RT Tanner & Co Ltd

Accounts of accidental death of Anthony Tanner

Brighton Guardian, Wednesday 26 Sept 1832

We are concerned to announce the shocking death of Mr Anthony Tanner of Wivelsfield. The particulars of his lamentable end will be found in our account of inquests. Mr Tanner was, as we learn, generally esteemed; but we cannot conceive that we shall be discharging our duty as public journalists unless we draw the attention of our readers to the sad and fatal consequences which are ever to be apprehended from too free an indulgence in the seductive vice of drinking.

The following inquests have been taken before F H Jell esq during the past week.....
On the 23rd inst. on the body of Mr A Tanner, of Wivelsfield
-George Hoather stated that he worked at the limekilns at Ditchling Bostell and was lying down at one of the kilns about 8 o’clock on Saturday night, when he heard the sound as of a horse galloping down the hill very fast towards Ditchling.
– Sarah, the wife of George Brooker, deposed that her husband was a labourer and lived at Ditchling limekilns: that about 10 o’clock on Saturday night Richard Bonnyface, a carter a the kilns, came into the house and requested her to go out with a light saying there was a man dead in the road: that she answered “dead drunk” supposed, and went out immediately with a light, which was put out by the wind. That about five or six rods form the house she saw the body of a man lying with his face flat upon the ground with one leg doubled under him and the other straight. She turned up the body, it was covered with blood; she knew it to be Mr Anthony Tanner. She washed his face on the spot, and conveyed him to the house in a chair; he was dead; the body did not appear to have been moved; it appeared to her that deceased had had something to drink.
– James Beall, was the next witnessed examined; he stated that he was a brick layer and lived at 30 Chesterfield Street, Brighton. That between 10 and 11 o’clock he was at the Ditchling limekilns and heard an outcry amongst some women. As the cries continued, he went down from the kiln to the spot, where he saw the body of a man lying upon his face in the road; he untied his handkerchief and unbuttoned his shirt collar and the waistband of his clothes; he felt his bossom, which was warm; he put his head close to the deceased and thought he perceived him to draw breath; he mentioned this to Mrs Brooker; he put his mouth to the mouth of the deceased, and perceived something like a rustle come up from it; he washed him, had him placed in a chair and conveyed him into the house
-William Randalls deposed that he was a shoe maker at Ditchling that he was in the Bull Inn at Ditchling at Saturday evening in company with several other persons, when George Hoather came in that there was a man lying dead under the kiln; that they then started together towards the place, and when they came to the Turnpike gate, he saw a horse on the Brighton side of the road. The horse was bridled and saddled; the stirrups were spring stirrups and the left hand stirrup was open; there was no dirt upon the saddle; he mounted the horse and rode up to where the body was lying; he examined the horses knees, they were not injured
-Robert Boddington stated that he was a surgeon at Ditchling; that he saw Mr A Tanner, the deceased, about 5 o’clock on Saturday at Brighton, that they agreed to return home together at 6. He did consider the deceased quite sober at the time. He waited for him until nearly 9 o’clock, and as deceased did not come, he started home himself and got to Ditchling by 10 o’clock. As he was coming down Ditchling Bostell, he saw the body of a man lying in the road near the limekilns. He spoke to him, but no answer was returned. He supposed it was some person in liquor and did not dismount. Witness was sent for about 10 o’clock to go to the place where he saw the deceased, who had then been removed into the house and was quite dead, and he supposed he had been for an hour or two. He saw William Randalls upon a horse which he knew belonged to the deceased; had examined the body of the deceased in the presence of the jury; the skull was fractured as he imagined from a fall. In his opinion the body had been drawn for some distance; the fracture he saw was sufficient to have caused death. Verdict
–“Accidental death”

Brighton Gazette, Thursday 27 Sept 1832

We have the pain of recording the death of Mr Anthony Tanner, of Wivelsfield under very distressing circumstances. On Saturday last he was in Brighton nearly the whole day, and spent the afternoon with a friend in Ship Street. He left the Brunswick Arms about 7 o’clock in the evening on horseback, and proceeded up the Ditchling road on the way home. About 10 o’clock Mr Tanner was found quite dead on the road, near the bottom Ditchling Bosthill, by a man in the employ of Mr Bennett, lime burner. The body was almost cold, the back part of the head was dreadfully cut and the coat much torn. It is supposed that whilst riding down the hill, the deceased fell asleep and overbalanced himself, it appeared from marks of blood on the road, that he must have been dragged a considerable distance before he was clear of the stirrups. The horse went on to the turnpike. On the following day a Coroners Inquest was held on the body, and a verdict of accidental death returned. The deceased has left six children, but no wife.

To the editor of the Brighton Herald,
Sir- In the Brighton Guardian, of the 26th instant, there appeared an account of the death of Mr A Tanner, of Wivelsfield. Now, Sir, to expect any thing but the most cold-hearted malignity from this quarter would be to imagine any impossibility could be realized. The shameless and cowardly Guardian must make this affair a vehicle for his ravenous appetite for slander. The grave was not suffered to close on the unfortunate man before he is held up as an example for drunkards to beware and take warning by his untimely end. Think you, Sir, that the inhabitants of Brighton will not appreciate the conduct of this excrescence; who, perhaps, cannot be more justly described than in the words of the poet:-
“A bloated mass, a gross unkneaded clod,
A foe to man, a renegade to God;
From noxious childhood to his present age
Sacred to infamy, thru every stage.”
It is an act of common humanity, Mr Editor, if justice be dear to you, if you would rescue from attempted insult the memory of one of the most benevolent, one of the most kind hearted men that ever existed. Pray give publicity to these remarks. Nor, Sir, do I shrink from avowal, if required, of whom I am: and here throw down the gauntlet and bid defiance to the base maligner- and stigmatize him thus, as a libeller and a coward!!!
Sept 28, 1832

Brighton Herald, Saturday 29 Sept 1832

FATAL OCCURRENCE- On Saturday night last, between 11 and 12 o’clock Mr Anthony Tanner, a respectable farmer, residing in Wivelsfield, in this County, was found lying dead in the road, at the foot of Ditchling Bostell. An inquest was held the following day on the body, when it appeared that on Saturday, the deceased had been to Brighton, and had agreed to ride home with Mr Boddington, a surgeon, on Ditchling. The deceased was at the King & Queen between 5 & 6 o’clock, but as Mr Boddington had not arrived, he started alone. No more was seen of him until he was found by some labourers at Ditchling lime-kilns, as above stated. The deceased’s skull was fractured, and his horse was found at the road side, near Ditchling. It is rather remarkable, that Mr Boddington, who left Brighton soon after Mr Tanner, saw his friend lying in the road, at the foot of the Bostell, and called out to him; but, receiving no answer, judged it was some person in liquor laid down to sleep, and passed on. Verdict, “Accidental Death”.

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