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Gwasg Carreg Gwalch





The Royal Museums Library at Greenwich tells us: 'The author examines the life of William Owen (c.1717-1747), a smuggler who operated at first in the West Indies but for most of his life along the coasts of the Isle of Man, Wales and the west of England. Owen told his story while awaiting execution following his conviction for the murder of his associate James Lilly and it was either written by himself or dictated to the Reverend John Davies who was in attendance. A manuscript copy of Owen's story 'The Birth, Life, Education and Transactions of Captain William Owen, the noted Smuggler' is held by the National Library of Wales and is written in the hand of Daniel G. Matthias. The author tells Owen's story based on this manuscript and includes a transcript of the account of his trial at Carmarthen Great Sessions. Set alongside this is the author's attempt to authenticate Owen's own story and an unpublished account of Owen's life written in 1860 by the Reverend Henry J. Vincent. There are also chapters on eighteenth-century smuggling focusing on the Isle of Man and Glamorgan.'

We discover where, to escape pursuers, Owen shot his accomplice Lilly, on a field then renamed Cae Lilly near Llanfihangel-ar-Arth (Llanfihangel Yorath/Iorwerth), and that most of his remarkable claims were indeed true. We find out that he committed bigamy, and examine the trial where he was oddly acquitted of murdering a customs officer. A strange man, who thought nothing of killing unarmed men in cold blood, admitting to many affairs, visiting brothels and fathering illegitimate children, yet despised drunkenness, the book examines the truth and lies of his remarkable life.

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