Wrexham Crimes & Criminals

 

The Wrexham area, like any other area, has had a fair share of criminals.  Some of the crimes committed them have been notable because they are both serious and ghastly.  Other crimes, whilst viewed dimly in the past, today seem trivial and humorous.  This article includes a mixture of interesting crimes that have occurred in Wrexham's past.

 

The article is very much a "work in progress", and being added to as time permits.  If you are interested in Wrexham's criminal past, be sure to return!

 

Index

Manslaughter at the Wrexham Butter Market (1858)

Found in a Compromising Situation in a Haystack on Holt Road, Wrexham (1856)

Unlawful Marriage at Gresford Parish Church (1855)

Running Away from the Wrexham Workhouse (1857)

A Court's Wish is Fulfilled (1879)

Murder at Hollyfield, Gresford (1893)

Dropping Night Soil on the Streets of Wrexham (1858)

Abandoning Children at Allington, Rossett (1858)

Rape of a Child at the Dunks, Wrexham (1837)

Borrowing a Military Uniform to Beg at Cefn (1854)

Murder of a Baby at Chirk (1855)

Bigamous Marriage at St Mary's Church, Ruabon (1857)

Stabbing with a Table Fork at the Elephant & Castle, Wrexham (1878)

 

Manslaughter at the Wrexham Butter Market (1858)

On the 14th November 1858, James Platt was clearly out in Wrexham spoiling for a fight. Platt was a local man, having been born in the town.  He was 48 years old, married to Sarah, and also had a young family. He was employed as a thatcher, and was living in Brookside, Wrexham.  Brookside was subsequently known as Brookside.

James Platt reached the steps of the Wrexham Butter Market in Henblas Street. Standing on the steps was Edward Jarvis. Platt approached Jarvis in what was later described as a fighting attitude, and curiously asked Jarvis if he would have a pint of ale, or alternatively a fight. From his response, obviously Jarvis did not want a fight, and instead told Platt that he would rather have a pint of ale.

This response was not to Platt's liking, as he struck Jarvis down to the ground. Whilst Jarvis was getting himself off the floor, and was picking up his hat, Jarvis asked Platt why he had struck him. Platt aggressively struck Jarvis again, causing him to fall to the ground a second time.

At this point Jarvis's patience must have snapped, having been subjected to the indignity of being struck to the floor on two occasions by Platt. Jarvis went into the Butter Market and he said to Platt, "if you want a round or two we will have it here by ourselves".

Platt continued his unprovoked violence by again pushing Jarvis, the difference being on this occasion that Jarvis responded and a scuffle took place. Jarvis got the better of Platt, and Jarvis got Platt onto one of the stone slabs where the market traders sold butter. Jarvis put his hand on Platt's thigh and threw him over. Platt fell with his head between his legs. Platt the aggressor who starting the chain of events had been felled, possibly something that he had not expected to happen to him.

The fight was witnessed by onlookers, for it is said that one witness proclaimed, "Jarvis, my God, what have you done?". Platt was heard to say, "my neck, my neck". Platt was put onto a bench in the market, but he did not speak.  Platt subsequently died from his injuries.  A post mortem revealed that Platt had died due to his spine being fractured.

The local newspapers at the time sensualized the crime by stating that Edwards Jarvis had been charged with, "the feloniously killing and slaying of James Platt". In reality, Edwards Jarvis was charged with the offence of Manslaughter.

On the 20th March 1858, Edward Jarvis appeared before the Assizes Court being held at Ruthin. The comments made by the Judge have not been recorded for prosperity, however, the Judge must have been conscious of Platt's part in his demise, as for the very serious offence of manslaughter and he sentenced Jarvis to a mere one months imprisonment with hard labour!

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Found in a Compromising Situation in a Haystack at Holt Road, Wrexham (1856)

The last Saturday in March 1856 cost four Wrexham People dearly. Joseph Nicholson and Thomas Roberts were two militiamen.  They decided to go and have a few beers before heading back to their barracks. However, for reasons that they could not subsequently explain in court, they found themselves spending the night in a haystack on Holt Road, Wrexham, with two females, Ann Jones and Rebecca Harris.

Unfortunately for them, they were found, and they were charged with, "having been found in pairs". Although this may appear a comical scene, the courts found no humour in the act. Both of the males received seven days imprisonment for the offence, and possibly unfairly, the females were treated more harshly, with Ann Jones receiving 10 days imprisonment, and Rebecca Harris 14 days imprisonment.

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Unlawful Marriage at Gresford Parish Church (1855)

On the 20th December 1855, a wedding took place at All Saints, The Gresford Parish Church. The wedding was conducted by the Curate, and was between William Mercer, who described himself as a cattle dealer from Rossett, and Miss Mary Davies, also from Rossett.  The Marriage Register for the Parish shows that William Mercer's father was Thomas Mercer, a farmer, and Mary Davies's father, William Davies, was described as a Gentleman. The register also showed that both the bride and the groom were both of full age. At that time, only those of full age, that is over the age of 21 years old, were permitted to marry without their parent's permission.

Instead of being a joyous occasion for both families, the announcement of the marriage was a shock to Mary Davies's family, who only discovered about the wedding after the ceremony.  Mary's father resorted to alleging that the marriage was unlawful, leading to his new son-in-law appearing before the courts.

In January 1856, less that a mere month after the wedding, the groom, William Mercer, stood before the courts accused of obtaining a marriage licence unlawfully by swearing that his bride, Mary, was of full age, when in fact she was not yet 21 years old.

This was not a trivial matter for the courts. When the first hearing of the case was unable to immediately resolve the matter he was only granted bail on the condition that he obtained two sureties of £100 each, and £200 from himself for his appearance the following week. The sureties were provided by John Roberts, an Innkeeper from Gresford, and Mr Samuels, of the Red Lion, Chester Street, Wrexham. The size of the sureties demonstrates the gravity of the case to the courts, as the total sureties of £400, would be in excess of £20,000 in today's money.

When Mercer appeared in the local courts the following week, the court heard evidence from the bride's father, who gave his address as Stonewall, Burton. He gave evidence that his daughter was born on the 27th August 1836, in Burton Street, Liverpool.  Furthermore, that she was later baptized in St Peter's Church, Liverpool. Therefore, at the time of the marriage, she was only 20 years old and was not of full age. The law therefore demanded that the marriage required his permission, which he had not given.

The court then heard the evidence of Reverend G. Cuncliffe, the Vicar of Wrexham. Reverend Cunliffe told the court that at 11am, on the 20th December 1855, the groom, William Mercer, had arrived at his home. Mercer told him that he wanted a marriage licence as he wanted to be married later the same morning. Mercer swore on oath, holding a Bible, that he was of full age, aged 22 years old and from Gresford, and furthermore, that his intended bride was also from Gresford, and that she was also aged over 21 years old. On finishing giving the Oath Mercer had kissed the Bible, and he had then signed all of the relevant paperwork. On hearing the evidence in the case, the local court committed the case to the higher authority of the Assizes court.

The case was heard on the 22nd March 1856, at the Ruthin Assizes. The charge against William Mercer was, "Taking a False Oath before a Surrogate". At the Assizes court, Mercer was found not guilty of the offence.

The true reasons why Mr Davies brought the case against his son-in-law are not revealed in the surviving documents. Possibly, he did not like his daughter's choice of husband; or as a "Gentleman", that his daughter had married below her station in life, as in the 1861 Census Return, William Mercer's occupation is shown as being an agricultural labourer, rather than being a cattle dealer. However, we can only speculate about these reasons.

What is quite clear is that it was not because his daughter subsequently regretted the marriage, for William Mercer and his wife Mary remained married and continued to live in Burton, subsequently having a large number of children. It would be nice to think that the courts felt that the law should not stand in the way of true love.

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Running Away from the Wrexham Workhouse (1857)

Compared with today's standards, the Victorian legal system can appear to be particularly harsh towards children living under difficult circumstances. An example of this is one court case brought about due to four children running away from the Wrexham Workhouse.

In May 1857, four young boys, aged between 11 and 12 years old, ran away from the Wrexham Workhouse, and in the eyes of the Victorian courts had the audacity to do so wearing clothes belonging to the workhouse.

The four boys were charged with "leaving the workhouse having clothes on them belonging to the workhouse". The case against the four boys was brought by Mr Bragger, the Governor of the Wrexham Workhouse, because the boys had repeatedly don't his before.

Hauled before the court, three of the boys offered explanations for their actions. The fourth boy complained that he had run away from the workhouse because he had been beaten by the schoolmaster.

Each of the boys received a sentence of 21 days imprisonment, with hard labour, at the Ruthin Goal. The local newspaper appeared to have little sympathy for the boys, pointing out the boys could have been sentenced to a maximum of up to three months with hard labour.

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 A Court's Wish is Fulfilled (1879)

On the 20th October 1879, George Boland, a young lad, who according to accounts appeared to be 12 years old appeared before the Wrexham Court. He had been held on remand, charged with stealing a Meerschaum cigar holder and four cigars from the shop of Mr T. F. Davies Tobacconist in the town.

 It is likely that George Boland had been held on remand because this was not his first time before the courts. A mere fortnight before the current hearing he had stolen caps from the town's market. On that occasion, the court had found him guilty of theft, and as a sentence, they had decreed that he should be whipped.

George Boland pleaded that he was not guilty of stealing the Meerschaum cigar holder and four cigars. He denied the allegations before the court stating that he had gone into the tobacconists' shop for some tobacco dust.

The court obviously did not believe his denials, as he was found guilty of the theft. George Boland was sentenced to one moth imprisonment with hard labour. However, that was not to be the end of his punishment. The court additionally sentenced him, at the expiration of his prison sentence, to be sent to either a reformatory school or industrial school for five years. The court stated that they wished that at the end of his sentence that he would be, "a good and useful member of society".

It would appear that George Boland, as a Roman Catholic, was sent to the Birkdale Farm Reformatory School, Birkdale, Lancashire, as he was shown as an inmate at this reformatory school at the time of the 1881 Census. The Birkdale Farm Reformatory School was a Roman Catholic Institution managed by the Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Association.

Birkdale Farm Reformatory School, like many others, had a tendency to send their pupils overseas to start a new life. It is likely that George Boland was one such example.

On the 5th March 1915, George 'Gabriel' Boland, was in Canada, signing his Attestation Papers to join the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. George stated that his date of birth was the 29th October 1870, and that he was born in Wrexham, Wales, details that are maybe questionable. The Attestation Papers add the following details: He gives his occupation as Sailor; his marital status as being single; that he is 5'3''; that he has a dark complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, and a goddess of liberty tattooed on his left arm; his religion is Roman Catholic.

Wrexham Court's wish that Reformatory School would make George Boland, "a good and useful member of society", appears to have been totally fulfilled!

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Murder at Hollyfield, Gresford (1893)

April Fool's Day 1893 would be remembered by the residents of Gresford for the horrific incident that took place at Hollyfield on that day.

Nellie Norris Whittle was a 29 year old married woman who had children with her husband, Humphrey Norris Whittle. They resided in Chorley, Lancashire, and it would appear that they had a comfortable lifestyle, as Humphrey titled himself as a gentleman, was a coal proprietor, and a respected Chorley Town Councillor.  However, their relationship appears to have been unhappy, as in February 1893 they separated. Nellie left the family home, her husband, and children, and moved to Hollyfield, Gresford, with a companion, Miss Prudence Taylor.  At that time Hollyfield was a house at the brow of the Marford Hill.

Somehow involved with Nellie Norris Whittle was George Shellard. George Shellard who was a 42 year old married man with his own family. The exact relationship between Nellie Norris Whittle and George Shellard has never been totally clear. It was said that George Shellard had been involved with Nellie Norris Whittle's mother in connection with horses, either as a coachman, or a person who had taken charge of one of her ponies. However, other information suggested that George Shellard was emotionally infatuated with Nellie Norris Whittle, or that they were having an affair. Clearly, this was the opinion of Humphrey Norris Whittle, who on the 26th April 1893, travelled to Hollyfield to challenge his wife about acting inappropriately with George Shellard, which she vigorously denied.

In the day's leading up to Monday 1st April 1893, April Fool's Day, it was suggested that George Shellard appeared to be depressed. On the morning of Monday 1st April 1893, he took the unusual step of visiting his daughter at her employers in Chorley, and on bidding her farewell, he presented her with a sovereign coin.

Shellard then visited Mr Hall, a Chorley ironmonger, who George Shellard seemed well acquainted. Shellard looked at a revolver at Hall's ironmongers. Shellard told Mr Hall that he wanted to show the revolver to a friend, and that if the friend liked the revolver he would return with the money. Mr Hall lent the revolver to  Shellard along with six cartridges.  George Shellard then made his way to Gresford.

Later during that day, George Shellard, Nellie Norris Whittle and Prudence Taylor visited John Davies in Tynycoed to search for a horse. On returning to Hollyfield George Shellard was invited into the house to wash.

Two shots rang out through the house. After the second shot Nellie Norris Whittle shouted out to Prudence Taylor her companion. Prudence found George and Nellie in a bedroom. Despite being shot twice in the neck Nellie was crying out for her husband and children. Shellard went towards her, drew a razor, and slit Nellie's throat.

George Shellard said to Prudence Taylor, "I will see her die first and then I will shoot myself!".  Shellard then threatened Prudence Taylor by putting the revolver to her face and threatened that if she raised the alarm he would also shoot her.  He then ordered her to pull down the bedroom blinds. Shellard then said, "As soon as every breath has gone I will shoot myself". He then uttered a prayer, "God receive her soul and mine". Shellard put the revolver to his mouth and shot himself. He staggered and fell to the floor.

Prudence Taylor raced out of the house and found the local painter, Mr Davies. In turn the village policeman, Police Constable Thomas Jones was called .

When they returned to the house, Police Constable Jones initially thought that George Shellard had escaped. However, he found that Shellard had taken off his coat, waistcoat, trousers and boots, and was lying in bed next to Nellie Norris Whittle. Shellard's arms were still waving about so Police Constable Jones, fearing that Shellard might still be armed with the revolver, took hold of his arms and secured them. At that time it was initially thought that Shellard might survive and the local doctor, Dr Manisty, was asked to attend. However, Shellard soon died from his injuries.

The following day, a Coroner's Court was convened in The Plough, Gresford. As part of the deliberations of the case, as was often usual at that time, the court visited Hollyfields, and additionally saw the two bodies that were still lying there. The Coroner's Court heard the evidence in the case, including the contents of various letters found on the body of George Shellard and around the house. One of these letter purported to be a suicide note written by George Shellard. The letter suggested that they had decided to die together, and that Nellie Norris Whittle had agreed that they should both be buried together at her expense. In the same letter he complained that Nellie had deceived him and that she owed him money that would be due to his surviving family. The contents of the letter were inconclusive as to Shellard's true motivation for carrying out this brutal crime.

The Coroner's Court concluded that Nellie Norris Whittle had been unlawfully murdered by George Shellard. After adjourning  until the proceeding Saturday to hear further evidence, the Coroner's Court gave the verdict for Shellard's death in Latin, "felo de se", or felon of himself. Felo de se is an archaic legal term for suicide., and it harks back to the days when anyone who either committed, or attempted to commit suicide, committed a criminal offence.

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Dropping Night Soil on the Streets of Wrexham (1858)

Every house prior to the creation of sewage systems had the problem of removing and disposing of human excrement, politely referred to as night soil.

On the 17th November 1858, a Wrexham Magistrate made a complaint that, "there was a quantity of night soil upon the streets of a very offensive nature."

Police Sergeant Nadin was called out to investigate the problem. He found the offending night soil and traced the trail from Chapel Street to the Cock Public House. By making enquiries he revealed that the night soil had fallen from carts belonging to Mr Parry of Borras Hall.

Police Sergeant Nadin approached Mr Parry to ask him the names and addresses of the men who were responsible for the carts from which the offensive materials had fallen onto the streets. Parry was uncooperative and he refused to give the names and addresses of the men to Police Sergeant Nadin. Parry instead stated that he would go to see the Mayor of Wrexham himself to beg his pardon.

It was subsequently revealed to the court that the men responsible for the deed were Thomas Case and Nicolas Baker, two servants in the employment of Mr Parry. For this offence the court enforced a fine of £1.2s

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Abandoning Children at Allington, Rossett (1858)

During the Victorian era people who suffered dire financial hardship, and who had no one else to rely on, had to take the drastic action of seeking the charity of their local Poor Law Union. This included children abandoned by their families. However, the Poor Law Union sought reimbursement of any costs whenever possible.

On the 27th September 1858, George Gilham, a tailor by trade, appeared in court after being held in custody. He was charged with abandoning his two children and leaving them chargeable on the township of Allington, in the Parish of Rossett.

It was alleged that he had deserted his two children the previous April, and that the two children had become chargeable on the township of Allington, the cost of the maintenance being calculated at £6.5s.

George Gilham claimed that he did not have the means to pay this charge. As a result he was sentenced to Ruthin Goal for a month with hard labour.

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Rape of a Child at the Dunks, Wrexham (1837)

Mistakenly, some people believe that sexual attacks on children are a modern day phenomenon: Sadly, that belief is untrue.  This particular case dispels this myth, and it also demonstrates the vast improvements the police and courts have made in investigating this awful type of offence.

On the 28th July 1837, in the first months of the Queen Victoria's reign, Charles Crewe appeared before the Ruthin Assizes charged with the very grave offence of rape. At the time that Charles Crewe appeared before the court,rape remained an offence that could attract the death sentence. It was not until 1841 that the death sentence for rape was abolished.

Charles Crewe was a 66 year old, living in the Dunks, Wrexham. However, the Ruthin Assizes records appear to be incorrect, in that they list him as being 26 years old, which does not tie in well with the background to the offence.

Miss Hannah Dod, was described as a girl less that 10 years old.  Her family were the next door neighbours of Charles Crewe. It was reported that Hannah Dod helped Charles Crewe by cleaning his house and by unlacing his boots.

Charles Crewe abused the trust placed in him, and on several occasions when Hannah Dod went to his house to help him, it was alleged that he raped her. Furthermore, to cover up his dastardly deed, it was further alleged that he threatened to kill her if she told anybody.

The crime only came to light when another girl mentioned what she had heard about what was happening during these visits. Hannah Dod then revealed the extent of the crime committed against her to her friends.

Unlike today's investigation into serious sexual offences, the Victorian investigation was not thorough. Hannah Dod was never examined by a doctor therefore no medical evidence could be offered to support her allegation. Furthermore, the case contained no other corroborative evidence to support her allegations. Being a young female, unlike today's courts, the Victorian court place little weight on her serious complaint, and as a result concluded that the evidence of Hannah Dod could not be safely relied upon when the consequences of a rape conviction on Charles Crewe were so serious. The Judge made the decision to direct the jury in the case to acquit Charles Crewe of the rape charge.

However, the court then made a strange decision, that although they did not believe the evidence sufficient to proceed with the charge of rape: it did feel that the evidence was sufficient to prefer a charge of assault on an infant with intend done. Charles Crewe was found guilty of this lesser charge and sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour.

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Borrowing a Military Uniform to Beg at Cefn (1854)

On Sunday 11th March 1854, two men, James Sheridan and William Bruce were begging on the streets of Cefn. They may have gained the sympathy of passers-by, as they had the appearance of soldiers that had fallen on hard times as they were both wearing regimental uniforms. Begging was an offence, and these two men had been previously warned about begging on several occasions. These warnings were obviously not heeded, and their persistent begging led to both men appearing before the same court charged with that offence.

The court found that both men were vagrants. William Bruce had previously served with the 28th Regiment in Bombay, India, but he had been discharged from the army after being wounded. However, the court learnt that James Sheridan had never been in the military but had borrowed his regimental uniform for the purposes of begging.

For this offence of begging, the court sentenced William Bruce to three weeks imprisonment, and James Sheridan to two weeks imprisonment.

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Murder of a Baby at Chirk (1855)

In 1854, Margaret Davies, an unmarried 22 year old, was an inmate at the Corwen workhouse. On the 15th December 1854, whilst she was still a resident at the workhouse, Margaret Davies gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Margaret Davies wanted to call the baby Joan, but when the baby was christened in the Parish Church it was christened as Jane Davies, as the clergyman felt that Joan was a man's name.

On Thursday 8th March 1855, Margaret Davies decided to leave the Corwen Workhouse with her daughter. Prior to them leaving the workhouse, another inmate, Catherine Williams helped Margaret Davies prepare for the move. As Jane was short of clothes, Catherine Williams helped dress her by providing a wrapper, a pair of her own baby's worsted boots, and a shawl. She also gave Margaret some meat to feed Jane.

Between Thursday 8th March 1855 and 11am on Saturday 10th March 1855, Margaret Davies and Jane Davies stayed at the home of Tamar Roberts, her half-sister. Whilst she was staying with her, Margaret Davies cared for her daughter, but she said that she would be allowing Ann Edwards, the wife of her half-brother Issac Edwards, to nurse Jane, so that she would be able to go into service to work.

Margaret Davies, after leaving her half-sister's home, at 11am on Saturday 10th March 1855 made her way to Llansantffraid Glyn Ceiriog with Jane.

At 7pm that day, Margaret Davies arrived in Llansantffraid Glyn Ceiriog without her daughter Jane. Margaret spoke to Mary Jones, a resident of the village. Margaret's feet and legs were wet and cold, which she thought was due to it being a wet snowy day. Mary gave Margaret some food and half a pint of ale. Mary asked about her baby as she was aware that she had been pregnant before she had left the village. Margaret told her that her baby had died in the Corwen Workhouse, and that the baby had been buried there. Completely unaware that this was a lie, Margaret remarked that she was lucky as she would now be able to go into service and work. Margaret replied, "Yes, I am lucky". After an hour, Margaret left Mary's home and went to her mother's home, that was also in Llansantffraid Glyn Ceiriog.

It would appear that Margaret Davies moved into her mother's house in Llansantffraid Glyn Ceiriog. In the proceeding weeks she told various people about the tragic death of her young daughter Jane at the Corwen Workhouse.

It is unclear how the death of Jane Davies came to arouse the suspicions of the police, but it did, and subsequently the police decided to ask Margaret Davies some questions about the death. Margaret Davies repeated to the police her story that her daughter had died in the workhouse.

The involvement of the police must have deeply concerned Margaret Davies. On the 30th March she was seen by Elizabeth Cartwright near to the canal. She spoke to Elizabeth Cartwright about the clearness of the water in the canal, and the possibility of seeing items at the bottom of it.

By Sunday 1st April 1855, the police investigation had discovered that Margaret Davies's story about the death of her daughter Jane in the Corwen Workhouse was a lie, and she was taken into custody.

Police Inspector Pattison challenged her story, and he told her that he knew that when she left the Corwen Workhouse she did so with her daughter Jane, and at that time, Jane was alive and well. After some hesitation, Margaret Davies confessed, "it is no use telling any more lies about it; I drowned it in the tunnel by the Tycoch station, and there you'll find it". The police searched the Shropshire Union Canal, but Jane's body was not found.

On Monday 2nd April 1855, Margaret Davies appeared in the Llangollen Court charged with the murder of her daughter. During the hearing she was remanded in custody until Saturday 7th April, whilst the search for Jane's body continued.

On Thursday 5th April, whilst on remand, Police Constable R. Roberts from Rhosymedre was left in charge of Margaret Davies at the Llangollen Police Station. Margaret started a conversation with him. She told him of how she had left the Corwen Workhouse, and how she had left Llangollen along the turnpike road towards the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. On reaching the aqueduct she went onto the canal footpath towards the swing bridge. She said that she was expecting to meet a boat there to take her to New Marton Locks near Whittington, Shropshire.

Although she dis not say why she wanted to go to New Marton Locks, it is possible that she intended to go to the home of Issac Edwards, her half-brother, and his wife Ann, who lived in New Marton, and who Margaret had previously suggested would look after Jane for her.

At this point PC Roberts reminded Margaret that she did not have to confess anything. Nevertheless, Margaret continued with her story.

Margaret told PC Roberts that when she got to the canal, the canal boat that she was expecting was not there, so she walked on to the Tycoch station. By this time, Jane had wet herself. She went over a style to head towards Brynrhos to change Jane's clothes, but she turned back as she believed that someone had called her name.

Margaret Davies went to the mouth of the canal tunnel and took the shawl off Jane. She held Jane's feet and placed her head in the canal water and then swung her backwards and forwards. She then pushed Jane into the water and ran off towards Llansantffraid Glyn Ceiriog.

Margaret Davies asked PC Roberts not to tell Inspector Pattison what she had told him because otherwise they would either send her to prison or transport her. She told PC Roberts that she had heard that two or three women had done away with their children and that they had only received 6 to 12 month imprisonment, and that one woman had got away with it.

On Saturday 7th April 1855 the grim discovery of Jane's body was made in the canal. John Jones, a boat builder, was in his cottage that was described as being beside the canal bank in Black Park, when he heard a boat-boy who was steering an empty boat on the canal shout that he had found a body. He went outside and saw that Jane's body was hooked by it's clothes to the back of the boat. John Jones untangled and retrieved Jane's body from the boat.

Later that day, Margaret Davies again appeared before the court. It was remarked upon that she did not appear to fully comprehend what was happening to her during the proceedings. The Magistrates remanded her to appear before the next Assizes Court, charged with the murder of her baby, Jane Davies. As she was led from the dock Margaret asked whether they were going to hang her.

Subsequently, an inquest into the death of Jane Davies was conducted by Mr Thelwell, the Coroner, in the Cambrian Inn, Llangollen. The Coroner's Court heard the evidence that had been previously been given to the Magistrate's Court, and additionally, the evidence from the post mortem. The post mortem had been completed by Mr John Jones. He concluded that Jane Davies had been a healthy baby and that she had died from drowning. After deliberating for an hour, the Jury in the Coroner's Court, despite the damning evidence, was not unanimous in their verdict. Only 15 out of the 17 Jurors agreed on the verdict that Jane Davies had been unlawfully murdered.  However, this was sufficient to seal Margaret Davies's fate.

On Monday 30th July 1855, Margaret Davies appeared before the Ruthin Assizes. The court duly heard all of the evidence of the various witnesses. The Jury found Margaret Davies guilty of murder, but with a strong recommendation  for mercy. The Judge donned his black cap and sentenced her to death by hanging from the neck. He remarked that he would forward the recommendation for mercy. It was reported that Margaret Davies showed no emotion as she was sentenced.

Margaret Davies was imprisoned at the Ruthin Prison, Soon after the death sentence had been passed on her, the Governor of Ruthin Prison, Mr Evans, received a respite of the death sentence from the Secretary of State, dated 4th August 1855.

After reviewing the facts of the case, and the recommendation of mercy given by the Jury, Margaret Davies's death sentence was commuted to transportation for life.

However, in Margaret Davies's case, being transported for life did not save her life. In April 1856, whilst imprisoned in the Millbank Prison, London, awaiting transportation, she died. A Coroner's inquest into her death, held on the 11th April 1856, held by Mr Bedford, the Coroner for Westminster, revealed that on her arrival at the Millbank Prison, she had been suffering from tubercular disease, and she was immediately placed in the prison's infirmary. Despite receiving medical attention the disease was fatal. He returned a verdict that she had died a natural deaths from tubercular disease. 

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Bigamous Marriage at St Mary's Church, Ruabon (1857)

Benjamin Jarvis was a old blind collier who lived in Rhosllanerchrugog. Despite his old age and his blindness he was obviously still a cad!

On the 26th August 1854, Benjamin Jarvis married Sarah Evans from Ponkey, more recently known as Ponciau, at the local registry office.

According to Benjamin Jarvis, to rid himself of his wife, he sold her to a friend, John Jones also known as Barnabas Jones for 1s 2d. In the days when only the wealthy could afford a divorce, a traditional custom was that a wife could be sold to create a divorce, although this practice had no legal basis.

However, it transpired that Sarah had in fact left him to live with John Jones. Furthermore, she had a child with John Jones, and it was later alleged that she had been bigamously married to him.

Benjamin Jarvis successfully wooed Puah Roberts, also from Rhosllanerchrugog. On the 4th April 1857, Benjamin Jarvis and Puah Roberts went to see Mr Lloyd, the Parish Clerk for St Mary's, Ruabon, and in accordance with the customs of the established church, the Banns of Marriage were published and advertised . On the 6th June 1857 Benjamin Jarvis, despite knowing that he was already married and that his first wife was still alive, married Puah Roberts at St Mary's, Ruabon.

Whilst it would appear that none of their neighbours made any mention or objection prior to the marriage taking place, the bigamous marriage caused gossip in the village. The gossip reached the ears of the vicar, Reverend B.M. Bonner, who in turn informed Police Sergeant Stant.

On Saturday 11th July 1857, PS Stant took Benjamin Jarvis into custody and charged him with bigamy, and kept him prisoner until the next available court. On Monday 13th July 1857, Benjamin Jarvis appeared before the Wrexham court, and the case was adjourned until Monday 20th July 1857 for further evidence to be obtained.

When Benjamin Jarvis appeared before the Wrexham Court on Monday 20th July 1857, despite him admitting the offence, the court felt that the case was serious enough for it to be committed to the Ruthin Assizes court, and Benjamin Jarvis was bailed to appear at that court. An application was made for a warrant to apprehend his first wife, Sarah, for bigamy. However, this request was denied as no evidence had been presented to prove that she had married John Jones, and it would appear that matter was not pursued any further.

On the 27th July 1857, Benjamin Jarvis appeared before the Ruthin Assizes court. For the crime of bigamy he was sentenced to one months imprisonment.

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Stabbing with a Table Fork at the Elephant & Castle, Wrexham (1878)

The Elephant & Castle was a public house in Chester Street, Wrexham. In the late 1870's it had a local reputation for debauchery that included fights and prostitution. On one occasion the local Police Superintendent lamented that he had to dismiss three promising young Police Constables who he had suspected of using the services of a prostitute at the Elephant & Castle!

On Tuesday 31st December 1878, New Years Eve, one such example occurred. Bridget Brannan was in the Elephant & Castle speaking to the landlady Mrs Birch. During the conversation Bridget borrowed 2s 6d from Mrs Birch.

Ann Roach, a resident of Market Street, Wrexham entered the Elephant & Castle and accused Bridget Brannan of "backbiting" her to Mrs Birch. Ann Roach, clearly very angry at the thought of being bad-mouthed attacked Bridget Brannan by sticking her head first with a poker and then with a bottle. She then attacked Bridget Brannan in the neck with a table fork.

After the attack, Bridget Brannan sought the attention of Dr William, especially as she believed that a piece of the table fork had broken off in her neck. Dr Williams found that she had a wound to her forehead, a further wound to the side of her head and marks from the fork prongs on her throat, although he found that the prongs had not broken off in her neck.

Meanwhile, Ann Roach was detained, and she was held in custody until the case could be heard by the courts.

On Monday 6th January 1879, Ann Roach appeared before the court. During the court case the evidence of Dr Williams was heard. In his evidence he commented that if the fork would to her throat had been of any depth it would have been very dangerous. The Magistrates hearing the case classed it as one of the most serious that they had heard, and as a result, they sentenced Ann Roach to six months imprisonment with hard labour.

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