Ainsworth, Bessie ; Lucas, Caroline

Ainsworth, Bessie ; Lucas, Caroline                  1876 July 22nd

On Saturday afternoon last an inquest was held at the Council Chamber, before the City Coroner, Mr G Smith, on the body of Bessie Jane Ainsworth (daughter of Inspector Ainsworth), who was killed on the previous day through a horse running away. The first witness called was,

W D Wilkes, surgeon, who stated that on Friday afternoon he was talking to a gentleman at the upper part of Milford Street, when he saw a horse running away with a cart across to the malthouse just below. It then turned up the side path where he was standing, and he had to run in a doorway. It next turned up the lane towards St Ann’s-street, and he ran after it. He saw several children on it before in the lane, and they ran on, but were overtaken by the horse and knocked down. He then ran up and rendered assistance with the other neighbours, the child which demanded his attention first being the deceased, who was picked up by a Mr Holman. She was knocked down about two thirds of the distance down the lane, and quite dead. There was a boy in the cart, and he fell out when it turned the corner into the lane.

Mr Naish, juryman, wished to know if the driver had lost all control of the horse before he got up the hill, and witness replied that it appeared he had. He hardly thought the horse would have got through the lane, because it narrowed so much at one point. Deceased must have died instantaneously, and he attributed death to dislocation of the neck. He attended two or three other children, one of whom was taken to the Infirmary, and the rest to their homes.

Henry Bradley, a boy about 14 years of age, was the next witness, and said he worked for Mr Cooper, on the Blue Boar Row, and lived on Milford Hill. He was working at Mr Wells’s from six o’clock in the morning until half past four in the afternoon, when he went to a building which belonged to Mr Cooper in Winchester Street, and which was formerly the “Ship Inn.” When he got there young Mr Cooper had charge of the horse and cart, and he told him to go and fetch some vetches at the top of Milford Hill, where Mr Cooper had some land. The horse was then in the stable, but Mr Cooper’s son brought it out, and they hitched it in. It had a head-stall on but no bit in its mouth.

Mr Cooper’s son told him to get into the cart and throw out some chains, and he did so. They were timber chains and made considerable noise. No-one was at the horse’s head when he threw the chains out, and it bolted. It ran round Guilder Lane corner up Milford Hill, witness being in the cart during the time, and one of the wheels knocked down a child, against the malthouse. The horse then turned the corner into Long Lane and witness jumped out. He had no control whatever over it. After he jumped out he ran after it, and saw a child (not the deceased) knocked down in the lane, but it did knock down the deceased.

He overtook the horse against Mr Vincent’s, in St Ann’s-street, it having been previously stopped. He then went back towards Mr Cooper’s buildings, and met Mr Cooper’s son coming down St Ann’s-street. He told him what had happened, and he went after the horse. Witness had not been in charge of the horse and cart more than about three or four times, but whenever he had been in charge of it before, it always had a bridle on. He thought that the cause of the horse’s starting was a fly on it, and not the noise of the chain. When he was told to go for the vetches he intended to lead the horse by the headstall, and not to get into the cart to drive it.

William Walter Cooper, son of Mr Cooper, builder, said he was in charge of a horse and cart belonging to his father on Friday. He had been out the whole day at Clarendon, to get some oak, and got home about four o’clock, when the horse was put into the stable, but he had occasion to get it out again at quarter past four to get some vetches. It was harnessed all but the bridle, and he and the last witness put it into the cart. He had told the last witness just as the horse was coming out of the stable yard to take out the chain and lever in the cart, and when he attached the horse to the cart he was not aware whether the lever had been taken out or not.

As he was harnessing the animal into the cart it ran away, the last witness being in the cart, but he didn’t know that until the horse started. Bradley assisted him by holding up the shafts and putting over the bearing chain. He forgot to place the bridle on in the stable, and not being able to turn back for it he harnessed with the headstall intending to return afterwards for the bridle. To his recollection the last witness never asked to have the blinkers put on. As the horse was started he tried to stop it, but could not succeed. He followed it, and upon going down St Ann’s-street met Bradley close to Vincent’s, the horse having been then stopped. He afterwards took the horse home.

A juryman : Who is in the habit of looking after the horse? We have had a man and a boy to attend to it.

The witness further said his father had had the horse five years, and it was a quiet one.

By a juryman : He found one of the chains used at Clarendon opposite Mr Taunton’s in Guilder Lane, having been apparently jerked out of the cart with other things. They had two or three chains at Clarendon.

PC George Axford said he was on duty in Winchester-street at quarter past four on Friday afternoon, and saw Henry Bradley get into a cart and throw a chain out on the pavements, which made a noise. The horse immediately started. He followed it, and saw one wheel off the cart at the top of St Ann’s-street. He met Inspector Ainsworth, the father of the deceased, and reported to the superintendent what had occurred.

James Holman, living in St Thomas’s Terrace, leading from Milford Street to St Ann’s-street, stated that he was in his garden about 20 minutes past four on Friday afternoon, and was told that a horse with a cart attached to it was running down the lane. He immediately ran through the house and jumped over the palisades of his premises into the lane, where he saw the horse and cart galloping down the lane at a very rapid pace. He saw four or five children “knocked down like nine-pins,” if he might so express it, and ran up to where it happened. He first came to Mr Ainsworth’s two children, the first being the youngest, who was not dead. The other appeared to be quite dead, and he took her in his arms. He then met Mr Wilkes, who told him to take the child home, and he did so.

The Coroner asked in which parish the child was killed, as the boundary was divided about that part of the lane, and Mr Holman replied that its head was lying in St Martin’s parish.

Henry George Vincent, a baker living in St Ann’s-street, said at about 20 minutes or half past four on Friday afternoon he saw the horse running away down St Ann’s-street, with a cart attached to it. The horse had only its headstall with a chain attached. He caught hold of the chain of the headstall, and pulled the horse round, and the horse being blown he was able to stop it. One wheel of the cart was off, and the cart was dragging on its axle. He unhitched the horse, and took it out of the cart, and they then made a bit of the chain, which they put into the horse’s mouth. He afterwards handed the horse over to Mr Cooper’s son, or Bradley, he couldn’t be certain which.

Mr Superintendent Mathews stated that the deceased child was 6 years of age. She was killed in St Martin’s parish.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,” but the Coroner, at the request of the jury, cautioned the witness William Walter Cooper not in future to let the horse out in the way he did on this occasion, for it was a most dangerous practise. The Coroner was also further requested by the jury to communicate with the authorities with a view to have a fence at each end of the lane known as Long Lane, and they considered that the fence which existed at the end nearest St Ann’s-street previous to the accident was too low.

Another child named Lucas, who was knocked down by the horse and cart, died on Sunday last, but it was not deemed necessary to hold another inquest.

FreeBMD gives Caroline Lucas aged 8 – ED.

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