Inquest into Thomas Waddells death at Bristol Mine, Two Mile, Gympie, 1878

In 1878, Thomas Waddell died in a tragic accident at the Bristol Mine, in Two Mile Gympie, when a bucket fell down the shaft and landed on him at the base. Most tragically, his son George Waddell was in charge of fixing the bucket at the time. The tragedy was reported in the newspaper at the time (see previous blog post).

Report of Thomas Waddells death in a mining accident in the Telegraph, 22 Oct 1878. via Trove

Since that post, I have obtained a copy of the inquest into Thomas Waddells death from the State Library of Queenland. The pages of the report are reproduced below and transcribed (as best as I could !) below. (Note: ?? means I am unable to transcribe the writing for a word in the original documents)

The inquest was held at the Gympie Police Court in Gympie on 21 October 1878.

By Forster, E. H. – Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26277360

Two witnesses gave a statement for the inquest, and also, tragically, did 14 year old George Waddell. The first witness was the Doctor, Dr John Russetfather (?):

Testimony of Dr Ryan in the inquest into the death of Thomas Waddell, 1878

John Russetfather Ryan in oath. I am a duly qualified medical practitioner  ?? in Gympie. I remember Friday October 18th last I was called about 10 ?? to the Bristol Claim Two Mile mine. The claim  ???  I met several men carrying a stretcher on which Thomas Waddell was lying. I stopped them and examined the deceased knew?? the injuries would likely prove fatal ??? his removal to the Hospital. His skull was severely fractured he had received other injuries through a bucket falling on him in the Bristol Shaft.  Buckets ?????  used ????? falling down a shaft ????  ?? would cause the injuries he received. I saw him again on the road ?? Hospital he was dead.

John Russetfather Ryan,
Taken and sworn before me at Gympie October 21st 1878 George Stable JP

The second witness was a miner, Stephen Daddow or Baddaw, working at the Bristol mine and managing the claim. He testified on oath that:

Testimony of Stephen Baddow, miner, in the inquest into the death of Thomas Waddell, 1878

Stephen Daddow on oath.  I am a miner. I was working at the Bristol leasehold Two Mile. I was managing the claim. Had one man and boy working there ?? Friday October 18th. On that morning the deceased Thomas Waddell and George Waddell were working there. Deceased went to work at 730 ??/  He went down the shaft at 8:30/ He was descending? up water?. I was on the brace. George Waddell was also on the brace. I was pulling water the claim ??  by a windlass. There are two buckets. When they come to the surface they are emptied and a brough? The shaft is not centred.  Geo Waddell was emptying the bucket. He emptied  the bucket and on ??? it to the shaft it slipped off the hook as it entered the shaft.  The bucket is rested on the brace.  In emptying the water the bucket is not unhooked. The hook is an S shaped good a double one. If the hook were properly fastened the bucket would not come off by leaving it on the platform. When the bucket fell I sung out to Thomas Waddell. I got no answer. I went down by the rope. I found deceased laying on his side. He was struck on the side of the head. He was unconscious.  I sung out to the boy to run for the Doctor. Remaining below I got assistance and sent up the body to the surface. He was still living then. I had him conveyed to the Hospital. He died before he got there about half way. I am in the habit of examining the buckets and hooks in the morning. When deceased went down in the morning he was in his usual health. He was killed by the bucket falling down the shaft. The shaft is dabbed? 47 feet from the surface.

Stephen Baddaw.
Taken and sworn before me at Gympie 21st Oct 1878 George Stable. J.P.

Stephen Daddow/Baddaw’s testimony reveals that Thomas was still alive when they brought him to the surface, and that he sent George to fetch the Doctor. I imagine this was to give poor George something to do to help rather than watch his poor father on the stretcher.

The final witness in the inquest was George Waddell, who was 14 years old at the time. He testified:

Testimony of George Waddell in the inquest into the death of Thomas Waddell, 1878

George Waddell on oath. I am a miner. I was employed in the Bristol Leasehold. I am a son of the deceased. I was working at the claim on Friday morning. I was faling? Maker? Emptying the buckets as they came up. After emptying one bucket it came off the hook as I was returning itto the shaft. The bucket fell down the shaft. I did not throw the bucket off and a park? I look at the bottom of the bucket in me hand and the cope? In the other and as I put it in the shaft the bucket came off and fell down the shaft.  My father was in the shaft at the time. I saw him go down the shaft that morning. He was in good health.  He was down about 1/2 of an hour when the bucket fell on him. I saw him in the Hospital afterwards. He was dead. He had some marks on the head. I have been mining nearly two years. I have been in the habit of emptying buckets. I put the bucket on the hook that morning. The hook is like a figure 8 it has a key but no spring. That bucket sometimes came off before and crashing to the bottom. I ran to fetch the Doctor. The hook is a patent hook.

George Waddell
Taken and sworn before me at Gympie 21st Oct 1878 George Stable. J.P.

The inquest reveals that at age 14, George already had 2 yaers of mining experience, and that the mine was using some sort of special figure 8 patented hook to attach the buckets without a spring, which had caused the bucket to fall before. Poor George!

The outcome of the inquest was that Thomas Waddell was “killed by a bucket falling on him in a claim called Bristol Two Mile Gympie” on 18th OCt 1878.

Inquest of Thomas Waddell, Gympie, 1878

The overall outcome that Thomas’ death was a tragic accident, and due to a problem with the hook, backs up the original newspaper report of the tragedy. The particulars from teh inquest were transferred onto Thomas Waddells death certificate:

It would be several years before formal mining investigations became the norm, but Thomas’ name does appear on a memorial in Gympie to all the lives lost in gold mining accidents

Spot an error or correction in my transcription? Have you worked out a word I couldnt? Please email me at karen.hapgood [at] gmail.com and let me know!

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