Skip to Content

Colonial Cases


The Observer, 30 November 1800

BOMBAY, MAY 10. - On Tuesday evening, ... The same day, John Eccles, gunner, on the Church-gate Guard, shot himself through the head with a musquet, the muzzle of which he applied to his mouth, and passing one end of a cord round his foot, of which the other end was tied to the trigger, thus discharged the piece. - An inquest was held on the body before the Coroner, who found a verdict of Lunacy.


Cambrian, 13 May 1809

Fatal Duel in the East Indies.

On the evening of the 8th of October, a meeting took place in the Kidderpore-road, between two military gentlemen, holding staff appointments under the Presidency of Bengal.  The dispute originated in some expression used by one of the parties, which the other thought it incumbent on him to resent.  They exchanged shots at a distance of ten paces, upon a signal given by one of their servants, who attended with a lantern.  At the first fire, the ball of one of the gentlemen's pistols entered the forehead of his antagonist, who instantly expired. - A coroner's inquest gave a verdict of Wilful Murder.


Cambrian, 23 January 1819

DIED. - At Calcutta, June 22, 1818, in his 20th year, John Puget, Esq. Second son of commissioner Puget, Royal Navy: he met his early fate in the river Ganges, having missed his hold while going from the ship in a boat; he was a youth of much promise, is deeply regretted by his captain and brother officers, and will long be sincerely lamented by his afflicted family and friends.


Carmarthen Journal, 18 April 1828

EXTRAORDINARY OCCURRENCE. - A man of the Clucke cast, named Dosseri, met his death on Wednesday last, under the following uncommon circumstances:- The deceased was an inhabitant of the village of Choley, and was sitting before the door of his hut, about seven o'clock on the morning of the accident, having a game cock near him at the time.  A man of the same caste, whose name we have forgotten, happened to pass by with another game cock under his arm, and seeing that of the deceased, challenged Dosseri to a cock fight; the challenge was accepted the spurs a(or rather the small country blades serving to the same purpose,) were affixed to the legs of the feathered champions, and the battle began immediately; after a short period, Dosseri perceiving that the spur belonging to his bird had slipped away, took him up, and was in the act or adjusting the instrument, when the animal, which for that purpose he held incautiously in his lap, made a desperate attempt to get free from hoe bond, and in so doing, plunged the weapon with such force into the thigh of the unfortunate man, as to sever the femoral artery; of which wound the poor wretch literally bled to death in about two hours afterwards, without any application for medical assistance being made, or even judged necessary by his neighbours, who applied some powdered charcoal to the orifice, and bound up the thigh without entertaining the remotest apprehension of its fatal termination.  The Coroner with commendable promptitude held an inquest on the body, and the jury delivered a verdict of Accidental Death, the evidence being so clear as to defy suspicion. - Madras Gazette.


The Bombay Times and journal of Commerce, 24 August 1839


   We have the painful duty of recording the murder of Serjeant-Major W. Shepherd, 2d Batt. Rl. Foot Artillery, ... [Evidence of Andrew Patten, Acting Bombardier, 5th Batt.,  John Snowbell., Corporal 9th batt., Thomas Mason, Bombardier, 2nd Batt., Assistant Surgeon Richardson, Ordnance medical department.]

   On Tuesday an inquest was held on the body, when the jury returned a verdict "Wilful Murder against George Willis." ... The prisoner is stated in the orderly book to be a native of Lymington, and was enlisted at Winchester on the 3d of May last year, when he represented himself to be 18 years of age.  He refuses to disclose any particulars respecting his family. ...

Naval & Mily. Gazette, June 8.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 27 May 1840.

CORONER'S INQUEST. - An Inquisition was held on Monday evening, on the body of Dr. Francis Gawl Lewis, who was a prisoner for debt in the Great Jail, and who died on Monday morning. - Although there was noticing extraordinary or suspicious connected with the circumstances of Dr. Lewis's decease, yet as he was worth property, and in order to clear every possibility of a doubt attaching as to the cause of his death, the present enquiry was instituted.

   Dr. Chapman, surgeon of the great jail, deposed, that he attended the deceased on Sunday morning when he found that Dr. Lewis was attacked by the cholera Morbus.  According to the symptoms of the case witness administered such medicines as he believed were calculated to check the progress of the disease; but although the treatment was active the patient grew worse, and the Cholera began to gain ground on him, till the night, when the case became alarming, and on the following morning, (Monday) about the hour of seven o'clock the disease had done its worst. - He had heard that Dr. Lewis was first attacked by the Cholera on Saturday evening.

   Mr. John King of the jail being examined said, that he knew the deceased Dr. Lewis, who was incarcerated in the jail for debt on the 28th April. - That the deceased was a total stranger in Calcutta, and had come from Van Dieman's Land.  That Dr. Lewis, before his death, drew up a will constituting the witness and Mr. Strettell the executors, and from this will it appeared that the deceased was worth valuable landed property, in Van Dieman's land, and estates in England, worth five hundred pounds a year.  The deceased had a child in England to whom he has bequeathed all his possessions.

   The above was the only evidence necessary to be adduced, and the jury without hesitation gave in a verdict of death by Cholera. - Before the Coroner retired, the prisoners made a representation to him in regard to a nuisance caused by the deposit of manure under the operation of the Jockey's Club, in a part of the race ground adjacent to the jail.  This unsavoury deposit in such a vicinity, was the source of the most serious annoyance to the inmates of No. 1, Chowringee, from the extensive swarms of flies which are accumulated in the place by reason of the manure, and which in bevies visit the jail and pester the inhabitants of that locale to an intolerable extent. Dr. Chapman bore out the prisoners in this representation, and said that his patients also very seriously suffered from this pestering source.

   As the Coroner could not do anything of himself in regard to the nuisance, he promised to bring the matter to the knowledge of the Chief magistrate. - Hurkaru, May 13.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 6 June 1840

INFANTICIDE. - A Coroner's Inquest assembled on Saturday last upon the body of a newly born male infant found dead on that day upon the steps of Soopaury Goontah, a tank situated near the Jemadar's Tannah at Triplicane.  The body was wrapped in a piece of cloth and another piece was tightly fastened round the neck in such a manner as would produce strangulation.  The Medical Officer in attendance having stated that the child was born alive - the Jury at once brought in a verdict of "Wilful murder by some person or persons unknown."  Since writing the above we learn that the Police have discovered the mother of the child, together with another woman suspected of implication in its murder, but as both of them have been committed by the officiating Chief Magistrate for trial before the Sessions, we forbear all further remark touching the parties, though we must not refrain from noticing the praiseworthy activity displayed in their discovery by the Police, which affords convincing proof that the discipline of that well conducted department is as fully maintained by its present active Chief as during the days of Mr. Elliott. - Ibid.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 24 June 1840

   An Inquest was held at Bellary on the 3d Instant upon the body of Cook in the service of Lieutenant Powys, who was found dead that morning upon his cot.  The deceased, as was proved, went to sleep in perfect health the preceding evening, and the cause of his sudden death could not be ascertained.  The climate at Bellary is now beginning to be very cool and pleasant, ...


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 1 July 1840

   AN Inquest was held on Friday last on the body of a Seaman left in Hospital from the Ship Abbotsford, who died suddenly the previous evening at the Sailor's Home, when a verdict was returned of sudden death by the visitation of God.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 11 July 1840

GAZETTE, July 10.

   The body of a European was washed on shore on the afternoon of Wednesday last, amongst the Rocks near the observatory, in an advanced stage of decomposition, appearing to have been two or three days in the Water, and to be that of a seafaring man; tall and robust, with black hair, and only a check shirt on, but fine and well made, with figured mother of pearl buttons at the wrists and breast.

   An Inquest was held yesterday on the body of a Woman of the Soortee Caste who had been severely injured, the pervious day, by the falling in of the Roof of a Horse Stable.  The stable was found to be in a decayed state, but not so much as to have attracted the notice of the occupant or his establishment, previous to the accident. - A verdict was returned of accidental death.

   An inquest was also held yesterday afternoon on the body of a Woan drowned in the Gallows Tank, esplanade, and a verdict returned of found drowned - a young female, the daughter of the deceased, who was supposed to have been with her is also missing.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 1 August 1840

July 31.  AN Inquest was held on Wednesday last on the body of a man of the Purwaree caste, who had been kicked by a Horse, in the early part of the morning, in a stable on the esplanade, and a Verdict returned of Accidental Death.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 3 October 1840

GAZETTE, Oct. 2. - An inquest was held yesterday on the body of a Hindoo, a Merchant under confinement in the county gaol for debt - when a Verdict was returned, "That the deceased died by the visitation of God."


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 14 November 1840

GAZETTE, November 13.

   An Inquest was held yesterday evening on the Body of a young child of H. M. 17th regiment, who had been drowned the previous evening in a Quarry Hole, on the west shore side of Coalabah, where he and some other young Boys had been bathing.


The Bombay Times, 21 November 1840

   The following are extracts from our Mofussil Correspondence received since our last issue:-

   An Inquest was held at this station on the 28th ultimo on the body of a Moor woman, which had been found with a rope tied tightly drawn round the neck and tied to the foot of a cot.  The perpetrator of the murder is supposed to be a thug, a mussulman, and a resident of Paldee, a place about five or six miles distant.  It is said that he murdered her for the sake of her jewels, and that he took away from her person, neck ornaments to the value of one hundred Rupees.  Jewels of greater value were on her feet, but they fitted too closely to be easily removed.  The occurrence took place in a densely populated part of the Sule Bazaar, at an early hour of the night.  The supposed murderer, on going to the house, represented himself to be a horse dealer; in consequence of which, every individual to be found of this class has been taken up but without discovering the perpetrator.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 23 January 1841

MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT. - On Monday last a most melancholy accident occurred on board H.M.S. Erebus, by which the service has been deprived of a much respected petty officer.  It appears that on the day in question, a large tank was being dried out for the purpose of being filled with potatoes, for which purpose a fire was made within it.  The deceased, whose name was Bradley, in the execution of his duty, as captain of the hold, went below to see that the fires were properly attended to, when by some means he got into the tank, and was suffocated.  There is some occasion to think he must have fallen with the effects of the smoke on to the fire, as one of his hands was completely burned off, and a large hole burned through his left side.  An inquest was holden on board the same day, and a verdict of accidental death by suffocation returned. [Funeral.]


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 30 January 1841

   We regret to hear that a serious accident took place at the central Schools, Byculla, on the afternoon of Wednesday last.  It appears that a boy, called James Gibney, had been annoying a horse belonging to the Teacher of the Institution; the animal becoming irritated, began to kick, and the boy having incautiously ventured too near him, received a blow under the right ear, which almost immediately proved fatal.  An inquest was held the following morning, and the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death."

GAZETTE, Jan. 29.

   An Inquest was held in Lowarchaol Division on the body of a man of the Bandarey Caste, who had in a state of drunkenness and excitement jumped into a well near his House, about eight o'clock the previous evening, a verdict was returned that "deceased wilfully drowned himself."

   And another at the Apollo Bunder on the body of a Seedee belonging to the "Charger" Coal vessel, who had secreted himself on board the Cleopatra steamer while at Aden and come on to Bombay, and in attempting in the night of Sunday last to swim on shore was drowned before assistance could be rendered, and a verdict was returned accordingly.

   An Inquest was also held yesterday afternoon at Warree Bunder, Mazagon, on the bodies of two young female children, who were killed by the earth falling on them in the early part of the morning, at a part lately excavated for the materials in making the new Road by the side, under Nowrojee Hill. - It appeared that the children had been together picking out the Red Earth, without being sensible of their danger, when the bank fell in upon them.  A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 20 February 1841

     AN Inquest was held on Wednesday last on the body of a man of the Hindoo Cast, who was found the previous afternoon suspended by a Shotur Cloth to the Beams of a temple on a Hill, by the side of the Worlee Road: who he was or what had led him to this act could not be discovered.

   An Inquest was also held on the body of a young Boy who had fallen out of the window of a House in the Fort on the afternoon of Tuesday last, where it was supposed he had gone to catch a loose Monkey - Medical assistance was immediately afforded and the Boy taken to the Native general Hospital where he died the following night.  A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 13 March 1841

   An Inquest was held the day before yesterday on the Body of a young female child who had died from being burnt in falling into a hole where the remaining embers of a Hoolee fire were still smothering.  A verdict of Accidental Death was returned. - Gazette, March 12.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 14 April 1841

   An Inquest was held on Saturday last on the body of a Greek, who had run into a coffee-shop frequented by Musselmans and Arabs from the street, in the early part of the morning, and throwing himself into a chair out a pistol to his breast and shot himself.  Another pistol was found on his waist, which had been recently discharged, as was afterwards discovered at another Greek, to whose house he had previously gone, but which, fortunately, only seriously injured his face, without taking fatal effect.  The only cause for this act that could be traced was, the other man upbraiding him for having changed his dress since his return from Calcutta, and forbid him the house.  A verdict was returned, after a patient enquiry that the deceased attempted to commit murder, by firing a loaded pistol at another man, and afterwards deliberately and wilfully shot himself.

   An Inquest was also held yesterday on the body of a new born child, which had been found secreted in some filth in a cart in the Native Town; but, from the decomposed state it was in, no satisfactory deduction could be formed, whether it was still born or otherwise, to which effect a verdict was returned. - U. S. Gazette, April 13.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 12 May 1841

   It is our melancholy task to announce that Captain Hamilton Cox destroyed himself with a pistol at the Bengal Club last night.

   Captain Cox had been at the Theatre last evening, and it appears that immediately after his return home the act was committed - we shall refrain from saying anything as to the cause of the melancholy suicide till after the Coroner's Inquest has sat - which was to take place this afternoon.

   Between 9 and 10 o'clock a few minutes after Captain Cox's arrival, the report of a pistol was heard in his room, and on some gentlemen going up to see what was the cause of it, the doors of his room were found locked - on their being opened, Captain Cox was found in his morning gown, seated in a chair, in a aside room, with the whole of the upper part of his head blown away, the wall and the door behind him covered with his brains - a discharged pistol was lying under him and another loaded was in  an open case on the table - no part of the dress in which he had come from the Theatre had been changed except his coat which had been substituted by a morning gown.  The unfortunate gentleman appeared to have fired the pistol with his right hand; the bullet entering above his right cheek bone, passing through his head, destroying the whole of the scalp and lodging in the opposite wall. ...


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 2 June 1841

   An Inquest was held on the afternoon of Friday last on the body of a Woman supposed to be of the Mahratta caste found among the Rocks in a secluded spot on the Sea face of Tamree Hill, about sixty paces off the main Sewree Road.  From the state of Desiccation that the Body was in, it would appear to have been there form some time - no clue whatever could be obtained as to whom the deceased was, but from the circumstance of a twisted handkerchief being found tied round the throat, and the concealment of the Body, the deceased had evidently come to a violent end, and a verdict of Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown was accordingly returned.

   Another inquest was held on Saturday afternoon on the Bodies of three persons, one elderly and two young native females, who had been drowned on the Mahim Ferry, while crossing over from Bandora in the early part of the morning, owing to the terrapah or double passenger  Boat filling with water from the overcrowding of Passengers with their luggage on board, and the sides of the Boat becoming consequently low and near the water's edge, the waves from the cross sea, the strong southerly wind and counter tide had occasioned, easily rolled in.  Assistance was immediately rendered from the shore or the result might have been much more serious, a sudden consternation and panic destroying all presence of mind with those on Board.  A verdict of accidental death was returned. - Gazette, May 31.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 4 August 1841

   On the night of Friday last, the neighbourhood of Juggeevan Keeka Street was thrown into great consternation and alarm from a woman having been discovered late in the evening strangled on her bed, and robbed of her jewels and other property in the room.  Suspicions were excited against some persons with whom the deceased was known to be intimate, who were taken to the Police office, and a strict investigation made into the matter, as well as by the Inquest that was sitting throughout the day on Sunday, and adjourned in the evening for further enquiry, the affair remaining in much mystery.  The act was supposed to have been perpetrated in the early part of the morning, and was done with such secrecy that the deceased's room being shut did not attract notice till late in the evening, though other persons were living in the same house. - U. S. Gazette, Aug. 3.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 6 November 1841

   The neighbourhood of the Duncan Road was thrown into great consternation and alarm on Wednesday last, from the discovery in the early part of the morning, of two persons, an old woman and an old man, of the Byragee caste, in a house lately newly built up as a Pagoda by the side of Duncan Road; with their throats extensively cut, and other wounds; the woman bring found lying in her own blood in a room in the upper story of the house, where there appeared to have been a photee or praying ceremony the previous night, and the man in a room on the first floor in like manner, the remaining  property being strewed about the floor, and all the appearances of an extensive robbery.  An active enquiry and search has been going on, but nothing definite has been traced as to the perpetrators of the horrid deed.  An adjourned inquest is also still enquiring into the matter, and was sitting to a late hour yesterday evening. - ibid.

   FEROZEPORE, 13th October, 1841. - Station morning Orders. - A Court of inquest will assemble immediately at the Kutwal's Chubootruh, Sudder Bazar, to enquire into the death (cause of the death?) of a Native found dead.  President, Captain of the week.  Members - Assistant Surgeon Irwine, 30th regiment, and the Adjutant of the week.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 12 February 1842

  An Inquest was held on Tuesday last, near Mombadavee, on the body of a man of the Goozeratee patell caste, who hung himself by fastening a tope, and making a slip know for his self-destruction, to the upper beam of a balcony, where he used to lay himself down to rest after the toils and troubles of the day.  The deceased was servant to a Marwarree merchant, and his brother.  It appeared that four or five days previous  to this foul deed, the Marwarree locked the window and door of his room, and came on business to the Fort, leaving in a box well secured, Rupees 111.  On his return home in the evening, on opening the lock of the door, he found as if some one had been handling it - but it was however opened.  On going into the room, the window was also discovered to have a little opening.  The Horrified Marwarree, suspecting that all was not right, searched for his treasure, when, to his amazement, all was gone!  On this the Merchant sounded the alarm, and accused the deceased, his only servant, of the theft.  The deceased denied the charge, and declared that if he had been guilty of the act he would have returned the lost treasure, and persisted in his denial till he was seen hung on the morning of the Inquest.  There were no marks of violence on the body, and nothing went to prove, from the evidence, that he did not come by his death otherwise than by self-destruction. The Jury, we believe, gave the following verdict: "That the deceased hung himself under distress of mind, from being charged with robbery committed in his master's room. - United Services Gazette, Feb. 11.


The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 4 May 1842


   A distressing suicide, we are informed, occurred in the lines of one of the native regiments in Bombay, on the afternoon of Saturday last -  a Sepoy in shooting himself, killing also another person, who was sitting conversing with two others near the partition in the next hut.  The ball, after passing through the body of the one man, striking the head and entering the brain of the other.  An Inquest was held the following morning, when a verdict was returned accordingly.  No cause could be traced for the commission of the act, but it was supposed to be connected with some family differences.

   An Inquest was also held yesterday on the body of an European, who had lately joined the Victoria Steamer as a carpenter's mate, and was found dead in his bed in the early part of the morning in a tavern in the Soonapoor village, when a verdict was returned that "deceased came to his death from the effects of excessive drinking."

   An Inquest was held on Saturday last, at the native general Hospital, on the body of a young woman of the Hindoo caste, who had been severely burnt three days before, by the explosion, while grinding some gunpowder, in a house in the Native Town, when a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.  U. S. Gazette May 3.


Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), 15 January 1845

MELANCHOLY DEATH.  On the 21st of June last, at Trinchinopoly, the honourable and rev. Walter Clifford, of the Society of Jesus, met with his death by being swept away with the current when bathing in the Colkeroon; the zealous and learned gentleman was Catholic chaplain of the station, and was the brother of Lord Clifford.  His body was found on the following morning, ten miles down the river.


Launceston Advertiser, 23 May 1845

   James Barwisc, Esq., opium agent at Juanpore, was barbarously murdered by hired assassins on the night of the 15th of December.



DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS (NZ), 10 December 1858.


We regret to learn that a fearful murder was committed in this city on the night of Friday last.  The victim, in this instance, was a young Jewish lady of considerable personal attractions, the wife of a wealthy Jewish merchant, at present in China.  The unfortunate woman was found lying in her nursery with several wounds on her person, quite dead and horribly mutilated.  The police have as yet been unable to bring home the crime to any body, but a rich Jew who was on intimate terms with the deceased, has been arrested on suspicion.  He was seen in the house on the night in question.  A coroner's jury inspected the body on Friday afternoon at the house of the deceased. - Phoenix, Oct. 4th.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School