Sargent, Frederick 1880 September 11th Winterslow
On Wednesday in last week, a little boy of seven years, named Frederick Sargent, was brought into the Infirmary suffering from severe injuries which he had received at Winterslow, on Mr Whitlock’s farm, whilst in charge of a pony which was working an elevator. The unfortunate little fellow lingered until Saturday, and then expired in a delirious state.
On Monday an inquest was held before Mr Smith, city coroner, Mr F Newton being foreman of the jury.
The first witness was Mr James Macdonald Rogers, officiating house surgeon at the Infirmary. He said that, between the hours of eleven and twelve on the night of the 1st of September, the boy was admitted to that institution, and, on his examining him, he found him suffering from an extensive bone fracture of the shin bone. The limb was also a great deal swollen and bruised. There were no other injuries that could be ascertained. The lad was perfectly sensible, and, during a conversation, witness gathered that the accident had occurred whilst the lad was engaged in working an elevator, into which he had fallen. Witness did not entertain any idea of the recovery of the little fellow, owing to the considerable quantity of blood he lost previous to his admission to the Infirmary. He lost none, however, after his admission. Witness attributed death, which occurred on Saturday morning, to the severity of the injuries and the considerable loss of blood.
George Judd, a labourer, of Winterslow, and who is in the employ of Mr Whitlock, said at the time of the accident, which occurred at about seven in the evening, he was engaged, in connection with the deceased, in hoisting a load of barley (by means of an elevator) on to a rick. The elevator was worked by a pony, which was in charge of the deceased, whose duty it was to keep the machine going. Witness had almost hoisted the whole of the load, when he was suddenly startled by the exclamation, “Oh, my leg” from the deceased, He immediately turned round towards him and then saw that the lad had been, by some means, caught in the gear of the machine. He at once hastened from the waggon, and, having unhitched the pony, held the deceased, in order to prevent his struggling, until assistance arrived and released him from his position. The parents of the lad were present when the lad was removed from the machine.
The foreman : Was the lad in his proper place when the accident occurred? He was not. If he had been he could not have been caught. He had two yards of space for himself.
Witness was questioned as to whether it was the lad’s duty to ride or walk with the pony, but on this point he could speak with no certainty. Sometimes he rode (he said), sometimes he walked, but there was no seat for him on the elevator. The boy had only been engaged with the elevator for about four hours previous to the accident, but during the day he had been minding sheep.
James Sargent, farm labourer, of Winterslow, father of the boy, said the deceased was seven years old last Christmas. Witness saw the little fellow shortly after the accident, and, in reply to his query as to how it happened, he said, “I fell down, father.” The lad had been in the habit of doing this kind of work both during the present harvest and the previous harvest (so that he must have been engaged in the same work when he was only six years old). He had gone to school, but the present time was the holiday season. Immediately after the accident witness’s master’s brother, who is a doctor, bandaged the wound, and, at about nine in the evening, the lad was sent, attended by witness and his wife, to the Infirmary, where he arrived at about half past eleven.
The Coroner : Don’t you think he was rather young for this kind of work? I don’t know, sir. He is rather a big boy for his age. Had he been in his place at the time the accident couldn’t have happened.
A juror : How do you know that? Supposing he fell down? If he had fallen down and was in his place nothing could have touched him.
A juryman repeated the question, “Don’t you think the lad was too young to undertake such work?”
Witness : Well, I don’t know. Lads like him do do it you know. Farmers are glad to get ’em, and we be glad for ’em to earn a little. I got a family of five besides this one.
In answer to another question, witness said the lad had been engaged in this work for about two hours when the accident occurred. Previously, from seven or eight in the morning, he had been minding sheep.
A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned, the jury expressing the decided opinion that a lad of the tender years of the deceased ought not to be employed in the performance of such duties.