Webb, Charles

Webb, Charles         1886 August 21st

An inquest was held at the Salisbury Infirmary on Monday afternoon by Mr George Smith touching the death of Charles Webb, 13, an under carter and stable boy in the employ of Professor Wrightson of the Agriculture College, Downton. On July 18th the lad was taking some fat sheep from the farm house at Breamore to Down Farm and in going down a short but sharp hill, he riding on the horse without reins, he was, it is believed, jolted off, and the wheels of one side of the waggon passed over his right arm and his chest, fracturing the limb and two ribs, and causing other injuries about the chest and back of the head. He was conveyed to the Infirmary, where he expired on Sunday morning last.

Mr F E Williams, Fisherton, was appointed foreman of the jury.

James Webb, father of the deceased, carter in the employ of Professor Wrightson of the Agriculture College, and residing at Charford, was the first witness called. He said that his son was an under carter, and stabled with him. On the day in question they were conveying sheep from the farm house to Down Farm. It was the day of the sheep sale. Professor Wrightson told him to take some fat sheep from the College to Down Farm. The sheep were put into a one horse waggon. Witness went home and had his tea and sent his son with the waggon. The shepherd was with him and they would start off about half past five. At six o’clock the shepherd’s wife told him of the accident. Deceased was brought to the lodge in a trap and subsequently taken to the Infirmary. His son was 13 years of age on the 19th May last.

George Sprackland, shepherd to Professor Wrightson, and living at Charford, said that about half past five in the evening he and the deceased were taking some sheep to Down Farm. The waggon containing the sheep was drawn by one horse. He could not say whether deceased was riding on the horse or on the shafts, as he (witness) was walking behind the waggon and could not see the deceased owing to the boards of the waggon intercepting his view. The accident happened at a point on the road where there was a sharp but not steep hill. He did not see the accident actually occur, as at the time he was 60 or 70 yards behind the waggon. Deceased at that time was in sole charge of the waggon. He saw the waggon strike the bank and half-a-second afterwards the little boy fell; and witness ran up to the spot. He thought the waggon was swerving owing to its going down the hill. When he picked the boy up he asked to be laid on the bank. Two gentlemen connected with the College coming along in a trap he asked them to take him up, and they did so.

The father, re-called, said he had visited his son many times in the Infirmary and had asked him how the accident happened. His son told him he was riding on the horse, and was getting on the shafts when he fell down through the swerving of the waggon. Both of the wheels on one side of the waggon passed over him.

Edward Sprackland, son of George Sprackland, said he was riding on the waggon on the day in question. There were three sheep in the waggon. He could not see the deceased at all because of the high boards of the waggon. The horse ran into the bank because it could not keep the waggon back. He afterwards saw the deceased lying on the ground and then witness shouted to the horse and he stopped at the bottom of the hill.

Harold Brown, acting house surgeon, said he was not at the Infirmary when the boy was brought in. He first came to the Infirmary on the 5th of August, and when he saw deceased he was suffering from a fracture of the right arm, two fractured ribs, and bruises on the chest and back of the head. The lad died on Sunday morning last from the effects of the accident.

The Coroner observed that the jury could only come to the conclusion that death was accidental. He was of opinion that there ought to have been reins to the horse, and a drag also ought to have been used in going down the hill.

A juryman observed that he thought the accident was due to carelessness.

A verdict of “accidental death” was returned.

The jury gave their fees to the parents of the deceased.


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