Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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LEWIS , LEWIS (‘ Lewsyn yr Heliwr ’, known also as ‘ Lewsyn Shanco Lewis ’; 1793 - ? ) .

He was christened on 21 March 1793 , the son of Jenkin and Margaret Lewis of Blaencadlan in the parish of Penderyn , Brecknock ; his father was a butcher . The son was a haulier by occupation — hence his appellation ‘yr Heliwr’ and he was engaged in carting coal from the pits at Llwydcoed to the limekilns at Penderyn . In the Merthyr Tydfil riots of 1831 he took a leading part, on 2 June , in the attack on the house of Joseph Coffin , the clerk to the Court of Requests , and in inciting the crowd to seize the arms of the soldiers of the 93rd (Highland) Regiment when outside the Castle Inn on the following day. After the riots he hid in the Penderyn district, but was caught on 7 June in the woods of Hendrebolon , Ystradfellte . He was condemned to death at the Cardiff assizes , by Mr. Justice Bosanquet , for riotous assembly and the destruction of the house and property of Joseph Coffin . His sentence was commuted to one of transportation for life. The date of his death has not been ascertained.

Much romantic fabrication has collected around his name, partly through misinterpreting his sobriquet as ‘the huntsman’ (an interpretation which is given as early as the Cambrian , 11 June 1831 , published at Swansea ), but mainly because of his reprieve. This has variously been attributed to the influence of persons of consequence, generally on account of services in the hunting field, or to his having been the illegitimate son of one of the gentry. The fact that, although found guilty of felony, the charge against him was much less serious than that against Richard Lewis (‘ Dic Penderyn ’) (q.v.) , sufficiently explains the difference made between them.


  • Penderyn parish register;
  • The Cambrian , 4 June to 6 Aug. 1831 ;
  • David Davies , Hanes Plwyf Penderyn (Aberdare, 1905, 1924) (Aberdare, 1924 ), and Cardiff Manuscript 2.1086;
  • Jenkin Howell , ‘Dyffryn Cynon,’ in Y Geninen , 1900.


Emeritus Professor David Williams, D.Litt., (1900-78), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959