Monday, July 21, 2014

More accidents from the age of horse and carriage

Road travel was still a risky business in the 18th century, as I have noted in other posts.

The Northampton Mercury  of December 8th 1783 reported on this Coroner's inquest:
On Monday 24th November, an Inquisition was taken at Sony Stratford, Bucks, before James Burham, Gent. His Majesty's Coroner for the said County. On view the body of James Connelly, a Sailor, one of the Passengers in the Basket of the Liverpool Stage Coach, who, being intoxicated with Liquor, fell out of the Basket, of which Fall he languished about 20 Minutes, and then died. The Jury brought in their Verdict, Accidental Death.
As I remarked in an earlier post, the term "dropping off to sleep" actually originates in such accidents, where a drowsy slumber might catch the seated occupant unawares with a headlong plunge to injury or death.

This report from the Northampton Mercury of Saturday April 19th 1788, describes another, less fateful accident.
On Sunday morning last, about Three o'clock, Banks, the driver of one of the Chester coaches, by a sudden Jolt of the Carriage, was thrown from the Box, near Stony Stratford, by which Accident both his legs were broke. The Horses went on with the Coach through Stony-Stratford and brought it safe to Old-Stratford, notwithstanding they passed a Waggon on the Road, without the Passengers knowing Any Thing of the Accident.
I don't know when the crash helmet was invented, but in 1790 we were a long way off from such an invention. Deaths from falling off or being tossed off a horse were almost commonplace. This is not the only example.

From the Northampton Mercury 30th October 1790
On Wednesday the 20th instant an Inquisition was taken before James Burham, Gent, his Majesty's Coroner for the said County, on view the Body of one John Adams, who, as he was retiring home from Stony Stratford visitation, fell from his horse and fractured his skull, of which fracture he languished about two days and then died. Verdict. Accidental Death.

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