Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coroner's Inquests

Transcribed by Genie

9 August 1832 Thursday
On Sunday an Inquest was held at the THREE CROWNS, Cumber-street, on the body of THOMAS MILLER, one of the Chelsea Pensioners, lately arrived in this Colony. The unfortunate man was much addicted to the use of spirituous liquor and on the previous evening had laid himself down by the side of St. Phillip's Church, were, from the inclemency of the weather, he perished. The Jury returned a verdict, "that decease died by the visitation of God".

Death in NSW BDM:
V18321470 16/1832 MILLER THOMAS AGE 55
As such, he was born abt 1877. As a Chelsea Penioner he had served in a British regiment. An article in the Sydney Gazette published on Tuesday 7 August 1832 noted:
"...It appeared the deceased had been formerly a serjeant major in the 62d regiment of foot, with which corps he served a great number of years in India, and was finally discharged from the army with a pension about four and a half years ago. Among many others, he consented to emigrate to New South Wales for the commuted allowance of four years pension in advance. He arrived in Sydney by the 'Sovereign' last April, but having been unable to find employment, and only a part of his money, gave way to habits of intoxification."


28 June 1832 Thursday.
On Saturday morning last, MR. JOHN HILL BLANCHARD, of Parramatta, was found dead in his bed-room, his brains having been apparently, blown out by a pistol. An Inquest sat upon the body, and a verdict of felo de se was returned. The deceased had been subject to fits of temporary derangement, caused by excessive depression of spirits, and had once or twice expressed a fear that he should commit some violence upon himself.


In the matter of JOHN HILL BLANCHARD, who was found dead on Saturday last, his brains having been blown out, apparently by a pistol, and on whose body an inquest was holden, and a verdict returned of felo de se.

MR. NORTON moved that the verdict should be set aside, and a new Jury impannelled, to try the facts, on the ground that the evidence given at the inquest did not warrant the finding, and that the inquisition was also informal.

The deceased was a man of considerable property, and the verdict (if suffered to remain as found by the Jury) would cause the forfeiture of his state and effects to the crown.

The Chief Justice observed there was no doubt the court had authority to set aside the finding of the inquest on sufficient cause being shown, but he was not prepared to say at the moment the course that should afterwards be adopted. Without giving any decided opinion, he thought from the affidavits read by MR. NORTON, and from the facts elicited at the inquest, that, so far from the deceased being in such a state of mind, as to make him a felon -- he was insane. The Court would however order the remains to be decently interred, and pronounce its opinion the following morning.

Tuesday Morning--JUDGES STEPHEN AND DOWLING took their seats in Banco, the temporary indisposition of the Chief Justice prevented his attendance in Court.

MR. JUSTICE DOWLING delivered the decision of the Court in the matter of JOHN HILL BLANCHARD. They had found from ancient authority that the Court had power to quash the proceeding of an inquest, for the want of form, and to issue an order to the Coroner for the holding a new inquest as reported in 7 Strange, 167.

The Court in the present case therefore quashed the proceedings for want of form, and directed the Coroner by name to hold a fresh inquest on the deceased, and return into the Court such inquisition as he should find.

(In the same paper.)
On Thursday last MR. LYONS sold MR. BLANCHARD'S Mill and Premises at Parramatta, for 1000 pounds cash.

Notes. As the paper notes, despite the suspected suicide the deceased was given a 'proper' burial, i.e. in a church cemetery, and as such a burial entry exists in the NSW BDM:
V18321339 16/1832 BLANCHARD JOHN H AGE 38
The age renders John Hill Blanchard as being born about 1794. The second jury returned a verdict that the self-inflicted death was conducted in a moment of temporary insanity.

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