"A  fishermen's tale"

In the mid sixties on summer evenings, I used to go fishing with Idwal Jones Morawel and William Williams, Bryn Awel, in Idwal’s boat “Pilgrim”, which was kept at Rhuol. He had about thirty Lobster pots to check, and we always used to fish for Mackerel on the way home, so we could have them fresh for super. One evening I remember Idwal telling me about an incident that had taken place in Hells Mouth a very long time ago. The story was about two local men that had been wrecking, they had attacked a ship and killed some of the crew, then they had cut the fingers of the corpses to get the rings off, and the two said men had been hung, and their bodies buried on top of the cliffs. All gruesome stuff. But what a great story for a fourteen year old boy to tell his mates at school the next day!!!

Then about four years ago I read a poem by a local poet that was found in a cupboard at Llanengan school at about 1810, it was about a French ship that had anchored in Hells Mouth in 1629, and some men from Rhiw had boarded the ship and killed all the people, including some young ladies, robbed them of their gold and jewellry and he even mentions the cutting of the fingers. And two men a Sion and a Huw had been hung in Llanbedrog for their evil deeds. So now at last we had the story, complete with the date, and the names of the two Wreckers. Well that’s what we thought, until about two months ago, when Gwilym Jones from Tudweiliog told us that he was getting some manuscripts that would have the whole story, including the courtroom and individual statements from all involved. But is this the same story? this is where the confusion starts, yes the two men involved were called Sion and Huw, well John and Huw, but very often in Welsh, John will be called Sion anyway. But there is no mention of a French ship, in fact there is no mention of a ship at all, just a boat. No young ladies, no cutting of fingers, and the year is 1742 and not 1629 as mentioned in the poem. So are we talking about the same incident? Had the poet used his license a bit too much in this instance? Was Idwal talking about the poem, or another story that he had heard about?

Are they two separate incidents? I suspect that they are, because apart from the two names being the same, the two stories seem to be completely different, and maybe in the future this may come to light, who knows? But all we can tell you is that the story you are about to read is factual, and we have included all the statements, as they were written. So that you can make up your own mind about this, a most tragic event in the history of Rhiw.

Hells Mouth January the 6th 1742



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