Monday, 16 November 2015

The frightened horse and tragic death Bromley Kent 1863

I am currently transcribing the volumes of sextons accounts for Bromley; a neglected source in Bromley Archives.
Bromley had the consistent service of members of the Dunn family in the eighteenth century as Parish Clerk and in the nineteenth century as sextons.
The most detailed entry I have found records the fatal encounter of a horse and young 15 year old James Henry Baker who played the triangle in the 18th Kent Volunteer Band (known locally as the Rifle Band).
The Bromley Record edition of 1 September 1863 describes how as the band reached Bromley on 21 August 1863 on their return march from Blackheath they began to play as was customary in the town. Sadly they encountered a Market Gardener's horse drawn van and the frightened horse caused the van to hit James Henry Baker who was killed instantly as the van wheel passed over his head. An inquest was held on Monday 25 August 1863 and returned a verdict of Accidental Death.
The sexton's account written by Edward Dunn records the funeral of 27 August 1863 and the two death marches played as the Band marched to the parish church and subsequently at the grave side as was customary for the funeral of any member of the band.
The funeral was conducted by Reverend Arthur Gresley Hellicar and is described as "very imposing" in the Bromley Record account. The son of the master of the National School and a popular pupil and band member the funeral was large as all pupils of the National School and most inhabitants attended.
The tragedy of the death is also reflected by Edward Dunn in a marginal entry in the sexton's account which points out that the death took place on the evening before his sixteenth birthday;The Bromley Record account describes his invitation to many band members and fellow pupils to attend his birthday celebration.
The Bromley  Record account refers to the impressive demeanour of the people of Bromley at this funeral and the large attendance.
James Henry had been an enthusiastic supporter of the band although not yet a a member of the 18th Kent Volunteers he had been encouraged to participate in band activities.
The sexton's account books routinely identify the relatives of the deceased and short biography with reference to occupation of former occupation as well as identifying where the burial took place in the churchyard and in later entries the name of the Undertaker responsible for arrangements. As such they are more detailed than the parish register entry of burial. The volumes are part of the parish records deposited within the Archives and my transcript will be added to the Bromley page at Kent Online Parish Clerks in due course.

© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015