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Man rescued after attack by a Swan

Year 1810, WiIliam Roots

Read by Catherine Bernard – Governor, Royal Humane Society

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June 2, 1810

Letter to Dr Lettsom from WiIliam Roots

Dear Doctor,

I think it right to inform you, as Treasurer of the Royal Humane Society, that this morning a private soldier in the 1st regiment of Surrey Local Militia, of the name of Thomas Allen, bathing about a mile from my house in the Thames, was attacked by a swan, which, I fancy had young ones in the adjoining cut, and, being driven by the angry animal out of his depth, went to the bottom in about ten feet of water.

Two labouring men of the names of John Blake and John Wheeler, employed at some distance in raising ballast in the bed of the river, observing the man sink from the repeated attacks of the swan, instantly pushed off their punt to the spot, and, owing to the clearness of the water, were enabled to get him up with their boat-hooks, and bring him ashore; they instantly sent off for me, who happened to be in my gig, with my brother, Mr Henry Roots, who is surgeon to the regiment, within half a mile of the spot. The result of our endeavours, I am happy to say, proved most fortunate; for though the poor fellow for the first quarter of an hour shewed no signs of life, yet, by persisting in the means recommended by your Society, he came to, and is once more to be numbered with the living.

My house being situated on the banks of the River, and in consequence of my having taken a greats deal of persevering pains in the recovery of a man some years ago, your late worthy Treasurer, Dr Hawes, made me a present of a complete apparatus, for the purpose of being used in the recovery of drowned people, and in several instances I found it extremely useful. I beg leave to recommend to your notice John Blake and John Wheeler, as their ready assistance afterwards in the recovery of the poor fellow, was highly meritorious, and deserving of some reward. We had the man conveyed to the nearest public house, where we got him into a warm bed, about half a mile from the spot he was drowned in.

I subscribe myself,

Most faithfully yours,
William Roots.

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