Adlam, Joseph 1883 August 4th Wilton
An inquest was held at Wilton Workhouse on Wednesday afternoon by Mr R A Wilson (county coroner) and a jury (of whom Mr A Whitehorn was foreman), on the body of Joseph Adlam, aged 35, who had been employed as head carter by Mr William Gange Salway, farmer, of Winterbourne Stoke, and whose body was found lying in the road between Wilton and Salisbury – near Tinkerpit-hill – on the previous day. Previous to the inquest there had been strong rumours prevailing that the man was killed by lightning – which was probably suggested by the fact that when his body was recovered a heavy thunderstorm was prevailing. There was no evidence at all to corroborate this – indeed, the evidence rather tended to show that death was the result of an accident.
The first witness examined was George Bickell, a youth in the employ of the Wilton Co-operative Society, who stated that he was driving along the Wilton-road on Tuesday afternoon, when at the railway arch at the foot of Tinkerpit-hill, he saw the deceased lying on his back in the gutter, his hat being in the middle of the road. Just afterwards Mr Pinckney came along the road and witness stopped him. One of the occupants of the carriage got down and the body was dragged up on the bank. It was raining at the time and had been thundering heavily.
Mr Pinckney, of Berwick St James, deposed that he was driving from Salisbury on the previous afternoon about five o’clock, when, his attention being attracted by the boy Bickell, he saw the body in the road. It was raining at the time; and when they were in Salisbury it had thundered, though after leaving the city he had not heard any more, though it was possible the rumble of the wheels had prevented him hearing it. The body of the deceased was lying as fully in the gutter as if it had been placed there. He was not dead at the time; for in response to a question as to who he was he made an unintelligible answer. He, however, immediately relapsed into unconsciousness. A van coming along they lifted the man into it. The poor fellow was quite powerless, his legs dangling under him. They then drove on to the “Wheatsheaf” inn where they found the waggon and two horses that the man had been in charge of. From the position in which the man was in the gutter he at first thought somebody preceding him on the road finding the man had placed him there. At the “Wheatsheaf” the man was left in charge of the police.
Frank Grant, carrier, said that he was going from Wilton to Salisbury on the previous afternoon when he was stopped by Mr Pinckney. He at once saw the body, and recognised the man as being a carter in the employ of Mr Salway. He was taken in his van to the “Wheatsheaf” and then – by the direction of the police – to the union, where he was taken in. He saw the man in the morning as he was going to Salisbury at just about the same spot, and he was then walking steadily along by the side of his horses.
Inspector Potto, who is stationed at Wilton, stated that on Tuesday afternoon as he was standing by the road opposite the “Wheatsheaf” he saw two horses drawing a waggon coming steadily towards him. He, finding no man in the waggon, feared that an accident had occurred. One of the traces of the front horse was unhooked, and the “breeching” of the horse in the shafts was unfastened on both sides. The horses might probably have been galloping, and so unhitched the tackle. Soon after Mr Pinckney arrived, and shortly after he van. He at once saw that the man was very ill, and ordered Mr Straton to be sent for. Just after the van’s arrival at the “Wheatsheaf” the deceased seemed to revive slightly, but immediately relapsed. Previous to the horses and cart arriving several other vehicles had passed.
Mr Straton, surgeon, said when he visited the man at the “Wheatsheaf,” he at once saw that he was dying, and he had him removed to the union where he died in a few minutes. On examining the body he saw that the coat was torn in the back as if by a wheel; there was an abrasion on his back, and on one shin, but no other marks. He was evidently suffering from a shock when he first saw him, the result probably of concussion of the brain or some internal injury. He certainly did not appear the worse for liquor. He might have fallen from the waggon and have thus received sufficient injuries to have caused death without receiving any external injury.
Subsequiently, Mr Straton said there was no appearance of the man being struck by lightning. The rent in the coat was certainly made by a wheel. He should say he was thrown from his waggon and so met his death.
Mr William Gange Salway, the employer of the deceased, said that on Tuesday morning at about 7.30 he started with two horses and a waggon for Salisbury telling him to go to Mr Hicks’ brewery for a load of grains. On himself going to the brewery, he found that the man had been there – indeed the waggon was still in the yard. The horses that the man drove were very quiet – one being about nine years old and the other about six.
The Coroner : Do you think they would mind a train?
Mr Salway : I can’t say, because no trains pass my house. The first horse, however, I am certain would not. The man, however, had been used to both animals. The man (added Mr Salway) was usually very quiet and sober; and on inquiring at the brewery he found that he had had only one glass of beer there, whilst of the shilling which he had on starting 2½d was found on his clothes being searched. There were no marks on the waggon of its having been struck by lightning.
The jury returned a verdict of “Found dead by the side of the road,” but added that they thought it probable that the man was thrown from his cart, receiving sufficient injury to cause death. The deceased was married and the father of six children.