Hannah Roberts and her Blouse

A tale of mistaken identity and police lies against the background of The Great Strike


 Caernarfon and Denbighshire Herald, 1st November 1901

Caernarfon and Denbighshire Herald, 1st November 1901


Nine Men and one woman indicted for rioting in Bethesda, 1901

The prosecution alleged that the ten defendants - Richard Jones (20) Farm Labourer; Frank Plater (27) Hairdresser; William Hughes (25) Labourer; Hannah Roberts, married woman; John Williams (38) Quarryman; Robert Roberts (48) Quarryman; Thomas Lewis Owen (22) Quarryman; John Owen (23) Quarryman; William Owen (20) Quarryman; Owen Lewis Owen (20) Quarryman - were guilty of riotous behaviour on Tuesday July 30th. By assembling in the streets when the quarrymen came out at half past five and hooting, booing and using violent language towards the men who were legitimately at work.

The prosecution spoke of the current climate of fear in Bethesda, where working quarrymen had to be escorted home by police for fear of their limbs. These men were terrified by the demeanour of the crowd on this Tuesday night. “It is easy to feel secure in a peaceful place like that court, but one can imagine what it would be like in a place like Bethesda” Though chiefly comprised of men, the crowd also included women and children, and the women, no doubt and, to a great extent, urged on their husbands in this disorderly conduct.

Particulars in the case for the prosecution.

On the day in question, constable Jones was escorting 3 men home, surrounded by a hostile crowd. He saw Thomas Lewis Owen throw a stone and charged him with the offence. At this point, Thomas Hughes took hold of the constable’s arm so that he should let Owen go. Then, Lewis Owens brother, with a rock in his hand, threatened that if he did not let him go, he would throw the stone at the constable’s head. He did not let him go so he loosed the stone at his head so that his helmet was broken. This caused a general riot, in which more stones were thrown and another Policeman was injured with a gash on the neck.

The case against Hannah Roberts

PC Edward Pierce Williams identified Hannah Roberts as being in the crowd by the shop at Llanllechid, saying he could swear by her clothes and that she was wearing the blouse that had been shown in court. A Policeman named Richard Williams corroborated, claiming to have seen Hannah Roberts in the crowd from where the stones were thrown. On cross examination, he said that he heard Hannah Roberts give a false name to a Policeman, as a Mrs Jones, Chapel House.

The Policeman’s Book, with the names of the defendants was examined. The defence pointed out that the notes dated 30th July, were the last entry in the book, coming after October 16th and asked for the evidence to be dismissed. On re-examination, all defendants except Hannah Roberts admitted to being in the crowd on that day.

Giving her evidence, Hannah Roberts swore that she had not been in the shop or the crowd that day, and that the first she had known of it was when she had been awoken by police with her summons. She denied that the blouse being shown in court belonged to her, and that she had given the false name and address of Mrs Jones Chapel House. Her husband corroborated her evidence that she had not been in town that day, and that the identified blouse was not hers. 

Hugh Roberts, A workman with Bethesda Urban Council corroborated that he did not see Hannah Roberts that night, but he did see a policeman talking to another woman who gave her name as Jane Jones. 1 Ty Capel. Mrs Jane Jones, 1 Ty Capel, was called to court where she corroborated that she had been in the shop, wearing the blouse on the day in question, and that a policeman had asked for her name and address.

Both women were released without charge.

The sentences

Thomas Lewis Owen and William Owen were charged with throwing stones and received a fortnight imprisonment.

William Hughes and Owen Lewis Owen both received one month imprisonment for striking an officer in the discharge of his duty.

Frank Plater, a fine of £5 and imprisonment until it is paid, for disorderly behaviour.

The whole story can be found at http://papuraunewydd.llyfrgell.cymru/view/3605370/3605376/81