Monday, July 30, 2007

The Inquest of Harold Wright's Death


My maternal grandmother's father was Harold Wright, who died in 1972 before I was born. I therefore never met my great-grandfather, but he is partly to blame for this obsession that I now have in family history. I used to hear a lot of stories about him from relatives, mainly to do with how he was a bit of a 'black sheep' or 'a character' as we're fonder of saying in Yorkshire. When speaking to those who knew him, one thing that is often repeated is how he used to nervously jiggle coins in his pocket which led to him being nicknamed 'jiggles'. Also, he used to give directions to people only by naming public houses on route. Not surprisingly, his push bike was regularly to be found outside one of these in his native Acomb. A further fact that is relevant to me is that he always drunk his tea black, never taking milk, something that I appear to have inherited from him. These and other stories such as how he was from a long line of Wrights who had lived in the village led me to be curious about Harold Wright and family history. In the next few posts I shall discuss more about the Wright family.

The Inquest of Harold Wright's death
York Reference Library has a wonderful card index with lists of names of individuals that appear in local papers for over 200 years. I have used this source on numerous occasions to find records of births, deaths and marriages that would have otherwise meant a lengthy search through the countless York parish records. Also surprisingly I came across a notice of an inquest to be held about Harold Wright's death. This is what was reported in two separate entries.

Yorkshire Evening Press, 11th February 1972.
"Inquest opened on Acomb man. Mr. Anthony Morris, the York coroner, yesterday opened an inquest on Mr. Harold Wright, aged 73, of Stuart Road, Acomb, who died earlier in York County Hospital. The inquest was adjourned until February 21 after evidence of identification had been given by the dead man's son Mr C. W. Wright of South Cottages, Shipton Road."

Yorkshire Evening Press, 22nd February 1972.
"Swallowed Tooth Led To Death. The cause of death of a retired York painter and decorator could be traced back to the time over a year ago when he accidentally swallowed a tooth, the York Coroner, Mr. Anthony Morris said yesterday. Recording a verdict of accidental death on Mr. Harold Wright, aged 72 of Stuart Road, Acomb, York, Mr. Morris said the death was caused by bronchial pneumonia following a fracture of the neck of the right femur. But, he added, an underlying cause of death was an oesophageal stricture of an inflammatory nature caused by a molar tooth in the oesophagus. The accidental swallowing of the tooth had led to inflammation, making it impossible for Mr. Wright to swallow, until he became weaker and more feeble, Mr. Morris said. This weakness had led to the fall which fractured his femur, and was again responsible for his failure to recover after contracting bronchial pneumonia.

Pain In Throat. Mr. Wright's son, Mr. Harold William Wright of 1 South Cottages, Shipton Road York, said his father had led an active life up until about a year ago, when he complained of a pain in his throat and went into York City Hospital for investigations. He came home for Christmas 1971, but became progressively weaker and took to his bed. The fall occurred on February 4 and he was taken to York County Hospital for an operation on the fractured femur. But he died in hospital on February 10 after contracting bronchial pneumonia. Dr. Donald MacKinnon, consultant pathologist at York County Hospital said that death was caused by bronchial pneumonia following a fractured femur. The tooth was found during a post-mortem examination."

It was obviously quite a painful end for my great-grandfather, who had lived a very lively life. Although long-winded, this inquest report is full of useful genealogical information. In the next few posts I shall talk a bit more about the earlier Wright family.

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