Lydia Crombie was a witness to the inquest of Ellen O’Neal.


In the district of Ballarat at Eureka

7 December 1853


William Chesing

Cuthbert Moyle xxx

Sylvester Marney

Richard Gibbs

James Cameron

Thomas Lavars

Richard Darby

Charles Nicholls

Richard Thomas

Thomas Jones

John Laughton

John Nicholls

William Kelly xxx

The deceased died by visitation of God from natural causes and not otherwise the result being aggravated by habitual intemperance.

Witness Richard Kelland

Of Eureka on 7 December 1853

I think it was about half past seven last evening the man O’Neil [sic] came to me at Mr Kanes Store and requested me to come and see his wife as he thought she was dying. I could not instantly leave the store but told him if he would return in a short time I would follow him. He was in a great state of excitement as I thought from drink in about five minutes I was at the tent of deceased and brought an emetic with me concluding that drunkenness was the cause of her illness. On entering the tent of deceased I found O’Neil, the deceased and another woman and some children. I asked one of the children what was the matter with deceased to which he replied she had been drinking brandy pointing at the same time to a bottle which lay under the table. I then examined her and concluded it was an ordinary case of drunkenness. I then mixed the emetic with some water in a panakin [sic] and gave it to deceased. I requested a neighbour to give deceased plenty of warm water to cleanse her stomach out with, I should state that deceased was perfectly insensible at the time of my giving the medicine.

Q by Coroner What description of medicine did you give deceased

Ans purified sulphate of zinc

2 Q In what proportions

Ans About two scruples?

3 Q Did it produce any vomiting while you were present

Ans No

Witness John O’Neal

Of Eureka

Yesterday Dec 6th being my birthday I was determined to get drunk and on those contitions [sic] allowed my wife to get drunk also. I believe my wife was drunk first. I came to my tent drunk and laid down on the bed, a woman was in the tent with my wife for protection from her husband. As we were lying in the same bed myself, my son and wife, my son cried out Father the child is crying, I got up and found my wife lying with her head extended downwards towards the floor and outside the bed and making a noise in her throat as if she was about to suffocate. I then went to a chemist’s shop close at hand to wake him up for the purpose of visiting her but he declined coming as he had been here before.

Q by Coroner Had your wife been in the habit of drinking?

Ans Yes

2 Q Did she make any complaint of being sick yesterday?

Ans Not to me

3 Q To the best of your belief and judgement what was the cause of her death?

Ans I believe thro drunkenness she died

Witness   Lydia Crombie

Of Eureka

When I came into the tent yesterday afternoon deceased was lying in a fainting git. I asked her if she would allow me to put her on the bed and wash her face and she answered yes. I did so and she recovered but being avaricious for drink she got up and her husband went for a bottle of brandy of which she took three or four glasses and fell upon the floor between one or two o’clock in the morning. We were awoke up by the baby crying and found deceased lying with her head out of the bead and downwards towards the floor as if she were suffocating. We sent for the next door neighbour who came and deceased’s husband went for some person to attend her and a chemist came and gave her an emetic.


PROV, Ellen O’Neal, VPRS 24/PO, Unit 17 1853/105