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Clerk rallies watermen to save boy

Year 1780, Messrs Hawes and Beaumont

Read by Michael Bernard – Trustee, Royal Humane Society

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July 27, 1780

Copy of a Letter from Messrs Hawes and Beaumont to James Horsfall Esq.


On Wednesday last about noon, James Kipping, son of Mrs. Kipping, of Lumber-court, St. Giles’s, fell from one of the barges into the Thames, near Northumberland-wharf; the boy unfortunately sank under the lighters; so that several watermen and bargemen were earnestly employed upwards of ten minutes before the body could be found; which was at last brought up, to all appearance dead, as many creditable persons testified, who were anxious spectators of this melancholy event.

The apparent corpse was carefully conveyed to Mr. Drawith’s, the master of the Fox-under-the-hill, a publican well known to the Medical Assistants, for his tenderness and kindness on such occasions. Mr. Dobson, one of the clerks at the Coal-meter’s Office, Northumberland-Street, convinced the great number of persons collected in consequence of the accident, that he possessed the finer feelings of human nature; for at the instant that there was an alarm of a boy being drowned, ge came out of his computing-house to the wharf, and by giving the bargemen, &c. the strongest assurances of the rewards paid by the Humane Society, he stimulated them even at the hazard of their own lives, to find the body; he also assisted in using the methods of recovery, as directed in the little books published by the Society; one of which he very properly kept constantly in his office. In about five minutes, Mr. Dobson says, he had the pleasing satisfaction of perceiving a tremulous motion about the breast, and a very laborious deep sigh soon succeeded, with such strong and universal convulsions, that three of the men could hardly keep the boy upon the bed.

The recovery so far happily completed before our arrival, it was then thought expedient to consult upon the most eligible medical plan, to remove the present morbid affection; accordingly the most powerful antispasmodics were prescribed, which in about seven hours carried off the convulsion fits, and our patient so far recovered by the evening, that his mother was enabled by the beneficence of some gentlemen, who had been present for the whole process of restoring animation, to carry him home with her in a coach.

An alarming and dangerous fever ensued, which continued several days; we diligently attended to the disease, till his health was perfectly reinstated, to the great joy of his poor, industrious, and fond parent,

We are, Sir, Your obedient humble servants W. Hawes, John Beaumont

The publican, bargemen, and watermen, recommended by Mr. Dobson, as assistants in the above fortunate recovery, received the rewards given by the Humane Society on such occasions.

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