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Inquest: Thomas James Jones

May 2, 2020

Another in the series, examining inquests that have been held for members of my family, who lost their lives suddenly and/or not from natural causes.

Thomas James Jones

I wrote about the death of Thomas James Jones in a mining disaster as part of the 52 ancestor series. You can read about the disaster here. Following are details of his inquest.

Inquest held at Goulburn River on 11 November, 1893

Magisterial Enquiry

A magisterial enquiry on behalf of Our Sovereign Lady, the Queen, taken at Goulburn River in the Northern Bailiwick, this the eleventh day of November, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and ninety three, before me John Cuthbert Esquire, one of her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, in and for the said Bailiwick, and Colony. Upon view of the body of Thomas Jones, then and there, lying dead, and having duly enquired, on the part of Our Lady the Queen, when, where and by what means, the said Thomas Jones, came by his death, do say that the said Thomas Jones died at Goulburn River, in the said Bailiwick and Colony on the eighth day of November, one thousand eight hundred and ninety three.

I find from the evidence adduced, that the deceased Thomas Jones was accidentally killed working on his claim at the Goulburn River, on the eighth day of November one thousand eight hundred and ninety three, and that there is no blame attachable to any person. – J. Cuthbert JP, Justice of the Peace.

Deposition of Witnesses

Joseph H. Jones, on oath, said:
“My name is Joseph Jones. I am a miner and reside at Goulburn River, with my son, now deceased. I remember Wednesday, the 8th inst, when I was working with my son, Thomas Jones, putting in a levee at Cotermans Bar, Goulburn River. We went to work, my son and I at about 8a.m. and were working about two hours. We were not working in the drive at the same time together, as there was not room. I cleaned up the earth which my son had already picked down, and he went in to pick down some more. I went up on the bank, about 40 to 50 feet from the works, to light a fire and have a smoke.
I remained away not more than ten minutes. When I went back to the workings, I saw some earth had fallen. Coming down the bank, I called, “Tom!”, but got no answer from him. I noticed his pick was not in sight, and made sure my son was buried. I went to work as quickly as possible to clear away the earth where I thought his body was. I am certain that it was more than five minutes before I had his head and body clear. Life was quite extinct, and I went for assistance. Richard Hamilton Waterson came back with me, and assisted me to dig the remainder of his body out. We lifted him on to the earth which had been thrown out. I took about five minutes to clear the head and body. I placed young Waterson in charge of the body, and proceeded to my son’s home to inform his wife.
I then went back to the works, and with assistance, I put the body of my son, in a vehicle, and conveyed it home. I then had word sent to Constable Stewart of Jamieson, and when he arrived, I assisted him to remove the clothing from the deceased. I saw no marks of violence beyond a small abrasion of the skin in the centre of his back.”

Cross examined by Mr. Tresize, Mining Inspector:
“Did you or your son make any allusion about putting in timber when opening this drive?”
“No, I have been working at mining off and on, but am not a practical miner. I did not see any crack in the bank where the drive was put in, and my son informed me the ground was perfectly safe”.
Joseph Jones recalled “The body was in a stooping position when I saw it, with his head between his legs”.

Richard H. Waterson, on oath, said:
“My name is Richard Hamilton Waterson. I reside with my mother at Goulburn River. I am past 16 years of age, and know the nature of an oath. I remember the 8th day of November, 1893. Mrs. Donnel came to my mother’s place, and said Thomas Jones was buried in a drive at Goulburn River. I then came to where she said he was buried. I saw Mr. Jones, the last witness, there, and helped him to dig out the body, which took about 10 minutes. I assisted to place the body on the bank, which Mr. Jones place me in charge of – as he said he was going to tell his son’s wife. I remained in charge of the body for about 20 minutes.
Cross examined by Mr. Tresize, Mining Inspector:
“What position did you find the body in when you came?”
“The body was in a sitting position when I saw it”

Alexander Randall Stewart, on oath said:
“My name is Alexander Randall Stewart. I am a Mounted Constable of Police, in charge of Jamieson. I received information from Edward Fry, on the 8th inst., that a man named Thomas Jones, residing at Goulburn River, had that day been killed by a quantity of earth falling on him, whilst engaged in working at a drive on the Gouburn River. I at once proceeded to the deceased’s residence, and examined the body. Found life quite extinct, but nothing indicating foul play. There was a small abrasion of the skin in the centre of deceased’s back. His mouth and nostrils had clay in them, sufficient, I should say, to cause suffocation. I then proceeded to where deceased had been working, and where the fatality occurred, Mr. Jones, deceased’s father accompanying me. I examined the works, and found where a quantity of earth had fallen, which deceased’s father informed me, was that which caused his son’s death.”
Cross examined by Mr. Tresize, Mining Inspector:
“Were any bones broken?”
“So far as my knowledge extends, I could discover no broken bones.”

Thomas Bolitho Tresize on oath said:
“My name is Thomas Bolitho Tresize. I am a Mining Inspector, and reside at Wangaratta. I received a wire from Mtd. Const. Stewart, on Wednesday, the 8th inst., at about 4.30p.m., when I returned from Beechworth, about the deceased Thomas Jones. The train service not being available, I came as quickly as possible to the scene of fatality by horse, and arrived at about 2pm. on the 10th inst. I visited the scent of the accident with deceased’s father, Mr. Jones. He pointed to me where the accident had occurred. It is an open cutting where they were working, about 15 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 13 feet deep. On the lower side of the cutting there was a small arch drive, extended about 4 feet. A portion of the bank above had fallen, 2 feet wide, 4 feet high and 2 feet thick, feathering at the top. There was also a piece of ground at the drive which had fallen, and which, apparently, had been previously undermined slightly. The quantity of dirt fallen on the deceased would be about two or three tons, which would be quite sufficient to have caused death. The strata consists of soft loamy clay and sand. It should not have been undermined without timbering, which is very objectionable, and should be discouraged, being contrary to rule 10, section 307, regulations of Mines Act.

Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading.
Public Record Office: VPRS 24/P UNIT 618 FILE 1893/1346



From → Family stories

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