Friday, March 06, 2009

A Radnorshire Murder

Mary Ann Hathaway's mistake was not to go to chapel on the evening of 8th June 1884. Instead, she stayed on to help with the chores at the Nantmel farmhouse where she had commenced service just a few days before. Mary Ann's surname is not one you normally associate with Radnorshire, her father being an Oxfordshire born labourer, although her mother Mary Evans came from a local family. The girl, she was seventeen years old at the time, had lost her mother five years before, while her father had subsequently left the district for the South Wales coalfield.

Mary Ann's master and mistress had, perhaps, enjoyed an easier life than Mary Ann. Both came from a wealthier than average background and now, in their thirties, were farming a substantial 280 acre holding. There was a worm in the bud however, for the mistress, Margaret Jane, had been acting strangely and her husband, John, had taken to hiding his shotgun away from the house in an outbuilding.

At around 9pm Margaret called for Mary Ann to come upstairs and as she appeared on the landing, shot the young maid servant dead with her husband's shotgun, which she had seemingly found and smuggled into the house. Why did she kill Mary Ann, the police asked, had she done anything to upset her mistress? "Nothing whatsoever, I merely did it to be hanged."

Margaret wasn't hanged, she was sent to Broadmoor, while her husband moved away from Nantmel and took a farm in Herefordshire. By the turn of the century his wife had been released and joined him there, they lived on well into the twentieth century. Mary Ann Hathaway was buried in an unmarked grave at Dolau chapel. She might have lived long enough to see the first episodes of Coronation Street on the television, but that was not to be.

No comments: