Tales of earthquakes, assault and suicide

1847 – Capture of Serial Thieves at Craswall

On 26th June, the house of Mr. Thomas Gains of Craswall was broken into, and several items were stolen: three new shirts partly made; a shawl, and some fowls.

Mr. Gains on discovering the thefts in the morning, set off after the thieves and after asking around discovered that five people had passed through Craswall on the road to Hay and he passed the information on to Constable J. Morris, who knew well the haunts of such characters.

Eventually he found them in the lodging house of W. Price in Hay, and took them into custody, whereupon he discovered some of the stolen property in their “bundles”.

The evidence was so conclusive that the thieves were committed for trial in Hereford, and many of the farmers in the area were extremely pleased having suffered considerable losses of property, particularly from the poultry stores.

1859 – Suicide of Domestic Servant at Craswall

H. Underwood, Coroner, held an inquest on the body of Eliza Seaborne aged 18.

She had been a servant at Mr. Parry’s, The Cwm, and had been depressed for some time following something that had happened to her sister. She had told Samuel Hughes, a farm servant, that “she wished she was out of the way”.

On the morning of her death, she had carried out her duties as normal, and nobody noticed anything strange about her; her employer later found her hanging by a halter in the barn, and although Mrs. Parry took her down and had her taken into the house, it was too late and Mr. C.P. Price the surgeon, certified her death.

1860 – Cowardly Assault

James Jenkins of Craswall was charged with assaulting Mrs. Mary Watkins, also of Craswall.

Jenkins was a tenant of Mrs. Watkins and had fallen behind with the rent, when she went to the house to ask for payment she found that Jenkins was moving many of his possessions away by horse and cart, which “rose the complainant’s steam”. She caught hold of the reins to stop Jenkins from removing his goods without paying the rent due, and demanded that he paid her immediately.

Jenkins in reply said “he would see her flaming in a very warm place first”, and kicked her hard on the hip, which event was witnessed by to people.

The magistrates were not impressed with his violence, and said that it was even worse because he was trying to defraud her by removing his goods and evading payment.

They said that they thought the 5s fine and 35s expenses would make him more careful in future, or if he failed to pay, a term of one month in the County Gaol, which latter alternative Jenkins appeared to prefer.

1863 – Earthquake in the Golden Valley

The following report was in the Hereford Times on Saturday 10th October 1863:

“On Tuesday morning about half past 3 o’clock, a very severe and alarming shock of earthquake was felt by the inhabitants of the entire neighbourhood, extending itself throughout Dorstone, Craswall, Michaelchurch, St. Margaret’s, Turnastone and Vowchurch. Numbers were aroused from their peaceful slumbers by their houses being violently shaken, their beds rocked like a cradle, and earthenware and glasses rattling on the shelves as if everything was being torn to pieces. Some were tossed from side to side in their beds, and some thrown completely on the boards; articles of furniture were tossed about and fell in disorder on the floor.

Many instances arose where persons threw open their windows calling out to know what was the matter; others cried out for mercy, thinking that the last day was come; some who had risen early to engage in their daily calling were overpowered with fear, not knowing where to go nor what to do, being dreadfully alarmed by the roaring noise and terrible shaking of the earth.

Animals were running about and dogs howling. We hear of some houses being damaged by the violent shaking; nothing equal to it was ever experienced by the inhabitants before”