Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Honeymoon in Pontnewydd

Honeymoon in Pontnewydd

Pontnewydd has lots going for it, I'm the first to say so, but honeymoon destination is not something that springs to mind! Yet, on September 29th 1903, two lovebirds had their Pontnewydd honeymoon cut short when police arrested them on suspicion of theft.

The Evening Express (30/09/1903) told its readers:

A HONEYMOON ARREST - Joseph Franks, a Jew, and his wife, Elizabeth, were arrested at Pontnewydd on Tuesday on a charge of stealing a gold chain value £10, and £20 in money. The parties, who were married in London on Saturday, were staying at the house of a relative when arrested. It is alleged that the watch and money were taken from the house of another relative in London.

Other newspapers elaborated on this; Elizabeth Wilson was a Pontnewydd native, the daughter of mason Thomas Wilson and his wife Hannah who lived at #5 Grange Road, Thomas Row, with their many children. (See census for 1891, 1901, 1911.) Elizabeth moved to London to work in service, and there she met Joseph. Following a short courtship Elizabeth married him at Brixton Registry Office on Saturday September 26th, giving her name as Ethel May Maclaren for reasons best known to herself. Afterwards they returned to Joseph's sister's flat at Cleveland Mansions on Chapel Street and, when she went out, stole £20, a curb chain, and a Kruger sovereign. When Hettie Franks returned the pair had disappeared, having gone to Pontnewydd to stay with Elizabeth's parents - until they were arrested with the curb chain and £17 in their possession.

Cleveland Mansions
The scene of the crime! This is Chapel Street, renamed Mowll Street in the 1930s, as it looks today.

On October 3rd the Weekly Mail continued the story:

ESCAPE OF THE MALE PRISONER - The prisoners, in charge of a Metropolitan constable, started for London on Wednesday, and when at Newport Railway Station the male prisoner gave the officer the slip, and the latter was obliged to go to London with only one prisoner.

Joseph dashed across the railway lines and left the police at a loss until an unnamed Italian man went to Porth police station on the Friday [Oct 2nd], and told them he had just travelled from Cardiff with a man who was boasting of his escape from the police. They went on to arrest him at Hafod where he was trying to get work at a colliery. The Gloucestershire Echo reported that he 'stoutly resisted arrest'.

October 10th saw Franks back in the newspapers, the Cardiff Times reported:

THE INTERRUPTED HONEYMOON 
ALLEGED THEFT OF MONEY AND JEWELS - At Lambeth Police Court on Saturday Joseph Franks (24), described as a wood carver, was charged on a warrant with being concerned with his wife, Elizabeth Franks (19), now under remand, with stealing £20 and some jewellery belonging to Hettie Franks, of Brixton, in the early part of the week. The prisoner and his wife, it will be recalled, were arrested at Pontnewydd, where they were said to be spending their honeymoon.  
They were handed over to Detective-Sergeant Hawkins and Detective Hunt, of the Brixton police, for conveyance to London. At Newport it was necessary to change trains, and the male prisoner then succeeded in getting away from the officers, and making his escape. The detectives were compelled to come to London with Mrs Franks only. On Friday Franks was recaptured at Hafod, the arrest being affected by the local police. He was again handed over to Sergeant Hawkins, who safely brought him to the Metropolis. 
In giving sufficient evidence to justify a remand, Sergeant Hawkins stated that when told the charge the prisoner replied, "The £20 I stole because my sister would not pay my fare to Canada. The gold watch did belong to me, and I gave it to my brother, who is dead. While I was away in prison she took possession of it." 
Mr Hopkins remanded the prisoner until Wednesday, when he will be brought up in company with his wife.
If you hadn't thought Joseph was a catch before, his previous prison sentence at Parkhurst has surely convinced you! ;) This is likely to be our man below, listed in the 1902 and 1903 Habitual Criminals Registers, and I think this article might describe him and a friend being tried for pick-pocketing in August 1898.

Joseph Franks 1902
Joseph Franks 1903

The Penny Illustrated Paper brought the story to a close on October 17th:

There was a pathetic scene at Lambeth Police Court when Joseph and Elizabeth Franks, who were arrested while spending their honeymoon at Pontnewydd, Mon., were charged with stealing money and jewels from the former's sister, Hettie Franks. Mr. Armstrong, who appeared for the defence, asked Miss Franks if she really wished to go on with the charge against her brother. Miss Franks thereupon burst into tears, and exclaimed that she did not. The magistrate [Mr. Horace Smith] discharged Elizabeth Franks and bound the male prisoner over. Upon leaving the court the latter was rearrested on another charge.

Elizabeth and Joseph Franks at Lambeth Police Court

I'd love to know what happened to them after that but I haven't had any luck picking up their trail as yet!



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