Report of SUSAN HARBERT, 25 September 1829

A NARROW ESCAPE

Last Sunday week, the 13th inst. SUSAN HARBERT, a little girl about ten years of age, while putting the tea kettle on, thro’ her clothes catching fire, became severely burnt.

The unhappy little sufferer was taken to the general hospital, in order to have her wounds dressed, and thence home, where she lingered in agony till next day,- when she was again removed to the hospital at the female factory, where death relieved her from further mortal suffering, on the 16th inst.

The friends of the little creature again removed the body, and had a coffin made to contain it. On Thursday, at four, o’clock, as the corpse was in readiness to be taken to its last bourne, there appeared at length, we understand, the Coroner and Jury! who, after examining the body, and two witnesses, brought in a verdict of accidental death.

We cannot but express surprise and sorrow at the above. Not doubting the statement to be correct, why was the inquest not held before the removal of the dead body from the hospital, and on Wednesday, when the girl died? Was the Coroner too busily engaged otherwise to attend his business on the above occasion, and how was he engaged— on public business, or on private? We know that the stipend to a Coroner is not very great, and that delay in the above case might not be so detrimental altogether publicly, considered, as in many cases of neglect and of sudden death. Still these do not excuse tardiness such as that we have described. We hope it will not fall to our lot to detail a repetition of similar negligence.

* Possibly SUSANNAH HERBERT, buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta 17 September 1829, age 10. Oddly, the St. John’s parish burials for the year 1829 records her cause of death as “Drowned.”

See Original:A NARROW ESCAPE,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW: 1824 – 1848), Friday 25 September 1829, p.3