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Colonial Cases

1856-1857 NZ



FATAL ACCIDENT. - A young man, named Horrigan, lost his life cat Pakawau, Massacre Bay, on the 31st of December last, in the manner related below by Mr. J. Watts, in a statement made to the Coroner.  The circumstances are so extraordinary as to be entitled to further enquiry, for it seems remarkable that four persons, standing in two feet of water, should all become so suddenly exhausted as to be incapable of helping one another to breach the shore, distant perhaps 200 yards over a shallow flat.  The warning given by the native, which was unfortunately disregarded, appears to exhibit a knowledge of similar occurrences:

   About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 31st December Mr. Mackay's boy came to me where I was at work in the bush, and told me that Mr. MacKay, Mr. Clarke, and Flowers and his son, had been securing black fish since the morning, and that Horrigan had got drowned; from having been so long in the water he had got cramped.  The boy told me that he had dragged Mr. Mackay and Horrigan on to a sand bank, where he left them, and came then to inform me.  He could not account for the state the men were in, except from exhaustion, arising from having been so long bin the water - nearly all day.  When I went down to the sands, I found John Horrigan and Mr. Mackay lying on a sand bank, quite dry.  Horrigan was dead, and Mackay seemed to be snoring, quite insensible.  We tried to carry Horrigan, but found we could not; and we thought it better to look after the living (I had Charles Mason with me, too).  We then carried MacKay about thirty yards up to the fern, and laid him down, and rubbed him well, and covered him up, and took the sand from his face and body.

   We then went down to the edge of the river, and saw the two Flowers (father and son) in nearly the same state, but some females were with them; and we had a door and carried Flowers home on it, and had Mackay taken to Mr. Clarke's, in his bullock cart.  The water was about two feet deep where they were, and the distance was about seven or eight hundred yards from the shore.  It appears that the exhaustion came on them suddenly, and the whole of the men had great difficulty in getting to land.  There were forty-nine black fish, and the men were anxious to secure them to stakes, to prevent their being washed to sea, as they expected to get about two or three tuns of oil.

   One of the natives had been with them, but left some hours before, and wished them to leave, saying, if they did not, they would die.  Whether the exhaustion and state of them all arose from fatigue, or some poisonous effluvia from the fish, I cannot say.  We then had a coffin made for him, and he was buried bon a part of the section belonging to Mr. Clarke.


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 12 February 1856

Charles Marsden; death warrant signed by Governor.

THE LATE ACCIDENT AT WANGAREI. - In our issue of the 1st instant, we noticed an accident, attended by loss of life, which had occurred at Wangarei on the 28th ult.  It appears that the boat, which was very crank, was the property of the deceased, Malcolm Brown and wife, and was proceeding up the river from the Heads.  There were four persons in it, the deceased, Mr. Hay, and Mr. Sinclair; and the cause of the accident was very simple.  Mrs. Brown, who was a very heavy woman, was sitting on one side of the boat, and her husband, in attempting to fix the rudder, very imprudently stepped on the gunwale, on the same side.  The boat immediately lay over and filled.  Mr. Hay and Mr. Sinclair saved themselves by clinging to the keel of the boat; Brown, who was a good swimmer, caught hold of Hay's leg in the water, but, strange to say, never rose to the surface.  Mrs. Brown seems to have been buoyed up by her clothes, and to have perished on the surface of the water.  The accident was witnessed from the shore, but the only means of rescuing the survivors was by a boat, lying at a distance of three miles; this was sent for, and pulled up against a flood tide before relief could be afforded them.  They had then been one hour and twenty minutes in the water, and were in the last stage of exhaustion.  The body of the female was found next day, and of her husband a week afterwards, both having washed ashore nearly abreast of where the melancholy event occurred.


INQUEST. - An inquest was held yesterday, at the Provincial Hospital, on the body of the man John Rolus, who cut his throat a few days ago in Mr. Brown's eating house.  On the same occasion he made a severe cut across the upper part of his left breast.  From the effects of these injuries he expired, in the Hospital, at 10 o'clock on Sunday night.  The jury returned a verdict that the deceased died from wounds inflicted upon himself by a knife, when under the influence of temporary insanity.



SUICIDE. - By the 'Wonga Wonga' we have received intelligence of a very determined case of suicide.  The facts are briefly these: - A dew says since William Charlton, in the employ of Mr. G. Burnett, settler, of Wangarie, left the house for the purpose of proceeding to his work, as was supposed, but not returning at the usual hour, great anxiety was felt on his account, owing to his having complained of being unwell for some time previously.  Messrs. Burnett went in search of him among the neighbours, but not obtaining information as to his being seen that day from any one, increased fear was entertained as to his safety. A closer search was instituted at once, but for a considerable time it was fruitless.

   On returning home, it was found that he had left his strong working boots behind him and that he must have gone out in his slippers, and consequently could not be far away.  The Messrs. Burnett, in company with several others, then continued the search, and in a short time, the body of deceased was found in a small pool of water, not far from the dwelling house: on taking the body our of the water (about 4 feet deep) it was noticed that his face was downwards, and on examination it proved that a large stone had been tied up by a piece of rope yarn in a blue serge shirt, and the tied, by means of the arms, firmly round his neck.

   It was evident that the deceased had been in the water a long time, and that he must have walked into it, otherwise he could scarcely have escaped without bruises.  There were no marks of struggling, or violence in the least, and it was plain that no one but himself could have placed him in the position in which he was found.  When discovered he had been in the water probably some 18 hours.

   Deceased bore a good character.  He had some days previous been in a desponding frame of mind touching a piece of ground which he had partially paid for.  He was between 30 and 40 years of age, and belonged to the neighbourhood of Newcastle-on-Tyne, where it is believed he has a daughter.  At a meeting of the settlers it was resolved to furnish the Coroner with the details of the melancholy affair. - NEW ZEALANDER.


FATAL ACCIDENT. - On Tuesday morning intelligence reached town of a deplorable accident that took place the previous day at 1 o'clock.  It appears that the ketch Medway, the property of the Harbour Committee, manned by William Young, the master, and three seamen, was loading stones at the Island of Moutatap.  The men were ashore with the boat, collecting the stones - the ketch was lying off the land about 50 yards.  The boat having been loaded, it was found to be very deep; one of the hands suggested that part of the stones should be taken out; but, the trip ashore being the last one for the voyage, the suggestion, unhappily, was not attended to.  On being fairly afloat it was found that the gunwhale of the boat was only three or four inches above the water; when about half way, the ripple of the tide began to be perceptibly felt, and, almost immediately afterwards, the water came over the side, and filled the boat.  Of course she sank instanter - the four men going down with her in two fathoms water.  One named Edwin Harper, who is the sole survivor, on coming up to the surface, caught a glimpse of Young and one of the other hands, but never saw them afterwards.  He succeeded in swimming to a rock, and afterwards in getting ashore.  The accident was witnessed by two Maori women in a canoe, who, however, offered no assistance themselves, but paddled ashore for two men.  These arrived too late to render assistance.

   We understand that the master is a married man, although his wife is not resident in the colony; and that one of the others leaves a wife and child in Auckland to lament his untimely fate.  The bodies have not been recovered, and, the spot where the accident took place being quite open, we fear there is little probability of such being the case.  The Medway was brought to town by the surviving seaman, with the assistance of two natives.




INQUEST. - On the 14th instant an inquest was held on the body of James Esson, the unfortunate man whose death was described in the Examiner of Saturday last. 

   John Day, being sworn, stated - I am a bullock-driver, living in Nelson.  I was engaged to move a wooden building from one part of the town to another.  About six o'clock last evening I had got a load on the cart, and I was standing on the near side of the bullocks.  I had two bullocks, and there was about a ton on the cart.  It was loaded, and I turned round to speak to some one; the bullocks took fright and started off, and I then saw the deceased lying full length on the pole.  The load was large and cumbersome, and he could not sit or stand on the pole, as the load was projecting very much.  I did not see the deceased get on the pole, or I would have stopped him from doing so, as he was on the wrong side to attempt anything of the kind.  It appears that directly he got on the pole the bullocks started off, and ran about one hundred yards, when I saw him fall off the pole.

   When I had stopped the bullocks I came back to him: he was groaning, and I saw that he was dying; he did not live above five or ten minutes.  The bullocks ran about one hundred and twenty yards altogether.  The deceased was a very sober man; he was a carpenter, and lived in Nelson. - The verdict of the jury was "That the said John Esson came by his death from the wheel of a loaded dray passing over his body, and not otherwise."


TARANAKI HERALD, 22 March 1856

FATAL ACCIDENT. - An accident attended with loss of life, occurred on Saturday last at Bell Block, by the overturning of a cart, containing two children of Mr. Peperell, jun.  The eldest of the two, a girl of 9 years of age, was killed on the spot, her head being dreadfully fractured.  The younger child, a boy, is also so seriously injured about the neck that his recovery is uncertain. 

   An inquest was held on the body on the 178th inst., and a verdict was returned of accidental death.  The accident was occasioned by the cross fencing of a public road, which had only been imperfectly removed to allow the cart a passage.  The jury added to their verdict a severe censure on the parties for fencing a public road, and reprobating the practice.



MYSTERIOUS CASE OF DROWNING. - During the early part of the week considerable anxiety was experienced by the Captain and crew of the brigantine Harp, now at the Queen-street wharf, respecting the safety of Robert Dalrymple, the mate of the vessel, who had been missing since Monday morning.  On Wednesday afternoon this anxiety was dispelled, although in a very sad sense, by the discovery of the unfortunate man's body, floating on the water within a boat's length of the ship's side.  The remains were instantly conveyed to the William Denny Hotel, as the nearest public house, but were refused by the landlord.  They were then placed in the Trafalgar Inn, where an inquest was held the same evening.  The deceased had been last seen alive by a seaman on board, named Bartley, who had supplied him with a glass of water at an early hour on Monday morning; and the fate of the unfortunate man remains unexplained.  The verdict was an open one, as, indeed, it could not be otherwise.

THE LATE ACCIDENT AT MOUTATAP. - On Monday information was brought to town by a native that one of the bodies of the illfated crew of the Medway was lying on the beach, on Taylor's Island.  Corporal O'Hara and a party were consequently despatched at 6 next morning to the spot where the body was described as lying.  They found it well upon the beach, apparently just as it had been washed ashore, and partially embedded in the sand. The features were much decayed, so much so that, on bringing it to town, it was found impossible to identify it.  The inquest was held in the Odd fellows' Arms, on Tuesday evening, at 7 o'clock.  The survivor of the accident (Harper) had no doubt the remains were those of one of his shipmates, but could not say which.  The jury returned a verdict accordingly.

   We should add that the police inspected the whole length of the beach, with the view of ascertaining whether any of the other bodies had been washed ashore, but could see nothing.




FATAL ACCIDENT. - We regret much to have to record the following melancholy event, which occurred on the evening of Tuesday, on the road from the race-course to town.  It appears that the deceased, Alfred Cuthbertson, one of the police force, had, towards evening, become rather the worse for liquor on the course, and it was found necessary to send him by some conveyance to town.  Accordingly, a place was obtained for him on a dray, on which were three men, McQuirth, who was driving, Bates, and James Smith.  The horse and ray were the property of Mr. Makepeace, and had been hired by McQuirth, and Bates.  It was dark before it started, McQuirth who had also been drinking, taking the reins.  It appears they had proceeded with safety from one to two miles on the road, having reached the vicinity of Mr. Williams' farm, when they saw a dray ahead.  This, which belonged to Messrs. Williamson and Crummer, and on which were Mr. S. A. Wood and others, McQuirth determined, out of idle bravado, to pass.  The road at this spot was narrow and was one of those places, - numerous on the road where a gully has been filled up with scoria stones, and the road thereby made level.

   In making the foolish attempt, the consequence may be easily fore seen.  The wheel went over the stone bank, and the dray was precipitated, with its occupants, into a bed of scoria stones - a depth of some six or seven feet. Cuthbertson's head would appear to have come in contact with a stone, and the blow to have caused instant death.  Bates was severely injured on the chest and the side of the bead; Smith, though not injured, was stunned and senseless.  The parties on the other dray immediately lent their assistance in extricating the body, and conveyed it, with Bates, who remained insensible, to Tutty's Inn, Newmarket.  Next morning the body was brought to town, and an inquest held upon it, at 12 o'clock, at the Odd fellows' Arms (Mr. Bacon's).  Evidence was given by Mr. Wood, and by other parties on the dray, the driver excepted, who was unable to remember any-thing of the occurrence.  The jury, after hearing the witnesses, returned a verdict of accident death.

   The deceased bore a good character, and has left a wife and two children to deplore his loss.  Whilst it is to be regretted that the race day should be marred by the occurrence of this lamentable accident, it is not to be forgotten that the real cause was over indulgence, and that the same cause might lead to the same result in any other locality, or on any other occasion.


LYTTELTON  TIMES, 16 April 1856

DEATH BY DROWNING. - An inquest on the body of Charles Beasley was taken at Akaroa, on Saturday night last.  In the absence of any evidence as to how deceased came into the water, the jury returned a verdict of Found Drowned.



Editorial referring to letters complaining about Coroner and recent failure to hold an inquest. See also 24 May.




INQUEST. - An inquest was held yesterday in the Gaol, Auckland, upon the body of William Soaper, the man who was recently committed for stealing a coat from the shop of Mr. Bridgeman.  He had evidently been long ailing, and his death, which took place on Sunday morning, was in no way hastened by his incarceration.  On the contrary, there is little doubt that, but for his imprisonment, he would have perished under more wretched circumstances.  His death was clearly ascribable to natural causes, and the jury returned a verdict accordingly.




DREADFUL MURDER. - Intelligence reached town on Wednesday morning of a frightful murder having been committed at the Wade, on the previous afternoon.  The murder was perpetrated at the house of William Harris, by a man named White, w ell known in Auckland, and commonly termed Tinker White.  The unfortunate victim was a Mrs. Fay, whose husband was drowned some time ago, and who has since cohabited with the man by whose hand she came to an untimely end.  Recently, it would appear, she had left White's house in consequence of ill treatment, and, waiting for an opportunity to go to town, had taken refuge in that of Harris.  White had endeavoured to get her back, but, failing bin this, and prompted, it is presumed, by anger at her refusal, he went to the house of Harris with an axe over his shoulder.  He called the woman from an inner apartment, and, on her coming, asked her if she would come back to him.  On her refusing to do so, he struck her on the back of the neck with an axe, and nearly severed the head from the body.  The murderer then turned to Harris, and said, 'its your turn next.'  He aimed a blow with the axe, which Harris, avoiding, ran out, followed by White with the axe, who struck him a heavy blow on the arm, but no so heavy as to prevent Harris closing with him.  A struggle for life ensued, which ended in Harris, after sustaining severe injuries, getting possession of the deadly weapon. The murderer then fled, was taken by a man named Reynolds, and conveyed to the tap-room of Jenning's public house, where he was retained in custody, and the police sent for.

   Sergeant O'Hara and a party were immediately despatched to bring him, together with the body of his victim, to town.  They came back, last night at 10 o'clock, with the prisoner, the various witnesses, one of whom was housekeeper to Harris, and present during the murderous scene, together with the corpse of the deceased.  The inquest will be held at the Odd Fellows' Arms (Mr., Bacon's) this forenoon.  It seems to be a very bad case.



ACCIDENT. - A child, William Skinner, two years and three months old, a son of Mr. Skinner of New Plymouth, was found in the Mangituku, close to the Masonic Hall yesterday afternoon.  Every effort was made, under the direction of Dr. Kingdon, to restore animation, but unhappily without success.  An inquest will be held on the body this day, when probably some further light may be thrown on this unfortunate accident.




In our last, we chronicled the leading particulars of this dreadful occurrence and the arrival, on Thursday night, of the accused, in charge of the police, who also brought to town the body of the murdered woman.

   The inquest was held in the Odd Fellows' Arms, next day (Friday) at 12 o'clock, before the Coroner and the following jury:- Messrs. A. Clark (foreman), McPherson, Hewett, Stichbury, Walters, King, Hallamore, Macready, Bolous, McCail, Levy, Leech, McGarvie.

   The body, which exhibited two terrific wounds, one on the left side of the neck, nearly severing the head from the trunk, and the other nearly dividing the left thigh, having been viewed by the jury, at the police guard room, the investigation proceeded in presence of the accused party.  The first witness called was

   Wm. Harris who, having been sworn, deposed -I am a settler residing at Wade Creek, about 20 miles from Auckland.  I knew the deceased for about four months.  I saw her last, alive on Tuesday, the 13th instant, between three and four in the afternoon.  On that evening, at or about the above time, I saw a man called John, or Tinker, White approaching me.  He was perfectly sober; had an axe on his shoulder, and asked me whether the woman had gone yet; and I said no.

He asked me if he could see the woman, saying "I am not drunk now."  In a room in my house there was the deceased and another woman.  I and White entered the house.  The elder woman came out to us.  White and myself called out to the deceased.  White asked the deceased whether she was going with him or not?  She said no; she had been punished enough by him - had been half murdered by him before - and that her life was not safe with him.  She said that when her dresses were finished she was going to town.  The deceased was under my protection from Friday, the 9th, up to the above mentioned Tuesday.  I had kept her under my protection because she told me that John White would murder her.  Deceased was leaning with her arm on a dresser, and her side and head leaning against the door jamb.  John White asked deceased whether she intended to go to town or not.  She said, please God, I will go to-morrow.  John White asked me at this moment to get him some tobacco; as I was going to get the tobacco, and had just taken a step or two towards the door, I heard John White say, "I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb." At this I turned my head round, and saw White with the full swing of his axe in both his hands strike deceased on the neck.  Deceased reeled, and fell on the floor of the room.  A second or third blow followed, but I was so excited that I could not swear as to where the other blows were struck.  John White then turned rotund with the axe in his hand, and said, "It is your turn next."  I ran out of the room, followed by White, with the axe in his hand.  I jumped down the verandah, and ran about fifty yards, still followed by White.  Finding that he was gaining on me, I turned round, when he struck me on the left arm, inflicting a serious injury, for which I have required surgical treatment.  After he struck me, I seized the axe; we struggled, and I fell.  At last I got the axe from him.  He then ran away.  To my knowledge he did not return to the house.

   By a Juror (Mr. Hallamore) - Deceased was the widow of the late Patrick Fay, who was drowned in the Wairoa river.  Deceased told me that her object in going to toewn was to lay an information against John White for drowning her late husband.  On my return to the house, after White ran away, I found the deceased lying on the floor dead.  I fainted from loss of blood in my arm.  Whilst I was faint my little son ran and brought a man called Joseph Smith to the house.  [Here an American axe was produced and identified by Harris, as that with which White struck deceased.]  I gave the axe into the keeping of Joseph Smith.

   By another Juror (Mr. P. Levy) - Deceased had been living with Smith for about four months, to the best of my knowledge.  White lived about five miles from my house.  Deceased came to my house during the above four months once, and then in company with White.  This visit took place about seven days before deceased met her death.  I never had any quarrel with White respecting deceased.  My house is about three quarters of a mile from a house called Maurice Kelly's.  On Sunday, the 11th, White came to my house.  He was drunk.  He went out to drink with some others, and I shut him out.  He then took a spade and threatened to break open my door, the men outside preventing him.  He threatened me at the window outside, saying that he would be revenged - he would have my life and hers too.  Saw him on the following morning, passing my house; he wished me good morning.  I never saw him again until the above Tuesday evening.  I never visited deceased at her own house.

   Robert Curtis deposed - I am a surgeon practising in Auckland.  I have examined the body of deceased externally.  I found a wound on the left side of the neck, about five inches in length, separating the whole of the vessels and muscles on that side, and separating even the bones of the neck.  That would have caused instant death.

   I believe this wound to have been inflicted with a sharp heavy weapon.  The axe now produced might have inflicted such a wound.  I also found an extensive wound on the left leg, above the knee, separating the integements and muscles, and fracturing the bone of the thigh.

   Ann Scott having been sworn, deposed: I am housekeeper to William Harris, the first witness.  Have known the deceased about four months; saw her alive on Tuesday last, for the last time, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon; White came down to Harris's house at 4 o'clock and asked for the deceased; Harris and his son were with him; deceased and I were together in a bed-room when White came into the house.  I came out of the bed-room and went into the kitchen.  White asked where Ann was, as he wanted to speak to her; I called deceased; she came out, and stood by the door; he was sitting by the front door with an axe in his hand; he asked deceased if she would go back with him to Maurice Kelly's and live there; she said she would not; she would not leave Mr. Harris's house until she went to town, as she did not consider her life safe with him; that as soon as she was ready she would go in the boat.  White made no answer to this but asked Harris for the tobacco; they both rose from their seats; Harris went to get the tobacco, and White made a blow at the deceased with the axe.  First he made one blow but I was so frightened I could not say where he struck her; she reeled, and fell into the bed-room.  He struck her a second time; I went into the bed-room to try to save her.  I could not tell if he gave her a third blow.  White then swung the axe round, and said, It's your turn now.  I did not know whether he meant this remark for me or not.  Harris was in the act of running out of the front door, when White followed him, with the axe in his hand.  I did not see White strike Harris as I stayed to put my hand on deceased to see of she was dead.  I then tried to run after Harris, but fell on the grass in a faint.  When I recovered I tried to call assistance from another house but could not make myself heard.  I heard a noise and went towards the place I thought it came from.  I found Harris lying on the ground, with White and him struggling for the axe; I heard White say "No, if you will let me up."  White let go the axe, and Harris got up.  As soon as he was up, White said "Now you go that way, and I'll go this way," and then he went away.  When I put my hand on deceased I found her dead.

   Henry Thomas Burns sworn, deposed.  I am a fencer for W. Harris, the first witness.  I live in his house; have done so for five weeks.  I have known the deceased for about two months.  Saw her last alive, at one o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday last.  On Saturday last White came down to Harris's house, about 10 o'clock in the morning and said to Harris "Brummy, you have taken my woman."  Harris said "No I have not, she has come to me for protection."  White then asked Harris if he would allow deceased to come out and speak to him.  Harris told the deceased she could speak to White if she chose.  Deceased came from the bed-room into the kitchen, leaning her arm against the dresser.  White asked her if she would come home; she said no, she would remain where she was; she would get married to Brummy; he would make her a good husband, and she would make a good wife.  White rose and was going round the table, when Harris took deceased by the arm, and locked her in.  Harris then turned round and told White that he wanted no more row in his house, that if he would come down on Monday morning, he would fight him, for if she was not worth fighting for she was not worth having.  White said he would not fight for her then, but that he would at some future period.  Harris said he did not mind; he should be prepared.  Harris then opened the bed-room door, when deceased came out and said to White "If you don't leave me alone, I will give you 12 years as round as a robin; your life is in my hands."  Deceased then re-entered the bed-room, and locked herself in. 

   After this White remained half an hour and on going he said to Harris "Brummy, you have taken away my woman, and you will be sorry for it."  On Sunday morning last, deceased asked me to go to White and tell him to leave her alone, as he was the occasion of her husband's death, and that, if he did not, she would swear her life against him.  I went to White and told him what she had said.  He said that she could not hurt him, as there were two other men in the canoe, when her husband was drowned.  I then went home and informed her that I had told White, what she had said.  In about an hour after, White came to the house.  I was in the bed-room shaving.  Harris was in the kitchen.  I heard White ask Harris if he would drink, Harris said "don't ask me to drink, and cut my throat at the same time."  White said "there was no fear of that," and then went away. 

   Some unsatisfactory cross-examination followed, it having been instituted by a juryman with the object of ascertaining what relations existed between Harris and the woman Fay.

   The accused, who is a ruffianly looking fellow, and having the appearance of possessing great physical strength, preserved, throughout the examination, a dogged aspect, seemingly in no way affected by what was elicited against him in evidence.  On the usual opportunity being afforded him, at the close of the examination of each witness, to put questions upon the evidence, he either contented himself with a general denial of what had been deposed, or put questions of an unimportant character.

   The Coroner having summed up, the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against John White.  He was then committed upon the coroner's warrant to stand his trial at the next criminal session.



To the Editor of the "Lyttlelton Times."

[See 3 May.]

SIR, - I am much surprised to find, on my return after a short absence from home, that no public enquiry has been instituted about the human remains found on the banks of the Waimakiriri, although the notice taken by you of my letter on the subject must have brought the affair to the notice of the authorities.  ...  J. W. Kaiapoi, May 19.



INQUEST. - An inquest was held at the Taranaki Hotel on Saturday last on the body of Mr. Skinner's child, whose death by drowning we announced last week.  No evidence of the manner in which the child came into the water was produced.

   The body was first observed by Mr. Porter, who appeared to have had some dread of a legal implication in the catastrophe should he have removed it.  It is quite necessary that so erroneous a conception should be removed; and the Jury very properly remarked upon it in their verdict, expressing surprise that "in such an exigency so much time should have been permitted to elapse before the body was taken out of the water."

   An important addenda was also added to the verdict, representing to the authorities the dangerous state of the spot where the accident occurred; and generally calling attention to the unguarded state of the sides of the rivers in the immediate neighbourhood of the town.





Wilful Murder.

John White was indicted for having, on the 10th day of May last, feloniously wilfully, and maliciously murdered one Ann Fay, by striking her on the neck with an axe.

   The prisoner pleaded not guilty.

   The following Jury was then empannelled:- John Jones, Thomas Jones, Charles Joslin, John Lander, Thomas James Jaggar, John Jackson, Edward Irvine, Thomas Jeffrey, Edward Lambert, John Jeffrey, Thos. Jones, Alfred Jones (foreman).


... he called the first witness, William Harris.

   From the statement of this witness, made at the commencement of his examination, it appeared that the murder took place on the 13th, instead of the 10th, as stated in the indictment.  This involved considerable delay, it being, in the absence of proper authorities, a matter of uncertainty what should be the course to pursue under such circumstances.

   Ultimately, to remove all doubt, a new indictment was prepared, and sent in to the Grand Jury, who almost immediately found upon it a true bill.  The prisoner was then arraigned upon the new indictment, and the same jury re-empannelled.


During the evidence of the first witness, Harris, the axe by which the deed was perpetrated was brought into court for identification, and was then carelessly placed near the prisoner.  It is believed that he was about to grasp it, and add, perhaps, another to his list of crimes, when the foreman of the jury calked the attention of the court to the circumstance, and the deadly weapon was timeously removed.


On the prisoner being asked whether he had anything to say to the Jury, he said that he had two witnesses, John Cooper and Charles Brown.  On being called, however, they did not appear.  He then made the following statement:-

   When I went down to Harris's that day, I went in with Harris, and we both sat down.  I asked for the woman.  She said, if I dared to touch her or William, William would blow my brains out, - that he had a pair of pistols in the house - and that I must be a darned scoundrel to come in when I knew they were there.  [Long story completely at variance with the evidence; "He then went into a rambling narration ..."

   His Honor having summed up, the Jury retired, and after an absence of about ten minutes, returned to Court with a verdict of Guilty.

   The Judge having assumed the black cap, proclamation was made, and the prisoner asked if he had anything to say why the sentence of the court should not be passed upon him.

   The Prisoner (with the utmost sang froid.) No; nothing particular.

   His Honor then addressed the prisoner to the following effect. - John White, you have been arraigned for the wilful murder of Ann Fay.  To this indictment you have pleaded not guilty, and have thrown yourself upon God and your country.  After a fair trial, you have been found guilty.

   (Prisoner, - I never committed the deed.)

In that verdict I fully concur; the evidence could lead to no other.

   (Prisoner, - The evidence is clear enough, but I never did it.)

A more brutal and unfeeling murder, it has rarely been my lot to sit in judgment upon.  The unfortunate deceased had been living with you; she entertained a fondness for you, and you, perhaps, for her.  Without warning or preparation, and without provocation, you have deprived her of life.

   (Prisoner, coarsely, I am about to be deprived of mine for nothing at all.)

You had evidently formed your murderous intention on the Friday previously; the expressions you are proved to have made use of, all shew your previous determination, and shew that you were alike reckless of all consequences, and regardless of all moral feeling.  You waited till Tuesday before you committed the murderous deed; and you did so, not upon sudden provocation, but after an interval of some days, during which you had time for deliberation.  You are not an individual for the leniency either of Judge or Jury.  Your conduct shews that you are not a fit person to be allowed to go at large.  Whether this is the first murder you have committed, you yourself best know.  The expressions you have used, such as that you might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, leave grounds to think that you have committed murder, on a previous occasion.

   (The prisoner kept up a constant assertion of denial.)

And there is reason to believe that, when you heard of the woman Fay going to town, you were afraid that she was about ton give evidence against you on a charge of a similar character.  You best know whether it is so or not.

   (Prisoner, - I never did.)

At all events, this will be your last offence.

   (Prisoner, - I hope you'll give me a week or two to pray for my soul; that's all I want.)

You showed no indulgence to the unfortunate woman.  You sent her out of the world with many sins, it may be unrepented for.  You destroyed her body, and, possibly, her soul.

   (Prisoner, - I know nothing about the murder.)

But you will no longer be permitted to revel in blood.  In history, it has too often happened that when a criminal has escaped for one offence, he has soon embroiled his hands in another.  In some cases, ten to twenty crimes have been known to be committed, in consequence of the first having been overlooked. You will not have an opportunity of adding crime upon c rime.

   (The prisoner, after repeated interruptions, was here permitted to say that, when at the attack upon Ruapekapeka, he had shot a native woman through the head on a Sunday.  This had weighed upon his mind, and it was upon his allusion to it in the presence of the woman, that the story had been raised.)

The safety of the community requires that you should not be permitted to go at large.

   (Prisoner, boisterously - All that I want is a week or two to prepare.  I am quite willing to die, but I did not commit the crime.)

   It now only remains for me to pass upon you the last awful sentence of the law,

   (Prisoner, coolly - Well, I can't help it.)

That you be taken hence to the place from which you came, thence, at such time ads his Excellency, under the advice of his Executive Council, may appoint, to be conveyed to the place of execution, and there be hanged by the neck till you be dead.  And may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.

   Prisoner, - Amen, my Lord, but I never did the deed.

The prisoner, who conducted himself throughout with the most consummate hardihood and effrontery, was then removed.



Another letter re the human remains at Waimakiriri, from THE CORONER.



DEAD BODY FOUND. - Intelligence reached town on Tuesday that some Natives in the Coromandel district had found on the beach the body of a European, and had kept it for some time in hopes of a reward.  The belief was that it was the remains of Mr. Commons who, it will be remembered, was drowned some months ago in that locality.  We are not yet aware whether steps will be taken to hold an inquest upon the body, but believe that, in the absence of any means of identification, consequent on the condition of the remains, such a course would be productive of no satisfactory results.



News of White. No date of execution yet announced.



FATAL ACCIDENT. - On Thursday night James Taylor, an old soldier, (upwards of twenty years in the service) and lately attached to the Commissariat department of the Garrison in New Plymouth, unhappily met his death from stumbling in running down from the Barracks to the Sergeants' Mess.  On reaching a cutting near the bottom of the hill his feet slipped from under him, his neck coming in contact with the edge of the bank with such violence as to dislocate his neck and cause instantaneous death.  An inquest was held on the body yesterday by Dr. Wilson, the Coroner, and a verdict of accidental death returned, accompanied with a recommendation that some steps should be taken to guard the spot and prevent future accidents.  The deceased was much respected by his superiors and comrades.



DISCOVERY OF THE BODY OF A CHILD. - The following letter has been sent to the local press by Captain Lewis, Harbour Master, Manukau: - "I beg to state for the information of the public, that on the 10th June, while travelling along the West Coast in search of a buoy that parted from its mooring in March last, I saw a coffin, at highwater mark, about 4 feet in length.  I opened the coffin, and found within a child about three or four years old, wrapped in a dark frock and blanket, and covered over with wadding.  I nailed the coffin again, and took it above high water mark on the side of a sand-bank, where we dug a grave with out hands and covered it up.  I should think from appearance that the coffin had been in the water some length of time."


Update on White.  "Although, on his trial, he denied the commission of the crime, he has since admitted his guilt to Mr. Beckham, as Visiting Justice - declaring, however, that the act was not premeditated, but perpetrated on the impulse of the moment.  On the same occasion he solemnly denied that he had any participation in the fate of the unfortunate woman's husband, or that the occurrence by which he met his death was otherwise than accidental.


THE LATE JOHN COMMONS. - We referred in our last to the fact that the Sergeant Major and two of the police had gone down to Coromandel for the purpose of brining up a body found by the natives, and which was supposed to be that of the unfortunate Mr. Commons, who was, some time ago, drowned on the coat.  The police, after a most tempestuous voyage, returned on Wednesday morning at day-break, having the body in their possession, for which the Natives demanded 10 Pounds, and accompanied by one of the tribe by whom it was discovered.

   The case being one which did not properly come within the jurisdiction of the Cromer, a magisterial inquiry on the remains was held yesterday morning.  The witnesses were William Miller, Alexander Dingwall, and Hammer, an aboriginal.  The evidence of Mr. Miller was to the effect that he recognised the body to be that of Mr. Commons from a peculiarity in the shape of the skull, and from the fact that the boots were those he made for the deceased before his departure from Auckland.  The evidence of the second witness was to a similar effect.  Hammer deposed that he and others found the body, while searching for it, at a place called Tuki-Tuki, on the mainland.  He knew Commons before he was drowned, and recognised the body when it was found.  There being no doubt, therefore, as the identity of the remains, they were given up to the relatives of deceased, by whom they will be interred this day.



An inquest was held at the Hutt, on the 9th of June, on the body of a man named William Leckie, who, in a fit of delirium tremens, left his bed on a freezing cold night, without clothing, and appears to have wandered about until he fell down and died from exhaustion and exposure to the cold.




FEARFULLY SUDDEN DEATH. - On Wednesday, at the Court-house, Onehunga, an inquest was held by H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of one John Nolan, a pensioner.  From the evidence, it appeared that the deceased, on the previous day, between 11 and 12 in the forenoon, had been giving evidence in some case for adjudication by the bench, and had just concluded, when he was observed to place his hand on his heart, and heard, by those near him, to give utterance to the ejaculation, oh!  The next instant he fell to the ground.  Dt. Mahon, who happened to be present in his magisterial capacity, found, on examination, that the spark of life had instantly been extinguished.  The jury returned a general verdict - "Died from natural causes."  There is little doubt, however, that the cause of death was disease of the heart.  The deceased, we understand, was about 50 years of age, and a man of steady habits.



CORONER'S INQUEST. - On Monday last, an inquest was held at the Golden Fleece Hotel, Christchurch, before the coroner, Wm. Donald, Esq., on the body of William Workman, commonly called "Cranky Bill," who was found dead near Mr. Matson's out-station.  Mr. George H. Parlby deposed that he last saw deceased at his house, Lake's station, on Tuesday week last.  He had come, he told him, from Lyttelton, where he had been drinking hard, and had had a fit of delirium tremens at Christchurch.  He staid till the night of Wednesday, when he went away before any of the family were up.  It was a very inclement day, raining and snowing.  He never saw him again alive.  Peter Thoumaine, shepherd to Mr. Matson, found deceased on the Saturday morning, about a mile from his house.  He was quite dead.  The jury returned a verdict that the deceased died from the effects of cold and exposure, having strayed away whilst labouring under a fir of delirium tremens.

   The above was the result of the inquest on the body; but we have since heard, on good authority, that Workman has been seen at Timaru, alive and well; and that the body found has been recognised as that of a seaman of the 'Caroline Agnes,' who was for some time in the gaol for desertion.  There is a remarkable similarity between the two persons.



AWFULLY SUDDEN DEATH. - On Sunday morning, at half past 8, a private in the 58th, named Stephen Chandler, expired suddenly under the following circumstances.  Two days previously he had been admitted into the Military Hospital, but his complaint not being, apparently, a serious one, he was discharged, at his own request, after being one day under the care of the medical officers.  He was employed as cook's assistant, and, on the morning of the sad occurrence, was engaged in raising a bucket of water from the well.  Having placed it on the ground he remarked to some bystanders that he felt a pain in his side.  He proceeded to the barrack-room, and had just entered, when he fell, apparently dead, against another man in the apartment.  He was instantaneously conveyed to the Hospital, but lived no longer than his arrival.  A "post mortem" examination was made, the same day, upon the remains.  The cause of death, supposed at first, to be disease of the heart, was pronounced to be Aneurism, resulting in rupture, of a blood vessel in the abdomen.

THE LATE CASE OF BURNING. - The woman Chapman [Chaplin], who was so severely injured by her clothes having been in a state of ignition - the circumstances connected with which we recorded at the time - expired on Saturday afternoon at 4 o'clock.  It will be recollected that, immediately after the occurrence, she was conveyed to the Provincial Hospital, where she remained in a truly dreadful condition - dreadful to herself and to all around - till death - we might almost say happily - put an end to her sufferings.  The patient was frequently visited by the Rev. Mr. Lloyd, who, till within fifteen minutes of her decease, was engaged in prayer by the sick-bed.  An inquest will be held on the remains, at the Hospital, this forenoon at 12 o'clock.

MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT - LOSS OF TWO LIVES. - An inquest was held yesterday, at the Royal Hotel, Howick, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the bodies of two lads, named respectively Thomas Hoyes and James Organs, who were drowned on the previous day, under the following circumstances.

   The lads had left their homes on Saturday morning, and had been missing during the day.  About three o'clock, alarm began to be felt, and about nine o'clock in the evening, two men, named Thomas Finch and William Cunningham, discovered the body of Hoyes, lying on Howick beach, with life quite extinct.  A dingy was also found, with the clothes of the other lad in the bottom.  The search for his body was conducted by his father throughout Saturday afternoon and the following day, without effect.  On Monday morning, however, about 10 o'clock, his search was successful.  He found the body, quite nude, between two cliffs on the beach, and carried it nearly a mile to the nearest residence.  He knew that his boy would bathe with the other boys, and believed that his death was accidental.  The jury returned a verdict of "found drowned."



CHILD BURNED TO DEATH. WARNING TO MOTHERS. - On Wednesday, at the Royal Hotel, Onehunga, an inquest was held before H. J. Andrews, Esq., Coroner, and a Jury, on the body of Mary Ann Ockrim, aged 7 years.  The first evidence was that of William Sheldrake, a boatman, who deposed that, about 12 miles from Onehunga, on Monday last, he was at the house of Mrs. Cooley, about 12 miles from Onehunga, when he saw deceased, on fire, running from her mother's house to that of Mrs. Cooley.  He extinguished the fire by means of throwing a gunny bag over her, and then conveyed her to Mrs. Cooley's.  Catherine Ockrim, the mother of deceased, deposed to having left the house for the purpose of borrowing some sugar at a house half a mile off.  She left the deceased and her brother, who was three years younger, within the house, in which at the time there was neither fire, matches, nor candles.  On her way home, a boy told her that her child was burned to death.  She ran to Cooley's, and saw the child alive.  Between six and s even took her in a boat to Onehunga, but she died before reaching there.

   On going home, the little boy said that his sister had drawn together the ashes, and had applied a piece of rapo, from which a spark fell on her clothes and ignited them.  Witness, in reply to a question, could not say whether any one called at the house when she was absent.  The boy alluded to, being of such tender years, the Jury decided that he could not be sworn as evidence.  William Horn deposed to having assisted in conveying the deceased to town, and to her death on the voyage.  The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally burnt."




An inquest was held in the Provincial Hospital, on Tuesday last, before the Coroner and a Jury, upon the body of Catherine Chaplin.  We subjoin the evidence in full, as the case is one which has excited an unusual degree of interest.

   John Sinclair, deposed - I am a labourer, residing in Chancery Street.  I knew the deceased and her husband about two years, having lived next door to them during that time.  On Thursday, the 10th inst., at 7 o'clock, I went to bed.  About half-past 8, I heard some one moaning in Chaplin's house.  My wife said, "I smell some burnt rags; get up."  I got up, and looked through a crevice in the partition.  I saw a dim light burning in the kitchen of the deceased; and found that smoke was coming through.  I then went to Mr. Bacon's, and gave the alarm.  He and others burst open the door of Chaplin's house.  I went to bed again.

   William Bacon, deposed - I am an innkeeper, residing in Chancery Street.  I have known the deceased and her husband about ten years.  On Thursday, the 10th inst., about 9 o'clock, my daughter came and told me that Chaplin's house was on fire.  I went to the door of the house immediately, where I found several people outside.  We could see smoke issuing from different crevices of the house.  I called several times to Chaplin, but got no answer.  I then said, burst the door open.  The first room we entered was so full of smoke that we could see nothing.  A light was brought.  I then went with the light into an inner room, and saw deceased lying on the floor, burning.  There was no fire in the room, and her husband was sitting on the bed, his two hands on his knees, and the deceased just at his feet, burning.  He was not attempting to render assistance.  I reprimanded him severely for offering no assistance, shoved him off the bed, and took the blankets for the purpose of extinguishing the flames.  After the flame was extinguished, a person named Bond and myself stripped the clothes off the woman.  She was quite insensible.  When we came to the stays, they would not tear.  I asked for a knife, and Chaplin coolly pulled one out of his pocket, and said, There's my knife, but it won't cut much.

   After stripping the deceased, we put her on the bed; in lifting her up, the flesh peeled off with the clothes.  I sent for Dr. Stratford; he came and dressed the sores.  I left her in the hands of the doctor and a woman named Mrs. Finney.  A candlestick, with a candle partly burnt down, but not then lighted, was on the floor, about w foot from the deceased.  The burning of the deceased was of a shouldering kind; not much of a flame.  I had been home about 10 minutes, when Chaplin came past the door.  I said to him, you scoundrel, you have burnt your wife to death; I'll have you put in chokey.  He immediately ran round the corner, quite nimbly, and was out of sight in an instant.

   By Jurymen: - I believe that Chaplin had been drinking, but he was not drunk.  From my knowledge of his habits, I feel satisfied that he was as able to put the fire out as I was, had he chosen to do so.  When we went in, he was as wide awake as I was.  Occasionally, the deceased drank hard.  The candlestick was standing up; it was at the feet of deceased.  The deceased did not smoke - the husband did.  The burning was about the chest and belly.  I saw no pipe nor matches.

   The Coroner paid a high compliment to Mr. Bacon, for the coolness and humanity he displayed on the occasion.

   George Chaplin, deposed - I was husband to the deceased.  On Thursday, the 10th instant, after dark, I sat down on a box at the end of the table in the front room.  I leaned my head on my hand, and went to sleep.  I have nothing much more to say.  I was awoke by a noise.  I roused up, and that's all I know about it.  I believe I ran into the bed-room, and I think - I am not certain, I was so stupid - that I saw my wife on fire.  I can't say where she was lying.  God in Heaven knows what I did.  I don't.  In the morning I found myself partly in and partly pout of Mr. Makepeace's stable.

   By a Juryman: - When I went in on the evening of the 10th, there was a candle burning in the room, on the table.

   Thomas Francis McGauran, deposed - I am Surgeon to the Provincial Hospital.  I have attended the deceased since Friday morning. She was suffering from the effects of an extensive burn.  She was then sinking, and died on Saturday afternoon at ¼ past 4.  The parts chiefly burnt were the chest, abdomen, and arms.  Before her death, when she was perfectly sensible, she told me that her husband, George Chaplin, had taken her off the bed, and placed her on the floor, set fire to her clothes about the body, and then sat down on the bed, and watched her burning.  In reply to a question I put, she said she had been drinking at the time she was burnt.  I asked her why her lower garments had not been much n=burnt, she said that the candle had been applied to her body.  She made this statement in the presence of William McGuire, the nurse, and Mrs. Hotterway, matron.  I did not tell her that she was in a dying state.

   William McGuire, deposed - I am head nurse at this hospital.  I heard the evidence of Dr. McGauran, relative to the statement made by deceased, and corroborate the same.  Shortly after the statement was made, she told me she felt she was dying, and would not live the day out.

   Ann Sinclair, deposed - I am wife to the first witness.  On the evening of the 10th instant, - about half an hour before the burning took place - I was speaking to Mrs. Chaplin, at her own door.  She was then very much intoxicated, and so was her husband, who was then inside, sitting on a box.  She wished me good night, and said she was going to bed.  There was no candle or light in the house.  I had seen the husband during the day, quite tipsy.  My husband and I then went to bed.  In about half an hour, the partition having several holes in it, we saw a light in the back room of Chaplin's house.  From the shadow, I judged that Mrs. Chaplin was carrying the candle.  There was then a noise as if she had put the candle on the floor.  I then heard some one fall; and, about ten minutes after, I heard a dismal groaning.  Smoke then began to come through, and I said to my husband, I think Chaplin's house is on fire.  He then got up, looked through the partition, and said, There's something burning.  He then went and gave the alarm.\

   By a Juryman: - When they were drinking, they were always quarrelling and fighting.  Before my husband looked through, I heard Chaplin say, Come to me, and, afterwards, Water, water.  There was no quarrelling that evening.

   The Coroner having summed up, the Jury retired to consider their verdict, and, after a deliberation of some length, returned a verdict of "Accidental death," with a rider that they strongly condemned the conduct of the husband of deceased.

   The Coroner communicated the verdict to Chaplin, and gave him a severe reprimand for the manner in which he had conducted himself towards his wife,


TARANAKI HERALD, 23 August 1856


On Wednesday last, a fatal accident occurred at the Waiwakaiho, by which Mrs. Jane Jones, the wife of Mr. James Jones of the Hutt, lost her life.  An inquest was held at the Colonial Hospital on the following day, when the following facts transpired:-

   Mathew Jenkins Jones deposed, that he was driving a cart belonging to Lieutenant Jones in which were the deceased and Lieut. Jones through the river, and that when he got about half way across, Thomas Hamblyn, who was on the north side of the river, called to him to whip the bullocks further up the stream, but that the animals would not face the fresh and became restless and unmanageable, and took the cart into deep water, and witness sprang from the cart to the bank thinking he would have more command of them, when before he could turn round, the cart had upset, and the bullocks had freed themselves from nit.  Saw Lieut. Jones and Mrs. Jones in the water, he (Lieut. Jones) was struggling to grasp the deceased, whose clothes were visible for a moment, and then she disappeared.  Witness did not see her again until she was taken out by the Maories.  She was then quite dead.  Could not account for the cut on the eye-brow.

   Lieutenant Henry Jones deposed as follows - On reaching the river I considered it too high to attempt to cross, and left the cart and called for the boat.  We were informed that the boat was adrift.  After waiting half an hour the river fell from six to eight inches, and the deceased thought they they might cross safely.  The witness then detailed the accident much as the previous witness, and said - Both the deceased and myself rolled to one side of the cart, which upset on the top of us.  It struck men on the leg, and I think the pin struck deceased on the eye.  Had hold of her shawl, but the pin gave way and it was left in my hand.  I scarcely knew how I got to land; sickness and exertion had overcome me.  Mr. D. Bishop was the first person who came to my assistance.  He used every exertion to induce the natives to go after deceased, but they declined.

   The evidence of the previous waitresses was confirmed by Thomas Hamblyn, and the Jury returned a verdict of Accidentally drowned.

   The Jury, in returning their verdict, adverted to the circumstance that the ferry-boat was not obtainable, and attributed it to the carelessness of the ferryman; and concurring that had the boat been in its place the death of Mrs. Jones would not, in all probability, have occurred, as both she and Lieut. Jones fully intended to avail themselves of it.; Would suggest that His Honor the Superintendent make inquiry into the matter, and have the ferry so arranged that similar accidents may not henceforward be so likely to occur. [See also letter, 13 September, from Superintendent re ferry and ferryman; also mentions the case of William Skinner - no response after 4 months from the Town Commissioners.]


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 9 September 1856

INQUEST. - On Saturday last, an inquest was held at the 'Gibraltar Rock,' West Queen Street, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., Coroner, and a Jury, upon the body of Edmund George Montgomery, a child 21 months old.  From the evidence, it appeared that on the morning of the preceding day, at Lucas' Creek, 12 miles from Auckland, the child's uncle, John Pilkington, was proceeding, in company with some others, up the creek in a boat, when one of the boatmen saw the body of the child floating in the water.  It was immediately taken out, and every effort used with the view of resuscitation, but without avail.  Dr. Lee having testified to there being no external marks of violence on the body, the Jury returned a verdict of found drowned.


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 16 September 1856

MAN DROWNED. - On Saturday night, between 8 and 9 o'clock a seafaring man, who has long been known in Auckland by the soubriquet of "Nobbler," but whose name was Peter Roberts, met his death by drowning.  It is supposed that he was in the act of stepping from the rigging of the schooner Elizabeth on to the wharf, when, missing his footing, his head came in contact with the wharf, and he fell into the water.  Several persons were immediately on the spot, but nothing could be seen but the cap of the deceased.  Next morning, at low water, the body was recovered by a boatman named Ford, who used his boat-hook for the purpose (no drags being in the city).  Yesterday morning an inquest was held at the Crown and Anchor, and these facts deposed to.  Dr. Lee also gave evidence as to the cause of death, and the jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally drowned."  The deceased had only, on this occasion, been a few days in town, having arrived as passenger by the 'Swan,' from the East Coast.

ANOTHER SUDDEN DEATH. - Yesterday morning, at the Greyhound Inn, an inquest was held, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., and a jury, upon the body of Isabella Scott, who had died suddenly in the afternoon of Sunday.  She had been asleep, and on her daughter being sent up by her husband to wake her, she was found to be dead.  The evidence showed deceased to be a person of intemperate habits, and the jury returned a verdict of "came to her death from excessive indulgence in drinking ardent spirits."


OTAGO WITNESS, 11 October 1856

CORONER'S INQUEST. - An inquest was held at Dunedin on the 9th inst., on the body of Richard Lloyd Long, a settler who arrived from Melbourne and settled in Otago about twelve months since.  From the evidence adduced, it appears the deceased was last seen alive on the 6th inst.  On the morning of that day he was returning from the Taiero, where he had been assisting in taking cattle to the South.  For some time he rode on a dray which was coming to Dunedin, but he subsequently mounted his horse, and rode towards town.  On the following morning the body was found in a creek by Mr. Boyd about a mile from his residence.  Mt. Boyd's attention was attracted to the spot by seeing a horse with a saddle and bridle, but without a rider.  After a short search the body was discovered with the face downwards in about three feet of water, the creek not being about four or five feet wide.  The deceased's watch and some other property were found upon him, and from the medical evidence after a post mortem examination, it appeared that there were no marks of violence on the body, but that death had ensued from drowning or suffocation.  The jury returned a verdict of "Found Drowned," but how or by what means there was no evidence to show.


TARANAKI HERALD, 11 October 1856


(From the 'Whanganui Chronicle,' Oct. 2)

ACCIDENTAL DEATH. - On the 25th inst., an in quest was held upon the body of William Day, aged 19, who accidentally met his death while proceeding to Turakina in charge of a bullock dray the property of Mr. Holder, in whose employ he had been engaged; it appears the deceased attempted to leap upon the pole while the dray was in motion, and missed it - fell beneath one of the wheels, which passed over his head causing almost immediate death.  The Coroner Dr. Rees remarked upon the dangerous practice of attempting such feats upon vehicles of this description, and expressed a hope that it would be a warning to others to be careful in avoiding such a heedless risk.


OTAGO WITNESS, 25 October 1856

SUPPOSED MURDER. - Considerable sensation was produced in the Town of Dunedin during the week by the report that a murder had been committed at the native village at the Otago heads.  Ads far as we can learn, the facts of the case would appear to be as follows:-

   A native chief, whose anglicised name is Jacky White, had a dispute with his son, a young man of about 24 years of age.  The dispute arose about a horse, which the son alleged the father had given him.  Jacky White became enraged at his son and threatened to kill him, but was for a time restrained.  The deceased endeavoured to get away, and in doing so was climbing over a fence, when Jacky White struck him repeatedly ion the head with a stick, causing him to fall, it is said, with his head on a broken iron pot.  The deceased never rose again, but after a few convulsive movements of the limbs, expired.  The Resident Magistrate, attended by the Chief Constable, went on Tuesday to the scene of the occurrence and returned with the criminal in custody.  A post mortem examination of the body has been made by Dr. Hulme of the "Strathmore," but no inquest was held in consequence of the absence of the coroner, who had a few days previously started for the North.  The case would have been proceeded with yesterday but owing to the illness of Mr. D. Scott, no duly qualified interpreter could be obtained in Dunedin, and the examination has been postponed until the arrival of Mr. Hertslet from Moeraki.  The deceased has left a wife and 3 or 4 children.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 29 October 1856


DEATH BY DROWNING. - We are informed from Kaiapoi that a little girl, the daughter of Mr. Wm. Parnum [Parnham], was drowned in a creek in that neighbourhood, on Saturday evening last.  The body has been found, and the inquest takes place this day.  We are not in possession of any further particulars.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 1 November 1856

KAIAPOI. - The inquest on the body of the girl Parnham, who was drowned last week, was held on Wednesday.  She had wandered from home, and had fallen into the creek by a simple accident.  The verdict was given accordingly.       


OTAGO WITNESS, 1 November 1856

FATAL ACCIDENT. - It is our painful duty to record a fatal accident which occurred in the neighbourhood of Goodwood during the past week, by which the wife of Mr. Lewis Cameron, who arrived in this colony by the "Philip Laing," lost her life.  From the information which has reached us, it seems that the unfortunate woman was burning off rubbish in her husband's garden; the fire communicated itself to the fence, which was composed of logs; Mrs. Cameron endeavoured to extinguish the fire by stamping upon it, when unfortunately the flames caught her clothes.  There was no assistance at hand.  The deceased appears to have run to the house, but the wind being extremely strong, blowing a perfect gale, she was so seriously burned that death ensued in two or three hours.  She was perfectly conscious to the last.  The body presented a frightful spectacle, the whole of the flesh of the lower limbs, and from the hands to the elbows, being entirely charred, and consumed to the bone.  Mr. Cameron was at work in the bush at a distance from home at the time of the melancholy accident, which has left him a widower with a family of five young children.


Dr. Williams, the coroner, having returned from the North, the body of Charley White, a native,  whose death is alleged to have been caused by a blow from his father, Jackey White, was exhumed, brought to Dunedin, and an inquest held upon it.  The enquiry proceeds but slowly, in consequence of the greater part of the witnesses being natives, whose evidence has to be translated.  The jury have sat three days, and the case has been adjourned until this day for the purpose of procuring further evidence,

   We are not at liberty to give the evidence before the conclusion of the enquiry; but we may say that from the testimony of Dr. Hulme, there can be little doubt that death was caused by the infliction of a wound on the left side of the throat by some blunt instrument such as a stick.

   The only other European witness testifies to a blow having been given by Jackey White; but the natives are to all appearances endeavouring to screen the culprit from the vengeance of the law, and ascribe the death of Charley White to accident, affirming that he fell over a fence on a broken iron pot.  As far as we can judge of such matters, the natives, although they ready enough take the oath administered to them, have no appreciation of its sanctity; and consequently, should the prisoner be committed for trial, the case will be one of great difficulty.


DAILY SOUTHERN  CROSS, 4 November 1856

SUDDEN DEATH. MELANCHOLY EVENT. - It is not without pain that we record the melancholy end of Mr. James Carter, long and favourably known in this city while employed as messenger to the Union Bank of Australia.  The deceased and his brother John had been at the polling station, Matakana, on Tuesday last, and at 4 p.m., left in a dingy on their return home.  On their way they crossed the river to Watt's store, and had some spirits.  It was dusk before they finally started; John Carter managed the boat, and, after being some time afloat, found that he had lost his way.  During this time the deceased was in the stern sheets.  Finally, about midnight, John found the boat to be opposite Mr. McKay's place, where he landed, and which he reached in a very exhausted condition.  He had then no idea that anything serious was the matter with his brother, but asked assistance to help him out of the boat.  On getting down, the deceased was found in the bottom of the boat, partly in water, and quite dead.  Every means was adopted by Mr. McKay to restore animation, but without effect.  The body, indeed, was stiff and cold, and there was reason to think that life had been extinct for some hours.  The necessary depositions were taken on the spot, and the body interred.  The deceased leaves a wife and family to lament his loss.

DEATH BY DROWNING. - An inquest was held on Saturday, at the William Denny Hotel, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of Robert Horne, a ship-builder, who met his death under the following circumstances.  The deceased, who had been engaged at Mahurango in the building of a vessel for Mr. Duke, was at the polling place, Brown's Mill, on the morning of Tuesday last.  In course of the day he left, in a boat, to return, there being two others with him - Mr. Stewart, printer, and a young man whose name did not transpire.  On leaving, a sail was hoisted and the deceased sat in the gunwhale, steering with an oar.  When they had proceeded about a mile, a gust of wind laid the boat over, and deceased fell into the water.  Mr. Stewart turned round at the instant, just in time to see the boots of Horne above water before he went down altogether.  The body did not again come up, and is supposed to have been kept down by the muddy bottom.  The body was ultimately recovered by Michael Munro, a bootmaker, who proceeded up the river, for that purpose, on the following morning.  He took a grapnel, but, that he might not disfigure the body, he only used fish hooks, with which after a search of seven hours, he was successful.  He then washed the body that the shock to the wife of deceased might, if possible, be lessened.  The jury returned a verdict of accidentally drowned.



DREADFUL AND FATAL ACCIDENT. - Yesterday forenoon Mr. Robert Gillingham, of Mechanics' Bay, met his death under very dreadful circumstances. As, in the course of the day, an inquest was held at the Masonic Hotel, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., Coroner, and a jury, upon the body, we give the evidence of Mr. Samuel Bariball, who was an eye-witness of the lamentable occurrence, as best embodying the particulars:-

   "I had known deceased four or five years.  I saw him last alive about ¼ to 10 o'clock this morning, and he then appeared ion goof health.  About this hour I was in Princes-street.  I saw deceased running by the side of two horses, attached to a dray loaded with firewood, coming down Princes-street.  The shaft horse was galloping, and the deceased, holding the reins attached to the leader, was trying to check the horses.  Whilst watching him it seemed to me that he either fell down or was knocked down by the horses.  I then think I saw the shaft horse step on deceased, and, as he was on the ground, the right wheel of the cart passed over his body.

   The horses still ran on with the cart, and one of them, the shaft horse burst through the palings surrounding St. Paul's Church ground, at the bottom of Princes-street.  A number of people surrounded deceased.  Dr. Prendergast was sent for and came immediately.  He sent for brandy, but gave none, as he pronounced deceased to be dead.

   When I first saw the horses, they were running fast down Princes-street, which slopes much.  I saw no one in charge of the horses but deceased.  I saw nothing which would have alarmed the horses, but it appeared to me that something had alarmed them.  I did not see deceased flog the horses.  I am not aware whether there were reins attached to the shaft horse or not.  I only saw those attached to the leader."

   The evidence was corroborated by Mary Hooker and C. H. McIntosh, two other witnesses - the former, however, being under the impression that it was the leader that knocked the deceased down.  The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death" - adding a rider that, "if the leader had been taken off at the top of the slope ion Princes-street, the accident might not have occurred."

   Mr. Gillingham was an industrious and even enterprising man, one among the best settlers we have had, and as such a real loss to the community.  He leaves a wife and family to deplore his untimely end.


OTAGO WITNESS, 8 November 1856

CORONER'S INQUEST. - The inquest held on the body of Charley White, a native, the cause of whose death we previously stated, was concluded late in the evening of Saturday last.  The jury were divided in opinion, but a verdict was returned, that the deceased met his death from a blow on the neck, but how or by whom the injury was inflicted, there was not sufficient evidence to shew.


DAILY SOUTHERN C ROSS, 11 November 1856


INQUEST. - On Saturday, at the Provincial Hospital, an inquest was held before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of John Broderick, there lying dead.  On the night of the previous Monday the deceased was seen lying on the ground, at Parnell, by two persons, witnesses at the inquest, one of whom loosened his neckerchief, and unbuttoned his collar - the other placing a bag over him, and one under his head.  He smelt strongly of spirits, and both believed him to be drunk; they therefore left him till morning.  Next morning he was found in the same position, and still insensible.  Information of the occurrence was then sent to the police guard room; Dr. Andrews was immediately on the spot, and ordered him to be sent to the hospital, where he remained till Friday morning, when he died.

   Dr. McGauran, who had made a post mortem examination of the body, deposed to the brain and lining membrane of the stomach being in a congested state, and to other appearances, the usual result of excessive drinking.  The jury returned a verdict "that the deceased came to his death from apoplexy, the result of continued indulgence in the use of intoxicating drinks."  The deceased was a Pensioner, residing at Onehunga.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 15 November 1856

DEATH BY DROWNING. - Yesterday morning the body of a man was discovered on the beach by the road party, at work between Ngahauanga and Kaiwarra.  Later in the day the deceased was identified and proved to be Mr. Baldwin of the Miscellaneum.   Mr. Baldwin left town for the Hutt on Thursday, and was passed yesterday on his way home near the Koro Koro, by the Hutt van, and was subsequently spoken to by Mr. Ellerslie Wallace near to Ngahauranga.  When found he was stripped of his coat, which together with his waterproof, were discovered near the body.  His purse and watch were in his pockets, and his features slightly bruised from knocking against the rocks.  It is supposed that deceased must have thrown himself of a rock yesterday about mid-day.  For some time past he had been suffering from lowness of spirit, but no cause for the Act has yet been discovered.  The deceased was very highly esteemed as an industrious, steady settler, and his death will be sincerely regretted by all who knew him.  The coroner's inquest will be held to-day.



CORONER'S INQUEST. - On Saturday last, the 1st instant, an inquest was held at Mr. Davies's, Rainbow Inn, Kaiwarra, by G. D. Monteith, Esq., coroner, and a respectable jury, on view of the body of Mr. William Baldwin, who was found drowned the previous day, on the beach between Ngahauranga and Kaiwarra.  From the evidence, it appeared that the deceased had gone to the Hutt on Wednesday, the 29th October, and was returning to Wellington on the following morning (Thursday), when he was overtaken by the van near the large land-slip, and was asked to get up; but he declined, stating that as he had come so far he would walk in.  He was afterwards seen by Mr. Ellerslie Wallace, near Ngahauranga, walking towards Kaiwarra.  Mr. Wallace bade him good morning, and the deceased returned the salutation.  On the following morning (Friday, 31st October), about ten o'clock, his body was found, about half-way between Kaiwarra and Ngahauranga, among the rocks about 100 feet from the beach road.  The body was lying between the rocks, his feet touching the water, and his face downwards, against a large sharp-edged stone.  The deceased had taken off his coat and waistcoat, which were found about 100 yards off, in the direction of Ngahauranga.  Decreased had latterly been in indifferent health and depressed spirits.  The jury, after mature consideration, returned a verdict of "Found drowned." - Independent, Nov. 8.



FATAL ACCIDENT. - On Sunday night last, a man named W. Wouldham met his death in the following manner: - Deceased was a passenger in the Tyne, from Wellington, which vessel had arrived only a few hours previously.  Two days after he had been on board he had a fit, and during the rest of the passage he behaved like a madman.  Captain Bell took all the precaution possible with him, landed him safely, and gave him over in charge to Corporal Dunleavy, of the police.  The man was lodged in the lock-up, and attended by the Colonial Surgeon, who prescribed for him and had him removed to a better cell.  His comrade, a man named Stanton, consented to watch him during the night, but the latter was weary, and fell asleep; deceased took advantage of the moment, made a rush, burst the door open, and fled.  Stanton overtook him at Messrs. Taylor and Watt's Wharf, but no persuasion could induce him to return. Stanton then left him and went in search for aid of the police, and when he returned with the Corporal deceased could not be found.

   An unavailing search was made until two o'clock next morning; subsequently the body was found in the river, opposite the Market-place.  An inquest was held on the body, at the York Hotel, on the 3rd instant, and the jury came to the following verdict, with its addendum:-

   "We find that the deceased was drowned during a fit of temporary insanity.  We likewise consider it our duty to urge upon the Government the absolute necessity of increasing the police force, the number of policemen being at present entirely insufficient for the requirements of the place; and that the practice of sending the police with the mails is much to be reprehended, for had there been a policeman to take charge of the deceased, his escape from the lock-up could not have been effected."

   The inefficiency of the police in Wanganui has been notorious for months past; ...



CHILD BURNED TO DEATH. - An inquest will be held to-day, at the Redan Hotel, Onehunga, on the body of a child named Mary Callanan, aged four years, burned to death in the course of yesterday morning.  The full particulars have not reached us.




THE LATE CASE OF BURNING. - The accident by burning to which we referred in our last was made the subject of an inquest, held on Tuesday, at the Redan Hotel, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a Jury.  The accident occurred on Sunday between two and three in the afternoon.  At that time, Mrs. Callinan, the mother of the child, having heard a cry, went out of her cottage, and saw the child in flames.  She immediately extinguished the flames, undressed the child, and sent for medical assistance, but the injuries were so severe that the little sufferer expired the same evening.  There were some burning sticks on the ground, from contact with which, it is supposed, the child's clothes had ignited.  The deceased was aged three years and nine months.  The Jury returned a verdict of accidentally burnt.




DEATH BY DROWNING. - On Saturday, the 29th ult., a lad belonging to the schooner 'Lucy James,' W. L. Throop, master\, lying at Wangaroa, was found drowned in that harbour.  Deceased went on shire on the preceding evening, and was not heard of again until seen dead by several natives next morning.  He is supposed to have been drowned while sculling off to the schooner.  His name was James Blackland, aged 15 years, native of Plymouth, England.  Shipped at Melbourne.

INQUEST. - An inquest was held on Friday last, at the Aurora tavern, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., and a jury, upon the body of William Burrell, a child of ten weeks old that had died at Freeman's Bay on the previous Tuesday.  The evidence of Dr. Lee having been taken, the jury returned a verdict in accordance with the same, of "died from natural causes."



Long account of the circumstances of the death of George Wilson, Wairau.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 20 December 1856

DEATH BY DROWNING. - On Wednesday morning, a young man named James Green, in the employ of Messrs. Lingard the contractors for metalling the Ferry-road, was accidentally knocked overboard from one of the punts employed in fetching gravel for that purpose, by the sudden tightening of the tow rope.  All efforts to save him were unavailing and the man perished.  The body was soon after recovered and taken to the Heathcote Arms Inn, where an inquest was held the next day before the Coroner and a respectable jury, and a verdict returned of Accidental Death.  We understand that Green was a deserted seaman from the Caroline Agness; he was not quite twenty years of age.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 24 December 1856


Long editorial introduction.

The narrative of the sad event is very simple.  Mr. Shrimpton and his younger brother, Mr. Walter Shrimpton, sons of Mr. Ingram Shrimpton of this town, in the enjoyment of a week's holiday, were duck shooting near the river Ashley, on last Saturday.  It happened that the elder brother being a short distance in advance, and seeing a favourable opportunity for s shot, turned round and called to the other to come on.  Mr. Walter Shrimpton, cocking his gun, and at the same time making a hasty step forward, slipped, or tripped, and fell; the gun went off, and the contents lodged in his brother's heart.  On finding what had occurred, Mr. Walter Shrimpton immediately hurried to Miller's Creek, asked for help, and sent a messenger for medical assistance.  On arrival at the scene of the accident, it was found that death had actually occurred, and the body was removed to Miller's house, where an inquest was held on Monday, before the coroner, W. Donald, Esq.

   The evidence produced was as follows.

   Walter George Shrimpton, swoern, said the deceased John Ingram Shrimpton was my brother; on Saturday last the 20th of December, we were both out shooting; my brother had a single barrelled gun, I had a double barrelled gun; we went to the Waikuku, a creek at the back of the Sand Hills; I was some 20 yards behind him; we saw some ducks in the swamp, he beckoned to me and called to me' I had my gun on my shoulder, and took it from my shoulder and cocked one barrel; I ran towards where he was, and when I got within two, three or four yards my foot tripped either in a hole or some bush, and I fell on my left knee and elbow, and the gun went off,  either as I was falling or from the shock of the fall; my finger was on the trigger, my thumb on the hammer in the act of cocking; the charge struck the deceased as I thought on the right side by the ribs, he was bending at the time; he rose up, staggered and fell; he just said oh! and fell; I ran to him.  I saw he was bleeding, and lifted him out of the hole he fell in; I raised him, he slipped back again; I ran to Miller's for assistance, I saw Mr. Gladstone, he went with me and directed me where to find Mr. Miller, Mr. Dampier and Mr. Mason; we proceeded to my brother, that is, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Miller and myself, I asked Mr. Mason to go for a Doctor as we  went; when we got to my brother Mr. Miller said he was dead.  I have shot out here and occasionally in England.  I am not very used to a gun.

   Henry John Gladstone sworn, said: on Saturday last, at half pasty six as I was standing at the door of the accommodation house, a person came running up and wanted me to assist him, saying that he had shot his brother in a swamp.  I  said, come and get assistance, and went to find Mr. Miller, Dampier, and Mason, on which Mr. Miller and myself proceeded with the last witness who had summoned us to the place of the accident; after searching for a short time we discovered the body lying on the edge of a low bank; on turning the head we discovered that the body was quite dead: I then proceeded back to the house for means of carrying the body and returned with a couple of boards which we fastened together and placed him on; we met Dr. Beswick, who examined the body and said he was quite dead.

   A verdict was returned of Accidental Death.  The body of the deceased has been removed by sea to Lyttelton, for interment on Friday next.

   Mr. Shrimpton was in his 23rd year.


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 30 December 1856

WANGAREI. - We ob serve, from a "Provincial Government Gazette," [published on Friday, that the appointment of Coroner for the District of Wangarei has been conferred upon Thomas Brutton Kinderdone, Esq.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 10 January 1857

SUDDEN DEATH. - News arrived in town last evening of the sudden death at Port Levy of a man named Allen, a shoemaker, who was on his way from this place to Akaroa.  The deceased, was was of a very dissipated character, had been drinking hard for several weeks previous, and was on his way to find work at his trade on the Peninsula, to keep out of the way of temptation.  He set off from Lyttelton early yesterday morning in company with another man who had kindly helped him to leave Christchurch, and crossed to Rhodes's Bay by boat.  When they reached the foot of the hill at Port Levy, Allen was very much fatigued and intended to remain there the rest of the day.  His companion went forward to get something to eat and drink, and returning found him in a fit of delirium tremens. He called for help and was joined by Mr. Cholmondely, but shortly afterwards Allen expired.  His mate immediately returned to Lyttelton and reported the occurrence to the coroner, who proceeds to-day to Port Levy to hold an inquest.  This occurrence carried a distinct warning with it.





December 29, 1856.


Connected most intimately with the chief subject-matter of this letter, is a deplorable occurrence which had just taken place at the Boulder Bank, and which cannot but form a strong argument for some such measure as I have suggested to better maintain and enforce the laws.  A man named Burke, by trade a shoemaker, was drinking, it is said, on Tuesday last, and having given offence to a person who resides there by breaking one of his windows, this person it is stated violently assaulted Burke, knocked him down and kicked him in a most brutal manner.  Burke complained to several persons of the injuries he had sustained, and was heard to say that he was afraid they would cause his death.  Nothing, so far as I can learn, was done to alleviate the poor fellow's sufferings - no one, I suppose, paid much regard to them; so on Thursday, Burke was found dead alongside a goat-house, by the master of the Gipsy, a trader in the river.  When the body was found it was scarcely cold; and Captain Williams, on taking it into a neighbouring house and stripping it, found the body frightfully bruised.  Mr. Gouland, the Resident Magistrate, was then made acquainted with the circumstance; and on Friday he paid a visit to the Boulder Bank, and took what evidence he could obtain, and on Saturday despatched the district medical officer, Mr. Stuart, to hold a post mortem examination on Burke's body.

   The medical gentleman, I hear, is clearly of opinion that Burke's death was caused by the injuries inflicted on him, but what steps have since been taken by the magistrate I have not heard.  In the absence of a coroner I do not know what proceedings can be taken, but I should think it would be the duty of the magistrate to secure the party who is suspected of having caused the man's death.



INQUEST. - On Thursday last, at the Settler's Arms, Otahuhu, an inquest was held before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of James Dinagan, a pensioner, aged 76, who had died suddenly the day before.  The evidence was very short, and nothing transpired to induce a belief that the death of deceased arose from other than natural causes.  The jury returned a verdict of "Died from apoplexy."


LYTTELTON TIMES, 14 January 1857

DEATH BY DROWNING. - We have to record the melancholy death, by drowning, on Saturday, the 3rd January, of Henry Lawson, Esq., (of Yorkshire, England), and his shepherd, Henry Maclean.  The melancholy event occurred at Otakaroa, a creek running from the Waitaki river.  The above gentleman, who has only within the last three weeks become a resident in the place, was engaged in sheep washing; when the shepherd, in trying to rescue some sheep, got into a deep hole.  Mr. Lawson immediately swam to his rescue, when both sank to rise no more.  The bodies were recovered within three hours afterwards, but although Dr. Rayner, who was a guest of the unfortunate gentleman, was promptly in attendance, life was extinct.  The above events have cast a gloom over all in the vicinity, for although but a short time resident, Mr. Lawson was generally beloved.

DEATH AT PORT LEVY. - The verdict of the jury at the Coroner's inquest on the body of Allen, whose sudden death at Port Levy we reported in our last publication, was "Death from exhaustion, consequent on the exertion of walking, he being in a debilitated state from excessive drinking."  [See Nelson Examiner, 24 January, below.]


LYTTELTON TIMES, 21 January 1857

SUDDEN DEATH. - An affecting incident occurred on Monday last, in Lyttelton.  Mr. Herbert Ferrers Knyvett, who has been for the last two or three months in declining health, was brought to Lyttelton for the benefit of medical advice, in the schooner Hannah, which arrived just before midnight, and early in the morning, as Mr. Knyvett was being carried on a litter from the jetty, he expired without even a sigh.

DEATH FROM BURNING. - We have this week to record another fatal casualty.  One of the children of Mr. William Parrish, farmer, on the Ferry Road, was unfortunately so severely burnt by the accidental ignition of his clothes that death ensued in a few hours.  The inquest is fixed for 11 o'clock this day.




On the 12th instant an inquest was held at the house of Mr. S. Bowler, at the Wairau, before J. P. Wilson, Esq., Coroner, upon the body of Richard Burke, who was supposed to have come to his death from violence.  The following jury were duly sworn, viz., W. H. Eyes, foreman; James Sinclair, Cornelius Murphy, Thomas Maxted, Vincent Hewitt, Richard Read, John Attwood, George Wratt, Samuel Jordan, Edward Bolton, Cornelius O'Dwyer, Conrad Saxton, and Charles Empson.

   The following evidence was then taken:-

   William Williams deposed: - I am captain of the Gipsy, and arrived from Wellington on Christmas Eve.  The next day, between three and four o'clock, I was informed by a person who came into the house that Burke was dying; this remark was made to the landlord.  I asked where the man was, and they said "near Peel's goat-house."  I said that was "a queer place to let a man die, can't you take him in some place?"  The landlord said, "Why not bring him to my place?" and he said, "I'll go up and see him." And I went with the landlord; and when I got to the man, in company with the landlord, I found the two men who gave us the information, whose names, as I have since learned, were Thomas Driscoll and John Macdonald.  I saw the deceased covered with a blanket.  I pulled off the blanket, and saw that the man was dead.  This was on Christmas Fay.

   I then got him put into Mr. Peel's store.  After we got him into the store, the landlord said, "I don't think he's dead."  I felt his body; it was very warm, except the feet, which were cold.  His face was much swollen, bruised, and cut, and had lost some blood.  I said, "he was very ill-treated, if not killed."  I then lifted his shirt, his trowsers being nearly off, and his back was bruised and discoloured.  His privates were much swollen, and there were also marks on his thighs.  We then left the store, and it was locked.  The bruises I saw on his body were not very recent, and the blood was dried up.  My impression was that the bruises were about a day old.

   William Vine deposed: - I am servant in the hotel.  On Monday or Tuesday, December 22nd or 23rd, 1856, about noon, the deceased came into our house.  I saw the back of his head bleeding, both his eyes blackened, and his face much covered with blood.  I believe the deceased was slightly tipsy at the time, but he could walk.  I asked him, "who did that?" and he said, "Frank Macdonald."  I then took him into the bedroom, and he was laid on the bed.  About an hour after, he came out; the landlord washed his face, and the deceased remarked "the timbers of his keel were broken."  In the evening he was sitting with four or five people (of whom I was one), Bradley and others, when Frank Macdonald came in and said, "if ever the deceased came into his house again, he would serve him a damned sight worse."

   On Christmas Eve I saw deceased again on the beach, and lying with his face almost in the water; this was about nine or ten in the morning.  I then asked him what was the matter with him; and he answered that his "fundament was bad."  He then got up and went to the stockyard, where he sat about an hour. He then came into the house, and he asked me to give him a jug of water.  I saw no more of him till he was dead.  I believe the deceased was tolerably sensible when he came on the Monday or Tuesday before mentioned.

   Thomas Driscoll deposed: - I am a labourer, living at the Boulder Bank.  On Sunday, December 21st, I saw the deceased at Mr. Peel's house.  On the same evening, about nine o'clock, I saw him drunk in front of Frank Macdonald's.  The next day, about three o'clock, p.m., I saw him lying  down, and Frank Macdonald standing over him, striking him with a stick, which I saw him do twice upon his loins.  Macdonald left off when I came up.  I then left, and returned home.  I came back immediately with John Macdonald, the half-caste, and saw Frank Macdonald leading the deceased from the house; his face was covered with blood.  Macdonald shoved him, and he fell.  I then left him, and went down to the public house, and saw him no more till Tuesday.  He appeared to be drunk then, and about fifty yards from Macdonald's house.  He told me he was very bad.  I saw him the next morning, and he appeared sober enough.

   On Thursday morning, between nine and ten o'clock, I saw him lying in Mr. Peel's yard, on a blanket, and he asked me for a cup of tea, which I gave him, and he drank it.  He then asked for a pail of water, and I brought one out to him.  I then left him, and about two o'clock I returned with his dinner, and I found him dying.  I then went for John Macdonald, and we came back and saw deceased was dying.  We then went into the public house, and gave information.  The landlord, in company with Captain Williams and myself, went to see the deceased, and he was dead.  He appeared to have had slight marks on his face.  Deceased had previously told me Frank Macdonald had beaten him.  The blows I saw Frank Macdonald give him were not very severe.  I saw the deceased go to bed on the Sunday; his bedroom was in a loft; he was then capable of taking care of himself.  I did not see him until the next day.

   John Macdonald, labourer, sworn: - I am servant to Mr. Peel.  I saw deceased at Mr.  Peel's on Sunday, the 21st December; he slept there. On Monday, about three o'clock, p.m., Driscoll told me he saw Frank Macdonald beating deceased with a stick.  I then went towards Macdonald's with Driscoll, and I saw Macdonald beating and shoving the deceased along, with his face covered with blood; and Macdonald told the deceased that he did not want him near his house, and shoved him down.  We then asked him why Macdonald did that, and he said he did not know.  He told Driscoll, in my hearing, that he was lying on the floor at Macdonald's, and Frank Macdonald pulled him out, and beat him with a stick.

   Thomas Conolly deposed: - I am a labourer, and came to Boulder Bank on Monday, the 22nd December, about noon.  I went to Frank Macdonald's, in company with Mr. Macdonald, senior.  I saw the deceased knocked down on the floor by Frank Macdonald, with his fist.  Frank Macdonald then took him by the neck and breech, and threw him out on his face, and told him he did not want him there any more. Deceased's face was bleeding.  I asked him to come in and have his face washed, which he did; and he said to Frank Macdonald, "let us be good friends, and have no more over this matter." I believe they quarreled about a pound note, which Macdonald said the deceased owed him.  On Tuesday night the deceased slept with me at Peel's house, and during the night he said to me, "Frank Macdonald has killed me; he has knocked my ribs from my backbone." He seemed in great pain all night.

   Henry Mankelow sworn: - I am a seaman, and was at the Boulder Bank on Monday, 22nd December.  I saw the deceased in the afternoon, near the public house.  His face was covered with blood, and I asked him what was the matter with him; and he said Frank Macdonald had done it.  His head was bloody, his face scratched, and his lip cut. I saw him no more till tea-time, and he again told me his ribs were broke, and he could not get up, and that Frank Macdonald had done it.  Frank Macdonald came in during the evening, and the deceased asked him what he had done to him; and he answered he had broken his windows, and threatened the lives of his children, and if he came back to his house he would serve him a damned sight worse.

   Mrs. Pawina, a Maori woman, having been sworn, her evidence was thus interpreted by John Macdonald, sworn interpreter: - On Christmas Day I saw deceased lying near the goat-house, on blankets, and I asked him what was the matter, and he said he was very bad.  I asked him a second time, and he said he was very bad in the breast, where Frank Macdonald kicked him.

   James Harper sworn: - I am a shoemaker, and live at the Boulder bank.  On Tuesday evening, December 22nd, I was putting the children to bed, when deceased came into my house.  He said he wanted some one to look after him, as he could not do it himself.  I told him he might lie on the chest, and I gave him his blankets.  His face was bloody, and he asked me for a towel to wipe his face.  He made much noise during the night, and calling out "O God!"  Next morning he got up before me, and went out.  It might have been on Monday night the deceased slept at my house.  Frank Macdonald married my daughter.  When deceased came to my house, he had no blouse or cap.

   Alexander Stewart deposed: - I am a surgeon, and reside in the Wairau.  I was requested by the Resident Magistrate to examine the body of Richard Burke, lying dead at the store of Mr. Peel, on the 27th day of December, 1856; I understood the man had died on the 25th.  I arrived at the Boulder Bank between six and seven o'clock in the evening, and made a superficial examination of the body; and, seeing the case assume a serious aspect, I requested the magistrate's attendance.  He came on Sunday morning, about twelve o'clock, by which time I had made a post mortem examination, the result of which is as follows.

   I found the body lying on its back on the counter in Peel's store, rapidly decomposing; the head and face much swollen and edematous, which on being moved, blood issued from the nose and mouth.  The face was so much swollen that the features could not be discerned.  The abdomen was much distended; the penis and scrotum, especially the latter, swollen; and a tumour at the lower and depending end of the scrotum, evidently the result of injury - a kick, or blow.  There were other marks of violence about his body.

   I then proceeded to open the body, by dividing the integuments of the scalp, when I found a large perfect tumour over the occipital protuberance.  On opening the skull to examine the brain, I found extravasation of blood on the surface also of the brain, the result of the rupture of one of the small arteries, from external violence.  I consider these symptoms sufficient to cause death.

   In consequence of rumours respecting some violence he had received, I opened the thorax; the lungs I found congested.  I removed the heart, which I found soft and flabby, but nothing to cause death; also the large arteries leading from the heart.  I also found a coagulation of blood in the right ventricle of the brain.  To the best of my knowledge the left testicle was very much enlarged. I consider the violence to his testicle would have been sufficient to cause death ultimately.  I consider the injury deceased had received was of very recent date; there was no fracture of the skull.

   The jury, having consulted, returned the following verdict: - "That Richard Burke came to his death through violence; and, as the said evidence shows that Francis Macdonald only was known to have administered violence to the deceased, the jury unanimously are of opinion that the said Francis Macdonald should be committed on a charge of manslaughter, to stand his trial on this charge at the next sitting of the Supreme Court."

   The prisoner was accordingly committed for trial.


TARANAKI HERALD, 24 January 1857


CORONER'S INQUEST. - On Wednesday an inquest was held by Peter Wilson, Esq., Coroner, at the Colonial Hospital, on the body of Alexander Ross, a boatman in the Government service.  Reports of the deceased having met with foul play being in circulation, a post mortem examination of the body was made by Dr. Neild, at the request of the Coroner, and there was also a strict inquiry into the circumstances of the deceased's death at the inquest.

   Both resulted in the jury returning a verdict of Death from disorganization of the stomach, and a bruise, both attributed to intoxication.

   Ross was one of the earliest settlers in New Plymouth, and up to the time of his death was mostly connected with the boating establishment.  He was of a very powerful frame of body, and was an excellent boat steerer.  We should add that deceased has left a wife and young family quite unprovided for.



INQUEST. - An inquest was held yesterday, at the mason's Home, upon the body of a child named Fanny McDonald that had expired suddenly the same morning.  The jury returned a verdict of "Died from natural causes."


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 10 February 1857


BOY DROWNED. - CAUTION TO PARENTS. - An inquest was held on Friday, at the Masonic Hotel, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of a lad,  five or six years of age, named Laurence Murphy.  It appeared from the evidence that on Thursday, about five in the afternoon, the deceased was fishing from the end of the wharf, in company with another lad, named John Neal.  At a little before that time, Neal, who is a very intelligent boy, said to the deceased, mind, or you'll tumble over; to which the other rejoined, no fear. Shortly afterwards, Murphy suddenly fell over.  Neal ran to the steps in the hope of reaching him, but without avail.  He then ran up and told as man he met on the wharf that there was a boy in the water; to which the man rejoined "You're a little liar," and walked on.  The boy then ran to the house of the parents of deceased, and informed them of what had happened.  The alarm was given, but no trace of the body could be seem' the police and others were engaged in search till a late hour, but without effect.  Next morning, between nine and ten o'clock, the brother of deceased found the body on the beach, in the neighbourhood of Cooper's Bay.  The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the circumstances.

   We have headed this notice, "Caution to parents,' because children of tender years are daily to be seen on the wharf, in a position of much danger; and because no interference is so likely to have the desired effect as that of those who possess the authority of parents or guardians.


TARANAKI HERALD, 14 February 1857


CORONERS INQUEST. - An inquest was held on Tuesday, the 10th instant, by Peter Wilson, Esq., Coroner, on the body of George, the eldest son of George St. George, Esq., Surgeon, whose death occurred from drowning on the previous afternoon.  The deceased, who was in his 14th year, was bathing in the sea with some schoolfellows younger than himself, and was drawn beyond his depth by the under current.  One of the little fellows (Master Redhead) gallantly attempted to rescue him, but finding he could not do so, let go his hand, when the deceased sank.  The melancholy accident was witnessed from the beach, yet notwithstanding every effort was made, the body was not recovered for upwards of half an hour! Surgical aid was at hand, but of no avail.  The jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned."





January 30, 1857.

The death of the unfortunate man Burke, at the Boulder-bank, the particulars of which I gave in my last letter, led to a visit of thr Nelson coroner to the scene where the man met with his death.  I never could understand how it was that thr Resident Magistrate, who in the absence of a coroner, conducted in the first instance the inquiry into the cause of Burke's death, did not at once commit Macdonald for trial for manslaughter, and that he accepted bail for him.  The case, as you will have seen by the evidence, was very strong against Macdonald; nevertheless there were certain individuals upon the inquest who strove to their utmost to get the prisoner acquitted, in direct disregard of their oaths, and upon grounds wholly of a private mature. ...




BODY FOUND. - In our last we mentioned that a dead body, reduced to a skeleton, had been found on Chamberlain's Island.  It has since been brought to town, but being totally denude of flesh, it is unrecognisable.  It has one boot on, and this, it is supposed, may possible lead to its identification.  The remains, however, are generally believed to be those of a man named Hamilton, who has been missing for some length of time.  The case being one not within the jurisdiction of the Coroner, it will be the subject of a magisterial inquiry.


DEATHS BY DROWNING. - Yesterday, at the Caledonian Hotel, an inquest was held before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of one Henry Irvine, then and there lying dead.  The deceased was one of two men that sailed the cutter Sedulous, and was well known on the wharf.  On Saturday evening, about nine o'clock, he parted, on the wharf from a young woman, named Caroline Addlington, saying that he had to give the cutter more chain, but would be back in ten minutes.  He went off in the dinghy, and never returned.  Next morning, about 7 o'clock, his body was found by Mr. James Jackman, floating on the surface; and the dingy was found alongside Mr. Brigham's wharf, full of water.  The deceased was sober when he left the wharf, and no cry reached the female witness to indicate that anything had happened.  The jury returned a verdict of "Found drowned."

   The same evening, one of the seamen belonging to the American whale shop James Maury, also met a watery grave, having fallen off the Queen-street wharf. The body had not yet been recovered.




THE LATE CASE OF DROWNING. - THE SECOND BODY FOUND. - The body of Emanuel Francis, late a seaman belonging to the American whale ship "James Maury," whose death by drowning we reported in our last, was discovered on Tuesday afternoon, floating on the surface of the water, some distance off Wynyard Pier.  The same evening an inquest was held upon the body at the Mason's Home, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., and a jury.  Captain Curry of the "James Maury" recognized the body, and deposed that, on Saturday night last, he had missed the deceased.  Having heard that he had fallen off the wharf, he (the Captain) had sent boats to drag for the body, but without success.  The deceased was a very sober young man; he (the Captain) never knew him to be intoxicated, and had a great respect for him.  The jury returned a verdict of found drowned.




CORONERS INQUEST. - On Monday last an inquest was held at the Travellers' Rest, Appleby, before J. F. Wilson, Esq., on the body of Frederick Lange.  It appeared by the evidence that the deceased had called upon his father-in-law on the Sunday morning, about seven o'clock, being then on his way to the Moutere to look after some wheat which he had sold.  He lighted his pipe at the house, and after remaining there a few minutes he left, having his pipe in his right hand and a pistol in his left.  About half an hour later, the deceased was discovered by two other Germans named Rosa, lying on his back in Redwood's Valley (about three miles distant from his father-in-law's), shot in the breast.  At the request of the deceased his father-in-law was sent for, whom he informed upon his arrival that he had shot himself accidentally.  At three in the afternoon the unfortunate man died.  The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the evidence.




DEATH BY DROWNING. - On Saturday, a man named William Anderson was drowned in Mangatawhere Creek, trying to swim a horse across.  Shortly afterwards, a party of gentlemen passed, on their way to town, and left 1 Pound as a reward to some natives, in case they should succeed in finding the body.  On the following day it was found and brought to Otahuhu, where an inquest as to the cause of death will be held this morning.  The deceased was a stockman, formerly in the employment of Mr. Farmer.

CHILD DROWNED. - An inquest was held yesterday afternoon, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of Samuel Teague, a fine child of about 16 months old.  The inquest was held in the house of the father, Chapel-street.  From the evidence of Miss Jane Collett, a neighbour, who seems to have acted in the unhappy affair with praiseworthy promptitude, the child had been playing about, and its absence was not remarked till 11 a.m. Miss Collett and the brother of deceased, a lad 12 years of age, then searched a well, about 20 yards in depth, situated in the rear of the house, and quite unprotected.  The body could not be seen, but the female withers persevered, and, dropping the irons to the bottom of the well, drew out the body by the clothes.  Two surgeons, Messrs. Lee and Curtis, were immediately in attendance, and most praiseworthily persevered for three hours in the endeavour to restore animation; but unfortunately without avail.  The jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally drowned;" adding as a rider an expression of their regret that the well referred to should be in such a wretched state as not only to have led to the sacrifice of the child's life, but to risk the life of any one who might be passing near it.



FATAL ACCIDENT. - TWO MEN DROWNED. - On the 1st instant, two men, named respectfully William Redwood or Redman, and Frederick Green, perished at Coromandel under the following circumstances:- The deceased and another man named Joseph Kennedy, laborers in the employment of Messrs. Roe, Street and Co., were sent from the saw mill, on the morning in question, to collect timber along the bank of the river.  They had proceeded about a mile, when Kennedy asked the other men to clear the boards at the spot they had reached, while he would go below and do the same.  He accordingly went about 300 yards father down, and made a raft.  About five minutes afterwards he saw Redwood's hat floating down, but thought it had been blown off; five minutes after that Green's hat also passed, and witness then thought that something was wrong.  He went up to where he left his mates, but could see nothing of them nor any indications of there having been there, except one pole or boat hook fixed upright in the water and the other floating about.  He then went to the mill and stated what had occurred.  Mr. Street, Mr. Baldwin, and others immediately repaired to the spot; they pulled up the boat-hook that was fixed in the stream and found the body of Redwood attached to it; they also brought up the body of Green. 

   In the absence of a coroner or of a magistrate, the depositions of the various witnesses were taken by Mr. Pierce, missionary, and forwarded by him to the proper authorities in Auckland.  The universal opinion was that redwood had overbalanced himself and fallen into the creek; and that Green had also perished in the attempt to save his fellow laborer.  We believe that the bodies will be brought to town, in order that a Coroner's inquest may be held.


To the Editor of the Southern Cross.

Re the inquest on Anderson and the refusal of J. W. Young, publican of the Papakura district, refusing to allow the body of deceased into his premises.  VOX POPULI, April 6, 1857.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 11 April 1857


Re the barque Ann Wilson, immigrant ship, appalling conditions; ... She was 120 days out from Liverpool; 14 children, and 4 adults died on the passage, and one man immediately before landing.  The inquest on the body of this man, held on Monday and Wednesday, the 30th of March, and 1st of April, exhibits the facts of the case.


The Jury, after a deliberation of more than two hours, returned the following verdict:-

   "That the deceased Jonathan Deverell, after an attack of diarrhoea, died from exhaustion, accelerated by the following causes:-

   A short supply of water during the whole voyage, the want of proper medicines and medical comforts, the inadequacy of the cooking accommodation, the bad ventilation of the vessel Ann Wilson; and the Jury hold the Captain and charters culpable for the same.

   The Jury further record their opinion that great neglect attaches to the Emigration Officer at the port of Liverpool, for not seeing to a sufficient supply of water, medicines, medical comforts, and sugar, were put on board.  They also consider the Captain much to blame for not putting in at the caper of Good Hope for supplies of the aforementioned articles, when he knew the vessel was so badly supplied with them."


TARANAKI HERALD, 11 April 1857

... From a private letter we hear of the arrival of the Ann Wilson from London, 130 days out; it stated that shocking events had occurred on board.  No less then twenty deaths had taken place from starvation, ...




FATAL ACCIDENT. - INQUEST ON THE BODY. - We have to record the death, under very painful circumstances, of Mr. James Maxwell.  The deceased resided at what is called Maxwell's Bush about 30 miles from Auckland.  On Thursday morning, he left home on horse-back to go to Maurice Kelly's, a distance of about 12 miles. The same evening his horse returned without a rider, but Mrs. Maxwell did not feel much alarmed, thinking that the animal had broken loose at the Wade.  Next day, however, she sent her son, a youth, to the Wade, for the purpose of enquiring whether his father had left.  He was informed that Mr. Maxwell had left about 4 o'clock on the Thursday, that, on leaving, he had tried to jump the horse over something, and been thrown, but that he had immediately re-mounted and galloped off.  On returning home with this sad intelligence, the boy was sent to communicate with a neighbour, a Mr. Ralph Osbaldistone, residing about 6 miles off.  On the following day, Saturday, Mr. Osbaldistone searched for the deceased; and, about one in the afternoon, found his body on the road, about 400 yards from his own house.  The head was doubled under the breast, and the body presented the appearance of having been for some time lifeless. Yesterday, at an inquest held at the William Denny Hotel, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., and a jury, these facts were deposed to, although the evidenced of the lad, owing to his youth, was inadmissable.  Dr. Lee also testified to the state of the body, the inference from whose evidence being that the unfortunate man had been thrown from his horse, and been kicked on the head when on the ground.

   We may add that, although the body was received by the authorities on Sunday, the widow having brought the remains of her husband to town, the inquest was not held till yesterday at 4 o'clock.  This delay was caused by a wish on the part odf the coroner that the evidence of Mr. Maurice Kelly, who last saw the deceased alive, should have been had at the inquest.  The jury returned a verdict of "Found dead."

   The deceased, who was a very old settler, leaves a widow and large family to deplore his loss.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 15 April 1857

The Ann Wilson and Jonathan Deverell; ... "The unhappy man had previously lost two children on the voyage, one, by the surgeon's statement, 'from exhaustion.'



AMENDE. - Editorial, quoting letter from Mr. W. J. Young, of Drury, re the Anderson inquest.  Had been told that his premises were outside the Coroner's jurisdiction.

INQUEST. - On Wednesday, at the Victory of Sebastopol, an inquest was held, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., Coroner, and a jury, upon the bodies of the two men whose death by drowning we recently chronicled.  No new facts were elicited, and the jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally drowned." [William Redwood and Frederick Green.]



Another report of the Ann Wilson and Jonathan Deverell.



DEATH FROM EATING THE TUPAKI BERRY. - On Saturday, an inquest was held at Mr. Brady's Inn, Panmure, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., and a jury, upon the body of Michael Malone, a child between 7 and 8 years of age, then and there lying dead.  It appeared from the evidence that, on Thursday, about 4 o'clock, the deceased was out with a girl, between 13 and 14 years of age, named Mary McLean, who gave her evidence with much distinctness; and that, although previously cautioned by his parents, he eat of the Tupaki berry.  Shortly after returning home, he complained of illness; no surgeon resides at the village, but an emetic and other remedies were used, notwithstanding which the lad died at 11 o'clock the same night. On a post mortem examination, the body presented indications of death from poison, but none of the seeds of the berry were to be traced - which, however, may be accounted for by the fact that the lad had vomited during the illness.  The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

   This case, and others which have occurred, should operate as a caution to parents.  The fatal berry is now in season, and to the ignorant or thoughtless, it might readily present a temptation.




SUDDEN DEATH. - An inquest was held yesterday, at the Odd fellows' Arms (Mr. Bacon's), before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of James McIntosh, then and there lying dead.  The deceased lived in William-street; on the previous evening (Sunday), about 7 o'clock, he had fallen on the floor of his house, and almost instantly expired.  From the evidence of Dr. Stratford, it would appear that death was induced by a rupture of one of the blood vessels of the brain, and the jury returned a verdict accordingly.



Letter and Editorial re an inquest in Christchurch; no name. [6 persons crowded in a dog cart.]




SUICIDE.  On Friday last an inquest was held at the Masonic Hotel, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of David Begg, late a private in the 58th regiment, then and there lying dead. The deceased and another man named Johnson had been confined in the guard-room during the night of Thursday, and had lain on the same bed.  On Friday morning, about twenty minutes to nine, Johnson heard the deceased frothing at the mouth, and on turning round to look at him, saw him draw a razor across his throat, and blood gush from the wound.  He had a little previously heard deceased say, "I wish I was dead."  On seeing the act, he immediately called for assistance.  Dr. Thomson was promptly in attendance, but found the man dead.  The Doctor, a day or two before, had been addressed by the deceased in an excited manner, and he believed that this excitement had been caused by drinking.  The immediuate cause of death having been deposed to, the jury returned a verdict of - "Destroyed himself by cutting his throat, with a razor while laboring under an attack of delirium tremens."




To the Editor of the Southern Cross.

Refers to a death of Dennis Campbell, exhumation and inquest: DEFENSOR.


OTAGO WITNESS, 30 May 1857


An Inquest was held on Wednesday last, at the Royal Hotel, Dunedin, before Mr. Hulme, Coroner, and a jury of 16, upon the body of George Abbinett, formerly master of the Endeavour.

      BETSY HOCKINGS, the wife of Thomas Hockings, Little Falmouth, in the Province of Otago, being sworn stated: - I went to Mr. Abbinett's residence at Little Falmouth last Saturday week, in the afternoon.  There was only Mr. Abbinett in the house.  George Crawford came there afterwards, about two o'clock; they were drinking, and quarrelling was going on.  David Carey came in in the evening about 5 o'clock.  The quarrelling re-commenced after Carey came in.  Abbinett, on the arrival of Carey, ordered Crawford out of the house.  Crawford refused to go.  Abbinett then caught hold of Crawford by the throat; both fell to the ground after a struggle.  Carey parted them.  Abbinett seized hold of Crawford again; both fell, their heads coming against the glass of the window.  Afterwards Abbinett sat down, and Carey went away.  After Abbinett had sat a while, he put is hand to his neck, and said "Oh, Mrs. Hockings where does the blood come from?"  He asked me to run and get M'Lean.  M'Lean did not come, but his wife did.  I put some flour on Abbinett's neck at his request to stop the bleeding which it did.

   I did not see any wound because of the quantity of blood.  Crawford was sitting down by the fireplace and did not offer to assist.  Mrs. M'Lean went away home, and I then, with the help of Crawford, put Abbinett in to bed.  H\e walked to the bed.  Crawford stayed all night with me.  Abbinett was in the house when we arrived on Friday night.  He would not let me in when I knocked at the door.  I went to Mrs. M'Lean's and stayed all night; Crawford was there also.  I asked Crawford to stay and protect me.  There was no one else there.  Crawford was in Captain Abbinett's at my request. On Friday night, when I came in the boat, I walked from the boat to the house, and the Captain said to two men who were there, "I did not break open the door, nor did you."  I do not know who the men were.  The door had been broken open, as I had the key.  I told Abbinett I had come for my things.  Charles Crawford (the father of George) came there in a boat on Friday; they left on Saturday morning. They came again on Saturday, but remained only a short time.  I saw no weapon used in the affray. I attended Abbinett up to the time of his death.

   DAVID CAREY, boatman, Port Chalmers, being sworn, stated - On Saturday night week, I was down at my place below Hockings' residence.  It was coming on dusk in the evening, and I went to see if I could borrow a candle at Hockings'.  I opened the door, and Abbinett said, "Oh, David, is it you"   come in; sit down here alongside of me."  he was sitting on the sofa.  I sat down alongside of him. Mrs. Hockings and George Crawford were sitting on the opposite side of the room.  I sat there about five minutes, when Abbinett said to Crawford, "Now, my gentleman, walk out of this house; you are not wanted here." Crawford said, "I shan't; I fetched two bottles of grog in to the house, and I was quite welcome then, and now you wan t to turn me out of your house; you have got them stowed away under you."

   "Well," said Abbinett, "stowed away or not, out you go;" and he got up and opened the door.  Her took hold of Crawford by the collar and gave him a sling, and they went towards the door, and down they both fell on the floor.  Crawford was underneath.  They struggled about for some little time.  They got up again, and Abbinett caught up a stick and attempted to strike Crawford.  I said, "Don't use no weapon," and I caught hold of the end of the stick.  Crawford said, "If you strike me any more I will give you a piece of steel," and I retired from the room to walk out. As I was retiring from the room I heard Abbinett say, "I will allow you a quarter of an hour."

   I went straight from the house up to Mrs. M'Lean's.  I asked Mrs. M'Lean for a candle, which she gave me.  I said, "There is a tremendous row below, and I am afraid there will be something serious."  I said, Crawford uttered an expression of using a piece of steel.  I avoided going near Abbinett's door.  When Crawford was down, he was kicked at Abbinett as hard as he could.  Both Abbinett and Crawford were much the worse for liquor; Mrs. Hockings was quite sober.  There was no other person in the house when I was there but Crawford, Abbinett, and Mrs. Hockings.

   ELIZABETH M'LEAN being sworn, stated that she was fetched on Saturday by Mrs. Hockings to see the deceased.  She asked him if she could do anything for him, when he said there was no need to be afraid, and asked for a little flour.  Mrs. Hockings got some flour and applied it to the wound.  Mrs. Hockings asked Abbinett if there was a piece of glass in the wound.  He said, No, I know how it was done.  Crawford's face was bleeding.

   ROBERT WILLIAMS being swoern, stated: I made a post mortem examination of the body of the deceased George Abbinett.  I saw two or three superficial bruises and scratches on the face; I then examined the body; there was one small bruise on the abdomen, and a severe one on the right groin.  I then examined a severe wound which I saw on the left side of the neck.  It was about three quarters of an inch in width, and situated about one inch below and behind the angle of the jaw in the position in which the body lay.  I passed a probe into the wound, there was no passage upwards or sideways, bit downwards and backwards; the probe passed without the least difficulty the distance of three inches.  I removed the skin and superficial fascia and discovered the jugular vein severed in two. 

   In the opinion of the witness the injury could not have been effected by a piece of glass from a broken window; he came to that conclusion because of the position of the wound, and from its being narrow ands deep; some of the glass would have remained in it.  There was no glass in the wound, it was of equal width all down; he believed it to have been inflicted with a straight-bladed knife.  The wound would have caused death under any circumstances; no medical treatment could have saved his life.

   The Inquest was then adjoiurned until Thursday, in order to obtain the evidence of Mrs. Abbinett.

   On Thursday the inquiry was resumed.

   JOHN SHEPHERD, Chief Constable, was examined, but his evidence was not material.

   MARGARET ABBINETT being sworn, stated: I went down to my husband on Sunday the 17th instant, and stayed until Tuesday morning.  He said he had been hurt by two men who came to his house on \Saturday evening.  He was weak, and wandering in his mind, and said he did not know who did it.  He wished me to go to town for the furniture.  I returned to him on Friday afternoon, at 3 o'clock.  I saw a great change in him, though he said he was keeping as well as could be expected.  On Saturday he complained of a great pain on the left side of the neck, and shook his head when I asked him if he thought he should get better.  I thought it was all over.

   I repeated the question in the afternoon, when he said, "No, leave me alone."  I asked who had injured him, but he made me no answer.  On Monday forenoon he said, "I want to speak to you, Maggy."  He asked me if any one was in the house, or any stranger whom I could call in?  I said no;' Mrs. Hockings was in the barn.  He then said, "Maggy, I'm dying; I am a murdered man."  I asked him who did it.  He said, "George Crawford; he cut my throat with a pocket knife; he put his knee on my chest when he did it, after he got me down; I said, 'Don't murder me, Crawford,'" He shook hands with me and bade me farewell.  He never spoke afterwards, and died at half-past ten that night.

   In answer to questions by the jury, the witness stated that the Captain was sometimes wandering, and frequently expressed a wish that the woman Hockings should be sent out of the house, as he said she had neglected him.  I sent up to Dunedin on Friday for a medical man, but none came, and the answer was, "Send Abbinett up to town."  When Dr. Hulme left on Sunday, after dressing the wound, I fully expected he would return.  I saw George Crawford frequently after the occurrence.  Dr. Hulme told me he thought there was no danger.  I made Mr. Strode acquainted with the circumstances.  Nobody was sent by the authorities to make enquiry.  I fed him with wine to the last, but I gave him no spirits, and Mrs. Hockings said she had not done so.

   A considerable time was occupied in identifying some shirts of the deceased, but the evidence elicited, although probably of use at a future period, was of no great importance at the then stage of enquiry.

   Dr. WILLIAMS was recalled, and repeated his former statement that no medical aid could have saved the life of the deceased.

   Mrs. HOCKINGS was again examined, but her statements did not throw any additional light upon the affair.

   The Jury, after about two hours' deliberation, returned the following verdict:-

   "That the deceased George Abbinett died from the effectds of a stab wound on the left side of the neck, inflicted by the hand of George Crawford, and that Betsy Hockings was accessory to the deed.  The Jury at the same time cannot but express their regret that the case was not fully investigated by the authorities during the lifetime of the deceased."

   Mrs. Hockings was immediately taken into custody.  Crawford is still at large.




[From the Canterbury Papers.]

DISTRESSING ACCIDENT. - An accident of a very distressing nature occurred at Christchurch.  As a wedding party was returning after the ceremony from the Scotch Church, a vehicle containing some of the party, several of them females, was run off with by the horse, those in it were tossed out, and all received more or less injury.  One woman, by name Mrs. Nelson, has since died.

   An inquest was held by the Coroner, Dr. Donald, on Monday, when a verdict of accidental death was recorded.  It appears that the driver in moving from his place was thrown over the cart, and lost his hold of the reins, which became entangled in the horse's feet, and the horse, being of a somewhat restive disposition, became excited and bolted.  The cart upset at the corner of Cashel-street and Columbo-street, and caused the accident which resulted fatally.
   We have few accidents of this nature to record.  Serious as they are, if there is any cause for blame to be attached to any body for negligence, it is of a sort that no one ever thinks it necessary to take precautions against for the future.  There is no warning derived from it; it is nothing but "an accident."




FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE WAIUKU. -  On Friday morning last, an accident occurred on the Waiuku river, which resulted in the loss of the lives of two men - Reuben Panton and J. Walker.  A party of four left the beach for the Mouku, at three o'clock in the morning, in a deeply laden punt.  The weather being squally, and the night dark, they had not proceeded above two miles when the punt filled in a squall\ and capsized.  The crew, however, managed to support themselves, as she floated bottom upwards, for about half an hour, when she righted.  At this time Panton lost his hold, and was not again seen.  The remaining three again got in, but having lost their paddles drifted about till daylight, when they grounded on the east side of the river. It appears from the evidence of Cunningham, one of the party, that Walker was alive to within a quarter of an hour of their reaching the shore - at which time he was found to be dead with his face resting on his hand on the gunwhale of the boat.  His body was brought up to the Hotel on Friday afternoon. 

   Wauku being virtually without the limits of the Coroner's district, a meeting of some of the principal inhabitants was held on Saturday morning to inquire into the cause of Walker's death, being assisted in the investigation by Dr. Weekes, who happened to be then in town.  Walker leaves a family of six children, his wife having suddenly died some four months ago.  The body of Panton had not been found up to Saturday afternoon.




The proceeding of the Bench of Magistrates in the matter of the enquiry into the charge preferred against George Crawford for causing the death of George Abbinett, calls for a few remarks from us, ...


We last week recorded the result of the Coroner's Inquest which sat to enquire into the cause of the death of George Abbinett. [After much discussion, the examination held in private.]




INQUEST. - An inquest was held on Saturday, in the Trafalgar Inn, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of one Joseph Burn.  From the evidence, it appears that, on the previous Thursday, the deceased and a man named John Anderson were engaged in getting logs of timber into the creek connected with Henderson's Mill.  They were disengaging  from a fallen tree a log about 14 feet long, 3 or 4 feet in diameter, 3 or 4 tons in weight, and which lay upon a slope; deceased had one end and Anderson another; and it would seem that it yielded rather suddenly to their efforts - technically speaking, it started.  The deceased, warned by his mate that there was danger, suddenly stepped back, but his foot caught in a supple jack, and, horrible to relate, the log rolled over him.  His body was not so much crushed as might be anticipated, but his death, of course, was all but instantaneous.  The Jury returned a verdict of "accidental death."




Fatal accident. - Intelligence reached town, yesterday, of a dreadful occurrence, similar in its details to one we had to record a few days ago.  The deceased, whose name was Murphy, was engaged in falling timber, at or near Mr. Stewart's place, Ngunguru, and a log, as in the former case, rolled over his body.  An inquest was held on the remains by Dr. Kinderdine, coroner for the Wangarei district, and a verdict returned of "Accidental death."




INQUEST. - A week or two ago we noticed the death by drowning, of a man named Alfred Habbard, late cook on board the schooner Southern Cross.  The body was found on the morning of Friday last, and an inquest held upon it the same day, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, in the small chapel at Judge's Bay.  Although the face of deceased was much disfigured, the body was identified by the clothing.  The circumstances of the accident, as already related by us, having been deposed to by the seamen, who were with the deceased in the boat at the time, the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death.




An inquest was held yesterday on the body of Mrs. Hester Bolton, who died very suddenly on the 24th instant.  Medical evidence proved the cause of death to have been the bursting of an aneurism of the artery of the stomach.  A verdict was given accordingly.


OTAGO WITNESS, 27 June 1857.


A Coroner's Inquest was held at the Royal Hotel, Dunedin, on Tuesday last, to enquire into the death of Eliza Crocome, a half-caste, who died rather suddenly on Sunday last.

   Dr. Robert Williams, surgeon, gave the following evidence: - I was called in to attend Eliza Crocome on the 16th instant.  She appeared to me to be suffering from an attack of common fever.  She complained of great pain in the head, and the other usual symptoms of fever.  She said she had a slight earache.  She had no discharge from the ears at that.  I prescribed the usual remedy, and saw her again on Wednesday the 17th.  I gave her an aperient medicine.  I saw her again on Thursday.  She said an abscess had burst in her left ear.  She had been much relieved by it, and considered herself nearly well. She was sitting in Hare's house nursing a child, and appeared cheerful.  She requested me to charge her with my attendance, and not to charge Mrs. Jones.

   She said she did not require any further attendance; she thought she would do very well.  I gave her advice as to the treatment of the ear to prevent the discharge coagulating.  I acquainted Mrs. Jones with the state I had left deceased in.  Mrs. Jones requested me to call in again and see her, until she was recovered. I was called away to Port Chalmers, and being detained there, I did not see her again.  She was dead before I came back.

   I think it was the right ear.  I am of opinion that the cause of death was the bursting of an abscess on the brain.  I have known cases of abscesses formed on the brain without anything to lead to the supposition that they existed.  Abscesses on the brain are often particularly obscure.  I attended deceased about twelve months since, when she had much the same symptoms, and they all passed of and she was able to work.  The abscess might have been forming then.  Death invariably ensues from the bursting of such an abscess.

   I observed no external marks or bruises on the head, nor did she complain of any.  Mrs. Jones stated something to the effect that she was an idle girl, and tat she was lying down to the illness.  As far as I can recollect, I remarked, "She has been too well fed, and you know these half-castes are always idle.  She is fevered now, but the medicine will relieve her."  She was in bed the first two days I visited her at Mr. Jones' house.  On the third day she was at Mr. Hare's, where, I believe, she had walked.

   Margaret Hare, wife of James Hare, labourer, Dunedin, being sworn, stated  -  Eliza Crocome came to my house on Thursday last, the 18th instant, about 11 o'clock.  She asked to be allowed to lie down on the sofa.  I was not in the house when she came in.  I followed in about a quarter of an hour.  She was sent to my house for me to nurse.  She slept on the sofa.  She complained of her head.  She was suck when she took food.  She was dressed by me every day, and then she lay down.  She slept during the day, but she could not sleep at night.  I sat up with her three nights.  She made no complaint.  She said she would like to see her father.  That was on Saturday morning.  I saw her at Mr. Jones's house.  She had no bruises on her face.  She had three spots like mortification.  The spots were black. They did not look like bruises.  They were round spots, like sun-freckles.  I gave her a dose of salts by the Doctor's orders. This was on Thursday.

   She complained of earache, and her ear ran.  I am not certain, but I think it was the left ear.  She died on Sabbath night, about 11 o'clock.  My daughter was attending her.  My daughter called me in, and when I got up I saw her give a gasp or two, and died.  There was a discharge of white matter from the mouth.  There was an offensive smell from the discharge from her ear.  I put some wool and oil in the deceased's ear by the Doctor's orders.  I think it was the left ear.

   The Coroner expressed his conviction that the cause of death had been the bursting of an abscess on the brain; but, if the jury wished for further evidence, he would order a post mortem examination.  He, however, thought it unnecessary.

   The Jury, after a short consultation, decided that a post mortem examination was not necessary; and returned a verdict "That the deceased Eliza Crocome died from natural causes."





Summary and editorial.

CORONER'S INQUEST. - On Tuesday, the 30th instant, an inquest was held by G. D. Monteith, Esq., Coroner, and a respectable jury, at the Highlander Inn, Kai Wara, on view of the body of Benjamin  Jefferson, who fell down on the previous day, suddenly, and died.  From the evidence, it appeared that the deceased left his residence on the same morning in company with Mr. A. H. White, to attend a sale that was to tale place that day at the Highlander.  That on nearly reaching the Inn, he fell down, and called for help.  Mr. White then placed him upon a heap of stones, and dashed some water in his face.  Deceased was then removed into the Highlander, where he died in a few minutes.  About four months previously he had had a similar attack.  The jury after mature consideration found the following verdict: - "Died by the visitation of God from apoplexy." Accompanied by the following rider:-

   "And the jury cannot separate without expressing their reprehension of the conduct of those who passing at the time of the attack of the deceased refused when solicited to proceed for medical assistance, such conduct being in their opinion wanting in common humanity."



The Ann Wilson and absconding of Captain King, &c.




FATAL ACCIDENTS. - On Monday last the Coroner held two inquests on the bodies of two men, named respectively Edward Smith and Alexander Stewart.

   From the evidence given it appeared that the said Edward Smith was a seaman belonging to the brigantine Adelaide Packet, and had been in company with one of his mates on shore on Saturday evening last, and that on returning to go on board in the middle of the night, in a state of intoxication, he went into the water to look for some of the tackled of the boat, and was last seen standing up to his middle in water, when he was suddenly missed, and although search was made for him, he was not found till the next (Sunday) morning, when his body was seen under the water near the Customs'' wharf.  The jury returned a verdict of "accidental drowning."

   The other deceased. Alexander Stewart, was a stranger here, having only arrived on Saturday by the Wonga Wonga from Taranaki; on his way to the diggings.  From the evidence given in this case, it appeared that the deceased was also in a state if intoxication, and was last seen about twelve o'clock on Saturday night at the Trafalgar Hotel; and it is supposed that he must have mistaken his way home to his lodgings, and instead of going down the Beach, had gone up Washington Valley; and in trying to find his way to the Beach have walked over the cliff near the Pilot's house, his body having been found directly at the base of the cliff with his scull fractured, lying on his stomach and face.  A sum of 35 Pounds in gold, and some silver, was found on his person, and he was identified by one of the passengers by the steamer.  The jury returned a verdict of "found dead at the Port Cliffs."




CHILD BURNED TO DEATH. - On Wednesday an inquest was held before H. J. Andrews, Esq., coroner, and a jury, upon the body of a child, between six and seven years of age, who had died the previous night from the effects of burning.  The name of the deceased was Emily Grut, and the inquest was held at the house of a relative, on the North Shore.  It appeared in evidence that carpenters were at work on the premises where the child lived, and that a quantity of shavings had been ignited, and, between 3 and 4 o'clock, one of the carpenters heard a scream.  He rushed out and saw the child with her clothes on fire.  The flames were immediately extinguished by the carpenter and the child's uncle, but not before the injuries sustained were so severe that death supervened.  The verdict of the jury was "accidental death."



DEATH BY DROWNING - MELANCHOLY OCCURRENCE. - On Thursday last, William Wilson, late butcher in Queen-street, and his wife, met their death under the following painful circumstances.  The Eliza, cutter, arrived at Wa[blot]eki between four and five in the morning of that day, having on board as passengers the deceased persons, a girl named Elizabeth McCoy, Mr. J. H. King, jun., and two others.  On the cutter anchoring, Mrs. Wilson expressed much anxiety to go on shore at once. The master, Felix McCann, persuaded her to wait till day light, but she would not consent.  He accordingly left the cutter in the dingy bound for shore - distant nearly a mile - with William Wilson and his wife, together with the girl.  With this number of people, the gunwhale of the dingy was within three inches of the water.  When about a quarter of a mile from the cutter, whilst trying, as McCann thought, to protect his wife from the weather, caused the boat to heel over.  It immediately took in water and swamped.  McCann succeeded in righting the dingy, but could not save any of the passengers; he called to the cutter for assistant, bit without avail.  He then swam ashore.  In doing so, he met some Maories in a boat, and sent them to the spot where the accident occurred.

   In the meantime Mr. King, who was on board the cutter, was roused by hearing loud screams, and had his attention drawn to the spot whence they proceeded.  He heard the voices of Maories, and called to them to look for the people who were drowning.  He saw them take Elizabeth McCoy out of the water.  He then went with the Maories to look for the bodies of the deceased, and, it being daylight at this time, they saw the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson lying at the bottom, in about three fathoms water.  These were brought to the surface by the Natives - M r. King having promised them 5 Pounds to do their best - and then taken ashore.

   On the morning of Wednesday, they were brought to town and, on the same day, an inquest was held upon them by the coroner and a jury, at the Osprey Inn, High-street.  The circumstances we have summarised being deposed to in detail, the jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally drowned," with the following rider:-

   "The jury believe it their duty to record it as their opinion that the melancholy accident would not have happened, had the boat been well trimmed, and had not one of the passengers been intoxicated.

DEATH FROM APOPLEXY. - INQUEST. - On Thursday last, an inquest was held at the Masonic Hotel, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., and a jury, upon the body of one Moses Walsh, late a private in the 58th Regiment.  The first witness was Sergeant Shepherd, who deposed that he was sergeant of the guard on Monday night.  At ¼ to 9 the deceased was bought to him drunk and outrageous.  He (the wiriness) handcuffed him with his hands behind his back, and tied his legs together with a rope, the one end of which was made fast to the handcuffs.  Thus secured - the object of which was to prevent the deceased from injuring his fellow prisoners, he having, on former occasions, been very outrageous under similar circumstances - the deceased was locked up, and was found dead next morning.

   Dr. Thomson testified to the immediate cause of death being apoplexy, - he having, by direction of the coroner, made a post mortem examination - brought on by excessive drinking. With reference to the manner in which the deceased had been secured, he (the witness) examined the wrists and found no injuries upon them.  Unless the deceased's head had been lower than the trunk of his body, he (witness) did not think that such a condition would cause death.  He considered, however, that should the deceased have struggled much, tied as he was, such struggling might have led to a sudden death.  The verdict returned was that death ensued from apoplexy, caused by excessive indulgence in the use of ardent spirits.




DEATH FROM BURNING. - On Wednesday night, about 11 o'clock, a girl about 15 years of age, named Matilda Maxwell, was so injured by fire having caught her dress that she expired yesterday about 2 p.m.  At the time of the accident, the deceased was in the back kitchen of her father's house, cleaning her shoes, when either the fire or candle caught her clothes and ignited them.  She rushed out, thus adding fuel to the fire.  Her mother and an artilleryman succeeded in quenching the flames, injuring themselves in doing so; but their assistance was too late to avail in saving the life of the unfortunate sufferer.  Dr. Curtis was promptly in attendance, and was at the bedside of the deceased during most of the night, but the case was a hopeless one.  An inquest on the body was held last evening at the White Hart Hotel, when these circumstances were elicited in evidence, and a verdict returned of "Accidental death."



DEATH BY BURNING. - One of those appalling and fatal accidents, too frequently occurring to females, and which has resulted in the death of a young and interesting girl, daughter of Mr. Maxwell, late Sergeant of the Officers'' Mess of the 58th Regiment, took place on Wednesday night.  From the evidence taken by the Coroner, Dr. Andrews, it appears that Matilda Maxwell the deceased was washing in the back kitchen of the house between ten and eleven o'clock.  Her father, an almost helpless and hopeless invalid, was sitting reading by the fire in the front room with a younger daughter, Mrs. Maxwell being then in bed.  Suddenly they heard Matilda scream.  The unfortunate girl rushed from room to room, and then into the open air; her screams, and cries of fire attracting the attention of David Munro a gunner in the Royal Artillery, who resides within about forty yards of Maxwell.  Running directly to the spot from whence the screams proceeded, he beheld the deceased in a mass of flames and making for a creek that runs hard by. He immediately threw her upon the grass and with the assistance of George Henry Cleveland, eventually succeeded in extinguishing the flames.

   Dr. Curtis having been sent for, found her lying on the green opposite her parents' house.  She was naked = her clothes having been literally burnt from her body.  Nearly the whole surface of the body was burnt.  All the usual remedies for saving life were applied, but in vain, the unfortunate girl expiring about one o'clock on Thursday.  Poor Maxwell fainted in his chair, and such has been the shock, in his sinking state as to occasion his removal to the Military Hospital where he now lies.  Mrs. Maxwell, in her endeavours to save her daughter has received very severe injuries, both her arms being much burnt, from the hands to the elbows.  Munro is likewise severely burnt in both hands, so much so as to have incapacitated him from signing his deposition.

   A more affecting dispensation that this we have never had to record, or one calculated to beget more general sympathy for the unhappy sufferers.  If when the clothes of females unhappily ignite, if they, or those near them, would only throw them down, and wrap a  coat or blanket, or a carpet round them, but very trifling injury would ensue.  We have seen females on two occasions with their clothes in a blaze saved from either pain or injury in consequence of being instantly wrapped in a gentleman's cloak.  The fire was thus extinguished almost in the moment that it broke out.




ACCIDENTAL DEATH. - On Saturday last an inquest was held at the Forest Inn, Wakefield, before J. F. Wilson, Esq., coroner, on the body of a young man named George Griffith.  It appears from the evidence that the deceased fell into a saw-pit, and was killed by a flitch of timber falling on him.  The jury returned a verdict to that effect.


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 4 September 1857



A Coroner's inquest was held yesterday at the William Denny Hotel on the body of Philip White, a soldier of the 58th Regiment, who died on the previous day, after drinking a pint of raw rum.  The case excited considerable interest, as it was generally believed that the deceased had taken the liquor for a wager whilst in a state of intoxication.

   The following Jury was sworn, namely Wm. Cooper, John Grundy, Philip Levy, Bernard reynolds, Joseph Fielding, Michael Lewis, John Morrison, John Gourley, Thomas Short, Thomas Thompson, James Pratt, John Brigham (foreman).

   The Coroner briefly addressed the Jury, saying that he knew but little of the case before them.  He, however, believed that it was one requiring their profound consideration; but before entering into it, it would be necessary for them to view the body, and afterwards it would be his duty to see that all the evidence that could throw light on the matter should be placed before them.

   The Jury retired to view the body, and after a short interval returned.  A discussion then ensued as to the necessity of a post mortem examination, the majority of the jury being of opinion that such examination was required.

   The Coroner stated that a post mortem examination would necessarily occupy some time and that evidence could be proceeded with.

   Dr. Montgomery deposed as follows: I am Assistant Surgeon in H.M. 58th Regiment.  At about half-past one o'clock yesterday I was called upon to see the deceased, who was then at the William Denny Hotel.  Deceased was labouring under apoplexy, as I firmly believe, from the effects of drink.  I used the stomach pump, from which I brought upwards of two quarts of fluid, a large portion of which, judging from the smell, I consider was rum.  I attended the deceased until he died.  He died about 10 o'clock last night.  Deceased showed no symptoms of sensibility throughout the whole of my attendance on him.

   By a Juror - I am not of my own knowledge aware that the deceased had been addicted to intemperance; I have heard so.  The deceased was a healthy man as far as I know, up to yesterday.  I believe the cause of death to have been excessive drinking.

   The Coroner wished to be informed by the Jury whether they were desirous of having a post mortem examination after hearing the evidence of Dr. Montgomery.

   Discussion ensued as to the necessity of a post mortem examination.

   In answer to Mr. Fielding, Dr. Montgomery stated that he did not believe that apoplexy was induced by any other case than that of drinking.

   The majority of the jury were adverse to a post mortem examination.

   A further animated debate ensued amongst the jury, which was very properly suppressed by the Coroner.

   Jordan, the man who was alleged to have given the deceased the liquor was then introduced as the next witness.  The Coroner was about to examine him, but ascertaining that he was the man who had given the rum to the deceased, would not swear him, but desired him to remain in attendance during the remainder of the evidence.

   Robert Calvert was the next witness called.  He deposed as follows: I am barman at the William Denny Hotel.  I know that the deceased has frequented this hotel before yesterday.  Yesterday, at about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, a man named Michael Jordan, now in Court, came to this hotel and asked the deceased whether he would "shout." The deceased at that time appeared to be very tipsy.  Jordan called for a pint of rum.  I gave a pint of rum to Jordan.  I saw the deceased drink the pint of rum at one draught.  Immediately after drinking the pint of rum deceased asked me to give him something to relieve him.  About five minutes after drinking the rum deceased, who was standing in a corner odf the room, slid down on the ground.

   By Mr. Levi - I served the deceased one pint of rum; no more was served to him.  The deceased drank the rum "neat," - that is to say without water.  The quantity taken, namely one pint of rum, might have caused the man's death even if he had not taken any spirits or intoxicating liquor previously.

   Re-examined - Michael Jordan said he would go for an emetic.  He left the house and came back in a few minutes with a white powder in a paper.  Jordan mixed the powder in a very little water, but I did not see him administer it to deceased.

   The Jury at this stage of the proceedings said they would wish for a post mortem examination.

   The Coroner said that there was something now beyond the drinking of the rum under consideration, and that he himself would consider it his duty to call for a post mortem examination. The Coroner then, after cautioning Jordan, asked him where he obtained the powder.

   Jordan said he got it from Mr. Gundry's.

   The Coroner said it would be necessary to have the evidence of Mr. Hamilton, who conducts the business of the late Mr. Gundry.

   Examination continued - I now called Mr. Jackson, the landlord of the hotel.  Mr. Jackson sent immediately to the military barracks for a surgeon. The surgeon arrived in about three-quarters of an hour after being sent for.  Dr. Montgomery was the surgeon.

   By a Juror - Jordan was not drunk when he came into the hotel.  There were about six persons in the bar.  I thought the call for a pint of rum was not for the deceased, but for the company.  It is common to serve rum in that way for "a shout."

   By another Juror - When Jordan called for the rum, he was, to the best of my belief, sober.

   By Mr. Fielding - I gave the run to Jordan.  I did not see Jordan give the rum to the deceased.  I was engaged in getting change, but when I looked up I saw the deceased drinking it.

   By Mr. Morrison - Michael Jordan paid for the rum, when it was served out.

   By Mr. Fielding - I did not interfere to prevent the man drinking the rum at a draught.  The man took it instantaneously.  I was quite taken by surprise.

   By Mr. Levy - I have been about 6 months in Mr. Jackson's service, and have served in hotels in London.

   A Juror wished to ask the witness whether he was aware whether there was any deleterious mixture in the rum.

   The Coroner declined to put such a question.

   Mr. Jackson said he would very much like to have the question put.

   The Coroner pointed out the utter impossibility of putting such a question.

   Dr. Montgomery re-examined, said, I have made a post mortem examination of the deceased, and find that the deceased died of apoplexy, a vessel in the brain having ruptured.  I believe this rupture of the vessel to have been caused by over indulgence in ardent spirits.  The lining membrane of the stomach was perfectly healthy.  There was nothing to warrant even a suspicion that the deceased had had anything in the shape of poison having been received into the system except the spirits alluded to.

   Mr. Jackson, addressing the Coroner, said, that he wished to be examined in the matter.,  At the request of the Coroner, he gave an outline of the evidence he wished to give, from which it appeared that Mr. Jackson met the deceased outside another public house in town, early on, on the morning of his death.  From a remark that was made, Mr. Jackson learnt that the deceased had been drinking excessively on the previous evening.  Shortly afterwards, saw deceased at the William Denny hotel.  He, Mr. Jackson, was in the back premises when he called.  Deceased came round and asked for a glass of rum.  This, witness refused to give him, as he, deceased, was in a state of intoxication.  Deceased then said, "you must give me a glass," for I brought you a letter the other day.  Witness replied, very well, go away, I will be up presently.  Had no intention of giving him the liquor, but only said this to get him away.  He next saw deceased at the bar, lying as described, and immediately sent for a medical man.  He afterwards directed his barman to draw some rum from the same cask that the deceased's liquor had been drawn from.  Dr. Montgomery gave his opinion that the liquor was unadulterated.  He, Mr. Jackson, could solemnly assert, that if his liquors were mixed at all, they contained no more hurtful ingredient than water.  (Laughter).


   At this stage of the proceedings some discussion took place as to the necessity of taking the evidence of a Mr. Smith, who arrived here as Surgeon of the Solent.  It was, however, considered, by a large majority of the jury, that Dr. Montgomery's evidence was quite conclusive.

   The Coroner then went over the evidence carefully, and in summing up, commented upon the fact that Jordan, who was sober, having given the rum to the deceased.

   The Jury then proceeded to consider their verdict.  The Coroner and bystanders retiring.  After an hour's deliberation the Court was re-opened, when the foreman delivered the following verdict:-

   "That the deceased, Philip White, died of apoplexy, caused by drinking an excessive quantity of ardent spirits. 

   At the same time they think it their duty to record their reprehension of the practice too generally pursued of supplying intoxicating drinks to parties in a state of intoxication."


DAILY SOUTHERN C ROSS, 4 September 1857



The Philip White inquest: summary and editorial comment - "rumours of a most unpleasant kind."

MAN FOUND DROWNED. - An inquest was held yesterday, at the Wharf Hotel, before H. J. Andrews, Esq., Coroner, on the body of a man found floating in the Waitemata, near Wood's Island, in the forenoon.  The body, which was not recognized, was brought into town by the natives who found it and attended to give evidence.  Dr. Lee examined the body, which he stated to have been probably a week in the water.  Verdict, "Found drowned."


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 11 September 1857


CORONER'S INQUEST. - On Tuesday last an inquest was held at the Redan Hotel, before Dr. Andrew's, coroner, on the body of Sarah Ann Barrit, a child about four years of age, who met with her death on the evening of the day previous by falling into a well, on the premises of her step-father - John Gledhill, at a place known by the name of Cockamatoo.  It appeared from the evidence, that the poor little child, whilst playing, must have fallen into the well unnoticed.  The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."



ACCIDENTAL DEATH. -          On Saturday last an inquest was held at the Forest inn, Wakefield, before J. F. Wilson, Esq., coroner, on the body of a young man named George Griffith.  It appears from the evidence that the deceased fell into a saw-pit, and was killed by a flitch of timber falling on him.  The jury returned a verdict to that effect.




FATAL ACCIDENT. - A man named D'Arcy, lately from Wellington, met his death last week, at the Aorere, in attempting to travel over a rough country on a very dark night.  D'Arcy appeared to have received a blow on the forehead from a fall, which, if it did not cause death, probably stupefied him, and exposure during an inclement night might have caused his decease.  An inquest was held on the body, and a verdict of accidental death recorded.

FATAL ACCIDENT. - A coroner's inquest was held at the house of Mr. James Newport, in Brook-street Valley, on Tuesday, the 20th instant, on the body of Charles Rush, a bout about 12 years of age, who was killed by the falling of a tree.  Verdict, accidental death.


COLONIST, 23 October 1857


An Inquest was held at the Court House, Collingwood, before Dr. Wilson, Coroner, on Saturday the 10th instant, on the body of Thomas D'Arcy, then lying dead.

   The deceased was found lying dead on the Slate river, about 8 miles from Collingwood, on Tuesday the 6th instant. After crossing the ferry with a mule and bullock on the previous evening, he appears to have been carrying a load of flour for some distance, and was proceeding to a store on the Slate River.  He was found dead next morning on his back, with his hands crossed over his belly.  The weather was severe on the evening previous to the discovery of the corpse.  Verdict - found dead, but no evidence to show by what means.

   Drunkenness appears to have been the case with nearly all the parties connected with the unhappy event on the evening of the fatal occurrence.


A YOUNG lad of the name of Charles Rush, about fourteen years of age, met with his death under the following circumstances:-

   On the afternoon of Monday last, the boy and a man went on foot to a bush in Brook-street Valley, on the road to the Dun Mountain, to cut trees.  The tree which they had just been cutting, when the accident occurred, was not much thicker than a man's thigh, near the root, and had been almost cut through.  The boy had calculated the distance to run to escape from under the falling tree, but as he was running away got his foot caught in a root and fell on his face, and the cut tree came down upon his head.  The boy was heard to give a scream, and did not speak a word afterwards.

   The man who accompanied the lad ran to the house in which the boy lived to give information, and afterwards went with assistance to the sufferer.  The parties belonging to the house went for Dr. Thebing, who on walking to the house met the parties, who were carrying the body on a wooden litter.  He was taken to the house and laid upon a sofa, and within one hour he died in a quiet state.  The mother was present when her son expired, having met the mournful company on their way with the dying youth to her house.

   A Coroner's inquest has been held over the deceased, when a verdict of "Accidentally killed by the falling of a tree, and not otherwise," was returned.


OTAGO WITNESS, 24 October 1857


An Inquest was held at the Hospital, Dunedin, on Tuesday last, on view of the body of Hans Strain, a settler in the North-east Valley.  From the evidence of the various witnesses, it appeared that the deceased had accompanied John Duff and his wife, who were returning homer to the North-east Valley with a bullock sledge.  They stopped at Mr. Hutcheson's on the way for about twenty minutes.  Mrs. Duff walked home, and was overtaken by the bullocks near the Water of Leith.  Neither Duff nor Strain were then with the sledge.  From Duff's evidence, it appeared that he had stayed behind for a few minutes.  Strain was on the sledge driving.  Duff overtook the sledge near Dr. Purdie's, and found Strain lying on the ground beside the sledge.  The bullocks had stopped.  He endeavoured to replace Strain on the sledge, but was unable to succeed, and he then called at Dr. Purdie's for assistance.  That gentleman came out with a lantern, (it was then about eight o'clock, and very dark), and accompanied Duff half way to the Mill road, but they saw nothing of Strain or the bullocks, and assumed that he had driven on.  Dr. Purdie was again called, at 11 o'clock, by Duncan Sinclair and the daughter of the deceased, who, finding her father had not come home, came in search of him.  They found the deceased lying in the road, dead and cold, excepting in the region of the heart.  Dr. Purdie was of opinion that he must have seen the deceased when he first looked for him had he been then lying where the body was found.  Deceased had been in a declining state of health for some time past.  Dr. Purdie was of opinion that the deceased died from suffocation, from having fallen on his face in a state of intoxication, and being unable to rise.  Duff, after he had left Dr. Purdie, returned to Mr. Hutcheson's, where he stayed until he was sufficiently recovered from the effectds of intoxication.  Having provided himself with a lantern, he went home, and arrived at the North-east Valley at day-break; but he had been in  such a state of intoxication that he was unable to account for himself from the time (11 o'clock) at which, it was stated, he had last left Mr. Hutcheson's.  There were no marks of violence upon the body of the deceased, and his clothes had no appearance of his having been engaged in a scuffle.  Deceased had been drinking with Duff, but had had only one glass of whisky.  There was a bottle of whisky on the sledge, from which both had partaken.

   The Jury returned a verdict of "Died from the effects of intoxication."

   The deceased has left a wife and numerous family to deplore his loss.




An in quest was held yesterday at the Court House, Nelson, for the purpose of inquiring in to the circumstances connected with the death of Mrs. Hannah Pratt.

   The jury, consisting of Messrs. J. P. Black, B. Jackson, J. C. Phillips, G. Aiken, A. Aiken, Rout, Webb, Norgrove, E. Snow, S. P. Tucker, J. T. Jones, R. Burn, and G. Coates, having been sworn,

   The CORONER (J. F. Wilson, Esq.) informed them that in consequence of information he had received from Dr. Renwick and Dr. Williams, he felt it to be his duty to institute an inquiry into the death of the deceased.  It appeared that she had been confined about a fortnight since; that the symptoms during her confinement were quite natural; but that when it was thought she had almost recovered, she was seized with violent purging and excessive pain, which continued until her death. Previous to her death the medical men attending her became uneasy, and a portion of the vomited matter was submitted to analyzation, the result of which appeared to the doctors sufficient to justify a request for an official inquiry into the case and a post mortem examination of the body.

   The jury then went and viewed the body, and, on returning to the Court House, they requested the Coroner to give orders for a post mortem examination of the deceased.

   The inquiry was therefore adjoiurned until four o'clock to-day.


COLONIST, 3 November 1857



Before the Coroner Dr. WILSON, and the following Jurymen:

   Messrs. Jas. Palmer Black, Wm. Norgrove, Alex. Aitken, Evan F. Jones, Jas. C. Phillips, Benjamin Jackson, Robt. Burn, Joseph Webb, George Aitken, Wm. Rout, S. P. Tucker, Edwin Snow, FOREMAN - Mr. Coates.

   On Friday last an inquest was held at the Court house, on the body of the above named female, a married woman, about 34 years of age.  As Dr. Williams and Dr. Renwick, who were in attendance, stated that there were certain suspicious circumstances attending the case, it was thought advisable to hold a post mortem examination.

   The jury again met, after viewing the body and several questions were put to the Coroner as to the necessity of the immediate examination of the nurses and other persons who attended the deceased up to her death, and also whether any enquiry had been made as to poisons having been purchased.  The Coroner stated that an enquiry had been made at druggists, but no arsenic had been obtained.

   By a Juryman. - Is there any other place where such could be obtained?  Tons of arsenic were in the colony for sheep washing purposes.  The alteration in the woman, whose acquaintance he had known was very great.

      The Coroner recommended a post mortem examination to be made previously to any examination of witnesses, in order to get to know whether the suspicious circumstances were proved to be the result of poison, as witnesses might be suspiciously examined without due foundation.

   The foreman recommended an adjournment till Saturday, 4 o'clock p.m., to hear the result of the post mortem examination, which was agreed to.

   Court adjourned.


   A suggestion was made by the Jury that the public should be excluded to prevent witnesses from hearing how the case would be proceeded with, and the public were requested to withdraw.  A suggestion was made that the inquest should be held in another room, as it was likely to be further adjourned, and as the Court House would be required on Monday, for the resident magistrate's Court, the building would not be at the disposal of the jury.

   Dr. Renwick was swoern - Was called to attend Mrs. Pratt by Dr. Williams, on Tuesday afternoon last.  Saw her about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and found her lying in a state of great prostration, with a sunken countenance and anxious expression, wick intermittent pulse, and clammy perspiration, vomiting a brownish green liquid, with mucous floating in it.  She did not complain of any severe pain at that time in her stomach and bowels, but upon continued pressure she complained of pain.  Her tongue was moist and complained of great thirst; that was the state in which I found her.  She said she had been attacked days since with violent vomitings, and she had excessive pain.  The attack had come on with severe pain and vomiting, and purging.

   By the Coroner. - Did you come to any conclusion as to the nature of the case.

   Dr. Renwick. - I had great difficulty.

   Dr. Williams had stated the suspicions he entertained.  He also brought some of the matter she had vomited.

   By the Coroner. - Thought the case was of a suspicious character - the symptoms coming on in a very sudden manner.  He also stated the conduct of the husband was very extraordinary, which also appeared to me to be the case, as he did not wait to hear our Report but went away almost immediately.

   By the Coroner. - I was summoned by Dr. Williams.  Had a doubt as to the nature of the case and after examining the matter and finding some indications of arsenick, certainly not very sure, but such as to create suspicion, my suspicions were further confirmed.  Dr. Williams brought the matter to my house, and the matter was tested in my surgery.  Did not see Dr. Williams take it.  Saw in the room on my second visit a bucket of the same mucous.  A green precipitate thrown down by use of ammonio sulphate of copper.  The produce had every appearance of being the arsenite of copper.  Saw her again next day towards the evening between 6 and 7 o'clock; found the vomiting still continuing, the tongue red, and the popullar elevated - the lips also were red and inflamed looking, and she complained of great heat and burning in her throat and mouth, and great thirst.  Her hands were cold and clammy.

   By the Coroner. - They were not clasped.  Feet not cold.  The nurse said she had twitchings in her arms, and had been very restless and uneasy.  She was perfectly sensible; she made no remark as to the nature of her complaint unless asked, she was evidently sinking.  Saw some of what she had been vomiting, and looked at it, which Dr. Williams ordered to be kept.

   By the Coroner. - saw her next day at 9 o'clock, after she was dead; she died the same morning at four o'clock a.m.

   By the Coroner. - Saw the husband also.  Examined her hands - they were contracted, and her feet contorted and drawn inwards a little.

   By the Coroner. - Do not remember noticing the nails particularly at the time.  Dr. Williams and myself on considering the matter thought it would be better to have a post mortem examination and told Mr. Pratt who strongly objected, but on our coming down stairs he said if her relations were agreeable he had no objection, and we saw in the street Mrs. Holder.  We agreed to have the post mortem examination next morning.  Dr. Williams called on me in the evening, and informed me that Mr. Pratt refused to have a post mortem examination made.

   By the Coroner: Dr. Williams called upon me and said Pratt had positively refused and said he would rather suffer death first, and had thrown away the mucous matter.  This conduct still made us more suspicious, and in the morning we applied to the Coroner for an inquest.  We have made a post mortem examination, Dr. Bush and Dr. Thebing being also present; Dr. Thebing went away part of the time.

   Post Mortem of examination of the body of Hannah Pratt, aged 34; 36 hours after death.  October 30th, 1857.

   External appearance. - Body generally attenuated; countenance sunken and hollow; lips preternaturally red, and on turning the head a brown fluid flowed from the mouth.  On the right side of the chin there was a yellowish brown spit, about the size of half-a-crown; the tongue unusually red and also about an inch of the lining membrane of the upper part of phagus; abdomen of a greenish tinge; nothing unusual in the appearance of the extremities, only that the finger nails of the left hand were all blue; the right being natural in appearance; the feet were slightly contorted, and turned inwards, and a blue stain was observed on both feet, just below the external ankle, caused by venous congestion; nothing unusual was observable on the posterior part of the body.

   Cavity of the head. - Dura Mater onscular with adhesions of long standing to both hemispheres of the cerebrum; surface of brain onscular, substance firm and healthy.

   Cavity of the Thorax. - No fluid in the cavity; linings more vascular than natural; extensive adhesions of long standing over the whole of the right lung; the left free; heart and pericardium healthy and natural in appearance; both verticles contained a small fibrous clot.

    Cavity of the Abdomen. - The surfaces of the peritoneum lying between the intestines and walls of the abdomen, free; omentum very small, destitute of fat, very much congested and adherent to the stomach; cavity of abdomen contained about a pint and a half of a sero purulent fluid; external coat of stomach very much congested, and dotted with stellated patches of inflammation; liver large, easily broken down with the finer; left lobe congested with dark red superficial patches, upon removing the capsule which was adherent at that part.  Pancreas healthy; spleen covered with dark congested patches, otherwise healthy.  Kidneys flabby, and paler than usual; uterus and appendages healthy and natural in appearance; bladder the dame.  It was remarked that there wass a peculiar redness pervading the whole muscular tissue.

   The stomach, intestines, heart, liver, spleen, and kidneys were removed from the body, and deposited in sealed jars at the Police Office for further examination.


   Examination continued. - Have not finished the examination; are now analysing the contents of the stomach.

   By the foreman. - What inference should you draw from the examination?

   Dr. Renwick. - Should suppose it necessary to continue the examination.

   At this stage of the [proceedings, Dr. Williams said he should wish his examination to be first made, as he should, on being asked as to what Mrs. Pratt had been drinking, refer to Dr. Williams then administering, to give an account of what she drank, and his reasons for the same.

   Dr. Renwick examined by a juryman. - Dec eased complained of pain; the husband did not attend in the room - always went away.  The twitchings in the limbs often accompany death from poison, but not a sufficient evidence to show poison had been administered.  She did not complain of her husband; she had a nurse; do not remember any remarks being made by the nurse.

   Dr. George Williams examined. - Was called upon to attend deceased in her confinement, which took place on Monday the 12th day of October.  She was confined of a healthy female child.  Her constitution was an exceedingly good one, although she was rather advanced in age to begin childbearing.

   By the Coroner.  Had a very good labour.  The milk was properly secreted, she was nursing the baby, and was doing very well.  Five days after her confinement I gave her a quinine mixture; Did not see her on the 22nd; did not consider she required any attendance.  The last day I saw her was the 21st; in a day or two I intended to leave her as convalescent.  On the 23rd (Friday) a neighbour came for me to see Mr. Pratt, suddenly in the morning, as she considered Mrs. Pratt was seriously ill.

   By a juryman: I think the person calling was Mrs. Garner.

   Dr. Williams continued: On entering the room I was very much surprised at the cadaverous appearance of her face and sunken cheeks; deceased complained of occasional intense pain over her stomach and bowels, with constant vomiting and parging; the symptoms had all come on suddenly.

   By the foreman: Could not say how suddenly.

   Dr. Williams continued: She did not  say when they came on; asked her what she had been taking; she said arrowroot, gruel, broth, was what she was usually taking, but nothing that could cause bad symptoms that she was aware of.  On Tuesday morning went to Dr. Renwick's; mentioned my suspicions, and requested him to see her with me; Dr. Renwick on seeing her, could not come to anything more satisfactory than myself; on the Monday she had a renewed attack of vomiting, and I asked her how she was attacked; she said shortly after taking wine and water administered by her husband - not an hour after she had taken the wine and water; the vomit was taken away and placed in a wine bottle for examination; this I have preserved; Mrs. Reardon was not present at the first symptoms; the husband never asked me how she was; on the day of my going to the house with Dr. Renwick we saw the husband, but he did not speak, but walked away, and did not return while we were there; on Wednesday saw her again, with Dr. Renwick; her pulse was more irregular; her husband was present; he said that he would not for the world that she should be told she should die; I said it was the truth, and therefore it was my duty to tell her she would die.  The husband did not wish a clergyman to be sent for, as she had been a good liver; she said she would like to see a clergyman as she had been a great sinner.  She died on Thursday, about half-past four o'clock.  Spoke about the necessity of a post mortem examination, and sent for the husband to tell him so; Dr. Renwick agreed with me; Miss Pratt was there, and Mrs. Newton; before leaving the house on the morning of her death saw the bucket containing the vomit and told Mrs. Reardon to being it to me at my house; she came but did not bring it, but said that it had been emptied by the husband, who had stated himself quite opposed to a post mortem examination; he said he would rather suffer death - the cause of her death was in his own breast; he was very much excited; I asked why he threw away the vomit out of the bucket; he made no reply, but afterwards said he had got a portion of every medicine she had taken; I said, "My medicine?" he replied, "Oh, I do not  say that; but in court everything \shall appear as if in black and white."

   By a juror: My suspicions of the cause of sudden illness were that she had taken irritant poison, as I could not suppose, from the anomalous symptoms, that her death arose from natural causes.

   By a juror: Arsenic would have caused the symptoms; in taking arsenic, the symptoms usually occur within an hour.  Warm wine and water was ordered, and the husband obtained wine, which was taken in a little water, and had no bad effects.

   By the Coroner: There is no taste in arsenic.

   Dr. Williams continued: Upon examination of the body yesterday the uterus was healthy, but inflammation of the stomach was very evident indeed; I am satisfied that the woman has not died from natural causes; I cannot but think that the cause of the second vomiting and pain arose from the same cause as produced the first.

   Betsy Harvey, wife of William Harvey, examined: I nursed Mrs. Pratt; was not engaged for any length of time; was engaged three weeks or a month before the confinement; there was no time fixed for me to stay; went on the Monday and came away the Friday week following; sent for me on the day she was confined, which was last Monday fortnight, the 12th ult.  She had natural good time in her confinement; she was very comfortable that night.  During the days I was with her she was very well; she had sufficient quantity of milk; had no sickness, nor complained of any pain; went away because I had another engagement; Left Mrs. Garner and Mr. Pratt to attend to her; washed the baby, and did everything I could before leaving.  Mr. Pratt was very attentive to her and she had every necessary such as Dr. Williams allowed her; went to see her again.  Left after 10 in the morning, and called again in the evening; was not present on Thursday night, and called again in the morning; found her complaining of pain.  She said Mr. Pratt had got her a bottle of tea, and had applied hot substances to her feet; Mr. Pratt had been staying with her; she had only been taken ill that morning; she felt the pain before taking the tea; she had not taken anything besides the gruel which I made for her the previous evening, which Mr. Pratt had to sweeten; went to see her about 7; she had been taken ill about 6 a.m.; she was not taken ill after taking the gruel; she did not complain of any particular pain; she was better when I saw her, viz.,  from half-past 7 till 10; no person was in the house when I went away but Mr. Pratt.  On the Friday evening I saw her again.

   By a juryman: Mr. Pratt was often away.  In the evening she was much worse.  Saw a strange person coming down stairs who said Mrs. Pratt had been very ill since I went away, and another person named Woolfe, or Woolford, had been obtained to wait upon her.  Did not complain of pain, but had been vomiting through the day and much purged; might have stayed three quarters of an hour with her.  Dr. Williams had changed her medicine - Mr. Pratt did not discharge me.  Went again on Saturday evening to see her, she said she was very ill.  The new woman had been knocked up.  Mr. and Mrs. Pratt lived very comfortably together.  Did not see Mrs. Nalder nor Mrs. Newton previous to my leaving - they were not friendly since two weeks after her marriage.  Her brother and sister had a spite at her.

   Hannah Reardon sworn - went to Mrs. Pratt's last Monday evening; was sent for by Mrs. Pratt; was engaged by Mr. Pratt at Mr. Everett's - the time of my going was about 8 o'clock.

   By a juror: This was last Monday evening; goes out nursing; Does not know why they did not send for her before; they had two nurses before.

   By a juryman: Was not sent for, Mr. Pratt engaged her himself.  Deceased was very ill when I went, vomited up everything she took; did not give her any medicine.  The husband went to bed and slept all night.  He spoke kindly to her; she was very thirsty, with burning heat; she thought the cause was the medicine she had taken.  Mr. Pratt was not much with Mrs. Pratt; he was with her when she expired; she died about half-past four on Thursday morning.  She did not seem to have any grief, she made no private complaint.

   By a juror.  She was too weak to talk much, and I cautioned her against it.

   By the foreman.  The vomits were in a slop pail for the porpoise of showing them to the doctor; but was prevented doing so by Mr. Pratt.  He threw the contents in a sink.  Mr. Newton tried to persuade him to have her body opened, but to no purpose.  It was Pratt's wish that Mrs. Reardon should nurse his wife.

   The next witness was Mrs. Woodford, but as there was nothing of any consequence in her statement, we give the next witness's evidence.

   Emma Garner examined - I was at Mrs. Pratt's when she was confined; got over her confinement very well; went to see her on last Friday week; staid until 12 o'clock on Friday evening; did not leave the house many minutes together.  Mrs. Pratt was suffering from much pain; she said she felt a great deal worse; told my husband to go for the doctor; she did not say she had been ill; was sick she believed. [This witness was very much confused when examined.] Deceased wished me to send for the doctor; Mr. Pratt brought another nurse; he came immediately; Dr. Williams was the doctor.  I gave her gruel and wine frequently; she was very thirsty; stopped with her the whole day.

   By the Coroner: I had both the babies to attend to; deceased did not appear happy or nun happy; was crying on Friday morning when I called.  Mr. Pratt was in the house when I left; he was up, to the best of my recollection; he was out and in various parts of the day, but did not stay any length of time.  Mr. Pratt brought the other nurse with him about noon-day, and the next day she went home ill; Mrs. Pratt looked very ghastly when I called on Friday week last, I have seen her frequently since; did not make any confidant of me; complained of being dreadfully thirsty; have seen her nearly every day, till she died.  On the Thursday evening, previous to her illness she seemed very comfortable; I have stayed with her two days and two nights.  Mr. Pratt gave her breakfast on Monday morning, the 26th inst., at instead of me, as I recommended her to take medicine first.  I said to him when I saw him, that there was a fortunate circumstances in her not having taken any breakfast from me as the butter was bad; Mr. Pratt got a fresh pound of butter, which he took up; Mrs. Pratt did not eat any of the stale bread and butter.  Do not recollect whether she took port wine and water on the Thursday evening.

   Mrs. Lydia Clarke swore to medicine having been taken, to which Mrs. Pratt ascribed her illness, which on looking for was gone.  Witness asked Mr. Pratt for the bottle in the presence of Mrs. Reardon, and he said he had got it, to the best of witness's recollection.

   Mrs. Reardon in evidence, gave her opinion that Dr. Williams took the bottle away; recollected Dr. Williams binging her a little basin, into which she poured some of the vomit and gave him back.

   Mary Ann Nalder said Pratt and his wife did not quarrel, but thought he was not kind to her, and she signed for him to leave; she made no complaint to witness; Mr. Pratt kicked the pail of stuff over with his foot, and said he would not have his wife cut about.

   Charles Nalder gave evidence that Pratt's words to Dr. Williams were very abusive, as much as to say that the medicine which Dr. Williams gave his wife had murdered her; and on Dr. Williams saying more then ever he would have her opened, Pratt objected, saying he would rather suffer death first; he also gave information respecting a phial bottle kept in a cash box, and the bottle contained brandy, which was put into Mrs. Pratt's gruel without Dr. William' knowledge; the brandy was given by Mrs. Garner.

   The cash box was produced in court, but no bottle was found inside.

   Henry Garner gave evidence to the effect that Mrs. Garner spoke of having administered brandy from a phial bottle kept in a cash box, to Mrs. Pratt at her own request, and that Dr. Williams was determined the body should not be buried without a post mortem examination, and if buried deceased should be exhumed.  The reason of the brandy being put in the cash box, was, that Dr. Williams would not allow brandy to be taken if he knew it.

   Helen Hatmore deposed that Mr. Pratt was very attentive to deceased, and came once to the bedside to kiss her, but she put him away; she has spoken to this witness about her husband having neglected her; she made no remark about medicine having been given her which caused her illness; she never entertained any suspicions of unnatural death.

   The court adjourned till Monday.


Mr. Newtown, veterinary surgeon, testified to the medicine burning the throat, and that the husband appeared outwardly fond of her; Mr. Pratt ultimately agreed to a post mortem examination; he had no suspicion that Mrs. Pratt came to her death by her husband's hand; Mr. Pratt acted kindly to his wife in the wiriness's presence. From a question put by the foreman, this witness said the family differences were on account of certain flash language used by Mr. Pratt; was not aware of Mr. Pratt having assisted out any of deceased's relatives; as Mrs. Pratt was dying, Mr. Pratt merely said, nurse, lay her out; thought he was in unnecessary hatred in laying her out, and did not think it the place of a man to make use of that remark.

   Mrs. Ann Everett - This witness's evidence not being of any importance we have declined inserting it.

   Dr. George Bush, surgeon, sworn: Lives in Nelson, attended post mortem examination in company with Drs. Renwick, Williams, and Thebing.  Dr. Thebing witnessed only part of the examination; Dr. Bush assisted in drawing up the report which he has signed; examined the stomach, and there appeared to be, upon examination, after opening the integuments inflammation to a great extent of the peritoneum intestines and the whole of the abdomen; the whole peritoneum coat seemed to be inflamed to a great extent; in proof of this, lymph had been thrown out.  There appears to be inflammation of the muscuous membrane of the stomach, and a portion of the small intestines; the uterine organs I consider were healthy, they did not appear to participate in the more serious inflammation of the other organs; considers the inflammation of the peritanical coat was sufficient to cause death; but cannot say what was the immediate cause of death; I never saw such a peculiar redness of the muscular coat and the peritanical coat as in this case; thinks the decease was not pupro fever; there was no milk in the breast, but flabby.

   By jury: The extreme vomiting and purging might put away the milk; the peritoneal inflammation was the greatest; cannot say whether the stomach had been primarily affected or not;  did not discover any symptoms of poison; took part in the analysis, but did not see the conclusion; there was no appearance of external violence of the abdomen; the only appearance of external injury or violence was on the right side of the cheek - was affected as by the  flame of a candle to the size of half-a-crown; the omentum was the sixth part of the usual size; could not say whether arsenic was given, unless a proper test was made; the inflammation of the serous member was greater than the inside; infers from appearances that death arose from peritanical affection; the external inflammation in this case was quite sufficient to cause death, but cannot say whether this was brought about by internal causes.  Persons may take arsenic gradually, increasing the dose, as much afterwards as would not kill them when first taken.

   Drs. Theodore Bernard Thebing's and Greenwood's reports are too lengthy for our columns.

   At this stage of the proceedings a second examination was handed in and read by Dr. Renwick.  Although of a very interesting nature, we cannot find room for its insertion.

    James Pratt, butcher, husband of the deceased, gave evidence that he had not been requested to keep the pailful of vomit, either by Dr. Williams or Mrs. Reardon; that he upset the pail, but for what reasons he cannot state; also, that the bottle containing the medicine Mrs. Pratt was in the habit of taking could not be found after Dr. William's visit.  Pratt also stated that he had very much objected to a post mortem examination on the same being proposed.  He deposed to have only purchased two glasses of brandy.  Witness said a bottle of good port wine, a bottle of sherry, and the brandy mentioned were the only wine and spirits in the house.

   The Coroner having stated a few principal points in the evidence, the jury were unanimous that the husband of the deceased should be immediately taken into custody, which was accordingly done, and the prisoner was conveyed to the jail.

   The inquest was adjourned until Tuesday (this day) at 10 a.m.


   The jury on meeting stated that they all agreed that the deceased had died from poison.  The Coroner stated that the question to be decided was, Who had given the poison?  Whether there was satisfactory evidence to commit the husband.

   A juryman required the evidence of Mr. Newton to be again read, which was done.

   Mr. Newton on being recalled gave evidence to the effect that he had warned Pratt not to throw away the contents of the pail; Pratt said Dr. Williams wanted it, but what he could want with the pail he (Pratt) could not tell.  I said he might allow the nurse to take it, as she had informed me the Dr. wished the same preserved.  Is not prepared to say Pratt was under the influence of drink when he said he would throw out the contents.

   Mr. Nalder on being recalled, said he made a mistake as to Tuesday morning being the first day he visited Mrs. Pratt, Wednesday was the first day; he visited her first on that evening; saw the pail with the contents, but heard no remarks made over the same; tasted the medicine from phial bottle about 5 or half-past.  Dr. Williams came first, and Dr. Renwick followed him; had conversation with Pratt about his not s ending for us sooner; went up stairs, when Dr. Williams left and found the bottler gone; heard no person say Dr. Williams had taken the bottle, but missed the bottle.  After tasting the contents of the phial bottle I placed the same on the table.  There was no person but myself and Mrs. Reardon in the room with Mrs. Pratt at the time.

   The Coroner, after these parties had been re-examined, stated that the first question or a case of poisoning having been decided upon; the second question to be determined was, from whose hands the poisonous substance came.  Whether the medicine dispensed by Dr. Williams, or arsenic given by Pratt or any one else caused death.

   The discrepancy in the evidence of Mr. Pratt might shew that an untruth in his statement was probably made to exculpate himself.

   The Jury returned the following


"We find that the deceased, HANNAH PRATT, came by her death by an acrid poison; and we are further of opinion that the said poison was administered by her husband, JAMES PRATT."

On Saturday, October 24th, Amelia Hammond, the daughter of Mr. Wilson Hammond of Spring Grove, poisoned herself under most extraordinary circumstances.  It appears the deceased was at service at the station of Mr. Hines; on the evening in question was in a good state of health, and to all appearance in excellent spirits, having performed her household duties as usual, and retired to rest, at the usual hour.  At about one o'clock, the household were thrown into a state of alarm by the cries and death struggles of the deceased.  Dr. Miller, who was sleeping at the house with the inmates, rushed in and on advising the deceased to rest quiet as he might render her assistance, she informed him that it was of no use, as she had poisoned herself, and in about 7 minutes expired, having poisoned herself by strychnia.  On looking  round the room, everything was in order; her clothes had been put into the box which she would have worn the next morning, a novel was laid on the box with the leaf turned down which she had been reading, and the candle blown out.  A letter to her parents partly written, was discovered, in which she acknowledges the receipt of a former letter, and speaks of herself as bring well.  Such an act of coolness and deliberation we have seldom seen recorded, and the only reason assigned as the cause, that we can hear is, that her affections were divided between two young men residing in the district.  As the Coroner, Dr. Miller, was present, an enquiry was instituted, which led to a verdict [???]. She was about 19 years of age.




Verdict only.



 On Monday the 19th ultimo, an Inquest was held before S. L. MULLER, Esq., coroner, at the house of Mr. W. H. Eyes, Wairau, on the body of Amelia Hammond.

   The jury, consisting of James Sinclair (foreman), Andrew Paterson, Thomas Harrington, John Atwood, James Wynan, William Simmonds, James Henry Greig, Adam Jackson, George Wratt, George Geddes, Adam Geddes, Richard Read, having been sworn -

   Richard Rothwell, bullock-driver, deposed as follows: - I knew the deceased.  I saw her on Thursday last; she was then in good health, and appeared in good spirits.  I was leaving the house for a few days; she bade me goodby, and said, "You will never see me again." I thought she was joking.  We were engaged to be married.  Her manner did not impress me that she was serious.  I have been engaged to her about two months.  I have observed that she has seemed changed for four or five weeks past; her spirits were not so good as usual, and she appeared dull.  I have heard her say that she wished she was dead; that was a lion g while ago, not lately.  She never assigned any reason for wishing herself dead.  I was away from home when she died.  I am employed by the same master as deceased, and live in a cottage on the premises.  I am not aware that she was engaged to any other person.  I never had any quarrel with deceased.

   Eleanor Eyes, wife of Mr. W. H. Eyes, sheepfarmer, deposed:- The deceased was my servant.  About twelve o'clock on Saturday night I was awakened by a noise like a person screaming.  I called to Mr. Eyes to get up and fetch Dr. Muller in, who was stopping in our house.  He went to fetch him.  I knew it was the deceased screaming, and I called to her to know what was the matter.  She said, "I am dying." I went to her room immediately.  She was then convulsed, her face and hands twitching; she was still screaming; I thought it was an hysterical fit.  I asked her what was the matter.  She said, "Do not touch me, I am dying."  She also said, "My dear father, my dear father; I have committed a great sin; I wish I could pray." Dr. Muller came into the room at this time; he directed me to sponge her face, and give her a little spirits and water; she took one teaspoonful, but I could not get any more into her mouth, her teeth were fast set.  I rubbed her feet and legs; they were quite stiff, but warm.  Her feet and legs were quite rigid, and I could not move them.  She did not live more than eight minutes after I begun to rub her legs.  Dr. Muller told her to compose herself, and he would try to relieve her.  She said, "You can do me no good, sir, I have poisoned myself," or, "I have taken poison," I am not sure which.  I have never seen any difference in her manner; she did her work as usual; she had never complained to me of being dissatisfied with her place.  She brought some water in to my room between ten and eleven o'clock on the night of her deceased; she asked me if I wanted anything else, and then wished me good night.  I observed nothing unusual in her manner, she was quite calm and collected.  She ate her supper of bread and butter and milk between ten and eleven o'clock.  I can assign n o reason for her taking poison.  I saw some milk in a cup on the dresser, which she afterwards drank.  She was then cutting herself some bread and butter, which I presume she ate, as I did not see it afterwards.  I did not see her drink the milk.  She never mentioned to me her engagement with Rothwell.  Her limbs were quite rigid when I went into the room; they were not drawn up, but perfectly straight.  Her features were much contorted; she was sensible to the last; she held aside Mr. Eyes's hand when he held a smelling bottle to her nose.  Her face was of a reddish blue, her lips dark blue, her toes were curved and very stiff.  I did not observe any curvature backward of the spine.  There was a bottle containing strychnine standing on the mantel-piece in my sitting-room.  She had access to that room.  When I heard her says she had taken poison I went to the bottle.  Mr. Empson had left it on Tuesday last.  I saw him tie it down carefully.  It appeared to have been untied and tied up in a different manner - in a careless manner.

   Mr. Eyes is in the habit of using strychnine for poisoning wild dogs upon the run.  Deceased asked me about a fortnight ago how much it would take to poison a dog.  I said I believed a very little, as it was very strong.  There was nothing in her manner to lead me to think she had any idea of taking poison.  The bottle was labelled in large letters "Strychnine. Poison." Deceased could read writing.  She knew the bottle was on the mantel-piece; it is generally out out of the way; the reason of its being on the mantel-piece was that Mr. Eyes had been using it lately for destroying wild dogs.  I never observed any religious melancholy about deceased; she was quite cheerful on the day of her death; her room was neater than usual on the night of her death; the door of her sleeping-room was unbolted, an unusual thing, as she always bolted it before going to bed.  She was engaged as servant by the week.  She had a box in her room.  I believe she had letters in it.  I have not seen them.  I never had any reason to think her other than perfectly sane.  The bottle containing the strychnine was cracked when I fetched it the night she died; I did not observe it was cracked when Mr. Empson left it; I think I should have observed it if it had been.

   William Henry Eyes, sheep-farmer, deposed: I knew deceased, she was in my service; that is her body the jury have seen.  On the night of Saturday last, about 12 o'clock, I was awakened by a noise like that made by a person suffering from nightmare; it seemed between a scream and a moan, like a person in great distress.  I awoke my wife (the last witness), and asked her who it was making that noise.  She said it must be Amelia, and requested me to knock at the wall, her room adjoining mine. I called to her and asked what was the matter.  After repeating the question, she answered that she was dying.  I requested my wife to get up and go to her room and see what was the matter with her, which she did, first lighting a candle.  She returned immediately, requesting me to come and see her, as she appeared very ill.  I said I had better call Dr. Muller to see her instead of going myself.  I went to Dr. Muller.  I observed by Dr. Muller's watch, lying on the dressing-table, that it was ten minutes past twelve o'clock.  I then went into the deceased's room with Dr. Muller. Dr. Muller took hold of deceased's wrist to feel the pulse; she said, "Don't touch me, sir, don't touch me, you can do me no good."  Dr. Muller told her to compose herself, and she would be better directly.  She then s aid, "You cannot save me, I have taken poison."  I asked Dr. Muller if it was likely she had taken poison; he said she appeared to be in a hysterical fit, and he could put no credence in what she said, as persons in that state said many things which were not true. The only thing done was applying cold water to her head, holding some smelling-salts to her nose, and trying to give her some spirits and water.  She died within ten minutes of our entering the room.

   Her body was perfectly rigid; the hands were across the chest; her whole body appeared convulsed; on Dr. Muller's attempting to raise her head, her whole body was raised at the same time, appearing to be quite stiff; the body appeared to move in one mass, there was no flexibility of limb.  I noticed that her face was contorted, but I did not observe any change in the colour; I was not near the bed.  She appeared in paid, and uttered a sort of scream now and then; she never ceased moaning.  She appeared very sensible to touch; when touched, it seemed to convulse her more.  She seemed conscious to the last, and shortly before her death asked to see Mrs. Eyes to bid her good-bye.  Just previous to her death the convulsions ceased, I should think about a minute before her death.  She then gave two gasps and expired.  I think not more than a quarter of an hour could have elapsed from the time I awoke until she died.

   I had observed nothing strange in her manner previous to Saturday night.  Her saying that she had taken poison, and the symptoms, led me to imagine that she might have taken strychnine, and I sent for the bottle in which I kept it.  It appeared to me that it was carelessly tied up, and not in such a manner as Mr. Empson (who had last used the bottle) would have left it.  I looked about the room to find any paper or cup which might have contained poison.  I saw a tea-cup, but it was perfectly dry and clean.  Miss Blackhall showed me the cup deceased d rank out of last, in which were the remains of a little milk.  There is a sediment t in the cup; it appears to me like strychnine.  I produce the cup.  I examined her box and room the next morning in the presence of Dr. Muller, Dr. Stewart, and Mr. Empson, but could find no writing throwing any light upon the subject.  There was a letter unfinished, dated the "18th" of October; evidently a mistake in the date, as she died on the 17th.  I produce the letter (letter read).  She never quarrelled with any member of my family that I am aware of. I could not tell if any quantity had been taken out of the strychnine bottle.  I keep arsenic on the station, but it is at some distance from the house.  She could obtain access to the strychnine.

   Charles Empson, sheep-farmer, deposed: I had a bottle in my possession containing strychnine.  On Tuesday last I brought it to Mr. Eyes's house.  The stopper was covered with leather, and I tied it down securely with, I think, bobbin.  I think I asked Mrs. Eyes for it, but am not sure.  I did not pick it up off the floor, saying, this will do.  I am certain I tied it securely, several times round.  I saw the bottle again on Sunday morning last; it was not in the same state as when I left it. There was a piece of tape with one turn only, and no tie.  I cannot swear as to the material, but I can to its not being tied as I left it.  The bottle was cracked when I last saw it, I cannot swear it was not cracked when I left it, but I think if it had been I should have noticed it.  Arsenic is kept on the station, at the dipping-shed; any person can have access to it.

   Marion Brown Blackhall, governess, residing at Mr. Eyes's, deposed: I knew the deceased, she was in the service of Mr. Eyes.  On Saturday night last, about half-past eleven o'clock, Mrs. Eyes came to my room and told me Amelia was dying.  I did not hear any noise, I am rather hard of hearing.  I was in bed.  I got up immediately and went to Amelia's room.  She made no movement after I went into the room; her colour appeared to change from pale to a bluish tint.  She never spoke after I went into the room.  I observed that she had put away all her clothes, folded them up, an unusual thing with her.  I saw her frequently during the day preceding the night upon when she died; she appeared well and happy.  She remarked to me, "See how well and happy I am, though Dick is not here."  By Dick she meant Richard Rothwell, to whom she was engaged to be married.  She never said anything to me, nor did her behavior lead me to suppose that she contemplated suicide.  She had had no quarrel with any member of the family, nor with Rothwell; I am certain if she had she would have told me; I was in her confidence, and she often asked my advice.  I last saw her about ten o'clock on Saturday night; she said, "I suppose you think I shall marry Dick Rothwell."  I s aid, "I see no reason for your not doing so."  She replied, "I'll never marry Dick; you will see; I will give him to you."  She repeated this twice; I said I don't want him.  U did not think she was serious.  We both took some supper about ten o'clock, consisting of bread and butter and milk.  She drank one cup of milk, and I think she had another after; I saw her drink something after the first cup.  She placed the cup after drinking on the top of a cupboard in the kitchen.  I told Mrs. Eyes that was the cup out of which she drank last.  I observed whitish sediment at the bottom of the cup.  I think she wished to break her engagement with Rothwell; she had told me several times that she would not marry him.  She said Mr. Henry Williams had wished to keep company with her, and she did not see why she should not marry a gentleman.  I said I saw no reason against it, but recommended her not to think about it, as she would be happier marrying one of her own station.  Mr. Williams gave her a book
, and I wished her to give it back, but she refused.  The book given to her by Mr. Williams was Lord Byron's Don Juan.  I think it was about a week previous to her death that she saw Mr. Williams.  I do now know what conversation took place between them.  I think she wished to break her engagement with Rothwell, but thought she had pledged herself too far to retract.  I wished her to return the book, telling her that it was not fit for a female to read.  She did not read the book; Rothwell took it from her, saying it was not fit for her to read.  I am certain no improper intimacies took place between her and Rothwell.

   Alexander Stewart, surgeon, deposed: On Sunday morning, about six or seven o'clock, I received a note from Dr. Muller, informing me that a servant of Mr. Eyes's had expired suddenly under suspicious circumstances, and requesting my immediate attendance.  I got to the house about nine o'clock, and saw Dr. Muller, Mr. Eyes, and Mr. Empson.  They told me the girl was dead, and described the symptoms previous to her death.  I saw the body; the lips were blue; the pupils dilated; the limbs and body extremely rigid, so much so that I was unable to bend the limbs; the jaw was locked, the fingers were clinched and livid, and had the appearance of a person dying of convulsions; froth issued from the nose and mouth, of a bloody character.  From the appearance of the body, I imagined that she had been poisoned; and from what I heard of the symptoms, and that a bottle of strychnine had been opened, I considered the poison to have been strychnine.  From the details of the symptoms given by Mr. & Mrs. Eyes, I am of opinion that death took place from strychnine.  I know not any other disease of like symptoms that would cause death.

   Hysteria would show some of the symptoms, but would not cause death in so short a time.  I should be more ready to suspect hysteria in the first instance, in a female of her age, than poisoning by strychnine.  I am of opinion that had I been present as early as any of the witnesses I could not have saved her.  I have heard of death taking place within two minutes after taking strychnine.  I am shown a cup containing a deposit, from which cup the deceased is said to have drank previous to her death.  I do not think the deposit is strychnine; I think it may be sugar of ilk.  I could not detect strychnine in the body on a post mortem examination, not being an analytical chemist.  The symptoms of poisoning by arsenic are not at all similar to those detailed.

   The CORONER here stated to the jury, that being a guest in the house of Mr. Eyes on the night in question, and being himself a medical man, he was asked to see the deceased.  The symptoms were correctly described by Mr. and Mrs. Eyes, but, in addition, there was a slight curvature of the spine, the body resting upon the heels and back of the head.  In the first instance he imagined it to be an attack of hysteria, but the rapidity of the symptoms soon showed the difference.

   The jury having heard the evidence, agreed to the following Verdict:- "That the deceased Amelia Hammond poisoned herself while in a fit of temporary insanity;" and the verdict was accompanied by an expression of the jury's opinion "that Mr. Eyes's having, as is too common in this district, carelessly left poison within reach of his domestics and others for days, is most reprehensible; and that it is the incumbent duty of masters and others possessing poison for lawful purposes, to take every possible precaution against the possibility of their being otherwise employed or obtained."

   We have been informed that since the Inquest, a portion of strychnine, tied up in a piece of calico, has been found concealed in the top of deceased's bedstead.


COLONIST, 6 November 1857



As previously reported.




Some extra direct evidence by various witnesses.




... in the place of Dr. Welch, resigned.   Captain Smith thereupon declared Mr. R. Wakelin duly elected Coroner for the district of the Wairarapa. ...


COLONIST, 24 November 1857

Critical editorial on the conduct of the Hannah Pratt inquest.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 25 November 1857

We are informed that another unfortunate case of death by drowning has occurred in the neighbourhood of Kaiapoi, and that the name of the deceased is Wilson.  The inquest will be held to-day.  We have no further particulars.


COLONIST, 27 November 1857

DEATH BY DROWNING. - On Wednesday last, during the storm, a man by the name of Donavan, belonging to the "Dun Mountain Copper Mining Company," was drowned in attempting to cross the Mitai Rover, which was much swollen with the late rains.  An inquest will be held to-morrow at Mr. Simpson's Prince Albert Inn.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 28 November 1857

An inquest was held on Wednesday last at the Northern Hotel, Kaiapoi, before Dr. Donald,  coroner, on the body of a man, name unknown, who was drowned in the river on  Monday.  It appeared from the evidence that the deceased, along with a man by name Taylor, had been bringing a heavy load of bricks across the river in a canoe.  They had done the same several times previously, but on this occasion there was a breeze and a ripple on the water.  On nearing the landing place the canoe capsizes, and precipitated the men with the cargo into the river.  Taylor managed to lay hold of the canoe, but deceased, who had formerly stated that he was able to swim, struggled helplessly in the water. An alarm being immediately given, a boat was pushed off from the shore and Taylor was rescued but deceased had sunk; and his body was only recovered after a careful search by dragging, about a quarter of an hour afterwards, when life was totally extinct.  The verdict of the jury was Accidental Death, in accordance with the evidence.


TARANAKI HERALD, 28 November 1857

A Provincial Gazette was published on Thursday ... and the appointment of Dr. Sealy as Coroner of the Province vice Dr. Wilson resigned.


COLONIST, 1 December 1857


AN inquest was held at the Emigration Depot, on Saturday, the 28th ult., at 1 p.m., on the body of Timothy Donavan, aged 26 years, belonging to the Dun Mountain Mining Company, before Dr. Wilson and 13 Jurymen - Mr. Robert Crawford foreman.

   The jury was sworn, and proceeded to inspect the body.  The face of the deceased was much swollen and without any bruises, and there was every appearance of the deceased having been drowned.

   James Smith sworn. - Am a labourer, and engaged ion the roads at present.  Knew the deceased for a fortnight, having engaged him fourteen days past on Friday for the Company's works, and worked as a mate with witness.  Sent deceased on Wednesday last for provisions to Mr. Daly's house, and if he did not succeed in procuring them there, to proceed on to Nelson.  Accompanied deceased to the road, and heard nothing of him till next day. On the day of his leaving there was a great flood, through which deceased had to cross.  It was not supposed dangerous, as there had been a fallen tree over the stream; but this, unknown to witness, had been swept away by the flood of which he became aware when he saw the body next morning.  About one or two o'clock of which day a man came holloaing to witness, who called out halloa Timothy; The man however was a man of the name of Fleming who informed witness Donovan was drowned, and that we were to go and take deceased to Mr. Daly's.  Fleming had not himself discovered the body, but another man, who had seen a bit of blue shirt floating about the water.  He gave notice to Fleming and others.

   Cross-examined - the tree was safe to cross - part of the tree has been carried away.  The stream is supposed to have gone over the tree and washed the same away.  Witness went down and found him on the river bank, and with the assistance of his mates removed him to Mr. Daly's.  On the return of deceased from Mr. Daly's without rations he must have been drowned - the time when he left Mr. Daly's must have been about 7 o'clock in the evening.  He was discovered next day.

   John Daly sworn: Is engaged as overseer at the mine.  About half-past 4 on Wednesday afternoon deceased came to his house on his way to get provisions about 4 miles further down; or if there were none there, at Nelson - ordered him not to go down as the fords were impassable.  There were no provisions at witness' house.  The man was very much wet through, and the rains falling in torrents - gave him nothing to eat, the afternoon being late, and Smith would start next day by the overland route over the hills for provisions.  Witness did not apprehend any danger in his re-crossing the river to get home, as himself had crossed the river the same day.  Deceased stayed about ten minutes, and the rain continued to fall in torrents.  He went away with the intention of going back to his mates.  Witness was up at the crossing place, about an hour afterwards, but saw nothing of the body.  Witness came down to Nelson on Thursday morning at the Company's office, and heard from two men that the man was drowned, and in their company witness informed the coroner of the event.

   Cross-examined.  Heard nothing of the body being found before he left for Nelson.  A man of the name of Muller found the body.  The flood was abating, but still very high.  The time of his informing the coroner was about 11 o'clock on Thursday morning.  The fallen tree, within about an hour after witness went up, was still standing; but the original half-constructed bridge had been washed away.

   The Jury returned a verdict of Found Drowned.

   Mr. Daly stated a paper was found in the man's pocket, which had the address of a cousin in Sydney.  The money, 9s. 4d., which was in his pockets, belonged to his mates, and was for the purpose of buying provisions.


Re the verdict in the Amelia Hammond inquest.



Inquest on Timothy Donovan.  Comments by Daly and Editorial comment on bringing body down to Nelson.


COLONIST, 4 December 1857

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, re inquest on Hannah Pratt.  Gives more details of evidence of Dr. Williams from his prescription book.   S. P. Tucker.  Also Editorial response.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 5 December 1857


An inquest was held on Thursday afternoon at the Police Office, Lyttelton, before the coroner, Dr. Donald, on the body of Robert Seaman, who died the preceding day under peculiar circumstances.  It appeared from the evidence that deceased, who was a gentleman of about 27 years of age and in good circumstances, had been a short time previous to his death slightly deranged in intellect.  On Monday morning after a severe attack his attendant sent for some strong ammonia and applied it to his nostrils.  Deceased seized the bottle in which it was contained, and before he could be restrained, swallowed the contents.  Medical attendance was immediately obtained, and every care shown, but after suffering intense agony for some time, he sank and died on Wednesday night.  The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the facts.



MELANCHOLY DEATH. - Yesterday morning, Capt. Doherty, the pilot, was found dead near to Mount Cook.  Deceased had for sometime past been suffering from asthma and disease of the lungs and left town late ion the previous evening for his house at the heads.  When found his horse was standing beside him.  The body was removed to the Victoria Hotel, and an inquest held in the course of the day.  We regret to add that Capt. Doherty, who has been the pilot of this port for many years, leaves a widow and large family, for whom we are sure every sympathy will be manifested.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 9 December 1857


A distressing accident, which resulted fatally, happened a few days ago to a child not quite two years old, named Fenwick, whose parents reside on the South Christchurch road.  The unfortunate little fellow was left alone in the kitchen for a few minutes, where a pan of hot milk had been placed on the floor to cool.  Into this he managed to fall backwards, and was so severely scalded that death ensued the next day.  An inquest on Monday established the facts.




(From our Own Correspondent.)

Turakina, 3rd December 1857.

  I am sorry to have to state that we have had a terrible flood on this Coast.  The Turakina Bridge has been swept away to the sea.  You will scarcely credit me when I state that the flood rose 10 to 12 feet higher than the platform.  The flood covered Mr. Wilson's orchard 10 feet high.  There was a man drowned in trying to cross the lagoon to go to the other side of the river in a canoe.  He got entangled and went down, and his body was only found this morning.  His name was John Price, a painter.  His companions have stopped here to attend the inquest to be held to-day before Mr. Ross, the Coroner.


COLONIST, 11 December 1857


 CORONER'S INQUEST. - An inquest was held on Wednesday the 9th, before the coroner, touching the death of Samuel, aged seven and a half years, the son of Mr. Samuel Mercer, farmer, near Appleby, Waimea East, who was drowned on the previous day whilst bathing.  From the evidence it appeared that deceased was bathing in company with four other lads his own age, in a small lagoon not far from Appleby school, and ventured beyond his depth, though repeatedly called to come back to the shallower water, where the others were.  On his disappearance an alarm was given, and one of the boys ran for assistance, but about a quarter of an hour elapsed before it arrived, so that when got out by Mr. Batey, life was extinct.  Every effort was made to restore animation, according to the means usually resorted to.  The jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally drowned."


COLONIST, 11 December 1857


Response to the letter from S. P. Tucker re the Hannah Pratt inquest and verdict. 'JUSTUS.'


HAWKE'S BAY HERALD, 12 December 1857


THE CORONERSHIP. - We learn that G. Worgan, Esq. has been elected coroner for the district of Waipukurua.




A coroner's inquest was held on Wednesday, the 9th instant, at the house of Joseph Newport, touching the death of a lad named Samuel Mercer.  It appears that, on the Tuesday morning, the deceased had left school with some other young boys, for the purpose of bathing; and that, having by some means got beyond his depth, he was drowned in a deep hole in the swamp.  Lewis Robert Bryant, who was bathing with him, immediately on learning that deceased had sunk, not waiting to put on his clothes, ran home to his father, who accompanied him back, and went to where deceased was, and saw him lying in a deep hole, but being unable to swim, he waited until some other parties came up, one of whom, by wading up to his waist, and with the assistance of a rake, recovered the unfortunate lad's body.  Steps were taken by applying warm bath, and continued friction, to see if deceased could be recovered, but all was unavailing.  The jury returned a verdict "That James Mercer was accidentally drowned whilst bathing."


FATAL ACCIDENT. - On Tuesday, the 24th ultimo, two drays belonging to Messrs. Canning and Johnson, of Benopi, Wairau, were returning to the station from the Town of Beaver, laden with timber, in charge of two young men named Henry Allcot (or Allcock) and Robert Burbush.  Both the bullock-drivers had been drinking, and Allcot was much intoxicated.  After leaving the Wairau Hotel, where Allcot procured two or three bottles of champagne, both men got up ion their respective drays, and proceeded homewards, it being then some time after dark. It would seem that both Allcot and Burbush must have very soon fallen asleep after mounting their drays, as the later, when he awoke about six miles up the Omaka Valley, found Allcot's dray overturned down a small bank near the roadside, and the bullocks liberated, and feeding.  Burbush called on Allcot, but could get no reply; and he then returned along the road for some distance, but could neither see nor hear anything of his companion; and it being eleven o'clock at night, he proceeded to Mr. J. Frazer's to communicate what had happened, and in expectation that Allcot might have himself proceeded thither to obtain assistance. At day-light, ion  the following morning, Burbush, accompanied by another man, returned to where the accident had taken place; and there, a few yards from where the dray was lying, Allcot was found beneath a piece of timber, quite dead.  An inquest was held the following day on the body, and a verdict if "Accidental Death" recorded.


COLONIST, 15 December 1857



Inquest on Captain Doherty.


LYTTELTON TIMES, 16 December 1857


INQUEST. - An inquest was held on Friday evening last, at the Victoria Hotel, before Dr. Monteith, Coroner, upon the body of Mr. Daniel Dougherty, the late pilot.  From the evidence of a witness named Liddy, it appears that on proceeding to his work about 5 o'clock on Friday morning, he observed the deceased lying in the vicinity of the barracks at Mount Cook, and immediately gave information to the Serjeant-Major of Police, who was quickly on the spot, and Medical aid was called in, but life was found to be extinct.  E. Hopi, a native policeman, deposed to having seen the deceased early that morning leaving Barry's Hotel; he was then on horseback and apparently sober; it is believed that the deceased fell from his horse in a fit; and the position in which the body was found, and other circumstances would lead to that conclusion.  The property found about the deceased was taken charge of by the police.  The Jury, after hearing the whole of the evidence, and having taken the opinion of the medical gentleman, returned a verdict of "Died of Apoplexy." - Spectator, Dec. 5.


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 18 December 1857


AN INQUEST was held on the 12th instant by the Coroner, Dr. Andrews, on the body of a man name unknown.  From the evidence it appeared that a man named Sinclair, in the employ of Mr. John McPike, sawyer, Muddy Creek, left on the evening of that day accompanied by a man named Andrew McKinn, for Onehunga, to purchase a bag of flour; that the flour was purchased at a general dealer's shop, in Onehunga, on the evening of the same day, the men stating their intention to return that evening by boat.  From that time neither of the men had been seen alive.  The body picked up was in such a decomposed state as to do away with the possibility of recognition.  From the clothes on the body of deceased, as well as from a ring on his little finger, several witnesses expressed their belief that the body was that of Sinclair.  The boat had been found by a native named Penny, floating a few miles from Muddy Creek, with a sack of flour, three oars, and mast and sail in her.  The wind was blowing very strong when the two men left Onehunga, on their return to Muddy Creek.  In accordance with the evidence, the jury returned a verdict that the body found drowned was, from its decomposed state, to them unknown, and, no marks of violence appearing on the body, how the deceased came by his death there was no evidence to show.  They morally believed it to be the body of Charles Sinclair.


On Monday, an inquest was held, at the Black Bull Inn, Albert-street, before Dr. Andrews, coroner, on the body of a young man named Samuel McInnes.  It appeared from the evidence that the deceased had gone on the previous day, to bathe at a place called "The Falls," Henderson's bush.  Not returning within the ordinary time his absence created alarm, and his clothes being found on the bank, search was at once made for the body, which was discovered on the banks of the creek.  In accordance with the evidence, the jury returned a verdict of "Found drowned."


 A man named Goddon, an old and well-known resident here, met with his death by the capsizing, during a quall, of the cutter 'Teazer,' off Kauri Point, as she was making her passage from Auckland to Messrs. Henderson and McFarlane's Mill.  A stranger, who was at the helm, threw himself from the vessel as she filled, and managed to support himself on oars ands poles until he effected a landing below Kauri Point.  He saw Goddon's cap on the water after the boat went over, but did not see him rise to the surface.  The boat has been secured, but the body of the unfortunate man has not yet been recovered.


TARANAKI HERALD, 19 December 1857


INQUEST. - An inquest was held on Wednesday last, at the South Sea Hotel, Lambton Quay, before G. D. Monteith, Esq., Coroner, upon the body of a woman named Honoria Hogan, who had been found lying dead, on the Clay Hill leading from Boulcott street to Wellington Terrace.  Several witnesses were examined, including Sergeant-Major Styles, and from the evidence adduced, there can be little doubt but that the deceased, in returning home on the previous evening, had missed her footing and was unable to extricate herself from the clay which in consequence of the heavy rains was nearly knee deep.  From the position in which the body was found the next morning, there is every reason to believe that the immediate cause of death was suffocation.  The Jury returned a verdict of "Found Dead."


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 25 December 1857


TWO SERIOUS ACCIDENTS. - CAUTION TO PARENTS. - Yesterday morning, about nine o'clock, ... A few hours after, near the same place [Smale's Point], a lad named Bettridge also fell over, ands was unfortunately much more severely injured, having severe concussion and effusion upon the brain, and now lies with but little hope of amendment.

THE LATE DEATH BY DROWNING. - The body of the unfortunate man, Godden, whose melancholy accident we mentioned in our last issue, was recovered yesterday, floating off the North Shore.

MURDER, AND ATTEMPTED SUICIDE OF THE ALLEGED MURDERER. - On Monday last a man named John Kiely was brought into town from Wangarei, committed on a Coroner's warrant for wilful murder.  We have been unable to obtain a sight of the depositions in this case; indeed, we have been given to understand that they were not forwarded to town with the warrant of committal, and we are therefore obliged to trust to hearsay evidence for the following particulars connected with the alleged murder.

   It appears that John Kiely, the person accused, with the deceased, whose name was Butler, had been drinking together for some days, and that on one occasion, we believe the day before the murder was committed, Butler told Kiely, or as he is more commonly called, Kelly, that he, Kiely, ought to be ashamed of himself for drinking away his money whilst he had a wife and family in Auckland starving.  Kiely, in reply, said "I'll cook your ----- goose" for that, and immediately left the deceased.  On the following day the accused and the deceased again me\t, and again d  rank together, when the latter threw himself down upon a bed and immediately  fell asleep; upon which the prisoner took a billet of wood and deliberately broke open  Butler's skull.  Kiely was at once taken into custody, and - an inquest having been held on the deceased before Dr. Kinderdine the Coroner - was committed for trial for willful murder.  So far we have spoken from hearsay, but we believe that the particulars are not much wide of the truth.

   On Wednesday morning the prisoner endeavoured to commit suicide in the Auckland jail by cutting his throat with a [portion of a razor which he had concealed in his boot.  He inflicted a severe, but not a dangerous wound, and is in a fair way of recovery.  After cutting his throat the prisoner traced upon the wall, with his blood, the following words:

H . B E N K C R O F ,- M O


M.  K.

and appears to have been prevented from concluding a sentence by exhaustion from loss of blood.  There are various surmises as top what the accused meant to convey by these words, but as we conceive that their publication would tend to create a prejudice against him, we forbear to notice them.  The deceased, who was a discharged soldier of the 58th, is s aid to have been a man of particularly quiet and inoffensive disposition.




A fatal accident occurred, on the night of Wednesday last, between six and seven o'clock in Waimea East, by which a step-daughter of John Busch lost her life.  It appears that she had been standing near the fire, and that by some accident her dress became ignited, and before assistance could be rendered, she was so dreadfully burned, that in a few minutes she expired.  A coroner's inquest, we believe, will be held this day.


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 29 December 1857



On Thursday, the 24th instant, an in quest was held at the Royal Hotel, Auckland, by the City Coroner, Dr. Andrews, on the body of a man found floating that day near the Watchman.  The body was picked up by a lad named Stephen Ferries, who plies between Auckland and the North Shore.  The body was so decomposed ass to render recognition utterly impossible.  The jury returned a verdict of "Found drowned," name of man unknown.

   Some friends of the deceased who were present said, that they recognised the boots on the feet of the deceased as having belonged to the late George Godden, and Mrs. Godden on seeing the boots, as well as the braces on the deceased, at once recognized them as her late husband's property, and claimed the body for burial.

   On Friday, the 25th instant, an inquest was held, at the Governor Browne hotel, on the body of a boy named Robert William Bettridge, aged nine years, who met with his death by falling from the cliff at Smale's Point, a distance of upward of 50 feet.  The medical evidence shewed that death resulted from the fall.  The deceased was seen to fall over the cliff by a very young child, whose evidence could not be received.  The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death," together with the following rider: "The jury desire most earnestly to recommend that immediuate steps be taken to have the precipice fenced, as a protection of the public, accidents often happening by parties falling over it, the above case being the second within a short period which has terminated fatally, calling for the investigation of a Coroner's inquest."



Long critical editorial concerning the Hannah Pratt inquest and verdict.

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