Friday, 30 May 2014

A Fatal Roast: The Death of Sir James Mackintosh

​​Sir James Mackintosh (Aldourie, Highland, Scotland, 24th October 1765 - London, England, 30th May 1832)


Sir James Mackintosh by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Sir James Mackintosh by Sir Thomas Lawrence


There is much to be said on a cold day for the benefits of sitting down to a meal of roast chicken. It is a particular favourite of mine on a Sunday and the dish in question plays an important part in our story today.!
 
Sir James Mackintosh was a politician and historian of no small note. He was a man of many talents, having trained in the law and medicine, and enjoyed a variety of influential and challenging careers that saw him well-respected in society. When his death came it was accidental, drawn out and caused by the most trivial of accidents.


On an April evening at the age of 66, Mackintosh settled down to eat and tucked heartily into a chicken dinner. A small fragment of bone stuck in his throat and though he looked in danger of choking, it was soon dislodged and it seemed that no permanent damage was done.


In fact, that apparently insignificant piece of bone had caused a very minor cut in Mackintosh's trachea. As the days wore on that minor wound grew inflamed and began to open wider yet Mackintosh kept going about his business, defying the pain that plagued and weakened him day by day. As the cause for his declining state baffled both the patient and his physician, Doctor George Darling, Mackintosh sought solace in his faith and friends.

On 22nd May 1832 Sir James Mackintosh took to his bed at home in Langham Place for the final time and by the weekend, was no longer able to speak. However, he retained his calm countenance and died peacefully in his room on 30th May, eventually being laid to rest in Hampstead with his devoted friends and family in attendance.

10 comments:

Kate Fereday Eshete said...

What bad luck. Poor chap. If only he'd been a vegetarian.

Madame Gilflurt said...

I know, it's a high price for a chicken dinner!

Debra Brown said...

Just needed a dose of Arnica....

Madame Gilflurt said...

If only he had known!

57rednana said...

Sound to me like he had an incompetent doctor. They are still around in modern times.

Catherine Curzon said...

Very true.

Annemarie Mullan said...

I'm very curious. Was a post-mortem performed?...How do we know that this was the actual cause of his death? - chastening though it may be....for us chicken-lovers

Catherine Curzon said...

I've done quite a bit of digging and have found no reference to a post-mortem. What I *have* discovered is a report that a small piece of chicken bone remained lodged in his throat for two days and this was thought to have exacerbated the problem (Museum of Foreign Literature, Science and Art, Volume 23, 1833). I am a chicken fan too, so will approach with caution from now on!

KP Pryce said...

Perhaps he should have tucked in less heartily. He would have discovered the bone before swallowing it and removed the threat to the side of his plate.

Catherine Curzon said...

Quite so!