No 34*

A most serious and distressing accident happened here early on the morning of Monday ___ (1821); when it was discovered that Henry Joshua Rowley nephew of Sir W. Rowley had fallen from the top storey of Stelfox’s into the area below. He was immediately taken up insensible in a most shocking mutilated state, & tho’ every attention & advice was administered, he lingered on but for about 24 hours. The occasion of his fall could never be ascertained. The following was the verdict of the Coroners inquest held on the body. “The deceased came to his death by fall from a window but how it was occasioned there is no evidence to prove.” H.J Rowley had lately got into the 6th form, and with the exception of the melancholy case of Parry (no. 34) is the only incidence of any death whatsoever happening here for a very considerable number of years.

Added by William Heberden Princeps Oppidanus

We have been able to do some additional research surrounding this disturbing incident.  Our first port of call was The Times newspaper on 11th April 1821, in which the inquest was reported:

Yesterday afternoon an inquisition was held before J.H. Gell Esq. in the organ-room, adjoining the Jerusalem chamber, Dean’s Yard, Westminster, on view of the body of Henry Joshua Rowley, the nephew of Sir. W. Rowley, and one of the scholars belonging to Westminster school, who died the preceding morning from the bruises received by falling from a window the preceding day.

Master Percival Walsh deposed, that he was one of the scholars in Westminster school belonging to the 4th form; the deceased was in the 6th form; he always considered him to be of sound mind and intellects; he had not seen him on the morning of the accident.  His bed-room was on the first floor, back part of the house of Mrs Stelfox, where he and the deceased boarded.  He was in the passage about half past 8 o’clock, when he heard something fall, and then he heard Price, the glazier, say “For God’s sake send for a doctor, somebody lies in the area”, or words to that effect.  At this time the glazier was coming down stairs.  Witness ran out immediately and saw the deceased lying in the area.  The glazier then went into the area alone, and he (witness) fell back, terrified at the sight.  He was requested by Dr. Goodenough to call Rowley; but not finding him in his room, he asked the housekeeper to halloo him, which she did while he remained on the ground floor, but there was no answer.

Dr. Goodenough, head master of Westminster school, deposed as follows: –

It is the custom for a return to be made every morning in the school of the absent boys, as soon as it can be made out, after I enter the room.  On Monday morning the name of the deceased appeared in the list.  Upon my coming to the fourth form, I enquired of Mr. Preston, the usher of that form, and also usher of Mrs. Stelfox’s boarding-house, whether he had Mr. Preston’s leave of absence, and finding he had not, I sent Walsh, of  the fourth form, to look for him, and send him into school.  Walsh returned in a few minutes with an account of the melancholy event.  The deceased had been more than 12 months in the school, and upon first coming was placed on the shell form very high for his age, and in a form very few boys are put on their first coming to school.  The deceased always conducted himself uniformly well, and even with distinction for his removal into the sixth form, and went through that examination with very considerable credit.  During the time he was in the 6th form, up to the moment of his decease, he had invariably conducted himself in such a manner as to merit, and to receive, frequent and decided commendation, and he looked upon him as a boy of very great promise.  His intellect was at all times remarkably sound, distinct, and acute; and his manners were always gentle, cheerful, and agreeable; and he might be reckoned to have been on familiar terms with me.  He had had no task, punishment, threat, or apprehension of punishment, in any shape whatever, nor had he any reason to expect or apprehend any punishment on account of his absence that morning, on the supposition of his being at his boarding-house.  Sending for the boys under the circumstances of absence similar to those of the deceased is a constant practice.

G.W. Rickets, Esq. stated he had known the deceased from his infancy.  On Sunday last witness breakfasted with Sir William Rowley, in Lower Grosvenor-street, when the deceased was present; he appeared in very good spirits, and he asked him several questions respecting his school fellows at Westminster, all of which he answered in his usual lively manner.

Sir William Rowley, uncle of the deceased, fully corroborated the former witness’s testimony respecting the boy’s manner and behaviour.  The deceased had attended him (Sir William) to church on Sunday, and afterwards went on a visit to his maternal uncle.

Mr. George Preston, usher of the boarding-house, deposed that he gave the deceased leave on Saturday to go and see his friends, who appeared highly delighted.  On Sunday night he went round the room, it was about half past eleven o’clock; and on examining the beds, the deceased was there, and apparently fast asleep: he does not conceive that his mind was in the slightest degree bordering on a state of derangement.

The jury returned the following verdict: “That the deceased came to his death by a fall from a window; but how it was occasioned there is no evidence to prove”.

The records of the Coroner’s inquest are held in Westminster Abbey Muniment room, next door to the school.  The inquest took place on 10th April 1821.  Although the account printed in The Times and transcribed above gives a detailed account of events, further details can be gleaned from the records of the inquest.  

After Rowley’s fall William Pickhett of Dartmouth Street, Apothecary, ‘went immediately and examined him  – I found him on the bed perfectly insensible there was a wound on the back part of the head and a compound fracture of the right leg.  I attended him til his death which took place this morning 20 minutes past nine.’

At the end of the Coroner’s notes is this important detail:

Price the Glazier on being told…that he must attend, absconded.  I sent several times after him and every Public House in his Neighbourhood…At last I sent a warrant to compel his appearance but he could not be heard of anywhere.

The Linnean Society archives hold a letter from Dr Goodenough’s father to Sir James Edward Smith on 19th April 1821, which provides inside information on Rowley’s fall as well as Head Master Goodenough’s impending marriage (see No 36 – to be published later this week).  The second paragraph on the page below reads:

My son Edmund has had very ill luck to have two such things happen in so short a time.  The Glazier’s non-appearance strikes me as something odd.  The young land had locked the door of his room – the Glazier was at work in the story below his room – I cannot account for this otherwise than that this Glazier saw too much. However I have no right to say anything upon the subject, not having seen my son since the accident happened.’

Certainly Price the Glazier’s disappearance seems somewhat suspicious but there our trail runs cold.

LS_JES_COR_12_68_2 LS_JES_COR_12_68_3

No 34

A melancholy accident having occurred in the death of L.J Parry a boy of the fifth form, in consequence of his having over eaten himself in a frolic in which he was engaged with others in the hall, at Miss Bests, it seemed fit to Dr Goodenough to forbid anything like broshiering for the future; and to that effect he issued a set of rules of which the following is a copy –

In consequence of the evident impropriety and manifest danger, of the wanton of and excessive eating, alike destructive of good order, and prejudicial to the health which has at different times, and under various pretexts taken place in the boarding houses, and with a view to prevent any such occurrences for the future –

It is hereby ordered,

That whenever the eating on the part of any boy or boys shall appear to the mistress of a boarding house to exceed the bounds of a fair and wholesome meal; she shall immediately and upon the spot represent the  case to the Usher of the house, and, if he shall accidentally be absent, the mistress of the house shall immediately send to the Usher of some other boarding house, or in their absence to either of the masters: any of whom repairing to the house, will immediately order the Hall to be cleared in case her statement shall appear to be well grounded; and upon a representations being made to the Head Master, which shall in all such cases be done, such punishment will be inflicted upon offenders in this respect; as the nature of the case shall appear to him to demand E.G – This entirely putting a stop to that Barbarous custom.

William Allfrey

Princeps Oppidanus

UPDATE – 15/02/2016

Many thank to all those who helped us discover the meaning of ‘broshiering’.  You can now read the comment below or click through to our glossary to find out more.

The word that appears to read broshiering appears in this entry  – any pointers as to its meaning would be very much appreciated.  Here is a photograph of the word as it appears in the text for you to decipher!


No 32

The sixth dinner having last year been carried on so openly as to render it in the Dr’s opinion, impossible to be winked at any longer, he laid down his strict prohibition upon it. And in consequence of the threat of expulsion which he held out to anybody and all that should be engaged in it combined with other reasons, it was this year dropped entirely. Though not without great animadversion upon the conduct of Dr Goodenough in thus having put an end to a custom which has been so long established and so long winked at by the Head Master.

William Allfrey Princeps Oppidanus

No 31

On Tuesday the 1st of August 1820 the annual Cricket match between the Town Boys and King Scholars was commenced; but owing to the good play of both parties, the King Scholars second innings was deferred (there not being time to finish it the same day) till the following Thursday when it was played out between five and half past eight o’clock, the Town Boys beating by twenty nine runs. The names of the players are as follows.

Town Boys. Allfrey, Tyler, Grant, Keppel, Rocke, Chilver, Price, Lydiard, Hotham, Congreve, O’Reilly

King Scholars. Hussey, Legge, Dodgson, Smedley, Partington, Ley, Wakefield, Adams, Flint, Page, Eden.

Robert L. Burton Princeps Oppidanus

No 29

On Wednesday the 26th of January 1820 Mr Edward Murray filled up the vacancy as an Usher of Westminster occasioned by the resignation of the Revd E Smedley, who for upwards of forty years had discharged that office, with care and attention, and owing to his advanced years had withdrawn himself from that situation at the Christmas preceding.

Robert L Burton Princeps Oppidanus

No 28

The following is a list of sixth form as at Christmas 1819


Charles Floyer

Henry Heberden

Richard Williamson

Robert Burton

William Alfrey

Roper Tyler

Benjamin Hall

Richard Berens

Thomas Wyld

William Williamson

Joseph Jekyll

Frederick Grant

Antony Lechmere

William Heberden Junr

William London

Henry Hull

George Kaye

George Mansell

Richard Bonnor

John Harrison

John Dixon

Ld Pelham

William Ellis

Alfred Carr

James Brodie

Duncan Campbell

John Fullerton

George Arbuthnot

John Musgrave

John Lane Freer

Charles Bigge

John Clay


Charles Floyer. Princeps Oppidanus