Hughes, Frederic

Hughes, Frederic         1919 March 7th

Collapsed in a Car

The City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) held an inquest last week in connection with the death of a retired commercial traveller named Frederic Hughes, aged 72, who collapsed in a motor car while being conveyed from Southampton to the Fisherton House Asylum at Salisbury, and died soon after his arrival. The proprietor of the institution, MR C H E Chubb, and several members of the medical staff attended the inquest.

The widow said her husband had followed no occupation during the last ten years. She last saw him alive at Southampton Workhouse prior to his removal by car from Southampton. For the last 18 months he had suffered from diabetes.

Dr A C King-Turner, Medical Superintendent at Fisherton House, stated that Mr Hughes was received at 3.45pm on Saturday, upon certificates signed by Dr Russell Bencraft, of Southampton, and upon an order signed by Mr H G Wilson, a magistrate of Southampton. He was described as suffering from his first mental attack, and it was stated that he was not epileptic, suicidal or dangerous. The medical certificate was to the effect that he talked in a rambling, incoherent manner, was noisy, restless, troublesome and full of delusions. Upon the arrival of the car at Fisherton House, the patient was lifted into the reception room and placed upon a sofa. He was in a condition of coma, quite unconscious, could not be roused, was breathing heavily, and the heart was in a very weak and failing condition. Both Dr Westrup and witness decided to try restoratives, but of no avail. The patient gradually became weaker, and died at 5.15. There were no marks of injury upon the body, and no sign of a struggle. He died in a condition of diabetic coma, which caused gradual heart failure, as was usual in such cases.

Dr H W Russell Bencroft, Medical Officer of Southampton Workhouse, who sighed the certificate, sad that in his opinion the patient was in a fit condition to be removed. Witness was informed that on the way to Salisbury he became sleepy, and from what Dr King-Turner had said, witness had no doubt that he died form heart failure, consequent upon diabetic coma. He was under no restraint of any description. Witness agreed with Dr King-Turner that the condition was not at all unusual in diabetic patients. Mr Hughes was not suicidal, and the real reason for removing him to an asylum was that he would not take food, and the case required expert treatment, such as he would have at Fisherton House.

The Coroner : If you had known the patient had suffered from diabetes, it would not have altered your opinion that he was in a fit condition to travel?

Witness : No. It would not have altered my judgment in sending him.

Frank Benjamin Graver, Superintendent Relieving Officer at Southampton, told the Coroner that the patient was carried to the car (which was a closed one) in a chair. When the car had reached Whiteparish Hill, witness found the patient’s hands were turning blue, and his breathing was rather altered. Upon his arrival at Fisherton House, both Dr King-Turner and Dr Westrup were exceedingly kind and patient in dealing with him.

The Coroner said that when he had the first meagre particulars it was impossible to give a certificate. The first conclusion one jumped at was that this old man ought not to have been removed, but he was absolutely satisfied with the medical evidence. He had no hesitation in returning a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

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