Deaths and other things at Wellington Heath

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1844 – Accident at Hill top Pitch

Work was being carried out at Hill top Pitch, to lower and widen the road;  several men were undermining the earth when it suddenly gave way, and roughly three cart loads of earth, marl and stone fell on an old man by the name of Richard Panting.

Everyone else managed to spring clear, but Richard was completely buried, and despite the efforts of the seven men to uncover him, which they did in record breaking time, he was already dead.

1845 – The Uncertainty of Life

A dressmaker, Elizabeth Payne, a daughter of shoemaker Mr. Payne of Wellington Heath, was enjoying a hop pickers supper and ball at Frith Farm.

Hop picking was over, and those who had been labouring to gather in the neighbourhood’s hops were celebrating the end of the season.  A good supper over, a merry dance commenced and everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Then tragedy struck……”Elizabeth Payne was full of health and spirits at three o’clock on Thursday morning, joining in the giddy dance;  at six o’clock, she, who but a few minutes before was all animation, the gayest of the gay, and the happiest of the happy among that joyous and rustic throng, lay extended in her father’s house a lifeless corpse.”

It was surmised that she had danced so vigorously that she had burst a blood vessel.

1862 – Wellington Heath Men have Bit of Trouble with a Stag

William Cotterell and Henry Lambert who lived at Wellington Heath, had an encounter with a rather cross stag in Eastnor Park when they were returning home from Upton on Severn where they had been working.

It was about 7 one November evening, so was dark, and somehow they lost their way in the park, so when they heard a fearsome bellowing close by they assumed that they were being pursued by a bull, and legged it to the nearest enclosure where they flung themselves over the fence to “safety”.

Unfortunately, the bellowing came from a stag and he was penned in the enclosure that they now stood panting in.

There followed a life and death struggle, which the stag was clearly winning until the cries of the men alerted some men who ran to help and managed to distract the stag.

Both William and Henry were badly gored and mangled, and were taken to the Somers Arms to recover.

1863 – Sudden Death at Police Station

William Wiltshire, a 21 year old labourer who was living at Wellington Heath with his father, went to Ledbury on the occasion of the Michaelmas Fair.  He was known to be a quiet man, and very honest.

William got himself into a scuffle which turned into a full blown fight in the Homend.  Six or seven rounds were fought and at one point William fell badly, banging his head on a stone and his opponent fell on top of him.  (However, a witness claimed that it was not William who banged his head). Both men got up, and  seeing Sergeant Baynham  who was called to break up the fight, they scarpered, with William taking refuge in The Swan public house.   The Sergeant decided to take William into custody as he was very drunk, and he locked him in a cell at the station house at around midnight…….on checking on him the following morning, he found that William was dead.

The Post Mortem (Graphic content)

“I found a man lying on his face on the floor, with his arms stretched out by his side;  he was dressed;  the bed in the cell did not appear to have been disturbed.  On turning over the body I found some portion congested;  I had the body laid on the bed and removed the clothes;  I did not find any bruises or marks on the body, excepting some abrasions of the skin about the elbow;  they were superficial, not deep;  the eyes and mouth were closed, and the countenance not at all distorted, but natural.

I carefully shaved the head and did not perceive any bruises or marks on the scalp;  I then removed the scalp and found the vessels much congested;  I then removed the skull cap and found the dura mater prominent;  the vessels of the brain were enormously congested;  on removing the brain, I found about an ounce of dark fluid blood effused at the base;  I carefull washed and minutely examined the skull, but did not find any fracture;  the lacteral ventricles contained some clots of blood.   I found the windpipe and gullet quite free, the lungs much congested but healthy.  The heart quite healthy in every respect, it contained a small quantity of fluid blood;  the liver healthy.

I am of the opinion that apoplexy was the cause of death.  The rupture of vessels on the brain might have been produced by drinking and excitement.

The deceased had been dead some hours when I first saw him.”

The verdict exonerated the police entirely from having exercised any violence whatever in any way connected with the deceased