John Jones (aka Benjamin Swann) (-1872)

The Cardiff of the late 19th Century was a place where a man could shake off his past and create himself anew. One such migrant was butcher's apprentice John Jones who had arrived in Cardiff from Wolverampton accompanied by his wife in the late 1860s.They had not always been known as such. In their native Black Country home town they had been known as Benjamin Swann, a slaughterman and his girlfriend Ann, Mrs Hollingsworth, the wife of his employer. The runaways took on the guise of Mr & Mrs Jones, establishing a reasonably successful pork butcher's shop in Wharton Street, above which they lived. Jones then set up a stall in nearby Canton Market, which also provided premises for the slaughter of the pigs.

Jones however suffered from severe bouts of depression. Jones took to alcohol to dampen his fears of financial failure. A his mental health deteriorated his cashflow problems got worse.He was also convinced that a local butchers Jeffries & Ayres were plotting to ruin him. Further drinking gave way to debts at the lcal pawnbrokers. Even at a visit to the Victoria Rooms in St Mary Street for an evening of musical entertainment ended up in an accusation that the singer was "singing against him", and he had to be escorted fom the building, still ranting and raving.

On the night of 30 December 1872, Ann had been locked away by a neigbour to protect her from John's violent behaviour.On the prvious evening John had suffered from "night terrors" - a burgular thought to be down stairs ransacking his shop, and an imaginary fire destroying the downstairs premises.

It was early that morning that Thomas Thorton, a retired Policeman was invited by Jones to the Canton Cross Vaults to discuss some business venture and partake in a small drink. Later in the day and now alone Jones spotted PC William Perry on Cowbridge Road passing the workhouse gate. Jones invited Perry to join him in a drink in nthe adjacent Wyndam Arms. At first declining the pair settled for a drink in the Westgate Hotel at the bottom of Cowbridge Road.

In the cramped entrance passage Jones turned abruptly to face Perry and withdrew his butchers knife from his coat and plunged it into the policeman's chest. Death was almost instantaneous.

Jones calmly strolled into the bar, where there was pandamonium, with people trying to escape through every door. A brave lady Edith Hobbs confronted Jones to be threatened with the "contents" of his blade for her effoerts.Jones proceeded to slash at his own chest with the lethal blade, staggered across to a table and chair. Dr Granger arrived to declare that he could do little for Perry. Jones thoght he had done enough to kill himself, but was wrong. When the police arrived to arrest Jones, he commented "Shut your mouth and let me alone; I will die as fast as I can."

Jones was transported to the Infirmary, expected to recover.

An inquest was held at the Town hall on 2nd January 1873 presided over by the Deputy Coroner for the Cardiff Borough, E B Reece. If Jones ws found sane , he would be held responsible for his actions and would hang. Dr Sheen supervised the prisoners care while at the Infirmary and declared that Jones was mentally fit to declare. Jones was found guilty of wilful murder in his absence. With the death sentence taken as given the formality of sentencing would be postponed until Jones' release from hospital.

Jones was conveyed the news of the verdict and the his health started to deteriorate, he started clawing at his wounds and died. He had simply lost the will to live. The cause of death was recorded as fatal haemorrhage of the lung.

On Sunday 5 January PC William Perry was buried with full honours at the old Cemetery in Adamstown.

On 9th January 1873 John Jones' corpse was transported to Cathays Cemetery between the hours of 9 and 10 at night, and two policemen interred him in unconsecrated ground. The ground was levelled and no record made in the ledgers.

It seemed they knew that one day a member of the Friends would be looking into the position of the only convicted murderer in the Cemetery.