Christmas murder victim's family home, Bethesda

button-theme-womenbutton-theme-crimebutton_lang_welshChristmas murder victim's family home, Bethesda

bethesda_gwen_ellen_jonesGwen Ellen Jones (nee Parry) lived at 21 Cae Star. There were houses both sides of Ogwen Street here, and on the site of the present Cae Star car park. The portrait of Gwen (right) was published in Yr Herald Cymraeg in 1910.

Gwen’s father John was a slate quarryman. She married a Llanfairfechan stone quarryman in 1898. While working at home as a washerwoman, she met William Murphy, an itinerant labourer and militia soldier. In 1903 they had a child together and Gwen left her husband. She and Murphy moved to “a common lodging house” in Holyhead. When Murphy was away working, Gwen lived here with her father (whose health was failing), her son William and her adopted daughter Gwladys.

Murphy’s work was sporadic and the pair often resorted to begging. He was sometimes violent towards Gwen. He is pictured on the left, with thanks to Gwynedd Archives Service.

bethesda_william_murphyIn December 1909, while he was away, Gwen left him for Holyhead man Robert Jones. Gwen’s father lied about her whereabouts when Murphy came here to Cae Star looking for her, two weeks before Christmas. However, Murphy found her in Holyhead with Robert Jones. Consumed with jealousy, he threatened to kill her if she did not go to South Wales with him.

On Christmas night he invited Gwen, who had been drinking, to go for a walk. Her friend Lizzie started to follow but Murphy said he wanted to be alone with Gwen.

When they reached a field behind Newry Street, Holyhead, he strangled her then cut her throat, almost severing her head. After first planning to flee the area, he changed his mind and went to Gwen's lodgings where he gave William a penny, telling him he no longer had a mother. He showed an acquaintance the body and turned himself in at the police station.

After trial at Beaumaris Assizes, he was executed at Caernarfon Gaol on 15 February 1910, the last person to be hanged there.

On 29 December 1909 Gwen was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in the Mortuary Cemetery (Maeshyfryd), Holyhead. Her death broke up the precarious family unit which had depended on her. Her children went into care and to different homes. It’s not known if they ever saw each other again.

Postcode: LL57 3AN    View Location Map

With thanks to Hazel Pierce of The History House and Barry Hillier, and to Gwynedd Archives Service and the Daily Post for the photos

Bangor University website - Hazel Pierce's detailed account of Gwen Ellen Jones

Website of Gwynedd Archives Service