CRIME & Justice in Wales


Use the list below to discover historical true crime stories associated with places in each region of Wales. The stories can also be accessed on your mobile by scanning our QR codes at each location. They range in severity from massacre and murder down to publicans being prosecuted for serving booze on Sundays or “harbouring” police officers. You can also read about witch trials, political crimes, riots, raids by privateers, crimes of passion, bigamy, smuggling, cannibalism, fraud and executions of priests for religious reasons.

Also featured are some of the police stations, courts and jails where suspects were held and, in Carmarthen, recorded in some of the world’s first police mugshots. You can also read about some of the characters who enforced the law in Wales, from smart lawyers to hapless Victorian bobbies.

We’ve even created self-guided local tours on related themes in several places:
Abergavenny - Law and Disorder tour
Dolgellau - Law and Disorder tour
Holyhead - Heroes and Villains tour
Newport - Heroes and Villains tour
Pwllheli - Rebels and Riots tour


Holyhead - French privateers kidnapped a customs officer in 1710 but were soon shipwrecked
Holyhead - an entire circus, including 83 horses, passed the Stanley tollgate without paying in 1890
Llanfaethlu - Carreglwyd House built 1634 by King Charles I’s Master of the Rolls
Llanedwen - clergyman jailed after lying about the dead baby he’d fathered with his stepdaughter
Llandegfan - boy aged 13 died from brain damage inflicted by bullies on training ship HMS Clio
Beaumaris - maidservant awarded payments after adultery by her former master, aged 70
Moelfre - shipwreck survivor charged with cannibalism for eating human liver while adrift in lifeboat

Pwllheli - Riot Act read in 1752 as women tried to steal food from ship for their starving families
Pwllheli - farmers refused to pay tithes to the “foreign” Church of England
Pwllheli - barmaid accused at assizes of sending libelous Valentine’s letters to ship’s captain

Conwy County Borough
Penmaenmawr - site of a con-woman’s sensational attempt to fake her death in 1909
Penmaenmawr - where Lady Cavendish grieved after murder in Dublin of her Irish Secretary husband
Conwy - Erskine Hotel landlord was one of the first fined for serving alcohol on a Sunday
Mochdre - inn where a renowned Victorian jailbreaker was apprehended while in bed
Colwyn Bay - old court house. Boy from training ship HMS Clio was in the dock in 1909
Colwyn Bay - former police station, with handcuffs carved in stone


Flint - old court house where judges came for assizes before 1790s
Flint - three boys whipped with birch rod for stealing from foxhounds master
Mostyn - customs officers seized smuggled wine but were overpowered at night by disguised men
Whitford – memorial to aristocrat shot dead in prank during Royal Navy shore leave


Welshpool – outlaw ‘Wild Humphrey’ kept evading capture. Later pardoned by King Henry VIII
Llandrindod Wells - hotel landlady fined for breaking blackout law in 1916
Hay-on-Wye – five of the Great Train Robbers supped at the Three Tuns while on the run in 1963
Talgarth - Tower House was described as “the old prison” as far back as the 16th century
Crickhowell - embezzling town clerk caught after detectives tracked him down in western Canada

Efailwen - where the Rebecca Riots started in 1839 with destruction of a tollgate
Carmarthen - Victorian custody cells, where you can see some of the world's first police mugshots
Carmarthen - castle ruins were used for 18th-century jail
Carmarthen - Protestant Robert Ferrar burned at the stake in 1555 for refusing to become a Catholic
Llanelli - Riot Act read in 1911 during strike at railway station, where two men were shot dead


Llanfihangel Crucorney - pub landlord fined in 1914 for stealing a spaniel from local artistocrat

Cwmbrân - horse cruelty case after paralysed farmer paid one-legged Crimean War veteran to help

Caerleon - Hanbury Arms once hosted magistrates’ court, with cells in the medieval tower
Newport - church where bigamist Samuel Walkley had his second wedding