Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Family History----Melancholy Death from Drowning at Hartlepool.1864

Extracts from the Stockton & Hartlepool Mercury, Wednesday, July 27th. 1864.

Melancholy death from drowning at Hartlepool

On Friday afternoon, July 22nd 1864, a melancholy accident, resulting in the death of a young man named John Farrar, occurred at the works in course of construction near the Hartlepool Slake. It appears that the deceased, who is a carpenter, was engaged in the wood work at the sluices, he was about to step on the scaffolding, when the chain that held it gave way, and the unfortunate man was precipitated into the current, which was running very fast at the time, and has not been seen since. A fellow workman was also immersed, but fortunately seized hold of the hanging timber and was thereby saved from inevitable drowning. The body had not yet been found up to the time of this edition going to press. (Friday Evening, July,22nd.1864 )

From our Second Edition of Saturday. July 23 rd 1864.

Finding of the body--Coroners Inquest , &c.

The body of the young man, drowned under the melancholy circumstances reported in our second edition of Friday evening, was found at a late hour the same evening,( Friday 22nd. ) in the Slake, having been washed through  the sluice gates by the heavy current of flood-tide which sets in through this narrow opening. The place where it was found was about a hundred yards from the spot where the melancholy accident occurred. The deceased was a  highly respectable young man in his own rank of life, and had, with a brother who was also drowned, been for some years the only support of a widowed mother, now some time deceased. He was married to a daughter of Mr.Colling, the deputy Harbour Master of Hartlepool, and leaves a wife and a young family bereaved by his sudden and melancholy death.

An inquest was held on view of the body on the following (Saturday ) evening, before John Settle, Esq and the following jury,

John Lawrenson, Foreman. Chas. Ferrier, Benjamin Roome,?

David Myers, Daniel Ellwood, Robert Brown, Jabez Smith,

Adam McKenzie, Christopher Hoggett-Thos. Hudspith,

Wm. Wilson and Jas. Brown,

The first witness called was :-

Wm. Colling, Deputy-Harbour Master, who stated that the deceased was his son-in-law, aged 28 years, and a ships carpenter to trade.

Wm. Banks, acting foreman of the works, said that the deceased and he were working together, rigging a stage upon the side of the slope at the head of the old harbour. After they had it erected, deceased jumped upon it from off the pile head, and the stage went down in consequence.

The stage was merely a temporary one, and there was no necessity for the deceased to jump upon it. The distance he jumped would be about 3/ feet. Witness said to him -just when he jumped What business had you to jump on the stage before I had it secured? He replied Oh Bill, I am nervous and with that the stage went down, taken with it himself and witness.

Witness escaped by swimming to the chain which crosses the sluice gate, leading to the Slake. Deceased could not swim. The depth of the water would be about 20 feet. There is no life -buoy within 300 or 400 yards of the place.

Wm.Sheffield, mariner, said he found the body of the deceased about half past 10 at night, 100 yards from the place where he was drowned, washed in the Slake

Dorothy Sharp said, I laid out the body and I saw a piece of flesh had been cut out of his right eye, His left ear was cut, and there was a large wound on the back of his neck.

William Nipper, shipwright, said I assisted the deceased to hang the stage,I saw the deceased jump upon it, I was on the opposite side of it, The chain broke and the deceased vanished from view, The chain which broke was merely temporary. The same chain bore the weight of four of us before, besides two deals,about three weeks ago. At the time it broke there were only two men and one deal resting on it. I had confidence in the chain and risked my own life on it. I have examined the chain, and the link I now produce is the only bad one in the chain. If I had been in Banks position on the stage, or in the deceaseds when he jumped, I should have had no fear. The chain 3 weeks ago was double and Banks did not say whether the stage was right or wrong. The stage was only one plank, and quite safe to walk over.

The jury after a short consultation returned a verdict of Accidentally Drowned .


The deceased, who was a member of the St. Hilda Court of Foresters, was interred in Hartlepool Cemetery-Hart-Warren ,(Spion Kop) on Sunday Afternoon, and was followed to his last resting place by 230 of the brethren of the various Courts, and by a large number of his friends and fellow workmen.

John Farrar (many different spellings) was my Great Grandfather, John Farrar had married my Great Grand Mother Ann Colling on Wednesday the 23rd.May 1860 in the Independent Chapel, they had one child, a daughter Jane Isabella Farrar my Grand Mother, On Monday the 6th.August 1866, John Farrars widow Ann remarried in St Hildas Church to John Horsley, a widower and Sea Pilot, they both lived at 2 Chapel Street for the rest of their lives.

On the Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates, their surnames are spelt differently, it is likely that the people spoke their names and the correct spelling was left up to the registrar, priest, or enumerator, you have to bear this fact in mind at all times that the spellings of Surnames was far more flexible in times gone bye-

it should also be remembered that few men and even less females- could read or write-in the 1860’s –I don’t doubt the Honesty or Integrity- of any of the witnesses at the inquest- but the answers given and the manner in which they replied to the Coroners questions-does give the impression that their answers had been a little inspired-or rehearsed- I leave others to make up their own minds on that?

Alan Harvey Flounders-