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Four year old rescued from well

Year 1781, Mr. Heskin

Read by Anna Blaxland – Trustee, Royal Humane Society

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Copy of a Letter from Mr. Heskin to James Horsfall Esq. Redlion-passage, Hoxton.


Last Tuesday I went to Dr. Hawes, and related an account of a child, John Piper, between four and five years old, being brought to life after drowning. I was ordered to wait on Mr. Horsfall, and at the same time to bring in writing the particulars, which are as follows.

Last Monday morning the son of Thomas Piper, a child about four years old, fell into a well eighteen feet deep, and about four feet of water. The mother missed the child some time, and thought he was in the next garden. She came into the garden, and said to a gentleman in the garden adjoining, “ Sir, is my Jackey here ?” his answer was “No, he is not in my garden; I saw him some little time ago.” “Bless me !” said the mother “ what is become of him” looked onto the well, and there she saw her child. She cries out “ my child is in the well

! — my child is drowned !” – – A ladder was put down, which went over the child and sunk him to the bottom. The father, fearing the ladder was upon the child, durst not go down by it, but dropped into the well. I was in the next garden, and making all haste, went down into the well, and took the child from the father, he not being able to bring him up. He is supposed to have been in the well upwards of ten minutes. We had him undressed as soon as possible. I called for salt, and rubbed him very smartly for some minutes before any signs of life appeared. At length a kind of tremor appeared on his under lip – “ Thank God, said I, here is life in him !” In a few minutes after he discharged a quantity of thick phlegm/ I still kept rubbing him: he began to cast, and to keep puking till his stomach was pretty well cleaned. Then came in Mr. Parkinson, jun. who ordered him a little brandy and water, and bathed his stomach. Soon after came in Mr. Darnes, who saw the child in bed. I told him whatI had done : he said, I could have done nothing better.

If I should be so happy as to receive an acknowledgement from the noble Society for the happy event, I shall in duty pray, and ever retain a grateful sense of their most noble Institution. I am, Sir, yours, and the honourable Society’s, most obedient, humble servant,

Nich. Heskin

The person present when the child was brought to life are as under-written Sarah Piper, Moth of the child, The mark of Martha Gardner, The mark of Mary Hardy. The above persons all live in Redlion-passage

We whose names are under-written have enquired, and fine the above account true William Croome, Kingsland Road

James William, Redlion-passage, Hoxton – H.Walkingon – Hoxton Town

Edward Ilberry, No. 95 Bunhill-row, was present, and helped to take the child out of the well; and was present at the restoration of the child by Mr. Heskin.

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