Ancient & Modern

History of Theosophy in Wales




Theosophists against the Death Penalty 1928


Return to History Index


The Murder of Dai Lewis


Two men were hanged for the murder of Cardiff boxer

Dai Lewis in 1928. These executions still arouse

controversy in Cardiff and at the time fuelled a

movement for the abolition of the Death Penalty

in which local Theosophists played a leading role.



Dai Lewis was a well known Welsh welterweight boxer. Back in 1927, the pursuit of his profession didn't provide him and his family with an adequate living. To augment his income, he rented chairs, tables, blackboards and other accessories used by the horse racing fraternity.


At UK race meetings bets were placed with bookmakers who were independent business men. They set up their paraphernalia among the crowd and accepted bets. Lewis provided the tools of the gamblers' trade and maybe a bit more. His business had a darker side. In order to rent his wares, he sometimes threatened to have a customer's table overturned or have his blackboard knocked down. In a way, he sold protection.


Occasionally Lewis would become overly ambitious and rent his equipment in locations at the track he knew very well were traditionally the territories of his competitors. On such occasions, Lewis stood to get at least a bad beating.


On Sept. 28, 1927, Lewis attended the Monmouth Races, where he did well renting out his accessories. He rented some tables in areas regarded as the exclusive territory of Edward and John Rowlands. A few friends tipped off Lewis that the Rowlands brothers were planning to teach him a lesson. As a precaution, Lewis decided not to go home to his wife, but instead took a room at a hotel on St. Mary St.


Nothing untoward happened that night. Next day, Lewis was back at the races, operating as usual. That evening, he went to the Blue Anchor Pub on St. Mary St. and stayed the evening, drinking and storytelling. In walked John and Edward Rowlands, accompanied by their friends, Daniel Driscoll, John Hughes and William Price. They proceeded to take a table and order drinks. Lewis felt a bit uneasy, but stayed and apparently enjoyed the evening. When the pub was about to close, some of the men left and lingered outside. Dai Lewis walked out into the fresh night air of St. Mary St.


Suddenly, a group of men, including John Rowlands and William Price, approached Lewis. Other men moved up behind him. Lewis, no shrinking violet and well aware of what was happening, raised his arms to defend himself.


Both groups of men crashed into Lewis, knocking him to the ground. As he struggled to rise, a knife blade flashed in the dark. One swipe and Dai Lewis' neck was slashed open. The group hesitated for a moment, looked at the fallen man and ran off into the night.


Prostitutes who had witnessed the event were the only ones to rush to Lewis' aid. They tore at their clothing and made a crude bandage in an attempt to stem the blood pouring from Lewis' wound. Minutes later, an ambulance was at the scene. Attendants ministered to Lewis, who was near death. He was rushed to the Royal Infirmary, where surgeons worked at stitching the wound, but there was no way of stopping the vast quantities of blood Lewis was taking into his



Police were called. They stood outside Lewis' door in case the critically wounded man would be able to speak and identify his attackers. While Lewis fought for his life, a telephone call came in to the reception office at the hospital. The caller inquired about Lewis' condition. Before revealing any information, the nurse receiving the call insisted on the caller identifying himself. The man hung up. A short time later, the nurse received a second call, which she thought was from the same man. Once again, when pressed to identify himself, he hung up.


The nurse became suspicious and informed police. Tracing equipment was utilized to intercept all incoming calls to the reception area. The man phoned again and the alert nurse was able to keep him on the line long enough for the call to be traced. It had originated from a local hangout, the Colonial Club.


Police were there in minutes. They took John and Edward Rowlands, Daniel Driscoll, John Hughes and William Price into custody. All five were charged with the attempted murder of Dai Lewis.


Investigating officers were advised that Lewis was not expected to live through the night. The five accused men were driven to the dying man's bedside. Lewis, who had been told that there was no hope of recovery, was able to comprehend what was going on and was able to speak. In a weak voice, he said, "I do not know how I have been injured. I do not remember how it happened. There was no quarrel or fight. I did not see anyone use a knife."


He stared up at the five faces peering down at him. He continued, "Ed, you had nothing to do with it. We've been the best of friends." To Daniel Driscoll he said, "You had nothing to do with it either. We were talking and laughing together, my dear old pal." Those were the last words spoken by Dai Lewis.


Since Lewis was a professional athlete and something of a local hero, his death caused much excitement. Over 25,000 people lined the streets of Cardiff on Oct. 3, 1927, when he was buried. Thousands more stood outside his home.


A few days later, John Rowlands admitted it was he who had slashed Lewis' neck. He claimed Lewis had attacked him with a knife. In the struggle, Lewis' neck had been slashed.


Edward Rowlands claimed he and Daniel Driscoll had walked out of the Blue Anchor, observed the fight from a distance and had run off when the crowd dispersed. Driscoll told the police the same story in an independent interview. There was no evidence whatever that John Hughes had participated in the attack. As a result, he was released, but the Rowlands brothers, Driscoll and Price remained in custody and stood trial for Lewis' murder.


The proceedings lasted only three days. The Rowlands brothers and Driscoll were found guilty and sentenced to hang. Price was acquitted.


Immediately after the trial, there were many who expressed the belief that Edward Rowlands and Daniel Driscoll were innocent. No concrete evidence had been introduced at the trial to conflict with their stories that they had been at the scene but had not taken part in the crime. Eventually, several petitions with a total 250,000 signatures was forwarded to officials, imploring them to review the verdict. An appeal was heard and dismissed.


John Rowlands, the confessed knife wielder, went mad under the pressure of the proceedings. He was declared insane and incarcerated in Broadmoor.


For the first and perhaps the only time in the history of crime, eight members of the original jury which had convicted the Rowlands and Driscoll issued a statement. They said that Edward Rowlands and Daniel Driscoll should not receive the death sentence. This plea was answered by the Home Secretary, who stated, "No regard can be paid to expressions of opinion by individual members of the jury by which a person has been convicted."


On the night before their execution, both men declared they had nothing whatever to do with Lewis' murder. In the morning, as 5,000 individuals milled about the Cardiff jail, Edward Rowlands and Daniel Driscoll were hanged.




Return to History Index




Cardiff Theosophical Society

206 Newport Road,

Cardiff, Wales, UK, CF24 -1DL



Try these links for

more info about Theosophy




Cardiff Theosophical Society meetings are informal

and there’s always a cup of tea afterwards




The Cardiff Theosophical Society Website




The National Wales Theosophy Website



Theosophy Cardiff’s Instant Guide to Theosophy


Cardiff Theosophical Archive


Cardiff Blavatsky Archive

A Theosophy Study Resource


Theosophy Cardiff’s Gallery of Great Theosophists


Dave’s Streetwise Theosophy Boards

The Theosophy Website that welcomes

absolute beginners.

If you run a Theosophy Study Group, please

feel free to use any material on this Website


Blavatsky Blogger

Independent Theosophy Blog


The Most Basic Theosophy

 Website in the Universe

A quick overview of Theosophy 

and the Theosophical Society

If you run a Theosophy Study Group you 

can use this as an introductory handout.


Quick Blasts of Theosophy

One liners and quick explanations

About aspects of Theosophy


The Blavatsky Blogger’s

Instant Guide To

Death & The Afterlife


Blavatsky Calling

The Voice of the Silence Website





Cardiff Theosophy Start-Up

A Free Intro to Theosophy


The Blavatsky Free State

An Independent Theosophical Republic

Links to Free Online Theosophy 

Study Resources; Courses, Writings, 

Commentaries, Forums, Blogs




Visit the Feelgood Lodge

The main criteria for the inclusion of

links on this site is that they have some

relationship (however tenuous) to Theosophy

and are lightweight, amusing or entertaining.

Topics include Quantum Theory and Socks,

Dick Dastardly and Legendary Blues Singers.



The New Rock ‘n Roll

An entertaining introduction to Theosophy


Nothing answers questions

like Theosophy can!

The Key to Theosophy


Wales! Wales! Theosophy Wales

The All Wales Guide To

Getting Started in Theosophy

For everyone everywhere, not just in Wales


Brief Theosophical Glossary


The Akashic Records

It’s all “water under the bridge” but everything you do

makes an imprint on the Space-Time Continuum.


Theosophy and Reincarnation

A selection of articles on Reincarnation

by Theosophical writers

Provided in response to the large number

of enquiries we receive on this subject


Theosophical Glossary

prepared by W Q Judge


The South of Heaven Guide to

Theosophy and Devachan


The South of Heaven Guide to

Theosophy and Dreams


The South of Heaven Guide to

Theosophy and Angels




No Aardvarks were harmed in the

preparation of this Website


Theosophy Avalon

The Theosophy Wales

King Arthur Pages


The Tooting Broadway

Underground Theosophy Website

The Spiritual Home of Urban Theosophy


The Mornington Crescent

Underground Theosophy Website

The Earth Base for Evolutionary Theosophy




H P Blavatsky’s Heavy Duty

Theosophical Glossary

Published 1892




Complete Theosophical Glossary in Plain Text Format





Classic Introductory Theosophy Text

A Text Book of Theosophy By C W Leadbeater


What Theosophy Is  From the Absolute to Man


The Formation of a Solar System  The Evolution of Life


The Constitution of Man  After Death  Reincarnation


The Purpose of Life  The Planetary Chains


The Result of Theosophical Study




The Occult World

By Alfred Percy Sinnett


Preface to the American Edition    Introduction


Occultism and its Adepts    The Theosophical Society


First Occult Experiences   Teachings of Occult Philosophy


Later Occult Phenomena    Appendix



Try these if you are looking for a

local Theosophy Group or Centre



UK Listing of Theosophical Groups


Worldwide Directory of 

Theosophical Links


International Directory of 

Theosophical Societies




Pages About Wales

General pages about Wales, Welsh History

and The History of Theosophy in Wales


Wales is a Principality within the United Kingdom

and has an eastern border with England.

The land area is just over 8,000 square miles.

Snowdon in North Wales is the highest mountain at 3,650 feet.

The coastline is almost 750 miles long.

 The population of Wales as at the 2001 census is 2,946,200.