Our History | Death of Donald McDonald in 1887, part 2

Continuing our story about the death of Donald McDonald near the Royal Oak Inn in 1887, this is Part 2 of an extract from the coronial inquest, reported in the Goulburn Herald:

John Rodgers deposed that he was a horse-dealer and lived at Cotta Walla; on the 3rd instant he was on his way to Goulburn when he saw a man lying on the road in the position described by last witness; nothing could pass along the road without going over the man, whom witness then caught by the arm, believing him to be hurt; the man was alive but insensible, and he was breathing heavily; witness afterwards recognised the man as Donald McDonald, and gave information at Mr Fenwick's of what he had seen; there was some blood on deceased's head and on the road, but deceased's clothes were not disturbed or dirty.

Thomas Fenwick deposed that he knew the deceased, Donald McDonald, whom he found lying just off the road with a hat under his head, on the 3rd instant; he saw some vomit of blood on the road, but there was no horse in sight; deceased was removed to the place owned by witness's father, and Dr Morton who was sent for arrived about 10 o'clock, and later in the day Dr Gentle also came; deceased remained unconscious until his death which took place about 10am on the 4th instant.

Joseph Cramp deposed that he knew the deceased, whom he saw in Goulburn about 8am on the 2nd instant; deceased might have had a glass but not much, and he was not drunk; deceased said that he was going home that night; it was a clear moonlight night; next morning witness went to Crookwell by the coach, and on the way saw a man lying across the road; the coachman said he believed the man to be Mick, whom he had left at Gategood's drunk the night before; the light was not good enough for witness to recognise the deceased; the coachman had had a drink at Fardy's and at Fenwick's but was sober.

Dr Gentle deposed that he visited the subject of this inquest at Mr Fenwick's public house on the Crookwell road, about 9.30 pm on the 3rd instant, and found him in a comatose condition, quite unconscious, and incapable of being roused to answer questions; there was a small but deep wound on the side of the head, and there was also a well-marked abrasion of the skin about the wound to a considerable extent; after inquiring into the particulars of the case witness concluded that McDonald was suffering from compression of the brain, caused by rupture of a blood vessel, and that the case was a very serious one; witness ordered an injection, and visited deceased again next morning; witness told McDonald's relatives that the case was most critical, that an operation could be performed which had done good and saved life in such cases before, and that it was the only treatment by means of which his life could be saved; but taking his age into consideration, and the deep coma, witness said that the most certain result would be death; with the approval of the deceased's relatives, trephined at the seat of the injury, when a little dark blood came away; a slight change in the symptoms took place after the operation - viz, frequent shivering, and the pulse became weaker; deceased died about two hours after the operation, and witness made a post mortem examination, when he found a large clot of blood on the surface of the brain, in the region of the wound, and which extended some distance into the substance of the brain; the whole vertex of the brain was more or less covered with a thin coating of extravagated blood; witness believed that deceased died from compression of the brain, the result of a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain; the appearance indicated that the rupture was not from natural causes; if deceased had been removed a couple of hours earlier and trephining resorted to, deceased's life might have been saved; witness had some slight hopes of deceased's recovery at his first visit. 

The jury found that on the 4th day of March instant (sic), the said Donald McDonald died at Sooley Valley, near Goulburn, from compression of the brain, resulting from injuries accidentally received. The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon, and a very large number of persons attended .

SAD EVENT: The site of the former Royal Oak Inn in the Sooley Valley, where Donald McDonald died in 1887. Photo: Q20 Pics.

SAD EVENT: The site of the former Royal Oak Inn in the Sooley Valley, where Donald McDonald died in 1887. Photo: Q20 Pics.

  • Article from Obituaries, Deaths, Inquests Pre 1901, Crookwell and District Historical Society.