Sunday, 13 May 2018

Horse Play

On the evening of May 1st 1839, 12-year-old William Dicks had been apprenticed to Stephen Ingram, a surgeon of Stowe in Stafford. Dicks was in the stable bedding one of the mares when Ingram passed and heard the mare plunge. He entered to find Dicks lying on his side about five feet away from the horse's heels. The boy pleaded with him to help him up, saying he was frightened of the horse. Ingram, however, had watched the boy closely and replied "You rascal, you have been teasing the mare several times today".

However he took Dicks into his home and examined him. Clearly from the marks he had been kicked in the belly and had an impact mark on his head, likely from the resulting fall. He undressed the patient, put a poultice on his belly and dressed the head wound before putting him to bed. Later he bled the patient and also gave him a laxative - all perfectly reasonable treatments in early Victorian England. The boy was asleep by 8pm that night and awoke at 4am on the Friday morning when he reported having no pain in either belly or head. Ingram had slept in that same room to watch over him, he gave him more medicine on the Friday morning.

Ingram was out all day but returned at 5pm to find Dicks once again complaining of pains in his belly. He gave him more medicine before going to meet his mother who lived just 600 yards away, bringing her to see her son at about 6pm. In the intervening hour Dicks had moved and was found lying on his side under a hayrick. He maintained Ingram had placed him there despite the belly pains and had been there so long he was cold and very thirsty. He also said Ingram had said he deserved it as it had been his own fault.

Sarah Dicks was, as would be expected, a concerned mother and asked to take her son home with her. Ingram advised against it, so she summoned a Doctor Knight from Chartley who ordered young William be taken straight away to the infirmary. He arrived on the Saturday morning but, despite their care, died on the Monday morning. Post mortem revealed a severe wound to the head but deemed it was the lacerated bowel which had been the cause of death. The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death caused by the mare but censured Ingram saying he had not acted in any degree of professionalism or humanity considering his position.

No comments:

Post a Comment