Shergold, Charles 1883 March 3rd
A shocking fatal accident occurred in Fisherton-street on Saturday evening at about five o’clock. There was considerable traffic at the time; and from the Great Western station two horses attached to a waggon laden with wheat were approaching. A lad named Charles William Shergold – a little fellow of eleven years – the son of a former gardener at the Palace, who now resides at White’s Court, New-street – ran from the pavement towards a phaeton which he had evidently thought was about to stop, and asked if he should hold the pony. He did not see the approaching laden waggon; and in a second later was under the horses’ feet. The horses started in affright, and apparently jumped over the little fellow. The first off wheel just grazed him and screaming terribly in his fear, he saw the opening between the two wheels and tried to scramble through. There was a harrowing sight presented to the spectators. The wheels passed over the head, and absolutely separated a portion of the skull from it. When the lifeless body was taken up, the portion of the skull with a portion of the brains remained in the road. The body was conveyed into the “Lamb” inn; and in a few minutes was seen by Mr Martin Coates, surgeon, who happened to be passing.
The driver of the waggon – which belonged to Mr Woodrow, corn-merchant, of Salisbury – made every effort to stop his horses; and the driver of the phaeton – Mr Hannen, of Southampton – at once returned to see what assistance he could give.
The inquest on the body was held at the “Angel” Hotel on Monday morning, before the City Coroner (Mr G Smith) and a jury (of whom Mr Voce was foreman), The father of the lad was present, and also Mr Woodrow. The following evidence was adduced:
Mr Martin Coates, medical practitioner, of Salisbury, said that on Saturday afternoon he was called upon to see the deceased. He found him quite dead. There was a large wound on the right side of the head; the head was flattened; on the road itself he saw a large portion of the skull and brains, which had been evidently pressed out by the weight of the waggon.
James Shergold was then called, the Coroner previously telling him that he did not desire him to say anything that would implicate him. He said : I live at Newman’s Court, Castle-street, and am waggoner to Mr Woodrow, corn-merchant, of Salisbury. I am in no way related to the deceased. On Saturday afternoon at about 5.15 I was driving a laden waggon and two horses in Fisherton going from the Great Western goods station to Mr Woodrow’s stores in Brown-street. The waggon was laden with 16 sacks of wheat. The horses were walking on the left side of the road, when – as I got near the “Lamb” inn – a fly went up and the deceased attempting to run across the road from behind the fly got under the horses. The horses jumped over him but as he was on the ground the off hind wheel passed over him. I pulled up as quickly as I could.
By the jury : I could not say whether the horses trampled on him. The horses were frightened, and there was no possibility of my pulling up. I think the boy was running behind the fly. I had no chance of seeing the boy before he was under the horses’ legs.
The father of the lad : How fast were you driving?
Witness : At a walk.
Father : Then you could not have driven over him.
Frank Kite, a labourer in the employ of Mr Woodrow, and who resides at Payne’s Hill, said that on this occasion he was accompanying the last witness. When passing the “Lamb” he was in the hindmost part of the waggon; the horses, which had previously been going at the pace of three miles an hour – “made a fright” – and then he saw the lad under the waggon. The driver tried to pull up; but he did not succeed until the waggon had passed the deceased by 16 yards. He got off the waggon and went towards the deceased. He appeared to be quite dead. They had had nothing to drink all day. He did not see how the accident happened – the first he saw of the deceased was when he was under the horses’ feet.
By the Jury : He could not tell whether the lad was knocked down sideways or directly in front.
William Butt, of Sidney-street, West-end Estate, said that a little after five he was opposite Mr Britton’s greenhouse in Fisherton, when he saw the deceased under the horses’ feet. The horses became frightened and kicked about. The off-front wheel grazed the lad. The poor little fellow screaming very much, gave a turn evidently with the intention of getting out between the two wheels, and just as he got his head between them the hind wheel passed directly over it. The driver at the time was seated on the waggon; he was quite sober, was driving quite slowly, and pulled up as soon as he could. Whilst the lad was being removed into the inn he ran and acquainted the Supt of Police with the accident.
By the Jury : There was in his opinion not the least fault on the part of the driver. Just before the accident he saw a gentleman go by in a carriage. The lad he fancied seeing another boy with a bit of blue up, exclaimed “Take down that dirty blue;” and he believed it was that which took his attention away from the approaching horses.
William Henry Hannen, auctioneer, of Netley, Ealing, near Southampton, said that he was driving up Fisherton on Saturday evening in a small open phaeton drawn by a pony. Just opposite the “Lamb” inn, a lad shouted out behind him, “Can I hold your pony, sir,” he replied, “No, my boy;” and immediately the deceased came across the road and asked the same question. Before he could reply two large horses, which were drawing a van, knocked him down. He pulled up as quickly as he could, and saw the boy then being carried away.
By the Jury : The lad did not run from behind the carriage, but he crossed from the opposite side – not seeing the approaching horses and waggon.
James Shergold, the father of the deceased, said he lived at White’s Court, New-street, and was a gardener by occupation. The deceased was 11 years old on the 14th of January.
Mr Woodrow addressed a few words to the jury, remarking that Shergold had been in his employ for five years, and he had always found him honest and capable; the other man had been in his employ for two years and had behaved extremely well.
The father said the driver if he had been driving slowly could have pulled up, but he denied that anyone could immediately pull up two big horses like those under similar circumstances. He might say that it was very much the fashion for lads to run in front of horses.
Mr Supt Mathews said that this lad had frequently been cautioned for this kind of thing. He was well known at the railway stations.
A Juror added that he had been told that a busman was that very day obliged to give him a cut with his whip to get him out of the way of his horses. The busman added that he was one of those lads who tried to get as near as possible to the horses, and then jump away.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death,” and entirely exonerated the waggoner.