>> Hindmarsh >> Percival Hindmarsh (1694) >> Percival Hindmarsh (1742) >> Percival Hindmarsh (1781)  >> William Hindmarsh (1780) >> Percival Hindmarsh (1812)

Percival Hindmarsh 1812

Percival Hindmarsh, son of Percival of Belsay Barns and brother of William Hindmarsh the prison warder.
Birth 1 Dec 1812 in Low Stokoe, Falstone Northumberland
Death 25 Feb 1859 in Sydney, NSW, Australia

Christening 1812 24 Dec Falstone Northumberland Presbyterian  
Perceval HINDMARSH : Fathers Forenames:Perceval, Mother:Margaret. Birth day:01/12/1812, Abode:Low Stokoe Falstone from FindMyPast

Percival had an interesting and noteworthy life and indeed death.

Percival was born at Stokoe Farm in the depths of the Cheviots after his mother Margaret Young had lost maybe 2 daughters at an early age, he then moved with his parents to a remote farm at Belsay Barns in Bolam where his brother William, was born in 1819 just before, his mother died, plus also his paternal grandfather at Peels Wellhouse and his paternal aunt Eleanor who died at 37, within weeks of his grandfather. At this stage Percival was 8 years old and his brother William was a toddler. A year later his father Percival died young in 1821 leaving both boys orphans. His father died intestate ie with no will. Events seem to have been complicated at this time as many of the wills were dealt with very slowly and the intestacy of Percival of Belsay Barns, the boys father,  wasn't dealt with until 1843 some 20 or so years later by which time both orphan boys were grown up and living their own lives.

PH as a tide waiter in Canada
It would seem that William the grocer and his contacts in Alnwick changed the direction of these 2 farmer's sons as both ended up joining the civil service, Percival joining the customs service and William joining the prison service.

Percival in Canada

Percival worked as a Customs Clerk at St John's on Newfoundland Island in Canada, and you can see him listed in the Newfoundland Almanac 1844 here at page 35.

At some point in the early 1800s, probably in Alnwick, Percival had got to know The Baillie or Bayly family of Tadcaster, Yorkshire. In Canada Percival worked with George, James and Robert Bayly in the Customs department, and in the 1840 Indenture relating to his uncle William's intestate estate one of the parties was Richard Baillie of Tadcaster. This Richard Baillie had, on 29 September 1829, in Alnwick married a Jane Cattanach.

In the 1840 Indenture regarding the estate of William (1780) Percival is described as;
"... and Percival Hindmarsh esq late of Alnwick in the County of Northumberland but now of St Johns in the Island of Newfoundland Clerk in Her Majestys Customs ...."

In the grant of administration in respect of Percival's father's estate in 1843, Percival is described as;
"... we, Percival Hindmarsh, late of St Johns Newfoundland and now of Alnwick in the County of Northumberland Gentleman ..."

Percival arrives in Australia
This seems to indicate firstly that, in order to sort out his families affairs he was forever travelling from Canada to England, and secondly that his service at Newfoundland started before 1840 and by 1843 he had ceased work with Customs in Newfoundland however he is listed in the Newfoundland Almanac as a Clerk in Customs up to 1849, so he must have returned to Canada after sorting out his father's affairs.

Percival in Australia

Percival then travelled to Australia in 1850 to take up a similar Customs House position as a tide-waiter.

Arrival 1850 4 Aug Age: 37 Port Jackson, New South Wales on the Duke Of Richmond (a small boat of cargo with only a few passengers).

In Australia in order to work as a customs man £500 sureties had to be provided. These were given by William Hindmarsh of Alnwick, Tea Dealer, and John Dodds, of London, Gentleman, the bond being deposited at The Custom House London.

Percival worked in Australia from 1850 until 1859 when he met an early death at the age of 46.

His cause of death is given as natural causes however as he was only 46 years old at his death an inquest had to go ahead, which makes for very interesting reading as clearly the jury completely ignored the evidence, to the frustration of the coroner. The jury were John Bell (Foreman), Thomas Crossley, Alfred Mayo, John Girvan, James Gosstry, Ebenezar Dewar, Henry Dodds, John Bros and Nicholas Giffard. It is interesting to note that the Hindmarsh family had links to the Bells and the Dodds families in Northumberland.

At one point in the Inquest Report there is a note after Dr Cox's evidence;

"NOTE-When Dr Cox was under examination, the foreman constantly interrupted the proceedings, the Coroner remarking, you are determined to allow no evidence to be recorded that discloses facts. The foreman, Mr Bell, remarked, that he was a most intimate friend of the deceased, and that he would have been his Executor if he had but lived to have perfected it.
Coroner: You ought not to have been on this inquest then"

PH inquest result
It is quite clear from the Coroner's comments that he is completely baffled by the jury's conclusions and the report says;

"... when, how and by what means the said deceased Percival Hindmarsh came by his death, do, upon our oath, say that we find that the said Percival Hindmarsh came by his death from natural causes.

RIDER - The Jury beg to express their opinion, from the evidence produced, that the deceased Percival Hindmarsh was a man of steady, regular and sober habits, and consider that there were not sufficient grounds to warrant an inquest.

In witness thereof ... etc
NOTE - Gentlemen, I am bound to receive your verdict, but I must inform you that it is not in accordance with the evidence.

Following publication of the Coroner's Report in the newspaper John Bell wrote to the paper complaining that the Jury's Rider had not been included.
John Bell's letter

"To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald

Sir - In your report of this date of the inquest held on the late Mr Percival Hindmarsh ..... but the "rider" attached to the verdict .... is omitted...

The jury thought the "rider" necessary, from the circumstances of the coroner having publicly stated in Court that reports were in general circulation of a contrary nature, and that a letter, duly signed by the write and received by him, had rendered an inquest needful.
....the letter on production, appeared with a ficticious signature, and was otherwise utterly unworthy of credit or attention.

In requesting insertion of these lines, .... to rescue from unmerited aspersion the fair name and reputation of the deceased gentleman, who living, was widely known and respected ....

JOHN BELL, foreman of the jury.
Lower Fort-Street, March 1"

I find this case quite fascinating. It is quite clear that the Jury were agreed that nothing should besmirch Percival's name, but the question is, why? It is entirely possible that he was part of an "old boys network" in Sydney where there was a level of corruption, but where they all looked out for each other, and maybe he had been a particularly well-respected member of that group and so earned their protection. But clearly this kind of behaviour with regard to Inquests was not usual, and so if the "old boys" argument is to work you would expect this to happen more frequently.

In addition there is the matter of the letter referred to in John Bell's letter to the Sydney Morning Herald. His use of the English of the time makes what he says a little ambiguous but to my eyes the gist is that, someone had masqueraded as him and had written to the coroner with concerns that led to the inquest. No mention is made of what the letter said and so I can only surmise as to its contents - one thing I think is for sure, if it had simply said that Percival had drunk himself to death then there would not have been an inquest in those times where deaths in your 40's would not have been uncommon. It would be so interesting to see what that letter had alleged particularly bearing in mind the impending enquiry regarding the functions of the Customs Officers. John Bell, foreman of the Jury, not only was a close friend of Percival, which should, by rights, have barred him from service on the Jury, he also attempted to disrupt Dr Cox's evidence with some fortitude and this only beggars the question as to why, what was at stake? He either had a great bond of honour to Percival or desperately needed the inquest to conclude that Percival simply died of natural causes, with no further investigation needed.

Interestingly, no post mortem was done and it appears that no-one suggested that he may have been poisoned, however this is quite feasible as clearly he had information relating to the upcoming enquiry. Why did John Bell fight so hard to disrupt the evidence and ensure that the verdict of the Jury was accepted by the general public? What did he have to gain? We will probably never know, but I will keep looking.

Certainly on the face of it it does look as if he was very troubled by the impending enquiry and drank too much, which combined with the extreme heat led to dehydration and an early death, although it does seem more than likely that other factors may be more than relevant. My justification for this is; the extreme measures John Bell and the Jury went to, to disrupt the medical evidence and to bring a false verdict.

One thing that really concerns me is that as I try and transcribe what was written in the paper, it does not correlate with what was written in the report of the inquest, but why?

Transcription of The Report in the Sydney Morning Herald


JOHN S. PARKER, City Coroner. City Coroner's Office, 2nd March.
On Saturday evening last a jury of nine persons was sworn in, and the body of deceased viewed, In order that it might be interred; the proceedings being then adjourned to Monday. On Monday, at 1 p.m., the jury and witnesses assembled at the Neptune Inn, Prince-Street, when the following evidence was taken:

Finney Eldershaw, being duly sworn, deposed on oath as follows - I am clerk in the Legislative Council, and have known the deceased Percival Hindmarsh for about eight years; he was landing waiter in the Customs: he was a single man and of late resided in Princes Street; he was about 47 years of age, was a single man, and never, to my knowledge, had a days illness, he was remarkably healthy, and had resided for some time past in Prince street; I believe he dis-charged his duties up to the 19th instant, and on the evening of that day was at my house, when he appeared in perfect health, but somewhat uneasy about the then pending enquiries into the Customs department; he left my house at about half-past eight; on the morning of the 21st I saw him again at his lodgings, having heard that he was unwell; he was in bed, and looked very pale, though perfectly conscious; he again talked about the Customs enquiry; I stayed with him about half an hour, and then left; I again went of my own accord on the following morning and saw him; he was still in bed, and appeared better, though his mind was slightly wandering; on Thursday, the 21th, at about ten o'clock, I accompanied the deceased, with Dr. Cox, to the Infirmary in a cab; deceased was not violent, but his mind was still wandering; his removal to the Infirmary was on the advice of Dr. Cox; on Friday morning I went to see him, and then heard he was dead.
By the Coroner: I consider deceased's illness originated in fretfulness about the Customs enquiry; I am not aware of any other cause; I never saw him suffer from the effects of drink; I am not aware that he Indulged in drink, nor did I hear that he kept spirits in his room.
By the foreman: I never for one moment supposed that Mr. Hidmarsh died by unlawful or improper means administered by his own or other hands; I am of the opinion that he died from natural causes; deceased complained several times of the excessive heat of the sun, especially about a week before he was taken ill, but it did not occur to me that he had had a sun-stroke.

John Macfarlane, M.D, deposed: The deceased Mr Hindmarsh was brought to the infirmary on Thursday morning, at about ten o'clock, and placed under my care and treatment; I found him exceedingly nervous and very much depressed; his mind was slightly wandering; I ordered morphine to procure sleep and tranquillize the system: he died at five o'clock on the following morning of effusion within the chest.
By the Coroner; The complaint from which he was suffering might or might not have been the result of natural causes; I had never seen him before; his mind was wandering, but that might have been caused by finding himself in a strange room with a number of other occupants; such suffering did not necessarily follow from the effects of drink; I have, known persons in apparently ordinary health to have effusion of the chest; exposure to the sun is calculated to produce wandering in the mind; the deceased was under no restraint in the infirmary, and I believe he was sent there for more skilful nursing; he was not sent there as a person dangerous to be at large; I do not remember having heard Dr. Cox make any remarks about deceased having suffered from delirium tremens; I did not expect that be would have died so soon; when I first saw him it was my impression that he was under the influence of some sedative.
By the foreman: Had I thought that deceased came by his death by any other, than fair means, I should have communicated with the coroner; sun-stroke might cause similar symptoms to those of delirium tremens; the symptoms of the disease from which he died would show themselves some hours before death.

William Marchant deposed: I have known the deceased for three or four years; he lodged with me in Fort-street for eighteen months previous to his removal to Prince-street; he was a man of regular habits, and very healthy; I never saw him drink, nor have I heard that he indulged in drink; latterly he seemed troubled in his mind about the Customs enquiry; I have seen him almost daily, and he always appeared sober.

Edward Lyenal, being sworn in the usual way, deposed: The deceased Percival Hindmarsh resided with me for about two years past; he was very healthy and kept regular hours; occasionally I have seen him excited from drink and, the effects of exposure to the sun, while engaged in his duties: I have heard him complain of the heat repeatedly; he was taken ill on Saturday night, and was very sick during the night, vomiting, accompanied with a violent cough; on Sunday morning his mind wandered, and a medical man was sent for; Dr. Cox attended, and remained in attendance until his removal to the Infirmary; before his removal he had become delerious, but not very violent; as long as I have known him he has generally kept a case of gin in his room; I have seen a gin bottle and tumbler on his table, but had no idea what he drank; I have never seen him incapable of putting out his own light, or in a state to require others to look after him; I have heard him walking about his room at night, and have some indistinct notion of his having fallen out of bed some time since: I cannot say how long a case of gin lasted him; but I do not think that more than four cases came to the house for him since he has resided with me; his friends participated freely with him; I have observed that latterly he suffered very much from excitement respecting the Customs enquiry, so much so that I have refrained from mentioning the subject to him; he had never been an annoyance in my house until the two days prior to his removal to the Infirmary; he attended to his duties on Saturday, the 19th, and after returning complained of the heat of the sun; he was much affected, and I was not surprised to find him ill on the following morning; when Dr. Cox first saw the deceased he (Dr. Cox) asked me whether he had been drinking; I replied I believed he had; I also intimated that change of climate, with the heat of the sun, &c, might have produced delirium; he appeared to recover rapidly, and was sensible during the greater part of Monday, but I believe that so many friends seeing him caused the serious relapse; he was in an excessive state of perspiration, he trembled, was not violent, nor did he require holding; on Monday he was conscious, but on Tuesday he was only conscious at intervals.
By a juror: He had birds In his room, to which he was much attached, and used to get out of bed at night occasionally to feed them.
By the foreman: During the time he has been with me I have never seen him incapable of doing his public or private duties; I should not call him a man of drunken habits; he did not indulge too freely when at home; I had never any occasion to go into his room on account of noise; I know of no cause for a coroner's inquest being held, and was much surprised to hear that such was to take place; I am not aware that inquests are held upon cases of delirium tremens.

William R. T. Passmore deposed : I am a landing-waiter in the Customs, and have known deceased for five years; he was generally employed out of doors, and, consequently, much exposed to the sun; on Saturday, the 19th. deceased and myself were gauging casks on MaCnamara's Wharf, when he complained of the excessive heat; he complained it affected his head, and had to go into the landing-waiter's box to rest ; I requested him to take a nobbler of brandy, but he declined, saying he had already taken one that morning; I did not see him again until Monday morning.
By tho Coroner: So far as I know he was a sober man; I never saw him under the influence of drink; I have been almost constantly with him on duty during the last twelvemonths.
By a juror: I saw Mr. Hindmarsh several times during his illness, but saw no occasion for an inquest; I sat up with him on Wednesday night; he was delirious, but knew me the whole time and took his medicine from me regularly.
By the foreman: I never knew Mr. Hindmarsh unable to do his duty; he was in the habit of assisting his brother officers in their duties; they applied to him for assistance, having confidence in him, but he generally volunteered his services when ho saw others pressed with work.

James Charles Cox, M.D, deposed: I am at present acting for Dr. McEwan, who was sent for on Tuesday night, the 20th instant to see the deceased; I attended, and found him in his room reclining on his bed with his clothes on; he appeared agitated and confused; I explained to him Dr. McEwan's absence and tendered my services in his stead; he perfectly understood me, and expressed himself happy to be placed under my care; I asked him of his complaint, and he said he suffered from pain in his head and right side; he was tremulous, tongue furred, and very fidgetty; be also complained that his stomach was out of order; from his appearance I thought he was verging on a state of delirium tremens; I asked him if he had been drinking, he said he had, and showed me a gin bottle and glass in the room; he told me he had drank a few glasses the night before, raw; I then examined his chest and the state of his liver; he had tenderness over the region of the liver; I examined his chest stethoscopically, but could detect no symptoms of inflammatory action there; I asked him if he had a cough, be said not more than a slight one occasionally; I prescribed for him and treated him as I thought right.
By the Coroner: He made no remark to me about suffering from the heat of the sun; he said he had some matters preying upon his mind, which I did not enquire into; he had taken no narcotic; the effect appeared to me to be caused by ardent spirits; I saw a case bottle on the floor; I think it was not quite empty; he told me he had only indulged at night; I did not think his case was hopeless; at one time I thought he had taken spirits again after I had ordered their removal out of the room; they were taken out of the room; he was not fit to answer any questions as to his condition; he was not removed to the Infirmary on the supposition that he was in a hopeless state, but for safer attendance; prior to his removal I went to Dr. O'Brien and to a Custom-house officer to get a fit attendant for him but failed; before this he got out into the street and went to the Custom-house; I have had great experience in cases of this nature, and feel confident that that was the nature of his case whilst under my charge, and I mentioned the same in the Infirmary.
By a juror: I have never seen a sun-stroke; I ordered the spirits to be removed from his room on my first visit; he told me he had undressed the night prior and on former nights; my statement that he had got out of the house was made from information by the parties living in the house.
By the Coroner: Congestion of the liver, and the irritable state of his stomach would produce vomiting.

The jury retired, and after half an hour's consultation agreed to, and returned with the following verdict:
"We find that the said Perceval Hindmarsh came by his death from natural causes."
Rider-"The jury beg to express their opinion, from the evidence produced, that the deceased Percival Hindmarsh was a man of steady, regular, and sober habits: and consider that there were not sufficient grounds to warrant an inquest."

The Coroner returned the jurymen thanks for the time and attention they had given to the enquiry, and intimated that he was bound to accept their verdict, though he must inform them that it was not in accordance with the evidence.

Votes and Proceedings - Inquest of Percival Hindmarsh p733 You can also go to the Gallery and read the book.

ADDENDUM: some further information I have found is written up on my Family Research website.

Percival Hindmarsh Death Certificate
(NSW reg no. 1859/000243)
Death: 25 February 1859 at Princes Street
Cause of Death: Inflammation of Lungs, duration 3 days
Buried: 26 February 1859 at Camperdown Cemetry, witness John Bell
Birth: Northumberland, Time in Colonies:7 years (this is wrong as it was 9 years)

Percival's Estate
Percival died without a will and there is extensive paperwork with regard to his estate. John Dunsmore and Charles Stafford of Sydney were bound by a sum of £2500 as administrators of his estate. Charles Stafford was the legally appointed attorney of William Hindmarsh of Dartmoor Prison Service.

William, Percival's brother, did not travel to Australia and instead swore various documents including a Power of Attorney in Plymouth in front of John Bayly, Notary Public. (the Baylys do seem to have many dealings with the Hindmarsh family however as yet I have not found a family link) William swears;

"I William Hindmarsh storekeeper at the Dartmoor Prison in the Parish of Lydford in the County of Devon England do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows, namely that I am the Brother of Percival Hindmarsh late of Sydney in the Colony of New South Wales landing waiter who some time since departed this life at Sydney aforesaid Intestate and without ever having been married and that the said Percival Hindmarsh had not either Father or Mother or Brother or Sister or issue of Brother or Sister other than myself and my issue living at the time of his decease...... sixteenth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty nine."

In another document appointing John Dunsmore and Charles Stafford as his attorneys, William says;

".. and whereas I the said William Hindmarsh am now absolutely entitled as the only next of kin of the said Percival Hindmarsh to all the Personal Estate Goods Chattels and Credits which the said Percival Hindmarsh was possessed of or entitled to at the time of his decease..."

Another document whereby Charles Stafford confirms he is attorney for William Hindmarsh acknowledges receipt of the document from William on 14 March 1860 and so the letter from Plymouth to Sydney took about 3 months to arrive.

Percival's possessions had to be sold off and early in 1859 the following advert appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald;

Sydney Morning Herald 19 Mar 1859

"By Order of the Official Assignee, E. A. Mackechnie, Esq.
In the Intestate Estate of Percival Hindmarsh, Esq.
- On SATURDAY, the 19th instant, at 11 o'clock-
Very superior Household Furniture
Ditto Office Furniture and Fittings
Oil Paintings and Engravings
Books, Stereoscope and Slides
Gold Snuff Box  
Gold Watch and Chain
Canaries in Breeding and other Cages Maps, Wearing Apparel, and
A variety of valuable Sundries.

MR. ROBERT MURIEL will sell by
public auction, at his New Rooms, Wynyard street,
THIS DAY, the 19th instant, at 11 o'clock precisely,
A variety of valuable effects belonging to the intestate
estate of Percival Hindmarsh, Esq., and a large quantity of useful sundries.  
Terms, cash."

PH Gravestone
Later he advertised a sale for;

"The personal effects of the late Percival Hindmarsh, Esq., and
114 shares in the Australian Gas-Light Company at 12 o'clock precisely"

Percival was buried at Camperdown Cemetry; Newtown: Erskineville Anglican
7422 Hindmarsh; Percival. South Wall
The gravestone says "Percival Hindmarsh of Her Majesty's Customs and late of Northumberland England died on 25 February 1859"

Percival's estate raised about £1700 of which, I believe, £1300 was paid out to William Hindmarsh, his brother.

<< PREVIOUS         NEXT (William Hindmarsh 1819) >>

Website Cookies

This website uses cookies to help us improve your experience. By using our website you are accepting our Privacy Policy and use of Cookies.