Inquests and Articles

This morning I received some death certificates for members of my BUCHAN family.  On Alexander Ritchie BUCHAN’s certificate it states his cause of death as ‘Verdict of Jury – Sudden Failure of the Heart’.
Part of Alexander Ritchie BUCHAN’s death certificate – 1896
My grandmother mentioned in a letter years ago that “Grandad B [a fisherman] was actually pulling in a fishing net, when he apparently ( I presume) had a heart attack & died at age 34”.  I had no idea there was an inquest into his death though.
I searched through the newspapers on New Zealand’s wonderful Papers Past site and found a mention in the ‘Casualties’ section:

A sudden death occurred about 8 o’clock on Wednesday night, 2nd. Alexander Buchan, who was engaged fishing with his brother John in the lower harbour, had just hauled in the net, when he went to the bow of the boat and fell forward, and on his brother going to him found he was dead. An inquest was held on Thursday afternoon when after hearing the evidence of Charles and John Buchan, John Keenan, and Dr Cunninghame, the jury returned a verdict that deceased died from sudden failure of the heart. Deceased leaves a wife and five children in very poor circumstances. (Otago Witness – 10 Dec 1896, p15)

Otago Witness – 10 Dec 1896, p15

His wife Agnes (nee FINDLAY) was left with 5 children under the age of 9 – their daughter was only 3 weeks old!

Alexander was buried in Port Chalmers cemetery on the 5th December 1896.  Also buried on the plot were members of the GRANT family who I believe to be unrelated and a Robert JONES (according to the Cemeteries Database on the Dunedin Ciy Council website).  On the entry in the Cemeteries Database is the note:”GRANT PLOT: CONSENT OF CHURCH”

image via flickr

It seems that the church took pity on Alexander’s family (who had only arrived in the country 3 years earlier) and because of their “very poor circumstances”, buried him in this plot as an act of charity.

I am really keen to find any surviving inquest records as I know nothing about a brother called John!

Next Steps:

  • Locate inquest records (if any)
  • Search for church records that may mention the burial
  • Research ‘brother John’

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