Monday, 8 February 2010

Records Of Executions In Carmarthen

On 22nd May 1739, a man by the name of Edwards from the village of Llandefeilog, was hanged at Pensarn for the crime of pilfering. On the following day, 23rd, May Elinor Williams, alias Hadley, a servant at Job's Well, was hanged on the common below the Royal Oak Gate, for murdering her child. Buried near Carmarthen railway station her body is reported have been placed in the gibbet before burial.
On that same day, two young lads were executed for stealing cider from Mr Evan Thomas, landlord of the Greyhound Inn, Carmarthen.
It was in the year 1742 that a girl aged just 8 years old, was tried at Carmarthen Assizes. She had been charged with the murder of her brother and sister, ages 6 & 4 respectively. It appeared the children were frightened by stories making the rounds about the cruelty inflicted by the Spaniards and the expected Spanish invasion. During the night, a violent thunderstorm erupted and the children believed it was the invading Spaniards.
The young children begged their sister to kill them. She carried out the killings with a blade used to trim hedging. She then attempted to use the blade on herself. Records show this child was acquitted at her trial.

In 1745, Robin Lewis Richard of Abergwili, was hanged for the murder of William Owen of Carmarthen. Two years later in 1747, Captain Owens, a noted smuggler, was hung for the murder of a dance instructor.
The year of 1750 announced the hanging of Joseph Jenkins, 'a noted swearer was comitted to the town gaol for the murder of his wife.' Once convicted he was hanged on the common near the Royal Oak Gate.
St Peter's Register records the murder as '1750 December 11th'.

On 28th March 1770, nine men were condemned to death at Hereford, before Mr Justice Yates and Baron Perrott, for the murder of William Powell of Glanareth, Llangadock, in his parlour on the 8th January. On the 22nd March, all nine men had been removed from Carmarthen Gaol and taken to Hereford by Habeas Corpus. Of the nine who had been tried, William Spiggott, (alias Spicket), William Morris, David Morris, David Morgan, (alias Lacey), William Walter Evan, Charles David Morgan and David Llewellyn, of Llandovery, were found guilty and were all hanged in Hereford on 30th March.
William Spiggott and William Walter Evan were later hanged in chains. William Thomas (alias Blink John Spiggott) and William Charles were both acquitted, but William Thomas returned to live in Carmarthen and was hanged at Pensarn for horse stealing. Walter Evan had turned King's evidence but it didn't stop him from being hanged later for further crimes.
Charles David Morgan was betrayed by footprints and blood in the snow which were traced to him, typically he accused several of his accomplices. The evidence was given in Welsh, where it was claimed that William Williams was the instigator and ringleader of the gang. He was never brought before the court because he fled to France.
William Powell had been murdered because William Williams wanted to marry Powell's wife. Of the twenty wounds inflicted on William Powell, it was proved by the prosecution that any one of eight would have caused death. At his funeral, his casket was covered in a scarlet cloth to show that he had been murdered.
Records also proved that William Powell's wife had planned her husbands murder, and the wife of William Williams was also aware that her husband was trying to kill her. On one occasion he had attempted to hang her while on another he put white powder into her tea. It was only that her child had said that Williams had put some sugar from his pocket into the cup that saved her. The tea was later given to the dog and days later it was dead.
As to what became of Williams in France, he was taken prisoner by a French privateer, but again managed to escape and fled to St Omer were he became a school teacher. However he drowned when he took a party of school children on a cruise. In his parents at Boulogne, they discovered a pocket book with a blood spot and an entry on the page 8th January, 1770 read 'my finger bled today how singular.' The story ends with the story of a man who had been interpreter at the court, who was fired at as he went home by a man disguised in an ass's skin who had jumped from the hedge. No record mentions a conviction for this crime.

1788 kept the hangman busy at Pensarn with several executions. One of these was Will Mani, for murdering a woman on Pembrey Mountain. The cuff from his coat was found in his victim's hand and was identified by a tailor and convicted Mani. He was hanged then gibbeted on the hill at Pensarn.
Gutto (Grifeith) Rowley was charged with murdering a tithe collector. He escaped to Bristol and worked in a sugar warehouse for about 6 years and it was only while attempting to rob a pig drover from Llanddarog on Bristol Bridge that he was recognised and arrested. Years later his son was hanged for being involved in the robbery of his aunt and her attempted murder.

In 1789, John Nash began constructing the new County Gaol. After its completion in 1792 all the prisoners were transferred from the town gaol to this new County Gaol, which stood on the gate between King Street and Market Street (Nott Square).

The next hanging to take place was that of shoemaker Sioni'r Cornell, who in 1797 murdered his father at Llanfihangel, Abercowin. He swung at Pensarn. On 4th August, 1802 records show that a person had been placed in the pillory.

In 1810, the Borough Gaol was built and on 27th August, all the town prisoners were sent to this new gaol. A dungeon was discovered at the County Gaol in June 1814, deep underground it was described as having a stout wooden pillar in the middle of the room. It was assumed at the time that condemned inmates were secured to the pillar prior to execution.

Three men were arrested on 2nd November 1834 for robbing a warehouse, and sentenced to transportation to the colonies. Whilst awaiting transportation they attemted to escape from Carmarthen Gaol but failed and were promptly despatched to the colonies.

4th of January, 1866, was the date when two prisoners, Owen Pritchard (29) and John Reid (16) escaped from Carmarthen Gaol. They used a piece of wood to make a hole into each other's cell and then broke into the chimney flue to gain access to the prison yard. Then with their bed sheets and a weighted pillow case they scaled the prison wall.
Pritchard was captured the next day, having been chased by a policeman. In Spurrell's own words: 'he was a desperate character; and when taken was bare footed, and armed with a pointed hedge-stake, to which he made significant reference; two sharp raps on the head showed him that his observations were duly appreciated'.

In 1832 a noted character from Pembrokeshire drove a cart of smuggled spirits through the town, and was pursued by a group of excise men, who had lain in ambush near the Royal Oak Gate. Putting his horse into gallop, he outdistanced his hunters, escaped with his cart over the bridge and deposited his load in safety close to Llanarthney.
He later drowned near Pembroke, after having run into the water in endeavouring to escape from the officers of a revenue cutter who were attempting to catch him. He used to keep casks of spirits under a stone in the floor of his pigsty. On one occasion, not having time to stash them in the usual place, customs officers visited him but he was able to keep the officers at bay with a hot poker, while his son wrecked the casks and emptied the alcohol into the drain.

1 comment:

  1. The town has history I never new ,people should know ,This is top of the class reading and hard work Stephen must have done day's ,nights, weeks, months even years working Giving us doorstep history we never knew we had I am amazed I will tell who ever about this .I can read this all day ,Never have i read a story or tails like this in my life I hate reading ,truthfully it's my first time I have sat and read for hours its unreal. Thanks