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Copy of inquest document from the time.

I have added this as an insight of the times. Many soldiers from the Regiments lost their lives by drowning in Australian Waters

Back to FARMER Thomas

Supplied by Peter Watson p_watson@bigpond.net.au

Extract from C.S.O. 20/155 (Microfilm) Battye Library Colony of Western Australia
 
Enquiry into the causes of the death of Thomas Farmer a private in His Majesty's 63rd regiment of foot taken at Perth in the said colony on Friday the twenty fourth day of February 1832 before the undersigned justices. Edward Barron, Colour Serjeant of His Majesty's 63rd Regiment of foot being duly sworn saith -
 
Yesterday morning about six o' clock I accompanied the deceased along with George Hodges and William Steel, two Privates of my regiment to the Flats to bring back a flat boat belonging to Mr Trigg in which Lieutenant Erskine's baggage had been conveyed the previous day. We found the flat above mentioned along with another small boat which we had also to bring back lying under Mr Andrew's (pier). I told Steel and deceased to go into the small boat and take a spell at the oars while Hodges and myself got into the flat which was in tow of the other boat.
We had gone but a few yards from the bank when the painter broke. The sea breeze was blowing choppy and drifting the flat on shore on which account I called to Steel to pull his small boat round. He tried but I saw he could not pull it round. Upon which I told him to jump out of the boat into the water knowing he was a good swimmer and lay hold of the painter of the small boat and bring it to me in the flat.
Farmer on hearing me say this said there was no necessity for anyone swimming hereunder he could find bottom and at the same instant he jumped out. He was immediately out of his depth and went down below the surface. I called to Steel to lay hold of him and pull him into the boat. Steel did accordingly pull him into the boat. I ordered Farmer not to jump out of the boat again.
Steel again jumped out and got hold of the painter and as soon as Steel jumped out Farmer again jumped out saying that he could find bottom. He immediately struck out but I saw then he could not swim and that he was beginning to paddle like a dog on which I called to Steel to lay hold of him and at the same time I undressed myself and jumped into the water after deceased and was making towards him, and had got within about four strokes of him when he went down. He never came up again.
Steel swam round the boat while I dived down after deceased but we never saw any trace of him. Deceased was not in the least degree intoxicated. He had been very unwell for the last three or four days but was in very good spirits on the morning of the accident
 
Sworn before W H Mackie, J B Wittenoom
Edward Barron Col Sgt, 63 rd R William Steel, Private in His Majesty's 63rd regiment of foot being duly sworn saith -
On hearing the evidence of Colour Serjeant Barron read over to me, I confirm the same in every respect. When I got Farmer into the small boat after he had jumped out for the first time I said to him " For God's sake Farmer, don't play the fool again".
Mind the boat and I will take the painter to the flat . After Farmer had gone down on his getting out a second time, I swam round the boat and the serjeant dived for him several times, but to no purpose. I am sure that the deceased was not in the least intoxicated.
 
Sworn before us. W H Mackie, J B Wittenoom William Steel
William Marcus Carew a Lieutenant in His Majesty's said regiment being duly sworn in saith -
I accompanied Ensign Macleod this morning to The Flats in consequence of hearing that Thomas Farmer, a Private in my detachment had been drowned there the previous morning. When we arrived there, the place of the accident having been previously pointed out, we dragged for a considerable time without effect. Until Ens. Macleod saw something which attracted his notice in the water and which on dragging at that spot was found to be the body of the deceased.
He was lying about ten feet depth of water. When he came to the surface several crabs were observed upon the corpse, which was in consequence much disfigured about the face. No mark of outways violence was visible on the body. He was dressed in his shirt trousers and boots.
 
Sworn before us. W H Mackie, J B Wittenoom W M Carew. Lieut. 63rd Regmt.
Donald Hume Macleod, an Ensign His Majesty' s 63rd regiment of foot being duly sworn saith -
On hearing the evidence of Lieutenant Carew read over to me, I confirm the same in every respect.
 
Sworn before us: W H Mackie, J B Wittenoom.
D H Macleod. Ensign. 63rdb Regmt.r John Prendergast Lyttleton of Perth, aforesaid Assistant Colonial Surgeon to the local government of the said colony being duly sworn in saith -
I was called upon yesterday afternoon in the absence of Dr Milligan by Mr Pierce to inspect the body of the deceased. There was no mark from the said violence about the body, except what is normal after long immersion. Hence I have not the least doubt that he met his death by drowning. Sworn before me: W H Mackie J P Lyttleton
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Last revised: June 27, 2004.