Jerred, John 1878 July 13th West Harnham
On Thursday morning, Mr R Wilson, jnr., deputy coroner for the county, held an inquest at the “Three Crowns” inn, West Harnham, on the body of John Jerred, commonly known as “Happy jack,” who died suddenly on the previous afternoon. Mr John Crook was foreman of the jury. After the body had been viewed, the following evidence was adduced.
Alfred Bruton deposed : I live at Gigant-street, and am a bricklayer. Deceased, who is a labourer, was working with me yesterday on a building at Harnham, and at about three o’clock I sent him to get some tiles. On his returning I saw that he had a hammer in his hand, and he commenced pinning the tiles in. A few seconds after on turning round I saw him leaning against the wall, and then fall to the ground. At first I thought he intended sitting down, and did not pay much attention to him, but my attention being attracted by hearing him groan, I immediately ran down the ladder, and went to his assistance. I called out his name, but he made no response, and I saw that his eyes were fixed. I then went for William Kite.
I should say that when deceased brought out the tiles he was singing. I was the only one working with him at the time. I believe he died at once; at least it could not have been more than a minute or two after he fell, for he only groaned three times and then expired. Deceased had been working with me for about six months, and I had known him for some time previous to that. I believe he was a pensioner, and he had been lodging somewhere down in Brown-street. I don’t know for certain whether it was at the lodging house, or at the “Star” Inn, but he told me it was at the “Star.” Deceased had no wife or children living with him, but he told me he had a sister living away. As regards his age he told me he was 37.
A juror : He is nearer 57.
(FreeBMD gives John Jerred, age 50 – ED).
Witness continuing, said : I never heard him complain. He was a man of rather large proportions. He had not been drinking a large quantity of beer that day – in fact we only had a quart between four of us.
A juror : I understood he fell from the ladder.
Another juror : On Saturday that was. He fell close to me.
Witness : He was coming up the ladder with some slates to me, when, owing to a bar being loose, he fell down about five feet; and I afterwards heard him say he had hurt his back a little. I didn’t hear him complain much about it.
The next witness called was William Kite, who said : I live at West Harnham, and am a carpenter. I was called yesterday afternoon by the last witness to come to his assistance, and on proceeding to the buildings in question, where deceased and Bruton had been at work, I found deceased lying down on the ground dying. He was lying all in a heap, with his head against the wall. He was alive, but did not speak; he merely groaned, and moved his hands. He expired, however, in two or three minutes. I have worked with him for five or six months and never heard him complain. Deceased was a bricklayer’s labourer; he had no particular home and was rather a “roughish” man.
A juror : Didn’t he run after a horse and cart before he died? Yes. The horse ran away and he ran after it. We went after it first, and he followed us.
The juror : How long after that was it when he died? About half an hour.
Another juror : Did he get up and do any work after that? I was told this morning he didn’t.
Witness : Oh, yes he did! He went up the ladder two or three times.
Dr Blackmore stated : I was called by the first witness yesterday, at about five minutes to four, to come and see the deceased. I complied with his request, and on arriving at Harnham, I found deceased lying in an outhouse quite dead, but still warm. I heard from the last witness that he had died suddenly; and on making an external examination I found no marks of violence. The pupils of the eyes were quite natural, neither dilated nor contracted. There was no froth or blood about the mouth, showing that he had no fit. judging from the history I heard, I should think, that in all probability, he died from a sudden cessation of the heart’s action – from disease of the heart. It is impossible, however, to say more without a post mortem examination. His having ran after the horse might have put an extra strain on the heart, and, if there had been any old disease, made it give out more rapidly than it otherwise would have done. I have heard that being a pensioner, there was — (one) remark on his discharge paper. If so it would probably account for a good deal.
A juror : He told me he was invalided home.
Another juror : He had been in the Crimea, and all through the Indian Mutiny.
Another juror : He had five medals.
Dr Blackmore : Nothing would kill more quickly than a sudden cessation of the heart’s action.
This concluded the evidence, and the jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.