In the least visited part of St Brynach’s churchyard, Dinas, a gravestone tells of tragedy.
On Thursday 18th September 1895 two young men, William James and Andrew Raymond, set out to shoot rabbits on Dinas Island. On the rough ground at Carreg y Fran, William stumbled, his gun struck the ground and discharged, leaving his best friend, Andrew, mortally injured. Other villagers arrived quickly at the scene and heard the dying man insist that William was not to blame. The doctor was called for but he knew at once that there was nothing he could do and Andrew Raymond died the next day at the age of twenty-two.
Four days later an inquest was held at the Island Farm, before the Coroner and a jury of local men*. A full report appeared in the County Echo of September 1895.
At the inquest, William James addressed the jury. Here is his account, with a poignant attempt at the formality required by the occasion:
“I live in Bryn Henllan and am working in a colliery in Glamorganshire. I knew the deceased. We were brought up together since children. I spent the greater part of my time with the deceased when I was at home. On Thursday last, I was out with deceased shooting rabbits. We went out early in the afternoon and got to the Island about six o’clock. We were there about quarter of an hour before we came to the place where the accident happened. We had parted for a while, then met up again. We met Mr Prowse the coastguardsman. The right barrel only of the deceased’s gun was loaded, the other had been discharged at a rabbit. I did not try to put the hammer down. I did not hear the deceased say there was a rabbit. He said he was going further up to look for a rabbit. Mr Prowse was walking alongside of him. I was walking abreast of them, but a little further down. I slipped over a stone as it was very rough there. The stock of the gun struck the ground and the barrel was discharged. I did not know that Andrew was shot until Prowse shouted out. I carried the gun in my left hand as I expected to see a rabbit. When Prowse went to get assistance, deceased told me not to cry as I could not help it.”
After some consideration the jury concluded that ‘Andrew Campbell Reymond …died of shock occasioned by the gunshot wound accidentally received’.
* The members of the jury were:
- Capt. D Harries, JP, Dinas (foreman)
- Thomas Davies , Laurel Villa
- Thomas Mendus, Dyffryn
- John Symmons, Tanybryn
- Thomas Davies, Cwmyreglwys
- William Meyler, Soar Hill
- R Richards, Cwmyreglwys
- William Gwynne, Cwmyreglwys
- O D Harries, Dinas Cross
- Benjamin Harries, Bay View
- D Thomas, Rose Cottage