Weston, Henry

Weston, Henry      1881 April 16th           West Harnham

On Tuesday morning, an inquest was held at the Salisbury Infirmary, by Mr Smith (city coroner) and a jury, on the body of a little boy named Henry John Weston who was accidentally drowned in the Avon at West Harnham on the preceding day. Mr Vick was foreman of the jury. The particulars of the sad occurrence are embodied in the evidence adduced.

Julie Ann Weston, the mother of the child, residing at West Harnham, stated that her house adjoins the Avon, and on Monday, accompanied by her child, she went to the river-side to obtain a kettle of water. On returning into her house, she must have left the child in the garden. About two minutes after, missing him, she imagined at first he had gone to meet her brother as was his habit. She went out into the garden to see if her surmise were correct, when she observed him floating in the water out of her reach. He was struggling. Seeing her brother coming down the road she ran to him for assistance; and he succeeded in getting the deceased out of the river with a clothes-prop. The deceased struggled after he was taken out of the river; and they tried to allow the water which he had swallowed to escape by turning him up. Mr Chick, subsequently, took him to the Infirmary. The child was three years and seven months old.

Replying to a juror, she said that there was no other means of obtaining water for consumption than from the river. She had no well to proceed to. The bank, too, was entirely unprotected. She had lived at the place three or four years, and never had an accident occur previously.

James Chick, cabinet-maker, who resides at West Harnham, deposed that he was proceeding to his home shortly after twelve o’clock on Monday morning, when his attention was attracted by a group of people on the edge of the water. He at first imagined that a fish had been caught, but, on running to the spot, saw that the deceased had been rescued. A misapprehension existing as to what should be done, he at once brought the child to the Infirmary.

Mr James Kelland, the house surgeon of the Infirmary, said he saw the child when it was brought in by the last witness, but he was of the opinion life was extinct at the time. He, however, used every means to restore animation, but was entirely unsuccessful. His opinion was that death was caused by suffocation resulting from drowning.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”

Mr W Wells suggested that a rider should be added calling attention to the unprotected state of the bank and the desirability of a protection being erected. It was to him simply a wonder that more accidents had not occurred. Mr Carter thought it would be desirable to suggest that a well should be dug; but for none existing, the accident might, perhaps, have not occurred. Both suggestions were adopted.

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