Coming home late from his office at Merthyr, solicitor John Morgan was met by one of his live-in servants, John Lewis, in a state of great agitation.

“Sir, my wife’s had a terrible accident!” Lewis cried. “She fell down the stairs and has hurt her head.”

A doctor summoned to Mrs. Gwen Lewis, who also worked on the solicitor’s domestic staff, pronounced her dead from a fractured skull. “But I don’t think she fell down the stairs,” he said. “I think there was a struggle and she was pushed. The blood on the stairs has been there for some time, and there are signs that she fought for her life.”

Scratch marks on John Lewis’s face seemed to confirm the doctor’s view, and the servant was arrested and charged with killing his wife. At Swansea Assizes in February 1857, the prosecution claimed that Lewis attacked his wife because Mr. Morgan had given her money to buy food, and her husband wanted to take it from her to buy drink.

The jury failed to agree it was murder, so a re-trial was ordered and this time Lewis was convicted. He was hanged on Saturday, July 25th, 1857, outside Cardiff Prison – the last public execution to be held in the Welsh capital.