LEWIS LEWIS (1763 - 1789)

The first article reveals the steps that were taken by the authorities to apprehend the murderer of Thomas Price

Though many people in the County of Brecon are acquainted with the steps taken by the Gentlemen for finding out the murderers of Thomas Price, yet as some of the readers of the following Pages may not have been informed thereof, it is presumed the ensuing Account will no prove unacceptable.

About the middle of the month October 1784, Thomas Price went out early one Monday morning and not returnin g again, a suspicion arose he was murdered, and concealed either in the Pools that are on the fells where he went, or in some ploughed fields not far from his own house; and in consequence a great number of people met together and searched the largest of t he Pools called Varlen-Vawr. The others they did not examine as it was thought the body would not be put there. And amongst those persons who were searching was Thomas Lewis the brother of Lewis. Lewis and tho' and accomplice in the murder he did not know where the body was put as he had refused to attend on the father and brother for that purpose; and it is supposed he went with the others to search to prevent being suspected. Afterwards the ploughed fields were carefully examined, still nothing was found . But as it was known that the deceased and the family of the Lewis's had been at continual enmity with each other; and that many of the latter were a vicious wicked set of people it was determined to have then taken up when Lewis Lewis the elder; Thomas L ewis; Lewis Lewis the younger and John Lewis, Brother of Lewis Lewis the elder were brought to Brecon and examined but nothing appearing against them and they declaring their ignorance of the matter they were set at liberty.

But as the gentlemen of the County were determined if possible to find out the murderer, they in March 1785 offered a reward of 20 guineas for the discovery of the body and 30 guineas more on the conviction of the Murderers but all in vain till about four months ago when John Lewis (brother to Lewis Lewis, the elder) was under sentence of transportation for 14 years to Botany Bay, frightened in the highest degree at the accounts from thence, they were read to him in the newspapers and resolved rather to be hanged here than to be starved t here, and also having had a quarrel with his brother Lewis Lewis, the elder; he is his heart told him (in the hearing of others) that "If he was a thief, he was not murderer and if he was sent to Botany Bay he would tell what should make some of them danc e after he was gone"' and immediately desired that a Magistrate should be brought to him that he might disclose what he knew but when the Magistrate came he would say nothing to the purpose; however in about a week's time he again wished that a Magistrate might come there when he was told by the person to whom he applied that unless he would tell all he knew about the business, the Magistrate should not be given the useless trouble of coming. On the Magistrate being sent for, he immediately came when John L e wis disclosed to him what he knew, and in consequence the Gaoler and three Constables were sent off with John Lewis to the Mountain, to search Varlen-vach, being the Pool in which he said Lewis Lewis the elder had told him the body was thrown; but nothing being found the Constable of Llanafan determined to have Thomas Lewis taken up again, when he was committed to Brecon Gaol, where he had not been above a fortnight, till to use his own words "Me felt such a weight on his heart and Conscience" and totally u ninfluenced by any premise of favour or reward he sent to a Magistrate to desire he would come to him,' when he confessed the whole matter and that his brother and Evan Davies were concerned in the murder. They on hearing his confession absconded immediat e ly; but the Gentlemen of the County being resolved if possible to bring them to justice, offered a Reward of Twenty Guineas for the apprehension and Thirty Guineas on the Conviction of both or either of the offenders, to be paid by the County Treasurer. I n consequence of which Lewis Lewis, the younger was taken in Merionethshire when he first offered 5 5s and afterwards 10 10s (sic) (could be in guineas ) if he should be suffered to escape but on being carried before a Magistrate he was committed to Dolgelly Gaol from whence he was moved by Habeas Corpus to Brecon to take his trial for the same and found guilty. E. Davies has not yet been found.

N.B. It is not improper to mention that the reward for apprehending Evan Davies is discontinued by public advertisement as it is imagined there are effectual steps taken for this apprehension without it.

The Indictment stated:- That Lewis Lewis the younger late of the parish of Llanafan-Fawr in the County of Brecon,, labourer, and Eva n Davies, late of the same,' labourer, not having the fear of God before their eyes but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the 31 st day of October, in the 25th. Year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, George the Third, New King o f Great Britain, and with force and arms at the parish of Llanafan-Fawr aforesaid in the County aforesaid in and upon one Thomas Price, in the peace of God and our said Lord the King and then there being did make an assault, and that the said Lewis Lewis t he younger, and Evan Davies, a certain cord, of no value upon and about, the neck of the said Thomas Price, then and there feloniously, wilfully and of their malice aforethought did fix, tie and fasten and that the said Lewis Lewis the younger and Evan Davies, the said Thomas Price then and their feloniously, wilfully and of their malice aforethought with the cord aforesaid did choke and strangle, of which choking and strangling the said Thomas Price then and there instantly died. That the said Lewis Lewis, the younger and Evan Davies on the said 31st day of October aforesaid, in the year of the aforesaid,' not having the fear of God before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, with force and arms at the parish of Llanafan-Fawr aforesaid, in the County aforesaid in and upon the said Thomas Price in the peace of God and our said Lord the King then and there being, did make an assault and that they the said Lewis Lewis the younger and Evan Davies with a certain stick of no value which he said Lewis Lewis, the younger, in his right hand and there had and held him the said Thomas Price, in and upon the head of him the said Thomas Price then and there feloniously, wilfully and of their malice aforethought did hit strike and be at giving to him the said Thomas Price by the hitting striking and beating of him the said Thomas Price with the stick aforesaid,' the mortal bruise,' of which mortal bruises,, he the said Thomas Price then and there instantly died. That the said Lewis Lewis the younger and Evan Davies not having the fear of God before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the investigation of the devil on the said 31st. day of October in the year aforesaid, at the parish of Llanafan-Fawr aforesaid, in the county of the aforesaid in and upon the said Thomas Price in the peace of God and our said Lord the King and there being did make an assault upon him the said Thomas price with their fists clenched in and upon the pit of the stomach of him the said Thomas Price, several times did beat and strike and that the said Lewis Lewis the younger and Evan Davies, him the said Thomas, Price, to and against the ground, then and there feloniously wilfully and of their malice aforethought did violently squeeze and press of which said last mentioned striking and beating and also of the said squeezing and pressing of him the said Thomas Price then and there instantly died.

That the said Lewis Lewis the younger and Evan Davies, the said Thomas Price in manner and form aforesaid, feloniously wilfully and of their malice aforethought did kill and murder against the peace of our said Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity. That Lewis Lewis the elder late of the parish of Llanafan-Fawr aforesaid to wit on the 30th. day of October,' in the year of aforesaid with force and arms at the parish of Llanafan-Fawr aforesaid in the County aforesaid did feloniously wilfully and of his malice aforethought incite move procure aid abet counsel him an command the said Lewis Lewis the younger to do and commit the Felony and Murder aforesaid against the peace of our said Lord the King, his crown and Dignity.

Details of the actual trial can be found by clicking the link. The article was called "A Circumstantial Account Of The Evidence Produced On The Trial Of Lewis Lewis The Younger"

The second article is by a nineteenth century historian David Woodings who researched the Lewis family and issued this account dated 1890

Lewis Lewis was the son of Lewis Lewis of the Argoed in the Parish of Llanafan-Fawr aforesaid, Farmer and Shepherd who is now in Brecon Gaol under sentence of Transportation but will be tried as an accessory to the foregoing murder.  Thomas Lewis his brother an accomplice turned King's Evidence.  David Lewis, another brother was tried this Sessions for Sheep Stealing but acquitted.  David Lewis, an Uncle was convicted of stealing a turkey in 1786 and is now on board one of the transports for Botany Bay.  John Lewis, another Uncle was convicted of Sheep Stealing in the Spring Sessions 1788 and is under sentence of Transportation for 14 years, but is still in Brecon Gaol.  Margaret Lewis the wife of David (who is one board a Transport, as mentioned above) was tried this Sessions for the murder of a Male Bastard Child she had since her husband was sent off.  Such is the family of this man of whom the neighbours were in perpetual Fear.  During the whole of his trial he behaved with uncommon Hardiness, till the bones were produced, when he changed Colour exceedingly, but he recovered himself soon, and when sentence was passed on him not the least Change appeared in him.  When he was taken back to Gaol, the Ordinary gave him due attendances, and tried by every Argument in his power to bring him to confess his Guilt, but he persisted in his Innocence, and said his brother had perjured himself in swearing away his life.  He continued to declare himself all Wednesday Night and the greatest part of Thursday.  Was exceedingly sullen though at times was greatly distressed at the thought of dying and very frequently burst into tears.  In the afternoon his brother the Accomplice was introduced to him by the Ordinary in hopes it might be a means of his confessing, yet he still denied the fact, but was distressed very much and when his brother repeated the conversations they had at different times and places he would not acknowledge them,, but said he supposed his brother knew or he would not have sworn so, and that God above knew how it was.  After the Ordinary had stated the Necessity of his dying in Peace with his brother, he at last said he would forgive him and shook hands at parting, and in a few minutes after the brother was sent out (which was about eight o'clock on Thursday evening) his mother-in-law was introduced who begged of him, if he was guilty to confess it to the Ordinary when he immediately exclaimed "On God, I did it, I did it!" but refused to relate the particulars of the murder and still exculpated his Father and Evan Davies to the last moment of his life.  

On the morning of his execution he appeared very penitent and wished very much to receive the Sacrament which was administered to him after he repeatedly declared he forgave his Brother who he said had done him no wrong, for that he certainly committed the murder and deserved to die.  That he submitted to his sentence with all his heart and hoped in God he should have all his punishment in this world and that he died in Peace with everyone.  A short time before his execution his Father was introduced to take his farewell of him which was an affecting scene indeed.  As soon as the Father saw his son he threw himself on his knees by him and after many exclamations of concern and grief he took him in his arms and said "My dear Son, do tell Mr. Lawrence (the Ordinary) if I ever desired you to kill Thomas Price", to which he answered "No never, never my dear Father." The Father then asked "Did I ever give you a Bank of Sheep for killing him?" when he again answered "No, never, never." He was a short time after taken to the Place of Execution where he joined most fervently in Prayer with the Ordinary for a long time.  After prayers were over, he was pressed again as to the guilt of his Father and Evan Davies to which he answered "I have already told you all I know and I will tell no lie of any man." As the cart was drawing away he exclaimed "God have Mercy on me." And was launched into Eternity.

The High Sheriff attended in a Mourning Coach and four and the Deputy on Horseback and though there was the greatest Concourse of People ever seen here it being an uncommon sight, as no execution had taken place in the County for upwards of thirty years, yet the whole was conducted with the greatest Decorum and Solemnity.  After he had hung the usual time he was carried into the Gaol and early on Saturday Morning conveyed to Garth Hill near the place where the murder was committed and hung in chains - on Garth Common opposite Dolfelin.

His body was taken down one very stormy night and conveyed on one knows where.  This was done by his immediate relations it is thought.  Unable to free the chains which had rivitted about the ankles they soon to have cut off the feet.  Anyway one of the hounds of my great grandfather John Price of Dolfelyn brought him a feet to the kennel on the following day. 

There was a tradition that the body was hurridly buried the first night in a temporary grave on the Garth Common and subsequently removed elsewhere.  I was shown, when a boy, where the gibbet stood and where the body was said to have been buried first of all.

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To be continued

This page was last updated on 19/04/02 09:15