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Colonial Cases


Cambrian, 26 September 1812

   On Monday, the 7th inst. a horrid murder was committed on the body of Mary Jones, a servant-maid, at a farm called Penryn-Issa, in the parish of Llanfihangel y Traethau, Merionethshire, and the house robbed of a watch, and bank-notes to the value of thirty pounds.  After dinner all the family had gone to a corn-field, leaving Mary Jones alone in the house, and about five o'clock, a boy eight years old coming into house, observed much blood by the door, and having entered saw the servant maid lying dead, weltering in her blood - he immediately called the family from the field, who found the house besmeared with blood, and the body lacerated in the most shocking manner. 

   The throat was cut across with a pair of shears, the head was bruised as if dashed against the stones, and there were several stabs of a knife in the body.  The bloody instruments, and two large stones covered with blood were found in the room. The villain escaped through a back window, but no traces were left behind to lead to his discovery.  The utmost consternation prevailed, and every exertion was made to detect the perpetrator of this foul crime.

   Suspicion was on Tuesday attracted to Thomas Edwards, a miner, employed (occasionally) on Mr. Madock's embankment, and a concourse of people soon surrounded the house where he lodged.  Blood was observed on his shirt, and on searching the house, the trowsers and waistcoat he had worn the day before were found partly washed, and evident marks of blood still remaining on them.  He had been seen in the vicinity of Penryn Issa, about the time of the discovery of the murder, his sleeves dripping wet, and his face bloody.  He was searched and interrogated by many gentleman present, but to all of the questions they put to him his answers were so contradictory, and the account he gave of himself so full of prevarication, that Mr. James (Deputy Sheriff for the county) thought it expedient to swear in some special constables to covey him before a Magistrate.

   In a short time the Rev. Griffith Owen, a Magistrate of the county, arrived.  He immediately took the depositions of several witnesses; the Coroner coming in afterwards, held his inquest, and committed him to Dolgelly gaol, to take his trial at the next Great Sessions. This business was not e4ompketed before nine at night.  Torrents of rain were falling, and the darkness was excessive, but such was the eagerness of all present to remove the suspected culprit, that he was soon put on horseback, with his hands tied, and attended by six special constables, on his road to Tan y Bwlch inn. By some means, however, he contrived to slip the rope that fastened his hands, and waiting his opportunity, he dismounted, and aided by the darkness of the night, made his escape.  The alarm quickly spread over the neighbouring country, and before day-light, every man was prepared to pursue the fugitive.  He was, however, observed at day-break on the sands (Traeth-bach) and secured without any resistance.  He was brought to Maenwrog, and in searching him the identical watch and pocket-book, which were stolen from Penryn Issa, was found upon him.  Soon after he was conveyed to Dolgelly in a cart, having been previously handcuffed and well secured.  ....

One of the pursuers, a poor labouring man, was unfortunately drowned in a Pool in Traeth Bach Sands, leaving a wife pregnant, and eight small children entirely destitute, to deplore his loss.


Cambrian, 20 February 1819

Awful effects of a Thunderstorm. - The village of Trawsfynydd, in the county of Merioneth, was visited on Saturday evening, the 6th instant, by a tremendously heavy thunderstorm.  ... Shortly after the commencement of the storm, the electric fluid entering the chimney of a cottage in the village, where the whole of the family, consisting of five, sat by the fireside, struck the father and one of the sons, both of whim instantly expired; another child received so severe a shock that he lost an eye, and the rest of the family suffered very materially, though not dangerously. ... The father's name was Hugh Thomas, for many tears surveyor of the county bridges.

Cambrian, 1 April 1820

      On Sunday last, the body of Mr. Robert Roberts, drover, from near Trawsfynydd, Merionethshire, was taken out of the river Severn, near the New factory, just below Shrewsbury.  The deceased fell into the river, supposed by accident, in the evening of the 4th instant; he was heard to cry out, but sunk before any assistance could reach him.


Cambrian, 14 September 1822

MERIONETHSHIRE. - A melancholy accident on Friday week at Barmouth, by the upsetting of a boat with six watermen, four of whom perished, viz. Owen Price, Lewis Lloyd, Griffiths Roberts, and Griffiths Rees.  The other two, Edward Timothy, and Morris Parry, were saved by clinging to the boat, until the arrival of some seamen in a boat from Barmouth, who rescued them.  The bodies of the sufferers were washed away.  The unfortunate men have left wives and families in the deepest affliction.


Carmarthen Journal, 15 August 1828

MELANCHOLY AND FATAL ACCIDENT. - On the 28th ult. a Coroner's inquest was held before Owen Owens, Esq. one of the coroner for Merionethshire, at the village of Llanuwchlyn, near Bala, on the body of John Pickerill, late groom to Mr. A. Stokes, of Worcester, a son of Dr. Stokes.  The deceased had been sent with two horses from Barmouth, with directions to proceed to Bala; he was discovered lying in the middle of the road, quite dead, the horses grazing by the side at some distance; it appeared that the horse the deceased was riding fell, and threw his rider a distance of eight yards, as was evident from the marks left on the road; from the evidence of Mr. Edw. Williams, Surgeon, of Bala, the deceased came by his death from an extensive fracture of the skull, owing to the fall. - Verdict - Accidental Death. .  .  .  . 


Carmarthen Journal, 5 December 1828. - A Coroner's Inquest was held on the 13th instant, at Penmaen-mawr, in the parish of Towyn, Merionethshire, on the body of Evan Thomas, who was engaged for Lewis Vaughan, Esq. in cutting and removing earth; the man had excavated and left a quantity of earth overhanging him, which fell upon him in such a mass that twelve men were employed about an hour in removing it before the body was extricated.  It was found lifeless.  He has left a wife and two children.



Carmarthen Journal, 28 August 1829

MERIONETHSHIRE GREAT ESSSIONS. - The bill preferred against Hugh Jones, of Pennal, near Machynlleth, for manslaughter, was thrown out by the Grand Jury.  The accused, who had surrendered himself a prisoner, the day before the commencement of the Assizes, was afterwards arraigned on the Coroner's Inquest; but the Attorney-General declining to offer any evidence against him, he was discharged.

   On the Criminal side there was no other cause but that of a woman for concealing the birth of a bastard child, and she was sentenced to a fortnight's imprisonment.


Carmarthen Journal, 16 December 1831

CAUTION TO PARENTS. - On Monday last, an inquest was held at Llanfawr, near Bala, before Mr. E. Williams. Surgeon coroner, on the body of Anne Hughes, a little girl about four years if age, who came to her death by her  cloches accidentally taking fire.  It is scarcely a month since we had to record a similar accident, which happened within a mile of the same spot, when a fine little girl was burnt to death under precisely similar circumstances.  [See also editorial comment.]


Glamorgan Gazette, 23 November 1833
DREADFUL DEATH. - On Wednesday last, Jas. Bullivant, Brewer to Mr. W. Jackson, of the Slip Inn, Louth, finding himself rather cold, most imprudently laid himself down upon the cover of the brewing copper, which gave way, and he was precipitated into the boiling liquid; he was so dreadfully injured that after lingering in the most excruciating torment till the next day, death put an end to his sufferings.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School