Lomax, George 1885 May 30th Romsey
An inquest was held before Mr H White, one of the Hants county coroners, on Saturday last, at the White Horse Inn, Ampfield, near Romsey, on the body of George Lomax, who died suddenly on Thursday evening, whilst quarrelling with others in Newland copse.
Mary Lomax, widow, mother of the deceased, deposed that on Thursday evening, between six and seven o’clock, she went to Newland Copse with her grandchildren to gather chips when she saw two boys quarrelling. She then saw a man named William Annett strike her son with his fist on the side of his head. She had seen no previous quarrelling or fighting between them. Her son fell down after the blow, but got up again directly and came towards her; his nose was bleeding very much. She spoke to him, but he seemed unable to speak, and laid himself down on the ground, and died in about half-an-hour. Charles Stark was there at the time, and Annett came to him when he found that the deceased was badly hurt, and remained there until he died. Witness was certain she saw no previous quarrelling between them. She had a glass of beer with the men, who had all been drinking, and deceased with Annett and others had had quite enough drink.
Annett : Did I bring you three glasses of ale under the yew tree?
Witness : Yes.
Annett : Did it rain when you came? Yes.
Did you see the two boys and Sims skylarking? Yes.
Did you see your son go and seize hold of Sims? No.
Did you see me get hold of the two lads and threaten to put them out of the copse? Yes.
Did you see your other son come to help him? No.
Did you see your two sons on the top of Sims? No.
Did you see me yell your other son off the deceased? No.
Did you see your son, George, strike me? No.
Did you see me bathe your sons face with water as he lay on the ground? Yes.
Did I stay with him till the last, and help to take the body home? Yes.
The Coroner : Did Annett seem much grieved at what had occurred? Yes.
Charles Stark, labourer, living at Knightwood, said he was in the copse on the evening of the 21st May. They were barking trees, and expected to finish on that day. They had in the copse a barrel of beer (30 gallons). There were about fifteen men there altogether. He had been working at a tree and went back to the others between seven and eight o’clock for some more beer, when he saw a skirmish amongst the men. He sat down and drank two horns of beer, and had been there about half an hour, when he saw Annett strike deceased on the side of his head with his fist and deceased fell down. Witness was about four or five yards off when he saw the blow. The skirmish was between the brother of deceased and Sims. He did not see deceased interfere between them, nor see how the skirmish ended. The blow struck was a very violent one. He heard nothing said by either of the men, but helped to pick up deceased and said in Annett’s hearing, “I believe he is a dead man.” Deceased did not speak after the fall; he fell flat on his face and did not walk after. Annett was much troubled and rendered every help he could. They were very good friends. Witness was not drunk, and did not observe that either of the men was drunk. He had about three pints of beer during the day. The men were not in a fighting attitude.
Annett : Did you see the two Lomax’s on the top of Sims? No.
Did you see me pull G. Lomax off Sims? No.
Had you had more then three pints of beer? I might have had four; I was sober.
Charles Rogers, labourer, Baddesley, said he was in the copse on Thursday evening, and saw three men quarrelling – the two Lomax’s and Sims. They all fell down together, close to witness. Annett was there and said, “Let us have fair play; not two to one, or I must interfere,” and went to part them. Deceased then went towards the cask of beer, and Annett pulled off his jacket and said to deceased, “If you want to fight, I will fight either of you.” Deceased then went towards Annett, when both put themselves in a fighting attitude. He saw them go at one another, but saw no blow struck. Deceased staggered back and fell. Witness did not go to him for some time after, and then found that he was dead. They had all had beer, but were not much the worse for it. Annett was not drunk, but deceased was the worse for liquor.
A Juryman : How was it that you did not see the blow? I was under a yew tree, out of the way.
Had there been any unpleasantness between the parties? No.
Annett : Did you think me quarrelsome? No.
Did you think my interference necessary? Yes, they were two to one.
The Coroner : You were behind a tree; was anyone else near who could have struck Lomax? No.
Then, if there was a blow struck it must have been by Annett? Yes.
Mr James Chapman, surgeon, practising at Hursley, said he had made a post mortem examination of the body of deceased. He found blood flowing from the nose and mouth, and much congestion over the left side of the neck and head, which presented a livid appearance ; and a patch of congestion between the scalp and the skull above the left ear. On removing the skull-cap a quantity of blood escaped, of a dark colour. The membrane was much congested, and the whole surface of the brain was covered with dark-coloured blood. The substance of the brain was very much congested, and the ventricles full of fluid. Witness was of opinion that death resulted in consequence of the rupture of a blood vessel on the surface of the brain.
By the Jury : Death must have occurred within half-an-hour after the injury to the brain. The rupture of a blood vessel might have been caused by a blow or a fall. There was no external bruise.
By the Coroner : There must have been some violence; the ruptured vessel was a large one, and from the large quantity of blood effused death must have occurred within half-an-hour.
PC Edmonds deposed that he was sent for to Newlands Copse at about 8pm on the evening in question, and found the dead body of George Lomax. Annett was there and said, “I want to speak to you.” He was duly cautioned and then said, “Deceased and his brother were fighting with Sims. I went to him and said, ‘Let us have fair play, George,’ and he replied, ‘I’ll put you out of the copse if you interfere.’ I said, ‘Come on.’ He came on, when I hit him, I do not know where, and he lived about half-an-hour later. I was coming for you myself when Rogers said he would go.” Annett helped him to take the body home.
Edward Sims, labourer, of Romsey, deposed: I was present in the afternoon and evening between seven and eight o’clock. Two boys and myself were larking together, when deceased pushed me into a ditch, and when I got clear of him I said if he would fight I would. Then two of them came to me and got hold of me, and we all went down together. I heard Annett say, “I will not have two on to one,” and he pulled deceased off me. I did not see what took place after but went home directly.
Annett : Did Lomax say anything to me when I pulled him off? Yes, he said, “I’ll have a go at you.”
William Annett, after being cautioned by the Coroner, made the following statement: On Thursday morning it was very wet, and we did not leave Romsey till seven or eight o’clock. When we got to the copse deceased was there before us. He said, “Did you go and see about the beer last night?” I told him no. He said, “I wish you had, as we agreed to have it in the copse.” I said we had better give the men each a quart when we settled up, but he said, “No, it always has been the rule to have a drop of beer when we finish, and I’ll send my boy with a note to Romsey.” He did so, and the beer was brought. At this time we had three or four gallons of beer already in the copse. We had plenty, and this was not required, but as deceased was foreman we gave in to him. The large cask came by mistake, and I wished it sent back, but deceased said, “No, let us all have a belly full.” Deceased, his brother and myself, drank what beer we wanted all day. There had never been a word between us till this sad affair happened, and the beer was the cause of it. I rendered every assistance and did all I could for the poor fellow. I have nothing further to add at present but wish to call James Savage and H. Wren as witnesses.
James Savage said : I was there about half-an-hour before Lomax died, and saw him fall down four or five times. I saw no blow struck but saw Annett pull deceased off Sims. I then walked home with Sims and the two boys.
By the Coroner : When I saw deceased fall it was from his being drunk; I saw no one strike him.
By the Jury : I did not see him fall against any hard substance. He fell on the bank. I had three or four horns of beer, but was sober.
Henry Wren, examined by Annett, said that the three men had been quarrelling for about half-an-hour. They were all the worse for drink. Deceased was so drunk he could not stand. Did not see Annett interfere with him. Witness was sober.
The Coroner having summed up at some length, dwelling upon the painful nature of the evidence and commenting on the quantity of drink consumed, explained the law to the jury, who after retiring for a few minutes returned a verdict of Manslaughter against Annett, who was committed, and all the witnesses were bound over to appear against him at the assizes. The enquiry lasted four and a half hours.
Magistrates Hearing 1885 May 30th
On Tuesday, at noon, Annett was brought before Mr R G Linzee, county magistrate, at the Town Hall, Romsey, and charged with having, on the 21st May, at North Baddesley, feloniously killed George Lomax. There was a large attendance of the public. Prisoner, who is an elderly man, and of respectable dress, appeared to be very ill and to feel his position most acutely. He was allowed a chair. He was not defended by a solicitor.
I will not produce the evidence, which as already given at the inquest, with the odd exception.
Henry Lomax, labourer, living at Cupernham. In reply to Annett, witness said that himself, his brother and Annett had always been good friends, and he did not suppose from the first that he ever meant to hurt him. He had heard Annett speak of him frequently, saying he was a good fellow to work. They had worked together all the season, and been good friends.
Mr Linzee then told prisoner it was his painful duty to commit him for trial at the next assizes for the county. Annett remarked that no one had suffered like himself through this case.
Alas, the Salisbury Times carried no reports from the Hampshire Assizes in July 1885, due to a large case in the Wiltshire Assizes concerning plots to blow up the town halls at Warminster and elsewhere. I would suspect that Annett was found not guilty, as there was no intent shown in the evidence.