Manslaughter at the Wrexham Butter Market (1858)

Written and researched by Wayne Cronin-Wojdat, B.A (Hons.), MSc

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 Brook Street.

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 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 sensationalised the crime by stating that Edward Jarvis had been charged with, “the feloniously killing and slaying of James Platt”. In reality, Edward 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!

Source: Written and researched by Wayne Cronin-Wojdat, B.A (Hons.), MSc – Historical Gems.

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