There were 45 cases reported in 1885. There were three in January at Westbury, the Coroner commenting that Matthew Bigwood should have sought relief and found shelter at the workhouse – personally, I sympathised with the deceased in his desire to remain at home.
There were, as ever, a number of terrible burning cases. Youngster Herbert Pearce was the victim of a spilt basin of hot water, and toddler Bertie Pain put a kettle of boiling water in his mouth and drank. William Collett fell through a fissure in a burning bank of sawdust, clay, ashes and other industrial waste that he was supposed to be levelling for the Great Western Railway Company – I noted the accidental verdict with some cynicism. William Maton was too far gone in drink to know his house was on fire.
The perils of drink were also brought home to Mr Annett, who was tried for the manslaughter of George Lomax, his foreman at copse work. It was the end of the work in that particular wood, and a large barrel of beer was brought in for the workmen. Even good working friendships could not survive that. Drink and politics seem to have contributed equally in the accident resulting in the death of Alfred Gay
Ringwood was struck by several tragedies, one partly revolving around the will of the father – Edward Wiltshire – of a family, upon which the son – also Edward Wiltshire – killed himself. Another Ringwood case was that of John Ward, a cobbler whose sideline in photography having been defeated by competition, and the bailiffs having evicted him, his wife, children and furniture, came to a grotty hovel in Salisbury, and a day later he disappeared.
My own grandfather’s state was similar to David Rogers. Both were fish-hawkers, both travelled about delivering in all weathers seemingly lacking proper coats, both died really from inability to fully care for themselves as we deem it.
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