Report on James Smith's inquest from the Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser of 1 November 1851:
MELANCHOLY DEATH OF MR. JAMES SMITH, OF SMITHFIELD PARK, EASTERN CREEK. —An inquest was held on Tuesday last, the 28th inst., at the Bell and Crown tavern, kept by Mr. John Bootle, Western Road, halfway between Parramatta and Penrith, before Mr. C. B. Lyons, Coroner, on view of the body of the late Mr. James Smith, aged 55 years, then and there lying dead. Catherine Charlotte Dick, having been sworn, stated--I am the daughter of Mrs. Ellard, wife of Mr. Ellard, music-seller, of Sydney ; I am on a visit to Mrs. Smith, of Eastern Creek, about two miles from this house ; I came here on Sunday morning last, the 26th instant, to see Mrs. Bootle, who is Mr. Smith's daughter; yesterday morning (Monday), as I came in at the back door of this house, I learnt that on Sunday morning there had been a quarrel between Mr. and Mrs. Bootle ; Mrs. B. went to her father's (the deceased's) residence, about nine o'clock at night ; the servant-maid went with her; she returned accompanied by the deceased between eleven and twelve yesterday morning; Mr. Bootle was at home when she came ; she said, " I am come for some clothes," then went to her bed-room to get them, but her husband said she should not have them, and endeavoured to prevent her taking any, but she obtained possession of a small box, which she handed to her father ; I left the room but returned, and on coming in saw the deceasedstrike Mr. Bootle with the handle of a riding whip, which had a bone knot on it. Mr. B. then struck Mr. Smith with an iron bar. I did not see him strike any one else but deceased, who had his hat on. Mr. Smith struck Mr. Bootle first. I ran out of the room ; Bootle and Mr. Smith quarrelled ; Bootle said his wife should not go ; this occurred a few minutes before the blow was struck. I left again and went to Mrs. Smith's, and returned with her very soon, and saw Mr. S. on the bed ; he said something to Mrs. Smith ; I heard him say afterwards, "do not send for the doctor." —Catherine Howard, a servant of Mr. Bootle's, and Eleanor Smith, a daughter of the deceased, were called; but were so unwilling to give evidence that nothing material could be elicited from them, except the facts from Miss Smith that Dr. Rutter was sent for, and that her father died before daylight the following morning. —Dr. Rutter deposed that when he arrived he found Mr. Smith lying on his back, perfectly insensible, with a contused and lacerated wound on the upper part of the right side of the bead ; he lingered till three o'clock the following morning, when he expired. He made a post mortem examination, and found a wound on the superior point of the parietal bone, with a slight fracture corresponding to that wound, and depression of the lower portion of the same bone, together with effusion on the brain, which injuries were the cause of death ; the iron bar on the table would cause such a wound with the flat part of it. —Here Miss Eleanor Smith expressed a wish to give further evidence, to which the coroner assented. She stated that her sister and Mr. Bootle had quarrelled ; she saw the iron bar in Mr. Bootle's hand ; when Mr. and Mrs. Bootle were wrangling in the taproom, her father and Mr. B. were together there ; Mrs. B. was behind the counter ; she (the witness) was in the passage ; it was about five minutes after that she saw the iron bar in Mr. Bootle's hand ; then it was that she saw her father's head cut ; she also saw the bone knob on the whip when her father had it in his hand ; she (witness) went to her father's bedside, when he said his head was giddy, and it was time to go home. This closed the evidence, and the coroner explained the law, as laid down in " Sewell's Law of Coroners." The jury, after some consideration, returned a verdict of manslaughter against John Bootle, who was committed to take his trial. —Abridged from the Parramatta Correspondence of the Herald.
One interpretation of the findings is that the middle meningeal artery was ruptured and produced an enlarging clot that crushed the brain to death. (The MM artery is closely attached to the bone at the bone's thinnest point.)
The accepted medical treatment is for the doctor to drill a hole in the skull at the point of contusion and so release the clot of blood that is forming. This is done wherever the patient is found - there is not time to move to hospital - and with whatever kind of drill is available.
Better to have hole in head which is easily repairable than be dead.