Rhosneigr Community Website & visitor Guide
The Wreckers and Robbers of Crigyll
The rugged coastline and reefs around Anglesey have claimed a large number of sailing ships in the past. Off the shore of Rhosneigr, the tea clipper "Norman Court" (sister ship to the famous Cutty Sark) met her doom on the shoals of Cwmyran, between the rocks of Ynys Feirig (Starvation Island) and Rhoscolyn. However, some ships came to grief in a more sinister way...
In the eighteenth century, the wreckers of Crigyll looted wrecked ships which they lured onto the Crigyll rocks (right) using beacons and lights, simulating the harbour lights of Holyhead, near the mouth of the river Crigyll (below) . During the day, they were respected members of the community. They included landowners, farmers, tailors, a weaver, a fuller, housewives and even children. At one time, a number of Calvinistic methodists were looting a wreck and were surprised by one of their elders! Picture of Crigyll rocks
Picture of Crigyll river mouth The gang was active for over thirty years. It proved extremely difficult to convict them. In 1741 four of the robbers were summoned to appear before William Chapple, the Chief Justice of Anglesey. However, as he was away at the time, Thomas Martyn, a renowned drunken judge presided but due to his total incompetence the men were set free.

One mariner did see justice done. His name was William Chilcott who owned a sloop called the "Charming Jenny". The ship was thrown upon the Crigyll rocks in a storm and some of the cargo went afloat on the sea. His wife collected some valuables and money and made for the beach, which was crowded with men. Mr Chilcott watched in horror from the ship as one of the men held her head under the water until she drowned. When her body was examined, it was discovered that a finger had been broken to remove her gold wedding ring. Items of clothing, silver buckles from her shoes and a gold watch were also taken. It took a few months for Chilcott to bring the gang in front of the magistrates. When the day came, fighting broke out between them and in the confusion the robbers were set free. Their luck finally ran out. Chilcott managed to get a writ to have the men tried in Shrewsbury. In 1755, two of the robbers were sentenced to death for the crime of plundering from the Charming Jenny. It seems that only one was hanged.

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