Jackson, Frederick

Jackson, Frederick            1880 August 21st             West Grimstead

An inquest was held at the Infirmary, before Mr Smith (city coroner), yesterday, on the body of a child named Frederick Jackson, who came by his death under the very painful circumstances fully narrated in the subjoined evidence. Mr C Clements was chosen foreman of the jury.

Mr Rogers was the first witness examined. He said : I am the locum tenens for Mr Kelland, the house surgeon of Salisbury Infirmary. I saw the child shortly after his admission on Wednesday, and on examining him, found him suffering from severe scaldings over the lower extremities and the lower pat of the back. Death indeed resulted from convulsions and the shock received. The deceased previous to being seized with convulsions, appeared to be doing very well.

Alfred Barrow deposed : I at present am staying during my holidays with Mrs Penn (who is my aunt) at West Grimstead, but my home is at Sopley, near Christchurch. I knew Frederick Jackson, and last saw him alive on Wednesday afternoon, playing by the side of a large copper fixed in the ground near Mrs Penn’s residence (where the deceased was also staying). The copper, which contained some water, was entirely unprotected, and was being warmed by the fire underneath. During a search which I made for fuel for the fire, I was attracted by hearing the deceased screaming and on looking around saw that the deceased had fallen in, his lower extremities being entirely hidden from view. I at once rushed towards him and after pulling him out carried him indoors, where Miss Penn at once attended to him. The water at the time the deceased fell in was nearly boiling.

A juror : Do you mean to say the copper is level with the ground on which you walk? Yes.

Ellen Emily Penn said : I am an unmarried woman and live with my mother at West Grimstead. The deceased has been living with my mother and myself since he was four years old, though his parents are alive. They reside in London. The deceased was living with us because of the delicate condition of his health. The child was given to me by the last witness, and on examining him I found him suffering from severe scalding. I at once attended to the wounds. The copper is on a level with the ground. There is a cover connected with it, but it is not sufficiently large to cover the surface. The least pressure on the outside would cause it to tip over.

The Coroner : But did you not think it would be dangerous with children about? Well, sir, we never found them there before. Now, since this has happened, we have thought so.

The Coroner : Now you see the seriousness of it. It was absolutely dangerous.

Witness (continuing) : When the child was brought in, I and my mother bathed him in linseed oil, and carefully wrapped up the scalded limbs. I immediately started for the Infirmary, arriving here in about half-an-hour. The cauldron was kept for washing purposes. I did not light the fire under the cauldron, and was not aware what the warmed water was required for.

The foreman : Could you go to the place where this copper was as easily as any other place? Yes, but the children didn’t usually proceed there. The copper was about 30 yards from the back door. The child was three years old on the 10th of last July.

A juror remarked that it was not an unusual thing to see coppers so fixed as the one described in the country.

The foreman : But it ought to be unusual.

The Coroner : It has now been fraught with fatal consequences.

Mrs Jane Jackson, the mother of the child, said : I reside with my husband – who is a licensed victualler – at 17, Silver-street, Bloomsbury-square. The deceased I have seen, and I identify him as my son.

The Coroner, addressing Mrs Jackson, said he believed she had another son at Mrs Penn’s, and if she would take his advice she would remove him at once from the dangerous precincts of the copper.

Mrs Jackson in reply, said on all occasions Mrs Penn had been particularly kind and careful with her children.

The Coroner, addressing the jury, thought it very reprehensible for children to be allowed to run near such a boiler. At least, the boiler should have been provided with a reliable cover.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death,” and, in addition to censuring the occupier of the house for having a copper so dangerously placed, advised that if possible the removal of the copper should be ordered.

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