1862, Sep. 10th - Inquest into death of Rev. William COPELAND
The Argus reports as follows :--An inquest was held on the 10th instant, at Benyeo, by Dr. Radford, the district coroner, on the body of the Rev. William Copeland, M.A. Much interest was excited by the inquiry, owing to the distressing circumstances attending his death. The Rev. Dr. Russell and several friends of the deceased were present at the investigation. The Rev W. Copeland was travelling on the evening of the 19th of August from Bringalbert to Benyeo, a distance of about twelve miles. He left the latter station about four o'clock, and it is thought, as he generally drove slowly, that he would reach Benyeo about seven o'clock. On approaching the station, he took the lower road used in summer, but in flood-time covered with water. There was an upper road avoiding the swamp altogether. The roads not being distinctly marked, it is very easy to mistake the one for the other in the dark. The road taken led into the swamp, and deceased seemed to have caught the buggy wheel against a stump, and to have broken a trace. In this dilemma, he must have unharnessed the horse, and released him, and then placed his coats on the seat of the carriage, together with his valise, and attempted to walk out of the swamp. He had good lamps alight, and these probably deceived him as to the edge of the swamp, as he went into deeper water. Mr. Copeland was a good swimmer. On the 20th of August, a native boy told Hawkinson, a carpenter on Benyeo, he had seen Mr. Copeland's buggy in the swamp, where it was found, with the coats folded as above stated, and immediate search was made, but the body was not found till the 4th of September. The evidence went to show that cooeying or crying was heard, more or less, from seven o'clock to eleven, on the evening of the 19th of August, but no notice was taken of it, the parties excusing themselves by stating that they supposed it to come from blacks. The cries were heard by six individuals. The owner of the station, Mr. Hugh M'Leod, was from home. The coroner, having summed up the evidence, pointed out the great want of humanity in letting any person continue calling for assistance for so many hours without attention, and said he believed had it been otherwise, the deceased would not have perished. The jury returned a verdict "That deceased was accidentally drowned," adding a rider, "that they thought all the parties hearing the cries, without giving assistance, were highly to blame."
"The Argus" (Melbourne, Vic.) Saturday, 22nd September 1862.