Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Radnorshire Jury

"The only thing that can save that hare is a Radnorshire jury" a judge is supposed to have remarked when watching the creature coursed by two greyhounds. And indeed Radnorian applauds the determination of 19C Radnorshire juries to sometimes make a stand for common-sense against the directions of their betters.

An example came with the death of the spinster sister of the rector of Llanbadarn Fawr in September 1872, a Miss Mary Morgan. The rector, a native of the Vale of Glamorgan, convinced himself that his sister had been poisoned by her maidservant Mary Ann Davies. The girl was arrested and the dead woman's stomach and part of her intestine, together with her medication and samples of a jelly she had been served, were taken in two glass jars by Chief Constable Penry Lloyd to Guys Hospital for testing.

A fortnight later the Coroner's jury reconvened to consider the report from London. No poison was found. Two local doctors who attended Miss Morgan both considered that she had died of natural causes while her brother continued to insist she had been poisoned. The Coroner, Mr Cheese, advised the jury to record an open verdict, but after a few minutes they returned with a unanimous verdict of death by natural causes, adding that there was no cause of suspicion against Mary Ann Davies whatever and that they regretted that she had been held in custody for so long.

The Rev Morgan fumed against the verdict and accused the maid of being a thief. The country, however, was against him and one wonders how he fared in the twenty or more years he continued to serve the parishioners of Llanbadarn.

So Mary Davies was relieved of suspicion and the toxicology tests which had "yielded reaction which raised a suspicion of the presence of antimony" were filed away to gather dust.

1 comment:

John Bercow said...

The jury system is the last line of defence against the tyrrany of the state.