1873: Tragic gun accident in Cuckfield

Whitby Gazette - Saturday 26 April 1873

THE FATAL GUN ACCIDENT IN SUSSEX. Mr. Fullagar, the coroner for West Sussex, has resumed and concluded an inquest at the Naldrett’s Farm home, Cuckfield, into the circumstances attending the death of Raymond M’Adam, aged seven years, son of Lieutenant-Colonel M’Adam. Lieutenant-Colonel M’Adam, a magistrate of East Sussex, said the deceased was his son. He was in the habit of using a gun, which he had trained him to fire.


Naldrett's Farm home, Part of The Borde Hill Estate c201o

Frank Robert Preston M'Adam said that he was the son of Colonel M'Adam, and the deceased was his brother. Easter Monday he went out with a gun. The deceased and three others were with him. They went to a spot where a bird was making its nest. They waited a long time for the bird to come back, but it did not, and they thought they had better return home. Witness left the gun under the grass, and covered it over with ashes. Suddenly he saw a bird fly out of a nest into a tree, and he asked the other boy to fetch the gun. The other boys found a nest; and while they were looking at it, witness asked a boy named William Murrell to hold the gun, as he intended to get into a tree to see if there were any eggs in the nest. As witness handed the gun to the boy Murrell, he asked if it was loaded, and witness told him it was. He went off a few feet and began to lace up his boots.


Witness afterwards saw him meddling with the lock of the gun, which was then pointing straight at the head of the deceased’s brother, who was only about two or three yards from him. Witness called out to Murrell to put the muzzle of the gun up; but he had scarcely said the words when the gun went off, and the contents were lodged in the head of the deceased, who at once fell to the ground.


It was a double-barrelled gun, and witness fired the second charge after the accident. Charles Brigden, aged about 16. said that when Murrell was going to put the gun down, Frank M’Adam gave it a push towards the deceased, and the hammer slipping off Murrell’s thumb it went off and shot the deceased.


Witness was sure that the brother of the deceased touched the gun before it went off. It was pointing at them, and he pushed it away, saying “Don’t point the gun at me.” William Murrell, aged 16, said he was holding the gun at the time of the accident. The brother of the deceased pushed it, and caused it to go off. After some further evidence the coroner summed up, and the jury 'returned a verdict of "Accidental Death.”

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