On 25th July 1866, Thomas was at the local pub – The Britannia, “in a half-drunken state, and boasting of his fighting powers” (“Fatal Fight”, West Middlesex Advertiser and Family Journal, 18 August 1866, page 3, column 6). After a brief scuffle with John Fisher, Thomas seems to have tried to provoke the local blacksmith, George Watkins, into a fight. The blacksmith, whom I should imagine would have been a formidable opponent considering his trade, made short work of Thomas – and both the Britannia landlord and Thomas’ wife, Elizabeth attempted to dissuade Thomas from pursuing any further violence.
Thomas, or ‘Tom’ as he is referred to by his neighbours, was not to be stopped, despite the best efforts of others. He returned to John Fisher, and placed 10s on the bar, offering John sixpence a round. The men exited the pub “to go a few rounds” at the nearby green. After some time fighting, Thomas punched John or John tripped – depending on whose account you believe. John fell, hit the back of his head and was rendered “insensible”. Blood was pouring from his nose, and he was taken to nearby St Mary’s Hospital. Unfortunately John died, a postmortem was performed and the cause of death found to be the result of a skull fracture. It was believed that this fracture was caused by the impact of his fall.
Thomas was arrested for manslaughter and a 19 year old lad named William Gadsden was arrested for aiding and abetting Thomas in the offence. It was discovered that William was John Fisher’s ‘second,’ helping the man up each time he fell in order that the fight might continue. Consequently his charge was changed to manslaughter and Thomas and William were tried together.