Food Poisoning in the Wrexham District in 1910

Three Deaths. 80 Cases.

Great consternation has been caused by the extraordinary outbreak of ptomaine poisoning in the Wrexham district. Three deaths have now occurred, and about 80 cases of illness have been reported. Rhos had escaped well, though a few cases of illness were reported, but luckily none were serious. The matter is engaging the attention of the Government Health Authorities, and Dr Llewelyn Williams has been asked to report thereon.

A DEATH AT RHOSTYLLEN. THE INQUEST

An inquest was held at the Tabernacle, Rhostyllen, on Monday evening before Mr Ll. Kenrick, to inquire into the circumstances attending the death of John Evans, of 35, Oaklands, Rhostyllen. It was alleged that on Saturday, August 6, he ate a meat pie, purchased from a certain shop in Wrexham. He ate the pie for supper and partook of a portion on Sunday morning. On the Sunday he complained of having pains in the stomach. Dr J. E. H. Davies was called in, and he attended him up to the time of his death.

Before the evidence was taken, the coroner said he hoped the jury would dismiss from their minds anything they might have heard relating to that inquiry, and that they would form their own conclusions upon the evidence.

Albert Evans, son of deceased, said his father was 61 years of age. He was a winder at Bersham Colliery. He was taken ill on Saturday, Aug. 6th, but did not complain until the Sunday. He had very severe pains in the stomach on the Sunday afternoon. The pains continued, and on Monday morning witness went for Dr Davies, of Plas Darland, who attended him up to the time of his death.

By the Foreman: The doctor was asked to come about 10 a.m. He came about 4 p.m. by Mr Kendrick (who said he represented an interested party) Four years ago deceased met with an accident, but he had not lost a day’s work for two years

THE WIDOW’S EVIDENCE.

Elizabeth Evans, the widow, said up to Saturday evening, August 6, her husband was quite well. About nine p.m. he partook of a two-penny meat pie for his supper. The pie was purchased with another at Wrexham about six p.m. by her ¡ daughter. Shortly before ten on the same J I evening her husband went to wo- k at the colliery. She did not see him again until ¡ Sunday morning. He did not complain when he came home. She gave him the other pie for his breakfast, but he did not eat it all. He only had a piece of it. He said he did not feel quite the thing,” and he did not want any more of the pie. He did not have any other food. He went j to bed after breakfast, which was the usual thing with him after he had been working all night. He was called up about 12-30. He came down to dinner but only ate a small portion of what was laid before him. He did not complain but said he should not want any more. He had a little lamb for his dinner. The remaining portion of the pie was thrown away when she was cleaning up. She threw it away because it did not look enticing.

On Sunday afternoon he went for a short walk and came home complaining of being unwell. He said he felt sick and complained of great pain in his stomach. He could not take any tea, and he had to go to bed because the pain was so great. On Monday she sent her son to Dr Davies to describe her husband’s condition to him, her husband was vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea until the doctor came in the afternoon. He began to vomit on the Sunday evening, and it lasted through the night. Dr Davies sent a bottle of medicine and said he would call early in the afternoon. He died on Sun- day morning. By Mr Kendrick, her husband tried to eat some lamb for dinner on the Sunday, but it went against him. It was English lamb. On Saturday he had a lamb chop for his dinner. They did not keep tinned meat in the house. Her husband had a great objection to tinned food in the house the lamb was fresh. Elizabeth Ellen Evans, daughter of the deceased, said she went to Wrexham on August 6th to do a little shopping. She purchased two meat pies and paid two pence each for them. She took the pies home. She did not see her father eat the pies.

THE DOCTORS OPINION.

Dr J E H Davies, Wrexham, said he attended the deceased. He had known him for several years ever since he came home to practise. When witness saw him first, he had little or no pain, but was suffering from severe diarrhoea. He had little sickness after the first few hours. On Thursday, there were signs of heart failure and collapse, and he remained in this state until the time of his death. Death was due to some form of poisoning. He had no doubt about it. He made inquiries, and he found out that he had eaten a meat pie. He did not see any portion of the pie. Meat or fish were 4he most common causes of ptomaine poisoning By Mr Kendrick He was not prepared to swear what kind of poison he died from any kind of ptomaine. The Coroner said it was for the jury to consider whether the evidence pointed to the fact that these pies were or were not the cause of the deceased suffering from ptomaine poisoning. If that was so, he asked them to find further as to whether they were satisfied as to where these pies were produced. He wanted to trace them to their origin. There was little doubt that these pies were produced from a certain shop in Wrexham.

Mr Kendrick objected to this direction to the jury and pointed out that at the inquest on Friday the Coroner told the jury that it did not matter where the pies were purchased. The Coroner said that what happened on Friday had nothing to do with the pre- sent case. The jury considered their verdict, and the Foreman, in announcing their decision said they found that deceased had died from ptomaine poisoning, consequent up- on eating a pie procured from a certain shop in Wrexham. A vote of sympathy with the relatives was passed by the Coroner and jury. Mr Kendrick said he also desired to express his sympathy with the relatives of the de- ceased on behalf of Mr Stevens. They I could quite understand that there was a great deal to be said on behalf of the proprietor of the shop, and he wished to say that the proprietor disclaimed responsibility. The Coroner said observations must not be made about anything that might happen subsequently. Mr Kendrick said he wished to express sympathy, but he did not wish to be mis- understood.

THE COEDPOETH INQUEST.

On Tuesday Mr Ll. Kenrick, the East Denbighshire coroner, held an inquest at Coedpoeth, upon the body of the victim of ptomaine poisoning, a woman named Elizabeth Pritchard, wife of William Pritchard, blacksmith, who lived in Manley road, Coedpoeth. Mr R J Kenrick, solicitor, Wrexham, represented Mr F Stephens, from whose establishment at Wrexham a meat pie which the woman had eaten was bought. Jane Roberts, parish nurse at Coedpoeth said that Mrs Pritchard told her she had had a meat pie on Sunday, the 7th, and after eating it she had severe pains. She died last Monday morning. Her daughter was also affected at the same time and she was too ill to attend the inquiry. The daughter informed her that they both par- took of the same pie.

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER ILL.

Owing to the weak state of the daughter, the Coroner took her evidence at her home. She said that she and her mother ate a pie between them. They were quite well before that but became extremely ill afterwards. Mrs Owen, 7, High Street, Coedpoeth, said she kept a shop, and on Saturday, the 6th, she bought some pork pies from Mr F Stephens’s shop at Wrexham. She sold one the same day to Mrs Pritchard. She had received no complaints respecting the other pies. Dr Yates, Coedpoeth, said he was call- ed in to attend Mrs Pritchard and her daughter on Monday, the 8th. They both were in a collapsed state, and from their conditions he concluded that they had been poisoned. They told him they had had a meat pie between them on the Sunday evening. Mrs Pritchard’s death was due to ptomaine poisoning.

CONFECTIONER’S EXPLANATION.

Frederick Stevens, confectioner of Stevens Café, Hope street, Wrexham, was called at the request of the Coroner.

The coroner: Has there ever been anything amiss with your goods before?

The Witness: Nothing like this.

Continuing, the witness said the same care and attention was given to the pies in question that had always been given to them. It anything there was better material used than had been the case before the food was always carefully examined, and he had never had any complaints previously respecting his pies. The pork used in the pies sold on the Saturday was obtained from Mr R Williamson, pork butcher, Wrexham, He saw the meat himself, and it looked genuinely nice. The meat was put into the pies within twenty minutes after it arrived at the shop. In the summer he used gelatine and water to gravy the pies, and this he procured from Sansome Dufaville, London. He had not the slightest idea how the trouble had arisen. Some of the pies were examined four days after they were made, and they seemed quite fresh. He had sent some of the same pies for analysis. He used the absolute best materials he could get. He had carried on the business for twenty years.

The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict to the effect that Mrs Pritchard died from ptomaine poisoning due to eating a pie.

Source: The Rhos Herald 20th August 1910.

Medical Definition of ptomaine poisoning: food poisoning caused by bacteria or bacterial products.

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