Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Jan/1867) - Meltham: Death from Exposure to the Cold

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


Death from Exposure to the Cold.

The death of John Hirst — better known as "Old Mogg" — a labourer, aged 63 years, who resided with his wife and family at Mill Moor, Meltham, created some little excitement. The circumstances of the case are these :—

On Sunday morning a companion named James Armitage, labourer, called at the house of deceased and requested him to take a walk. At first deceased refused to go, on account of the severity of the weather. Armitage taunted him with being a "luggard," and said if they went they might "put up an old hare." Deceased then put on his coat and they went out together. On leaving deceased's house they proceeded by way of the Old Ford to Harden Moss, where they called at the beerhouse of Henry Hirst, at Sandbeds, and remained from half-past twelve to three o'clock, when the company were turned out. At half-past four o'clock they returned to the beerhouse and had more beer, making the quantity which each had drunk during the afternoon four pints, neither of them having had anything to eat. Shortly before six o'clock they left the house to return home, both men being in a state of semi-intoxication, the deceased being the worse of the two. When passing down an unfrequented lane about a mile from the beerhouse the deceased fell, and was unable to get up. After one or two fruitless attempts to assist him, Armitage left his companion in that helpless state and returned to Meltham, although Snape farmhouse was not 200 yards distant and he might have obtained assistance there. Reaching Meltham at half-past seven o'clock at night Armitage proceeded first to a beerhouse, obtained a glass of ale, and warmed himself. He then called and enquired if deceased had got home. Finding he had not, he told the woman that the old man had left the beerhouse before him, and as he had not got home she had better send in search of him up the lane. The woman having frequently been deceived by the false tales of Armitage, gave no credence to his statement, and believing her husband to be in one of the publichouses in Meltham, she sent her son in search of his father. Not finding him the boy returned, and as deceased had been in the habit of remaining out late, his wife took no further notice of his absence, and went to bed as usual. On the following morning, deceased not having reached home, Armitage and a man named John Woodhead proceeded in search of him, and found him laid in the lane within a few yards of where he had fallen on the previous night, and had been left by Armitage. He was stiff and senseless, and his clothes frozen to the ground. A handcart was procured, and he was conveyed home. Mr. Haigh, surgeon, was called in, and found the man in a dying state from effusion of blood on the brain, consequent on long exposure to the cold. The man expired in a few minutes afterwards. An inquest was held on Wednesday afternoon before Mr. J. R. Ingram, deputy coroner, at the house of Mr. Joseph Knight, the Swan Inn, Meltham. The jury returned a verdict of "died from the effects of long continued exposure to the cold." At the request of the jury, the Coroner severely censured Armitage for his callous, unfeeling, and inhuman conduct, first in inducing the deceased to leave home, and then leaving him helpless in the cold, and not making his real situation known to his friends.