Farris, Henry

Farris, Henry              1882 August 12th            Homington

A shocking gun fatality occurred at Coombe, or rather Homington, on Saturday afternoon – which resulted in the death of one little boy and the mutilation of a little girl. An engineer named Farris sent his little boy, aged ten years, to fetch a loaded gun for him. The little fellow ran off to his mother on his errand, followed by his cousin Henry, aged ten years, and his sister Emily, aged eleven. In returning to the father, the child fell, the gun exploding in the fall and shooting the two little children who accompanied him.

His cousin Henry, who had been almost perforated with shots, was immediately brought into the house, where he died within a short time, not indeed speaking to anyone from the moment he received the wounds, and the little girl was afterwards taken to the Salisbury Infirmary. The accident has a remarkable phase in that on the previous night, the gun, which has a percussion lock, was tried to be fired off, but it refused. It was rumoured in the village of Coombe – which at the time was thrown into a state of great excitement – that the gun really had no cap on at the time of the accident.

On Monday morning, Mr R M Wilson held an inquest on the body of the deceased. The evidence adduced was very brief. There were only three witnesses called.

The first, John Farris, gave evidence as to sending his son, Charles, at about half-past five on Saturday afternoon, to ask his mother for the gun, which he had promised to a man named Thompson. One of the barrels of the gun (it was double-barrelled) was loaded. Shortly after he sent the boy he heard a report, and on running out to the spot he found the deceased on the ground with the gun beside him. His son came running towards him. Seeing that the deceased had been shot in the side he took him up in his arms and carried him into the house, laying him on a couch, where he died about twenty minutes afterwards. He had before this observed his own child, Emily, running down the road, she also evidently having been shot. The previous night (added the witness) he tried to fire the gun but it then refused to go off.

Emily Farris, the last witness’s wife, deposed to her son coming and asking her for the gun for his father. The gun at the time was in the parlour, and, fetching it, she gave it to the lad. The deceased never spoke after her husband brought him into the house.

Mr W D Wilkes, surgeon, of Salisbury, stated that he was sent for on Saturday afternoon, and arrived at Farris’ house at about five minutes past six. The deceased was then dead. He saw at once that his jacket and trousers were perforated with shot holes. On examining the, body, and more especially from the ribs to the groin on the left side, which corresponded with that portion of the clothing which bore the evidence of the shots having entered, he found evidence of almost the whole charge of the gun having entered the body. The shots, he believed, entered the cavity of the stomach, and the child’s death was caused by loss of blood, the shock and laceration of its contents.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the child met its death accidentally, it having been occasioned by injuries received from the charge of the gun. A strong feeling prevailed among the jurymen as to the inadvisability of trusting children of such tender years with firearms.

FreeBMD gives Henry Farris aged 6 – ED.


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