Ken Lloyd Gruffydd.
‘The Town of Mold contains abt. 6 score houses betwixt houses & huts. ‘ [ l]
This is how the antiquarian Edward Lhuyd saw Ystrad Alun’s principal settlement at the end of the seventeenth century. It therefore comes as no surprise to discover Thomas Jones, one of the high conslables for the Hundred of Mold, together with his two community appointed petty constables for that division, having ‘nothing to present’ at the Great Sessions held at Flint on 3 April 1700. They further reported that ‘all is well to our knowledge’; a not unexpected situation for a small country town that could hardly boast over 500 inhabitants. By the end of the century, however, circumstances had changed dramatically, prompting one writer, in 1796, to express deep concern about ‘the illegal proceedings which now happen so frequently at Mold and that they are carried out without any check or attempt to restrain them.'
The town grew noticeably during the eighteenth century with the district’s rustic squirearchy aping the English practice of spending time ‘ in town’ by building large houses for themselves in the High Street. Some, in partnership with entrepreneurs from across the border, ventured into coalmining on the valley floor while others sought their fortune leadmining upon Halkyn and Mold mountains. Such enterprises resulted in an influx of both male and female workers into the area, many of whom had been forced out of agriculture through experiencing tenancy eviction or were the victims of successively poor harvests. By mid-century the town was important enough for John Wesley to pay it a visit on no less than three occasions. During his first call in May 1759 it was claimed that a ‘multitude of people’ listened to him preach at Cytiau’r Moch, despite the fact that the rich had departed for Chester Races and the poor were at the market, which incidentally, had its operating licence renewed in 1732. Improved communication with other centres had come with the setting up of turnpike trusts and by 1779 the town was served by a stagecoach service.  A rapid growth in population over the closing decades is reflected in the poor-rate increasing from nearly £400 in 1771 to£1405 in 1796.
The incursion of newcomers into a closely-knit community invariably resulted in social conflict, something that was repugnant to the upper classes who tolerated commoners only when they were hardworking and God-fearing. The government’s solution to the ever-increasing antisocial behaviour was to introduce new legislation that speedily brought offenders to book. Such was the Vagrancy Act (1744) that from then on empowered Justices of the Peace to administer the law, in cases other then felony, without a jury being involved. This meant that gentry such as Thomas Griffith I I of Rhual, Bagot Read I of Coed-onnen and Aquilla Wyke of Llwynegrin could dispense justice from their own withdrawing rooms. A warrant signed at such a ‘summary session’ permitted constables to imprison those responsible for producing illegitimate children, families who did not qualify for settlement in the parish, beggars, peddlers, trade embezzlers, those poaching from fields, woods, rivers and the like. And because the onus of bringing charges against an individual lay with the plaintiff, many wrongdoers did not even reach the courts, since presenting cases at the higher assizes could prove expensive. Indeed, this was usually the reason why serious lawsuits we re downgraded to the Quarter Sessions which, in Mold at least, were often held in public houses such as the Black Lion, Red Lion, Griffin and the Leeswood Arms. The Lord of the Manor’s Leete Court at The Cross had been adopted for Great Sessions but proved wholly inadequate for the purpose and was described in the early 1800s as a ‘barn-like crazy old building appearing better calculated to receive, on an emergency, a set of strolling players, that for the solemnity of a court of justice. ‘
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During the eighteenth century the law was woefully defective and unjust. The death sentence could be handed out for stealing goods worth a mere shilling (5p.) for trespassing or breaking the Game Laws, but attempted murder was still considered a misdemeanour while the act of abduction wasn’t even on the statute books. The majority of the codes were aimed at protecting property and is reflected in the number of cases in this category that appear in the records of both Flintshire’s Quarter and Great Sessions.
In 1755 Mary Hughes alias Roberts of Mold was found guilty of stealing a pair of women’s leather shoes valued at 10d.  The cheapest of footwear generally cost double that amount but to avoid the crime being classified as capital felony the jury sympathetically reduced their worth to a sum less that 12d. Since the court dockets make no mention of her punishment she may well have escaped with a severe reprimand. Similarly, when Peter Ogden, also of Mold, stole several items of clothing from St. Catherine’s leadmine on Mold Mountain in 1743 – and subsequently sold them to colliers at Nant Mawr, Buckley – he was fined on three counts. That is, 2d., 6d. and 8d. instead of the total amount of ls.4d. which would have made it a case of grand larceny. Nevertheless, he was jailed and sentenced to be ‘whipped twice at the two next market days at Mold and Holywell.' The procedure at Mold was to tie the prisoner to the back of a cart and continually flog him from the top of the town to The Cross and back again. This usually took place between 11.00am and 1.00pm when the town was at its busiest.
The absence of a professional law enforcement body compelled the powers that be to rely heavily upon the integrity of their tenants and neighbours for information leading to a conviction. Generally, however, informants were frowned upon and the intelligence that lead to the arrest of a thief at Rhual was quite exceptional for the period. Five pieces of silverware had vanished from the country seat of Thomas Griffith II in 1778 without any clues whatsoever as to their whereabouts. Within a short period he received a letter from a Chester silversmith informing him that the lost items had been offered to him for sale. This resulted in his maidservant Mary Rawson being taken into custody.
Possession of evidence wasn’t always sufficient for a conviction This was true in the case of spinster Elizabeth Evans of Afon Ddu (Black Brook) who was accused of having procured clothing by theft from a Flint woman and her servant in 1789. The jury saw nothing unusual in the fact that she had exchanged garments with an acquaintance from Llyn y Pandy but found it difficult to accept that she had bought them ‘in an open street in Shrewsbury’ from a woman whose name she could not recollect. Some of the items listed corresponded with those that had disappeared but Evans could provide an alibi that during that crucial period she was in Shropshire, and for some time immediately afterwards, lodged at Llanfwrog (Ruthin), paying ls.0d.(5p) a week for her place. This was sufficient for her to evade prosecution. 
A noticeable increase in industrial theft took place during the second half of the century when partnerships were being formed in order that more money could be invested. The first of these to reach the Court of Great Sessions involved one Edward Jones who, in 1753, was accused of stealing lead ore from several mines on Mold Mountain. Having been detained by two Gwernafield miners whilst leading ore-laden asses the defendant begged to be released as ‘no person has suffered’. The court took a different view and imprisoned him. It transpired that during the preceding two years he had occasionally and secretly carried ore off the Mountain – generally between the hours of nine and midnight – to one Samuel Maulkins, potter of Ewloe, who paid him in clay pots and other earthenware. Freely confessing to his actions he claimed Maulkins had encouraged him to steal ‘by stealth’ and had warned him that should he be caught they would both most certainly hang. This did not, however, materialize as the case against the potter was unproven.
Another found guilty of thieving lead was Thomas Williams, a miner employed at the Pen-y-fron Works who, in 1772, took l00 Ibs of ore from Ingleby & Partners’ mine at Cathole, selling it later to Joseph Berks the smelt operator at Pentrobin. We may assume he paid the fine in response to the court entry : ‘Guilty Value 5s.'(25p) This was also the amount set against iron pilfered from Messers Richardson & Slaughter’s Rhydymwyn Mine in 1765. Three were apprehended : Thomas Lloyd, sawyer of Llwynegrin, his yeoman brother John from Hawarden and Thomas Urmstone of Pentre who was accused of handling stolen goods. The case was quashed and one suspects the figures quoted in these instances – as previously suggested – were deliberately lowered in order that the charge appeared less severe and, more importantly, it enabled the defendant to meet the fine imposed.
To illustrate the inconsistencies of the justice meted out, in 1795 Catherine Evans was spotted walking in the High Street wearing a shift that had been stolen from the house of Grace Williams, a recent newcomer into the town from Plas Newydd, Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. Since the 1790s was a period of much disorder in the district one assumes that the harsh punishment of six months hard labour at Flint Gaol, plus whipping ‘in the presence of women only’ at the termination of her confinement, were to serve as a warning to others. Another thrown in prison, on this occasion for attempting to obtain goods ‘by fraudulent letter’, was Catherine Pritchard in 1772. It is certainly remarkable how few were incarcerated in the County Gaol. They were mostly debtors, those awaiting trial or transportation to the colonies. For example, records show that those held captive during 1736-7 were 25 debtors and 11 criminals. Surprisingly, the previous year’s statistics reveal the proportion of prisoners committed to gaol was three times those locked up in the House of Correction. Conditions ‘inside’ were stark and the only consolation to a destitute inmate was that his dependents at home were likely to qualify for additional relief from the parish. As far as 1 am aware Mold had no House of Correction that could accommodate lawbreakers for a short duration, nor did it possess a stock or pillory.
Individuals or communities who neglected the maintenance and upkeep of roads, hedges and ditches in their neighbourhood were prosecuted accordingly. To quote a few instances : in 1758 Edward Edwards, innkeeper (probably of the Dolphin) appeared before the bench for not opening a ditch leading from Clay Lane to Cytiau’r Moch while the town itself was reprimanded for not filling in ruts in the roadway which was the highway to Ruthin. A decade or so later Edwards was again detained for causing an obstruction across the same road when he carelessly dumped six cartloads of ‘dirt and filth’ on the thoroughfare.[ 19] With no regular sanitation the stench on hot days must have been particularly pungent. In 1761 Ithel Williams of Bryn-y-bal in Argoed was fined for not clearing a watercourse and gutter at his town house, while some years previously, the whole town had been condemned for allowing the High Street to be cluttered with rubbish. Communal responsibility was directed at specific townships, the dwellers there having to raise the money necessary to perform the task. An entry aimed at the inhabitants of Mold in the Quarter Sessions records for 1753 reads:
- “We do present the pavement and the bridge adjoining to Rhydygolau Mill….leading from the Town of Mold to the Town of Caerwys, it being so bad and dangerous for men and horse to travel and that about £4 or thereabouts will be sufficient to repair the same.'
Although some perceived such laws as trivial, disregard for public welfare was, nonetheless, deemed criminal. The parish surveyor could provide physical proof that a bridge was unsound or a ford unpassable but the high constable and his assistants – without an eye witness or proof by evidence – found it extremely difficult demonstrating guilt. Furthermore, it was customary to work to the letter of the law whereby lawyers often managed to get their clients discharged simply because their name was misspelt or address wrongly given on the indictment sheet. Juries were also sympathetic towards first-time offenders who transgressed under duress or out of poverty. In 1774 Mary Parry, a widow, appears to have escaped prosecution under the law of trespass after being caught cutting down young trees at Leeswood, while in 1760 Thomas Williams of Mold also got off lightly with a 6d. fine having threatened another with a knife. Had his loss of temper resulted in a death he would most certainly have been convicted of manslaughter. On the other hand, premeditated action (cold-blooded killing) such as an arranged duel brought with it a charge of murder. Therefore, when local attorney at law Griffith Williams challenged Denbighshire lawyer Edward Jones of Plas yn Llan to combat ‘with pistols in the morning’ so that he ‘would have satisfaction’, in 1777, he was promptly arrested and bail set at an extraordinary £300, prompting one to deduce that he had also upset the sitting magistrate! At the next sessions he was ‘discharged without costs.' He undoubtedly curried favour where it mattered.
Paupers and those existing on the breadline often resorted to feeding their families through illegally helping themselves to wildlife. It was unlawful to hunt rabbits and wild duck but the heavier penalties and imprisonment were reserved for those who took game, e.g. hares, moor fowl, partridge and pheasant. The law was such that even a landowner could not run game on his own estate unless it was a freehold yielding £100 a year or a leasehold that brought a return of £150 per annum. Those who qualified under such lingering mediaeval codification could, in fact, hunt or ride across another’s property in pursuit of beasts and birds unimpeded. The passing of the Mold Enclosure Act in 1792 possibly restricted this sporting practice and also hindered the poor’s access to grazing rights on some of the commons. From the 1760s onwards there is a noticeable increase in the number prosecuted for poaching. A few examples will suffice here. In 1766 William Davies, husbandman of Treuddyn, was cited as being in possession of two greyhounds with the sole purpose of employing them ‘to destroy the game’, while in 1772 John Jones, miner of Mold, was caught in possession of a cock pheasant and in 1786 Edward Parry, labourer of Mold, was accused of bagging ‘One fowl commonly called a turkey.' Already by 1776 the situation on Sundays in particular had prompted three local constables to complain that all the deterrents available
- ‘for repress of gaming on the Lord’s Day prove ineffectual as there are not any Place of Punishment within our respective townships. Humbly beg your advice and order what to do in this case as it is shocking such enormities should be practised even by normal Christians.'
Uneducated the werin may have been but certainly not ignorant. A classic loophole in the law put into practice now and again was a manoeuvre termed ‘friendly denunciation.’ A poacher who knew the squire or his keeper had identified him would hurriedly seek a friend to advise a local magistrate of his wrongdoing ahead of the aggrieved party. He in turn would fine the culprit and recompense the sham-informer for his community spirit. The reward was then returned to the poacher who, no doubt, expressed his gratitude by further sharing the gaming spoils with his pal. One could argue that the underprivileged were merely supplementing their meagre wages.
The poor condition of the Denbigh Road was previously mentioned. In 1759, by Act of Parliament (32 George ll,c.55.) a turnpike trust was established to improve communications between that town and Mold. Pans of the adjacent fields were purchased and when the first stage between Mold and Afonwen was completed toll gates were set up at each end. Ten years later another Act for improving and repairing this particular stretch of road (53 Geo.III,c.l32.) upset a section of the local population, possibly because the charges demanded by the trustees in order to recoup their investment were considered exorbitant? Whatever the reason, it led to disturbances, taking place between 3pm and 7pm on Wednesday, 14 March 1770, at the Town End of Mold when a mob :
- ‘ …with pick, spade and other instruments wilfully and maliciously [did] pull down, pluck up, leave and destroy the post rail, chain and other fences belonging to the Turnpike Gate or chain on side of the road….’
to the great fear of Richard Lloyd the gatekeeper. Some dozen were recognized and later apprehended, amongst them : the sexton of St.Mary’s Church, a mason, miner, butcher, three labourers, two innkeepers and a couple of farmers (one from Gwernafield and the other Edward Jones of Argoed Hall).
Sacrilege, in the sense of stealing from the Church, was the most serious category of theft and held the capital punishment but we have no example of this from the parish of Mold. We do have, though, an instance of horse rustling which also carried the ultimate penalty. In 1758 we come across John Williams, George Roscoe and Thomas Roberts of Mold having successfully applied to the Crown for clemency after being sentenced to death for horse stealing. The royal pardon directed that they be transported for fourteen years to the plantations in America.  John Royle of Mold was similarly pardoned for stealing a couple of heifers in 1794. Cattle were less valuable than horses and he was only sentenced to seven years ‘to the eastern waste of New South Wales or some of the islands adjacent.' Reprieving prisoners in this manner was becoming increasingly commonplace as it solved manpower problems in the colonies although it could initially prove expensive to the County authority. Before the American War of Independence in 1775 convicts were sent across the Atlantic, each shire being responsible for making its own shipping arrangements. Flintshire’s undesirables were sent via the Mersey and as early as 1753 the cost of despatching two of them to Liverpool was in excess of £8. Six years later the amount quoted was £13.17s. 1 Id. due to additional expenses having been incurred in trying to procure a berth for an elderly woman. They had encountered difficulty ‘on account of her sex and advanced age’. From 1788 onwards transportees were sent to Botany Bay.
The general public held the gentry who sat as JPs in awe since they possessed discretionary powers that, at the termination of a session, allowed them to overturn a jury’s decision if it was felt that someone had been wrongly’ convicted. They also kept strictly to the letter of the law and promptly fined those in contempt of court. Typical examples are the £2 imposed on Samuel Edwards of Mold for non-attendance as a juryman in 1760  and the £5 levied upon the sheriff in 1784 for failing to present a prisoner before the bench at the stipulated time. [351 Indeed, time was of the essence when it came to courtroom procedure and, up to 1794, criminal trials were obliged to run through the session (without meal breaks) until the jury had reached its verdict. I have failed to discover what fine or punishment was handed out to John Wynn the Elder (Leeswood? Tower?) who tried to pervert the course of justice in 1740 by threatening to take the life of a juryman who had not ‘Joined the other jurymen in a verdict.' It was a serious offence and takes us to proceedings dealing with physical crime performed against one or more people.
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Assault was commonplace with the apprehended assailants being forced to swear on oath that from henceforth they promised not to molest the aggrieved party. A bond of honour, usually set at £20, was agreed upon and a couple of sureties had to vouch for the accused’s good behaviour and appearance at the next sessions or forfeit £10 apiece.
Not surprisingly attacks on women were usually of a sexual nature. In 1780 one David Edwards was charged with threatening to violently abuse Dorothy Barber of Mold on several occasions over a three month period in order to violate her chastity. The inference of rape was sometimes enough for prescribing detention. John Jones, carrier of Mold, made it known to Elinor Minshull of Sychdyn, in 1771, that he desired her. She refused him point blank and he responded by offering her a shilling. When she again scorned his advances he threatened to ravish her at which she screamed for help, and he ran away. Similarly in 1773, John Jones, yeoman of Argoed, terrified Esther Evans of the same place with a pike in an attempt to know her carnally. Fortunately, a neighbour heard her cry for assistance before anything untoward happened. He also ran away! 
Politics during the eighteenth century was very partisan with bribery and corruption rife while tenants were expected to give infallible support and voice to their masters, whether they be Whig or Tory. The run-up to elections proved to be a volatile period when no expense was spared in wining and dining would-be voters. In 1734 a Caergwrle man received a fatal blow to the head after openly supporting Sir John Glynne of Hawarden against Sir George Wynne of Leeswood Hall. A year later, near Caerwys, another Glynne enthusiast got the worse of it when he was bludgeoned with a heavy stick. Also, in 1735, this time nearer home, John Bill the glazier and Thomas Williams, joiner (both of Mold), were returning home from working at Flint when they passed through Northop shortly before midnight. One of a group of men standing near the roadside cried ‘A Glynne,’ and, apparently without provocation, rushed to Thomas Williams and hit him in the face with a club, knocking one of his teeth out and dislodging another three. Called to the injured’s house, the town’s apothecary Walter Cahoun further diagnosed internal bleeding and commented that his patient was ‘in some danger of his life.” The affidavit of Thomas Bryan, constable of Mold, disclosed that the culprit, Richard Jones, collier of Sychdyn, was acting in an interlude at Mold when an effort was made to serve him with a warrant. On seeing the constable he ‘drew his sword’, jumped off the stage and made his escape. The audience warned the law-enforcer that should he contemplate pursuing Jones ‘they would stone him.' Whether this reflected the townspeople’s attitude to authority, or whether they were staunch Glynneites, must remain conjecture.
Between 3 and 10 May 1737 Mold experienced a series of riotous assemblies that had obviously been encouraged by a certain quarter. Some inhabitants, probably showing enthusiasm for a particular political party, found themselves seized in their own houses and had their windows smashed, while others were physically assaulted. The case that drew the most attention involved damages done to the dwelling house of publican Humphrey Millington. This was not only the first in a chain of events but also included local worthies : John Wright and Morgan Evans, both described as gentlemen, John Wright of Plas Isa and John Wynne of Leeswood, esquires. The principal agitators were the leadmining brothers Thomas(28), John(26) and Penitent Tattum(25), and it would not be unreasonable to assume that they were Wynne tenants-cum-employees upon Mold Mountain. For their over exuberance some forty of the routers were each fined 6d. for trespass while it was acknowledged that ‘divers other persons’ had evaded recognition, and therefore, arrest. 
In August 1748 Edward Chambers, millwright of the Pentre Mill and smallholder who gave his name to Chambers Lane, Mynydd Isa., was accused of causing grevious bodily harm to his neighbour’s farm labourers Robert Edwards and Richard Ebule. It transpires that Chambers’ mare, together with another local’s, were found grazing on Ithel Williams’ Cae Bricks and he ordered his two servants to remove them to the common pound. While leading them to Mold the miller, his wife and one Mary Morgan set about the men, causing them ‘great despair’. The case against Chambers was dropped, presumably because he had misread the situation, thinking that the horses were being stolen.
There is little doubt that the great majority of the population at this time were employed in agriculture and that Mold’s Wednesday and Friday markets served a wide community as it does today. The Drovers’ Arms on the Denbigh Road reminds us of the cattle, sheep and pigs that were walked through the town to England and from a Quarter Sessions case in 1776 we discover that buyers also came in the opposite direction from Lancashire. An affray that took place in the Cross Keys at Buckley involved three butchers from Stretford near Manchester and another from Liverpool. This fracas, in fact, later continued at the Cross Keys in Mold!  Butchers appear to have been a quarrelsome lot. In 1757 Samuel Johnson, butcher of Mold, appeared in court charged with assault and battery at Holywell. His brother Thomas must have been involved in the same rumpus for a posse of five was sent to Mold to detain him. He was discovered at the stable of the Dolphin public house and when served with a warrant completely lost control of himself. Following a plethora of obscenities he brandished a naked cutlass and defied all:
- ‘My name is Thomas Johnson and the first man that will lay hands on me I’ll cleave him down – his brains. I will kill or be killed before I’ll be taken by any man.’
According to the testimony of one of three leadminers sworn in as petty constable’s assistants they had already been advised that Johnson was ‘a dangerous and turbulent person.’ Nevertheless, they attempted to overpower him and came off the worst for it. Cutlass swipes shredded the clothes of one while another suffered a deep gash on his hand. Some of the crowd that had gathered to witness the spectacle not only declined the invitation to assist with the arrest but encouraged their butcher to escape. Johnson’s release was accelerated when two bulldogs of his joined in the scuffle. ‘A true bill’ is scribbled on the court caption but the punishment is not recorded. Another brawl involving the Johnson butcher family took place in 1788. At the receiving end on this occasion were three members of the Flintshire Militia who were attacked by Thomas and Samuel Johnson, Peter Harrison butcher of Pentre and his neighbour Thomas Owen the gatekeeper, a stonecutter, two labourers, a local bailiff and George Johnson the younger, who was related to the butchers and an innkeeper.  With no written evidence having survived it would not be too outlandish to imagine that the scrimmage took place at the latter’s pub where, following snide remarks regarding the volunteer corps and their smart uniform, one thing led to another(?) 
It is surprising that the outcome of another case against two Mold yeomen in 1757 did not receive greater notice unless the documentation is lost. Only one membrane records a short account of how Thomas Edwards and Edward Morris were found guilty of wounding and maiming a Thomas Parry at Leeswood by discharging a loaded gun at him.  The venue of the shooting is unspecified but since the Waltham Black Act (1722) it was a capital offence even to fire a gun in a dwelling let alone hit anyone.
Killing without malice aforethought was recognized in legal terms as manslaughter and, up to 1779, the sentence meted out was poker-branding of the hand. Afterwards, short-length imprisonment became the norm while unlucky accidents, especially at a workplace, were classed as misadventure and a deodand (fee) was forfeited to the Crown. Another Thomas Johnson, this time of Gwernafield, was witness to a case of manslaughter at Cilcain in 1781. At the conclusion of a ball game some locals entered an alehouse whereupon a fight broke out following the passing of ‘a bad shilling.’ The principal antagonist John Jones then made the error of challenging one Robert Edwards to a bout outside. It was his undoing for by the time Joseph Ingleby, surgeon of Holywell, arrived at the scene he was dead. According to the evidence Edwards had on numerous occasions offered Jones the handshake. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
It was Mold’s second annual fair, 22 July 1724, when John Roberts of Garth Garmon near Llanrwst and a John Cadwalader decided to race each other on horseback up the High Street, irrespective of the mingling crowd. As they rode full gallop one of them, in all probability Roberts, shouted ‘Clear the way!’ before mounting the pavement. His warning came too late for Ann Foulkes who was struck down, hitting her head as she did so. A bystander, Thomas Cartwright of Coppenhall in Cheshire, but then a resident bricklayer in the town, carried her prostrate body to a nearby cottage. Joseph Taylor the surgeon was called out and he bled her in an effort to improve her condition. She died the following day and John Roberts was given a custodial sentence before being discharged. [531
During the period 1700-1800 only one Mold parishioner climbed the gallows and that was Edward ab Ellis, weaver of Leeswood township, who was found guilty of poisoning his wife in 1741. Examination of witnesses’ testimonies allow us to piece together the events leading up to the death of Ann ab Ellis and her five- month-old daughter Jane. Having decided to do away with his spouse, for a reason only known to himself, Edward’s first act was to seek some poison from Walter Cahoun’s apothecary in Mold. According to apprentice Richard Daniel the accused failed to communicate his needs and was accompanied to Thomas Price’s shop where he managed to explain that he required a substance to kill rats that were troubling a Mrs Matthews of Leeswood. The two of them then returned to the apothecary where an ounce of ‘white arsenic’ was purchased for 2d.
The deposition of widow Elizabeth Jones (who happened to own the dwelling the ab Ellis family lived in), informs us that the deceased Ann and spinster Margaret Evans called at her house for breakfast on 30 November and soon afterwards made papes or wheatflour meat, some of which two of them ate, Ann declining as she was suffering from a severe cold. Later Elizabeth Jones washed and dried the skillet and cup used in their preparation, placed the uneaten papes in a cupboard and departed for Thomas Eyton, Esq’s for some buttermilk she had been promised. On her return she noticed the skillet had been re-used and from enquires discovered that Edward ab Ellis had warmed some of them for himself. Soon afterwards she called at their house to ask of his wife’s health only to learn from her that she was in much pain after eating some papes her husband had prepared. She commented on them having tasted ‘something like lime’. That evening and throughout the night both Ann and Jane were violently sick and her pleadings for Edward to fetch a physician fell on deaf years, he claiming that he was penniless. At his trial Edward confessed to the atrocity but vehemently denied responsibility for the death of his daughter He perceived that as an accident since both his wife and mother Gwen had fed papes to the infant. This was a viewpoint agreed upon by the jury resulting in him being tried solely for the murder of his wife. The lethal dose administered was half the arsenic mixed with the meat. Having carried out the dirty deed he buried the remaining papes in a dunghill. The act of poisoning someone was deplored and the gravity of Edward ab Ellis’ offence is reflected in the sentence :………. ‘to be hanged in chains upon Flint Marsh.'
This meant a public hanging by strangulation at Flint Gaol followed by another ceremonial hanging of the corpse in chains or locked iron cage for display on the marsh. The precautionary measures were taken to prevent the body being carted away by relatives or mutilated by an injured party.  The crime was classified as first degree murder. However, had the wife poisoned the husband it would have been seen as petty treason because she would have been responsible for breaking her ‘honour and obey’ marriage vows. Such was the law.
Two other cases of ‘murder’ can be quoted, neither of which we know much about. There were suspicions regarding the death of Margaret Maddocks in 1732 and after six years of gossip it ultimately led to her husband Samuel, fiaxdresser of Mold, being arrested, tried and aquitted of her murder in 1738. Perhaps the evidence proved to be weak, circumstantial or the salient facts had been lost with time? The Manchester newspaper Horrop’s Mercury- reported the murder of a girl in the lane above Black Brook in 1784 but I must confess to not having read it. There is no mention of the incident amongst the Flintshire Gaol Files for that year or the following. Perhaps no one was apprehended? Raike’s Lane is associated with a ghost!
An attack on a person need not have been physical. Sioned, wife of Evan Hughes shoemaker of Mold, was accused in 1762 of deceiving His Majesty’s subjects, causing many of them distress. Described as ‘a woman of ill fame and bad character’ who regularly made it her business of offering her powers of detection to members of the public whenever goods were lost in the town or neighbourhood. She did this by cutting cards or consulting lea leaves and the court official made it clear that her deceits were primarily aimed at ‘the vulgar and lower class of mankind’ whose plebian culture of consulting a white witch or dyn hysbys ‘cunning man’ continued well beyond the Witchcraft Act( 1736). Some, especially amongst the lower order, still clung to the belief in supernatural forces. Sioned also practised fortune telling. She is likely to have drawn an Ace of Spades on this occasion!
The previously mentioned references to politically motivated unrest and public outcry against turnpike trust charges display differing aspects of crowd disturbances. The former showed how divergent opinions could split a community while the dearness of road tolls had the opposite effect. Also falling into the latter category was the solidarity shown by those who threw down enclosure fences upon Hope Mountain in 1793, the overtly declared objections to local militia quotas two years later at Denbigh – and certainly more frequently – the upheavals caused by food shortages or high prices.
Exceptionally wet winters or very dry summers were invariably followed by a dearth of provisions, which in turn led to discontent. Corn nets that broke out in 1740 were attributed to ‘the necessity of the pcople’|6l ] and it wasn’t merely the want of bread that caused dissatisfaction. In the following year inflationary prices hit other necessities, viz., 3d. was being asked for a pound of beef that had previously fetched ld, 3d.’s worth of butter could not be bought for less than 9d. ‘and other victuals in proportion.' Poor harvests during 1766-8 meant eighteen months of scarcity, a period described by Sir John Glynne M.P. as one when ‘the poor were starving, riotous and hanged.’ Wealthy landowner as he was, employing some two hundred colliers on his Hawarden estate, could also brag that it was a time when ‘Luxury was at a great height, and charity extensive.' No doubt Griffith Davies, labourer of Nercwys, did not see his lot in the same light. Following the failed harvest of 1766 he waited until Edward Parry and his son, of the same place, had set off for the October Fair at Chester before sneaking into his barn and carting away wheat and barley which he quickly took to Treuddyn Mill to be ground. The court records are littered with such desperate measures, some involving violence, others chronicling Crown participation.
The Riot Act ( 1714) carried the death penalty for subversive gatherings implicating three or more persons. Therefore, when a small but frantic group ‘with force and arms’ ransacked the three-horsedrawn cart of Mold innkeeper William Roberts near the Boar’s Head at Ewloe, 9 February 1796, the six later apprehended were tried under this extreme legislation. Fortunately for them the two ringleaders were women whom the courts often looked upon more sympathetically than men. Both received a sentence of 7 years transportation but neither British nor Australian documentation record their arrival in the Colony. They were probably pardoned.
The closing decade of the century proved to be one of turbulence and uncertainly. Nationally, the most significant event was the outbreak of war with France in February 1793, while locally conditions contributing to inadequate sustenance frequently forced the masses to roam both the streets and countryside in an effort to prevent farmers hoarding grain and badgers (corn merchants) exporting it for profit. Attempts to earn’ wheat downriver from Bangor Iscoed in 1789 were suppressed  while along the coast boats earmarked for shipping were destroyed. Once the Privy Council had sanctioned the importation of duty-free grain in December of that year an effort to bring in wheat and barley through Flintshire ports had to be delayed due to the overladen Yarmouth vessel being too low in the water. At Denbigh ‘gentlemen of first rank’ were publicly warned ‘to lower their rents or take the consequences’; a heeding taken seriously enough for the Lord Lieutenant and his judiciary’ to petition the Home Office for troops and within three months dragoons from Manchester were based at Wrexham. The Flintshire Militia (established 1759) was at the authority’s immediate disposal but one suspects that there was some degree of apprehension about their reliability since the membership of 124 NCOs and other ranks – and respective families – were also friends, neighbours and potential co-victims of a food shortage and/or high prices. After all, it was the Cardiganshire Militia that was called out to disturbances in the Vale of Clwyd in 1795.
The harsh wet summer of 1789 not only ‘checked the growing of corn’ in the Mold area but also ‘rendered the roads impassable’, making the markets difficult to reach. Indeed, if that year’s com returns for Mold township are anything to go by, then there would have been very little to retail anyway since the acreage under grain was a mere 32 of oats, 69 wheat and 122 barley. Sir Roger Mostyn III cautiously advised against proceeding with a proposal of calling the county’s gentlemen together to discuss what steps should be taken in relation to corn shortage as it ‘might create much unnecessary alarm in the minds of the common people.' Agricultural conditions improved gradually over the next couple of years but the climate of social unrest seems to have continued unabated as it was advocated, May 1793, that the military presence then in Flintshire be retained. The recommendation being that the outgoing Warwicks be replaced by the Cumberland & Westmoreland Regiment. 
The attitude of the gentry to these disturbances is reflected in a letter from Sir Roger Mostyn III to Revd. John Hope Wynne Eyton of Leeswood in May 1793. Referring to the recently resolved problems encountered during the inclosing of Hope Mountain he pointed out that those involved were ‘incited to murmer against all order and to be dissatisfied with their situation’; subconsciously perhaps reminding the newly installed Vicar of Mold that they were sitting on a powder keg not too dissimilar to the catalyst that had sparked off the French Revolution less than five years previously. Hope Eylon’s correspondence over the next few years shows him to have been genuinely concerned for his flock and words were matched with deeds. During 1794 the parish distributed 73 garments amongst the paupers; raised at least £84 in donations for the relief of the poor which was partly spent on beef, bread and corn; made special arrangements so that the parishioners could purchase locally produced wheal and barley for 10s.0d. and 6s.3d. the measure respectively, instead of at market prices which were obviously well in excess of these amounts. This, however, did not arrest the steady rise in crime and c.1793-4 thirty prominent people of the neighbourhood put their names to a Mold Militia handbill that offered rewards for information leading to the detention of villains.(see Appendix ‘A’.) When these vigilantes met for their annual swearing of allegiance ‘to enter into an armed association’ in March 1797 they numbered fifty-one, Hope Eyton – also a JP – being the principal participant. Dark green jackets edged with silver and white buttons were provided and membership was either on horse or foot. Discipline was emphasized. 
Thomas Griffith II of Rhual was apologising for having to write to the Secretary of War a second time, in Apnl 1795, concerning the ‘mobs in considerable numbers’ that he and his fellow JPs had up until then managed to contain but were now repectfully requesting for a contingent of the cavalry , then stationed at Shrewsbury, to be transferred to Mold. His observations are worth repeating :
- ‘As yet no very material injury has been done. The greatest violence used was at Mold where they broke open the warehouse of a man who buys corn in this country for the use of Cheshire and Lancashire, and forced him to sell it to them somewhat under the market price, but they had taken it for nothing. They were too great in strength for us to have attempted to oppose the civil power only. Our request therefore is ( for 1 write in the names of several magistrates ) that some troops may be quartered within our reach. At present there are none in the County or near it, and should the numerous body of colliers and miners again assemble, the property of the whole country might be laid waste and destroyed before assistance could be procured.'
Neither the situation regarding harvest failures nor public hostility improved. Late in 1795 it was locally reported that ‘wheat will certainly yield one third less from what has been thrashed' and it appears to have been an accurate forecast for early in the following year yet another social policy was put into motion. On this occasion Church and community sanctioned an agreement to control bread consumption. ( Appendix ‘B’ ) A matter of weeks later (10 February 17%) it was feared that the impunity shown towards rioters ‘would only encourage their continuance….and cause them to spread.' The insurgents were identified as chiefly, if not wholly, ‘potters and colliers from the Hawarden side;'[81 ] a group of artisans noted for their unity and solidarity during hard times.
The social atmosphere at the end of the century was rapidly moving from tense to electrifying. Rumours of a Napoleonic invasion were on the increase and in June 1799 a ‘Bill for Suppressing Treasonable and Seditious Societies, &c.,’ was passed by Parliament. Even before being ratified it had provided the opportunity for Mold’s Anglicans to accuse the’ upstart Methodists’ – established at Glanrafon in 1794 – of spreading seditious gossip and high treason against the State through using the Welsh language at their seiadau ‘society meetings’.
The eighteenth century came to a close in Ystrad Alun on a much louder note than it had begun.
APPENDIX ‘ A NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN
That we whose Names are Subscribed, being Inhabitants of the said Parish, have entered into Articles of Agreement to prosecute all Persons who shall commit any Felony on our Property, or be guilty of any of the undermentioned Crimes being determined to the utmost of our Power to bring all such Offenders to condign Punishment And the better to effect our purpose, we have agreed to pay such Rewards as are after mentioned, to any Person who shall be the means of apprehending, and convicting Persons guilty of the following offences.
For burglery, or highway robbery £5. 5. 0.
For stealing any horse, mare or gelding 5. 5. 0.
For concealing, or compounding any felony 3. 3. 0.
For stealing any cow; calf, sheep, pig or other beast 2. 2. 0.
For breaking into, or stealing any goods or chattels,
out of any building 1. 1.0.
For stealing poultry 1. 1.0.
For robbing any orchard, garden or fish-pond 1. 1. 0.
For stealing com, peas, beanes, grass, hay. potatoes,
turnips or any grain, or pulse whosoever,
or for stealing or damaging any waggon, cart, plow
or other implement of husbandry 1. 1.0.
For breaking or stealing any gate, fence, pail, rail,
post, lead or iron 1. 1. 0.
For stealing or cutting down any timber, trees,
underwood, or committing any felonious act, theft,
or damaged not being specified. : 1. 1. 0.
John Giffard, Esq. Nerquis
R H. Waring, Esq. Leeswood
E Read, Esq. Plas-Issa.
Rev. H. W. Eyton. Leeswood.
Rev. E. Parry, Mold.
Rev. E. Leach, Mold.
Mrs. Lloyd, Mold.
D Parry, Surgeon, Mold
R Parrs’, Surgeon, Mold
RvDavies, Coroner, Mold.
William Wynne, Attorney, Mold.
Edward Jones, Caia.
Robert Williams, Gwyssaney.
George Berks, Mold.
John Williams, Mold.
George Johnson, Mold
John Owen, Mold.
Roger Roberts, Mold.
William Roberts. Mold.
Mrs. Rogers, Mold.
William Pierce, Mold.
Edward Jones, Mold.
Thomas Birch, Mold.
Thomas Williams, Tyddun.
Edward Whitley, Broncoed.
Thomas Whitley, Broncoed.
William Williams, Wacn.
Peter Parry, Hendre.
William Gilbert, Nerquis.
Nath Griffith. Tre-vr-Beirdd. [Cheshire Sheaf, 9 Feb., 1968]
FORM OF AGREEMENT
We the undersigned Minister, Church-warden, and principal inhabitants of the parish of Mold in the county of Flint and diocese of St.Asaph.
In consequence of the deficient supply of wheat, and as a means, under Divine Providence, towards preventing the pressure of actual scarcity previous to the next harvest, do hereby jointly and severally engage, that we will reduce the consumption of wheat in our several families, by at least one third of the usual quantity consumed in ordinary times. And to this end we will either limit to that extent the quantity of fine wheaten bread used in our family;
Or we will consume therein only mixed bread, whereof not more than two third parts shall consist of wheal flower;
Or we will consume only a proportional quantity of mixed bread, of which more than the third oats consist of wheat flower;
Or a proportional quantity of bread made of wheat alone, from which no more than five pounds weight of bran per bushell is excluded.
And we will prohibit, as much as possible, in our families the use of wheaten flour, in any other articles than bread only.
This engagement shall remain in force until fourteen days after the commencement of the next Session of Parliament, unless the average price of wheat throughout the kingdom shall be reduced before that time to eight shillings per Winchester bushel.
Dated this thirty first day of January, 1796.
Hope Wynne Eyton Pilen Parry
of Leeswood. Vicar Brian Leigh
John Williams J. Jones. Ex. Offr.
William Roberts R. Waring
Thomas Jones Churchwardens Mary Hen’te Fortescue
Edward Jones Neil Wynne
Hugh Davies Overseers R. Leach
John Davies of the Poor John Jones
William Williams G. Johnson(?)
Hugh James Robert Davies
- E.Lhuyd, ParocliaJki, 1, 89.
- [Njational [Ljibrary of [W]ales, Wales 4/995/2.
- [FJIintshire [R]ecord ffice,D/LE/736.
- FRO, NT/1435. Cytiau’r Modi swine huts’ was an area set aside for the locals to rear their pigs for fattening. The site is now occupied by Bryn Garmon estate, not surprisingly, close to the Old Slaughter House.
- M.Bevan-Evans.’Mold and Moldsdale’ (unpub. ms. 1949),II, 119
- W. Davies, General View of the Agriculture and Domestic Economy of North Wales, &c.( 1810),420. The establishing of a Cotton Factory (1792) and Tinplate Works (1796) no doubt contributed to this end. The parish census figure for 1801 records 5165 inhabitants. Population Act.41 Geo lII (1800), 475.
- E.Pugh, Cambrian Depicta (1816),342. The site of the present Trustees Savings Bank. It was officially known as the Common Hall of Pleas but locals referred to it at Dadleudy ‘debating house.’
- NLW. Wales 4/1003/4/6-8,10,12-3; NLW.6298 D/143.Peter Ogden’s wife was still receiving a 6d.weekly allowance from the Parish in 1751. FRO,D/K\K7135/78a.
- NLW, Wales 4/1009/8/41.
- NLW, Wales 4/1012/1/17-18.
- NLW. Wales 4/ 1004/13/1-2,19. For mining on Mold Mountain see C.J. Williams, The Lead Mines of the Alyn Valley,’ Journal Flintshire Hististorical Society , 29(1979-80),51-87. Lead ore used in producing galena or ‘potter’s ore’ for the glazing process.
- FRO,QS/SR/86/2,18; 87/11.
- NLW. Wales 4/1007/2/-; 5/-; FRO,QS/SR/63/16,75.
- The shift ‘chemise, smock’ was valued at 12d.(5p) NLW. Wales 4/1013/3/6,23. Ingenuity was shown by Peter Jones, weaver of Mold in 1798, when he petitioned for a lottery to be organized in order that he could pay for two pieces of cloth stolen from his workshop! FRO, D/LE/1722.
- NLW. Wales 4/1001/7/-.
- FRO,QS/SR/34/7. Clay Lane was previously Ffordd Glai and is now Clayton Road.
- FRO.QS/SR/34/7; 36/25,31-3.
- FRO,QS/SR/20/6. In 1786 it was reported that there were ‘Three of Rhyd y goley Bridges lying in the Township of Gwysaney.’ Ibid. 142/16.
- NLW, Wales 4/1009/7/1; NLW Wales 14/85/177(a).
- FRO,QS/SR763/-; 86/4; 140/5. In 1711-12 Mold parish actually paid its inhabitants Is.Od. for killing pests such as foxes, polecats and wild-cats. FRO, D/KK/151.
- NLW, Wales 4/1009/5/4.
- NLW, Peniarth Estate Papers T1.
- B.Williams,7’/je Whig Supremacy,!714-1760 (Oxford 1997 reprint), 104., records attacks on toll gates in 1726, 1732, 1749, 1753.
- NLW, Wales 4/1008/3/15,18-22. Few such insurrections can be cited for Wales prior to the Rebecca Riots of 1839-44. For a similar event that look place in Flintshire in 1852 see, C. Duckworth, ‘Ysgeifiog uprising’ Clwyd Historian,.15(1985 ), 29. 30. Thomas Roberts of Rhuddlan was executed for committing this offence inl786. NLW. Wales 4/1011/6/2; FRO, NT/1593.
- NLW, 6298 D/97.
- NLW, Wales 4/1013/2/2.
- FRO,QS/SR/20/11; 40/2,24.
- NLW, Wales 14/85/64(a). This was also the amount that qualified a person to be a juryman.
- NLW,Walesl4/85/231(a). Since the indictment proved to be false he was ‘relieved’ of the fine.
- I. Gilmore, Riot ,Risings and Revolution .-Governance and violence in 18th Century England (1992),151.
- NLW, 6298 D.
- FRO.QS/SRV 116/11.
- FRO,QS/SR/83/20; 92/20,38-9. The latter was discharged.
- H. Taylor, ‘Sir George Wynne, Baronet, M.P.(Flint District Boroughs, 1727-41) ‘Flintshire Historical Society Publication, 9(1921-2), 24-5.
- NLW, Wales 4/1001/4/1.
- NLW, Wales 4/1001/3/12,17.
- NLW. Wales 4/1001/9/3,7. John and Ann Tattum of Gwemafield had fourteen children. The unusually named Peniten 1(1712-71) had clandestinely married Elizabeth Williams of Mold at Chester in April 1736 and legally solemnized the union at St. Mary’s on 9 December of the same year. At Christmas time he lost both his wife and son during chilbirth but remarried in July 1737, this time lo local Mary Emmanuel who bore him two daughters. Mold Parish Registers, Vols.4,6,10.
- NLW, 6298 D/129-30.
- NLW. Wales 4/1004/3/8; NLW. Wales 14/85/27(a); NLW, 6298 D. Until the early 1980s ‘Lilac Cottage’ on Chambers Lane was called ‘Tyddyn Chambers.’
- FRO.QS/SR/101/7. Re-named Y Penlan in 1981 after Daniel Owen’s book Straeony Penlan ‘Stories of the Hearth’.
- NLW, ales 4/1005/6/14-8, 40-2, 55-6.
- FRO,QR/SR/150/63-6. It was probably Thomas Johnson senior who died in 1772. Mold Parish Register.
- The Johnsons were landlords of the Black Lion in the High Street in 1794. FRO, D/LE/1115.
- NLW, Wales 4/1005/7/19. John Jones the Younger, miner of Mold, a person of with a ‘wicked and malicious mind’ was indicted of misdemeanour in 1795 having used ‘a certain engine called a gun’ to shoot John Ithel’s pig. FRO, QS/SR/177/3.
- NLW. Wales 4/1010/6/14.
- NLW, Wales 4/999/4/2-7.
- NLW, Wales 4/1003/2/2,4,14; 3/23,28,38-9.
- NLW. Wales 14/85/4(b).
- In 1759 one body was sold to a surgeon for anatomization. NLW, Wales l4/85/53(a). After the Murder Act(1752) those under sentence of death had to be executed within two days of the pronouncement.
- NLW Wales 4/1001/9/4; NLW 6298 D/131. His second wife, Elyn, was buried in 1743. Mold Parish Register.
- E.J. Foulkes.’Glimpses of Hanovenan Flintshire,’ Flints Hist. Soc. Pub., 24(1969-70),62. According to the Central Library, Manchester., there is no reference to this crime in the September, October and November 1784 issues of the Harrop’s Mercury. I was unable to personally consult them.
- FRO,QS/SR/49/32,34. Under this legislation prosecution for practising divination resulted in a year’s imprisonment, during which time the detainee had to spend one day per quarter in the nearest market square pillory. K Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (1973edn), 452.
- Chief periods of hunger were experienced in 1740-1, 1757-8, 1766-8, 1772-5, 1780-4, 1789-90, 1794-6, 1799-1800. T.S. Ashlon, Economic Fluctuation in England, 1700-1800 (Oxford 1959),36.
- K. Lloyd Gruffydd, ‘The Vale of Clwyd Corn Riots of 1740.’ Flints Hist.Soc.Pub., 27(1975-6),42.
- Cheshire Sheaf (18 August 1967),No.97.
- M. Bevan-Evans. Early Industry in Flintshire (Hawarden 1966),backcover.
- NLW Wales 4/1013/5/-.
- NLW Wales 4/1012/2-3. Riot at Bangor also in 1762. Ibid. 1006/4/-.
- She eventually discharged her cargo at Y Foryd near Rhyl over three months later, in April 1790. NLW, Plas yn Cefn MSs.2719-21.
- T.S.Ashton & J.Sykes, Tlie Coal Industry of the Eighteenth Century (Manchester 1964edn), 127-8.
- FRO, D/SH/642. ‘
- FRO, D/LE/735.
- FRO, D/LE/1309. This document is erroneously dated 1799 in the Catalogue. Sir Roger Mostyn, 5th Baronet died 16 July 1796.
- FRO, D/LE/683.
- FRO, D/LE/682.
- FRO, D/LE/1115. The ‘Mold Measure’ was recorded at 42 quarters in 1795 compared to the nationally recognised Winchester Bushell of 32 quarters. FRO, D/LE/735.
- F. Turley, ‘Crime in Mold in Georgian Times,’ Cheshire Sheaf (9 February 1968),6., dates the document cl800. Since the Revd. Hope Wynne Eyton became Vicar of Mold in the autumn of 1792, and signatories George Berks and William Williams died in February 1795, it can probably be dated to c1793-4.
- FRO, D/LE/1718-9, 1723. The Mold Militia may have originated in response to the French Revolution(?).Compare Holywell in R. Paul Evans, ‘The Flintshire Loyalist Association and the Loyal Holywell Volunteers,’ JnLFlints Hist.Soc, 33(1992),54-68.
- W. Lloyd Davies, ‘The Riot at Denbigh in 1795 : Home Office Correspondence,’ Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, IV,i(1927),65; Mold Parish Register.
- FRO, D/LE/735.
- FRO, D/LE/1118.
- FRO, D/LE/736.
- Ibidem. For public disturbances in general see, Tim Jones, Rioting in north-East Wales,]536-1918 (Wrexham 1997).
- In 1792 there were ten Methodists recorded for Mold. F.F. Bretherton, Early Methodism in and around Chester (Chester 1903),218. In May 1799 wheat was selling from between 45s. and 63s. per quarter at Chester Market and the law reformer Jeremy Bentham had just submitted his ‘Proposals for a new and less expensive mode of employing and reforming convicts’ to the Government. Chester Chronicle (3,10 and 17 May 1799).
Copyright of articles published in Ystrad Alun lies with the Mold Civic Society and individual contributors. Contents and opinions expressed therein remains the responsibility of individual authors.