THIS IS THE STORY OF DIC ROLANT or Richard Rowlands (1817 - 1862) as he is referred to in most documents. Dic has the doubtful honour of being second, and last person to be hanged in Beaumaris Gaol. He was also the last to suffer public execution in North Wales. All hangings after 1868 were carried out within the walls of prisons. Dic’s story is interesting in itself, but the documents that survive, mainly newspaper reports, give quite a vivid description of life in rural Anglesey in the middle of the 19th Century.
So not only do we get a murder mystery, and a whodunnit that still remains unsolved to today, but we can live for a while in the small farming community of Llanfaethlu and get to know the characters of this little drama, who were thrown into such disarray by the news that a respected member of their community had been found dead in a ditch.
We shall find that Dic was labelled the ‘local bad boy’, and we shall understand why people thought him so. We shall meet the woman who stuck by him to the end. We shall see how the fledgling Anglesey Constabulary worked under their Welsh speaking Chief Constable, and how they got by without forensic science. We shall also judge those who hammered the final nails into Dic’s coffin and wonder if they were telling the truth.
We shall ask ourselves if a man should be convicted of wilful murder, and executed, solely on reputation alone. We shall also ask ourselves if the jury who heard his case was indeed chosen from amongst ‘his peers’.
And who can resist meeting the man who put the noose around his neck, and who’s hand was on the lever that launched him into eternity.
Much of Dic’s story has passed into legend. He would surely have been forgotten had not his case caused such a sensation at the time.
Because, you see, Dic went to his death at 8 o’clock on the morning of Friday 4th of April 1862, before a massive crowd, refusing to admit his guilt, even though he had been under the ‘most truth inducing circumstances,’ as one paper had it.
Finally you will judge the evidence and deliver your own verdict on Dic Rolant, son of a small farmer in Llanrhyddlad Anglesey.