At 10.30pm, on the 10th January 1865, William Kendrick, aged 21 and George Price, a baker living in Wrexham were standing and talking in Bridge Street, Wrexham. These two males were approached by Joseph Hughes, a 36 year old labourer.
Joseph Hughes appeared to be under the influence of drink. He asked the other two men where he could find some lodgings for the night. George Price told Joseph Hughes that he could find lodgings in Brook Street, also known as Brook Side. Joseph Hughes became very angry, as the lodgings on Brook Street were locally notorious to be of low quality, and renowned for scandalous behaviour.
William Kendrick said to Joseph Hughes, “you have your answer, why don’t you go on”. Joseph Hughes asked William Kendrick who he was, to which William Kendrick replied that he knew Joseph Hughes, and that if he did not go, he would make him leave.
Joseph Hughes then started lifted up his arms and started squaring up to William Kendrick. William Kendrick then lifted his arms in self-defense. Both of the men ended up in the middle of Bridge Street. Joseph Hughes hit William Kendrick on the left side of his head and then he ran away. William Kendrick then started to cry that he had been stabbed.
William Kendrick was taken to the King’s Head public house, bleeding from the left hand side of his head, near to his ear. The wound was about two inches long. He was treated for his injuries by Dr. John Davies, a local doctor.
Police Constable Thomas Pugh was informed about the incident. He apprehended Joseph Hughes soon after the incident in the Swan Inn, Pen-y-Bryn, Wrexham, and arrested him for stabbing. William Kendrick.
Joseph Hughes denied the offence, so he took him to the King’s Head public house where William Kendrick was being treated for his injuries. William Kendrick identified Joseph Hughes as the person who had stabbed him.
PC Thomas Pugh searched Joseph Hughes and in his left hand trouser pocket, he found a knife that was bent at the point. He saw that knife had blood on it, and that Joseph Hughes’s hands and trousers had blood on them.
In the following days, William Kendrick continued to be treated by Dr. John Davies for his injury. After eight days inflammation set in, and on 11th February 1865, just over a month after the incident, William Kendrick died.
A post mortem examination was carried out on the body of William Kendrick by Dr. Edward Davies, the brother of Dr. John Davies. He found that the knife had penetrated into William Kendrick’s brain, causing an inflammation of the brain, which ultimately led to his death.
On the 17th March 1865, .Joseph Hughes stood on trial at the Ruthin Assizes Court charged with the murder of William Kendrick.
During the trial, the defense made in impassioned plea to the Jury to consider the offence of manslaughter, rather than murder, that had a mandatory sentence of death by public execution at this time, if the sentence was not commuted for some reason.
The Jury retired at the end of the evidence for a mere sixteen minutes. Their verdict was that Joseph Hughes was not guilty of murder, but that he was guilty of manslaughter of William Kendrick. The verdict they gave suggested that they believed that Joseph Hughes had not intended to kill William Kendrick.
The comments made by the Judge when he sentenced .Joseph Hughes, indicated that the Judge was not completely satisfied with the verdict of the Jury. The Judge said, “Joseph Hughes, the Jury have taken a merciful view of your case, and I am not at all sure that they have taken a right view of it. At all events, I shall assume that by the sentence I am about to pronounce on you. If your case be not murder it is a very aggravated case of manslaughter. You must have taken that knife to inflict a deadly injury upon a fellow creature under the influence of passionate feelings, and it is a warning to all what may be done under that momentary madness which men call anger. You are sentenced to ten year’s penal servitude.”
Source: Written and researched by Wayne Piotr Cronin-Wojdat – Historical Gems.