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
|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!
||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.
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