Chief Constable of Denbighshire, Major Thomas J Leadbetter


ajor T. J. Leadbetter, the Chief Constable of Denbighshire, obtained his disciplinary training in the Army, having served in the "King's Own Borderers" in various parts of

the world.


During the Fenian troubles he was stationed in Canada. Retiring from the Army in 1874 he became interested in Police work, of which he obtained his first experience through the courtesy of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir E. Henderson, who placed him at Bow Street, under Mr. Thomson, the then Superintendent of the E Division.


In 1878 Major Leadbetter was appointed to the Chief Constableship of Denbighshire. In the Jubilee Year Major Leadbetter represented Wales in a deputation of Chief Constables of England, Scotland, and Wales, for the purpose of

presenting to the Queen a congratulatory address. The deputation was received by Her Majesty at Windsor. Major Thomas J Leadbetter was the Chief Constable of Denbighshire from 1878 to 1911. (Police Review and Parade Gossip, June 1, 1894)


r. William Wilde was born in 1839 in Edgerley, Salop, the son of a farmer and became a butcher by trade. In December 1860 he joined the

Shropshire Constabulary as a 2nd class Constable, Warrant Number 364. In April 1861 he resigned at his own request but was reinstated the same day. In September 1863 he was promoted to 1st class Constable. He was stationed at Dawley Magna, Ruyton Elevens Town and Astley North Shrewsbury. After five years with Shropshire Constabulary he resigned in July 1865 and returned to his trade as a butcher.


In June 1866 Mr. Wilde was appointed Constable in Denbighshire Constabulary, Warrant Number 35, and based at Love Lane lock up in Denbigh. In 1870 he was promoted to Sergeant and made Inspector four years later in February 1874 at Wrexham A Division.


In April 1877 Mr. Wilde was promoted to Superintendent and two years later appointed Deputy Chief Constable at Wrexham. He served under three Chief Constables: Mr John Denman, Captain Price and Major Thomas J Leadbetter. In 1880 he was in


Mr. William Wilde, Deputy Chief Constable of Denbighshire


Command at the funeral of Chief Constable John Denman.


In 1891 Deputy Chief Constable Wilde's accounts were subject to internal audit carried out by the Local Government auditor following allegation of fraud and a private report by Mr R W Thomas of Liverpool on special audit. Both refer to Rhos gas account and missing discount. During this time Mr. Wilde tendered his resignation and made application for pension. Several Committee meetings later the matter was resolved but Mr. Wilde refused to withdraw his resignation and retired in December 1892 on pension. Mr. Wilde became a farmer at Acton Park farm in Rhosnessney.


During his retirement he rendered good service as a member of Wrexham Rural District Council and Board of Guardians. Mr William Wilde died 8 December 1915 and is buried in Wrexham Borough Cemetery. (Submitted by Vic Wilde, Great Grandson of DCC William Wilde)


Mr. Thomas Vaughan, Deputy Chief Constable of Denbighshire


r. Thomas Vaughan was born at Cynwyd, Merionethshire, in 1841, his father being an innkeeper there. When about 20 years of age, he went to Liverpool, and was

engaged at the Gas Works there for some time.


When he went to the City on the Mersey, Mr. Vaughan attended the night-schools at the Mechanics' Institute, for the purpose of acquiring the English language, and generally improving his education. When about 23 years of age, he joined the Liverpool Police Force. After serving for 16 months, he retired, to take a position in the Liverpool office of the Norley Coal and Cannel Company.


On his leaving the Liverpool Police Force, Major Greig, the then Chief Constable, remarked that he was sorry to lose a young and promising Officer, who had a clean book. He remained in the Norley Coal Company for two years and nine

months, and then, finding that the confinement did not agree with him, he joined the Denbighshire Constabulary on July 20th, 1868, and was first stationed at Wrexham. While in that town he was the hero of several very important cases.


On a dreary, murky night in November, 1868, shortly after the "witching time," while passing the old Mount House (very recently demolished in carrying out certain railway extensions), he heard someone moving about the premises, and grappled with him. A desperate encounter followed; the burglar being a powerful man, and moreover armed with a poker, with which he inflicted some very serious wounds on the Officer's head. Mr. Vaughan, however, stuck resolutely to his prisoner, and assistance at length arriving, he was marched off to the lock-up. There he was identified as a resident of the town, named John Jones, alias Weasel. He was committed to the Quarter Sessions, and sentenced to seven years' penal servitude. Mr. Vaughan was highly complimented by the Chairman of the Court (Mr. Thomas Hughes, of Ystrad), for the tact and courage he had displayed.


In June, 1870, Mr.Vaughan was removed to Llanrhaiadr-yu-Mochnant, where his services were so highly appreciated that, when, in November, 1871, the Chief Constable intimated his intention of removing him back to Wrexham to undertake the duties of Clerk to the Deputy Chief Constable, and to take charge of the Bridewell, a petition was drawn up and signed by the Vicar, and about 100 of the principal gentlemen and farmers of the parish, praying the Chief Constable to allow him to remain at Llanrhaiadr as the parish and country around, within his beat, had been brought into a most improved state of order by his energy, vigilance, and independent line of action. This petition was so influentially signed that the Chief Constable continued Mr. Vaughan at Llanrhaiadr, for another four years, involving to him a considerable pecuniary loss. But his retention in the parish resulted in material benefit to the inhabitants. He was one of the prime movers in getting a good supply of water brought into the village, and oil-lamps for the streets. He also effected some clever apprehensions during his stay there.


At length, however, he was ordered back to Wrexham, and at the end of 1877, Capt. Price, then the Chief Constable, offered him the Sergeantship vacant at Rhosllanerchrugog, which he accepted. He was stationed in this important district about two years, during which he traced a number of robberies, and brought the offenders to justice. He also proved his ability to exercise a wonderful influence over large crowds of people. In June, 1878, there was great poverty at Rhos, in consequence of the colliers being out of work; and one Saturday morning Sergt. Vaughan had some money given to him by the late Mr. E. T. Fitch, who was then cashier at Hdfodybwch Colliery, to relieve some of the worst cases of privation. He made a house-to-house visitation, and found that the poverty was widespread; and he then wrote to the Wrexham papers pointing this out, and appealing for assistance. This brought to Rhos a number of gentlemen, including Mr. Owen Hughes (agent to Sir Watkin Williams Wynn); the late Mr. Whalley, M.P., of Plas Madoc; Mr. Edward Evans, of Bronwylfa; Mr. Simon Yorke, of Erddig; Mr. Walter Meredith, of Pentrybychan; and others; and under the guidance of Sergt. Vaughan they personally examined some 40 or 50 of the worst cases of destitution. This visit was followed by the subscription of a large sum of money - about £800 altogether - besides which large contributions of food, etc., which was judiciously distributed by a local Committee. Hundreds must have blessed the name of Sergt. Vaughan for thus tiding them over a period of great distress.


On the 31st of December, 1879, Mr. Vaughan was removed to Denbigh by Major T. J. Leadbetter, the present Chief Constable, to look after the Superintendent's books, and take charge of the Denbigh Sub-Division. At the general election in the following year the Town Council of Denbigh feared that the polling day would witness a riot, and consulted Mr. Vaughan as to the best means of preserving the peace on that occasion. He made the novel suggestion of swearing in all those who were likely to create a disturbance as Special Constables. This was considered "a happy thought," and acted upon. Mr. Vaughan got together about 80 of the ne'er-do-weels, and had them sworn in. On the morning of the election, he made some of the worst characters Officers, and gave them stripes as an acknowledgment of their leadership. He was in charge of them during the day, and had them in perfect control. In the evening he locked them up in the Town Hall, and kept them there until the excitement was over. This scheme proved so successful that not a single row took place during the polling day, and the authorities were very thankful to Mr. Vaughan for the success of his stratagem; but the "Specials" told him that they were not to be caught like that again.


So well pleased was the Chief Constable with the work done by Mr. Vaughan at Denbigh that he promoted him to the rank of Superintendent, without previously serving in the intermediate rank of Inspector. This promotion took place on October 18th, 1880, and he succeeded Supt. Thomas Tudge, who was superannuated.


During his 12 years' stay in Denbigh, he succeeded in discovering almost every robbery that took place in the district, and had the offenders punished. The only three burglaries that took place in his Division were successfully cleared up by him, and the offenders brought to justice. One of these crimes was committed at Gwaenynog Hall, daring the absence of the family. He had also much to do with poachers, who were at that time very numerous in Denbigh, and he was concerned in at least seven very serious affrays arising out of these poaching depredations.


At Dyffrynaled two keepers and two house servants were severely maltreated by poachers. Mr. Vaughan received information of this affray at 6 a.m., and before 10 am. the same morning he had arrested nine well-known poachers, five of whom turned out to be the right men, out of a gang of seven engaged in the affray, and these were punished for their crime.


At Galltfaunen three night poachers assaulted the keeper with stones, and left him on the ground for dead. Supt. Vaughan received information at 4 a.m., set a watch upon the poachers coming into Denbigh, and the three men wanted were secured.


The keepers of the Garn Estate, Henllan, were seriously assaulted in the night time by Denbigh poachers with stones once more, and again Supt. Vaughan had the rascals captured and punished.


One Saturday night, a keeper at Crest was so seriously assaulted by four poachers that he was thought to be dead when they left him. When informed of this outrage, Supt. Vaughan set to work with his usual zeal and tact, and in the course of a few days had three of the men in custody. The keeper, however, was unable for some time to give evidence, and one of the prisoners turned Queen's evidence, the other two being committed for trial, and eventually sentenced.


About five o'clock one morning Supt. Vaughan was called up by Mr. Hill, a gentleman farmer, living at Nant-lewis-alyn, who informed him that he had heard shots in the woods near his house; that he got up and went out, taking his gun with him. He saw three men in a field, who at once fired at him, and he returned their fire. They then ran away. Mr. Vaughan called upon likely persons; and had two notorious characters in custody before 8 a.m the same morning. These turned out to be the right men, and one of them was found to have been quite recently shot in the thigh. A third man concerned in the affray he apprehended a few days afterwards, and all three were committed for trial and sentenced.


On another occasion a gang of Denbigh poachers visited the park surrounding Gwrych Castle, and assaulted three keepers with stones bludgeons etc., one of them being armed with a spear. One of the poachers was taken by the keepers as he was scaling the park wall, but the others got away. Information was wired to Supt. Vaughan, who ascertained what poachers were away from their homes, and he subsequently was the means of three of the gang being apprehended, at such distant places as Merthyr Tydvil, Pontypridd, and Aberystwith. They were all committed for trial, and sentenced at Carnarvon Assizes.


On November 14th, 1801, a keeper heard some shots, about midnight, in Tanygaer Woods, Llanefydd, and went to the spot where he thought the shots had been fired. He saw four men there, who fired at him three times. He was struck twice, and fell, and it was afterwards discovered that he was badly wounded in the head, shoulder, and thigh. He was laid up for months before he was able to give evidence, and although Mr. Vaughan had no assistance from any of the parties Concerned, nobody being able to give any description of the poachers, he was able to apprehend the four men engaged in the commission of the outrage within a fortnight, as well as to discover the guns, ammunition, and bags containing pheasants' feathers. It was and still is a great mystery how he found out the offenders, who were arrested six miles from Denbigh. The prisoners were tried in April, 1892, before Mr. Justice Vaughan Williams, who adjourned the Assizes for a fortnight, on account of the illness of Mr. Vaughan. When the case came on, Mr. Vaughan Williams complimented Mr. Vaughan very highly during his summing up; and he afterwards sent for him to his lodgings, where, in the presence of his family and the Press, he again highly complimented him upon the straightforward and impartial manner in which he had given his evidence, and said he would take care that the Chief Constable was informed of his opinion of Mr. Vaughan's conduct. This was by no means the only occasion upon which Mr. Vaughan was complimented for the manner in which he conducted his cases, having been frequently complimented by Magistrates at Petty Sessions, Chairmen of Quarter Sessions, and Judges of Assize - on one occasion, in an arson case, by Mr. Justice Lush, and on another occasion, during the hearing of a burglary case, by Mr. Justice Fry.


While at Denbigh, Mr. Vaughan did not confine his energies entirely to the prosecution of his Police duties, for he did valuable service in connection with the Soup Kitchen.


In March, 1892, he was promoted to Wrexham, and appointed Deputy Chief Constable of the County. At this culminating promotion, the men of the Denbigh Division presented him with a handsome combination date-stand, clock, thermometer, barometer, etc., bearing a suitable inscription upon a silver plate; a fish-knife and fork, and a dressing case. The public of the district also presented him with a gold albert chain, and the following address, beautifully illuminated and handsomely framed:


Your many friends in and around Denbigh desire to make use of this opportunity, afforded them by your leaving the neighbourhood to assume the office of Deputy Chief Constable of the County, of expressing to you their very high sense of appreciation of the services which you have rendered for the last 11 years as Superintendent of Police in the Division which you are now leaving. You have discharged the difficult and arduous duties of the post with the utmost forbearance and discretion, whilst your actions have always been tempered with courtesy and kindness; and the manner in which you have applied yours; to what they believe to be the highest duty of a Constable, namely, the prevention rather than the punishment of crime, has given satisfaction to all; and your tact and decision have on more than one occasion been the means of averting serious breaches of the peace. Lastly, your care and thoughtfulness for the men under your charge has been most marked, and highly commendable. In taking leave of you it is our earnest wish that you may be spared for many years to devote your talents and energies to the duties of your new office, and at the same time to reap the benefits of your well-earned promotion.


Supt. Vaughan was an Inspector of Weights and Measures for thirteen years, and one of his prosecutions was directed against the Ruthin Corporation the charge being for having an incorrect beam and weights. The Town Clerk informed the Superintendent that he ought to have given information of his intention to examine these properties, upon which Mr. Vaughan said that he wished to treat the Corporation in exactly the same manner as private individuals. This attitude of Mr. Vaughan attracted the favourable notice of some London and provincial newspapers, a Manchester journal declaring him "an official who is as a pearl of great price," while a Metropolitan paper said of him that "he must be indeed an incorruptible and fearless official."


Mr. Vaughan was also an Inspector under the Food and Drugs Act for sixteen years, and his great experience enabled him to carry out the duties with tact and success. For the same number of years he was an Inspector under the Explosives Act, and was several times complimented by Col. Majandie, H.M. Chief Inspector of Explosives, and also by the Magistrates, for detections and prosecutions under the Act, which is a most complicated one.


Perhaps the most arduous and important duties which Mr. Vaughan ever performed were those in connection with what was described as "The Tithe War." This lasted form September, 1886, to December, 1891; and day by day, during the whole of that long period, Mr. Vaughan had most unpleasant and difficult duties to perform. It was a time of great excitement and anxiety, and the work which he had to do was, physically and mentally, of a most arduous character. It required, too, great tact, skill, and coolness to carry out successfully.


Upon his arrival in Wrexham he was introduced by the Chief Constable, in very kindly terms, to the County and Borough Benches, and in both Courts he was warmly welcomed by the Justices and their Clerks, who had had prior knowledge of his character and his capabilities. Since his advent he has effected many improvements at Headquarters in various ways. He has had some serious and complicated cases to deal with, but he has solved them to the satisfaction of everybody concerned, except, of course, the culprits. His mode of conducting cases in Court deserves as much recognition here as it has received commendation elsewhere, and although opposed at various times by some clever advocates, he has always managed to hold his own in a manner most creditable to himself and the Force.


It was with deep regret that the public recently learnt that Mr. Vaughan intended to retire from a post he has so well and worthily filled, and to sever his connection with the Force to which he has belonged for the long period of nearly 28 years. And after what is recorded above, it will cause no surprise when we state that a testimonial, subscribed to by Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff. County and Borough Justices, and inhabitants generally of the County, is to be presented to Mr. Vaughan at an early date. We hope he will live long to enjoy the rest his long and faithful services so justly entitle him to; and we have no doubt that, in one direction or another, his remaining career will equally redound to his credit, and prove of benefit to those around him.


Mr. Vaughan has received the following valuable testimonial from Major T. J. Leadbetter, Chief Constable of Denbighshire:


Wrexham, November 5th, 1895.


Dear Mr. Vaughan, -


On your retirement from this Police Force, I feel that I should put on record my acknowledgement of your services, not only to the county, but to myself. I have seen you in many positions of extreme difficulty, more particularly in the Tithe War, when any error of judgment would have lead to serious trouble. I have also to express my entire satisfaction with your administration of your position as Superintendent of this important colliery district and your management of your Division. I part with you with regret, and wish you and Mrs. Vaughan may live long to enjoy your pension.


Yours faithfully,
T. J. Leadbetter, Major,
Chief Constable.


(Police Review and Parade Gossip, 1 November 1895)


Austin Farinas from 1961


Below: four photographs of a Denbighshire Vauxhall Estate accident unit, c1965










1966 A110 in the later white livery without any police markings on the side



Rear of 1966 A110



Publicity shot of traffic bike from 1966 with divisional CID minivan


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