‘This Once Blessed Isle’

In January 1823 an audacious attempt was made on the life of Richard Owen, whilst carrying out his duties as a Messenger between the Custom Houses of Holyhead and Beaumaris.

Highway Robbery!

His experience was reported in a local newspaper and describes how he was twice shot at when journeying on horseback to Beaumaris at a place close to Cleifiog Farm, five miles from Holyhead. The location is further described as being where ’the old road meets the new one’. The report continues to tell how at about 4am a ball suddenly passed through his hat and another grazed his left side. The attack frightened him so much that he drove his horse hard to get away and by the time he reached Llangefni the animal was too tired to continue. He then had to complete the journey on foot. As he was not carrying any money, only the quarterly accounts, his attacker would have not profited from his efforts. Once Richard Owen had spend off his assailant disappeared and was never apprehended.

The probable location for the attack on Richard Owen and the onward route he would have taken to cross the island.

The ‘new road’ referred to in the report is now the A5, built in 1822, part of which is the Stanley Embankment linking Holy Island with the Isle of Anglesey. The ‘old road’ is probably Gorad Road, a section of the ‘Old Post Road’ that ran from Holyhead, via the bridge at Four Mile Bridge, through Bodedern and Llangefni and across Anglesey. The junction in the photograph below is just outside the present village of Valley and is the probable location of the attempted murder of the Customs Messenger.

The junction of the ‘New Road’ (A5) with the ‘Old Road’ (Gorad Road) just outside Valley

The newspaper report finished with the hope that events of this nature would not become more frequent thus threatening the relative peace of Anglesey – referred to in the article as ‘this once blessed Isle’.

Strangely in the next issue of the newspaper (the North Wales Gazette) it was suggested that Richard Owen had made up the story, an accusation he strongly denied.

From research undertaken by Peter Scott Roberts

The map is from Barnes, F. A. ‘Land Tenure and Landscape in Llanynghenedl’, 
Anglesey Antiquarian Society and Field Club. Transaction 1988, p.72.
© Holyhead Maritime Museum


2 thoughts on “‘This Once Blessed Isle’

  1. Graham Weert July 23, 2019 / 7:53 am

    Another interesting blog of what it was like to travel in those days and the location of the incident as we know it today. Very Good Peter.


  2. Carys Roberts July 24, 2019 / 1:02 pm

    Bringing the past to the present.Da iawn!


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