52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #11 James Matthews – accidently shot

Posted: March 23, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Matthews

Yesterday as I was writing my post on George Thomas Matthews, I was rechecking some of the birth & death certificates of his children. One of them James Matthews died in 1914. His cause of death was accidentally shot and that a verdict was held at Muswellbrook on 31/12/1914.

This morning I thought I would check Trove to see if there was any record of incident.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 30th December 1914, James was with Harry Perkins and Geoffrey James Roberts been out shooting rabbits with pea rifles when Roberts accidentally shot James.

Harry Perkins testified that they had pea rifles with them and that they were 100 yards away from the camp when Roberts had the first shot at a rabbit on the side of the river. He heard the shot and thought that Roberts had hit a rabbit but saw that Matthews had fallen down.

Roberts testified that they had been out shooting several times before and were the best of friends. Roberts at the time of the shooting know whether it was his gun or Perkin’s gun that shot James. Perkins had said that it couldn’t have been his, as there was no cartridge in the gun. It was not until later that Roberts examined his rifle and found an empty shot in the rifle and that he had no doubt he had accidently shot James.

James’s wife Ellen Ethel Matthews gave evidence at the inquest and said that Roberts and her husband were on the best of terms; they never had a quarrel and that her husband was 31. Roberts and my husband went rabbit shooting a few times before.

Alfred Powell gave evidence and said that he knew the deceased and that he had been talking to the deceased between four and five pm and described that he was in a wounded condition with a small hole in his back. He had asked Jim (James), How did this happen. Jim replied with ‘little George (meaning Roberts) was holding his rifle and it went off and shot me. He said that Roberts gun had gone off accidently. After this, James’ thoughts were only on his wife and family.

James died in the early hours the following morning; he left behind a wife and three young children, James 4, Herbert 2 and Huldah 6 months. James is buried at the Church of England Cemetery Muswellbrook.

The Coroner’s verdict was as follows:

I find that the said James Matthews at Muswellbrook, in the Hospital, in the Police Diotrict of Muswellbrook, in the State of New South Wales died from the effects of a pea rifle bullet wound in the back accidentally inflicted on him on the 30thDecember 1914, at the two mile camp, near Muswellbrook, in the said State, while rabbit snooting, by one Geoffrey James Roberts.

You can read the full story and details of the corners report here The Muswellbrook Chronicle 6th January 1914 and here Maitland Mercury 9th January 1914

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