I ordered an inquest a couple of years ago from Archives New Zealand. It was written in the very messy hand of the coroner. I managed to figure out most of the words but one or two words were too hard to read. This inquest makes me feel very sad, especially since I have children of a similar age.
Inquest into the death of Hellene Barbara Meng dated 4 August 1869
Eliza Meng being sworn, saith that I am the mother of the deceased child Hellena Barbara Meng. She was two years and one month old. On Monday afternoon last between three and four o’clock August the second. I left the deceased outside the house and in about five minutes not hearing her I went out to look for her. I went to my neighbour Stewart a few chains away. I found she was not there. I then went about the paddock. I then went to the water hole in the paddock about three chains from the house. I then found the deceased in the water. She was on the water with the face downwards. I got her out and took off her clothes and wrapped her in blankets but there was no sign of life. I sent for my husband and the Revd Mr Stack but Mr Stack said we could do no more and she was dead. The deceased was in the habit of playing outside the house and I never knew her so near the water hole before. The hole was about six feet deep. There were no marks of injury or (unreadable word) on the deceased.
Signed Elise Meng
David Stewart being sworn, saith that I am a labourer living by the Church Bush. I am the nearest neighbour to Eliza Meng. On Monday afternoon last, Eliza Meng came to my home and said her baby was drowned. I went back with her and saw the deceased on the bed. She was quite cold and water coming from her nose and mouth and her head wet. There was no injury to be seen on the baby which was undressed. The deceased was quite dead. I do not think any thing could be done. I think there was no use in sending for any assistance. The paddock has just been ploughed and there was a furrow leading between the house and the hole along which the deceased had gone.
Signed David Stuart
That the said Hellena Barbara Meng on the second day of August in the year abovesaid at the Church Bush in the said colony (unreadable) near a certain water hole there situated on her parent’s premises it so happened that accidentally (unreadable words) the said Hellena Barbara Meng fell into the said waterhole and was in the said water then and there suffocated and drowned and (unreadable) die. And as the Jurors aforesaid on their oath aforesaid do say that the said Hellena Barbara Meng in manner and by means aforesaid accidentally casualty and by misfortune cause her death and not otherwise.