Death Of Samuel Garbutt

The 19th century newspapers provide us with terrific insights into everyday life, and death, in 19th century London, not least with regards to the coverage that they provide into various inquests that were held.

The Evening Mail, in its edition of Monday the 4th of June, published the following account of one such inquest.

The victim in this case was, just like Charles Cross and Robert Paul, the first men to arrive at the scene of the murder of Mary Nichols, a carman.

The article read:-


On Saturday Mr. Braxton Hicks, Deputy Coroner for the city of Southwark, held an inquiry at the St. George’s Coroner’s Court, High-street, Borough, relative to the death of  Samuel Thomas Garbutt, aged 43, a carman of 5, King’s Bench-court, King-street, Borough, who died under the following circumstances.


Elizabeth Garbutt, the widow, stated that on Tuesday night her husband was brought home suffering from an injury caused through being run over.

He seemed to be very bad, and complained of a violent internal pain.

He said that he had been attended to at Guy’s Hospital, but they would not admit him into the wards as there were no beds available.

He died the following morning.


William Miller, carman, said that, on Tuesday last, he was with the deceased in a van laden with bones.

They took the road to Deptford, and were returning to the Borough via Deptford Lower Road, and when near Blackhorse-bridge they attached a chain to the back of a cart in front of their van to aid them up the hill.

At the top of the hill the deceased endeavoured to take off the chain when he slipped, and falling in front of his own van, the wheels passed him.

A doctor was called and saw the deceased, and he advised his immediate removal to the hospital.


Police-constable Woods, 263 R, spoke to taking the deceased to the hospital, where he was attended to and afterwards sent home.

Witness believed the deceased was not detained because it was thought the case was not serious.

Witness told the person he saw at the hospital that the wheels of a van had passed over the deceased.


Mr. E. F. Gardiner, senior surgeon’s dresser at Guy’s Hospital, said the man told him that he had been run over, and that the wheels of the van went over his arm and also the lower part of his body.

He was bruised about the left arm, and two ribs were fractured on the left side, but there were no external injuries as far as could be ascertained.

He was detained for about three-quarters of an bour and then sent home, because, in his (witness’s) opinion, the case was not a serious one.

The beds in the hospital were full, but had he thought it a serious case he should have admitted the deceased.

He did not think it necessary to call the house surgeon, but he dressed the man’s injuries himself.


A juror said that he thought that the man should have been admitted.

The Coroner responded, “No doubt of that, and perhaps the witness will admit there was an error of judgment.”


Mr. Vincent, another dresser, said that he was deceived in the same way as Mr. Gardiner.

A Juror:- “But you found that the man’s ribs had been broken?”

The witness replied, “Yes, but he could be treated at home.”


Dr. Lloyd Jones, who made a post-mortem examination of the body, said that four ribs were broken on the left side and five on the right side.

Death resulted from shock produced by injuries to the abdomen.

The Coroner asked if examination at the hospital been thorough would his condition have been discovered?

The witness replied that that is doubtful; but in any case he would have died.

By a juror – He thought that the deceased had been properly attended to, though certainly it would have been better had he been detained in the institution.


The coroner said that it was a very unwise thing to send a man home under such circumstances, and it was very much to be regretted that the deceased was not detained.

An eminent medical authority had laid down a rule that in such cases persons should be detained for at least 12 hours.


The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and added that they strongly disapproved of the action of the hospital authorities in not detaining the man in the institution.