The Death of James Ramsdale

"Another Sad tale of Drunkenness and Death"

From the Kyneton Observer Tuesday February 27th 1872

JAMES RAMSDALE on Thursday morning was found cold and insensible on the Trentham Road. He was engaged on contract near Lavers Saw-Mill. He left the mill at 8pm and joined some friends who all drank together.

The deceased resolved to return to Kyneton though requested not to do so. Mounted his horse and drove away considerably the worse for drink.

On the following morning he was found as described and his horse was not with him. He was conveyed to the Kyneton Hospital, and after a time recovered consciousness. His skull was fractured and he was otherwise uninjured. He was later seized with convulsions and died yesterday between 3 and 4pm.

The inquest will be held today.

The deceased leaves a wife and four children unprovided for.

Report from the Inquest

Dr. Geary held an inquest at Kyneton Hospital touching the death of James Ramsdale, who died at that institution on the previous day, suffering from injuries receieved by a fall from his horse.

William Langford sworn - I am a legally qualified practitioner. The deceased was admitted into the hospital on Thursday about 1:30 suffering from a contused wound on the forehead, there were symptoms of concussion; he became better towards night. On the next morning there were symptoms of paraplegia; breathing was laboured and slow. Convulsions came on and he died at 4:00pm. I should judge by the symptoms that there was an effusion of blood going on at the base of the brain, probably accompanied by a fracture at the base of the skull.

I believe this to have been caused by a fall from a horse on to a piece of metal. On the night before he died he said "you little brute" meaning the horse had kicked him over suddenly. He repeated that statement. I asked if he knew what time it happened, he said he left the place he had started from at 8:30pm on Wednesday, but did not know how long it took him to get to where he was thrown. He said he was not drunk, but he had had a drop to drink.

Noah Turner sworn - Mr. Turner the hotelkeeper at Tylden said the deceased called at 7:30 on Wednesday on horseback. He remained for ten minutes and had two drops of brandy. He was sober when he came and sober when he left. I heard no more of the deceased until I was told that he had been found lying on the road near Cains' halfway house. He was a contractor and resided at Carlsruhe. I take him to be about 40 years of age.

Jeremiah McGrath sworn - I was in the employ of the deceased. He started from Lavers saw mill Trentham on Wednesday between 7:00 and 8:00pm. I advised him not to go. I left Trentham the following morning at 7:00. I was about two miles from the mill when I met his horse, it was saddled and had a rope around its neck. When it left it had a bridle on. I caught the horse and went to Turner's Hotel. Mr. Turner told me that the deceased had two small drinks. I went towards Kyneton to Cains' halfway house where I found Ramsdale on the floor in a room off the bar. He was resting on pillows.

Mr. Cain said he had been there the night before and had one drink. Next morning he was brought back quite insensible. He was conveyed to the Kyneton Hospital in a spring cart belonging to Thomas Walters. I thought the previous night that the deceased would lose himself or his horse and advised him to stay but he wouldn't.

To Mr. Laver a juror - The deceased was quite sober when at work on the mill. After he left he went to Clarkes.

John Clarke sworn - I am an hotelkeeper residing in Tylden near Lavers saw mill. On Wednesday afternoon the deceased and his partner Walters came and had two glasses of brandy each and left together about 3:00pm. The deceased came back shortly afterwards but I refused him any more drinks. Ramsdale appeared to be a little under the weather (influence of drink) but I considered him capable of taking care of himself.

Benjamin Blight sworn - I am a labourer residing in Tylden. At 7:00am a gentleman called at my house and told me a man was lying on the ground, cold and insensible about one hundred yards from the house. He could not delay as he had to catch a train to Melbourne. I and another man found the deceased and took him to Cains'. I later identified him at the hospital as the man we found on the road.

After a short deliberation the jury found the deceased died from the effects of his injuries of a fall from a horse on Wednesday February 21 1872.


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