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Inquest Series: Alexander McQueen

November 5, 2019

This is the first in the series of inquests that have been held for members of my family, who lost their lives suddenly and not from natural causes. 

Alexander McQueen 1844-1854

Alexander McQueen was born on 14 December 1844 in Launceston, Tasmania to parents, Thomas James Jonathan McQueen and Janet Young. In about 1850, the family relocated to Collingwood, Melbourne. Thomas McQueen was my great great grandfather.

Alexander was the first born child and by 1854 there were six children in the family. Tragedy struck on 30 November 1854 with Alexander’s sudden death by drowning, just two weeks before his tenth birthday


The inquest into Alexander’s death was held at The Duke of Wellington Hotel on 30 November 1854.

Coroners Inquest VPRS 24/P Unit 22 File 1854/67

Robert Boyle
John Auld
Joseph Blakely
Michael Donelly
William Dadgon
Edward Pergote
Robert Taylor
Peter Conlon
James Gathergaad
Frederick Stephenson
John Hillard
Richard Morgan

The examination of Thomas McQuein, Painter, off Condel Lane, Collingwod taken on oath this 30th day of Nov A.D. 1854, at Melbourne before the undersigned, a Coroner, in the said Colony.
This Deponent on his oath saith as follows:-The deceased was my son, his name Alexander McQuein, his age, ten years. He left his home yesterday morning at about nine o’clock to go to school. at about two o’clock in the afternoon a young man came to where I was at work and told me that a little lad, who he thought was my son, had been drowned. He conducted me to the Duke of Wellington Hotel, where the boy had been removed to. Immediately recognised it to be the body of my son. I know that he was in the habit of bathing between school hours, but he was very careful not to go in deep water, he could not swim. From what I have been able to ascertain, it appears that my son was bathing with some other lads in the water between the water works, Flinders Street and the River Yarra, and that he slipped into the water in the cutting which conveys the supply of water to the water works. (signed, Thomas McQuein)

Coroner’s finding: Accidentally drowned while bathing in the water between Flinders Street East and the waterworks.

Newspaper Report

From: The Argus 01 December 1854


An inquest was held yesterday at The Duke of Wellington Hotel, before the Acting City Coroner, Dr. You’ll, upon the body of a boy named Alexander McQueen who fell into the race that supplies the waterworks at the east end of Flinders Street, and drowned.

Deceased had been bathing in the swamp on Wednesday, and there being nothing to indicate the presence of the deep ditch in question, he had walked in and met his death in about fifteen feet of water.

Verdict –  Accidentally drowned.

The jurors expressed their sense of the impropriety of such a dangerous place being left exposed, and wished to append a rider to their verdict, to the effect that the race should be fenced in and a caution board displayed.

The Coroner would not accept a rider to the verdict, but promised to communicate with the proper persons, with a view to carrying out the suggestions of the jury.

source: VPRS 24/P Unit 22 File 1854/67

Over the years this name has appeared with various spellings: McQueen/McQuein/McEwan

From → Family stories

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