Thursday, 11 February 2010

David Evans - Hanged 21st September 1829

In the 1800's murder was a crime that very few committed, because everyone knew the sentence would be 'Death by Hanging'. However it did occur, such as the time David Evans was charged with the brutal murder of Hannah Davies. The public crowded Carmarthen court, disgusted that such a vile deed could have been perpetrated in their community.
At the trial's end the Judge summed up the evidence and the jury retired for an hour and returned with the verdict of 'Guilty'. The Judge donned the black cap and passed the inevitable sentence. The whole court, as well as the Judge, were clearly affected by proceedings. Evans was the only one who seemed to have little regard to the proceedings and appeared unmoved. He was convicted at the Carmarthen Great Sessions on 16th September 1829 and sentenced to public execution.

David Evans' Written Confession

'This is the confession of me, David Evans, who am justly condemned to suffer, for committing a great offense against the laws of God and man. I die in charity with all men; I forgive all who may have offended or injured me, and hope that all whom whom I might have injured in word or deed will forgive me also.
I was received by Hannah Davies as her lover, and was much attached to her; I visited her on Thursday, the 11th June last, and remained in her company on that occasion about two hours, and before we parted she asked me, if she were to go to her father's house the following Saturday, would I accompany her on the road near Esgar Fynwent. I left home between nine and ten o'clock and took a billhook with me and told my sister that I was going to mend some gaps in the hedge; I began my work, but before I finished closing the gap, Hannah Davies came and called me, and asked if I was coming; my answer was that I would rather not that night, and gave as an excuse that my sister was washing my stockings.
She said, 'come this night, or I will never forgive you.' On this I went and proceeded on the road to Cwmsifigw, in the parish of Llanybyther. We then went over the mountain, and proceeded along in a friendly manner until we reached the spot where the murder was perpetrated. As we were passing the small hollow where the body was found, I struck her with the billhook, which was concealed under my coat, across her neck.
She did not fall to the ground on the first blow; a second which I immediately dealt, brought her to the ground, but on what part of the body it fell, I cannot exactly say, nor how many more blows I gave, for I was bewildered, and almost frantic, and scarely knew what I was doing. I was instantly smitten by my conscience after striking the first blow, and was sorry for the act; but I was urged to finish the deed for fear she would recover, and that the attempt would be discovered, and I suffer for it.
I did not drag her from the road to the ravine, but she fell, I should think in that direction from the force of the blows. I then ran homewards as fast as I could, and on the way dipped the billhook in a pool of water, to wash away the blood. I reached home about one or two o'clock on the Sunday morning, and got to bed very silently, where I lay about an hour; I then got up, wiped my shoes, and put grease on them.
These were the shoes produced at the trial. Upon leaving the house on Saturday I told my sister, to prevent her coming out of the house, that she not see me going with Hannah Davies, that I would drive the cattle into the night field; and in order to decieve her further, I finished mending the gaps in the hedges, after I got up on the Sunday morning. I not think my sister heard me coming into the house, for I came in as silently as I could, and she was in bed.
There was no blood on my clothes, and I had no accomplice whater in committing the murder. I was instigated to this dreadful act by a feeling of jealousy, and I earnestly implore all young men to take warning by my melancholy, and do not give way to unruly passions, I return my most sincere thanks to those, in whose charge I have been ever since the awful and just sentence of the law was imposed against me, for the very humane and tender kindness and attention, spiritual and temporal, which I received from them.'

David Evans

* This confession was delivered voluntarily by the prisoner in Welsh and translated by Thomas Jones, Chaplain of Carmarthen Gaol. 1829


On Monday 21st September, 1829, 10,000 spectators gathered outside the gaol for the very public hanging of David Evans. The gallows had been erected on a platform raised inside and above the front wall of the gaol facing Spillman Street. As the day approached, the murderer turned to the church for redemption.
His victim, Hannah Davies, had walked unsuspecting to her death. First he seduced her and then hurried her 'with all her imperfections on her head,' into the hands of her maker. So quick was her death, that she was not able to even cry for help. But his death would not be so swift. He had time to dwell on the wickedness of his crime and in doing so, made the above confession.
At 9am the High Sheriff arrived at the gaol and the procession was lined and proceeded to walk to the gallows.
Evans ascended the steps with a firm walk and positioned himself on a mark over the drop. The prearranged signal was a dropping handkerchief, but alas when the handkerchief fell and the trapdoor opened, the beam holding Evans collapsed, bringing a loud groan from the crowds.
Evans fell to the ground in a heap and was unhurt. He was now expecting his life to be spared because he believed that as the first attempt to hang him had failed, then he could not be re-hung. He yelled in broken english:

'No hang again, no! No! No gentleman was hung twice for the same thing!'

He then continued to shout in Welsh about suffering a second punishment for the same offence. He begged all around to help him, claiming to have escaped the first death. He carried on shouting and struggling while the Governor explained that the sentence of death had to be carried out.
The beam was quickly replaced, and the process continued. Evans accepted his fate and ascended the scaffold for the second time. The noose was placed over his head and he plunged into eternity. He was left suspended for one hour and when the body was removed it was dissected and placed in an open coffin for the public to inspect.
William Spurrell records the executioner as being a penshioner. David Evans was the last man to suffer dissection in Carmarthen


  1. Fascinating. Read about the death of Hannah in a recent Carmarthen Journal historical article so am planning to go and photograph her grave at Pencarreg.

  2. Another very sad case brilliant reading it's hard to think as you go down jail hill this is the spot he hanged for his crime of murder ,,