job, and after being there for a few minutes, he heard cries of "Help, Doctor," which seemed to come from Kingswear. He got into his boat, and a gentleman, named Hudson, of Galmpton, who was in company with a lady, said "shall I go with you," and jumped in. They rowed across, and were directed to the spot by a gentleman waving his hat. Just as they got alongside the steps, Casey called to them to make haste. He was sitting in the water and holding deceased up, who was put into the boat and taken to the ferry-slip. As soon as he (witness) saw deceased he thought he was dead. Mr Hudson put his hand on deceased's heart, and felt his pulse, and also said that life was extinct. The remainder of his evidence corroborated that given by Mr Casey. The last witness called was the son of the deceased, MR JAMES HENRY SHORT, who said he was a mason and for the past three years his father had complained very much of pains in his head. He was 65 years of age last January. The evidence given was in accordance with what he had previously heard, and he had no doubt as to its truthfulness. The Coroner, in summing up, said that the deceased's bravery and humanity deserved the attention of the Royal Humane Society. He was not aware whether the society granted medals to the dead, but if they did surely this was a case in which one ought to be presented to the relations of the deceased in memory of his great heroism. The deceased might have died from apoplexy, particularly as his son had testified that he had complained of pains in the head. He did not know how the deceased's family were left, but he considered that the inhabitants of Kingswear would only be doing their duty by making a subscription for those left to mourn their loss. The memory of the deceased was worthy of all that could be done. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned whilst endeavouring to rescue another," and greatly commended the witness Casey for his conduct. The deceased, who was the Vicar's churchwarden for many years, was interred in the Church-yard at Kingswear, when the Rev. J. Smart read the burial service in a very impressive manner. The funeral cortege numbered over 100.

Friday 25 August 1871

DARTMOUTH - Coroner's Inquest. - An Inquest was held at Ferris' Town Arms, before J. M. Puddicombe, Esq., Coroner, on Monday, 21st. August, on the body of CHARLES SAUNDERS, who has been for many years a waterman and coalporter in this town, who committed suicide by hanging himself in a cellar. The facts of the case will best be seen by the following evidence. Mr Ferris, the landlord, was called and said:- On Saturday morning last I was in bed, and was called at 3.30 by MRS SAUNDERS, who is the daughter-in-law of deceased, who said I wish you would get up, SAUNDERS is not in bed, he has not been in bed tonight. I got up, called Davis, a lodger, and went down stairs. When I got to the front door I found it locked. I looked into the coal-hole and other places, and at last found deceased hanging by the neck from a rope attached to a spar. Davis then held deceased, and I went and procured a knife and cut the rope. He was quite dead and stiff. I then sent Davis for a policeman. Mr Boucher came half an hour after, and I put the case in his hands. Deceased rented a room in my house, with his wife. His daughter-in-law is new here on a visit, she lives in the same room. The daughter-in-law called me. The deceased was considered very eccentric, he agreed very well with his wife. I have no doubt but that he committed the act himself. James Davis was then called, and corroborated the evidence of the last witness. MARY ANN SAUNDERS said, I am the daughter-in-law of the deceased, CHARLES SAUNDERS, and on Friday night I was staying in the house with my father-in-law. I married his son who is dead. I live at Buckfastleigh, I pay an occasional visit to my mother. I had gone to bed with her. There are two beds in the room. The deceased came in about 11.30, quite sober, and upon entering the room he began to take off his boots. I asked him when he was going to bed. I had no particular reason for asking him. He said he was going directly. I fell asleep again, and awoke about 3.30 to 4 a.m. I said to his wife I do not hear SAUNDERS. I looked upon his bed and found he was not there. I immediately knocked to Davis, and asked him to give me a light. I went and told Mr Ferris that deceased was not in his room. Thereupon Mr Ferris and Davis went below to search for him, and he was found in the cellar, hung by the neck. The Jury after consulting together for a short time, brought in a verdict that the deceased hung himself whilst labouring under a fit of Temporary Insanity.

Friday 8 September 1871

SALTASH - An Inquest has been held at the Town Hall, Saltash, concerning the death of ALFRED CHOPE, aged nineteen years. Deceased was one of a picnic party from Devonport, which had landed at Antony Passage, and being desirous of bathing he pushed off in a boat with a youth named George Roberts. CHOPE dived from the boat, and when he came to the surface appeared to be in distress, either because he was suffering from cramp or could not swim. Roberts, without waiting to take off his clothes, gallantly jumped into the water to render assistance to the deceased, but his garments becoming saturated he could make little or no progress, and was obliged to give up the attempt whilst CHOPE drifted away with the tide and was found some time afterwards in water only 14 inches in depth,. He was then dead. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidentally Drowned, and concurred with the Coroner in his eulogium of Roberts' bravery.

Friday 15 September 1871

Coroner's Inquest. - Was held at the Trafalgar Inn, on Monday, September 11th, before J. M. Puddicombe, Esq., Borough Coroner. The Jury having viewed the body of ROBERT SIMES, aged 18 months, at the residence of his parents, in the New-road, the following evidence was taken:- Mr Hawke, sworn, said, I was in the New-road about 4.30 on Saturday last, and saw a lady, accompanied by a gentleman, driving up the road in a carriage; just as they arrived opposite the Seale's Arms, I saw three children running across the road, the deceased was one of them, and he was knocked down by the horse. The lady was driving at a swing-trot. The horse knocked down the child and the near wheel of the carriage went across deceased's body. The father, who was close by, picked the child up. By the Jury: What distance was the child from the road. - Witness: About 3 or 4 landyards. the gentleman and lady were talking together, and I do not think she saw the child. There was plenty of time to pull up if she had seen the deceased. I believe the affair was purely accidental. Mr Prescott sworn, said - I did not see the wheel go over the child. By the Jury: I was standing at Tucker's Inn. Mrs Burr did not seem to have control of the horse, because it swerved and nearly ran over Capt. Cenant. Mr Theodore Kensington, the gentleman who was riding with Mrs Burr was sworn, and deposed - Immediately before the accident Mrs Burr called out that her dress was on the wheel, she instantly tried to remedy this; according to my decided impression the moment that her dress was extricated from the wheel she shrieked out there is a child. The child was on the left hand side of the carriage, and she was on the right. I saw the child immediately she called out. The horse's head had then passed the deceased. I believe also there was a second child near the one ran over. Mrs Burr did all she could to stop the vehicle. I simultaneously tried to catch the rein, but having a child on my knee (who was riding in the carriage with us) did not succeed in doing so. My impression is that if I had succeeded in doing so I should have been too late. Mrs Burr was not driving at an unusual pace. It is my undoubted opinion that there was nothing in the road prior to Mrs burr's dress being on the wheel. By the Jury: Wee you not in conversation with Mrs Burr at the time of the accident. - Witness: Yes. I consider that if her dress had not caught in the wheel in all probability the accident would not have happened. One of the Jurors wished to call Mrs burr, but the Coroner explained that although Mrs burr was near, in case she might be wanted, he could not call her as a witness because she was in the position of being tried, and therefore could not be witness for or against herself. The father of the child was then called - I think it was purely accidental and attach no blame to anyone. The child had scarcely been gone half-a-minute when the accident happened. I immediately jumped out of the window and ran and picked the child up in the road. The Jury returned the following verdict:- "That the said ROBERT SIMES, on the 9th of September, in the New-road, was Accidentally Killed by the wheel of a carriage passing over his body." Mrs Burr, of Stoke Lodge, the lady who was driving, remained with the unfortunate child until its death, about an hour after the sad occurrence, and although much grieved herself, did all in her power to assuage the regrets of the child's parents. It appears to have been a pure accident, the child running suddenly out of the passage after its elder brother, at the moment of the carriage passing. All expenses attending the funeral were defrayed by Mrs Burr.

Friday 7 June 1872

DARTMOUTH - We extract the following from the 'Halifax Daily Reporter and Times, May 14th', relative to the fatal accident attending the death of CAPT. HEATH, of this town: "The brigantine Devonia, of Dartmouth, Great Britain, PHILIP HEATH, master, laden with salt, from Cadiz, bound to Gaspe, got ashore on the morning of the 5th inst., at Rocky Bay, Isle Madame, in a thick fog: the master directed some of the cargo to be thrown overboard to lighten the ship, but the tide ebbing she could not be got afloat; assistance coming from shore the vessel was got off at high water without any damage. After seeing the vessel moored, CAPT. HEATH left for Arichat to note a protest, which after doing he was returning to go on board the vessel, when he fell out of the wagon he was in and died next day from the effects of the fall. A Coroner's Inquest was held on the body, attended by a medical gentleman, who stated death was caused by the fall he received; the Jury returned a verdict to that effect. CAPT. HEATH was buried in the Episcopal burying ground, and the funeral was attended by a large and respectable body of the community, who deeply regret the unfortunate occurrence."

Friday 14 June 1872

TOTNES - Suicide By A Septuagenarian. - MISS HARRIET TAYLOR, an unmarried lady, aged 76 years, lodging with her sister at the house of Mr J. C. Hayman, Fore-street, Totnes, got out of bed on Wednesday morning last after her sister, who had slept with her, had arisen, and taking a chair to the landing, got upon it, and threw herself over the banisters, fracturing her skull and breaking her collar bone. She died shortly afterwards. Evidence was given at the Inquest shewing that the deceased had of late been weak in her mental faculties, and had suffered from melancholia. A verdict of "Temporary Insanity" was returned.

Friday 28 June 1872

STOKE FLEMING - Coroner's Inquests. - At an Inquest held at the Green Dragon Inn, on Saturday afternoon last, before H. Mitchelmore, Esq., Coroner for the County, on the body of JANE STEPHENS, who was found in her house hanging by the neck. The following evidence was taken:- HENRY STEPHENS sworn, said - I am a labourer living at Stokefleming. The deceased JANE STEPHENS was my wife, she was 77 years of age; for the past four months she has suffered from rheumatism, she has suffered a great deal of pain, and has been confined to her bed for the past six months. I saw her yesterday morning about 10 o'clock, she was sitting on the side of the bed, and had her hands on the pillow. I went out about the village, and when I got back, at about 10 o'clock, I found her hanging by a rope-yard to the top rail of the stairs. I ran and called assistance. Anne Bunclark was the first that came. Deceased has often said that if she had known she was going to be such a sufferer she would not be here. Sometimes her mind would wander, she would say one thing and mean another. Anne Bunclark, sworn, said - I am a married woman, my husband is called Richard Bunclark, and is a labourer living at Stokefleming. I have known the deceased, JANE STEPHENS, ever since I can remember anything I lived near her and have visited her daily during the last four months. She has complained of pains all over her body, and has often said she wished she was out of the world. I saw her on Tuesday last, she was restless, as if in a great deal of pain, but there did not appear anything extraordinary the matter with her. At about 10.30 a.m., her husband came and said, "Come to me for God's sake." I ran out of my house, and into his, not knowing what was the matter, and just as I came to the foot of the stairs I saw deceased hanging. She was then taken down quite dead. On Friday morning between 9 and 10 o'clock I saw her and spoke to her and she then told me where her things were that she wished to be buried in, but I took no notice of it, as she used to be in low spirits at times, and she would then say something of this sort. She has had no doctor for about six months. The Coroner in summing up said they had two points to consider: The first was whether the deceased hung herself, and if they were assured of this, whether she was in a sound state of mind at the time of her doing so. After a short consideration by the Jury, the Foreman, Mr W. Rowney, said they had come to the conclusion "That deceased hung herself whilst labouring under a fit of Temporary Insanity."

THURLESTONE - An Inquest was held by H. Mitchelmore, Esq., Coroner for the County on Saturday last, on the body of MARY MOORE, who was found hanging in her house. The husband of the deceased was examined and said: The deceased MARY MOORE was my wife, she was 67 years of age. She has been complaining of pains in her head for some weeks. Yesterday morning about 7 o'clock, I went to my work, leaving the deceased up stairs. When I came home at about 1 o'clock to dinner, I found deceased in the kitchen hanging by her neck to the ceiling by a piece of rope which was produced. There was no one there. She was quite dead. I at once called assistance. I have no doubt but that deceased hung herself. About two years ago something seemed to affect my wife's mind, and she has not been the same since. The Rev. -- Ilbert, a clergyman of the parish of Thurlestone, came forward and testified to the good character of the witness, and to the happy way that he and his wife had always lived together. The Jury, after a short consultation, gave their verdict "That deceased hanged herself whilst labouring under a fit of Temporary Insanity."

Friday 6 September 1872

BLACKAWTON - A little girl, three years of age, the daughter of MR OWEN ELLIS, of Blackawton, was killed on Tuesday, by the kick of a miller's horse, in front of the Commercial Inn. An Inquest was held on the body yesterday by Mr Michelmore, Coroner, and a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

Friday 13 September 1872

TOTNES - Found Drowned. - On Tuesday morning last, about five o'clock, the dead body of a married woman called EASTERBROOK, of Torquay, living apart from her husband, who is a sawyer, was found in the Mill Leat a short distance below the entrance to the Race Course. She was seen drinking on the course on Tuesday with several men, and it is said that later in the evening she was knocked down twice in a public house in the town. Nothing was seen of her after half-past eleven on Tuesday night; but although the police have no definite evidence, they suspect foul play may have taken place. She was removed to the Town Arms to await an Inquest.

Friday 27 September 1872

TOTNES - The Suspicious Death At Totnes Races. - An adjourned Inquest on the body of CAROLINE EASTERBROOK, who was found dead the second day of the races in the mill leat, was held on Monday last at the Town Arms Inn, before H. Michelmore, Esq., Coroner. A large number of witnesses were examined, and it was elicited that cries of "Murder!" were heard. Mr Owen, surgeon, stated that he considered the immediate cause of death might have been brought on through violent excitement, and it might have occurred on the bank, but it was more probably caused by sudden immersion in the water. The deceased was seen on the course on the evening of Tuesday with a man having light whiskers and of fair complexion, but no evidence was adduced to prove by what means she came into the water. The Inquest was again adjourned until the 7th of October for further enquiries.

Friday 29 November 1872

Awfully Sudden Death. - On Monday morning last a man named THOMAS TOWL, 69 years of age, in the employ of Mr w. A. Hawke, coal merchant, had delivered some coals at Mr ford's, hair dresser. Mr Ford's son paid him for the coals, and whilst absent for a few seconds to get some more money from an adjoining room, to pay for the porterage, heard TOWL fall. He ran in and found he had fallen on a seat. He loosened his scarf, and sent for his friends and Dr Soper, but before that gentleman arrived, TOWL had expired. His father also died suddenly about 30 years ago. The Inquest was held before J. M. Puddicombe, Esq., at Dummonds' Bell Inn, the same evening, when the following evidence was adduced:- Mr R. W. Ford, sworn, said: I am a hairdresser, and assistant to my father, Mr J. P. Ford, residing at New-quay. This morning, about 10 o'clock, the deceased, THOMAS TOWL, came to my father's shop with some coals. He was employed by Mr W. A. Hawke, coal merchant. He had delivered the coal, I paid him for them, and he was waiting in the shop for the carriage. I left the shop to get the money, when I heard our servant, who was present, call out to me to come back, and on my return from the inside room, I saw that he had fallen in a sitting position on the seat. He was leaning against the wall. I considered he was in a fit, and loosened his neckcloth, to let him breathe more freely, but I could not distinguish any breath, only a slight noise in his throat. Mr Butteris came in, and we applied various restoratives without any effect. We then sent for his friends, and also for Dr Soper. Dr Soper soon arrived, and pronounced the man dead. Dr Soper sworn, said: I was called to Mr Ford's shop, where I saw the deceased. I found him sitting on a seat, with his head leaning against the wall. He was quite dead. From his appearance I am of opinion that he died from heart disease. The Coroner said that was all the evidence he had to offer them, and the Jury found the following verdict:- "Died suddenly from disease of the heart." The Jury gave nearly the whole of their fees to the widow.

Friday 20 December 1872

STOKE FLEMING - Accident. - An Inquest was held at Stokefleming, yesterday, before H. Michelmore, Esq., County Coroner, on the body of a boy about 10 years of age named BLAKE, whose parents reside at Blackpool, and who was employed by Pook, of Coombe Farm. It appeared from the evidence that the lad was sent by his master to bring home some machinery, and that he must have fallen off, as he was found dead in the road, with his head badly cut. The Jury after a patient investigation returned a verdict of "Accidental Death". The Coroner said he hoped that this would be a caution to farmers, not to entrust boys of such tender years with the care of horses.

Friday 24 January 1873

TOTNES - A Terrible End. - On Monday night, whilst Mr T. E. Owen, surgeon, of Totnes, was driving in the road near the Carew Arms, Brent, he discovered the dead body of a man lying in the road. Assistance being procured, the body was removed to the before-mentioned inn, and on examination it was ascertained that the man's ribs were broken, and that his head had sustained injuries. At an Inquest held on Tuesday by Mr Coroner Michelmore, and the body was identified as that of a man in the employ of Messrs. Churchward, of Buckfastleigh, named FRENCH. The deceased, it appeared, was engaged in driving a waggon, when it is supposed that he must have fallen off and been crushed by the wheels, and death must have been instantaneous. Deceased was a very steady man. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

Child Drowned. - CHARLES DAW, four years old, sons of MR SAMUEL DAW, New Inn, in the village of Street, was drowned in a pond in a field, near the village. He went to the pond with some other children, and fell in, when the eldest, called Bray, six years old, raised an alarm, and the deceased's father soon came on the spot and took him out. Every effort was used by Dr Mould to restore animation, but it was of no avail. An Inquest was held by Mr Michelmore, County Coroner, when a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

Friday 14 February 1873

BRIXHAM - Inquest. - An Inquest was held at the Old George Inn, on Friday last, before H. Michelmore, Esq., County Coroner, on the body of JOHN ELLIOTT, an old fisherman, aged 72, who fell over the quay the previous Monday. William Farrant, sworn, said - I was in the fish-market on Monday, about 8 p.m. I saw deceased come from the urinal near the market, and go towards the Rising Sun Inn. He was very tipsy. He did not stay at the Rising Sun, but came out again, and on arriving on the quay he tripped over an iron bolt, fell on two warps there, and rolled over into the water, which was then about two feet deep. He was picked up in less than five minutes, but was insensible. I assisted to take him home, and a doctor was sent for, but none came for some time. Dr Colson said that Dr Green sent him, about 10 p.m., to see deceased. He went immediately, and found him in bed, insensible. He smelt strong of drink. He had a wound on the top of his head, about three inches n length, but it was only a superficial one, and from his habits, I consider that the shock from the fall was the cause of death. The Jury returned a verdict that the deceased met with his death Accidentally, having fallen over the quay when in a state of intoxication. One of the Jury, a publican, rather demurred at the latter part of the verdict, but he ultimately signed. We do not care to see publicans on a Jury where drink has been the cause of death, as it tends to prevent the other Jurymen from speaking their minds.

Friday 21 February 1873

BRIXHAM - Found Drowned. - An Inquest was held at the Bolton Hotel, Brixham, before Henry Michelmore, Esq., Coroner, on the body of THOMAS WILLS, a smack owner, of Brixham, aged 53, who fell over the quay at Brixham, it is supposed, on Monday night, he was found about 4 a.m., on Tuesday morning. The following evidence was adduced:- Eliza Blackmore, a niece of the deceased, said she lived with him for the past 12 or 13 years. Deceased was subject to epileptic fits. She last saw deceased alive about 8 p.m. on Monday, near the fish market. He was then going to see if the sloop had hauled out to go to sea. She never saw deceased alive afterwards. Christopher Bartlett, being sworn, said, I am a fisherman residing at Brixham. I know the deceased THOMAS WILLS quite well. I saw him on Monday evening about 9 o'clock at the Commercial Inn, on the quay, kept by Mr John Hill. he had some spirit and water before him. He said he was come down to see if the sloop was got out, it being then near high water. He was in the inn not more than half an hour. Did not see him leave as witness left the house for five minutes, and when he came back deceased was gone. Did not see deceased alive again. The master of the sloop was seen by this witness, and he said he had not seen deceased that night. Deceased was then perfectly sober. This witness said four other persons had been drowned at the same spot. He considered the spot very dangerous. He had been over the same place several times to save children who had fallen over at the same place. The lamps are lit when there is gas in the place, but this is not always. - Charles Wm. Jones, the landlord of the Ship Inn, said, I am a shipwright. I knew the deceased. his wife called on me and said her husband was missing, and he had not been home for the night, she was afraid he had walked over the quay or had had a fit. I got up and went to search for him on the beach and saw a dark spot in the mud, and found it to be deceased lying on his face and hands. I went and got assistance and hauled him up. He was quite dead. A verdict was given of "Found Drowned," and the Coroner was requested to bring under the notice of the proper authorities, the above dangerous place.

LITTLEHEMPSTON - The Late Accident. - The body of the boy named HOLMES, aged three years, who disappeared from Littlehempston, Totnes, six weeks' ago has been found in the river. A Coroner's Jury have returned a verdict of Accidental Death, commenting on the dangerous state of a bridge over which the deceased is supposed to have fallen.

Friday 27 June 1873

NEWTON ABBOT - Suicide. - An Inquest was held on Wednesday morning by H. Michelmore, Esq., Coroner, on the body of MRS MUGFORD, wife of MR JOSEPH MUGFORD, of the Golden Lion Inn, Newton, who committed suicide by hanging herself in her bedroom on Tuesday evening. Evidence was given shewing that the deceased had been subject to epileptic fits for the past 27 years, and that latterly at times she had given way to despondency, although she had never hinted she would destroy herself. Dr Jane stated that these fits were likely to produce temporary insanity, and the Jury returned a verdict accordingly.

Friday 4 July 1873

TOTNES - Fatal Accident. - On Monday afternoon a melancholy affair occurred about three miles from Totnes, by which MR N. EDMONDS, of Bellamy Farm, in the parish of Dartington, dies through injuries inflicted by a mowing machine. He had only just returned with some friends from the Totnes Railway Station, where he had been to meet them from the 1.45 p.m Plymouth train, and went into a field where his youngest son was working a mowing machine. Deceased stood rather in front of the knives and for some reason called the horses by their names, whereupon they moved, and on the son looking up he saw the deceased lying back on the machine, the knives having cut his legs behind, just below the calf. Assistance was got and the deceased removed to his home, where he expired as soon as he was laid on the bed through exhaustion by loss of blood. The said event has cast quite a gloom over the parish. The deceased was much respected, and was about 70 years of age. He leaves a wife and two sons. An Inquest was held on Tuesday, before Mr Michelmore, County Coroner, when a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

BRIXHAM - Inquest. - A Coroner's Inquest was held at the Bullwer's Arms Inn, Brixham, on Wednesday, H. Michelmore, Esq., Coroner, on the death of HENRY MOSES, who was drowned on Monday evening, June 30th, between the Brixham Breakwater and the Pier Head. Mr J. Lee was Foreman, and a verdict was given "Accidentally Drowned by the upsetting of a punt." At the commencement of the Inquest the Coroner dismissed Joseph Gempton, one of the Jurymen, as his son Samuel Gempton was in the boat at the time of the accident.

Friday 18 July 1873

BRIXHAM - Melancholy Suicide. - JOHN KELLY, alias PENGILLY, a labourer, living in Higher-street, Brixham, committed suicide by hanging himself in a closet in his house, on Saturday evening. Deceased has been in a low state of mind for some time, and in 1869 he attempted suicide by cutting his throat on Furzeham Common, where he was found by Mr A. S. Bartlett. He was then committed for trial, and sentenced to three months' imprisonment. An Inquest was held on Monday, at the Old George Inn, before Mr H. Michelmore, Coroner, and a Jury of which Mr R. Drew was Foreman, and having heard the deposition of Mr Colson, surgeon, who stated that deceased had been suffering for some time from depression of spirits, returned a verdict "That deceased committed the act whilst labouring under Depression of Spirits." The Jury, with the exception of three, gave their fee to the poor distressed widow, to which the Coroner added 3s., the doctor 5s., and the landlord 2s. We are given to understand that the poor woman is left in destitute circumstances.

Friday 19 September 1873

PLYMOUTH - Inquest. - An Inquest was held on Monday afternoon at the Plymouth Workhouse by Mr Deputy Coroner Square, to investigate the circumstances under which SARAH ROWE came to her death. The husband, who deposed that he kept the Freemason's Arms, Millbay, stated that his wife left her home at half-past eight, complaining at the time of a headache, to which she was subject, but of which she was relieved by vomiting. The deceased left for the purpose of fetching a doctor for her daughter, who was lying ill in Westwell-street, and she was on her way to Dr May when she was herself taken ill in the street. She was conveyed to the Workhouse, where she was attended by Dr Thomas, who found her in a perfectly insensible state. She expired an hour later, and there being no precise appearance to justify death, Mr Thomas, with the assistance of Dr Shepherd, made a post mortem examination of the body, the result of which proved the deceased to have succumbed to a fit of apoplexy. P.C. Samuel Wall was called into the Houndiscombe Inn, James Street, where he saw the deceased sitting in a state of insensibility, and failing to get her identified he caused her to be taken to the Workhouse. A verdict in accordance with the evidence was returned by the Jury, of whom Mr Mark Blackmore was Foreman. The deceased was daughter to MRS SARAH BELLOTT, residing in the old Butter Walk, Dartmouth, and was on a visit to her mother during the Regatta, when she appeared in good health.

BRIXHAM - Coroner's Inquest. "JACK, the Charcoal Burner." - An Inquest was held, yesterday, at Stone's Rock Inn, in the parish of Brixham, before H. Michelmore, Esq., County coroner, on the body of JOHN MILLER, better known by the soubriquet of "Charcoal Jack," who was found dead near the viaduct, at Lower Noss. A most respectable Jury was summoned, consisting of the following:- Capt. Millman, and Messrs. W. Jillard, W. H. Curtis, T. Avis, S. White, J. Hawke, W. Grills, James Short, John Short, William Trant, Richard Ryder, and Robert Norman. Capt. Millman was chosen Foreman. The Jury then proceeded to view the body, which was laying in the coach-house attached to the inn. It presented a very ghastly appearance, the features being much defaced by exposure. A large wound extended from the right ear round to the eye, evidently caused by the body having been in contact with the stones, owing to the heavy weather which prevailed on Saturday. So bad a state was the body in, that the Coroner ordered it to be immediately screwed down, and it was conveyed, in a hearse, to Brixham, during the afternoon, for interment. The first witness called was:- John Lane, who on being sworn, said: I am a labourer, living at Dartmouth. I knew the deceased although I did not know his name. I did not see him on Saturday. I found the body on Tuesday last, at 12 o'clock, by the viaduct of the railway, at Lower Noss, in the parish of Brixham. He was not quite under, it but in a line with the viaduct. He was laying straight on his back, one arm by his side and the other stretched out. he was laying in about a foot of water. The tide was coming in then, as it would have been high water about one o'clock. I called to a man named Morrish, who helped to take the body out, we hauled it up above high watermark, and went for a policeman. I formed the opinion directly as I saw him that more than one tide had passed over him. I never saw the deceased in liquor, and I consider him to be a harmless man, and not given to quarrelling. I have seen him several times, both going to and coming from Dartmouth in that path. I do not know where he lives, but believe he lived in a hut, in Long Wood. I never saw him cross the viaduct, but he would always go under it. By the Foreman: I saw him pass under the viaduct. I do not think he fell off the viaduct. It is probable, as there was a large heap of stones near where I saw him, that he might have fallen over the stones. A bag and his hat was on the heap of stones, about three or four feet from where he lay. The bag contained some pork and a loaf. If he had dropped from the viaduct he would not have fallen on the heap of stones, he must either have fallen on the pillar of the viaduct or into the mud. The viaduct is about 40 feet high. I did not see any impression in the mud. The Foreman said that in his opinion if the man had fallen off the viaduct the body would have made a pit in the mud, and have remained where it had fallen. Witness: The body was found at the off end of the viaduct. George Stanbury on being sworn, said: I am a charcoal burner, residing at Maypool, in the parish of Churston Ferris. The deceased, JOHN MILLER, worked for me nearly twelve months. He always lived in a cabin, in Long Wood, close alongside the pit in which we burn our charcoal. He lived alone. I last saw him on Saturday, about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, in my own house, when he left he said he was going to Dartmouth. he had 5s. of me. He asked for 6s. The money was not due to him. I offered him a sovereign, saying I only had 5s. in silver, he had the 5s. If he was going from Dartmouth he would go by the path up the road, across the plantation and down by the shore, as described by the last witness. Where he was found is about a quarter of a mile to where he lived. I had only the deceased working for me at the time. He was not a particularly sober man. he was a man of very eccentric manners and of strange habits. I have heard say that he was wranglesome when he had a drop of drink. I should not think any one had any ill-feeing against him, as no one used to take much notice of him. By the Foreman: Where he was found, I should think he must have crossed the viaduct. There is a bend in this road. Lane, on being recalled, said that the bend mentioned by the former witness was on to the place where the body was found. Philip Stone: I am an innkeeper, residing at the rook Inn, in the parish of Brixham. I knew deceased. I have known him for six or seven months. I last saw him on Saturday evening, at my house. He had 1 ½d. of beer. No one was drinking with him. I left him there and went across the water, and when I came back, in about twenty minutes, he was gone. I work the ferry, and I rowed him across just after one, and rowed him back between five and six o'clock. There were no other passengers when he came across. He then said he had no money, and he did not pay for the beer for that reason. He stayed in my house about an hour, but he only had one half-pint of beer. He had been drinking, but I cannot say that he was drunk. He complained of shaking with the cold, and I put him across directly. He told me he had been for his "tommy." By the Foreman: He was a curious man to talk to. He seemed quite able to take care of himself. Mrs Stone, wife of the last witness, said, she knew the deceased very well, he only had 1 ½d. of beer when he was in their house. He stayed about half-an-hour after my husband went across. No one left with him. Thomas Evans: I am a signalman, in the employ of the South Devon Railway Company, stationed at the Floating Bridge, level crossing near Kingswear. I know the deceased JOHN MILLER. I last saw him on Saturday evening, about a quarter past six. He was then at the Rock Inn door. I do not think I spoke to him. I have never known him cross the viaducts, but, fancying that he might, I have many times cautioned him against doing so. There is no pathway along the railway. I know the time by seeing the luggage train pass up, just before. The next train would be at 6.45 from Kingswear. The luggage train was late on that evening. Mrs Stone recalled: It was about a quarter past six, as near as I can tell. Joseph Bailey, on being sworn, said: I am a member of the Devon County Constabulary, stationed at Kingswear. On Tuesday about one o'clock in the afternoon, I received from John Lane an intimation of a body being found. He told me he had found a man in the water at the viaduct. I went immediately, and had the body conveyed to the Rock Inn. I searched the body and found 3 ½d. in copper, about 2 oz. tobacco, a knife, and a broken tobacco pipe. I have made enquiries in Dartmouth, and found that he went to Mr Dunning's, grocer, Clarence Street, and purchased a 6 lb. loaf, 2 lbs. bacon, 2 oz. tobacco, and a box of matches, and paid 2s. 8d. I have known the deceased about six months. I have seen him the worse for liquor, but have never seen him laying about drinking. He was very eccentric and strange. I found a mark just behind the right ear extending to a cut over the right eye. The Coroner, in a lengthy summing up, said that the evidence in this case was certainly not conclusive, but it was all he had been enabled to offer them. The facts were that the deceased was a man of eccentric manners - who lived in a hut by himself - and therefore his having been absent was not noticed. They had evidence of his going to Dartmouth to buy provisions, and also of his purchasing them, and that his road home would have led him near the spot where his body was found. It was evident that the blow which he had received was not from a passing train, as the blow would have been given behind, and on a lower part. There was no doubt in his (the Coroner's) mind that the poor fellow was the worse for drink, and that he had tumbled against the heap of stones mentioned, then floundered about, and by that means met with his death. He should advise the Jury to return an open verdict of found dead, but that of course rested with them. If they thought it a case of any suspicion, he should be happy to adjourn the Enquiry for further investigation. If not, of course, they could at once return their verdict. The Jury, after a very short consultation, returned the following verdict:- "That the said deceased was last seen alive at the Rock Inn, in the parish of Brixham, in the County of Devon aforesaid, on Saturday evening, the 13th of September instant, and his body was found on Tuesday the 16th, on the water's edge at the foot of the Lower Noss viaduct of the Dartmouth Railway, but how, or by what means the said deceased came by his death, no evidence to the said Jurors does appear." At the conclusion of the Inquest we visited the spot where the hut of the "Charcoal Burner" is situated, having been most kindly rowed there by Mr George Stanbury, the poor fellow's late employer. It is in Long Wood, and is a mere mud hovel, about 7 feet by 6, with an entrance barely 18 inches wide. ~As we peeped within it, we thought how true was the adage, that "one half the world does not know how the other half lives." The place was nothing better than a rat's hole, and contained the remains of a small charcoal fire, a heap of not over clean straw, a few old bottles, a small tin box, containing black and white sewing thread, and a few broken pieces of candle. yet in this wretched abode, if abode it might be called, he has lived for the last 12 or 14 years, on the weekly allowance of a "6lb. loaf, 2lbs. of bacon, 2oz. of tobacco," and accompanied by the inevitable "box of matches." That the poor fellow was strangely eccentric there is no doubt, but the cause may be traced to the following circumstances, which was communicated by himself, to our informant: - some years since, having a small amount of money in his possession, he started , with three others, to seek his fortune, the four agreeing to "share and share alike," and arranging that if either obtained work, he should help support those who were not so fortunate. After expending the whole of his savings for the general good, his three companions obtained work, broke faith with him, and left him completely in the lurch. He thereupon made a vow never to eat or drink with, or at any person's expense. This poor "Jack" rigidly adhered to, and many is the time when he has been asked to partake of a friendly glass, he has always rather churlishly refused, with "No!" I drink my own, and I pay for it." Faithful to his employer, owing no man anything, poor "Charcoal Jack" has found a resting-place, wherein, let us hope, "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."

Friday 21 November 1873

IPPLEPEN - Fatal Accident. - We regret to announce a fatal accident which occurred to MR J. B. MASON, of Ipplepen, near Totnes, on Thursday night last. The deceased, it appears, had been to Exeter, on that day to visit a niece who was ill, driving to the Newton Railway Station in the morning. On his return to Newton in the evening, he proceeded in his gig for his home. About nine o'clock he was found lying in the road, 200 yards from his house, by Mr Berry, who previously occupied deceased's farm, who had him removed to his home, where medical assistance was immediately procured, but just as Dr Haines arrived, which was about four o'clock in the morning, he breathed his last, leaving a wife and seven children to mourn his loss. The Inquest was held on Friday, and a verdict of "Accidental Death" returned. The deceased, who was well known and respected in this neighbourhood, lived at Gitcombe, Cornworthy, for many years, and was a brother of MR CHARLES MASON, of Ashprington Court, near Totnes. Deceased was in his 48th year. The accident is attributable to defective harness.

Friday 28 November 1873

BRIXHAM - Melancholy Suicide. - An Inquest was held on Monday last, at the Bolton Hotel, Brixham, by Mr H. Michelmore, County Coroner, with respect to the death of WM. TAYLOR, rope-maker, aged 52 years, who was found suspended by a rope in the washhouse of his residence, on the previous Saturday. The evidence shewed that the deceased had been in a desponding state of mind for some time past, and on Saturday morning about five o'clock he rose, intending to prepare a cup of tea for his wife, who was unwell. He returned to the bedroom two or three times, and about half-past seven his wife, finding that he did not come with the tea, sent her niece to get it. When she got downstairs she saw her uncle hanging by a rope, and upon raising an alarm a man named Harris came in and cut him down. Mr C. Green, surgeon, was soon in attendance, but found life was extinct. The Jury returned a verdict that "The deceased committed Suicide whilst in an Unsound State of Mind."

Friday 19 December 1873

TORQUAY - Fatal Cab Accident. - An Inquest was held at the Commercial Hotel, Torwood Street, on Monday last, before Mr H. Michelmore, Coroner, to Enquire into the circumstances attendant on the death of JANE GEORGE, an old lady 76 years of age. The evidence showed that on the 22nd of November the deceased was crossing the road in the front of the Royal Hotel, when she was knocked down by the horse of a cab driven by a young man named Peter Payne, in the employ of Mr Hodge, of Ilsham Cottages. It was very dark at the time, and the deceased, being partially deaf, did not hear the driver call out to her. She fell heavily on her right side, receiving injuries from which she died on Saturday last. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death, exonerating the driver from blame, but giving him, through the Coroner, a caution to be more careful in future.

Saturday 27 December 1873

TORQUAY - Fatal Accident. - An Inquest was held on Saturday night concerning the death of JOHN HILL, aged 63. It appeared that on Tuesday afternoon he attended a funeral with his employer, and on returning he proceeded to take off the traces, and put the horses in the stable. While so doing the animals moved off, knocking the old man down, and the hind wheel of the vehicle went over him. He did not appear much injured, but said he was stiff and sore. He died on Thursday night from compression of the brain, caused by the shock to his nervous system. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

Friday 22 May 1874

The Fatal Accident On The South Devon Railway. - An Inquest was held n Monday, by Mr Brian, the Coroner for Plymouth, respecting the death of JAMES YELLAND, who died from the effects of an accident on the South Devon Railway, which happened near Ivybridge under circumstances already reported. The deceased was acting as under guard of a goods train, and was putting a "sprag" between the wheels before going down an incline, when the sprag struck him violently on the lower part of the body. Elias Cole, the chief guard of the train, stated that he strictly cautioned the deceased not to put the sprag in until the train had stopped. It was an awkward thing to do in the way the deceased was doing it, supporting the sprag between the legs, and the sprag held by both hands. The lamp was generally put between the legs, and the sprag held by both hands. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death, and added that they did not consider there was a shadow of blame to be attached to anyone connected with the railway company.

Friday 12 June 1874

BRIXHAM - Coroner's Inquest. - H. Michelmore, Esq., County Coroner, held an Inquest at Davey's Burton Inn, Brixham, on Wednesday evening last, on the body of a lad named JOHN MILLER, aged 14 years, who met with his death by falling over a cliff the day previous at Mudstone, whilst birds' nesting. Mr W. Howard was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The first witness called was Charles Dodd, who, on being sworn, said - I am a miner living at Brixham. On Monday evening last, about five p.m., I was on the beach at Mudstone, when I was told by a lad that a boy had fallen over the cliff, and he believed he was dead. I accompanied him to the place, and found the body lying on some flat rocks under the cliffs, which were about 100 feet high. The body was laying on its face and hands. I did not touch the body, but came to Brixham and told some one of it, and went back again. They were bringing the body over the beach when I got back. The deceased's brother was sitting on a rock near, crying. A policeman and another man passed me on the way back to the beach. ALBERT MILLER, brother of the deceased said - On Monday afternoon I was on the beach, at Mudstone, picking limpets. My brother was up on the cliffs. No person was with him. He took out a young gull from a nest and threw it down, saying "look out!" He appeared to be trying to climb up, when a piece of turf gave way and he fell. He climbed up from the bottom. When my brother fell, I ran and told the last witness, who was on the beach. Samuel Courtiour, sworn, said - I am a labourer living at Brixham. On Monday afternoon, I was at work in a field near Mudstone, when a lad named Thorning came and told me that a boy had fallen off the cliff. I went and called William Jackman and we ran down to the beach and saw deceased lying on a flat rock. The place where he fell was about 90 feet high. The lad was quite dead. I took up the body and brought it to the beach, and left it with William Jackman. The Coroner very briefly summed up the evidence, and a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

BRIXHAM - Coroner's Inquest At Kingswear. - An Enquiry was held, on Saturday afternoon last, before Henry Michelmore, Esq., County Coroner, at Glenorleigh, in the parish of Brixham, touching the death of a male illegitimate child, of which a servant in the above house, named ELIZABETH G. T. BENSON, was the mother. A respectable Jury had been summoned, consisting of the following inhabitants of Kingswear and the neighbourhood:- Messrs. James Paddon, W. H. Curtis, W. Millman, Saml. White, Philip Sandover, Jas. B. Pitts, Richard Ryder, M. C. Quire, R. Norman, W. Grills, Geo. Rowe, James H. Short and J. Hawke. Mr James Paddon was unanimously chosen Foreman. The Coroner, after administering the usual oaths said - He had called them together that afternoon to Enquire into the cause of death of a male illegitimate child, of which a young person, named ELIZABETH BENSON, a servant in the house in which they were assembled, was the mother. Had the child been born in wedlock, this Enquiry would, perhaps, have not been necessary, but he always considered it to be his duty when an illegitimate child died suddenly in the way this one appeared to have done, to institute an Enquiry. The Jury should dismiss from their minds anything they might have heard out-of-doors, but consider the evidence which he should bring before them calmly and dispassionately. He was not aware that any suspicion of foul play was entertained. The Jury then proceeded to view the body, which appeared that of an extremely small and delicate-looking child, about 18 inches in length. On the return of the Jury the first witness called was - Mr Harry Glendinning, who on being sworn, said:- I reside at Glenorleigh, in the parish of Brixham. I know ELIZABETH BENSON. She is in my service, and has been for the last three years, as a domestic servant. She is a very good servant. She was confined last Wednesday week. She has lived in the house occasionally alone with me, but I have frequent visitors. I had not the slightest idea she was about t be confined. The first intimation I had of it was at one o'clock in the morning of that day. I heard a knocking, and she asked me to go to a Mrs Finch, and tell her to fetch Mrs Searle and also a doctor. I did so, thinking at the moment she was seized with some sudden illness. I left a friend, who was staying with me in the house, to assist her in case of anything further occurring. When I left the house she had not been confined. Mr Soper came, and her sister and Mrs Searle have stayed in the house with her ever since. I have been recommended to move the girl from the house, but humanity forbade my doing so, in the state she was in, although I was placed in a very awkward position, being a bachelor. She has written me a note, in which she expresses great contrition. She had given me a month's notice to leave a fortnight before it occurred, so that she would have left in that time. She has since again expressed her sorrow for the trouble she has given me. Elizabeth Searle, sworn, said - I am the wife of Wm. Henry Searle. He is a labourer, residing at Kingswear. I was called, during the night mentioned, to ELIZABETH BENSON. I saw her about five minutes after her confinement. About Christmas last she told me she was enceinte. She made no secret of it. Not long before her confinement she told me she was going away. The Doctor was sent for immediately I arrived. I am a mother myself. Every arrangement was made for the confinement, and I have attended her ever since. I have not slept in the house, but her younger sister has. The mother always appeared very fond of the child. She had not a deal of natural nourishment for it, and it did not take even that freely, so it was fed on arrow-root, biscuit and corn flour. The baby died on the morning of Thursday last. It was a very small baby. I was not present when it was found dead, but her sister was. She told me she had sent for Mr Glendinning. When I arrived my brother, Wm. Searle, went for Mr Soper. By the Foreman: The gentleman who was staying in the house was with her during her confinement. I came about half-past seven. I should not think the child had been dead a great while then. A Juror remarked that there had been some slight discrepancy in the evidence. Mr Glenning (recalled) - ELIZABETH sent her sister to me on the morning of the child's death. She asked me to come to her room, as she thought the child was dead. I went immediately. The child was lying on the pillow. I saw it was dead, although it was warm. Of course I was anxious to render any assistance. Mr R. B. Soper sworn said - I am a Surgeon, practising in Dartmouth. I first saw ELIZABETH BENSON on Wednesday, the 27th May. I was sent for about four o'clock in the morning. The messenger told me the child was born. Judging from appearances generally, I should say that it was not fully matured, but I saw nothing which led to suppose that it would not live. I did say to the mother, as it was a weakly child, she might have some trouble in rearing it. The mother and child had been properly attended to up to the time of my arrival. I have seen the child two or three times since, but at neither of these times have I seen anything to lead me suspect that it would die. The policeman came for me on Thursday afternoon, about four o'clock. I went with him. I saw no marks of violence on the child. The mother told me it had been lying at her back. She denied having overlaid it, but my opinion is she did. AMY BENSON (who was questioned by the Coroner as to the nature of an oath, but was not sworn) said - I am 11, and my sister, ELIZABETH, is 21 years of age. I came to sleep with my sister the day the baby was born. My father is a pilot. He is called REUBEN HODGE BENSON. My sister woke me up on Thursday morning, and said, "AMY, I think the baby is dead, go and call Mr Glendinning to come and see." I used to sleep at the foot of the bed I saw the baby before I went up for Mr Glendinning. It was down under the clothes by the side where my sister had been laying. That was about six o'clock. I never saw her take up the baby at night. I have got out and in during the night. The Coroner said that was the whole of the evidence he had to offer them. He did not intend to call the mother, as he should have to caution her if he did, and she might choose whether she gave evidence or not. It certainly was a strange state of affairs, but with that they had nothing to do. The Jury must first decide whether the child had been overlaid, and so suffocated, and then whether that suffocation was accidental or otherwise. After some remarks made by one of the Jury, the Coroner decided to call the mother of the child, who then came forward. The Coroner - "Your name is ELIZABETH BENSON, is it not?" - The Mother - "I was christened ELIZABETH GILBERT TULLY BENSON. The Coroner - I must tell you that you are not bound to answer, but if you do so whatever you say may be used in evidence against you. Will you answer any questions that may be put to you?" The Mother - "Whatever you like to ask me, sir." The Coroner - "Do you wish to be sworn and to give evidence?" - The Mother - "Yes, sir." She was then sworn, and, in answer to the Coroner, said - I am a single woman, and the mother of the deceased child. I found the child dead on Thursday morning, about six o'clock. It was at my back. When I went t sleep it was in the same place. I had not seen the child since 10 o'clock the night previous, as I had not been awake. Mrs Searle fed the child about nine o'clock. It had nothing after that time. The Coroner - "Do you mean to tell the Jury that the child had no nourishment, or anything done to it, from nine o'clock on Wednesday night to six o'clock on Thursday morning?" The Mother - Yes, sir. The child was placed in the bed when Mrs Searle left. I had the child in my arms about 10 o'clock. It was asleep then. I was in the habit of placing it at my back, because that was inside, near the wall, and it could not fall out. By a Juror - The bed was not near enough to the wall for the child to be squeezed against it, though there was not room for it to fall out. The Coroner, addressing the mother, said - "Before you go I have a word to say to you. Whatever the verdict of the Jury may be, I hope this will be a warning to you. You are young, but you have commenced life in a way you ought not to have commenced it, and, if the Jury take a merciful view of your case, you will have had a very narrow escape. Take these words in kindness and remember them. You may go!" The young woman left the room. The Coroner said that the evidence of the mother fully bore out the opinion of the medical man, and proved what he had himself expressed, that the child had been overlaid, and by that means suffocated. He thought there had been a certain amount of neglect in the case in allowing the poor little urchin to be left in care of the Angels, so to speak, from nine at night to six the next morning; but the Jury should remember that the mother was very young, and this being her first child, she might not have had that amount of experience which an older person would possess. If they entertained any suspicion in the case, it would be his duty to adjourn the Enquiry, for a post mortem examination of the body. He did not think that course was necessary, but it was for the Jury to decide. One of the Jury said there certainly had been some negligence in allowing the child to remain so long without attention. The Coroner pointed out that it must be proved there had been criminal negligence. It appeared the girl had no mother living, and she might, therefore, be ignorant of the way to manage a child. The Foreman considered there had been great negligence, but that it occurred through ignorance, which was not criminal. After a few other remarks by the Coroner, the following verdict was returned:- "That the child was Accidentally Suffocated while in bed with its mother, at Glenorleigh, in the parish of Brixham, and that deceased met with its death Accidentally and in no other way." The Coroner having given his certificate for burial, the Jury dispersed.

DARTMOUTH - Coroner's Inquest At Dartmouth. - An Inquest was held in the Council Chamber, Dartmouth, on Wednesday evening last, before R. W. Prideaux, Esq., the newly appointed Coroner for the borough, on the body of a child, aged nine years, named ROBERT GEORGE LOWDEN, who was picked up near Redway's Ship-building yard, about 9 p.m. in the evening previous. The following comprised the Jury:- Messrs. W. Farrier, J. Oldrieve, J. White, V. Butteris, T. H. Piller, G. Smith, J. Adams, J. White, W. Henley, J.E. Hearn, T. Arnold, and John Pyne. Mr V. Butteris was chosen Foreman. After the Jury had viewed the body, the Coroner stated the reason of their being called together, and the following evidence was adduced. JOHN LOWDEN - I live n the parish of Townstal, in the Borough of Dartmouth. I drive the engine at Mr Redway's yard. I am the father of the deceased child, ROBERT GEORGE LOWDEN. He would have been nine years next birthday. The last time I saw him alive was on Tuesday, the 9th June, about 8.45 a.m. I never saw him alive after. I saw his body picked up at Sandquay, out of the river, about a quarter to eight the same evening. How he came by his death I am not aware. By the Jury. He was not near the water when I saw him. He was close to the engine house, about four or five landyards from the water. He said he wanted a basket of chips, and I told him to take them, and make haste home. Richard Tapper - I live in the parish of Townstal, in the said borough. I am a steam sawyer. I saw ROBERT GEORGE LOWDEN, whom I know personally, about 9 a.m., on Tuesday, in a boat at Sandquay yard, sculling towards the shore. I was at work sharpening saws, and saw nothing of him after that. He was standing on the floor of the boat. He appeared to be able to manage it. It was a foreign built boat. He was about ten yards from the shore. He did not appear in any difficulty. By the Jury - I did not hear of the boat being picked up until dinner-time. I saw MR LOWDEN, enquiring about the boy, at 2 p.m., and I said I saw him out in the boat. I heard no alarm, or crying out. John Alexander Houston - I live in the parish of Townstal, in the said borough. I am time-keeper at Mr Philips' shipwrights' yard, at Sandquay. I was going on board Mr Philip's yacht, between nine and half-past in the morning of Tuesday, the 9th inst., when I saw a boy in a boat, in front of Mr Redway's quay. He was sculling with one oar over the stern. I did not take any particular notice whether he was standing on the thwart or floor of the boat. The bow of the boat was outwards. He was six or seven feet off from the quay. I went down into the cabin of the yacht, and remained for about ten minutes. I then came on shore and picked up the empty boat, passing along by the quay. The boat was then about twenty feet from the shore. The water was deep there. I took the boat and tied her to Mr Philips' quay. I do not know who the boy was. I am sure the boat was the same I saw a boy in. By the Jury - I did not make any alarm, but remarked to one of the men that I had seen a boy in a boat. I did not notice particularly whether the boy could manage the boat or not. When I saw the empty boat my impression was that the boy had jumped ashore, and left the boat adrift. Both paddles were in the boat, one lying in the boat, and the other with the blade projecting two feet over the sculling notch. It was a Norwegian built boat. Henry Watts - I reside in St. Saviours parish, in the Borough of Dartmouth. I am a shipwright. About a quarter to eight, on Tuesday night. I saw a little boy about four feet under water. I was in a boat going on board Mr Redway's ship, at Sandquay. He was about four feet outside the quay. There is a plank there. I called Mr Barnes' attention, who was in the boat with me, to the body, and we picked him up. I knew the child to be ROBERT GEORGE LOWDEN, the deceased. That was the first time I had seen him for the day. He was quite dead when we picked him up. We took him to the Bridge Slip, and informed his father. By the Jury - The plank I mentioned was a balk we have across the slip, to keep in the other timber. The father of the boy told me he was then going to look for him. Mr G. W. Barnes - Foreman in Mr Redway's yard, corroborated the evidence of the last witness. The Coroner said that he had now put before them the whole of the evidence he had been enabled to obtain, and he thought the Jury would have no difficulty in arriving at a verdict, that the deceased was found drowned. He then summed up the evidence in a most clear and lucid manner; and the Jury without the slightest hesitation, returned a verdict of "Found Drowned." After the different member of the Jury had affixed their signatures to the inquisition Mr Butteris, the Foreman, said he had been requested on behalf of the Jury, to congratulate Mr Prideaux, on his appointment to the office of Coroner, for the Ancient and Loyal Borough of Dartmouth; also, through him, to congratulate the Borough that this had been the first Enquiry of the sort for nearly two years.

Friday 28 August 1874

DARTMOUTH - Coroner's Inquest. - An Inquest was held yesterday at the Council Chamber, before R. W. Prideaux, Esq., Coroner, on the body of CHAS. ALBERT ANDREWS, a child of MR C. ANDREWS, a sailor. Mr V. Butteris was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The Jury having been sworn proceeded to view the body, which was laying at the residence of its parents, in Crowther's Hill, and on returning t the Council Chamber, the following evidence was given:- DINAH ANDREWS - I am the wife of CHARLES ANDREWS, of Crowther's Hill, Dartmouth. My husband is a sailor. The deceased is my son. He was seven years old last May. I last saw him at 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, when I sent him to Mr Hawke's Stores to order some coal. I never saw him alive after. I received information of his death a little past 8 p.m. I do not know under what circumstances he came by his death. Henry Goodridge, sworn, said - I reside in the parish of Townstal. I am a cellarman for Mr Hawke. The deceased was over at our stores on Wednesday, about 4.30 p.m., and ordered a half hundred weight of coals for his mother. I knew the child. I was busy at the time, and he was in and out the premises three or four times during an hour. The stores are close by the river. He came in again, and I told him I would send the coals as quickly as possible. There was only one porter in the stores, and this caused the delay. After this I lost sight of him, and did not see him after. There was a boat lying at the slip, close by the stores, but I did not see him get into it. Andrew Soper Adams, sworn said - I am a fisherman and reside in St. Saviour's parish. On Wednesday night, about a quarter past eight, I went to the Market to take down some spars to the boat, and put them into it. The boat was lying at Mr Hawke's Slip. I then went to the Union Inn. I returned to the boat, and found it had caught in the lower step of the slip. As I went into the water to heave off the boat, I felt something against my leg. I put my hand down and found it was the left leg of the deceased child. I attempted to take it up, but found that its hands were gripped hold of the chain of a boat lying there. I took it up and laid it on the plank, and communicated with the policemen. I have no knowledge as to how the body came in the water. He was quite dead when I took him out of the water. The Coroner said that he had placed before the Jury all the facts that he had been enabled to bring before them. It was one of those cases which unfortunately often occurred in a seaport town; and the wonder was that considering how many children of tender age were playing about the quays, more of these cases did not occur. He then went through the evidence and the Jury immediately returned a verdict of "Found Drowned," but how deceased got into the water, there is no evidence to show."

Friday 11 September 1874

PAIGNTON - Fatal Accident. - On Sunday evening last, between eight and nine o'clock, an accident unhappily attended with fatal result, occurred near the Torquay Gas Works, between Paignton and Torquay. A dogcart, driven by Mr Croot, of the Crown and Anchor Hotel, Paignton, with whom were his wife, MR JAMES HUMPHRIES, MRS HUMPHRIES and child, was returning to Paignton from Torquay, whither they had been for a drive, when on descending the hill, near the Torquay Gas Works, the trap slightly grazed the hind wheel of a passing cab, which belonged also to the Crown and Anchor. The horse on feeling the touch swerved across the road, and the wheel going up over the hedge upset the trap, throwing its occupants with great violence into the middle of the road. Mrs Croot jumped out immediately before the upset, and although much shaken was not severely injured. The child is suffering from slight concussion of the brain. Mrs Humphries has a severe cut in the head, and it is feared is internally injured. Mr Croot is also much cut in the face and head, and has his collar-bone broken, whilst MR HUMPHRIES received such a severe blow on the back of the head that from the time of the accident until his death (at the Torbay Infirmary, whither he was removed) on Monday morning, between one and two, he remained unconscious. MR HUMPHREYS was a young man 27 years of age, and had but recently set on business in Paignton as a boot and shoe dealer, with a very bright prospect before him. He was a favourite with all, and possessing a good voice was ever ready to render assistance at entertainments and concerts got up for any charitable object. Much sympathy and sorrow are felt in Paignton for the suffering young widow in her sad and sudden bereavement. The Inquest was held at the Infirmary on Monday evening and adjourned to the 18th as material witnesses were too ill to attend.

Friday 18 September 1874

DARTMOUTH - Coroner's Inquest. - An Inquest was held on Tuesday evening last, in the Council Chamber, before R. W. Prideaux, Esq., Borough Coroner, on the body of WILLIAM TUCKER, a coal porter, who was found dead in the water, close to Burrough's slip, the same afternoon. Mr L. C. Pillar was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The following evidence was adduced:- Mrs Louisa Welsford, sworn, said - I am the wife of Geo. Welsford. I reside on the Quay. Last evening WILLIAM TUCKER, the deceased, came to my house, and told me he would bring me his rent the next day, as he owed me some; this was between 8 and half-past 9; he was perfectly sober then; I never saw him after; he had told me he was 27 years of age. By a Juror: I told him not to put himself out of the way about his rent; he had always paid his rent very well; he said he should have plenty of money on Tuesday; there was no one living in the same room with him that I know of; he has always told me that some one cleaned his room out. Mrs Diana Clapp, sworn, said - I am the wife of William Clapp; I live in Newcomin-road. About 6.45 this morning, I went to Mr Bowden's for some milk; I saw deceased come out of his passage and come down the road; I was coming up Mitchelmore's steps to the Higher-street; deceased was coming straight down the steps by the Mansion House; I did not see him after; I did not speak to him; he was about 20 yards in front; I have no doubt that it was deceased; I am sure it was this morning; I also saw him outside my door last night about 10 o'clock; he then appeared rather the worse for drink; he was in company with some other young men, and they were all singing and appeared very merry. Mr C. H. Jago - I am a painter, residing in Lower-street. This afternoon about 10 minutes or a quarter past one, I was going away from Burrough's slip, in a boat, with Thomas Hutchings, one of my workmen; the water was some distance off the beach; we were about fifteen yards from the place from which she shoved off; we saw something floating in the water, which we took for a bundle of sacks; on getting nearer, I said to Hutchings, "It is a man on his face and hands, catch him by the collar!" He did so, I assisted him, and we pulled deceased to the beach and turned him on his back; we turned him on his back before we got him to the beach, so as not to disfigure his face in dragging him; I knew the deceased, and can identify him as WILLIAM TUCKER; he was quite dead and very stiff when picked up; I caused information to be given to the police. By the Jury - He was not entangled in any boat or moorings; I should think the body was in about two feet of water; the face and feet were on the ground, and only the back was visible; the forehead looked dark, but whether it was from coal dust or a blow, I cannot say; I have frequently seen him in fits; they used to come on very suddenly, and were fearfully strong. Thomas Hutchings, the workman alluded to, corroborated the evidence given by his employer. Mr Jago, recalled - I did not see any blood on the face of the deceased, but the eyes were very red. The Coroner then summed up the evidence. It was one of those cases which unhappily are so frequent in a seaport town. He was glad to see gentlemen on the Jury who knew something of the habits of the deceased, as he (the Coroner) was not aware the deceased was subject to fits, now his impression was that the poor man must have had a fit shortly after he was seen by the witness Clapp, and fell overboard. The Jury appeared of the same opinion, and immediately returned a verdict of "Found Drowned." This is the fourth Inquest held by the Coroner since he has been in office, now only ten months since.

Friday 2 October 1874

BRIXHAM - The Late Fatal Accident. - An Inquest was held at the London Inn, Brixham, on Tuesday morning, before H. Michelmore, Esq., County Coroner, and a Jury, of whom Mr John Hill was chosen Foreman, to Enquire into the death of HENRY NORTHWAY, aged 39 years, who met with an accident at Messrs. Dewdney's shipbuilding yard, at Brixham, on Thursday last. The Jury first viewed the body, and afterwards inspected the steam saw mills where the accident happened. Mr D. Dewdney, junr., very kindly explained to them the working of the mill, and how the accident occurred. The first witness was a lad named William Mitchell, of Churston, aged 14 years, who said I work for Mr Dewdney. On Thursday last, I was at work at the steam saw mills, with deceased. I was holding a piece of timber which was being sawn. Deceased was working the machine. I was never engaged at such work before I came to Mr Dewdney's to work, but I have seen deceased working the mills and have been assisting him. The cause of the accident was that the piece which was being sawn fell down, and being thin, it broke. It fell flat on the wheel of the saw mill, which caught it, and threw it back with great force against the face of the deceased, and he fell down. Mr D. Dewdney was near, at work; and some other men were also near, laying rails. Daniel Dewdney said - I am a shipbuilder, living at Brixham. I knew the deceased, H. NORTHWAY, he has been employed by me nearly four months, and during this time he has worked the steam saw mills. The saw mill is generally worked with the assistance of a fireman and a cutting man. We do not generally have any one to hold the end. On Thursday, he had the lad Mitchell to assist him, at his own request. It had been usual, when he wanted assistance, to ask me. The trucks, the Jury saw, we had only introduced two or three days ago. Before that, there was a man to hold the end. Between ten and eleven o'clock in the forenoon, I was standing near the machine when my attention was called by hearing a groan. I asked the boy what it meant, but did not receive an answer. I then saw deceased lying on the ground, on the other side of the table of the machine. He was laid on his face and hands. I at once went to him, and asked him how it happened. he was then quite sensible. He replied "the slab broke". The mill was still going. He could have stopped the saws in an instant by moving the belt from the tight pulley to the slack one. I asked deceased if the piece fell before it had tailed out, or after. He said "after. - It fell and broke, and the piece fell flat on the saw, which caught it and with great force threw it into my face." I saw some pieces of wood in his face, and while I held him a man named Sims pulled them out. The pieces of wood I now produce are the pieces taken out of deceased's face. (One piece was over four inches in length). Deceased was at once taken to my house and a doctor sent for. I afterwards examined where the slab fell and found it twenty-five feet back from where deceased fell. He was a very steady man. Christopher Green, surgeon, sworn, said - I am a surgeon practising at Brixham. On Thursday last I was called to see deceased and I found him lying in a couch at Mr Dewdney's. He was bleeding very much from some wounds in the face. I found the nose cut through and other wounds near the eyes. I probed the wounds, but could not find any splinters left, so I sewed up the wounds. I have no doubt that one of the splinters must have entered one of the plates on the base of the skull, and caused the injury there. The large piece of wood would have done it The deceased died on Saturday morning, at nine o'clock. He died with all the symptoms of concussion of the brain. The Jury found that deceased met with an accident whilst at work at Mr Dewdney's saw mills from which he received wounds in the face which caused his death, and that his death was purely Accidental. No blame appears to be attached to anyone.

Friday 6 November 1874

CHURSTON FERRERS - Coroner's Inquest. - An Inquest was held at the Lodge, on the Dartmouth road, in connection with Lupton House, Churston Ferrers, on Saturday afternoon last, before Henry Mitchelmore, Esq., County Coroner, on the body of MR JOHN BONSTOW, head keeper to Lord Churston, whose death we announced in our telegraph dispatch of last week. Mr John Hill was chosen Foreman. The Jury viewed the body which was placed in the front room of the house. Samuel White was the first witness called, who said, I am a labourer in the employ of Mr Gill, and on Friday, the 30th of October, I was at work on the Down Plantation, in the Lupton Grounds, ripping wood. About 10 o'clock in the morning, I saw JOHN BONSTOW walking in the wood. He came and spoke to me. I asked him if this was not Mr Tully's rabbiting day. He said it was. I asked him if he was going. he said "yes, I am White." Deceased was carrying his gun in his usual way. About 10 minutes after deceased left me, I heard the report of a gun, in the plantation where I saw him go. About 20 minutes after, I was going to the wood where BONSTOW entered, and I noticed smoke issuing from between some brambles. I went to see what was the cause of it, and I found the deceased lying on his left side on the ground, quite dead. He had the gun in his left hand. One of his arms was burnt, and the pocket in which he carried his powder flask was on fire, and the flask had fallen out, the leather of which being burnt. I at once went down to Lupton House, and Mr Viney, the coachman and Mr Ferris, one of the gardeners, went with me, and we carried a pail of water with us and made out the fire. We then lifted up the body a little. I did not examine the gun. I waited there until the doctor and police came. I have known BONSTOW for a long time. I have not noticed any peculiarity about him. I have heard he went to London, and have also heard he was a little light in his mind. I never heard until last night he had attempted to hang himself. James Green said, I am butler to Lord Churston, now at Luton House. I have known JOHN BONSTOW for the past eight years, and during that time I have never known anything peculiar in his manner. I knew he went away, but what for I do not know. Yesterday afternoon I was informed what had happened, and I went to the plantation and saw the body of BONSTOW there lying on the left side with his gun in his left hand, and a small stick that looked as if he had used it to pull the trigger. The stick now produced is the one. The powder flask was lying on the ground, with the leather burnt off. His hat was about six feet from the body, in the bushes, and the top was blown out of it, and pieces of the skull were in the hat. The wound was to the right of the windpipe, and came out through the back of his head. I was there when the body was removed. I have always found deceased to be a civil and upright man. Mr John H. Hurrell said, I am a mercer and tailor, of Dartmouth. Deceased was a cousin of mine by marriage. He would have been 53 years of age next Thursday, November 5th. I have frequently seen him. I saw him last Thursday evening about 8 o'clock. His health was about the same as it has been for the last three months, but his mind was much out of order. He was very despondent and thought everything was going wrong. A short time since he was sent to London by Lord Churston for a change, to see if it would do him any good. He was only away a week. On his return I saw him, and he then appeared very depressed. His daughter had noticed a rope in his pocket, previous to his going to London. I have not the slightest doubt deceased shot himself. The Coroner in summing up, said that precaution should have been taken to have kept fire arms from him after his return from London, to this the Jury assented. The Jury returned a verdict that deceased shot himself whilst in an Unsound State of Mind.

DARTMOUTH - Coroner's Inquests. - An Inquest was held on Saturday morning last, at the Council Chamber, before R. W. Prideaux, Esq., Borough coroner, on the body of MR PHILLIP PINHEY, the elder, boot and shoe maker, who hung himself on the evening previous in a bedroom of his house, in Lower Street. Mr Neck was chosen Foreman of the Jury. On the Jury having been sworn, the Coroner said he should ask the Jury after viewing the body to take the deposition of MRS PINHEY, at the house, as he understood she was too ill to attend the Inquiry. After viewing the body, the following evidence was taken in the house: - MRS ESTHER PINHEY, I can identify the deceased as my husband. He was a shoe maker, and 63 years of age. I last saw him alive about half-past one o'clock yesterday (Friday) in the kitchen of our house. When he opened the kitchen door I told him that a man called Watts had been to see him. He said he could not see Watts, and was going upstairs. I told him he was coming again to see him, and my husband told me not to call him. He then went upstairs. He was in the habit of doing so every day after dinner about the same time. About half-past four, at tea time, my son went to call him but could not make him hear. It was my son HENRY who went to call him. HENRY told me he could not make him hear, and I went out and called my son JAMES. I did not come back to the house but stayed at my son's. When my husband went upstairs I had no reason to suppose he contemplated suicide. His circumstances were embarrassed lately, and he has been in trouble and very low spirited for the last week or more. By the Jury - Mr Watts if not a creditor, but is a shoemaker of Blackawton. By the Foreman - My husband about six months since, had a seizure. He has very much altered since that. He could not reckon up his accounts, and his mind seemed to be lost. After returning to the Council Chamber, the following evidence was given:- MR JAMES PINHEY, son of the deceased, sworn, said - I live in St George's Square, and am a boot and shoe maker. Yesterday (Friday) afternoon, just before five, I was called by my mother, who said that father had gone upstairs to lay down, and they could get no answer from him, and asked me to see what was the matter. I immediately went to my father's house; I went upstairs, and found my brother trying to open the door, which was locked. It was the door of my brother's bedroom. I burst it open, and found father strung by the neck with a short piece of cord, which was fastened to the post of the bed. The height at which the cord was tied to the post of the bed was about 2ft 6in from the ground. The greater portion of the body was bearing on the floor, rather on the left side. He was lying the same way as the bed, and along by the side of it. I did not take particular notice as to whether the cord was tight; but his head was kept up by it. I nearly fainted at the sight. Within two minutes Mr Brown came in, and untied the cord, and we lifted him on the bed. he appeared to be quite stiff, and there was no sign of life in him. I sent for medical assistance, and Dr Puddicombe was in attendance in less than a quarter of an hour, and pronounced him quite dead. I had been in the habit of seeing my father three or four times a day. He has appeared lately in a very low desponding state. He was in embarrassed circumstances, and that appeared to trouble him greatly. I last saw him alive about 12 at noon on Friday. He was talking over his business matters, but appeared not to know what he was talking about. He had a seizure six months since. His intellect has been quite gone at times. It has affected his powers of calculation, which I noticed when I have been paying him money. By the Jury - He dealt largely in leather. JAMES PINHEY recalled - I did not mean that he dealt largely in leather, but he sold it. Mr William Brown, sworn, said - I am an innkeeper, and reside in Lower Street. From half-past four to five yesterday I heard an alarm in the street, and I went to ascertain the cause. I was informed that MR PINHEY had hung himself. I at once went to the house, and on going upstairs and entering the bedroom, the door of which was opened, I saw deceased sitting on the floor by the bed, with a piece of rope round his neck, which rope was attached to the bedpost. I should judge the height was about four feet from the ground. The rope was quite taught. The left side of the head was resting on the top of the rope. The head was not forward or backward, but was reclining on the left side. The rope was quite tight round the neck. I should judge the rope to be about 3ft 6in. long, and there was about 2ft. 6in. at the outside, between the bedpost and deceased's neck, allowing for the hitches round the post and round his neck. Deceased's neck was about 2ft. 6in below the bedpost. I took him by the hands as soon as I went in and found them cold and told his son he was dead. I cast off the rope from his neck and lifted him on the bed, and sent for the doctor, who came in about a quarter of an hour and pronounced him dead. Deceased was quite cold when I went to him. I should think he had been dead from two to three hours. By the Jury - The rope was tied round the neck with two half hitches. I called for a knife to cut the rope, but before one was brought I had untied it. This being the whole of the evidence, the Coroner lucidly summed up, pointing out the difference between felo de se and suicide when in an unsound state of mind. The Jury could not have much doubt in this case as it had been proved that deceased was in embarrassed circumstances and that acting upon a mind previously affected by a seizure, led to the rash act. The Jury immediately returned a verdict "That deceased strangled himself whilst in an Unsound State of Mind."

DARTMOUTH - Suspicious Death. Coroner's Inquest. - An Inquest was held on Tuesday evening last, at the Council Chamber, before R. W. Prideaux, Esq., Borough Coroner, on the body of MICHAEL LEE, a seaman belonging to H.M.S. 'Britannia.' who was found dead in the road leading to the landing place of that vessel and near Mr Redway's Patent Slip Yard. Mr J. T. Matthews was chosen Foreman of the Jury. After viewing the body which was laying in the Cadets' Gymnasium, the following evidence was taken. Thomas Edward Price, sworn, said - I am a seaman on board H.M.S. 'Britannia.' I can identify the body of the deceased as MICHAEL LEE, one of my shipmates. I last saw him alive about half-past nine on Monday night coming from the Pontoon to the corner of the Rutter Walk. He appeared to be perfectly sober then, and I noticed nothing peculiar about him. I did not speak to him, as I was in private clothes. Henry Wills, senr., sworn, said - I am an able seaman on board H.M.S. 'Britannia'. I was a shipmate with deceased. I last saw him alive about ten minutes past ten, on Monday evening, with his head leaning on his arm, and standing against the double doors of the Market. I saw he had vomited. I asked him what was the matter. He replied, "I am all right and feel better." He made a bit of a roll when he went away, but I cannot say whether he was the worse for liquor or not. He spoke rather thick. By the Jury - I had not seen deceased before on that evening. I know nothing as to his general habits. Thomas Henry Pillar - I am a builder, residing in Clarence street, and keep the Shipwrights' Arms Inn. I have seen the deceased, and identify him as the man who came into my house last evening, about three minutes after ten, by my clock. He called for a glass of ale, and I gave it him, for which he gave me sixpence, and I returned him 4 ½d. change. I have seen the man in my house about three times before. When I took him in the change, he asked me what the time was. It was five minutes past ten. He said he had come from Plymouth and wished then to go on Board. He drank the glass of ale and left. He appeared perfectly sober and did not complain of being ill. I did not notice anything peculiar about him. He shook hands with me when he left, and said "good night, master." By the Jury - He went the road that leads to the ship, when he left. The shaking hands is the usual way these men leave me. Emma Doney, on being sworn said - I am a servant to Mr Redway, at Sandquay. I went into Mr Payne's house about a quarter-past ten last night for some supper beer. On coming out I saw a blue jacket on the timbers just opposite Mr Payne's double doors. He was vomiting and groaning very much. I don't know that it was the deceased MICHAEL LEE. By the Jury - He was lying flat on his face on the timbers, and I saw that he was a blue jacket. Mrs Payne never said to me that he had been in her house. James Templeman Lindsay said - I am a seaman on board H.M.S. 'Britannia'. The deceased was one of my shipmates. He had only been in the ship about three weeks. I was going on board last night at about twenty minutes past ten. Just as I got to the entrance down Mr Redway's Patent Slip, I saw a man lying across the pathway. He was lying on his right side, with his face just touching the earth. I went over to him, and recognised him as MICHAEL LEE. I spoke to him, and said, "What is the matter." He made no answer. He appeared somewhat smeary about the mouth, as if he had been vomiting, and he had a white pocket handkerchief in his hand. I laid him with his back against the hedge. He gave a kind of groan, as a drunken man would. I thought him drunk and that he would get into trouble if he went on board, so I made him as comfortable as I could. Robert Pitman, I am a boatman and attend on the 'Britannia'. I saw the deceased, but it did not strike me but that he was drunk, or I should have called medical aid, as he had just come off 48 hours leave. By the Jury - I knew as a rule, nine men out of ten would rather remain where they are then go on board drunk and so get reported. By the Coroner - I am positive he was alive, as I put my hands down his back. He was in a sitting position when I left him and breathing freely. William Barrett corroborated the former evidence. By the Jury - He was lying about half way down the hill, and I came to the conclusion that he was drunk. Samuel Frederick Cook, sworn, said - I am a servant on board the 'Britannia.' I know the deceased MICHAEL LEE. I was going on board last night about 10 minutes to 11. I saw a man about half-way down the hill, abreast of the door leading to Mr Redway's patent slip. I went over to him. He was in a sitting posture, leaning against the hedge. I thought he was dead drunk. His head was rather inclined to the right side. A man called Gooder was with me. We tried to wake him, but there did not seem to be any life in him. I felt his two hands and his head, and they were rather cold. I took him by the legs, and Gooder by the body, and carried him to the boat, and from thence to the ship. He made no movement nor uttered any sound. I did not think there was anything serious the matter with him. I did not think he was dying or dead. We took him straight to the sick bay. The doctor escorted him. There was no smell of drink about him. By the Jury - I thought that the man was dead drunk when we were taking him to the boat, and that he had got a cold through lying in the hedge. When we got him to the boat on the Dartmouth side, an officer, Mr Lawless, told us to wrap him in blankets and put him in his hammock. When we got him on the lower deck we met the doctor, who directed us to take him to the sick bay. We did so, and laid him on his back. His legs did not appear stiff. the boatman's name was Pitman. Josiah Gooder, said - I am the ship's tailor. I identify the deceased as MICHAEL LEE. I was with Frederick Cook last night, and all he has stated relative to the finding and taking on board the body is correct. I was the first that went to him. I put my hand over his left breast against his heart, and there appeared to be no pulsation, and by that I thought there was something the matter. We took him on board. He did not appear dead, as he was not stiff, so I thought there might be life in him. This was about quarter-past 11. Had I been certain there was no life in him I should have taken him to the Bridge Inn. By the Foreman - I do not recollect any conversation that took place between us and the boatman. John Lambert, staff-surgeon of the second class of H.M.S. 'Britannia' said that just before eleven o'clock on Monday night, whilst he was passing from the ward room to his cabin, he met Mr Lawless, who informed him that a man had just come alongside in the same boat with him in a helpless condition, and suggested that it would be better for him to see the party. he proceeded to the lower deck gangway and superintended the getting of the man out of the boat and then found that it was the deceased. On examining him he found him dead. His breath did not smell at all of alcohol or liquor of any kind, and he directed that the deceased should be taken to the sick bay. When there he further examined him for the purpose of seeing whether there had been any foul play or marks of violence but he could not trace any. The conclusion that he arrived at was that the deceased had been dead from an hour-and-a-half to two hours. That morning (Tuesday) he had made a post mortem examination of the body. He first examined the cavity of the chest, and there found the organs healthy with the exception of some old standing disease of the left lung, recently aggravated by some congestion from cold. He next examined the head and found the brain healthy. The abdominal cavity was next examined. The liver and kidneys were healthy, but the whole tract of the alimentary canal, the stomach and intestines had its mucous membrane very much congested with a considerable quantity of a lake-coloured mucous adherent. After expending four hours in going over every organ of the body he was unable to arrive at any satisfactory cause of death. The stomach and intestines, with portions of the liver and kidneys, had been placed in bottles and sealed by him for the purpose of handing them over to the Coroner. As he had been unable to detect any lesion that might explain the death, and having heard the evidence, he should think it not at all improbable that death had resulted from some irritant poison, causing inflammation of the alimentary mucous membrane and abdominal collapse. The presence of such irritant poison would account for the vomiting. He considered it a case in which an analysis of the contents of the stomach should be made. There were many irritant poisons which might produce the lake-coloured fluid he had spoke of. By the Jury - It was the joint opinion of myself and Dr Connolly. I undressed the deceased and found nothing in his pockets that could account for death. Deceased had just returned from leave. The Coroner said that after the opinion of the medical gentleman, which they had just head, no other course was open to him but to adjourn the Inquiry. He had taken possession of the contents of the stomach and should forward them to some competent person for analysis. The Jury were then bound over in the usual recognances, and the Inquiry was adjourned to Tuesday, the 17th instant. The deceased was buried with naval honours, at the Cemetery, on Wednesday last, the firing party being under the charge of a Sergeant.

Friday 20 November 1874

DARTMOUTH - Adjourned Inquest. - The adjourned Inquest on the body of MICHAEL LEE, who was found dead in the road near Sandquay, on the evening of November 2nd, was held on Tuesday evening last, in the Council Chamber, before R. W. Prideaux, Esq., Borough Coroner. Mr T. J. Matthews was Foreman of the Jury and all the Jury answered to their names. The Coroner said they had met together in consequence of the evidence given at the last sitting of the Jury, by Mr John Lambert, Staff-Surgeon, of H.M.S. 'Britannia', who stated deceased did not smell at all of alcohol or liquor of any kind, and there was no trace of any foul play or marks of violence. He made a post mortem examination of the body, and found the organs of the chest healthy with the exception of some old standing disease of the left lung, recently aggravated by some congestion from cold. The brain, liver and kidneys were healthy, but the whole tract of the alimentary canal, the stomach, and intestines had its mucous membrane very much congested with a considerable quantity of a lake-coloured mucous adherent. He was unable to satisfactorily account for LEE'S death. As he had been unable to detect any lesion that might explain the death, and having heard the evidence, he should think it not at all improbable that death had resulted from some irritant poison, causing inflammation of the alimentary mucous membrane and abdominal collapse. Acting upon this evidence, and by the direction of the Jury, he had forwarded a portion of the intestines and liver to Mr Wynter Blyth, the county analysist, and the following was that gentleman's report:-

Analytical Laboratory, Trafalgar Lawn, Barnstaple, November 9th, 1874. - Sir, - I have carefully analysed the stomach and a portion of the intestines and liver of the late MICHAEL LEE, transmitted to me on the 5th November 1874, and am unable, after three days, more or less constant search, to find a trace of any poison. The processes employed would have discovered extremely minute quantities of the more common mineral poisons, and would have ascertained the presence of any of these possible to be detected by chemistry, had they existed; at the same time so many cases are recorded in which poison has been proved to have been taken, and yet none has been discovered by the most searching chemical analysis, owing to elimination, and vomiting, &c., that I cannot definitely say the deceased did not die from poison. The stomach and intestines I found to be (as described), much congested and inflamed, an appearance in strict accordance with death from a variety of mineral and vegetable irritants; the only disease attendant with collapse, sudden death and presenting similar post-mortem appearances, is cholera. I am, Yours faithfully, A. Wynter Blyth, Public Analyst. He (the Coroner) would now call before them Dr Lambert, and then the Jury could consider their verdict. Dr Lambert, sworn, said - That, unless some material evidence were forthcoming to show that poison had been taken, he was of opinion that deceased died from inflammation of the stomach and intestines, possibly caused by poisoning, though in consequence of the absence of other evidence leading to the fact of poison being administered, death from disease became the more probable. The cause of death, and what had produced the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, therefore, might still be left a somewhat open question. By the Foreman: I do not think that the stomach at all presented the appearance of death through cholera. Inflammation of the mucous membrane is always caused by poison, but only seldom so, when death is caused by disease. Thomas E. Prince and Henry Wills were called, and on their former evidence having been read over to them, they stated they had nothing more to add. The Coroner then went carefully through the whole of the evidence, pointing out a slight discrepancy as to the exact time between two of the witnesses which he did not think at all material. The men Templeman and Barrett, although not, he thought, liable to a charge of inhumanity, they certainly acted very indiscreetly in leaving a man who they saw was insensible, and had been vomiting in the road, and not taking him on board his vessel. The witness Barrett said that it would be a lesson to him for the future. Of course they had no idea that the man was ill, but thought him drunk, and most men would rather be left where they were when in that state. The Jury then returned the following verdict: "That the deceased MICHAEL LEE, on the 2nd day of November, was found dead in the road leading to the Britannia landing steps at Sandquay, and that the cause of death was inflammation of the stomach and intestines, but how much inflammation was caused there is no evidence to show, and that no marks of violence was found on the body. The Jury desire to append to their verdict their high commendation of the conduct of the witnesses Cook and Gooder, who carried deceased on board his ship."

[Note - No papers in the Archive between these dates.]

Friday 20 July 1894

PLYMOUTH - Playing With Matches. - EDITH SARAH BIRD, aged 2 years, daughter of WILLIAM BIRD, a stoker, R.N., living in Moon-street, Plymouth, was on Thursday morning left in the bedroom for a minute. Hearing screams, her mother rushed back and found the child's nightdress in flames. In extinguishing the fire the mother burnt her hands severely. With the assistance of Bessie Dyer, the injured child was taken to the hospital and died early on Friday morning from shock to the system. At the Inquest held by the Borough Coroner on Saturday the mother said the child had been playing with the matches. A box was open on the table, and several loose matches were about. The Jury, of whom Mr J. Ryder was Foreman, returned a verdict of "Accidental Death."

Friday 24 August 1894

TORCROSS - Sad Bathing Fatality. The Town Clerk Of Oxford Drowned. - A sad fatality occurred at Torcross on Wednesday afternoon. Amongst the visitors staying at the Torcross Hotel were MR J. J. BICKERTON and his family. MR BICKERTON, who held a prominent position in the municipal and official life of Oxford, was a good swimmer, and during the afternoon bathed off Slapton Sands with other gentlemen. He had left the water and was partly dressed, when one of his little girls who had been playing on the sands, threw her spade into the sea. MR BICKERTON at once ran down after it, and apparently did not notice that the shore shelves rapidly at that point. At all events, he plunged into deep water, and, capital swimmer though he was, immediately shewed signs of distress. His cry for help was quickly responded to by some of those who witnessed the occurrence and MR BICKERTON was promptly brought ashore. By that time he was unconscious, though still alive. Efforts were made to restore consciousness, and were continued for a considerable period. They were, however, of no avail, for death ensued soon after the rescue. It is presumed that the deceased was seized by a fit on re-entering the water, or that an attack of cramp caused his sudden collapse and led to his death. MR BICKERTON was town clerk and clerk of the peace for the City of Oxford. He also held the office of Registrar of the Borough Court, of Oxford, and was for some time Proctor of its Chancery Court.. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1871 after taking the degree of M.A. The Inquest. - was held at the Torcross Hotel on Thursday by Mr Coroner Hacker. Evidence to the above effect was given by Dr Fox, Mrs Mary Edwards, Mary Kate Fox (sister of deceased's wife), George Pepperell, fisherman and Max Forster Tylor, a resident, who dived after deceased and brought him on shore. After hearing the evidence of Dr Oliver Eaton as well, the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned." Mr Tylor was thanked by the Coroner and Jury and by Dr Fox, on behalf of the relatives of the deceased.

Friday 7 September 1894

BLACKAWTON - Sudden Death Of A Miller. - A miller named JOHN EFFORD, of Blackawton, employed at Dittisham Mills by Mr Hawke, died suddenly on Monday morning under very sad circumstances. He lodged with Mrs Clements, at Dittisham, and about six o'clock that morning went downstairs and let in her son and his wife, who were on a visit to Dittisham, but for want of room in Mrs Clements' house, were sleeping at a neighbour's house. Having opened the door to them EFFORD went upstairs. He was not seen again alive. Clements went into the garden and afterwards returning to the house, had breakfast. It was supposed that EFFORD had gone out, as nothing had been seen or heard of him, but about ten o'clock Mrs Clements went upstairs to make the beds and was horrified to find him lying dead on his bed. His right arm was under his head, and nothing was disturbed in the room. P.C. Crang was communicated with, and arrangements made by him for the Inquest, which took place on Tuesday morning. Evidence bearing out the above facts were given, and Dr. A. K. Crossfield having by direction of the Coroner made a post mortem examination, stated that death was due to Natural Causes; failure of the heart's action. A verdict to that effect was returned. Deceased was 32 years of age.

Friday 14 September 1894

TORQUAY - Boxing Fatality At Torquay. - A sad sequel to the Torbay Royal Regatta has just occurred. In connection with the festivities boxing booths were placed on the Royal Parade, and amongst others who participated in that form of amusement was a man called PAYNE. He engaged in a "bout" with Tom Rooney, a coloured man, and received a severe blow on the jaw which rendered him senseless. He was taken away, remained ill, and only called in a doctor a day or two since, but too late to save his life He died at Beerland Cottages, Torre, in the early part of this week, and it is only in connection with the signing of the certificate of death that the facts have transpired. Arrangements were made for the funeral to take place tomorrow (Saturday), but on the Coroner being communicated with yesterday, he ordered a post mortem examination to be made. The Torquay police were busy yesterday making inquiries into the circumstances connected with the affair, and P.C. Gregory was despatched to Plymouth to serve a summons on Rooney, who was at Plymouth Races this week, in order that he might attend the Inquest and give evidence.

Friday 7 December 1894

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death Of A Single Woman At Dartmouth. A Sad Case. - On Friday afternoon, ELIZABETH HUSTIS, aged 33, unmarried, daughter of a man employed at the Warfleet Brewery, was walking along Zion's Slip, when she was taken suddenly ill. She was observed by a widow named Polyblank to lean against a wall for support. Mrs Polyblank and Mrs Williams, both residing in the slip named, quickly came to her assistance and took her into the latter's house, where she died in a few moments, before any doctor could arrive. Although it was stated that she had been suffering from heart disease for a long period there was no medical certificate forthcoming, and the Coroner (Mr R. W. Prideaux) directed that an Inquest should be held. It took place at the Guildhall at six o'clock on Friday evening. The Jury proceeded to Mrs Williams' house to view the body. On their return to the Guildhall the following evidence was received:- MARY HUSTIS said - I am the wife of CHARLES HUSTIS, who is employed at Warfleet Brewery. I identify the body as that of my daughter. She was 33 years of age and unmarried. She has been an invalid for seven years, and for the last five years has been residing at home with me. Previous to that she was a domestic servant. She suffered from heart disease and rheumatic fever and has been attended by different doctors. Dr Crossfield told me that there was no cure for her, and that she might die very suddenly. She left her home at Warfleet today about a quarter past two to come into the town. She had been just as usual before that. About four o'clock I was told that she had dropped down in the street, and had been taken into a house. When I arrived at Zion's Slip she was dead. I identify the basket as that which she carried, and the articles in it are those she purchased from Mr Hadfield, chemist. When she had an attack she tried to get relief by leaning over a table. Margaret Polyblank, widow, said - I reside at Zion's Slip. About three o'clock this afternoon I saw deceased leaning against the wall outside my garden in the slip. I went up to her and asked her what was the matter. She looked at me but did not say anything. I said, "Do you want to sit down, my dear?" and she then said, "Do you live in there?" I said "Yes." Then Mrs Williams brought out a chair. Deceased kept a moaning noise, but did not speak again. She would not sit down, but leant over the back of the chair. Then we took her into Mrs Williams' house and sent for two doctors, Dr Crossfield, and Dr Harris. When Dr Harris arrived he said she was dead. P.S. Stentiford said the messenger omitted to tell Dr Crossfield where he had to go. Elizabeth Williams, wife of John Williams, plumber, residing at Zion's Slip, corroborated the evidence of the last witness. Dr J. H. Harris said - About half-past three I was called to attend the deceased. She was dead when I reached Zion's Slip. I have known her for some time, although I have never attended her. I know she has been suffering from heart disease, and I remember upon one occasion speaking to her about it. By the appearance of the body and the surrounding circumstances, I have come to the opinion that death was due to heart disease. The articles in the basket are a packet of tartaric acid, and a piece of ginger in a bottle, neither of which had been opened. They are quite harmless, even if they had been touched. The Coroner saw no necessity for any further evidence, and the Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence. Mr P. Pinhey was the Foreman.

Friday 28 December 1894

TORQUAY - Sudden Death Of A Lady At Torquay. - Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, held an Inquest at St. Matthias' National School, Wellswood, Torquay, on Wednesday evening, touching the decease of CAROLINE ANN BENNETT, seventy-two, widow, who was found dead in bed in her lodgings at 6 Wellswood Park, Torquay, on Monday morning. Deceased, who was possessed of independent means, resided alternately at Wimbledon, Brighton and Torquay. She came to Torquay in October, and enjoyed excellent health for her years although she suffered from a weak heart. She retired to rest as usual on Sunday evening and was found dead in bed next morning. Dr Odell was called, and from a post mortem examination attributed death to fatty degeneration of the heart. The deceased lady was one of the BEWES family, of Plymouth, and first married the late MR W. F. SOLTAU, M.D., of Plympton, and afterwards the late REV. THEOPHILUS BENNETT, M.A., at one time vicar of Chudleigh, who died last year at Brighton. She was related to the Rev. Preb. Wolfe, C.C., formerly rector of Upton, Torquay, and the late Preb. Harris, vicar of St. Luke's, Torquay and also to Mrs R. H. M. Baker of Newton. Evidence of identification was given by Mr w. Kirk Ness, of Wimbledon, retired captain of the P. and O. Service and the Jury returned a verdict of "Natural Causes," in accordance with the medical evidence.

Friday 1 February 1895

BRIXHAM - Inquest. - Mr Sidney Hacker held an Inquest at the Bolton Hotel, on Monday to Inquire into the death of the infant illegitimate child of SUSAN TRIBBLE. Inspector Ashby, of the R.S.P.C.C. watched the case for the society. The evidence given by the mother, who was only seventeen years of age, showed that both she and her mother were confined within three days of each other, and that both with their two infants were lying on the same bed at the time of the death of the child. The bed was only 4ft. 6in. wide. Mr A. E. Hayward, surgeon, stated that he had made a post mortem examination, and the child was well nourished and cared for, and that death in his opinion was due to suffocation. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

STOKENHAM - Inquest at Chillington. - Mr Sidney Hacker on Tuesday concluded the Inquiry at Chillington touching the death of the illegitimate child of FLORENCE JULIA HUTCHINGS. The mother is 20 years of age, and this was her third child, the first having been born at Torcross, when she was fifteen years of age. Deceased was found in bed dead by its mother's side. After hearing the mother's evidence, the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death", adding that the case was of a suspicious character. Mr John Garland was Foreman of the Jury, and Dr O. Eaton, who made a post mortem examination, said there was no doubt the child had breathed several times.

Friday 8 February 1895

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death of MRS BARBER. - On Thursday morning the many friends of MR H. C. BARBER, landlord of the Albion Inn, were shocked to learn that on the previous night, MRS BARBER, had died very suddenly. Just before eleven o'clock she went upstairs, apparently in her usual health. After the house was closed at eleven, MR BARBER also went up and his wife then complained to him of feeling unwell and asked him if he would get her some brandy and water, which he proceeded to do. As she was looking very ill, he called her sister, and then fetched Dr Soper. The doctor came immediately, but before his arrival, MRS BARBER was dead. Great sympathy is felt for her husband.

The Inquest - Today. - Mr r. W. Prideaux (Borough Coroner) held an Inquest today at the Albion Inn, when the Jury received the following evidence:- HENRY COURTENAY BARBER - I identify the body of the deceased as that of my late wife, MARY BARBER. She was 69 years of age on December 10th last. On the evening of the 6th, about half-past ten she went upstairs. She said to her sister "I'll tell you the time," and said it was a few minutes after the half-hour. When I went upstairs about a quarter past eleven, she was undressed and in bed. She complained of tightness on the chest and of coldness and asked me to get her a little brandy and water. I went downstairs and procured it, and she drank two tea-spoonsful. She then said she thought she felt better, but she put her hand on her chest and said she felt pain there. I called her sister, and when she arrived in the bedroom I went for Dr Soper, who came down with me. Deceased had then passed away. When I left the house it must have been a quarter to twelve. When we were coming back it was about a quarter after twelve. Ann Freeman, sister of the deceased - I reside at the Albion Inn with my brother-in-law, MR BARBER. Deceased appeared in her usual health on the 6th. About half-past ten that evening, on her way to bed, she told me the time. About half-past eleven MR BARBER called me and when I went into the bedroom I found deceased was very ill and breathing heavily. A few minutes afterwards MR BARBER went for the doctor. Deceased spoke to me and told me she was very ill and she gradually sank and died just after twelve. A few minutes afterwards her husband and the doctor arrived. A Juryman:- Did she complain at any time of the day? - Witness: No. Robert Wills Soper, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth - I was called by MR BARBER on Wednesday night about twelve o'clock. I was not in bed at the time, and went with him immediately. On my arrival I found her laying in bed, the clothes undisturbed and with no expression on her face of a struggle. The body was warm, as if she had only been dead a few minutes. In my opinion the cause of death was syncope, or failure of the heart's action. I may add that it is about three weeks since I last attended her for a severe attack of influenza followed by bronchitis. It left her very weak, and it might be said that she never entirely recovered from it. The Coroner - I suppose the severe cold would have a prejudicial effect? - Witness - Yes; it would. She has been a very weak, frail woman since she had that severe attack. Summing up, the Coroner said they all knew how cold it had been, sufficient to affect the strongest, to say nothing of the weak and those who had nearly arrived at the allotted age. The Jury returned a verdict of "Death from Natural Causes, probably Syncope."

Friday 1 March 1895

DARTMOUTH - Inquest At Dartmouth. - A child aged 17 months, the son of a seaman named LANGLEY, residing in Higher Street, died on Tuesday afternoon, under circumstances which necessitated an Inquest being held. This took place on Wednesday afternoon, at the Guildhall, by direction of Mr Coroner Prideaux, and after the body had been viewed the Jury received the following evidence:- HENRY MILL LANGLEY - I am a sailor. I identify the body as that of my son, WALTER HEAD LANGLEY, aged 17 months. He has not been a strong child. About half-past three yesterday afternoon he appeared to be very bright and in good health. A few minutes later, while sitting in a chair, he went off in a fit, and after a few struggles, became quite still. I went for the doctor, but he died before the doctor arrived. Deceased appeared in good health for some days before. He has had a cough occasionally, but when patted on the back, would come round all right. ELIZA ELLEN LANGLEY, wife of the last witness - Deceased has been in very good health ever since birth with the exception of a cough. He has never been medically attended. yesterday he appeared very cheerful. Between three and four I moved the chair on which he was sitting, and he slipped forward and then coughed. I took him up directly and patted him on the back. He did not seem to come around as he had before He was quite quiet and I thought he might have fallen asleep. I did not notice it move again. I sent for Dr Crossfield but deceased was dead before he arrived. he has gone off faint before with the cough but has come round all right. Charlotte Partridge, residing in the same house as deceased's parents - When I was called, about 4 o'clock, I saw the child on its mother's lap. It did not move and I advised them to send for the doctor. I did not know whether it was living or dead. Two doctors were sent for, but neither was at home. The child was very dark round the lips. Dr. A. K. Crossfield - I was in the country yesterday afternoon, and on my return home I found a message from MRS LANGLEY. I got to the house about six o'clock. The child was dead and had grown cold. The body was fairly well nourished. From what I have been told I am of opinion that the child died from natural causes, most probably heart disease. I do not think it had a fit. I should like to say that the habit of patting children on the back is a dangerous one. It ought always to be avoided. The child did not appear to be a strong one. A verdict in accordance with the medical testimony was returned.

Friday 8 March 1895

BRIXHAM - Mr Coroner Hacker held an Inquest at Brixham on the death of an old person named ELIZABETH HOCKINS. A verdict that death was in accordance with the medical testimony was returned. The Medical officer reported death to have been caused by syncope, brought on by poverty and want.

Friday 3 May 1895

DARTMOUTH - Death On Board A Steamer. Inquest At Dartmouth. - On Monday morning the English steamer Universal from Bilbao to Middlesbrough, arrived and the captain reported that the second mate, ALONSO HARLOW, had died during the voyage. The body was brought ashore to the mortuary, and at noon the Borough Coroner (Mr R. W. Prideaux) held an Inquest at the Guildhall. Mr W. Parr was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who received the following evidence after having viewed the body:- John Scarvel - I am Master of the S.S. Universal, of Sunderland. I identify the body of the deceased as that of ALONSO HARLOW, whose shore residence was 10 Hadworth Street, Sunderland, and who was second officer of the Universal. He was 46 years of age. I have known him since January 14th, when I joined the ship. He was on board before then, and has been second mate ever since. When I joined he appeared to be in an ordinary state of health. Since then the vessel has been trading to Bilbao. He complained of having a cold on the 24th inst. We were then bound for Bilbao from Saint Nazarre. At ten o'clock on the 24th I gave him a dose of medicine, and another the next morning, and on arrival at Bilbao I called in a doctor who prescribed for him and sent some medicine. He also gave the following certificate: - "April 26th, 1895. I hereby certify that in my opinion MR HARLOW is in a fit state of health to proceed to sea with his steamer, the S.S. Universal. (Signed) H. P. Westbury, M.D., Bilbao." The doctor also wrote on the certificate (which was handed in) a note that the cause of the illness was broncho-pneumonia I had previously asked deceased to go on shore in hospital, but he would not do so, and I then sent for a medical man. On the strength of the certificate deceased came on the return voyage, taking the medicine as ordered. Yesterday about 11 a.m., the steward acquainted me with the fact that he was getting worse and was delirious. When I went down to see him he was quite right, and spoke quite sensibly to me. I saw him about twenty times a day after we left Bilbao, and I have taken his watch on deck. At 12.30 p.m. yesterday the steward informed me that the man was dying, and in about half-an-hour he was dead. I would not allow him to do any duty on the way home. We arrived at Dartmouth this morning, and the Port Medical Officer at once came off, when I reported the death to him. John Dowse - I am steward of the S.S. Universal. Deceased has been in the vessel about twelve months. He has been ailing during that time, and in the habit of taking medicine. I have often remonstrated with him and told him that he was taking too much. Yesterday morning about ten or eleven o'clock I told the captain that I thought the deceased was getting worse. He had commenced raving, and I took the captain down to see him. I gave him some of the medicine which the doctor had prescribed for him in Bilbao, and he was quiet after that. About half-past twelve he appeared to be sinking fast, and I again called the captain. Deceased died about half-an-hour afterwards. Louis Legall - I am an able seaman on board the S.S. Universal. I have known the deceased for about 13 years. Up to the last five years he has been a very strong man. He then went to the West Coast of Africa, where he contracted yellow fever and dysentery. Since then he has been in failing health and has been in the habit of taking a great deal of medicine. I have sailed with him for five years, off and on, before and since he went to the West Coast of Africa. A Juryman wished to know whether deceased was a married man, and witness replied in the affirmative. Dr Robert Wills Soper - This morning about half-past six, I was called to board the steamer Universal. I immediately went, and found the body of deceased on deck and covered over. On examining the body I found no marks of violence. I then went to the cabin with the captain and examined the log-book. From the entries and the medical certificate produced, I am of opinion that the man died from heart failure following broncho-pneumonia. I should think he was very fond of taking medicine. I was shown a large quart bottle belonging to him, which had contained medicine. By taking so much his recovery would be hindered. Summing up, the Coroner said the captain acted with very great prudence on arrival at Bilbao. He at first asked the deceased if he would go into the hospital, and then called in a medical man. Naturally when the latter gave a certificate that the deceased was fit for duty he had no hesitation in taking him to sea again. From the evidence of witnesses who knew the deceased, it was clear that he was in the habit of overdosing himself with medicine, and that this had had a serious effect upon his constitution. A verdict in accordance with the medical testimony was returned by the Jury.

Friday 17 May 1895

DARTMOUTH - Shocking Discovery At The Castle Hotel Yard. Body Found In A Tank. - Early on Saturday morning the body of WILLIAM HINGSTON TABB, ostler at the Castle Hotel, was found in a tank in the Hotel yard, under circumstances of considerable mystery. Deceased was about his duties as usual on the previous day and although he complained of feeling unwell, there was nothing in his conversation or demeanour to lead those with whom his work brought him into contact, to suppose that he intended to put an end to his life. It was his duty to lock up the stable yard at night, which he generally did about eleven o'clock. As he had not returned to his home at midnight, his niece went to the house of the coachman, Mr C. H. Heale, who at once went down to the yard to look for him. Mr Heale found the yard door locked, and the assumption was naturally that the deceased had locked up and gone away. The coachman had a thorough look round the yard, however, but without success, and just as he was coming away, he bethought himself of the tank in the corner near the entrance, although the water was so shallow that it was almost ridiculous to suppose that the deceased would be found drowned there. Although going to the tank without the slightest expectation of finding the deceased, Mr Heale had hardly thrown the light of the lamp which he carried fall on to the water, before he observed the object of which he was in search. The body was in a most extraordinary position. There were only about eighteen or nineteen inches of water in the tank, the top of which was about 2 ½ ft. from the ground. Deceased's face was under water and his legs were doubled up behind him in a cramped position, away from the entrance. His head and shoulders were afloat. The assistance of P.C. Bedford was requisitioned and the body taken out of the water and laid on the ground. Dr Harris was at once summoned, and, on arrival, found that life had been extinct for some hours. Then P.S. Stentiford arrived, and, as deceased was a very heavy man, it was thought advisable to remove him to the mortuary rather than to his own rooms, which were at the top of a high house. The news caused much sensation in the town when it became known, and during Saturday morning a good many people visited the yard to look at the tank. Deceased was a general favourite with frequenters of the stable, and has been in Mr Collier's employ for over 20 years. He was 57 years of age, and less than two months previously had the misfortune to lose his wife.

The Inquest. - was held at the Guildhall on Saturday by Mr R. W. Prideaux, Borough Coroner. Mr W. R. Atkins was chosen Foreman of the Jury, which first viewed the body at the Mortuary and then proceeded to the hotel yard where the coachman showed them the tank and pointed out to them the position in which the body was found. The following evidence was afterwards received:- Charles Henry Heale - I reside at Church Street, Dartmouth, and I am a driver employed at the Castle Hotel. I identify the body as that of WILLIAM HINGSTON TABB, who lived at Smith Street, and was an ostler at the Castle Hotel. He was about 57 years of age. I have known him more than 23 years, during the whole of which time he has been at the Castle Hotel. Yesterday he was about his duties much the same as usual, but he complained of feeling unwell. The Coroner:- What was the matter with him? - Witness:- Something on his chest. I last saw him alive yesterday at eight o'clock in the evening, in the stable yard of the hotel. I was going into the house and he asked me to take in the keys of the granary, which I did. I left him in the yard. About 1 a.m. today, or just before, deceased's niece came to my house and asked me if I knew where her uncle was. I said I would go down and see if I could find him. I went down to the stable, lit the carriage lamp, and searched the place all over. I was just going away to tell her that I could not see him, when I thought I would look in the cistern and there I found him with his head and legs under water. The Coroner:- I take it, gentlemen, that you don't want this witness to detail the position of the cistern. You have all seen it, and the position in which deceased was found was shewn to you. Witness:- I could not get him out by myself, so I got assistance and took him out. He was then quite dead. His mouth and eyes were closed. The Coroner:- Have you ever heard him say anything that would lead you to suppose he might commit suicide? - Witness:- No, nothing at all. Q.- Did he appear just as usual at eight o'clock. - A.- Yes. Further questioned by the Coroner witness said deceased was often on duty as late as 1 a.m. That was the reason witness went direct to the stable yard. The deceased's niece and another woman went down with him, but would not go into the yard. By the Jury:- The stable yard door was locked and witness had to get the key. He did not think deceased was at all despondent on the previous day. Ball locked the yard door last night about ten o'clock, after he arrived back, thinking that deceased was gone home. He believed that Ball spoke to the deceased about nine o'clock before leaving the yard. Dr J. H. Harris - I was called at half-past one this morning to see the deceased at the Castle yard. When I arrived I found him quite dead, lying on the ground by the side of the tank. He had evidently been taken out from the tank, for he was dripping wet, and had evidently been in the tank for some time. I examined the body then and could find no marks of violence whatever, but I find this morning that he has a small abrasion over his right forehead. There were no marks or signs of any struggle having taken place around the tank. The condition of the body appeared simply that of a man who was drowned. I should say he had been dead for some hours. The body was cold and rigor mortis had set in. I think the cause of death was drowning. The Foreman:- Would that blow be sufficient, in your opinion, to cause insensibility? - Witness:- Oh, no. I think that blow points to the death being accidental. I think he must have overbalanced himself and toppled over into the tank. The Coroner: - You think all the circumstances point to accidental drowning? - Witness: Yes. A Juryman:- The tank is rather high, doctor Witness:- No, I don't think so. TABB was a man nearly six feet in height, and was probably top heavy. He might have slipped on the pavement underneath. Edwin Randall - I am second ostler at the Castle Hotel. Yesterday deceased was about his duties as usual, but he complained of a pain in his left side, which he had had for some time, being worse than before. I found him crying once, but I have never noticed that before. The Coroner:- As a matter of fact, hasn't he lost his wife very recently? - Witness:- Yes. The Coroner:- What time did you see him last? - Witness: I saw him about a quarter to nine yesterday evening in the yard, when I went away and left him there as usual. There was nothing in his manner or speech to make me think he was going to commit suicide. That is all I know about it.

Laurence Ball - I am a driver employed at the Castle Hotel. Yesterday I was away all day, and when I came home about eight o'clock I saw the deceased about his duties, as usual. I was there in the stable an hour later, and I did not see or hear anything more of him. The Coroner:- I understood from Heale you heard him about nine o'clock. Witness:- No, the last I heard was at eight o'clock. I went home to supper, and I came down again about ten p.m., when the yard door was still open. I shouted and got no answer, and I did not see anyone about there. Then I locked the door and went home. A Juryman:- Was deceased addicted to heavy drinking? - Witness:- I think he used to do pretty much to it, sir. A Juryman:- I saw him about yesterday several times, and he was all right. The Foreman:- There is nothing to show that he was at all the worse for drink yesterday. The Police Sergeant said he had just heard that the cook spoke to him about twenty minutes to ten through the kitchen window. The Coroner:- Then it must have been between that time and ten o'clock that he fell in the tank. P.C. Walter Bedford:- this morning just before one o'clock I was called by the first witness to go to the Castle Hotel yard, which I did. He informed me that he had found the deceased in the tank. On arriving there I found deceased lying on his right side with his head towards the outside part of the tank. The head was under water. With the assistance of Mr Heale I got him out of the water and laid him on the ground by the side of the tank. He was quite dead. I took hold of his hand, which was perfectly cold. Then I called Dr Harris. Afterwards I made a search for the hat, and found it at the bottom of the tank. I searched the body and found the articles I now produce. With the assistance of Sergt. Stentiford I took the body to the mortuary. A Juryman:- What part of the tank did you find the hat? - Witness:- At the farther end. The Coroner:- Movement in the water in taking the body out might send the hat anywhere. That is all the evidence, gentlemen, unless you wish to call the cook, who is stated to have seen him at twenty minutes to ten last night. The Jury did not think it was necessary, and the Coroner added - I cannot see that it is very material, but if you wish her called we will send for her. The Foreman: No; I think not. Summing up, the Coroner said the evidence left no doubt that deceased came by his death through drowning, and the only question for the Jury to consider was whether he fell into the tank accidentally, or whether he got in by design. There seemed not the slightest foundation for any supposition that he had the intention of committing suicide. Although he was apparently not in his usual health on the previous day, there was nothing in his manner to lead the witnesses to think that he meant to take away his life. The position in which the body was found was quite consistent with the theory that deceased went to the tank, perhaps to dip out water or to wash his hands, that being a heavy man, he lurched forward and fell into the tank, turning a half somersault in doing so, and that the sudden shock deprived him of his nerve, so that he was unable to get out again. In reply to questions by the Jury, the Coroner said it was a very common thing for a Jury in returning a verdict to merely express an opinion as to the manner in which death was brought about. When there was no direct evidence as to the actual circumstances under which the death occurred, a Jury could add their opinion as to whether it was by accident or design, and he should be quite willing to receive such a verdict. The Jury returned a verdict of "Found Drowned," adding that, in their opinion, death was probably Accidental.

Friday 31 May 1895

BABBACOMBE - At Babbacombe on Sunday morning the dead body of a young woman named JULIA TERRY WYATT, aged twenty-one, was found. At the Inquest on Monday it was stated that deceased had been unwell for some time. A verdict of "Found Drowned" was returned.

Friday 14 June 1895

TORQUAY - At Torquay on Monday, Mr Hacker, County Coroner, held an Inquest respecting the death of ALLAN CAMERON, a tin-place worker. William Hose, caretaker of the Athenaeum, Fleet-street, engaged the deceased on Saturday evening to clean windows. He stepped out upon a 15in. ledge to clean the exterior of a second storey window and five minutes later was seen to fall to the ground, a distance of 25 feet, alighting upon his head. He sustained two scalp wounds and the base of the skull was fractured. The Coroner commented very strongly upon the practice in Torquay of placing window cleaners upon ledges to take their chance of life or death, and recommended the adoption of swivel windows, both sides of which could be cleaned inside, or the use of platforms. The Jury, in returning a verdict of "Accidental Death" added a rider embodying the Coroner's suggestion.

Friday 19 July 1895

BLACKAWTON - A Child Scalded To Death. - At Millcombe Farm, near Blackawton, on Monday afternoon, Mr S. Hacker held an Inquiry into the death of the infant daughter of MR BAKER who occupies that farm. The evidence shewed that the deceased, who was about 2 years of age, was playing about with toys on the Thursday previous when she fell into a pan of scalding milk which was placed on the floor of the passage. Dr Harris (Dartmouth) was at once sent for, and did his utmost, but the injuries were so severe that the child died on Saturday. The Coroner said the practice of leaving hot milk about in that way was far too common, and he hoped the present case, and other similar ones which had occurred previously, would cause farmers to take especial care to see that the pans containing such milk were placed at such a height from the floor as to prevent any future accidents of that kind. A verdict of Accidental Death was returned.

Friday 26 July 1895

The Late Fatality In Start Bay. One Of The Bodies Recovered. - Yesterday (Thursday) morning a gardener named Waymouth was on Blackpool beach with his dogs, when one of them commenced turning over some seaweed which had been washed up by the sea. On going to the spot he found that lying amongst the seaweed was the body of a boy, whom he was able, by the clothes and general description, to identify as the son of the unfortunate yachtsman CHADDER, who was drowned under the peculiarly painful circumstances recorded in our last issue. The identification was subsequently confirmed by relatives of the deceased, and the body now lies at a cottage at Blackpool. P.C. Jury, of Stokefleming, yesterday communicated with the District Coroner (Mr S. Hacker) who will hold an Inquest today at 3 p.m. Nothing has yet been seen of the father's body.

Friday 2 August 1895

STOKEFLEMING - The Late Drowning Case. Inquests At Stokefleming And Slapton. - The bodies of both father and son, who were drowned in Start Bay about 3 weeks ago while attempting to sail from Dartmouth to Torcross, have been recovered. That of the boy, as we stated last week, was picked up on the beach at Blackpool by a gardener named Weymouth, and on Friday afternoon Mr S. Hacker the County Coroner held an Inquest, when a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned" was returned.

The body of the father was recovered on Monday by some fishermen, off Slapton, and on the following evening Mr Hacker held the Inquest at the Royal Sands Hotel. The Jury having viewed the body, which lay in an outhouse close by, they received the following evidence:- Walter Thomas Blank - I live at Torcross and am a stable boy. I have seen the body of the deceased and identify it as that of my father, THOMAS BLANK. - The Coroner: Has he no other christian name? - Witness:- No; not that I am aware of. - The Coroner:- What about the name "CHADDER"? - Witness:- He was never called CHADDER. Some of the Jury here said that the deceased was known by the name of CHADDER. Witness:- He is not called by that name at all. A relative of the deceased here stepped forward and said deceased was married in the name of BLANK. The Coroner:- But the Jury here say he is called CHADDER. Do you know anything about that. Witness:- The grandfather was called CHADDER BLANK, and I suppose the name has been given to the deceased, but, so far as I know, it is not his right name. The boy then proceeded with his evidence. He said he identified the body by the clothes, the R.D.Y.C. letters on his Jersey and a tattoo mark on his arm. Deceased was 45 years of age, and was a sailor. On Friday July 12th when he left home in the morning, his father and brother were preparing to sail to Dartmouth in a boat which he looked after for Mr A. F. Holdsworth, of Widdicombe. It was a little open boat fitted with sails. The boy (his brother) could not swim, but his father could swim well. Richard Hannaford, fisherman, of Beesands - I identify the body as that of THOMAS BLANK, known better as THOMAS CHADDER BLANK. About eight a.m. on July 12th, I saw him and his son leave the sands in a small sailing boat for Dartmouth. The sails were a small mizen and sprit-sail, and a small foresail. The wind was squally from the N.W. Here the Coroner intimated that the evidence of some of the witnesses who were called at the Inquest held on the body of the boy last Friday, need not be given in person. It was sufficient for him to read it over and this he proceeded to do. Ernest Stone, sailor, of Dartmouth (evidence read) - I saw the boy and his father in Dartmouth harbour on Friday, July 12th. I saw them leave the Custom House quay about half past two in the afternoon. They hoisted the sails and I saw them sail out of the harbour. I watched them go far as the Castle. The weather was puffy and squally but I did not consider it dangerous. The boat was a small open one, about fourteen feet in length. John Wakeham, mariner, of Dartmouth (evidence read) - I was outside Dartmouth harbour fishing on the afternoon of July 12th, when I saw a little boat with the boy and his father in it sail past me towards Torcross. She passed about 300 yards inside where I was fishing, and about 200 yards from land. She was all right then. The man was steering and all the sails were up. I was fishing and attending to my net. When I looked up a few minutes afterwards I could not see anything of the boat. At the time I thought she had gone round a point to the shore. I did not think at the time that she had capsized, but after hearing that a boat was missing with the man and boy in it, I think she must have capsized just after I saw her. She was just off Redlap Cove. It was very squally, and rather dangerous weather.

The Main Sheet Made Fast. - Samuel Coaker, Trinity pilot, of Dartmouth (evidence read) - On July 13th, I was sailing in the pilot cutter midway between Dartmouth harbour and the Bell Buoy, when I sighted a small boat capsized on her beam ends. The sails were all set, but were underwater. I got hold of the boat and had her hauled up on the deck of our vessel. There was nothing in the boat. I found that the mainsheet was made fast to a brass beg. In my opinion that was probably the cause of the accident. William Allery, fisherman, Slapton. - Yesterday morning, about ten o'clock, I was one of a number of men who were rowing along off Slapton Sands. We were going fishing. I saw a body floating on the water about 100 yds from shore. We rowed to it, took it in the boat, and conveyed it on shore, afterwards giving notice to the Slapton police constable. There was nothing belonging to a boat floating near the body. Alexander Bailey, coastguardsman, Torcross - I was informed by one of the fish buyers that a body had been found floating in the water. I assisted in getting it in, and after searching it with the assistance of the police, I handed it over to the constable and helped him to take it to the out-house in which it now lies. On searching the body we found a purse containing money, and a pipe. The Coroner said that was all the evidence he had to put before the Jury, but he thought it was quite sufficient to enable them to arrive at a conclusion. Friends of the deceased had identified the body not only by the clothes but by marks upon it, and there was no reasonable doubt that it was the body of the man named BLANK, otherwise CHADDER BLANK, who left Torcross on July 12 to sail to Dartmouth with his boy. Although no one actually saw the boat capsize, they had a witness who saw her sail by him, off Dartmouth harbour, and who shortly afterwards missed her, and there was very little doubt that this was the time she capsized. A Juryman said a strong representation ought to be made against the practice of tying fast the main sheet. There was no doubt that when a squall struck the boat, the main sheet being fastened caused her to turn over. The Coroner:- The deceased was a sailor, a man brought up to the sea. Those are the very people who know it is dangerous to fasten the main sheet, especially in squally weather and yet they do it. The Jury then returned a verdict of "Accidental Drowning," and handed their fees to the widow. In the purse found on the deceased was a sum of £1 6s. 9d. The body of the boy was buried on Friday evening, and that of his father on Wednesday morning, both in Stokenham churchyard. Great sympathy is felt for the widow and her family of three children.

Friday 16 August 1895

KINGSWEAR - Sad Fatality At Scabbacombe Cliffs. Terrible Fall Of Forty Feet. - On Tuesday morning, a young farm labourer named EDWIN CHARLES HOOPER, of Boohay, employed by Mr Came, farmer, of Woodhuish, was rabbiting with his brother on Scabbacombe Cliff about 2 miles out of Kingswear, when he slipped and after a hopeless effort to grasp something that would arrest his progress, went over the top of the cliff and had a fearful fall of quite forty feet, striking a ledge half-way which must have caused him to rebound with great force. His brother, who was several feet away at the time, was horrified to see deceased going to his death, but could make no effort to stop him, and he hastened to the shore below by a circuitous route, to find his brother lying unconscious on the rocks. After placing some ferns on the injured lad's head which was terribly battered, the other one ran off to Boohay village and informed his father, who speedily made his way to the spot, and sent for a waggon from the farm close by. Great difficulty was experienced in getting the deceased up the cliff, and he was then taken to his home in the waggon. In spite of all that could be done by Dr Kendall, who arrived from Kingswear with all possible despatch, the unfortunate lad expired shortly before four o'clock. The occurrence has cast quite a gloom over the quiet little village of Boohay, which adjoins Mr Llewellyn's seat at Nethway. The Inquest took place at the Royal Dart Hotel, Kingswear, on Wednesday evening. After the Jury had been empanelled at the hotel, they proceeded to Boohay to view the body. On their return they received the following evidence:- JOHN THOMAS HOOPER, farm labourer, aged 20:- I identify the body as that of my brother, who was 19 years of age, and was, like myself, a farm labourer. He lived with the family at Boohay Cottage, Boohay. Yesterday morning we went to gather mushrooms. It was too wet to go to work. We could not get any mushrooms, and then we went round to the cliff at Scabbacombe. Deceased saw a rabbit's hole down in the side of the cliff, and he said to me, "There's a rabbit's hole, TOM, I'm going down to it." At the time I was some distance behind him. All at once I saw him sliding along and then he went over out of my sight. He tried to catch hold, but there was nothing for him to hold on to. From the top of the cliff you could not see the bottom, and he must have struck another part of the cliff first, and then fallen straight down. He slipped before he came to the rabbit's hole. The Coroner: What caused him to slip, do you think? - Witness: By the look of it the earth gave away. There was a slippery rock just below, but he slipped before he came to that. The Coroner - Does the field run up to the edge of the cliff? - Witness: Yes. Q.: Is there a public footpath there? - A.: No. I have seen people walk along the cliff, but they have no right there. Q.: Was there anyone else by at the time? - A.: No, only deceased and myself. Witness then recounted the state in which he found deceased. He ran down another way to the bottom after his brother fell, and found deceased quite unconscious. The back of his head was very much injured. Witness continued - I picked two or three ferns and laid under his head, and then I went home and told of the accident and my father sent me up to Woodhuish for a horse and vehicle. Father, myself and another man carried deceased up the cliff by the same way as I went down, and we then took him home. I think the accident happened about a quarter to eleven in the morning, and my brother died about a quarter to four in the afternoon. Deceased was quite an able-bodied young man, and his sight was all right except that he was a little near-sighted in one eye. The Coroner: You could not find any mushrooms, and then you went rabbiting. Had you found any rabbits before he fell? Witness - No. That was the first rabbit's hole we saw. A Juryman - How far did he fall? Witness could hardly tell. He thought it was 17 or 18 feet. P.C. Hammett here volunteered the information that he had inspected the spot, and that after he had slipped deceased must have fallen a sheer 40 feet on to the rocks. SAMUEL MEMORY HOOPER, father of the deceased:- After the last witness came home and spoke of the accident, I went away directly to the cliff. I was too much engaged with the deceased. I sent for a wain to take him home in. Fortunately there was another man up over gathering mushrooms, and with his help we got the deceased up. We should not have got him up by ourselves. By the Coroner: There is no public path along the edge of the cliff. People go along there sometimes but I do not suppose it is allowed. Dr W. B. Kendall, practising at Kingswear. - About half-past twelve yesterday I was called to Boohay and arrived there about one o'clock. I found deceased unconscious and I soon came to the conclusion that he was suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull, and was dying. From a description of the height and the place at which he fell, I should think it more than likely that he fell on his feet, and then fell over and hurt his head. There were no bones broken. I stayed there until he died, about 3 hours later. P.C. Hammett said the cliff went sloping down for about 9ft. Then there was a smooth ledge and a perpendicular fall of 20ft. There was another smooth ledge, and a second drop of quite twenty feet. He examined the place, and by the marks judged that deceased had rebounded heavily from the second ledge and then fallen on to the rocks, where witness found blood. There was no public path or right there. Mr Came of Woodhuish Farm, allowed people to go there gathering mushrooms, but it was a private place. No fence existed there. Summing up, the Coroner said there was no doubt as to the manner in which deceased met his death. If it was a public path around these cliffs, it certainly ought to be fenced, but it appeared to him from the statements of the witness that no public right of way existed; therefore no one had any right to go there except by permission of the occupier of the farm. A Juryman (one of the coastguard) here remarked that a right of way for the coastguard existed right round the British Islands, 18ft. from the edge of the cliffs. He did not know whether this could be regarded as public or not. The Coroner - Certainly not. That is quite a different thing to a public path. Without hesitation the Jury, of whom Mr J. H. Short was chosen Foreman, then returned a verdict of "Accidental Death". They gave their fees to the father.

Friday 23 August 1895

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death In A Boat. A Mysterious Occurrence. - Last evening (Thursday) an aged sawyer, named JOHN MOSES, who has resided at Silver-street for many years, met with his death in a sad and mysterious manner. He left home in the afternoon to go to Sandquay wood after some timber, which he had promised to send to Brixham. Between seven and eight o'clock in the evening Walter Fleet, an extraman belonging to the pilot cutter Gwendoline, saw a boat drifting down the harbour close to the railway arch at the entrance to Waterhead Creek, while deceased was laying in the boat with his head hanging over the gunwale. his straw hat was floating alongside, and the paddles were both shipped. With assistance, Fleet took deceased to the Cottage Hospital, and Dr Soper was sent for, but, on his arrival, pronounced life to be extinct. Whether the deceased was dead at the time he was found in the boat does not seem to be quite clear. The body was afterwards removed to Silver-street, to await the Inquest, which will be held at 3 o'clock this afternoon. Deceased was 75 years of age.

Friday 30 August 1895

DARTMOUTH - Terrible Cycling Fatality Near Dartmouth. Hurled Against A Wall. - A terrible cycling accident, the like of which has never occurred in this neighbourhood before, happened on Wednesday night. Shortly after sunset, but before "lamp time", MR J. B. MARSH was riding down the New Road on a pneumatic safety, when he lost control of the machine, which dashed with fearful force against the high wall opposite Townstal farmhouse. The rider's head struck the wall with a sickening crash, and he fell unconscious on to the road. He was taken to the Cottage Hospital in a basket car moaning greatly all the way. Dr Davson and Dr Soper were soon in attendance, but there was absolutely no hope, and the unfortunate gentleman expired very soon after being admitted to the Hospital. To make the occurrence the sadder, his wife has been in the town for several days, staying at Miss Arthur's, Charlton Terrace. Deceased was an architect and surveyor, belonging to Dudley, Worcestershire, and was touring to Dartmouth on his bicycle. He had ridden on Wednesday from Taunton. It is stated that both himself and wife had been in the habit of visiting Dartmouth Regatta. The sad affair cast quite a gloom over the town when it became known. It is conjectured that he was descending the hill with his feet on the rests, and that the brake refused to act at a critical moment. It is difficult to assign any other cause for the accident. The corner opposite the farm house is a very sharp one which needs to be ridden with caution, especially by strangers unacquainted with the hill which although not very steep, is dangerous at the sudden curves.

The Inquest: - took place at the Guildhall on Thursday morning before Mr R. W. Prideaux. Mr Fabian was chosen Foreman of the Jury. One of the persons summoned, named Widdicombe, Foss Street, attended too late to be included in the Jury, and was admonished by the Coroner, who said that on the next occasion he should fine him. The following evidence was received after the Jury had viewed the body and the bicycle, both of which were at the Hospital. - Harry Roberts, of Wolverhampton Street, Dudley, solicitor - I identify the body as that of JAMES BADGER MARSH, residing at Bourne Street, Dudley. He was an architect and surveyor and either 52 or 53 years of age. I last saw him alive at Stourbridge Junction Station on Friday morning last. His intention then was to ride a bicycle on to Dartmouth. He was expected here last night. I have known him for ten years or more. Mary Grace Wellington, married - I reside at Townstal. Yesterday evening, about 20 minutes past seven I was at the door of Townstal Cottage, which was formerly the old turnpike. I saw the deceased riding down on a bicycle towards Dartmouth. he was ringing the bell all the way. His feet were on the foot-rests in front. Just as he got down by the double doors opposite Townstal farm-house he went right against the wall. The machine turned over. He ran against the wall on his left side. The machine was going very fast. The Coroner:- You are all aware gentlemen, that there is a sharp corner there. Witness added that the machine did not turn the corner, but went straight for the wall. She went a little way down and saw Mr Mumford and others attending to the deceased. She had seen others ride down much slower. John Henry Mumford, farmer:- I reside at Townstal farm. Last evening, about twenty past seven, when walking down the garden path, I heard a bicycle coming. The rider did not appear to turn the corner, and ran into the wall close to the double doors with terrific force. His head and hands struck the wall, which also caught the pedal of the machine and knocked it clean off. I heard the bell just once. I immediately went to deceased's help, and with the assistance of another man I picked him up. His face was bleeding very much. I at once went for Dr Davson. By a Juror:- I do not know whether the deceased had the machine under control or not. He was going at a great pace and apparently could not turn the corner quick enough. Dr F. A. Davson:- At 7.30 p.m., I was summoned to Townstal, where I found deceased lying in the road in a state of stupor and breathing heavily. I had him removed into the house as it was getting dark. I discovered a cut over the left side of the head, and a bleeding artery. The left eye was swollen and discoloured. the symptoms generally pointed to fracture of certain portions of the base of the skull and internal haemorrhage. I had him removed to the Cottage Hospital where Dr Soper examined him with me and confirmed my opinions. Deceased died about half an hour afterwards. He never regained consciousness. There were other minor bruises, cuts about the hands, &c. P.C. Walter Bedford:- About 8.30 last evening, receiving information as to the accident, I proceeded to Townstal and on my way met the men who were taking deceased to the Cottage Hospital. I followed and assisted them, and remained there until deceased died about 9 p.m. Witness then enumerated the articles found on the deceased. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death and desired to express their great sympathy with the widow. It was stated that deceased had visited Dartmouth many times previously on his bicycle.

DARTMOUTH - Found Dead In A Boat. The Inquest. - Mr R. W. Prideaux, Borough Coroner, held an Inquest at the Dartmouth Guildhall, on Friday afternoon, touching the death of JOHN MOSES, sawyer, who was found dead in a boat under circumstances reported in our last issue. Mr P. Pinhey was chosen Foreman of the Jury, which, after viewing the body at Silver Street, received the following evidence:- JAMES JOHN MOSES, boat builder - I identify the body of the deceased as that of my grandfather, who was a sawyer, and 67 years of age. I last saw him alive on Monday, when he appeared in his usual health. He has been infirm for a long time. Last night (Thursday) about twenty to nine I was called to the Hospital, and found him dead. I believe the hat produced to be his. Langmead Casey Pillar, employed at the Floating Bridge:- Last night about seven o'clock I saw the deceased pulling down the river in a boat on the Kingswear side, just off the Floating Bridge. There did not appear to be anything the matter with him. I watched him pass below the hospital ship. He has been in the habit of towing timber attached to his boat, but I could not say if he had any yesterday. - By the Jury:- I have seen him pull down on many occasions, just as he was pulling last night. Walter James Fleet, mariner:- I am well acquainted with the deceased. About 8 p.m. yesterday I was pulling up by Waterhead Creek bridge. About a hundred yards above the bridge, some lads shouted, "man overboard". I immediately turned round and pulled back, seeing a boat apparently loaded. I reached it in about a minute and a half, and on jumping I found the deceased half out and half in. He was leaning over the gunwale with his left arm in the water and his hair just touching it. His mouth and face were not under water. I laid him back as well as I could on the thawts and shouted for assistance. I worked his arms up and down and endeavoured to see if there was any life left in him, but apparently there was none. With the assistance of Capt. Bray I took him to the Cottage Hospital. There was no sign of life whatever from the first moment I discovered him. The paddles were unshipped and laid down in the boat. Towing behind the boat were some logs of wood. I think he must have unshipped the paddles properly and attempted to catch hold the bridge to pull his boat under it into the creek, and then was taken with a fit and fell forward. Dr J. H. Harris:- About half-past eight I saw the deceased at the Hospital. He was lying dead on the couch. I made a superficial examination. The trousers up to his knees, were soaking wet, but the remainder of his clothing, with the exception of the left coat sleeve, was perfectly dry. The body was warm, and rigor mortis had not set in, showing that death had been very recent. There were no marks of violence, and no sign of his having had a fit. I have known deceased for some five or six years, and believe him to have suffered from heart disease; one of those cases which show no symptoms whatever. Such a man might go on working for years, and suddenly drop down dead. Deceased has always worked and walked in a stooping position, and his suddenly rising erect and stretching up to catch hold of the bridge after pulling might induce an attack of faintness and the heart's action cease instantly. I believe that was the cause of death. - The Coroner:- Natural causes then. - Witness:- Yes. - The Coroner:- How would you account for his trousers being wet? - Witness: I believe he was in the habit of walking in the water when pushing his boat out from Old Mill. The Coroner said he did not think it necessary to trouble the Jury with any remarks, for the case appeared perfectly clear and straightforward. The Jury then returned a verdict of "Death from Natural Causes, probably Heart Disease."

Friday 6 September 1895

TORBAY - Crushed To Death By A Traction Engine. - At the Torbay Hospital on Wednesday evening Mr S. Hacker (County Coroner) held an Inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of MATTHEW FREE, who met with a shocking death through being run over by one of three waggons attached to a traction belonging to Messrs. Hancock, roundabout proprietors, whilst on the road to Shaldon from Dartmouth Regatta on Monday evening. Alfred Mallacamn, of 48 Charlotte street, Morice Town, Devonport, identified the body as that of MATTHEW FREE. Walter Matthews, of Taunton, near Gloucester, the engine driver in the employment of Messrs. Hancock said that at the time of the accident they were going about 3 miles an hour. He supposed that deceased endeavoured to get upon the coupling bar from the near side. He (witness) had no idea that deceased was going to ride, but the men rode there sometimes. There were no regulations to stop that. The Coroner said the County Council regulations were that the engine must be stopped to allow a person to get up. Witness, continuing, said that a cabman went for an ambulance. In answer to a question put by the Coroner, witness said he did not check the engine to allow anyone to get up and have a ride. Deceased had had nothing to drink. William Pigeon, of Torquay, Charles Southwood, Isaac Venner, Arthur Watson (house surgeon at Torbay Hospital) and Miss Hancock having given evidence, the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death."

Friday 27 September 1895

KINGSBRIDGE - Suicide Of A Tradesman. Terrible Struggles. - An Inquest was held in the Town Hall on Saturday by Mr Sidney Hacker and a Jury, of whom Mr W. H. Blake was Foreman, into the circumstances surrounding the death of MR W. PEARCE, a grocer of the town. MRS LOUISA PEARCE, wife of deceased, said her husband had been suffering from sleeplessness for some time past, also from depression and intense headaches. She advised him to consult a doctor, and last week he went to Plymouth and consulted Dr Clay. There was nothing remarkable in his actions during the week, but on the night when the distressing affair happened he talked somewhat strangely, and intimated that the worry of business had been so great to him of late, that he would like to dispose of it. Shortly after this conversation she retired to rest, and she was disturbed by hearing him moving about. Witness lighted the gas, and found him with a razor in his hand, apparently attempting to cut his throat. She struggled with him, and took the razor away. She called for help, and the deceased ran downstairs. She followed and met a policeman coming into the house. Deceased had not at any time threatened to do any harm to himself. Miss Sarah Lindon, a schoolmistress who lodged in the house, gave evidence of being disturbed on Thursday night, and of seeing MR and MRS PEARCE struggling together. MR PEARCE had a razor in his hand. She called in a policeman, and ran for Dr Webb. P.C. Bray deposed to being called to the house. He caught hold of deceased and led him into the room. Shortly after MR PEARCE rushed out of the room. Witness struggled with him and in doing so slipped and fell on the floor. MR PEARCE got away, and on witness recovering himself, he searched for him. He discovered him crouching in the corner of the kitchen with a knife at his side and his throat cut. Mr T. Lidstone, butcher, brother-in-law of deceased, said that the deceased had talked much about business matters of late, and at times seemed depressed. They had supper together on Thursday night, and afterwards went for a walk. Deceased told him that he had just had his will made. He felt he was getting weaker and did not know what might happen. Dr Webb said he was called to see MR PEARCE. He found he had inflicted a very deep wound in his throat. The carving knife (produced) was lying on the table. Life was extinct. Eliza Stone Steer, servant with MRS PEARCE, said the knife was left on the table to be cleaned in the morning. A verdict was returned by the Jury "That deceased took his life while of Unsound Mind."

The Drowning Case. - The body of the man found drowned near the Totnes Weir, in the River Dart on Thursday of last week, and which was first supposed to be that of a well-known boxer was identified on Saturday morning as that of WALLACE GEORGE BROOKING, twenty years of age, a labourer, of Curtisknowle, near Totnes, who has lately resided with an uncle at Plymouth. He left Curtisknowle to attend Totnes Races on the second day, and as he did not return, it was supposed he had gone back to Plymouth. There is no evidence as to how deceased got into the river, but the post mortem shows that death resulted from drowning. An Inquest was held at Dartington, on Saturday afternoon, before the County Coroner, Mr Sidney Hacker and was adjourned until today (Friday) to procure further evidence.

Friday 11 October 1895

DARTMOUTH - The Case of Child Neglect At Dartmouth. Death Of The Child. Verdict Of Manslaughter Against The Mother. - The five months' old child of SAMUEL and MARY JANE PENGELLY died at Silver-street in the early hours of Saturday morning. it will be remembered that on the Tuesday previous the father and mother were charged at the local Police Court with neglecting it, and heavily fined, the father £2 and the mother £3. Dr J. H. Harris was called in on Friday night and found that the child was dying, and it expired about 3 hours after he left.

An Inquest. - was held on Monday morning at the Guildhall, Mr W. R. Atkins was chosen Foreman of the Jury which numbered 15. Inspector Ashby, N.S.P.C.C., who prosecuted in the cruelty case, was present to watch the evidence on behalf of the Society and was himself called as a witness. The Coroner (Mr R. W. Prideaux) said the case would require the most careful consideration of the Jury. Doubtless they were all congnisant of certain proceedings which took place in another Court, but he wanted them that day to dismiss from their minds everything they had heard or read about it, and to be guided in their verdict by the evidence that would be brought before them. He (the Coroner) had had a post mortem examination made on the child, and medical and other testimony would be forthcoming. The Jury then proceeded to Silver-street to view the body and on their return into Court, received the following evidence:- Dr J. H. Harris - I identify the child as that of SAMUEL and MARY PENGELLY, who reside in Silver-street, Dartmouth. Its age is about five months. I first saw the child on July 12th last, when it was brought to my house by the mother to be vaccinated. Its condition then was that of a child either starved or improperly fed. I vaccinated it and, at the same time, warned the mother as to its condition, telling her that if she didn't improve it, she would get into some trouble. I saw the child again on the 20th July, when it was brought to me in the usual course, after vaccination, to be inspected. I did not see it again until September 16th, when I was summoned by the Inspector of the N.S.P.C.C. to visit and examine the child and report upon its condition, which I did in his presence. I found the child very much emaciated, weighing only 7 ½lbs., and suffering in every way from neglect and want of proper food. Since then, on several occasions, I have seen the deceased on the Inspector's instigation and have instructed the mother as to how she should feed it. So far as I know, she has carried out my instructions. Each time I called at the house she was at home and the child had a bottle of milk by it. The last time I saw the child alive was on Friday last. The Coroner:- How many times did you visit it? Witness:- Four times between September 16th, and its death. The Coroner remarked that it would be best to take the story consecutively, and enquired as to the police-court proceedings of the previous Tuesday. Dr Harris said he attended on that occasion and gave evidence on behalf of the prosecution in the charge of neglecting the child, which was brought against both the father and the mother. He saw the child three times between September 16th and October 1st., when the case was taken, not including September 16th. Whilst thus attending deceased he saw no symptoms pointing to disease. The Coroner:- Now during that time did the child improve? - Witness: Yes it did. On Friday last, October 4th, at 11 p.m., I was called to see the deceased. Its condition then was very much worse than when I saw it before, in fact it was dying. Its death took place, I understand, about two hours after I saw it. By your order I have since made a post mortem. - The Coroner:- When? - Witness:- At 5 p.m. on Saturday, about fifteen hours after death. From the external appearance, the child was very small for a child of five months old. It was clean, had no marks of violence about it, and no sores of any kind. Rigor mortis had set in. The appearance of the face was that of a skull with the skin drawn tightly over it; the eyes were very much sunken, the skin over the body and limbs was loose and wrinkled, and there was no distension of the abdomen. On opening the body there was not a particle of fat between the skin and the ribs, or between the skin and the muscles of the abdomen, where, in ordinary well-fed children, there is generally a thick layer. The muscles of the body were very thin and wasted. The heart was healthy, but had not a particle of fat around it, where there is generally to be found a good quantity. The lungs were shrunken, but healthy; there was no sign of inflammation or tubercole. There was no fluid or adhesion in the pleural cavities. The liver was small but healthy. The kidneys were healthy, but the usual fat around them was wanting. The omentum which covered the intestines, which usually contains a large quantity of fat, had not a particle of fat in it. the intestines were not inflamed or irritated, and were empty and wanting in nutrition. There was no sign of ulceration about them, or of diarrhoea having taken place. The intestinal glands were not enlarged or congested, and showed no sign of disease. The spleen was healthy and natural. The stomach was very small, slightly distended with gas, but there was no sign of any irritant having been put into it, and no sign of ulceration. It contained about two ounces of thin fluid, chiefly gastric juice and the water component of milk and two small portions of coagulated milk about the size of small marbles. This was evidently the remains of a little milk taken just before death. There was not the slightest sign of any disease about the body. The only disease likely to cause the condition is what is commonly called "consumption of the bowels." I looked carefully for any sign of that disease and could find none. The only conclusion I can come to as to the cause of death is Insufficient Feeding, and want of proper care. The Coroner:- You don't attribute death to natural causes. - Witness: No. The Coroner: Did you examine the head at all? - Witness: No; I did not think it was necessary to do so, the child having shown no sign of brain disease during life. The Chairman:- On the second occasion on which you examined the child, did you notice any improvement? - Witness:- I cannot say that I did. I had simply warned the mother in a friendly way. I merely examined the arm on the second occasion. The Foreman:- did you give her any instructions for feeding the child? - Witness:- No; not then. A Juryman:- When you visited the house on those four occasions was the father present? - Witness:- On one occasion he was. The mother was present every time. She had not to be sent for. Another Juryman:- You said in the post mortem report that there was some food in the stomach. Could the child have taken that in the two hours preceding death? - Witness:- Yes, or it might have taken it before. In reply to another question, Dr Harris said the father and mother were present when he visited the house on Friday night. - Samuel Joseph Ashby, inspector of the N.S.P.C.C., residing at Torquay:- On Monday, September 16th, between 112 a.m. and noon, from information which I had received, I visited the house of SAMUEL PENGELLY and his wife. I saw MRS PENGELLY and told her who I was. I asked to see the baby. She went to a perambulator which was standing in the room, and showed me the child wrapped up in a dirty blanket. I examined it and found it terribly emaciated. Its knees were drawn up to its stomach. It was moaning continuously as if in great agony. I asked her how she had fed the child and she said "From the breast and with boiled bread and milk." I asked her whether she had had any medical attendance for the child, and she said "not since it was vaccinated." In the presence of P.S. Stentiford I asked her whether its life was insured and she replied: "Yes, for a penny a week." About a quarter-of-an-hour afterwards I obtained the assistance of Dr Harris, the previous witness, and weighed the child in the presence of the doctor and Sergt. Stentiford. It weighed, with clothes on, about 7 ½lbs. Finding the child was too bad to be taken away I instructed Dr Harris to attend it on behalf of the Society. The Coroner:- I don't think Dr Harris told us what should be the weight of a child of that age. - Dr Harris:- It would be an average. About 14lbs., I should think. Some might weigh a little more, or others a little less. - P.S. Stentiford, stationed at Dartmouth:- On the 16th of last month I accompanied the Inspector to the house of SAMUEL and MARY PENGELLY. I saw the child. Its condition was as described by the last witness. I was present when it was weighed, and can corroborate the inspector's evidence as to the weight of the child and the conversation which took place between him (Mr Ashby) and MARY JANE PENGELLY. I saw the child when I served the summons on PENGELLY and his wife, and I then thought it was looking better in face than on September 16th. The summons was for neglecting the child, and it was served on September 26th at the instance of the N.S.P.C.C. I did not see it again closely until I saw it dead on Saturday morning. I had previously seen the mother out with it. - The Coroner:- What is PENGELLY? - Witness:- A pensioner from the Royal Navy. He was a first-class petty officer. He resides at Silver-street, and does coal-lumping work. The Coroner:- Has the child, to your knowledge, been in his and his wife's custody since it was born? - Witness:- Yes, sir; he has been living home all the time. The Coroner:- Have you anything to say about the habits of the parents? - Witness:- So far as the man is concerned, I have nothing to say against him. He is a very well-conducted man. The Coroner:- And the mother? - Witness:- I have seen her at times under the influence of drink; more than once within the last three months. She could walk, but from her talk it was clear that she was drunk. I have seen her out on the New Ground dancing. When I have seen her out at such times she has not had the child with her. The Coroner:- About these proceedings against the father and mother; were you in Court? - Witness:- Yes, I was a witness. The charge was heard before the Dartmouth justices on Tuesday, October 1st, and PENGELLY was fined £2 inclusive, and his wife £3 inclusive, for neglecting the child. The justices considered there was more fault with the mother than the father. On Saturday I saw MRS PENGELLY, after I had reported the matter to you, and told her there would be an Inquest held on the child. The father had previously reported the death at the police station. MRS PENGELLY said: "I wonder whatever they will bring in," meaning the Jury. I told her that I could not tell her, but that she and her husband must be present. I afterwards saw her husband and told him as well. I was present on Saturday evening when the doctor made the post mortem. MRS PENGELLY said the child was unwell the whole of Friday. She said "It has not wanted for anything, as I have had a pint and a half of new milk from Mr Henley, dairyman, in Clarence-street, and I have paid two-pence and threepence every day since the doctor gave me instructions what to do with the child." The father brought the feeding bottle and said "Here's the remainder; what was left from yesterday." The bottle was nearly full of milk. He also said that he had done everything that he possibly could for the child. - Sarah Jane Jarwood, married, residing at Silver-street - I saw MRS PENGELLY on Thursday last, and she was the worse for drink all the day. I saw the child on Friday afternoon. I passed the remark to my husband that I did not think it would live, as it was looking very ill. That was in the middle of the afternoon. MRS PENGELLY passed my house with it in her arms. The Coroner:- You have been living at Silver-street and the PENGELLYS reside near you; has the child been in their custody since its birth? - Witness:- Yes; it has always been with them. The Sergeant: - What about Thursday night? - Witness:- On Thursday night between nine and ten both babies were crying in the PENGELLYS' house. MRS PENGELLY was out. MR PENGELLY went and fetched her.

She Was Drunk, - and not in a fit state to look after a baby at all. The Foreman:- What age would the other child be about? - Witness:- Over two years, I know. A Juryman:- What state is the other child in? - Witness:- It is a very weakly-looking thing, with crooked legs. A Juror - As if it was not properly fed? - Witness:- Well, I wouldn't like to say that. The Coroner:- We are only enquiring into the death of this one child you know. Another Juryman asked whether the father was generally at home, and witness replied that he was when he was not out about his work. "The man cannot always be at home," she added.

Clara Henley, wife of Arthur Henley, dairyman, Clarence Street - I know MR and MRS PENGELLY. They have had milk from us since the child has been ill. For the first two days after September 16th they had a pint of new milk each morning. After that, up to Thursday night last, they had a quarter-pint twice a-day, and about ten o'clock on Friday night they had a pint and a half in three separate half-pints, about five minutes between each. The Foreman:- Had MR and MRS PENGELLY previously had milk from you? - Witness:- Not continuously until after September 16th. After that was the first time they had any for the baby, so far as I knew. A Juryman wanted to know who fetched the milk, and witness stated that on one occasion MRS PENGELLY came for it and at other times her little boy or little girl came. This being all the evidence tendered, the Coroner called SAMUEL PENGELLY forward and informed him that if he desired to make a statement on oath he could now do so, but warned him that whatever he said would be taken down in writing and might be used in evidence against him. PENGELLY - I will make a statement. The Coroner (after administering the oath):- Then what do you wish to say? - PENGELLY said:- I am a coal lumper. Since the baby has been born it was always known to be crying, and never could keep quiet. My wife has treated the one that's dead the same as she did the remainder. The other never used to cry like that. I could not be in there all day long. sometimes I have been three or four times a day, and then I might be away until three or four o'clock the next morning. On some occasions when I went home the child used to be better than on others. The child died at a quarter-to-one on Saturday morning. - The Coroner:- Is that all you wish to say? - PENGELLY:- Yes. When I was away at night, sir, I used to be at work. The Coroner:- You wish that added? - PENGELLY - Yes, sir. The statement having been read over, it was signed by the man, whose hand trembled violently. MARY JANE PENGELLY was then called forward, and after receiving from the Coroner a similar caution to that given to her husband, also made a sworn statement. She said - I have had seven children, four boys and three girls, and ever since the last child was born I have had no rest night or day. The child has been continually crying and would not keep quiet. The more I did for it the more it cried. I used to give it boiled bread and new milk. When I went to have it vaccinated Dr Harris told me to give it plenty of new milk. The first pint of new milk I bought was from Mrs Hicks' in Lower-street. I went home and sent my eldest son to Mr Rees' to get a bottle and when he brought the bottle home I warmed half-a-pint of milk and, with half-a-cupful of warm water and two tea-spoonfuls of moist sugar, put it into the bottle and gave it to the child. Ever since then I have continued to give it new milk up to the time of its death. Sometimes Mrs Henley has no milk and then I have to go elsewhere to get it. I have bought several pennyworths of milk at Mrs Luscombe's. The day before my child died I went to Mrs Henley's for a pennyworth of milk in the morning, and during the day the child drank about a pint. I saw the child was bad, and I was walking the room with him all the day on Friday. I warmed another bottle of milk for him, which made two pennyworth I had that day. About ten o'clock the same night I saw it was took worse and I went to Dr Harris. He walked home with me, and, after seeing the child, he told me it was dying. The child died about a quarter to one. The Coroner here asked the Doctor what quantity of milk a child of that age should take every day. Dr Harris:- A child of ordinary health would take perhaps a quart, but a child in the state of this one would not be able to take so much. This was all the evidence, and the Coroner then proceeded to sum up. The Jury, he said, would have to consider two things - first, what caused the death of the child, and, second, whether any person or persons were responsible for the death, and, if so, to what degree their responsibility extended. There was a duty imposed by law upon all people having the custody of another who was helpless - viz., to give him or her sufficient food and care. The omission to perform that duty was what the law called neglect. Such neglect might be of three different degrees. It might amount to murder, or manslaughter, or it might fall short of either of them. Death ensuing as a direct consequence of the omission to perform a duty imposed by contract, or otherwise, would be murder or manslaughter, according as the omission was wilful or negligent. It was further laid down that it was the bounden duty of all persons having the custody of children that when they were unable to support them, they must obtain some means of support for them. If they wilfully abstained from going into the Union and the child died they were criminally responsible. He mentioned this to show that even paupers could not be relieved of this responsibility. In this case it appeared that the father was a pensioner from the Royal Navy, and worked at coal-lumping, so it could be taken for granted that he had means sufficient to provide the child with the necessary food. Passing on to describe the legal definition of murder, the Coroner said the evidence was certainly not sufficient to justify a charge of that sort. With regard to manslaughter, such a verdict could only be given when death was the direct consequence of an act or omission to perform a duty. The law was such that, if they had any doubt as to whether death was the direct result of any omission on the part of the parents, or one of them, no matter how heinous or blameworthy their conduct appeared to be, the Jury must give them the benefit of that doubt. Having thus laid down the law, the Coroner proceeded to review the evidence in detail. He drew special attention to the medical testimony, and particularly to the doctor's opinion that death was the result, not of natural causes, but of insufficient feeding and want of proper care. In conclusion, he pointed out that under ordinary circumstances the mother would seem to be the one responsible for the custody of the child, and any blame would seem to attach to her; but this was not an ordinary case. The Jury must remember that not longer ago than Tuesday last the mother and father were summoned before the magistrates on the charge of neglecting the child now deceased, and that both were fined. That was a warning to the father as head of the household to take extra care that the child should in future receive proper treatment. It was now the duty of the Jury to consider whether the child died as a result of any neglect on the part of the father or the mother, or of both. The Jury then retired to the upstairs room. They were absent from the Court about twenty minutes. On their return, the Foreman, in reply to the Coroner, said they had agreed. They attributed the death of the child to insufficient feeding and want of proper care on the part of the mother, and returned a verdict of Manslaughter against her, while they also wished to add a rider requesting the Coroner to severely censure the father for not seeing that the child was better looked after. The Coroner:- I shall now adjourn this Inquest until six o'clock, in order that the verdict may be prepared upon parchment for your signature. In the ordinary course I should have merely adjourned for half-an-hour, but I understand there is a Council meeting here at 3 p.m. The Inquest then stood adjourned at 2.30 p.m. The mother was taken into custody by the police, and P.S. Stentiford was requested by the Coroner to see that the father was brought up at the adjourned Inquest.

Re-Assembling at six o'clock, when the Guildhall was crowded, the Jury signed the verdict of Manslaughter against the mother, and their duties were then at an end. The witnesses were then bound over in their own recognizances of £10 each to appear at the Assizes at Exeter, and the Coroner handed to the Police Sergeant the warrant for the apprehension of the prisoner. SAMUEL PENGELLY was then called forward, and, addressing him, the Coroner said - I have been requested by the Jury, who have given very careful consideration to this case, to administer to you a severe censure. I personally record my opinion that I do not know any case in which a censure has been more richly deserved. Through the merciful consideration of the Jury, in your case, you have escaped being held responsible in the way that your wife has been; but although you are not held legally responsible by the Jury, your moral responsibility is little less than hers. This unfortunate child of yours, during the period of its miserable life was, you told us yourself, a weakly child, and you must frequently have seen it ailing. You admitted that, but you have not, so far as the evidence discloses, called in medical attendance. The only medical attendance has been that arranged by strangers. You have escaped legal responsibility, but remember this; You have been held morally responsible by a Jury of your townsmen for inhumanity and for the want of proper care of your own child, and the stigma and disgrace of that will never leave you. Stand back.

The Father Arrested:- As PENGELLY stepped back he was confronted by P.S. Stentiford who held in his hand a magisterial warrant for his arrest. "I have a warrant for your arrest," said the Sergeant. "For me?" replied the man, "what's that for?" Then the Sergeant proceeded to make the surprise clear to him, and in a moment or so the husband understood that the police were determined that, whatever the verdict of the Jury, he should be linked with his wife in the trial for the Manslaughter of their child. Remanded - Both prisoners were then brought before Mr W. H. Rees, J.P. and the Sergeant asked for a remand. The Clerk - Do you propose to offer any evidence? - The Sergeant - Not until tomorrow. - Mr Rees then remanded them in custody until 11 a.m. on Tuesday. As the magistrate was leaving the Court, Mr J. W. Pillar, of the Britannia Inn, stepped forward and offered bail to the amount of £20 for the prisoners. The police opposed, and the application was refused. Prisoners were then taken to the police station for the night.

[Details of the appearance before the Magistrates followed.]

Friday 18 October 1895

DARTMOUTH - Death Of Another Child In Silver Street. The Inquest. - On Tuesday morning, about 6 o'clock, BESSIE SOULSBURY, a married woman residing in Silver Street, awoke to find her seven weeks' old male child lying dead by her side. It is a singular coincidence that the mother is a sister of MRS PENGELLY, who is at present in Exeter gaol, awaiting her trail at the Assizes on a charge of Manslaughter of her child ALFRED, aged 5 months, by neglect. MRS SOULSBURY has been living apart from her husband, a sailor, for upwards of five years. An Inquest on the body was held at the Guildhall on Wednesday at 11 a.m., by Mr R. W. Prideaux, the Coroner. After viewing the body the Jury received the following evidence:- Dr A. K. Crossfield - Yesterday morning about 6.30 I was called to see the deceased. I found it dead. I made an external examination of the body, which was that of a child about seven weeks old. It was fairly well nourished, and there were no marks of violence upon it. The body was not cold, and I think it must have been dead about 3 or 4 hours. I should think the cause of death probably convulsions, but I cannot be sure that it was not over-laid by the mother. The Coroner:- Is it a case in which you would suggest a post mortem? - Witness:- No, I think not. There is nothing whatever inconsistent with a death from natural causes. BESSIE SOULSBURY - I reside at Silver Street and am the wife of JOHN SOULSBURY, a sailor. The body is that of my infant son, WILLIAM PERCY. He was seven weeks old, wanting a day. He has never had medical attendance, not having been ill since birth. On Monday he was in good health, and I put him to bed about 8 p.m. He slept with me. I went to bed about 12 o'clock. Nothing occurred during the night. I nursed deceased at 12 o'clock, and then went to sleep. About 4 a.m. I woke up and nursed him again. I saw nothing wrong with him then. I went to sleep again and on waking up about 6 o'clock I was going to nurse him once more when I found that he was dead. I am quite certain that I did not over-lay the child. I at once called my neighbour Mrs Ash, and went for the doctor. The night before, the child had a little thrush in the lips. The Coroner:- Was the child's life insured? - Witness:- No, Sir. By the Jury:- When she woke up at six a.m. she saw that the child, which was then dead had its two hands clenched together. She saw nothing else unusual. Sarah Ash, wife of a coal lumper, said for the last two or three days the deceased had had thrush, but apart from that, had been well ever since birth. He had been given every care and attention by the mother. Dr Crossfield, re-called, said the clenching of the child's hands was consistent with convulsions. In reply to a Juror witness said distortion of the face did not necessarily accompany convulsions. The Coroner having summed up briefly the Jury returned a verdict of Death from Natural Causes, probably convulsions.

Friday 25 October 1895

BLACKAWTON - Sad Burning Fatality. - A very sad case of burning, which a day later terminated fatally, occurred at Blackawton on Sunday afternoon, at the residence of MR BAKER, farmer and miller. MRS BAKER had only just left the kitchen when the daughter, a bright girl, eleven years of age, went to the boiler to put in some water. As she leant over the stove the fire ignited her clothing and in less than a moment she was enveloped in flames. Her screams brought first her mother and immediately after, her father, to her help, and between them they extinguished the flames, MR BAKER getting his hands severely burnt in endeavouring to pull the burning clothing off the poor child's body. At once a messenger was despatched to Dr Harris, who came immediately, and directed the removal of the girl to the Dartmouth Cottage Hospital, where, in spite of every care and attendance, she expired on Monday evening. It is a singular and mournful coincidence that MR BAKER'S brother, also a farmer in this neighbourhood, lost a little girl by a scalding accident. She fell into a can of boiling milk that was left on the floor to cool. Great sympathy is felt in Blackawton and the farm houses around, for the bereaved parents, who are widely known and highly respected, and the sad affair has cast quite a gloom over the village.

The Inquest. - took place on Tuesday afternoon at the Dartmouth Guildhall, before Mr R. W. Prideaux, Borough Coroner. The Jury first assembled at the Hospital to view the body. Mr W. H. Sparks was chosen Foreman. The following evidence was received:- LAURA KATE BAKER - I am the wife of JOHN FREDERICK GEORGE BAKER, a miller and farmer at Blackawton. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my child, ANNIE MABEL, who was eleven years of age last May. On Sunday last about 1 p.m. she went to the boiler in the kitchen to put some water into it, as she thought it was boiling dry. I was upstairs at the time. I had only just left the kitchen. Within a minute I heard her scream terribly and I ran down at once and saw that her clothes had taken fire. I took a quilt and threw round her and a jacket, and I managed to extinguish the flames. Her father came into the kitchen just after me, and helped me to put them out. He had to put his hands right in the flames to take off her things, and he got them burnt very badly. I used linseed oil about the deceased's face and hands and then sent for the doctor. The Coroner:- Was there anyone with her in the kitchen at the time? - Witness:- No. The Coroner:- Can you give us any idea as to how the accident occurred? Have you formed any opinion? Witness:- She told me that in putting water into the boiler, which was at the back of the stove, she did not pull the boiler forward, but leant over the stove and her pinafore caught fire. The stove was a closed one. Dr J. H. Harris - I was called to see the deceased on Sunday afternoon about 2.30. I went out at once and saw that she had been very much burnt. The burns extended over her hands, up both arms to her shoulders and over a large surface of the front of the chest. Her knees and thighs were also very much burnt. I had the child removed that night to the Dartmouth Cottage Hospital, where she died last night, the cause of death being shock to the system, due to the extensive nature of the burns. On Sunday night in the hospital, the child told me that she was filling the boiler, which was on the stove, when her clothes caught fire. - The Coroner:- With regard to the father? - Witness:- I have seen him and he is very much burnt about the hands. He is not in a fit condition to come out today. This was all the evidence offered, and the Coroner said it was for the Jury to say whether it was sufficient to enable them to arrive at a verdict. The only other possible witness was the father and he was not first in the kitchen and would only be able to tell them just what occurred after his wife got there. The absence of the father from the Inquiry was satisfactorily explained by the statement of the doctor that he was unable to leave the house in consequence of having been so badly burnt in attempting to take the burning clothes off his child. The Jury were quite agreed that no other evidence was necessary. The Coroner: - The case is perfectly straightforward and if you have decided that you can arrive at a verdict upon the evidence before you, it will be quite unnecessary for me to offer any comments upon that evidence. A verdict of Death by Misadventure was returned.

Friday 1 November 1895

KINGSWEAR - Suicide Of A Naval Signal-Man. - WILLIAM BEARMAN, aged 25, yeoman of signals, who lived at Kingswear up to within a fortnight since, committed suicide by hanging himself on Tuesday morning at the Royal Naval Barracks, Keyham. At the Inquest held in the afternoon by Mr J. A. Pearce, Commander C. Winnington Ingram was present on behalf of the Royal Naval Barracks, and Mr J. P. Goldsmith watched the proceedings for the Admiralty. Harry Wooton, 2nd yeoman of signals, said deceased joined the barracks on October 16th, and during the last few days had been very depressed. In a conversation which witness had with the deceased the previous day, he said he did not like the idea of going to the Endymion which he was about to join, and would cut his throat if it were not for making a mess. Witness did not think he meant his threat seriously. Michael Sullivan, petty officer first class, said he found the deceased at 7.30 that morning in one of the apartments of D Room, A block. He was hanging by a rope attached to a beam. William Watts Crabb, able seaman, said the deceased was of a quiet and reserved disposition. Albert Harris, ordinary seaman, deposed that on Monday he heard deceased say he was very miserable and would take his life, not with a razor, because it would make too much mess. Surgeon Frederick William Collingwood, M.R.C.S., said he was called to see deceased, whose body had by that time been cut down. There was a deeply impressed furrow round the neck, the result of a cord. Death had taken place about six hours before witness saw the body. P.S. Lethbridge, of the borough police, gave evidence of cutting down the body, which was cold and stiff. Witness happened to be at the barracks when the first witness discovered the body, so that no time was lost in cutting it down. Frederick William Conner, ship's corporal, said he had searched the deceased's bag, but found nothing which would throw any light on the suicide. Emma Rogers said deceased (her brother-in-law) was married in August 1894 at Kingswear. He was at that time serving on the Britannia, at Dartmouth, and continued there until a fortnight ago. He went to Kingswear on Saturday to see his wife, and returned on the following evening. He was drafted for the Endymion to leave with the Channel Squadron, and that seemed to depress him. He told witness he would rather go anywhere than to the Endymion, because he said it was such a "warm" ship, and he was afraid of getting dis-rated as others had been. He also said he would rather have been drafted direct to the Endymion than sent to the barracks first and that several had told him he was going to a strict ship. Replying to Mr J. P. Goldsmith, witness said she did not think deceased had served under any of the officers of the Endymion. Commander C. Winnington Ingram produced deceased's parchment, which shewed that he bore a most excellent character, and had been recommended for higher rating. He had served in the Endymion for two years and nine months, and according to the drafting regulations any man after being for two years in a home ship was liable to be drafted for sea service. A second yeoman of signals recently joined the Barracks from the Endymion, having been disrated to a leading signalman for neglect of duty, and no doubt he had made the worst of it in Barracks. He had not heard of any others in the Endymion having been disrated. The Coroner read a most affectionate letter received that morning from deceased's wife, which shewed that he was depressed while at Kingswear on Sunday, and asked him to cheer up. The Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide during Temporary Insanity."

Friday 20 December 1895

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death Of An Illegitimate Child. The Inquest. - Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon Mr R. W. Prideaux, Borough Coroner, held an Inquest at the Guildhall on the body of GEORGE WILLIAM BALL, aged 5 months, the illegitimate son of ELIZA BALL, residing at Silver-street. Dr Crossfield said he was called at 9 a.m,, and found the child dead. It was well nourished. There was a red stain across the face from the shawl in which it had been wrapped, and that part of the face showed signs of pressure. His opinion was that the child died from suffocation. There were no marks of violence. Most probably it had been over-lain. The mother deposed that she put the child to bed about 20 minutes past seven, and that when she went to bed herself about eleven o'clock she nursed it. It had been ailing a little that night, but not much; not sufficient to cause her to think that a doctor was necessary. She woke up at 3 a.m. and touched the child, and it seemed all right then, but at 8.30 when she woke again, the child was dead. Mrs Mary Hannaford also gave evidence. She stated that the deceased had always received every care. A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was returned. The Coroner said he made it a rule in cases where illegitimate children died suddenly, never to dispense with an Inquest.

Friday 3 January 1896

DARTMOUTH - The Missing Engineer. Found Dead In Dartmouth harbour. - Last week we announced the fact that one of the engineers of the S.S. Winstanley, a collier in the habit of visiting Dartmouth, was missing. His name was F. E. CARTER, and he was a native of Newport. He was at the Market Hotel on Christmas night in company with three others belonging to the vessel. As he intended to sleep there that night they left him there just before half-past nine. A few minutes after they had left he walked out, in all probability with the intention of overtaking them, and he was never seen again alive. His comrades visited other places in the town, and went off, it is believed, about ten o'clock or just after. At the steps they picked up a cap, but, believing CARTER to be at Mr Hatcher's house, they did not for a moment think it belonged to him. The next morning they came on shore for him, only to find that he had left the Hotel just after they had done so. Inquiries failed to elicit any further information and the Winstanley sailed on Friday. A reward of £5 was offered by the relatives for the recovery of the body, for the only reasonable supposition was that he was drowned. On Monday two brothers named Chase and another man, James Fisher, were successful in grappling the body near the higher end of the Embankment.

The Inquest. - was the twelfth for the year. It took place at the at the Guildhall on Tuesday afternoon, before Mr R. W. Prideaux. Mr Fabian was chosen Foreman of the Jury, which received the following evidence after viewing the body:- Henry Butcher, an architect's assistant, residing at the Commercial Hotel, Newport, identified the body as that of FRANK ERNEST CARTER, who also, when on shore, resided at the Commercial Hotel. Deceased was the second engineer of the S.S. Winstanley, which belonged to Dublin, and was 26 years of age in October last. Witness was his nephew. He last saw deceased alive on the Friday before Christmas day, at Newport. He left afterwards in the Winstanley for Dartmouth. Witness had no personal knowledge whatever as to how he came by his death. William John Hatcher, landlord of the Market Hotel, Dartmouth - On Christmas Eve about seven or eight o'clock, I saw the deceased in my house. The Coroner - Have you viewed the body? - Witness - No; I saw the hat after it was picked up. The Coroner - I think, after you have given your evidence you had better see the body. Witness (continuing) - I am not certain whether he was alone when he came in. He wanted to have a game of billiards and about 9 p.m. he went out with my son. He returned about shutting-up time, eleven o'clock. As far as I know he was with my son all the time he was away. They were together when he returned. Deceased had supper at my house and slept there. I don't know that he mentioned that he belonged to the Winstanley. He got up in the morning and had breakfast. He went away to go on board about a quarter-past one, promising to come back to dinner. I told him we should not have dinner until about 3 o'clock. When he left he said he was going to the Winstanley. He did not come to dinner, but returned about half-past six. He said he had been writing letters and had fallen asleep on board. He stopped then about a quarter-of-an-hour. The Coroner - Did he have anything to drink then? Witness - He had some whisky and some Christmas pudding that he saw on the counter. He came back soon after nine p.m. with the Chief Engineer, the mate and the boatman. They had a glass or two of whisky. They didn't leave together. The three left about twenty-five minutes past nine, leaving deceased there, as he told them that he intended to sleep at my house again. He then went out of the door by himself saying "I shan't wish you good-night, boss, but shall come back and have my supper and sleep here." We waited up until nearly midnight, but he did not come back. The next morning the same three who were there the night before came and asked if he was up. I said I had not seen him since the time he went out just after they did. They said they had found a hat. I saw the hat later on and identified it as that worn by the deceased. I never saw him alive again after that. The Coroner - When he didn't return that night, what did you think? Witness - I thought he had gone on board. Q. - When he left your house what was his condition? - A. - He was sober. He had a glass or two but wasn't drunk. I considered him quite capable of taking care of himself. Q. - What did he have at your house|? - A. - Only two glasses of whisky. Q.- Were all those who came in with him on terms of good fellowship? - A. - Yes, I should think so, except that there seemed to be some little difference about "paying around" for what they had had previously at other places. Q. - By that you assumed that they had been to other public houses drinking? - A. - Yes, I thought so. By the Jury:- The three left about five minutes before the deceased. I heard no threats. The dispute was not at all like that. I asked him when the others were gone whether they were cross with him, and he said "Oh no, only one of them don't pay his rounds." - A Juryman:- There are plenty like that. - Mr Hatcher afterwards viewed and identified the body and returning to the court, desired to add that the boatman who took the deceased off to the ship on Christmas Day said he slipped going down the steps and would have gone overboard if he (the boatman) had not caught him hold. He believed the boat lay at the Gasworks steps but he was not sure. The vessel was discharging coals into hulks. Amelia Hatcher, wife of the last witness - I remember the deceased coming to our house on Christmas Eve. He slept there that night. What my husband has said with regard to his movements on Christmas morning is correct. He returned about half-past six but went away soon after, coming back again about nine o'clock with the three others named. I was not in the bar at the time, but came in there about half-past nine and found the deceased there alone. He said "I shan't say good-night. I shall be back to supper. I intend stopping the night." Then he left and I have never seen him alive again. I saw the body last night and can identify it. - The Coroner - What was his condition when he left? Witness - I should say he was perfectly sober. I remember the three coming the next day and asking if there was anyone at the house "belonging" to them. I said he had gone out the night before and had not returned. They seemed very much put out and said they had picked up a hat as they were going into the boat. It was between the wall and the boat. They hadn't the hat with them, but they afterwards brought it and I recognised it as that worn by the deceased, as I brushed it for him on Christmas morning. They took the hat away with them in the steamer. The Coroner - Did you serve him with anything on Christmas Day? Witness - No, I never served him at all. A Juryman remarked that it was a curious thing that the men who left the Market House Inn before the deceased should pick up his hat. Mrs Hatcher said they left another house about ten o'clock. The Coroner - did they tell you so. Mrs Hatcher could not remember; she thought she heard it from the police-sergeant. Another Juryman said possibly the best thing would be to have medical testimony as to the cause of death. The Coroner - We will go on with the evidence first. Possibly the constable's statement may clear it up. P.C. Bedford said on Christmas night just before 10 o'clock he was on duty in Duke Street. He saw the Chief Engineer and two others belonging to the Winstanley standing in a doorway next to the Steam Packet Inn. He saw them leave and go round the corner towards the New Quay. It was, he should think, about five or six minutes before ten. It was a very dirty, rough night, blowing and raining. The men were conversing quietly. James Fisher, sailor, of Dartmouth, said about 7 p.m. on Monday he left Bayard's Cove in a boat with William and Thomas Chase. They had dredging gear on board and proceeded to the higher end of the Embankment to try for the body of the deceased, for the recovery of which a reward had been offered. They found the body near the Gasworks and brought it on shore. It was given into the care of the police and taken to the mortuary. P.C. Kempt said about 8 p.m. on Monday he was at the mortuary when the body was brought there. He conducted the usual search and found 1s 2 ½d in money, two letters addressed to deceased, and one addressed to a lady at Newport; also a pipe and a knife. At the request of the Coroner, the nephew examined the letters, and said that one of those addressed to deceased was from a Newport lady, and the other referred to Board of Trade matters. There was nothing in them that at all concerned the Inquiry. Summing up, the Coroner said it was for the Jury to determine whether there was sufficient evidence before them to warrant their returning a verdict. He could not see that there was any likelihood of securing evidence of the deceased's movements after he left the Market House Inn on Christmas night. That the other men belonging to the ship did not see him again was shown by the fact that they returned to the Inn on the following morning to look for him. It would be difficult after such a lapse of time to determine now whether deceased was drowned and he would suggest an open verdict, if it was their intention to come to a decision. In reply to a question the nephew said deceased could swim. The Jury returned a verdict of "Found Dead in the Water," adding that how deceased came into the water there was no evidence to show.

Friday 31 January 1896

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At Coles Court. - On Wednesday morning MRS MARY JANE HUTCHINGS, aged 69, wife of a well-known local fisherman, died suddenly under very distressing circumstances. Between ten and eleven a.m. she was talking with her husband in the kitchen about the dinner, and then went to the room above to fetch some potatoes. Shortly afterwards her husband heard a fall, and, on going up, he found her dead on the floor. There had been nothing in her health to indicate that she was suffering from any disease likely to terminate her life so suddenly. Great sympathy is felt for the husband and relatives.

The Inquest. - was held on Thursday morning by Mr Coroner Prideaux. The Jury first viewed the body at Coles Court, and then proceeded to the Guildhall and received the following evidence:- WILLIAM DIMOND HUTCHINGS - I am a fisherman, residing at Coles Court. I identify the body as that of my late wife. She was 69 years of age. She has been in fairly good health recently and yesterday appeared just as usual. About eleven a.m. she went upstairs to get some potatoes for dinner. I was in the kitchen. She did not return as soon as I expected. I heard a fall. I called up and asked her how much longer she was going to stop. There was no reply, and I went up. I found her lying on her back upon the floor, with her head towards the door. I caught her up, and I noticed that her head fell to one side. She did not speak. Then I called from the window for assistance. Dr Soper was sent for and came very quickly. The Coroner - Did she complain that morning of ill-health? - Witness: - No. The Coroner - Or recently? Witness - No; she has apparently been very well for some time. Eliza Smith, wife of a sailor employed on board the Dolphin - I saw the deceased the night before, apparently in her usual health. Yesterday rather before eleven a.m. I was going down Coles Court to beat out my mats when I heard MR HUTCHINGS call from the window that he thought his poor old woman was dead. I ran up and found deceased lying on the floor, while MR HUTCHINGS had his arm around her neck, holding her head up. She appeared to me to be quite dead. Miss Pinhey ran up a few minutes after. By the Coroner - Deceased appeared quite jolly the night before when I saw her looking out of the bedroom window. Bessie Pinhey said the evidence given by the previous witness was quite correct in every particular. She saw deceased ten minutes before she died, and then she appeared just as usual. Dr R. W. Soper - Yesterday morning about half-past ten (though I am not quite sure of the exact time) I received a message asking me to go immediately to Coles Court. I went, and found deceased lying dead on her bed. There were no marks externally to account for death, and in my opinion the cause was syncope, the result of heart failure. By the Coroner - I have not seen her for many years previously. She might have had some serious organic disease unknown to herself. I should ascribe death to natural causes. The Coroner said the case was a perfectly straightforward one, and he did not think it necessary to trouble them with any remarks. A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was returned.

Friday 27 March 1896

DARTMOUTH - Sad Occurrence In Dartmouth Harbour. A Petty Officer Drowned. - A second class petty-officer (leading stoker, R.N.), named FRANK WHITING, belonging to H.M.S. Decoy, one of the torpedo-boat-destroyers in harbour this week, came ashore on leave on Tuesday evening. He had to be on board next morning by seven o'clock but failed to put in an appearance and inquiries as to his whereabouts were made without result. Yesterday (Thursday) morning a lumper named Parsley found a body floating near the Gas Works and, on examination, this proved to be the missing man. The remains were taken to the mortuary and the Coroner (Mr R. W. Prideaux) apprised.

The Inquest. - was held at noon yesterday at the Guildhall, Gunner Wallace, of the Decoy, was present. Mr P. Pinhey was chosen Foreman of the Jury, which first proceeded to view the body. It was seen that the face bore marks as though having come into forcible contact with something. The following evidence was received:- Arthur Ewles, naval stoker serving on board the Decoy - I identify the body as that of FRANK WHITING, who was leading stoker of the Decoy. His home is at Plymouth. I believe he was between 34 and 35 years of age. On Tuesday night about 5 minutes to eleven I saw him alive, at the Nelson Inn, Dartmouth. He was then on leave. His leave expired at seven o'clock the following morning. He was in his usual health. He had been drinking, but he was not helpless, and knew what he was about. He told me he was going to lodge on shore, but he did not say where. I then went to my lodgings, and I did not see him again alive. He did not return to the ship at the expiration of his leave. He has been at Dartmouth before in the Decoy. By the Foreman:- Witness came ashore with the deceased and was in his company all the evening. Deceased had certainly taken a good deal to drink, but he knew what he was doing. - P.S. Stentiford - On Tuesday last, about 11.15 p.m. I was on duty on the New Ground, and coming towards Duke Street. I saw the deceased in company with some young men belonging to Dartmouth. He was walking towards Duke Street. They all walked up the street together and when they reached Mr Henley's shop they stopped. Constable Kemp was there and deceased wanted to shake hands with him. Then I came up and deceased turned to me and said "Here's the Sergeant, I see, I suppose I shall get run in." I said "No, there's no running in about it." He was in rather a jovial state, but he could walk quite well without assistance. Deceased walked off down Duke Street. The young men who were with him afterwards told me they heard him say that he had taken lodgings at Mrs Hicks'. After receiving information from the Commander of the Decoy that deceased had not turned up on board, I went to Mrs Hicks' and she said he had not been there and had not taken a bed there. I made other inquiries, but failed to find anyone who had seen him after he left Duke Street. This morning at 9.15 I received information that the body was found and I took charge of it. With assistance I took it to the mortuary. On searching it I found 2s. 3 ½d. in the pockets. P.C. Kemp said when deceased saw him he said "Hullo policeman, how are you policeman? shake hands." He held out his hand and witness shook it. Just afterwards he came back and said it was not a proper shake, when witness advised him to go to his lodgings. He heard someone say that deceased had taken lodgings on shore and paid a shilling. Deceased said he had been in the service 16 years and that he was looking for one of his mates. When he left Duke Street he went away alone. John Parsley, coal lumper - This morning about 10 minutes past nine, I was walking up and down the north end of the Embankment. Looking down in the water I saw a serge collar moving to and fro. I was then standing just opposite the Gas-works. On taking a boat, I found that it was the body of a man. The only thing visible above water was the serge collar belonging to a bluejacket's jumper. I should think there was about five feet of water there. I hauled him up and noticed that his face was much knocked. I communicated with the police, who took the body to the mortuary. The Coroner - Can you tell me what was the state of the tide between eleven and twelve on Tuesday night? - A Juryman said it would be about low water. Witness confirmed this. A verdict of "Found Dead" was returned.

Thursday 2 April 1896

TOTNES - Sudden Death. - An Inquest was held at the Guildhall, Totnes, on Saturday, by Mr S. Hacker, on the body of MARY TANNER, aged fifty-six, the wife of MR W. F. O'CONNOR TANNER, shoemaker, of Totnes, who died suddenly on Friday morning. It appeared that deceased had not been able to take solid food for years; she was very weak, and objected to medical attendance. Her husband was not aware she was seriously ill until Thursday night, when she fainted in trying to get out of bed. He at once sent for Dr Smith, who sent some medicine. She took only one dose, and died about three hours afterwards. Dr Smithy stated that he had made a post mortem examination and found traces of old consumption and tubercular disease of the pancreas, which had caused chronic indigestion. Death was primarily due to syncope. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 29 May 1896

TORBAY - Mr S. Hacker held an Inquest at Torbay on Monday on the body of the man KNAPMAN, who lost his life several weeks ago by drowning in Torbay through a boat upsetting while he was returning from H.M.S. Magnificent, to which ship he (deceased) with another man named Moist, took a seaman aboard. Moist was rescued by men from the Magnificent after he had held on the cable for some time. Evidence was given as to how the accident happened by Moist, and as to finding the body on Saturday last, and the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned."

Friday 19 June 1896

The Missing Engineer. Body Found Floating Near Dittisham. - On Wednesday morning the body of the missing engineer of the yacht Dart, ALEXANDER PEDDIE, was found floating in the river, close to Greenway quay, by a fisherman named Westaway, who was returning to Dittisham for breakfast. He obtained assistance and took it to Dittisham. On Thursday evening Mr S. Hacker held an Inquest at the Passage House Inn. The Jury viewed the body, and then received the following evidence:- Alexander Archibald, seaman belonging to the yacht Dart, identified the body as that of ALEXANDER PEDDIE, engineer of the same yacht. In reply to the Coroner, witness said he judged by the clothes and height, but the features were unrecognisable. PEDDIE had two fingers missing from one hand. The Coroner - And is that the case with the body? Witness - I did not look. The Coroner said other people had been drowned in the river, and it was well to make absolutely certain about the identity. The witness had better view the body again. This Archibald did, and returning to the enquiry-room, said he was willing to take his oath that the deceased was his mate. Continuing his evidence, witness said deceased was about 45 years of age, belonged to Kincardine-on Forth and was a single man. He had a brother and two sisters, who had been communicated with. The Dart had been lying at Noss for three weeks, waiting for repairs from Messrs. Simpson, Strickland & Co. She was 6 tons register, and carried four hands. On Sunday afternoon, June 7th, between 3 and 4 o'clock, witness rowed deceased ashore in the punt to the firm's pontoon in order that he might have a walk. He never saw deceased again alive. He went on shore in the evening to look for deceased and left the punt tied up to the pontoon for him. When he returned to the pontoon he found that the punt was gone. Deceased was not on board the yacht and witness thought he must have capsized the punt in trying to get back. George Knight, residing at Fore-top, engine-driver of Simpson, Strickland and Co.s yard launch, said the punt belonged to him. Deceased asked him on the Saturday if he might borrow it until Monday morning, and he replied yes. The punt was somewhat crank, about nine or ten feet long and four feet beam. James Border, publican, said on Sunday, June 7th, about 7.30 p.m. he was sitting in the porch when he saw deceased coming up the line from Kingswear to his house, the Rock Inn. Deceased stopped there, had a pint of beer, and went away. He left at 8 o'clock quite sober and walked towards the yacht. He was quite right in his manner. There were several people close by, and he did not remember that any conversation passed between him and the deceased. George Westaway, fisherman, residing at Greenway, proved picking up the body off Greenway quay on Wednesday between 8 and 9 a.m. It was floating in the tide-way. Witness and other men towed it ashore and he fetched the police. John Cunningham said he was the owner of the Dart, which was registered at Grangemouth, Scotland. Deceased was shipped as his engineer. Witness knew nothing about the accident and was in London when it occurred. The yacht was moored about 30 or 40 yards away from the yard pontoon. The Coroner - One can hardly imagine an accident occurring in such a short space and in daylight. Mr Cunningham said possibly deceased lost an oar and capsized the boat in trying to regain it. There was no one on board the yacht at the time. Witness had sent two of the crew back to Scotland on arriving at Dartmouth. Deceased was very steady, honest, and reliable. John Rice, landlord of the Passage House Inn, said on Monday morning the 8th June he saw a boat on the mud, bottom up, about 200 yards from his house. It proved to be Knight's punt. Archibald, re-examined, said the deceased's cap was found near the pontoon below high water mark on the Monday morning, while the sculls had also been found. Tide was flood when he missed the punt. The Coroner - Could deceased swim? - Witness - No. A verdict of "Accidentally Drowned" was returned. One of the Jurymen, who said he had been a boatman most of his life, said the punt was the most dangerous boat he ever saw. The funeral will take place at Dittisham today (Friday).

Friday 14 August 1896

BLACKAWTON - Terrible Trap Fatality In The New Road. Thrown Out And Suffocated. - Late on Tuesday night, MR JOHN FREDERICK FOALE, butcher and farmer of Blackawton, met with a terrible death. He attended the Dartmouth monthly cattle market during the day, and shortly before eleven o'clock, left the Seale Arms Hotel in his trap, to drive home. The horse was a young one but stated to be very quiet, a fact fully borne out by his composure after the accident. After leaving the Seale Arms, MR FOALE was not seen again alive. He did not arrive home at his usual time and soon after midnight his son, who assisted him in the business, went to look for him. After scouring the roads leading into the village he went along the main highway to Dartmouth and not many yards below Townstal farm, was horrified to find the horse and trap standing by the wall, with the deceased hanging out quite dead. His clothes were hitched in the step, his feet were in the trap and his head and left shoulder on the ground, his face being turned down. Subsequent action taken will be gleaned from the appended evidence. The late MR FOALE was 50 years of age, and was much respected in this district. He was, at the time of his death, a member of the Blackawton District Council and has always taken a prominent part in connection with the Agricultural Show. He leaves a widow and several grown-up children, for all of whom the utmost sympathy is felt. It is a melancholy coincidence that a year ago the late Mr Marsh, of Dudley, met his death while cycling down the New Road, close by the ground over which MR FOALE was dragged, though he struck the wall on the opposite side to that on which the deceased farmer was found. Both accidents occurred in August.

The Inquest:- was held on Wednesday afternoon at Townstal farm, where the body was lying. Mr R. W. Prideaux, the Coroner, conducted the Inquiry. Mr W. R. Atkins was chosen Foreman of the Jury, which first viewed the body, afterwards receiving the following evidence:- PHILIP TRANT FOALE: I reside at Blackawton and identify the body as that of my father, who was a farmer and butcher, also residing at Blackawton. He was 50 years of age. In the course of his business he was in the habit of visiting Dartmouth. Yesterday being the monthly market at Dartmouth he left home about 10.30 a.m. I saw him put the horse in the trap. I left home about noon and rode to the market where I saw him about one o'clock. That was the last time I saw him alive. He was in his usual health. I reached home about a quarter past five. Deceased did not return but we did not trouble until 12 o'clock, knowing that sometimes he went into Bugford on his way. After that we became uneasy, and I went for my cob. First I went to Oldstone and then round to Bugford to Mr heath's. Not seeing any light there I did not knock anyone up. Then I went home but he had not arrived. I waited about a quarter-of-an-hour and then rode in towards Dartmouth by way of Hartley. Near Townstal farm, my horse, which was a young one, shied at something and passed on. I got off and heard some chains rattle, and then going back I found deceased's horse and trap near the wall on the right hand side going towards Dartmouth. Then I saw deceased with his feet in the trap and his body hanging down. His shoulder was touching the ground. He was between the step and the wheel of the trap. The box of the wheel was nearly touching the wall, and the horse's head was pointing towards Dartmouth. I let out the horse and lowered the sharps, and deceased then fell off into the road. I found that he was quite dead, but stopped for nearly five minutes to make sure. Then I called Mr Wellington, who lives at the lodge. The horse, when I found him, appeared to be standing very comfortable. I think deceased had been dead for some time for his hands and face were quite cold. His hat was found 30 or 40 yards up the road from where the body was lying. This morning I have examined the road up and down. According to the wheel marks I arrived at the conclusion that the trap had come higher up towards the farm, turned round and gone back to where I found the deceased. The Coroner - Did you notice anything about the reins? Witness - No. They were the first things I undid, thinking he might be caught in them. I cannot tell now whether they were twisted or not. The wheel appeared to have dragged the wall all the way down. The time when I found deceased was about 20 minutes past two. The Foreman - Did you discover any marks on the face or neck? Witness - There were marks and the face was discoloured. There was blood about it and I should think the wheel kept touching it as it went round. Another Juryman - Was it a young horse? - A.- Yes. Q.- The one he usually rode to Dartmouth? A.- No, but it has been driven to Dartmouth several times. My mother has driven it in. It is free from vice. Q.- do you form any conclusion as to how it happened? - A.- I think he must have got the reins twisted and pulled the wrong one. It was quite evident he got much further up the road than where he was found and he must have pulled the horse right round. - William Wellington: I reside at the Old Tollbar, Townstal, and am a farm labourer. This morning about 20 minutes past two I was aroused by MR FOALE and went with him to the road just below Townstal farm. I found the deceased lying by the side of the wall. There was a trap alongside, but no horse, as MR FOALE had taken it out. Deceased was lying on his back near the wall. I am satisfied he was quite dead. I took the horse ridden by the last witness and rode to Dartmouth, where I called the Sergeant of Police. I knew the deceased well. When I returned to Townstal I helped to move the deceased to the farm. I did not examine the wheel marks this morning. A Juryman - did you see anything of deceased the previous night? - A.- No. Q.- Or hear the horse coming up the road? - A.- No. - Peter Pedrick: I am a carter residing at Dartmouth. Yesterday I saw the deceased at the Seale Arms, Dartmouth, about 10.20 p.m. As soon as he came in, he ordered his horse. He has always been in the habit of putting up there. The ostler put the horse in the trap and as it was a young one, I assisted him, and put in the cushions. The Coroner - Was the horse restive or standing quiet. Witness - Standing quiet. About 10.30, or perhaps twenty-five minutes to eleven, the deceased got into the trap and proceeded up the road. He was in the Seale Arms about 10 minutes. He had a drop of spirit to drink. It was either gin or whisky, I am not certain which. He was perfectly sober to the best of my judgment. I never noticed anything the matter with him. He walked out and got into the trap as well as I could have done. He drove up the road at a fair trot. I stopped at the door and watched him up to the cross. He was then driving "quite comfortable". I had conversation with him while he was in the bar. The Foreman - He was quite alone? Witness - Yes. Mr Harris wanted to ride with him, but he refused to allow him. P.S. Stentiford: About 3 a.m. today from information received from the witness Wellington, who came to the police-station, I accompanied him up the road. As he told me he had not called the doctor on his way down, I thought it would be advisable to take a doctor, and I called Dr Harris, who went up with me. We found deceased as described. The horse was out of the trap. We also saw where the trap had been turned. We measured the distance from where the hat was, to where the body was lying, and we found it about 56 paces or yards. The hat was just below where the trap turned. Deceased was quite dead and cold. By the kindness of Mr Munford we were able to take the body to Townstal farm-house. The coat which he was wearing (produced) was badly rubbed at the left shoulder and the shirt also bore signs of it, while the right pocket of his coat was torn down, as though it had caught in something. The Foreman - Was the trap rubbed in any way? - A.- A little on the box of the wheel. There was the wheel-mark all down by the side of the wall. Dr J. H. Harris: I was called at 3.15 a.m. by the Sergeant and went with him to Townstal, where I saw the deceased, whom I knew well. He was lying on this back in the gutter just under the wall below the farm-house. He had evidently been dead for some hours. The body was cold and rigor mortis was setting in. I made an examination. The head and face were very swollen and livid and there was a slight discharge from the nostrils. On the face and forehead were some slight abrasions and dry earth was stuck about upon them. There was a large superficial wound on the point of the left shoulder. That was also earth-stained. The shoulders of the coat and shirt were torn through and earth-soiled as though the body had been drawn along the ground. The injuries themselves were not sufficient to cause death but their position shows that he was dragged along face downwards and was suffocated. The opinion I have formed as to the cause of death is that it was due to suffocation. The Coroner - The Jury will have to find if they can, upon what day death occurred. What is your opinion? Witness - Taking the time he left Dartmouth into consideration I think death took place before twelve o'clock, unless he stopped anywhere on the way up, which is very improbable. Sergeant Stentiford said that was all the evidence. There were others who saw the deceased at the same time that Mr Pedrick did, but they could not say any more than he had done. The Coroner - They do not throw any doubt upon what he has to say? - Sergeant Stentiford - No. The Coroner - I don't think their evidence is necessary then. The Jury intimated that they had heard quite sufficient to enable them to arrive at a conclusion. Summing up, the Coroner said they all knew perfectly well that the deceased had been in the habit of coming to Dartmouth to the weekly and monthly markets. From the wheelmarks, which were very plain early that morning, it would appear that the deceased drove along the road some 50 yards beyond where he was afterwards found dead. Then the horse turned round, possibly because he pulled the wrong rein, and in all probability he fell out of the trap and was dragged the whole way back to where the horse stopped. Everything else was mere conjecture. They could not ascertain, and would never know, whether he fell out through changing his position, whether he stood up, or whether he overbalanced himself in trying to untwist the reins. The doctor's evidence made it clear that there were no broken bones, and everything pointed in the direction that he had indicated, viz., that death was due to suffocation. The Jury returned a verdict that deceased came to his death by suffocation brought about by his accidentally falling out of the trap, and through the Coroner, desired to express their sympathy with MRS FOALE and family, and their thanks to Mr Munford for his kindness. The Coroner conveyed the expression to MR P. T. FOALE, and afterwards thanking the owner of the farm, pointing out that this was not the first time that Mr Munford had acted very charitably and humanely under similarly sad circumstances. He had not only allowed them to hold the Inquest there but had permitted them to place the body in the farmhouse, a kindness which everyone connected with the case, fully appreciated.

Friday 28 August 1896

TOTNES - Fatal Railway Accident. - HENRY HEATH, a railway labourer, received fearful injuries on Saturday morning, at Totnes Station. He was engaged with others, in weeding the up platform line, when a pilot engine, on its way from Rattery to Newton passed through the station. HEATH mistook the line the engine was one, and stepped on almost in front of the engine, which passed over his legs, almost severing them from above the knee. The railway officials rendered first aid, and Dr Hains soon arrived. The poor fellow was removed to the Totnes Cottage Hospital, but the nature of his injuries left little hope of his recovery, and he subsequently succumbed. He was a married man, about forty years of age, and leaves a wife and six young children.

The Inquest:- was held on Monday evening at Totnes Guildhall. J. H. Currell, the engine driver, said he had been to Rattery with a pilot engine. He arrived at Totnes about 7.43. He noticed the signals were right for the engine to pass on the up platform line to the water tank, but saw nothing on either line. As they passed the crossing he felt something catch the engine. He stopped the engine about 3 yards from where deceased was. The six wheels must have passed over him, both legs being severed. Deceased was alive and conscious when they picked him up. He said "It is nobody's fault; it is my mistake, I thought you were coming on the other line." William Penfound, fireman on the pilot engine, corroborated and John Coleman, engine-driver, said he saw the deceased working in a stooping position, and expected to see him jump out of the way. Mr W. C. Sim, permanent way inspector, said it was probable deceased might not have been seen by the engine-driver if he was standing between the pillars. Deceased was a steady man, and very well used to the yard. Other evidence having been given, a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned. The Jury exonerated the railway officials from blame, expressed their sympathy with the widow, and handed their fees to her.

Friday 4 September 1896

KINGSWEAR - Sad Drowning Case At Kingswear. - On Wednesday afternoon between 12.30 and 1 o'clock as two ladies were rowing in a boat near Lincoln House Steps, they observed something floating and on going towards it found it was the body of a boy and apparently quite dead. Raising an alarm at Miss Smart's close by, the body was brought ashore and found to be that of the little son of FREDERICK CHARLES HEAL, of Kingswear, in the employ of Mr Nathaniel Baker, J.P., of Butts Hill. The body was placed upon a table in Miss Smart's kitchen and every endeavour made to restore life. Dr Kendall, of Greenhayes, was soon on the spot and used every possible means to bring about animation but without success. The little fellow, who was only 4 years and 7 months old, was called ALFRED PHILIP, and had left school on the same day about 12.30 p.m., to go home but went to the Public steps near Lincoln House and must have fallen in without anyone seeing him. Much sympathy is felt for the parents who are well known in the village.

The Inquest:- On Thursday Mr Fraser, acting County Coroner, held an Inquest at the Royal Dart Hotel, Kingswear, on the body. Mr George Casey was the Foreman of the Jury, and after viewing the body at The Lodge, Butts Hill, the following evidence was given:- FREDERICK CHARLES HEAL, engineer, father of the deceased, living at Butts Hill Cottage, Kingswear, identified the body as that of his son ALFRED PHILIP HEAL, aged 4 years and seven months, saw him last alive at 8.45 a.m. on 2nd September, was well and going to school, did not see him again until 1 p.m. at the steps, when he was dead had warned him not to go to the steps. John Back, builder, of Dartmouth, said on Wednesday I was called just before 1 p.m. by Miss Smart, who said there was a little boy overboard. I ran down the steps and saw deceased in the water underneath a boat, he was floating. There was no movement in him and jumping into the boat I pulled him in. He was dead. I did not notice any marks about him. He was dressed, but his cap, which was found after by his father. By the father. - I found the cap by the steps. By the Jury. - There were two boats, and two young ladies in one of them. I cannot say that the ladies saw the body. Frederick Tookey, aged 14, living at Kingswear, said I saw the deceased on Wednesday at 12.30 p.m., by a new house, in course of building. I told him to make haste home. I saw him go down the steps and went and fetched him up. He said he was going to swim his top. There was no one else there. He said he would go home. When I came back I did not see him in the steps, but when I came out again I saw Miss Smart running, and I asked her what the matter was. She told me there was a little child in the water. I went down and saw the deceased, who was near a boat. Miss Annie Perkins said - I reside at Leeds but am staying at Harbour View, Kingswear. My friend and I were out in a boat rowing about 12.50 p.m. on Wednesday, when I saw something in the water which proved to be a child floating with head downwards and apparently dead. We could not pull well, but got ashore and called assistance. The body was cold. We did all we could to restore animation by rubbing and other means. Dr W. R. Kendall, Kingswear, surgeon, said - I was called on 2nd inst., about 1 p.m. to see deceased, who had just been taken out of the water, at Miss Smart's. They were using means to restore animation, and I assisted but there were no signs of movement of heart. I consider life was perfectly extinct. There were no signs of injury about the head or elsewhere. Death no doubt resulted from drowning. By the Jury - There was no sign of life in him; apparently he had been in the water about 15 minutes. Dr Fraser, after reviewing evidence, asked Jury for their verdict, which was - "Accidentally Drowned," and no blame attached to anyone.

Friday 2 October 1896

DARTMOUTH - Shocking Suicide By A Dartmouth Lad. His Body Weighted. - On Friday night last a shocking case of suicide occurred at Dartmouth. A lad named WILLIAM HENRY CLEMENTS, aged 17, employed as an assistant as Messrs. Cundell and co.'s grocery establishment, did not return to his home after shop hours, and his father, a boot and shoe dealer, spent an anxious night in searching for him. Next morning, just before seven o'clock, it was noticed that something was wrong with the painter and mooring-rope combined of a boat belonging to Messrs. Cundell, which was lying in the Float. Deceased's younger brother and two other boys went off to the boat, and on hauling upon the rope found that the body of the missing lad was fastened to it. Assistance was speedily forthcoming in the persons of two lumpers named Bennett and Cranch, and they got the body into the boat. It then appeared that not only was the rope fastened about the waist, but that a heavy iron weight was also tied to it in such a way that it could not possibly slip. Intelligence was conveyed to the police, and P.S. Stentiford took charge of the case. The body was conveyed home, but nothing was found upon it that would throw the faintest gleam of light upon what certainly appeared to be a most determined case of suicide. In the boat, however, a small memorandum book was found, inside the cover of which was written a half-finished note to his mother. Deceased was a very quiet and steady young man. Not even those most intimately acquainted with him suspected the existence of any trouble likely to drive him to take his life. In his business work he was commended by the manager of the establishment. The reason for his rash act remains a mystery.

The Inquest. - was held on Saturday at noon. Mr W. H. Sparks was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who first assembled at the house of the deceased's parents and viewed the body. One of their number, Henry Francis, was nearly a quarter of an hour late, and was admonished by the Coroner, who said if it had not been the first occasion upon which he had been summoned on a Jury, he should certainly have fined him. At the Guildhall the following evidence was received:- CHARLES CLEMENTS - I reside at Lower-street, and am a boot and shoe dealer. I identify the body as that of my son, WILLIAM HENRY CLEMENTS. He was seventeen years of age on July 12th last, and resided with me. He was a grocer's assistant with Messrs. Cundell and Co., the Quay. About 5 p.m. on Friday he came home to his tea, and stayed half-an-hour. The Coroner - How did he appear then? did you notice anything the matter with him? Witness - No; he seemed to be in his usual health and spirits, and was very lively and all that sort of thing. I last saw him alive at 5.30. His leaving work time on Fridays was never certain. Sometimes he would have to stay and make up the orders, and then it would be ten o'clock or nearly before he reached home. Usually he reached home at nine o'clock. On Friday night he didn't return home and I went out to look for him. I went on the Embankment at one in the morning, but could get no tidings. Just before seven a.m. I saw a boy ringing them up at Messrs. Cundell's shop. I asked him where the boat was, as I understood it was not in its place in the Boat-float. He said it was there. I asked him if he was sure, and he then got a boat and went out in the Float. My boy and two others were there, and I heard them say that deceased was in the water. When he was pulled up I certified that it was him, and went and told his mother. The Coroner - Did you notice any change in his manner at all before he left home for the last time? Witness - No. Q. - Are you aware whether he was in any trouble? - A. - No; nothing particular; nothing that I could get any satisfaction about. Of course he was as young lads usually are. Q.- Was everything perfectly right at the shop? - A.- I think so. Mr Fulford, Messrs. Cundell's manager, came and told me that he was very pleased with him and his work, and praised him up. Q.- Do you know whether he has been reading any literature that would be likely to upset his mind? - A.- No; I am almost confident of that. Q.- Can you tell the Jury anything that might possibly account for his taking his life? - A.- No, I cannot. Everything seemed to go smoothly. A Juryman - Could the deceased swim? - A.- Yes, a little, I think. Another Juryman - Has he been keeping company with any young lady, and is there anything in regard to that which might have led to the act? - Witness - I don't know. As he was only a lad of seventeen, I have not investigated. I have heard rumours that is all. - Thomas Pidgeon - I am a grocer's assistant at Messrs. Cundell's. I knew the deceased well. He was an assistant at the same shop. On Friday he came to his work as usual, and was in his ordinary health and spirits, and very lively, so far as I can judge. He left the shop at 7.30 p.m., and I didn't see him alive after that. Nothing had occurred to upset him so far as I can tell. I noticed nothing. This morning about seven o'clock I saw them pulling his body out of the Float. I was not assisting, but watched them from the Embankment. The body was attached to a rope. The Coroner - Are you aware of any reason why he should take his life? - A.- No; I cannot account for it at all. A Juryman - Had he received any orders to go in the boat? - A.- No. The Coroner - Would he be at liberty to take the boat if he wished to do so? A Juryman - I think they usually ask if they want it. - Mr Clements said Mr Fulford told him that when the boat was not otherwise engaged his son had it to go fishing sometimes. A Juryman - Did he pull you off to one of the torpedo boats on Friday evening? - Witness - No; he offered to pull me off if I wanted to go, but I said it was too rough, and I did not go. Mr Clements said Mr Pike, another of the assistants told him that Mr Pidgeon had friends on board one of the torpedo boats, and wanted to go on board to see them. The Coroner - But he didn't go. Witness - No; it was too rough. - John Knapman:- I reside at Clarence-street, and am a mason. I knew the deceased well, and last saw him alive about 8 o'clock on Friday evening. I was passing the Boat-float at the time, and saw him in Mr Cundell's boat. He was alone. I asked him where he was going and he said "Not very far." The boat was moored. It appeared to me as if he was doing something to the thowl-pins and getting ready to go out. I then went to the New Ground and did not see him again. The Coroner - Are you aware of any reason why he should take his life? A.- No, sir. Q.- What was his disposition? A.- He was lively. Q.- Did he answer you cheerfully when you spoke to him? A.- Yes, sir. A Juryman - do you know for certain whether he was touching the thowl-pins? A.- No; it was dark, but I thought by his position that he was getting the boat ready to leave the Float. William Henry Bennett - I reside at Higher-street, and am a lumper. I knew the deceased well, and have seen him alive quite recently fishing alongside of the canal wall. Yesterday morning about 6.30 I came along the quay and met some young men. They mentioned that deceased was missing, and that he had not been home that night. Shortly afterwards William Cranch came along. When standing over the opening into the Float I noticed that Messrs. Cundell's boat was moored in a peculiar way. The painter was hanging out amidships. Two or three lads were going off in a boat. I said to them, "Is that Mr Cundell's boat," and they replied that it was. They went on board, and commenced hauling in the rope. I saw they were pulling upon something that was pretty heavy. They managed to see what it was, and I heard the young CLEMENTS cry out "It's my brother." As the boys were unable to get him into the boat I went off in company with Cranch. We found that the painter and boarding-line were all in one. That is the rope produced. Deceased's brother said, "I wonder whether he has left a note behind." With the same I looked round in the boat, and saw a little black memorandum book, such as is used for taking orders. Inside the cover was written, - "Dear mother, I am very sorry that I should do it." The Coroner (examining the book) - There is no "do it." The words are simply, "Dear mother, I am very sorry that I should - " There it breaks off abruptly. Witness - We pulled the deceased into the boat. He had the rope tied securely round his waist and a heavy piece of iron tied to it. That is the iron produced. It was passed in the rope in such a way as to fasten it securely. The rope was also round his arm and neck. The body was quite cold and had evidently been dead for some hours. I should image that he had first tried the depth of water, as the rope was made fast with three or four hitches. We took the body to the slip and afterwards to his father's house. Questioned by the Jury, witness said the rope was fastened round the waist by what was known as a scaffold hitch, a knot that will never slip. The fact that the rope was round the arms and neck might have been due to the struggles of the deceased after he got into the water. The Coroner - Was the boat moored or unmoored? A.- It was only fastened by being tied to him. Otherwise it was not moored in any way. Thomas Pidgeon, recalled, said the book produced was the property of the deceased. The note was in deceased's handwriting, as was also the other writing in the book. The Coroner - It doesn't appear to be the same handwriting. Witness - It is his book and his writing, all of it. William Cranch, lumper, corroborated the evidence of William Henry Bennett as to the finding of the body, and the manner in which the rope was tied. The Coroner - Do you desire to add anything to it? - A.- No, sir. P.S. Stentiford:- From information I received this morning about seven o'clock I went to the Boat-float in company with P.C. Berry. The two lumpers who have given evidence had the body of the deceased by the boat. I saw that the rope and iron produced were tied as described by Bennett. I untied them. With the assistance of P.C. Berry and the two men we took the body to deceased's home in Lower-street. I searched the clothes and found several articles, produced, but nothing that would throw any light upon the occurrence. The body was quite cold and stiff. I saw the deceased in the shop on Friday evening, about five minutes to seven. He appeared to be just as usual. He had always been a very steady and respectable lad, and Mr Fulford told me this morning that he had nothing to complain about in regard to him. The Coroner asked if that was all the evidence. The Sergeant said it was, unless the Jury desired anything further. He was informed that another lad and the deceased were conversing together in the afternoon. The other lad said that England was good enough for him, but deceased said it would not do for him much longer. The Coroner - We have evidence much later than that, from which it appears that he was cheerful right up to eight o'clock. It rests with the Jury. If they think there might be further evidence procured they can adjourn. The Jury seemed agreed that evidence enough to enable them to arrive at a verdict was before them. The Sergeant added that he had no intimation that the deceased was missing until 6 a.m. on Saturday. He noticed a light in MR CLEMENT'S house up to midnight. The Coroner - If the Jury like to adjourn on the chance of obtaining further evidence, now is the time for them to say so. No suggestion to this effect was forthcoming. Summing up, the Coroner said this was a very extraordinary and peculiar case, and so far as he could remember there had never been a case of the kind in Dartmouth before. There could be no doubt that the deceased came by his death by drowning, and clearly little doubt that it was by his own act. The rope and iron were so fastened about him as to plainly indicate that they could not have been so placed accidentally. These two points being made clear, the third they had to consider was what was the deceased's state of mind at the time. Was he in a state of temporary insanity or did he kill himself in cold blood? If the former, the Jury would have to say so in their verdict; if the latter, it was a case of felo de se. There was, however, another view they might take. Was there, as would appear to be the fact, no evidence as to his state of mind at the time he committed this rash act? If they found this to be so, they might leave the state of his mind an open question. Briefly put, then, the Jury had to determine - (1) How the deceased came by his death. (2) Whether it was a case of suicide; and (3) What was the state of mind, or was there no evidence to enable them to come to a decision upon the latter point. The Jury retired to consider their verdict. The Coroner was called to them after five minutes, but quickly returned to the Court. They were absent nearly a quarter-of-an-hour, and on their return the Foreman said they had come to the conclusion that the case was one of suicide, but that as to his state of mind the evidence was insufficient to enable them to come to a conclusion. They desired to express their deep sympathy with the parents and relatives of the deceased in their sad bereavement.

Friday 23 October 1896

TOTNES - The Staverton Fatality. - An Inquest was held in the Guildhall, Totnes, on Monday, by Mr S. Hacker (County Coroner) on the body of ROBERT FERRIS BLANK, a labourer, of Buckland Tout Saints, who died at Totnes Cottage Hospital on Sunday from injuries received on Saturday at Staverton, through being caught whilst coupling a traction engine to a threshing machine. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death," and considered that some means should be devised of coupling the trucks without the necessity of men going between the engine and whatever it might be drawing. They also recommended that the County Council should consider the matter.

Friday 6 November 1896

BRIXHAM - Fatal. Accident. - On Saturday morning, in the shipbuilding yard of Mr Robert Jackman, at Brixham, THOMAS HARRIS, a pit sawyer, aged 57, was chopping a knot off from a piece of timber preparatory to its being laid across the pit for sawing, and in doing so he struck his leg on a wound of long standing, which caused him so much pain that he sat on a baulk of timber on the edge of the pit. His mate, William Perring, went on with his work close by, when suddenly he heard HARRIS exclaim "Oh" and fall headlong into the sawpit. Perring at once called for help, and on getting HARRIS out it was found he was dead. An Inquest was held in the afternoon, by Mr Sidney Hacker, County Coroner, and a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned. Dr G. B. Elliott stated that deceased must have become dizzy or faint, and in attempting to get up fell forward. His neck was broken in two places. He was a widower and lived alone, all his children being grown up.

Friday 13 November 1896

HALWELL - Singular Affair At Halwell. - On Saturday Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, held an Inquest at the Schoolroom, Halwell, under the following circumstances. On the previous day quite a sensation was caused when it became known that ALICE MILFORD, the sister of P.C. MILFORD, the village constable, had given birth to an illegitimate child, that it had died, and that an Inquest had been ordered. P.C. MILFORD gave evidence at the Inquiry that his sister recently came from Exeter to keep house for him. On Friday he was informed of what had occurred, and his sister told him the infant was born dead. He took the usual steps to obtain medical attendance, and informed the Coroner. Mrs Hannaford, a farmer's wife, deposed that when she went to the house on Thursday night at seven o'clock the woman at once told her she had given birth to a dead child which she had wrapped in flannel and placed under her pillow. Dr Hains, of Totnes, stated that he had made a post mortem examination, which showed that the infant had lived and breathed freely. He had carefully examined it, but could find no marks of violence and death was due to haemorrhage, due to want of attention at birth. It was, however, impossible to say if it had enjoyed a separate existence. The Coroner pointed out that the woman could not be held criminally responsible for the death of the child, and advised a verdict of "Death from inattention at birth." - Superintendant Ryall (Totnes) watched the case for the police who, however, will take no proceedings in the case.

CAPTON - Sad Fatality At Capton. - Crushed By A Trap. - A shocking accident, which terminated fatally the same evening, occurred on Tuesday at the village of Capton. Two brothers named PEEKE, and another man named Reed were fern-gathering. The younger of the brothers was leading the pony, when it took fright and ran some thirty yards downhill in the brake belonging to Mr Waycott. The young man, retaining his hold on the reins, was dragged along and jammed with great force between the trap and a large tree. Dr Harris was summoned from Dartmouth and soon arrived, but the unfortunate lad was beyond human aid, and expired some four hours after the occurrence. He was a blacksmith by trade. It is a melancholy fact that about four years ago his father was found dead in his garden. Great sympathy is felt for the family, who ware much esteemed in the village.

The Inquest. - was held by Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, last (Thursday) evening, at Soper's Farm, Capton, occupied by Mr W. H. Edmonds, late of Wadstray. Mr Richard Ferris was chosen Foreman of the Jury. After the body had been viewed the following evidence was received:- JOHN ALFRED PEEKE - I reside at Capton and am a blacksmith. I identify the body as that of my brother, WILLIAM CHARLES PEEKE, who was 17 years of age on August 4th. He was learning my trade. He resided at home with myself and mother. On Tuesday last about 3 p.m. deceased was gathering ferns with myself and another man. We had a pony and cart with us. We were in the brake belonging to Mr Waycott, Kingston, about a mile from home. I held the pony until the cart was loaded, and then I gave it in charge of the deceased. The pony went well at the start. Deceased was leading it for about a dozen yards. The other man and myself were behind. Suddenly the pony turned straight down the hill. It was in the open brake and there were trees in the bottom. The ground was very uneven. Deceased held on the reins while the pony ran down, and he was unable either to turn or stop it. The pony probably took fright because the load was over its head. The trap was a light two-wheeler. From where it started until the accident happened the pony went about 30 yards. The trap went straight for a tree. There was no room for it to pass. The forepart of the trap struck deceased in the back as he held to the reins and knocked him against the tree and then the wheel jammed him heavily. This caused the cart to turn over. We ran to deceased, who groaned and cried fearfully and said he should die. He was quite sensible right up to the last. We got him home, although he asked us to let him alone. He was in great pain. We sent for the doctor as soon as possible, and he arrived before the deceased died. Deceased grew worse as the evening progressed, and died between six and seven. The Coroner questioned witness, who said before he had time to tell deceased to let go the pony reached the tree. It seemed only an instant. Deceased said it was no fault of anyone's, and that he was sorry he had not let go the reins. Richard Reed, the man in company with the brothers at the time of the accident, said there was a pretty high load in the cart, and that might have caused the pony to "bolt." He corroborated the evidence of the previous witness. Re-examined, JOHN ALFRED PEEKE said the pony was quiet and good-tempered. It was young and had not been worked much. They bought it at Brent Fair, when it was unbroken. Deceased had worked it on several occasions. John Henry Harris, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth - I was called to see the deceased, and reached him about 5.30 p.m. He had been put to bed. I examined him, and could find no external marks. - The Coroner - No bruises? - Witness - No. The symptoms pointed to rupture of the lungs. he was bringing up blood. He was dying, and nothing could be done for him. There might have been a broken rib driven into the lung, or the lung might have been bruised and torn by the violence of the blow. Haemorrhage going on in the lung gradually suffocated him. The manner in which the injury is said to have occurred would be likely to cause rupture to the lungs without breaking the ribs. The Coroner said the case was very clear, and apparently no one was responsible for what happened. The Jury without hesitation returned a verdict of Accidental Death.

Friday 27 November 1896

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At Dartmouth. - Yesterday (Thursday) morning a mason named RICHARD LAVERS, who is well-known in Dartmouth, where he has resided and worked for many years, died very suddenly under peculiarly painful circumstances. He had been at work on a house at Newcomin Road for Mr E. P. Veale, and just before eleven o'clock, was assisting Mr Veale and two other men, in carrying a long ladder to the store at Coombe. All went well until they were near Bake Hill, when LAVERS complained of feeling unwell, and asked them to stop a moment which they did. He fell down almost directly after, and, Dr Crossfield's surgery being close by, the other men carried him there. He expired within a moment or two. Deceased was a very steady man and has always enjoyed average health. It is said that he was heard to complain of a pain in his side the same morning. He leaves a widow and a grown-up son. The body was removed by P.S. Stentiford and P.C. Berry, to deceased's home in Higher Street and the Coroner (Mr R. W. Prideaux) communicated with.

The Inquest - This Morning. At the Guildhall this (Friday) morning Mr Prideaux conducted the Inquest. Mr W. H. Sparks was chosen Foreman of the Jury. WM. JOHN LAVERS said deceased was his father, and was 50 years of age last March. Witness last saw him alive on Wednesday night, when he was in his usual health. Deceased had complained to his wife of having "a bit of a cold." He enjoyed good health generally. Edwin Veale - I am a builder residing at Lake-street. Deceased had worked for me for the last nine weeks and has not complained at all of his health. Yesterday morning between ten and eleven deceased was one of four (including myself) carrying a ladder to Coombe. Deceased and I were carrying the light end. We got to Mr Light's shop and deceased said - "It's time to spell." Then we lowered the ladder at our end. Deceased said "I have a nasty pain in my side." We took the ladder up again and went as far as the top of Bake Hill, and then deceased said "stop." I said "All right DICK, I've got the ladder," and with the same deceased fell on his face and hands. I took him up and sat him on a chair, and he said he was bad. He stayed there about five minutes and a cup of tea was brought him by Reynolds. He appeared to be coming round a little, but as he could not stand the two others took him to Dr Crossfield's. He did not speak again. George Sparks corroborated, and added that when they were carrying deceased to the doctor's he was unconscious. Wm. Light was assisting in carrying him. Dr A. K. Crossfield - I saw them bringing the deceased down, and asked them to bring him into my surgery as I saw he was dying. He died in a few seconds. I attribute death to failure of the heart's action, probably accelerated by cold. He was stone cold when he was brought in. I do not consider a post mortem necessary. The Jury returned a verdict of "Death from Natural Causes," in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 4 February 1898

TORQUAY - Torquay Brewery Manager Found Shot - The Inquest. - MR G. L. POLLARD, manager of the Torquay Branch of the Plymouth Breweries, was found shot on Saturday under the following circumstances. Deceased was well known in and around Dartmouth. The Coroner (Mr S. Hacker) held an Inquest on Monday. GEORGE GUSCOTT POLLARD, son, deposed that deceased was in the office at work as usual, and the auditors were present carrying out the annual audit. witness was asked to tell his father to take in one of the books to the auditor, and after his father had visited the auditors' room he went out behind. hearing a report later, witness went out, but returned, and remembering that there was a revolver in the drawer in the office, he went to look, but finding it gone, he proceeded to the outhouse, and found his father bleeding from a wound in the temple. ~Witness knew no reason why deceased should commit a rash act, as he had no business or domestic troubles. Answering Mr Keppell (solicitor who appeared for the family), witness said that he was of opinion that deceased put the weapon in his pocket for the purpose of extracting the bullet. Dr Arthur Watson, house surgeon at Torbay Hospital, said deceased was admitted in an unconscious state on Saturday, and suffering from a bullet wound in the right temple. After lingering in agony for an hour deceased expired, from haemorrhage of the brain. There was a contused wound on the other temple caused by falling. The bullet wound was about the size of a three-penny-piece and the skin around was discoloured and burnt, showing that the pistol had been placed close to the temple. The bullet passed through the head and fractured the left temple, showing that the arm was raised. Witness found the bullet in the scalp. - By Mr Keppell: It may have been that deceased slipped in the lavatory and the weapon discharged accidentally. George W. T. Burr, auditor's clerk, of Lockyer-street, Plymouth, said that as far as he knew the accounts had been properly kept and were correct. They had not completed the audit. Samuel Vosper, managing director of Stonehouse, said he knew the deceased as their branch manager. Deceased had paid large amounts of money into the bank to the credit of the company, and he went to bank as recently as Saturday morning. He wrote several letters, and appeared to him to be in a proper state of mind. The Coroner summed up, and the Jury decided to adjourn the Inquiry until after the audit had been concluded.

Friday 18 February 1898

TORQUAY - The Suicide Of A Brewery Manager At Torquay. Deficit Of £146. - A short time ago a sensation was caused at Torquay, when it became known that MR G. L. POLLARD, fifty-six, manager of the Torquay Branch of the Plymouth Breweries, Limited, had shot himself. The audit of the company's accounts was proceeding at the time, and at the Inquest on January 31st, it was decided to adjourn the proceedings pending the completion of the audit. Mr Coroner Hacker resumed the Inquiry on Monday evening, when Mr Samuel Vosper, J.P., of Stonehouse, managing director of the Plymouth Breweries stated that the accounts of the Torquay Branch of which deceased was manager, had been audited, and found satisfactory. Everything had been duly entered in the company's books, and there was nothing wrong in any of them. On checking the cash which deceased should have in hand, there was a deficiency of £146 2s. 11d. The total amount that should have been in hand was £173 9s. 10d. and the actual cash balance found amounted to £27 6s. 11d. Deceased had been in the habit of mixing his private cash with that of the company's money, and they found, on inquiry from the Torquay Brewery Company, which was acquired by the Plymouth Breweries last year, that deceased used to draw his salary three months ahead. There was nothing to show where the money was gone. Everything had been entered as received. In November last, when witness checked the cash, he found a surplus of £1 2s. 1d. The amount of the deficiency had not been paid to him. In answer to the Jury, witness said he presumed that the deficiency had arisen since the Plymouth Breweries had taken over the business. He was not aware that deceased was in any financial difficulties. Before asking the Jury to consider their verdict, the Coroner said that the money had been taken for some purpose, though what they could not say. That was strong evidence as to the question whether or not there was a motive for deceased shooting himself. Another question for them to consider was whether he was in his right mind at the time of the fatality. The Jury retired at 6.20, and half-an-hour later the Foreman, Mr Wyatt, returned and informed the Coroner that the Jury could not agree. The Coroner said he would wait a little longer, but if they could not agree they would have to go to the next Assizes to hear what the Judge would say on the matter. After further consideration for another half-hour, the Jury returned the simple verdict that "Deceased killed himself with a Pistol."

Friday 13 May 1898

TORQUAY - Sudden Death Of The Torquay Harbour Master. The Inquest. - On Friday last CAPT. G. PEPPERELL, Torquay harbour master, died suddenly whilst discharging his duties. An Inquest was held by Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, on Saturday. F. Easterbrook, son-in-law, stated that deceased was a master mariner, 59 years of age. For two or three years he had been suffering from a weak heart, but when witness saw him an hour or two before he died he was apparently better than usual and in brighter spirits. Dr Horton said deceased suffered from heart disease. On April 28th he gave him a certificate to the effect that he was unfit for any severe mental or physical strain. He was then very much depressed, and asked witness if he thought it wise for him to continue his duties as harbour-master. Witness told him he did not think so. Did not know that deceased definitely contemplated retiring, but he talked about it. He had been told he might die at any time. Dr Horton expressed the opinion that deceased died of heart disease. Dr F. Thomas, surgeon on board the yacht White Heather, said deceased went out to meet the White Heather, and was on the bridge directing her entrance into the harbour when he suddenly fell. He had been on the bridge about ten minutes and appeared quite cheerful. There was no excitement. When Dr Thomas examined him deceased was unconscious, with just a faint pulse, which lasted only a few seconds. Mr W. Smeardon, one of the Jury, asked Dr Horton if the certificate he gave deceased on April 28th reached the harbour authorities. Dr Horton did not know. Mr Smeardon said deceased ought not to have been put to any such exciting work as bringing yachts into the harbour. Mr G. P. Easterbrook, a nephew, did not think the Harbour Committee compelled deceased to do that work. The Coroner: It was in his own hands to resign if he felt the work was too much for him. Inspector Bond produced Dr Horton's certificate, remarking that it was found on deceased. Mr Bovey, chairman of the Harbour Committee, did not think any such certificate had reached the town clerk or the committee. Mr Easterbrook: Only one thing has worried him, and that is taking from him the boy he had in the office. That has caused him a lot of extra work. The Jury returned a verdict of "Death from Natural Causes." - CAPT. PEPPERELL was well-known at Dartmouth, where he at one time resided. He has commanded vessels hailing from this port. His father was harbour master at Dartmouth for many years and was also captain of several local trading vessels. One of deceased's daughters is the wife of Mr H. Adams, Duke Street, Dartmouth. On Wednesday the remains of the deceased were interred at Liverpool, where he formerly resided. The removal of the body from Torquay on Tuesday was officially recognised. The Mayor and most of the members of the Corporation together with the Officials &c., accompanied the cortege to the station. As it passed the Princess Pier, the Corporation Band played the Dead March in Saul. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack and a number of wreaths.

DARTMOUTH - The Suicide At Dartmouth. Inquest and Verdict. - MRS ANN RENDLE, the widow who was found at No. 1, Belvedere, on Thursday of last week, with her throat badly cut, expired at the Cottage Hospital on Saturday morning. When the facts were brought to the notice of the Borough Coroner, Mr R. W. Prideaux. he was just about to leave Dartmouth for a holiday, and instructed the police to communicate with his deputy, Mr P. R. Hockin, who was in London, but intended returning on Monday evening. An Inquest was held by Mr Hockin on Tuesday afternoon at the Guildhall. Mr L. W. Tucker was chosen Foreman of the Jury, which first proceeded to view the body, then lying at Belvedere Terrace. The following evidence was taken: ELLEN RENDLE: I am a domestic servant. I identify the body as that of my mother, who lived at No. 1, Belvedere Terrace, in which she had two rooms. She had relief from the parish, amounting to 3s. a week, and I and my sister paid the rent. She was 59 years of age, and was a widow. She was in rather delicate health, but I am not aware that she has been worse than usual recently. I last saw her alive on March 18th. I am in service in Plymouth, and on Thursday last, I received a telegram in consequence of which I returned home. I found deceased at the Cottage Hospital. - The Coroner: What has your mother's state mentally been? Has she been strong in that respect or not? - Years ago she was not. - Has she ever been in the asylum? - Yes, about 20 or 24 years ago. - Do you know if she has had any troubles or worries recently? - None, to my knowledge. - By the Jury: When I saw her on March 18th, I noticed nothing unusual. She was in very good spirits. Eliza Trout: I am a single woman residing at No. 1, Belvedere. Deceased has been living there about four months. I last saw her alive on Thursday about eleven in the forenoon. She was then in the washhouse washing. About five in the evening I heard groans from the closet, and I went downstairs and called her daughter and asked her if her mother was upstairs. I had no reason before that to know from whom the groans were coming. Her daughter and I went upstairs together, and the former tried the door and found that it was fastened. I then called Mr Launder, who lives in a house opposite. He came in and I asked him to burst the door open, which he did. He went inside, but I did not. He asked me to send for a doctor at once. I sent for Dr Harris. - The Coroner: Did you see MRS RENDLE at all? - No. Did Mr Launder say who it was? - No. Have you seen her since? - Not whilst she was alive. I saw her after she was dead. Had she got any wounds? - I don't know. I did not see any. What state of health had she been in? - I don't know much about her, but apparently she was in her usual state that day. Who was living with her? - Her daughter EMMA. By the Jury: She had never heard deceased threaten to do anything to herself. By the Coroner: She did not know whether deceased was queer in her habits or not. Chief Petty Officer Launder, H.M.S. Britannia: I reside at 12 Elm Grove Cottages, nearly opposite to Belvedere Terrace. About five in the afternoon of Thursday last I was at home. Miss Trout called me from the road. She said "Will you come over." I went as desired and followed her up the stairs. She said "Can you break open that door (the closet door)" which I found was locked. I burst it open and found deceased kneeling on the floor, and leaning over the pan with her throat cut. I at once sent for a doctor. I sat her up and remained by her until Dr Harris arrived. Then I went for a cab and assisted in her removal to the Hospital. The Coroner: Did you make an examination of the closet? - None whatever. Did you find anything afterwards? - No. Had you known anything of the deceased previously? - Nothing whatever, sir. Dr J. H. Harris, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth: On Thursday last, a little after five o'clock, I received a message, in consequence of which I went immediately to No.1, Belvedere, and found deceased sitting on the floor of the closet. She had a deep wound in the front of the throat, from which a large quantity of blood had run. The wound passed through every structure in the neck, cutting through the windpipe and the gullet, but leaving the main arteries intact. I had her removed to the Hospital, where the wound was dressed, and tracheotomy tube put in that she might breathe. She died on Saturday, May 7th at 5 a.m. I attended her up to the time of her death. The last time I saw her was at midnight on Friday. The cause of death was septic pneumonia caused by the blood secretions passing into the lungs, together with shock from the injury. Blood and secretion trickled into the lungs and she had no power to cough it up. I may add that I examined the surroundings where she was found. The pan contained a large quantity of blood, and also an open blood-stained razor (produced). I took it to the Hospital and handed it to the police. The Coroner: Were the wounds capable of being self-inflicted? - Yes. I think they were so inflicted owing to the direction of the wound and the fact that there were no self-protecting wounds, such as cuts on the hands &c. Elizabeth Lynn: I am a nurse residing in Dartmouth, and I was called to the Hospital on Thursday evening to attend to the deceased. I had charge of the case up to the time of her death. I was present when she died, about 5 a.m., on Saturday. By the Jury: Deceased made no statement while she was in the Hospital. She could understand yes and no, but that was about all. The Coroner said there was another witness, EMMA RENDLE, a daughter of the deceased, available, but he doubted whether she would be able to throw any additional light upon the case, and as she was much distressed at the occurrence, he did not propose to call her unless the Jury desired. The Jury considered there was ample testimony before them. Summing up, the Coroner said it appeared to him the case, so far as the facts were concerned, was of a very simple nature. The duty of the Jury was first of all to discover how the deceased came by her death. He thought there would be little difficulty with regard to that. They would also have to discover whether the wounds causing her death were self-inflicted or not. Here, again, he presumed there would be little cause for difficulty. There could be no doubt whatever that deceased died as the result of wounds inflicted by her own hand. The Jury would also have to consider what was the state of the deceased's mind at the time she committed the act. Was she in a sound state of mind or not. They had it from one witness, a daughter of the deceased, that some 20 or 23 years ago, she was confined in a lunatic asylum. It was for the Jury to arrive at a conclusion with regard to this point. Was the deceased, when she committed the rash act, capable of judging what she was about or not? The Jury promptly returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst in a state of Temporary Insanity". The Foreman said they desired to thank Mr Launder for the attention he paid to the deceased.

Friday 24 June 1898

CHUDLEIGH - Singular Fatality At Chudleigh. Inquest Adjourned. - The circumstances attending the death of MR ROBERT LEARE, butcher, formed the subject of an Inquiry by Mr S. Hacker on Saturday at Chudleigh. Deceased occupied his own house in Fore-street, his brother JOHN, a baker, lives next door, and at the back is a common yard, to which they and a third party have access. MRS LEARE, the widow, said deceased was fifty years of age. After returning from Exeter Market about 5.30 p.m. on Friday, he came into the shop, told her she would be pleased with what he had done, and said he had to go to Chudleigh Knighton to see Mr Fry on business. He left to go to the stable, and she went upstairs. Shortly after she was called by the servant, and on going down to the yard found her husband lying on his back, with his feet in the yard and his head in JOHN LEARE'S coach-house. Deceased was quite unconscious, and there was a wound in the right eye, the eye being out on the cheek. She tried to raise him, but failed, and then said to MISS LEARE, who was stood near without offering assistance, "Do, for humanity's sake, come and help me." They got him in a sitting posture, and several men took him upstairs. While this was taking place JOHN was in the coach-house, but he never offered help. He spoke but she could not remember what he said. Deceased died within half-an-hour without having regained consciousness. She saw no weapon in the yard. JOHN had lived in his house many years. ROBERT had been there three years. Some months ago some words passed between the brothers, and they hadn't spoken since. No quarrel could have taken place, or she must have heard from the bedroom, which overlooked the yard. She never heard a sound. Deceased was quite sober. She had no theory as to how the accident happened. HUZITA MARY LEARE, daughter of JOHN LEARE, said her father having returned from his Newton round, she unharnessed the pony, leaving her father to feed it with hay taken up on a pitchfork. Having gone indoors, she had been there only a few minutes when she heard a fall, and running out, found deceased lying on the ground. She tried to raise him, but couldn't. Her father, who was in the coach house, said "There's been an accident." Her mother, who followed her into the yard, called deceased's wife. Charlotte Lambell, domestic, employed by MRS ROBERT LEARE, also heard the fall and on going into the yard called deceased twice to get up. JOHN LEARE was standing against the coach house door, and she heard him say "He shouldn't interfere with my doors." She went to the stable and asked deceased, who was putting the pony in the trap, if he would have some tea. She had just returned to the kitchen when the noise of the fall caused her to look out of the window. She had no reason for saying to her mistress that JOHN had knocked down ROBERT, except that they had had words on a former occasion. She heard none then. Dr Patch said the eyeball had been punctured on the inner side, the piece of bone forming the upper covering of the eye punctured, and the brain pierced to the extent of two or three inches. The instrument must have gone in about four inches; the direction of the blow was slightly upwards. The wound was probably caused by deceased falling on the fork whilst it was being held loosely by some other person. Had the wound been caused by a thrust, there would probably have been a deeper injury on the inside of the upper bone. The Coroner adjourned the Inquest for a week in order to see if any further evidence was forthcoming.

Friday 1 July 1898

BRIXHAM - Inquest At Brixham. - Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, held an Inquest on the body of an innkeeper named FOOTE, who shot himself on Friday morning. MR HARRY FOOTE said his father had occupied the Three Elms for 18 months. On Thursday night his father appeared in his usual spirits. Did not think he was financially embarrassed. He was on good terms with all his family. He was not a hard drinker, but might have taken a drop too much sometimes, but not often. His second son, JOHN, shot himself five years ago with the same gun. THOMAS A. FOOTE, another son, said that morning, at five o'clock, he was called by his father and went out to work. He had been low-spirited lately. CARRIE FOOTE, a daughter, who helped manage the inn, said her father had been a bit low-spirited lately, but would never tell what about. His wife's death six years ago had always troubled him. He called her at five o'clock. She went down and made him a cup of tea, and took it to him in his bedroom, but he told her to take it away. She did so, and within a minute she heard the report of a gun. She rushed into the room with her sister, and saw her father with the top of his head blown off and a gun lying at his left side. BERTHA FOOTE, another daughter, said her father grieved very much at the death of her mother. Jonas B. Dooner, a dairyman, Dr G. C. Searle, and P.C. Charles Baston having given evidence, the Jury (Mr G. J. Bulgin, Foreman) returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst Temporarily Insane."

Friday 15 July 1898

TOTNES - Shocking Railway Fatality Near Totnes. - On Monday evening a young woman named ANNIE HILL, was killed on the railway at the crossing at Littlehempstone. While the slow train from Bristol - Great Western - due at Totnes at 5.40 p.m., was proceeding to Plymouth, between Newton Abbot and Totnes, the woman endeavoured to pass the level crossing, but was knocked down by another train on the up line. The shock was felt by all the passengers in the carriages, the body being carried beneath the wheels of the engine about thirty yards before the train could be brought to a standstill. Mr Barker, the professional jumper, performing at West Hoe, who was travelling from Bristol by the train, described the body as being completely dissected. The young woman was in the service of the Rev. W. D. Rundle, and had been shopping at Totnes, being on her journey home with her parcels when caught by the engine. At the Inquest a verdict of Accidental Death was returned and the Jury urged that the spot should be better protected.

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death Of A Child At Dartmouth. - The sixteen months' old son of a young woman named JOSLIN, residing at Lower Street, Dartmouth, died very suddenly on Sunday afternoon last. When alarming symptoms appeared the mother lost no time in sending for Dr Soper, but the child expired before he could arrive. An Inquest was held at the Guildhall on Tuesday at 4 p.m., by Mr r. W. Prideaux, the local Coroner. The Jury having viewed the body, received the following evidence:- LAURA JOSLIN: I am a single woman. I reside at Lower Street, and am a dressmaker. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my illegitimate son, CHARLES REGINALD LESLIE JOSLIN, aged sixteen months. The child has always been in a delicate state of health. In April last he was attended by Dr Harris for inflammation of the lungs and after he recovered from that it left him very delicate. On Saturday last he appeared quite well. I put him to bed myself. On Sunday morning he was dressed in the usual way. About one p.m. I was going to give him some dinner and I noticed suddenly that he looked as though he had something in his throat. I found he had nothing in his throat. He then began to kick, and I called to Mrs Smith to come down. She told me to send for a doctor at once as the baby had a fit. I sent for him at once, but the child died before he could arrive. The Coroner: Had the child eaten anything at all? - No. And all that morning did it appear as usual? - yes, he was out doors only five minutes before. The Coroner asked the Jury if they wished to put any questions to the witness. Mr Walls (Foreman of the Jury): I fully endorse the remarks of the mother. The Coroner: That is not the point. Have the Jury any questions to ask? - They had none. Eliza Smith, a married woman residing in the same house, said: I am well acquainted with the last witness and the deceased child. I have known the deceased since he was three months old. He was a very delicate child. I saw him on Sunday morning and he appeared to be quite well. About one o'clock I was called by the last witness. I saw the child was ill and I told her I thought he had a fit. I advised her to send for the doctor at once, which she did. The child died almost directly, in my arms, before the doctor arrived. The Foreman: You found the child just before that very cheerful, didn't you? - Yes. Dr Robert Wills Soper, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth: On Sunday shortly after one o'clock I received a message, asking me to visit MISS JOSLIN'S baby. I went immediately and found the deceased child on the lap of the last witness. I placed the child in a bed and examined it externally, but found nothing to account for death. The mother's dinner was on the table, and I asked her if she had given the child any and she said no. It was well nourished and appeared to be cared for. I believe the child died from natural causes. I may add that my partner attended the child about three months ago for pneumonia. There was nothing to indicate one particular cause more than another. It might have been convulsions, or it might have been teething. The Jury had no questions to ask. The Foreman was proceeding to make some remarks to his fellow Jurors when the Coroner stopped him and observed that this was quite irregular. They had heard the evidence, which appeared to be perfectly plain and straightforward. It was their duty now to say what they considered to be the cause of death. It was unnecessary, under the circumstances, for him to trouble them with any further remarks. A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was returned.

Friday 5 August 1898

TORQUAY - The Strange Death At Torquay. A Push, A Fall, Or A Blow! - Mr Coroner Hacker on Saturday resumed his Inquiry respecting the death of THIRZA MINGO, 52, wife of a marine store dealer, residing at 2, Gray's cottages, Babbicombe, who was found dead on Tuesday of last week. Mr Greenfield appeared for JOSEPH HOLDING, labourer, son-in-law of deceased, who had been arrested by the police on suspicion of the manslaughter of deceased. At the original hearing evidence was given by JOHN MINGO, the husband, and Dr Finch. The husband was recalled. He admitted telling Inspector Bond that he saw HOLDING push the deceased down, but that was a mistake on his part, and he ought to have stated that he had been told so. The Coroner: Why did you commit such a mistake? - Witness: Because I did not know what I was talking about at the time, having had a sudden death in the house. I was not in possession of my full senses. - Inspector Bond requested the Coroner to ask witness if he did not come back to the Police-station two hours after he made the statement and say that he would not be responsible for what he had said. - Witness: Yes, because I was "worritted" and took it into consideration that I had made an error in what I had said. - JOHN MINGO, fisherman, son, said he came home on Tuesday evening and found his mother drunk, a not unusual occurrence. James Godfrey saw deceased outside MINGO'S woodstore throwing stones at her daughter. He also saw her son-in-law intervene. He did not push her. Witness considered that deceased fell because she was drunk. William Cann, fish dealer and Harry Evans corroborated the latter describing the affair as more of a push than a blow. Thomas Rowlands, house painter, said there were no blows struck. In returning a verdict of "Accidental Death" the Jury absolved everyone concerned from blame, and said that death was due to deceased falling while in a drunken state - (applause).

Friday 19 August 1898

PINHOE - Suicide Of A Dartmothian At Pinhoe. the Inquest. - On Friday evening at the Poltimore Arms, Pinhoe, an Inquest was held on the body of WILLIAM HENRY SPARKS, 69, coal merchant, of Pinhoe, who was found dead in a coal shed adjoining the London and South Western Railway on Thursday last. Inspector Cheney, of the Police Department and Permanent Way Inspector Randall watched the proceedings on behalf of the London and South Western Railway. The widow, MARY JANE SPARKS, who was first called, stated that she last saw her husband alive at 6.30 on Thursday morning, when he was in his usual good health. He was expected back to breakfast at 9 o'clock, but when it became 11 o'clock, her daughter went to the coal yard to look for him. Of late the deceased had complained of pain in his head, but had had nothing whatever to depress him, nor had he ever threatened to take his life. MARY LOUISA SPARKS, daughter of the deceased, said she went to call her father at 11 o'clock on the previous morning, and on going into the coal shed adjoining the London and South Western Railway, found him lying on the ground dead. She called for help, and Thomas George Coles came to her assistance. The latter, a builder, of Pinhoe, deposed that he found the deceased lying on the ground dead, with a piece of cord around his neck. The other portion of the cord was attached to a beam. Under the latter was a wooden block, upon which evidently the deceased had stood. William Surridge, ganger, said he saw the deceased at 7.30 on the morning in question, and the "time of day" was passed between them. Mr J. Somers, of Broadclyst, stated, that he examined the body, and found a rope mark around the deceased's neck, death evidently being due to strangulation and suffocation. The Coroner expressed sympathy with the widow and family, and observed that he hardly remembered a case in which the evidence as to insanity was so slight. After consultation in private, the Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide while Temporarily Insane."

Friday 9 September 1898

The Inquest on the body of GEORGE MCKEON, held at Slapton this week, resulted, as everybody anticipated it would, in a verdict of Accidental Death. No other conclusion was possible. The unfortunate man was attending to his ordinary duties, as the yacht stayed round the home mark she was, to use the words of the Captain, "pressed down," a terrific rush of water over the lee rail swept him away, and he was drowned. The evidence of Captain Bevis vividly pictured the scene. The yacht foaming through the water at twelve knots an hour, the lee rail buried beneath the swirling stream, the man suddenly thrown off his feet and washed into eternity! The dangers of yacht racing are not realised as they should be. Every sport has its dangers, its risks, and yacht racing is no exception to the general rule. Those risks however can be minimised very considerably, and are reduced to their lowest possible limit, when the men concerned are able to swim. MCKEON unfortunately had not learnt this important art. Consequently the sea speedily closed over him and though within a few feet of the spot where he fell over the rail, a lifebuoy and a boat were drifting in less time than it takes to tell, he had practically no chance for his life. The Coroner took a most serious view of this aspect of the question. He commented strongly upon the fact that the deceased, though unable to swim, was a member of the crew of a racing yacht. Capt. Bevis has had long experience in yacht racing, and he assured the court that he has never known the question raised when men are engaged. All the same it should be, for, in face of the facts relating to this sad occurrence, it seems like tempting fate for men who cannot swim to expose themselves to the risk of being washed into the sea without the slightest warning. Captain Bevis intends in future to put the question plainly to every man he employs and, we presume, he will ship none who are non-swimmers. We hope his example will be followed by all yacht captains who have charge of racing craft. The fact that on the same day a man was washed overboard from another yacht, at the Skerries buoy, emphasises the importance of this matter. In that case the man could swim, and, though he was in the water for some time, he was eventually rescued. We should like to draw special attention to the subscription list which has been opened for the widow of the drowned man. Mr Glennie, whose address will be found in another part of the paper, has consented to receive contributions.

Friday 21 October 1898

DARTMOUTH - The Fatal Accident At The Board School. Inquest And Verdict. - At the Guildhall on Monday morning, Mr R. W. Prideaux, Coroner for the Borough, held an Inquest touching the death of the little lad, ALLEN, who succumbed on Saturday to injuries caused to his head by falling over a wall at the Boys' school eleven days previously. Mr T. Veale was chosen Foreman of the Jury. Mr L. G. Hockin, the Head Master, was present. Mr O. S. Bartlett appeared for the teachers, instructed by the N.U.T. The Coroner said the School Board, being a public body, were desirous of giving every facility to enable them to come to a satisfactory decision, and after viewing the body, he proposed to take them to the spot where the accident took place. That would put them in the position of being able to consider the case more clearly. They would be able to see precisely where the boy fell over, and how the wall was guarded. At the school the Jury inspected the spot. The drop, to the step upon which the unfortunate lad fell, is about fourteen feet. A palisade some 3ft. 9 in. high runs round the wall, with interstices not more than two inches between each upright. Outside the fencing is a clear space f a foot or thereabouts and it was along this space that the boy was playing when he slipped and fell. Having returned to the Guildhall the Jury received the following evidence:- WILLIAM ALLEN: I am a naval pensioner residing at Above Town. I identify the body as that of my son, HENRY ERNEST ALLEN, who was 8 years of age last August. He was a scholar in the Dartmouth Board School, boys' department. On Tuesday, October 4th, he left home at nine a.m. to attend school. He was then in his usual health. Between half-past eleven and twelve the same morning he was brought home injured in the head. Dr Harris arrived within about 20 mins., and has continued to attend the boy up to the time of his death, which occurred about one o'clock on Saturday morning last. I have no personal knowledge as to how he came by the injury which caused his death. During his illness he has given no statement. He was simply able to answer "yes" or "no" when asked if he wanted a drink. George Harley: I am the son of John Harley, bootmaker, and I am a scholar at the Boys' School. I knew the deceased. On Tuesday morning, October 4th, I was in the playground. Deceased was there. I was outside the railings in the lower part of the playground and the deceased was running round the railings inside. He tripped on the stones and fell over. The Coroner: Was he climbing the railings then? - Witness: No sir. In subsequent enquiry it transpired that the witness, by "inside," meant that part of the railings nearest the school, which the Coroner was calling "outside". This having been cleared up witness said deceased had got over the railings. The lad continued: I was up against the railings on the other side. No one touched the deceased. The little boy Jeffery was chasing him. This was about a quarter past eleven. The Coroner: I may say gentlemen there is a break of about a quarter of an hour in the mornings for play. The masters will be able to tell us about that. - Witness (continuing): Deceased, who struck a step and then rolled down had pitched on his head. He fell fourteen feet. I saw him get over the railings. - Mr Bartlett: How long have you been at the school? - I don't know sir. - Q.: Have you been there a long time? - Yes. - Q.: Have you heard the masters tell all the boys they ought not to get outside the railings? - Yes sir. - Q.: Did you hear Mr Plater warn some of the boys against going there, the same morning the accident happened? - No, sir. William Hooper: I am the son of Henry Hooper, stationer's assistant, and am 13 years of age. I am in attendance at the boys' school. On Tuesday, October 4th, I was in the playground a little after eleven. Deceased got "in around the railings." - The Coroner: Between the railings and the Board School? - Witness: Yes. Then the boy Jeffery was chasing him, and deceased tried to get out. He overbalanced himself and fell. Jeffery was the other side of the railings and was hitting at him, but deceased did not fall in consequence of being knocked off. He was trying to get away from Jeffery at the time. They were playing together. Deceased struck his head on a step. There were no questions. The lad Jeffery was called forward. The Coroner: He is very young. How old are you, my boy? - Jeffery: Seven, sir. - The Coroner: I shan't call you. It isn't necessary. Ernest Plater: I am an assistant master at the boys' school. The school is dismissed at eleven o'clock for a quarter of an hour's play. At that time on October 4th, I was in the playground. I did not see the deceased there. I had just sent my own class into the playground, and, following them up, I had got as far as the wall on the right hand. I cautioned one or two boys I saw playing there, and then I walked towards the long flight of stone steps leading to the side door of the school. Just as I got to the head of the steps I heard a boy shouting. It was the last witness, Hooper. He said: "Mr Plater, come quickly, a boy has fallen from the wall and is bleeding." I ran down the steps and found the deceased lying with his head on the bottom step and his body on the concrete. I sent a boy to tell the head master, who came immediately. I sponged the boy's head. I should have said that his head was severely injured in the front part. It was swollen and bleeding profusely. Mr Hockin at once sent for a doctor, but as the case seemed so very serious he told me to carry the boy home, and said he would send the doctor after I had taken him home. - The Coroner: These railings are about 3ft. 6in. high. - About 3ft. 6in. or 4ft. - And they are palisaded at intervals of 2 inches? - Yes, about that, I should think. - Q.: Is it a fact that boys are warned against climbing over or going outside these railings? - Yes, they have been warned repeatedly. - Q.: You did not see the occurrence, but had you seen the boy outside I take it you would have sent him away. - Yes, I should have ordered him into school. We always do that. - Mr Bartlett: It is a fact, I believe, that you warned other boys the same morning? - Yes, I told them they must not play there. - Q.: How long had the deceased boy been at school? - About six months, I should think. _ Q.: Were you in charge of the playground? - No, but I was there. - Q.: You know that boys have been punished for climbing over the railings? - Yes, again and again. - Several questions were put by a Juryman, who wanted, first of all, to know whether it was not an easy matter for a boy to go round the corner at the end of the railings and so get on to the ledge outside them in that way, without climbing over. Mr Plater replied that he did not think it was very difficult, "but," he added "at the end there is a paling to prevent their doing so. This boy must have climbed round. He could not possibly have got there else." - Q.: How far does this railing at the end extend? - Right across the end. It is put there purposely to keep the boys from going outside the fence. - Q.: Is it not a frequent occurrence for boys to go round there? - No, not there, but it is for them to go round the other one at the higher playground, where there is also a bad drop. - The Coroner: You did not see the boy yourself in the playground, that morning? - No. - The Coroner: But you warned other boys against playing outside this railing? - Yes. - There were no further questions put to this witness. Dr J. H. Harris: On October 4th, about half past eleven, I received a message asking me to go to the Board School as a boy had met with an accident. On arriving there, I found the boy had been taken to his home, whither I proceeded. I was told he had fallen over a wall about 14ft. high. On examining the boy, I found a cut upon his head on the right side at the top about 1 ½ inches in length extending down to the bone. There were also three punctured wounds on his forehead and a depressed fracture of the skull which could be distinctly felt with the fingers through the skin. He had also sprained his left wrist. He was then suffering from concussion and remained in that condition until his death. The cause of death, in my opinion, was meningitis, caused by the irritation to the brain and membranes by the depressed fracture. - The Coroner: And the injury could readily arise from a fall such as you have heard described? - Yes. I was regularly in attendance up to the time of death. Summing up, the Coroner said the poor little lad was at play with another boy, and in trying to get away from him, ran along outside the railing, but it was clear from the evidence that he was not knocked over. He stumbled or missed his footing and fell a distance of fourteen feet. The only wonder was, under the circumstances, that he was not killed on the spot. He should not think it necessary but for the fact that the boy was a scholar at the Board School, a public institution, to trouble the Jury with any further remarks. The Board School, however, felt - and properly so - that the children sent to their schools were under their care and that it was incumbent upon them to take every precaution for their safety. The evidence showed that this had clearly been done. Not only had the masters cautioned the boys continually against going outside the railings, but they had punished those who were found there. It was a fact with his (Mr Prideaux's) own knowledge - for he was Clerk to the School Board as well as Coroner - that some years ago, when there was nothing but a post and rail along the wall, a boy fell down there, fortunately without sustaining injury. Then the Board, anxious to do all they could to make the place safe, raised the railing and transformed it into a palisade nearly 4ft. in height. It was a matter of great regret to the members that such an accident had occurred, and they would carefully consider whether any additional precaution could be provided. They knew very well that boys would be boys and it was exceedingly difficult to get a sense of danger into their heads. They frequently got into places where people would think it was perfectly impossible for them to climb. A Juryman thought it would be advisable to suggest to the Board the necessity of carrying the fence closer to the edge of the wall, as well as raising it. - The Coroner: The first thing you have to do is to do is to consider your verdict. If you make any suggestion to the Board, I fell sure they will carefully consider it. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death," and, through their Foreman, made the suggestion named above. - The Coroner: During the whole of my twenty-four years' experience as Clerk of the School Board this is the first time a fatal accident has occurred at the schools. In that time, thousands of boys have passed through the schools. We have an average of 800 children there, which means that a great many go through in the course of a few years. I am quite sure the Board will take the suggestion into very careful consideration and do all they possibly can to make the place even safer than it is now. You have been shown that this little lad could not have got outside the fencing without climbing over it, the very thing the boys had been warned not to do. This closed the Inquiry.

Friday 23 December 1898

KINGSWEAR - Fatal Accident At Overhill. Death From Shock. - On Monday afternoon an aged labourer, named COLE was engaged with Mr G. A. Casey, formerly one of the lessees of the Kingswear ferry, in putting down some posts to form the dividing line of gardens at Overhill, Kingswear, adjoining new houses being erected for Mr Casey. Several posts had already been put in and COLE was engaged in filling in the holes properly and ramming the earth down after Mr Casey had placed the posts in position. Suddenly, while the latter had a post in his hand, his feet slipped and the post slid from his grasp as he lost his balance and fell on his back. It slid in the right direction and its bottom extremity fell into the hole that had been made for it. Mr Casey called to his companion to "look out" and COLE immediately straightened up to see what was coming. At the same instant the post, with the force of its fall, swayed violently and its higher end struck the man on his forehead, though not a very severe blow. Mr Casey was soon on his feet, and raised the old man, who had fallen down. Help was soon forthcoming, but he died while he was being taken home. He has been a resident in Kingswear for many years and leaves a widow and a grown-up family. An Inquest was held on Tuesday at the Royal Dart Hotel, by Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner. Mr R. Moses was chosen Foreman of the Jury. After administering the oaths, the Coroner said the Jury were called together to investigate a case of death which occurred in Kingswear on the previous day. The deceased came by his death by a violent occurrence. He was struck by a wooden post and died immediately. It would be for the Jury to Enquire how this happened, and to satisfy their minds as to whether it was absolutely accidental, or whether there was any reason to suppose it occurred in consequence of any misconduct, neglect, or wrong doing. The Jury then proceeded to view the body, and afterwards received the following evidence: CAROLINE RYDER: I reside at 3, Orchard Terrace, Kingswear, and am the wife of RICHARD RYDER, carpenter. The deceased was my father, EDWARD COLE, who was 78 years of age. He was a general labourer. His wife is living. Lately he has not been particularly well. He was fairly active and has been able to go to work occasionally, though not every day. The last time I saw him was on Saturday, though I did not see him to speak to. He was not at work for any regular master, but did what odd jobs he could pick up. He lived at Higher Street. - The Coroner: You don't know how he came by his death? - No sir. - The Coroner: Did you see him after death? - Yes, immediately. They sent for me directly he was brought home. He was dead then. George Adams Casey: I reside at the Priory, Kingswear, and am a lodging-house keeper. The deceased had been working for me for three days prior to the accident. Yesterday afternoon he was at work with me putting down posts to fence off part of the garden at Overhill. I was taking out the holes and putting the posts down, while he filled in the ground and finished it. We had put down five posts. Just as I was about to put in another the wet earth slipped from under me, and I fell backward. The post slipped from my hands, though it went in the hole. Deceased was working the lower side of me, about five or six feet away. Directly I found I was losing my hold of the post, I shouted to him to "look out." So far as I could judge he looked up to see what I was calling about, and with the same the post struck him somewhere on the head. He fell one way and the post fell the other. It did not strike him a direct blow. It was more of a sliding blow. I at once went to his assistance and held up his head. He was unconscious, though not dead, for I saw him breathe. A mason came to my help, at my call, and helped me to take him home, with the assistance of the blacksmith, whom we called on the way. We sent for the doctor, who reached the house almost directly. Deceased did not live many minutes after he was struck. He died before we got him home. He never regained consciousness. - The Coroner: How did you come to slip? - On the loose, wet earth, just by the edge of the hole. - The Coroner: These posts, were they heavy? They would give him a nasty blow, I suppose? - They were not very heavy, being made of light deal. They were about 6 ½ feet long and six inches by four inches around. Deceased was a nice old man whom you could trust to do gardening and any light work. He was not fit to go to a hard day's work. He was past that. A neighbour let us have a chair to put him on immediately I cried out. There was no one else about. Emma Symons, married: I reside close to the spot where the accident happened. I was looking out of the window yesterday afternoon and I saw Mr Casey stagger back as he slipped. I saw the post fall out of his hand and saw it strike the deceased, exactly as the last witness has stated. Dr W. B. Kendall: I was called about 3.30 p.m., and when I got to the house I found the deceased on the bed quite dead. On making an examination I found merely a graze, quite a slight graze, just above the forehead. There were no other marks at all. It was not a sign of a severe blow. There was no fracture of the skull. I attribute death to shock from the blow, acting upon the heart and paralysing him, taking into account his age and the fact that he has been failing of late. I do not think for a moment that the blow would be sufficient to kill an ordinary strong man. - The Coroner: It would be a pretty severe blow, would it not? - Well, he would not get the full force of it, for one end of the post was in the hole. It did not, moreover, strike him a full blow but a glancing one. - The Coroner: The you attribute death to shock, rather than to the blow? - Yes, the blow itself was not enough to kill him. He was not strong enough to bear the subsequent shock. This was all the evidence, and the Coroner, summing up briefly, said an explanation had now been given the Jury, who would have to say whether they were satisfied with it or not. If it seemed to them that the occurrence was purely accidental, that would be their verdict. The case seemed pretty clear, and it was difficult to see how, under the circumstances, anyone could be held to blame. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death," and the Foreman said they wished to exonerate Mr Casey from all blame in the matter. - The Coroner: Your verdict is quite sufficient. When you say "Accidental Death" it follows naturally that you consider no blame attaches to anybody. If you wanted to blame anyone in any way, you would have to add a rider to that effect.

Friday 27 January 1899

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At Waterpool Road. The Inquest. - In the early hours of Sunday morning, at his residence, Mesha Cottage, Waterpool Road, Dartmouth, the death suddenly occurred of THOMAS COLE, a market gardener, well-known locally for a long period. The deceased felt pain on Saturday evening after returning from the town. It came on while he was walking up the steep hill leading to his cottage. He went to bed about 11 o'clock, and woke up an hour later, still in pain. A few minutes afterwards he became unconscious and his wife then went for Dr Davson. When that gentleman arrived, which he did with all promptitude, MR COLE was dead. An Inquest was held on Monday afternoon at Mesha Cottage. Mr G. Gay was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The Coroner (Mr R. W. Prideaux) said he had decided to hold it at the cottage for two reasons. In the first place the ill-health of the widow would have prevented her from attending at the Guildhall, and in the second he was given to understand the Guildhall was under repair and could not have been used that day. That was why he had departed from his invariable custom of holding Inquests at the Guildhall. Having viewed the body the Jury received the following evidence: MRS COLE gave her evidence with great emotion. She said: I am the wife of THOMAS COLE, who was 70 years of age last august. He has not been very well for the past few days and on Saturday last he was suffering from a cold. Otherwise he was in fair health. On Saturday afternoon he went into the town as usual. Going down he was all right, but coming back he felt a little tightness on his chest. We went to bed about eleven. He felt a pain in his chest when he was sitting in his chair, and I advised him to get into bed. He had a short nap, and then I heard him gasping a little. He had had just a drop of whisky and water, hoping that would do him good. When he woke up he said he thought it was the wind making him bad and I gave him some peppermint, which he said he thought would relieve him. Then he turned over on his side and I heard a different sound from him. I called to him but he made no answer and I found he was unconscious. I rubbed some brandy over his forehead and then, finding that did not revive him I went for the doctor. Then it was about half past twelve. He was not dead when I left the house. I am not sure whether he was dead when we came back. I fancied he was not. His hands were warm. My husband and I were alone in the house that night. Dr F. A. Davson, M.D.: I identify the body as that of THOMAS COLE. I attended him about two years ago for an attack of sciatica. I have not attended him since though I have frequently seen him. On Sunday morning about two o'clock I was called and proceeded to Mesha Cottage at once, arriving there between 2.30 and 2.45. I found the deceased in his bed. He was dead. I made an external examination of the body but found nothing to account for death. From my knowledge of the deceased and his state of health I attribute his death to natural causes. The Coroner: And if you were asked to specify any cause in particular, what would you say? - Dr Davson: Exhaustion, consequent upon a weak heart. He had been failing for some time. The Coroner: Walking up the steep hill every day would probably bring it about, would it not? - Yes. The Coroner said this was all the evidence. On receiving information of the case he thought it his duty, under the circumstances, to hold an Inquest as the deceased had not been attended by a medical man for such a long time. At the same time the facts were perfectly clear and he did not anticipate that the Jury would have any difficulty in arriving at a conclusion. A verdict of "Death from Natural Causes, probably Exhaustion, consequent upon a feeble heart" was immediately returned.

Friday 3 February 1899

KINGSWEAR - A Singular Case. How Was The Blow Received? - An Inquest was held at the Royal Dart Hotel on Tuesday afternoon, before Mr S. Hacker, District Coroner, touching the death of a lad named PEPPERELL. Mr J. H. Short was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The Coroner, in opening the Inquiry, said the case which was to come before them, was that of a death which occurred in the village on Saturday night. In consequence of there having been some statements, or rumours, suggesting that it was possible deceased might have met his death from some unnatural cause, it appeared desirable that an investigation should be held, so that a Coroner's Jury, the proper legal tribunal for such a purpose, could look into the matter and ascertain legally how and by what means deceased came by his death, and whether there was any reason for supposing that the cause was other than natural. It would be their duty to look into all the circumstances surrounding the case. - Having viewed the body, the Jury received the following evidence:- WILLIAM HENRY PEPPERELL: I reside at 8, College View, Kingswear, and am a mason. I identify the body as that of my son, ERNEST, aged fifteen. He was in the employ of Mr Bulley, Brownstone Farm, in whose house he lived. The last time I saw him before the accident was last Tuesday week. - The Coroner: There was an accident, was there? - Yes, of some sort. He always came home on Sundays, and sometimes once or twice in the week. He came home on Tuesday week wet through, shifted his clothes and went back to the farm next morning. He appeared to be all right then and was in very good spirits. I saw him two days after, on the Thursday. He came home then with a bad foot. His mother bathed his foot and put him to bed. He had a very heavy bruise from "the ankle-bone to the neck of the foot." We sent for the doctor. The boy complained of very great pain in his leg. He did not tell me how he did it. I questioned him as to whether he had been kicked, or whether anything had gone over his foot, and he said "No, father." - The Coroner: He refused to give you any information as to how he came by this bruise? - Yes, sir. - The Coroner: Was there anything else the matter? - No, I searched him all over, because he complained in the evening about a pain in his side. I could find no trace of a blow to the head, which I examined with the doctor. There was just a little red spot on the top of the head, but nothing to indicate a blow. He seemed to be in great pain all the time. The third day afterwards he complained of pain in his head. - The Coroner: Why wouldn't he tell you what had happened? - I don't know sir. He was always a very "close" boy. - The Coroner: Have you ascertained any explanation why he has been trying to keep this from you? - I have tried. I went to the farm and enquired. He said to one man on the farm who told him he was "crippling about like an old man," that he had rheumatism in his leg and told Mr Bulley that he had chilblains on his foot. I could not find out from anyone that he had met with any blow or anything of that kind. - The Coroner: Didn't you press him? - Yes, but he did not tell and I did not think it was so serious. He kept his bed until he died, on Saturday evening last, at seven o'clock. He was under Dr Davson's care all the time. Once when I sent to Dr Davson, he was out, and someone at the doctor's house advised the boy I sent to go for Dr Kendall, which he did. Deceased grew delirious towards the end and "quite out of his mind." - The Coroner: You can't think of any reason for the boy keeping it from you? - Not at all, sir. I went to all the people on the farm and nobody knew anything about it. - The Coroner: Have you any reason to suppose your son would tell you untruths about anything that had happened? - No, sir, but he kept things very "close." He did not say he had sustained a blow to his head but simply complained of the bruise on his leg. I have done everything I could to find out, because it would be a great relief to me, and to everyone else, to know what happened. - The Coroner: Did he say anything to his mother about it? - No, his grandmother was with him all the time. She nursed him. Frederick Adams Davson, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth: On Friday, Jan. 20th, I saw the deceased at his home. He was in bed, and was apparently suffering from nervous shock. Something had frightened him I should think. He complained of his leg. I examined it, and found an open suppurating wound, about the size of half-a-crown, just about the ankle, while the limb was bruised up to the knee. He was in an excited condition. I prescribed for him. After a few days I found that head symptoms were setting in. I questioned him as to how he got the wound. He simply said he had a wound in the leg, but he didn't tell me how he got it. He didn't seem to understand. He was getting muddled in the head. Ultimately there were symptoms of meningitis and he became perfectly delirious and afterwards sunk from coma and exhaustion. He died last Saturday evening. - The Coroner: All this time he made no statement to you as to how he got the injuries. - No, he was very reticent about the whole business. Since death I have made an examination of the body. The brain showed symptoms of meningitis. An examination of the lungs revealed the fact that they were highly congested, and there were signs of old standing pleurisy troubles, and small abscesses in both lungs. The heart appeared feeble, but the other organs were fairly healthy, except the stomach. He was, generally speaking, an unhealthy subject. Meningitis was no doubt induced by the unhealthy wound in the leg, which apparently poisoned the blood. Externally there was no mark of violence on the body apart from the wound and bruise on the leg, and excepting a slight mark on the head, which might have been of old standing. - The Coroner: Supposing he had had such a blow on his head as to induce meningitis, you would have expected to find a trace of it externally/ It could not be a small blow to bring about such an effect. - Yes, there would have been a mark had there been such a blow, so it is probable there was no blow to the head. - The Coroner: What in your opinion caused this meningitis? - The absorption of poisonous matter from the unhealthy wound in the leg. The abscesses showed there must have been absorption. - The Coroner: Blood-poisoning then? - Yes. - The Coroner: That would account for the pain in his head and so on. - Yes. - The Coroner: And there is nothing to lead you to suppose there was any other blow than that to the leg? - Nothing. That, by inducing meningitis, would be sufficient to account for death. - The Coroner: How would the bruise and wound be caused? - Probably by a blow or scratch on the leg. As a rule that would not cause death. In this case I think his unhealthy condition brought about death. I should imagine the wound had been caused two or three days before I saw it. His moving about would naturally increase the irritation and the size of the wound. - MARY PEPPERELL: I am the deceased's grandmother. I asked him what he had done, and he said he had been "about the turnip-cutter." I said "what made you go to the turnip-cutter; you ain't fit to do that." He replied "I must do what my master tells me." Mr Bulley afterwards said he had not told the deceased to go to the turnip-cutter. The boy told me he did it somehow with the chain belonging to the turnip-cutter. There was no wound when he first came home and complained - only a bruise. He did not tell me whether the turnip-cutter went over his leg, or anything else except that it was done by the turnip-cutter. Deceased was not a very strong boy. Generally he was in good spirits. - Thomas Bulley: I am a farmer residing at Brownstone, in Brixham parish. Deceased was in my employ, and was supposed to be a servant in the house. As we frequently wanted things in Kingswear he was often home two or three times a week and always on Sundays. The day he went home and complained of the bruise, I saw him walking lame. I asked him what the matter was and he said he had a chilblain on his heel. I sent him down in the yard to work, as he was not fit to go out in the fields. - The Coroner: Was he using the turnip-cutter? - No sir. It is all strange to me. He hadn't been using it. It is funny that these things should get about. - The Coroner: Well it is the boy's own statement. Where was the turnip-cutter kept? - There are two or three of them about. I never told him to use the turnip-cutters. I was away on the Monday - the day before I saw him walking lame - and it is possible he might have done it then, but I did not see him walking lame until the Tuesday. I enquired of all the men and they knew nothing about it. - The Coroner: He had a blow you see; that is quite clear. how it happened, nobody seems to know. He had bruised his leg that is clear, and then he told you a lie about it. Why should he be afraid of you? - No, I don't see why he should be afraid of me. - The Coroner: Had you any rules that the boys were not to touch the turnip-cutters? - No, sir. nothing of the kind. - The Coroner: He told you a gratuitous lie. he told you he had a chilblain on his heel, whereas he had a bruise on his leg. Why should he say that to you when it was not so? - I can't say. Dr Davson (re-examined by the Coroner): The meningitis was induced by an unnatural effect, in my opinion, and not by natural causes. - The Coroner: Thank you, I wanted to make that quite clear. The Coroner, summing up, said it was obvious from the evidence there had been a blow of some kind, but as to its cause they were practically in ignorance. The boy tells his grandmother that it was caused by the turnip cutter, but the Jury could not regard that as direct evidence. It was only secondary evidence. It might be incorrect, or it might have been incorrectly told to the Jury. In the first place it was for the Jury to determine whether the deceased received a blow. About that there could be little doubt, after the evidence of Dr Davson. Then they had to ascertain how that blow came about, and with regard to this, he thought, looking at all the circumstances of the case, they would be right in presuming that it was accidental. Had it been otherwise there would probably have been some evidence forthcoming. Whatever was the cause, the boy kept it to himself so far as his father and mother were concerned. though he made a sort of statement to his grandmother. The Jury found that the deceased came to his death from meningitis, consequent upon a suppurating wound, accidentally received.

Friday 17 March 1899

DARTMOUTH - Inquest - This Morning. Alleged Neglect Of A Child. - An Inquest was held this morning at the Guildhall on the body of MABEL TUCKER, infant child of W.H. TUCKER, College labourer. Dr J. H. Harris said the mother brought the child to him at 2 p.m. on Monday last. It was suffering from inflammation of the lungs, and he told her what to do and gave her a prescription. The mother said she had recently come out from Newton Workhouse and that her husband sent for her to come to Dartmouth, which she did on Sunday. On Monday night about ten he was sent for and saw the child at Bawden Terrace; it was dying. The mother was very distressed, and complained to him that she had to walk about the streets all day, and had nowhere to go until Mrs Chase kindly took her in at Bawden Terrace. Next morning she told him the people could keep her there no longer. Her husband had gone to work and left her with nothing but three halfpence. She wanted to go to Totnes Union, but he thought it likely, if she did, the child would die in her arms on the way. The child died that afternoon and the cause was inflammation of the lungs, accelerated by neglect and exposure. - Emily Chase saw the mother and child outside her house on Monday evening and was kind enough to take them in. The child died in the house on Tuesday afternoon. - By the Coroner: The husband came there and stopped also. He had nowhere to go. The mother and father were examined. They went to the house at which the latter was lodging, but as the landlady only took in single men she would not admit the woman. A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was returned and the husband was censured, while Mrs Chase was commended for her conduct.

Friday 24 March 1899

DARTMOUTH - Fatal Accident To A Chief Officer. Death At Dartmouth. - The S.S. Falka, which arrived at Dartmouth on Tuesday, from Pensacola bound to Hull, landed the chief officer, MR WILLS, who was suffering from the effects of an accident which took place on the outward voyage. A heavy drawer fell upon him in the chart-room, and he was injured internally. He was sent to the Dartmouth Cottage Hospital for treatment, but in spite of all that could be done for him he gradually sank and died on Wednesday. The Inquest was held at the Guildhall on Thursday afternoon by Mr R. W. Prideaux, County Coroner. Mr T. O. Veale was chosen Foreman of the Jury, which proceeded to the Cottage Hospital to view the body. On their return they received the following evidence: MRS PELLEW, wife of the Penzance Assistant-overseer, deposed that deceased (RICHARD RALPH WILLS) was her uncle and was 55 years of age. he resided at 45 Bay View Terrace, Penzance. He was chief mate of the S.S. Falka, a West Hartlepool steamer, to which he had belonged about 75 days. He was returning in her from Pensacola, and on Tuesday she received a telegram about midday calling her to Dartmouth to see him at once. She immediately travelled from Penzance, and on arrival at Dartmouth found the deceased in the Cottage Hospital very ill. He died on Wednesday afternoon. She had no personal knowledge as to how he met with the injuries which brought about his death, and he was so ill that he was unable to tell her anything about them. The Coroner: Then he told you nothing whatever about any accident? - Witness: No. He could not. - The Jury had no questions to ask. Dr R. W. Soper, surgeon practising at Dartmouth, said he was called on board the S.S. Falka, between nine and ten a.m. on Tuesday, to see the chief officer, whom he found with the captain and another officer in the cabin. Finding deceased was unable to give him any information, owing to the difficulty he had in speaking and breathing, the captain and another officer both stated, in the presence of the deceased, and with his acquiescence, that during a heavy gale in the Gulf of Mexico, he met with an accident. He was in the chart room, and owing to the rolling of the ship he caught hold of a drawer to steady himself. It was a large drawer and he pulled it right on top of himself. It struck him in the side with its sharp edge. Immediately on arriving at Pensacola, the captain placed him under medical treatment. About two days after leaving Pensacola for home deceased commenced to swell. This gradually increased right up to the time of arriving at Dartmouth. Witness directed his removal to the Cottage Hospital, and after he had been taken there he made an examination, finding that general oedema of the whole body had set in. The face and neck were very blue, and deceased had the utmost difficulty in breathing. Both lungs were more or less affected. In his (the Doctor's) opinion, at the time of the accident, there was injury to a vein, producing venous obstruction, or a clot of blood in the vein. The accident of which he was told would be of a nature likely to bring about that result. - The Coroner: He was unable to give you an account himself of how it happened. When the others were telling you was he perfectly clear in his mind and did he agree with all they said? - Dr Soper: Yes, he knew what they were telling me, but owing to the difficulty he had to breathe or speak he could not tell me himself. I knew it was a hopeless case when I examined him. He wanted to go home but I told him if he did he would die before he got to Churston. I told the agents that he could not live. - The Foreman: Had not the doctor told us that the statement was made by others in the presence of the deceased I should have asked him with regard to that, but I think everything is quite clear now. - The Coroner: I was particular about enquiring whether deceased knew what they were talking about. It will be for the Jury to consider presently whether they think there is sufficient evidence to justify their returning a verdict. There is another witness. Alfred Dennis, cashier to Messrs. G. H. Collins and Co., agents for the Falka, said after landing the chief officer the vessel sailed for Hull. She had probably arrived there by this time. - The Coroner: We wanted to know that, in order that we might know where to find the vessel in case we wanted anyone from her. Did you hear any account at all of the accident? - Witness: No. Summing up the Coroner said the Jury had first to consider whether there was evidence enough before them. If there was they would be able to return a verdict; if not they could have the Inquest adjourned in order that the captain of the Falka or some other officer from that vessel might be brought there to give evidence. Really after what the Doctor had stated there seemed to be no necessity for an adjournment. The others made a statement in the presence of the deceased, who acquiesced in what they said, though owing to physical weakness he was not able to make any statement himself. One of the Jurymen wanted to know why an Inquest was necessary under the circumstances. - The Coroner: You must have an Inquest after an accident. That is left to me. - The Foreman: I don't think the Jury have the slightest doubt about their verdict. The death was purely the result of an accident. The Juryman who had spoken before, added that the Jury had not yet been asked for their opinions. - The Foreman: I thought we were all agreed. - The Coroner: You have to consider, if you think there is sufficient evidence, whether the death was owing to an accident or not. If a death takes place within 12 months and a day after an accident an Inquest is necessary. I have no option in the matter. There must be an Inquiry then. Had the statement made by the other officers to the Doctor not been made in the presence of the deceased we must have had some further evidence. - The Foreman mentioned that his brother (Mr T. Veale) was told by the deceased himself how the accident happened. He was first on board the Falka in his capacity as Sanitary Inspector. The Coroner: Had we known that we might have called him. That is direct evidence. Shall we send for him? - The Jury did not think it necessary and returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 21 April 1899

Petty Officer Drowned At The Level Crossing. Narrow Escape Of A Steward. - A sad accident occurred at the Level Crossing slip on Friday night. First-class Petty Officer, J. B. HANGER, who has been on board the Racer ever since she was commissioned to act as tender to the Britannia some three years ago, was about to return to the ship from the slipway. He ran down to get into the boat, jumped off the slip and reached the boat safely, but in turning to take a seat overbalanced himself and fell backwards into the water. Steward Butland, who was close behind him, caught him by the leg and in his efforts to save him was dragged overboard as well. The steward managed to get his hand on the gunwale and after a struggle got back into the boat. Meanwhile Charles Thacker, an ordinary seaman belonging to the Racer, who had rowed the skiff to the slip, caught deceased by the collar and held him until Butland was in a position to assist in pulling him on board. The unfortunate man was then quite insensible and though on arrival at the Racer every effort was made by Dr wood (who was promptly sent for) Mr Trenaman and others to bring about artificial respiration, three hours' labours proved in vain. The sad occurrence has cast quite a gloom over both the Racer and Britannia. Deceased was a steady, reliable man, and was greatly liked. Captain Steele, in command of the Racer, received the intelligence with extreme sorrow. Deceased was unmarried and his parents reside in Leicester. The body was removed to the mortuary on Saturday afternoon that it might be the more conveniently viewed by the Jury. It was afterwards taken back to Sandquay to await burial.

The Inquest was held at the Guildhall at 3 p.m. on Saturday by Mr R. W. Prideaux, County Coroner. Mr M. Flannagan was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The following evidence was received:- Charles Thacker, ordinary seaman belonging to H.M.S. Racer: I identify the body of deceased as that of JOHN BROUGHTON HANGER. He was a first-class petty officer on board the Racer. Last night about 10.30 I went to the ferry slip on the Kingswear side to bring off liberty men belonging to the Racer. When I got to the slip deceased came running down to get into the boat. The ship's steward, James Butland, accompanied him. Deceased jumped off the slip into the boat, and in turning round to sit down he went back over the side. The ship's steward stepped into the boat immediately behind him and endeavoured t save him. The deceased's leg came across the gunwale of the boat and threw Butland into the water as well. He clung to the boat and scrambled back into it, while I ran abaft and caught the deceased by his serge collar. I held him until the steward came to help. Together we then got him into the boat. I should think he was in the water about three minutes. He was helpless and insensible when we got him in. There was about six or seven feet of water alongside the slip. The boat used was the Racer's skiff. We pulled back to the Racer as quickly as we could. Deceased was insensible all the time. - By the Coroner: He came running down the slip, but appeared to be perfectly sober. I went to the Britannia and brought the doctor to the Racer at once. James S. Butland, ship's steward, H.M.S. Racer: Between 10.30 and 11 last night I came down the slip on the Kingswear side. Deceased came down before me. He had not been in my company that evening. I have been in court and heard the description of the occurrence given by the last witness. It is correct in every particular. John Cudlip Wood, surgeon, H.M.S. Britannia: Last night just before eleven o'clock I was called to the Racer. I found deceased lying on his back. He was absolutely senseless and showed no sign of life. From his appearance I concluded he was suffering from immersion. I tried artificial respiration for three hours, but without any success. The only mark was a slight scratch across the bridge of the nose. The cause of death was drowning. Deceased was 36 years of age. A verdict of Accidentally Drowned was returned by the Jury.

[Details of the Naval Funeral of deceased followed.]

Friday 12 May 1899

KINGSWEAR - At an Inquest held at the Royal Dart Hotel, on the body of an infant child, aged 5 months, son of CHARLES EDEN, lumper, a verdict of "Accidental Death by Suffocation" was returned. The child was found one morning dead by its mother's side. Mr Kellock, Totnes, the Deputy Coroner, officiated.

BLACKAWTON - On Tuesday evening Mr Sidney Hacker held an Inquest touching the death of the two prematurely born twin children of the wife of a farm labourer named RICHARD HENRY JERWOOD. Dr J. H. Harris had conducted a post mortem in accordance with the Coroner's directions, and found nothing to suggest any unnatural cause. A verdict of "Death owing to immature birth" was returned.

Friday 19 May 1899

DARTMOUTH - Sad Case Of Drowning At Dartmouth. Fatal Result Of The Gale. - On Tuesday night just before ten o'clock, during a heavy gale from the S.W., some men standing near a rockery on the New Ground heard a cry for help. William Robert Dyer, a Coaling Company's foreman, ran to the edge and saw a man in the water. Himself and a man named Foster got him ashore with the aid of a boat, and P.C. Causley, who was summoned, tried artificial respiration without success. Dr J. H. Harris soon arrived and pronounced the man to be dead. He proved to be an aged labourer named JOHN CHARLES TIBBS, residing at Lower Street. The body was taken to the mortuary, and in the afternoon of the following day an Inquest was held at the Guildhall by Mr R. W. Prideaux, the Coroner. The Jury viewed the body, and afterwards received the following evidence:- GEORGE TIBBS, labourer, residing at Lower Street, and a son of the deceased: I identify the body as that of my father, who lived at Lower-street and was a labourer. He was 74 years of age. I last saw him alive at a quarter to nine yesterday morning at home; then he appeared to be in his usual health. - The Coroner: What was he in the habit of doing for a living recently? - Acting as a porter in the market. Last night about ten o'clock I was called to the New Ground, and found him dead. I have no personal knowledge of how the accident occurred. - The Coroner: Can you give us any reason why he was on the Embankment so late that night? - No. - The Foreman: He wasn't generally out so late, was he? - No; he was usually home about six or seven o'clock. - William Robert Dyer, foreman of the Channel Coaling Co., residing at Lake-street: I knew the deceased well. Last night about 6.45 I was standing by the rockery on the North Embankment in company with three other men. We fancied as we stood there talking, we heard someone shouting for help. I rushed to the edge of the quay and saw a man in the water. - The Coroner: You didn't know who it was then? - No. I shouted to the men who were standing behind the rockery for shelter "There's a man overboard," and went to the ladder to which my boat was tied and unfastened her. I dragged her along the Embankment wall, with the assistance of the others. When we got near the spot where the man was in the water the lamp was out and we could hardly discern him. I told a man by the name of Foster to jump into the boat to see if he could discover anyone. Foster did so, and with the same said "I've got him." I then jumped into the boat, and together we got him on board. Then the other men dragged us along the quay and we took him on to the New Ground. Later on I found it was the deceased, TIBBS. I sent for the constable and the doctor. I should not like to say whether he was living or not when we took him out, but he did not speak or move. - The Coroner: What sort of a night was it? - A very dark, dirty night, and there was a nasty sea outside the wall. It was flood tide, and nearly high water, or thereabouts. Where we found him was about half-way between the double steps and the roundhouse. Deceased was very short-sighted. It was raining very heavily at the time. - The Coroner: From the time you heard the cry till you got him into the boat was how long? - About a minute and a half. The lamp might have been blown out, in fact it was likely. - By the Jury: It was blowing so hard that a man walking along near the edge of the quay might be blown over. We went behind the rockery for shelter while we were waiting for a boat. - The Coroner: It blew a full gale last night. - Witness: The wind was about S.W., and blowing towards the river, which would make it worse for anyone walking on the embankment. The remaining lamps were in. - Dr J. H. Harris: I was called about 10.15 and found the deceased lying on the Embankment near the double steps. There were two men using artificial respiration, but on examination I found the deceased was quite dead. His clothing was soaking wet, as though he had been immersed in the water. Froth was coming from his nostrils and mouth, such as you would get in a drowning case. The cause of death, in my opinion, was drowning. I might state also that I have attended him many times. He was very feeble in health, and his eyesight was failing very much. He was almost blind. The Coroner described the case as a very simple one. It was an easy thing for an old man, so feeble, to lose his bearings on a night like that. The lamp was out, unfortunately, and there was a full S.W. gale blowing, which might cause anyone who was near the edge to lose his balance and fall over. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned," and asked the Coroner to recommend to the Council the advisability of placing chains on the outside of the Embankment, in order that anyone falling over might have something to cling to. They thanked Dyer for his help, and gave the fees to the widow.

KINGSWEAR - Suicide Of A Mason. Inane Through Drink - "On The Drink" For Years. - On Saturday afternoon an Inquest was held at the Royal Dart Hotel, on the body of JOHN JAMES TUCKER, aged 53. Mr John Short was chosen Foreman of the Jury. - The Coroner (Mr S. Hacker) said the deceased, of whose body they would have a view, was found hanging in his bedroom. Under those circumstances it was necessary that a Coroner's Jury should investigate the matter and satisfy themselves as to whether he had taken his own life, or whether his death was due to a wrongful act on the part of any other person. - The Jury then proceeded to view the body. - WILLIAM TUCKER, plumber, son of the deceased: I reside at Harbour View, Kingswear, where my father also resided. He was a mason and a widower. Myself, four other sons, and a daughter, lived in the house with him. All the sons are in work with the exception of one, who goes to school. - The Coroner: Has the deceased been in work lately? - He has had the work to go to if he chose to do it. He has enjoyed good health, but he has not been to work for some time. - Why not? - Because he has been "on the drink." - When did he last go to work? - Easter week, until last Thursday, when he started again. - And did he do nothing between those times? - No, nothing. He had a day's work on Thursday at Messrs. Simpson, Strickland, and Co.'s, but before that he had done nothing since the Saturday after Easter. - Has he been in drink ever since? - Yes. - In the habit of continually going "on the drink?" - Yes. - Has he ever had delirium tremens, or anything of that sort as the effect of his drinking? - Not that I am aware of. - Did he drink spirits? - No, beer. he would go out and drink and then come home and go to bed to sleep it off. On Thursday he went to Noss. Messrs. Simpson had been constantly sending for him, and he could have been regularly employed there. He had not been "on the drink" that day. I don't think he had his supper, though I did not notice anything the matter with him; he was sober, and so far as I am aware he did not go into any public house that night. I don't think he went below the wall outside the house, and there is no public house above that. He has not complained of being ill, and I have not known of anything being wrong. - Not been ill at all? - No. - Where would he get the money to enable him to go "on the drink?" - When he was in work he used to put money by. - The Coroner asked who paid the expenses of the house and witness replied that he paid the rent, and his father contributed about eighteen shillings to the expenses. - Did he say nothing on the Thursday night that would lead you to suppose he intended to take his life? - He said in the morning that he would make a hole in the water, but he has said it so many times that we never took any notice of it. He has threatened to do so scores of times after he has been drinking. - Meaning, I suppose, that he was going to drown himself? - Yes, I thought so. - Was he in any trouble, with regard to money, or anything else? - Not that I knew of. - I suppose things were not quite comfortable at home with his going "on the drink" in this way? - Well, I don't know; he just walked in and out when he liked, and did what he liked. - How long has this kind of thing been going on? - For years. - Did he used to come home drunk and incapable? - He would "fuddle" himself and come home, and then go out again and get "fuddled". Continuing, witness said deceased went to bed on Thursday night all right. On Friday morning he (witness) got up about twenty minutes past five and heard deceased moving about. He did not call him at a quarter to six as he thought deceased would not go to work then, as it was raining. A little later the rain had ceased and he went up to call him. He was laying on the bed uncovered, as though he was about to get up. He said, "It's raining" and witness replied "Yes, just a little." Witness thought he was going to rise, and then he left deceased and went to work. At half-past eight he was called to go home. He was told his father was dead. He at once went home and found deceased in the same room on the bed, quite dead. That was about nine o'clock. - Did you notice any marks about him? - No. The doctor was there when I arrived. - A piece of tape, with a couple of knots in it, was produced. - The Coroner asked whether witness had seen it before? - Witness: No, I do not know where he got it from. - P.C. Braund: It looks like his garters. - Witness: No, he wore socks. - The Coroner: Can you give any explanation of it besides the drink? - No, sir. - Used he to get queer and suicidal? - Yes; it had that effect upon him. It was a common saying of his that he would make a hole in the water. I knew of nothing to worry him. - You went out at six and were called home at 8.30. - Who was in the house then? - My young brother FRED, and my sister and two other brothers. - The Coroner: Is FRED here? - P.C. Braund: He went away to work before seven. He knows nothing about it. MARY TUCKER, daughter of the deceased: On Thursday night about 9.30 I saw the deceased; he appeared all right then. - The Coroner: You have heard what your brother has said, that he has been "on the drink" lately. Is that right? - Yes; quite right. - Has he said anything to you about his being in trouble, or anything like that? - No. - Have you heard him say that he meant to drown himself? - He has never said that in my presence, sir. On Thursday night he was in his usual state of health. He had no supper; he said he did not want any. He did not say there was anything the matter with him. - But not eating his supper would seem to suggest that there was, wouldn't it? - I could see nothing the matter. He asked me to carry his light to his room and I did so. We wished each other "good night," and that was the last time I saw him alive. I came down at a quarter to eight. My brother came in just after eight and said as it was raining father didn't care to go to work that morning. At a quarter past eight I thought it was time for him to get up, and I went up to call him. The door was shut; I opened it and went in. Then I saw him hanging from a crook in the ceiling. I didn't notice what he was hanging by, but I came right out and called for help. - Where was the bed? - Against the partition. His knees were bent and his feet were on the bed; he was not dressed. I ran downstairs and told my brother, who went up at once. Then he called the constable. - Didn't he cut him down? - No, sir. - Then who did? - Witness pointed to a yachtsman named Kelland, whom she said she called in. - Then you don't know what made your father do it? - No sir. - William Kelland, mariner: I knew the deceased but I had not seen him on the Thursday. I have seen him for several weeks knocking about the village. I have never seen him in drink. I thought he was ill, or something like that. On Friday morning about twenty minutes past eight I was coming down the village when I saw the last witness come out from her doorway crying. I asked what was the matter, and she said her father had hung himself. I at once ran in and found the deceased kneeling on the bed. I could not say whether his knees were touching the bed. There was a hook in a beam above the bed, and he was hanging to the hook. The beam ran "fore and aft" of the room. His head was close to the hook. Another man, named Mitchell, went up. I held the deceased up while Mitchell cut the string. We sent for the doctor. We cut the string from underneath his neck, where it was choking him. He was quite dead when we got him down. The string was round his neck with a running knot, what I should call a halter knot. - The Coroner: This is not all the tap; there is not enough here; where is the rest? - Witness: There might have been some left on the bed. - The Coroner: What are these knots? There is no running knot here. Where is the remainder? - Witness: I don't know. The hook was in the side of the beam, and the cord came down by the side. I saw no other string than this. P.C. Braund: This is all I could find. The Coroner: There is not enough here. Witness: We didn't look to see. We cut the man down as quickly as we could and sent for the doctor and the constable. Dr W. B. Kendall, practising at Kingswear: I was called yesterday morning about half-past eight to see the deceased and found him on the bed quite dead. - Had he been dead any time? - He might have been dead three hours or it might have been only one. It was difficult to say. His face was quite pale. There was no sign of any struggle or anything of that kind. The features were composed and there was nothing to indicate a violent death. There had not been time for rigor mortis to set in. - But he must have been dead for some time for the features to have become composed? - Not necessarily so. There was a deep groove round the neck just above the larynx, not completely round, but running towards the back of the ear. Death was due to strangulation, to asphyxia. - You didn't find the face livid? - No, but very often in suicidal hanging you find the face pale. - How is that? - I should say from the absence of violence. There was no clenching of the hands either or anything of that kind. - When he put his weight on the cord he would become unconscious in a very short time? - yes, he was a very heavy man. If he wanted to get down again he could not. he would not have the power to stand upon his feet. This was the evidence and the Coroner summing up said it all pointed t the fact that deceased hung himself. There was no suggestion of any other explanation. The Jury might, if they thought they had sufficient evidence, express an opinion as to his state of mind. From the evidence it was pretty clear that deceased had been "on the drink" for a long time. He had been regularly so for years, and latterly for several weeks straight off. That no doubt was a sufficient explanation as to what led up to the act, by which he took his life. He had become in such a condition that anything might be anticipated. It did not seem that he was in drink when he hung himself but the effect of his indulgence in drink for many years had come out and that was the end of it. He supposed the verdict of the Jury would be that deceased killed himself by hanging and, if they thought the evidence clear enough on the point, that he was temporarily of unsound mind. The Jury could please themselves with regard to that; it was solely a question for them. They could add, if they felt so disposed, that he was temporarily insane from the effects of drink. That was the cause. P.C. Braund: I saw him at eight o'clock the night before and he was perfectly sober then. The Coroner: No doubt. He was temporarily insane however from the effects of his drinking for years. Mr Foreman, what is your verdict? - The Foreman: That the deceased took his own life while Temporarily Insane. - The Coroner: You don't say through indulgence in drink. That is your verdict, what you have stated; nothing more. The Foreman: Yes. The Coroner: It would be a better explanation you know and would show the reason for his being temporarily insane. However, that is for you. All the evidence points to it - that it was in consequence of this indulgence in drink that he became like this. Without that there is no explanation. A Juryman: I always think, Mr Coroner, it is best to leave that out as much as possible. The Coroner: Very well. Then your verdict is that the deceased killed himself by hanging himself by the neck, being at the time of unsound mind; nothing further. - The Foreman: Yes.

Friday 23 June 1899

BRIXHAM - A Stoker's Sudden Death At Brixham. - On Monday evening an Inquest was held at Brixham by Mr Sidney Hacker, relative to the death of WILLIAM RICHARD EALES, aged 37, a stoker on board H.M.S. Britannia. - ELIZABETH EALES, his mother, said deceased came home from the ship on Saturday evening, and complained of severe pains in the head. Dr Elliott, who was at once sent for, ordered him to the hospital. - Thomas Harris, second class petty officer, said he put deceased on shore on Saturday to go to Brixham, and heard him complain of pains in the head. William Fred Cox, master-at-arms, H.M.S. Britannia, deposed that deceased had been at work on the fumigator on board, but made no complaint of illness, and in his opinion there was nothing of a dangerous nature to inhale from the fumigation. - Dr G. B. Elliott who had made a post mortem examination, said the heart was much enlarged and diseased, the liver was enlarged, and there was a considerable amount of water round the heart and on the chest. The cause of death was heart disease. Verdict was given in accordance with the medical evidence. The funeral took place in St. Mary's churchyard, Brixham, on Thursday afternoon with full naval honours.

[Details of funeral followed.]

Friday 30 June 1899

BRIXHAM - A Death Trap At Brixham. - Mr Sidney Hacker, County Coroner, held an Inquest at Brixham last evening, relative to the death of WINNIE WOTTON, aged nine years. - JASPER WOTTON, the father of the child, said she told him she jumped on the rails at the Maritime Steps to slide down and fell over. He took her to the doctor, who set her arm, which was broken. On the way back deceased became unconscious and died next morning. In reply to the Coroner he said the rails fixed in the steps were perfect death-traps. A child was killed in Decent's Steps last September and many children had fallen off the rails. There was one flight of steps almost perpendicular for 100 feet. There certainly ought to be spikes or knobs fixed into these rails. Mrs Vass said she saw three children on the top of the steps, and spoke to them in passing. Shortly afterwards she heard a thud and a child cry. She returned and found WINNIE WOTTON lying on her face. She took the child home. Dr Elliott, who had made a post mortem examination, said death was due to a slight fracture at the base of the skull. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned, and the Jury (Mr W. Brewer, Foreman) added a rider that the attention of the Council be called to the dangerous condition of the handrails to steps in Brixham, and that measures be taken to prevent children sliding down them.

Friday 28 July 1899

KINGSWEAR - Sudden Death Of A Gardener's Wife. Apparently Asleep. - At Kingswear, on Monday afternoon, the wife of an aged gardener, named CRUTE, died very suddenly after dinner. When the husband left to go to his work she was apparently in her usual state of health, though complaining of a little pain, but when he returned, nearly four hours' later, she was lying on the sofa. She had passed away quite peacefully soon after he went out, for the body had grown cold and rigor mortis had commenced. The utmost sympathy is felt for the bereaved husband. The Inquest was held on Tuesday evening by Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, at the Royal Dart Hotel. Mr t. Abrahams was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The Coroner, at the opening, said the duty of the Jury was to Inquire into and investigate a case of death which occurred at Kingswear the previous day. The deceased was found dead by her husband. When he left her she was all right, but when he returned home she was dead, and of course some explanation was necessary. It was for them, as a Coroner's Jury, to seek that explanation and to look into the circumstances and ascertain whether death was due to any natural or unnatural cause. If the latter, they would have to follow it up and ascertain what it was and who, if anybody, was responsible. Whether there would be a satisfactory explanation he could not say. - The Jury then proceeded to view the body and on their return received the following evidence:- HENRY CRUTE: I reside at Woodbine Cottage, Kingswear, and am a gardener. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my wife, SUSAN CRUTE, who was 70 years of age last birthday. There has been nothing particular the matter with her lately, though now and then she has complained of slight pain. She was able to get about all right and was apparently in her usual health yesterday, when she did the house-work as she usually does. She got up but had no breakfast. She couldn't eat any. - The Coroner: Then she was poorly. - Witness: Yes, a little. She hadn't any appetite. She ate no dinner but had a little brandy and water. I went out at a quarter to two to my work. Just before that she said she was in pain just a little. I came home at half-past five, and then I found her lying on the sofa in the sitting room dead. She had taken in the bread from the baker after dinner. I called Mrs Wills, a neighbour. She had not been suffering pain continuously, but a little now and again, not enough to call a doctor for. - The Coroner: Can you give us any explanation? Were you aware of anything being the matter with her heart or her head. People don't die from a slight pain you know. - Witness: I know of nothing else. I have not known her short of breath. So far as I know she was in fair health when I left in the afternoon. When I came back she was lying as though she was asleep. She had apparently slept away very quietly. - The Coroner: The baker was there after you left? - Witness: Yes. - The Coroner: It would have been best to call him. - P.C. Braund: The husband told me that nobody had been there. - Mr W. J. Faremouth, son-in-law of the deceased said the baker told him that MRS CRUTE was all right when he took the bread there at two o'clock. - The Coroner: Why that was only a few minutes after the husband left. - MR CRUTE: Yes. Dr W. B. Kendall: I am a surgeon practising at Kingswear. Yesterday about six o'clock I was called to the house and found the deceased lying dead, in a most natural position, as though she was asleep. She had been dead three or four hours for rigor mortis had set in. I made a post mortem today. There was no external mark of injury, save a slight mark on the nose caused by a blow, when she fell in the morning. - The Coroner: What fall? We should like to hear about that. - Dr Kendall: She was so feeble that she fell when she got up in the morning. - The Coroner: Who told you that? - Dr Kendall: The husband. - MR CRUTE: I did not see her fall. I was out of the house at the time. She fell against a chair. - Dr Kendall, continuing, said all the organs appeared healthy except the heart, which was in a very bad condition. There was a deposit of calcareous matter. In other words ossification of the heart had been going on for some time. - The Coroner: Would that cause her any discomfort or pain? - Dr Kendall: There is indigestion associated with that sort of thing very frequently, but the symptoms vary a great deal. There would sometimes be shortness of breath, and I am told this was the case with her. - The Coroner: The other organs were healthy, you say? - Dr Kendall: yes, except being slightly congested; veinous congestion we call it, not showing any irritation by anything that had been swallowed. With the exception of a little fluid, the stomach was empty. There was no sign of her having taken anything that would hurt her. No doubt the empty state of the stomach was due to her vomiting. - The Coroner: When? - Dr Kendall: I understand she did the night before. - MR CRUTE: Yes, Sunday evening after tea. - The Coroner asked the doctor to state what, in his opinion, was the cause of death. Dr Kendall: Failure of the heart, syncope, due to the heart disease to which I have referred. - The Coroner: And you are quite clear that she died from this natural cause and not from anything unnatural. - Dr Kendall: Quite. The Coroner asked Mrs Wills, a neighbour of the deceased, whether she knew anything more than had been stated. She replied in the negative. - The Coroner: When did you last see the deceased? - Mrs Wills: I saw her on Saturday night at 8 o'clock. She was at the door talking just as usual. - The Coroner: You don't know anything besides? - Neighbours sometimes know more than others, you know. - Mrs Wills: I didn't see her again. - The Coroner: Was she pretty active; able to get about? - Mrs wills: Yes. The Coroner, briefly summing up, said the case was perfectly simple. there was not the slightest reason to suppose that deceased died owing to anything unnatural. The Jury returned a verdict of Death from Natural Causes, in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 4 August 1899

DARTMOUTH - The "Duchess" Fatality. Accidentally Drowned. - At the Dartmouth Guildhall, on Friday afternoon, an Inquest was held touching the death of JOHN JONES, whose body was found floating off the harbour under circumstances reported. Mr Wotton was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who first proceeded to the mortuary to view the body. On returning they received the following evidence: - ELIZABETH WILLCOCKS: I am the wife of JAMES CARRELL WILLCOCKS. I have seen the body of the deceased and identify it as that of my late brother, JOHN JONES, who was until recently a wine and spirit merchant, carrying on business at Leicester. He was 31 years of age. The body was much disfigured but I can identify it by "the clothes and boots. The name "JOHN JONES" was on his shirt. Deceased was staying with us (my mother and myself) at Torquay, and on Tuesday, July 11th, deceased and I went to Dartmouth together in the excursion steamer "Duchess of Devonshire." We arrived at Dartmouth about three o'clock, as near as I can remember, and left Dartmouth on the return journey about four. I was sitting with the deceased in the stern of the vessel. The steamer was near Berry Head. - The Coroner: Could you see Torquay?- Witness: No. - The Coroner: Then it was on the Dartmouth side of Berry Head. - Witness: Yes, I think it was. We were sitting side by side and had been conversing together. Someone drew attention to the fleet. I felt a slight movement at my side and on turning I saw my brother going over the side into the water. I do not know whether he stood up though I suppose he must have done so. - The Coroner: He had been talking to you just before? - Witness: Yes, he asked me what people were looking at. It was the fleet just entering the bay. I told him it was the men-of-war. - The Coroner: Do you think he could have fallen over if he did not stand up? - I hardly know. He was very weak. He might have stood up and got very giddy. Directly I saw what had happened I screamed, "There's a man overboard." When he went overboard deceased had on a large overcoat. I saw him swimming. He took off his overcoat whilst in the water and struck out for the ship. He swam until he could do so no longer and then he turned on his back and floated. He did his very utmost to save himself. The steamer stopped and went astern and a boat was launched, but they were a long time about it. A man jumped overboard from the steamer and tried to rescue him. The boat returned without deceased, who sank before assistance could reach him. - The Coroner: What has been the state of your brother's health recently? - Witness: He has not been well for some time. He was getting better however. The Doctor thought he would be able to go back to business in a very short time. He was recommended by his medical adviser to take sea trips for his health. - The Coroner: Was there anything at all that would lead you to suppose he contemplated committing suicide? - Witness: Nothing whatever. - The Coroner: Had he ever threatened to take his own life? - Witness: No. - P.C. Causley: About 9.15 a.m. Today I received the body the Jury has just viewed from William Stone and Robert Nunn, two fishermen. I took it to the mortuary, where I examined the clothing. The name "JOHN JONES" was stamped upon the linen shirt. - The Coroner: That identifies the body beyond a doubt. - the constable produced articles taken from the pockets (all identified by MRS WILLCOCKS as the property of her late brother) but said there was no money. - William Stone: This morning, in company with Robert Nunn, I was out in my boat about half a mile S.E. of the Eastern Blackstone, a little before eight o'clock. I saw the body floating in the water. I took it into the boat, brought it to Dartmouth immediately, and handed it over to the last witness. I didn't examine the body at all. It was floating back upwards. - Robert Nunn: I have been in court and heard Stone's evidence. I can corroborate what he says. Summing up, the Coroner said if there was any wish on the part of the Jury for further evidence he would adjourn the Inquest. For his part, however, he failed to see that anything could be gained by an adjournment, for if the first witness who was the sister of the deceased, and who was sitting close by him and had spoken to him only a few moments before, did not know how he went overboard, it was hardly likely they could get any more direct testimony on the matter. However, if the Jury wished it there could be an adjournment. The Jury expressed the opinion that they could settle the case on the evidence already given. The Coroner said the facts were very few and simple. The deceased gentleman had been in ill health and was taking a trip in the Duchess in company with his sister in the hope that it would do him good. When they were near Berry Head, probably this side of it, and the fleet were sighted, most likely there was a rush from one side of the vessel to the other to get a good view. The deceased might have got up quickly, turned round, and then fallen overboard. His sister did not see him get up, though she was so close to him. The Jury had to consider whether deceased accidentally fell over, or whether he jumped overboard with the intention of taking his life. Everything seemed to negative the idea of suicide. His action whilst in the water disposed of that theory, for he pulled off his overcoat and did everything he possibly could to save himself. In his (the Coroner's) opinion the occurrence was a lamentable accident. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned."

Friday 18 August 1899

KINGSBRIDGE - Suicide Of A Butler. - An Inquest was held on Saturday at Buckland House, near Kingsbridge, on the body of JOHN WILSON, butler, in the employ of Mr H. F. Brunskill, who resides there. The evidence of deceased's wife shewed that about noon on Friday, when she last saw him alive, he seemed in his usual health. His mother died last October, and there had been a good deal of unpleasantness in the family on money matters, which worried him. He was about to leave at the end of the month, and was afraid he could not get another place, and considered Mr and Mrs Brunskill had turned against him. He fancied his master was cool to him, and if he did not leave he would be turned off, although there had been no unpleasantness. Mrs Brunskill last saw deceased at 1.45 on Friday, when he seemed peculiar, not speaking as usual. They were perfectly satisfied with him, and he had no reason to think they were going to dismiss him. Emily Burton, nurse, heard a gun fired at 2.15, which she thought was in the house, another servant also having heard it from the kitchen. Lydia Damarell, charwoman, working in the house, heard a gun and went to see where the sound came from. Looking through the keyhole of deceased's bedroom, she saw his body on the floor and a policeman was sent for. P.C. Squires, East Allington, went to Buckland House, at 3 o'clock on Friday, and deceased's bedroom being locked procured a ladder and entered by the window. Deceased was lying on his back upon the floor, quite dead, the gun lying between his legs with a pair of scissors by the stock. The left side of his face was blown away, the brain and part of the skull lying on the floor. Mr Brunskill said deceased had been in his service about three years, was quiet, and had been a faithful servant. There was no foundation for his fear of being dismissed. He never had a better servant, and was absolutely certain he would not have shot himself if he had been in his right mind. A verdict of "Suicide while Temporarily Insane" was returned.

TORQUAY - The Danger Of Leaving Horses Unattended. A Runaway At Torquay. - At Torquay last night Mr Coroner Hacker conducted an Inquiry relative to the death of MR C. HEAWOOD, of The Brake, Teignmouth Road, who was knocked down by a runaway horse on Wednesday morning near Tor Station, and killed. J. A Inch, cab driver, of Braddon's hill, stated that about 12.30 as he was driving from Tor Station, he saw deceased walking in the middle of the road towards the town. As deceased was passing the end of St Michael's road a runaway pony dashed down the hill at a great pace. Witness just managed to get out of the way with his cab, and he shouted to deceased to "look out." Turning round, witness saw either the horse's head or the shaft strike deceased on the left side and knock him with great force against the wall of the Clarence Hotel. The horse also dashed into the wall and broke its neck. There was no one in the cart, and the reins were dragging on the ground. W. H. Head, carter in the employ of Farrant and Co., gave corroborative evidence. - Ethel Jones, aged 11, who lives with her parents at Tor Mount, stated that whilst standing in the drive she saw a horse attached to a butcher's cart run down St Michael's road. She ran up the drive and told the butcher's lad, who was just leaving Tor Mount. She had previously seen the butcher arrive and leave his trap. He did not tie the horse up. - Martha Jones, cook at Tor Mount, Barton-road, said that Eastman's man arrived at the house soon after 12 o'clock. he handed in the meat and went away at once. - Mr G. P. Searle, house surgeon at the Torbay Hospital, stated that deceased was quite dead when he was brought to the hospital. His skull was severely injured and several ribs were broken on the left side. Death was due to fracture of the base of the skull. Willoughby e. Reed, manager for Messrs. Eastman, stated that the cob belonged to him. He sent Tandy, in the employ of the firm, to Tor Mount with some meat. The animal, which had been in his possession for six months, was a very quiet one. The cob had a web halter on with which to tie it up. The lad had instructions to tie the horse up when he left it to go into a long drive. After a verdict of Accidental Death had been returned the Coroner told the lad that he must never leave a horse unattended. It would be the duty of his employers to provide someone to go with him when he was delivering meat. If they did not do so he must refuse to go out with the horse, as it was illegal to leave a horse not under proper control. Mr F. J. Carter, who appeared for Messrs. Eastmans, expressed their regret at the accident.

Friday 25 August 1899

SLAPTON - The Slapton Fatality. - An Inquest was held on Tuesday at Slapton by Mr G. F. Kellock, Deputy Coroner, relative to the death of MABEL ANNIE HEAD, aged 18, who died on Sunday morning from shock, the result of burns caused by the ignition of the bedclothes the previous night by her dropping asleep and letting fall a small lamp which she had been holding in her hand to enable her to read from a prayer-book. - ANNIE ORFORD, of Churchstow, wife of F. Orford, butler, said deceased was her daughter, who had been living as domestic servant with Mrs Wyatt, of Ivy Cottage, Slapton. Last Sunday morning at three o'clock she was informed of the accident, and went to Ivy Cottage and saw deceased in bed. She told witness she had her book in one hand and the lamp in the other, and fell back asleep. She remained with deceased until she died at 9.30 that morning. She also told witness she woke up all on fire and ran from her bedroom into Mrs Wyatt's; also that she was learning her Sunday lessons. - Mary Ann Wyatt, widow, said deceased was in her service as domestic servant. About ten o'clock on Saturday night, deceased went to bed having the lamp as a light. Witness bought the lamp for 1 ½d. About half-past ten, she heard piercing screams, and deceased came into her room in flames. She wrapped her head and body with a rug, and succeeded in extinguishing the flames. They also found the bedclothes burnt. She got deceased back to bed, and ran for assistance. The deceased's prayer-book was much burnt. - William Jury, publican, Slapton, said on Saturday night he was called to Mrs Wyatt's and found deceased sitting on the side of the bed in her room. Her arms breast, and chin were burnt very badly. He noticed the lamp and book produced lying on the bed, and that the bed was burnt. Edgar Swindell, medical practitioner, of Torcross, said he was called to the deceased about eleven o'clock on Saturday night. Her arms were very much burnt; also the chin, the neck and lower part of the body. He dressed the burns and treated her. She was in a state of great collapse. He saw her again between one and two o'clock, when she was delirious and in great pain. He called about half-past on Sunday morning and found she was just dead. She died from shock, the result of the burns. The Deputy Coroner commented strongly on the danger attending the use of such lamps as the poor girl was using. The Jury, of whom Major-General Stokes was foreman, returned a verdict of "Accidental Death," and added the following rider:- "The Jury wish to caution the public against the use of such lamps as the one produced. It is simply a glass bottle with a tin cup through which the wick runs. It has no globe or chimney to protect the flame, and if it is upset there is nothing to prevent the oil running out. They were of opinion that the use of such lamps should be absolutely prohibited."

Friday 15 September 1899

TORQUAY - The Inquest. - The adjourned Inquest on the body of WILLIAM HILL, cook on board the S.S. Couth, well-known in this neighbourhood, whose death we reported last week, was held on Monday at Torquay. Deceased was missed when his ship sailed, and his body was found later in the day in the harbour. The Inquiry was adjourned for the crew to give evidence, especially with reference to a disturbance which P.C. Parsons alleged took place on board the ship shortly before midnight. Superintendent Roberts watched the proceedings on behalf of the police, and the whole of the ship's crew were in attendance, but were ordered out of Court - Jacob Hodge, of Penzance, the captain of the Coath, said he returned on board at ten, and heard no disturbance that night. Next morning he heard that deceased was missing. Deceased had been with him for thirteen years, and had always returned to his ship at night. There were 23 passengers on board the ship, and next morning two gentlemen said that they had heard a nasty knock against the ship's side, and then a splash in the water. Alfred Merrifield, chief engineer, said he last saw deceased ashore at 9.45 and said HILL did not return to the ship that evening. He remembered the disturbance on board the ship between 11 and 12 that night, but deceased was not one of the men, and was not on board at the time. The row was between the second engineer and a seaman called Keames. Witness was on deck at the time, and was confidence deceased was not on board. he saw the end of the disturbance. William John Stephens said he last saw deceased alive at 11.10 p.m. after they left the Crown Inn. They went up Fleet-street, and witness left deceased to go back to the ship. The Coroner asked the captain if he had investigated the matter, and could assist them. Captain Hodge replied that the Coroner was in possession of all the facts with which he was acquainted. He supposed deceased in going aboard ship during the thunderstorm either got blinded by lightening or missed his footing, and so fell into the water. The steward discovered that deceased was missing at six o'clock in the morning. Dr Searle, house surgeon at the Torbay Hospital, deposed that death was due to drowning. The wounds on the head were not sufficient to cause death, though they might have caused insensibility. They were made either immediately before or after death. The injuries might have resulted from a fall. The Coroner said there were mysterious circumstances still unexplained. The evidence adduced that day explained the "row" heard by the constable, who was to be complimented on the accuracy of his evidence, confirmed in every respect by the crew. Deceased was no party to the "row", and was not on board at the time. The Jury, of whom Mr Hewitt was Foreman, returned a verdict of "Found Drowned."

PAIGNTON - Bathing At Paignton. Life Saving Apparatus Needed. - At Paignton on Monday, an Inquest was held on the body of PERCY PERRETT, aged nineteen who was drowned at Goodrington on Sunday morning. The evidence showed that deceased was swimming with others and suddenly disappeared. After a short internal his absence was noticed, and Charles Bovey, labourer, and Samuel Gillham, painter, swam out to where deceased sank and located the spot. They could not, however, reach him, the body being in ten or twelve feet of water, and they could not grip him. Gillham worked the body in shore some yards, and Henry Ash, a boatman, arrived in a boat from the harbour and succeeded in bringing the body up at the first attempt. The deceased was taken on shore and efforts made at artificial respiration, but all in vain, and Dr Adkins arriving, at once pronounced life extinct. The medical witness, sounded a note of warning to bathers to keep the mouth closed when swimming, as deceased, in the act of taking breath, swallowed some water, and this causing the windpipe to close like a valve, down went the lad like a lump of lead to the bottom, where he would have stayed till decomposition set in had he not been brought to the surface. A verdict of "Accidental Drowning" was returned. The Coroner remarked that a lifebuoy or something should be kept at Goodrington in case of need. The Jury commended Gillham and Ash for their efforts and while being of opinion that the cove was perfectly safe for bathing, agreed that something in the way of life-saving apparatus should be kept on the beach.

Friday 22 September 1899

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At The Dartmouth Iron Church. - A painfully sudden death occurred at the Primitive Methodist Iron Church on Sunday morning. The customary service was about to commence when an old man named JAMES WILLS, a regular attendant at the church, was observed to fall back in his seat unconscious. Assistance was speedily forthcoming and as efforts to bring him round proved unsuccessful he was at once taken to the school-room adjoining the main building. Here further attempts were made to restore him but without avail. In the meantime medical assistance had been sent for, and his relatives brought acquainted with what had happened. The deceased died before the doctor arrived and was then conveyed to North Ford Road, where he resided, at the house of a married daughter. He was a widower and was well-known in Dartmouth, where he had lived for a long period. The service, which was to have been conducted by Mr Marshall, a local preacher, in the absence of the Rev. W. G. Leadbetter at Brixham, was of course brought to an abrupt termination, Mr Denning, one of the stewards, closing it with prayer. The first hymn had been given out and people were just rising from their seats to sing. The Inquest was held on Monday at the Guildhall, the Deputy Coroner (Mr P. R. Hockin), officiating, in consequence of the Coroner's absence on a holiday. The Jury, of whom Mr H. Trist was chosen Foreman, viewed the body and then received the following evidence:- GEORGE HENRY LAVERS: I reside at Westbourne Cottage, North Ford Road, and am a labourer. Deceased was my father-in-law and lived at Westbourne Cottage with me. He has been living with me since Ladyday last. Previous to that he lived in South Ford Road for some time and he has been an inhabitant of Dartmouth for a great many years. He was 83 years of age and a farm labourer. He has been crippled for 18 or 19 years and has done nothing during that time. - The Coroner: Can you tell the Jury what his state of health has been? - He has been in very good bodily health. - have you ever known him to have fainting fits or anything of that sort? - Never. Dr Harris has been his medical attendant, but he has not been called in since Ladyday. Deceased has however had medicine from him. - Do you know what for? - No. I saw the deceased yesterday morning about 30 minutes to 10, as he was coming out of his bedroom. He appeared in his usual health. He was then cleaned for chapel. I left home about ten, and I did not see him start. He was in the habit of attending the Iron Chapel in Crowther's Hill. I could not say what time he left home, but he always gave himself plenty of time to get to chapel. About 20 minutes or a quarter to 12 my boy came to me and said grandfather was at the Iron Chapel dead. I went to the chapel and I saw they had a stretcher and were getting everything ready to take him away. He was quite dead. Then he was taken to my house. Dr Soper had been there, but I did not see him. He left before I arrived. - Had he ever complained to you about his heart or anything of that kind? - No, he has never made any complaint to me. - John Blank: I am a labourer in the employ of Mr Cross, and live above his coal store at Embankment House. - The Coroner: Have you any official connection with this chapel? - Yes Sir. It is the Primitive Methodist chapel. I am a member of it and a teacher in the Sunday School. I know the deceased very well. - Was he a member of your community? - Well; I don't think he was an actual member, but he attended very regularly on Sundays, morning and evening. I saw him enter the chapel yesterday morning between five and ten minutes to eleven. - I take it the service commences at eleven? - Yes; the children were singing their closing hymn at the school when he came in. I had no conversation with him. I saw him enter and go to his seat and sit down as usual. One of the member asked how he was. - You heard that? - Yes; and he replied "Much as usual; middlin' for me." That was his usual way of answering the question. The next time I saw him, just as the service was about to commence, he was leaning back against his seat with his head thrown back and his mouth open. That would be from five to six minutes after his arrival. He was breathing very heavily. I went to him as quickly as I could and tried to loosen his collar but found that it was quite slack. We sent Mr Lavers' boy at once to get a doctor and tell his father. - You mean the last witness? - Yes. One of the members fetched a drop of water and bathed his forehead. He then gave a very heavy sigh, and after that breathed very softly. We removed him to the class-room adjoining the chapel. Almost immediately afterwards his breathing stopped and his fingers began to get cold. I went to fetch Mr Beynon, Newcomin Road, another son-in-law, and when I came back the doctor was there and the deceased was stretched out upon two stools. He was then quite dead. I went to the police-station and reported the matter to the Sergeant. I borrowed a stretcher from him and assisted in taking the body home. Robert Wills Soper, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth: A little after eleven yesterday morning I received a message asking me to go to the Iron Church as someone had been suddenly taken ill. I went immediately and found the deceased sitting in a chair dead. There was nothing external to account for death, but judging from his age I should conclude that the immediate cause of death was syncope, or in other words, failure of the heart's action. - The Coroner: And the evidence of the witnesses here today, would that be consistent with death from syncope? - Yes. - You are a member of the firm of Soper and Harris. Have you - [text impossible to read for three or four lines] - not attended him for six or eight months. When he did so it was for an affection of the eyes. The Coroner said he thought the Jury had heard sufficient evidence to enable them to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to the cause of death. The deceased was of great age, 83 years, and he went to church on Sunday morning up a very steep hill. The doctor had told them that in his opinion the cause of death was syncope, or failure of the heart's action, and as they must all be aware an elderly person, perhaps going hurriedly up such a hill, would be liable to be suddenly taken off in that way. The circumstances of the case were very simple, and he did not propose, therefore, to further refer to the evidence. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 6 October 1899

PAIGNTON - Sad Death Of An Ex-Clergyman At Paignton. - Mr Coroner Hacker held an Inquest at Paignton on Monday relative to the death of an elderly gentleman named FREDERICK REMINGTON on Monday from the effects of a fall sustained on Sunday at his residence, 8 Croft Park. Deceased, aged sixty-two, formerly a clergyman and lately a tutor, came to live in Paignton on Friday with his wife, staying at 8 Croft Park, a lodging house. The landlady (Mrs Skitch) and the widow heard a fall shortly before two o'clock on Sunday, and on going upstairs found that the deceased was lying against his bedroom door, which could not be opened wide enough to get in, and neighbours had to enter through the window. It was found that deceased was suffering from severe wounds over the right temple and the eye. Deceased told his wife that he did not know why he left his bed. Dr Alexander said deceased suffered from congestion of the brain, and attributed the cause of death to the rupture of a blood vessel, caused by the fall against the door. Mr Wilmer, a neighbour, said there was every appearance of deceased having struck the sharp corner of the door in getting out of bed and a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

Friday 17 November 1899

PAIGNTON - Lockjaw From A Broken Leg. - On Monday at the Paignton Cottage Hospital, an Inquest was held by Mr Sidney Hacker and a Jury touching the death of FLORENCE ROSE MIDDLEWEEK, twenty years of age, daughter of a farm labourer living at Compton, and who died in the hospital on Saturday. Soon after eight o'clock on the morning of the 2nd inst. deceased took her younger sisters and brother for a walk. Deceased, in attempting to get her sister down from a hedge caught her foot in a root, and fell backwards, and broke her leg. Dr T. Hamilton Ward said he was at the hospital when deceased was brought there. The bone was set, and all went well for a few days. Complications afterwards developed, which resulted in lockjaw, from which she died on Saturday. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned. The Jury gave their fees to the mother.

Friday 8 December 1899

TOTNES - Drowned In The Dart. - JOSHUA LUPPAGE, aged 69, found drowned in the River Dart at Totnes, on Friday, had been night watchman at the new sewerage works. At the Inquest held on Monday evening by Mr G. F. Kellock, Deputy Coroner, Mr E. A. Ball, representative of Mr G. Ball, the contractor, said deceased would not have any occasion to go near the river, as the trench he had to watch was 64 feet away. Frederick Rapson, fireman, said about 4.35 that morning deceased was not in his hut. At ten minutes to eight he passed again, and said the hut was all open, which was unusual. Passing along the quay he saw a lantern (identified as deceased's). On coming back from breakfast he hard deceased was missing, and thought of the lantern. He got assistance, and with a pole stirred under an object they saw in the water, and the body rose. The place was very dangerous. He (witness) often had to feel his way along by the railings. The proper path was blocked by the sewerage works. The lamps on the quay were out, except for one at the Peter's Quay. P.C. Goodman stated that deceased was wearing a very heavy coat, two other coats, two jerseys, two flannel shirts, a waistcoat, two mufflers and flannel drawers. His watch stopped at 4.30. There were no marks of violence on the body. The Jury (Mr G. Mitchell, Foreman) returned a verdict of "Found Drowned," and recommended that the public lamps be kept lit all night on the quay, at least during the continuance of the sewerage works in the vicinity. The Coroner concurred and regretted that this was the second fatality at the works. Mr Stainthorpe, resident engineer, joined in the expression of regret and said deceased was a faithful servant.

Friday 5 January 1900

KINGSBRIDGE - An Inquest was held at Kingsbridge Workhouse on Saturday morning by Mr T. F. Kellock, Deputy Coroner, touching the death of THOMAS HINE, an inmate of the house. It was stated that the man was found on the steps of the men's ward on Thursday afternoon dead. He had complained of feeling unwell during the day. Dr Harston, medical officer, attributed death to congestion of the lung and fatty heart. The Jury returned a verdict of "Natural Causes."

Friday 19 January 1900

DARTMOUTH - Shocking Fatality At The Warfleet Brewery. Man's Arm Torn Off. - A fatal accident occurred at the Warfleet Brewery last week. On Friday afternoon a man named WHITE, who had been employed by Messrs. Bartlett and Co., for many years, was engaged in working the chaff cutter when his right hand was caught in the machine. Before anything could be done either to stop the machine or to extricate him, his arm had been torn off between the elbow and the hand. Everything possible was done to stop the bleeding and the unfortunate man was removed to the Cottage Hospital with all possible despatch. There Dr Harris, who was promptly summoned and was in fact on his way to the Brewery before the man had been brought in, found that amputation of the remainder of the arm was absolutely necessary. This was done the same evening. From the first there were but slight hopes of saving him and the poor fellow died at four a.m. on Saturday. He resided at Stokefleming, and leaves a widow, for whom every sympathy is felt. The sad occurrence has cast quite a gloom over the quiet little village of Stoke, where the deceased was generally liked. The Inquest was held at the Guildhall on Monday afternoon by Mr P. R. Hockin, the Deputy Coroner. Mr L. W. Tucker was chosen Foreman of the Jury, which first proceeded to view the body, then lying at the house of a sister at Above Town. Mr Jones (Plymouth), Inspector under the Factories Act and Police Supt. Ryall, G. Division, were present. The following evidence was taken: - MARY ANN FERRIS: I reside at Above Town, an am the wife of ALFRED FERRIS. The deceased was my brother. He was 36 years of age, and was in the employ of Messrs. Bartlett and Company, at Warfleet Brewery, Dartmouth. I last saw him before the accident on Christmas Day. The next time I saw him was at the Cottage Hospital on Saturday morning. He died that morning at four o'clock. He was a married man and resided with his wife at Stokefleming. He has no children. I know nothing of the circumstances under which he met his death. The Jury had no questions to ask. Alfred Townsend: - I live and am employed at the Warfleet Brewery. The deceased was also in the employ of Messrs. Bartlett and Co., and had been so for about five years, though I cannot say for certain that this was the time. His duties were general, and included looking after the chaff-cutter. He was working the chaff-cutter on Friday, and I was passing up the hay to him. The Coroner: What kind of a chaff-cutter is it? What is the motive power? - Steam, sir. We were at work in the afternoon about half-past three. Whilst he was feeding the chaff-cutter he got his hand in too far. I did not see him do it. My attention was first directed to anything being wrong by his singing out "Oh!" Directly I heard that I jumped round and pulled him back. - The Coroner: Did you then see that his arm was in the machine? - Yes. - The Coroner: Did your pulling him back free him from it? - Yes. - The Coroner: Was anybody at hand to stop the machine in case of accident? - Yes. - The Coroner: Who? - A.: Mr Grant. - The Coroner: John Grant? - Yes. - The Coroner: He was there at the time this occurred. - Yes. - The Coroner: Did he stop the machine? - Yes. - Before or after you pulled him back? - After. - The Coroner: How far away from the chaff-cutter was he when this occurred? - Not far, sir; the other side of the belt. He would have to come round the belt before he could stop it. When I took him out the man never spoke, and I held him up until help came. He was badly injured in his right arm. - The Coroner: Who came to your assistance? - Mr Evans was the first to come. He was employed at the Brewery. I sat the deceased down upon a bundle of hay. Eventually he was taken to the Hospital. I have not seen him since. Witness was questioned by the Jury. - Q.: Was it light at the time? - Yes, it was in the afternoon, and it was not a particularly dark afternoon. - Q.: Did anyone but Mr Evans come to your assistance? - Yes. - Q.: Did Mr Horace Bartlett come? - He came and bound up the man's hand didn't he? The Coroner: That is a leading question. You should not put it in that way. Q.: Did Mr Bartlett come. Did anyone bind up his hand? - I don't know. I went to get my horse that he might be taken to the Hospital. Q.: Have you got a loose pulley attached to the machine, so that the belt can be slipped off the working part, and the machine thus stopped at any moment? - We have got a lever that does it. Q.: Did you use that lever? - No, I had no chance. The man was leaning over it. - Q.: Is he a right-handed man? - Yes. - Q.: Then how come it was his right hand that was torn off? Usually they feed chaff cutters with the left hand. - No, with the right. You are supposed to feed with your right hand and hold the lever in your left. Then if anything goes wrong you can pull the lever and that would stop the machine at once. The Coroner: Do you know as a matter of fact that he had hold of the lever with his left hand, while he was feeding with his right? - No. I don't. The Foreman: Everything was done by Mr Bartlett that could be done? - Yes. The Coroner: The question is rather a leading one. You must not put it in that way. Was everything done that could be done? - Yes, sir. - The Coroner: And by whom? - I don't know. I had to get the horse. I did what I could. As soon as I found I could not pull the lever I pulled the man back, while Grant stopped the machine. The lever was in perfect order. The Coroner: You said he would have to go round the belt. How far away was he, or rather how far would he have to come? About the width of this room? - Yes sir. The Coroner: Where is he generally when the chaff cutter is at work? On the off-side of the belt? - Yes, he is. He would have to come round most times before he could get at it. The Inspector: Does it require three men to look after a chaff cutter? - Yes, sir. - The Inspector: It does? Very curious! You say it was light at the time? - Yes, sir. - The Inspector: What windows are there in the place? - three or four, all of them of fair size. The Inspector: Was there a cover over the knives at the time of the accident? - Yes. - The Inspector: How long had it been there? - I don't know. - The Inspector: You have worked the chaff cutter before, I suppose. - Only once since I have been there. - The Inspector: How long is that? - About two years. - The Inspector: That is all I have to ask him. The Coroner: Have you frequently seen the chaff cutter at work? - Not often. I am generally away from the place. Supt. Ryall: Was the mouth of the chaff cutter protected whilst it was working. Was it "muzzled" I mean? - Witness appeared doubtful. - The Superintendent: Was it protected so that a man could not get his hand in? - No. - John Grant: I am in the employ of Messrs. Bartlett. I drive the engine and look after the boiler and engine. I was at work there at half-past three on Friday last, in company with the deceased and the last witness. - The Coroner: How was your attention directed to the accident? - While I was "shaking up" two or three bundles of hay which were under the stairs, the accident happened. WHITE had asked me to "shake up" the hay. - The Coroner: But the last witness said you were round "the other side of the belt." - So I was, sir. I was only six or seven stairs down. I heard the deceased shout "oh, oh," and I went up and stopped the engine immediately. - The Coroner: What distance had you to go before you could stop the engine? Would it be anything like the length of this room? - No sir. Three or four steps one way and three or four steps another, but it was not very far. When I came to the deceased, Townsend had him in his arms, and I saw that his arm had been cut off. Then I called Mr Evans, and Mr Horace Bartlett. From the time the engine was stopped to the time they came would not be more than a couple of minutes. I met them at the head of the stairs. - The Coroner: Can you give any information to the Jury of what the previous witness said that you would have to go right round the belt, "a distance of the length of this room." - I had not to go any further than I have told you. The Inspector: Was it light at the time? - Fairly light. - The Inspector: Does the lever simply throw the cutter out of gear or does it reverse the machine? - It reverses it. The Inspector: Did you notice whether the cover was over the fly-wheel or over the knives I should say? - I cannot say; I was not there more than a few minutes; my place was at the engine. I just looked in to see if everything was going on all right sir; then I went down to "shake up" some hay, by the deceased's request. - Supt. Ryall: Who gave the orders for the use of the chaff-cutter? - The orders are not given to me, sir. I am simply told when they want steam. Apart from that I have nothing to do with the chaff-cutter. I do not know whether the orders came from Mr Evans or Mr Bartlett. - Horace Bartlett: I am a member of the firm of Bartlett and Co., brewers and maltsters, who carry on business at Warfleet Brewery. The deceased was in my employ. I cannot say how long he has been there, but certainly many years. He was employed for general work in the brewery. Once a week, on Friday, it was his duty to cut chaff. He received no special order to that effect; it is a standing order. Generally he used the chaff-cutter on Friday afternoons. he had been in the habit of doing so for at least three years. Three men are employed upon that particular work as a rule, and one to look after the engine. - The Coroner: In addition to the other three? - Yes. My attention was first directed to something being wrong by information from John Evans that WHITE had got in the chaff-cutter. He didn't like to go down, and I had to. I suppose his reason to be that he could not bear the sight. When I went down WHITE was sitting on a bundle of hay, with two men supporting him. In the excitement I did not particularly notice who the others were. I saw that deceased's right hand and a portion of the arm were gone. I did what I could to stop the bleeding, and deceased was taken right away to the Cottage Hospital. Arrangements were made for this before I got there. I was in the office when the accident occurred. At this juncture the Inspector remarked that he had a few remarks to make, if the Jury cared to hear them. - The Coroner: We have not finished with Mr Bartlett's evidence yet. - The Inspector: I should like to catch the train. If the Jury would hear what I have to say now, I should be obliged. - The Coroner saw no objection. The Inspector said he had examined the Brewery and seen the chaff cutter. So far as he could see, the knives and flywheel were all properly protected, but where the accident happened was at the mouth of the machine. There were appliances to be hand, which were automatic, and which would stop the machine immediately, or there were others which could be used by the foot. He could not tell them precisely what they were, but there were several from which choice could be made. He thought one might be adopted in future at the Brewery. He should also suggest that the firm should have the place limewashed. It struck him that day that the premises were somewhat dark and a coating of limewash might prevent an accident sometimes happening owing to want of light. The expense would be trivial and it might be a considerable advantage to have it done. A Juryman: Does a chaff cutter come under your duties? - The Inspector: No, it does not, but where I see them in factories I recommend what should be done. They really come in a separate Act but if an accident happens at a factory through a chaff cutter then notice has to be sent to me and I have to see it. This is so though it does not come under the Factories Act. Mr Bartlett: Am I permitted to say anything on this? - The Coroner: Not at present. - Mr Bartlett: I should like to say something in answer to these remarks; to defend myself. - The Inspector: No defence is needed. I merely suggest one or two things that might be done. - Mr Bartlett: I should like to make a remark on it, if I am in order. - The Foreman: If it refers to what the Inspector has said it should be. The Coroner: His recommendation is that there should be some automatic appliance and that the place should be limewashed. Mr Bartlett said there was already a thing answering the purpose, by which the machine could be stopped or reversed, at the will of the operator. He was supposed to keep the lever in his hand and directly he saw anything amiss he could shift the lever and the machine would stop or go backwards instantly. Once he moved the lever he could not put his hand into the chaff cutter if he wanted to. - The Coroner: The appliance there now is not automatic, is it? - No. A Juryman asked the Inspector what difference there was between an appliance to stop the machine by use with the feet and one that would stop by the hand. In either case the man would have to work it. - The Inspector: Generally the man feeding the chaff cutters have two hands upon that particular work, whether they are supposed to catch hold the lever or not. If they could stop the machine by the foot it would be different. If there was an automatic appliance the machine would stop of its own accord directly any foreign substance got in. - The Inspector then left. Supt. Ryall asked Mr Bartlett whether it was a fact that the mouth of the chaff cutter was unprotected. Mr Bartlett: It is protected the same as other chaff cutters. Supt. Ryall: Is it in accordance with the Chaff Cutters Act. Mr Bartlett: Yes, I shall claim that it is. It is in accordance with the working of the machine. Supt. Ryall: You say it is protected. Will that prevent a man from getting his hand in? - Mr Bartlett: No, unfortunately this poor fellow's hand was caught. Where hay can go a man's hand can go. That's certain. A Juryman: You could not feed a chaff cutter with the mouth protected, could you? - No, certainly not. The protection is the same as on all other chaff cutters I have seen. John Henry Morris, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth: I had a message about a quarter to four on Friday afternoon last, asking me to go to the Brewery. I met a messenger coming from the Brewery to say deceased was being brought to the Hospital. On examination after his arrival I found that deceased had had his right arm torn off about three inches below the elbow. He was also suffering from loss of blood and collapse. With the assistance of Dr Soper and Dr Davson, I amputated the arm above the elbow. I saw him again about ten o'clock that night, and he was then dying from shock. He expired about four o'clock the following morning. The cause of death, in my opinion, was shock following so severe an accident and operation. - The Coroner: Were the wounds consistent with his having been caught in a chaff-cutter? - Yes, or mangled in a rough cutting machine. - The Coroner: Could anything have been done by an unskilled person either to have relieved him or to have saved his life? - Nothing. The Jury had no questions to put to the doctor. Summing up, the Coroner said the case was a most lamentable one. It was for the Jury to say "how and by what means" the deceased came to his death. The medical evidence as to the actual cause seemed very clear, but the Jury would have to go further and decide how the deceased met with the accident by which he was so badly injured. They had had the advantage of the presence and the remarks of an inspector, who had come specially to Dartmouth to attend that Inquest. They had heard his recommendation as to an automatic means by which accidents of this nature might be prevented in future, and also his recommendation that the place should be limewashed, to, if possible, give more light. It would be for the Jury to say whether the chaff cutter was being worked to the best of the skill and ability of the men engaged upon it, whether there were sufficient men employed upon the work, and whether anything was left undone in the way of fencing the machinery or in any other way, by which the lamentable accident could have been averted. All the evidence appeared to him to be very clear, and the Jury ought to have very little difficulty in coming to a conclusion upon the matter. The Jury, after brief deliberation, returned a verdict of Death by Misadventure. They drew the attention of Messrs. Bartlett and Co. to the Inspector's recommendations, and suggested that they should look into them, with a view to their adoption if accidents of this kind could be prevented by them in the future. This addition was read by the Coroner to Mr H. Bartlett, who said he was obliged for it. - The Coroner: Will you have it carried out? - Mr Bartlett: I will certainly have it carried out. You can take it for granted gentlemen - (hear, hear). The Coroner: We knew you would, and I have given you the opportunity of saying so.

TOTNES - The Clarence Street Case. Pensioner Falls From A Window. Inquest At Totnes. - At Totnes Workhouse Boardroom, on Friday evening last, Mr S. Hacker (County Coroner) held an Inquest on the body of SAMUEL BROWN, of Dartmouth, who was admitted to the house on Wednesday afternoon, and died within a few hours. Mr T. Browse was chosen Foreman of the Jury. Mr T. Windeatt (clerk) watched the case for the Guardians. We take the following evidence from the Totnes Times:- John William Casey Pillar, of the Britannia Inn, Dartmouth, said the deceased was an army pensioner from the Durham L.I., who had lodged with witness about eleven months. He never heard him say that he had any relations. Deceased was in receipt of a quarterly pension of £4 18s. 11d., and worked as a labourer for Mr Marshall (Plymouth). BROWN had served sixteen years in India, and was subject to attacks of fever and ague. He had the last about five weeks before Christmas, and had not worked since. He told witness about a month since that he had slipped down and hurt his ribs. He took deceased to Dr Crossfield who examined him and said his ribs were not broken and directed flannel to be wrapped round him. When pension day (Jan 1st) came he gave deceased his papers at 10 a.m., and did not see him again until 8.30 p.m., when he had been drinking. He put him to bed and on the following day he got up at 6 a.m. and returned at 9 p.m., bringing soup which he ate, and witness did not see him until night when he returned the worse for liquor and did the same on the following day. The next three days he remained in bed and had lemonade, bovril and soup. On the afternoon he came down about 2 p.m. and said he felt queer, and went to bed again. He saw him in bed on Monday night and at 4 a.m. on Tuesday he was called by his daughters and found the deceased at the bottom of the steps leading into the court. He was on his hands and knees with broken glass around him. Deceased had fallen from his bedroom window, and through the glass roof of the dining room. He was placed to bed in an unconscious state, and did not say a sensible word after. Witness fetched Dr Crossfield, who examined him and sent him a bottle of medicine. Witness stayed up all night with him. Dr Crossfield said there was nothing the matter with him, and nothing to hinder his telling deceased to go and get fresh lodgings, but he was not going to turn him out in that state. As Dr Crossfield did not come again, on Wednesday witness saw Dr Harris, who did not come to see the deceased but gave him an order to take to Mr Wickens, certifying that the man had no house, was very ill and should be removed to the Workhouse. Witness had told Dr Harris what had happened and that deceased should be under restraint. On Wednesday afternoon Mr Wickens removed the deceased to the Workhouse. He considered the deceased was out of his mind, as he was raving. He was taken to the steamer in a cab and from the steamer to the Workhouse in a cab. By the Coroner: He had not been told that deceased had delirium tremens. Deceased had kept on saying he wished he was at the war with the Durham Light Infantry. By the Jury: He went to bed sober the night before he jumped out of the window. During the night witness remained with him he acted as if he had delirium tremens. By Mr Windeatt: He did not tell Dr Harris that deceased was suffering from delirium tremens. His object in going to him was to get rid of deceased. To his knowledge Dr Harris had not seen or attended the man. He signed the certificate without seeing the man, and as far as he knew not knowing the man or seeing that he was in a fit state to be removed. Dr Harris would not know anything except what witness said and took his word deceased was ill. He did not know what had become of deceased's money, except 11s. 5d., paid to witness, but he saw a lot of "suckers" round him. Deceased slid down over a roof, seven feet, dropped ten feet, rolled on to another lot of glass and went through it. He did not think it would hurt him to take him up the river to the workhouse. He had mentioned the matter to the police, but never used the word "lunatic" to them. He was not aware that overseers had no power to give an order except in sudden and urgent cases, and when a man was a pauper. Henry George Wickens, assistant overseer at Dartmouth, said at ten o'clock on Wednesday, the previous witness brought him the certificate from Dr Harris, and said he could not keep the deceased in his house. Witness went to see him, and found him in the bar, with a man on each side of him. He told deceased that he seemed very ill, and had better go to the Workhouse. He mumbled something in reply. Deceased had some bovril in front of him. Witness shewed the certificate to a Guardian, and then got a cab to take deceased to the steamer. He appeared a little bit dazed, but went of his own free will, although he required a little assistance. According to the doctor's certificate he thought it safe to remove deceased, who lay on the seat in the steamer's cabin. By the Coroner: You did what you did because you had the doctor's certificate. - Certainly, I should not have acted otherwise. By Mr Windeatt: The man was not a pauper, and witness had not given him a medical order. Deceased was unknown to him. He considered the case an urgent one. He asked Mr Pillar, who said the deceased had nothing, and did not know he was a pensioner till afterwards. He did not see Dr Harris, and only heard that he had not seen him after arrangements had been made for his removal. He thought the man understood what was being done with him, and was in a state to give consent. Mr Pillar said he had been acting like a lunatic. By the Coroner: I removed him as an ordinary pauper case, because he was ill, and with his consent. He told the Master at the Workhouse that he had jumped out of the window. The Coroner: This will be a case which will require adjournment, and I shall adjourn it at once. It will be as well that Dr Harris should be here. The statements should be verified, and the Inquest is adjourned for the purpose to Friday evening next.

Friday 26 January 1900

TOTNES - The Clarence Street Case. Adjourned Inquest At Totnes Workhouse. Dartmouth Doctor And Landlord Censured. - The adjourned Inquest on the body of SAMUEL BROWN, labourer and pensioner, formerly of Clarence Street, Dartmouth, was held by Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, at the Totnes Workhouse, on Friday evening last. Mr T. W. Windeatt appeared to represent the Guardians. Briefly summarised, the evidence of John William Casey Pillar, landlord of the Britannia Inn, given on the previous occasion, stated that deceased was a pensioner from the Durham Light Infantry and lodged with him. He suffered from fever and ague, and after a drinking bout he stayed in bed for three days. On the night of Monday, January 8th, he saw deceased in bed, but at 4 a.m. on Tuesday when called by his daughters he found deceased at the bottom of the steps leading into the court, with broken glass round him. He had evidently fallen from the window. Dr Crossfield was called in and attended the man. On Wednesday last, Mr Pillar saw Dr Harris and received from him the following; "This is to certify that SAMUEL BROWN has no home, and is very ill, and should be removed to the Workhouse." He at once took this to the Assistant-overseer (Mr H. Wickens) who acted upon it and took the deceased to the workhouse, in company with Mr Pillar. At the workhouse, after Mr Pillar and the Assistant-overseer had gone deceased was found to be very ill. He died next morning about four o'clock. At the first Inquiry the Coroner said this was a case requiring full investigation. He therefore adjourned it in order that Dr Harris and other witnesses might be present. On Friday evening Mr Pillar's evidence was read out to him. The Coroner: Have you anything to add to you evidence? - Mr Pillar: I should like to say that the man had the "sack" from his job on the Naval College works a fortnight after he came to me. I don't know whether that preyed on his mind or not. It might have. Was that before he had the ague that you spoke of in your evidence? - No, sir. He had had it then a fortnight. It was after he had been home for a time that he had the "sack" - about three days before Christmas. You said, I think, he fell about seven feet. - He fell over the roof seven feet. Then he dropped down. Then he rebounded off the glass and went down to the bottom. He slid down the roof as he got to the shute. It was 25 feet altogether from the window he came out from. That would be the straight fall; the direct fall - About fifteen feet I should think. Then seven feet, what you stated before, would be quite correct. - It would be about fifteen mean in a direct line? - I don't know what you mean by a direct line. I am telling you what I thought was the distance he fell. That is what you asked me. Mr Windeatt: When you went to Dr Harris on the Wednesday did you say to him that you wanted this man, who had gone "off his head" in your public house, to be removed to the Cottage Hospital? - I might have, sir. Was not that the object of your going to Dr Harris in the first instance? Was it or not? - It might have been. I wanted to get the man out of my house. Didn't you say to Dr Harris that you wanted to have him sent to the Cottage Hospital? - Yes, sir. The Coroner: That is what you told the doctor, is it? - We discussed the matter together and Dr Harris said they didn't take in people at the Cottage Hospital who had gone off their head. Mr Windeatt: You said he was out of his mind? - Yes sir, I did. You said last time the reason you went to Dr Harris was because he was the parish doctor, or deputy parish doctor. - No; you suggested that. Simply put it to you if that was so. - No; you suggested it, sir. You suggested that he was the deputy, not the parish doctor. Never mind about the deputy; parish doctor then, if you want it that way. - The Coroner: That is what he said. He said he went there, Dr Harris being the parish doctor. Here it is in his evidence. Mr Windeatt: I put it to you whether he was the deputy, not the parish doctor, that was all. Why should you go to the parish doctor to get a man removed to the Cottage Hospital - I wanted him removed to some public institution. I didn't want to have the man turned out into the streets. Is Dr Harris the doctor of the Cottage Hospital? - I don't know. They all are I think. Did you say to Dr Harris: "If he is removed to the Workhouse I will pay all expenses? - I don't remember whether I did or not. Will you swear you didn't say so? - I won't swear I didn't. You can't remember every little thing that occurred. - Mr Windeatt: That is all I want to ask him. The Foreman: You say you saw him in bed on the Monday night? - Yes, I told him to go to bed and to cover himself up. He did so. Was he quiet then? - yes, he was all right in the head then, so far as I know. Did anyone else sleep in the room? - No he had the room to himself for months. Was the door locked? - No, there are no keys to any of the doors in my house, except to the bar doors. The evidence of Henry George Wickens was read over - Witness: There is one thing. I didn't say anything at all about the man being a lunatic, did I? - The Coroner: I asked you if you promised to remove this man on account of his being a lunatic and you said "No, I didn't remove the deceased to the workhouse on account of his being a lunatic, but as a case in which he was moved to the workhouse with his own consent." Is that correct? - Yes. - The Coroner: Is there anything else? - Witness: You say that "we" assisted him. It was not "we." I simply walked up behind Mr Pillar and the deceased carrying some things. Mr Pillar and the deceased were together. We took him to Totnes. That is correct. - I suppose it is. You are the responsible person, you know. (continuing from the evidence) "And took him to the steamer and assisted him to the workhouse." I didn't. Mr Pillar did. Well if he hadn't you would have. You took him to Totnes. That is all we want to know. - I didn't help him to the workhouse at Totnes. didn't know if I may be permitted to add something to my evidence. One moment. You took him to Totnes on the authority of this certificate (from Dr Harris). I think you said last time. - Certainly I did. That was the reason. Mr Pillar came to me and said [?] was sent. What do you wish to add? - Mr Pillar talks about the man being light-headed. When we [?] here at the bottom of the steps, the last words I heard the man say were "Shall I stay here?" The man knew what he was doing. He did not appear to be light-headed. That is what you say, judging by what you saw? I will swear to it. I am on oath. Those were not the words of a man "off his head." didn't you consider it was a dangerous thing for a man, to take him a journey on that day? - Well sir I acted in good faith on the paper brought to me by Mr Pillar from Dr Harris. I should not have done so else. You didn't trouble to inquire? - I didn't think it was my duty. Why should I inquire into it if Dr Harris gave a certificate? It was not for me to inquire into a certificate given by a medical gentleman. I telegraphed to the Relieving Officer at Totnes. Mr Windeatt: What for? - Saying that the man was coming by the next steamer. I thought it best to do so. You know that as assistant overseer you have never in urgent cases to remove a pauper yourself? I didn't know this man was a pensioner until after I had telegraphed. If the man had made any objection I should certainly not have removed him at all. You know that the Relieving Officer has power to remove a lunatic. Is that why you telegraphed to him? - No. I should not have removed him at all then, if I thought he was a lunatic. I did not consider him so. What I want to know is whether you sent to the Relieving Officer because this man was a lunatic? - No. Then why did you sent to the Relieving Officer? - I thought it would make the matter clearer. When you came to the workhouse you brought an order signed by yourself. You didn't produce the certificate from Dr Harris. - Yes, I brought both together. Did you know that the certificate from Dr Harris would not admit him to the workhouse and that an order was required from you? - Well I have it. Did you know that they would want an order from an assistant overseer or relieving officer before they would admit? - Yes, I knew that. When did you write the order? - It was written on the morning before we came away. [Three more columns of evidence resulting in the verdict of:- ]

The Jury's verdict was that the deceased died from pleuro-pneumonia consequent on the fracture of the ribs, resulting from his having accidentally fallen from a bedroom window. The Foreman added, on their behalf, that they were unanimously of opinion that the steps taken by Mr Pillar to get rid of the deceased was in the highest degree reprehensible, both in his treatment of the unfortunate man and in the misrepresentation by him to Dr Harris, of the facts of the case. They considered there had been a want of precaution on the part of Dr Harris in not seeing deceased before giving a certificate that he should be removed.

Friday 23 March 1900

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At Newcomin Road. Inquest Today. - At the Dartmouth Guildhall this morning Mr R. W. Prideaux, the local Coroner, held an Inquest touching the death of ELIZABETH DEVEREAUX, for over twenty years caretaker of the Baptist Chapel, who died suddenly at her residence in Newcomin Road on Wednesday evening. Mr C. H. Westmacott was chosen Foreman of the Jury. After the body had been viewed the following evidence was taken:- EMMA VEALE, South ford Road, assistant teacher at Dartmouth Board Schools:- I identify the body as that of my aunt, ELIZABETH DEVEREAUX. She was a single woman and 59 years of age. - The Coroner: What had been the state of her health recently? - She had been rather poorly all the week. - The Coroner: When was the last time you saw her alive? - About a quarter past six on Wednesday evening. When I went up to see her, the door was locked, and, walking up the hill, I met her coming down from the Baptist Chapel, where she was caretaker. I accompanied her home. She wanted to go back to a meeting at the chapel at 7 o'clock, and I prepared some tea for her. While I was doing that she was taken with violent pains in her head. I went for Dr Soper, and called some of the neighbours. When I returned I found her sitting on the bed, supported by Mr Gill. She was moaning and apparently in a dying state. The Coroner: Did the doctor return with you? - Witness: Yes. She died about a quarter of an hour afterwards. She had been in poor health for a considerable time. The Coroner: When you left to go for the doctor was there anyone with her? - Witness: Yes, Mr Gill and his sister-in-law. The Coroner: I wanted to know whether she was left alone, or not; that is all. Mr Gill has not been summoned gentleman but if you think it necessary he can be called now. Consulted by the Foreman the Jury thought it unnecessary. Dr R. W. Soper: On Wednesday about 7 p.m., I was called as stated. I went immediately and found her in a dying state. I remained with her until she died, in about eight or ten minutes. She was sitting on the bed, as described by the last witness. There was nothing external to account for death. I conclude from the general appearance of the body, that the immediate cause of death was syncope; natural causes. I had not attended her for a very long time, if at all. The Coroner: That is the evidence I have to lay before you. I have not thought it necessary to order a post mortem. As the deceased died without having been medically attended an Inquest had to be held, but the evidence is so clear that I don't propose to trouble you with any comments upon it. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 30 March 1900

GALMPTON - Sad Case Near Malborough. - An Inquest was held at Galmpton, near Malborough, on the body of MARY ANN ANDREWS. Rev. C. A. le Geyt was Foreman of the Jury. The evidence shewed that deceased, who was a single woman, 39 years of age, and had lived with her mother, had a bad attack of influenza in January, and had been in a low despondent state for some months. On Friday she complained of awful pains in her head, and slept alone in accordance with her own wish. Next morning she was found in another room hanging from some pegs dead. In a drawer in her bedroom was found a letter in which deceased wrote:- "It is so hard to have my mind took away from me when I have been the life of the house, and spring coming; lodgers and all will be coming. How hard, oh how hard it will be, all broken up for my sake. God! it is hard." She also wrote "Of course you must have thought me very queer. I'm sure I don't know what for. I went out, as you know, and I did everything I could to pass off the dreadful thought that kept coming into my mind." - The Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst Temporarily Insane."

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death Of A Child. Inquest This Morning. - An Inquest was held at the Guildhall this morning, by Mr R. W. Prideaux, touching the death of WINIFRED BELLETT JONES, aged 4 months, daughter of MR C.S. JONES, Foss Street. Mr L. W. Tucker was chosen Foreman of the Jury. MRS JONES, who was greatly affected, said on Wednesday evening about 10.30, she put the child to bed. Deceased was in good health and slept with witness and her husband. She went to sleep shortly after with deceased in her arms. Waking about a quarter to four a.m., she found the child was cold. It was then lying by her side and quite clear of her. When her husband, by her request, struck a light, she saw the baby was dead. CHARLES STEWART JONES, husband of the last witness, corroborated. Both himself and wife had had much broken rest lately owing to illness in the house, and were very tired on Wednesday night. Dr A. K. Crossfield deposed that he was called on Thursday at 4 a.m. He found the child dead. Apparently it had been dead four or five hours. He attributed death to suffocation, through the child being accidentally over-laid. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

Friday 13 April 1900

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death Of A Child. Inquest Today. - At the Dartmouth Guildhall this morning, Mr R. W. Prideaux, the local Coroner, held an Inquest touching the death of a child which died suddenly yesterday morning. Mr C. Wotton was chosen Foreman of the Jury. FRANCES STENTIFORD, single, residing with her mother at Ridge Hill, identified the body as that of her infant child, JAMES EDWARD, four months old. His health had been very good. On Tuesday, April 10th, he was put to bed, apparently all right. Next morning at half-past six, after she had left the bedroom her mother called to her to come back. She returned, and found the child in a fit. He died in a few minutes. She went for a doctor immediately afterwards. - The Coroner: Had it ever had fits before? - Yes, four on the previous day. - The Coroner: Have you had medical attendance for it? - No, it has been in good health, except being restless at night. SOPHIA STENTIFORD, widow, mother of the last witness, stated that on the night of April 10th, the child, which slept in the same bed as witness and her daughter, had a good night's rest. Her daughter rose about five. Shortly after six it had a fit and in five or six minutes was dead. For an hour before that the child was laughing and crowing. It had four fits the day before but recovered. She thought it was teething. Dr J. H. Harris found the body well nourished and clean. The child had evidently been well-cared for. There was nothing external to account for death. From the statements of the mother and grandmother, whom he questioned, he formed the opinion that the child died from natural causes, probably convulsions. A verdict of "Death from Natural Causes" was returned.

KINGSWEAR - Sad Case Of Suicide. Mother Found Hanging By Her Child. - At Kingswear on Friday afternoon MRS SATCHELL, wife of a steam crane driver employed by the G.W.R. Co., at the jetty, was found by one of her children, hanging by a cord to a nail near the stairs. The unfortunate woman had been dead for some time. She had been confined in the asylum on more than one occasion, but apparently was not likely to do any harm to herself, and on Friday appeared to be in somewhat better spirits than usual. The case created great sensation in Kingswear, where the utmost sympathy is felt for the husband, who is left with three children. An Inquest was held at the Royal Dart Hotel, on Saturday evening, by Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner. At the outset he observed that it would be necessary for the Jury to fully investigate the case and ascertain upon proper evidence all the circumstances attending it. They would have to determine whether deceased came to her death by her own act, or whether there was any reason to suppose there was any other person implicated, and if so, who that other person was. He did not suppose they would have much difficulty in coming to a conclusion or that the case would take them very long to decide. Having viewed the body the Jury received the following evidence. - CHARLES SATCHELL, residing at No. 4, Woodland Terrace, Kingswear, said he was a steam crane driver. The deceased was his wife, EMILY SUSAN SATCHELL, who was 36 years of age last March. His wife and three boys lived with him. Nobody else lived in the house. The Coroner: Has there been anything the matter with your wife recently? - Yes, she has been low and despondent recently. How long? - For a considerable time, I think. do you know any reason for it? - No, I don't know of anything. How do you know she was "low and despondent?" - Because she did not do her household duties. She used to sit about and do nothing at all. Has she said anything to you that would show she contemplated doing any harm to herself? - Never. Has she ever attempted to do any harm to herself before? - Yes, once. How long ago? - I could not say exactly. I called Dr Soper's attention to it. Can't you say about how long since it was? - Something like two years I should think. It was when I put her away. What did she try to do on that occasion? - She jumped out of the window. Right out? - No, sir. She saved herself by catching at the sill. I saw she was doing what she ought not to do, so I put her away. Did she give you any reason for it at the time? - No, none. You say you had her "put away". Do you mean that you had her sent to the asylum? - Yes, sir. I fetched a doctor and she was put away. Was she kept there? - Yes, from June 10th to the first Tuesday in August, sir. - Last August? - Yes. Was she supposed to have been cured then? - I can't say that. She came out. Since then she has been living with you? - Yes, since last August. Has she been queer since that? - Yes, she was queer a little after she came home, for some time. How did she get out? - Did she escape or anything of that sort? - No. She was let out under the doctor's orders. - Yes, I suppose so. I should say so. Had she been in the Asylum before that? - Yes, once before. How long ago would that be? - I could not give you the exact date. On that occasion she was away for two years or thereabouts. Did she do anything to herself then? - No, only she was not right in her head. It was very nearly three years altogether she was in the asylum. I took her out and could not keep her home, so I had to send her back there again. She never tried to do any harm to herself except this once, when she jumped out of the window? - That is all, to my knowledge. Has she ever talked about suicide? - Never. Had she any troubles on her mind recently? - She ought not to have. Had she any hallucinations of any kind? - Not that I know of. Did she complain of pains or anything of that sort? - No, sir. Did you live on good terms with her? - Yes, we never had any quarrels. Then there is nothing that you can tell the Jury to account for this? - Nothing whatever. Tell me about yesterday. What happened? - I left home in the morning before breakfast to go to my work on the crane. I left her in bed. She was all right then. She seemed, in fact, to be more cheerful than she had been for some time before that. When did you first hear what had taken place? - My boy came down to take my tea and he told me what he had seen. That would be just after four o'clock I should think. I left my work at once and went to the house. I found deceased at the foot of the stairs; she had been cut down. Has she left anything to explain it? - No, there was no letter or writing. We could find nothing, though we looked carefully. Where did the cord come from? - I don't know; I had not seen it before. It was not in the house, so far as I knew. The nail where she was found hanging, was that a fixture or was it recently put up? - No, that has been there for a long time. Are you quite satisfied that nobody else had anything to do with it? - Not to my knowledge. Not to your knowledge, of course. But have you any reason to think so. Have you any suspicion of it at all? - No, nothing whatever. And that is all you can tell us about the matter. - Yes, I know no more. - WILLIAM SATCHELL, aged 13, said he was a son of the last witness. He lived at home with his father and mother. On Friday morning he went to school as usual. He saw his mother at dinner-time and had dinner with her. Then she seemed all right so far as he knew. Did she eat her dinner? - No, she didn't have any at all. Why not? Was she unwell, or what? - I don't know, sir. didn't she tell you? didn't she say anything about herself? - No, sir. She told me that after I came out of school I must hurry home. Why did she tell you that? - I don't know sir. She didn't say why. Did shy give you your dinner? - Yes. Was there anybody else in the house at dinner-time? - Only my brother. Then you went away to school? - Yes. And hurried home as she told you to do? - Yes. Then I opened the door quickly and found her there. It made me jump back. Was the front door shut? - Yes, sir. It was then about half-past four. I called out "Mother, mother!" and she didn't answer. I said to my brother "mother must be dead." Then I saw her hanging at the bottom of the stairs outside the kitchen door. I ran away, and, meeting Mrs Cole at the top of the steps, told her what I had seen, and I went to call father, who came back at once. Has your mother ever told you that she meant to do any harm to herself? - No, sir. Have you noticed that she has been ill? - No, sir. Asked about the cord, witness said he picked it up, and gave it to his brother to whip his top with. On Friday his mother saw it, and told his brother to leave it home, which he did. You don't know what made your mother do this? - No, sir. She didn't say anything about it to me before I went away. I know nothing more than this. - Henry Cole said he was a labourer residing at Woodland Terrace, two doors from MR SATCHELL. He was at home about half-past four on Friday afternoon and heard the neighbours calling out. Mrs Wotton told him that MRS SATCHELL had hung herself. He at once ran in and cut her down. Was the door open? - No, the front door was shut. Was there anyone else there when you went in? - Yes, Mrs Wotton. Where did you find deceased? - She was hanging just clear of the bottom of the stairs. A piece of cord was round her neck, and it was tied to a large nail. I took out my knife, cut the cord, and leant her back against the stairs. Did you take the cord off her neck? - No sir. - P.C. Braund: I did. Were her feet touching the ground? - No, sir. Then she could have done it by going a little way up the stairs, putting the cord round, and walking down again? - Yes. That's what it looks like. Did you see any signs of anything being wrong, in any other way? Any signs of a struggle, I mean, as though somebody else had been there? - No, sir. You have seen her now and then as a neighbour, I suppose? - Yes. Not for the last six weeks, however. did you know anything of her having been in the asylum. - No sir. Nothing. Did you see anything wrong with her at all? - No, I have not noticed it. Had there been any troubles in the house, quarrels or anything of that sort? - Oh, no. Nothing of the kind. Dr W. B. Kendall, practising at Kingswear: I was called yesterday about a quarter to five and found the deceased at the bottom of the stairs. She had been cut down. I examined her and found she was quite dead. I had her removed into the front room that I might examine her better. I found round her neck a deep indentation into which the cord fitted. The mark of the knot on the left side was very distinct. I should say she had been hanging for some little time, probably for two or three hours. She had evidently done it with great deliberation. She tied the cord round her neck, tied it to the nail, and then stepped off the stairs. Was it a running knot? - No. It shows the deliberation. She carefully tied it round her neck. Death was due to strangulation then? - Yes. Appearances are quite consistent with that, I suppose? - Yes, quite. Do you know anything about her? - I have known her a long time. I knew she was very peculiar and had these attacks now and then. Do you know she has been to the asylum? - Yes, she was always very peculiar. She has had attacks of mania? - Yes. Would she have been discharged from the asylum as cured? - They discharge them as soon as they think they can go out without doing any mischief. Was it a suicidal mania? - I should not think so. She had an idea that things were going very wrong with her and that everybody was against her, and all that sort of thing. I should have thought they ought to have kept her in the asylum. - As soon as they think the patients are any way fit they send them home to make way for other cases. She might have been in the asylum all these years otherwise, you see. Yes, but it would have been the best place for her; the proper place apparently. - Yes, there is no doubt about it. P.C. Braund, stationed at Kingswear, deposed to cutting the body down. He added that no letter could be found, and enquiries from the neighbours showed that there were never any quarrels at the house. The Coroner: You made a thorough search for a letter, or something of the kind, I suppose? - Yes. Neither myself or her husband could find anything. Summing up the Coroner said there could be nothing gained by prolonging the Inquiry. It was for the Jury to say whether they were satisfied this was a case of suicide by hanging. The evidence was very clear as to that. Then they had also to consider what was the state of mind in which the poor woman was at the time she took her life. They had ample evidence of her having been to the asylum twice and there was no doubt she suffered from dementia. It was a pity they did not keep her in the asylum. Then this might not have happened. It would have been the best place for her. The Jury after brief deliberation returned a verdict that deceased took her own life, whilst in a state of Temporary Insanity.

Friday 20 April 1900

OTTERY ST MARY - Sudden Death Of A Dartmouth Man At Ottery. - An Inquest was held by Mr Coroner Cox on Saturday at the Volunteer Inn, Ottery St Mary, on the body of GEORGE POUND, a journeyman tailor, who lodged with Mr Selway in Mill-street. Evidence was given that the deceased - who was about 56 years of age and stated to be a native of Dartmouth - came home on Thursday evening and went to the back of the house, where he was shortly afterwards found lying dead. He had previously seemed in his usual health. The medical evidence was that apoplexy was the cause of death, and a verdict to that effect was returned.

KINGSWEAR - The Railway Fatality. Inquest And Verdict. Driver Exonerated. - At the Royal Dart Hotel, Kingswear, on Thursday afternoon, Mr S. Hacker, Newton Abbot, held an Inquest touching the death of the unfortunate man who was knocked down on the line and killed under circumstances briefly set out in our last issue. Lieut. Norman, of the Thrasher, Mr T. Abrahams, station master at Kingswear, and Inspector Tonkin, G.W.R., were present. Mr J. Smithson was chosen Foreman of the Jury. After the usual formalities the Coroner said it would be their duty to ascertain whether deceased came by his death as the result of any negligence. The following evidence was taken:- REGINALD NORRISH: I reside at No. 1, Albion-street, Shaldon, and am a school teacher. The deceased is my brother, ALFRED NORRISH. he was 32 years of age and was a torpedo instructor, ranking as first-class petty officer, in the Royal Navy. He was one of the crew of the destroyer, Thrasher. His home was at No. 10, Albert-terrace, St. Marychurch. He resided there with his wife and one child. - The Coroner: You know nothing about the circumstances attending his death I suppose? - No, nothing more than I have been told. George Vincent: I am a stoker in the Royal Navy, and belong to the destroyer Thrasher. Yesterday (Wednesday) the Thrasher was in Dartmouth harbour. Deceased and myself went ashore in a boat. We landed at the slip near the Old Rock Inn just after three o'clock. - The Coroner: Is that the slip opposite the Britannia? - A Juror: The Floating Bridge. - Witness: Yes. The Coroner: What did you do? - Witness: We walked down towards Kingswear by the footpath leading along the line. It was blowing and raining very hard at the time. Where were you going? - To Kingswear Station. And you walked down by the line, or on the line? - By the line; there is a footpath; I have walked down there several times. Is the footpath beside the line? - Yes. When we reached the spot where the accident occurred we heard a whistle blow. Deceased was in front of me at the time. You were walking in single file then? - Yes. Where had you got to then? - To the centre where lines branch off for shunting and so on. Close to the Steam Packet Company's fitting shed? - Yes. Then what happened? We heard a whistle and deceased "slewed" to the left and the train caught him and carried him in on the metals. I stood still until the train had passed. Before we heard the whistle we were walking with our heads down against the wind and rain. When we heard the whistle we stood upright. Deceased suddenly straightened himself up and "slewed" round to the left. He didn't go on the line, you say? - No, I am sure he did not. Were you walking on the line at all; on the metals I mean, or between them? - No, sir. When he "slewed" to the left as you put it, did he get on the line? - No, not then. Why did he "slew" to the left? - The whistle blew so quick. He was confused I suppose and didn't know which way to turn - whether to right or left. Was that it? - Yes. The whistle sounded right on you did it? - Yes. What then? - I didn't see anything more of him after he was caught. The front of the engine caught him in some way and he was carried right away from me. To be caught by the front of the engine he must have "slewed" right on to the line? - No, sir. I think he must have been caught by his oilskin or something like that. I can't quite tell you what caught him. Was it the buffer? - No, I don't think so. He was drawn on the line, you say? - Yes, at once, and I didn't see him again. The last thing I saw of him was his feet. I didn't see him again, till the train had stopped, and then I noticed him lying on the track a long way down. He was carried some distance. You were behind him and the first thing you heard was this whistle. Were you talking to him? - No. Didn't you hear the train coming? - No, it was blowing hard. We could not hear it. You didn't notice anything until the whistle blew? - No sir. Walking along the line like that you might have expected a train to come at any moment? - We were getting clear of the line. Besides, we were not on the line at all. What did you do! You didn't "slew" round as well. - I kept still. I have been there before and I kept straight on. Had you heard any whistle before this one? - No. And that was just the moment before the train struck him? - Yes. You attribute your not hearing the noise of the approaching train, to the fact that it was blowing hard at the time? - Yes, I do. Was it blowing as hard as it is today? - harder, sir. It was raining heavily as well. Deceased was carried on. Then did the train stop? - Yes, it stopped some distance below that. It was a long way down before it stopped. Then you found him? - yes, after the train had passed over him. He was down near the cottage, behind the train. Where was he lying? Between the metals? - Yes, right between them, alongside the right line. And when you came to him he was dead I suppose? - Yes. Where had he been struck. Do you know? - His head was smashed to pieces and some of his limbs were gone. I don't know where he was first struck. Are you quite sure you were outside the line? - Yes, quite sure. You didn't get on to the line by mistake, did you? - No. Mr Abrahams: Was NORRISH walking nearer to the line than you? - No, we were exactly in file. Mr Abrahams: And you didn't move? - No, I kept perfectly still. I was used to it, for I had been down that path several times. A Juror: Were you on the harbour side of the line? - Yes. And were you between two lines of metals? I don't mean in the main line but between two sets. - Yes, but not on the main line. There is a branch there for shunting. I spoke of it just now. The Foreman: didn't it occur to you that there was danger in the case of a train coming? You say it was blowing very hard. You had left the pathway if you were between two sets of lines. - There was no pathway there then. - A Juror: Yes, there is. - The Foreman: There is a sufficient pathway round by the shed, without your having to go in the centre at all. The Coroner: Then you had got off the pathway at that time? - No, there is some sort of a path which leads straight through. You are asked if there is a pathway round by the shed? - I didn't see any. A Juror: When the siding is full of coals you can't get round that pathway. The coals come almost on to the line. Then you must use the other one. The Coroner: Then you still say you were in the path? - Yes, sir. Harry Best: I reside at Newton Abbot, 43, Beaumont Road, and am an engine driver, G.W.R. I was driving the 2.47 p.m. train from Newton to Kingswear yesterday, or rather the first part of the train, for it was in two parts. Just before getting to the level crossing I blew the whistle as usual. We always blow it there. - The Coroner: A regulation, I suppose, to blow the whistle at every crossing. - Yes. You blew once then? - Yes, only once in that place. Did you see anybody? - After we had passed the crossing I saw a gang of men, about 20 or 30 at work in the siding, on the left hand side. I blew the whistle again for them. They got out of the way. Then I blew the whistle again for the two sailors. When did you notice them? - After I had passed the gang of men. They were not more than 100 yards away. Where were they? On the line you were going? - No, between the siding metals and the main line. Not on the line then? - No, I don't think they were. And then what happened? - As I looked out I thought I saw one walking on the sleepers. It looked as though they were side by side. What then? - I blew the whistle. When you were right on them? - No, before that. Directly I had passed the gang of men. That was the third time? - yes. Once for the crossing, then for the men, and the third time for the sailors. Were you as far as 100 yards away from the sailors when you blew the whistle? - Yes, I should think so, about that. Someone in court said it was 150 yards from the gang of men to where the accident happened. - The Coroner: Oh, 150 yards was it? - Witness: Perhaps it was. Did they take any notice of the whistle? - Yes, they jumped clear. They went to the right. The one we afterwards knocked down then jumped to the left and made an attempt to cross the line. That is what I thought he was trying to do. It seemed like it. How fast were you going at the time? - We had shut off steam above the level crossing. I daresay we were going fifteen miles an hour. It wouldn't take long to cover 100 yards at that rate? - No. You only blew the whistle once for them? - I blew as soon as I saw them. I blew to the gang of men and then almost at once to the sailors. You thought he meant to cross the line in front of you? - Yes, to get out of the way. I jumped across to the other side of the engine at once, to where my mate was standing, and I said "did that man get clear?" I could not see anything of him and I said "I believe we have knocked him down." I could not see then whether we had or not, but I thought we had because I saw nothing more of him. What then? - I pulled up at the ticket platform. I asked the men there if we had knocked the man down and they said yes. Then I had to take the train in to the platform. Hadn't you time to blow again? - No, sir, we were on him then. You say there were three whistles not very far behind him? - Yes. Was it blowing hard at the time? - Yes, very, and raining too. The Foreman: Had the man time to escape when you blew the whistle? - Yes he had. But he jumped back again? - Yes. I thought they were strangers. Deceased mistook the line we were coming on perhaps, and thought we were on the other set of metals. Arthur Hewlett: I am a fireman, G.W.R., and reside at Newton Abbot. I saw the packers first. My mate blew the whistle for them and then I heard him blow the whistle again. I did not know what for, as I was looking out the other side and did not see the sailors. He blew the whistle three times, the first being for the level crossing. The packers got out of the road all right. Then after my mate had blown again, he ran over to my side and said "Did we knock that man down." I had not seen any man. - The Coroner: What he has stated about the whistles, then, is quite correct? - Yes, quite. I know he blew three times. John Reginald Parsons: I reside at Ivy Bank, Dartmouth, and am chief engineer of the Steam Packet Company. I was in the fitting shop yesterday afternoon. About 3.30 I heard a locomotive blow its whistle. I turned round and looked out of the door. I saw two bluejackets just in front of the train. One was jumping to the right and the other to the left. Both, when I saw them first, were in the main line, between the metals. Are you sure of that? - Yes, between the metals of the main line. I saw them clearly. As far as you could see I suppose. Could you be absolutely sure of that, for other witnesses do not say so? - The man walking with him says they were not, for instance. - Well, if they were not between the metals they must have been on the sleepers. It was a very close thing. I think they were on the line myself. It was an instantaneous glance of yours? - I had plenty of time to see it. At the very least they were on the sleepers; that is quite certain. The deceased jumped to the left? - Yes. And the other man to the right? - Yes. You saw deceased struck, I suppose? - No, I didn't. The train had passed a little and I was looking obliquely. I saw him endeavouring to get away from the front of the train, that was all. I did not see the engine actually strike him. You heard the whistle? - Yes. Did you hear more than one whistle? - No, one short whistle. Blowing hard, was it? - Yes, it was blowing so hard that it was impossible to hear the trains running. Is there a pathway there? - I have been up and down there for six or seven years, perhaps more, and I have never been stopped. Is there a public right over it? - I cannot say if there is a right. It is generally used. It is dangerous. I saw a child thrown some yards away by an engine a few years ago. It was struck by the engine of a goods train but was not hurt. This pathway is generally used you say? - It is used by people belonging to the engineering works of Messrs. Simpson, Srickland and Co., at Noss, who live at Kingswear. From the Station at Kingswear to the Floating Bridge they don't stop you, but above the Floating Bridge they don't allow you to go on the line. Sidney Willcocks: I live at Hoodown Cottage, close to the railway. At about 3.30 p.m. yesterday I was inside the cottage and I heard the whistle of an engine. I opened the door and looked out. As I looked out I saw a sailor stepping over the line to the left. He was making an attempt to cross the line. As he was struck by the engine he seemed to disappear altogether under the engine. Mr Abrahams: What was he struck by? - I don't know. It might have been the buffer. The Foreman: How far away was the other man? - I only saw one man. The other must have been behind him somewhere. I could not see him. The Coroner: Do you use this path? - Only up to the cottage. That was further down than the men were. The Coroner: I think I will ask the station-master something about this path. Thomas Abrahams: I am the G.W.R. station-master at Kingswear. I know the spot where the accident occurred. The Coroner: Is there a public right-of-way there? Are people allowed to walk up to the Floating Bridge that way? - I cannot say if it is a public way. All I know is that the public have used it. I have not stopped them. I have had no instructions in the matter from the Company. Was this man a trespasser then? - I can't say whether he was a trespasser or not. There is a path or track, I suppose? - Well, people walking up there are bound to make a track. That is from the station to the Floating Bridge? - Yes. Within the last few years the Company have placed a bridge across the line, leading from the public highway at Kingswear, to the foreshore. When you get to the foreshore there is a projection from the railway bridge to enable people to walk along there and that takes them to the cottage, where there is a crossing by which they can get over the line and into a lane leading back to the highway. That is further down than where this happened? - Yes. The path is pretty generally used? - People do walk up there, there is no doubt. As far only as the Floating Bridge? - Yes, they would not be allowed to go farther than that. Do you know anything about the accident? - The engine driver reported that it had occurred and I immediately went up and had everything done that we could do. I had the body place on a stretcher and taken to the station. The man had been dragged some distance by the train. Dr W. B. Kendall, practising at Kingswear: At 3.45 p.m., having been called I saw the deceased at the station. I had him removed to the mortuary where I afterwards made an examination. He was terribly mutilated. Most of the injuries were on the left side. There was not much on the right side. Part of the skull cap was gone, and the left arm and leg were nearly severed. - The Coroner: Death must have been instantaneous I suppose. - Witness: Oh, yes. He was fearfully mangled in every way. Briefly summing up the Coroner said it was pretty clear that the engine driver had not neglected his duty. The explanation of the fact that deceased and his mate did not hear the train coming was that it was blowing and raining heavily at the time and they had their heads down against it. As to the track there could be little doubt that it was generally used. The Foreman: It has been used ever since the line was opened. The Coroner said it was not absolutely clear where deceased was walking, but very likely he was on the sleepers. When he heard the whistle, instead of getting out of the way he jumped in the way. The Jury had to ascertain whether anyone was responsible for his death or whether it was the result of a pure accident. The Jury promptly returned a verdict of "Accidental Death." They attributed no blame to anyone.

Friday 11 May 1900

DARTMOUTH - Singular Fatality At Dartmouth. Drowned In A Pail. Inquest Today. - An Inquest was held at the Guildhall this morning by Mr R. W. Prideaux, touching the death of a child named FRANK PHYSICK. - BESSIE PHYSICK: I am the wife of FRANK PHYSICK, plumber, residing at Goodridge's Court, Lower Street, Dartmouth. I identify the body of deceased as that of my child, FRANK, aged 13 months. On Wednesday morning last he was in his usual health. I went out on an errand at half-past nine that morning. I left deceased at home with his little brother, who is 2 ½ years old. They were in the kitchen. I returned in about a quarter of an hour and when I opened the door the eldest boy said "Mammy, FRANKIE'S in the water." I rushed into the pantry, where there was a bucket with about a basin-full of water in it, which had been left there when I went out. Deceased was in the bucket head first. His head was under the water and his legs out over the top of the bucket. I picked him up, rushed over the stairs and gave him to Mrs King. - The Coroner: Was he living at the time? - I could not say. Then I went to Dr Harris, who came back with me. The Coroner: The elder boy; did he give you any account? Could he tell you anything? - No, sir. The pantry where the bucket was, was closed when I went out. The elder boy must have opened the door, and this let the baby in. The Foreman (Mr H. Trist): How high was the handle of the door? - He could not reach the handle. He must have opened the door with his fingers lower down. It was not fastened. - Was there a stool anywhere near? - No, I think not. Mary Jane King, wife of John King, Goodridge's Court, stated that immediately on MRS PHYSICK'S return she (witness) heard her screaming out for her. Witness met her at the foot of the stairs. She could not say whether the baby was living or dead. Witness took charge of it, undressed it, and put it into a hot bath by the time the doctor had arrived. Dr J. H. Harris: Immediately I arrived I began artificial respiration and continued it for some time, but to no purpose. The child was dead. From what I was told I arrived at the conclusion it died from drowning. Appearances were consistent with that. There were no marks of violence and the body was well nourished. There were about five inches of water in the bucket. - FRANK PHYSICK, the father, said he was at work, and knew nothing about the circumstances. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Drowning."

Friday 15 June 1900

KENSINGTON - Death of MR SYDNEY HODGES. - MR SYDNEY HODGES, the well known artist, who will still be remembered by many in Devon and Cornwall, with which counties he was intimately connected more than a quarter of a century ago, died at his studio, 49 Roland Gardens, South Kensington, under distressing circumstances. He was found at his studio holding in his hand a bottle which had contained chloroform, and in the neck of the bottle was a handkerchief. At an Inquest held on Tuesday evening the Jury returned a verdict of "Death through Misadventure." MR SYDNEY HODGES was at one time secretary of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Association at Falmouth, and in that capacity devoted his efforts largely to improving the Fine Arts Department at the annual exhibition of that institution, in which he was very successful. On leaving Cornwall he went to Torquay, where he resided for some years, and then removed to London. The deceased resided in Dartmouth 30 years ago, and married a daughter of Capt. BULLY, of Townstal. He painted the portrait of Governor Holdsworth, now in the Guildhall, with many others. He was author of a volume of poems, also several novels, and was a contributor to several periodicals.

Friday 29 June 1900

DARTMOUTH - The Sudden Death At Broadstone. Inquest and Verdict. - At the Dartmouth Guildhall on Saturday morning an Inquest was held by Mr R. W. Prideaux, County Coroner for Dartmouth, touching the death of MISS MESNEY. Mr P. Pinhey was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who, after viewing the body, received the following evidence:- ROBERT LOCK MESNEY: I reside at Foss Street, Dartmouth, and am a painter. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my late daughter, CHARLOTTE MARION MESNEY. She lived with me, and was nineteen years of age, and unmarried. She had no occupation. - The Coroner: What had been the state of her health? - She had been subject to fits all her life. Otherwise she was strong. - The Coroner: How often would she have fits? - You could never depend upon it. They would happen at irregular intervals. On Thursday night she went to bed, apparently in her usual health. On Friday morning at a quarter to seven I went into her bedroom to wake her. I found that she had evidently had a fit. Her face was distorted and her mouth full of phlegm. - The Coroner: Was she living then? - I don't think so. She was quite warm. I went for Dr Davson, who came at once, and pronounced her to be dead. Before I went I put my hand on her heart. I thought she was dead. I missed the heavy breathing. She slept alone. The Coroner: How long would she be in these fits? - Only a few minutes, and she would then recover. - The Foreman: Have you had medical advice with regard to them? - Oh, yes. - Dr F. A. Davson: I knew the deceased for some years and have attended her medically, though at considerable intervals. I was not aware until recently that she suffered from fits. Yesterday morning I was called about seven o'clock to see her. I went immediately and on examination found life to be extinct. She was in bed at the time. It was evident that she had had a fit of some kind. The face was distorted somewhat, showing that she had suffered from something of an epileptic nature. I may add that she has had previous heart trouble. - The Coroner: Do you attribute death to natural causes? - Yes. - The Coroner: And to what in particular? - Probably to heart disease, accelerated by a fit. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 27 July 1900

KINGSWEAR - Shocking Accident At The Britannia Level Crossing. Gateman Killed. - A shocking fatality occurred at the Kingswear Level Crossing, opposite H.M.S. Britannia, on Saturday evening. The gateman, EDWARD WILLIAMS, seeing the 7.50 train was about to stop at the Level, attempted to cross from the signal-box to the platform in front of the engine, as it was running in very slowly. He was caught by the engine before he could get over, knocked down, and so terribly injured that, in spite of all that could be done for him, he died at 2.30 a.m. on Sunday at the Dartmouth Cottage Hospital. He had been employed at the crossing for seven or eight years. He lived in the Cottage opposite, and leaves a widow and three children - two boys and a girl. This is the second fatality within six months, near Kingswear station. A Petty Officer belonging to a torpedo-boat lying in harbour, was knocked down by a train at Hoodown siding and killed, whilst walking to Kingswear from the level crossing, with a mate. Immediately the gateman was knocked down on Saturday assistance was forthcoming from bystanders and the Britannia doctor landed and did his best to afford temporary aid. By his direction a stretcher was obtained from the ship and the injured man conveyed to the Hospital without delay. There he received every attention from the three local medical men, and from the Matron (Miss Ogden) but the case was practically a hopeless one from the first.

The Inquest:- was held at the Guildhall on Monday afternoon by Mr R. W. Prideaux, local Coroner. Mr P. Pinhey was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who first proceeded to view the body, which had been removed from the Cottage Hospital to premises near Zion slip. On returning to the Guildhall the Coroner remarked that Mr Whiteway, the owner, had permitted use of the premises, and the only observation he had to make was that they compared very favourably with those that constituted the public mortuary - (applause). - The Foreman: I am of the same opinion - (hear, hear). - The following evidence was then taken: CHARLOTTE WILLIAMS, wife of the deceased, said she resided at the Level Crossing, Kingswear. She identified the body as that of her late husband, who was a gateman and a signalman in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company, and 44 years of age. She last saw him alive on Saturday morning at six o'clock. The Coroner: Didn't you see him after that, but before he died? - No sir. You didn't see him again until when? - I saw him next at the Cottage Hospital yesterday morning. He was then dead. Was he on Saturday morning in his usual health? - Perfectly well, sir; in his usual health and spirits. I take it you have no personal knowledge as to how he came by his death? - None at all sir. The Foreman: What were his hours of work? - From ten in the morning to ten at night. - The Coroner: I was going to call Mr Abrahams, the station-master, who would be able to tell us all that. However, I will take it. - Thomas Abrahams, station-master, at Kingswear for the Great Western Railway Company, said the deceased was a gateman in the Company's employ. He was stationed at the Level Crossing, at the Floating Bridge, Kingswear. He had held that post between seven and eight years and his hours were from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Coroner: What were his duties? - His duties were to protect the traffic passing over the Floating Bridge, by means of the gates and signals. He had to attend to the trains that stopped at the Level, and to the lighting of the signals and so on. Now when a train stops where should he be, on the platform? - If a train was about to stop at the Level his post would be on the platform. How would he get intimation that a train was to stop there? - He has telegraphic apparatus in his cabin, showing whether there is a train on the line or not. He would know if a train had left Churston. Would that communicate whether it was going to stop or not? - No, it would not. Then how would he know? - He would not know except by the engine shutting off steam and slackening speed some distance away from the cabin. He would not know by apparatus? - No. There would be no direct communication giving him this information? - No. Did he form part of your staff? - Yes. The Foreman: Did he always know whether there was a train going to stop at the Level on the outward journey or not? - No, he would not know that it was going to stop until it shut off steam. If it commenced to slacken down he would know. That applies to trains from Churston and from Kingswear. A Juryman: He is termed "gateman" by you. - Yes, that is what we call him. - Then has he anything to do with the signals or only with the gate? - Witness explained that he had to work the signals which indicated whether the Crossing was clear or not. Where are the levers? - In his cabin. On which side? - On the right-hand side of the line going up from Kingswear. The platform is on the opposite side. The Foreman: Then he would have to cross the line to get from his cabin to the platform? - Yes. Would he be doing his duty if a train was passing, to cross from that signal box? - What do you mean? Would he have to go to the platform to make a signal to the engine driver? - No, certainly not. All his signals are worked by means of the levers in the cabin. He makes the road clear and then he can look out for the train. After getting the signals right, if he sees a train is about to stop, there is no reason why he should not be on the platform. The Coroner: About what distance from the cabin would he first see the down train? - I should think when it was about a quarter mile away. A Juryman: It is simply running down a gradient there. How would he get to know the train is going to stop? - I think they run under steam there. - The Coroner: You can get all that better from the engine-driver. Witness: It would be possible to tell in that distance whether the train was about to stop or not. The gates at the Crossing would be all right and the gateman would have nothing to do with anything then but the train. He would be quite free from anything connected with the gates. A Juryman: I should like to ask if it is an understood thing that the gateman must be always on the platform when a train passes. - I should think it would be unnecessary if the train is not going to stop, but if it is going to bring up he would have to be on the platform to see that the carriage doors are closed and all that sort of thing. And there is no fixed definite plan indicating to the man whether the train is going to stop or not? The Coroner: Except his own observation. That seems clear. - Edward Wallbridge, able seaman belonging to H.M.S. Britannia, said he knew the deceased and saw him on Saturday last at the signal box at the Level Crossing. The Coroner: At what time? - I could not say the exact time, but I should think just before eight, or thereabouts. What were you there for? - I went there for the evening papers sir. Now what happened. Just tell us in your own words. - I went into the signal box to sign for the evening papers. As I turned round to look out at the door I saw the train nearing the Level. - The Coroner: The down train? - Yes. Deceased was in the box then, with me. What happened? - Deceased went out of the box to see if the train was going to stop, and seeing it was going to stop he made an attempt to jump across the line sir. As he got halfway between the rails the engine knocked him down. Now was the engine slackening speed? - Yes, sir. Did the train pass over him? - Yes. - About how much? - The engine and tender, and I should think the second or third coach - perhaps about 100 ft. Then the train was pulled up promptly? - Yes. Did you see any more? What did you do? - As soon as I saw him knocked down by the train I turned round and shouted for help. Do you think people on the engine heard you? - No, sir. I called for help and two marines came down from the Rock. One went to the engine driver and told him not to move the engine and the other helped me to get him out from underneath the train. What was his appearance then? - One leg was hanging off, and that was nearly all you could see sir. - Crushed you mean, I suppose? - Yes. Then what occurred? - There were two officers belonging to the Britannia getting out. They asked me what had happened and I told them a man had been knocked down by the train. They told me to go straight for the doctor on board the Britannia and I took them off to the ship and did so. I brought him back with me. The doctor dressed his foot as well as he could, and then told me to get a stretcher from the Britannia. On that deceased was then conveyed to the Cottage Hospital. Did you assist in taking him there? - No, sir. I returned to the ship.

Was the deceased conscious at the time? - He was talking about the mail coming down and said he had to look out for it. What, after you picked him up? - No, before. How far was the train away when he tried to cross the line in front of it? - I could not say, sir. The Foreman: Was it far from the platform? - Not far, sir. He was making for the higher end of the platform to get up the steps there. A Juryman: How far was the train away when you thought it was going to stop when you noticed it slacken down? - About 100 feet I should say. Then when he saw she was going to stop, the man made an attempt to get over. You had no intimation the train intended to stop there? - No, sir. Is it a usual thing for the papers to be passed out there? - Yes, sir. I should like to ask if he can give any explanation as to why the man was so late in going across. - I should think the man was hesitating to see whether the train was going to stop or not. And then jumped in front of it! - Yes. The Coroner: Do you think your company in the box diverted his attention at all from the train? - No, sir. I walked in and simply said "Good evening." Then I went over to sign the book, and, looking out, I saw the train coming down the line. The gates were right for the train I suppose? - Yes. He would not know the train was going to stop until it slackened down? - No - James Edward James, stoker, on the Great Western Railway Company, and residing at Kingswear, deposed that on Saturday, 21st, he was stoker of the train due at Kingswear, at 7.50 p.m. The Coroner: You would leave Churston at 7.40. Did you leave punctually?: - I can't say sir. Was an intimation conveyed to the engine driver that he must stop the train at the Level Crossing? - Yes, that was given him at Churston. The Coroner: You all know gentlemen the purpose for which the trains stop there. It is for the convenience of the Britannia. We don't want to take that in evidence. (To the Witness) As you came towards the Level Crossing did you slacken speed? - Yes, sir. The orders were to stop with the last coach but one alongside the platform. How many coaches were there on the train? - Nine, sir. And the length would be? - From 200 to 300 ft., I should think. I am not sure. When you began to slacken speed how far were you from the Crossing? - About a quarter mile sir. Does the train blow off steam as it nears the Level to indicate that it is going to stop? - We blew the whistle sir as we approached the Crossing. To indicate that you were going to stop? - Yes. How far away? - About a quarter mile. As you approached did you notice anything? - Yes, as we were nearing the Crossing I saw the signalman come out from his box and rush along in front of the train. We were from five to eight feet away from him. He was trying to get across the line in front of the engine. Then your engine would be abreast of the platform? - Yes, within a yard or two. Did you say or do anything? - Yes sir. I shouted to my mate there was a man in front of us and I went across the other side to see whether he got out or not. I saw nothing of him. What then? - As he had not come out we pulled up at once. You didn't feel any jolt, or anything of that kind? - No. We felt nothing sir. Now in your judgment was the train approaching the platform at a proper rate of speed to carry out your directions to stop at the Crossing? - Yes sir. That is, to stop when the last coach but one was abreast of the platform? - Yes sir. The name of the engine driver is James Marshall? - Yes. Have you been up and down this line any length of time? - No, only about three weeks. A Juryman: How far away were you when you shut off steam? - We didn't steam for a mile above the siding. What did you blow the whistle for? - For the Level Crossing. What, to stop? - No sir, for the Crossing. You do it whether you stop or not? - Yes sir. The Foreman: Have you stopped at the Crossing before? - Yes. And where was the gateman every time you stopped? - On the platform on every occasion. To attend to the carriages. - Yes. - John Harvey, Acting Guard residing at Kingswear, said he was guard of the train in question on Saturday evening. It was due to leave Churston at 7.41 and left at 7.43. The Coroner: Are you aware that an intimation was conveyed to the engine driver to stop at the Level Crossing? - Yes sir, at Churston. The last coach but one? - Yes. Can you give me an idea of the length of the train? - About 100 yards. What has your experience on this line been? Have you been up and down a good many times? - Yes sir. I have had 20 years experience of the working of this branch. And acted as guard on many occasions? - Yes. Did you see anything of the occurrence by which deceased met his death? - I didn't see it happen. I saw him afterwards. As a matter of fact can you tell me what coach was opposite the platform when the train stopped? - The fourth coach sir; at the centre very nearly. And there were nine coaches altogether? - Yes. What did you do? did the fact that the train stopped before it should have done, convey an impression that something was wrong? - Yes. The train stopped before it ought and I looked out to signal the driver to move on again. Seeing the Driver running back I got out and ran towards him. I knew then there must be something wrong. I saw deceased was not on the platform. What did you find? - I found he was underneath the train. Did you have any conversation with him? - He could not speak sir. I left him in charge of the men there, and took the train down to Kingswear. A Juryman: Who gets the order to stop the train, the driver or the guard? - Sometimes the guard, sometimes the driver. He is told which part of the train the passengers are in. The Foreman: From the signal-box to the rear of the train, after it was stopped, how far was it? - I should think about fifteen yards. Then if he did not cross in front, if he wanted to get to the platform he would have to go back fifteen yards? - Yes, about that. Do you generally find him on the platform? - Yes, when the trains are stopping. He assists the guard. - James Marshall, engine driver in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company, said he resided at Kingswear. - The Coroner: You have no objection to give evidence with regard to this matter, I presume? - Not at all sir. How many years experience have you had? - Nearly thirty. On this piece of line? - No, sir. - How long have you been down here? - Nearly three weeks. You acted as driver of the train due to leave Churston for Kingswear at 7.41 p.m. on Saturday? - Yes. Did you at Churston receive an intimation that the train must be stopped at the Level Crossing? - Yes. Witness here handed in the official notice, which ran this: "G.W.R. Churston Station, July 21st. 1900. to the driver of the 6.50 from Newton. You are hereby requested to stop at the Kingswear Level Crossing to set down passengers. H.Y. Adye, Divisional Supt." - The Coroner: What coach? - The last coach but one. You shut off steam when? - Before entering the tunnel, sir. As you came in sight of the Crossing, did you blow? - Yes, we sounded the whistle. That was about a quarter of a mile from the Crossing, the others say. - Yes, about that. Were you then slackening? - Not at that time. I ran down fifty or sixty yards further after sounding the whistle and sounded it again. Then I applied the brakes to slacken the speed of the train. What speed do you think you were going at the time? - I should think about five miles an hour. Five or six miles at the outside. At the time you put on the brakes? - Yes sir. Then I took the brakes off to allow the train to come in to the platform. Did the stoker speak to you? - The engine was about halfway past the platform when the stoker said to me: "We have knocked down a man". Was that the first time you knew there was anything on the line? - Yes. What did you do? - I applied the brake again and stopped the train as soon as possible. I also reversed the engine to bring the train to a standstill quicker. Within about what distance did you stop then? - I should think about 30 yards. Then did you get off your engine and go back? - Yes sir. And you saw deceased under the train? - Yes. What part of the train? - Just about the leading end of the fourth coach. In your opinion as an engine driver of many years experience, were you approaching the platform at a proper rate of speed? - Yes sir. I could stop the engine at the time sir. You were going on to bring carriages to their proper place at the platform. - Yes. As a matter of fact you never saw deceased until you found him under the train? - No. I saw nobody in front of the train. I could only catch sight of his signal-box from my side for a few yards and then I could not see it. The stoker was on the best side to see him. Have you within the last three weeks stopped at this platform before? - Yes sir. - Several times? - Yes. A Juryman: Where did you shut off steam? - Before entering the tunnel. I should like to ask why the driver sounded his whistle the second time? - Because I could see no-one there. I saw nobody looking out for the train. Do you let the signalman know when your train is going to stop? - No, I have no instructions with regard to that. I have my orders to bring up; that is all. - James Edward James, recalled, said deceased was six or eight feet away from the engine when he tried to cross in front. - Dr A. K. Crossfield, practising at Dartmouth: On Saturday I received information that someone had been run over by a train at the Level Crossing. The time was then about 8.30. I started at once and met deceased at the bottom of Ridge Hill. I went on to the Hospital to see that everything was ready. At the Hospital I examined him and found that his left leg was crushed off almost up to the knee joint. The heel of his right foot was crushed off almost to the ankle. There were some cuts and abrasions on the head and face. Finding he was an employee of the Great Western Railway Company I at once sent for Dr Davson, since he attends Great Western men. He came immediately and asked me to go on with the case. In conjunction with Dr Harris, and Dr Davson, I amputated the left leg at the thigh and attended to the other injuries. Dr Davson and I remained with him almost until he died, early on Sunday morning. The Coroner: Did the deceased give any account of how the accident occurred? - None at all. Was he in a state of collapse? - Yes quite. I attribute death to shock, the result of the injuries. I suppose it was a hopeless case? - Yes, I thought so. The Coroner said that was all the evidence he had to lay before the Jury, and he thought it would be sufficient to enable them to arrive at a conclusion. He did not know whether they wished for an adjournment. - The Jury replied in the negative. Summing up the Coroner said the facts were simple. It appeared to have been part of the duty of the unfortunate man to go from the signal box to the platform when the trains stopped to set down passengers. On the occasion in question he should have been on the platform. He started across too late and was caught by the engine. What had previously engaged his attention it was impossible to say. There was no direct evidence on the point. From the evidence of the stoker, which there was no reason to doubt, it was quite clear that he crossed six or eight feet in front of the engine. Of course the engine driver was the responsible official, but, so far from being to blame, it seemed to him that he took every precaution. He shut off steam, blew his whistle twice, and was bringing in his train at six miles an hour, or possibly a little less. Directly he had an intimation of the accident he stopped the train within thirty yards, by applying the brakes and reversing the engine. The train consisted of nine coaches. The driver had received his instructions to bring the last coach but one to the platform. When the train stopped the fourth coach was there, showing that he had the train well in hand. It seemed to him (the Coroner) that the question naturally arose whether some more efficient means could not be provided for giving the gateman due notice that a train was about to stop at the level. All he had to trust to under the present circumstances was his own observation o the train after it came into sight, a quarter mile away from the signal-box. Having regard to the fact that trains were sometimes late, that it was sometimes very dark, and now and then foggy, he was not going to say that better information as to trains about to stop at the level could not be given. The Jury had to say whether there was any blame attaching to anyone. The engine driver was the only one they could possibly have blamed, for he was in charge of the engine, but the evidence clearly showed that not the slightest blame could attach to him, for he had acted as a prudent and careful driver would. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death," and several of their number expressed the opinion that the Great Western Company should provide a means of giving the gateman better notice when a train was to stop at the crossing. Mr Abrahams, on behalf of the company, said he wished to take that opportunity of thanking the Britannia for the prompt and efficient manner in which they rendered first aid - (hear, hear). It was just possible their action might have saved the man's life, though unfortunately it did not do so.

Friday 17 August 1900

BRIXHAM - Drowned Near Brixham. - At an Inquest held on Tuesday on WM. CHAS. SEABROOKE, found drowned at Broadsands, on Saturday, Mr C. Jefferd, manager of the Devon and Cornwall Bank, said deceased was a bank apprentice at his office, and a native of Liskeard. Deceased was in the habit of bathing with him, and he had never known him to bathe alone before breakfast. Deceased could not swim. - By the Coroner: Broadsands was not reputed as a dangerous bathing place. He had never seen any lifebuoy or life-saving apparatus there. - The Coroner: There should be some at every bathing place. Nellie Collings said deceased left his lodgings on Saturday morning at twenty minutes to seven to bathe. He went away on his bicycle. Gilbert Tully, of Elbury Farm, said he saw deceased floating on the water with his face downward in about 3ft. of water, ten or twelve feet from the shore. He had on a bathing dress and his clothes were on the beach. The tide was ebbing and it was quite calm. His labourer went into the water and pulled the body ashore. They tried artificial respiration, but could get no signs of life. A verdict of "Accidentally Drowned while Bathing" was returned and the Foreman (Mr C. B. Bulgin) was requested to convey a vote of condolence to the bereaved family.

Friday 21 September 1900

TORQUAY - An Overdose Of Laudanum. - MRS START, a lady of independent means, living at Lamberhurst, Cleveland-road, Torquay, sent her domestic servant to Badham and Sloman, chemists, to buy a bottle of laudanum to ease the pain of toothache from which she had suffered severely. Soon after the domestic returned, MRS START requested her to fetch a second bottle, informing the servant that she had spilt the other. Subsequently MRS START was found in an unconscious state, having taken an overdose of laudanum. A medical man was summoned, but she did not regain consciousness and died in the evening. At the Inquest a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

Friday 7 December 1900

DARTMOUTH - Fatal Accident At Silver Street. Living Twelve Hours With A Broken Neck. - On Friday night a pensioner named JOSEPH SHEARMAN SMITH, residing at Silver-street, fell heavily while going upstairs to bed, and was picked up by his son in an unconscious condition. He afterwards rallied and was not considered by the son to be seriously ill, though there was a cut on the back of his head, which was bleeding freely. Next morning there was a change for the worse and a doctor was summoned, but before he could arrive death had ensued. The doctor's examination showed that deceased had broken his neck and that nothing could have saved his life after the accident had happened. - The Inquest was held on Monday morning by Mr R. W. Prideaux at the Guildhall. Mr G. S. K. Ackrell was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who first proceeded to view the body. Curiously enough one of the Jurors, in descending the narrow stairs on which deceased fell, slipped and narrowly escaped a heavy fall. The following evidence was taken:- Alice Pillar, sworn, said she resided at the Britannia Inn, Clarence Street. - The Coroner: You were acquainted with the deceased? - Yes. - The Coroner: On Saturday, December 1st. what happened? Were you called to the house? - No, I was not called, I know nothing of what took place on the Saturday. The Coroner: Then what evidence have you to give? - Deceased came into our house on Friday night about a quarter to nine. The Coroner: Is she one of the last who saw him alive? - P.C. Berry said she was the last who saw deceased before the accident. The Coroner: Did he appear in his usual health when he came to your house? - Yes. The Coroner: And he left about what time? - Twenty minutes to ten, I should think. The Coroner: Did he then appear to be quite right? - Yes, sir. - JAMES SMITH, son of the deceased, identified the body. His father, he said, resided with him at Silver Street, and was a shipwright by trade, as also was witness, though he did not now work at his trade. - The Coroner: What was his age? - Seventy-four. At this stage witness burst into tears. The Coroner: When did you last see him alive? - On Saturday morning, December 1st. The Coroner: About what time? - I am not quite sure. Off and on we were up all night with him. The Coroner: When did the accident occur? - On Friday night, sir. The Coroner: Did you see him at all on Friday night? - Yes. He was in good health when I saw him go out about eight o'clock, after having his tea. The Coroner: What was the next thing that happened? Were you called to him or did you find him? - I was in bed when he came back. We always leave the light burning in the kitchen. I heard him come in all right. The Coroner: About what time? - Half-past ten, I should think, or thereabouts. The Coroner: And what then? - He took off his boots. The next thing I heard was a fall. The Coroner: Did you hear him coming upstairs? - No, sir. He had his boots off. After he came in the next thing I heard was the fall. The Coroner: And then? - I got out of bed and opened my door. I saw him lying in the stairs with his head down. He was about three or four stairs from the bottom. The Coroner: You picked him up? - Yes, we got him upstairs, laid him down and bathed his head. The Coroner: Did you send for the doctor? - No, sir, we didn't think it was so serious as all that. We bathed his head, where there was a cut, and stopped the bleeding. The Coroner: Was he insensible? - Yes. The Coroner: And then did you remain up with him all night? - We bathed his head and put some sticking plaister on the cut, and then he came round. We asked him whether he would have a cup of tea and he said yes. The Coroner: What times was that? - Just after eleven. We gave him the tea, and he was able to drink it all right. The Coroner: And what about the night - did matters go on in this way all night? - Off and on we were up with him, but I didn't think there was anything serious the matter with him. I didn't think it was serious enough to call a doctor for or I should certainly have done so at once. The Coroner: And in the morning? - He slept until about half-past six in the morning. Then a cup of tea was taken up to him and he drank it. The next I know was that when I was down having my breakfast "missis" said to me: "Your father is worse than you think he is. You had better call Mrs Ball." This I did at once. Mrs Ball came and said I had better get a doctor. I sent for one. The Coroner: What time was that? - About half-past eight, I should think. The Coroner: A change was noticed? - Yes. The Coroner: Were you there when the doctor arrived? - I don't know sir. I think I was out. They sent out for me after my father died. The Coroner: After you were told by Mrs Ball you had better get a doctor you didn't see him again alive? - No, sir. The Coroner: What time did you come in, do you think? - I should think it must have been about half-past nine. Dr Crossfield: I was not there until half past nine or after. The Coroner asked whether any of the Jury wished to ask witness any questions and several queries were put to him. Was there any light in the stairs? - The candle-stick was at the bottom. It seemed as though he was carrying it up with him. In what way do you suppose he fell? - I found him with his head downwards. He was three or four stairs from the bottom. In what position was he lying? - He was on his back. Didn't it occur to you that a man falling in that position might hurt himself very seriously, particularly as he fell on his head? Didn't it occur to you that you should have called a doctor at once? - I didn't know then that he had fallen on his head. He was an old man and once he fell down he could not very well move again to get up. He must have fallen on the back of his head? - Yes, but neither of us thought it was serious enough to send for a doctor. We did what we thought best for him. If I had thought it was so serious I would certainly have got a doctor at once. We thought that after he had had a good sleep he would probably be better. But with regard to the next morning, when you were told it was a more serious matter than you thought, didn't you think it was your duty to go for a doctor immediately? Didn't you think it was your place to go for a doctor and urge him to come with you at once? - Yes, I suppose I did. Then I should like to ask another question, as there are certain reports about the town, how many times did you go or send for the doctor? - Three times I think it was. If I had thought it was so serious I would have gone myself at once. What was the time when you were told it was serious? - I should think about seven in the morning or it might have been after that. The Coroner: Did I understand there was a light in the downstairs' room when he came in that night? - Yes. The Coroner: And he was probably taking it with him to bed? - Yes. Mary Randall, questioned by the Coroner, said she resided in the same house as deceased and the last witness. The Coroner: When did you see deceased last? - He went out about nine o'clock. The Coroner: On Friday night? - Yes. The Coroner: And was he then in his usual health? - Yes, so far as I know. I saw nothing the matter with him. The Coroner: What then? - He came home about half past ten. I was upstairs then. I heard him close the door. Shortly afterwards I heard him fall in the stairs. The Coroner: Was the candle left lighted downstairs? - yes, it always is left for him on the table. The Coroner: From the time you heard him come in and shut the door, and the time you heard him fall, how long had elapsed do you think? - I should think five minutes or about that. The Coroner: And then? - I heard the deceased's son rush out and say "Father is over the stairs." The Coroner: Did you go out as well? - Yes, I went out to help him. We lifted him up and got him upstairs. He was unconscious then, but he came round soon afterwards. When we found him he was lying with his head downwards. The Coroner: How far from the bottom? - I should think about three or four stairs up. The Coroner: With the assistance of his son you got him upstairs, and laid him down, and what did you find? - I found his head cut across the side. Blood was oozing from the cut, and I put some sticking plaister over it. After a short time the bleeding stopped, and I then got him a cup of tea and he came round again and was able to answer us. The Coroner: Did he say how it occurred? - No, sir. I saw no danger in his condition then. I never thought he had hurt himself seriously. The Coroner: One or the other of you stayed with him that night? - Yes, sir. I was afraid the cut would bleed again. The Coroner: Then with reference to the morning? - I made some tea at half-past six and he had a cup. Then I fried the breakfast and took his upstairs, but he said he could not eat it, though he would have some tea. That was about a quarter to eight I think. Then I saw that a great change had come over him. He drank the tea. I called his son and told him that his father was worse than he thought. I asked him to call Mrs Ball and he did so. She came and spoke to the deceased. She said we had better have a doctor. We sent the daughter for one. Then the deceased had another cup of tea. Mrs Ball held him up while he drank it. The Coroner: Had the doctor arrived then? - He hadn't come by that time. We saw further change in him and sent for the doctor again. Deceased had just died when the doctor arrived. He had been dead about five or ten minutes. The Coroner: What time did he die? - About ten minutes past nine. He was quite conscious and told us not to send for a doctor. He asked us not to do so in fact. The Coroner: Do any members of the Jury wish to ask this witness any questions? - How long was it from the first time you sent for the doctor until the last time (the third time I think it was said)? - I am not sure. When did you send for him first? - About a quarter or ten minutes to eight I should think. About an hour and a half, or something like that before he died? - Yes. And he was dead when the doctor came? - Yes. We had shifted him - Mrs Ball and I - and then he altered at once. Was the deceased a cripple? - Yes. He used often to slip in the stairs. That was one reason why we did not think so much of it. He had slipped before and got right again. Dr A. K. Crossfield: On Saturday, December 1st, about half-past nine, I was told that somebody wanted to see me. I saw a person who was the grand daughter of the deceased, I believe. She told me she wanted me to see her grandfather as soon as I could. I asked her what was the matter, and she said he had fallen the night before and cut his head. The Coroner: You went? - Yes, I was in the house before ten o'clock. I examined the deceased and found a small lacerated wound on the left side of the back of the head, but there was no fracture of the skull, and this wound was not sufficient to account for death. I then examined his neck and found there was a dislocation of the sixth joint down from the skull. That, in my opinion, was the cause of death. The Coroner: If you had been summoned immediately after deceased had fallen could his life have been saved? - No, it was a fatal accident from the very first. The Coroner: And beyond medical skill? - Yes. The Coroner: You have heard the evidence of the earlier witnesses, who state how they found him lying in the stairs. Would a fall in the stairs such as that described be sufficient to account for the injury? - Yes. The Coroner: You have attended the deceased before, I believe? - Yes. Questions by the Jury - You were not called before half past nine, doctor? - Yes, that was about the time. And you saw the deceased about ten? - Yes, I was in the house before that. The Juror said he had asked these questions because there was a rumour abroad that the doctor was called but did not go. He had, by questioning the other witnesses and the doctor, with regard to the time he was called, succeeded in showing there had been no dereliction of duty on the doctor's part. Another Juror asked Dr Crossfield how long deceased had been dead before he arrived. _ I daresay only a few minutes possibly. Would it be possible for a man to live a few hours after sustaining dislocation such as you have stated? - Yes, quite. He might live for two or three days. Summing up the Coroner said this appeared to be a very simple case. The deceased was an old man and a cripple. He came in on Friday night after the other inmates of the house had gone to bed and they heard him downstairs. Shortly after they had heard him shut the door they heard a fall, and coming down found him lying unconscious in the stairs, with a cut on the back or side of his head. The candlestick was there, so in all probability deceased was lighting himself up when he fell. There was not the least doubt that there was an error of judgment committed in not sending for the doctor at once. At the same time the deceased had fallen down before and the son did not think he was seriously hurt. At the most it was but an error of judgment and next morning when there was a change for the worse the doctor was sent for. Dr Crossfield had further simplified the case. He told them that the accident was fatal from the very first, and that the deceased could not possibly have recovered, and he also stated that there was nothing unusual in the deceased having lived for some hours after the fall. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death.

Friday 11 January 1901

NEWTON ABBOT - Died After A Presentation. - Mr Coroner S. Hacker held an Inquest at the Queen's Hotel, Newton, as to the death of Ex Inspector JOHN MURRIAN (well known at Dartmouth and the neighbourhood) who died shortly after receiving a presentation at the Newton G.W.R. Station on Sunday afternoon last. MISS MABEL MURRIAN stated that the deceased was her father, and had retired from the Railway about six months. He had been in bad health, and frequently complained of pains in his head. On Sunday afternoon he left home for the Station on the occasion of a presentation, and appeared to be much excited. Later on he was brought home in a cab, and was put to bed. He appeared to be asleep, and witness raised his head a little, when he gave a sigh and died. Wm. Coleman said the deceased was taken ill at the presentation, and had to be taken home in a cab. Dr. R. H. Grimbly said that the deceased had an attack of cerebral haemorrhage about six months ago and in his opinion death was caused by a return of the same, caused by the excitement of the presentation. Verdict accordingly.

Friday 1 March 1901

NEWTON ABBOT - Suicide At Newton. - Mr Coroner S. Hacker held an Inquest at Newton on Saturday afternoon on the body of WILLIAM HENRY STRANGER, aged sixty-three years, a manure agent, of 109 Queen Street, Newton, who committed suicide in a tank the previous day. EMILY STRANGER, the widow, said deceased had been unwell for some time and under the doctor's care. He had recently been made a bankrupt, about which he seemed to worry. Not a long time ago deceased said it was just as well to be dead as living, and it was just as well to "make a hole in the water." She did not know anything about his difficulties until Christmas last. Deceased was smoking a cigarette when she went out, and witness said she shouldn't be long. When she returned at five, witness suspected something was wrong, and summoned help. Abraham William Reeves, of 117 Queen Street, bootmaker, deposed to being called and to finding deceased in the tank, floating in about four feet of water, face downwards. His daughter went to the house on business between twenty and half-past four and could get no answer. Dr Grimbly stated that deceased had been to his surgery off and on for a few weeks. He told witness about business troubles which were affecting his mind. Richard Smerdon Edgecombe, solicitor's clerk, stated that deceased was dreading his public examination. A verdict of "Suicide while Temporarily Insane" was returned, and the Jury passed a vote of condolence with the widow.

Friday 15 March 1901

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At South Ford. Inquest Today. - At the Guildhall, this morning, Mr R. W. Prideaux held an Inquest touching the death of MARY BAKER. RICHARD BAKER, mason, Iris Cottage, South Ford Road, identified the body as that of his wife, age 58. She was in her usual health when he left home for work at five o'clock on Thursday morning. At 12.30 he was told by his son she was dead. ELLEN KATE BAKER, daughter of the first witness, said her mother remained in bed that morning, though she did not complain of being ill. She found her dead in bed soon after twelve. She was very stout and experienced difficulty in getting upstairs, owing to her breath. Dr A. K. Crossfield attributed death to natural causes, probably fatty degeneration of the heart, and a verdict to this effect was returned by the Jury, of whom Mr C. H. Moses was Foreman.

Friday 12 April 1901

DARTMOUTH - Inquest At Dartmouth. - An Inquest was held at the Guildhall last week touching the death of GEORGE LAVERS, whose death occurred at South town, under circumstances briefly stated in our last issue. WILLIAM LAVERS said he was a coal-lumper. He identified the body as that of his late father, who resided with him at South town, and was a carter. He was 86 years of age. On March 8th deceased fell into the fire. Witness was out at the time and was sent for. The Coroner: Was the deceased alone at the time? - No, sir. When you were told of it what did you do? - I came home as soon as I possibly could. When you saw him was he suffering from burns? - Yes. did you sent for the doctor? - At once, sir, and he has been in attendance upon him ever since. He died this (Thursday) morning a few minutes before eight. What had been the state of his health up to the time of his falling in the fire? - Very good, for a man of his years. He could move about and was in very fair health. Did he make any statement to you as to how it happened. - No, sir. Mary Ann Blamey, wife of a coal-lumper, residing in the same house as deceased and his son, deposed that on March 8th about one o'clock she was in her kitchen. She heard the deceased call out and at once ran to his bedroom. She found him with his back towards the fire holding out his hands. She screamed "fire" because she saw smoke coming from his head and moustache, and help being forthcoming deceased was immediately put to bed and his son was sent for. The Coroner: Did you notice any burns? - No, sir. Have you any knowledge as to how the accident happened? - No. Was he alone at the time/ - Yes. What was the state of his health? - He had very good health for such an old man. Dr A. K. Crossfield said he saw the deceased shortly after one o'clock. He was sent for. He found deceased in bed suffering from extensive burns. The whole of his head and neck with the exception of his face and forehead was burnt. There were also slight burns about the chest. Witness had attended him until his death. The Coroner: And to what do you attribute death? - To exhaustion, consequent upon the burns. And his great age, I suppose. - Yes. The Jury, without hesitation, returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 19 April 1901

KINGSWEAR - Inquests At The Royal Dart. Sudden Death. - At the Royal Dart Hotel, last evening, Mr S. Hacker, held an Inquest touching the death of PERCY COLMER BINMORE, aged 20. Mr t. Abrahams was chosen Foreman of the Jury. SARAH EMMA BINMORE, wife of MR H. C. BINMORE, R.N., spring Bank, deposed that the deceased, who was her second son, had suffered from epileptic fits from his infancy. On Tuesday he was apparently in his usual health and spirits. He went to bed about a quarter past ten. His brother, aged 13, was sleeping in the same room. Nothing was heard during the night and in the morning at 8.45 she went to call deceased to breakfast and found him lying with his face buried in the pillow. HENRY COLMER BINMORE, R.N., father of the deceased, said when called by MRS BINMORE he found him dead. He hadn't an atom of doubt he had had a fit. There was every appearance of it. HENRY ARMSTRONG BINMORE, aged 13, said he went to bed before his brother and awoke at half-past seven, and went down. He did not look at his brother and assumed he was asleep. Dr J. H. Harris deposed that he had attended deceased for the past twelve years for epilepsy. Nothing could be done for him in any way. He was called to the house on Wednesday morning. Deceased was in a crouched position. The back was arched, and the limbs were drawn up. Apparently he died in a fit and was not smothered. The Coroner: That is unusual, isn't it? - Dr Harris: No, you often find it so in chronic epilepsy. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

KINGSWEAR - The Surbiton Drowning Case. Three Men Saved By A Fireman. - Immediately after the above, a second Inquest was held, this time upon the body of JAMES PETTIGREW, aged 29, second mate of the collier Surbiton. Mr Hayne Smith represented the relatives. Evidence of identification was given by Thomas Evans, chief officer of the Surbiton. He knew it was deceased by his cardigan jacket, trousers and boots. The Coroner: You are quite certain; you don't think there can be any mistake? - No. I am quite certain. Witness proceeded that on Monday, February 26th, the Surbiton was lying alongside a hulk in Dartmouth harbour. Seven of the crew, witness and deceased included, had been ashore that night, and were going off to the vessel about half-past eleven in a shore boat. They took the boat from alongside the quay. It was blowing pretty stiff at the time, and the tide was running in strongly. The boat was found to be leaking. The Foreman: Whose boat was it? - I don't know. The Coroner: Tell me what happened. Witness said they saw the boat would go down, and on reaching the hulk he gave one of the men a lift up, when the boat literally went from underneath them. The Coroner: Did it capsize? - Witness: No, it was swamped. The Foreman: And did you all go into the water? - Yes, all but the one I helped to get on the hulk. I saw nothing more of the deceased. A rope was thrown to us, and we hung on. Deceased did not get hold of the rope. The Coroner: There were six in the water. how many got hold of the rope? - Two, sir; and two swam round to the hulk's moorings. The Coroner: Do you know whether deceased could swim or not? - I don't know. The Coroner: How did you go ashore then? - In one of the coaling boats. The Coroner: And you came back in any boat you could get hold of? - We thought it was the same boat; it was moored in the same place. The Foreman: A sort of a trap. The Coroner: Don't you use the ship's boats? - As our boat was ashore, we paid for another one. Replying to the Coroner, Mr Hayne Smith said deceased belonged to Glasgow. His father was on his way to Dartmouth. A reward of £5 had been offered for the recovery of the body. George Clements, a coloured fireman, also identified the body. When the boat went down witness got on the hulk, and threw a line which three men got hold of. He got them up. He saw deceased, and flung a rope to him four times, but deceased failed to catch it. He also threw four baskets towards him. He knew the bottle of whisky, produced, was in deceased' s pockets; also that he had a knife and tobacco like that produced. The Coroner: Was it anybody's fault? - No, sir. Captain Davies, sworn, said he could swear to a Queen of Diamonds found in the deceased's pockets. The men took another boat because it saved the trouble of bringing back the ship's boat directly. William Passmore, of Dittisham, proved finding the body near Noss Point yesterday morning while rowing from Dittisham to Noss. A Juryman asked if the men were sober. -s The Chief Officer replied in the affirmative. A verdict of Accidental Drowning was returned.

Friday 17 May 1901

DARTMOUTH - Swing-Boat Fatality At Dartmouth. The Proprietor And His Precautions. Censure By The Jury. - At the Guildhall on Monday morning, the Deputy Coroner (Mr P. R. Hockin) held an Inquest touching the death of JOHN SMITH, an able-seaman. The Jury first proceeded to view the body, lying at the mortuary. Charles Robert Hall, of the ship's police stationed on board H.M.S. Britannia, said the deceased was an able seaman, serving on board that ship. He was 23 years of age, and joined the Britannia on June 9th, 1899. He went on leave at 4.30 p.m. on Friday. He was a single man. Sidney Scattergood, able-seaman, serving on board the Britannia, said he went on shore with the deceased on Friday afternoon. They had a walk on the Kingswear side, and deceased then crossed to Dartmouth, while witness went on board the Britannia again. About 8.15 p.m. witness again went ashore, and met the deceased at the Queen's Hotel. They had one drink together, and went straight to the New Ground to the horses. After that they went to the swing-boats close by and got into one of the boats. The Coroner: Both in the same boat? - Yes, sir. Were you two alone? - No, sir; there were two other bluejackets in the next boat. Describe what occurred. They started the boat. Deceased was standing up, and I had my back to him. Were you standing or sitting? - Standing. I didn't see him fall out. I saw a crowd running, and when I looked round the man was on the ground. Was that how your attention was first directed to it? - Yes. Didn't you notice anything wrong with the boat, any lightening of the boat, or something of that kind? - Nothing sir. The first thing that drew your attention was the crowd? - Yes. Did he give any cry? - I didn't hear anything; he might have done. I think he must have been giddy after riding on the horses. How long had you been in the boat before this happened? - Hardly a minute. When you saw him lying on the ground, what did you do? - They stopped the boat, sir, and I got down as quickly as possible, and went to him. He was insensible by the time I reached him. We took him to a chemist's shop, then the police got a stretcher and we took him to the Cottage Hospital. I want to know, as a matter of fact, did he speak or regain consciousness, as far as you know? - Not that I am aware of sir. You saw him after his admission to the Hospital? - I helped to carry him there. Questions by the Jury: How high had you swung the boat? - About half-way up, I should think. You say your back was towards the deceased. Though you could not see him, do you seriously mean to tell the Jury the first intimation you had of his falling out was from the crowd? - Yes. Didn't you feel any difference in the boat that would tell you something had happened. - No. Did anyone caution you about standing up, or anything of the kind? - No. Did the deceased appear quite sober? - Yes. How many rounds did he have on the horses? - I know he had several. About the other bluejackets, were they standing or sitting? - I could not say. Had you been in the swing-boats previously, during the time they have been in Dartmouth? - No; this is only the second time I have been in such things. Had you seen other people in them? - Yes, two or three times. Did you see any standing up? - Yes. Were any of them cautioned by the proprietor, or by anyone connected with the swings? - Not that I am aware of; I heard nothing of it. You think the deceased fell out through giddiness? - Yes I do. Frank White, in the employ of Mr Heal, proprietor of the swings, deposed as follows:- The Coroner: Were you in attendance on these boats on Friday night last? - Yes, sir. Did you let the deceased and the last witness go into one of the boats? - Yes. Did you start the boat, or are the people in them able to start themselves? - I had to start them. And also you have to stop them. - Yes. And the control is, therefore, out of their hands and in yours. - Yes. You can stop the boats at any time? - Yes. Well, you started these two men. - Yes. Did you see the position in which they were? - Yes. You have heard the last witness say they were standing up and that he had his hands on the rails with his back towards the deceased, who had hold of the rope. Is that correct? - Yes, sir. How long was it before anything happened? - I should think about three minutes. Now tell the Jury what actually did happen that you saw. - They were both standing up, and the last witness must have hit the other one out over the boat. Never mind what "must have" happened. Tell us what you saw. - I saw the deceased fall out. You give it as your opinion, for what it is worth, of course, that the last witness, who had hold of the rails, must have struck the deceased out. - Yes, sir. What is the length of the boat? - About 14 ft. And they were at different ends of the boat? - Yes. One on each side? - Yes, but not very far apart, not fourteen feet, or anything like it. What did you do when he fell out? - I ran and stopped the boat, and the other bluejacket go out and ran to see the one on the ground. Before I had time to give him his change they took the deceased to the chemist's. Did you caution them against standing up? - Yes, I cautioned them three or four times, sir. Why didn't you stop the boat when you found they persisted in standing up? - I went to my master and got change, and he told me to stop the boat. I was going to do so, but the deceased fell out before I could get back. You said just now they had been riding for three minutes? - Yes, about three minutes. Were they standing up the whole time? - Yes. Then how was it you could not stop them before? - I had to get change. Did that take you three minutes? - Very nearly. How far away was your master then? - About six feet. And it took you three minutes to go six feet and get change? - Nearly. Questions by the Jury. - When you started the boat the men were stood up? - Yes. Yet you thought it your duty to start it? - Yes; I thought they were going to sit down, and I asked them to do so. How many boats are there? - Six. And you can easily look after them, and see who are standing up, and who are not? - Yes; I only have three. There are two of us. Which makes it easier still? - I suppose so, but what with getting change, and starting and stopping the boats, we are busy. Were you justified in starting the boat when these men were standing up? - No, we were not justified. Then you did an illegal act. - We were so busy, sir, and I had to get change. I started the boat, told the men to sit down, and by the time I had got change and come back deceased fell out. Did the men hear you, do you think? - I should think so sir. Yes, they did. Have you printed rules about these boats? - We are told that people must sit down, and we do our best to make them do so. The Coroner: Scattergood, who was with the deceased, says they were not told to sit down. - Yes they were; I told them. Do you think it possible for one man, standing as they were according to the evidence, to knock the other one out of the boat? - Yes. At the request of the Coroner, witness showed by means of a diagram, the exact positions occupied by the deceased and Scattergood. Practically both men, he said, had hold of one bar. They were standing sideways, across the boat. By the Jury - Have you seen people standing up in these boats before? - Yes. And what action have you taken? - We have asked them to sit down, and if they would not do so we have stopped the boat. Why did you not stop it on the present occasion? - I was about to do so when the deceased fell out. You say your master told you to stop it. Have you to go and report to him always, or can you stop the boat of your own accord? - I can stop the boats. Charles Heal, proprietor of the swing-boats, was next examined by the Coroner. Were you in attendance on Friday night when this happened? - Yes, I was close by. How far away were you standing at the time? - I was standing in the centre of the boats, only about six feet back. Did you see the witness Scattergood and the deceased go into one of the boats? - Yes. And they were started by your man Frank White? - Yes. You saw him start them, did you? - Yes. Were the two bluejackets standing up or sitting down at the time? - They were getting into the boat, sir. Please answer the question. Were they standing or sitting? - They were standing. When we are busy, they stand up, catch hold the ropes, and after a bit sit down. How long does it take you to start the boats? - Very near half a minute. Were these men standing up all the time they were in the boat? - I think they sat down once, sir, and go up again. Did you see them sitting down? - I had no opportunity. I never saw them sitting down. I had so much to look after. Whether they sat down while I was giving change I do not know. They might have. Then you have no valid reason for saying they sat down, seeing that the other witnesses say they stood up? - They might have sat down for a time. How long was your man White away from the boat? - About 2 ½ minutes. I had to give somebody else change before him. Did you see the accident occur? - I heard the boat make a row, as though something had happened and I looked round and saw the gentleman falling out. Our young man stopped the boat at once and I said to the other "Why didn't you sit down as our young man told you to?" and he replied "We weren't at any height." How do you know your young man told them to sit down? - I heard him tell them, sir. At what stage was that? Was it at the commencement? - Yes sir. You say they didn't sit down? - No, sir, they kept calling out "All right, Butty." The accident didn't happen for 2 ½ minutes. Why didn't you insist upon their sitting down? - I did, sir. We asked them several times to sit down, but they did not. Why didn't you give orders for the boat to be stopped? - I did, sir, as soon as I could, but he fell out before it could be stopped. Do you mean to tell the Jury that, in the space of three minutes you could not stop that boat to make the bluejackets sit down? - They were asked every half a minute to sit down, at least four or five times. You heard that? - Yes sir. And still gave no orders for the boat to be stopped|? - Yes, we were going to stop it, but "out he fell" before we could do so. You kept your man 2 ½ minutes giving him change. Could he not have stopped the boat in that time? - He had to wait for his change. And that caused the loss of a man's life. - They kept saying "all right, Butty" and we thought they were going to sit down. Instead of which they went on just the same as before. Questions by the Jury. - Didn't you insist upon their obeying your rules and sitting down? - Yes. Have you any check upon these boats? How high can they go? - They can only go to a certain height, and no further. They are stopped by a block at the top. They can't possibly go right up. The Coroner: Do you mean to tell the Jury there is absolute safety in this, and that the boats cannot go too high? - Yes, when people are sitting down. Further questions by the Jury. - How long would it take you to bring up a boat, going at top speed? - Nearly a minute I should think. Not much less than a minute? - Not much. You didn't take any means to stop the boat in the present instance? - No, but we were about to. It wasn't going at full force, nor anything like it. I should think it was going about half speed. It is customary for people to stand up, I think? - No, sir. We always tell them to sit down. These bluejackets were swinging in a remarkable way. There was nobody at one end of the boat? - That's right. Have you seen others swing in this way before? - Not very often. The Coroner: In the case of a man standing up, if he does not sit down what do you do? - If he says he will not sit down we stop the boats. If he still continues to stand up, and says nothing, what do you do? - If he says all right, and that he is going to sit down, we let him go on. If he doesn't sit down we should ask him again. The ride would be pretty well at an end by the time you had finished asking him I should imagine. - It all depends if we are busy. We give them five minutes sometimes; at other times not quite as much. Practically it comes to this; that it is in the hands of the people themselves whether they sit down or not. - No, sir; we tell them to sit down. The Coroner: I don't think we are likely to get any more information on this point from him, gentlemen. The Sergeant of police informs me that Mr Pillar, who witnessed the accident, is here and will give evidence if you wish. - The Jury thought he should be heard. John William Casey Pillar, said he was a licensed victualler, residing at Clarence-street. On Friday night he saw the two bluejackets riding in a swing-boat. Did you see them start? - No, sir. Were they standing up or not when you saw them? - Standing up. Explain what position they were in. - They swung the boat until they got level with the crossbar; then they both "slewed" round, and seemed to get back to back. Really speaking though, I could not quite swear both did, but certainly it was so with one of them. When the boat was at its highest the top man would be 14 feet from the ground and the other about six feet lower. Did one of them "slew" round directly they reached the cross-bar? - No; not until they were half-way down again. Do you think they did it purposely, or was it caused by the motion of the boat? - Purposely, beyond doubt. I thought it a foolish thing when I saw it done. It is the first time I have ever seen such a thing. What happened? - When the boat had gone up about two or three times I think, deceased let go suddenly and "out he went" on his face and hands. You heard what White said, that he thought Scattergood must have knocked him out; he did not suggest wilfully. - No, I don't think that; I think he fell out. Were they asked to sit down? - Yes; they were frequently appealed to, to sit. By whom? - By a woman. Has she anything to do with the show? - Yes, she is some relation to the proprietor. Did you hear White or Heal caution them? - I don't think I did; they might have done so. Did they take any notice of the woman's appeal? - Not the slightest. Tell the Jury, in your opinion, how long they were swinging. - It might have been two minutes, or perhaps three. I should say between the two. I didn't seem them enter the boat. I saw them for quite that time. Did you see anyone do anything to stop the boat? - No;, I didn't see anyone take any action until the man fell out, and then the boat was stopped. Questions by the Jury:- You suggest in your evidence that the way n which the men were swinging was dangerous. - Yes; it was very dangerous. Did White or Heal see what they were doing? - I could not say. The Coroner: You did not draw their attention to it? - No. Dr J. H. Harris: I was sent for at ten o'clock on Friday night last to go to the hospital and see a man who had fallen from a swing. I saw the deceased at the hospital lying unconscious upon a bed. He was bleeding from his nose and ears and had signs of a severe blow in the back of his head. On further examination I found he was suffering from a fracture of the base of his skull, caused evidently by a fall from a height, on the back of his head. He had no other marks of injury about him and he remained unconscious until he died twenty hours afterwards. The cause of death, in my opinion, was injury to the base of the brain produced by a fracture of the skull, caused probably by a fall. The Coroner: You have heard what the witnesses said. Would the injuries be consistent with a fall such as that described? - Yes, they would. Summing up, the Deputy Coroner said Scattergood stated that they were not told to sit down but the other witnesses said they were. White gave his opinion that Scattergood must have pushed or shoved he deceased out of the boat. He did not gather there was any suggestion that he did it wilfully. The Jury might give consideration to the point as to whether the man fell out or was accidentally pushed. Unquestionably, the evidence showed that the men were standing up during the whole time they were in the boat. The question arose as to how far the proprietor of the swings and his attendants fulfilled their duty. There was nothing illegal in standing up, unless in the opinion of the Jury it was the plain duty of the attendants to insist upon their sitting down because there was danger. If there had been negligence to perform some duty then it became a question that might resolve itself into manslaughter. The Jury might also consider whether the boat ought not to have been stopped in less than the three minutes during which the men were admittedly swinging in this dangerous fashion. The Jury retired and after a brief deliberation, returned a verdict of "Accidental Death." They exonerated Scattergood from blame, but added a rider censuring the proprietor of the swings for not adopting more stringent precautions to prevent the swings being started when people are standing up in them, and for not stopping them when people persist in standing, in defiance of his orders. Calling Heal forward, the Deputy Coroner said he had had a near shave of having a verdict of manslaughter given against him. He (Mr Hockin) and the Jury hoped he would profit by this warning and take all reasonable precautions to prevent accident in future.

Friday 14 June 1901

BRIXHAM - Sad Occurrence At Brixham. - At an Inquest at Brixham on Monday, on MARRIANNE HOLLIDAY, her mother was too ill to attend. Dr G. C. Searle said the deceased for the past month had suffered from nervous debility, hysteria and mental depression. Two or three days ago she had hallucinations about people talking about her. Deceased mixed with the best class of Brixham people. She could not sleep well, was very excitable, but had not exhibited any suicidal tendency. She seemed relieved and satisfied when he told her no one was talking about her. She lived on good terms with her mother. She was expecting news from her brother, who lived in China, but as that did not arrive, it worried her. She was at his house as a friend until late on the previous night. Her mother came to him the next (Saturday) morning, and said, "MAY is gone, and feel sure she has drowned herself." She also said deceased had been restless during the night, and must have slipped out of the house while she (the mother) was in a dead sleep. The body shewed the symptoms of drowning. Bruises were caused by being knocked about in the water. Charles Lowe, labourer, said he was going to work on Saturday morning at 3.30 when a fish hawker named Wills said he saw a woman go round the corner of Pen-lane, near his master's stable. They walked on to the stable, when they saw the woman with her hair hanging down her back and dressed in white go round the corner about 100 yards ahead of them . He sang out "Good morning," but the woman just slewed her head. She had no hat on her head. P.S. Newberry said about 11.30 on Saturday morning deceased's body was found floating in the water in a very rough sea. Two young men tried to bring her in, and one was so exhausted that P.C. Luxton had to swim out to his assistance. Two hours later a young naval seaman, Collings, and a mason, Johnston, waded out and dragged the body ashore. Deceased only had on the torn part of a dressing gown and nightdress. Her hat was found floating about one mile away from the beach. The last time the mother saw her alive was at 1.30 and at 6.30 she was missing. The Jury (Mr W. P. Wheaton, Foreman) returned a verdict of "Suicide by Drowning while Temporarily Insane."

Friday 5 July 1901

BRIXHAM - Suicide At Brixham. - At Brixham on Saturday an Inquest was held on JOHN FURNEAUX SPARKES, of Myrtle Cottage. SOPHIA SPARKES, the widow, said deceased was 72 years old and retired as a master mariner 25 years ago. Early on Saturday morning she was walking in the garden with him, because he complained of feeling unwell. While sifting some ashes she missed him, and found him in an outhouse. Seeing blood she screamed for assistance, thinking he had broken a blood vessel. Mr Matthews, who lived next door, came at once. Deceased had nothing to worry him, and they lived together on the very best terms. Charles Roger Matthews said he found deceased standing upright with his face towards the wall and holding himself up by his hand. In one hand was a knife. Deceased never spoke or groaned. Dr W. L. Meyer stated that he had treated deceased for nervous prostration caused by the delusion about the condition of his stomach. Deceased was quite dead when he arrived. There was a deep wound in the front of the neck. Death was due to suffocation and collapse from haemorrhage. A verdict of Suicide while in a state of Unsound Mind as returned.

Friday 26 July 1901

DARTMOUTH - Inquest At Dartmouth. Sudden Death Of A Child. - At the Dartmouth Guildhall, on Monday, Mr R. W. Prideaux held an Inquest touching the death of a child named HUTCHINGS, who died under circumstances detailed in the evidence given below. Mr H. Trist was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who, after viewing the body, heard the following witnesses. SARAH ANN HUTCHINGS: I am the wife of JOHN ELLIOTT HUTCHINGS, who is a labourer residing at Crowther's Hill, Dartmouth. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my late son, HARRY REGINALD HUTCHINGS, who was about three years and eight months old. The Coroner: What has been the state of the child's health since birth? - It has been bad ever since it was vaccinated, about three months from its birth. The Coroner: Can you tell me the nature of the illness? - No sir. The Coroner: Has it been in hospital? - Yes, about eighteen months ago it was in the Devon and East Cornwall Hospital for four months. The Coroner: Since then has it been at home? - Yes, sir. The Coroner: When did a medical man last attend it? - About three months ago. It had not been ill since, except that it was as usual continually ailing. The Coroner: Did it appear worse last week? - Not that I noticed. On Saturday evening I sent for a doctor. Dr Harris sent back to say he could not come, and I then sent for Dr Crossfield, who sent back a similar reply. The Coroner: didn't Dr Crossfield tell you to get a parish order? - Not then. That was before. The Coroner: He did tell you, then? - Well, I was told to get a parish order, but I didn't get it. The Coroner: Why not? - Because I didn't think the child was bad enough. The Coroner: What happened on Saturday evening? - The child died about half-past eight. - John Henry Harris, surgeon practising at Dartmouth: I attended the deceased child from the time it was four months old until two years ago. The Coroner: You heard the last witness say you attended it three months ago. Is that correct? - Not exactly. I saw the child just after it came back from the hospital, but did not attend it professionally. The child was suffering from tubercle ulceration of the hands and face. It had been in a diseased state, acute tubercle, from the time of its birth. This was the reason it was sent to the hospital, and it came back very much improved. I attribute death to syncope, in other words to natural causes. The Coroner: Do you see any necessity for a post mortem? - No. The Coroner: It is for the Jury now to say whether they wish one or not. - Through the Foreman the Jury intimated that they did not think it necessary. Dr Harris added that the child had been ill so long that in all probability the mother would not notice the change so much as if it had previously been well. She sent for a doctor when it was past eight o'clock, and the child died at half-past eight. He mentioned this to show that the mother was not to blame, since she would not be likely to notice that the child was very much worse. The Foreman: The evidence of the mother was that both Dr Harris and Dr Crossfield were sent for, but refused to attend. It does seem very strange, and a very hard thing that the mother should do this without being able to get a doctor. The Coroner: Dr Harris said he could not attend, and she went to Dr Crossfield, the parish doctor, who told her to get a parish order. A Juryman: I never heard of such an order being necessary until now. The Foreman repeated that it was hard the child should be allowed to die without a doctor having seen it, after one had been sent for. Dr Harris: It was impossible for me to go. I had other business. The Coroner briefly summing up, said the case was perfectly clear, and the only reason he had directed that an Inquest should be held was because the child had not been medically attended. If a child, of such an age as this, died without a doctor having attended it, the parents must not expect him to give them facilities for avoiding an Inquest. He did not order an Enquiry because he had any doubt in regard to the case - for he had none - but for the reasons stated. The Jury returned a verdict of Death from Natural Causes.

DARTMOUTH - Dartmouth Militiaman Drowned. - Sapper PERCY A. TOWNSEND (a native of Dartmouth), of the Royal Monmouthshire Engineer Militia, was drowned while bathing in the River Monnow, at Monmouth, whither he had gone for the annual training. At the Inquest held on Saturday, a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned. Deceased went bathing with a number of companions, and was not missed until the bathe was over, when his clothes were found on the bank. The body was interred at Monmouth Cemetery with full military honours; about 150 men of the detachment attended voluntarily, under Lieut. Gunning. The service was read by the Rev. C. F. Reeks, vicar of Monmouth.

Friday 9 August 1901

DARTMOUTH - The Fatal Accident At Victoria Road. Inquest And Verdict. - Just over three weeks ago a labourer named WILLIAM MORTIMORE, of Strete, fell from a bank in Victoria Road whilst in a fit, and was taken to the Cottage Hospital suffering from fractures of the jaw and skull. He lingered until Saturday last, and died about three o'clock on that day, without becoming fully conscious. The body was retained at the Hospital until the Inquest, which took place before Mr R. W. Prideaux, local Coroner, on Tuesday, at the Guildhall, at noon. This was somewhat unusual, as in other and recent cases of deaths at the hospital the bodies have been removed to the mortuary. The explanation is to be found in the fact that the mortuary is being re-modelled under the instructions given by the Town Council at their last meeting, and the work having been commenced just before the death of the deceased, arrangements could not be made to have the body taken there. Having viewed the remains, which were in an advanced sate of decomposition, the Jury received the following evidence: - MARY FOGWILL: I am the wife of JOHN FOGWILL, of Manor Terrace, Victoria Road, foreman fitter. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my late brother, WILLIAM MORTIMORE. He was 38 years of age, and was a mason's labourer. On July 16th, he was working for Mr Wills, of Strete, on some houses being built in Victoria Road. I live just opposite the works. I didn't see him fall, but I saw him in a fit walking towards the edge of a high bank above Victoria Road. I knew he would fall over. I went out of doors towards him, and by the time I reached the spot other men were there. I found deceased lying on the road and the others were around him. He was bleeding from his mouth and ears, and much knocked about the face. The Coroner: Did he appear then to be suffering from the effects of a fit? - Well, he was coming round then. What was done for him? - We got water and towels and bathed his head, and I asked one of the men to fetch a doctor. I took him into my house until the doctor arrived, and then he was taken to the Cottage Hospital. Has he been subject to fits? - Yes, practically all his life. And would he be liable to fall, when in a fit? - Yes, sometimes he would go down suddenly. Could you give us any idea of the height of the bank? - It was about nine feet in height. How was he lying when you saw him? - Stretched upon the ground. He fell first upon the pavement and then rolled into the road. - Sidney Northmore: I live at Lake street, and am a carpenter, in the employ of Mr Anderson. The Coroner: Mr Anderson is, I believe, a contractor with Mr Wills for the erection of these houses? - Yes. Tell us about the accident. On July 16th, was the deceased working on these houses? - Yes. Tell us what occurred. - I saw him walk towards the edge of the bank, between three and four p.m. Did you notice anything peculiar about him? - No, sir I can't say I did. How far were you from him? - About thirty feet. Then what happened? - I saw the deceased fall over the bank into Victoria Road. What did you do? - I gave the alarm, and went to him. He was lying on his right side, and was bleeding profusely, his face being covered with blood. Did he speak? - No, sir. And then? - Then I went for the doctor. I suppose, at the time he was not on the works, but walking away from the works to the bank? - Yes, sir. Questions by the Jury: Had he anything in his hand? - Only a spade. - Did his duty call him there? - Yes. Dr J. H. Harris, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth: On July 16th, I had a message to go to Victoria Road about half-past three. I saw the deceased at the house of MRS FOGWILL and was told he had had a fit, and had fallen over the bank into the roadway. He was then semi-conscious and bleeding from his left ear, and he had a compound fracture of the lower jaw. I had him removed to the Cottage Hospital and on further examination I found he had a fracture of the left side of the base of the skull. During the time he was in hospital he did not thoroughly regain consciousness. Blood poisoning set in, and he died from this on Sunday last. I last saw him alive at two o'clock on that day and was informed by the nurse that he died at three. The cause of death, in my opinion, was blood poisoning, brought on by injuries received from falling from the bank whilst in a fit. A fall, such as you have heard described, would produce the injuries, would it not? - Yes. This was the evidence offered and the Coroner said: That is all the testimony to put before the Jury, and the matter appears perfectly clear. It doesn't require any summing up on my part. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death.

Friday 30 August 1901

DARTMOUTH - Child Drowned In Dartmouth Harbour. Blown To Its Death. - A sad fatality occurred on Monday afternoon just off the higher Embankment. It was blowing half a gale off the shore all day. About the middle of the afternoon two lads named Lear and Masters saw something floating in the water, which proved to be a child. They at once gave the alarm and Mr H. Chapman, a well-known local swimmer, at one time captain of the Dartmouth Swimming Club, jumped in without hesitation and brought the body ashore. Every effort was made to restore animation but unfortunately without success. The child proved to be the son of a shipwright named WOOD, residing at Above Town. He had not been seen near the edge of the quay at all. Probably he was playing there unnoticed when a gust of wind swept him overboard to his death. The Inquest was held at the Guildhall on Tuesday by Mr P. R. Hockin, Deputy Coroner. The Jury first viewed the body and then received the following evidence:- JOHN HENRY WOOD: I reside at Above Town and am a shipwright. The deceased, HENRY PERCY WOOD, was my son. He was four years of age last September 15th. I saw him alive on Sunday evening. The Coroner: I take it you go to work early in the morning? - Yes, at six o'clock. You didn't see the child at dinner time? - I wasn't home to dinner sir. You know nothing of the circumstances connected with the accident? - No. The first you knew of it would be when you came home from work in the evening, I suppose? - Yes. You have an aunt in the town, a Mrs Carder, to whose house the child was in the habit of going? - Yes. Did the child attend school? - Yes, but there are holidays now. It used to come down to the Embankment to meet me, when I came home in the boat, in the evenings. - Julia Carder: I am the wife of J. Carder and reside at Collaford lane. I am MRS WOOD'S aunt. The deceased child was in the habit of coming to my house. I last saw him alive at half past two yesterday, at the door of my house. He was there playing with some of the children. I was in the court, and when I came out he had gone, and was at the foot of the hill. John Lear: I am a labourer and reside at Foss-street. Yesterday afternoon I was on the Embankment but I am not sure of the time. It was between half past two and five. Another youngster (Masters) and myself were sitting upon the double steps and looking into the water, when we saw something floating between the steps, under the lamp. Did that something turn out to be the body of a child? - Yes, sir. What was its position in the water? - He was lying on his side, with his head under water. So far as you could see died it come floating in from the river? - We could not tell that. What did you do? - We called a man and said there was a boy overboard. What did he do? - Jumped in after him. What distance from you was the body when you first saw it? - Six yards I should think. Out of your reach? - Yes sir. I gather you gave the alarm immediately, and there was no delay? - Yes, sir. This man got the body in at once did he? - Yes, sir. The Foreman: Did it appear to be moving at all? - No, it was perfectly still. Questions by Jurymen: Why could you not have gone in and got the body yourself? - I could not swim, sir. Do you know what was the state of the tide? - It had just turned to go out. William Masters: I am a labourer residing at Clarence-street. I was on the Embankment yesterday afternoon in company with the last witness. The Coroner: Can you fix the time? - No, sir. Between half-past two and five? Was that about it? - Yes, sir. Where had you come from? - We came across the embankment and went right to the double steps. We had been there about a minute when we saw the body. What the last witness has said is correct. We called out to a man, Mr Barber. Was he the man who jumped in? - No, sir. What did he do? - He ran over, sir and another man named Chapman jumped in and took the body out. Can you answer a question put to the last witness. Why didn't you make the attempt? - Could not swim sir. Had you both gone down the steps and joined hands, don't you think you might have reached him? - No sir. Not six or seven yards away between you. - No, sir. What was the state of the weather? - It was blowing very hard sir. A Juryman asked whether witness knew anything about the lifebuoys that were placed on the Embankment. - Witness: I never thought of it, sir. The Coroner: You knew there was a lifebuoy there? - Yes, but we never gave it a thought. How far off was the lifebuoy? - About three yards away. In your opinion would it have been quicker to have got the lifebuoy and attempted the rescue that way, than to do as you did, attract the attention of other people? - Witness hesitated and did not appear to grasp the question. "We did all we could, sir," he cried. - But, which would have been quicker? - I don't know, sir. A Juryman: What is your age? - Fifteen. The Coroner: And you can't swim? - No, sir. - John Henry Richard Chapman: I am an engine fitter in Portsmouth dockyard. I was on the Embankment yesterday between 20 minutes and a quarter to four o'clock. I was sitting on a seat and thought it was time to get home, so I moved. Seeing some boys on the edge of the embankment, looking over, I thought there might be a ball or something gone over into the water. I went to see what they were looking at, when I saw what I at first thought to be a parcel of clothes, but on looking into it more closely I saw it was a dead body, floating with the face downwards. I at once took off my coat and hat, jumped in and brought it ashore. The Coroner: Was it floating between the double steps? - Yes, sir. How far off the quay? - Within about two yards. And what distance from the steps, as you go down either side? - Just between the two. Pretty well in the centre? - Yes. Who were the two boys you saw? - I didn't see any boys. Yes, you said you saw some boys looking into the river. Were they the last two witnesses? - I could not identify them, sir. The two last witnesses say they raised an alarm that they called out. Did you hear them call out? - No, sir. How long had they been there looking over? - I could not say, sir. What was the state of the tide? - It was high water. And well out of your depth? - Yes, sir. Do you think that the two lads, had they gone down the steps and joined hands, could have reached the body? - Very probably, sir. You think it is probable? - Yes. Was the state of the weather, wind and water, such as to render it dangerous for them? - Well, the wind was off the shore and there was no sea, but the wind was strong enough to blow a child overboard perhaps. Yes, a child, but would it have been dangerous for them to have gone down the steps in this way? - No, sir. What time elapsed from when you saw the child until you brought it ashore? - A minute and a half or two minutes. Witness continued that the child was apparently dead but he attempted to restore animation. He kept this up for about five minutes without success and was then relieved by others, and went home to change his clothes. A Juryman (Mr C. H. Chapman) said witness (who was his son) did not quite catch the questions that were put to him, a she was a little hard of hearing. As a matter of fact a lady and two gentlemen assisted him and worked very hard. The Coroner: I will put it to him in that way. Were you assisted by a lady and a couple of gentlemen in your efforts to restore animation? - Yes, sir. And how long did you keep it up? - About five minutes, sir, until somebody relieved me. A Juryman: Did you see Mr Barber there? His name has been mentioned. - No, sir I saw nothing of him. It transpired that Mr Barber was in court, and the Coroner thought he had better give evidence at this point. - Henry Barber: I am a study corporal (hired civilian), on board H.M.S. Britannia. I was sitting on one of the seats on the Embankment, yesterday afternoon, right opposite the double steps. I have been in court this afternoon and heard the evidence. What first drew your attention to anything? - I was sitting down in company with my child and Mr Harwood, a shipwright at Phillip's yard. Suddenly I heard the two boys, Lear and Masters, come up from the double steps on the left hand side, and chase along the road, crying out "boy overboard," or "boy in the water." I can't be exactly certain of the words now. They shouted out to Mr Sims to bring his boat. They were going in the direction of the Boat Float. I made at once for the edge in company with the other people who were going there, to see what had occurred. Before I had quite realised what had occurred, and before I had looked into the debris that had been washed in with the tide, I heard a plunge in the water, and saw that Mr Chapman had jumped in to rescue the child, who was floating about a yard-and-a-half away from the Quay. I assisted him to get the child on shore, and assisted also the yacht's lady and two gentlemen in the efforts to restore animation. How long did that continue? - I should think for twenty minutes. I assisted Mr Chapman, the yacht's lady and two gentlemen, a sailor from a yacht and P.C. Causley, all of whom endeavoured to bring him round. Do you think it would have been possible to get the body had the boys gone down the steps? - No. I don't think it would have been. I think the little child must have been blown overboard from the edge of the Quay a little further up. I was sitting there for half-an-hour before the child was found floating, and I am sure no children were near the edge at that part of the embankment during that time. What was the weather like? - It was blowing very hard, quite hard enough to blow an unprotected female over the edge, let alone a child like this. Even a man might have been blown over, if he had been caught unawares by a gust. P.C. Causley: Just before four p.m. yesterday afternoon, from information received at the Police station, I went to the North Embankment. I saw the two gentlemen referred to, a lady, and Mr Barber. They had the body of the child there, and were trying to restore animation. I relieved one of the gentlemen and continued to work for a short time, when Dr Harris arrived and another medical gentleman. The Coroner: Not one of the medical gentlemen of the town? - A stranger to me sir. They carried it on for some time, but without success. I removed the body shortly after to the parents' home. And from the time you arrived on the scene until the body was removed to the home, every proper step was taken? - Yes, sir. - Dr J. H. Harris: About four o'clock I had a message to go on to the embankment, and see a child that had fallen into the water. I went down directly and found the child lying on a seat on the Embankment. The constable was practising artificial respiration with it. The child had evidently been in the water. On examination I found it was dead. Artificial respiration was kept up for some time afterwards, without avail. By the appearance of the body I should say the cause of death was drowning. There were no marks of any kind about the body. The Coroner: Could you form any opinion as to how long the child had been in the water, or how long it had been dead? - I could not say. I could form no opinion as to that. Summing up, the Coroner said the Jury were no doubt acquainted with the weather conditions on Monday, when this child was drowned. It was blowing very hard on that afternoon and this fact seemed to point to the child having been blown overboard from the Embankment, probably some distance above where his body was found floating by the two lads. He was glad Mr Barber was present to give evidence for it cleared up a question that presented itself to his mind as the inquiry went along. That was as to whether it would have been possible for the two lads, Lear and Masters, to have reached the deceased by joining hands, and so have got him out of the water sooner. Mr Barber seemed to think this could not have been done, and his evidence was valuable in that respect. It appeared to him (the Coroner) that as soon as the child was seen in the water the lads gave the alarm, Chapman promptly and rapidly jumped in, and the body was brought on shore as speedily as possible. Afterwards all proper steps were taken with a view to restoring animation but unfortunately, they were not successful. He thought the Jury would agree with him that every credit was due to Chapman for his prompt action - (hear, hear). He was inclined to think that parents were too prone to let their children wander about the town unprotected. He did not for a moment imply that it was so in this case, indeed he did not think it was, but speaking generally it was undoubtedly the fact. The wonder was that many children were not drowned, when one noticed how many of them were seen daily playing about near the edge of the Quay. They got about in dangerous places without anyone to look after them and were, to a certain extent, inviting their own deaths. The Jury returned a verdict of "Found Drowned" and desired to express their appreciation of Chapman's action in jumping overboard to rescue the child, and of the assistance rendered him in his subsequent efforts to restore animation by the yacht's lady and others, including Mr Barber. A Juryman thought there should be some protection for children along the edge of the embankment. Possibly the reason there was none was because it lay between the Council and the commissioners, but certainly, in his opinion, something should be done to provide a safeguard, in the way of a chain or railings. Calling forward Mr Chapman the Coroner thanked him on the Jury's behalf for his services. He only regretted they were not successful, so far as restoring animation was concerned. Nothing could have been done with more promptitude and he deserved every credit - (hear, hear).

Friday 13 September 1901

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death Of A Steamer Captain At Dartmouth. The Inquest. - On Monday afternoon an Inquest was held at the Guildhall, Dartmouth, by Mr R. W. Prideaux, Coroner, on the body of WILLIAM TINKLER, master of the English steamer Naranja, of Liverpool, then lying in the harbour. - Mr R. C. Cranford was chosen Foreman of the Jury. After viewing the body, which was resting in a house in Lower-street, the property of the Channel Coaling Company, the Jury returned to the Guildhall, where the following evidence was taken. John Dairs, chief mate, said he identified the body of deceased as that of CAPTAIN TINKLER, master of the S.S. Naranja, who resided at 20, Worthing street, Blundell Sands, near Liverpool. Deceased was 42 years of age. Witness had sailed with them fifteen months. The steamer arrived at Dartmouth from Patras in Greece, on Friday about 9 p.m. The captain appeared in his usual health, and went on shore on Saturday to transact his business. About 10 on Sunday morning witness went to Kingswear to put the fourth engineer ashore. On returning to the steamer the steward called to him to come quick. to go to Dartmouth to fetch a doctor, as he thought the captain was dying. He went to Dartmouth but couldn't find a doctor. He returned to the steamer, when he saw the captain in his cabin. He considered he was then dead. He went again to Dartmouth and the doctor arrived. During the voyage the captain's health had been fair, although he would complain occasionally of pains, which he put down to indigestion. In reply to a Juror witnesses said the steamer broke down during the voyage. he could not say whether this had weighed on the Captain's mind or not. Ernest Smith, steward, said he saw deceased on deck, on Sunday morning at 8 o'clock. He did not eat any breakfast. He said he could not eat any. At 9 o'clock he was sitting on the hatch reading a letter he had received. He afterwards went below. and had a glass of soda water, and came on deck again. About 12, he was laying the table in the cabin for dinner. The captain was in his room. He heard him gasping for breath. he went in the room with the superintendent (Mr Bright), and unbuttoned his collar and shirt and put cold water on his forehead. He went with the first mate for the doctor. When he left deceased the first time he considered he was dead. Dr A. K. Crossfield said he arrived on board the Naranja a little before one o'clock. he found the body of deceased on a settee in his room. He was fully dressed except that his collar, shirt and necktie were undone, and his boots and stockings taken off. He examined him and found him quite dead. He had been probably so for half-an-hour or an hour. There were no marks of violence on his person. He attributed death to natural causes, probably heart disease. What deceased thought was indigestion might have been caused by the heart. The Coroner said from the evidence adduced there was no reason to doubt that deceased died from natural causes. It was possible, as questioned by a Juror, that the accident to his steamer might have affected him prejudicially. The Jury returned a verdict of "Death from Natural Causes, probably Heart disease."

Friday 27 September 1901

KINGSWEAR - Sudden Death. Inquest And Verdict. - At Kingswear on Sunday morning, MRS MINNIE LOUISA DIXON, wife of a gardener employed at the Beacon, died somewhat suddenly. She was only taken ill on Saturday evening. An Inquest was held at the Royal Dart Hotel on Tuesday evening by Mr G. F. Kellock, Deputy Coroner for the district. THOMAS DIXON identified the body as that of his late wife, whose age was 36 years. On Saturday she went across the river to Dartmouth to do her shopping. She was taken ill whilst there and at once returned home and went to bed, while Dr Kendall was immediately sent for. She died on Sunday at 11.30 a.m. Dr W. B. Kendall, practising at Kingswear, deposed that he was called to see the deceased on Saturday night just after eight o'clock. He saw her again early on Sunday morning when it was quite evident that she was in a dying condition. He subsequently made a post mortem examination by direction of the Coroner, and now gave his opinion that she died from natural causes. A verdict to this effect was returned by the Jury, of whom Mr J. Spital was the Foreman.

Friday 11 October 1901

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At Dartmouth. An Aged Mail-Cart Driver. - On Saturday morning MR HENRY CUMMING GRANT, 82, who resided at Hanover-square, with his daughter, MRS HELLIER, was found dead in his bedroom. He was up later than usual the night previous, in order to learn the result of the America cup race, in which he was deeply interested, and in all probability this excited him and to some extent affected his heart. Next morning he failed to answer to his daughter's calls, and going to his bedroom she was shocked to find him lying on the floor quite dead. The body was cold and life had evidently been extinct for some time. An Inquest was held at the Guildhall on Monday morning before Mr R. W. Prideaux, the local Coroner. Having viewed the body, the Jury received the following evidence:- MARY HELLIER, a widow residing at Hanover-square, said the deceased was her late father. He resided with her and was 82 years of age on June 22nd last. He was a shoemaker by trade. The Coroner: Now what has been the state of his health? - Very good up to now, sir. He had a cold a fortnight ago but that was nothing. On Friday night did he go to bed at his usual time? - No, he stayed up rather later than usual on account of the yacht race for the America cup. He was very much interested in that, and waited up to hear the result. Did he sleep in a room by himself? - Yes. What was the next thing? - He went to bed all right, though a little later than usual. As he was not down at eight o'clock, his usual time, on Saturday morning I called him, but received no answer. I went back into the shop to serve for a little time and at a quarter-past eight, as I still received no reply to my calls, I went to his bedroom. I found him lying on the floor, just a little to one side. Was he dressed or undressed? - Undressed. Did the bed appear to have been slept in? - I really could not say. I should think it had been. To the best of your knowledge was he dead when you found him? - Yes, he was quite dead and stiff, sir. I ran downstairs and sent directly to the Post Office for my son, and also for the doctor. Before the doctor arrived my son and I had got the deceased into bed. Dr Davson came before nine o'clock. Had you heard anything in the night at all? - Nothing unusual. I heard him making a noise in his sleep, but that was quite usual, and we are accustomed to it. We never go near him, for it is nothing out of the common. You heard no fall or anything of that kind, I suppose? - No, sir. And he had been apparently in his usual health? - Yes, quite as well as usual. He was greatly interested in the yacht race on the Friday night, and was very anxious to hear which yacht had won. The Foreman: Was he unduly excited? - I don't know that, but he was much interested, and said the Americans would never allow us to win the cup. Dr F. Adams Davson: I have known the deceased for a great many years. I attended him professionally some years ago. On Saturday I was called to see him and went at once, arriving at the house before nine o'clock. I found him lying on the bed. Life was extinct. He was in his night-clothes. Did you examine him? - Yes, I made a superficial examination. In my opinion death was due to natural causes - probably failure of the heart's action, and syncope. He went to bed about ten o'clock that night. Can you, from your examination, say when he died, whether on Friday night or Saturday morning? That would be for the information of the Jury, to enable them to arrive at a conclusion as to when death took place, if they possibly can. - I should imagine he had been dead about four hours, so far as I can judge by the condition of the body. This was all the evidence. The Coroner briefly summing up, said it was quite sufficient to enable the Jury to come to a conclusion. The case was a very simple one indeed. They all knew the deceased. He was a man who had enjoyed long life and extremely good health. He (the Coroner) should think that he went into bed, slept for some hours, and then got out, afterwards dying before he could put on his clothes. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 17 January 1902

DARTMOUTH - Sad Occurrence At Dartmouth. Suicide By Hanging. - Dartmouth people were greatly shocked and grieved on Tuesday afternoon when it became known that MR WARWICK MITCHELL BATES, son of MRS BATES, formerly of the Steam Packet Inn, had been found dead, hanging by the neck from the banisters of the stairs at Fern Bank, Victoria-road, under such circumstances as left little room for doubt that he had taken his own life. The deceased was generally known and had many friends. The utmost sympathy is extended to the family. The gruesome discovery was first made by a domestic servant living with Mr and Mrs Sheen at the Seven Stars Inn. She went to Fern Bank, where the deceased had slept alone for two or three nights, to inform him that his mother was coming back there that afternoon, and was horrified to find him hanging in the position described below. He had been dead for many hours. The Deputy Coroner (Mr Philip R. Hockin) held an Inquest at the Subscription Rooms (the "New Guildhall") on Wednesday morning. Mr C. H. Moses was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who, after viewing the body, received the following evidence: GEORGE BATES: I am a plumber, residing and carrying on business in Duke Street, Dartmouth. The deceased was my brother. He was 32 years of age last July. Questions by the Deputy Coroner:- What occupation did he follow? - He was a steward when he did anything. Are the Jury to gather from that that he was not in constant employment? - Yes. When was he last in employment? - Some three or four years ago. And since then he has been doing nothing at all? - Nothing at all. Can you assign any reason for that? What was the state of his health? - I do not know what the reason was. He was rather eccentric. As to his bodily health, was there anything to prevent him from following his ordinary calling? - He was at Southampton some years ago, and met with an accident. He knocked his arm on board a ship. He has never been properly right since. Where had he been living? - At times with his mother at Fern Bank. She occasionally went down and assisted at the Seven Stars and then he would go down with her. When did you last see him alive? - On Monday morning. Where? - At the Steam Packet. Did he appear to be in his usual state then? - Yes; he did not appear to be at all out of the way then. - DAVID BATES: I am a builder, residing at Fern Bank. I am step-father to deceased. You heard what the last witness said as to his residence, that he resided at Fern Bank? - Yes, we have been staying at the Seven Stars for some time, and he has been backwards and forwards between there and Fern Bank. How long were you staying at the Seven Stars? - About two months. Sometimes he would sleep at the Seven Stars and sometimes at Fern Bank? - Yes. When did he last sleep at the Seven Stars? - On Friday night. And returned to Fern Bank on Saturday morning; that is what you mean? - Yes. Was there anyone else in the house but him? - No, he would be alone there. Now what was the general state of his health? - He has not been exactly right since he went to Southampton and met with something. I don't quite know what it was. You mean that he had an accident there? - Yes, but what it was I don't quite know. Would that be four or five years ago? - About three years perhaps or something like that. Since which time he has done no work? - Nothing at all since then. When did you last see him alive? - On Monday night about a quarter to five. And where? - In his bed. Was he in the habit, then, of going to bed as early as that? - Very often he would go to bed in the afternoon. What seemed to be his condition then? - I said to him: "Why have you not been down to see us and have something"? and he said "I have all I want; there is plenty here." I said "good night, WARWICK" and then I left him. He appeared about as usual. Do I gather from that, that when you were at the Seven Stars he was in the habit of coming down and having his food there? - Yes. And he had not been down that day at all? - No and he did not come down on the Sunday either. Then the last time he was at the Seven Stars would be on the Saturday night? - Yes, he had everything he wanted in the house at Fern Bank. Why didn't he come down to see you? - I don't know. I asked him that. He had plenty of food in the house, you say? - Yes. Florence Maria Burridge: I am a domestic servant in the employ of Mr and Mrs Sheen, at the Seven Stars. did you go to Fern Bank yesterday? - Yes, sir. What made you go there? - I had to take a portmanteau there and tell MR WARWICK to light the fires as his mother was coming home in the afternoon. Who gave you that message for him? - His mother, MRS BATES. What time of the day was this? - About half past two. Well, you went to Fern Bank. Were you able to get in? Was the front door open or not? - No, sir; I had the keys and unlocked it. Who gave you the keys? - MRS BATES. You went in; what then? - I was in the house ten minutes before I went upstairs, and unpacked the portmanteau. When you went upstairs did you see anything? - Yes sir. Tell the Jury, please. - I saw MR WARWICK hanging in the stairs, sir. I caught sight of him as I turned the corner of the stairs. By a rope I take it. Where was the rope attached to? - I think it must have been on to the banisters sir; I could not stop to look. What did you do? - I ran back again into the street and ran to the Seven Stars and told Mr Sheen. MR D. BATES was re-called - The Deputy Coroner: The last witness has said she had the keys of the house, and had to let herself in. How did the deceased get in? - There were two keys; he had one and we had the other. WILLIAM THOMAS DUNN: I am a licensed victualler residing and carrying on business at the Steam Packet Inn, Duke Street. The deceased was my brother-in-law. When did you last see him alive? - I have not seen him since last Friday. Did you receive a communication yesterday? - A girl came down to me - the last witness - when I was in the bar of the Steam Packet. She told me the deceased was hanging from the banisters at Fern Bank. I went to Fern Bank in the company of MR BATES, jun., and tried to get in by the door. We had not got the keys, so we had to get in the window. I went into the house in the company of a coal lumper named Callard. He was sent up from the Seven Stars. When I got to the stairs I saw the deceased hanging down from the top banister. He was just outside his bedroom door. The rope produced is a part of that by which he was hanging. What did you do? - We cut him down at once, or at least I held him up while Callard cut him down. I take it he was hanging by the neck? - Yes, and his feet were just off the ground. What next? did you take the rope away? - No, as soon as he was cut down I went to fetch a policeman. Was the deceased quite dead at the time? - Yes, he was quite stiff and cold. You communicated with the police then? - Yes, and Sergt. Hockridge went back to Fern Bank with me. Some questions were put by the Jury. - Was he dressed or undressed? - He was in his nightshirt. I understood from the previous witness that Mr Sheen was communicated with first. How is it the girl came down to you? - Mr Sheen had his business to look after by himself and could not get away and she came straight down for me. I was able to go. I went to the Seven Stars on my way. Mr Sheen could not go but sent a coal-lumper to assist me. - P.S. Hockridge: About 3.30 p.m. yesterday I was on duty in Market Square when I received a communication that MR WARWICK BATES had hung himself at Fern Bank. I immediately proceeded there and found the deceased lying on his face in the stairs. He was cold and stiff and had evidently been dead for a long time. This piece of rope (produced) was around his neck. I immediately took it off. On looking a little higher up I found the corresponding piece of cord hanging out over the banisters. I proceeded to the top landing, where I saw a long piece of rope twisted two or three times around one banister rail; then it ran across the landing and was twisted two or three times around the other rail. There was a banister on either side of the landing? - Yes. Well? - The other end was hanging down towards where the deceased lay in the stairs. I assisted to carry the deceased into his bedroom. I searched the room this morning but failed to find anything written that would throw any light upon the act. You made that search this morning? - Yes. Did you know the deceased? - Yes. - Dr A. K. Crossfield: At a few minutes after three yesterday afternoon I was called to Fern Bank, where I found the deceased lying on his bed dressed only in his night shirt. He was quite dead and stiff. I made an external examination of the body and found round his neck a reddish brown mark, from close under the chin in front, going round both sides of the neck to the back part of the head. The mark extended slantingly upwards. - It was a deeply imprinted mark as if it had been made by a tight cord. It was just such a mark as would be made by the cord produced. There were no further marks of violence externally, but I found that his neck was broken. This showed clearly that he must have had a considerable drop. To what do you attribute death? - To dislocation of the neck. MR D. BATES, again recalled, was asked by a Juror whether he recognised the rope. - MR BATES replied that it had been in the house for years. He did not know where it came from originally, but it was used for tying boxes and so on. - What the Jury wanted to know was whether the deceased purposely bought this rope. - MR BATES: Oh no. Dr Crossfield, recalled, was asked by the Deputy Coroner whether he could fix approximately the date of death. - Dr Crossfield: I could not say with any exactitude. I was called soon after three yesterday and I am inclined to think he had been dead over twelve hours. From the very stiff condition of the body and from the fact that the mark around his neck was a very deeply indented mark it was evident that he must have been suspended for some considerable time. The Coroner said they had heard all the evidence and it was not necessary for him in any way to sum it up, or to make any particular comments upon it. The matters they had to decide in their minds were: How did the deceased come by his death? - He did not think they would have much difficulty in arriving at a conclusion as to that, and whether the means by which he came to his death were brought about by himself or others - and he did not think they would find much difficulty there. Another matter they would have to consider was the deceased's state of mind at the time he met his death, and incidentally he might mention in that connection, the facts they had heard from witnesses who were members of the family. They had stated that although the deceased was only 32 years of age he had done no work for the past four or five years, while one witness suggested that since an accident he appeared to have had at Southampton he was not as before, and also said the deceased was eccentric. Then, when the Jury had decided those points there was another, viz., as to the day upon which he died. They had heard the medical testimony as to the cause of death and they had heard from the medical gentleman that in his opinion the deceased had been dead for at least twelve hours, and he was guided in coming to that conclusion by the state of the body and by the deep marks which the rope had made in his neck. It had been stated that the last time the deceased was seen alive was a quarter past five on Monday night, by MR BATES, and he was found hanging at ten minutes past three yesterday. He was in his nightshirt and the natural inference which the Jury would no doubt draw for themselves was that he died some time during Monday night. Without retiring, the Jury brought in a verdict of "Suicide whilst in a state of Temporary Insanity." They fixed the date of death as Tuesday, January 14th. The funeral takes place today, leaving the house at 2.30 p.m.

Friday 7 February 1902

DARTMOUTH- Sudden Death At The College. Inquest At Dartmouth Today. - At the temporary Guildhall today, an Inquest was held on the body of WILLIAM KNIGHT, before Mr P.R. Hockin, Deputy Coroner. John Wanneth, bricklayer, said deceased who was also a bricklayer, was between 30 and 40 years of age. Both were employed on the Naval Collage Works. On Wednesday night deceased, who lodged with him, complained of a pain in his chest. Deceased was married. His wife was living at Exmouth. Edward Gussing, bricklayer, said while deceased was at work yesterday afternoon, about 2, on a scaffold, he suddenly dropped. Witness caught him, and deceased died in his arms just afterwards. Dr Crossfield said he was summoned, but when he arrived deceased was dead. He attributed death to heart disease. The pain described would be caused by it. Verdict accordingly.

Friday 7 March 1902

BRISTOL - Dartmouth Man Found Drowned. - At Redland, the Bristol Deputy Coroner, held an Inquest on the body of JOHN MANDLEY, aged 43, a nursing attendant, formerly of Portview House, Bayards Cove, Dartmouth. The evidence showed that the deceased man was seen at Kingswear Station on January 9th, when he was going to Bristol, being an attendant at Dr Fox's asylum and elsewhere. He had shewn no suicidal tendencies, and had no worries. Nothing was heard of him by his wife after January 11th until on Saturday last his dead body was found in the River Avon, near Rownham Ferry, having apparently been in the water about a fortnight. On his clothes were found various references, which included four pawn tickets, issued on the 13th and 14th January by Mr Graham, of Broadmead, Bristol. Dr Barker, the divisional police surgeon, could not definitely assign the cause of death, and the Jury had to return an Open Verdict of "Found Dead in the River Avon." The references on his body gave him the highest character.

Friday 4 April 1902

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death Of A Child. Inquest At Dartmouth. - An Inquest was held at the Dartmouth Guildhall on Thursday morning, touching the death of the infant female child of SAMUEL JOHN PERRING, residing at Lake-street. The child was not regarded as seriously ill, though the day before death it was apparently slightly ailing. The mother took all precautions that appeared necessary. Early on Wednesday morning the child seemed to be much worse, and though the father promptly went for a doctor, death ensued before the latter could arrive. The Deputy Coroner (Mr Philip R. Hockin) conducted the Enquiry and Mr C. H. Chapman was Foreman of the Jury, who, after viewing the body, received the following evidence:- SAMUEL JOHN PERRING: I reside at Lake-street, and am a cabinetmaker. The deceased was my daughter and was nearly seven months old. I last saw her alive about two o'clock on Wednesday morning in bed. I then believed her to be dying. The Coroner: Had you previously noticed that she was ill? - She had a cold the day before, but we did not think she was seriously ill. She has had whooping cough for a long time, but beyond that we saw nothing the matter with her until the day before death. I was asleep at 2 o'clock when my wife called me, and directly I saw the child's condition I ran for the doctor. The Coroner: Had any medical man seen her previously? - Dr Crossfield came to vaccinate her, but this was postponed on account of eczema. The Coroner: How long since? - About six or seven weeks. I am not quite sure. He had not attended her for whooping cough. I went to Dr Crossfield, as stated, and I told him I believed the baby would be dead before I got back. I ran on and found she had died. Then I went back and met Dr Crossfield on the way, and told him. He came on to the house with me. - ANNIE PERRING, wife of the last witness, said with the exception of the whooping cough, the child's condition was fair since birth. When she was six or eight weeks old (she proceeded) I sent to Dr Crossfield on account of the whooping cough. With regard to this my husband has made a mistake. Dr Crossfield told me I could do nothing for her. The last time Dr Crossfield saw her was when he came to vaccinate her. The Coroner: When did you first notice any change for the worse in the child's condition? - On Monday evening, when I returned from a walk. I noticed she had a cold. Next day the tightness was not gone from her chest, and I poulticed her. At half-past seven on Tuesday evening she appeared quite lively and much improved. I poulticed her again when I went to bed about ten o'clock. About two o'clock on Wednesday morning I noticed she was making a funny noise, when breathing, and I woke my husband, who ran for the doctor. She died just before he got back. Dr A. K. Crossfield: I was called by the father on the morning of Wednesday about a quarter to three. I went as soon as I could, and on the way I met the father returning. He told me the child was dead. I examined the child. The body was getting stiff. - The Coroner: Does stiffness set in as quickly as that? - It is very unusual for it to do so. He called me at a quarter to three. I hold the opinion that the child died from natural causes, and that the case of death was convulsions. I vaccinated the child on March 16th, and inspected it on the 23rd. Everything was satisfactory then. I was called in twice before, when the child was suffering from whooping cough. - The Coroner: Would whooping cough and cold be conducive to convulsions? - There would probably not be convulsions in the earlier stage. The Foreman: What the mother did was correct, I suppose? - Yes. I don't think I could have done any more. There might probably have been a little mistake in the diagnosis. She did not seem to think the child was seriously ill just before, and possibly is wasn't. The Coroner: Was the child well-nourished? - Yes. The Coroner said the case appeared an ordinary one. The parents apparently did all they could, so far as they could see, and no blame attached to them. The Jury at once returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 4 July 1902

Singular Fatality On The Racer. The Result Of A Fall. Skull Fractured But No Outward Sign. - On board H.M.S. Racer, late on Monday night, WALTER CLAVILL BEALL, 21, cook's mate, unmarried, met with a singular accident which terminated fatally in the early hours of the morning. About a few minutes past ten he was trying to get into his hammock, but his hand slipped from the meat safe close by, and he fell with great violence to the deck, a distance of some four feet. For a moment he appeared to be stunned, but rising without aid, got into his hammock apparently all right. Just afterwards he was heard to vomit, but from that point until past one o'clock there appeared to be nothing whatever the matter. Then he rose from his hammock, and was found to be seriously ill, indeed within a few minutes he became unconscious and remained so until he died, at a quarter past four. The doctor did all that was possible for him. The facts were reported to the County Coroner, Mr S. Hacker (Newton), in the absence from Dartmouth of the Deputy Coroner, Mr P. R. Hockin, and a post mortem, recommended by Dr Darley, surgeon on board the Racer, was held under his instructions. The Inquest took place at the Guildhall on Wednesday afternoon before Mr Hacker. The Jury first viewed the body, which had been taken to the Dartmouth mortuary. The Coroner, before coming to Dartmouth, had inspected the spot on the Racer, where he fell. At the Inquiry, Mr K. E. Peck, for Mr J. E. Venning, Admiralty Law Agent, represented the Admiralty, and Capt. Beatty, R.N., in command of the Racer, was also present. The following evidence was received:- ALFRED G. BEALL, petty officer, R.N., stationed on the Lion at Devonport, said deceased was his youngest brother. He was twenty-one last birthday. He was on board H.M.S. Racer. Witness last saw him alive about three weeks ago. He was a bachelor and his friends lived at Devonport. The Coroner: You know nothing as to how he came by his death I presume? - No. - Ernest Francis Flynn, first class petty officer on board the Racer: I was on duty as quarter-master when he went to his hammock on Monday night. I went on duty at eight o'clock for four hours. Do your duties keep you on deck? - Well, I go the rounds as well. Did you see what happened to deceased on Monday night? - Yes. First I saw him as he was going to his hammock. That would be about ten minutes past ten. I was on deck at that time. He was in the galley when I noticed him first. That would be the place where he performed his duties. I had piped down at ten o'clock, for everyone to turn in. Where was the deceased sleeping? - His hammock was slung on the upper deck, next to the galley, between that and the capstan. Was his the only hammock there? - Yes. The he did not sleep in the ordinary place? - No. Had he leave to place his hammock there? - Yes, I don't know anything to say he should not do so. No leave seems to be required for it. Anyone can do the same? - Yes, so far as I know. He took his hammock from below and swung it there? - yes, I have never known him there before, but he made the remark to me that he could not sleep underneath, as it was so hot. You are a first-class petty officer, and you can say that it is not contrary to the regulations, so far as you are aware. It is not contrary to anything I know of. Of course if there was an order given in the ship that hammocks must not be slung there, I should carry it out. Did you see him turn in? - I saw him make an attempt to do so. Tell me just what occurred? - I was standing in the galley looking out of the window. I saw the deceased swinging himself up to jump into the hammock. The neck thing, there was a thud on the deck, and I said to deceased "Hullo, what's the matter cooky?" I had no answer, and I ran out and found him lying on the deck on his right side. I went to lift him up, but he rose by himself, though he seemed to be stunned for a second or two. The he appeared all right, so far as I could tell. Did he say how he came to fall in that way? - He showed me just how it happened. He was about to turn in, and he put his right hand upon the edge of a meat safe, which was rounded. When he swung himself off the ground, with his leg over the hammock, his hand slipped from the safe, and he came down heavily to the deck. His hammock is about four feet from the ground, I think? - Yes, about that. Not more? - No not in this case, though they can have them higher if they like. How is it possible to get into a hammock without jumping or swinging? Apparently you want a firm place for one hand. - No, it is not necessary. There are plenty of places from which you can get in quite easily. There is no need to jump. In the case of deceased there was a bench on the opposite side from which he could have knelt into the hammock. He did this afterwards without any trouble, and when he was in I thought everything was all right. Had he complained about having hurt himself? - No, he said nothing, but he put his hand to his head, as though he had received a blow. Then he got into his hammock without any difficulty, and it did not appear there was anything at all the matter with him. Well, he turned in. What else do you know about it? - At 10.15 or 10.20 I heard him vomiting. He rose in his hammock, put his head over the side and then lay down again. There was nothing further. I turned in about midnight, when I was relieved. I was called about five minutes to three, and asked if I knew anything about the cook's mate - if I had seen him fall. I got out of my hammock and went below, where I found the deceased with the surgeon in attendance upon him. The sick bay steward was there was well. Deceased was in the steerage just outside the sick-bay. He was in a hammock. He was breathing and I thought he was asleep. He died about 4.15. I took the time, by the doctor's request. Were there any projections where he fell? - There is a pipe, and it was the first thing I looked at, to see whether he had knocked his head against it, but he was a good six or seven inches away from it. It didn't look as if he had touched that at all. I fancy he fell with his face flat on the deck. I could not see any bruise or mark upon his face. Mr Peck: Was the hammock used of the service pattern? - Yes sir. Has it been moved since the occurrence? - yes, for there is another hammock slung in the same place. Deceased's hammock was taken below with him. There was nothing whatever the matter with it, nothing gave way. Edward Horrill, first-class petty officer, was then called: - The Coroner: You are the man who relieved the last witness at midnight, I suppose? - Yes, sir. A Juryman here rose and enquired whether the Jury were to be allowed to ask the witness any questions. The Coroner: Yes, it is for the Jury to ask the witnesses questions if they wish to. It is their duty to ascertain all they can in connection with the matter. - Another Juryman: I wanted to ask a question as well, but we had no opportunity of doing so. - The Coroner: He shall be recalled. - Flynn was then asked to step forward again. Questions by the Jury: There was some blood on his face. Did you notice any wound when you saw him get up? - No, there was no blood then. The doctor let some blood for the purpose of giving him relief I think. His hammock didn't come down by the run? - No, he never got into it all to begin with. he fell before he got over the edge. From 10.10 to 4.15 was there any complaint at all from the deceased as to his having hurt himself? - I turned in at twelve o'clock. I cannot say what happened afterwards until I was called again. There was no complaint before. Was any assistance got for him? - Do you mean before twelve? - Yes. - There was nothing done before twelve. Apparently there was no need. There was no notice taken of his falling. It is not an uncommon occurrence for a man to fall. I have known a man jump clean out of his hammock in a dream and wake everybody along the deck. Had deceased been on shore at all that evening? - No. Was he perfectly sober? - Yes. Was this the first night he had slept in that place. - I don't know. I had not seen his hammock there before. I am on duty every other night, so it is possible he might have been there the night before. You didn't tell the other man that deceased had fallen out from his hammock. - No. Why not? - Because he had got in again all right. There did not seem to be anything the matter with him. There was no reason why I should tell anyone. As a rule quartermasters tell one another of a thing like this, don't they? - I don't know. I did not see the necessity for doing so. The man appeared all right. If you had told him relief might have been obtained before. The other quartermaster when he relieved you might have kept an eye on him and the doctor might have been sent for before he actually was. - Yes, but if a man falls down in the street and gets up again and walks away you don't tell anyone of it, do you? When he was able to get up and get into his hammock all right, I never thought for a moment that he had hurt himself. There was nothing to show that he had. He was not in any way a man of drunken habits, but very steady. When he fell were his legs entangled in the hammock? - Witness showed precisely how the deceased fell, with one leg over the hammock. His head must have touched the deck first, he thought. - Edward Horrill: I relived Flynn on Monday at midnight. I noticed deceased's hammock, which I had not seen there previously. About ten minutes past one I went into the galley, and then I heard him vomiting. I asked him what was the matter, but he made no answer. He turned out of his hammock a minute afterwards and went forward. He got out on the side on which the bench was placed. I followed him, and as it seemed to me that he looked dazed and ill, I called the sick-bay steward. He came up and asked deceased what was the matter. Deceased did not answer and the steward went to the doctor. The doctor ordered us to take him down to the steerage, which we did. The Coroner: You knew nothing about his having had a fall? - Not then sir. - Dr Arthur Darley, surgeon on the Racer: On Monday night I was called about 1.30 by the sick bay steward, who told me that a man was looking rather ill. I went on deck immediately, and found deceased sitting down unconscious. I ordered a stretcher for him and had him removed to the steerage. I found that he was breathing rather loudly and heavily. His arms and legs were rigid and there was occasional contraction of the muscles. Did you notice any marks upon him? - No, I saw no marks. I didn't look for any, for I didn't know then that he had had a fall. He was in his hammock upon the stretcher, and I examined him carefully. I asked the quarter-master if he knew anything about him, and the sick-bay steward afterwards told me he had had a fall. I examined the head, but there were no signs of a blow whatever. His breathing continued very rapid and laboured. He went on just in that way until about four o'clock, when his breathing stopped for a bit. I started artificial respiration and kept it up for over half an hour. He died about 4.15. You have since made a post mortem, I believe? - Yes. And what injuries did you find to account for death? - I found that he had sustained a fracture of the skull on the right side just over the temple. An artery had been ruptured in the brain, and a lot of blood had poured out and produced a clot which pressed upon the brain and caused death. He died through pressure of the brain, brought about by the blood in its turn caused by fracture of the skull. Was there anything you could have done for him, in the way of an operation? - No, for there were no symptoms to localise the injury. There were no marks whatever to show where it was. It must be a curious fact there was nothing to see outside, after such an injury as that? - Yes, it is singular. Can you account for that in any way? - Well, he had a very thin skull, and he must have struck something round and smooth, without an angle. That might account for there being no mark. Was he a heavy man? - Not particularly; he weighed, I should think, about ten or eleven stone, not more. You saw that he had every attention? - Yes. - And did all you possibly could for him? - Yes. No more could have been done. Questions by the Jury: I suppose you saw the place where he fell doctor? - Yes. Do you think he struck his head against the pipe? - It is quite possible that would cause the injury. And before the witness Flynn saw him lying on the deck he might have rolled away from the pipe again? - Yes, of course. It is not unlikely. Mr Peck: Was there anything in the symptoms doctor, to lead the quartermaster of the watch to think he was seriously ill.? - No, absolutely no symptoms to suggest anything of the kind. A Juryman: I suppose you would not consider it a dangerous place in which to sling a hammock, doctor? - The Coroner (interposing): Well, I am afraid that is hardly a medical question. You must not put that. You can judge of anything of that sort for yourselves. - William Anthony Keppey, sick berth attendant on the Racer: About 1.30 a.m. on Tuesday the quartermaster came to me and told me that the cook's mate was ill. I ran up and saw that he was unconscious. He had a very vacant look in his eyes, and I at once went for the doctor, who came within half a minute. I thought the man was in a serious condition. You remained there the whole time afterwards? - Yes, with the doctor, who never left him, and did all that could be done for him. Artificial respiration was carried on for some time after we feared he had died. The sergeant of Police said there were other witnesses, but the Coroner said he did not think they would be required, as the facts were plain. Summing up, the Coroner said the case would give the Jury no trouble. It was straightforward and simple. They had had an eye-witness of the deceased's fall when he was trying to get into his hammock. He must have fallen very heavily, although the height was only about four feet. He evidently came down upon his head, and he supposed that accounted for the very serious injury he sustained. He must have fallen in a helpless kind of manner, and all his weight came upon his head. Whether he fell straight upon the deck or upon some projection it was impossible now to say. There was the projecting end of a pipe there and it was more than likely, as had been suggested, that his face struck that. After he had fallen, however, though he seemed a trifle stunned for a moment, he rose and got into his hammock without assistance, and there was nothing to lead the quartermaster to suspect he had hurt himself at all. When it was discovered that he was seriously ill, everything possible appeared to have been done for him, but his injuries were of such a nature that he died in spite of this attention. A peculiarity about the case was that there was no mark on the head to show the position of the injury. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death. While the Inquest was proceeding the body was taken to Kingswear, by permission of the Coroner, and thence by train to Devonport for interment there. Mr T. E. Lovell was the undertaker.

KINGSWEAR - Child's Sad Death. Drowned In Sight Of His Mother. - Off Waterhead on Friday evening a little lad named HAROLD SYDNEY COOMBES, the eight-year-old son of a labourer residing in the village, was drowned within sight of his mother, under most distressing circumstances. MRS COOMBES, in company with Mrs Bath, strolled up the railway path with the children, who ran along in front. When they reached the gate leading into the road the women sat down to rest while the little boy and girl ran down the slipway. A boat was lying alongside, and the boy began to play with it. He was sitting on the stern pushing it off from the bank with his feet, when he lost his balance and fell overboard in about seven feet of water. The little girl at once ran up with the intelligence, and the women hurrying to the spot found that the lad had floated far enough from the bank to be out of their reach. Two young girls hastened to the spot in a boat but the boy sank just before they could reach him. When a young man named Willcocks came on the scene and raised the body by means of a long paddle, which had been there the whole time, it was too late, for artificial respiration carried on for nearly an hour by the coastguard, Dr Kendall and others, failed to bring the little fellow back to life. The Inquest took place at the Royal Dart Hotel, before Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner. The Jury viewed the body and the scene of the accident, and then received the following evidence: HARRIETT COOMBES said she resided with her husband, a labourer and pensioner, at No. 5 College View, Kingswear. The deceased was her son. He was eight years of age a fortnight ago. He had enjoyed good health. On Friday evening she took him up the railway line about seven o'clock. She went there for the purpose of picking up bits of waste coal and wood that might be lying about. There was a public path by the side of the railway, and many people used it. Nobody asked permission, and she supposed there was no necessity for doing so. The child walked along in front of her, some half-dozen yards away - certainly not more. He was picking up pieces of coal and wood and putting them into a bag which he was carrying. When they reached the cottage near the gate which led into the road to Waterhead, she sat down upon a baulk of timber to rest for a few minutes. The boy ran down the slipway close by, and she thought he had gone there to pick up more pieces. Mrs Bath was with witness at the time. The Coroner: You should have told me that before. Was Mrs Bath with you all the time? - Yes. The Coroner: Anyone else? - She had her little girl with her as well. The two children kept ahead of us the whole way out, and they went down the slipway together. - The Coroner: While you and Mrs Bath were sitting on this log of wood? - Yes. - The Coroner: Then what happened? - MRS COOMBES continued: We had not been sitting there more than a few minutes when Mrs Bath's little girl ran up from the slipway and told me SIDNEY was in the water. It might have been five or six minutes after we reached there. I ran down at once with Mrs Bath to get him out. I saw him floating in the deep water. He was not a great way from the bank, but I could not reach him. There was no boat there then. One came a few minutes after. It came out of the creek close by, with two girls in it. The Coroner: Then the boy didn't get into a boat and fall out? - No, I saw no boat there at all when I ran down to try and get him. Could you not get a pole or do something to reach him? - No, we could do nothing. He was too far off for us to get hold of him. When the girls came with the boat I jumped in and tried to reach him. I could not get him up because he was so heavy. Did you get hold of him? - No, sir, I could not; he was so heavy in the water. You are talking nonsense, you know. You tell me you could not get him up because he was so heavy, and now you say you did not get hold of him at all. How did you know he was heavy if you did not take hold of him? - I could see the child was heavy. I could not lift him out of the water. But you didn't put your hand to him? - No, I could not reach him. When I got to the spot in the boat he was under-water. He was dead before we got him, that's quite certain. Then he sank before you reached the place? - Yes, he was at the bottom when we got there with the boat; that was why I could not reach him. Was he at the bottom before you got into the boat with these girls? - No. I saw him sink when we were in the boat. We were too late. Then he was lying on top of the water for some little time, according to your statement. You got this boat and that must have taken a little time, and all this while the child was floating? - Yes, he was. What did you do after the boat came and you found he had gone down? - A young man named Willcocks arrived and got him out with an oar. He took the paddle and placed it under the child and by that means got him into the shallow water. It would be some time before Willcocks arrived? - Yes, a good while. If the child had been picked out as soon as you got there or even within a few minutes, he would not have been drowned, would he? - No, for he floated for some time. Then where did the delay come in? Did you call for help? - Yes. Wasn't there a pole or something handy by which you could reach him? - No I saw nothing that would have done it. How long after the girls were there was it before Willcocks came? - I daresay it would be five or six minutes. I cannot say quite, but I should think about that. And all that five or six minutes you and the girls were there and did nothing? - We tried to get him out. We could not do any more than we did. There are men usually about the railway line, are there not? - Yes, in working hours, but they had left work some time before. This was seven o'clock in the evening or after. Why didn't you run back on the line to see if you could get somebody? - So I did, sir, and called to people. It didn't strike you to do what Willcocks did afterwards, and get the child out with a paddle? - No. It was easy enough to get the paddle down I suppose? - Yes, I think so; it seemed to be. I saw no paddle. But the girls had paddles in their boat I suppose? - Yes, they must have had them. Didn't they do anything? - They did everything they could. They could not have done more. We all tried to save him, but we could not. MRS COOMBES added that someone went for a doctor as soon as possible, and many people arrived on the scene. - The Coroner: Yes, when it was too late. Where did they come from? - I don't know. They didn't come before, because you did not shout for them. Is that it? - No, that is not a fact. I did shout, but nobody came except these two girls, who were in the creek in a boat. The Coroner: It seems to me the child's life was thrown away - clearly thrown away. He might easily have been saved. - Martha Bath, aged nine, who gave her evidence very clearly, and was afterwards complimented by the Coroner, said she was walking with SIDNEY COOMBES in front of her mother and MRS COOMBES along the railway line, and when their mothers sat down SIDNEY and witness went down on the beach, which was close at hand. SIDNEY got on the edge of a boat that was there and kept pushing the boat off with his feet. She ran up to tell his mother, but she did not go to the top. She turned back, and then she saw that he was overboard. He did not cry out, so far as she was aware. She heard nothing. She ran up and told MRS COOMBES that SIDNEY was in the water. She did not say anything about a boat. When MRS COOMBES and Mrs Bath ran down, which they did immediately, she told them, the boy was not in the same place. He was further out from the bank. He was floating. They tried to catch hold of him but could not do so, as he was too far off. Then MRS COOMBES called Rosie Horne and witness's sister, who were in a boat in the creek. Just as they got to him he sank. The Coroner: What part of the boat was he sitting on when you last saw him out of the water? - He was on the stern, pushing the boat off. Mabel Bath, sister of the last witness, deposed that with Miss Horne, she was in a boat in Waterhead Creek. They heard MRS COOMBES call out, and saw her running down to the water. They called out to her and wanted to know what the matter was, and she replied "My little boy is in the water." They thereupon pulled as hard as they could out of the creek and got to the spot where they saw him floating, a little way from the bank. Just before they could reach him he sank. The water was perfectly clear and they could see him at the bottom. Could you not get him up? - No, sir. Not with a paddle, as Willcocks did afterwards? - No sir. We tried, but our paddles were not long enough. We only had a little punt. You tried whether the paddles were long enough? - Yes, the other young girl tried, but I had enough to do to look after MRS COOMBES. Why? - Because she wanted to jump in after him, and then both would have been drowned. We did everything we possibly could. - Dr Kendall: The paddle with which Willcocks brought the body ashore was in the boat the whole time I think. - Witness: Yes, there was a longer paddle in the other boat. The young girl with me was going to get it when she found hers was not long enough, and then Willcocks came along and got it. - Alfred Willcocks, a carpenter, said he lived in a cottage close by the scene of the accident. He was called about seven o'clock, and ran down to the slipway at once. He jumped into a boat alongside and saw the child at the bottom. He got one of the oars underneath him and raised him to the surface, afterwards getting him ashore with the help of others who put in an appearance. - Dr W. B. Kendall, practising at Kingswear, said he was called between seven and half past. He found the coastguard trying artificial respiration. He emptied the child's chest as far as he could and went on again. There was no pulse to be felt and he could detect no beating of the heart. He came to the conclusion the child was dead, but they proceeded with the artificial respiration for three-parts of an hour. With the Coroner's permission he should like to say to the Jury and the public that the first thing to be done was to empty the chest. It was of no use in the world trying to pump air into a person if the lungs were filled with water. - The Coroner: Is that the Sylvester method? - Yes. The first thing should be to turn the patient upon his face, with the head lowered, that the water may run out. No artificial respiration could possibly be successful until that is done. - P.C. Braund said there were other witnesses present who assisted in getting the child in. - The Coroner said he did not think it necessary to trouble them. Summing up, the Coroner said the child's life, as he said at the outset, was thrown away. He might easily have been saved had people only been a little sharper. He was too far out from the bank for the mother to reach him when she ran down, while just as the boat with the girls in it got to the spot he sank. But it appeared that the paddle with which Willcocks got the body ashore was there the whole time, and one could not help thinking that had there not been so much confusion this might have occurred to someone, and the body might have been got out before it was too late. It was a most unfortunate case. There was the little fellow drowning close by the bank, and yet nobody seemed able to help him. So far as the verdict went, he failed to see what course the Jury could take other than that of concluding that the boy was accidentally drowned. This was the verdict arrived at without hesitation by the Jury, of whom Mr G. Courtiour was the Foreman.

Friday 11 July 1902

TORQUAY - Sudden Death Of MR S. DAVIS. Inquest And Verdict. - An Inquest on the body of SAMUEL DAVIS, aged fifty-eight, commercial traveller, who was found dead in bed on Saturday, took place at the Upton Parish rooms, Torquay, on Monday afternoon, before the County Coroner, Mr Sydney Hacker. MR DAVIS was well known at Dartmouth, owing to his having been in the habit of regularly calling upon many tradesmen here. The following evidence was taken:- ELLEN DAVIS of 5 Summerfield-terrace, identified the deceased as her husband, a commercial traveller for Messrs. Shapley and Son, grocers. He lived with witness at Summerfield-terrace and they were the sole occupants of the house. Her husband had been suffering from suppressed gout for some years and also from a weak heart. On Friday last deceased was very much upset, his employers having given him notice to leave. Deceased came home and told her this, and remained home the rest of that day. On that day he complained of his heart, and was so upset that he could not eat. he told her he should never get over it. He went to bed about half-past eight, much distressed. Deceased had slept by himself lately, and witness saw him as late as 10.15 on Friday night, when she took some water into his room. The Coroner: Was he so excited as to threaten to do himself any harm? - Witness: Nothing of that kind. Continuing, MRS DAVIS said she went in to see the deceased the next morning (Saturday) at 6.15. Deceased was in bed in a natural position, dead, and he did not appear to have had any struggle. The body was still warm, so that her husband could not have been dead long. There was on the dressing table a bottle of acetic acid, which deceased had been using for warts. She did not think he had taken any of that. When she found her husband was dead she went for a nurse. - Jeannette Elizabeth Shack, widow, of 14 Hoxton-road, stated that she was called up by MRS DAVIS about seven o'clock in the morning. She could say MR DAVIS died without a struggle. Witness went for a doctor. There was nothing about deceased's appearance or the room to indicate that he had taken poison. Mr H. Wiggin, surgeon, said he saw the deceased at half-past eight on Saturday morning. the face was drawn, and he came to the conclusion that the man had been dead three or four hours. In the room he found a bottle containing between twenty and thirty drachms of acetic acid. The bottle was nearly full. The post mortem examination showed that there was no trace of the deceased having taken acetic acid. The heart was much enlarged and diseased and the lungs and kidneys were also affected. Death was due to syncope and might have been accelerated by the action upon a weak heart of mental trouble. A verdict of "Death from Natural Causes" was returned by the Jury.

Friday 22 August 1902

BLACKAWTON - On Friday Mr S. Hacker, Coroner for the Totnes district, held an Inquest in the Assembly Room on the body of MR G. LAMBLE, thatcher, who suddenly expired on Wednesday evening on his way home from work. The Jury returned a verdict of "Death from Heart Disease."

Friday 5 September 1902

DARTMOUTH - Tragic Occurrence At Dartmouth. Torquay Man's Fatal Fall. - A remarkable accident occurred on Tuesday evening, resulting in the death of a man named HELLIER, who resided at Torquay. HELLIER was a foreman of builders, and was employed by Mr Goss, of Torquay, who is erecting the new coastguard station on Compass Hill, just outside Dartmouth Castle. It appears that a well had recently been sunk at Townstal, where buildings are shortly to be erected for the owner, Lieut.-General Owen. About 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday deceased, accompanied by a man named Hamlin, went to Townstal to examine the well. At his own request he was lowered by Hamlin down the well in the bucket, which is worked by a winch. The well is sunk about thirty feet, and had water in it nearly 15 feet deep. When deceased wished to come up he called to Hamlin, who accordingly turned the winch and raised him part of the way. Unfortunately then the handle of the winch came off and the bucket, with HELLIER, went down to the bottom with a rush. The police were at once communicated with, and P.S. Hockridge, with P.C. Ford, was quickly on the spot. With the aid of grappling irons the body of the unfortunate man was eventually recovered and conveyed to the mortuary to await the Inquest. The Inquest was held at the Guildhall on Thursday morning by Mr Philip R. Hockin, Deputy Coroner. Mr C. H. Chapman was chosen Foreman of the Jury. William Alfred Harvey, 4 Torbay Terrace, Paignton, said he identified the body of deceased as that of his brother-in-law, EDWIN JAMES HELLIER, who resided at 37 Belgrave Road, Torquay. he was 37 years of age, and was in the employ of Mr Goss, of Torquay. He had been working in Dartmouth for some time. William Hamlin, Harbour View, Kingswear, said he was a labourer employed by Mr Goss. On Tuesday afternoon deceased and himself finished some work on a drain at Kingswear, and afterwards came to Dartmouth to look for a man named Masters, and it took them an hour to find him. Masters arranged to go up with him to the well at Townstal on Thursday morning to work. Deceased then asked witness to go to Townstal with him. After counting the bricks there to see how many would be wanted for the work, deceased asked witness to uncover the well, so that he could look down. Witness did so, and HELLIER looked down. It was about 6.45 p.m. Deceased could not see what he wanted to, and asked witness to lower him down. Witness asked HELLIER to let him go down instead, as he was not such a heavy man. Before lowering him witness asked HELLIER to put the rope round his waist, but the latter said it was not wanted. He got into the bucket and was lowered to the surface of the water. There was a winch for lowering. Deceased said he was all right, and asked witness to pull him up, which he did a little way, when he said "Halt." Just then the handle of the winch came off, and the bucket descended again. There was two handles to the winch, but one man could only use one. I was using the left hand handle [a handle was here produced]. Witness was not sure it was the handle he used, on account of the thickness of the nut. The nut was not tight enough, but did not come off; only slackened. Before deceased went down he screwed the nut tight with his fingers. When the handle came off, witness fell. he tried to hook witness with the hook which was at the end of the rope but the hook would not sink. The weight of the Manilla rope kept the hook from sinking. After trying for some ten or fifteen minutes he went for a policeman. All he could see was the bucket floating. The bucket came off the rope. There were timber cross-pieces in the well. Mr Goss here asked if he might question witness. - The Coroner said he would put any questions Mr Goss wished if he would give them to him. The Coroner (to witness): How far up was the water with regard to the brickwork? - I do not know, but deceased said the water was further up than the bottom of the brickwork. - Did you fall when the handle came off? - When the handle slipped off, I fell. - Which way were you lowering deceased? - I was facing Townstal when lowering, when raising, the opposite direction. I did not put the handle on again. By the Foreman: The hook did not sink enough for it to reach the body. - I have never seen a piece of rope called a "mousing" put on a bucket. By a Juryman: There was no nut on the spindle of the winch. Only a dent in the bar for the point of the screw to catch. I am not sure that the handle was put on the right square. The same rope should have been tied round deceased's waist, his feet being in the bucket. Harry Charles Goss, contractor and builder, Torquay, said he had executed the work of sinking a well at Townstal for General Owen. Deceased was his foreman generally at Compass, and he went up to the well occasionally. He did not know why he went up on Tuesday evening. Witness had had instructions from Mr Back, the architect, to have the well lined from the bottom to where they had finished the brickwork, which was sixteen feet from the top. His orders were that a man should never go down a well, without having two men at the winch. He saw HELLIER about 1.30 on Tuesday morning. He did not give him instructions to visit the well that day. He was told to go to Kingswear to attend to a drain. In the square of the spindle there was a hold about 3/8 ths of an inch into which the screw of the handle fitted. There was an independent piece of rope in which the man being lowered generally put his foot. He should not have believed that the rope would have kept the hook from sinking. He should have thought it was a physical impossibility for Hamlin to have lowered deceased. The winch is not fitted with a break. He got the winch from Mr Ingham, engineer, of Torquay. He could not say whether deceased had been down the well before or not. Hamlin, (recalled): he did not experience any difficulty in raising deceased. He believed he would have got him up quite easily had not the handle come off. In raising him he could not be sure whether he turned the handle once or twice. A couple of turns would be about eighteen inches. Ernest Rowe, labourer, said he was standing outside his door at Clarence Hill, with his brother, about 7 p.m., when Hamlin came down the hill. His brother went for the policeman, and when P.C. ford arrived they all went up to the well. he was lowered into the well. When he was down with the water about up to his knees he felt something under his feet; he pressed it, and it gave way under the pressure. He was tied up under the arms and could not reach it. When he was lowered away the second time it was gone. He was then pulled up to the cross-pieces, where Mr C. Mitchelmore was, and undid the hook from his body and tried to hook deceased, but he could not. The hook was not very heavy, but sank as far as the rope would allow it. Then a ladder was lowered and he tried to walk down it, but it was not long enough. Charles Mitchelmore, farmer, said he was at Townstal on Tuesday evening about 6.30 talking to Mr Henley at the gate of the latter's field. He saw Hamlin running down the churchyard. He told him what had happened and Mr Henley and himself ran up to the well. Mr Henley was going to lower him, but was afraid to risk his weight. A man named Langler came along the road with a horse and cart, and they used both handles to lower witness down. There was nothing on the surface of the water. He remained about an hour and a half, and helped to get the body by grappling irons. Arthur Henley, dairyman, Clarence Street, corroborated. There was only one handle on the winch. Facing the cemetery it would be the right hand handle which had to be put on. In winding up the slack rope, he found the handle gradually working itself off the spindle. Langler came, and they let Mitchelmore down by the winch. The handles acted all right, but he had to watch his, and had to keep a pressure inwards towards the spindle. Mitchelmore said he could see nothing. He screwed the screw as tight as possible with his fingers, but his handle was loose then. The hole on the spindle to take the screw was about an eighth of an inch deep. Wallace Rowe said he went for P.C. Ford and afterwards to Mr Munford's for a ladder and a big rope. He was sent by P.S. Hockridge. Arthur Kyffin Crossfield, physician and surgeon, said he had made an external examination of the body of deceased. He found froth exuding from the nostrils, a jagged wound about an inch long on the upper edge of the right ear, and a bruise on the scalp above and behind the right ear. On making an internal examination he found the lungs were very much distended with water. The left side of the heart was empty, and the right side full of blood. The stomach contained no water, but a certain amount of partially digested food. The other organs were healthy. There was no fracture of the skull, and there was no injury to the brain. He was of opinion that the deceased was unconscious when he fell into the water, owing to the fact that there was no water in the stomach, and also from the evidence that there was no struggling in the water. he considered deceased died from suffocation by water getting into the lungs. The injury to the head was only sufficient to stun him. The edge of ear was only torn. When the handle came off deceased probably fell downwards, striking his head a glancing blow against the side of the well. He thought that two revolutions of the winch, bringing the bucket up about eighteen inches, added to the man's own height, would be a sufficient distance to stun him. James Ford, police constable, said he was called about 6.50 p.m. and immediately went to the spot and found Mr Mitchelmore down the well. Grappling irons were afterwards sent for, which caught the deceased round the leg of his trousers, and he was brought to the surface. A rope was put round his legs and he was brought out of the well. The body was taken to the mortuary. In reply to the Coroner, Dr Crossfield said in this case, after such a long time, artificial respiration would not have been of any use. Thomas Hockridge, police sergeant, said on his arrival at the well he immediately sent for a ladder, and also went to the lodge at the top of Old Mill Hill, and brought a longer ladder himself and some ropes. He also sent to Dartmouth for a grappling iron. He considered it was no use trying artificial respiration. Deceased's watch was stopped at 8 o'clock. The distance from the ground to the water was 19 feet, and the depth of water 13 feet, and from the water to the first stay in the well, 3 feet 9 inches. He put in a postcard, which Mr Goss had given him, which the latter had received from deceased on Wednesday morning. It only referred to the work carried out at Kingswear. The Coroner asked the Jury whether they would like to visit the spot, and an affirmative being given, the Jury went to Townstal and inspected the winch. The Coroner, on their return, briefly reviewed the evidence, and the Jury retired for a few minutes, and subsequently the Foreman said the Jury were unanimous in returning a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony. They desired to add a rider recommending that the windlass should be fitted with a brake, and exonerated Mr Goss and Hamlin from all blame.

Friday 26 September 1902

BRIXHAM - A Brixham Fishdealer's Death. "Chronic Alcoholism." - Mr T. Kellock, Deputy Coroner for Devon, held an Inquest at the Market Hall, Brixham, last evening, into the death of HARRIET REED, a fishdealer, of Higher Street, Brixham, well known at Dartmouth. Mr R. Giles was the Foreman. WILLIAM REED, husband of deceased, said she died on Monday at 10.30 a.m. About a fortnight ago she had a fall in the street, and he knew nothing of it. His wife lately had been a heavy drinker. Ellen Lake stated that on Saturday, the 6th, she saw deceased fall in the doorway of Chudleigh's bar, in Higher Street, between 10 and 11 p.m. She staggered by the side of the wall, and then said she was going home. Robert Cole, police constable, said he saw the deceased about 11.10 p.m. on the 6th in Higher Street sitting on her doorstep. She was intoxicated. He called her husband, and although he complained of her selling a lot of his things, he took her in. Deceased did not complain of any injury from a fall. He saw her again on Monday and Wednesday at her house. She was able to sit up and move about, and did not complain of any injury. Dr Quick stated that on the 15th September he found deceased in bed at her niece's house, when she complained of swollen feet. He treated her, but she said nothing of an injury. On the following Friday he taxed her with having a fall, which she denied. He however, examined her and found the neck of the thigh bone fractured. He attributed death to chronic alcoholism, Bright's and heart disease, and exhaustion following the injury to the thigh. In reply to the Coroner, the Doctor said it was possible for the deceased to walk immediately after the accident, especially if she was under the influence of drink. The Coroner said it was a very sad case. The woman evidently was so much under the influence of drink that she really knew nothing of the injury to her leg. A verdict of "Death from Natural Causes" was returned.

TORQUAY - The Dray Accident. Inquest On The Driver. - Mr G. F. Kellock, Deputy County Coroner, conducted an Inquiry at the Upton parish Room, Torquay, touching the death of GEORGE ALBERT CHURCHWARD, of Paignton, 22, driver for Messrs. Starkey, Knight and Ford, brewers, who met with his death on Thursday last under circumstances already related. Deceased, having frequently visited Dartmouth with his wagon, was well-known in this locality. John Lewis Rossiter, tailor, of 2 Magdala-villas, said he was cycling from Paignton on Thursday evening, and was passing down Breakneck Hill, when he saw one of Messrs. Starkey, Knight and Ford's waggons coming up the hill on its proper side. He passed the waggon, which deceased was driving, just opposite Torbay Hall, and the horses attached to the waggon were trotting at about six to eight miles an hour. There was a slight decline just there, and he had gone about forty yards past the waggon when he heard a crash like the noise of bottles falling. Witness turned in his saddle and saw deceased lying in the road on his stomach. He cycled back to him as quickly as he could, while another man left his cart and went to the deceased's assistance. Witness reached deceased first, and the other man went after the horse attached to the waggon. He placed CHURCHWARD in a sitting position. Deceased looked at him, and appeared to be half-conscious. He seemed to realise someone was beside him, was groaning, but could not speak. A gardener at Torbay Hall gave him some water for deceased. When he saw CHURCHWARD first he was riding with his feet resting on the shaft of the waggon and he took notice of him, as he was driving a little faster than such vehicles are generally driven. In reply to Mr Priston, a Juryman, witness said it was quite natural he should be driving a little beyond the normal speed of such waggons, in order to breast the hill in front of him. Witness went for assistance. A doctor arrived and saw to deceased whilst he was absent. - By a Juryman: He found a bottle in the road near the waggon. A. W. Daniel, a director for the brewers named, said their drivers were not allowed to drive their horses beyond a walk. The horse in question was a perfectly tame one. Deceased was late, and should have been back to the brewery before. Dr F. Frampton, of Paignton, who was passing when the accident occurred, said deceased was perfectly unconscious. There were marks of dust across the abdomen. He procured some brandy, but deceased was too far gone to take it. Witness went to the Torbay Hospital and when deceased was admitted he was dead. The result of a post mortem examination showed that the abdomen was externally bruised. Internally the right lobe of the liver was torn through and there was serious haemorrhage through the injury sufficient to cause death. The injury might have been caused by a wheel passing over deceased. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death, and the Coroner and Jury thanked Mr Rossiter and Dr Frampton for the assistance they had rendered deceased.

Friday 24 October 1902

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At Dartmouth. Result Of Eating Plum Pudding. - At the Dartmouth Guildhall on Thursday morning an Inquest was held by Mr A. M. Davson, Coroner for the Dartmouth district, touching the death of HANNAH INGHAM, cook at Warfleet House, who died suddenly on Tuesday evening. Mr C. H. Moses was chosen Foreman of the Jury. Hetty Wakeham said she was a domestic servant at Warfleet House. She identified the body as that of HANNAH INGHAM, aged 62, who was cook at the same place. Deceased rose about twenty minutes past seven on Tuesday morning and did not complain of being unwell until the afternoon. About a quarter to seven in the evening she was apparently all right again, but at seven o'clock she was taken ill, with violent pains in her back and chest. She sat in a chair for a few minutes, and witness went for the parlourmaid. Just afterwards witness assisted deceased to her bedroom. She could not go up without aid. Witness remained with her in the bedroom for a few minutes, and deceased then told her to go downstairs and see about the dinner. She did so, but after about five minutes she returned to deceased's room. Then deceased was in bed, undressed. She did not reply to questions witness put, although she was groaning. Witness went down and told the parlour-maid, who went up. Witness did not see deceased alive again. - Has she ever complained to you about feeling ill before? - No, never. - Helen Scoble, parlour-maid at Warfleet, said she had heard the evidence of the last witness. It was accurate in every particular. Witness then amplified it considerably. She said she fetched deceased some brandy, and deceased told her she had eaten some plum pudding, and that she thought this had brought about the pains, as she had eaten it rather hurriedly. Deceased vomited, and then went to her bedroom assisted by the last witness. Shortly afterwards - not more than a few minutes - the last witness and the under-housemaid, whom she sent upstairs to see deceased, told her she did not reply to their questions. Thereupon she went up and found her dead. She ascertained that neither the heart or pulse were beating, and then sent for Dr Harris - The Coroner: didn't it occur to you to send for the doctor before? - No, for I didn't think she was so ill. She said it was only a chronic attack of indigestion. - The Coroner: I am not blaming you merely asking for information. - Dr J. H. Harris said he was called to see the deceased about eight o'clock on Tuesday evening. There were no external marks, and he could find nothing, by an external examination, to account for death. By the Coroner's orders he had made a post mortem, and found all the organs of the body in a perfectly healthy condition, with the exception of the aorta, or the large blood-vessel coming from the heart, which was diseased. One of the aortic valves was ruptured. This condition was quite sufficient to cause death. He attributed death indirectly to her having eaten the plum pudding, which brought on vomiting, and that, in turn, ruptured the valve, which brought about death. The plum pudding was the beginning of the whole thing, although the disease was of long standing. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

TAUNTON - Fatal Leap From An Express. Wife's Terrible Ordeal. - The Inquest on the man SMALL, who lost his life by leaping from a Great Western express train near Taunton on Tuesday afternoon, has been arranged to take place at Taunton Hospital this morning. His wife, RHODA SMALL, who was dragged from the carriage in attempting to keep her husband from committing the mad act, and sustained very severe concussion of the brain, was still lying unconscious in the hospital yesterday afternoon, having lain in that state for forty-eight hours. The deceased was up to eight weeks ago employed as coachman in the service of Sir Pery Van Notten Pole, Bart., of Todenham House, Gloucestershire. His wife was lady's maid to Lady Van Notten Pole, in whose service she had previously been at Warfleet House, Dartmouth. Her parents are MR and MRS CARNALL, who reside at Oakford, a hamlet near Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot.

Friday 14 November 1902

DARTMOUTH - The Sandquay Accident. Inquest And Verdict. A Juror And His Question. - At the Dartmouth Guildhall, on Tuesday afternoon, Mr A. M. Davson, coroner for this district, held an Inquest touching the death of JOSEPH FURZE, labourer, who died at the Cottage Hospital, on Sunday, under circumstances fully detailed below. Mr P. R. Hockin appeared for Messrs. Philip and Son. At the outset the Coroner said he had communicated with the Inspector of Factories for the district, but that gentleman was unable to attend. He stated, however, that if it was found desirable to adjourn the Enquiry, he should be able to come on Thursday or Friday. The Jury decided to go on with the Inquest and after viewing the body received the following evidence:- MARY ELIZABETH FORD: I reside at Newton Abbot, and am the wife of THOMAS FORD, a tanner. The deceased was my brother, who resided at Cox's Steps, and was a labourer in the employ of Messrs. Philip and Son, engineers, Dartmouth. He was 36 years of age last January. I know nothing personally of the circumstances attending the accident. - Leonard Lowe: I reside at Dartmouth, and am a plater in the employ of Messrs. Philip and Son. The accident happened on the 14th October, I think. I am not quite sure as to the day. It was about seven o'clock in the morning. I was in the yard hanging up a plate on a vessel. there was a pulley fixed to the beams at the stern of the ship. The Coroner: How do you fasten the plate to the pulley? - With what we call a screw-clamp. Tell us how it is fixed - It is in the form of a semi-circle, and grips the plate on each side. A screw goes through one side of it. I take it the deceased was working with you there? - Yes. How many more men? - four altogether. How high would you have to hoist the plate to get it into position? - About 4ft. 6in. How high had you hoisted it when it dropped? - About 3ft. 6in., to 4ft. Was he standing underneath the plate? - Yes, holding the rope. I suppose he was holding the rope attached to the pulley? - Yes. Before you began this work did you make any inspection as to whether everything, the rope, pulley, and clamp, was in good order? - yes, as far as we could see everything was all right. And the screw fitted tight? - Oh, yes. Now when the plate fell upon the deceased, what did you do then? - Lifted the plate off, and took the man up. did you send for Dr Crossfield? - Yes. And he was then taken to the Cottage Hospital? - I think he was taken home first, and he was then taken to the hospital. What would be the weight of the plate? - About 3 ½ cwt. A number of questions were asked by the Jury. - Can you give the cause of the plate carrying away? - The clamp came off sir. What was the state of the ground around it. Was it clear, or was it, as such places generally are, filled with all kinds of things that would make it difficult for a man to get out of the way of anything falling? - It was clear. The man could have got out of the way all right. there was nothing that would have prevented anyone from getting out of the way. Do you mean that this man ought to have been able to jump clear? - There was nothing to stop him from doing so. How old was the gear used? - I don't know. When was it last used? - It has been used throughout the job. Was the deceased bad on his feet? - Yes, and he was a tall cumbersome man, who could not whip out of the way. Could the deceased have stood clear? - Yes, certainly. I suppose it would have been dangerous to stand underneath a plate, whilst it is being hoisted, and he did so? - No answer. Was there any necessity for this man to have stood under the plate? - None whatever. Questions were put by Mr P. R. Hockin. - When you say he was standing underneath the plate, you mean that his foot was underneath it? - Yes. You don't mean that the man himself was entirely underneath the plate? - Oh, no. And you told the Jury that the ground in the immediate neighbourhood of where the deceased and three other men were, was quite clear. There were no obstructions or obstacles of any kind in the way. Is it so? - Yes the ground was quite clear. And when the plate began to fall would there not have been ample time for an active man, a man not bad on his feet, as you have described the deceased, to have got out of the way, and have jumped back? - There would have been ample time. Yourself for instance? - Yes, yes. Then I take it that the Jury would be right in assuming from your evidence that the plate falling on his feet, was caused more by his bodily state, than by anything else? - Well, yes sir. You were in charge of this? - Yes. And this was shortly after you commenced work in the morning? - Yes. And just before you hoisted the plate you had made an inspection of the tackle? - Yes. And of this clamp? - Yes. All the gear I suppose, and everything? - Yes. And you satisfied yourself that this clamp was screwed up tight before the weight was taken? - Yes. Now, I think you said the tackle had been in use from the time you commenced to work about that boat? - Yes. And is that a period of four months? - yes, but we have not used the tackle all the time. We did not use it until we started upon the big plate. How long would that be? - About two or three months. Not longer? - No. Then the Jury may take it that the tackle had only been used for two or three months? - Yes, about that; it was in sound condition in every respect; I examined it carefully that morning. It was ample for the weight I suppose? - So far as I could see it was, certainly. Jurors put other questions. - Who put the clamp on the iron plate? - I did. Not the deceased? - No. In your opinion was there any blame attaching to the other men? - Not the slightest. have you lifted other plates with the same tackle? - Yes. Have they slipped? - No. Then how do you account for the plate slipping in this instance? - I can't account for it at all. It is unaccountable to me. If it was not screwed up properly it would slip, of course? - yes, but it was screwed up properly; I fastened it myself so I am sure it was all right. Mr Hockin: As a matter of fact, have you lifted heavier plates than this with the same tackle? - Yes. - James Carder: I reside at Dartmouth, and am a plater in the employ of Messrs. Philip. The accident happened on Tuesday, October 14th. The deceased was my mate, and was working on this particular ship. The Coroner: You have heard the evidence of the last witness, and is that correct in every particular? - I believe so. What part were you doing? - I received instructions from my foreman, Mr May, to give a hand when the last witness wanted a lift, that is to say when he wanted to have the plate hoisted. Did you make any examination of the instruments that were being used? - No, sir; none whatever. Where was the deceased standing when the plate fell? - He was standing next to me. How do you think deceased came to have his foot underneath? - I can't tell, but what I think was that the screw giving out and nobody knowing it was going to give out, the man slipped. Just before that we were standing right outside the plate. Then the slipping would cause his feet to go forward towards the plate? - I should say so. I don't know whether he did slip, but he fell down, and I tried to get him up. I didn't know then that the plate was on his foot. He said, "Jim, lift the plate first." Then I saw it was on his foot. Then as regards to sending for a doctor and taking him home, and to the Cottage Hospital, is that correct? - I helped to take him home. Questions by the Jury - It is not yet quite clear to the Jury which part of the plate fell upon the man's feet. Did it topple over as it fell, or did the edge of the plate fall on him? - The edge caught his feet. The plate toppled over when it touched the ground, but not before. Did it fall on one foot or on both feet? - On one foot only. - Alfred May: I am in the employ of Messrs. Philip and Son, and I was on this job with the last two witnesses. We were engaged in hoisting a plate up the stern of the ship. What were you doing in the work? - I was superintending the work in general. You were the foreman, were you? - Yes. Did you inspect the gear that was to be used, previous to the plate being hoisted? - The gear has been used for seven or eight ships, about three or four years. Another witness said two or three months? - I mean the same kind of appliances. That is quite a different thing. Did you make an inspection of it? - No, sir, not on this particular occasion. It was practically in use only seven or eight weeks. You made no inspection? - No, sir. The plate was being hoisted as I passed by. I thought you said you were foreman? - I gave orders for the work to be done. - Mr Hockin: He is foreman of the yard. - The Coroner: I thought he meant that he was foreman of the job? - Witness: I sent the men down to do the work. The Coroner: Did you see the accident? - No, sir. Have you any opinion as to how it happened? - I think the dogs slipped but I do not know why. Everything was done in the usual way and all was in good order. Questions by the Jury - Was that part of the plate where the screw held, at all greasy or anything of that sort? - No, not at all. It was in a condition to hold firmly. In what state was the beam? - The beam is in a perfect state. It is a new beam. Had you inspected the gear? - The gear is inspected daily and hourly. The same gear is being used today and is giving every satisfaction. There is nothing whatever the matter with it. Mr Hockin: You were not present when the dog was screwed up, but you saw it as it was being hoisted, and it was going up satisfactorily. Am I right in saying that? - Yes; as I passed under the stern of the vessel, everything appeared all right. You are the foreman of works there, and have not only the looking after the men, but the gear as well? - Yes. And you had to report if anything was wrong, so that it should be replaced? - If there is a broken article or tool of any description I take it at once to get it repaired as soon as it comes under my notice. It is then either condemned or repaired. Are you personally satisfied, from your position as foreman of the works, that the tackle and everything used in connection with the lifting of this plate was in perfect order? - Yes, sir, and it is still working. Still working? - Yes. Satisfactorily? - Yes. And the beam is the beam of a ship, is it not? - Yes; it is capable of carrying ten tons weight. So that 3 ½ cwt. wouldn't hurt it? - No; but the exact weight of the plate was only 3 ¼ cwt. Safer still then. - Yes. You were on the spot, almost immediately the accident occurred? - I wasn't more than eighteen inches away when it occurred, but I was on the starboard side of the vessel and the plate fell on the port side. Was everything that could possibly be done for the man, done promptly? - Yes. Everything possible was done to relieve him? - Yes; in a moment. One of the members of the firm came and personally bandaged the leg up? - Yes. - Dr A. K. Crossfield: On the 14th October, I was called soon after seven in the morning. I was called to the yard, but on my way there I saw the deceased being taken to his home. I met him at Coombe Terrace. When he reached his home h agreed to be removed straight to the Cottage Hospital. When I examined him at the hospital, I found that he had sustained a compound comminuted fracture of both the bones of the right leg just above the ankle. That means that the bones were broken into fragments. The main arteries of the leg were also wounded. The leg was set and he was there from the 14th to the 24th not going on very satisfactorily. On the 25th I found that mortification had set in and that it was necessary to amputate the leg. He got through the operation all right, but he never went on satisfactorily and on the morning of November 9th he died from blood poisoning. - The Coroner: What, in your opinion, is the cause of death? - Blood poisoning. - The Coroner: A result of the accident? - Yes. Deceased was not a strong man. Questions by the Jury. - The bones were smashed, doctor, weren't they? - Yes. Could that be set? - Yes, it was set. If the leg had been amputated before would his life have been saved? - No, I could not say that. you would not be justified in amputating a man's leg just because it was broken. But when mortification set in? - Then the leg was amputated at once. The blood poisoning was caused by the operation I suppose? - No, not at all. He got through the operation. Mr Ackrell, a Juror, said he had a written question to put, and handed it to the Foreman, who turned it over to the Coroner. It was not read in court. The Coroner: I cannot allow such a question as this. Mr Ackrell: A majority of the Jury wish it sir. The Coroner: I can't help that. I shall decline to allow it to be put. You are here to Inquire into the cause of death of this man. Any questions bearing upon that you may ask, but this question has nothing to do with it, and I shall not put it. Mr Ackrell: I should like the doctor to understand it has nothing to do with him, and is no reflection upon him. The Coroner: Well, I cannot allow it. Mr Hockin put a number of questions to the doctor. - You had other opinions before you amputated his leg? - Yes, I was not alone in my opinion, I consulted others. The deceased was crippled a good deal, I believe. - Yes, from rheumatism. In that case he would not be so nimble upon his legs as other people? - No, certainly not. And the state of his feet and legs would probably prevent him from getting out of the way of a falling body very quickly? - Yes. And would his crippled state and general condition of health account, too, for his not getting on so satisfactorily from the time he came to the hospital down to the time of the operation? - I don't think his crippled state would have anything to do with it, but his general state of health would, certainly. In other words, a stronger man would have got over it? - No, I cannot go so far as to say that. Very likely he would have got over it? - He might have done, certainly. He would be more likely. In your opinion was every reasonable care exercised for the deceased? You met them bringing him in, I think? - Yes, decidedly so. They had done all they possibly could have done for him. The leg was put into temporary splints and was very well put up? - Yes. And that is, I take it, a credit to those who did it? - Yes, decidedly. I think it was Mr John Philip who did this? - I don't know, I did not reach the yard. Anyhow, every care was taken? - Yes, I think so. Summing up the Coroner said the evidence did not disclose any neglect, and, in his view, they could not blame anyone for this unfortunate accident, which he was sure they all regretted. He felt sure he was fulfilling the wish of the Jury in tendering to the widow their sincere sympathy as well as his own. With regard to the cause of the accident the supposition was that the screw came out, but after all it was only a supposition. Apparently every care was taken before the work commenced. - The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, and added an expression of their sympathy. They also considered that no blame could be attached to anyone. Mr Hockin said Messrs. Philip deeply sympathised with the widow. Their names were too well-known in Dartmouth for anyone to consider for a moment that they contributed to the accident in any way. Every proper and reasonable care was exercised at the works to see that all the gear was in sound condition, as the witnesses had told them. It was gratifying to them to see that the Jury had returned such a verdict.

Friday 19 December 1902

BRIXHAM - At an Inquest at Brixham on BERTIE FRANCIS CHAPMAN, aged four years, the son of MR A. CHAPMAN, landlord of the Rising Sun Inn, the mother stated that on Friday evening she poured out hot water to give the child a bath. In her absence to fetch cold water, deceased fell into the bath, and was scalded about the body. It died the following day. Dr G. B. Elliott said death resulted from convulsions, brought on by shock, caused by falling into the bath. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death, and exonerated the parents from all blame.

Friday 2 January 1903

STOKENHAM - Fatality At Chillington. - An Inquest was held at Chillington, Stokenham, on JAMES STEERE, about 16 years of age, found dead on Saturday underneath the shaft of a caret he had been driving, the whole weight of the vehicle as well as the horse, being upon him. Mr Howard Skinner, of Kingsbridge, discovered the lad. Deceased, who had been in the employ of Mr Stooke, of Coleridge, for three years, was driving the horse and cart through the gate leading into the court-yard. Turning the corner too sharply, the cart was turned over, deceased falling underneath the shaft, and the horse on top. A boy, four years old, in the cart, was thrown out, and receiving no harm, ran away home, too frightened to say anything. Dr Oxford Jones said the cause of death was suffocation. No bones were broken, and probably had immediate help been at hand, the lad's life might have been saved. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

DARTMOUTH - A Captain Drowned. The Value Of Swimming. - On Saturday evening a singular case of drowning occurred in Dartmouth harbour, the victim being Captain RICHARD WILLIAMS, master of the steamer Zephyr, a vessel well-known, not only at Dartmouth, but all along the south coast. He came ashore with one of his men about five o'clock, and an hour later left the Union Inn, saying he was going to get some provisions to take off to the steamer. Soon afterwards the ship's empty boat was seen floating down the river near the Southern Embankment, and when it drew nearer to him a lumper named Newland saw the body of a man pinned underneath it. Efforts were made to resuscitate him directly the body could be got ashore, but without success. The Coroner was communicated with and an Inquest held at the Guildhall on Monday afternoon. The following evidence was taken: RICHARD WILLIAMS: I am the son of the deceased and I reside at Almwich, North Wales. I identify the body as that of my late father, who was captain of the dredging steamer Zephyr, at present lying in this harbour. He was 57 years of age. The Coroner: What was his general state of health? - So far as I know, it was pretty fair for a man of his years. How long ago did you last see him? - About half a year ago. You know nothing of the accident I suppose? - No. - William Rogers: My home is in Liverpool. I am second engineer on the Zephyr. I remember Saturday afternoon last, when the captain asked me whether I was going on shore. That was just after five o'clock, as near as I can tell. The Coroner: Did he say anything else to you? - Only this; that he was coming on shore to post a letter to his master, nothing more. Did he say anything to you about his going on shore to have a drink or anything of that kind? - No, sir. Then he left the ship I suppose? - Yes. Who went with him? - A man named James Pollard, who belongs to the Zephyr. do you know anything of the accident personally? - Nothing more than I have been told. Now tell me what his general state of health was, so far as you know. - It was very good so far as I was aware. Did he seem fairly cheerful? - Yes, he did. When he left the ship, to put it shortly, he was in his usual state of health and you noticed nothing about him different from any other time. Is that it? - Yes. Questions were put by Jurors: - Tell me what his sight was like. - he was obliged to wear glasses, but it was not very bad. Just what you might expect in a man of his age. I don't think he was worse than the average man of his years. About the boat in which he went ashore. What was the size of it? - It was about a seventeen-foot boat, I should think. And was it a satisfactory boat? Was it in sound and good condition? - Yes, so far as I know. The boat was a good boat, quite sound. It was a boat suited for the steamer. There was ample room in it and I should call it a safe boat. The Coroner: You did not go on shore with them, did you? - No, sir. - James Pollard: I reside at Liverpool and I am an able seaman belonging to the Zephyr. On Saturday afternoon last the captain asked me to go on shore with him in the ship's boat. That would be about five o'clock as near as I can judge. I went with him into the boat. It was the boat which was afterwards found floating down the river. - The Coroner: The boat from which we assume the accident happened? - Yes, the ship's boat. Well, you came on shore all right, did you? d And what then? - The captain said he was going to get some grub sir. Did he leave you then? - Yes. Did you see him again? - No, I did not see him any more alive. What arrangements were made as to your meeting each other again, after you go ashore? - None at all. I told him I was going for a loaf of bread and he said he was going to get the week's provisions to take off to the Zephyr. About an hour after I left him I heard some talk about a man belonging to the Zephyr having been drowned. that was the first I knew of any accident. Did you go into any public-house together? - Yes, one. That was just before he left me. I was at the public-house when he left me. Then you didn't separate from each other directly you came on shore? - No; we went to get a drink first. I had a glass of beer and he had a "small whisky." We had nothing else. I went out to the back, and when I returned he was gone. I left about ten minutes afterwards. About what time would that be? - I should think about six o'clock. And you had come on shore at five? - About that, as near as I can judge. Did you ask how long he had been gone when you found he was not in the public house? - He was just going out the door when I came in again, and he said "Don't be long." I said "All right, I'll follow you down." Now, which was the public house? - Witness said he did not know the name of the house, and someone else volunteered it - the Union Inn. Was that the house kept by Mr Bartlett? - Yes. Now, when the captain left there where was he going? - to get the provisions. I told him I had to get a loaf of bread and that I should not be long. Then you meant to go back to the vessel together? - Yes, exactly. We were to use the same boat as before. Can you give me any reason why he should try to go off by himself? - No; not the slightest. I was to have been there as well. I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but we want to get at the facts. We must do so, and therefore I must ask you, did he appear to be the worse for liquor? - No. He sculled the boat ashore himself, and he was all right. he only had a "small whisky" afterwards. Was the boat in good order? - Yes; there was nothing at all the matter with it. We could not wish for a better boat, and everything in it was right. Well, you parted, and do you know anything more? - No, I did not see him again. Questions by the Jury: - You say he sculled the boat. Do you mean that he used one paddle or both? - Only one. Where did you land? - I put him ashore at the double steps above the pontoon, and then I made the boat fast to the ladder nearer the pontoon and joined him on the quay. How was the boat made fast? - To the top of the ladder. Was it fastened to a ring-bolt underneath the Embankment wall? - No. Then to unfasten the boat he would not have to lean over the embankment? - Not at all; he could do it easily without leaning over. But to get into the boat he would have to go down the slippery ladder? - I don't know that. He could have untied the rope and drawn the boat along to the steps, where he could have got in without the slightest trouble. Now isn't it a fact that at the Union Inn you asked him for some money and that he would not give it to you? - I asked him for money. And you didn't get it? - Yes. You were in the public house some time according to your statement. Did you have several glasses? - No, we only had what I stated. The Coroner: Was the deceased at all affected by liquor, as far as you could see? - Not the slightest bit, sir. - Alfred Newland: I live at Higher Street, Dartmouth, and am a lumper. On Saturday evening I was on the Embankment between six and seven o'clock. I cannot tell you the exact time. I was standing near Mr Collins' office. I noticed a boat drifting down the river. It was not far off the Embankment. I went towards the ladder where the boats were moored up in order to get out to the empty boat, but I turned back and walked a little way towards the boat. Then I saw the body of a man under it with his head on one side of the boat and his legs the other. How far was it off the Embankment? - Only a yard or so. Not more than two. Then what did you do? - I called to someone named Chase to come and help me, which he did. Did you go off in another boat? - Yes. We went to get another boat, but by the time we came back with it there were two other men in the boat I had first seen. But I thought you were the man who first took him out of the water? - The other two got there before we could get back in another boat. What men were they? - I don't know. Where did they come from? - I did not see where they came from. I thought the boat must have drifted alongside the quay whilst we were gone to the ladder, which was not far away. I certainly understood you were the first in the boat. - The Sergeant: This is the first time I have heard of other men being there before him. It is not the tale he told me. He said he was the first man there and that he took the body out. - Witness: I helped to do so. - The Sergeant: You told me you were the first. - The Coroner: The others ought to have been summoned to give evidence. They got into the boat while Chase and Newland were getting another boat. Where did these men come from? - Witness: I think they came from a vessel close by. Go on with your story. What did you do after you got into the boat? - We went to the other boat and I helped to get the deceased out of the water. You say the men came from a vessel. Where was she moored? - She was close by, moored just off the Quay. The boat must have drifted close alongside it. Now with regard to the state of the boat you saw floating down the river, where were the paddles? - They were laid in the boat in the ordinary way, as if the boat had only just been taken. Can you tell whether they were wet? - I did not take any notice, and besides it was very dark. These two men had they got the body out of the water when you got to the boat? - Yes, one man had him hold with his arms resting on the side of the boat, and I helped to get him into the boat. After that? - We took him to the Embankment, and tried to bring him round, but did not succeed. I think he must have been dead when we got him into the boat. Did you help to take the body to the mortuary? - Yes. Several questions were put by the Jury. - Can you tell whether the painter was in the boat or not? - It was in the boat, put there in what appeared to be the usual way. Can you swim? - No, sir. Could you not have got on board the boat from the quay without going to look for another boat? - No, it was too far off, and with the tide as it was I did not care to risk it. - William Rogers, recalled by the Coroner at the request of the Jury, said he did not think the deceased was able to swim. - The Coroner: Unfortunately there are a great many men who go to sea who are unable to swim - (hear, hear). - Ernest Chase: I am a carpenter in the employ of Mr F. J. Voisey. I have heard the evidence given by Newland, and it is correct as far as I can tell. I heard him call for help, and I ran over and saw the boat. It was too far off the quay for us to get in. We went to the ladder to get another boat, and when we reached the drifting boat we found that another man had got into it He had jumped in from somewhere. I don't know where. The Coroner: The last witness said there were two men and you say there was only one? - One and myself, sir. Newland, recalled, said he thought there were two men. - Chase: I was one. The Coroner: Newland says the paddles and painter were in the boat in a proper manner. What do you say? - They were apparently all right. Continue your evidence: - When we got to the steps there were Newland and myself, a man from the schooner and a man called Ellis, who came after we had got the body in the boat. Are you sure the man came from the schooner? - Yes, he said so himself after we had got deceased on shore. Was he dead when you took him out of the water? - No, I don't think he was. He opened his mouth a little and gave a gasp or two, that was all. Did he make any movement? - The other man said that when he tried to catch hold of his arms deceased "grabbed" for him. What did you do when you landed at the quay? - I told somebody to run for the doctor and the police sergeant. Did they come soon? - About a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes afterwards. Before they arrived did you try to resuscitate deceased? - Yes, we tried our best to pump him out, sir. Questions by the Jury: Were there any provisions in the boat? - I did not see any. The man said the captain told him he was going to get the week's provisions. If he had got them they would have been in the boat? - I did not see anything of the kind. How far do you think the boat was off the shore? - Three good strides sir. Can you swim? - A little. Didn't you care to make the attempt to get into the boat as soon as you knew there was a man under it, without waiting to go to another boat and pull there? - No, I can swim a bit, but not enough for that. I could not have kept up long enough to have done it. - Dr G. M. Soper: I am a surgeon practising at Dartmouth. On Saturday, about 6.50 p.m., I received a message asking me to go to the Lower Embankment. I went immediately with the person who brought the message - a woman. The bystanders, when I arrived, were performing artificial respiration. I examined deceased and continued the respiration for some time, but without success. He never responded to it at all. There were no marks on the body. The Coroner: In your opinion was deceased dead when you arrived? - Yes, I think he was, certainly. To what do you attribute death? - To asphyxia. Do you think his life might have been saved had a doctor arrived sooner? - No, I do not think so. I was there within three minutes of being called. The people were doing all that could to resuscitate him. They were going to work in the proper way. I ascertained what had been done before I came, and I am convinced the proper steps had been taken. A Juror: The Cottage Hospital is close by. If the deceased had been taken there, would it have made any difference, do you think? Would there have been any better chance of restoring him there? - I do not think so. All was done that could have been done and I think he was dead when taken out of the water. Summing up, the Coroner said the Jury had to consider when, how, and by what means the deceased came by his death. As to the first of these three questions, there could be no doubt he died on Saturday evening, and with regard to the second little difficulty would e presented, for it was quite clear from the evidence of the doctor that the deceased was drowned. As to the means, that might present a little more difficulty. All cases of that kind came under one of three heads - murder and manslaughter when the death of the individual was brought about by some other person or persons; suicide when the deceased took his own life; and accident. The first, he thought, might be put entirely upon one side, for there was absolutely no evidence to show that anyone was concerned in causing the death of the unfortunate captain. With regard to the second, suicide, that also might be placed aside, for the deceased, they were told in the evidence, was in his usual state of mind and health, and when he left the able seaman who accompanied him on shore he said he was going to get the week's provisions, and then going back to the ship. There was nothing to suggest that he had determined to take his own life. That narrowed the scope of the Enquiry and it was for the Jury to say whether they thought the occurrence accidental, which he (the Coroner) thought was most probable. The oars and the painter were in the boat, apparently put down in the usual way, and he thought that the most likely thing that happened was that deceased had pushed the boat off from the steps after coiling up the painter, and that he then overbalanced himself and fell overboard. It was a pity that the man or men who first took him out of the water were not called, but they would probably have thrown no additional light on the affair, and certainly would not know how he came to be in the water, for it seemed pretty evident from the position of oars and painter, that he went over the side almost directly after he got into the boat. There was only one thing that struck him as being very remarkable, and in all probability the Jury would view it in the same way. It was a most astonishing thing that there were to be found men who, while seeking the sea as a profession, were quite unable to swim. Further than this it was quite as remarkable that in a seaport town like Dartmouth there were scores of young men who were unable to swim, and who therefore were quite unable to save life even if they saw anyone drowning close by. He did not mean to say that in this case, if Newland and Chase had been able to get to the boat immediately they saw it, the life of the deceased might have been saved, but it was not improbable. It was to be greatly regretted that a knowledge of swimming, which was so valuable an art, was not more general. - The Jury, after brief deliberation, returned a verdict of "Found Drowned." They asked the Coroner to express their sympathy to the relatives of the deceased, which Mr Davson at once did. The Jury also drew attention to the fact that the ambulance on which the deceased was borne to the mortuary had no covering. They requested the Coroner to communicate this to the local authorities, in the hope that such a state of things would not be allowed to continue, for the sake of decency - (hear, hear). The Coroner: I will write to them, certainly.

Friday 9 January 1903

SALCOMBE - Fatality At Salcombe. A Dangerous Practice. Warning To Boat-Sailers. - At an Inquest held at Salcombe on Monday on GORDON VICTOR ROBINSON, aged 21, a labourer, his mother stated that he left home in his sailing boat on Friday morning about half-past nine to go to Castle Wood for firewood he had purchased. He said he would be back for dinner. As he did not return she thought he had gone on to Kingsbridge to see a young woman with whom he kept company. She wired to Kingsbridge on Saturday to know if he was there, and received a reply in the negative. Alice Gillard, of Kingsbridge, said ROBINSON came to see her on Friday morning, but did not stay long, as he was afraid of his boat grounding. he left her about 11 o'clock. John Parsons, of Kingsbridge, said he saw deceased get into his boat and sail away. He did not see the accident. The weather was squally, with misty rain. Wm. Johnson, boatman, Salcombe, deposed to finding the body at the entrance of Bowcombe Lake, and to assisting to raise deceased's boat, a good safe one, fitted with a centre plate. When raised the mizzen and jib sheets were fastened. So also was the mainsail, but it was very slack. ROBINSON could manage a boat fairly well, but was not like an experienced hand. he had heard he could swim very well. The Coroner (Mr S. Hacker) said there would be no difficulty at arriving at a verdict, as the sheets were fast, which should have not been the case. A verdict of "Accidentally Drowned" was returned and Messrs Johnson and Distin were thanked for recovering the body on Sunday in very bad weather. Others who helped in the search were also thanked.

Friday 16 January 1903

KINGSWEAR - Kingswear Porter Killed. Fatality On The Great Western. - On Saturday night the driver of the three o'clock express from London reported to the officials at Ivybridge that some obstruction on the line had been struck between there and Wrangaton, and on the engine being examined it was found that there was a box attached to it. It was surmised that someone had been knocked down, and an examination of the line by Mr Sercombe (station-master at Wrangaton) and Mr Hunt (ganger) resulted in the discovery of the mutilated body of a young man not far from Bittaford. Dr Wilkinson from Blackadon Asylum, was called, but it was evident from the fearful injuries, that death was instantaneous. The body was identified as that of ALFRED HEXT, a young man of the district, and the remains were conveyed to Bittaford Bridge, where his father resides. The deceased had for some time been employed by the Great Western Railway Company at Kingswear, and he was to have commenced work on Monday as porter at North-road. The circumstances under which he came to his death are distressing. It appears that he arrived at Wrangaton station about half-an-hour before his death for the purpose of going home. Instead of proceeding by road, he appears to have preferred walking along the line, where, it has transpired, he was observed by the driver of the up night mail walking on the up "road". The down express was approaching, and as he stepped off the up line between the two sets of metals the express must have caught the box which he was carrying on his shoulders and thus dragged him in front of the train, and caused the loss of his life. The deceased was about 18 years of age.

The Inquest. - An Inquest was held at Bittaford on Tuesday. After the spot where the accident had occurred had been visited, Dr Wilkinson, assistant medical officer at Blackadon Asylum, was called. He stated that on Saturday night he was summoned to see the man, and found him dead. Death had been instantaneous. The driver of the down train stated that a piece of paper was seen to fly from the front of the engine at Bittaford Bridge, and he called his mate's attention to it. Something was also seen to fall on the engine, but it was very indistinct in the bad light, and witness could not say what it was. He stopped the train at Ivybridge, and then ascertained it was a tin box, which deceased must have been carrying on his shoulder. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned, and a vote of sympathy was expressed to the friends of the deceased. Inspector Scantlebury watched the case on behalf of the G.W.R. Co.

Friday 6 March 1903

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death of A Dartmouth Pensioner. The Inquest. - Mr J. A. Pearce, Coroner, on Wednesday, held an Inquest on JAMES EDWIN WILLS PYE, 57 years of age, naval pensioner, of 10 Prospect-row, Devonport. MARY PYE, widow of deceased, said they had lived at Dartmouth for seventeen years, and only came to Devonport last Friday week. They first went to lodge in Clowance Street, until they obtained rooms at Prospect-row. Her husband appeared to be in good health during that time, and on Monday night when they went to bed he still seemed to be in his usual health. When she awoke about 8.30 on Tuesday morning she found her husband dead. Dr Saunders said he saw deceased about nine o'clock on Tuesday morning; he had then been dead some hours. From a post mortem examination he found deceased had died from rupture of the heart. The Jury returned a verdict accordingly.

Friday 13 March 1903

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death Of A Child. Inquest At Dartmouth. - On Tuesday afternoon, at the Guildhall, an Inquest was held by Mr A. M. Davson, Coroner for Dartmouth, touching the death of LIONEL STEPHENS PASCOE, aged eight months, found dead in bed the previous morning. Having viewed the body, the Jury received the following evidence: HENRY PASCOE: I am a solicitor's clerk residing in South ford road. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my late son, who was eight months old. He had been ailing since birth. - The Coroner: Have you had any medical attendance since the birth? - Yes, once or twice. Dr Harris attended him about a month ago. On Sunday he was rather poorly. We did not send for a doctor as we did not think there was anything serious the matter. - The Coroner: What did you think it was? - We thought the child had caught a fresh cold, nothing more. On Sunday night he was still unwell, but towards the evening he brightened up considerably and I had him playing with. The child slept with the housekeeper. I last saw him alive about ten o'clock on Sunday night. I knew nothing from that time until twenty minutes past ten next morning, when I heard the child was dead. I went to the office at half past nine and nearly an hour later a message was brought me that I was wanted home. When I got there I found that the child was dead. A doctor had been sent for. - The Coroner: I believe a short time ago the child's mother died? - Yes. - Ann Maria Trout: I act as housekeeper for MR PASCOE. I had charge of the child at 10 p.m. on Sunday. He slept in my room on my bed. At 10 o'clock he seemed poorly, and apparently it was a cold, for he was tight on his chest. The Coroner: Did you do anything for the child? - No, sir. Did he go to sleep? - Yes, he slept for a little while and then he woke up again. He never slept very well by night. He kept on waking. I did nothing for him. About eight o'clock when I got out, I thought he was asleep. I went down to the other children, and when I went back to the bedroom at 10 a.m., I found he was dead. I at once sent for old MR PASCOE, who lives in the house, and a neighbour sent for the doctor. The Coroner: Why didn't you send for the doctor at once? - The doctor was sent for without delay, and came within twenty minutes or half-an-hour. What has been the general health of the deceased as far as you know? - He has been a very delicate child. Do I understand you didn't give the child anything in the night? - I gave him milk two or three times during the night, from a bottle. I thought you said you did nothing? - I didn't know you meant giving him anything to eat or drink. The Coroner: Yes, that is just what I did mean. A Juror: Can you tell us how long it was between the last time you gave the child milk and when you found him dead in his bed? - No, I am not sure as to the time at all. Don't you think that from eight in the morning to ten was a long time to leave a weakly child by itself? - I could not help it. I had to attend to other things. I thought he was asleep. But a sick child should always be the first claim? - Certainly, but I did all I could. I made sure he was asleep. - John Henry Harris, doctor of medicine, practising at Dartmouth: On Monday morning I had a message about half-past ten. I reached there about eleven o'clock, and found the deceased lying in the bed, in the bedroom. The body, on examination, appeared well-nourished and clean, and there were no marks of violence about it. It was perfectly cold and I think deceased had been dead for some hours - from eight to ten hours probably. The Coroner: You have attended the child? - Yes, the last time I saw him was on the 13th February. he has been a sickly child from his birth, and has had convulsions. I suppose you can hardly say whether if you were sent for earlier, the child's life might have been saved? - It is impossible to say. The time before, when I saw the child, he was in a miserable, poor, neglected condition, due, no doubt, to the death of the mother, but I gave the last witness instructions what to do, and when I saw the child again he appeared to be well-nourished and in good condition generally. There was nothing to find fault with. He has had convulsions, and he may have had one or two during Sunday night, or it might have been one of those cases in which a cold rapidly fills up the chest with fluid. There is nothing to indicate that death was due to anything but natural causes. The Coroner: I should like to ask Mrs Trout a question. She said just now in her evidence that two or three times during the night she gave the child milk. Now the doctor says that he thinks the child had been dead eight or ten hours when he arrived. - Mrs Trout: I don't think it could have been as long as that, sir. Do you know the last time you gave him milk? - I could not say the exact time. There was no clock in the room, but he had the bottle several times during the night, sir. Summing up, the Coroner said the case presented no difficulty. The evidence was perfectly clear, and the doctor's statement showed that there was no reason to suppose that death was due to anything but natural causes. He had not ordered a post mortem to be made, but if the Jury wished it, he could adjourn the Inquest that such an examination should be made. Personally he did not consider it necessary. The Jury saw no reason to ask for a post mortem, and returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence - that death was due to Natural Causes, probably convulsions.

Friday 27 March 1903

STONEHOUSE - Sudden Death On Board The "Isis." - At the Royal Naval Hospital, Stonehouse, Mr R. R. Rodd, Coroner, held an Inquest on ALBERT VICTOR CURLING, domestic servant, who died suddenly on the cruiser Isis. Staff-Surgeon A. S. Nance of the Isis, said the deceased, who was about thirty years old, went ashore on Saturday morning, and returned to the ship yesterday morning about nine o'clock. While being conveyed to the vessel he complained of pains in the chest. On reaching the ship he was put to bed, the pains became more violent, and he died while under medical examination. Death was due to heart failure. A verdict to that effect was returned. Mr E. V. Peck (Messrs. Venning, Goldsmith, and Peck) attended the Inquest on behalf of the Admiralty.

Friday 24 April 1903

DARTMOUTH - Dartmouth Cyclist's Sad Death. Found Dead In The Highway. Cause: Heart Disease. - On Sunday the sad intelligence reached Dartmouth that a young man named CHARLES HENRY KEMP, a fitter employed at Devonport Dockyard, and whose parents reside at Dartmouth, had been found dead in the main road near Ivybridge, close to his bicycle. The Inquest was held at the Bridge Inn, Ivybridge, on Monday evening, by the Deputy Coroner (Mr G. F. Kellock). The Jury, after proceeding to North Fillham to view the body, received the following evidence: WILLIAM ROBERT KEMP, dockyard fitter, residing at 10 Paisley Street, Stoke, Devonport, was called to identify the body. He said the deceased would be twenty years of age next birthday, and was also a fitter employed in the dockyard. The Coroner: When did you last see him alive? - On Saturday, about half-past one. Where was he then? - At my home. Did he live in the same house as you? - Yes, he lodged with me at the address I have given. Well, you last saw him at half-past one on Saturday. What happened then? - He left on his bicycle to go to Dartmouth. I saw him and had a conversation with him during the dinner time. He then said he was going into Plymouth first to see a chum, and try to get him to go to Dartmouth with him. He also said that if his chum would not go he did not know whether he should go by himself or not. He put it in this way - that if he was not back by his usual time in the evening we should know he had gone to Dartmouth. Well, he started on a bicycle for Dartmouth? - Yes, because he didn't come back at his usual time. And he didn't intend to return the same night I suppose? - No, he intended to come back on Sunday evening. And you have not seen him alive since? - No. Has he ever had any illness that you know of, or made any complaint to you? - He had an illness some years ago. He had congestion of the lungs as a boy. Yes, anything else? - Between two or three years ago, he had an accident. What was that? - He was caught in a lathe at Dartmouth, during his employment, and dislocated his left shoulder. What sort of health was he in on Saturday? - Very good health sir, as far as I know. You know nothing to account for his alarming death? - No, except that he has complained to me on several occasions about his heart. Has he received medical advice for it? - No. It was nothing serious then? - No. Did he suffer from indigestion of anything of that sort? - I never heard him complain of that, but if he ran for a short distance he used to complain of his heart. Of palpitation of the heart? - Yes. He had symptoms of heart weakness? - Yes. You know nothing of the circumstances attending the actual death? - No. - The Jury had no questions to ask. - William Frank Johns, residing at Ugborough: I was riding a bicycle on the road near Bittaford Bridge on Saturday afternoon when I noticed another bicycle on the other side of the road - the right-hand side. The Coroner: Tell me precisely where that was? - What was the name of the hill? - I am not sure that I know the name of it. - A Juryman: David's Cross. Witness, proceeding: First I saw the cycle, and then I noticed there was a man lying partly under it. At first I thought he was merely resting, but on a second glance, I saw that his leg was doubled under him, and I jumped off and found it was the deceased, and that he was quite dead. Was he lying in the road? - He was lying in the ditch, sir. You are quite sure he was dead? - Positive, sir. What did you do then? - I jumped on my bicycle and rode to Fillham and called someone from there, and then I came back to Ivybridge and fetched a policeman. You were quite right in doing that. Was the deceased then removed? - Yes he was taken to Fillham. The Foreman: I should like to ask the witness this question - whether, in the road, he found any signs of an accident, any big stones or anything of that kind that might have caught his bicycle and thrown him? - No, there was nothing to be seen like that. The road was quite clear. Was the bicycle hurt? - No, not that I could see. It was in such a position that it looked as though the deceased had rested it there. The Coroner: Then what, in your view, was the deceased's intention? - I should think, by the look of it, that he intended to ride into the hedge and dismount, but I think he must have fallen off in the very act of dismounting. His left leg was underneath the machine. There were no marks of a disturbance or anything of that sort? - None whatever. No blood about or any signs there had been a struggle, or violence? - No. - P.C. Harvey, stationed at Ivybridge: Having received information from the last witness that the body of a young man had been found in the road, with a bicycle, I at once went to the spot and found everything as described by Johns. Deceased was quite dead. What did you do? - I sent straight away for Dr Cooper. And then? - Then I had the body removed to Fillham. Did you see any marks of any disturbance or struggle, or anything of that sort? - Nothing, sir. You have nothing to report then, beyond the finding of the body? - Nothing, except that I searched the body of the deceased and found various articles on him, by which we were able to establish his identity. That is all the evidence you can give us actually bearing on the death? - Yes. - Dr C. H. Cooper, practising at Ivybridge, said he was called to see the deceased about half-past three on Saturday. The Coroner: We have not had the time of day from any of the other witnesses yet. - Johns, re-called, said it was about five minutes past three when he left Bittaford Bridge. - The Constable said that would make it about ten minutes past three when the witness reached the spot where deceased was found. - Witness: About that, I should think. Dr Cooper, continuing, said deceased was quite dead when he arrived on the scene. The Coroner: Where was he when you got there? - He was lying in the road with his back towards the hedge. You have examined the body? - Yes. Did you find any marks of violence? - There were no marks of violence. Or any signs of poison? - No. Were the organs healthy? - I found the heart was diseased. Anything else? - One of the blood-vessels leading from the heart was also diseased. Well, was all this sufficient to cause sudden death? - Yes, quite sufficient. Did you find anything else in your examination? - I found pleural congestion of the right lung. The lung was diseased? - Yes, there was pleurisy of somewhat long standing. It was evidently an old lung trouble. Then to what do you attribute death? - To heart failure. Would this be a very fast ride for the deceased, from Devonport, in two hours? - No, I don't think so. What do you say, MR KEMP? - No, I think he must have taken it very quietly to have only got so far as Ivybridge in two hours, provided he did not stop about anywhere. A Juryman: It is twelve miles. That would be only six miles an hour. Dr Cooper said there was one thing: it was a very long pull through and out of Ivybridge, though it was a ridable hill. The Coroner: I may take it from you, I think, that a man suffering from this heart disease riding up a hill of this sort would strain his heart a good deal, and it would therefore be accompanied by great risk. Is that so? - Yes, it is perfectly true. Do you think the over-exertion did it, or would he have died apart from that? Was his heart sufficiently diseased to have brought about his death without the bicycle riding? - No; I don't think so. It must have been the extra exertion riding up the hill. Driving too much blood to the heart? - Yes. MR KEMP: Can I ask the witness a question? - The Coroner: Yes if you wish it? - Mr KEMP: If he had been at work, doctor, and had done rather a hard job, don't you think it might have caused his death just as much as bicycle riding? - It might have caused his death, certainly. If he went running would he be likely to drop at the end, just as likely as dropping dead when riding a cycle uphill? - I think riding a bicycle uphill is about the worst thing for a weak heart. It would strain him immensely to get to the top of the hill. The Coroner: If he went running he would lose breath quicker, I take it, and nature would intervene. In cycling uphill he could keep it up longer, and thus strain his heart very much? - Exactly. MR KEMP: In time would his heart have been so diseased that he might have died without any exertion whatever? - I could not go as far as to say that. The disease might have grown worse certainly, but I knew a "young" man of 84 years, who had had chronic disease of the heart for many years. When he died it was found that he did not die from that at all. The Foreman: Running or cycling won't do for a young man, or an old one either, if he has heart disease? - No. The Coroner: MR KEMP is there any further question you wish to put to the doctor? - No, I think not. You don't think there is any suspicion of blame attaching to anyone? - No, certainly not. There is just one point. I want to ask the young man who found him whether there was anything pointing to reckless or furious riding on his part? - Johns said no. It was clear to him that the deceased was in the act of dismounting. P.C. Harvey said the cycle was close by if the Jury wished to see it. It was undamaged. There was not a scratch upon it. - A Juryman: I should like to know from the brother whether the machine is as sound now as it was when the deceased left the house at Plymouth? - MR KEMP: Yes, in every respect. The Coroner, summing up, said: The Jury have now to consider what was the cause of death, and I don't think they will have much difficulty in coming to a conclusion. You have now to decide in your own minds, according to the evidence which has been placed before you and which, so far as I can see, is perfectly clear, whether the death was accidental, or whether it was due to natural causes. That is the object of this Enquiry. I don't propose to detain you with a long speech. It will be for you to say what is the cause of death, and in the first place you will have to consider whether there is anyone to blame. If not, was it an accident, and if it was not an accident was it due to natural causes. This poor boy appears to have been suffering from heart disease and anyone suffering from that, who rides a bicycle up-hill, does so at very great risk - of course he does - particularly if the hill is a steep one, and if it entails very hard work on a bicycle, as many hills do. In the present case the hill seemed to be too much for him. Apparently he was in the act of getting off the machine when he fell and died. This looks to be the most probable. He might have died on the machine and have fallen off dead, or he might have got off first and then died. That is immaterial. It is a very sad case, and we are all, I am sure, bitterly sorry that it should have happened. We extend every sympathy to his relatives, who must be greatly shocked at having one of their family cut off like this, in his young life. I cannot see there is any blame attaching to anyone in this matter. It is merely a very sad incident. If you believe the evidence that has been given, your verdict will be that the deceased died from natural causes - heart disease - whilst riding a bicycle. The case is quite clear to my mind. - The Jury at once returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

TOTNES - Drowned In The Dart. Inquest At Totnes. - Mr G. F. Kellock (Deputy Coroner) held an Inquest at the Guildhall, Totnes, on Saturday morning relative to the death of JOHN GROVES, a seaman, who was discovered drowned in the Dart on Friday morning. Captain H. Columbus stated that the deceased joined the crew of the Rochester Castle on March 10th at London. He described himself as JOHN GROVES, forty-two years of age. He understood that deceased was previously discharged from a Falmouth vessel. He last saw him alive on Thursday, about 5.30. About midnight witness was in bed, when he heard someone shout "Throw a rope," and on coming on deck he found there was a man overboard. Witness saw the boat lowered, and the river was searched in vain until 12.25. It was a quarter ebb tide at the time. Asked by the coroner as to how the deceased got on whilst on the vessel, the captain related how a day or two previous the deceased, under the influence of drink, threatened the lives of all on board, but he asked for forgiveness when sober, and worked all right again. On Thursday he had no breakfast or dinner, and it was only by pressing him that deceased had very little tea. Witness had made a couple of cash advances to him, the last being 5s. on Thursday tea time. He could not say whether deceased could swim or not. John Cornwall, the mate, gave similar evidence, adding that he understood deceased could swim. Dr Smith said death was due to drowning. The organs of the body were well nourished. There were no marks of violence. P.S. Webber stated that he saw deceased going to the ship on Thursday evening about eleven o'clock. W. Harper deposed that deceased paid for repairing a pair of shoes at his shop at 8.15 p.m. on the day in question. The Coroner stated that the only difficulty was that of identification. He had telegraphed to Bristol, where deceased was supposed to belong, but they had been unable to trace his relatives. A verdict of "Accidental Death from Drowning" was returned, the Jury being of opinion that deceased fell into the water whilst going aboard the vessel.

Friday 8 May 1903

DARTMOUTH - Alleged Child Neglect At Dartmouth. Narrow Escape From Manslaughter. Father And Housekeeper censured. - At Dartmouth Guildhall on Monday afternoon, Mr A. M. Davson, Coroner for this district, held an Inquest on the body of SUSAN IVY SAGE, aged 16 months. Having viewed the body, which lay at the mortuary, the Jury received the following evidence:- THOMAS SAGE, lumper: I reside at Coles Court. The deceased is my daughter. She has been very delicate ever since her birth, from her mother's complaint. I called in Dr Crossfield some five or six months ago. My housekeeper said deceased was suffering from her teeth. The Coroner: Now when did the child show signs of recent illness? - On Saturday, I thought I saw a slight change in her. Did you send for a doctor? - No, I did not think she was so bad as to need a doctor. I thought she had a bit of a cold. Did the child sleep in your room? - Yes, in a cot right alongside my bed. She went to bed about the usual time on Saturday night, between six and half-past. I went to bed about eleven o'clock. The child was all right then. I went to work early in the morning, and when I came back to breakfast she was all right. When I left the house at 8.30 a.m. on Sunday she was living, and had her milk. Have any complaints been made by any public body as to the way in which you treat your children? - Not that I know of, sir. Did the mother die some time ago? - Yes, about fifteen months ago, sir. And then you employed a housekeeper? - No, I was not there, sir. Questions by the Jury: - You say the child was suffering from the same complaint as its mother. What was that? - Tumours. Was the child looked after in a proper manner? - Yes, so far as I know. - Susan Hayman, nurse: I was at the birth of deceased. I had charge of the child for some little time afterwards. I took her from the mother on March 4th and kept her until March 9th, and then the housekeeper came and I handed the baby over to her. In your opinion what was the condition of the child's health? - Very good, sir. Have you seen anything of the child since? - No; not until I saw her dead, when I was sent for. Were you called yesterday? - Yes. About a quarter to nine in the morning Miss Ramsey came and asked me to go to the house, as the child was dead. I told her she had better send for a doctor first, and she did so. Questions by the Jury:- The child was about three months old when you gave it up, I believe? - Yes, about that, I should think. That would be thirteen months ago, and having seen the body now would you consider the child has grown as it ought to have done? - No, decidedly not. It is not so big now as it was when I handed it over to the housekeeper. Can you account for that in any way? - No, I know nothing of it. - Amelia Ramsay, housekeeper for the father: I have been in the house at Cole's Court nearly fourteen months. I received the baby from Nurse Hayman, as she states. Since I have had it the child has been in very delicate health. You heard the last witness say that the child was in a good state of health when she left it in your care. Is that so? - Yes, I should think it was. She ate ravenously, but she has never seemed to grow. She has always been delicate, though. When did you first notice anything the matter with her? - I should think about Thursday. It did not appear to be anything serious. She had a nasty cough. Didn't you think of sending for a doctor? - No, I didn't think it was at all necessary. I didn't think she was so bad as that. What time did you put the child to bed on Saturday? - About seven. Did she sleep in the same room with you? - Yes. In a cot by the side of the bed? - Yes sir, quite right. What time did you go to bed? - About half-past ten. Now, had you gone up to see if the baby was all right between seven and half-past ten? - Yes, twice sir. She was all right then. When did you first notice anything wrong? - Not till half-past eight on Sunday morning. She was all right at twenty minutes to five when I gave her the bottle. At half-past eight I saw a change, and as her father was away at the time, I called Mrs Hellier, who also lives in Coles Court, and who came up. She said the baby was dead. Then I went for the nurse and Dr Crossfield. You have heard what has been said as to its being a fine child. Can you account for its not having grown more? - Not in the slightest sir. How many other children are there for you to look after? - Only one. Questions by the Jury:- Did the child sleep well on Saturday night? - Yes, all night, as far as I know. It never disturbed me. What kind of food did you give it? - tinned food recommended to me by a chemist, sir. - Dr A. K. Crossfield: On Sunday last, about 9 a.m., I was called to see the deceased, and I went shortly afterwards. I made an external examination of the body, and then reported the death to the police. By the direction of the Coroner I afterwards made a post mortem examination. The Coroner: You attended the deceased child some time before, I believe? - Yes, some six or eight months ago. Had you any special reason for going then? Were you called to see it? - I think I was called on the first occasion I went there. I went several times afterwards. Please tell the Jury the result of the post mortem. - I externally examined the body. The child was 25 inches in length and weighed 9lbs. 5ozs. The normal weight of a child at that age would be quite double that. The child was very much emaciated and very much deformed. Would the deformities affect the growth? - Well, not the deformities, but the disease would, undoubtedly. The chest especially was much compressed. I found a bruise about the size of a shilling on the left knee, and one rather larger on the left side of the back. Can you in any way account for these bruises? - No, I cannot. On making an internal examination, I found most of the organs were tuberculous, and especially the lungs and bowels, while the condition of the lungs also indicated bronchitis. I think the child died from acute bronchitis, but it would have died from tuberculosis. Would the bruises in any way account for death? - No; not in any way. Was there any food in the stomach? - There was some partly digested food there. Now, let me ask you a question for the information of the Jury. Would you say that death was brought about by neglect? - I don't think I can say that. I continued to attend the deceased, because I found that the agent for the N.S.P.C.C. was enquiring into the case. The child very much improved then, but during the last six or eight months it has got very much worse, and I think the people who have had the charge of it should certainly have had medical attendance before. Questions by the Jury:- Did you weigh the child six or eight months ago? - No. - Then you cannot say whether it has lost in weight since then. - Yes,; I think I can. I think it has lost in weight, certainly. To what, in your opinion, would that be due? To neglect? - No, I cannot say that. I think the disease would account for it. Do you think the child has been sufficiently fed? - I cannot say that it has not. I think it has not been properly fed. It is a very excellent food, but I don't know whether it has been given regularly or not. Positively, you think the disease would cause the diminution in weight? - Yes, I do. I think it must have been evident the child was dying, to those who had charge of it, for some time. - The Coroner: Do the Jury wish to ask any other questions? - Dr Crossfield: May I say another word? - The Coroner: Certainly. Dr Crossfield: I don't think that a child of that age should have had any bruises at all upon it. It could not have crawled, or walked, or fallen, and I don't think there should have been any bruises upon it. - The Coroner: We will re-call the father. - THOMAS SAGE, re-called, said he did not know the bruises were there. He could not account for them in the slightest. Questions by the Jury:- The doctor says it was obvious that the child was in a dying condition for some time. didn't you notice it? - No, I thought she only had a slight cold, sir. Is the child insured? - Yes, sir. Do you think your housekeeper was a fit and proper person to have charge of the child? - It is like this sir. You must understand it is a difficult thing to get them. The Coroner: You must answer the question please. - Well, a housekeeper is not like the child's mother, of course. She didn't look after it at first, but after the doctor came and saw the child she was all right. When you found she was not looking after it don't you think it was your duty, as the father, to get somebody else? - Where could I get them, sir? - You must not ask me questions. You are here to answer questions put to you. - Well, I could not have got anybody else. She acted all right. - Amelia Ramsey, re-called, also denied knowing anything of the bruises. She never saw any on the child. Questions by the Jury:- How often did you wash it? - Once a day, every morning. What has it been fed upon? - Tins of food and new milk. How much milk a day? - A pint, sir. Now do you mean to tell the Jury you didn't see the child was seriously ill? You have heard what the doctor has said. - No, I didn't. I didn't see any serious change in her till Sunday morning just before she died. I should like to know if you are near-sighted? - No, not at all sir. - Dr Crossfield, re-called, said he thought the bruises must have been there a day or two, though it was hard to say precisely. There was no doubt as to the cause of death and he could not say that it was brought about by neglect in any way. Summing up, the Coroner said he could not help thinking, with ordinary care, the death of this child might have been avoided. Of course they had the doctor's evidence as to the nature of the disease from which it was suffering. It was handed by the nurse to the housekeeper, a healthy, well-developed child, but it did not seem to grow as a child should have grown, though the medical evidence accounted for that. The question of negligence in matters of this kind was always of the utmost importance. If the Jury really thought that death had been accelerated by neglect, it was distinctly their duty to record a verdict of manslaughter against either the father or housekeeper or both, as the evidence might direct. Personally, however, he did not think there was evidence of sufficient criminal neglect to justify them in arriving at such a verdict, particularly when they bore in mind the doctor's plan statement as to the cause. It appeared to him there were a good many people who thought that when they brought children into the world their responsibility ended. It was not so. It was their duty to see the child was fed and cared for, and neglect was punishable. It seemed that the housekeeper in the present instance was hardly a suitable woman to have charge of a young child. It was hard for the man, naturally, who had to be out at work all day and sometimes at night, but it was his duty, as the father, to see to it that his child was not neglected, and that whoever he employed to look after it was capable of doing so. The Jury then retired. After some ten minutes they sent for the doctor, and then returning to open court put additional questions to him. The Jury want to be perfectly clear upon one or two points, doctor. With regard to the deformity of which you have spoken, was that brought about by disease or by neglect or ill-treatment? - By disease, certainly. I think you stated clearly that the loss in weight was due to disease? - Yes. Now, supposing a medical man had been called in, do you think the child's life might have been saved? - I could not go so far as to say that. Nothing could have saved the child from the disease. Do you know whether the N.S.P.C.C. have enquired into the case since you attended the child? - I do not know. With regard to the bruises, were they of such a nature that a nurse should have seen them? - They were very well-defined bruises. I think a careful nurse would have seen them. I pointed them out to the woman after the child's death. The Jury then retired again, and five minutes later returned a verdict of Death from Acute Bronchitis, in accordance with the medical evidence. They asked the Coroner to severely censure Amelia Ramsey for obvious neglect of the child, and to censure THOMAS SAGE for not employing a more suitable person, after he found she was not properly looking after the child. The Jury further expressed surprise that, after enquiring into the case some six or eight months ago, the N.S.P.C.C. did not appear to have followed it up. Calling SAGE forward, the Coroner said he agreed with every word put forward by the Jury. The case had approached very nearly to manslaughter and the father and his housekeeper might consider themselves very lucky to have escaped such a charge. He hoped it would be a warning to them. Children of tender years must be protected, and a parent could not shirk his responsibilities in this respect. - Calling Amelia Ramsey forward the Coroner also censured her. He declared that it appeared to him that she must have lacked the maternal instincts of a mother. One would have thought that sympathy for the little one, who had no mother, would have touched the woman's heart, but it did not appear to have done so. The Coroner added that he would forward the Jury's reference to the N.S.P.C.C. to the office of that society.

Friday 22 May 1903

KINGSWEAR - The Sudden Death of CAPT. ODGERS. Inquest At Kingswear. Doctors And The Coroner's Rule. - At the Royal Dart Hotel, Kingswear, on Friday evening, Mr Sidney Hacker, County Coroner (Newton Abbot), held an Inquest touching the death of CAPTAIN RICHARD ODGERS, skipper of the yacht Gelert, who was found dead in a store at Noss, under circumstances briefly referred to in our last issue. Mr W. H. West was chosen Foreman of the Jury. The body, which had been kept at Noss pending the Inquest, had been viewed by the Jury prior to the arrival of the Coroner, and this fact was duly testified to by the Foreman. The following evidence was received:- THOMAS ODGERS: I live at Cawsand, in Cornwall, and am a Trinity Pilot. The deceased was my brother. he was a master mariner. The Coroner: Master of a yacht? - Yes, skipper of Sir John Jackson's yacht Gelert. He had a certificate, I suppose? - No, I don't know that he had. Then how could he be a master mariner? - He was master of a yacht. - The Foreman of the Jury explained that it was not necessary to hold a master's certificate to be skipper of a yacht. Witness continuing: Deceased was 57 years of age, and his home was at Devonport. I last saw him alive on Sunday at Devonport, and he was then in his usual health. The Coroner: Did he enjoy good health as a rule? - Yes, very good indeed, so far as I am aware. You do not know that he was suffering from any weakness of any organ, or anything of that sort? - No, not that I am aware of. He never made any complaint to me. He came to Devonport from Saturday to Monday, and knowing he was there on the Sunday I went over from Cawsand to see him. - Arthur Whitley: I am assistant-manager of the Pier and Extension Works at Devonport. I was at the engineering works of Simpson, Strickland and Co., at Noss yesterday afternoon, and was in the company of the deceased. I was in conversation with him for some time, and when I left him it was exactly 20 minutes to four. I looked at my watch then. Deceased was then close to the yacht stores at Noss. The Coroner: Was he apparently in his usual health or not? - In his usual health, so far as I know. What was the conversation? Just ordinary? - Yes, we were only talking about the work on the Gelert, which was fitting out at Noss. I might add that coming from the landing stage towards the yacht stores, deceased said to me "I have a bit of indigestion and feel a pain in the chest." Did he suggest that it was anything very bad? - No, he simply said it was a slight touch of indigestion. Apparently he was in good health. - Joseph Murrish: My home is at St. Ives, and I am an able seaman on board the yacht Gelert. I was in the company of Mr Whitley and CAPT. ODGERS when they went up to the yacht stores. When Mr Whitley left the yard I took him down to the station at Kingswear, and I returned directly. On getting back to the yard I saw that the door of the store was open and I went in to see whether the crew were there. That would be about half an hour after Mr Whitley had left the yard. Immediately I got into the store I found the deceased lying upon some rope, which was on the floor. The Coroner: How far in the store was he? - he was quite close to the door sir. It looked to me as if he had only just got inside and had then fallen down. Were there any signs that there had been a disturbance, or any struggle, at the spot? - No, nothing. It seemed as though he had dropped down very suddenly just as he was stepping into the store. Was he quite dead? - Yes, I think so. I immediately ran for the mate of the Gelert and then for the doctor. Was he lying on his back or face? - On his face. - Arthur Whitley, re-called, was asked by the coroner to say exactly where the deceased was standing when he left him. - He was close to the stores. There are steps leading up to them, and while I was there deceased went up the steps and came down again. - The Coroner: So that he must have gone up a second time to have got into the store after you left? - Yes. - William Heard: I am the mate of the Gelert. I was called by the last witness, and on running to the store I found the captain lying dead, on his face, upon the rope. I had a good look around and it did not appear to me that he had tripped over anything. It seemed as though he had fallen quite unexpectedly and had not moved again. The Coroner: There was nothing to suggest to your mind that there had been foul play, or anything apart from natural causes? - Nothing whatever. - Dr W. B. Kendall, practising at Kingswear: I was called yesterday afternoon to go to Noss to see the deceased. By the Coroner's direction I made a post mortem examination. There were no signs of any external injury. The deceased was a very stout man, and there was a great deal of fat upon him. He was not particularly tall. I found no signs whatever of apoplexy. The lungs were very much congested and all the organs were very fat. The hart showed much fatty degeneration. All the other organs were healthy. In my opinion death was due to failure of the heart's action, brought about by the exercise of going up the steps twice. Deceased might not have known he had this heart trouble. The Coroner: You heard what Mr Whitley said - that the deceased complained to him that he had a "bit of indigestion." - Yes, and I found some undigested food in the stomach, so that his statement in that respect might have been quite accurate, and might have had nothing to do with the heart in any way. P.C. Braund deposed to examining the clothes of the deceased in the customary way, and to finding nothing that would in any way throw light upon the death. The Coroner, briefly summing up, said the case was a very simple one. From the doctor's evidence it was quite clear that the deceased suffered from an affection of the heart which, after undue exertion, might have carried him off at any moment without the slightest warning. He was a very heavy man, and no doubt the exertion of going up the steps twice probably within a few minutes was too much for him. It did not appear that the complaint with regard to indigestion had anything to do with it at all. It was made to one of the witnesses before the deceased had gone up the steps to the stores at all, and there was, as a result of the post mortem, every indication that the deceased actually was suffering from indigestion. The Jury would have no difficulty from the evidence, which was very plain and straightforward, in arriving at their verdict. - Without hesitation the Jury returned a verdict of "Death from Natural Causes," in accordance with the medical evidence, and Mr West, on their behalf, said they desired to express deep sympathy with the widow and brother of the deceased, who was widely-known and greatly respected in yachting circles. They were very sorry indeed to hear of his untimely end. - The Coroner: Will you allow me, Mr Foreman, to join the Jury and yourself in that vote, and to express my own sympathy with all the relatives. It is a very sad and unfortunate case, and it shows us that people may often be suffering from a disease of the heart, without having the least knowledge of it. Later, a communication was handed to the Coroner from Dr J. H. Harris, of Dartmouth. The Coroner: He was the first doctor on the spot, and he wants to know why he was not called. P.C. Braund: I told him that I had submitted his name to you, with those of the other witnesses. The Coroner: Yes, and it is my invariable practice to call the nearest doctor, unless there are any special reasons to the contrary. In this case the man was dead when the doctors arrived. The Inquest is held in Kingswear and I instructed the Kingswear doctor to make the post mortem.

Friday 5 June 1903

DARTMOUTH - Sad Fatality At Dartmouth. Little Girl Drowned. Children And The Water. - Pilot William Kelland was standing near the edge of the Southern Embankment on Tuesday afternoon when his attention was drawn to something in the water, at which some visitors were gazing. Suddenly one of them cried out that it was the body of a child. Kelland at once ran down the steps, got the body out, and it was taken to its home not far off, where everything possible was done to restore animation, but without success. The child proved to be the little daughter of a lumper named CRIDGE. She had been seen near the Embankment steps not long before. On Wednesday morning an Inquest was held at the Guildhall by Mr A. M. Davson, Coroner. The Jury viewed the body and then received the following evidence: - JOHN CRIDGE deposed that he was a lumper residing at Lower Street. The deceased, his daughter, was four years and three months old. The Coroner: Where did you last see her alive? - At home, about a quarter to one yesterday afternoon. She was in the house, and her mother gave her a halfpenny to go and buy some sweets, which she did. Then I went back to work. I knew nothing more about her until I was called about four o'clock and told to come home at once, as she was drowned. - now, what was the general health of the child? - She has been somewhat weak, sir. We have had medical attendance for her at times. Latterly she has appeared to be improving. MRS CRIDGE, the mother, said she had heard what her husband had said with reference to her sending the child for some sweets. That was quite correct. The child came back from there, and witness then took her down to the door, about a quarter past one, that she might play with other children. Some time afterwards, as she did not hear anything of the child, she went to look for her. How long afterwards would that be? - Possibly half-an-hour or an hour, but not more than that, sir. Where did you go to search for her? - I went to Higher Street first. I asked one of the other children where she had gone, and I was told to Higher Street. She was in the habit of going there. I could not find her, and as I was coming back again someone met me and told me my child was in Mrs Sandford's kitchen. How long had you been away? - I should think about twenty minutes or so. Did you see the child in the kitchen? - Yes, some men were trying to bring her round. Has the child been in delicate health? - Yes, sir. Could she walk very well? - No, she was not very strong on her legs. Has she ever had fits? - She had one some months ago. - Mrs Chase, wife of John Chase, residing at Oxford Slip, stated that when she was on the South Embankment about a quarter past three on Tuesday afternoon she saw the child sitting on the steps leading to Mr Hutchings' store. The Coroner: Would that be steps going down to the water? - Oh, no, steps well back from the water, leading to a store and premises belonging to Mr Hutchings. She would have been all right there. I spoke to her, and told her that she must not go near the water. She said, "I am going home." Then I passed on and left the child. The next thing I heard was that she had been picked up drowned. When I saw her she was quite alone, and playing with a stone and a piece of rag. A lady stopped close by, and commenced sketching. I didn't think for a moment the child would have come to any harm, or I should have taken her away. - William Kelland, Trinity pilot, said he resided at the South Embankment. About a quarter to four on Tuesday afternoon he was standing on the Embankment near the steps right abreast of Oxford Slip, when he saw two ladies and two gentlemen pointing at something in the water, and heard them talking to each other. He went over to have a look, when one of them suddenly exclaimed "Good God, it's a child." He ran down the steps quickly, and walked out to the body, which was not far from the bottom steps. He had to go two steps into the water to reach it. The body was covered by some weed, and could not at first be made out from the top of the quay wall. The Coroner: What was the state of the tide? - About half an hour's ebb was left, I should think. I took the body out and handed it to a young man named May, who took it to the top of the steps. There Mrs Cole recognised it, and ran off at once with it, to the mother's house. Do you think the child was dead when you took her out of the water? - I consider so. Did you or the young man use artificial respiration at all? - No, sir. Mrs Cole, wife of a blacksmith, said the last witness was quite correct when he said that she took the body home immediately it was brought to the Embankment. When she got to the passage she did not know which was MRS CRIDGE'S room, so she took the body into the nearest kitchen, Mrs Sandford's. Artificial respiration was tried there, with the help of Mr Raymond and another, but without success. Dr Crossfield was summoned as soon as possible. - Dr A. K. Crossfield: Yesterday afternoon, about four o'clock, I was sent for to see the deceased. I went at once. When I reached the house the body was on the mother's bed. I made an examination and practised artificial respiration for some time, but without result. The Coroner: do you think, doctor, from what has been said here, that the child was dead when it was taken out of the water? - Yes I think so. And to what do you attribute death? - To drowning. Were there any marks on the body? - No. Questions by the Jury:- Your reply to the Coroner's question, doctor, is tantamount to saying that if artificial respiration had been tried when the child was on the Embankment, immediately it was taken out of the water, its life could not have been saved? - That is so, so far as I was able to judge. Then it must have been in the water some time? - Yes. - Re-called, William Kellond, in reply to the Coroner, said no time was lost in getting the child home after the body was picked up. It was taken away directly by Mrs Cole. He had no reasonable doubt the child was dead at that time. Summing up the Coroner said that everything pointed to the fact that the child got into the water accidentally, but they had no evidence of it, and could not therefore arrive at a conclusion on that point. Probably she wandered to the edge of the embankment, and went down the steps. The mother had told them she could not walk very well and that she had a fit not long ago. She might have had a fit and fallen in, or she might have stumbled or slipped. Apparently she had been in the water some time before the body was seen, and from the evidence of the doctor it was pretty obvious that if artificial respiration had been attempted on the Embankment, it could have had no beneficial result. Be that as it may, immediately the body was found, it was taken straight home, a distance of only a few yards, and there artificial respiration was resorted to for some time. It was a remarkable thing to him, not that this child had been drowned, but that more children were not drowned by falling over the Embankment, where there was absolutely no protection for them. They must play somewhere, and fathers and mothers could not be always looking after them. - A verdict of "Found Drowned" was returned by the Jury. Though some were in favour of commenting upon the absence of protection, nothing was done, others holding that a railing or chain would be even more dangerous, on account of the fact that children would swing upon them and be more likely than ever to fall over the quay.

Friday 26 June 1903

BRIXHAM - Local Farmer's Suicide. Hung Himself Down A Cliff. - Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, held an Inquest at Brixham on Monday on WILLIAM LOWREY BELL, farmer of Southdown. - SAMUEL BELL said the deceased, his brother, aged 49, lived with his father and managed the farm. He last saw him alive at a quarter to nine o'clock on Thursday morning last. Deceased then told him he was going up in a field scuffling potatoes. He had been working day and night, early and late, for many weeks to get his crops in, and that weighed upon his mind. As deceased did not come home to his dinner up to 3 p.m. the family became alarmed and search parties went out on the hills to look for him. Years ago deceased complained of pains in the head, but got better and never showed any desire to take his life. Their father, who is very old, recently made a will and was about to sell up his property, and that with other things, seemed to have worried the deceased. The Coroner read the following letter found in the trousers' pocket of deceased:- "I am the man that has caused all the trouble. It is not my dear father's fault at all. No doubt his little alteration has brought all my sins to remembrance. I have no rest day nor night, I am guilty of bringing heaps of trouble upon my father and my dear wife, a better little woman there could not be. Somehow I have got into it and cannot get out. Life is a great burden; the evil heart has deceived me - W. BELL. " - Charles R. Matthews, shoeing smith, said the writing was that of deceased. G. Blacker Elliott, surgeon, said he saw the body on Sunday. Deceased must have been dead a considerable time. Strangulation was the cause of death. There were no marks on the body other than those caused by the rope round the neck. The day before his death he was called to the house to see deceased. he appeared to be entirely broken down, and was suffering from a weak heart and brain fag. he elicited that he had been working 20 hours a day for several weeks to get his crops in. He (Dr Elliott) advised him to take absolute rest and a holiday, which he promised to do. James Wood said he was at Southdown hoeing mangolds at noon on Thursday, when deceased came up and spoke to him on his way to his field. He appeared perfectly rational and talked to him about crops &c. Samuel Perring, waggoner, said that he found deceased on Saturday at Coombe Lake, Southdown, hanging to a tree in a cover part way down a steep cliff. His feet were three feet from the ground. He at once ran for the police. The Coroner: Why did you not cut him down at once? - The place was so steep that the body would have rolled out over, and I consider he must have been quite dead after being missing so many days. Richard Harris, who cut the body down, said deceased must have climbed the tree and sat on a limb while he adjusted the rope to the tree and around his neck, and then have slid off. Police-Sergeant Newbury said in addition to the rope round the neck, deceased's hands were tied round his waist. The Coroner: Does not that look as though some one else had to do with it? In these cases people do not usually tie their own hands before hanging themselves. A criminal who wanted to murder a man would no doubt tie the hands of his intended victim. How was the rope tied? - Was there any sign of a scuffle? - Sergeant Newbury said the rope was tied around the waist, quite slack, with the knot in front. That made it possible to put the hands in or take them out very easily. There were no signs of any scuffle. Some of the Jurors, who saw the deceased before the rope was removed from his waist corroborated. The Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide while Temporarily Insane," the Foreman (Mr W. Cann) remarking that he had known deceased for many years as a devout Christian. The Jury expressed their sincere sympathies with the relatives.

Friday 21 August 1903

EXMOUTH - A Fatal Fall. - At the South Western Hotel, Exmouth, Mr C. E. Cox held an Inquest touching the death of MRS MARY JANE DURANT, 76, a relative of Mrs D. Bates, Dartmouth, who expired the night before from the effects of a fall which she sustained early in June. MR RYDER DURANT, the husband, said that the deceased tripped in a rug and fell heavily on June 2nd. She did not seem hurt, but a day or two after a doctor was called in, and Dr Thomas found that a bone in the leg was splintered. She varied in her condition from day to day. FRANK DURANT (son), MRS DURANT (daughter-in-law) and the district nurse corroborated. Dr martin, who is doing Dr Thomas' duties, said death was due to a bed-sore. In reply to Mr Pope, who represented the relatives on behalf of Mr Vine, Dr Martyn said everything possible had been done for the deceased. "Accidental Death" was the verdict returned.

Friday 28 August 1903

DARTMOUTH - Fatality At Dartmouth. Fireman Killed. - On Thursday afternoon a shocking fatality occurred at Dartmouth. The Fire Brigade received a call to an outbreak at Townstal, and quickly got the engine out. As the horses were hurrying up Victoria Road, one of the firemen, GEORGE PERRING, fell heavily in front of the wheels, and the engine passed completely over him, killing him instantly. There are iron binders on the shafts, and the unfortunate man had iron on the soles of his boots. The shafts being very wet, his foot slipped. The body was at once picked up and carried by the firemen into the house of Mr Wallis, second in command of the brigade, who lives close by at Ford Cross. Dr Soper, sent for immediately, arrived quickly, but it was evident that death had been almost instantaneous. The melancholy occurrence cast quite a gloom over the town. The deceased, who was a carter in the employ of the Corporation, leaves a wife and several children, most of whom are grown up. We are informed by the Mayor that he has opened a fund, to provide for MRS PERRING'S immediate necessities, and he will gladly receive subscriptions.

The Inquest. This Morning. Crushed To Death. - At the Inquest this morning, before Mr A. M. Davson, SUSAN PERRING said the deceased, her husband, was 44 years of age, and enjoyed very good health. Charles Favis, in the employ of the Corporation, and a member of the Fire Brigade, in his evidence said between 3 and 4 p.m. yesterday the Brigade had a call to a fire at Townstal. When they started driving the engine up Victoria Road, deceased was on the engine. There were five men, all told. When they were opposite Jackman's gardens, deceased took the whip from witness and leant forward. he got on the shaft, to touch the horses up. Then he missed his footing and fell under the wheels, with his head outwards. The wheels went right over his body. They were travelling smartly at the time. Witness pulled up as quickly as possible, about a yard from the deceased. The brigade took him at once to Mr Wallis' house near at hand, and sent for the doctor. Jarvis Henry Wallis, water inspector, second in command of the brigade, said just after the engine had started deceased mounted it and sat down by the side of the driver. Witness did not see deceased get on the shaft to whip the horse, as he was riding on the step behind. Near Mr Jackman's garden he saw the deceased fall to the ground under the engine. He at once jumped off and went to the man's rescue. He had hold of deceased before the hind wheel passed over him, but it was more than he could do to prevent the engine going over his body. The Coroner: What would be the weight of the engine? - Thirty hundred-weight, not including the weight of the men. The engine was promptly pulled up. Deceased expired whilst he was being carried to witness's residence, sixty yards from the scene of the accident. By the Jury: The front wheel had gone over the deceased before witness could get hold of him. Dr G. D. Soper said deceased was dead when he arrived. There was extensive bruising on the chest and left side, fracture of the main chest bone, and several broken ribs. Deceased died from a ruptured heart in his opinion. That would be caused wither by the direct weight of the fire engine or by a fractured bone being driven into the heart. - Verdict: "Accidental Death." - The Borough Surveyor said owing to the rain the shafts, &c., were very slippery at the time of the accident.

Friday 18 September 1903

TOTNES - Fatal Trap Accident. The Inquest. - Mr S. Hacker, Coroner, held an Inquiry at the Totnes Cottage Hospital, on Monday into the circumstances attending the death of EMILY BUTTLE, housemaid to the Hon. Mrs Smith, who sustained fatal injuries in a trap accident at Totnes on Friday night. Elizabeth Wallis, of Little Easton, Essex, identified the body as that of her half-sister, who was 19 years of age. Ellen Dunkerton, ladies maid, deposed that they were returning from Totnes Races in a two-wheeled trap. Witness sat in front with the deceased and the driver, and Miss Clarke and Mr Coaker behind. When near Follaton she thought the horse shied in passing a brake and all were thrown out. Dr K. R. Smith said when he arrived the deceased was in a state of collapse, and was taken into Follaton House, where she died about 10.30 p.m. from internal injuries, the wheels of the brake having evidently passed over her. Sydney Hodge, the groom, who broke his right thigh, said there was plenty of room to pass the brake, but the mare shied and swerved into the hedge, the trap turning over on its side. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned, the Jury exonerating everyone from blame.

Friday 20 November 1903

DARTMOUTH - Child's Fatal Fall At Dartmouth. The Inquest. - The infant child of MABEL FERRIS, residing at Collaford Lane, fell over the stairs on Tuesday afternoon, and when picked up was thought to be dead. Dr Soper was at once sent for. On his arrival he found that though the child was practically in a dying state life was not extinct. All possible means were taken to save her life, but she expired early the next morning, and an Inquest became necessary. This was held on Thursday morning, at the Guildhall, before Mr A. M. Davson, the local Coroner. The following evidence was taken: ELLEN MILLMAN: I reside in Collaford Lane, and am the wife of WILLIAM MILLMAN, a painter. I identify the body as that of DOROTHY VERA MILLMAN, child of my daughter, MABEL FERRIS. My daughter is ill, or she would have been present. Deceased was a year and eleven months old. On Tuesday, about a quarter to two, I took her upstairs and put her to bed; then I returned downstairs. She called after me. - The Coroner: did you close the door? - No; I have never done so, I usually put her to bed at twelve o'clock, but that day she was late. Then I went down to the wash-house in the back yard. If she had cried out then I could not have heard her. There was no one else in the house. I was not in the wash-house longer than four or five minutes, and when I was going upstairs again to fetch some clothes for the wash I found deceased lying at the bottom of the stairs in the passage, just behind the front door. On picking her up, I thought she was dead. I opened the front door and screamed, and Mrs Carter ran in. The child was in good health as a rule. Dr Soper was sent for at once. The Foreman: Have you ever known the child fall over these stairs before? - Never. have you known anyone else fall over them? - Yes, on several occasions. The Coroner: Has it never occurred to you to put a bar at the top of the stairs? - I have never done so sir. A Juror: Was the baby asleep when you went down? - No, it could not have been. I thought it would go to sleep in a minute. - Julia Carter: I live in Collaford Lane and am the wife of John Carter, a shipwright. On Tuesday about a quarter to two I was in the doorway of my house, which is next to that occupied by MRS MILLMAN, when I heard MRS MILLMAN scream. I ran in and found her with the baby in her arms. She said to me that she thought the baby was dead. I took the child from her and sent for Dr Soper. I bathed the child and tried to bring it round, but without success. I thought the child was dead when I took it first. The Coroner: You know nothing about the accident I suppose? - No. MRS MILLMAN, re-called, said the child had never been in the habit of going up or down the stairs alone. She was asked this question by a Juror. Dr G. M. Soper: I am a physician and surgeon, practising at Dartmouth. On Tuesday about two o'clock I had a message asking me to go to the house in question. I did so at once. The baby was on the sofa. I made an examination. The child was in a condition of collapse and was suffering from concussion of the brain. There were bruises on the left side of the forehead. - The Coroner: I take it the child was not dead? - No. I called again the same evening twice. The child was still comatose, and was having convulsions at frequent intervals. She died early next morning (Wednesday). I attribute death to compression of the brain. - The Coroner: Was everything done for the child before you came? - Yes. - The Coroner: Did the deceased appear to be well-nourished? - Oh, yes. A Juror asked the doctor whether bearing in mind the dangerous nature of the stairs, it would not be advisable to have windows in the door, that more light might be obtained there. - The Coroner: Well, it is hardly a question for the doctor. It was not part of his duty to examine the door. The Jury can come to that conclusion themselves if they wish, without the doctor. Dr Soper: If there is no window there, one would be an improvement, but I did not look at that. I examined the child. Another Juror pointed out that there were panes of glass in the upper part of the door already. - The Coroner: Then that disposes of any point of that kind. Summing up, the Coroner said everything pointed to the fact that it was a pure accident, although nobody saw it occur. There was just a question whether with a little more care it might not have been avoided. MRS MILLMAN told them it was her custom to put the children to bed during the day and to leave the door open, so there was no new departure on Tuesday. Had, however, the door been closed the accident would probably not have happened. There was nobody in the house at the time, or the child might have been heard to get out of the bed and crawl to the stairs, which she undoubtedly did. The Jury had seen the staircase in question, and it was not in any way a surprise to him that the child had fallen down there. Even an able-bodied person would be likely to do so, for the corner at the top was very dangerous. Everything was done for the child after it was found by MRS MILLMAN at the bottom of the stairs. If there were any other children in the house he would suggest to MRS MILLMAN that it would be advisable to have a bar placed across the top, to prevent further accidents there. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death, and asked the Coroner to request MRS MILLMAN, on their behalf (which he did), to provide some protection at the top of the stairs. A Juror pointed out that a bar would be of very little use where children were concerned; it had better be a small wicket gate. MRS MILLMAN said something should be done at once.

Friday 27 November 1903

Farmer's Fatal Fall From A Trap. A Broken Neck. Inquest And Verdict. "What Caused The Fall?" - On Friday night last, a fatal accident occurred to a well-known and respected farmer, MR JOHN HERBERT LUSCOMBE, of Bowden, near Blackawton Forces, which has caused a considerable sensation the whole country-side round. MR LUSCOMBE was in the habit of driving to Dartmouth Market, with his daughter, on Fridays. He left Dartmouth on Friday shortly before six, as usual. He drove the horse which he had been accustomed to drive, and appeared in his usual health and spirits when he said "good night" to his friends and agricultural acquaintances. On the way home he complained of pains in his head and neck, but this was not an uncommon occurrence with him, and his daughter was not, therefore, alarmed in any way. The farm is reached by a narrow lane which branches off from the main road about half a mile beyond Blackawton Forces. Three fields have to be crossed to reach the farm-house. Everything went well until the entrance gate of the first field was reached. The gate, as usual, was locked. MISS LUSCOMBE dismounted and unlocked it, whereupon her father drove through. He exclaimed as he passed her "I'm going," but apparently she understood this to mean that he was going through the gate all right, for it did not convey to her mind any impression of illness. Having locked the gate she turned to get into the trap and was horrified to find that her father had fallen out and was lying dead at her feet, though at the time she thought him to be still alive. It was a tragic situation and she screamed for assistance, while giving her father what help was possible by raising his head. Mr Joseph Bond, a neighbouring farmer, heard her screams, and speedily came on the scene, but nothing could be done to save MR LUSCOMBE'S life. The Inquest took place at Bowden Farm, on Monday afternoon, before Mr Sidney Hacker (Newton), the County Coroner. It was more than usually touching, for it became necessary to call MISS LUSCOMBE, seeing that she was the only one present when her father fell from the trap. though, as was only to be expected, she was deeply emotional, she gave her evidence clearly and succinctly, and told the story of the accident with hardly a break. Opening the Inquiry, the Coroner said they were met to ascertain the manner in which JOHN HERBERT LUSCOMBE, a farmer, who was well-known in that district, came by his death. No doubt the Jurors had all heard the circumstances. His death appeared to have been a violent occurrence, and therefore it was reported to him (the Coroner) and it was his duty to hold that Inquest. They, as a Coroner's Jury, would have to receive evidence touching the occurrence, and then arrive at a conclusion as to whether the death was accidental or otherwise. In all cases where no medical certificate was forthcoming, it was necessary that the Jury should see whether the death might have been avoided, and whether anyone could be held to blame in any way. They must now dismiss from their minds anything they had heard outside in connection with the matter, and base their verdict upon the evidence that would be brought before them. They had always to remember that it was their duty to enquire whether anyone was responsible. The Jury then proceeded to view the body, and afterwards heard the following witnesses: - SUSAN HURRELL PEARCE LUSCOMBE, who gave her evidence with deep emotion and at times became hysterical, was accorded a seat. She said she was the daughter of the deceased, who was sixty years of age last birthday. The Coroner: He lived here at Bowden? - Yes, sir. did he enjoy good health? - No sir. What has he been suffering from then? Any particular complaint? - He used to complain of pains in his head and neck. You don't mean that he was laid up, that he was an invalid, or anything like that? - No, not that, only that he used at times to say that his head, at the back, was giving him pain. On Friday last did you go to Dartmouth Market with him? - Yes. Was that your usual habit? - Yes, we have been there for some years now. Was he pretty well on that day? - Yes, sir much more jolly than usual, I thought. I saw nothing the matter with him on that day. How did you go to Dartmouth? - We drove. That is the only way to go from here I suppose? - Yes. You and he drove together? - Yes. (Here the witness burst into tears). A Juror: This young woman is not very strong, Mr Coroner, and the fewer questions she is asked, the better I think. (hear, hear). The Coroner: I agree, but unfortunately she is the only one who can tell us what we have to know. There is no-one else, so far as I can see. - Witness: I will try. Well, I will put it as shortly as I can, but we must get at the facts. What time did you leave Dartmouth that evening? - I should think about a quarter to six. Only you and your father in the trap, I suppose? - Yes. Were you with him all the day? - Yes. It was dark then, I suppose, and he drove. Is that correct? - Yes. Were you driving the horse you generally drive? - Yes. A Juror: It is a very quiet horse I believe? - Yes. The Coroner: Well, will you try to tell us, in your own words, just what happened to you on your way home? - He complained twice of pains in his head and neck. But nothing happened until you got nearly home? - No. What did he say about the pains? - He said his head and neck were aching. I didn't take much notice of it because he frequently complains. Has he been to a doctor about them? - No. Well then nothing happened until when? Where were you? - We were just at the entrance gate of the first field. Your father had been driving all the time? - Yes, the whole way out. And he was driving all right? - Yes. Well, what happened? - I got out of the trap to open the gate, which was locked. Is it always kept shut? - Yes. Locked? - Yes, and father gave me the key from his pocket. I unlocked the gate, and he drove through. And left you by the gate? - Yes. He was sitting in the trap holding the reins? - Yes. What occurred then? - He drove through the gate all right, but just after he had passed me he said "I'm going, I'm going." [Here witness again burst into tears, but she quickly recovered her composure]. You were standing holding the gate I suppose. - Yes. How was the horse going? - it went through at a walk, very quietly. Was there anything to upset him - any bit rut, or anything in the way? - Nothing that I know of. It was pretty smooth. did the trap give a jerk? - No. He exclaimed that he was "going"; do you know what he meant? - No. A Juror: He called for help then, didn't he? The Coroner: Let her alone; she will tell us her story in her own way. When he exclaimed "I'm going," what happened? - I shut the gate and locked it. Then I turned round to get into the trap, but I found that father was not in it. Didn't you feel alarmed when you heard him say "I'm going"? - No. Had the horse moved when he fell out? - No. It never moved after father fell out. It could not have moved, for he was still holding the reins, sir. You didn't see him fall out of the trap, then. - No. In reply to his exclamation did you say anything? - Yes, I said, "It's all right father, you are clear of the gate-post." You found him missing from the trap? - Yes. I put up my hand but could not feel him there, and then I knew that he had fallen out, for my foot touched his head on the ground. Which side had he fallen out? - The left side. Was he by the wheel? - No. What did you do? - I took him up, took the reins from his hand, and raised his head. It was very dark at the time, was it? - Yes, but I could just see his mouth open once, so I concluded he was alive then. He did not speak? - No. then what did you do? - I called to my brother-in-law, MR OLDREIVE, but he didn't hear me. He lives in the next farm to ours. Well, someone came I suppose? - Yes. Then I called on "Joe," meaning Mr Bond, who has a farm on the opposite side of the road. He heard and came to my assistance. He could not have been longer than five minutes. Well what happened when he came, though he will be able to tell us all about that. Your father was taken like this all at once and fell out. He hadn't said he was feeling ill? - No, nothing more than the pains I have told you of. He said to the horse before we got to the gate "Why can't you go steady? You are shaking the life of me out." You are sure there was no jerk as the horse went through the gate? - No sir, none whatever that I know of. Had he been busy in Dartmouth all the day? - Well, a little but not very busy. He had my sister's baby with him most of the time. He wasn't particularly worried then about the day's business? - Not that I am aware of. Did he have his dinner? - I don't know. Where did he usually dine? At the "ordinary"? I don't know. Sometimes on market-days he has his dinner and sometimes not. Was he all right when you started to return? - He seemed to be so. I saw nothing at all the matter with him. Had he taken more to drink than usual that day? - No. I don't think he had. Had he been with friends? - Yes, with two or three, I think. You don't think the drink he had was sufficient to give him the pains in the head of which he complained? - No, I don't think so. I suppose he would have a good many drops to drink seeing friends in Dartmouth on a market day? - I have known him have much more than he had on Friday. Now I must ask this. We want to find out what caused him to fall out of the trap. Was he any the worse for what he had been drinking on Friday? By that I mean did it make him feel queer at all? - No, he was talking and driving all right. He spoke quite sensibly. Was he able to get into the trap without any assistance? - Yes. I suppose we may consider he had a good drop to drink, but not more than usual? - I don't think he had very much at all. How long has he been complaining of the pains in his head and neck? - for some four or five years, I should think. He fell off a hayrick and knocked his head. Joseph Bond, farmer, residing at Collaton Farm, in the parish of Halwell, said about five minutes to seven on Friday evening he heard someone shouting for help. He ran over to where the voice was coming from and found MR LUSCOMBE lying on the field near the gateway. MISS LUSCOMBE was there shouting. She was standing by her father's body. The Coroner: They were not far inside the field/ - No, quite close to the gate. Was there a horse and trap there? - Yes, close by. What did MISS LUSCOMBE say to you? - She cried "Help my father up." Well? - I raised his head up. I could not lift him properly; he was too heavy. Was he dead? - Well, I should not like to say sir. I considered he breathed once just as I lifted him. His last breath then? - Yes. Then I held him until some help came. MR OLDREIVE and others were there in a very short time. We then sent for a wain and took him to his home, Bowden. Where was his hat? - Lying along the field close by where I found him. How had he fallen apparently? - I consider he pitched upon his head and then turned right over. Why do you think that? - Because I saw dent in the ground, made by his heat, while the brim of the hat was also marked. Falling in that way would wrench his head back, would it not? - Yes. He was lying on his back when I found him. It was evident to me, however, that he did not fall like that. Was it a soft field? - Yes, somewhat. So that the mark caused by the hat was easily discernable? - Oh yes. You have heard MISS LUSCOMBE say that he complained about pains in his head and so on. Do you know anything about it? Have you ever heard him complain? You live close by, you know. - No, I have never heard him complain. I know he fell off a ladder some years ago, backwards. Has he been troubled by anything as the result of that? - I could not say. I don't know that he has sir. - Dr J. H. Harris, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth, was the next witness. The Coroner: You were called to see the deceased, doctor? - Yes, on Friday evening. I saw him I should think about half-past nine. He was dead? - Yes, he was lying on the couch in the adjoining room, and he had died quite recently. How long before? - I could not say, but certainly not long. You made a post mortem examination of the body this morning, by my orders. What did you find? - I found that his neck was broken. He must have had a heavy fall. Death must have been instantaneous. I found all the organs in a healthy condition. The Jury would, I am sure, like to have some idea, if you can give it to them, as to what caused him to fall. Was there anything in the brain? - Nothing whatever in the brain, or the heart, to account for any faintness or anything of that kind. It is impossible for me to suggest what caused him to fall. I have nothing to go upon, from the post mortem. Was there any weakness about the heart, or any sign of apoplexy? - No. Some five years ago he fractured one of the bones of the neck, by falling from a rick. That caused stiffness of the neck. It might account for some of the pain of which he complained, but I don't see how it could have had anything to do with his falling out of the trap. Now, if a man, in falling, was in a semi-conscious state, or fainting, he would not be likely, would he, to break his neck? - No, there would be no resistance. He would not be able to stiffen himself against the fall. In the present case I think deceased fell upon his head, and the weight of his body caused him to turn over and break his neck. What do you think would be the meaning of his exclamation, "I'm going."? I don't know. I cannot suggest anything to account for that. He must have felt ill I should think? - Well, he might have had an attack of giddiness or faintness, and lost his balance. That would be quite possible and account for his falling from the trap? - Oh, yes. And would it leave anything to judge by, when you made the post-mortem? - No, nothing whatever. Well, of course there were various things that might have caused him to fall out of the trap. Naturally I didn't want to press MISS LUSCOMBE on the point of what her father had had to drink, but it is quite possible he might have had a little more to drink than usual, though she seems to say he could drive all right and talk all right. That does not look as though he was in any way incapable, does it? - No. If he had had a slight attack of vertigo, there would be no trace? - No. A Juror: Did you say you examined the heart and found it all right? - Yes, the heart was healthy enough. There was no apoplexy, no bursting of a blood vessel in the brain, or anything of that sort. The Coroner: Is there anyone here who knows the trap, and can tell us what sort of trap it is? That would afford some explanation perhaps as to why he fell out! I know the trap very well (proceeded Dr Harris). It is an ordinary two-wheeled dogcart, that is all. There is nothing remarkable about it in any way whatever. I saw deceased drive by my door on Friday evening, I should think about half-past five or a quarter to six, on his way home from the market. Did you speak to him? - No. How was he driving? - He was apparently driving all right. He was not in any way incapable? - Not that I could see. At the same time I should hardly have noticed if he had been. The horse was going straight up the road. I couldn't tell the driver's condition by the mere glimpse I had of him. I only saw him for a moment. Have you attended him? - Yes, for some time. During the last fifteen or sixteen years I should think, but always for accidents - some four or five. How did those accidents happen? - I could not say. Now, doctor, what can you tell us about his habits generally. Did he drink much? - Well, he was a good yeoman farmer; that is as much as I can say. He was able to drink on market days, but I don't know that he drank very much between times. I think not. But, assuming he had taken a little more than usual on this particular Friday, one would not expect it to take effect so long after his starting from Dartmouth - Well I don't know. It is quite possible. A reaction might have set in some time afterwards. You think there is nothing improbable in that? - Not at all. Some men will drink heavily in a room with others, and show absolutely no trace of it until they get into the fresh air, and then the alcohol will begin to work. But, assuming there was something of the kind in the present instance, the alcohol did not work upon him until an hour or more after he left Dartmouth Market. - Well that would be quite possible. I see nothing remarkable in that. All the same, I don't know what he had had on this occasion. The Coroner: No, none of us. - The Police Sergeant said that was the whole of the evidence. Summing up, the Coroner said the Jury had to determine "how and by what means" the deceased came by his death, and he did not think, judging by the evidence, they would have much difficulty in arriving at a conclusion. There could be no question that he fell out of his trap. The daughter did not see him fall, but probably her back was turned at the time, for, as she had told them, she was locking the gate after the horse and trap had passed through. Consequently she was not in a position to see. She heard her father cry out that he was "going" but she had told the Jury that this did not alarm her. She probably had no reason to suppose that any sudden illness had come upon him, for he had driven home all right from Dartmouth. That he fell out of the trap was incontrovertible. Now why did he fall out? What caused the fall? it was possible he might have fallen out because he had an attack of giddiness and the doctor had informed them that there would be nothing in the post mortem examination to show this. It was therefore mere conjecture. On the other hand, it was equally possible that he had been indulging a little too freely in Dartmouth, with his friends, and that the alcohol was just beginning to take effect. Dr Harris stated that it was quite feasible that drink might not begin to act until some time had elapsed and it might have been that, in this case, the deceased was just feeling the effects of what he had taken. But this, again, was conjecture. His daughter said he had taken less than usual, and she had stated that he was able to drive home properly. A Juror: He could not have been much out of the way if he was able to drive home in the dark from Dartmouth over such roads. The Coroner added that, in any case, it was impossible, upon the evidence, to say what caused him to fall out. It was moreover not absolutely necessary that the Jury should determine this point, though it was always more satisfactory if it could be settled. There might have been a little jerk as the trap went through the gate. MISS LUSCOMBE did not notice any, but it was dark, and it was quite possible that it happened, although unnoticed by her. The ground was fairly level at the spot where the accident occurred. Passing from the cause of his falling out, the Coroner observed that without question the affair was a pure accident. The evidence all pointed to this being so, and really it was the only question the Jury need trouble about. Deceased was a heavy man, and obviously he fell on his head and then turned a complete somersault, eventually pitching heavily on his back. It was not to be wondered at that his neck was broken, for as he fell he must have offered considerable resistance. It was a sad accident, and they all deeply regretted it no doubt, for every one of the Jury must have been acquainted with the deceased. If they were satisfied - as he was - that the occurrence was an accident, and that nobody could in any way be held responsible, it would be their duty to return a verdict to the effect that deceased died of a broken neck, brought about by an Accidental Fall from a Trap. - Verdict accordingly.

Friday 4 December 1903

NEWTON ABBOT - Sad Case Of Suicide. Verdict of "Felo De Se". At the Inquest held at Newton Abbot on Monday on HARRY BREALEY (formerly of Dartmouth), his brother, FRANK, said deceased, 28 years of age, was an accountant in the employ of Pinsent and Sons, brewers; a bachelor, and lived with his widowed mother. He last saw him alive at the constitutional Club on Friday evening, when they spoke of the prospects of the candidates at the coming election. About two months ago he had influenza, but could not be regarded as delicate. During the last three weeks there appeared to have been a difference in him. He was always of a very jokey disposition, but looking back over it now it appeared as if his manner was forced to a certain extent. On Saturday at the Constitutional Club, on the door of the secretary's room being burst open, deceased was found seated in the chair, his head resting on his arms thrown across the table. On the table was a letter addressed to witness. It ran as follows:- November 25th. My Dear FRANK, I am sorry I have not seen you before today be what may occur. Please act for me. I leave my will to you. Destroy all letters in my drawers, please. Yours, with love, HARRY. There was an enclosure which read:- To FRANK BREALEY, - I leave everything I have to my mother, with the exception of my gold watch chain and also my illuminated address, which I leave to you, FRANK BREALEY. - Signed, HARRY BREALEY. November 25th, 1903. - The Coroner: The writing is firm, and the letter is dated three days before deceased's death. Witness, continuing, said deceased, who was in the habit of doing some work of his brother, JOHN, the secretary of the club, had no trouble whatever. he was not in debt, neither was he in the habit of drinking. He was not engaged to be married, so had no love troubles. On Friday he wrote to his brother in Swindon, showing that he was looking forward to the future. Before leaving home on Saturday morning he told his mother what sort of meat he would like for Sunday's dinner, and also that he would order some flowers, which they could place on his father's grave on Sunday. MRS BREALEY said that so far as she knew her son had no trouble whatever. John Williams, caretaker, said deceased came to the Constitutional Club about ten o'clock on Saturday morning, and proceeded to the secretary's room. A few minutes later he asked, through the speaking tube, that a glass of water should be sent him. Witness took it to him, and remarked that it was unusual to see him on a Saturday morning. He replied: "Yes, we are busy now, and I am going to help my brother owing to the election." Witness's wife saw deceased pass up and down the staircase about 11 or 11.30, and he passed a joke with her as usual, there being apparently nothing the matter with him. Witness also thought he heard deceased moving about the room at mid-day. When inquiries were made for him, witness discovered that the key was in the lock on the inside, and thereupon sent for deceased's brother. - P.S. Hannaford stated that on the floor of the room he found a label marked "poison", and in the waste paper basket another label torn into shreds, which, on being pieced together, was found to bear the words, "Poison - morphia - not to be taken." - Dr Nisbet said the deceased died of morphia poisoning. George A Barnes, chemist, said deceased on Saturday morning, about a quarter-past ten, asked for morphia to poison a cat. He told deceased it was not usual to sell such a thing, but as he knew him very well he let him have five grains. He signed his name in the book, and appeared to be in his normal health and spirits. Wm. S. Pinsent, brewer, stated that deceased's accounts were perfectly correct. - JOHN BREALEY, brother, said the date of the letter must be incorrect. Deceased had used the club paper, but until Friday night, when witness placed a supply on the desk, there was none there, so he must have written the letter on Saturday morning. The Coroner remarked that there was a total lack of evidence to show that the deceased was either in trouble or depressed. After 20 minutes' deliberation the Jury returned a verdict that "Deceased took his own life by taking morphia." - The Coroner: That is felo-de-se.

Friday 25 December 1903

TORCROSS - Washed Through A Tunnel At Torcross. - The body of a man was found floating near Hallsands on Sunday by some fishermen, and enquiry proved it to be that of a fisherman named KELLAND, residing at Torcross. He was upwards of 60 years of age. As he did not return home on Saturday night, his relatives searched for him without success. It is believed that he fell into Slapton Ley at a point where the path runs near the edge, and was then carried through the long tunnel which connects the Ley with the open sea. An Inquest was held on Tuesday by Mr S. Hacker, of Newton Abbot. Evidence of identification was given by deceased's son, and witnesses spoke as to the finding of the body. A verdict of "Found Drowned" was returned.

Friday 1 January 1904

TORQUAY - Fatality At Torre Station. - Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, held an Inquest at Torquay on Wednesday evening on JOHN CROSSMAN HARRIS, marble mason, aged 22, who had been visiting his parents in Laburnum Street, Torre. He was seeing some friends off at Torre Station on Monday last when he fell under the moving train and received shocking injuries. Dr F. Thistle said deceased had a compound fracture of both feet, which were nearly severed from the body; a large lacerated wound on the right thigh, and a compound fracture of the thigh bones, and probably internal injuries. Death was almost instantaneous. The Coroner observed that everything had been clearly explained except the reason for deceased getting on the footboard of the carriage, from which he fell after wishing his friends farewell, but the probability was that he saw another friend whom he recognised. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death," and said there was not the slightest blame attached to anyone in the employ of the railway company.

Friday 29 January 1904

PAIGNTON - Inquest At Paignton. - At Paignton on Monday, Mr Hacker held an Inquest on WM. SMERDON, aged 80, who fell dead on Saturday. he was formerly a woodman, of Backland, but had been lodging for some time past with Mrs Boyce, Elmbank Road, Paignton. He was in fairly good health, but frequently complained of internal pains. On Saturday morning, after breakfast, he complained of a headache, and went out. He bought a bottle of brandy in the town, and as he was walking home, in the Totnes Road, he fell down. A man named Matthews, just behind, found he was unconscious, and he was carried to his lodgings, not far distant, where he died immediately. Mr Cosens, surgeon, said the cause of death was syncope, due to fatty degeneration of the heart. A verdict was given accordingly.

Friday 19 February 1904

DARTMOUTH - Dartmouth Widow's Remarkable Death. Fatally Injured While Saving a Child. - On the afternoon of February 9th, MRS SYMONS, aged 80, a widow residing at Hanover Street, Dartmouth, with her married daughter, MRS JAMES CRIDDLE, was in the kitchen with a little child aged 2 ½ years. A painter named Wood, in MR CRIDDLE'S shop, adjoining the kitchen, heard a heavy fall, and much groaning. Walking into the kitchen he found MRS SYMONS on the floor. Subsequently it was found that she had fractured her thigh. So far as could be gathered from her incoherent account of what happened, it appears that the little child was in some way an unintentional contributor to the accident. It is more than probable that the little one was going too near the fire, or some other source of danger, and that in trying to reach it and pull it back, the old lady overbalanced herself and fell heavily. She did on Saturday morning, just four days after the accident. An Inquest was held on Monday afternoon, at the Guildhall, by Mr A. M. Davson, the local Coroner. Having viewed the body, the Jury received the following evidence:- MAY CRIDDLE: I am the daughter of JAMES CRIDDLE, of Hanover Square. I identify the body of the deceased as that of FRANCES SYMONS. She lived in the same house with us. She was my grandmother and a widow, and her age was 80 years. She has not of late been in good health. She has often had attacks. - The Coroner: Attacks of what? - I hardly know. - The Coroner: The doctor will no doubt be able to tell us. You know nothing of the accident? - No. Sidney Herbert Wood: I reside at Manor House, South Town, and am a painter. On February 9th I was in Hanover Square in the afternoon between 3.30 and 4.45. The Coroner: Were you in the house? - Yes, or in the barber's shop. I went there to have a shave. MR CRIDDLE stated to lather me but before he began shaving I heard a fall. Then I heard groans. I walked into the kitchen, which is entered direct from the shop. I found the deceased lying on the floor, close to the window. - The Coroner: Do the stairs lead down to that room? - I saw no stairs. MR CRIDDLE followed me into the kitchen, and we picked her up and sat her on a chair. I asked her if she had knocked herself, and all I could glean from her was that she had knocked her leg. I asked her how it had happened, but she didn't seem to know. She seemed pretty conscious. There was a little child in the room, but I don't know whether she had anything to do with it. Charlotte Widdicombe: I reside at the Butter-walk, and am a widow. On February 9, I was going home from work, and I met MRS CRIDDLE on the New Ground, between four and five in the afternoon. I went back with her to Hanover Square. I found MRS SYMONS sitting on a chair in the kitchen. She was groaning and seemed to be in great pain. I asked her if I could help her upstairs, and we got hold of her, but she screamed and we could not manage it. She said she had fallen down. A little child was there, and she seemed to say that she was trying to save it, or something of the kind, when she fell over. - The Coroner: Did she give you the idea that the child pushed her over? - Well, no, not exactly that, but that the child was trying to get near the fire, or something, and that she fell in trying to prevent it. The child was only 2 ½ years old. We sent for Dr Crossfield at once. Dr A. K. Crossfield, surgeon, practising at Dartmouth: On February 9, shortly after 5 p.m., I was sent for. I went immediately. Deceased was in bed, in her room upstairs. I made an examination and I found that the neck of the right thigh-bone was broken. I set it, and put the limb into splints. I have seen her every day since, until her death, which occurred on Saturday morning. - The Coroner: Wold the fall, to the floor, cause such an injury? - Very probably. It would require but a very slight fall to bring about such a result, to an aged person. I saw the deceased about an hour before the accident and she appeared to be in her usual health. I attribute death to shock, owing to injuries received. Summing up, the coroner said the case presented no difficulties. They had it from one of the witnesses the old lady was trying to save the little child from something, probably from falling into the fire, when she herself fell and broke her thigh. The doctor told them that a very slight fall would suffice to fracture a bone in the case of so old a person and there could be no doubt but that this was how she met with the injury, which resulted in her death. - Verdict of Death from Shock due to injuries caused by an Accidental Fall.

Friday 26 February 1904

DARTMOUTH - Drowning Fatality At Sandquay. Unable to Swim. A Sad Occurrence. - Between eleven and twelve on Friday night last, the fourth hand of the Lowestoft steam trawler Eagle, lying at Philip and Son's yard for repairs, fell overboard while walking along the quay to get to his vessel. He was in the company of others of the crew at the time, and prompt measures were taken to save him. A lifebuoy and ropes were thrown to him at once, but he made not the slightest attempt to seize them, and sank almost instantly. The body was not recovered until, three hours later, the receding tide left the beach. Then it was found there were contusions on the face, which led to the conclusion that the deceased in falling, struck his head against the quay wall. He was thirty years of age and married. The Inquest took place at the Guildhall on Saturday afternoon, before Mr A. M. Davson . Having viewed the body the Jury received the following evidence: - Robert Cooper: I am skipper of the steam trawler Eagle. I identify the body as that of FREDERICK YOUNGMAN, aged 30, fourth hand of the Eagle, whose home is at Beckles. On Friday evening I last saw him alive about a quarter to eleven. He was then on shore in the town. I left him there and went back to the ship. The Coroner: What do you know of the circumstances attending his death? - I went straight back to the trawler, and the next thing was I heard shouts of "Man overboard." That would be about five or ten minutes past eleven, not later. What then? - We ran out some ropes and threw a lifebuoy to him. I saw him in the water, and the lifebuoy pitched right on him. Did he appear to make any effort to secure the lifebuoy? - No, I never saw him move. In a minute or two I lost sight of him. He got out the boat as quickly as we possibly could and went in search with creeps, but we could not get hold of him, though we tried until a quarter past twelve. When did you recover the body? - We went ashore at low water and picked him up on the beach adjoining the yard. It was quick dry then. The time would be just after two in the morning. What was the depth of water where he fell in? - I should think from seven to eight feet. Had he ever complained about his health in any way? - No sir. There was nothing to trouble or worry him so far as I am aware. By the Jury - When you saw the deceased in the town did he appear in his usual health and spirits? - Yes, he was laughing and joking. Frederick Venn: I am the mate of the Eagle. I went on shore about seven o'clock, after walking about the town a good deal. I met him in the street. And then you stayed in the town the rest of the evening? - Yes, we had a glass of ale each, and walked about the streets. At closing time, eleven o'clock, we left the town to go on board our ship. Now tell the Jury exactly what happened when you got to the yard off which your ship is lying? - I was walking about five paces ahead of YOUNGMAN, near the edge of the quay wall. Suddenly I heard a splash, and turning round, I saw him in the water. The ship was lying alongside the pontoon and we had to walk along by the quay before we could reach the pontoon. Was there anything likely to cause him to trip? - Yes, a baulk of timber about three feet away from the edge. I imagine he caught his foot against that and fell right over, probably knocking his head against the quay as he fell. We did all we could afterwards. We threw ropes and a lifebuoy, and got out the boat instantly, but he disappeared. By the Jury:- What condition was the deceased in when he left the town with you? - He was quite capable of taking care of himself; he had only had one or two glasses of ale. He might have fallen on the gridiron, which is just below the quay. Robert Bond: I am third hand of the Eagle. Deceased and I went on shore about eight o'clock, so far as I can remember. We met the last witness in the town. Now what did you have? - We had two glasses of ale each before we saw Venn. Then we had one more, and that was all before we went on board. We got back to the yard about five minutes past eleven. The mate, who was walking in front, was giving me instructions as to the baulk of timber so that I should not fall over it, when I heard a splash. Then I saw the deceased in the water. I did not actually see him fall. You tried to save him? - Yes. There was a rope attached to a post on the quay. We flung that at once, right within his reach, but he made no attempt to catch it hold. Then the lifebuoy fell right on top of him, but he did not get hold of that and after that he disappeared. By the Jury: - From the fact that he made no effort, so far as you could see, to save himself, what would you conclude? - I think he struck against something and was knocked senseless. P.C. Causley deposed that he was at the yard about 2.15 a.m., and saw the men find the body as described. Witness, with their assistance took it to the mortuary. He found 8s. 2 ½d. in the deceased's pockets. Dr J. H. Harris, M.D., practising at Dartmouth: I examined the body at the dead house by the direction of the Coroner. There were some injuries about the face which had apparently been caused by his falling against some rough material. They were mere abrasions and not sufficient to stun him. Death was undoubtedly due to drowning. By the Jury - All the witnesses have stated that deceased appeared to have been sunned, and that he made not the slightest effort to save himself. There were no marks to point to any suggestion that he was stunned. He may have been paralysed for a moment by the sudden shock of the immersion. That frequently happens. At the request of the Jury, the Coroner recalled the skipper, and asked him whether deceased could swim. The reply was in the negative. Summing up the coroner said the case presented no difficulties. Clearly the deceased came by his death accidentally, but there was just a possibility that had he been able to swim he might have been rescued. It was astonishing how many men took to a sea-fairing life without being able to swim. If they got into the water all the chances were against their being saved, while if other people fell overboard, the sailor who could not swim was worse than useless. The deceased did not appear to have been at all unsteady in his walk. They were told he had not been drinking sufficiently to prevent him from taking care of himself, and from the evidence it was pretty clear that, while the others managed to steer clear of this baulk of timber deceased tripped in it, and was unable to recover himself. - A Verdict of "Accidental Drowning" was returned, and the skipper then asked the Coroner whether there ought not to be a light provided at the yard, for men going on board vessels lying along-side. The Coroner: I think so, and if the Jury like to make a recommendation I will see that it is forwarded. The Jury asked the Coroner to suggest to Messrs. Philip that a light should be placed there when vessels, with their crews on board, are lying at the wharf.

Friday 4 March 1904

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At South Ford Road. Pathetic Incident. - Could Not "Wake Granny." - An aged widow named TUCKERMAN, residing with her son, a Corporation carter, at South Ford Road, was found dead in her bed on Monday morning, by her little grandson upon his taking up her breakfast. She had apparently been in her usual health the previous day, but at half-past four on Monday morning, she awoke the housekeeper, who slept in the adjoining room, by knocking to her, and asked her for some brandy. She had then got out of bed, but went back at once without assistance. Three hours later the little boy found her dead. The Coroner (Mr A. M. Davson) was communicated with and held an Inquest at the Guildhall on Monday afternoon, when, after viewing the body, the Jury received the following evidence:- ROBERT HENRY TUCKERMAN: I reside in South Ford Road, and am a carter. I identify the body as that of MARY ANN TUCKERMAN, my mother. She was 83 years of age. - The Coroner: Now, what has been her general state of health? - Fair, generally, for an old person. She did not complain yesterday more than usual. - The Coroner: What was her trouble? - Nothing more than old age. She left her bed yesterday as usual, but so far as I know she did not leave her room; she didn't come downstairs at any rate. I saw her during the day, but not in the evening. About half-past four this morning I heard her moving about in her room, and I heard someone speak to her. About half-past seven my little boy took up her breakfast, and I heard him say "Granny," but he came back and said to his aunt downstairs, "Aunt, I can't wake Granny." Then I went up and found that she was dead. The Coroner: Has she been medically attended lately? - No, sir, I should think not since two years ago. - Sarah Jane Pruscott: I am a widow, and housekeeper to MR TUCKERMAN. I have heard what the last witness said as to the state of health of the deceased, and it is quite correct. She had not particularly complained of feeling ill, so far as I know. She has been pretty much as usual for some time. Yesterday she did not dress, though she was out of bed for some time during the day. I sleep in the next room. About 4.30 this morning I heard a knocking in her room. I went in, and she asked me if I had a drop of brandy. I said no, but I would get some. She was out of bed then, but she got in again of her own accord, without any help. Then I covered her up and made her comfortable, and left the room at once. About half-past seven the little boy took up her breakfast, and when he said he could "not wake granny," I went up directly and found her dead. The Coroner: When you went in at 4.30, you did not think she was ill enough to necessitate calling in a doctor? - Oh, no. She has often knocked me up in that way. John Henry Harris, M.D., practising at Dartmouth: About two years ago I attended the deceased, who was then suffering from weakness of the heart and bronchitis, a condition which has gone on ever since. I have today viewed and examined the body. I should think, hearing the evidence as to her getting out of bed at 4.30 and asking for brandy, the probabilities are she was taken with faintness. I consider she died from heart failure, quickly after getting into bed again. Taking into consideration her great age, and knowing that her heart was weak, this is, in my opinion, the only probable cause of death. - Verdict accordingly.

Friday 18 March 1904

NEWTON ABBOT - The Missing Dartmouth Moulder. "Found Drowned" at Newton. Inquest And Verdict. [By Our Own Representative]. - The body of a man found floating in the canal near Newton Abbot on Friday afternoon last, upon enquiry proved to be that of the missing Dartmouth moulder, ALFRED DAVEY, who left his home at Smith Street, about six o'clock on the morning of February 11th, ostensibly to go to work at Noss, but who was not seen again by his family. It was stated at the time that he was noticed during the morning at two places in Dartmouth, but after that he disappeared completely. Enquiries were made in all directions, but without success. It was thought he might have gone to see relatives in the neighbourhood, but they had seen nothing of him. Then, on March 11th, just one calendar month after his disappearance, his body was found as stated above. The Coroner (Mr S. Hacker) was communicated with and an Inquest was held at the Newton Town Hall on Saturday morning. After viewing the body the Jury received the following evidence, which failed to throw any further light upon the affair. HAROLD DAVEY: I reside at Smith Street, Dartmouth, and am a labourer. I identify the body as that of my late father, ALFRED DAVEY, who was 53 years of age last birthday. He was a moulder employed at Simpson, Strickland & Co.'s works, Dartmouth. He was in regular employment there. He lived at Smith Street, with the family. I resided in the same house. Was he pretty well-to-do, by which I mean had he sufficient to keep the family, without being troubled at all? - Oh, yes. He earned pretty good wages? - Yes. Was he in any monetary difficulty? - Not that I know anything about. And you helped to contribute towards the family's support? - Yes. When did you last see him alive? - On February 11th. And where? - At home sir. He was in the habit of getting up before me, to go to his work at an early hour. On the morning of February 11th I saw him at ten minutes past six, when he rose t go to work. I did not notice that there was anything unusual the matter with him. Did he say that he should be back to dinner or not? - Well, he cannot come home to dinner. The works are too far away. We knew he would not be back in any case until the evening. We expected him to return to his tea at the usual time, but he did not come. We saw no more of him. What did you think then? - I didn't know what to thin; it was so unusual. And nothing has been heard of him since, until the body was picked up here/ - No. Now, I must ask you again. Did he appear to be in difficulties in any way? - No, I was not aware of any at all. Very good; now, has there been anything wrong with him - with his health, or anything of that kind? - He has been a little queer in his manner. That would be about a fortnight before the doctor came. Oh, you had a doctor for him? What was he suffering from then? - He was depressed in his manner, and I thought it best to have a doctor in. Was he ill on February 11th. - No, just the same as usual. The doctor was not attending to him then; he had left a fortnight before that. Did the doctor tell you that he had any suicidal tendencies? - No. Was he suffering any pain? - Not that I know of. Only a bit depressed. He took his meals all right. Did he drink much? - Well, he has been a drinker. He would sometimes have a "burst up." Has he ever had delirium tremens? - No, sir, he has never been as bad as that, though sometimes he used to drink a good deal. In fact I might take it from what you say that he used to drink heavily? - Yes, but not since Christmas. He knocked it off to some extent after that. Before Christmas he drank heavily then? - Yes, very often. What did he drink, spirits? - Yes, sir. Then he knocked it off "to some extent?" Was he ever brought home intoxicated? - Yes, sometimes; especially on Saturday nights. It was not a regular thing with him, however. Now, can you suggest to the Jury any reason why he should have gone away in this sudden manner? - No, I cannot. I knew of nothing to cause it. Had he any troubles at home? - No, nothing to worry him at all. Had he ever threatened to walk off before? - No, never. Had there been any row with anyone to make him go off? - None. But there must have been some reason for a man going off like this, without telling anyone that he was going, and apparently going to his work, mustn't there? - I should say so, but I know of nothing to cause him to go. And you can't suggest anything at all to account for it? - No. Did he take anything with him? - Only his food for the day. He took just what he took every day, nothing more. Now, have you ascertained whether he did go to work that day? - He did not go to work. I have found out he never reached the yard. He went clean away, and after leaving the house you saw nothing more of him? - That is so, sir. Have you been able to trace where he did go? - No, sir. We tried but could not find out. We enquired in order that we might ascertain whether he went by train or walked, but nobody seems to have seen him. What day of the week would it be? - On Thursday. Then he hadn't drawn his week's pay? - No, sir. He left it in the office. Had he anything on him when he left besides the food you have told us about? - Only an eye-glass and callipers which he used in his work. He even left his watch at home. All this gave you the idea that there was nothing at all wrong with him? - Of course it did. Was he being dunned for money by anyone? - No. He was not hard-up in any way? - No, sir. He lived comfortably with his wife in every way. When he was depressed, you must have thought that he was very bad to have sent for the doctor. Now what did you really think was the matter with him? - I considered he was fretting about something. I could not think what it could be, and afterwards he appeared to get somewhat better. - ANNETTE DAVEY, widow of the deceased, was next called. She said she knew nothing more than her son had told the court. She had not the remotest idea of anything that would have been likely to cause her husband to go away suddenly, for he had no troubles of any kind at home. He said nothing to her before he went, to lead her to think he was not coming back, and she was greatly surprised when he did not turn up in the evening. He certainly seemed a little depressed, but nothing more than usual. The Coroner: As though he had something on his mind? - I should say so. You didn't know what it was? - I never had the slightest idea. I could not account for it at all. With regard to the night before he went away, was he all right then? - He had not been to work that day sir. He went out in the morning but did not go to the yard, and he came back at twelve o'clock and went to bed. He had been drinking a bit. So he had, to put it clearly, been "on the drink" the day before he went off? - Yes. Was he drunk? - No, I could not say that. He was not drunk. But he had been drinking, and was the worse for it? - Yes. He went to bed at twelve o'clock on the Wednesday, you say. Did he stay there the rest of the day? - Yes, sir. did he have anything to eat that day? - Only his tea, in bed. He said nothing unusual to you, nothing to lead you to think he was going to go for good next morning? - No. And he rose at six o'clock and left without saying anything of the kind? - Yes. And left no message behind? - Nothing whatever. Can you tell us nothing that would show the Jury why he left home? - No, sir nothing. He would hardly have left without a reason of some kind I suppose. He was depressed a little while before, but you cannot tell us why? - No. Had he any domestic troubles? - No. There was no row, or anything of that kind? - None whatever. But when he came home in liquor, was there no row then? - No. I never used to say anything to him. When he was in drink was he noisy, did he get at all excited? - Sometimes he did, but not always. Now do you know why he should have come to Newton, rather than to any other place? Was there any particular reason for that? Had he been there before? - Oh, yes, he used to live here. Newton is my home too. He was here last August. I think that was the last time until now. Where did he live, at Newton? - In Osborne Street, sir. One other question. Has he ever left home in this manner before? - No, never. So you had no suspicion that he had gone away. He did not drop you any hint as to his leaving the town? - No. The Coroner then asked Sergeant Hannaford whether he had been able to obtain any evidence as to whether deceased was seen alive after he left his home. - The Sergeant: No. The Coroner: Have you tried to get any? - Yes, and so far as I could ascertain there is nobody who saw him afterwards. I take it you communicated with the police at Dartmouth? - Yes. And nobody seems to have heard of him, or seen him since he left his home, until he was picked up in the water? - Nobody that we can trace. William Heales, a lighterman, residing at Kingsteignton, deposed that on Friday afternoon he was going up the river Teign on a barge, when he saw a body floating on the water, not far away. He got it up and gave information to the police. Tide was rising at the time. It was about an hour before high-water. The Coroner: In your opinion would it have been likely to have washed up from Teignmouth? - No, I think not. The tides have been neap for some time. Then you think it must have been lying about there for some little time, not far from where it was found? - Yes, I should certainly say so. I don't see how it could have drifted thee from any considerable distance. What was the depth of the water there? - I could not say exactly, but it was not very deep. I should think the body had been lying at the bottom for some time, and that a loaded barge had come along just before me and stirred it up. You cannot form any theory as to where he went into the river? - No, except that I should not think it was very far from the spot where he was found. if he had gone in much further down he would probably have been washed down to Teignmouth. Dr Martin, practising at Newton, said he had examined the body, but could find no marks of violence, and the appearances were consistent with death from drowning. The Coroner: Can you give us any idea as to how long he had been in the water? - I think he must have been there for at least three weeks. He left home on Feb. 11th. Would it be consistent with the appearances if it is suggested that he went into the water the same day? You see he was not seen again alive. - Possibly it would, but I put it a little less than that. Still he might have been in the water a month. P.C. Cawse said he helped t get the body up, about 25 minutes past one, on Friday afternoon, and took it to the mortuary. On searching the pockets he found a purse with 1s. 1 ½d. in it, an eye-glass, and a pair of callipers, as well as some bread and cheese. The Coroner said that went to show that the deceased went into the water not many hours after he left his home at Dartmouth, for his widow was able to tell them he took some bread and cheese away with him as usual. - The glass and callipers were identified by MRS DAVEY and her son. Summing up, the Coroner said the case was a very remarkable one. The deceased left home on February 11th, without giving the slightest intimation that he intended to go away from the town, and without leaving any written statement behind him. There had been no row at home, and he had no domestic troubles, or financial worries, so far as the evidence went. It was impossible, therefore, to suggest any reason for his going off in this extraordinary manner. There was one important fact elicited. He had been on the drink the day previous, and had not gone to his work. He had been depressed and ill, probably in consequence of the drink, and it might be that on the morning of the 11th February his head was not quite clear. Anyhow, he went off in this sudden manner without saying a word to anyone, and he must apparently have gone straight to Newton, though whether he walked or went by train was not known, for nobody appeared to have seen him after he left Dartmouth. The inference to be drawn from it all was that he went into the water the same day, and that would account for there being no trace of him. It was even more probable when they remembered that the bread and cheese were still on him when he was picked up a month later. Well, he was found in the river. Now, the question was how did he come there. Did he fall in, or deliberately take his life? It was impossible to say, and the Jury could do nothing but return an open verdict upon the evidence before them. It might be that, in a muddled state, he wandered on the edge of the river and fell in, or it might be that he committed suicide. They had no evidence of the one or the other. - The Jury promptly returned a verdict of "Found Drowned."

Friday 15 April 1904

KINGSWEAR - Farmer's Suicide At Boohay. Hung In A Loft. Coroner And The Witnesses. - Quite a sensation was caused at Kingswear on Tuesday evening when it became known that MR JAMES JARVIS FAIRWEATHER, a son of MR JAMES FAIRWEATHER, of Boohay Farm, had been found dead, hanging from a rafter in a loft over the farm stables. He was 37 years of age, and carried on the farm with his father, while he was married and had two children. One of the farm hands named Wills had occasion to go to the loft after 6 p.m., and found the body. At the time MR JAMES FAIRWEATHER was away at Dartmouth Market, and although a messenger was despatched for him it was not until he reached home that he heard the sad news. The deceased was very popular with the agricultural community, and the affair has cast quite a gloom over the district. The Inquest was held at the farmhouse on Wednesday evening, by Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner. Mr J. M. Came was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who first viewed the body and the loft, and then received the following evidence: JAMES FAIRWEATHER: I am a farmer residing at Boohay Farm. My son, the deceased, was 37 years of age, and carried on the farm with me. He was married and had two children. The Coroner: Were you at the farm when he was found dead? - No; I was at Dartmouth Market. I heard nothing about it until on my way home. Has there been anything the matter with the deceased? - Not that I am aware of. He had breakfast with me on Tuesday morning, in the usual way, and we arranged the work for the day. Then he went to sow a field of corn and put the men to work while I went to the market. Was he all right then? - Oh, yes. Had he been in good health? - Well, he had been laid up for a couple of days during the last two or three weeks. He complained of pains in his head. He has had similar pains before, and we sent for Dr Searle. You lived here, and did business with him. You saw him every day. I suppose you can give us the explanation of what has happened. - Not in the least. I cannot say what is the cause of it. I don't know. But you can give some idea, I suppose? - No, I went away and left him. Has he anything on his mind? Has he been troubled about anything? - Well, of course we conversed about the farm, but whether that troubled him or not I am unable to say. Was there any serious calamity hanging over him? - I cannot say whether there was or not. Was the business going wrong? - Not so far as I know. Had he anything to trouble him? - Not that I am aware of. And you cannot give us any explanation of his action? - Not in the least. You get on all right together, I suppose? - Yes, we have never had a fall-out. Then it could not have been any trouble with you that upset him? - Not that I know of. He had a certain income I presume. I mean he had a share of the profits? - Yes, but he had to stand the losses as well, with me. Have you had any losses lately? - The thing has not been paying; that is all I know. Did that trouble him? - It didn't trouble me very much. But did it trouble him? - I cannot tell you. Did he ever threaten to take his own life? - Not in my presence, or in anyone else's that I know of. He was my right-hand. I trusted him. That is all I know. The farming business didn't pay? - Well, it has not paid. Losing money at it? - Yes, we have lost a trifle. He had not complained to you about it? - No, not at all. Now what about his domestic life. Had he any trouble there? - I cannot say. But you are there. You live in the same house. You ought to know. Did he have any rows with his wife, or anything of that kind? - He may have for aught I know. You live in the same house. you must know whether they were a loving couple, whether they got on all right, or whether they had trouble or rows. - But I am not always in the house. Any man could soon see that, you know, if he lived with them. He would know very well what terms they were on. Is there anything you want to conceal about this, or can you tell us straight? - I don't know. If a man kills himself there must be some reason for his action, and the people who live with him are likely to know something about it. - I can't tell you the reason. I know of none. But you might give us a few details to give us some idea perhaps; something to guide us in some way. - I don't want to make an idea. People who lived with him, who could see his domestic life, and so on, must know. - I have told you all I know. I never heard them quarrel. They may have had a cross word sometimes, but nothing more. Used he to drink much? - I never saw him drunk in my life. Did he occasionally take more than was good for him? - I never saw him take more than was good for him. Were you surprised when you heard what he had done? - Yes, and it was a very great shock to me I can tell you. And there is no explanation you can give us in regard to it? - None. Very well then, we will take the next witness. - P.C. Braund, Kingswear, the Coroner's officer, said MRS FAIRWEATHER, the widow, had been summoned, but was not present. The Coroner: And why not? - The Constable said she had left the farm and gone to Woodhuish, two miles distant. He summoned her and told her she must come, but she said she was not well enough. - The Coroner: Is there a medical certificate? - No. The Coroner: People cannot play fast and loose with a Coroner's Court in that way, when they are summoned to give evidence, or there would be no Inquests at all. If she is too ill there should have been a medical certificate. I ought to order that she shall be fetched, or adjourn this Inquest until she can attend, but we will take the other witnesses first. - Mr Came, the Foreman, said in his opinion MRS FAIRWEATHER was too ill. - P.C. Braund, in reply to the Coroner, said she left Boohay the previous evening. She said she was too frightened to remain there. Her sister was in court to give evidence. MARY ANN PALMER said she was MRS FAIRWEATHER'S sister. She lived at Boohay Farm. The Coroner: Now why is your sister not here? - She is too ill, sir. I saw her this evening; she has only just got out of bed. Now what do you know of this matter? Has there been anything the matter with the deceased? - He has complained of pains in the head for some weeks. He has been worried lately about the farm and he thought his heart was getting bad. I have seen him put his hands to his head on many occasions. He did so when he was at dinner yesterday. I pressed him to take some rest afterwards but he would not, and I saw him when he went out, talking to a man in the yard about the work. I did not see him after that, which would be just after two o'clock. Did he seem quite as usual, other than having pains in the head? - Yes. I said to him "You are having a short dinner-hour. Where are you going?" but he made no answer. So he has worried about his business has he? Did he allow it to worry him much? - Yes, because things were not going on satisfactorily. Were there any domestic troubles? - No sir. Did he get on well with his wife? - Yes, they lived happily enough. Anything the matter with his mind? - Not that I am aware of. Had he any relations who had gone wrong in their heads? - I think there was one, a cousin or something. Can you tell us anything else to assist in clearing up this matter? - No, except that he had to leave the farm shortly. He had notice to give it up. You know your sister ought to have been here. There may be things she could tell us, which you may not know? - I don't think so. She should have sent a doctor's certificate. - She didn't know that. So you don't think she could tell us anything more than you have told us? - No, I certainly don't think she can. There is nothing more to tell. But a wife very often knows things that other people would not be likely to know. - Yes, perhaps so; I don't know sir. Did he say anything to her that morning as to what he was he was going to do? - Oh, no; he went away from the farm to work, quite as usual. He said nothing to frighten her? - No. Well, it was very unwise of her not to come to this Inquest; that is all I can say. She might have driven over. It looks bad, you know. It looks on the face of it as though there was something she wanted to conceal. The object of an Inquest is to have daylight thrown upon the cases which are examined, but in this case we cannot have that full daylight, because of her absence. It is very silly of her not to come. People may turn round and say she had something she did not wish to tell us. However, we will go on with the other witnesses. William Wills, in the employ of MR FAIRWEATHER, deposed that about six on Tuesday evening he went to the loft to get his dun-fork, when he saw something which gave him a turn, and he went down the ladder again. - The Coroner: In other words you were frightened. - Yes; for the moment. I did not quite know what it was, as it was dark in the loft. Then I opened the doors to admit the light, and I went up again, when I found the deceased hanging by the neck, from a beam, with his feet from four to six inches off the ground. I lowered him, and found that he was quite dead. I sent for the policeman, and went into the house to break the news. How were you able to "lower" him, as you term it, without cutting the rope? - He had the rope in a bow, which I was able to slacken. The noose around his neck was a running noose. Was there anything disturbed or upset in the loft? - No, sir, nothing. So it didn't seem as if there had been a scuffle or anything of the kind? - No. Did you see him at all during the day? - Yes, he was at work with me in the morning. I saw nothing strange about him. If anything he appeared more jovial than usual. He was better than I had seen him for some time. P.C. Braund stated that he was called by a man named Bowhay, who informed him that MR FAIRWEATHER had hanged himself. Witness proceeded to the farm at once. He found the body in the loft, with the rope produced tied tightly round the neck. Deceased had been dead some time. He found in the pockets £1 10s. 6 ½d., two bunches of keys, a pipe, and three or four letters, but none relating to his rash act. The letters were all written to him. There was one from Mr Llewellyn, one from Mr Seymour, at the Dartmouth N.P. Bank, and one from Mr Grant, boot and shoe dealer. Was there anything found in the house that would throw any light on the matter? - No. I asked MRS FAIRWEATHER and she said there were no letters that would give any reason. There was nothing at all bearing upon it. MRS FAIRWEATHER told me there had been some family quarrels. Just so; and she could have told us all about it if she had been here. You told her she must come to the Inquest. - Yes, and she said she would try and do so. Dr Searle, practising at Brixham, said he was called about seven o'clock and reached the farm about eight. On examining the body he found that deceased died from dislocation of the neck. It was evident, therefore, he must have fastened the rope round the beam and jumped off. Death must have been instantaneous. Witness had seen the place, and the jump would be quite sufficient to break his neck. Deceased had been a patient of yours, doctor? - Yes. I have attended him for nervous debility, and he has been excited. I think he has been worrying about something, but he was a very reserved man and told me nothing about it. It was quite evident there was something on his mind. He had an idea, too, there was something wrong with his heart, but I was able to satisfy him that his heart was all right. I think there must have been some domestic or business trouble, and his brain was unhinged for the time being. He hadn't got balance of power enough in his mind to enable him to face something or other. That is how I take it. At this stage the Coroner said it became his duty to decide whether he should conclude the inquest, or adjourn it for the attendance of MRS FAIRWEATHER. But for the fact that her sister, MISS PALMER, had given evidence in a most satisfactory manner, he should not have thought twice as to the course that should be taken. It was very wrong of MRS FAIRWEATHER to stay away from the Inquest, for her evidence might have been most material and important. However, under all the circumstances he was disposed to bring the Enquiry to a conclusion. Dr Searle: Knowing what she was like last night, I should say that she is too ill to attend. - The Coroner: But you have not seen her today. - Dr Searle: No. - The Coroner: Then you cannot possibly give us a certificate to that effect. Summing up, the Coroner said so far as the act was concerned it was perfectly clear that deceased took his own life. There was nothing disturbed in the loft, and there were no signs of a struggle. The Jury could come to no other conclusion than that he hung himself. They might go a step further, however, if they wished it, and consider what was his state of mind at the time. It was obvious there was some trouble which had preyed on his mind. Whether it was business worry altogether, or business worry and domestic trouble combined, or domestic trouble alone, they could not tell. Probably MRS FAIRWEATHER might have been able to throw a little more light upon the matter had she been present. But it was clear there was some trouble which had upset the deceased, and if the Jury found that his mind had become deranged, as the result of that, they could add it to their verdict. Without hesitation the Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst Temporarily Insane" and the Inquest was at an end.

Friday 29 April 1904

DARTMOUTH - Singular Fatality At Dartmouth. Fatal Fall From A Low Wall. - On Saturday morning last a remarkable fatality occurred at Dartmouth. MR WILLIAM FARRIER, an old and greatly respected inhabitant, who has for a generation carried on business in the town as a market gardener until recent years, fell from a low wall on which he was sitting, and dislocating his neck, died almost instantly. He went into the garden as usual and walked up a very steep path leading to the fowl-house. Reaching the top, he sat down to rest on the edge of the wall, about 18in or 2ft in height just at that spot. The path slopes down very considerably from the wall, and there are three stone steps close by. The deceased was apparently taken faint, for while MRS FARRIER was looking at him he suddenly toppled over to the right and fell heavily from the wall on to the sloping path, his head striking violently against the stone steps. MRS FARRIER, the only witness of the accident, at once called her daughter, MRS LOCHHEAD, who ran up with all speed, only to find her father expiring. The accident was on Monday afternoon the subject of a Coroner's Inquiry. The utmost sympathy is felt for MRS FARRIER and the family generally. The Inquest took place at the Guildhall before Mr A. M. Davson, the local Coroner. The Jury elected Mr G. Hart as their Foreman. Before they proceeded to view the body, the Coroner said from enquiries that had been made it appeared that MRS FARRIER was the only person who saw deceased fall. The sad affair had, however, so affected her that she was very ill, and quite unable to come to the Inquest. It so happened that a daughter of deceased, who was living in the same house, was at home at the time, and heard what her mother said, while she also ran to her father's assistance, and reached him within a minute or two of his fall. Under the circumstances he (the Coroner) thought they might be able to dispense with MRS FARRIER'S evidence. In any case, however, they would proceed with the Inquest without her, and if they found it necessary - which he thought would be very improbable - they could adjourn. The Jury then viewed the body, and on their return received the following evidence:- ANNIE LOCHHEAD: I am the wife of DAVID LOCHHEAD, a chief engineer, and I identify the body of the deceased as that of my late father, WILLIAM FARRIER, who was a retired market gardener, and 82 years of age. The Coroner: At the commencement of the Inquest, before you were present, I told the Jury that I intended to dispense with MRS FARRIER'S attendance, if possible, and I want you to tell the Jury just what happened so far as you gathered it from your mother. - On Saturday morning about half-past ten deceased was in the garden behind the house. I saw him about ten o'clock and he was quite bright and cheerful then, just as usual. A little while after that mother came in and said to me "Oh! do run to your father". When you saw him at ten o'clock where was he? Was he in the house then? - No, in the garden. When mother said that I guessed he must be somewhere near the fowl-house, and so I ran up there as quickly as possible. I found the deceased lying on the three steps at the top of the path. I could not see his face then; it was underneath. I turned him over to see what was the matter with him. He appeared to be quite senseless. He breathed three or four times, but that was all. He did not open his eyes or move. Can you give the Jury some idea as to how he came to be lying on the steps in that way. - Yes, he was sitting on the wall. He has not been nearly so well since Christmas as he was just before it. He sat on the wall, I think, to rest, and he must have been taken with faintness and fallen over. It must have been his heart, I should think. He used to complain of it. He was heavy and must have fallen with great violence. Did anyone see him fall? - Yes, mother did, and that was why she called to me to run up. She saw him sitting on the wall and then all at once she saw him fall over, without putting out his hand to save himself in any way. I think it is clear from that he must have been faint. Has he complained lately of feeling worse than usual, having regard to his great age? - He said this past week he was not feeling at all well. He said he felt bad all over. I take it that after you had gone up to him, someone went for the doctor>? - Yes, my niece went for Dr Crossfield at once and he came very quickly. Others also came on the scene to assist in taking deceased into the house. The Jury have seen the path which leads to the garden. It is very steep. - Yes, and no doubt the deceased sat down because he was tired. Though he has complained since Christmas of not being well, he was able to do a bit now and then. Considering his great age, he was not in very bad health. - No, probably not. The Coroner: The only other witness I have is the doctor, but I think after hearing him the Jury will be able to come to a conclusion without adjourning the Inquest for MRS FARRIER'S attendance. Dr A. K. Crossfield: On Saturday morning about a quarter to eleven I was sent for, and went immediately. When I arrived I found the deceased in the garden. He was being taken into the house by some men. The Coroner: Did you make any examination of the body in the garden? - I merely satisfied myself there that he was dead. I made a further examination when the body had been taken into the house. I found a cut over the left eye-brown, there was also a large abrasion on the left cheek, and the deceased's neck was dislocated. To what do you attribute death? - To dislocation of the neck I suppose. - Yes. I take it that the injuries would be consistent with the story you have heard in Court, that the deceased sat down on this low wall to rest, that he was probably seized with faintness and toppled over, falling heavily against the stone steps? - Yes, decidedly so. He would fall very heavily, for he was a heavy man. I understand that you have attended deceased for some time? - Yes. For what? - He had what is known as a fatty heart. Summing up, the Coroner said the case was a very plain one. There was no necessity whatever for an adjournment. Although they had no witness who actually saw the deceased fall, MRS LOCHHEAD, the daughter, was on the spot within a minute or two. She heard what her mother said as to the deceased having fallen from the wall, and everything was consistent with the theory that after walking up the very steep incline leading to the garden, he had an attack of giddiness. This caused him to fall over. He was very heavy, and his head must have struck the stone steps with great force, quite sufficient to dislocate his neck. considering the fact that deceased was between 80 and 90 years of age, it was not at all remarkable that, after walking up such an incline he should want to rest, or that it should have a serious effect upon him. It was a very sad case, and the family would have their sympathy. The facts were very clear, and although there were only two witnesses called, and nobody who saw him fall, the Jury could have no hesitation in coming to a satisfactory conclusion. - Promptly a verdict of "Death by Misadventure" was returned.

Friday 3 June 1904

KINGSWEAR - Suicide In A Mortuary. Found By The Widow. Inquest And Verdict. - On Friday afternoon last a gruesome discovery was made at Kingswear Cemetery. MRS KEELEY, wife of the caretaker, JAMES KEELEY, went into the cemetery from the lodge to look for her husband. Failing to find him she opened the mortuary door, and was horrified to see him hanging by the neck from a beam close to the roof. His feet were on the ground, but his whole weight was thrown forward upon the rope, and he was in a semi-kneeling position. Her screams speedily brought help, and a Dartmouth postman named Tucker cut the deceased down, while Dr Kendall was sent for immediately. Upon his arrival, an examination speedily convinced him that death must have been instantaneous, for deceased's neck was dislocated. It was clear that he must have jumped from the mortuary slab, with his knees doubled up. Deceased was a great favourite in Kingswear, and the news of his violent end came as a great shock to the inhabitants, who had almost come to regard him as one of the "institutions" of the place. He had charge of the roads, and of the village water supply. The Coroner (Mr S. Hacker) was at once communicated with, and an Inquest held at the Royal Dart Hotel, Kingswear, on Saturday afternoon. Rev. C. E. Jolliffe was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who, after viewing the body, received the following evidence:- SELINA KEELEY: I live at the Cemetery Lodge and identify the body as that of my late husband, JAMES KEELEY. He was 58 years of age, and was caretaker of the cemetery and water bailiff. The Coroner: How long has he had that appointment? - Nineteen years sir. We live at the cemetery by ourselves, with the exception of a little grand-daughter who had been there for a short time. We have had eight children, but only two are alive. That is very unfortunate. How did you lose them? - In their infancy. Has there been anything the matter with the deceased lately? - Yes, he has been very depressed. Whenever he came indoors he always wanted to sit down and sleep. He would sleep at any time. How long had this sort of thing been going on? - for the last month or six weeks. He had not complained of anything in particular, except that he was always sleepy. Well, sleep is generally a good thing for a man, is it not? What was he depressed about? - He thought he was behind with his work sir, and people were complaining. Was that so? - Yes, some had complained that the grass was very long over the graves. Hadn't he time to do all the work? - No sir. And the fact of his being behind with it depressed him? - Yes, I am sure of it. Who complained of him? Who was he under the Cemetery Board? - Yes, sir, but the Board never complained of him. It would be the people of the village, but I don't know who they were. Had he always his graves ready when they were wanted for a burial? - Yes, always. Now can you tell us whether he had any other troubles? - No, there was only his work and that preyed on his mind and made him miserable. He thought he was not getting on with it as he should do. Now what about his physical state. Was he in good general health? - Yes sir, he had always enjoyed excellent health. Ever had anything the matter with his head? - No. Never complained of pains in his head or of troubles of that kind? - No. His bodily health has been good, and I have noticed nothing at all the matter with him except the worry about his work. Now tell me what happened yesterday? - He came home to his dinner and a little later than usual. He had been at work during the morning, but I don't know exactly what he had been doing. it was a quarter past twelve when he came in. he didn't eat his dinner. Why not? - I don't know. He had two or three mouthfuls and he could not eat any more. He went into the front room, sat down, and went to sleep. Did he say he was tired, or worried, or anything of that sort? - He didn't say anything about that, sir. Till what time did he sleep? - Till three o'clock. I heard him moving about then, and I asked him if he was going about the grave he hadn't banked up, and he said "Yes." Then he went out. Just afterwards I saw him coming back to the cemetery from the copse over the way. It was then about half-past three. He hadn't been to the grave at all then? - Not then, sir. He spoke to me. He said it was nice weather for drying the clothes. I said "Yes." Then he went up the cemetery path, and that was the last I saw of him alive. Did he appear quite as usual? - Yes, quite. Ten minutes afterwards I went out to ask him if he would have a cup of tea, but I could not find him in the cemetery. The mortuary door was shut. I opened it and then I saw him hanging from a beam. His feet were on the ground. He was stooping. I could not do anything but scream. A little boy came, and I told him to call someone. A postman was the first to come, and he cut my husband down. Has he left any letter behind him? - No, sir. No scrap of writing? - Nothing at all. Has he ever threatened to take his life? - Never. Or said anything that would lead you to the idea that he meant to do so? - Never. But when you hear of a man doing this sort of thing, taking his life by hanging, there must be some sort of reason for it, you know. - I know of none in this case. It is a mystery to you then? - Yes, quite a mystery. I cannot suggest the slightest reason. Men don't hang themselves without a reason, or at least what they think to be a reason. He seemed all right the last thing when I saw him. He joked with me quite in his usual spirits. he said to me that he had heard from the station-master that his passes would be all right, and that he would take me to Penzance. Are you sure you know all about his affairs? - Yes. And he had nothing to worry him beyond what you have told us? - Nothing but his work sir. - Charles Tucker: I am a postman. I live at Dartmouth. I knew the deceased well. About ten minutes to five in the afternoon of yesterday I met a lad running down the road. He said MR KEELEY had hung himself. I hurried to the Cemetery and heard MRS KEELEY screaming. She was at the gate of the Cemetery. I went straight to the mortuary and found the deceased hanging, as described. I cut him down. Deceased was in almost a kneeling position. He was hanging by the rope produced. I cut it twice, once from under the beam, and again from round his neck. It was tied very tightly under his chin. The Coroner: Was he dead? - I think he was sir, but he seemed to make some kind of a gurgling noise as I cut the rope from his neck. He was not cold. The question is whether he was dead. You say he made a noise? - Yes. But I think he must have been dead, all the same. If a man makes a gurgling it indicates there is at least a chance of his being revived, I should think. At all events it might be worth trying. Was the doctor sent for? - Yes, he was sent for before I got there. He didn't arrive while I was at the Cemetery. I had to leave again as soon as possible. I had to see to my mails. His feet were touching the ground, but his whole weight was on the rope. Is that so? - Yes. Was he dressed in the ordinary way? - Yes, and his hat was not removed. - FREDERICK KEELEY: I am a gardener and reside at Butts' Hill, Kingswear. I last saw the deceased, my father, on Monday last. He had been with my mother to Brixham for a holiday. The Coroner: How was he then? - I fancied he was very quiet - very quiet indeed. Is that all you noticed? - Yes. He simply wished me "good night" as he passed, and it is very unusual for him not to stop and converse for a few minutes. I think he was depressed about something. About what, do you think? - Well, he was getting older, and I think he has found that he cannot stand the strain of his work as well as he could years ago. It has been telling upon him. He had more than he could very well attend to, I think. He thought his work too much for him? - I think so. Was that only his opinion, or do you think it had foundation in fact? - I think it had. He had plenty to do, what with the cemetery and the water. he had a very good house to live in, children all out in the world, and plenty of work? - Yes sir. What you might call a prosperous man? - I suppose so. You know of no reason other than this, for his rash actions? - None whatever. He said nothing to me. Dr W. B. Kendall, surgeon, practising at Kingswear: I was called to the cemetery to see the deceased, and arrived there soon after five o'clock. Deceased had been cut down and was lying on the mortuary slab quite dead. There was dislocation of the spine and I don't think it was a case of simple suffocation. The Coroner: Then there must have been a jerk somehow. - Decidedly. I have no doubt whatever in my own mind that the deceased tied the rope round the beam, made a noose and placed his head in it, and then jumped off the slab on which the bodies are placed when they are brought to the mortuary. That would give him a drop of considerable length. He is a man of great weight, and would fall very heavily. If, as you say, death was instantaneous, how do you account for the gurgling noise which the witness Tucker says he heard when he cut the body down? - That was not necessarily an indication of life. The gurgling also occurred when I handled him, and he was quite dead I am sure, and had been so for some time. It was clear from the injury that death must have been instantaneous. There were no other marks to indicate struggle or anything of that kind? - Nothing. You knew this man very well I presume? - Yes, I have known him for many years. Have you ever attended him? - No; he enjoyed good health so far as I am aware. I should like to say, with regard to his work, that he was not merely the water bailiff and the caretaker of the cemetery, but he also looked after the roads, so that he had a considerable amount of work to perform. I can quite understand his having been worried about it. I have noticed that he has been looking very aged and very troubled of late, as if life was not worth living for him. When you looked at his face you could see that clearly. He hardly took any notice of you when you spoke to him, and before that he was bright and cheerful. What was the reason of his dropping to sleep so much? - Probably anaemia of the brain. Generally speaking, a man who is worried so much or whose mind is affected, cannot sleep at all. That is correct isn't it? - Well, the opposite would apply in some cases. Sleep is all very well when it is natural, but in this case it didn't appear to be so. It was quite clear the man was greatly depressed about something. All his happy smile had disappeared. Summing up, the Coroner said the case was a mysterious one, and he supposed it must remain a mystery so far as the reason which caused deceased to take his life was concerned. That he did take his life there was no shadow of doubt. There was nothing to indicate that anyone else was concerned in his death. There were no signs of a struggle, and everything pointed to the probability of the doctor's surmise being correct - that the deceased jumped off the mortuary table, and that as a result death was instantaneous. At first sight it would have appeared that had the widow cut him down immediately she found him, his life might have been saved. Colour was lent to this by the statement of the postman Tucker, who said he heard a gurgling noise when he cut the rope from around deceased's neck. The doctor, however, had explained that this would not necessarily be a sign of life, and, all things considered, they were forced to the conclusion that the man was dead before his body was found. What caused him to commit this rash act they would never know. From what he said to his wife as to his having a railway pass and taking her to Penzance, it was perfectly clear that when he left the house after dinner he could not have contemplated immediate suicide. Suddenly, without any apparent reason, he went to the mortuary and shuffled himself out of life. It appeared to be an impulse of the moment. He had left no message behind, and he gave no indication to his people that he was about to take his life. The Jury could find no other verdict that that he committed suicide, and if they left it at that without any further remark, it would be a verdict of felo de se. They might, however, consider what his state of mind was at that time. If they found there was sufficient evidence to justify their considering that his mind was deranged, they might add this to their verdict. They had it from the witnesses that deceased was worried about his work. He was getting well up in years, and probably his duties were more than he could easily manage. Brooding upon this might have caused his mental balance to be upset, and if the Jury found that he was not in his right senses when he hung himself, their verdict would not be one of felo de se, but would be qualified by a reference to his insanity. - Without hesitation the Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst in a state of Temporary Insanity." They gave their fees to the widow and expressed deep sympathy with her.

Friday 17 June 1904

LODDISWELL - Loddiswell Tragedy. Murder And Suicide. - On Saturday HUBERT CHARLES BAKER, a young tenant farmer, twenty-eight years of age, who rented Warcombe Farm, near Loddiswell, and was well known to most of the agricultural community in this district, was brutally done to death by his farm servant, ALBERT CORNER, aged twenty, who afterwards committed suicide by shooting himself. Briefly, it appears that on Friday afternoon last MR BAKER reproved CORNER for idleness, whereupon the latter threatened his master with a bar of iron. Subsequently CORNER was given notice to quite MR BAKER'S service in a month, but the next day, acting on the suggestion of his sister, MRS CUMMINGS, his housekeeper, BAKER paid him a week's wages in advance, and told CORNER to quit the farm. The youth seems to have harboured resentment at this treatment. After tea he packed his box and left the farm. Subsequently CORNER must have returned to the house, and in the absence of both the farmer and his sister, secured a double barrelled sporting gun from the pantry and six cartridges from the kitchen mantle-shelf. Proceeding to a field through which MR BAKER would have to pass CORNER laid in wait in the hedge. On the farmer making his appearance a little boy by whom he was accompanied drew his attention to the fact that ALBERT CORNER was in the hedge. MR BAKER turned to look and almost immediately received a charge from a gun in his face. MR BAKER ran towards the gate, and was followed by his assailant, who fired a second time and hit MR BAKER in the right shoulder. The latter fell and expired while CORNER returned to the hedge, creeping through the next field where he fatally shot himself. Meanwhile the boy raised the alarm. At the Inquest a verdict of Wilful Murder and Felo de Se was returned.

Friday 24 June 1904

DARTMOUTH - Youth's Suicide At Dartmouth. Poisoned By Strychnine. An Extraordinary Case. Inquest And Verdict. - On Friday night ERNEST JAMES SHILLABEER, a young man of seventeen, committed suicide by taking strychnine. He resided with Mr and Mrs Reynolds, at Crowther's Hill, and was employed on the Naval College Works as a bricklayer. On the night in question he went to bed just after ten o'clock apparently in his usual health and spirits. Shortly afterwards Mrs Reynolds heard a singular noise coming from his room, which she described as being like the "working of a machine." Not being able to get a satisfactory reply from the deceased, to whom she called without opening the door, she informed her husband, who had gone to bed. He entered the deceased's room and found that he had taken poison. Dr Soper was at once summoned, but medical aid was of no avail, for the youth died about an hour afterwards. SHILLABEER'S family reside near Bowden, Stokefleming, and are well-known the whole district round. The affair caused a considerable sensation. Early in the week deceased hinted to a fellow workman that he might take poison, and on Friday offered him his tools and pay, but all was said in jocular strain and no notice was taken of it. At the Inquest held on Monday by Mr A. M. Davson, eight witnesses were called, but nothing could be elicited as to the cause which led deceased to take his life. After the Jury had viewed the body they received the following evidence:- RICHARD ALFRED SHILLABEER: I live at Embridge, Bowden, and am a rabbit-trapper by occupation. I identify the body as that of my late son. He resided at Crowther's Hill, Dartmouth, and was 17 years of age. I last saw him alive at my house a fortnight ago yesterday. He seemed just as usual, as far as I could see. What do you mean by "as usual?" Did he enjoy good health? - Yes. As a rule he was in the best of spirits, and I saw nothing the matter with him. What was the next thing you heard about him? - On Friday night I heard that he was dead. Someone came out from Dartmouth to tell me. You know nothing of the circumstances? - No. Now, as far as you know, has there been any insanity in your family? - Not so far as I know. The Foreman: Have you ever heard the deceased threaten to commit suicide, or drop any hint to that effect? - Never. - Elizabeth Mary Reynolds: I reside at Crowther's Hill, and am the wife of George Lavers Reynolds, a gardener. The deceased lodged in our house. He had been there about four months. Now I want you to tell the Jury as clearly as you can what happened on Friday last. Did the deceased go to his work as usual in the morning? - Yes. Did he come home at midday? - Yes, he came back to dinner as usual. Then he went to work again, just as he always does. Everything was as usual, and I did not see that he was different in any way. He came home again in the evening I suppose. At what time? - About a quarter to six. What did he do then? - After tea he cleaned and went out. What time did you see him again? - About half-past nine, or a quarter to ten, sir. Did he go to bed then? - Within a short time. He went up about ten, or a few minutes afterwards. What was the next thing you heard of him? - I heard a noise in his bedroom. He slept directly over the kitchen, which is on the ground floor. How long would it be from the time he went upstairs until you heard this noise? - I should think about twenty minutes. What was the noise like? Was it as though somebody was moving about? - It sounded like a machine working. And then? - The first thing I did was t go into the hill and see if he had a light there, for I could see his window from the hill. There was no light. Then I got a light and went up to the door. I didn't open it, but I called to him. I said, "What's the matter?" and he replied, "Nothing." I said, "yes, there is something the matter with you. Tell me what it is." And he replied "Nothing", a second time. Then I called my husband at once. He had gone to bed. Has the deceased ever complained to you of anything? - Never, sir. He has always appeared very cheerful. Up to the very minute he went up to bed he seemed just as usual. - George Lavers Reynolds, husband of the last witness, took up the story from the time he was called by his wife. You have heard your wife's evidence. About what time did she call you on Friday night to go to the deceased? - A little after ten o'clock. Deceased went to bed before me, but I had not been gone very long when she called me. Perhaps it would be twenty minutes past ten. Did you go into the room? - Yes. I found the deceased in bed. I said to him, "JIM, what's the matter?" He made no reply, and I said, "Have you been drinking?" He said "No." I pressed him to know what was the matter. Then he said "I am dying." Then he said "I have taken poison, and I want to die." did he say anything else? - No. My wife went straight away for the doctor, while I and others got some salt and water and tried to make him urge. We did all we possibly could before the doctor arrived. Did you find anything in the room to give you any idea as to what he had taken? - No, I had no time to search then. I didn't see anything sir. Was he sensible until the doctor came? - I could not say, sir; I don't know. I was not with him the whole of the time. I went in for some neighbours. Now, did deceased say to you, "For God's sake don't send for the doctor." - He said something of that sort. You haven't told us that before, you know. We want to know all he did say. You must tell the Jury everything. Did you ask him if you should send for the doctor and did he give you that answer? - Not exactly. I said to him "I must send for the doctor," and he said "For God's sake don't." Did he say anything else? - No, sir. Did he appear to be in pain? - Yes, when I went in at first. After your wife went for the doctor, you stayed with him? - I rushed down and got a neighbour to help me give him some salt and water, and mustard. Then I went back and stayed until the doctor came. Has he ever complained to you in any way? - Never. Was he in good health and spirits when you saw him before he went to bed? - Yes. I thought he was as bright as usual. He has always seemed very jolly. The Foreman: You used t see this young man two or three times a day, I suppose? - Well, mornings and evenings. has he ever given any hint that he might take his life? - Never. it is the last thing I should have thought of. - Henry May Hadfield, chemist, Parade House: On Friday last between seven and eight in the evening, deceased came into my shop. He said he wanted some strychnine for his father. Do you know the boy at all? - Oh, yes. Did he say why he wanted the strychnine for his father? - Yes, to poison rats. How much did you let him have? - He had a quarter of an ounce. He signed the book (produced) and I wrapped up the strychnine in paper, with my name upon it. There were two poison labels on it. Now did he appear disturbed at all? - No; he was in his usual manner, as far as I could judge. There did not appear to be anything the matter with him. Have you ever sold poison to him before? - Not to the boy himself, but I have to the father and other members of the family. The father used a great deal of it when he was with the late Mr Netherton. So you saw nothing unusual in the request for strychnine? - No. You say you have never sold poison to the boy before? - No. How did you know him? - He has been to my shop on several occasions. I knew him as a customer. William John Punchard, bricklayer, residing in Newcomin Road: I was a friend of the deceased and I worked with him at the College. has he ever complained to you about anything? - Never, until last Friday morning, when we were sitting down to breakfast. He seemed rather quiet, and one of the workmen sitting down close by said "What's the matter with you this morning JIM?" Did he make any reply? - He smiled; that was all. He was apparently all right during the morning. In the afternoon we were joking together. He said: "You can have my tools." He was laughing all the time. He went one "You can take the key of my box." He took the key off his watch-chain and held it out to me, but I would not take it, and he then put it back again. He had been reading a letter all the day. Did that appear to have worried him at all? - No; he laughed about it. I said to him "What do you want to keep reading the letter for?" He laughed and I said "Is it anything nice?" He said I should not read it, and he tore it into small pieces. One of the chaps at work there picked up a piece, upon which were the letters "Bla...." Deceased said "Its nothing to do with you." He showed me the address to which the letter was sent, but that was all. I suppose it would hardly be possible to find the pieces now; they would be all destroyed? - Yes, they have been swept up. Did he say anything else to you? - He asked me if I would pick up his money, pay Mrs Reynolds ten shillings and keep the rest myself and have a "bust-up." And what reply did you make to that? - I said "Don't be so silly." He was laughing all the time. What did you think was the matter with him? - I didn't think there was anything the matter. We had to go outside the building to work on Saturday and he picked up his tools and cleaned and oiled them, just as usual. He never said to you that he was going to take poison? - No, nothing more than I have told you. - P.S. Hockridge handed the Coroner a note. - The Coroner: Now are you quite sure the deceased never said anything to you about his taking poison? - In the early part of the week he passed a remark; something about poison. Did he say to you that he was going to take poison? He either said it or he didn't say it. You are here to tell us all you know, and you are on your oath you know? - I think he did say so, but I would not be quite sure. I thought he was joking, sir. It all seems to have been "joking." Did you make any remark when he said this to you? - No; he was laughing, and I took no notice of him. Did he say anything else to you? - About half-past five I was brushing the brick-dust off his back, when he said to me "That will be the last time you will brush me down." What did you say in reply? - I didn't say anything, sir. Did you walk down from the works with him? - Yes. And then? - I left him, but I saw him again the same evening, under the Butterwalk, after we had cleaned ourselves. Did he say anything to you then? - No, sir. He was as happy as could be. I left him about eight o'clock to go to choir practice, and I did not see him again. He seemed in thorough good spirits the last time you saw him? - Yes. A Juror: Did he go to Mr Hadfield's shop while he was with you? - No. - Ethel Maud Adams: I live with my parents at Above Town. On Friday evening last I met the deceased at half-past eight, and he left me about half-past nine. He said he was going down into the town. Have you been in the habit of going out with him? - No, sir. I have not been with him for the last fortnight until Friday. Did he complain to you of anything on Friday night? - No, nothing. He seemed in good health, and all right. I noticed nothing at all the matter with him. He told you where he was going when he left you? - Yes. He said he wanted to go to the Quay and see another young man. And that was the last you saw of him? - Yes. Has he complained to you on any previous occasion? - No. In reply to the Jury, witness said she knew nothing of any letter received by the deceased on Friday. He said nothing to her about it. Dr G. M. Soper, practising at Dartmouth: On Friday night about 10.30, I was sent for to go to Crowther's Hill. I proceeded there at once. I found the deceased in bed. Did he appear to be in pain? - He was unconscious when I got there. He was breathing very hard and very rapidly and his pupils were very widely dilated. He had been vomiting and he was bleeding slightly from the mouth as well. I hadn't been in the room two minutes before he started having convulsions. I gave him an emetic and an antidote. The convulsions increased and he died about 11.15, about 45 minutes after I first saw him. His death was undoubtedly due to poisoning by strychnine. These convulsions; are they a sign of strychnine poisoning? - Yes. Could you find any strychnine? - We found some on the window sill, on the box, and on the dressing table. Did you find any labels or paper? - No, the powder was simply lying exposed on the edge of the window sill. - Mary Bowhay: I live at Blackawton with my mother. I last saw the deceased on the Sunday week. He came out to see me. Did he complain to you at all? - No. Have you been out with him? - No, I had not seen him for six months until then. Has he written to you at all? - Only on a postcard asking me whether he could come out to see me, and I wrote in reply and told him yes, and that he must come soon enough for tea. He wanted me to meet him at Hemborough Post. The police produced two letters written by witness to the deceased. - The Coroner: (after perusal), These are only ordinary letters. You wrote them? - Yes. And they are simply letters in reply to his, saying that he could come out, and so on? - Yes. These letters do not throw the slightest light upon his rash act. Was he in good health and spirits when you last saw him? - Oh, yes, just as usual. He is always lively and in good spirits and I saw no difference whatever in him. Summing up, the Coroner said the case was a most remarkable one. They could not suppose for a moment that a young man of seventeen would commit suicide without some cause or something which he considered a cause. They had examined many witnesses, but they could find no trace of any reason why he should have done this thing. Those who last saw him had testified that he was in his usual health, and in good spirits. That he took his life there was no shadow of doubt, and upon that point the Jury could not fail to arrive immediately at a verdict. There was however not the slightest evidence to show any reason. It was an extraordinary thing, but there seemed an epidemic of murders and suicides sweeping through the country at the present time. In the present case it was a very sad thing that a young man like this, should have made away with himself. Apparently he received a letter on the Friday morning, for, according to one of the witnesses, he was continually reading it during the day. There was no hint however that anything in the letter upset him. His remarks to Punchard made it clear that suicide was running in his mind for some time, but he laughed and joked when speaking, and what he said was not taken seriously. It was an extraordinary case, and there probably would be no light forthcoming as to the cause which led up to it. The Foreman asked the Coroner to give the Jury an instruction as to what they could do with regard to the state of mind of the deceased. This was an important point. The Coroner: To begin with, you will of course come to the conclusion that deceased took his own life. On the evidence, you can come to no other. If you find that he was of unsound mind at the time, you can add that to your verdict, but as far as I can see there is nothing upon which you could base such an assumption. Up to the very last thing he was apparently in his right senses and in good spirits. On the other hand if you find that you have no evidence as to his state of mind, you can add that, and leave it an open question. Without hesitation the Jury returned a verdict of Suicide and added that there was no evidence to show the state of mind of deceased.

Friday 2 September 1904

TOTNES - After The Regattas! A Sudden Death. - Mr S. Hacker, Coroner, held an Inquest at Totnes Guildhall, on RICHARD DOWN, of Lower Street, Plymouth, well-known at Dartmouth Regatta and other local holidays as a programme-seller. - George Yeoman, general dealer, of Totnes, said he saw deceased come off the steamer from Dartmouth about three o'clock on Saturday, when he appeared sober and in his usual health. After John English, of the Town Arms, and William Seaford, the Town Council Foreman, had given evidence to the effect that deceased appeared drunk, ELLEN COOK, deceased's daughter, said she last saw deceased, who was a widower, on Sunday week, before he went to the Torquay and Dartmouth Regattas. He then appeared in his usual health, but complained of shortness of breath. He was in poor circumstances, and she did not think he could have had much food lately. P.C. Disney said he saw deceased in a hopeless condition outside the post office. He appeared to be under the influence of drink, and in reply to witness, said "Drive away the youngsters." He rambled up the street to the Devon and Cornwall Bank, where witness and P.C. Stoneman took charge of him to convey him to the police station, before reaching which he collapsed, and they carried him to the office, where he died immediately. P.C. Stoneman said deceased had £1 2s. 9 ½d. on him. MRS COOK said deceased had applied to the Plymouth Guardians, who refused out-relief, but offered a house order, which he refused. Dr H. S. Johnson, who said the man was dead when he reached the police station, stated that the cause of death was syncope. The body was poorly nourished. The heart was small, and the liver twice the ordinary size, while the heart, lungs and other organs were so diseased that it was a wonder he lived so long. There was no sign of drink in his stomach. The Coroner said the police acted perfectly correct in the matter, and a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was returned. The Jury and witnesses gave their fees to MRS COOK.

Friday 23 September 1904

STOKE GABRIEL - The Stoke Gabriel Fatality. Mr Owen's Graphic Evidence. Coroner And Swimming. - At Stoke Gabriel on Friday afternoon, the Inquest on the bodies of EDWARD HERBERT YOUNG, gentleman, and JAMES MABIN, his valet, elicited no new facts. The story, as told in the last issue of the Chronicle, was substantiated in practically every detail, though here and there amplification was given. The unfortunate gentleman and his servant, with Mr John R. Owen, had visited Stoke Gabriel from Dittisham in a small boat 14ft in length. They spent about three hours in the village and left there at low water, just before three o'clock, on the downward journey. After rowing down the creek they hoisted the sail, but sailing was slow for of wind there was practically none. Suddenly MR YOUNG, who was sitting in the starboard seat, rose to change places with MABIN, and stepped to the other side where both Mr Owen and MABIN were sitting. The only possible result happened. Over went the boat, out went its occupants, and in a very few minutes another river tragedy was complete. Mr Owen's gallant attempt to save the others was specially commended by the Coroner, who declared that he saved his own life by a miracle. Drowning men are desperate. No sooner did Mr Owen get within arm's length - probably before he realised that he was so close - than he was seized by both. They were sinking, and Mr Owen was dragged to the bottom with them. There with the placid and sunlit waters of the Dart above, was enacted a tragic scene which left but one survivor. Three men struggling for life at the bottom of the river! One, able to swim, held down by his comrades in their death agonies! It was indeed by a miracle that his life was saved. Questions by the Coroner as to the control of the boat were straight to the point. Mr Owen was in charge, but he admitted that he knew very little about it. "Then why," asked Mr Kellock, "had you the control?" "I knew more about it than either of them," was the remarkable reply. "Which means," went on Mr Kellock, drawing the only inference possible, "that they knew nothing at all." And the witness expressively replied "Nothing." Three men in a small sailing boat. One knew very little about handling a boat, and the others knew nothing! And two could not swim! The Coroner commented upon the fact, that too often public bodies were condemned for not providing life-saving appliances, but the more important question of teaching children how to swim was neglected! And it is so. You will see it in all our seaside towns. Swimming is an art that should be taught everywhere, under all circumstances. Accidents such as this serve to drive it home the harder.

The Enquiry was conducted by the Deputy Coroner (Mr G. F. Kellock) who informed the Jury that he proposed to take the case of MR YOUNG first. They would, however, view both bodies at once. The first witness was William Holmes, of Totnes, called to identify MR YOUNG'S body. He was 41 years of age, said Mr Holmes, and had no profession. Coroner: A man of private means without any occupation? - Yes. How long have you known him? - All his life. Do you know where he has been living? - Yes, at Paignton for some time. Latterly he has been at Dittisham. John Robertson Owen, a law student, and son of Mr Edward Owen, who formerly resided at Stoke Fleming, was the next witness. Were you in company with the deceased yesterday? - Yes. And with JAMES MABIN, his valet? - Yes. Where did you go? - We went from Dittisham to Stoke Gabriel, in a small boat. How long were you at Stoke Gabriel? - I should think about three hours. I was not with MR YOUNG the whole time. He left me to see someone on business, and he was away for about an hour and a half. What time did you reach Stoke? - Between eleven and twelve, and we left there just before three. Now give us as graphic a description as you possibly can of what happened. - We got down out of the creek all right. We rowed down. It was low water at the time. When we got clear of the creek we hoisted our sail. We sailed along a little way. I don't know how far. There was very little wind. I was sitting in the left-hand corner in the stern, holding the sheet and the tiller-rope. MABIN was close by my side and MR YOUNG was sitting on the seat just opposite us. MR YOUNG suddenly rose to sit by my side, too. If MABIN had shifted at the same time it would have been all right, but he did not move and the boat capsized. Without the slightest warning we all found ourselves in the water. When I rose to the surface I clung to the boat. I looked round and I saw the others about a dozen yards from the boat. They had drifted away that distance. Down the stream or up? - Down. Then I swam to them, and I shouted to them to keep quiet. They both caught hold of me and pulled me down with them as they sank. We all went under. I was down some time until I could hardly hold my breath, then they let go, and I came up suddenly, almost exhausted. I swam back to the boat, and when I got my breath all right I made for the shore. Was the water very deep where the boat capsized? - I could not say, except that it was out of my depth. Now, was there any disturbance or any high words? - No. We were all laughing and joking together. Foreman: About how far from the shore do you think you were? - I could not say exactly, but I should think about 20 yards. A Juryman: Was it only MR YOUNG who moved? - Yes, if MABIN had moved as well, just at the right moment, they would have changed places without any difficulty, but as he did not, we were all of us on one side of the boat, and the sail was that side as well. Another Juryman pointed out that MABIN had marks of a blow over his eye. Could witness account for that in any way? - No. It is possible I might have struck him in trying to free myself when under water, but I have no recollection of any such thing. I do not know what he was struck by anything in the boat as it capsized. Coroner: You might have struck, or perhaps kicked him, as you were trying to get away? - It is quite possible, but I am not aware that I did. You saw them about a dozen yards away from the boat, you say. Were they clinging to each other? - They were close together, but I do not know whether they had hold of each other. Do you know whether they could swim? - Not a stroke. Neither of them? - No. - John Ford Channing, landlord of the Church Inn, Stoke Gabriel: MR YOUNG, Mr Owen and MABIN came to my house about noon and had light refreshments. They did not remain more than a quarter of an hour. About an hour and a half later MR YOUNG and his man came back. I do not know where they had been. Meanwhile Mr Owen had been down to look after the boat. He came back and had some lemonade. How long did they stay the second time? - I should think about twenty minutes sir. They asked about low water, and I told them about a quarter to three. They left about half-past two. A Juryman: Were they all very friendly, as far as you could see? - Oh yes! They were chatting and laughing together. The Coroner, recalling Mr Owen, asked him whether any words had passed between MR YOUNG and his man. - Oh no, there was nothing at all in the nature of a quarrel or high words from first t last. No disturbance of any kind? - No. Did MR YOUNG say why he wanted to move, when he rose from his seat? - Only that he wanted to come and sit by me. Was the boat entirely under your control so far as the steering and sailing went? - Yes, entirely. And are you accustomed to that sort of thing? Do you know how to manage a boat? - Well, I don't know much about it. Then why had you the control of the boat? - I knew more about it than either of them. Which means that they knew nothing at all? - Nothing. Hadn't you an opportunity of telling MR YOUNG to keep his seat? - No, he rose too quickly. He had no sooner got up and moved to my side than the boat went over, and we were all in the water. - Richard Adams, fisherman, residing at Stoke Gabriel: Yesterday about three o'clock I was near the mouth of the creek, when I saw a small boat come out and go down the river, with three gentlemen in it. I turned up the river in the direction of the point, with the others who were with me. Just afterwards we heard splashing and we considered that an accident had happened, although we were too far away to see what it was. We pulled to the scene as speedily as we could. When we were within about a hundred yards, I saw Mr Owen come up out of the water near the shore, and land. How far off was the boat? You saw that, I suppose? - Yes, it was about twenty or thirty yards from the shore. Capsized? - No. It was in its right position, but it was nearly full of water, and the top streak was just showing. We searched about for some time to see if we could find anything of the other gentlemen. Then I landed and went to give information to the police. Why did you do that before finding the bodies? - We made every possible effort to find them, and when I left they had been in the water so long that they must have been drowned. I picked up a cap and the paddles. What about the sail? Was that hoisted? - No, the sail was down. When you first saw the boat, were they sailing or rowing? - They were sailing, but there was very little wind, hardly any in fact. Again re-called, Mr Owen said he could easily account for the boat being upright and the sail down. He endeavoured t right it when he returned to it, and after he had got down the sail, the boat gradually came upright of her own accord. Edmond Adams, fisherman, of Stoke Gabriel, and a brother of the previous witness, said after they had failed to find the bodies by pulling about they put down a net and made a haul. They were successful in finding both the drowned men at the very first attempt. They were about six feet apart. The Coroner said that would conclude the evidence with regard to MR YOUNG. He proposed now to re-call the witnesses and ask them whether they repeated their evidence in the case of MABIN. This was done, without addition to the story. - Evidence of identification was given by EDWIN MABIN, an aged sawyer residing at Dartmouth, who said deceased was his son and was 25 years of age. He lived with MR YOUNG for about nine or ten years. So far as he knew MR YOUNG and his son were on the very best of terms. His son had a great affection for his master, and they never had an angry word. Coroner: You have heard what the witnesses have had to say at this Inquest. Do you wish to ask them any questions, or are you satisfied with what they have stated? - I am quite satisfied. It's a sad job, and I wish he was back again, but him and the master were always very friendly together. - Coroner: We all wish he was back. Mr Holmes, also asked by the Coroner whether he had any questions to ask on behalf of MRS YOUNG, replied in the negative. Summing up, the Coroner said these were two very sad cases. Fortunately they had been able, from the lips of the only eye-witness, Mr John Owen, to get a most graphic description of what occurred after they left Stoke Gabriel. It was easy from Mr Owen's evidence to picture the scene. They were in a small boat. After getting clear of the Stoke creek they hoisted the sail and stood down the river, though there was very little wind. At that time Mr Owen and MR YOUNG'S servant were sitting on one side of the boat, and MR YOUNG on the other. Suddenly it came into the mind of MR YOUNG to change places with his man. He rose, but MABIN did not. MR YOUNG moved to the other side of the boat, and in an instant the little craft turned over, and they were all thrown into the water. When they came up, Mr Owen was near the boat, and able to seize it, but the others had drifted away and were struggling for life. Mr Owen pluckily went to their help, and narrowly escaped with his own life, for they clutched him as only drowning men could clutch, and pulled him to the bottom as they sank. Luckily for Mr Owen they released their hold just in time, and he rose to the surface grasping for breath. His life was saved by a miracle. Here were three men in a small boat, and two of them unable to swim a single stroke! It was the old story over again. Mr Owen was able to save his life simply because he could swim, and not only so, but he was able to go to the assistance of the others, though by pulling him down as they did they frustrated his efforts to save them. Had MR YOUNG and his man been able to swim ever so little, without doubt their lives would have been saved. The result ought to be a warning to all who went afloat. They heard very often of public authorities being condemned for not providing life-saving appliances, and all that sort of thing, but very little about their teaching children to swim, by far the most important thing of all. The man who could swim never knew when he might be called upon to save his own life and the lives of others! He (the Coroner) deeply sympathised with the relatives of both the deceased, and he was sure the Jury joined with him in that sympathy - (hear, hear). It was a most distressing case, and all the more distressing because had they been able to swim the lives of all would have been saved. Mr Owen did his best to rescue his comrades, but unfortunately without success, though the utmost credit was due to him for his gallant attempt. Upon his evidence the whole story relied. The fishermen were too far away to see what happened, and although they rowed to the spot at their hardest as soon as they realised that an accident had occurred they were too late to be of any use so far as saving life was concerned. But, although the only witness, Mr Owen had given his evidence in a clear and straight-forward manner, and had supplied all the details necessary to enable the Jury to arrive at a conclusion. - Verdict of Accidental Death by Drowning.

[Descriptions of the two funerals followed.]

Friday 28 October 1904

STOKE GABRIEL - Sudden Death And Inquest. - Mr Coroner Hacker held an Inquest yesterday at Stoke Gabriel touching the death of WILLIAM BATH BASTARD, an ex-police constable, who died suddenly on Saturday night. Deceased had been stationed as a constable at Stonehouse, Brixham, Henslowe, Fremington and Stoke Gabriel, finishing his time at the latter place and retiring ten years ago. He was 62 years of age, and did a little fishing and light work. His wife said he was on the quay all day Saturday, smoking his pipe and appeared perfectly well, and in excellent spirits. He had a good tea, and went to bed about eight. A few minutes after he kissed her and then fell back, his teeth clenched, and she tried to give him a little brandy, but could not. She got the assistance of a neighbour and found he was dead. Dr Edmonds, of Totnes, was called and said the result of a post mortem showed that the deceased had a fatty and diseased heart of long standing, and there were signs of recent inflammatory action. Deceased died from syncope, the result of heart disease. A verdict in accordance with this evidence was returned.

Friday 18 November 1904

TOTNES - The Football Fatality. Dartmouth Athletic Exonerated. Totnes And Dartmouth Sympathy. Coroner On Sporting "Dangers!" - "We know that football, like a great many other sports, is a sport which entails a certain amount of danger, but I think, considering the amount of football played in England, we are very free from anything like fatal accidents." Thus the Coroner at a Totnes Inquest on Tuesday. That Inquest has a melancholy, but absorbing interest, for Dartmouth, on account of the fact that it was in a match between Dartmouth Athletic and Totnes that LEWIS GEORGE TOWNSEND, an athletic young fellow of nineteen, received the injuries which brought about his untimely death. Not that Dartmouth Athletic were in any way responsible for those injuries. Witnesses, who gave their evidence freely and frankly, and obviously with a full sense of the sad importance attaching to it, testified to the fact that at the time TOWNSEND fell, no Dartmouth players were within reach of him. Nor, for the matter of that, would it appear that any of his confreres were close enough to have accidentally caused his fall. His own statement, to the hospital matron on Sunday, was that whilst stooping to pick up the ball, he fell and injured his neck, and this is fully borne out by the referee, by the Totnes secretary (himself a smart and observant forward), and by the deceased's brother himself. Nothing could be clearer, and for the sake of football, it is well that the facts are so plain and straight-forward. The Coroner's remarks will be endorsed by all lovers of manly sport. There are cycling, rowing, swimming, sailing. All have their accidents, their unavoidable disasters! Compared with these football accidents do not show a high percentage. In the present instance the accident was one that might have happened under other than football circumstances. A young man, travelling at a great pace, stoops to pick up something. His balance goes, he falls heavily, unfortunately on his head, and when that is said all is said that has anything to do with the actual occurrence. Mr Windeatt, on the Totnes club's behalf, testified to the sporting manner in which the game was played. "It was in no sense a rough game," he said, "but, on the contrary was one of the most enjoyable ever played between Dartmouth and Totnes". The referee's statement was empathic and certainly final. The Jury had no course open but to return a verdict of Accidental Death. In their expression of poignant sorrow Dartmouth players and spectators fully join. - The Inquest took place at the Totnes Cottage Hospital on Tuesday morning before Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner. Mr G. F. Windeatt attended professionally on behalf of the Totnes Football Club. Opening the Inquest the Coroner said this was a case of a death in that very institution under whose roof they met. He would not now refer to the evidence that would be brought before the Jury but it would be for them to weigh and sift that evidence very carefully, in order to ascertain whether the death of this young man was contributed to by any person's wrong-doing, or negligent conduct. After hearing the witnesses it would be for them to say whether they had sufficient information to justify them in coming to a conclusion, or whether they wished to go further into the matter. Several witnesses had been summoned, in order that the whole of the facts might be ascertained. Mr Windeatt: May I be allowed to express the sympathy of the members of the Totnes Football Club with the parents and relatives of the deceased. I should like also to say that my club desire the fullest investigation that can possibly take place into this matter, so that anything that may have been said with reference to the game may be thoroughly cleared up. Besides that I wish to state that my club make no insinuation whatever against the opposing team. Nothing of that sort has ever fallen from the lips of any member of my club. - WM. TOWNSEND, railway painter, of St. John's Cottages, Totnes, a brother of the deceased, was the first witness. Deceased, he said, was nineteen years of age last June. He was a letter-carrier. He lived with his parents in Totnes and enjoyed good health. Witness was at a football match which took place on Saturday, at Totnes, between Dartmouth Athletic and Totnes. His brother was playing in the Totnes team as a forward. Spectators were about the usual number. He watched the game all the time. It went on all right up to the time the accident occurred. Deceased always played forward. He was not a big man, but witness did not know what his weight was. Deceased was apparently in his usual health before the match. Coroner: Did the game get as far as half-time before the accident? - Yes. They had changed over and gone on again? - Yes, for some time, probably about a quarter of an hour. Which side had gained points up to then? - Totnes. They were a goal and a try ahead. My brother had not scored any of the points. Had he been playing very hard? - I could not say sir. Did you speak to him at half-time? - No. There was nothing wrong with him then, as far as I could see. Now what did you see, with regard to the accident? - I didn't actually see it occur. I only saw him afterwards on the ground. I was some distance off when he fell. I rushed over and saw some of his mates round him. I did not see him fall. Just before, I had seen him with the others, running up with the ball, but I could not make any distinction between them. Was he running with the ball when he fell? - I could not say. The first thing I knew was when I saw him on the ground surrounded by the others. Was he able to get up? - No. His mates were trying to see whether he could stand when we got there. He could not stand so we took him into the dressing room. I spoke to him after they had got him inside. I asked him what was the matter, and he said he could hardly tell. He said "I can't move my legs or my arms." He added that he would like to get up, but he could not do so. A doctor was sent for and his mates took deceased to the Cottage Hospital. I went to break the news to his mother. Did he say anything to you as to how it happened? - No. He said he would see the doctor first, as he didn't wish to worry his mother. Then you didn't ask him how he did it? - Yes, I said "Do you know how you came to hurt yourself in this way?" and he replied "No I don't." He didn't say whether he had been tackled, or pulled over, or hacked over, or what had happened to him? - No. He does not play in a cap I suppose? - No. Questions by Mr Windeatt: - Do you know whether your brother fell from a horse on the Sunday before last? - His father told me he had fallen as he was getting up. The girth broke. You don't know whether he hurt his back or not, at that time? - I don't know that he did. He never complained about it at all. Was the game proceeding in the ordinary way? - Yes, as far as I could tell. No rough play on either side? - None, to the best of my belief. Coroner: Your brother fell off a horse but he made no complaint as to having hurt himself. - Mr Windeatt: Not to him. Coroner: He played in the match on Saturday, and the presumption therefore it that although he fell from a horse he was not hurt. At any rate he was able to play fairly well, and he must have been in good health. Mr Windeatt: When he said he could not move his arms, as a matter of fact, wasn't he able to move them? - Very little. - Wm. Henry Wyatt, residing at Venn Dale, Newton Abbot, a life insurance agent, said he knew the deceased as a football player. On Saturday witness was the official referee in the match between Totnes and Dartmouth Athletic. He was a member of the Devon Referees' Society and went wherever he was appointed. Coroner: You are a paid referee then? - Well, put it that way if you like, sir. We just get our expenses, and that is all. Continuing witness said the match took place on the Totnes ground, and he saw it all through. Everything went on all right up to half-time. There was nothing unusual about the play. Up to then there had not been a player knocked out and the game had been pleasantly-contested. None of the players had been cautioned, and there had been no rough play whatever. He noticed that deceased was playing an exceptionally good game, better than usual. Coroner: Well, what do you know of the occurrence by which deceased met with this injury? - The game went on very pleasantly up to the time the deceased fell. It would be about a quarter of an hour before time. Can you tell us of anything that happened prior to your seeing him fall? What led up to the fall? - He was running with the rest of the Totnes forwards, who were dribbling the ball towards the Dartmouth goal. They were in the Dartmouth twenty-five at the time. Deceased fell in front of them. Then was there a scrum? - No scrum. It was all loose play. The forwards had broken away from a scrum. Was deceased "on the ball"? - He was running with the rest. I think another man was playing the ball. I saw deceased go down as though he was going to pick it up. That is what I thought he meant to do. He threw himself in front of the rest. He fell, and I heard a groan, and then I blew my whistle at once to stop the play. But would he try to pick up the ball in that way when his own forwards were going on with it? Would he try to take it away from them? - Sometimes in a loose dribble a man will attempt to pick up and run. That is a frequent occurrence. He didn't fall upon the ball? - No, he went down before he got to it. Just a yard, or a couple of feet from it, I should say. Then he hadn't touched the ball? - No not then. Therefore, I suppose there was no question of his being clear. That is to say, if he had not got the ball, nobody would be tackling him? - Nobody tackled him sir. Nobody touched him, I am quite sure of that. He fell on his side apparently striking his shoulder heavily against the ground. I could not say whether he struck his head or not. I was watching the ball principally, and it was travelling very fast at the time. He didn't get up again? - No, he gave a groan a second after he fell, and at once I blew my whistle. Do you think anyone ran upon him afterwards, or kicked him? - No I don't, sir. Did you attend to him? - No, it was not necessary. He had his own players round him, and they took him to the dressing room. I asked several of those who were close by whether they saw him knocked or kicked in any way and they all said "No." You say that, in your opinion, the injury he sustained must have been in consequence of the way he fell, the manner in which he pitched? - Yes. I do. That is my opinion, but I don't know. But you didn't see him touched by anyone else? - No. Did you speak to him? - I didn't ask him how it happened, but when he was being taken off the ground I looked in at the carriage window and said "Cheer up, you will soon be better." I didn't hear him make any reply. Was he running at a great pace? - Yes, he was going fairly fast when he fell. He was a fast man? - Yes. You might term him a very fast forward. Now, do you say that the game was being played in a very good tempered and pleasant way? - Yes, right through. There was not a player cautioned for rough play, nor, with this exception, was there a single knock-out. It was the only time the game had to be stopped. Foreman: You are quite satisfied that no-one was near him when he went down, near enough to trip him, I mean? - Quite. Questions by Mr Windeatt: You are sure no Dartmouth man was near? - No, none of the visiting players were near enough to bring him down. You don't think either that he fell by brushing against any of the Totnes forwards, as he came through to pick up the ball? - I could not say. No-one else fell? - No. The others all cleared him. Foreman: Did anyone fall on him? - No. Mr Windeatt: You blew the whistle, as a matter of fact, without the ball being dead! You thought he was seriously hurt? - Yes. It is generally the rule to blow the whistle only when the ball is dead, but the groan sounded so serious that I stopped the game at once. Mr Windeatt: A very proper thing to do. There was some time scrummaging just before this, wasn't there? - Yes, and the Totnes forwards rushed the ball through and came right away with it. A Juryman: Was there any possibility of the deceased having fallen on his head? - I could not say. The ball went on about five yards and I was looking after it. Apparently to me he fell on his shoulder. He might have turned over afterwards. I did not see any such thing. He didn't fall against any of the other players. I am quite sure. - Dr Gibson: I saw the deceased at the Cottage Hospital about 5 p.m. on Saturday. he was paralysed from the neck downwards, with the exception of his hands. Those who brought him stated that he had had a kick on the back of the neck, but, with Dr Smith, I examined him and could find no indications of any such thing. There were no external marks whatever. Coroner: Then it didn't appear to you that he had received a blow or kick? - No. At first I thought he was suffering from concussion of the spinal cord, but afterwards I found there was almost total paralysis. There was a rupture of the spinal cord, not an actual rupture of the vertebral column. It was pretty high up. There was no chance of doing anything for him. The rupture had the effect of paralysing everything below that place? - Yes. Have you any idea of the manner in which it might have been caused? - It might have been caused by pitching on his head. In other words, the same way as a broken neck? - Exactly. You were quite unable to do anything for him? - Yes. The cord was torn through, and all that could be done for him was to give him nourishment. He died on Monday morning at 6 o'clock. The average time after rupture of the spinal cord is from 24 to 48 hours. Had it happened higher up it would have been immediately fatal. Could it have been done by a person running at a great pace and pitching on the shoulder? - No (emphatically). It would have to be on the head to produce it? - Yes. Generally on the front of the head, but cases are known in which they have pitched on the back. He was a tall slight young fellow with a longish neck, and I should think he would weigh over eleven stone. The length of his neck would make the accident more likely, while in the case of a young person of his age, the ligaments would easily stretch. An old person would probably have fractured his spine. I think he must have been running at a great pace. The momentum would be quite sufficient to bring about the rupture, if he fell on his head, without anyone touching him. Probably when he stooped to pick up the ball he knocked his head on the ground. We examined him particularly for marks, as we were told there was a kick. And you are quite positive there was no such thing? - Quite. - Ernest Nott, carpenter: I was a fellow forward with the deceased, against Dartmouth Athletic. The game was going on very pleasantly up to this period. The Totnes forwards broke away from the scrum with the ball at their toes. TOWNSEND was one of our fastest forwards, and could always be relied on to be in front. He always had the habit of running with his head down. I was going after the ball, but I did not see the deceased fall. I heard the whistle, and then I saw the deceased on the ground. He drew his legs up as though he was winded. I caught him by the shoulder to lift him up, but he asked me not to do so, as he was in pain. Then we carried him to the dressing room. His position would not lead me to imagine that he turned a somersault. His head was in the same direction as we were running. Coroner: Was it a good game or rough? - No, a very pleasant, enjoyable game throughout. Mr Windeatt: He was the fastest forward in the Totnes team? - Yes. - Mary Annie Tucker: I am the matron of the Totnes Cottage Hospital. Deceased was admitted on Saturday evening and from that time to his death I nursed him. He was conscious until five o'clock on Sunday morning. He made a statement to me about the accident. He said he thought he did it himself in trying to pick up the ball. He exonerated all the other players from blame. Coroner: There was no-one in the ward suggesting to you that he should be asked the question? - Oh, no. He told me quite of his own accord that he was stooping to get hold of the ball, and that he must have hurt his neck in falling. Was there anyone else in the ward? - Yes, patients, but I do not know that they could hear what was said. He described it as having turned himself over, and "cricked" his neck. Summing up, the Coroner said it always struck them as being exceptionally sad when a death occurred as the result of sport. It seemed to come home to them under such circumstances much more forcibly than it otherwise would. This young fellow as a well-known football player, one of the best in the Totnes team, and he was in his customary health and strength on the day of the match. He (the Coroner) was extremely glad to know that, upon the evidence, the match was nicely and properly conducted. An official referee was there and he told them that the game was played in a proper sporting spirit, that was to say there was no roughness or anything but the real game, which was, of course, what they all liked to see. The deceased had been playing exceptionally well, showing that he was full of life on that day. About a quarter of an hour before the end of the game, he was running after the ball when, by some means or other, not quite apparent, he suddenly fell forward. If they accepted his own account of it given to the matron, he was stooping to get the ball when he overbalanced himself. Although that would not be legal evidence against another person in court, in a Coroner's Enquiry they always accepted a statement of that kind as evidence, when it did not incriminate another person. The pace at which he was going must have been great, for he was one of the fastest of the Totnes forwards, and it certainly had something to do with the injury. It seemed perfectly clear there was nobody else connected with the fall. He did not go so far as to say that if the deceased had been collared there would have been anyone to blame. Tackling was legal and fair play in football, and he did not say that if tackling had brought him down they could have incriminated the tackler, but, as a matter of fact, in the present case no-one was near at all. It was quite clear there was no wrong doing. It was purely an accidental occurrence, and the Jury would have no difficulty in arriving at their verdict upon the evidence. It was extremely sad that this young fellow should have been cut off in such a way. They knew that football, like a great many other sports, entailed a certain amount of danger, but considering the amount of football played in England, he thought they were very free from anything like fatal accidents - (hear, hear). The Jury had to consider whether the game on Saturday was carried on in a proper manner, and in view of the evidence of the referee and one of the players, in addition to the deceased's brother, he did not see how they could say it was not. - The Jury, returning a verdict of "Accidental Death", said they attributed no blame to anyone, and wished to tender their deepest sympathy to the parents and relatives. - Coroner: We all do.

Friday 25 November 1904

TORQUAY - Torquay Cab Proprietor's Sudden Death. - At the Upton Parish Room, the County Coroner (Mr S. Hacker) held an Inquest on the body of MATTHEW WILLIAM BURNELL LUSCOMBE, aged 51, cab proprietor of No. 1, Gloucester Place, Rock Road, who died suddenly on Tuesday. Mrs Weeks, widow, of 6 St Edmund's Terrace, said she had been staying with deceased and his wife. Deceased when he came home on Monday night was troubled with a cough, but he was in good spirits. About 8.30 on Tuesday morning witness was called by MRS LUSCOMBE, and on going into the bedroom found that MR LUSCOMBE was quite dead. He appeared to have died in his sleep. Dr Thistle said the cause of death of apoplexy. The Jury returned a verdict of "Natural Causes."

Friday 2 December 1904

DARTMOUTH - Sudden Death At Higher Street. Found By Her Husband. - On Saturday about one p.m. GEORGE KNAPMAN, an aged labourer, living in Higher Street, was horrified on returning home after only half-an-hour's absence to find his wife lying dead upon the bedroom floor. There h ad been nothing to indicate that she was in anything but her usual state of health. Dr Davson, quickly summoned, gave his opinion that death was due to disease of the heart, but as he had not attended deceased for several months, the facts were communicated to the Coroner (Mr A. M. Davson) by whom an Inquest was held on Monday afternoon at the Guildhall. The Coroner said he did not think the Jury would have much difficulty in arriving at a conclusion, but he made it an invariable rule, whenever there had been a sudden death, in which the deceased had not been attended by a medical man for some time, to hold an Inquiry. The Jury after viewing the body, received the following evidence:- GEORGE KNAPMAN: I reside at Higher Street, Dartmouth, and am a labourer. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my wife, SARAH. She was 72 years of age. considering her years her state of health has, I think, been very fair. She has not complained to me lately, though she has had a bit of a cold. It was very cold on Friday, and she kept in the house all day. On Saturday morning she rose as usual, about eight or half-past. Coroner: Did she complain to you at all then of feeling ill? - No, sir. I didn't go to work on Saturday. I left the house about half-past twelve and went to the barber's. I was not away more than half-an-hour at the outside, and when I came back I found she had gone from the kitchen. Then I asked someone in the house whether he had heard my wife come downstairs, and he replied "No." I thought she might have gone out for an errand. Where was your wife when you left the house? - She was in the kitchen. She said she was going to clean herself and to do that she would have to go upstairs. When I was told she had not been heard to come down I went into the bedroom, where I saw her upon the floor. I considered she was dead, and I at once called in my neighbours. Did any of the neighbours say whether they had heard her fall? - No. I asked that question and they said they had heard nothing. I sent for a doctor. I believe no doctor has attended her lately. - I could not tell exactly, but it was some time ago. Had she a weak heart? - I have never heard her say so. - Dr F. A. Davson, M.D., practising at Dartmouth: On Saturday about a quarter past one I was called to see the deceased. I went immediately and made an examination of the body. I came to the conclusion, from my previous knowledge of the deceased, whom I had attended at various times, that her death was due to heart disease. Coroner: Would the extreme weather have an effect upon her? - To a great extent. The last witness said she went from the kitchen to the bedroom, and would the change in temperature have any serious effect? - I think it very likely. The Jury promptly returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony. The Coroner complimented the husband upon the clear manner in which he had given his evidence.

Friday 9 December 1904

DARTMOUTH - Inquest At Dartmouth. Children And Complicated Measles. Doctor Should Have Been Called Earlier. - At the Guildhall on Tuesday afternoon Mr A. M. Davson, the local Coroner, held an Inquest touching the death of a baby just under two years of age. After viewing the body the Jury received the following evidence:- JOHN HENRY MEMERY: I reside at Higher Street and am a carter in the employ of Mr Hawke. I identify the body as that of my deceased child, HANNAH JANE, who was one year and eleven months old. She was taken ill on Wednesday evening last. We did not send for a doctor until Sunday. Coroner: Why didn't you send for a doctor before? - Because we didn't think he was required. What did you think was the matter with the child? - I didn't know whether she was getting the measles or not. And yet you didn't think it necessary to send for a doctor, although you didn't know what was the matter with her? - No. You assumed that if she had the measles you were quite capable of looking after her without medical advice? - Yes. Have you any other children? - Yes, three. Have they ever suffered from the measles? - Yes. Did you attend to them yourself, or send for a doctor? - We looked after them ourselves sir. Have you ever lost any other children? - One, sir. What did she die of? - Witness scarcely knew. Further questioned by the Coroner witness said on the Saturday night the child did not appear to be worse than on the Wednesday. She grew worse on Sunday morning about half-past six or seven and then the doctor was sent for. He came almost immediately, but the baby died before his arrival. Coroner: don't you think it was very injudicious of you not to have sent for the doctor before? - Well I don't know sir. The Jury will probably think so! - But there did not appear to be much the matter with the child on Saturday night. What was the child's state of health as a rule? - Sometimes poorly; sometimes well. A Juror wanted to know whether there was any compulsion to send for a doctor. Coroner: Well, I don't know, but if it can be shown that a doctor might have saved the life, it would certainly be a grave question, though I don't know that in a case such as this it would amount to criminal negligence. Another Juror: I think he meant to ask whether parents are bound to report measles to the medical officer? - Coroner: I really don't know, but I will ascertain presently from the doctor. - HANNAH JANE MEMERY, the child's mother, was the next witness. She said on Wednesday night she thought the baby was sickening for the measles. Coroner: Well now, if you thought that, why didn't you send for a doctor? - I didn't see any danger. I simply treated her as I have the others before. Did they all recover? - Oh, yes. Then you and your husband thought you were quite as capable of dealing with measles as the medical officer. - No, not that. I called in a neighbour and none of us thought it was serious. It was not until Sunday morning that she became worse. Then we sent for the doctor at once. You have lost one child before? What was that from? - Bronchitis. Did you have medical advice in that case? - Yes. What has this child's state of health been? - She has been delicate from birth. - Dr G. M. Soper: I was called about 7.30 a.m. on Sunday. When I reached the house about a quarter to eight the child was dead. I made an examination and in my opinion the child had been suffering from catarrh and pneumonia, complicating measles. Death was due to this cause, I think. Coroner: Do you think, if medical assistance had been called in before, the child's life might have been saved? - I could not say that. Most children recover from simple measles, but measles complicated in this way are quite another thing. The after effects are very serious unless the child is well looked after. Do you think that medical aid should have been called in earlier? - Yes. Have you ever attended this child? - No. Did she appear to be well nourished? - Yes. Have people to notify measles? - No, not in Dartmouth. It was taken off about two years ago, I think. Summing up, the Coroner said, in his view, there had been great neglect on the part of the parents in not sending for a doctor earlier. They had committed a very serious error of judgment in allowing this poor little child to linger on from the Wednesday to the Saturday, though he would not go so far as to impute criminal neglect. Measles were apparently looked upon as an ordinary disease, but a great many people, a disease with which ordinary persons could cope. In simple measles that might be so, but when they were complicated by an affection of the lungs it was quite another thing altogether. Certainly a doctor should have been called in long before the Sunday. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, and, at their request, the Coroner asked MEMERY to take to heart their opinion that a grave error of judgment had been committed by him.

Friday 30 December 1904

DARTMOUTH - Remarkable Inquest At Dartmouth. Infant Suffocated. Father Slept Through It All. - At Dartmouth Guildhall on Tuesday morning Mr A. M. Davson, the local Coroner, held an Inquest touching the death of the infant son of FREDERICK GILLARD, a lumper, residing in Silver Street. Having viewed the body at the mortuary, where a post mortem had been carried out by Dr Soper, the Jury were directed by the Coroner to take no account whatever of rumours that had been circulated. He had heard a good deal of talk about the case, but the only thing the Jury should be guided by was the evidence. He proposed to call the father and mother, as well as the doctor, and it would then be a question for the Jury to consider whether they had sufficient evidence to justify them in coming to a conclusion as to the cause of death. - The following evidence was taken: LILLIAN GILLARD: I am the wife of FREDERICK GILLARD, a coal lumper, and reside in Silver Street. I identify the body as that of my infant son. Coroner: There is no name? - No, sir. I was going to call it CALEB WILLIAM HENRY. He was two weeks and three days old. On Saturday night between the hours of eleven and twelve I washed and dressed my baby. I had brought it from my sister's house. I nursed it well, wrapped it in a white shawl and put it back in bed. Was your husband at home then/ - Yes, sir. Was he in bed? - No; not at that time. After that, what happened? - My husband and I sat and had a bit of supper "quiet together." My husband looked at the lamp and said "The oil is low." He said "We can't go to bed with that; what can we do?" I suggested that I should go to my sister's and get some oil, or a candle. At this stage MRS GILLARD burst into tears and her husband was prompting her with replies when the Coroner intervened. "I cannot have you telling her what to say," he remarked. "She is answering the questions very well. If you will only leave her alone she will give us her evidence presently." Replying to further questions witness said she went to her sister's but she also had forgotten to buy oil, and then went out to get some, but the shops were all closed. Witness waited until she came back. She was only away about two minutes. Then she (MRS GILLARD) returned home. Coroner: Why didn't your husband go instead of you? - I didn't think of asking him. When I came back I went straight to the bed where my baby was lying to see whether it was all right. It was my habit. When I turned back the shawl, with which I had covered all but the nose and mouth, I found the face was whiter than usual. Then I took the child up and felt that it was warm, but I was afraid it was dead. I shouted for Mrs Lee, a neighbour, who came at once. I wrapped the baby in a shawl and she took it down to Mr Ash's, beside the fire. Then I ran away for my sister, to tell her I thought the baby was dead. What was your husband doing all this time? - He was home, sir! Was he in bed asleep? - Yes, sir. Through it all? - Yes, I could not stay to rouse my husband; I was too much frightened. How was the baby lying? Near your husband? - No, just where it has always lain, on the inside, while my husband was on the outside. Now there is one question I must ask you MRS GILLARD. Was your husband the worse for drink? - No, sir, he was not. Did anyone go for a doctor? - I met the sergeant and asked him to come to the house as the baby was dead. He asked me who my doctor was, and I told him Dr Soper. He said I had better go there and I did so. Several questions were asked by the Jury. - In what position did you put the baby down? - On its left side. And when you came back how did you find it? - Just the same as I had left it. - FREDERICK GILLARD: I am a lumper and the husband of the last witness. Coroner: You have heard your wife's evidence in court today? - Yes. She says that between eleven and twelve on Saturday night she washed and dressed the baby and put it to bed. You were present then? - Yes. Then you and she had some supper and you looked at the lamp and suggested that the oil was low and that it might go out? - Yes. I said I was afraid it would not last out the night, and we could not very well stay there in the dark with the children. What then? - Then my wife said she would go out to get some. The child was in bed at the time all covered up, with the exception of the nose and mouth. My wife said she would go and see whether "Car" (her sister) had a candle. I said "All right then; I will go to bed, but don't be long." You didn't suggest that you should go instead of her? - No. Well, she went, and what happened then? - I went to bed, and after that I knew nothing more until my wife awakened me and said the baby was dead. I heard nothing when they came into the room until my wife roused me. The sergeant tried to wake me but he could not do so. How do you know that? - Because my wife told me so. A Juror suggested that the sergeant might be called. - Coroner: Certainly, he shall be. Was the baby asleep when you went into bed? - Yes, I am quite sure of that. How was it lying? - On its side, sir, about an arm's length from me, right at the far side of the bed. You went right off to sleep then. - Yes, at once, and I remember nothing more about it. What was the next thing you knew when you were awakened? - I saw Dr Soper there, and I was told the baby was dead. I got up immediately. You sleep very soundly. - Yes, sir; I was in a "dead sleep." No doubt you were. You slept through all this and knew nothing at all about it? - Yes. Questions by the Jury: Were there any steamers coaling in the harbour that day? - No. Then you had not been very busy. - No. Were you particularly tired? - No, I don't know that I was, but I generally sleep very soundly. It takes a lot to wake me up. - Coroner: I should say it did - (laughter). You never offered to get the oil or candle? - No. My wife said she would go. It wasn't far away. And you went to bed then? - Yes, directly she had gone. I must have fallen off to sleep directly, for she could not have been gone long; it was no distance. You were sleeping on the outside of the bed. - Yes. So anyone taking the baby from the bed would have to touch you and probably press on you. - Yes. The baby was a good way from me, on the inside. And even that didn't wake you. - No, I never felt anything. Coroner: Did you touch the baby at all as you got into bed? - No, I was careful not to do so. I didn't disturb it in any way. - Dr G. M. Soper: I am a physician and surgeon practising at Dartmouth. I was called at one a.m. on Christmas Day to go to MRS GILLARD'S house in Silver Street. I do not know who came for me. I went immediately. I found the child dead. It was wrapped in a dark shawl, and was lying in an arm chair. It had been dead about a quarter of an hour. The body was still warm. I made an external examination but I could not find anything likely to have caused death. Coroner: By my order you made a post mortem examination of the body?: - Yes. The child for an eighteen days' old child was exceptionally well developed. There was no external bruising or any fracture of any bones whatever. Internally the lungs were congested and gorged with blood, and the heart was in the same condition. The brain was absolutely void of blood, or in other words, anaemic, with a few very distended veins on the surface. Otherwise all the organs were very healthy, and quite free from any disease whatever. To what do you attribute death? - In my opinion the child was asphyxiated. In other words smothered? - Yes, suffocated. The fact that the lungs were congested would show that this was so. Questions by the Jury: Did you see the father when you got to the house? - Yes. In what condition was he? - Well, he was fully dressed when I got there. That is hardly the point of the question. Was he in liquor or not, as far as you were able to judge? - I could not tell. I didn't take any notice. There were many others in the room at the time. All I did was to examine the baby. Now we have had evidence to the effect that the baby's nose and mouth were left uncovered, and the mother says, so far as she knew, she found it in the same position when she returned. But the nose and mouth must have been covered up, according to your evidence, to bring about suffocation! Is that so? - Yes, certainly. Coroner: We will be certain on this point. Let MRS GILLARD step forward. Now when you returned to the house did you, or did you not, find the baby in the same position as you left it? - Exactly the same position sir, as far as I could see. Where was your husband lying? - Some distance off. He was not touching the child. The shawl was somewhat thick and it is quite possible that I might have wrapped it up too tightly. P.S. Hockridge: On Sunday morning about 12.45 I saw MRS GILLARD at the bottom of Duke Street. She told me her baby was dead and asked me if I would come over. I said that I could do no good, and I asked her who her doctor was. She said Dr Soper and I then advised her to go for him, which she did. I visited the house a few minutes later and I saw the deceased in the arms of Mrs Lee. The baby was evidently dead. Coroner: Now at that time was GILLARD in bed asleep? - Yes. I stayed there about two minutes trying to wake him. I could not do so. I shouted, and pulled him by the legs, but it was all useless. As no good could be done I left him in bed asleep. Were you there when the doctor arrived? - No. I had just gone. Did MRS GILLARD say anything to you about her having wrapped up the baby and put it to bed? - Yes. She told me about that and the oil, and she said she left her husband in bed, sleeping, when she went out. A Juror pointed out that this was not consistent with previous evidence. - Sergt. Hockridge: I can't help that. That was what she told me. Questions by the Jury: You would not expect a man who was in bed asleep to say to his wife "don't be long" as she left the house? - Certainly not - (laughter). You saw GILLARD in bed. Was he undressed or not? - I saw that he had his waistcoat on. I could not say whether his other clothes were on or off. He was so sound asleep that nothing was to be gained by my doing more. I could not wake him. It is hardly a usual thing for a man to go t bed with his waistcoat on? - No. Was the position in which the baby was lying pointed out to you? - Yes, I was told by MRS GILLARD that it was on the inside, and the spot pointed out to be was at least two feet away from GILLARD. To reach the baby he would have had to stretch his arm right out. I should say. How was GILLARD lying when you saw him? - On his back. With his arms stretched out or not? - Not stretched. You saw the bed between GILLARD'S position and that of the baby? - Yes. Did there appear indications of anyone having lain in the intervening space? - No, I saw none. The bed clothes were pulled down a bit; that was all. Did you see GILLARD again that night? - Yes, about half-an-hour after, but I did not say anything to him. GILLARD was then re-called. - Coroner: Do you usually sleep with your waistcoat on? - Yes, sir, I am subject to spasms, and I keep it on in order that I may not catch cold. Were you fully dressed? - No. I had all but my waistcoat off. This was all the evidence. Summing up, the Coroner said the Jury had to decide when, how, and by what means this child came by its death. As to the time they would have not the slightest difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that it died on Christmas morning. As to the cause of death, the medical evidence was clear. The child was suffocated, but as to the manner in which that suffocation was brought about, he was afraid they would have some trouble in ascertaining. Rumours had been flying about, but again he had to ask them to dismiss them from their minds. They must be guided solely by the evidence given in court that day. Now what were the facts? This little child was placed in bed by its mother, wrapped in a heavy shawl. She was particularly careful to leave the nose and mouth uncovered, and so far as she could see, the baby was in the same position, however, that she might have covered the nose and mouth, or that the baby might have moved sufficiently afterwards to do so itself. The father went to bed while the mother went out to fetch some oil, and he went right off to sleep. He (the Coroner) must confess that it seemed very remarkable, to say the least, that the man should have slept right through all of it. The sergeant tried to wake him and failed. But though he was so soundly asleep there was nothing to show why he was in that state. There was the possibility of his having stretched out his arm, and in that way covered the child's face completely, but it was only a possibility, and there was not a scrap of evidence to show that this was what really happened. On account of the rumours he had directed Dr Soper to make a post mortem and his evidence clearly showed that there was no injury such as would be likely to occur if the child was lain upon, or anything of that kind. He had gone exhaustively into the case, but he was afraid they were without any evidence to show how the suffocation was actually brought about. Still it was for the Jury to say. - After brief private deliberation the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Suffocation," and added that there was no evidence to show how this was brought about. There was a large attendance in court.

Friday 3 February 1905

KINGSWEAR - Shocking Accident At Kingswear. Boy Killed On The Line. Callous Conduct Of His Comrades. Censure By The Jury. - At Kingswear a very sad accident happened on Tuesday night. A number of boys were playing in the Great Western sidings, near the cattle pens, when one of their number was knocked down. His comrades heard him cry out, but, without going to his assistance, and without even trying to find out whether he was hurt, they ran away. It will scarcely be credited that not a single one of the four, whose ages ranged from 12 to 14, said a single word to anyone to indicate that they had left their little playmate - the youngest of the lot, lying on the line. One of the lads was asked by his father after midnight, when the father of the little victim called at his house, whether he knew where STANLEY was, but he answered 'No'. Next morning just after nine o'clock carriage cleaners found the body between the siding metals and the cattle pens. The deceased child was STANLEY HAWKE, aged ten, a son of MR S. HAWKE, a well-known Kingswear tradesman, for whom and his family, the deepest possible sympathy is felt. Mr G. F. Kellock (Totnes) held an Inquest last evening (Thursday) at the Royal Dart Hotel. The Jury (Mr W. R. Wedlake, Foreman), viewed the body and the scene of the accident. They heard from the boys, on the spot, just how it happened, and then returned to the hotel to receive evidence. Chief Inspector Shattock watched the case on behalf of the G.W.R. - SAMUEL HAWKE: I am a coal merchant and hauler, carrying on business at Kingswear. I identify the body as that of my son, STANLEY ARTHUR HAWKE. He was ten years of age. I knew nothing of this at all, until the boy was missing. I last saw him alive about 8.20 on the night of Tuesday, January 31, near the Kingswear ferry slip. Coroner: Did he come home that night? - No. Did you make enquires? - I was walking about all night looking for him. I called at Lipscombe's house about one o'clock in the morning, and asked the boy if he knew where my STANLEY was and he said 'No.' I told the police of it the first thing in the morning. I knew nothing of the deceased's whereabouts until he was found on Wednesday morning. I was working on the station here about nine o'clock when one of the carriage cleaners asked me to come and see if it was my son or not. I found that the boy was dead. Coroner: You will watch this Enquiry and any questions you like to put to the witnesses you are perfectly at liberty to put. If you want to put them through me you can do so. I am here to assist you. - Henry Gillett: I am a carriage cleaner on the Great Western Railway. I knew nothing of this case until about nine o'clock on Wednesday morning, when I heard that the boy was lost. That was about five minutes before I found him. I was going down to commence work on the carriages past the cattle pens, in the Kingswear Station. There was a young man named Pitman with me. Pitman pointed out a cap to me. I was on one of the cattle pens at the time, and I jumped down and picked the cap up. Another man said "I wonder if it's the boys." I turned round and saw the body lying between the cattle pen and the rails. He was quite dead. The body remained in that position until the police came. A Juror: You heard the boy was missing, and when you found the cap you looked round for the body. - Yes. - John Crisp, a boy aged thirteen: I was down on the line on Tuesday night with the deceased and other boys. We rode on the carriages. The Coroner: Sitting on the lower step and holding on the higher one, as you have shown us? - Yes. Did you see STANLEY HAWKE riding on one? - Yes. In that way? - Yes. Well, now then, what happened? - Was the carriage going back towards the cattle pens? - Yes. What did you do then? - I jumped off, sir. What did the deceased do? - He jumped off, then got up again, and went on further. Then he went on again. Did you see him get to the cattle pens? - I saw all the rest run and then I ran too. Foreman: Why did you get off the carriage? - To get over the bank. What did STANLEY say to you then? - He didn't say anything. He jumped off first, when I did. Coroner: You saw the other boys run away, and you did so as well. Where did you go? - Up over the bank, sir. Did you see him again? - No, sir. Did you hear him cry or make any noise? - No, sir. Ted Lipscombe told me he heard ___. Never mind that. We can come to him presently. Did you know you were doing wrong by being on the line and riding on the trucks? - Yes, sir. And was it for fear that you jumped off. Were you afraid somebody would catch you? - Yes, sir. Have you ever done this before? - Yes. And you have seen the deceased doing it? - Yes. Foreman: Have you ever been warned about going there? - No, sir. Has anybody ever turned you away from there? - Yes. Mr Harvey. Then you have been told not to go there? - Yes. Coroner: When you got away and ran over the bank did you notice that STANLEY HAWKE was not with you? - Yes. Foreman: Did you imagine where he was? - Ted Lipscombe said he must be hurt. Coroner: Is he here? - Yes. When you got on the bank you knew the deceased had not come with you? - Yes. You didn't say anything about it to anyone? - No, sir, nobody. One boy said "He must be hurt"? - Yes. Now, did you agree amongst yourselves that it was best not to say anything about it? - No. did you talk about it? - Yes. And didn't you agree not to mention it? - No. Did anyone go to see if he was hurt? - No. Coroner: You each ran away home? - Yes. A Juror: Didn't you hear STANLEY HAWKE cry at all? - No, sir. Coroner: Now, just listen to me, please. You live in Kingswear, don't you? - Yes. This is what I have written down as to what you said [reading the evidence]. Is that correct? - Yes. A Juror: When did you first hear the boy was missing? - Coroner: Let us finish with the night first. - Foreman: Why did STANLEY HAWKE get on to the carriages again? - Because he wanted to get to the cattle pens. Coroner: Now, when did you hear STANLEY was missing? - In the morning. Did you say anything to anyone? - No, sir. Why not? Because you were afraid? - Yes, sir. That's it; tell the truth. There is nothing like the truth. Out with it. - Horace Trickey, aged twelve: I was with the other boys that night. I saw STANLEY HAWKE riding on the carriage steps. We kept on shouting to him to get off, and he did so, but he saw other boys on the cattle pens, and then he jumped on again to get to the cattle pens himself. Coroner: Did you see him again? - No sir. You have heard what Crisp has told us, haven't you? - Yes, sir Is that true so far as you know? - Yes. Is there anything in it that isn't true? - No. Is it all the truth? - Yes, sir. - MR HAWKE (the father): May I be allowed to ask a question? - Coroner: Certainly. Didn't you go down the next morning and see him lying there, and then go home again without telling anybody? - No, I didn't. I got out of bed at eight o'clock to get my sister a cup of tea. I saw you before that myself at half-past seven. You knew where my boy was, and you said nothing to me. - No, I was not out of bed till eight. - Foreman: Why did you run away? - Because the others did, sir. Did you know he was hurt? - No, sir. - Henry Lipscombe, aged twelve: I was on the cattle pens, and I saw STANLEY HAWKE jump off the carriage and jump on again. I was not riding with him. Coroner: Was he close to the pens? - Yes. Did you hear him say anything? - I heard him say 'Oh, my.' Anything else? - I heard something crack. What did you do then? - Ran away, sir. With the other boys? - Yes, sir. Didn't you hear him say anything more? - No. Did you know he was missing next morning? - Yes, sir. Did you tell anybody about it? - No, sir. Why not? Were you afraid to? - Yes, sir. Did you know you had no right down there? - Yes. - MR HAWKE: there is only one thing I should like to ask him. I went to his father's house at one o'clock in the morning and asked if this boy knew where my boy was. I heard his father ask him, and he said 'No.' Coroner: Is that so my boy? Did you say that you knew anything or not? Did you say 'No'? yes, sir, I said that. Why? - Because I was afraid. MR HAWKE: You deny that you knew anything about it at all. Coroner: He has said No. You must take his answer, you know. The boys are telling the truth, though they are shaming themselves. MR HAWKE: They ought to have a good birching, sir. Coroner: Well, they have told us the truth at all events. They were afraid to say anything when they found he was missing. MR HAWKE: I think they might have told me where he was, and not left me all night in suspense. - Harry Hamlin, aged 14: I was on the cattle pens while some of the others were riding. What did you see? - I saw STANLEY HAWKE jump on and off again. I heard him say 'Oh my.'[ Is there anything the others said that is wrong? - No sir. Can you tell us any more? - No sir. Did you run away as well? - Yes. Did you say anything about it? - No. Foreman: Not to the other boys? - No. Coroner: Why didn't you? - Because the rest didn't. Were you afraid to go and tell MR HAWKE that STANLEY was hurt? - Yes, sir. A Juror: I should like to ask him why he didn't go and see whether there was anything the matter? - Coroner: They were afraid, it seems. Is that it? - Witness: Yes, sir. Another Juror: I think the boys have agreed not to say anything about it? - Coroner: You must be the best judges of that gentlemen. - Charles Churchward: I am a shunter in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company. I was shunting the train about 8.30 on Tuesday night. I sent some loose passenger carriages back past the cattle pens as I have described to the Jury today. Coroner: Some passenger trucks! - A Juror: No, carriages, sir. - Coroner: They call them carriages. Witness: I have described on the spot, to the Jury, exactly what happened. Coroner: Did you see the deceased or any other boys there? - No, sir. Had you any knowledge of their being there? - No, sir. You have described to the Jury just where you went, between the signals and the cattle pen? - Yes. And you never saw anything of the boys? - No. A Juror: I should like to ask whether any of the carriages were shunted back clear of the cattle pens? - About one and a half, I should think. - Dr W. B. Kendall: I was sent for, to the Great Western Railway station yesterday morning. I found the deceased had been moved to his home, and I went there. I found him dead. There were comparatively slight traces of external injury, chiefly abrasions, no injury to the head at all, beyond the abrasions, nor any injury to the chest, but the lungs were punctured, and the lower part of the pelvis and the spinal column was completely smashed. Coroner: His back was broken? - Yes. The shock must have killed him in a very short time, if it was not instantaneous. It would have been tremendous. You have seen the spot. Have you any doubt as to how it was done? - No, he must have been caught between the upper part of the footboard and the cattle pen. The Coroner asked MR HAWKE whether he wished to ask any questions. - No, sir; I am satisfied as to the manner in which the accident came about, but I think they should have told me about it. Coroner: Is the inspector of the Great Western satisfied that the shunter was performing his duties in a proper manner, and looking after the trucks and so on as he ought to do. And is the police constable satisfied that this matter is cleared up? - The replies were in the affirmative. Re-questioned by the Coroner, the boys said nobody touched STANLEY HAWKE or interfered with him in any way. STANLEY was the first to get on the footboard. Nobody suggested to him that he could not get to the cattle pens, or incited him to ride. He did it entirely of his own accord. Some of them, in fact, told him to get off. Coroner: How did you get there? - One boy replied: We walked round by the jetty and went across the line. Now you will have to make a solemn promise that you will never go there again. If you are ever caught there it will be a bad job for you, I can tell you. That applies to all your fellows, too, so you had better tell them. This was all the evidence, and the Coroner, summing up concisely, said this was one of the saddest cases it had ever been his lot to investigate. This little boy with his comrades went to the railway station to play. In the strict sense of the word they were unquestionably trespassers. They had no right there whatever. But still they were there, and while they were riding about on the carriages that were being shunted, the deceased was caught between the cattle-pen and the footboard, with the result that his back was broken. All this was inexpressibly sad, but it was still more distressing to think that the father was wandering about all the night looking for his missing boy when these other lads could have told him where he was. This was the most painful part of a very painful case - that neither of them had the pluck to tell anyone, not even their own parents, that anything had happened to STANLEY HAWKE. This poor little lad might have been there in agony the whole of the night, and he might have died as the result of the exposure. Thank goodness it was quite clear from the evidence of the doctor that he died almost at once. But still it might have been otherwise, and it was shocking to reflect upon the possibility of his lying there with his life slowly ebbing away while the other boys were at their homes, and comfortably in their beds. One of them was even asked by his father, at the instance of MR HAWKE, whether he knew anything of the boy, but he actually replied No, although he was fully aware that they last saw him at the cattle pens, and that they had heard him cry out, as though something serious had happened. This was a terrible thing. The boys ought to have told someone. For aught they knew they might have saved their little comrade's life had they done so, but they did not. Sometimes they heard of men running away and leaving people to drown in a heartless and callous manner. Boys of course were not expected to do as much as grown-up people, but these lads were fairly intelligent, and they knew what they were talking about. They were able to give their evidence in a straightforward manner and it was distressing to think that English boys should not have had the manliness to say something about the matter to somebody. Had they mentioned it to their own mother it might have been different, but they kept their mouths absolutely closed, and thus gave the little lad's unfortunate parents a night of great distress. The Jury had to consider whether anybody was responsible for this sad occurrence. Clearly nobody but the boys knew anything of it. The shunter did his duty in a proper manner. He never saw them. They had been told, on their own admission, not to come to the station. They went there of their free will. They were trespassers, for they had no right at all within the precincts of the station. They had not, however, contributed to the accident, except in so far that they were with deceased, and were witnesses of it. - A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned, and the Jury sympathised deeply with MR HAWKE, and asked the Coroner to censure the boys strongly. This the Coroner did in the following words:- My boys, it is a very painful thing to see you in this position, for you have been most cruel to your little comrade by running away. Perhaps you have learnt at school the character anyone earns when he runs away from a friend who is in difficulties. If not I shall soon tell you. It is a very shameful thing indeed that any boys calling themselves English boys should earn such a character. To go home, to have your suppers, to go to bed, and to go to sleep, and all the time to leave this poor little fellow lying on the line! Think what you did! I believe in my own mind this poor little boy was dead. But he might not have been. And I go further, I believe that you boys combined, every one of you, not to tell. It is very funny that neither of you told. You knew you were doing wrong, and what has been the result of it! You will never see your little comrade again. He is dead. I hope this will go out to you as a life warning, and that, after this, whenever you see anybody in difficulties, you will at once go to help them, and not run away, as you did in this case. You are four fine boys; you are well educated; you are strong and sharp, and I do hope and trust that for your own credit, if for nothing else, you will never allow anything of this sort to happen again. You will never go near the station again, I feel sure. You don't want to see another boy killed. I feel certain of that. But I hope you will, if you see any other boys there, tell somebody about it, that they may be driven away. It is an immense satisfaction to feel that this little lad died so quickly. It would have been awful had he lain there all night with his back half-broken. Some people think that if a person's back is broken he must be dead. But it is not so. The doctor will tell you - and I know it, too - that a man with his back broken very low down may live for days, and even for months. Thank God, this poor boy was spared that awful experience. This concluded the Inquest.

DARTMOUTH - Died Whilst Kneeling At Her Bedside. Inquest At Dartmouth. - On Tuesday afternoon at the Guildhall, an Inquest was held by Mr A. M. Davson, respecting the death of MARY JANE GORE, married, who was found by her husband kneeling by the bedside, dead, early on Monday morning. The Coroner said this was one of those cases in which there had been no medical attendance for some considerable time, and he had therefore followed his usual practice of directing that a post mortem examination should be made. The Jury, after viewing the body, heard the following evidence:- JAMES GORE: I reside at Duke Street, Dartmouth, and am at present a labourer. I identify the body as that of my late wife. She was 54 years of age. On Sunday night we retired to bed about nine o'clock. She appeared then to be in her usual health. During the day she had been just as well as she usually was, and had done her housework. She complained of a "bit of a cold." That night we were not sleeping together, on account of the room being somewhat damp. I slept there with one of my sons, and she had another room. The rooms were on different floors. The last I saw of her alive was at nine o'clock at night. I was sleeping in the upper room. When I came down at six on Monday morning, I went into her bedroom, and found her kneeling by the side of the bed. I could not get any reply from her, when I called her, and I sent for Dr Harris at once. Coroner: How was she kneeling? With her head on the bed? - Yes, sir. I found that she was cold, and I concluded she was dead. Did you hear any noise during the night? - No. I was awake, off and on, most of the night, but I heard nothing. Did your son go to bed at the same time as you? - No, just afterwards. Did he see your wife after you? - No, he did not go into her room. Was your son down before you in the morning? - No. What has been the state of your wife's health generally? - She has not complained to me, but I believe she has to other people. She went out on Saturday evening, and did her business in the usual way. And you can't account for the death in any way? - No. By the Jury: Was your wife fully dressed or not? - Yes. She didn't appear to have been to bed. Was the bed disturbed at all? - Only slightly. - Dr J. H. Harris: On Monday morning last I was called about half-past six. I found her in a kneeling position in her room by the side of the bed. She was fully dressed. The bed clothes had been turned down, but nobody had been in the bed. Coroner: I understand you have not attended her medically for some time? - No; the last time was on July 20th. By my order you made a post mortem? - Yes. I found every organ in her body in a state of inflammation. There was a large deposit of tubercle. The heart condition showed signs of syncope. I attribute the inflammation in the various organs of the body to alcohol. I should attribute death to sudden heart failure. Was the room she was in up a few flights of stairs? - One flight, besides a few stairs from the street to the kitchen. This was all the evidence and the Coroner remarked that the case was very simple. There was no necessity whatever to enlarge upon the evidence. The doctor was called in immediately the husband found his wife apparently dead, and they had the result of the post mortem which showed that the deceased came by her death in a perfectly natural way. - Verdict of Death from Heart Failure in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 3 March 1905

DARTMOUTH - Distressing Fatality At Dartmouth. Died In His Mother's Arms. Inquest And Verdict. - On Saturday afternoon an extraordinary fatality, attended by circumstances of a most distressing nature, occurred at Above Town, Dartmouth. A young man named ERNEST EDMUND PLATER, aged 18, who was an apprentice with Messrs. G. H. Lane and Co., cabinet makers, &c., was taking a short cut to his home, when, presumably, he tripped and fell heavily upon the point of a sharp chisel which he carried in his breast pocket. He managed to reach the door, at which he gave what his father, at the Inquest, described as "three or four faint knocks." His mother called to him to "come in," and he replied that he had cut himself. Both mother and father at once ran to the door, but by this time the dying lad - for he had been mortally injured in the fall - had managed to open it. He fell forward upon his mother's neck and expired in a few moments. There were no eye-witnesses of the fall, but an examination of the spot and the path clearly proved what had happened, and by the evidences of the fall, the traces of blood the whole way to the door, and the presence of the fatal chisel, it was easily possible, at the Inquest, to re-construct the story. For MR and MRS PLATER, who have long resided in Dartmouth and are held in the highest esteem by a wide circle of scholastic and other friends, the deepest sympathy is felt on every hand. Their unfortunate son was generally liked, for his quiet, unassuming ways. A favourite with all who came in contact with him, he gave promise of considerable ability. The Inquest took place at the Guildhall on Monday afternoon before Mr A. M. Davson, the local Coroner. After viewing the body the Jury received the following evidence:- ERNEST PLATER: I reside at Above town, Dartmouth, and am a schoolmaster. I identify the body as that of my late son, ERNEST EDMUND PLATER, who was 18 years of age, and a cabinet-maker's apprentice, in the employ of Messrs. G. H. Lane and Co. Coroner: Now, with regard to Saturday afternoon last, were you at your house? - Yes; I should think about half-past one. I want you to tell the Jury exactly what happened. - About that time my wife and I were in the kitchen, after dinner. The kitchen is at the back of the house. We were waiting for my son to come home to his dinner. We heard three or four faint knocks at the door. Would that be the front door? - Yes, the only door to the house. We thought it might be my son at play, for he often knocked in that way to make his mother come out to the door. My wife said "Come in, you rogue." With the same he said "Mother, I have cut myself." You were still in the kitchen then. - Yes. My wife and I were there together, and we both heard quite distinctly what my boy said. We both ran out to the door. His mother was first. She said "Where, my darling?" Then he fell forward with his arms round his mother's neck. Who opened the door? - He just managed to open it before we reached it. Yes. - I saw that he was fainting, and that she could not hold him, and went to her aid. As I raised him against my knee I felt blood soaking through his clothes. Feeling sure that he was very seriously hurt somewhere, I ran in next door and asked a neighbour to get a doctor. Did you notice where the blood was coming from? - It was running down one side of him. His clothes were literally saturated with it, and it was running out on the floor. When you ran in next door, was your wife holding him? - Just for a moment; I was not away longer. I called Mr Pearce and asked him to go for the doctor, and then I returned at once. Did the lad say anything else at all? - No, he did not speak any more; he fainted clean away. Did you find the chisel? - Not then; I saw it afterwards lying by the front door. You have another way by which your house can be reached, without coming up the main road and the ordinary path? - Yes. I understand your boy has been in the habit of using that way, which is shorter than the other? - Yes. I rented part of the garden and he often used to come up that way instead of going round the road. do you know whether on this particular occasion he came up the short way? - Yes. I was anxious to be quite sure about it, so I went down to the gate. I found the earth broken away at once point, and it was quite evident he had fallen there. I know he used to carry a chisel in his right breast pocket. It must have run into him just under the arm-pit as he fell to the ground. There was blood all the way up the path to the door of the house. You are not aware that anybody saw him come up that way? - No. But, after examining the spot, I have come to the conclusion that he must have done. Everything points to it. Go back a little. When you came back to your wife, after summoning help, did you attempt to get the deceased into a room at all? - No. Under the circumstances I thought it would be better to put him on his back, and cut his clothing right away at once, that we might see where the mischief was. You say he has been accustomed to carry a chisel in his right breast pocket. Was that the side upon which the blood was? - Yes. Your son did not speak again, after saying that he had cut himself? - No. I think he died within a very few minutes. When the doctor came, he was very kind and considerate, and set to work at once, but I knew it was too late. - Dr G. Morgan Soper, practising at Dartmouth: About 1.45 p.m. on Saturday I was called to MR PLATER'S house at Above Town. I returned with the messenger. When I reached the house deceased was lying just inside the front door. He was quite dead. I made an examination of the body. There was a clean-cut wound about an inch and a half in length, high up, right under the right arm-pit. Coroner: You have seen the chisel (produced) which the deceased was, his father tells us, in the habit of carrying about in his right breast pocket? - Yes. Would such a wound as you have described have been likely to be caused by it if the deceased fell upon the chisel heavily? - Yes certainly. To what do you attribute death? - To syncope from haemorrhage. The haemorrhage would be caused by the wound. - Yes. The chisel ruptured the main artery of the arm. Do you know the short cut at all, to the house, doctor? - No, I have not seen it. By the Jury: Supposing you had been on the spot immediately the accident happened, do you think you could have saved the lad's life, or was the wound such that, in your opinion, nothing could be done for him? - Well, that is a difficult question to answer. Had I been on the spot at once it is just possible that I might have been able to do something for him, but it is very doubtful if his life could have been saved. He must have died very quickly. The Coroner said this was all the evidence he had to put before the Jury but he thought it was ample to enable them to come to a conclusion. The evidence given by the father of the deceased was very clear in every respect. They had heard how his son was expected home to his dinner about half-past one on Saturday, how he was heard to knock faintly at the door, how he fell forward into his mother's arms when the door was opened, only to die within a very few minutes. It was a sad case inexpressibly sad. There was no direct evidence to show how the terrible injury which brought about his death was received, but it appeared that he was in the habit of making a short cut to his home through a garden rented by his father, and that he generally carried a chisel in his breast pocket. There were traces of a fall, and blood-marks along the remainder of the path to his house, and it was, he thought, safe to assume that the unfortunate young man tripped and fell heavily on the point of the chisel, which penetrated his body, and severed an artery. Everything possible was done for him. Medical aid was summoned at once, but the lad died before the doctor could arrive, and they had heard Dr Soper's reply to a question put to him - that, even had he been on the spot when the accident happened, it might not have been possible to save his life. He thought the Jury would have not the slightest difficulty in arriving at a verdict upon the evidence of father and doctor. In conclusion he wished to express his deep sympathy with MR and MRS PLATER. It was one of the saddest cases he had ever been brought into contact with. Here was a smart young man, in full health and strength, returning home to his dinner. Suddenly an accidental fall upon the chisel brought about his untimely end in a few short minutes, and it was sadder than ever that his mother should receive him in her arms at the door, only to see him breathe his last. Sympathy from all classes would go out to the sorrowing parents. - The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death", and asked the Coroner to express their heartfelt sympathy with MR PLATER, which Mr Davson did. - MR PLATER, who was deeply affected, said it was impossible for him to express his and his wife's gratitude for the kindness that had been extended to them on every hand. Everyone had been most kind. He thanked the Coroner for the kind manner in which he had conducted the Inquest, and both Coroner and Jury for their sympathetic expressions.

Friday 17 March 1905

DARTMOUTH - Widow And Her Fall. Inquest At Dartmouth. - On Friday afternoon last a widow named CHARLOTTE KNIGHT, residing at Ford, Dartmouth, was hanging window curtains in her bedroom. She was standing on a chair. Suddenly she fell, and called a neighbour, Mrs Trengoning, to her aid. It was seen that she was in a serious condition, and she was promptly put to bed. Medical aid was summoned, but she died before the doctor arrived. On Monday, at the Guildhall, Mr A. M. Davson, the local Coroner, held an Inquest. After viewing the body, which was lying at the mortuary - a post mortem having been made by the Coroner's orders - the Jury received the following evidence:- MRS HEAL, a daughter of the deceased, was the first witness. She deposed that she resided at Ravensbury Lodge and was the wife of WILLIAM HEAL, gardener. She identified the body. Her mother was 46 years of age, resided at Ford and was a widow. Coroner: Please tell us what you know of Friday's occurrence. - Someone came to me about five minutes past two in the afternoon, and told me that if I wished to see my mother alive a had better go at once, which I did. I found the deceased in bed. She did not speak to me and died soon after my arrival. Do you know anything of the circumstances? - No, only what I was told. Did your mother ever complain to you of illness? - Yes. She was ill not long ago, and Dr Soper attended her for two months. He was not attending her down to the time of her death? - I think he saw her about a fortnight ago sir. Coroner: No doubt most of the Jury are aware that Dr Soper has met with an accident, and is confined to his house. However, his partner, Dr Harris, is here, and he will be able to tell us all about the case. Mrs M. E. Tregoning said she was the wife of Arthur Tregoning, an engineer, who resided at Ford, next door to the deceased. About a quarter to two on Friday afternoon she saw MRS KNIGHT in the bedroom. She had been cleaning the room. MRS KNIGHT called to her from the bedroom window to come up. She went at once. Coroner: Tell us in detail precisely what you found! - MRS KNIGHT was catching hold of the bedrail. I asked her what she had done, and she said she had fallen off a chair, as she was hanging window curtains up. She said "I have killed myself." She had managed to get from the window to the centre of the room, where the bed was. Did you see the chair? - Yes, it was knocked over, close to the window. What did you do? - I got her over to a chair, and sat her down. Then she asked me for a drink, and I ran into my own house and got her some milk. Where was she when you returned? - Still sitting in the chair. She had sent her little child, about five or six years of age, for a neighbour. Was the child in the room all the time? - Yes. Who was the neighbour? - Mrs Cox, sir. She came at once, and then deceased's daughter, EMILY, was called and went for Dr Soper. Before the doctor arrived what did you do? - In a couple of three minutes the District Nurse came on the scene. The nurse put deceased to bed with our assistance. Up to that time she had been sitting in the chair. Was there anything unusual the matter with the room? - Yes. There were traces of blood where she fell, and all the way to the bed. The District Nurse cut away the deceased's clothes, and got her into bed quickly when she came. Deceased died before the doctor came on the scene. Has the deceased ever complained to you of illness? - Yes, sir. She has complained a great deal this winter. About a month ago she complained very much. A Juror enquired whether the chair was an ordinary one. - Yes. - Was it broken or ricketty in any way? - No, not at all. The Coroner said deceased's daughter, EMILY, was in court, and if the Jury thought it necessary she could be called. For his part he did not see that she could give them any information beyond that already possessed. She was not in the room when deceased fell. - The Jury thought it unnecessary. Dr J. H. Harris, practising at Dartmouth, said about two o'clock on Friday he received a message asking him to go to MRS KNIGHT. The messenger said she had fallen off a chair. He told the girl that he could not go at once, as he had elsewhere to call, but that he would get there as soon as possible. Coroner: What time did you reach the house? - I arrived there about three o'clock. Deceased was then lying dead on the bed. I made an examination, and came to the conclusion that she had died from loss of blood. You made a post mortem by my orders, doctor. Tell us the result of that. - I found all the organs in a perfectly healthy state. There was no disease whatever to account for death. I attribute death to haemorrhage. Deceased probably grew faint, and this caused her to fall from the chair. There were no external marks whatever, you say? - None. I am quite satisfied the fall from the chair had nothing whatever to do with it. Has Dr Soper, your partner, attended her? - Yes, for about a month from December 18, and he saw her about a month ago. He attended her for hysteria. If attention had been drawn to her condition some time ago might her life have been saved? - I think it quite possible she might have been alive now. If you had gone sooner could you have done anything to save her? - I think not. I had no idea it was so serious. Nothing was said to me to indicate it. I was simply told that she had fallen off a chair. The mischief was done, and I don't think if I had got there directly after the messenger came I could have done anything. She had been dead some time when I arrived. The Coroner briefly summed up and the Jury returned a verdict of Death from Haemorrhage, in accordance with the medical testimony.

Friday 7 April 1905

DARTMOUTH - The Britannia Fatality. Petty Officer's Body Found. Bluejackets' Terrible Night. Gallant Attempts At Rescue. - Six weeks ago yesterday, the sad boating accident occurred off the Britannia, by which 1st Class Petty Officer LORAM, one of the most popular men on the ship's lower deck, lost his life. Efforts made to recover his body were unsuccessful, though continued for some days. On Wednesday morning, Mr S. Gloyns, hulk foreman for Messrs. Collins, was standing on the deck of the hulk Juno, when he saw a body floating by. He at once got assistance, took the body ashore, and communicated with the police. The remains, which proved to be those of LORAM, were taken to the mortuary, and the Coroner communicated with. Decomposition had set in to such an extent that the features were unrecognizable, but the attire and articles found upon the body were quite sufficient to ensure absolute identification. The Inquest took place at the Guildhall yesterday (Thursday) morning, before Mr A. M. Davson, who, at the outset, said having regard to the unrecognizable state in which the body was found, he did not consider it necessary to require the widow to view it. A chain and whistle found on the deceased would be identified by her, and further there were marks on his boots that would be additional evidence of identification. - Lieut. H. J. Tweedie, R.N., H.M.S. Britannia, was present on behalf of the Naval Authorities. After viewing the body the Jury received the following evidence. - ELIZABETH LORAM: I am the widow of the late 1st Class Petty Office, W. C. LORAM, formerly serving in the Britannia at Dartmouth. He was 31 years of age. The whistle and the chain produced were the property of my late husband. There were two boot protectors on his right boot, and one on his left. Coroner: Was your husband generally in good health? - Yes, sir. He has never had a day's sickness. When did you last see him alive? - On February 22nd, the day before the accident. Was he then in his usual health and spirits? - Quite. So far as you know had he anything to worry him? - Nothing. P.S. Hockridge: I took the body to the Mortuary. I found the chain produced, round the deceased's neck, and the whistle was attached. On his right boot there were two small protectors, and on his left one, somewhat larger. In his pockets were 1s. 10 ½d. Nothing else was found upon him. Coroner: I think that is quite sufficient evidence of identification, under the circumstances. - William John Hockaday: I am a leading seaman stationed on board H.M.S. Britannia at Dartmouth. Coroner: On Thursday, 23rd February last, were you in the company of the deceased? - Yes. How long were you in his company? Did you come ashore with him? - No. I met him somewhere about eight o'clock, sir. Were you with him the remainder of the evening? - Yes. Where and how did you spend the evening? - We were at the Commercial Hotel for about half an hour in the billiard room and the rest of the time we spent in the Union Hotel. What time did you leave the Union? - I should think about ten minutes past ten. Did the deceased appear to be the worse for drink at that time? - No, sir, not at all. He was perfectly sober. You were at the Commercial from about eight to half past and at the Union from half past eight until just after ten. Is that so? - Yes. And when you left the Union did you go straight back to your ship? - We went in that direction but we dropped in at the George and Dragon on the way. How long did you stay there? - Not a great while. When we left there it would be about twenty minutes to eleven. Where did you go then? - Then we went straight to Sandquay to go on board the ship. We found the boat was not there when we reached the steps. You mean that you went past the Floating Bridge slip to the steps opposite the Britannia? - Yes, abreast of the ship, near the water tank. The boat was between the ship and the shore. We hailed her, but we didn't get any answer. LORAM asked the time, and it was eight minutes to eleven by my watch. Then LORAM said "Very well; I have a boat here that I use. We will go off in that." The boat to which he referred was tied up at the ship's bathing stage, between the bathing stage and the shore. You say the "boat was half way between the ship and the shore". Do you mean the boat that usually goes to the Britannia to take the men? - Yes. I mean the ferry boat. We could get no reply to our hailing and that was why LORAM said we could go off in his boat. LORAM'S boat was near the bathing stage. Is there a slip? - No. There is a beach where the [?] boats belonging to the Britannia are kept. The bathing stage is higher than that. Well, he said you could go off in his boat. Did you get into the boat? - Yes, Bartlett and I got into her. Was Bartlett with you all the time? Is he the next witness? - Yes. From where did you enter the boat? From the steps? - No, from the bathing stage. The gunwale of the boat was about level with the stage. While we were getting into the boat LORAM went off to get the crutches and oars. When he came back we were in the boat, and he at once cast the painter off. Then he stepped on the gunwale to get into the boat, and before we knew where we were we were all in the water. The boat had capsized with his weight. And then? - The first thing I realised was that the boat, Bartlett and LORAM were all close to me. I at once seized hold of the boat, and got it upright. In the meantime we had all gone down by the bathing stage. There was a strong tide running out, and the wind was very high, so that we had no chance whatever to grasp anything at the bathing stage. I had hold of the boat, and looking away I saw Bartlett and LORAM not far off. Did you go to their aid? - When I had got the boat righted I hung on for a moment and shouted "I have got the boat all right." It was very dark, but I could see that Bartlett was struggling and that LORAM had hold of him. Bartlett was trying to keep LORAM up. Suddenly I heard LORAM say, "I'm gone," and both Bartlett and I called to him to "Stick it, for God's Sake." I said to him, "It's all right, we've got you." He must have let go just as I said that. The tide brought him right on top of me, and as he touched me I seized him, but in grasping him I lost my hold on the boat. Then I missed Bartlett altogether. Knowing how fierce the tide was, and that there was a buoy not far down, I swam with the tide, holding on to LORAM all the time. Eventually I reached the buoy, and hung on to it, and began to shout for help. By-and-by I felt myself going. I had to let LORAM go. I remember saying to myself, "I'm gone too," and after that I knew nothing more until I found myself rescued alongside the ship. What became of Bartlett? - I didn't know where he was after I lost him. I saw nothing more of him then. I had all I could do to look after LORAM. I never saw Bartlett from the time LORAM brushed up against me as he passed. Now you are quite satisfied in your own mind that deceased was not the worse for drink? - I am certain he was perfectly sober, sir. A Juror: From the way in which the boat capsized, do you think it likely that deceased received a blow? - Yes, I think it very probable. As he stepped on the gunwale the boat went over instantly, and I think it more than likely that the rising gunwale struck him a heavy blow. Did you shout for help when you got into the water? - Not then. It was all so sudden, so unexpected that we hardly knew what had happened. I thought everything would be all right when I got the boat righted. When I got LORAM to the buoy and was able to hold on, I shouted for assistance at the top of my voice. What time do the ferry boats stop running to the Britannia? - We hailed the boat and got no reply, and I have learnt since that the orders were that the boat was not to bring off any more liberty men that night. It was an order from the officer of the watch. Did you know whether there were any other boats about? - I could not say. Coroner: You have seen the body. Can you identify it in any way? - Yes. Deceased had a baggy patch upon his trousers, and there is a similar patch in this case. I am perfectly certain it is LORAM'S body. - Richard Bartlett: I am an able seaman on the Britannia. Coroner: You were with deceased and the last witness on the night in question. Did you go ashore with deceased? - No. Where did you see him first? - At the Commercial? - No, at the Union. I went in there about 8.30 and I saw LORAM and Hockaday. Where did you spend the remainder of the evening? Were you with them all the time? - No. I went out, and when I came back some time afterwards they were still there. We all left together, I should think about ten minutes past ten. You have heard the evidence given by Hockaday? - Yes. You have heard his statement that you reached Sandquay all right, and found that the boat was between the ship and the shore; that you hailed it and got no reply; that LORAM said you could all go off in his boat; that you and Hockaday got into the boat from the bathing stage while LORAM went to get the crutches and oars; that LORAM cast off the boat, and that as he was getting into it by stepping on the gunwale it capsized. You have heard all that. Is it correct? - Yes sir. Well, please continue from the point of the boat capsizing? - It was all done so quickly that we hardly knew what had happened. We were in the water in a second. Did you see the deceased when you came up? - Yes. Did you catch hold of him? - No, sir. LORAM seized hold of me. I said to LORAM "Hang on. I will get you up in a minute," or something to that effect. Just afterwards I heard him say "I am gone." We both called to him to hold on, but he let me go. As he released his hold I slewed round with the tide to see whether I could not pick him up again, but I could not see him anywhere after that. Did you shout at all? - No, sir, not until I heard Hockaday shouting. You lost both LORAM and Hockaday? - Yes, sir. What did you do then? - I swam in towards the bathing stage, and after a great struggle against the tide I got to the beach in an exhausted state. I remembered nothing more until I found myself on the ship. Could the deceased swim? - I could not say, sir. Did he make any effort to save himself? - Not that I could see. He simply hung on to me, and then after a minute or so let me go. You were with the deceased most of the evening? - Off and on I was. In your opinion was he at all the worse for drink? - Oh, no. He was perfectly sober. Were there any other boats about at the time the accident happened? - I could not say. I did not see any. A Juror: Would not the gunwale of the boat, after you and Hockaday had got in, be considerably below the level of the bathing stage? - No, I think it was about level. - Coroner: That coincides with what the previous witness said. So there would not be any great difficulty as to getting into the boat? - No. What distance were you from the beach? - I could hardly say. Not a great way. We were in about fifteen feet of water I should think. The tide was low, so the beach could not have been far off. Don't you think it was possible for you to have got him towards the beach? - No, he suddenly let me go, and besides, the tide and wind were too strong. Coroner: It was a very rough night, wasn't it? Yes, sir; blowing hard. - Samuel Gloyns, foreman of Messrs. Collins' hulks, spoke as to the finding of the body. He was on one of the hulks, he said, at 10.35 a.m. on Wednesday, when he saw a body floating by. He at once told his mate to get into the boat, while he went to the cabin and got a line. Then they made the body fast and took it ashore. He gave information to the police, and assisted them to take the body to the mortuary. This was all the evidence, and the Coroner briefly summed up. The case, he said, was an extremely painful one, and the utmost sympathy would be extended to the relatives of the deceased. The Jury had first to be satisfied as to the identity of the deceased. It was true the body was in such a bad condition that it could not be recognised in the ordinary way, but they had evidence of the identification of a chain and whistle which deceased was known to have been wearing, while there was the further proof that his boots corresponded with the description given by the widow, and that his trousers bore the patch spoken of by Hockaday. There was thus no reason whatever to doubt that it was the body of LORAM upon which they were holding the Enquiry. The Jury had to decide when, how and by what means the deceased came by his death. As to the date that admitted of no doubt whatever. It was quite clear the unfortunate man died about 11 o'clock on the night of Feb. 23rd. Nor was there much doubt as to how his death came about. In all human probability it was due to drowning. There was this much to be said on the other side, that although it was clear from parchment papers produced by Lieut. Tweedie that the deceased could swim, he apparently made no effort to save himself. Probably, therefore, he received a blow from the gunwale of the boat as it turned bottom up, which partially stunned him. It was hardly likely, however, that this blow would be sufficient to kill him, and he thought the Jury might safely assume that death was due to drowning. This brought them to the means, and upon that point there could be no two opinions. It was clear from the evidence of the men who were with the deceased, and who tried their level best to rescue their unfortunate comrade, at great risk to themselves, that the occurrence was purely accidental. Deceased was heavy, and his weight on the gunwale of the boat, suddenly capsized it. Everything possible was done by Hockaday and Bartlett to prevent a fatal termination, but unluckily their efforts were unsuccessful. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Drowning," and commended the gallant attempts at rescue of Hockaday and Bartlett. The Coroner, addressing the two men, said it was through no fault of theirs that LORAM'S life was lost. They did all they could under very dangerous conditions, and he thoroughly endorsed the commendation of the Jury - (hear, hear).

[Details of the Naval Funeral followed.]

Friday 28 April 1905

HARBERTON - Suicide Of A Farmer's Wife. The Inquest. - An Inquest touching the death of MRS MARY HONOR ADAMS, 73, of Moore Farm, Harberton, well known to all local agriculturists took place on Wednesday afternoon before Mr S. Hacker. - JOHN ADAMS, farmer, stated that the deceased was his wife, and they had been married for fifty-five years. She had been in fair health, but was very depressed of late - especially since her two sons had committed suicide in the same stream. She had never made any threats, but had a great wish to die, and frequently said in the morning that she hoped she would die before the day was out. Two of deceased's family were in the asylum, and her father destroyed himself about seventy years ago. Not long ago she said she would starve herself, as she did not want to live. On Monday evening she was sitting with witness beside the fire, and then left the room, and, as he thought, went upstairs. His daughters came in, but could not find their mother upstairs, and after further searching found her dead in the stream. EMMA ADAMS, daughter, said that the deceased troubled because she thought they had not enough money and no clothes to wear. The Coroner: She really had hallucinations? - I think so. She got into this condition when the last son was put to the asylum. She seemed to trouble because we were leaving the farm. Dr F. W. Style (South Brent) stated that he had attended the deceased for some time. She suffered from rheumatism and loss of appetite. Coroner: There was no suggestion of putting her under control? - No. She seemed all right, but was a little depressed. The Coroner said the Jury would have little difficulty, as the circumstances were pretty clear. It was a terrible family history, and would leave no question in their minds on the point of insanity. A verdict of "Suicide whilst of Unsound Mind" was returned.

Friday 5 May 1905

TORQUAY - Death On A Little Western Steamer. - At an Inquest at Torquay on Tuesday, held by Mr S. Hacker, County Coroner, on RICHARD UREN, of Penzance, a fireman on board the goods steamer Coath, who died suddenly at sea, about 25 miles from the Isle of Wight, on Sunday afternoon. Dr Young Eales, who made a post mortem examination, attributed death to the bursting of an aneurism of the aorta and a verdict in accordance with this testimony was returned. In consequence of a representation from the doctor and the Jury, the Coroner undertook to communicate with the Torbay Hospital authorities, with a view to having the mortuary better lighted. Mr J. W. E. Spurr attended on behalf of the owners of the steamer, the Little Western Steamship Company, and superintended the removal of deceased's body to Penzance during the afternoon.

Friday 12 May 1905

TORCROSS - At the Inquest at Torcross, on ELIZABETH DIMOND, a domestic, a verdict was returned to the effect that she died through taking ammonia during a fit of Temporary Insanity.

DARTMOUTH - Child Drowned At Dartmouth. Body Found By The Father. Missing For Three Hours. - A sad fatality occurred at Dartmouth on Monday evening. Two little boys, aged 3 ½ and 5 years, the sons of a gardener named HEAL, employed at Ravensbury, were playing at the Boat steps after school when the younger got into the water and was drowned. Whether he fell in, or whether the wash caused by a steam yacht, the Monarch, that was passing at the time, carried him off his feet, is not known. The other boy is hardly old enough to give a clear account of what happened. All he could tell his father was that his little brother was in the water and that it happened when the yacht was passing. The little lads were missing from school-time and it was not until nearly half-past seven that one of them came up to the house from the boat steps. Dr Harris was sent for immediately the deceased was found, but it was too late for him to be of any assistance, as the child had evidently been dead some considerable time. An Inquest was held by the local Coroner, Mr A. M. Davson, on Wednesday afternoon. It was opened at the Ravensbury Lodge where the Jury, of whom Mr C. H. Moses was the Foreman, viewed the body. They afterwards proceeded to the Guildhall and received the following evidence:- WILLIAM THOMAS HEAL: I reside at Ravensbury Lodge, Dartmouth, and am a gardener. I identify the body of the deceased as that of my son, EDWARD JOHN HEAL, who was three years and eight months old. Coroner: When did you last see him alive? - About half-past one on Monday he left the house with his little brother to go to school. I saw them go out of the door towards the town, and then went about my work. When did you begin to feel anxious? - When I came up to tea about six o'clock. All that time, from half-past one to six, you had been working in the garden? - Yes, in the lower part. When you came into the house were the children there? - No. I called for them over the wall, but there was no reply, and I went down into the garden to see whether I could find them. With what success? - I could find nothing of them. Neither of them? - No. What did you do after that? - I went to Warfleet along the road. Then I went on as far as the Castle, thinking they might have wandered out there. You couldn't find them out there? - No. As I was coming back I met my wife on the way. Could she give you any information? - No. I asked her if she had seen the children, but she had come from town and had seen nothing of them. When I came up to tea she had gone into the town on an errand. Then probably when the children returned home there was no one in the house. - No one there, sir. What time do they return from school as a rule? - They generally arrive back about half-past four. What else did you do? - I went into the house, and she went back to the town to see whether she could find them there. When you first missed them you say you called over the wall. Did you make any search, then? - Yes, sir. What happened afterwards? - I was waiting for my wife to come back, when my other little boy came up the steps from the garden. I asked him where EDDIE was. He said at first he didn't know. Yes? - I said "if you do not tell me I shall give you a good hiding." Then I asked him if he was in the water, and he said "Yes." About what time do you think this was? - I should say about a quarter or twenty minutes past seven, sir. I ran straight down and looked in the water. I saw his cap the higher side of the steps. There is a landing stage there isn't there? - No, steps. I knew he could not be very far away, so I pulled the boat in, and getting into her, shoved off without any paddles. I found him floating on his back about fifteen to twenty yards off the shore. I lifted him into the boat, and did all I could to resuscitate him, but without success. I took the body to the house and sent for Dr Harris. Do you think the deceased was dead when you took him out of the water? - Yes. The doctor came very quickly. He was there in less than ten minutes after I found the body. Had the children been accustomed to playing in the garden? - In the garden sir, but they were not allowed down the boat steps. Foreman of the Jury: Did your other boy tell you how long it was before he saw you, that his brother fell into the water? - No, sir, except that he said there was a steam yacht coming in at the time. I did not see that, so I do not know what time the accident happened. A Juror: Is there not a probability that if a steam yacht was coming in the wash might have carried the by off the steps into the harbour! - There is such a probability, certainly. I suppose when the children came home they could not get into the house? - Oh, yes they could. There was no one at home, but the door was not locked. Even if there had been someone in it is very likely they would have gone down into the garden all the same, to pick primroses or something of that kind. Very often, when I come up to tea, they are in the garden, and I have to go and fetch them. Was the body cold when you took it out of the water? - Yes, sir. The Coroner said the other little boy was in court, and he left it to the Jury as to whether he should be examined. For his part, he thought the boy too young. They had heard what he told the father, and he thought, under all the circumstances, the Jury might be satisfied with that. At the same time he left it entirely to them. - A Juror: How old is the boy. - MR HEAL: five years. - The Jury came to the conclusion that it was unnecessary to call him. - Dr J. H. Harris, practising at Dartmouth: On Monday I was called to see the deceased about eight in the evening. When I arrived at Ravensbury I found him lying dead in the cottage. I made an examination of the body. There were no marks of violence or injury. The body had evidently been immersed in the water, and I attribute death to drowning. Coroner: How long do you think the child had been dead? - It is impossible to say. The body was quite cold but the immersion might account for that. He had evidently been dead some little time. This was all the evidence, and the Coroner briefly summing up said he did not think the Jury would have any difficulty in arriving at a verdict. The evidence of the father showed that the little boys were in the habit of going down into the garden after school hours. They were not allowed at the boat steps, but they knew what children were, when there was no-one watching them. The boys obviously came back to the house when there was nobody at home, then they wandered into the garden and from there to the steps. The father and mother searched for them in vain until past seven, when one of the boys came up to the house, and in answer to his father's questions, told him that his little brother had fallen overboard. The father did everything that was humanly possible. He rushed to the steps and set off in a boat. Within a minute or two he found the body floating some yards from the shore and undoubtedly the boy had then been in the water some time, and was quite dead. The other boy told the father that his brother fell in as a steam yacht was entering the harbour. It was mere conjecture, of course, but it might be that the wash took him off the step upon which he was probably standing. Or, on the other hand, he might simply have slipped and fallen in. Precisely how he got into the water they could not tell, and the little brother was too young to be examined. He (the Coroner) assumed that the occurrence was an accident. It was a very sad, distressing case, and their sympathy would be extended to the parents. The Jury had to decide when, how and by what means the deceased came by his death. The date was clear - May 8. As to how, there could be very little doubt that it was purely accidental, though there was no direct evidence to show this. As to the means, there could be no question at all that deceased was drowned. The medical evidence showed that very clearly. The Jury returned a verdict of "Found Drowned."

PAIGNTON - Sad Death Of MR WINTER-WOOD - Mr Coroner Hacker on Tuesday held an Inquest at Paignton touching the death of MR T. WINTER-WOOD on Sunday evening. Deceased's son, MR E. J. WINTER-WOOD, stated that while driving his father in a motor car down Livermead Hill, he was unable to pass a water-cart in the middle of the road, and stopped the car against the hedge. There was a very slight jerk, although he did not personally feel it, and deceased slipped out of the car into the road on his shoulder. A cyclist named Parnell, of Ellacombe, spoke to the driver of the water-cart refusing to move or stop the water, and said the car was going very slowly. Dr Sykes stated that deceased was brought home unconscious. The right side was absolutely paralysed. But there was no wound or bruises on the head or body, except a very slight bruise on the shoulder. Death was due to apoplexy, how far accelerated by the accident he could not say. The Coroner said the only point to determine was the actual cause of death, there being no question of bad driving or wrongful conduct. The Jury returned a verdict of "Natural Causes."

Friday 18 August 1905

DARTMOUTH - Fatal Fall At Dartmouth. Aged Widow's Accident. Found On Kitchen Floor. - On Friday last a carter named Luckham, whilst delivering coals at 3 Fernbank Terrace, found an aged widow, MRS ELIZABETH PERRING, lying on the concrete floor of the back kitchen. She had evidently just fallen. He called for assistance, Dr Harris was sent for, and everything done that was possible, but she succumbed on Monday morning last to injuries to her skull. The deceased, who lived with her daughter, MRS ORRIS, had been in her usual health during the day. MRS ORRIS and her husband, a postman, both left the house somewhat early in the day and did not return until the evening. Neighbours, heard and saw the deceased at intervals, and there appeared to be nothing whatever the matter with her. It is surmised, with good show of reason, that she was standing on a stool to reach something from a shelf when she fell, probably in the act of turning to get down. Possibly, as the Coroner put it, she heard Luckham coming. She gave no explanation of her fall, and soon after lost consciousness, which she never afterwards regained. An Inquest was held at the Guildhall on Tuesday, by Mr A. M. Davson, County Coroner for Dartmouth district. Mr Douglass was chosen Foreman of the Jury, who received the following evidence after viewing the body:- SUSAN ORRIS: I am the wife of PETER ORRIS, a postman, residing at 3 Fernbank Terrace, Dartmouth. I identify the body as that of my mother, ELIZABETH PERRING. She was 84 years of age. She was a widow, and lived with us. On Friday morning I left my house at about twenty past ten. My husband was out then. Deceased was in her usual health at that time. Coroner: What was her 'usual health'? - She enjoyed very good health for one of her age. She occasionally complained of feeling poorly, but nothing of a serious nature. She has not been medically attended for quite twelve months. Were you away the whole day on Friday? - Until a quarter past eight. And your husband was away all that time as well? - Yes. So you knew nothing of any fall until your return. - No. When I came back my mother had been put to bed, the doctor had been sent for, and had seen her. She was quite conscious. She told me she was feeling frail. She didn't tell you at all how it happened? - No, not a word. She died about one in the morning, on Monday. - John Luckham: I reside at Broadstone, and am a carter in the employ of Messrs. W. T. Way and Co., coal merchants. On Friday last, August 11th, I was delivering coals at 3 Fernbank Terrace, about a quarter to five o'clock. I opened the door as I always do and walked in. I saw the deceased lying on the ground on her face and hands. She was in the bank kitchen. her head was towards the outer door. Deceased asked me to call Mrs Ferris, a neighbour, but as Mrs Ferris wasn't home, I called Mrs Marshall, who lived next. She came in at once. We assisted deceased into the kitchen and sat her on a chair. She was quite sensible at the time, and did not appear to be severely injured. Coroner: Did she say anything else? - Nothing else. Then I went away, leaving her to Mrs Marshall. A Juror: When you saw her first did you assist her up? - She told me to go and call Mrs Ferris, which I did at once. I helped her up afterwards. - Laura Helen Marshall: I am the wife of John Marshall, a brass moulder, residing at Fernbank Terrace. About a quarter to five on Friday afternoon I was called by the last witness to go to No. 3. I found deceased lying flat on the floor of the back kitchen, upon her face and hands. With Luckham's help I raised her and we took her into the kitchen and placed her in a chair. After she had been there a few minutes, she asked for a drink. Luckham was gone then. Coroner: Was a doctor sent for? - Luckham met Mrs Ferris in the hill and told her. Directly she came up she sent her daughter for a doctor. That would only be a minute or two after Luckham went. Mrs Ferris and I put the deceased to bed after the doctor arrived. He saw her downstairs. After he had gone she asked to be undressed. Had you heard her about at all during the day? - I saw her from the garden at twelve o'clock and she appeared to be all right then. I heard her talking to Mrs Harvey, another neighbour, just before four. I asked deceased twice how it had happened, but she didn't make any answer. Did you stay with her until MRS ORRIS returned? - I ran out once, but somebody else was there then. She wasn't left at all. It wasn't a wooden floor she fell on, was it? - No, a cement floor. - Dr J. H. Harris: On Friday, August 11, I was sent for to go to No. 3, Fernbank, about five o'clock. Deceased was sitting in a chair in the kitchen. She was in a semi-conscious state, and I found she had a large contusion over her right eye temple. I had her removed to bed, where she gradually lost consciousness, and died on Monday morning. Coroner: To what do you attribute death? - To fracture of the skull. Would that be likely to be caused by such a fall? - Yes. And also I should say she had ruptured one of the blood vessels over the brain, causing haemorrhage. You hadn't attended her before? - Not that I know of. You could see the mark of the concrete floor where she had struck it. I take it that at such an age as that a fit of giddiness would not be an unlikely thing. - Not at all; in fact it is the most probable thing. She was very likely to have got upon a stool in the back kitchen to reach something, and in turning to come down become giddy, lost her balance and fell. We have heard nothing about a stool before. - There was a stool, which had apparently been used for such a purpose. Summing up very briefly, the Coroner said there was no necessity for him to enlarge upon the evidence. This poor lady was of great age and as the doctor had told them, giddiness at such an age was not an unusual thing. He thought they might safely assume that, as the doctor had suggested, she was standing upon a stool in the back kitchen. She might have heard Luckham coming with the coals, and in turning round suddenly to get down, become giddy. Then no doubt she fell to the ground very heavily, just before Luckham entered the house. At first she did not appear to be seriously injured, but it was afterwards found that she had sustained fracture of the skull, from which, and the rupture of a blood vessel, she died three days later. It was a straight-forward, though sad case, and he did not think the Jury would have any difficulty in arriving at a verdict. - The Jury promptly returned a verdict of "Accidental Death."

PAIGNTON - At Paignton, FREDERICK THORNTON OPIE, aged 11, the son of a mining engineer, residing at Mount Clare, Roundham, was playing about the edge of the cliffs in that locality, and was seen by a scavenger named Palk to be jumping from one spot to another, and then to suddenly disappear. He fell to the rocks beneath, sustaining severe injuries t his head, and died before the arrival of Dr Griffith. At the Inquest a verdict of Accidental Death was returning and the Council were recommended to fence the cliff.

Friday 29 September 1905

TORQUAY - Shocking Tragedy At Torquay. Supposed Murder And Attempted Suicide. - A tragedy of a very deliberate character was on Tuesday morning enacted at Hele, a village near Torquay. The perpetrator of the ghastly crime was a young man, well-known in the neighbourhood, named William Stuckey, who resided with his parents at 13 Orchard Cottages, only a short distance from the scene of the tragedy, while his victim was MISS EMMA STAPELTON, aged 50 years, who for the past twenty years or more had been housekeeper for a market gardener, named Troake. The circumstances of the crime are appalling in their simplicity. When the little double-fronted detached cottage, standing in the main thorough-fare of the village, was forcibly entered about half-ten in the morning, the dead body of MISS STAPLETON was found lying in the passage by the back door, and a cursory examination revealed that she had a terrible gash in her throat. She was besmeared all over with blood, and the appearance of the surroundings bore evidences of a terrible struggle for life having taken place. In a recess on the landing at the top of the bedroom stairs lay Stuckey in a pool of blood. He, too, had a severe wound in his throat, and a small white-handled table knife, also covered in blood, lay by his side. Stuckey was in an exhausted condition, and he was quickly conveyed to Torbay Hospital. The whole circumstances point to murder and suicide. The Inquest: On Wednesday evening the Deputy Coroner, Mr Kellock, of Totnes, opened an Inquiry into the circumstances of the tragic affair at the Upton Parish Room, Torquay. Beyond the Coroner and the Jury, no one was present besides the witnesses, Superintendent Roberts, Inspector Jeffery and Press representatives. The Coroner said they had been summoned that evening upon an Inquiry into the death of a poor woman named EMMA STAPLETON. It was a very sad and tragic affair. As the case had been officially reported to him, it appeared that deceased had been living as housekeeper with a Mr Troake, a market-gardener, living at Hele, and that on Tuesday morning she was found with her throat badly cut - she was in fact, dead. A man named Stuckey was also found in the house at the time. He had also had his throat cut, but was still unconscious, and now an inmate of the Torbay Hospital. That was the position of the matter, and he proposed that evening only to formally open the Inquiry, let them view the body, and then merely take evidence of identity. After that it would be necessary to adjourn the Inquiry to a future date, when the doctors might think it possible for the man, against whom there was grave suspicion, to be brought there, in order that he might have an opportunity of hearing the evidence. He was sure the Jury would give the matter their careful consideration, as it was very serious. The Jury then proceeded to the Mortuary to view the body, which presented a shocking appearance, the poor woman being almost decapitated. The only witness called was SAMUEL STAPLETON, who stated that he was formerly a fisherman, but for the past six or seven years had been working ashore. The deceased was his sister, who was 53 years of age. She had been housekeeper for Mr Troake for many years. He last saw his sister alive about two years ago. The Coroner said that was as far as the Inquiry could go that evening. They had now to fix a date for the adjournment, if possible. Dr Winter said, even if the man lived, they could not have him there under three weeks or a month at the earliest. There was, of course, the possibility of the man dying during the next few days. Dr Winter explained that he did not understand the legal position - whether the Coroner could adjourn for a month and then meet earlier if necessary. The Coroner: I am afraid we cannot do that. If I fix a date we must abide by it. Dr Winter: Then you must have short adjournment and then re-adjourn. That is the only way out of the difficulty. Not forty-eight hours have yet elapsed since the infliction of the wound, and there is still the possibility that he will not recover. I saw the man between one and two o'clock this morning, and he seemed pretty well. Stuckey will probably get septic inflammation of the wound. That will come in five or six days if inflammation is set up at all. The Coroner: Would October 4th be a suitable date for the adjournment? - Dr Winter: If the Inquiry were adjourned for a week we should know pretty well what is going to happen, and the further adjournment could be fixed. The Coroner: You would know better in a week? - Dr Winter: Yes. If he gets over the primary shock his next trouble will be the septic inflammation, and at the end of a week we shall know what is going to happen. The Coroner adjourned the Inquiry to October 4th at 3 o'clock, and the following witnesses were sworn to attend:- Walter Troake, SAMUEL STAPLETON, John James Milford, Elizabeth Jane Lawrence, Thomas Townsend, Elizabeth Balsom, Annie Balsom, Amy Louisa Moxhay, Cecil Barber, Inspector Jeffery, P.C. Boaden, and Dr Winter. - Condition of Stuckey: The following was issued at the Torbay Hospital yesterday evening by the house surgeon:- "9 a.m. Thursday. Stuckey has had a very fair night and his general condition has decidedly improved this morning. - (signed) H. K. Lacey." The evening bulletin issued to the Press read:- "9 p.m., Thursday - Stuckey remains in much the same condition. The improvement is maintained. - (signed) H. K. Lacey.

Friday 27 October 1905

STOKE FLEMING - Sudden Death And Inquest. - An Inquest was held at the Reading Room yesterday morning by Mr Sidney Hacker, County Coroner, to Enquire into the cause of death of ROBERT LANGWORTHY, who expired suddenly on Wednesday at his residence, Sea View, Stoke-fleming. Mr T. H. Martin was chosen Foreman of the Jury. - HANNAH MAT