Jenner, Richard 1878 July 6th
On Saturday evening last an inquest was held at the Waiting Room of the London and South Western Railway company, by Mr Powning, deputy-coroner, on the body of Mr Richard Jenner, platform-inspector of the Salisbury station, who died suddenly on the afternoon of the same day. The particulars of the sad occurrence will be found in the subjoined evidence. Mr W Wells was foreman of the jury.
In opening the inquiry Mr Powning said in the capacity of deputy-coroner it was his painful duty to inquire into the cause of death of Richard Jenner, whose body they would, in due course, view. He was sure they would regard this as another proof of the great uncertainty of death. Here was a man one moment in the vigour of his life, and the next struck down. Witnesses would be brought forward who saw the deceased immediately before his death, and Dr Gowing, who was called in as soon as possible, would be examined; and he hoped they would have no difficulty in coming to a conclusion.
Of course they were quite aware of the irreparable loss the Company and the deceased’s wife and family had sustained in their bereavement. During deceased’s long servitude in the Company he had conducted himself so as to have gained the confidence of his employers, and the esteem of those who were employed with him. He would not further enlarge on the matter, but ask them to inquire into the cause of death.
The first witness called was Frank Eliott, who said he was a porter employed by the London and South Western Railway Company, and resided at Fisherton. He was on duty at the station a short time previous to the arrival of an excursion train – a little before 5 o’clock – and saw the deceased in the discharge of his duties. He was talking to the Rev. Mr Piggot, by the entrance to the station; and on his returning to the platform he noticed nothing unusual in his appearance. His attention was, a few seconds after, attracted by hearing him fall to the ground, and he and PC Burke immediately went to his assistance. He fell near the booking-office door; and witness rushed into the refreshment bar and procured a glass of water. While on the ground he never spoke, but simply sighed. Deceased did not drink the water, but they bathed his face. Deceased looked up into his (witness’) face. Having assisted in carrying him outside the station, for the purpose of getting a greater current of air, he rushed off for a doctor, and he met a gentleman in the road whom he believed as of the medical profession, but who refused to come; and then went to he Infirmary for the doctor, who also refused to attend. Next he applied to Dr Gowing, and that gentleman was soon in attendance. The whole of the day deceased was engaged in his ordinary duties, and appeared in his usual state of health. He had known him for the last 2½ years, and never heard him complain of illness.
The foreman : Who were the doctors?
A juror said one was a gentleman from Shrewton. Witness said he knew neither of the gentlemen’s names.
Thomas Burke stated that he was a police constable of that station, and resided in Fisherton. He was on duty on that afternoon shortly before 5 o’clock, and saw Mr Jenner in his own office, leading out to the booking-office. He did not notice anything unusual in his appearance, and during the day he was attending to his ordinary duties. About five minutes after he saw deceased in his office, he heard a sound as if a person had fallen up against the booking-office door, and on turning round saw him (deceased) in the act of falling from the door to the ground, and although he made an attempt to save him he was not in time. Some water was procured, and having bathed his face, he, assisted by others, took him outside the station. Previous to this, however, I undid his collar and front. He never spoke, and scarcely moved, after he fell.
Mr Samuel D— (Davis), station-master, deposed : I am a district superintendent of the London and South Western Railway Company. I have known the deceased for about — years, and you can imagine how I appreciated his services by appointing him my platform-inspector. To a certain extent he was a confidential servant of the Company; and for myself I had as much confidence in him as I had in any person on the staff. I had had continual intercourse with him during the day on various matters connected with his duties. I should say he was about 40 years of age. I saw him this afternoon within ten minutes of his death, when I put him in charge of the platform while I went to tea. This was at about twenty minutes to five. When having my tea I heard a noise on the platform, and on going down to ascertain what it was, found deceased on the floor apparently dead.
He has been about — years in the employ of the Company, and has exhibited the most exemplary of conduct, and I never knew anything against him during the whole of that time. During the day he had been in his usual state of health; and he remarked to me how easy the day had gone off – there had been nothing to worry him. On some days there was frequently something to h—- him.
In answer to a question from Dr Gowing, Mr Davis said that while deceased was on the ground, his throat appeared very much swollen and his face pu— up. However he did not pay much attention to how he looked, being busy getting a doctor.
Dr Gowing was next examined, and stated that he was a doctor practising in Salisbury. On that afternoon he was called to see the deceased, and on arriving at the station found him lying on the ground by the booking-office door. Having satisfied himself that he was dead, he made an external examination. From his examination he was satisfied that death was not due to violence, or to any cause, but that which was perfectly natural; and that deceased died from internal hemorrhage. He might say that he had known deceased for the last five years, and had attended him for gout; but he never saw anything to lead him to suspect he had a mortal disease.
The foreman : You don’t think he died from apoplexy? It was internal hemorrhage either in the chest or brain. I would not say which, but it was not apoplexy.
A juror directed his attention to the colour of deceased’s face.
Dr Gowing : That led me to form my opinion.
Mr Powning having made a few remarks, the jury returned a verdict of “Death from natural causes.”
Much of this case was photographed at the edge of the page, and portions of the text did not survive – Ed.