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William McCormack 1852-1878

The case of William McCormack

William McCormack was born around 1852 in Wollombi New South Wales to Dennis McCormick and Mary Fitzgerald.

Dennis & Mary were my 2 x great grandparents. William was the brother to my Great Grandmother Mary McCormack.  William did not marry.

William died at the age of 26 on the 20th October 1878 from burns he suffered when he fell into a fire.

Reading through the reports in the Maitland Mercury on the 15th February 1879 , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18917698, suggests that some people believed that Thomas’ had been neglected whilst in the hospital and by hospital staff and that a magistrate inquiry should occur.

Letter to the Under Secretary the department of Justice from the Coroner dated 21st October 1878.

“On the 3rd of October, William M'Cormack, was admitted as an in-door patient of the Maitland Hospital, suffering from severe burns on his left side ; he remained a patient of the hospital until the 20th October, on which dav he died, and was removed from the institution, the visiting surgeon giving a certificate as to the cause of death, was,, severe burns. No report of the death was made to the police, and no report was made to me of the death until this afternoon, and then by one of the surgeons of the Hospital, from inquiries instituted by the police, I find it was the intention to inter the body to-day at four o'clock, at Cessnock, so that no time was left for me to institute proceedings before the interment. Rumors exist that the deceased was not kept clean while in hospital, and some correspondence has taken place in the local Press, and the necessity of an investigation into the management of hospital affairs, hence the reason of my submitting the case. I do not think any good could be obtained by ex-huming the body, but if thought desirable I could institute a magisterial inquiry. Awaiting your instructions in the case"

The undersecretary replied suggesting that a Magisterial Inquiry would ‘perhaps be sufficient to satisfy the public"

Constable Dunshea of Lochinvar was called upon to gather statements from the family and witnesses.

Statement of Denis McCormack October 28 1878 (Father of William)

Denis McCormack stated, that on the 1st of October between nine and ten o'clock p.m, he heard a noise which caused him to go the fire in the paddock, facing the house, when he saw the deceased on the fire and very much burnt. He lifted him up and pulled him off and brought him home. His right side was very much burnt.

Statement of Mary Ann McCormack October 28 1878 (Mother of William)

Mary Ann M'Cormick, wife of Denis M'Cormick, states that her deceased son William M'Cormick was well treated and every care taken of him while in the Hospital before his death, and the doctor attended him regularly every day, and did all that' could be done for him, and the matron and attendants gave him every attention and were very kind to him, and the Rev. Father McCormick visited every day up to the time of his death, and that she has no fault to find with the Hospital Authorities whatever.

Mary also visited the council chambers on the 5th November and made a further statement about the treatment of her son whilst he was in the hospital.

She had stated that William was “subject to fits, during one of which he fell into the fire and was so severely burned that he had to be removed to the Maitland Hospital.”

She also stated that “he was well and kindly treated by the Doctor, Miss Morrow, and all connected with the place and that his clergyman visited, him every day. She further stated that she remained in the Institution with her son nearly all the time he was there, and during her absence her daughter was allowed to remain with him’.

On the 8th November 1878, the undersecretary advised that the papers showed no ground had existed in respect of the treatment of William. Therefore no inquiry was to be held.

William is buried at Branxton Cemetry

Linked toMCCORMACK, William Bernard

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