Inquest on the body of James Fitzpatrick :: Genealogy
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Inquest on the body of James Fitzpatrick

Journal by janilye

AN inquest was held at the Lion of Waterloo Inn, Montefiores,
on Wednesday, 27th March, 1850 before Dr. Curtis, and a
Jury of twelve, on the view of the body of James Fitzpatrick,
then laying dead near Mr. Drew's residence at Wellington.
James Drew stated:
"the deceased was my hired servant; yesterday, I sent him
to Montefiores on an erand, there was nothing to
detain him, but he was nearly two hours away;
when he returned, which was a little after
sunset, I desired him to fetch the mare up
from where she was tethered near the river ;
shortly afterwards, I heard somebody galloping
towards the house, and went to the door to see
who it was coming at such a pace, and, observed that
it was the deceased riding the mare, without saddle or bridle,
and who immediately fell and lay there ; Captain Mayne and
some gentlemen came up at the time, and
examined him, and found no bones broken and
left him where he was, after bathing his head
with cold water, under the impression that he
was drunk. I supposed that he was drunk
from the circumstance of his having been so
long on his errand, and his riding the mare at
such a pace without saddle or bridle; some
time after the Chief Constable and constable
Maher came by; I wished them to take him
in charge for drunkeness,but they did not I
did not go near him after that, all night, nor do
I believe anybody else did. He was alive this
morning and died about half past seven this
morning , I dld not send for a doctor because
I thought he was only drunk and would come
to in a short time , I wished to send him to the
lock up because if he did really require
medical assistance he would be nearer to it in
the lock up than a my place; my place is, I
believe, nearly two miles from the nearest
medical man, and the lock is not more than
a quarter of a mile; one of the constables pro-
posed to put him into a shed or outhouse, if I
had any, but I objected to it; I objected to it
because if he was only drunk I thought
the cool night air would tend to recover him
sooner than a close warm room , the mare had
an halter on when deceased was riding her;
she is shy, but otherwise free from vices;
deceased had no bed or covering taken to him
all night, but when I found that he was dead I
threw a rug over him.
Susannah Chandler corroborated the former.
going as to the deceased being drunk and the
accident, and stated in addition that she heard
him groan in the night and that morning
and reported it to her mistress, who made no remark
Chief Constable Rhodes stated that he knew
deceased, and assisted to bathe his head, and
slapped his hands to endeavour to bring him
to, he did not think himself justified in taking
him in charge, as deceased was so near his
home, and the lock-up so far away, had his
(the Chief Constable) met him elsewhere in
that state he should certainly have taken him
to the lock-up, but as it was, the Chief
Constable considered him in the care of his
Constable Maher corroborated the above,
and stated in addition that deceaseds hands
were clenched, and he had a gurgling in his
throat, and he remarked to Mr Drew that
there was more the matter with the man than
drunkenness, and that deceased would not live
long, that witness proposed to put deceased
into some outhouse or shed, but Mr. Drew objected to it.
Robert Cowell stated that he was talking to
deceased about ten minutes about sunset on
the evening of the accident, and that he was
perfectly sober.
Mr Matthews also stated that deceased was
sober, and that if he had loitered on his errand
it was not in Montefiores.
The Jury returned a verdict that deceased
died from injuries received by accidentally
falling from a horse, and added the following
rider: -
The Jury cannot fully express their horror and disgust at the great want of feeling
shown by Mr. Drew, and are of opinion that had medical aid been procured, the
man's life might probably have been saved, or his sufferings considerably lessened.

The Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 15 April 1850
page 2
Transcription, janilye 2014

James Drew's Reply
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Perceiving in your impress of the 15th instant, the report
of an inquest held at Montefiores on the 27th March, on the
body of one James Fitzpatrick, lately in my
employment, I beg to offer a few remarks on the censure
the Jury thought proper to pass on my conduct on
that occasion.
In my evidence I stated that on the man
falling from the mare, he was carefully examined
to ascertain if any limbs were broken,
and not finding such to be the case, I did not
think he required medical assistance , and this
was not only my opinion, but also the opinion
of the gentlemen who came up almost immediately
on the accident occurring, one of whom assisted
me to place the man against a log, in order to
keep his head up.
This unfortunate circumstance is the first of
this nature that I ever witnessed, therefore,
I had no previous experience to guide me, and
not finding any bones broken, or any blood flowing
either from the mouth or nose, it was but natural that
I should merely suppose the man was suffering
under the combined effects of intoxication and the stun
from the fall, and under these circumstances I most
humbly beg to submit that an impartial jury would not
be justified in passing such a censure as it certainly
is by no means an uncommon occurrence in this mild climate
for drunken men to sleep in the open-air all night; and
that the man was in a state of intoxication there can
be no doubt for although I was not in a position
to swear positively that such was the case, still,
I am confident he really was so; and the girl who swore
to his being intoxicated has, since the inquest,
stated that before he went for the mare, he
went into the kitchen, close to where she was
standing, for a drink of water, and that she
then noticed the fumes of liquor on him.
According to a statement the Coroner made to
the jury, it was also the impression of Captain
Mayne that the man was intoxicated, although
that gentleman's evidence was not considered
necessary. With respect to the evidence of the
Chief Constable, wherein he stated that had he
found the man elsewhere he should have taken
him to the lock-up, and that he was only Pre
vented doing so, from the proximity of my
premises, and considering him under my care,
I beg to observe that "If he should have taken
him into custody, the proximity of my premises
should be no excuse for him not doing so,"
and as for considering the man under my care,
after I had expressly requested him to convey
the man to the lock-up, is too absurd to require
The constabulary, I imagine, are instituted and
supported for the protection of the lives and property
of Her Majesty's subjects ; and if so, a drunken man
is as much entitled to that protection as a sober one,
consequently if any censure was deserved in this
affair, I think it should have been bestowed
where a positive neglect of duty was proved,
"but this did not suit the intentious of those
who sat in judgement,"
The Jury's reproof conveys an idea that it is
the duty of employers (who have the misfortune to
have drunkards in their service, which in these remote
districts, from the scarcity of labour is too frequently
a matter of compulsion) to look after their servants
and attend carefully to them in any troubles and
difficulties the said servants may bring themselves
into through their own debauchery, whilst they are
neglecting their employer's interests.
Now, with all due submission, I beg to observe
that such an idea is contrary to all existing
notions which have hitherto regulated society.
Has a man any right to convert his employer's
house into a hospital, and intrude on the privacy
of a family, because he meets with an accident
through his own intemperance.
The law of England does not acknowledge intoxication
as an excuse for any crime a man may commit whilst
in a state of inebriety ; neither should common sense
suppose that the peace and happiness of a household
is to be disturbed by the brawls of a drunkard.
I have no intention, however, of sheltering
myself either by the foregoing remarks, or at
the expense of the constabulary from any
justly merited blame, as I do not conceive
cause for such to exist, I have merely made
them to show the injustice of the censure ; had
I been aware that the man had received any
internal injury, I should not have suffered him
to expire without having sent for medical
assistance, and affording him every comfort in
my power; but as I have before stated, I had
not the slightest idea such was the case. It is
true that Maher expressed his belief that the
man would not live long, but as he was the
only one that did express such an opinion, it is
not to be supposed that I should place reliance
on what he said, in opposition to the opinions
expressed by every other person who saw the
deceased ; and as to my objecting to allow the
man to be put into a shed or out-house, I
have only to remark that I do not see what
the benefit of such a removal would have
Trusting you will excuse my having trespassed on
your space to such a length in vindication of myself,
I beg to subscribe myself,
Your humble servant,
Wellington, April 19.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 26 April 1850
transcription, janilye 2014

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janilye - 7th generation, Convict stock. Born in New South Wales now living in Victoria, carrying, with pride 'The Birthstain'.

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