Pearce, William

Pearce, William       1869 June 26th        East Harnham

A fatal and melancholy accident occurred on Tuesday, at East Harnham. It appeared that on the same morning, Messrs Goddard’s of Salisbury, received instructions from Mr William Day, to send four horses to Woodyates to fetch a van with “Brigantine,” for the Stockbridge races. Some of Messrs Goddard’s horses being engaged, they received a pair of wheelers from Mr H——, one of which was ridden by William Pearce. On coming down the hill to East Harnham, the horses were overpowered by the force of the van, and started off at a full gallop, and coming in contact with a cart at the bottom of the hill, William Pearce was thrown off his horse and instantly killed. The body was removed to the Swan Inn, where,

The Inquest was held on Wednesday afternoon, before R M Wilson, Esq., coroner, Mr John Gray Snook was chosen foreman.

Henry Young, who was taking one of the leaders in front of deceased was sworn. He resided in Penny-farthing-street, and was in the employ of Messrs Goddard. The accident occurred about ten minutes past twelve. He was taking on one of the leaders of a race-horse van which was coming from Woodyates to Salisbury. On arriving at Harnham-hill the horses started off at a swift pace. The deceased was riding one of the wheelers. It was a van frequently used for the purpose. He had often ridden before it. It contained a horse. He did not drag the wheel as there was no one on the box, but there were three persons inside the van. They did not stop at the top of the hill to put on the drag. There was a drag attached to the van. He had been engaged in the same work for two years. They came down the hill at a full gallop, the weight of the van having overpowered the horses.

Mr Wilson considered that if witness had driven down before at a full gallop it was a great mercy he was there to tell it.

Witness : There was a cart by the bottom of the hill which had stopped by the farm-yard wall. He could not say whether it had stopped to let the van pass or not. The horses and the van in passing came in contact with the cart, and caught the wheel, and the hand horse by that on which deceased rode, dropped, which stopped the van almost immediately. On looking round he saw the deceased on the ground behind the van, which had passed over him. He was dead when examined, after the horse had been raised. Blood was flowing fast from the head. They had put the drag on the van several times coming from Woodyates that morning. Deceased did not make any suggestion to him on the top of the hill about putting on the drag. He did not know that Pearce had ever ridden with him from Woodyates before, but during that morning deceased called to him when he required the drag on, and not witness to deceased. It was a rule that the rider of the wheeler should call for the drag to be placed on the wheel. They found the most pressure on the turn of the hill. They did not drive more than about 7 or 8 miles an hour.

Mr Wilson : Where would a careful man have placed the drag on?

Witness : At the top of the hill, but when they got to the turn they could not have stopped it had they wanted.

The Foreman : Did any person attempt to put the drag on at the top of the hill? I wish to know because it has been stated that one of the men attempted to put the drag on, but the horses darted forward an the moment and he was unable to do it.

Witness did not know that circumstance. They had dragged the wheels three times between Woodyates and Salisbury.

Mr Campbell Quinn stated that he was walking towards the hill, and saw the horses coming along with the van at a full gallop. Saw the cart standing on the right hand side of the road going up Harnham Hill. The cart was as near as it could possibly get to the wall, evidently to avoid a collision. When the two vehicles came into contact, the rider of the wheel horse was thrown, as it appeared to him by the shock of the collision, and the van passed over him. He did not see the horse fall. The van passed by him before that occurred. He was of opinion that the wheels of the van did not pass over deceased, but that the bed of the van which was low and of iron work dragged him for some distance. He saw deceased in the road lying behind the van.

Mr W M Coates, surgeon, said he was called to see the deceased, but he was quite dead. He had a large scalp wound, several ribs broken, and the two thigh bones broken. He was of opinion that the scalp wound was caused by the wheel, but that the bones might have been broken by other means.

Mr Wilson thought it was a mere accident, arising from a want of caution, but if they believed the evidence of Henry Young, they would consider deceased quite as much to blame in the matter as the witness.

A verdict of “Accidental death,” was accordingly returned.

Mr Macklin was of opinion that if self-acting drags were provided for vans of a like description, it would prevent the occurrence of such accidents, and if the jury concurred in that opinion, and would embody it in their verdict, he thought it might have a beneficial effect.

The jury were unanimously of the same opinion, which was accordingly attached to the verdict. It was stated that the age of deceased was about 40 years. Mr Herring wished to state n consequence of some observation which had been made out of doors, that deceased was a very experienced post-boy, he having been in that capacity for some years. Ample testimony was also borne to the very excellent character of deceased, and his habits of sobriety.

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