Practical Joke goes badly wrong

1798 – Elopement of Wife from Clodock

Mary, the wife of Howell Howells, a carpenter in Clodock, eloped without any cause or provocation (so he said).

Howell Howells therefore put notices out that nobody should give credit to Mary, as he would not pay any of her debts in the future

1893 – Practical Joke leads to Tragedy at Clodock

Five men appeared at the Herefordshire Assizes, charged with killing William Prosser.  They did, by  terrifying him and causing him to be exposed whilst naked in the night time, feloniously kill the man.

The five men were William Davies, 34, a Miller;  Leonard Miles, 32, a Farmer;  John Williams, 21, a farmer;  Walter Griffiths 22, a labourer, and Thomas Jones, 18, a labourer.  Another man, Charles Lewis, 17, a farmer, also stood charged with the manslaughter of William Prosser.

The Pranks Begin

It was said that all the men were highly respectable, but they had been drinking spiced beer at the Cornewall Arms Inn on the night in question, and embarked on a series of pranks.

They rolled one man in the snow, and dipped another in the river Monnow after taking them from their beds, then went on to William Prosser’s cottage.

Prosser heard them coming and jumped out of a window to try to escape but he was caught by the men and rolled in the snow.  Eventually be managed to break free and ran to the Garn farmhouse where he managed to lose the men.

William Prosser Found Dead

Next morning however, he was found dead – hanging by his short and waistcoat on the gate in front of two cottages;  it was later discovered that death was caused by syncope brought on by the cold, exhaustion and fright.

It was said that Prosser was a weakly man with a weak heart, and he had had nothing to eat that day.


All the men pleaded guilty, and the Judge said that it was one of the most serious cases that he had had to deal with.  He took into consideration the good character of each of the prisoners, and said that he realised they did not know what they were doing at the time, but also said that he could never allow drunkenness to be an excuse for a crime.

William Davies and Walter Griffiths were sentenced to three years penal servitude;  Leonard Miles and John Williams were given 18 months imprisonment with hard labour;  and Thomas Jones was given 12 months hard labour.

The Appeal

However, an appeal for mercy given the extreme previous good conduct of the men made the Judge review the sentences.

In the end the sentences were reduced, and Walter Griffiths and William Davies were given imprisonment and hard labour for 12 months;  Leonard Miles, John Williams and Thomas Jones would be imprisoned for 4 months with hard labour, and Charles Lewis was imprisoned for just 3 days given that he had actually tried to stop the others.


1899 – Gun Accident at Clodock

William Davies a Miller aged 41 was the subject of an inquest in December 1899.

A local farmer, William Wilhams went one afternoon to Clodock Mill after being summonsed by the deceased’s son to kill rabbits and saw William Davies outside his door.

William Davies went inside the house to fetch cartridges, leaving Wilhams with his gun (an old converted rifle, which was loaded;  the action was hammerless and could only be carried full cock) and Wilhams then put the butt end of the gun over the mill door with the muzzle pointing into the yard.

A few seconds later, William Davies’ 14 year old daughter came through the door and immediately after that the gun exploded, with the stock swinging round.  The  shocked child said that she had run against the gun, and then William Davies cried out that he had been shot before falling onto his back.

William had been shot in his leg, and helpers put a tourniquet above the wound to stop the bleeding whilst he drifted in and out of consciousness.

The leg subsequently had to be amputated, but he died from shock soon afterwards.

The verdict was accidental death.