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Learmonth, Norman (1872–1908)

Mr. Norman Learmonth, one of Horsham's best-known residents, died suddenly at his home in Baillie street, Horsham, at about a quarter to eight on Sunday evening. The deceased gentleman had been subject to fits since he had a fall from a horse at Hamilton some years ago, when his skull was fractured. When the seizure occurred he was smoking in the dining-room, his wife, with her mother, Mrs. Meek, and the children, having moved on to the verandah to rest after the evening meal. Mrs Meek, hearing some unusual noise, returned to the dining-room and found Mr. Learmonth lying on the floor beside his chair. She called out to Mrs. Learmonth, who hurried in and found her husband apparently suffering from another fit. She then hurried away for Dr. Robinson, and Mr. Percy Learmonth, brother of deceased. Dr. Robinson, however, was not then at home. When Mr. P. Learmonth reached the house of his brother, he found him in an alarming condition, and immediately rang up Dr. Read, who was also out. A few minutes later Dr. Robinson arrived, but by that time the unfortunate man was just expiring, and he passed away a minute or two later. Deceased was subject to a constitutional weakness which indicated heart trouble, an aggravation of which might carry him off. As, however, he had enjoyed apparently perfect health for some months past, and had not had the attendance of a medical man, Dr. Robinson found himself unable to certify to the cause of death. Under the circumstances an inquiry was considered necessary.

When the news, which was not very widely known on Sunday, became general yesterday, it gave rise to expressions of sorrow and genuine sympathy for the widow and children, of whom there are three — a boy and two girls. Deceased was a native of Hamilton, and was 36 years of age. On his leaving school he entered the office of his father, Mr. Peter Learmonth, and on the latter's death he was an employee of the firm of Messrs Laidlaw and Fenton. After spending two or three years in pastoral pursuits he came on to Horsham and opened a branch of his brother's Hamilton business under the title of P. Learmonth and Co. He was subsequently joined by his brother Stanley, who had just returned from Mexico, and the firm then became known as Learmonth Bros., the name under which it trades to-day. Deceased was associated with very many public bodies, including the A.N.A., the Druids, the Caledonian Society (of which he was chief); the borough council, the racing club, the agricultural society, the newly formed bowling green, the Horsham gun club and many other local bodies. As a Caledonian he is best remembered, however, and it is difficult to realise that it is only a fortnight to-day since he was the leading figure in the local society's gathering on the recreation reserve.

An inquiry was opened yesterday at the residence of deceased by Mr. F. Williams, J.P. Mrs. Learmonth, deceased's widow, gave evidence bearing out the facts narrated above. She stated that in 1899 deceased was thrown from a horse at Hamilton and sustained a fractured skull. He had been subject to fits. When he was taken ill on Sunday night she hurried away to bring Mr. Percy Learmonth and Dr. Robinson. When she returned her husband was still alive, but he gradually sank and died within half an hour of first becoming ill.

Dr. Robinson deposed to having made a post mortem examination of the body. He found traces of the old injury to the skull of a very serious nature. The blood in the heart was very dark and might have been due to sudden heart failure. At present he was unable to certify to the cause of death.

At this stage the inquiry was adjourned for further evidence till 30th inst.

In the meantime the contents of the the stomach will be sent for analysis.

The body was taken by this morning's express to Hamilton, where the interment will take place. It was escorted to the station by several friends, and wreaths were placed on the coffin from the Mayor and councillors, the Gun Club, Golf Club, Caledonian Society, Race Club, and friends.

Original publication

Citation details

'Learmonth, Norman (1872–1908)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/learmonth-norman-15380/text26587, accessed 24 November 2017.

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