Palmer, John 1882 December 9th
An inquest was held at the “Chough” hotel on Monday morning by Mr G Smith (city coroner), on the body of an old man named John Palmer, who died suddenly at the “Haunch of Venison” on Saturday afternoon under the circumstances detailed in the evidence. Mr Curtis was foreman of the jury.
The first witness called was John Voce, who resides at the Fisherton Malthouses. He stated that he was at the “Haunch of Venison:” at about 2.30 on Saturday afternoon, the deceased being there at the same time. The deceased stood by his side, and suddenly fell against him and then to the floor. He picked him up at once and inquired, “What’s the matter?” No reply was made, and he then assisted in placing the deceased in the corner. When he picked deceased up he saw no signs of life.
Mr W D Wilkes, surgeon, of Salisbury, said he was called to see the deceased on Saturday afternoon, and on arriving at the inn he found him lying on the floor in the corner of the passage. He was quite dead. Considering the advanced age of the deceased, and the inclement state of the weather that morning, his insufficient clothing, and it might be the absence of a mid-day meal, he should say the deceased probably was attacked by paralysis of the heart, which, in the absence of a post mortem examination, he should say was the probably cause of death.
John Strugnell, who resides at West Harnham and is by occupation a dairyman, said that the deceased was his brother-in-law and had lived with him for some time past. By trade he was a gardener, but had not done any work lately. It was his habit to visit Salisbury once a week, several friends generally giving him some little help on these occasions, by which he was assisted to maintain himself. When he left West Harnham on Saturday morning – which was at about 11.30, and before he had had his dinner – he was exceedingly cheerful. He had for some time past suffered from occasional attacks of giddiness. Had he lived till Feb 14th, 1883, he would have been 83. The deceased had always sufficient food, and he was a very hearty man.
A juror : Did he ever apply for parochial relief? Yes, he applied; but because he would not go into the union it was not allowed him.
The juror remarked that it was exceedingly strange that the guardians should have refused relief to an old man who had lived an honest and industrious life when they allowed it to men who returned their kindness by knocking about and damaging the premises of the union.
The jurymen all agreed with the spirit of this observation and desired the Press to notice it.
The jury returned a verdict of “Death from natural causes.” During the inquiry a remark was made upon the exceeding kindness Mrs Potto, the landlady of the “Haunch of Venison,” had exhibited.