Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIS , WILLIAM (‘ Golden Farmer ’; 1627 - 1690 ), highwayman ;

b. at Wrexham . He moved in early life to Sodbury, Glos. , where he m. the daughter of a wealthy innkeeper , by whom he had eighteen children. He became a successful farmer , adding to this trade another — that of a highwayman , and succeeding in hiding his identity as such, even from his wife, until almost the end of his life. The D.N.B. article, on which this short account is based, gives particulars of his methods and the names of some of his victims, some of the latter including farmers returning from market or going to pay their rents. According to one account he was at one time a corn-chandler in Thames Street , London , selling by day, but robbing farmers at night. He was tried at the Old Bailey Sessions , 11-17 Dec. 1690 for the murder of a butcher , and was convicted; he d. 22 Dec. and was afterwards hung in chains on Bagshot Heath . His exploits led to the publication of broadsides, chapbooks, and even a play (some of these are mentioned at the end of the D.N.B. article).


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959