The Teifi Valley Coroner

About the Teifi Valley Coroner series

Coroner Harry Probert-Lloyd and his assistant, John Davies, ply their trade in a corner of the three counties that make up West Wales, in the 1850s.

Teifi Valley mapWhy the Teifi Valley?

I grew up in the Teifi valley and much of my family still lives there. It’s a beautiful area with a fascinating history but the most compelling reason – the reason that there’s a series in the first place – is because I wanted to write about the Rebecca Riots which form the backdrop to the first in the series, None So Blind.

The Teifi Valley Coroner.

In actual fact, the post of coroner to the Teifi Valley does not – and never did – exist. But the Vale of Teifi –  Dyffryn Teifi, in Welsh – has a geographical identity which, to me, transcends county boundaries and it made sense to give that to Harry as his patch.

view from home

Three counties in one view – Carmarthenshire background left, Ceredigion (formerly Cardiganshire) in the foreground, while the Frenni Fach mountain, part of the Pembrokeshire Preselis, is visible on the horizon.

Why the 1850s?

The Rebecca Riots happened between 1839 and 1843 so I had no choice about the timeframe for None So Blind. But the mid-nineteenth century is a fascinating time for crime fans. Why? Because it was incredibly easy to murder somebody and not be found out. Click on the Getting Away with Murder tab above to find out more.

Why write about a coroner and not a policeman?

The police force had barely got its uniformed boots on the ground in the three counties by 1850 and, even with its boots on, it wasn’t much of an investigative force. The rural police forces of the mid-Victorian period were much more about peacekeeping and preventing crime; they didn’t investigate much. And that included deaths. (The Welsh word for police – heddlu – is interesting in this context. Translated, it means ‘peace host’- as in angelic host, not hospitality host – and that’s a pretty accurate description of their role in the mid nineteenth century.)

The real nineteenth century investigators were the coroners. Some were hopeless, as you’ll see if you read Getting Away with Murder, entirely under the thumb of the magistrates who wanted to keep costs down and inquests to a minimum. Others – like Harry – were a lot more zealous. They were the ones who were constantly at odds with authority. And I like characters who are at odds with authority both as a writer and a reader.

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