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10:45am on Tuesday, 14th April, 2015:

Instant Death


Most of my ancestors go out of their way to be uninteresting, but sometimes one of them makes a real effort to impress.

So, my paternal grandmother had the maiden name of Hewitt, and came from a mining family (there's nominative determinism for you). Her great-grandfather was one Joseph Hewitt, who died aged 68 in 1868.

68 was a pretty good age for a coalminer to reach back then. His son died aged 44 and his grandson died aged 62, both from lung diseases. This isn't how Joseph Hewitt died, though. He died in a spectacular enough fashion that a coronor had to investigate. Amazingly, the coronor's report survives. Here it is:

(Note: a corve is one of those mining carts on rails, like in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

You have rheumatism, you walk with a stick, you catch a ride in a coal wagon to save yourself a half-mile walk, you put your stick down but it starts to shake out, the guy behind you rescues it, you stand up to get it back off him, you smack your head on a bridge, you die instantly. The death certificate, which I also have, actually says that: "instant death".

Now why couldn't my other ancestors do things like that? It would be much easier to track them down. Hats off to Joseph Hewitt!

(Hmm, I could probably have phrased that better).

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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).