Hunt, John

Hunt, John            1886 August 21st             Compton Chamberlayne

An inquest was held by Mr G Smith at the Salisbury Infirmary yesterday on the body of John Hunt, aged 8 years, who met his death through a horse, from whose back he fell, treading on him. The accident happened in the farm-yard of Mr Keevil, of Compton Chamberlayne. Mr J Saunders was chosen foreman of the jury.

William Clapp, of Compton Chamberlayne, and farm bailiff to Mr Keevil, said that the father of the deceased was employed on the farm as a dairyman, and his lad was often about the farm, doing occasional jobs. At a quarter past twelve on Tuesday two of Mr Keevil’s horses, which had been to drink water, were returning to be harnessed to the reaping machine. The deceased was riding on one of these. He could not say whether he was placed on or got on of his own accord. An engine driver on the farm, named Stephen Plowman, ordered the deceased and another boy, aged 10, to stop with the horses at the gate of the yard, whilst he went to see to the machine. During his absence the lads rode the horses down the yard, and the horse on which the deceased was stumbled and threw the boy over its head. Witness did not see the accident, but the horse came towards him and he saw the lad on the ground. He picked him up and sent for his father, who was on the farm. He came immediately, and Dr Clay, of Fovant, who happened to be passing, was called in. Witness did not think it was proper to allow small boys to ride horses in that manner.

The Coroner remarked that that was the second case they had had that week.

The witness considered that the boys ought to be warned, and mentioned that the deceased’s mother had spoken to the lad on the matter on the morning the accident happened.

The Coroner told the witness that as farm bailiff to Mr Keevil he ought to give a general order prohibiting small boys from riding on horses.

John Hunt, father of the deceased, said his son was not employed on the farm, but occasionally did things there. The first he heard of the accident was when he was sent for by the last witness. Small boys of ten years of age or under were not, that he was aware of, allowed to ride horses about. Witness immediately sent for Mr Clay, who happened to be in the village at the time. He informed witness that it was a very bad case and that he could do nothing for the boy. The lad was conveyed to the Infirmary late in the evening.

By Mr Carter, a juryman : It was quite possible for the boys to get on the horses by themselves.

Mr H Brown, acting house surgeon at the Infirmary, said that he examined the lad but found no external marks. The death occurred the same night. He afterwards made a post mortem examination, and found that there was extensive bruising of the upper part of the abdomen and the lower ribs on the right side. No rib was fractured, but there was considerable extravasation of blood. On opening the body the cavity was discovered to contain a large quantity of clotted blood, and the liver and stomach were both bruised. The liver had been torn from its attachments behind and above, and the main vein had been ruptured. From those injuries death resulted.

The Coroner, in summing up, said it would be desirable that the jury should add some rider to their verdict, as a remonstrance against the practise of farmers allowing small boys to have charge of horses. He was of opinion that general instructions to that effect should be given. This opinion was acquiesced in by the jury, and a rider to that effect was added to the verdict of “Accidental death.” We may mention that when, in accordance with the usual custom, the jury went to view the body it was found that the post mortem examination had not been concluded and they were kept waiting for something like half-an-hour.

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