The Anglesey Constabulary under David White Griffith
There had been an organized police force in Britain since the establishment of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 under Sir Robert Peel. This was confined to London, of course, and the rest of England and Wales was slow to follow suit. It was only with the passing of the County and Borough Police Act in 1856 that organized police forces became national establishments.
The new forces displaced the old system of parish constables. This ancient office had outgrown its usefulness and was by now ineffective in the new industrial age with its growing population.
The Anglesey Constabulary was formed in 1857. One of the leading lights in its formation was Sir Richard Bulkeley of Beaumaris. From the outset he insisted that any chief constable of the force should be Welsh speaking, since most of the county's population was Welsh. There were 21 candidates, many of them English, and relatives of various justices of the peace. Sir Richard's will prevailed, however, and Captain David White Griffith, veteran of the Crimean War (he had in fact served in Malta during that period), Welsh speaker, then living in Guernsey was appointed. It was thought that, since he was a captain in the Army, he could 'handle men'. Griffith took up his position in 1857 with a salary of £250 per annum. It is only fair to say that he did a good job of establishing the new force. The Force's headquarters was in Field Street, Llangefni. There were nine constables, four sergeants, and two inspectors, one at Menai Bridge, and the other at Holyhead. The Holyhead inspector's name was Richard Ellis, a former constable at Amlwch under the old system. The station was at 19 Newry Street Holyhead, where there was also a lock-up.
Much of the work of the new force was taken up with keeping the peace, especially at Holyhead, an in particular around the docks.
The first major crime the force had to deal with was the murder of a farmer, Richard Williams, of Llanfaethlu. One Richard Rowlands, or Dic Rolant as he preferred, was arrested, tried and publicly hanged for the crime, amid much controversy.
David White Griffith remained Chief Constable of the Anglesey Force until his sudden death in 1876 at the age of 60. As Hugh Owen, author of The History of the Anglesey Constabulary states, “He can justly be called the ‘father’ of the Anglesey Constabulary. A man of definite Welsh Sympathies …. “
He is buried in Llandysilio Church Cemetery in Menai Bridge, where his modest, but strangely impressive grave, can still be seen.
David White Griffith’s
D J Jones one of the first policemen of the new force. He was stationed at Llanfechell
© Mrs M Jones Llanfechell
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