James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

James & the Town Council

The level of crime in Llanidloes in 1841 (population 4261) led the Town Council, on 5th February, to pass the resolution:-

That this Council has reason to complain that the Superintendent of Police does not give to this Borough more police protection than one officer can afford. That the Town Clerk be required to communicate with him accordingly and inform him of the treatment his officer, James Owen, has received, and of the recent depredations committed in the neighbourhood, and state the occasion that exists for at least one other officer being stationed here.

In that notice James had the Council’s backing but he often had to tread a difficult path between borough and county authorities. Initially he worked very much on his own initiative or took orders from the local JPs, though more senior officers of the Constabulary would regularly check that he was carrying out his duties.

There was a simmering local resentment at the costs involved in establishing the new constabulary. The Town Council passed the following resolution in August 1844:-

That in future no person or persons shall, by the Police Officers or Constables, be confined in the Lock-up House in the said Borough for any offence whatever unless for such as shall or may be committed within the Borough – provided otherwise, if a proper recompense or satisfaction be paid to the Borough Fund from the County, then and in that case permission shall be given by the Mayor to such Police Officers or Constables to confine or imprison any person or persons therein. (Extracts from A municipal history of Llanidloes by Ernest R. Horsfall-Turner)

The conflict of interests between county and local authority came to a head in 1851 when the Town Clerk wrote requesting that James Owen be removed from Llanidloes and replaced. The increasing population (it had increased by about 10% in ten years) due to the expansion of mining in the district had led to more drunkenness and riotous behaviour and it was alleged that James was too feeble in body and too timid to cope. It would seem that the Chief Constable did not agree. James not only remained in the force but by the end of 1852 was promoted to Sergeant. He was to remain stationed at Llanidloes until his retirement.