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Colonial Cases


Canadian Emigrant, 22 February 1834

CHATHAM, February 17, 1834

Dear Sir:

                  I was called on yesterday to hold a Coroner's Inquest on the body of Mr. ROBERT SCOTT, who was found dead by the side of a fence, near the house of a Mr. Mos..], in this Township, and within three quarters of a mile of Scott's own dwelling which was in the 4th Concession, on a lot which he purchased of William G. Hall, Esq., of Sandwich.  The cause of his death, as nearly as can be ascertained, (as appears from the statement of his neighbours,) is as follows: that he was carrying a bag containing one bushel and a half of wheat to one of his neighbours; that he carried the bag on his back, slung by a small cord across his breast, after the manner in which Indians carry their packs.  It appears that when he came to the fence above mentioned, he perhaps wished to rest himself, and in the act of placing the bag upon the fence which was about four feet high, he threw down the two top rails, which caused the bag to fall off the fence on the opposite side, when the cord must have slipped from his breast to his neck, and, no doubt, caused his immediate death.  The accident happened on Sunday, the 15th, but he was not found until the next morning. - When found he was on one side of the   fence and the bag on the other, suspended to his neck by the cord and swinging clear of the ground.  Mr. Scott was a single man and lived entirely alone.  He was a native of Scotland and had no relatives in this country.  I am, Sir, &c. GEO. P. KERBY.


Canadian Emigrant, 8 March 1834


Another extensive conflagration at York. - Another FIRE broke out in York this morning about one o'clock, which, in two hours' time, reduced five frame dwelling houses in Young Street, and several back houses appertaining to them, to ashes; and burned to death a boy of 10 years of age, who was in inmate of one of the houses.  .  .  .   Mr. Struthers, we understand, together with his son, a lad of 10 or 11 years of age, and a friend, occupied an apartment in the premises.  . .  .   - Mr. S. leaving his son in bed.  After Mr. S.'s departure, his friend who lodged in the same apartment, left that apartment, and locked the door after him, without reflecting, or perhaps knowing that the poor boy was asleep in the house.  Previous to their return, the fire broke out, which reduced the houses, and almost everything in them, - including the unfortunate child in question - to ashes.  The only remains of the poor boy that were found were the back bone and part of the skull, which, by the influence of the fire, were diminished to a perfect cinder.

   A Coroner's inquest was held to-day before George Duggan, Esquire, Coroner, on the body of the deceased, when a verdict of accidental death by burning, was returned.   Mr. Struthers, the unfortunate parent of the deceased, has been quite delirious, we are told, ever since the melancholy catastrophe


British Whig, 25 March 1834

   On Friday last, a Coroner's Inquest was held at the Military Hospital, before Mr. Samuel Shaw, on the body of Joseph Singleton, a private in the Royal Artillery, who was accidentally killed, in the manner related in our last.  After the examination of witnesses the following verdict was returned. That Joseph Singleton came by his death accidentally, by a shot fired by Lieut. Forbes, from a gun laden with powder and leaden bullet, while practicing on a target on the 28th of March.  The deceased was followed to the grave on Saturday by a large number of his comrades (in addition to the usual guard) and by al the officers of the Artillery off duty.


British Whig, 9 May 1834

Accidentally drowned. - William Lawson, second mate of the schooner United Kingdom, stept accidentally off the east side of Mr. Hooker's wharf into the river, between nine and ten o'clock last evening, and before relief could be afforded, was drowned. An inquest was held on view of the body this day; verdict of the jury - accidentally drowned. - Gren. Gaxxxette.


British Whig, 30 May 1834

To the Editor of the Montreal Herald, &c.

SIR, -An awful instance of sudden death occurred in this city on Thursday last, and having some extraordinary circumstances connected with it, made it truly distressing to the feelings of those connected with the deceased.  I have daily examined the newspapers, and not seeing it reported, I consider it my duty to give you the particulars, which are these: A journeyman currier (Henry Byfield,) being unwell for some time, left his workshop, about eleven o'clock A.M. for the purpose of going to the English Hospital, in hopes of getting some relief; on his way there he fell down apparently dead; a coroner's inquest was held, and he was buried in a few hours. His fellow workmen being informed of his death, lost no time, though attended with considerable trouble and some expense, to procure the body that they might see him decently interred, were much surprised to find it about five o'clock P.M. buried in the French Ground.  When taken up the body was found to be warm, with part of his clothes on, and part off; in his pocket was found his account-book, with his name, and that of his employers in it; he was a single man, from the United States.  How these things can be properly explained or justified in any country, I am at a loss to know.  If you can consistently make this public, you will greatly oblige many of your constant readers and subscribers. Yours respectfully, G. F. Montreal, May 22d, 1834.

  An inquest was taken yesterday before J. M. Mondelle, Esq., Coroner, on the body of a man found in the harbor in front of this city, and a verdict of found drowned returned.  On the body were found two tailors' thimbles, and a discharge from the 32d regiment, signed by the Adjutant.  The body was have been a very long time in the water, as the features presented such an appearance that they could not have been recognised by his friends; and the discharge was so defaced that the name was unintelligible, - Mon. Herald.


British Whig, 13 June 1834

   An infant was found wrapped in coarse cloth containing a stone yesterday evening, near the Canal; and shewing evident symptoms of having met with an unnatural death.  A Coroner's inquest sat on the body, and the verdict was in accordance with the appearance which the victim of inhuman violence presented. - Mon. Herald, June 6.

   The following particulars relating to a late transaction have been related to us on such authority that we do not hesitate in making them public; at the same time we express our astonishment that such a transaction should have been kept so long in the dark.

  Shortly before the April Sessions, the body of a child was found in the Napanec River near its mouth.  An inquest was held, and after the examination of Dr. Allen of Napanec and other witnesses, the Jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.  The same afternoon after interring the corpse, the Coroner and part of the Jury returned to the village of Napanec, and some whispers being current, that a shoemaker's wife of the name of Thomson had been unknown to her husband( to whom she had been married but three weeks,) delivered of an infant, which infant was spirited away, some enquiries were made which led to the examination of a Dr. Wallen (not Dr. Allen (before the Coroner and another magistrate, and it came out, that Dr. Wallen had attended the woman in question, and had delivered her of a dead child, which he had put under the ice in the river.  Some other witnesses were examined, but no further proceedings taken.  The singularity attending this affair is, that the woman should have been delivered of a child unknown to her husband, and that the medical attendant should have taken upon himself the task of grave-digger.


Canadian Emigrant, 14 June 1834

ACCIDENT. - On Sunday afternoon, a little boy, named Jex (son of Mr. Jex, Baker of this place,) was amusing himself walking on the timbers of the new pier, constructing at the west end of our Harbour, when his foot unfortunately slipping, he fell into the Lake and was drowned.  We are told, but hope it is not correct, that two men, who could both swim, were on the scarf at the wharf at the time, but neither exerted himself to save the poor fellow.  An Inquest has been since held by B. Ewings, Esq., Coroner.  Verdict, Accidental Death. - Cobourg Star.


British Whig, 1 July 1834

   A man was found drowned, on Friday, at the Petite Cove, his name unknown; nor could his person be identified, for the flesh of his face had been entirely destroyed, and one hand apparently eaten away by fishes.  He must have been drowned some time during the winter, for he was warmly clad, with a comforter round his neck; a cloth fearnought coat; check shirt and Guernsey one underneath; blue trowsers very much patched with canvass; both his wrists were marked with the pricking in of gunpowder; he had on also a pair of boots. - A Coroner's Inquest returned a verdict of Found drowned. - Sandwich Emigrant.


British Whig, 4 July 1834

On Sunday a poor Scotch woman, who represented herself as recently from Prescott, in Upper Canada, was taken into Mr. Lesperance's shed to be sheltered for the night, and in the morning she was discovered to be dead.  She said she had been 28 years in Canada, and was dressed in a half mourning cotton gown. A coroner's Jury was summoned, and a verdict returned of Died by the visitation of God. - Mon. D. Adv.

   The body of the young man who was drowned on Thursday week, was found yesterday and brought into the harbor.  An inquest was held, and a verdict returned of Accidental death.


British Whig, 8 July 1834


   An Inquest was held at Barriefield on Saturday last, upon the body of Nancy the wife of Robert Gilvier who died in childbed the preceding evening, under suspicious circumstances.  The evidence was very contradictory, but the Jury after an attentive consideration returned the following verdict: That the deceased came to her death from an injury in the abdomen, inflicted by her husband Robert Gilvier.  The man is now lodged in prison.  This is the twelfth Inquest in Kingston and its neighbourhood during the last two months.


British Whig, 11 July 1834

   Mr. Louis [P........], an old and respectable inhabitant of this city, aged about 77, and who had come to America with the late General Lafayette ion service in the Revolutionary war, was on Monday last found drowned in a well in rear of the Mile-end Tavern.  It would appear from the evidence taken before the Coroner's inquest, that the deceased had gone to the well for the purpose of drawing water, and that his foot must have slipped, as his body was found reversed in the well. The deceased, we believe, enjoyed a pension from the United States Government, for his services during the Revolutionary war. - Mon. Gxxxette.


British Whig, 15 July 1834

DEATH BY DROWNING. - A Coroner's inquest was held on Sunday, the 6th July, before Geo. Duggan, Esq., on the body of Phillip Sergeant, a medical Gentleman, just arrived from England, and who it appeared in evidence, arrived in this City, on Tuesday, the 1st instant, from Oswego, on board the Steamer United States, and is supposed to have been accidentally drowned, by falling from the Wharf while getting his luggage on shore late in the evening when it was very dark.  Mr. Sergeant, it appeared by letters found in his baggage, was from Callington in Cornwall, and to have a wife and three children in England. - Several papers (Diplomas, &c. ) and 20 sovereigns and a half in money, were found on the person of the deceased. - The body was seen floating on the water in the bay on Saturday [4 days after the accident] & was picked up on Sunday - a silk handkerchief was grasped in the right hand of the deceased when found,  with which it is supposed he might have been wiping his face when he fell from the wharf.  Among the papers was a copy of a letter from Jos. Malachy, Gunnislake, Cornwall; and a letter addressed to himself by a female patient, named Elixxx. Grigg, dated, Tremgarth, Feb'ry 23, 1834. - His papers and baggage are in the hands of the Coroner. - T. Courier.


Canadian Emigrant, 26 July 1834

MURDER. - A most atrocious murder was committed on Saturday last, on Lake St. Clair, 14 miles above the tow.  The particulars as far as we can learn, are as follows.  A colored man named Thompson had hired a scow from Mr. Brewett, and on his way down the lake stopped at Mr. Shaeffer's tavern.  While eating breakfast in company with another colored man, his assistant, he was informed that a man named Cutter had taken possession of the scow, and was in the act of taking it away.  Thompson and his assistant went to the scow and informed Cutter that he, Thompson, had hired it from Mr. Brewett, to which Cutter replied, "that he did not care whether he had or not, he should not have it."  Thompson remonstrated, and stepped on board, when Cutter seixxxed the whipple-tree by which the horse is attached to the scow, and struck him several times on the head and side.  Thompson attempted to retreat while Cutter continued striking, and afterwards snatching up a spear to stab him.  Thompson died in a few minutes.   Cotter was immediately arrested, and given in charge to a constable, who, instead of bringing him down direct to jail, took him back to Mr. Brooker's tavern, where he was permitted to make his escape, and has not since been retaken.  We understand that it is the intention of the Magistrates to offer a reward for his apprehension.  An inquest was held on the body of Thompson by W. G. HALL, Esq., Coroner, and a verdict of wilful murder, returned against Cutter by the Jury.  Thompson is reported as having been an industrious inoffensive man.


British Whig, 7 October 1834

   An inquest was held by the Coroner, at Barriefield, on the 30th ult., on the body of William Dunbar, who met with his death by falling from the top of the wall to the bottom of the ditch, (a height of nearly 30 feet) at the new  work, constructing at Point [Henry[.  Verdict, Accidentally killed.  The deceased was formerly a private in H.M. 13th Regiment.  He has a Brother, a Colour Sergeant in the same Regiment. - Chronicle. 


British Whig, 14 October 1834

  Our city has frequently since the commencement of the election, been the scene of the most disgraceful disorder, and we regret toad, that one man, named Byrne, has unfortunately lost his life.  On Wednesday night, between eight and nine o'clock, a number of the very lowest of the mob, armed with bludgeons of the most deadly description, sallied forth from their haunts of debauchery, and commenced an indiscriminate attack upon the "Jarvis men," or those who might be supposed to belong to his party, shouting and hurrahing for "Small.":  It has appeared in evidence before Geo. Duggan, Esq., Coroner, that the constables endeavoured to quell the rioting, and that the unfortunate Byrnes was an active leader of the mob, armed with a heavy stick, covered for the greater part with [xxxx] which was produced at the inquest.  It also appeared that an Axe had been made use of by some one of the contending parties, and it is thought, that the deceased came by his death from a blow inflicted by some such weapon, as upon an examination of the body it was found "that the tumeral artery was cut across, and that the great effusion of blood, was of itself sufficient to cause death." - It was proved by some of the witnesses examined, that on the deceased leaving his house, about 9 O'clock, he was heard to say, accompanied with the most impious imprecations, that he would be the death of two of them (meaning his opponents.) .  .  .


British Whig, 31 October 1834

  On last Saturday afternoon a quarrel took place in the place in this village between two persons named Joseph Chisholm and Hugh Nichols.  In the scuffle both were thrown; but Chisholm being the stronger man, succeeded in getting up first and commenced kicking Nichols in the body while in the act of rising.  Such was the shock of the kicks on the nervous system of Nichols that he fell on his side and expired immediately. - Chisholm was immediately taken into custody and has since been committed.  A Coroner's jury sat over the body last evening when the following verdict: - That the deceased High Nichols came to his death by blows received from Joseph Chisholm, wilfully and maliciously inflicted, in Cobourg, on Saturday, the 25th instant. - Reformer.


British Whig, 18 November 1834

   An inquest was held at Sorel, on the 10th on the body of Louis Marcoux, who was shot in the electioneering riots in that town.  After a number of witnesses had been examined, a Jury had been adjourned to the following day, a verdict was brought in of Wilful Murder against fifteen individuals.  The parties implicated in the transaction have been admitted to bail.


British Whig, 24 November 1834

CORONER'S INQUEST. - An inquest was held on Monday afternoon, at the Kingston Hotel, before S. Shaw, Esq., Coroner, on the body of James Simpson, who died from the effect of injuries received on the head.  The body of the deceased which had been interred on the preceding Sunday, had been [line missing] in to attend the deceased a fortnight prior to his death ion consequence of a fractured skull, produced as it was alleged, by an accidental blow from an axe in the act of chopping wood.  The operation of trepanning was performed, and the deceased lingered until the 7th inst. when he died.  They described the anatomical appearance of the body after death.

   James Madden was examined, who deposed to the fact of being at work with the deceased on the day he received the fatal injury; they both returned to the house about dinner time, and words ensuing between the deceased and his wife, he saw her strike him on the head with a dog iron. Other persons were examined, who corroborated the testimony of the preceding witness.

   The Jury after adjourning until Wednesday, and carefully investigating the transaction, returned a verdict of wilful murder against Catharine Simpson, the wife of the deceased.  The Coroner issued his warrant for her apprehension, but she has absconded for the present.

   Another Inquest was held before the same Coroner, at the same Hotel, yesterday afternoon, on the body of William Dorman.  The Jury returned a verdict of, Died from the effects of drinking Ardent Spirits.


British Whig, 9 December 1834

   We regret to announce the death of Mr. James Donald., of South Crosby, who was accidentally killdeer in his Grist Mill on Thursday morning last.  A Coroner's Inquest was held on the body, on Friday, before J. L. Schofield, Esq., Coroner, and the Jury unanimously returned a verdict that the deceased came to his death by being accidentally entangled in the machinery of a Grist Mill. - Brockville Recorder

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