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Some Bygone Social Frictions

By E. Vernon Jones

Frequent in the Police Information Book of Carmarthen Borough for 1865-6 (Museum 647) deposited at Carmarthen County Record Office are cases of assault and threatening behaviour. That many of those who laid information signed their complaints with a mark suggests, not unexpectedly, that such behaviour was common only among the lower orders, though the record allows room to suspect that more respectable types were not entirely immune.

It is significant that such offenders were often butchers and ragmen or rag gatherers, which may mean that there was either a surfeit of these people or that they were more prone to berate anyone sometimes their own kind who roused their temper. That butchers should resort to violence, threatened or real, is perhaps, not surprising, since it appears that their trade required them to fill the role of slaughterman.

But this social disease spread wider. Among the accused stand a schoolmaster, a sawyer unintimidated by a boxer (albeit a probable tinworks employee rather than a pugilist) and more than a few women, one a 'professor of mesmerism' and another Amazon who baulked not at a yeoman.

Street parking and furious or careless driving in an age before the arrival of the motor vehicle seem unlikely but they were not unknown transgressions in 1865. The fiddlers and diddlers were as active then as they are now, the tollgate-keeper, for instance, being fair enough game for deception by such stratagems as paying for one horse instead of two or dishonestly declaring lime for agricultural use.

It is proper to point out that those informed against were not necessarily guilty and that the cases cited in the appended extract are only representative samples reproduction in toto would have been repetitious but, nevertheless, they serve to reveal some of the social frictions of the period.


Extracts From The Police Information Book

1865
7th March. Anne Davies, wife of John Davies, Goose Street, Carmarthen, mason, complained that James Davies, Goose Street, labourer, did threaten and declare that "he would by God finish her before he left the town" and from these and other threats . . . this complainant is afraid that he will do her some bodily injury and prays for Sureties, of the Peace against him.

11th March. Rachel Edwards, wife of Richard Edwards, Quay Street, Carmarthen, mariner, complained that David Richards of Quay Street did unlawfully assault and beat her . . .

17th March. Evan Davies, Carmarthen, lessee of tolls complained that Henry Jones, Catherine Street, Carmarthen, pig dealer did unlawfully refuse to pay ... the sum of two shillings and eleven pence the lawful toll payable in respect of thirty-five pigs brought to be sold at the Carmarthen Cattle Market of which the said Evan Davies is Lessee and Collector.

20th March. Margaret Lewis, wife of James Lewis, Catherine Street, Carmarthen, butcher complained that Elizabeth Lewis, wife of Thomas Lewis, Catherine Street, butcher did assault and beat her.

29th March. Francis Green1, St. Mary Street, Carmarthen, solicitor, complained that John William Hughes, late of Carmarthen, being then clerk to the said Francis Green, did receive and take into his possession for and on account of the said Francis Green his master the sum of five pounds in money and the same did feloniously and fraudulently embezzle.

8th June. John Lewis, Carmarthen, draper, complained that Thomas Lewis butcher, being a person able to work and thereby wholly to maintain himself and his family, did then and there wilfully neglect to do so whereby his wife and their two children whom he was then and there legally bound to maintain became chargeable to the Parish of St. Peter.

12th June. Thomas Fontaine, Water Street, Carmarthen, innkeeper complained that Henry Evans, St. Catherine Street, shoemaker did feloniously steal, take and carry away certain household furniture to wit one half drawers, one looking glass, one square table, one round table, three chairs, one tent bedstead, one bed and bedclothes and sundry other articles . . . of the said Thomas Fontaine.

13th June. William Nicholls, Bridge Street, Carmarthen, laborer complained that David Richards, Dame Street, laborer did hire and employ the said William Nicholls to serve him as a laborer at the wages of two shillings and sixpence per day ... and that there is now due and owing to him ... the sum of nine shillings and one penny half penny which amount the said David Richards refuses to pay . . .

John Quin, Castle Hill, Carmarthen, laborer, made a similar complaint against David Richards for refusing to pay eleven shillings and tenpence halfpenny wages due.

16th June. Samuel Kentish, Priory Street, Carmarthen, Superintendent Constable, complained that William Davies, Queen Street, commercial traveller, did wilfully cause an obstruction in a public footpath in ... Queen Street by leaving a large number of casks . . .

17th June. James Fontaine the younger, of Water Street, Carmarthen, butcher, complained that Ellen Evans, wife of Henry Evans, St Catherine Street, shoemaker, did unlawfully assault and beat him.

23rd June. Samuel Kentish, Priory Street, Carmarthen, Superintendent Constable complained that Thomas Fontaine, Water Street, Innkeeper, . . . duly licensed to sell exciseable liquors by retail in his house . . . and the day being Sunday did unlawfully open his said house for the sale of beer before half past twelve oclock in the afternoon of the said day to wit, at ten minutes past three oclock in the morning contrary to the Statute . . . did . . . sell to two females a certain quantity of beer, to wit two quarts of beer, the same not being then sold as refreshment for travellers.

29th June. Wearn Rickard of the National School, schoolmaster, complained that John Lovell and David Morgan James both of Water Street did unlawfully steal . . . a quantity of apples, gooseberries and currants of the value of one shilling, the property of the said Wearn Rickard. . . . growing in a certain garden . . . in the occupation of the said Wearn Rickard.

7th July. John Williams of the Bridge Gate, Carmarthen, toll collecter, complained that John Evans, Penlan, labourer, did resist or make forcible opposition against . . . John Williams . . . in the execution of the Act 3rd George 4th Chapter 126 by hindering him from distraining on certain horses in respect of which toll was imposed.

A similar complaint was laid against William Williams of the County Gaol, turnkey.

The same day John Evans, Penlan complained that John Williams, toll collector did unlawfully assault and beat him.

8th July. Hannah Davies, wife of James Davies, Island Row, Carmarthen, tailor, complained that Mary Lewis, wife of Benjamin Lewis, Island Row, sawyer, did threaten and declare that she would "by God pull her intestines out" . . . and prays for sureties of the peace against her.

18th July. David Morris, Jackson's Lane, Carmarthen, Police Constable, complained that Charles Regan, Kidwelly fach did ride furiously a certain horse in Goose Street so as to endanger the lives and limbs of passengers . . .

25th July. Roger Lester, Furnace Lodge, Carmarthen, gentleman, complained that John Jones, Charles Davies, David Howells and David Morgan did unlawfully steal . . . a quantity of apples of the value of one shilling . . . growing in a certain garden ... in the occupation of the said Roger Lester.

26th July. Charles Elias, Kidwelly fach, complained that Margaret Elias wife of John Elias, Kidwelly fach, engine driver, did unlawfully assault and beat him.

27th July. Joseph Morris, Quay Street, Carmarthen, innkeeper, complained that Benoni Davies, Bull Lane was unlawfully drunk in . . . Quay Street and while so drunk was guilty of riotous conduct.

2nd August. Evan Davies, lessee of tolls, complained that David Rees, Tenby did sell and expose for sale at or near the Quay and not in the Market Place nor his own dwelling house, shop or premises certain fish.

5th August. William Thomas, Priory Street, Carmarthen, boxer, complained that James Hughes, Priory Street, sawyer, did unlawfully assault and beat him.

12th August. John Thomas, Priory Street, Carmarthen, printer, complained that William Harries Thomas, Priory Street, printer did threaten to stab him with a knife . . . and prays for sureties of the peace against him.

14th August. John Jones, Penycnwc, Abergwili complained that John Jones, Catherine Street, Carmarthen, pig drover, did unlawfully assault and beat him.

17th August. Thomas Evans, Waundew, Carmarthen, Police Constable, complained that Daniel Williams, Aberdare, Glamorgan, shopkeeper, did drive furiously a certain carriage or cart in King Street so as to endanger the lives and limbs of passengers . . .

1st September. Mary Jones, Llanllwch, schoolmaster [sic], complained that George Edmunds, Llanllwch Farm, schoolmaster, did unlawfully assault and beat her. [Mary Jones signed her complaint with a mark].

4th September. George Davies, The Old Priory, Carmarthen, hammer-man, complained that William Williams, The Old Priory, laborer, did threaten and declare that "by the devil" he would "thrash him" . . . and prays for sureties of the peace against him.

21st September. Samuel Kentish, Priory Street, Carmarthen, Superintendent of Police, complained that Thomas Thomas, Narberth, wool dresser, did drive furiously a certain horse and car in Lammas Street . . .

25th September. David Edwards, Blue Street, Carmarthen, marine store dealer, complained that Benoni Davies, Bull Lane, hawker, was unlawfully drunk in . . . Dark Gate . . . and guilty of riotous conduct.

The same day David Edwards complained that Gwenllian Davies, wife of Benoni Davies, did unlawfully assault and beat him.

30th September. Samuel Kentish, Superintendent Constable, complained that James Fontaine the younger, Water Street, Carmarthen, butcher did slaughter or dress two sheep for sale in a place within the limits of the Carmarthen Market Act 1853 and not in the slaughter house provided by the Corporation . . .

9th October. Eliza Headon, wife of Thomas Headon, Priory Street, Carmarthen, ganger, complained that Jane Henderson, wife of -------- Henderson, Duke Yard, sailor, did threaten and declare "that she would by God, be her murderer" . . . and prays for sureties of the peace . . .

14th October. David Jones, Little Water Street, Carmarthen complained that Maragaret Lewis, Saint Catherine Street, single woman, did unlawfully assault and beat him.

21st October. Howell Howells, King Street, Carmarthen, one of the Overseers of the Poor, complained that Daniel Williams, Dame Street, tinman did run away from the parish of St Peter whereby his wife and their two children became and still are chargeable to the parish . . .

21st October. Evan Davies, lessee of tolls, complained that John Evans, Bankyddeitir, Llanfihangel Rhosycorn, farmer, did . . . expose to sale in . . Blue Street and not in the Market place or his own dwelling house, shop or premises certain live fowls . . .

24th October. Rollins Davies, Water Street, Carmarthen, shoemaker, complained that Richard Jones, Water Street, police constable did unlawfully assault and beat him.

16th November. Samuel Kentish, Priory Street, Carmarthen, Superintendent of Police, complained that Timothy Manning, St Catherine Street, rag gatherer, did ride furiously in St Catherine Street a certain pony so as to endanger the lives and limbs of passengers . . .

A similar complaint was laid against Dennis Sullivan, St Catherine Street, rag gatherer.

16th November. Evan Bowen, Bynea, Llanelly, railway inspector, complained that Thomas Harries, Velinisaf, Llanddarog did unlawfully and wilfully obstruct . . . Evan Bowen . . . in the execution of his duty [as an inspector of the Llanelly Railway and Dock Company] upon a certain railway . . . by . . . pushing and striking him.

A similar complaint was laid against George Evans, New Lodge, Llanarthney.

17th November. Mary Leary, wife of James Leary, Kidwelly fach, laborer, complained that Ann Fewins, wife of John Fewins, Kidwelly fach, plate-layer, did threaten and declare that "she would rip her open and twist her intestines round her fingers" . . . and prays for sureties of the peace . . .

20th November. Mary Henkin, Priory Street, Carmarthen, spinster, complained that David Beynon, Priory Street, nailer, did threaten and declare that he "would knock her brains out with a hammer" . . .

24th November. Eliza Jones, Pentrepoth, Carmarthen, complained that John Jones, Pentrepoth, painter, did threaten and declare that "he would run her through with a poker" . . .

24th November. Samuel Kentish, Superintendent of Police, complained that Hannah Davies, wife of James Davies, Island Row, tailor, did feloniously steal . . . a certain piece of print of the value of thirty shillings of the goods of one John Davies.

25th November. Jane Wilcox, Dame Street, Carmarthen, widow, complained that Mary Thomas, Dame Street, single woman, did wilfully and maliciously commit damage, injury and spoil to a . . . certain window the property of . . . Jane Wilcox by breaking seven panes of glass . . .

5th December. Margaret Phillips, St Catherine Street, Carmarthen, widow, complained that Thomas, son of David Lewis, Fare dealer, and William, son of Thomas Bevan, laborer, both of St Catherine Street, did wilfully and maliciously commit damage, injury and spoil to a certain Iron Boiler the property of Margaret Phillips by breaking or making a hole therein . . .

27th December. Thomas Evans, Waundew, police constable, complained that Rachel Mathias, wife of John Mathias, Rhydygwiel, Llanarthney, laborer, did wilfully interrupt and cause an obstruction in a certain public crossing or footpath leading from Guildhall Square to Dark Gate . . . by leaving a horse and cart thereon.

1866
13th January. Howell Howells, King Street, Carmarthen, grocer, one of the Overseers of the Poor, complained that William Phillips, Water Street, sawyer, being a person able to work and thereby in part to maintain himself and his family did . . . wilfully neglect so to do, whereby his wife Mary and their five children . . . became chargeable to the parish . . .

27th January. Edward Joseph, Mansel Street, Carmarthen, printer, complained that Miss Pole, Blue Street, professor of mesmerism, did unlawfully assault and beat him.

Joseph laid similar complaints against Coulson Smith, James Leonard, and John Stewart, all of Blue Street.

27th January. Howell Howells, grocer, complained that Thomas Lewis, butcher, being a person able to work and thereby wholly to maintain himself and his family did . . . wilfully neglect to do so . . .

1st February. Samuel Kentish, Superintendent of Police, complained that a breach of the provisions of the Salmon Fishery Act 1861 had been committed by some unkown person or persons and that salmon illegally taken is now lying on the premises of the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway at Carmarthen . . .

2nd February. Samuel Kentish complained that Richard Mansfield, Birmingham, hawker, did expose to sale at . . . Dark Gate and not in the Market Place . . . certain fancy goods.

15th February. George Terry, John Street, Carmarthen, victualler, complained that Thomas Henry Moody, King Street, butcher, did threaten to "take his guts out and knock his soul out" . . .

21st February. The Rev. Latimer Maurice Jones, clerk [vicar of St. Peter's] complained that Mrs. Rees, wife of Morgan Rees, Maesycrigie Arms, and David Richards, Priory Street did break up and damage certain property in Priory Street . . . doing injury to the amount of five shillings.

2nd March. John Jeremy, Tanerdy, glover, complained that Thomas Thomas, Narberth, fellmonger, did unlawfully assault and beat him.

3rd March. Samuel Kentish complained that George Isaac Shepherdson, St. Peter Street, Carmarthen did wilfully cause an obstruction in . . . Saint Peter Street by leaving . . . two tables, four chairs and a mattress.

10th March. Owen Jones, manager of the Tinworks, Carmarthen, as agent for Thomas Lester & Company, complained that James Jenkins, The Tin Works, refiner, being . . . employed by . . . Thomas Lester and Company . . . was . . . guilty of certain ill behaviour by . . . refusing to work and absenting himself from his service for the space of seven days without the consent of . . . his masters and with just cause or lawful excuse.

24th March. John Jones, Carmarthen, seaman, complained that Thomas Weyman, Carmarthen, master mariner, did unlawfully neglect or refuse to pay him . . . the sum of eight pounds nine shillings and four pence, being the amount of wages justly due to him for services performed as a seaman on board the schooner Alfred & Emma . . .

9th April. David Williams, Water Street, Carmarthen, police sergeant, complained that Evan Jones, Clynelwyd, Llangeler, farmer, being the driver and owner of a certain cart . . . did . . . ride upon the cart in St Mary Street not having . . . any other person to guide the same and the said cart not being such an one as is driven with reins conducted by some person holding the reins of the horse drawing the same.

12th April. William Lewis Morris, St. Peter Street, Carmarthen, tinman, complained that William Evans, Waterloo Terrace, being an apprentice to . . . William Lewis Morris . . . upon whose binding out no premium was paid . . . was guilty of a . . . misdemeanour by . . . absconding from . . . service without consent and without just cause.

12th April. Evan Horatio Nelson Davies, Carmarthen, ship owner, complained that William Williams, Evan Evans and John Williams of Carmarthen, being seamen and having been lawfully engaged to serve on board a certain brig called the Village Belle on a voyage from Carmarthen to Ardrossan did unlawfully neglect and refuse to proceed in the said ship.

14th April. Ann Shamby, wife of Mr Shamby, Dame Street, Carmarthen, laborer, complained that David Jones, Dame Street, butcher, did unlawfully assault and beat her.

14th April. Samuel Kentish complained that James Edwards, Priory Street, weaver, did unlawfully assault and beat one Charles Davies, an infant under the age of seven years.

30th June. The Guardians of the Carmarthen Union by John Evans, relieving officer, complained that Henry Thomas, Old Tan Yard, Johnstown, mason, is indebted unto the said Guardians in divers sums of money amounting in the whole to the sum of sixteen shillings . . . paid on account of his wife . . . as relief by way of loan from time to time . . . within one year . . . which sum the said Henry Thomas refuses and neglects to pay.

28th June. Robert Slater, Millbank, Carmarthen, yeoman complained that Eliza Williams, King Street did unlawfully assault and beat him . . .

7th July. John Evans, King Street, Carmarthen, relieving officer, complained that Catherine Lloyd was on the 13th February legally removed from the parish of St Peter when she . . . was then actually chargeable to the parish of Llanfihangel-ar-arth . . . by an order . . . of Her Majesty's Justices . . . for Carmarthen bearing date 13th August 1860 but which order was suspended by reason of the sickness of . . . Catherine Lloyd until 2nd January 1866 and that [she] hath since her removal . . . on or about 13th February last returned to the parish of St Peter and did on 14th April last become chargeable to the common fund of the said Union she . . . not having joined any settlement therein and not having produced any certificate of the churchwardens and overseers of any other parish, township or place thereby acknowledging her to be settled therein, contrary to the Statute.

13th August. John Williams, Francis Well Gate, Carmarthen, toll collector, complained that Evan Davies, Tywrthyreglwys, Llanfihangel-ar-arth, farmer, did receive from some person unknown, such person not being the collector of tolls at the gate called Francis Well Gate, a certain note or ticket issued at the said gate, with intent . . . to evade the payment of the toll to wit the sum of fourpence . . .

31st August. Robert Wade, Temple Gardens, Carmarthen, inspector of nuisances, complained that James Griffiths, St Peter Street, brewer, being the owner and occupier of certain outhouses . . . in St Peter Street did . . . in the said premises keep certain swine . . . which are nuisance to persons living in the neighbourhood . . .

4th September. John Williams, toll collector complained that James Davies, Conwil Elvet, farmer, did pass through . . . Francis Well Gate . . . without paying the toll to wit the sum of eight pence . . . in respect of a certain cart drawn by two horses . . .

6th September. John Williams, toll collector, complained that John Jones, Abergwilly, labourer, did claim the benefit of an exemption from the toll, to wit the sum of fourpence . . . payable at .. . Francis Well Gate in respect of a cart drawn by one horse . . . [by] fraudulently pretending that the the lime in the said cart was for agricultural purposes whereas such was not the fact . . .

7th September. William Wonnacott, Guildhall Square, Carmarthen, provision merchant, complained that Thomas Hoskins, The Mount, Carmarthen, labourer, did cruelly beat . . . a horse by . . . violently beating the same with a stick.

16th September. Henry Lawrence, Johnstown, toll collector, complained that William Manning, Birmingham, hawker, after having passed through . . . Royal Oak Gate . . . on a turnpike road leading to St. Clears with a certain carriage or caravan drawn by one horse and having paid . . . the toll . . . in respect of such carriage or caravan drawn by one horse only did afterwards . . . put another horse to the said carriage or caravan . . . whereby the payment of part of the toll, to wit the sum of 4d . . . was . . . . evaded.

26th September. John Williams, Francis Well Gate, Carmarthen, toll collector, complained that John Jenkins, Tynant, Abergwilly did unlawfully assault and beat him.
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