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Family Notices


--SATURDAY, AUGVST 81, 1901.…


---------TRAGEDY AT ST. DAViD'S,'


----Dowlais and Cyfarthfa…






-----------THE KiNG ALFRED…

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DEATH OF "OLD BOB ANDERSON." QUEER CARMARTHENSHIRE CHARACTER, A Mania for Hanging and Ghastly Relics. A curious character of Carmarthenshire has just passed away, Robert Rickett Evans, known by his familiars as Old Bob Anderson," dying at Fernhill, near Carmarthen, on Monday morn- ing at 4 o'clock after a somewhat protracted ill- ness. He had a singular career, both peasant and peer being his companions and he was equally at home with either. He was born some 85 vears ago in the Spilman-street house, Carmarthen, which was occupied for over half a century by the late Dr. John Hughes, and the house, in fact, in which the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes, of Wesleyan fame, spent his boyhood. The lad Evans was sturdy and strong, and, hav- ing a peculiar disposition, he went in search of more remarkable scenes than those which are to be discovered in the rural districts of Carmar- thenshire. He had a penchant for pugilism, and whilst studying as a medical student at Guy's Hospital, London, became acquainted with a free and easy set, whose manners were polished and whoso pockets were full." The Car- marthen boy soon developed into the real Cock- ney, and his aristocratic companions led him into the society of Princes, and his bosom used to swell with pride when he related the frequent friendly glove encounters which he had had with '• men of noble mien and goodly birth." There were times when the old fellow would nn- burden himself to a few special friends in the seclusion of Fernhill, a handsome abode in Llan- gwm parish. In fancy's picture you could see him playing his part in life's fast battle, so graphic were his descriptions of his remarkable career. The boxing master of his Majesty the King, when Prince of Wales, was the boxing master of old Bob Anderson," and the Prince's associates were old, Bob's associates that is to say, when fisticuff encounters fascinated the great ones in the good old days of yore." He was one of the privileged few who witnessed that historic fight at Farnborough in 1860, when Tom Sayers and Heenan faced each other in the ring. Among the spectators was Dr. Hopkins, of Carmarthen, himself a noted pugilist, who narrowly escaped the gallows in the closing years of a wild career. Dr. Hop- kins—one of Anderson's boon companions-wa.3 i n- dieted at Swansea Assizes on a charge of mur- der, bllt his death occnrred very soon after his acquittal. His daughter, however, served a penal term for her crimes, which, a few years ago, thrilled her countrywomen with horror. Hopkins was considered a skilful medical man, and Anderson, although he never practised, possessed a large theoretical knowledge of medi- cine, having, it is said, taken his diploma with hononr3. Perhaps the most distinctive craving which troubled Anderson was the craving for demonstrating his scientific skill in hanging criminals, when opportunity presented itself. He used to boast of the fact that he drew the bolt when the three Manchester martyrs were de- spatched, and he was exceedingly anxious to hang Rees, the Llanelly murderer, when Mr Long- Price, under-sheriff for Carmarthenshire, had to look about for a hangman some 14 years ago, but his services were not accepted, although he had endeavoured to show in the Times newspaper how humanely he could execute a human being, his medical knowledge, he considered, being indispensable for such a work. He seemed to have a gruesome love of the horrible, and would collect Piles of Curios from places where murderers had paid the last penalty of the law. He used to exhibit, with feel- ings of pride, the shawl of the woman who was publicly hanged between two men at Gloucester, on which occasion Cadcraft, the executioner, was assisted by Anderson. Mar- wood's bookcase—which contained a large sum of money when opened by Marwood's widow-was another treasured souvenir. He wa3 iu posses- sion of the gloves of the youth Oxford, who shot at Queen Victoria. He was a Friend of the Late Dr. Price, of Llantrisant, and some time before that eccen- tric parson was cremated Anderson accompanied Price and his eight-year-old son through Car- marthen and showed them all the borough lions." On that eventful day Anderson was befittingly robed, in order to honour his guest, his glaring red suit being very conspicuous. Anderson was a believer in crema- j tion, and lit the stake—he said—which burned the body of old Dr. Price. It is not certain vvhather Anderson's desire to be cremated will be respected. This son of Mr Evan Evans, a Carmarthen attorney, known as Evy Bach, LJanrhydw," was fond of practical I jokes, and some of his antics were very strange. It is related that he danced with Joe Morris's corpse," and made a coffin for bis friend Tom Fox," but Tom Fox found no use for the coffin, as he hpd been laid in another, unknown to Anderson, who actually had the coffin ready during Fox's lifetime. Anderson was twice married, his first wife being Maria Davies, daughter of Mr Davies, solicitor, Carmarthen. She was a ward in chancery of Captain Bankes Davies, of Myrtle Hill. His second wife was Miss Gravell, his housekeeper, whom he married in London, and to whom lie gave the iiai-ne of Anderson, which he acquired by right. His daughter (of the first mar-' riage), who has considerable property near Car- marthen, was married to a German homoeopathic doctor, named Blumberg, long since deacl, and she rarely ever visited her father, who had been permitted to occupy Fernhill when he desired for the last 62 years. He was extremely Fond of Animals. A dispute once arose in a law court as to the ownership of the foal of a pony which he was keeping for a friend. Anderson lost the action, but bought the pony from the successful litigant. It was a costly trial. He never all-rawed the pony to work afterwards, and used to point it out as the pony which cost him £ 1,000. He was a diffi- cult debtor to deal with, but he eventually paid all he owed after getting as much fun as possible out of his creditors, who, in the end, were never the losers. He was open-handed to all who did him a good turn, and never forgot a personal favour. For a long period he owned the couch upon which General Picton's wife died, and a glance at his rooms, which were covered with scenes of sport of aJI kinds, showed his dominant .taste. His penmanship was characteristic of the man. He used to Write With a Skewer, I and his characters were large and legible. He objeeted to the use of the word Mr," and hated anything approaching servility. He was ever pre- pared for a siege-from whom it is not lmown- and for a length of time had a couple of cannon inside the doors of his residence in case extreme measures should be needed. Altogether he was a most singular being, and one can never expect to look upon his like again. Among the curios at Anderson's residence were cannon which General Picton used at Waterloo, that gallant soldier's sword, the rope which hanged Butt, who will be remembered as the gentleman farmer who shot his sweetheart at Gloucester, as well as the scarf-pin Butt wore on the morning of the execution the hanging appliances used at the execution of Mrs Cotton, the bigamist and one of the gloves of Oxford, the young man who attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria in 1840. An interesting letter on capital punishment was addressed by Anderson to the Home Secre- tary on Jan. 6th, 1883, in which the former recommended the appointment of an expert, possessing a knowledge of surgery, to the office of public executioner. Anderson also gave details of a number of proposed improvements in the execu- tioner's gruesome appliances intended to reduce the pain, of the death penalty. A Denial in the Times." In 1883 Anderson wrote to the Times as follows Sir,—I am given to understand it is rumoured that I have applied for the office of executioner. This I deny. Since Calcraft's death I offered my services as deputy, and sug- gested that it should be a- Government appoint- ment. I hope my views in this respect will yet be carried out, and that a cobbler should not deal with so difficult an operation as the infliction of capital punishment. The late Mr Wright, the eminent prison philanthropist, always appre- ciated my views, and it was well known to him that it was on purely humane grounds I ever had to do with this delicate subject, and not from any mercenary motives, and it was also well known to him that it has cost me time, money, 7and annoyance. Most people admit that nothing I can be more indecorous than bargaining for the price to be paid for the execution. A certain sum should be fixed sufficient to insure the duty being properly performed by a competent and duly- qualified person. Disagreeable as the duty may be, every precaution should be taken in its per- formance lest the unfortunate culprit should suffer more than is absolutely necessary. In con- clusion I may add that I am opposed to the in- fliction of the death penalty, and after the con- siderable experience 1 have had I claim the right to speak with some authority on the subject. I wish the truth known, or shouldnot have troubled you with this. I hope you approve of my former letters to tho Home Office.—Believe me, yours sincerely, R. R. Anderson, Fern Hill, Carmar- then, S.W., 3rd October, 1883." In spite of his denial it went abroad that he bad actually hung the Manchester martyrs. South Wales Irishmen, particularly those in the Car- marthen district, hearing of this, assembled with a large following at Carmarthen Town Station to give hima "warm reception on his return from I the above execution, which he really witnessed, but Anderson war, befriended,and his alighting at I Carmarthen Junction and getting home steal- thily by a short route cheated the enraged party out of their revenge. Anderson put himself in communication with, the hangmen of the day when he thought he could help with timely hints, and one of his trea- sures was a letter he got from Marwood in reply to some suggestions. Berry and Anderson. When Berry, the executioner, was at Carmar- then for the execution of Rees, the Manellv murderer, Anderson made much of him, invited him to Fern Hill, and did all he could to make the coveted official comfortable. In setnrn Berry permitted, Anderson to inspect the appli- ances some days prior to the day of doom, and thus a friendship was fQrmed between them.

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France v. Turkey,

------------. PUBLICAN SUMMONED.



More Boer Murders.








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