In 1843 he is said to have been a ‘ contractor ’ at Pontyates or Pontyberem , that is, he acted as a middleman between a number of workmen and the pit owners , and ‘ Shoni Sgubor-fawr ’ [ John Jones , fl. 1811-58 , q.v.] may have been in his employment. In the autumn of 1843 he was associated with ‘ Shoni ’ in various acts of incendiarism and gatebreaking , and, like ‘ Shoni ,’ was paid for his services. He was arrested on 24 Sept. 1843 at the Plough and Harrow inn at Pum Heol near Llanelly , and was taken to Carmarthen gaol . He was sentenced to transportation for twenty years at the Carmarthen assizes ( 22 Dec. 1843 ) for demolishing the turnpike gate at Spudder's Bridge (near Kidwelly ), and on 5 Feb. 1844 was removed to the Millbank penitentiary . He embarked on the London on 12 March , and reached Van Diemen's Land on 10 July . He served in a probation gang on Maria Island till 14 June 1845 . After that he was employed by various persons, but received three brief sentences of hard labour for gross insolence, for drunkenness, and for using indecent language and resisting a constable , and was fined three times for drunkenness and once for a breach of police regulations . He eventually received a ticket of leave on 20 April 1854 , and was conditionally pardoned on 31 Oct. of the same year.
A person representing himself to be ‘ Dai'r Cantwr ’ was soliciting alms in Wales in 1848 , and this may be the origin of the popular belief that the convict returned to Wales . ‘ Dai'r Cantwr ’s career after his pardon has not been ascertained. He was then known as ‘ Taff Davis .’ He d. 10 Aug. 1874 . For several nights previously he had received permission to sleep in an outhouse of the Ross Hotel . He retired to sleep in an intoxicated state on the night of 10 Aug. , and it is presumed that he set the grass, on which he slept, on fire by lighting his pipe, for he was found next morning suffocated and partly burnt .
The threnody which he wrote in prison is not without literary merit. Two other ballads attributed to him were sold as broadsheets, and yet another appeared in the Merthyr Guardian in 1853 .
Emeritus Professor David Williams, D.Litt., (1900-78), Aberystwyth
Published date: 1959