Cambridge Chronicle of November 5th 1830
A fatal accident from the incautious use of firearms occurred at Fen Ditton, on Friday last. About 6 o'clock in the evening Mr Robert Green of the place had just taken leave of his friend, Mr Thomas Woollard, a respected farmer residing at Ditton, and was on the point of starting in his gig for Cambridge, when his gun (a double-barrel percussion one) which had been placed between the straps that support the apron of the gig, went off and lodged the whole contents of one of the barrels in the body of Mr Woollard, who was standing at the time by the side of the gig, and within a few inches of the mouth of the gun. A messenger was instantly dispatched to Cambridge for medical assistance. Mr Headly, the surgeon, upon his arrival, found the unfortunate man alive, but without the slightest chance of surviving more than a few hours; he died about 10 o'clock the same evening. A coroner's inquest was held upon the body on the following day, and a verdict of accidental death returned by the jury. The only way to account for the exploding of the gun appears to be thus, - that in thrusting the gun between the straps of the gig, one of the locks had been partly lifted up, and upon the gig going forward, the strap resettling in the proper form, and the lock being left free, fell down with sufficient force to ignite the detonating powder, the copper caps containing which had most unfortunately (shall we say unpardonably) not been removed from the locks of the gun.'

Transcribed by Geoffrey Woollard. He comments:

Well, poor Tom WOOLLARD was my GGG Grandfather and probably farmed, as had quite a few of the family, at Biggin Abbey, Fen Ditton - and I want to know more about this 'friend' of hizzen, Mr Robert GREEN, who done for him! And who was Mr HEADLY, the surgeon from Cambridge. And has anyone got any good stories about Biggin Abbey (other than the excellent one in the March 2000 issue of 'Cambridgeshire Journal' - free ad. for that good mag. here!)

Geoffrey Woollard email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.