Monday, 3 March 2014


Part I: The Background.


In our present times when  on the one hand society is bombarded with how obese people are getting from over eating and Super Markets Car Parks are almost every day packed to capacity and trolleys full to the brim with not so goodies. But on the other hand there is the contradiction of many people who have to visit food banks as often as not supplied by left over out of date hand outs by Super Market or voluntary by their customers after checking out of course. Now the issue as arisen how can  people particularly the old afford over the coming Winter Months to eat or heat their homes with rising electricity and Gas prices due a great deal to ‘Green Subsidies’ to fund Windmills which few in Wales wish to see blight our landscape. Whatever, the truth is we in Wales will never see the hunger that the present day third world suffers nor are we likely to see again the ‘Hunger Marches’ of our Miners to protest and sing on the streets of London nor see repeated the impoverished Valleys welcoming food parcels from better off towns of the English South East.

We shall certainly not revisit a Wales that knew of a great hunger that prompted the Corn Riots of the latter part of the 18th Century and the one of 1801 of most tragic consequence for two Miners who became so involved, to be imprisoned and charged with High Way Robbery and then executed at Gallows Field in Cardiff (exact location still under research, as it may not be same as the known site today). At his trial Coal Miner Samuel Hill said in justifying his action ‘’I have the right to be fed’’, later on the gallows Aaron Williams, during the course of the preachers prayers, said as his last observation to his comrade Samuel Hill “that they were going to suffer for hundreds,” Samuel Hill replied, “yes, for thousands, but I never knew so happy a day as this in the course of my life.”  I can think that this as just another good reason we fight for a Free Socialist Wales in which there is fair play for all and no intolerant injustice which seeks to make victims of the poor and less fortunate. Socialists remember these two Working class Martyrs and commemorate their executions.

We all need to walk in the shoes of Samuel Hill and Aaron Williams who are just two of many such Working Class Heroes and Martyrs in Wales who in the century following 1801 will fight against Tyranny and Oppression. Below is some further information on these two all but forgotten Martyrs Samuel Hill and Aaron Williams who have no memorial or plaque to record their fight and the right to be fed. Nor are annual commemorations held to mark their struggle in Merthyr Tudful  and eventual execution in Cardiff. Perhaps Socialists might do something about this failiure to remember and pay tribute.

PART 2: Further Information Sources.

For further information on the revolt of 1801 and execution of Samuel Hill and Arron Williams see a number of history journals and books on the Corn Riots in Wales.

            The Corn Riots in Wales, 1793-1801        

            Welsh History Review        Vol. 2, nos. 1-4 1964-65                     
We also need to get into the Court Records for more details. The Riots of 1801 much based on Merthyr and I believe same in 1816 and 1822 all very much prologue to 1831?

The execution of two rioters by Anonymous.

Location: Marion Löffler, Welsh Responses to the French Revolution: Press and Public Discourse (2012), doc 3.21

On Friday night were executed on Cardiff Heath, pursuant to their sentence, Samuel Hill and Aaron Williams, two of the Merthyr rioters, who had been capitally convicted at the late Great Sessions of the County of Glamorgan. – They both behaved with the greatest penitence, and seemed fully confident, through the merits of their Redeemer, of having had pardon and forgiveness. – Aaron Williams, during the course of his prayers, before they were turned off, observed “that they were going to suffer for hundreds,” Samuel Hill replied, “yes, for thousands, but I never knew so happy a day as this in the course of my life.”

Shrewsbury Chronicle, 29 May 1801.

113 At his trial, Samuel Hill. one of the Merthyr rioters, justified his action on the grounds that ''he had a right to be fed''.  See Records - N.L.W.. Tredegar Park Muniments. Box 64/356 .  What did they do? 130 At Merthyr Tydfil two of the rioters, Aaron Williams and Samuel Hill, were hanged, and a young man of 18 years sentenced to transportation for life.131
 PART 3: THE EXECUTION SITE. Info below from Cardiff History Web Site.

THE HEATH WAS ENCLOSED 1801/2 Cardiff Prison rebuilt 1831/32 time for to be hanged outside Market.

The junction at the top of City Road where it meets Richmond Road, Crwys Road, Albany Road and Mackintosh Place is a busy place today. Thousands of cars and buses pass through each day and many pedestrians make their way across the bustling crossroads. As they queue to use the cash machines, I wonder how many people notice a plaque on the wall of the bank which commemorates the deaths, in 1679, of two priests, John Lloyd and Philip Evans.

Long ago the junction was known as Gallows Field and it was to this place that prisoners who had been condemned to death were brought to be hanged. The gibbet was situated in a field called “The Cut-throats”. This, the Gallows field, was divided into plots which were called Cae budr (the defiled field), Plwcca halog (the unhallowed plot) and Pwll halog (the unhallowed pool), commemorating the grim associations of the site.
They were brought from the County Gaol in High Street, where the Central Market is now situated. They approached the place of execution along Plwcca Lane, now City Road. The top portion of Richmond Road divides the Gallows Field in two today.
Also See:
 City Road is a run-down inner-Cardiff city thoroughfare. It's thick with car showrooms, Asian restaurants, Spar 24-hour groceries and boarded, abandoned shops. It runs from the student land of Cathays, through the five-way death junction of City, Albany, Richmond, Crwys and Macintosh, to the closed and decaying Royal Infirmary on Newport Road. It's a street everyone knows but hardly anyone loves. Up until the middle of last century it was known as Heol-y-Plwcca after the gallows field at its northern end. Here, in a plot known as 'the Cut Throats', more or less where the Road has its junction with Albany, stood the town gibbet. Nearby were plots called Cae Budr (the defiled field), Plwcca Halog (the unhallowed plot), and Pwll Halog (the unhallowed pool). Today they've got side streets built across them and are happily called Strathnairn, Glenroy and Keppoch. The grimness has been vanquished, buried under backgarden clay and foundation, forgotten. There's a bakers, a Lebanese fast-food and an army surplus store selling Italian combat jackets, imitation pistols, folding shovels and camouflage water bottles. For a brief time City Road was called Castle Road, after Roath Castle, the former great house which now runs bowls, drinking, the Night-Writers creative writing group and tennis as The Mackintosh Institute. But since Cardiff had a bigger and more important Castle elsewhere names had to change.


Saturday, 30 January 2010

Death Junction

 Any self-respecting story blog should include a little bit of history, so here's an interesting fact about the point where Crwys Road, Mackintosh Place, Albany Road, City Road and Richmond Road converge, a spot known locally as 'Death Junction' (see below for a photo). I always thought the junction got its morbid nickname from the chaotic traffic (anyone who's driven there will know it can get a bit dodgy, especially at rush hour), but a small plaque I noticed on the wall of the NatWest revealed something a lot more intriguing:

After a bit of Googling, I discovered that the junction is in fact the site of the old Gallows Field, where countless criminals (and, apparently, innocents) were hung. The men mentioned on the plaque were priests hung for practising Catholicism, which was outlawed at the time.

This little find just goes to show that there's a lot more to Cardiff than meets the eye, and there's a vast, exciting and sometimes bloody history waiting to be uncovered - all you have to do is look for it.
Posted by tom at 1:16 pm  

Further to be posted in Due Course Part 4 The Trial, Judges Summing Up and the Bloody Code background and reasons for harshness of Sentencing. Am also working on an account of the Merthyr Risings of 1816 and the South Wales Revolt of 1822. That will keep me busy and out of harms way for a while, I dare say.

Of Additional and Associated Interest regards Peoples Struggles:

WAUN DDYFAL - Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr - Blogger
14 Nov 2013 - WAUN DDYFAL - The Battle of Mynydd Bach 1799 by Gethin Gruffydd ... and Pike Blog in due course as well as in Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr Blog.


Cymdeithas Lewsyn yr Heliwr, Partisan Cymru and
 Great Unrest Group - History Commission.

Stop Press:

1831 Commemoration 2014

Saturday 31 May - Sunday 1 June.