Boy Drowned in a Ditch

Supposed Epileptic Seizure

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 29 January 1916

The East Kent Coroner  (Mr. Rutley Mowll) held an inquest on Thursday on the body of Charles Sidney George Foord, 14, who was found dead in a ditch at Stone Cross Road, Bilsington. Evidence was given by Mrs. Mary Ann Foord, Chequer Tree Cottages, Mersham, who identified the body as that of her son, aged 14. The deceased was a thrasher’s assistant, and witness last saw him alive about 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon with his bicycle when he was going to Ham Street. He said to witness, “I shan’t be long, mum.” He would be coming from the direction of Aldington to Stone Cross. His mother stated that he was epileptic, but had only had a slight attack in about three months. She thought he had an epileptic seizure and got off his bicycle to get water, for he was in the habit of having water when a fit was approaching.

Harry Godden, of Stone Cross Farm, Bilsington, who found the body about 3.15 p.m. stated that it was lying in a ditch on the right hand side of the road as he was coming from Aldington towards Stone Cross. With the help of Walter Neame, a lad of 16, witness got him out of the ditch. He had been lying face downwards in six inches of water up to his ears, and the palms of his hands were face downwards, but his elbows were not in the water. The head of the body pointed towards Aldington. The ditch was about 1ft in width. The body was fully dressed and witness noticed his watch in his left hand waistcoat pocket wich had stopped at 2.50. His cap was lying on the grass opposite the body and his bicycle about two or three yards away. The body when witness got it out was still warm, but he was satisfied it was  lifeless. Witness tried artificial respiration, but could not make any impression, so sent for a doctor and the police.

Evidence was given by Dr. Hinde, of Aldington, who stated that he saw the deceased about 6.20. He had a frothy fluid coming from his nostrils and mouth and he had the body removed to a barn. He had since made a post-mortem examination, but could not find any external marks of violence whatever. The internal organs were healthy, except that they were congested, and from the appearance of the heart and lungs he thought death was due to suffocation from drowning. He could not trace any signs of an epileptic seizure. If he had had an epileptic seizure it would be quite possible for deceased to be found lying as he was and be drowned. There was no mud to show he had had a fall and there were no scratches. He thought it probable he had an epileptic fit.

P.C. Fuller, stationed at Mersham, who saw the body lying along the side of Stone Cross Road, said he examined the ditch and found the impression of the head in the mud. There was about six inches of water. There was a slight mark on the grass made by the bicycle as if the deceased had come from Stone Cross. It was eight feet from the road to the ditch. The saddle of the cycle could be twisted round quite easily and the left pedal would not revolve. As the saddle was movable and the handles low pitched, he might have caught his knee against the handle bars and pitch off. The jury returned a verdict of “Death through misadventure.”

I have not yet determined a relationship to poor Charles but suspect there may well be one. In 1901, my 4th great-aunt, Maria Packman, née Foord, lived at Chequer Tree Cottages in Mersham. Also, my 4th great grandparents, Sarah and George Foord were farming 70 Acres at Stone Cross in Bilsington. Their oldest daughter, Ann, married Edward Godden at Bilsington in 1846. Edward and Ann were my 3rd great grandparents. So perhaps Harry Godden who found Charles was also related.

Charles Sidney George Foord, was born abt Jun 1901 in Hamstreet, East Ashford, Kent. In 1911 he was living at Bromley Green, Shadoxhurst.  (Again, my 3rd great grandparents lived at Bromley Green in 1861). His father was Edward Foord b. 1864 and his mother Mary Ann Elizabeth Benstead, b. 1872. In 1901 they were living at Ruckinge Road, Ham Street, Orelstone. The search for a connection continues.

I was intrigued by the mention of artificial respiration in 1916 as I thought of it as a more modern technique. But it seems it was mentioned in Egyptian mythology and called the breath of life. Today I think we take it for granted and it is something that almost everyone must know how to do.


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