Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
27 June 1828
At the Woolpack Inn, in the Brickfield-hill, an inquest was taken by the Coroner for Sydney, in the afternoon of Wednesday, on the body of a man named JOHN MURPHY, a Parramatta-constable, who had suddenly dropped dead that morning.
The Coroner, having convened and sworn in a proper Jury at the Woolpack, proceeded to the house at the toll-bar leading out on the Parramatta road, where lay the body ready for examination, on the floor of a room in the toll-house, precisely in the same situation as it was subsequently sworn the man had died. There were not on the body any marks whatsoever of violence; and the Jury having satisfied themselves of that, and having duly inspected the dead body, retraced their steps to the Woolpack, to hear such evidence as might be forthcoming.
FITZPATRICK having produced one JAMES GULLEY, as a person who could let the Coroner and the Jury into a knowledge of the matter, and GULLEY being sworn, deposed as follows:
I know the deceased. He was a constable attached to the Parramatta police. Yesterday he came with me from Parramatta to Sydney, on police duty. On the road he complained of a cold and shortness of breath, and exhibited general symptoms of indisposition. He would frequently stop at the foot of a hill to take breath. It was a shortness of breath, not a difficulty of breathing that he complained of. He did not appear more exhausted on getting into Sydney than on the road. He did not make any application for medical assistance. Deceased and myself went together to the house of GEORGE MARSHALL, the Bee-hive public-house, and put up there for the night. Deceased did not make any particular complaint on retiring to bed. This morning, between seven and eight o’clock, he rose up in his bed, and, looking at his watch, called out to me, who slept in the same room with him, to get myself ready, as there was no time to spare for meeting with the Parramatta coach, which would shortly start. I got up, and we left the house, together, but had not proceeded many rods towards the toll-gate, when just about the rise of the hill deceased suddenly stopped, and, placing his hand on his forehead, cried out, ”Oh! my eyesight has entirely left me, I cannot see any thing.” He then sat down on the road side, and continued sitting for about four minutes, when he jumped up, apparently quite strong, and instantaneously fell down. I then helped him up on his feet, and he shewed some convulsive motions. With help he was immediately removed to the toll-gate house, where he also shewed the same convulsive symptoms. It was the impression on my mind at the time, that the man was dying. Medical assistance was instantly sent for, but he died before it could be procured. He did not live more than ten minutes after getting to the toll-bar.
Mr. CONNOLLY, surgeon, gave in his certificate, that the deceased had come to his death in a fit of apoplexy; and the Jury expressing themselves satisfied with the evidence as being sufficiently conclusive, recorded a corresponding verdict, of death having ensued in a fit of apoplexy.
A friend of the deceased on this applied to the Coroner for a certificate to allow of the removal of the body to Parramatta, to the friends of the deceased, for interment, which the Coroner immediately gave, and the inquest broke up.
The deceased had been a constable in Parramatta for twelve months, and bore a fair character.
One of the Jurymen stated, that he had frequently heard the deceased complain of having caught cold from having to do duty on the outside of the Parramatta Factory, where, if a night happen to be stormy and wet, there is at hand no covered place whereto the watchman may retire for shelter.
See Original: “CORONER’S INQUEST,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW: 1824 – 1848), Friday 27 June 1828, p.3