The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

This Horrible Deed

Our Resident Historian is cheerfully ploughing through the Ipswich Journal of the late Eighteenth Century. Once one gets one's eye in, there is a rich seam of news in this paper, and his extracts have proved to be very popular on the site. Last week, he came across the curious murder of poor Garfar on his first trip to London, his throat cut from ear to ear. This is a ghastly fear endured by most East Anglians before and since.

February 15th 1783.

On Monday James Smith of Bramfield in Suffolk, a glover, was examined at Bow Street, London on suspicion of murdering a person named Garfar, a carter belonging to Richard Hyem, a grazier and butcher of Bramfield, Suffolk, by severing his head off with a large knife.
Deceased was sent by Richard Hyem to Leadenhall market with a cart of meat and, having never been to London before, Smith told him that as he wanted to go to London to buy some leather he would bear his company.
They slept together at the Chaise and Pair in Bury and at Chadwell on Friday,
They were seen drinking, the same evening as they met one of Mr Hawkes men. At the time, Garfar was asleep on the cart; it is supposed the villain took the opportunity to perpetrate this horrible deed for about two hours later the poor man was found murdered near the 4 mile post in Stratford.
The prisoner proceeded with the cart to London and put up at the Ipswich Arms in Cullum Street, (the place intended to be used by the deceased) where he made frivolous excuses for the blood about him, notwithstanding he carried out the meat with intent of receiving the value of it and drove to Barnet on Monday last wearing the hat that belonged to Garfar
When he was taken, Smith confessed that he threw away a bloody knife and gloves near Stratford, he was committed for further examination. Garfar who left a wife and four children was about 25 years and Smith is about 21 years.
At the inquest at Stratford Bell Inn it was said deceased throat was cut from ear to ear, 8 inches in width and two inches deep.

Unfortunately, we are not sure of the end of the story. The writer assumes Smith's guilt but it would have been unsurprising that he had blood on him, and there was a bloody knife, as they were delivering meat. It also seems odd that, had Smith done the deed, he made his apprehension inevitable by carrying on the journey as if nothing had happened. One wonders why he did not simply make himself scarce. Either the real murderer was very clever or Smith was exceedingly stupid.


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