Thursday, 16 October 2014

Victorian Inquest Oopsie!

I was recently reading a report of "Returns of Coroner's Inquests in Victoria 1852-1853" published in 1854. These are Government reports that have been tabled in parliament and you can download a number of reports from the website and they make good reading.

Lots of "Visitation of God" as a cause, some "self-destruction", quite a number of "Death caused by excessive intemperance" some "Justifiable homicide" including this one "Deceased was a sailor on hoard the vessel Georgiana, and was shot by the master of the vessel in order to suppress a mutiny and stop the desertion of the crew"

There are also the death by natural causes, by lockjaw, a mother overlaying her child whilst she was in a state of intoxication (basically smothering the child with the mother's body and not an uncommon cause in the past), lots of death by drowning

One that caught my interest and you have to wonder what actually happened was the one for William Emery, well actually the two for William Emery. James McCrea initially determined, at an inquest at Forest Creek on the 3rd May 1852,  the cause of death to be "death from a fit caused by intemperance".

But something must have happened as on the 6th May "under consequence of suspicions having been aroused the body was exhumed and a post-mortem was performed". Did the family complain about the verdict? Was he an upstanding member of the community with some political power?

The new verdict is "Death from the bursting of an aneurysm in the heart under which the deceased had long laboured"

Under the remarks section it says that "although the deceased had been intoxicated at the time of his decease, his decease was caused by the bursting of the aneurysm and not as first supposed by the fit caused by the intemperance."

This warrants further investigation in the Public Records Office of Victoria to see if the Coroner's Report survives although it is unlikely to tell too much of the behind the scenes action that must have occurred to have this inquest redone. I wasn't able to find anything in Trove on this affair.


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