James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Early days in Llanidloes

Constables inevitably encountered hostility and a lack of co-operation from some local people. Initially, the new Constabulary had to prove its worth and to overcome the ethos of ‘mob-rule’. Short-staffed as they were, it cannot have been easy for them and assaults on the police were quite frequent;

On 6th March, 1841, a boy was arrested in the act of stealing oatmeal at Llanidloes and he was taken into custody by a borough constable and handed over to two constables of the County Force [one of whom would have been James], when a mob of persons, estimated at between three and four hundred, rescued the prisoner, kicking and abusing the constables. The most forward persons involved in the rescue were known, as were three others, but all had instantly absconded and have not since been heard of. (Report to the Chief Constable)

Farmers returning home from market were easy targets for highway robbers. In 1842 there were on average at least two cases of highway robbery a week in the county but there were probably many more that went unreported. The following incident also occurred on 6th March, 1841:-

In the case of highway robbery near Llanidloes, it appears that the person robbed, Mr. John Jones of Trefeglwys, was riding home about 12 o’clock on the 6th March, 1841, and by his own statement was fast asleep in a state of intoxication. He awoke to find some person trying to put his hands inside his pockets, and in doing so lifted Mr. Jones off his horse, but without violence. A person suspected is being watched. (Report to the Chief Constable)

(Reports of crimes cited in A history of the Montgomeryshire Constabulary : 1840-1948. by W.C. Maddox)