Whatley, William

Whatley, William        1885 April 18th

On Saturday afternoon an inquest was held at the Council Chamber by Mr G Smith (city coroner) and a jury (of whom Mr Councillor Harris was foreman) on the body of a boy named William Whatley, whose death had occurred suddenly in a druggist’s shop that morning.

The first witness called was Dr Gordon, who deposed that he was called to see the deceased at Mr Talbot’s drug shop in Milford-street – where the deceased lad had been employed – at about twenty minutes past nine that morning. The deceased was quite dead when he arrived. He, however, was unable to certify as to the cause of death. He had attended the lad a few months ago.

There seemed to be a suspicion in the minds of some of the jurors that the lad had taken some poison by mistake. The Doctor, however, in reply to the Coroner, said that there was nothing in the appearance of the body to suggest that death had resulted from poison. It was mentioned that the lad had been carrying a box of bottles immediately previous to his death, and it was asked if the weight might not have caused an internal rupture. Dr Gordon replied that he should say not.

William Able, an assistant to Mr Talbot, stated that that morning at about nine o’clock Mr Talbot, the deceased and himself were in the shop. Whatley was sent to the back to fetch a small box of bottles, weighing, he should say, between 20 and 30 lbs. When he returned to the shop he appeared to be in a fainting condition and nearly fell. He and Mr Talbot at once took him to the back part of the premises, hoping that the fresh air would revive him. His condition became worse, and a doctor was sent for. Before the doctor arrived he had died. The witness expressed the opinion that the deceased had not mistakenly taken any poison. There were no poisons at the back part of the premises; they were kept in a separate room into which the deceased had not been that morning. Whatley had been in Mr Talbot’s employ about two years. He had never complained of being ill, and had always appeared in fair health.

Ann Whatley, a sister of the deceased, said her brother was 14 years old. He had not enjoyed very good health; he had frequently complained of giddiness and pains in his side. He had never taken any medicine other than that given him by the doctor. He ate an unusually hearty breakfast that morning.

Dr Gordon, who had heard all the evidence, said, in reply to the Coroner, he was still unable to assign any cause for the death.

The jury returned a verdict of “Death from natural causes.”

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