A Character, a Poet, and an Electrician
Father Seamus Cunnane served as Cardigan’s Roman Catholic parish priest for 37 years from 1962 until 1999. His contribution to all aspects of life in Cardigan over the decades was considerable. The present Catholic church and its hall were built in the early 1970s and Fr Cunnane was closely involved in much of the fundraising for the project. His lifelong dedication to the Catholic Church will, no doubt, be discussed elsewhere.
As a keen local historian, Fr Cunnane extensively researched the history of Cardigan and its castle and it is worth focusing on his pioneering role in revealing Cardigan’s medieval past. His knowledge of Latin and his fluency in Welsh allowed him to research original sources. This was crucial to him. Never rely on secondary sources! Once he discovered the facts it was important that the truth was clearly articulated. He never minced his words.
As far back as 1992 he wrote: “For over 10 years I have taught local history and I do not want my work undone by inaccurate captions and descriptions that will doubtless be copied by schoolchildren and others.”
He had a dim view of Emily Pritchard’s, Cardigan Priory in the Olden Days, 1904.
“This was taken apart in 1905 when a reviewer commented: ‘The opening words of the first chapter are at once an indication of the author’s unfitness for her task.’
The trouble is that reviews disappear while the book remains and continues to mislead.”
He wrote a number of groundbreaking articles on medieval Cardigan including:
‘Ceredigion and the Old Faith’, Ceredigion, vol 12, 2, 1994, 3-34
‘The Topography of Mediaeval Cardigan’ in Carmarthenshire and Beyond: Studies in History and Archaeology in memory of Terry James, ed. Heather James and Patricia Moore, 2009, 204-23
He was also the author of:
Our Lady of Cardigan: a history and memoir, E. L. Jones, 2006, 56pp.
He enjoyed writing and arguing his case in the Tivy-side over the years, often disagreeing with published accounts of Cardigan history regardless of whether they were written by lay or academic historians.
The following is a list of some his letters and articles with comments:
‘The Four Gates’
The story behind Cardigan’s Teifi Gate; Wolf Gate; Bartholomew Gate and New Gate
31 Dec 1982
‘Llywelyn ein llyw olaf’
Llywelyn’s contact with Cardigan
‘Pride of the Town’
It was time to make the Castle the pride of the town.
29 July 1983
- ‘It is likely that … (Gilbert de Clare) founded the Benedictine priory and St Mary’s Church…’ He certainly didn’t.
- ‘In 1165 the Welsh under Rhys ap Gruffudd expelled the English monks from their priory…’ No evidence (apart from Emily Pritchard’s book).
- ‘burgage figure of 172 in 1308’. The figure of 172 is suspect.
- ‘Here also (near College Row) was the North Gate … standing in 1843.’
A misunderstanding of W. E. James’s Guide Book (1899) where he is referring to the turnpike gate at the top of Pendre.
- Town walls: ‘At the corner of College Row and Queen’s Tce the wall turned south along the Mwldan’. Not quite.
- On St Mary’s St he is absolutely wrong.
- On Chancery Lane he is even more grievously in error.
A review of The Towns of Medieval Wales, Ian Soulsby, 1983:
After some introductory words of praise he states that in relation to the part on Cardigan, “the book contains serious errors because [the author] relies on articles and books, some of which are wrong, instead of going to the primary sources. Twice he misunderstands the sources he uses and thus invents new errors.”
His conclusion: “in a future edition rewrite the Cardigan section.”
29 July 1983
‘Throwing new light on the history of Cardigan.’
In answer to the Revd D J Roberts’ queries in his weekly articles in the Tivy-side concerning the town’s history, he explains the origins of Mwldan, Pendre, Bartholomew Gate and Wolf Gate.
15 February 1985
‘Henry Tudor’s march through Cardigan 500 years ago’
A detailed description of life in Cardigan on Henry Tudor’s visit.
9 August 1985
‘In defence of Welsh history’
He writes: “Today you published an article on the medieval history of Cardigan and its castle called ‘The lock and stay of all Wales’ on a page carrying the rather incrongruous title ‘News Extra’. Much of it was indeed news to me, but only in the sense that it is demonstrably untrue.”
He restricts his comments to twelve headings and ends: “It is time to show respect for fact, and it is a pity that the Tivy-side showed such little regard for it…”
1 June 1990
‘The Mystery of Dydd Iau Mawr (Great Thursday) celebration at Aber-porth.’
The Thursday before 15th August – a Catholic celebration of Gŵyl Fair Gyntaf
9 August 1991
‘Statue not an idol and not adored’
Fr Cunnane disagreed with a caption written in the Time Tunnel exhibition where reference was made to ‘the existence of the idol: The Lady of the Taper’. His comment: “That is an untruth. The statue was not an idol and was not adored.”
4 September 1992
‘The day they hanged the vicar’
An account of the trial of Sir Hugh David Coch, vicar of Llanarth, and his subsequent fate in being hung, drawn and quartered on Banc y Warren in 1592.
28 May 1993
‘Cardigan development plan good news but…’
He writes: “We do not want hamfisted ‘development’ that ruins our heritage”
(and goes on to explain the origin of the name Chancery Lane or Suitor’s Lane)
21 July 1994
‘Monks arrived via Cardi Bach’
He corrects a few inaccuracies in a recent television programme concerning the Benedictine monks at Noyaddwilym and writes:
“Many locals did not like them, including the Tivy-side editor and several correspondents, but we must not tar everyone with the same brush.”
5 July 1996
‘Don’t dump part of our town’s history’
He writes: “Ceredigion wants to dump responsibility for a road named Bingham Lane. But there is no such place. Its name is Feidrfair … [and it is part] of the great medieval pilgrim route from Bardsey Island to St David’s.
Ceredigion [County Council] should publicise and enhance it. Instead it is ducking responsibility and some of us think this is shameful.”
27 November 2012
A few years back I attended a lecture by Prof Ralph Griffiths at the Catholic Hall under the auspices of Ceredigion History Society. His account of Medieval Cardigan in the broader regional context was enlightening but in the post lecture questions it was clear who knew most about Cardigan. On the way out someone turned to me and said “I don’t think they chose the right person to give that talk today.”
But he was not in any way stuck in the Middle Ages. Recent research into the swinging sixties in Cardigan revealed that he was proud to shake the hand of Screaming Lord Sutch during his infamous visit to the town to perform at the Black Lion in April 1964.
The complete story of early Cardigan remains to be told, but Fr Cunnane has set a firm foundation for future historians.
RIP Seamus Cunnane.
On his retirement as Manager of the Cardigan Mercantile Company in 1901 the Tivy-side described Launcelot Lowther as:
one, if not the best known and most respected businessmen in the town of Cardigan…
A native of Bradford on Avon, he arrived in Cardigan in 1848 as the manager of David Davies, The Castle’s extensive timber merchandise and shipowning business.
Davies’ timber and general merchants’ business was transferred to Davies’ son and to Lowther in 1865, and was carried on under the name ‘Davies and Lowther’ until 1869.
After a short interval Lowther returned to his late partner’s employ as manager, and continued as such until 1876, when the two businesses of D. G. Davies and Thomas Davies merged as the Cardigan Mercantile Company. Thomas Davies was the Managing Director and Lowther the Secretary.
Lowther’s public career began in November 1865 when he became a member of the Town Council. His opponent John James, smith withdrew before the election.
The affair of the Corporation at this time ‘were in a most deplorable state, the accounts not having been made up or audited for over ten years.’ His business acumen led him to sort the mess out and in a Council meeting on 16th August 1867 it was declared:
This meeting considers that Mr Lowther merits the grateful acknowledgement of the inhabitants and Ratepayers of the Borough of Cardigan for undertaking and performing the herculean task of bringing the Corporation accounts out of the chaotic state in which the same have been so long allowed to remain, into such a form as to be capable of being understood and investigated, and that he should be properly remunerated for his services.
A public meeting was called and a sum of £20 offered as a recognition of his kind-heartedness. He was also offered the office of Mayor at this time but declined.
[After spending 2 years sorting the accounts out he probably though he had had enough – life was too short!] Indeed things did not go too well in the early 1870s as by 26 Jan 1872 he had been declared bankrupt and lost his seat on the Borough Council.
He had been Secretary of the Cardigan Mechanics’ Institute since 1849 and had devoted as much time and energy to sort the finances of this organisation. For his efforts he was given a watch with the inscription:
In recognition of his unswerving zeal and efficient conduct as hon. secretary.
He took a very active part in the formation of the Cardigan Steam Navigation Company, owning the ss Tivy-side, which was the first steamer to run direct between Cardigan and Bristol. Lowther was the company secretary until the company was wound up and the vessel sold.
It was due to combined efforts of Thomas Davies and Lowther that Cardigan was supplied with gas, having formed the Cardigan Gas Company in 1865, with Lowther the secretary from the start until he was obliged to resign owing to ill health in 1902.
He was able to boast that he was the actual founder of the Loyal Glantivy Lodge of Oddfellows.
During his 50 years connection with the Bridge-End business he trained at least 30 young men up to business – nearly all holding responsible positions in London, Cardiff and other large commercial centres.
For 40 years he was connected with Hope Congregational Chapel as member and deacon. During his lifetime he lived in Bridge St., mainly in St Mary St., and then Priory St.
He married Elizabeth (Morgan) at Carmarthen on 12 Oct 1854 and had 10 children before divorcing in 1878:
Helen (1855-1944); Launcelot Ethelbert (1857-); Thomas William (1858-1943); Beatrice (1860-1927); Herbert Reginald (1863-1936); Arthur (1866-); Charles Leopold (1868-1943); Francis Llewellyn (1870-1948, Headmaster at Milford Haven); Laura Sophia (1873-96, a music teacher, St Mary St.); and Eleanor J. (1879-).
Wyn and Elin Fflur.
Thanks to Keith Ladd for this photograph, taken in Cardigan market.
Keith extends his sympathy to Wyn’s family on their loss.
Edward Wollstonecraft was buried in Cardigan cemetery on 17 February 1848 [B 2]
Browsing through the Burial Records it was the surname that first drew my attention to this particular entry. Was he related to Mary Wollstonecraft, best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)? [Spoiler alert – yes he was.]
Edward Wollstonecraft was born in 1768 and spent much of his adult life as a merchant in Gibraltar. His wife’s name was Mary. He retired to live in Carmarthen. How he ended up in Cardigan cemetery I’m not sure.
Here is a short description of the gentleman by his great nephew Godfrey Wordsworth Turner:
He was in England when I was a child of very tender years, and stayed in our house till I was nearly seven; and again he visited my father, his nephew, when I had reached the age of fifteen or sixteen; after which time he retired to a small estate in Carmarthenshire, where he died.
One of his excellent traits was the love of educating children and grown persons less informed than are most children. It was a much commoner thing in those days than it now is for servants to be wholly illiterate; and wherever, and whenever, the grandly simple benevolence of this venerable man led him to detect a case of that kind, he instantly set himself to work, in his own direct and efficient way, to remedy the defect.
My father’s household owed much to his labour. A serving-woman who, when not young, and not comely, was unable to tell one letter from another, learned to read well and to write a very neat hand from his tuition; and could draw up the bill of fare for dinner, not in bad French but good English.Art Studies of Home Life by Godfrey Wordsworth Turner (daphnejohnson.co.uk)
And his relation to the famous Mary? Well Edward’s father Edward Bland Wollstoncraft (1735/6—85) was a half-cousin to Mary (1759—97).
from William St. to Llandaf Cathedral;
from a baker’s son to Archbishop of Wales
Derek Greenslade Childs (14 January 1918 – 18 March 1987)
According to ‘Wikipedia’ Childs grew up in Laugharne. No mention is made of his birthplace.
He has not reached the Dictionary of Welsh Biography yet.
But Derek Greensalde Childs was baptised on 10 March 1918 at St Mary’s Church, Cardigan by B. J. Jones, the curate. His parents were Alfred John and Florence Theodosa. The address given was 17 William St., Cardigan
Alfred came originally from Laugharne, and Florence (Jones) lived in 17 William St. They were married on 17 March 1916 at St Mary’s Church. Presumably Alfred came to live in Cardigan at that time. His occupation is given as baker.
Derek was educated at Whitland Grammar School, before reading history at University College, Cardiff. He studied theology at Salisbury Theological College, before being ordained in 1942.
Derrick Greenslade Childs was the Anglican Bishop of Monmouth (1970-86) and Archbishop of Wales (1983-86).
He died as a result of a motor accident in 1987.
Living authority: Essays in memory of Archbishop Derrick Childs was published in 1990.
As far as I can see there is no mention of him in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography. But according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Lawrence Hugh Jenkins was born on 22 Dec 1857 at The Priory, Cardigan. He was the younger son of Richard David Jenkins and the only child of R D Jenkins’s second marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Lewis, Machynlleth, a surgeon in the Royal Navy. His birthplace is confirmed in the 1861 census return which states that he was born in Cardigan (and not Llangoedmor!).
Lawrence Hugh Jenkins was educated at Cheltenham College (1869–77); Oxford and called to the Bar Lincoln’s Inn in 1883. The Admission Register of Lincoln’s Inn for 11/11/1879 reads: “Laurence Hugh Jenkins of Univ Coll., Oxford (21), the youngest son of Richard David J., of Cilbroan, co. Cardigan, sol. JP.” He was called to the Bar: 17/11/1883.
In 1892 Lawrence H. Jenkins married Catherine Minna Brown, daughter of sugar plantation owners, of Natal.
He then became Chief Justice of Bombay High Court for ten years (1898-1908). Jenkins was also selected as Member of the Council of India.
John Morley (Liberal secretary of state for India) described Laurence as:
one of the two or three most valuable men of my Council. He is a remarkably clear-headed man, with a copious supply of knowledge in law, as well as of political imagination … a fine fellow … of immense value to me about Reforms.
He was knighted on 17 August 1899. From 1909 to 1915 he was the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court. He also served as District Grand Master of Freemasons for Bombay and Bengal.
In his judgeship Jenkins delivered several verdicts in high profile conspiracy and bombing case including Alipore Bomb conspiracy case
Jenkins retired in 1915 and in 1921 the Right Honourable Sir Lawrence Hugh Jenkins of Cilbronnau was President of Cardigan Agricultural Show. It was held at Stepside – a successful show with over 400 entries.
In 1923 Sir Lawrence Hugh Jenkins, Lady Jenkins and Clodrydd Jenkins lived at Cilbronnau mansion. In January 1924 he was appointed Chairman of the Cardiganshire Sessions.
S. V. FitzGerald, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, sums up his character and contribution:
Jenkins’s legal equipment when he first went to India was a keen dialectical mind, a thorough grasp of English equity principles, and a power of expressing himself in clear and forcible English. He soon added a mastery of Indian law and custom astonishing in one who did not visit India until his thirty-ninth year and then served only in Presidency towns; many of his finest judgments enlightened dark questions of Hindu law. He was business-like in administration, and men he chose for high responsibility justified his choice.
A sociable man, Jenkins successfully devoted himself to breaking down the barriers then separating British and Indians, especially in the Presidency towns. He came to know the leading Indian moderate politicians, and sympathized with their aims.
He died at his home in London on 1 October 1928. A Memorial window to Sir Lawrence Hugh Jenkins was unveiled at Llangoedmor Church on 7th December 1930.
(Can anyone contribute a photograph, please?)
According to his son writing in the preface to the first edition of John Walters’s English-Welsh Dictionary), he was born in Cardigan on 10 August 1672, ‘of reputable parents’ who destined him for the church and gave him good schooling.
But according to Foster (Alumni Oxon.) he was eighteen, ‘pauper puer,’ son of William Gambold of Cardigan, when he matriculated at S. Mary Hall, Oxford, 23 May 1693. He migrated to Exeter College in 1694, but there is no record of graduation.
In 1707 he was keeping a school at Llanychaer, and on 1 December 1709 he became rector of Puncheston with Llanychaer, Pembs.
At Oxford he had been a friend of Edward Lhuyd who acknowledges help given to him by Gambold in preparing his additions in Gibson’s edition of Camden’s Britannia.
A series of letters he wrote from Cardigan to Edward Lhuyd at Oxford between 1693 and 1697 appear here:
They refer to various archaeological finds at St Dogmaels and Nevern. Unfortunately there is no indication of where in Cardigan he lived.
As early as 1707, Gambold was planning a Welsh dictionary, and this became his main occupation later on, when an accident disabled him from parochial work. It was finished in 1722, but Gambold failed to get money to publish it until 1727 as A Grammar of the Welsh Language. A second edition was published in Carmarthen in 1817, an a third in Bala in 1833.
He died 13 September 1728. His will appears here:
“To [my] eldest son, John Gambold, all that whole little Burage of mine, together with each and every stable, Outhouses, Offices, Back-sides and Gardens, unto the same belonging, situate, lying and being in the Town of Cardigan…”
William Gambold left a wife Elizabeth, four sons and one daughter.
Nineteen year-old Thomas Thomas died at 1 o’clock on 18 February 1831 suffering from the ‘Covid-19 of his time’ (TB). He was employed as a typesetter in the Cardigan offices of the Baptist journal Greal y Bedyddwyr. It is fitting then that a 29-verse moving tribute by his father George (who was a printer in the Greal offices) should appear in a later issue of the journal in 1831. George lived to see his 81st year and died on 12 Sept 1868. Thomas’s mother’s name was Ann. She died on 21 May 1853, and was 63 years old. They were all buried in St Mary’s Church cemetery.
Yr oedd yn ddyn ieuangc hardd, syml, hynaws, moesol, charedig; yn blentyn ufydd a gostyngedig i’w rhieni, ac yn was ffyddlawn a didwyll i’w feistr… Yr oedd wedi cyrhaedd i gryn wybodaeth o’r iaith Gymreig, ac o’i gelfyddyd; a phe buasai yn cael rhagor o fywyd a iechyd, buasai yn debyg o ddyfod yn ddyn dysglaer.‘He was a handsome, simple, kind, and principled young man; an obedient and humble child to his parents, and a faithful and honest servant to his master… He had attained much knowledge of the Welsh language and his craft; and if he had lived a longer, healthy life he would no doubt become a brilliant man.’
The verses mourn the loss of a young mariner. He was buried in St Mary’s Church cemetery.
Revd John Herring was the minister of Bethania Chapel from 1811 until 1832. He died after an illness that lasted some months. He left a wife and 7 small children. What else do we know about him?
The piece in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography can be read here:
Well there is a story that one fine summer’s day in July while he was on one of his preaching tours in north Wales, he met the famous Revd Christmas Evans who took one look at him and said “What a strange thing to see a herring on top of a mountain”. Quick as a flash Herring replied “ Surely not more than to see Christmas in the middle of summer?” Touche as they say.
In another version the two were on top of the Frenni Fawr. By 1909 the story had changed a bit:
Christmas Evans and John Herring meet. When Mr Herring saw his friend, he shouted ‘Strange, strange, to come across Christmas in the middle of summer.’ ‘Yes, it is’, replied Mr Evans, ‘but stranger still to meet a live herring on top of a mountain.’
His unusual surname was an opportunity for many a story: Once, down in Llanboidy, he was preaching so eloquently that Mr. Powell, Maes-gwyn, a prominent local man asked ‘Who is that? ‘Herring, Cardigan’ was the reply from someone sitting nearby. ‘No, not a herring, he said but a Salmon.
But there is more to the Revd John Herring than an unusual surname.
In 1836, four years after his death D. Roberts, Llandiloes, published a booklet entitled: Derwen Wylofain.
The short biography included reveals a little of his background:
John was born to Thomas and Sarah Herring, Llanyspyddyd, Breconshire in 1789. His father died when John was 4 or 5 years old. His mother remarried and the family moved to the iron works at Ebbw Vale. John was employed at the local blacksmith.
His humorous character was revealed early on. ‘How many sects are there?’ he asked his employer one morning.
‘I think there are five of any use, and those five are in our house. My stepfather is Indepenent, my mother a Methodist, I will go to the Quakers and I’ll make my cat a Wesleyan and the little dog a Baptist’. Indeed he took his dog with him one Sunday morning to see a baptism in the Sirhowy river by Tredegar deciding to throw the dog in the river when the Revd Edward Davies was preaching. But it was not to be. Listening to the sermon he became a believer and it was he who was baptised and not the dog. He became a member of the Baptist Church at Tredegar in 1804. [Siloh says Revd. B. James (Edwards, Bethania, p. 30)]
The rest, as they say, is history…
He began preaching when he was 16 years old. Under the influence of the Revd John Hier, Basaleg, he was accepted as a student in the Colege at Bristol when he was 20/21 years old. He had had enough after a year. ‘What is the use of Hic, Haec, Hoc, to save souls’
On a preaching tour he was invited to Bethanis and accepted a calling in 1811. He remained there until his death in 1832.
- He was an exceptional preacher.
“he was one of the funniest and most popular preachers of his day”
“he was possessed of a prolific understanding, a multitude of words, a natural and effective eloquence, a tenacious memory, proper gestures, a melodious voice
But he wasn’t a perfect man ‘despite his excellent qualities he was not without his weaknesses’ (these are not listed).
- He was an excellent organiser. He drew up a list of rules and regulations on to how to organize a Church in a pamphlet entitled: ‘‘Penderfyniadau i’w gosod mewn gweithrediad yn Eglwys y Bedyddwyr yn Methania, Aberteifi, a fabwysiadwyd mewn Cyfarfod a gynhaliwyd Tachwedd 18fed, 1829,’ [Decisions to be undertaken at Bethania Baptist Church, Cardigan, and adopted in a Meeting held on 18th November, 1829’]. He elaborated on many issues: Covetousness–its harm; Generosity–its appeal; Ministers–their maintenance; The Poor–how they should be considered; Discipline–its rule; the neglect of assembling.
- He was a litterateur: He edited the Greal y Bedyddwyr for a year, and then for a further two years with J. M. Thomas.
He died at Llwynpiod, Cardigan on 2 April 1832, after an illness that had lasted some months. He was buried at Cilfowyr.
He married twice. First to Elizabeth, the daughter of the Revd Griffith Davies, minister of Rehoboth. She died in 1823 leaving three daughters: Mary, Elizabeth and Anne. His second wife was another Elizabeth (Lewis, Crugmor.) They had four children from this marriage.
His second wife died a fortnight after John leaving seven orphans – among them:
Ann, 12 year old (blind and of unsound mind); Dinah, 8 year old (later married James Morse, Trehowell); James, 7 year old. He is listed in 1901 as a retired mariner and living in Northgate Tce. He had married the daughter of the Revd. T. J. Morris and was a member of Capel Mair. He died in 1907; Sarah, 4 year old; Eleanor 2 yea rold. She is listed in 1851 as a housekeeper in Quay St; in 1861 as a housemaid in St Mary St (to Thomas Morgan, solicitor). She was a member at Bethania and died in 1898.
A number of prominent people from the chapel and surrounding district established a fund to help the children.
David Mathias, Cardigan
Timothy Thomas, the elder
William Richard, Penyparc
Daniel Davies (Independent minister), Cardigan
John Morgan, Blaenffos
Daniel Davies, Swansea
Awdl Bryddest Farwnadol i’r diweddar Barch. John Herring, Aberteifi: An elegy to the late Revd John Herring, Cardigan by Asaph Glyn Ebbwy (Thomas Williams, Tredegar). Please see the Welsh version for the 30 verse elegy!
Here is an interesting portrayal that appeared in Papur Pawb 23 June 1900 in a series entitled ‘Mae sôn amdanynt’
From the time of the Carpenter in Nazareth until the present, few prophets receive honour in their own country. But now and again, there are a few exceptions such as the cheerful character portrayed below.
Owen Beynon Evans was born in Cardigan in 1853, the son of D. Beynon Evans, cabinet maker, in the capital city of Ceredigion. Owen was raised in the same profession as his father…
Catherine Row was his place of abode in 1891. He died in Delfryn, Napier St. in 1920.
“He established an enterprise on his own in 1878, and he has expanded the business annually since then so that by now it attracts many eager to buy furniture of a superior quality.
He has spread his influence in favour of every worthy cause…
He has a high cultural mind…
He is one of the children of the Sunday School and literary meeting…
He has won many Eisteddfodic prizes for essays…
He has acted as adjudicator on many occasions…
He has written extensively to local newspapers and published many articles…
He has been a temperance supporter from his youth and has associated himself with the Good Templar Movement since it was founded in the town…
He has served in many of the main posts of the Teml Teifi branch…
He works tirelessly to win youngsters over to the cause of sobriety…
He is a faithful member of the Oddfellows and has been the secretary of the Carn Ingli (Trefdraeth) branch…
Town councillor since 1884; alderman in 1895; chairman of the treasury committee.
Mayor of Cardigan in 1889–90… Justice of the Peace…
Member of the committee for the free library…
He has a keen interest in the town’s schools, one of the governors; a supervisor of the S. Kensington Science and Arts Department when local exams take place…
A prominent member of the County Council…
An important member of the Burial Board and the ‘Gwbert Syndicate’, which exists to make Gwbert-by-the-sea an attractive place…
One of the directors of the Cardigan Mercantile Company.
A thorough Liberal and member of the town’s Liberal Club…
A member of Capel Mair, deacon, Sunday School Supervisor; he has ensured an annual feast of tea and bara brith for the youngsters…
There is no-one more kind and cheerful; idleness is not in his nature, nor is he narrow in his ways, and he fully deserves the accolades he receives.
May he long stay on the banks of the Teifi, to help develop the land of the Cardi, and to make Wales a better place.
People like this are rare…
“From Catherine Row, Cardigan to Cardiff City Hall”
John Ferrier left Catherine Row, Cardigan as a 13 year old in 1856. His father, also John, was a master mariner. John (jr.) began his Cardiff career in the offices of Messrs. George Insole and son. He migrated to the firm of Burnyeat, Brown and Co. – one of the most prosperous in the Welsh Coal Industry. He became general manager by 1873, and later managing director. Associated with the firm of Messrs. Watts, Watts and Co, (Ltd) and the United National Collieries (Ltd) they owned the Insoles-Merthyr pits and the Ynysddu collieries in the Sirhowi Valley, which together had an output of one and a half million tons of coal per annum.
J. B. Ferrier took a prominent part in Cardiff Chamber of Commerce: vice-president in 1886, 1893; president in 1894 and again vice-president in 1897. He was one of the most energetic promoters of the Cardiff Exhibition of 1896. Mr Ferrier frequently appeared before Parliamentary Committees as a witness in connection with the railways of the coalfield.
He also found time to devote his services to the Cardiff Infirmary, and was a member of the management committee for many years.
At one time he was a director of the Newport-Abercarn Steam Coal Company (Ltd) and the Stranaghan and Stephens’ Stores (Ltd) but resigned these owing to the increasing calls in his own company. He was also a director of John Williams and Son (Ltd).
From 1896 he was a vice-president of the Liberal Unionist Association and was an ardent Tariff Reformer. He retired in 1910, and died in a nursing home in Llandrindod Wells. He was cremated at Liverpool crematorium.
Information from the Evening Express 29 Sept., 1910
A note in Bethania Chapel Minutes first brought Owen Roberts to my attention. Under a list of deaths for 1905 is the following:
Owen Roberts, Feidrfair. Hwyliodd o China i Vladivostock Hydref 1904. Ni chlywyd dim oddi wrthynt drachefn yn yr SS Claverdale.
[He sailed from China to Vladivostock in October 1904. Nothing more was heard of them in the SS Claverdale]
A bit of Googling revealed a few interesting items.
Under the heading ‘Fate of the Claverdale’ the Evening Express published the following account on 31 January 1905:
A boat belonging to the overdue British steamer Claverdale has been picked up and taken to Fukuyajna. None of the crew was on board. The Claverdale left Barry on September 1 for Manila, with a cargo of between 5,000 and 6,000 tons of coal on Russian account. On October 29 she was reported at Sabang, and on November 23 left Hong Kong for Vladivostok. Nothing has been heard of her since, and it is presumed that in running the blockade she kept in too close to the land and struck a sunken rock. Captain Thomas, the master of the Claverdale, is a native of Cardigan, and is well known in Cardiff shipping circles.
The Claverdale was the pioneer ship of the Claverdale Steamship Company (Limited), owned by Messrs. E. Haslehust and Co., who claimed that this is the first vessel they had lost. She was built in 1899 by Messrs. Graig, Taylor, and Co., of Stockton-on-Tees, is 330 feet long, with a 45 feet beam, and a draught of 18 feet, while her engines registered a nominal horse-power of 278.
[Correction gratefully received from Mr Reg Nash: “the Claverdale Steamship company, owned by E. Haslehust (not Hazelhurst) and Co., had two ships called the Claverdale. The one you mention was sold in 1903 and replaced by a second, built by J. Priestman & Co. of Sunderland. This new Claverdale was launched on May 31 1904. She was 345 feet long and 48.8 feet in beam, with a draught of 20.9 feet; her nominal horsepower was 357 (National Archives BT 110/116/30). I have a copy of the blueprint plans, courtesy of the National Maritime Museum. It was her maiden voyage that ended so tragically.]
By 09 September 1905 the Cardiff Times reported that a Vladivostok telegram dated August 31st stated that a steamer stranded north of Olga was reported to be the missing British s.s. Claverdale, bound from Cardiff to Vladivostok via Hong Kong.
But further inquiries found that the rumour was not true and the reporter on the Cardiff Times was not happy:
This is the second time that such a report has been cabled home from Vladivostok respecting the same ship, and it is unfortunate that the authorities do not make an effort to secure the name of the stranded vessel before telegraphing to England.
The mystery of the missing ship seemed to have been solved by November 1905, according to a report in the County Echo, quoting the Daily Chronicle:
Dispatches received in London reveal for the first time the identity of the wreck which has frequently been sighted to the south of Vladivostok, near the mouth of the Tandse River. The vessel turns out to be the British steamer Claverdale, which left a Chinese port last November with a full cargo of coal for the Russian cruisers at Vladivostok, and which has not since been heard of. As the result of a visit paid to the stranded steamer, it has been ascertained that the vessel has been pillaged by the natives in the neighbourhood, and every article of value taken away. The inhabitants residing in the vicinity, who were interrogated, declared that the crew of the Claverdale’ were removed shortly after the wreck by two boats presumed to be Japanese.
But the missing crew remained missing : Neither owners nor relatives, however, have heard from any of the men. By November 1905 the headline in the Weekly Mail suggested that worse was to come.
WRECK OF THE CLAVERDALE: SUPPOSED MURDER OF MEMBERS OF THE CREW.
The crew who are supposed to have been killed on the Manchuria coast, where the ship was wrecked, included:
H. H. Thomas, Cardigan, commander;
D. Llewellyn, St. Dogmaels, mate
James Reed, Swansea, second mate
D. Jones, Cardiff, carpenter
J. S Campbell, Sunderland, steward
Owen Roberts, Cardigan, cook
Watkin Evans, second steward
John Waddle, boatswain
A. Tripolis, A.B. seaman
R. Thomas, Liverpool, A.B. seaman
G. Marromatic, A.B. seaman
Frederick Cooper, Sunderland, chief engineer
Frederick Walker, second engineer
James Beadle, Sunderland, third engineer
Cornelius Gray, Sunderland, fourth engineer
Carl Lundin (of Sweden), donkeyman
Richard McGuire, Bootle, fireman
B. Mynes, Brumiskin, fireman
W. Flagg, fireman
Gus Langer, fireman
R. J. Jones, fireman
S. Ostovski, fireman
W. Howrie, apprentice
G. B. McLaren, apprentice
Reginald Turner, North-street, Lewes, apprentice
G. A. Saunders, Kingston-road, Portsmouth, apprentice
In addition to these, two other hands, names and nationalities unknown, were taken on to Hong Kong. These were possibly Chinese.
[Additional information from Mr Reg Nash: Of the 27 to 30 men on board (sources differ) when she was lost four were from Cardigan:
Captain Thomas, aged 52, of Priory Street, Cardigan. He had previously lived at Ovingham House, Llangoedmore. (His widow, Laura née Morris, was the long-time headmistress of Llangoedmore School; her obituary is on page 1 of the Cardigan and Tivyside Observer dated 23/10/1925).
D. Llewellyn, the mate, aged 47, was born in St. Dogmaels, which is also given as his address (no further details).
Owen Roberts, the cook, aged 56, was born in Holyhead, and his address is given as 26 Mary’s Crescent, Cardigan.
David Jones, the carpenter, aged 43, was also born in Cardigan, but his address is given as 172 Corporation Road, Cardiff.]
It was claimed that the ship had been boarded by Manchurian pirates and the crew thrown overboard.
In March 1906 the Cardiff Times reported on the proceedings of the Probate Court where the captain named as Edward Evan Thomas, Llangoedmore was presumed dead:
The vessel was found 450 miles north of Vladivostok ashore in the Gull of Tartary deserted, with her decks dismantled. In February, 1905, a boat belonging to the ship was found, and in May the ship was posted at Lloyd’s as a total loss. Eventually the vessel was discovered a total wreck, and only about 300 or 400 tons of cargo remained. The master and crew had disappeared. Captain Thomas left about £1,400. His Lordship granted leave to presume the death of Mr Thomas accordingly.
[Further details from Mr Reg Nash: When the Claverdale reached Hong Kong it was revealed that she would be going on to Vladivostok, which was being blockaded by the Japanese during the Russo-Japanese War. Several ships had already fallen victim to the blockade. Consequently the crew, who had been hitherto unaware that they would be sailing through a war-zone, were given the option to leave the ship. Seven men did so including David Jones, the second mate, aged 29, born in Cardigan, address 1 Greenfield Row, Cardigan; there is a brief interview with him on page 2 of the Cardiff Evening Express dated 12/1/1905. As to the fate of the Claverdale I have little to add. It seems pretty certain that to avoid the Japanese blockade she took the much longer route to the east of Japan and was thus having to negotiate the la Perouse strait and approach Vladivostok from the north. Possibly her rudder was put out of action in the hostile winter environment, as happened to at least one other vessel at this time. The precise location of the wreck is also a mystery. Contemporary reports, including one from the Salvage Association, say that she was found at the mouth of the Taudse (or Tandse?) River, north of Ternei Bay, but I have been unable to discover a river of that name.]
After all this we’re none the wiser, I’m afraid, as to what actually happened but suffice to say these brave local sailors probably came to a watery end: H. H. Thomas, Cardigan, D. Llewellyn, St. Dogmaels, and Owen Roberts, Cardigan, the cook from Feidrfair.
If a photograph exists of any of these gentlemen I would be pleased to add a copy here.
William J. Morgan (1902–80)
Headmaster of the Cardigan Junior School, 1931–1968. Previously schoolmaster at Ferwig Primary school. Town councillor, 1937–1952. Mayor in 1942, alderman in 1949. Appointed deacon at Bethania Chapel in 1937.
Richard Fugle [d.1945?], Arthur Davies, Mr. ?Sneade
Richard Fugle and Arthur Davies’ s names appear on the town Cenotaph. [More to come…]
Mrs Gwladys Llewelyn, Dolwerdd (1886–1977)
wife of Thomas Llewelyn, Dolwerdd, chemist, High St.
Goronwy Moelwyn-Hughes was born in Priory St* on 6 October 1897 the eldest son of the Revd J. G. Moelwyn-Hughes (1866–1944) who was the minister at Tabernacle Chapel. He attended the local schools before heading for UCW Aberystwyth. During WW1 he served with the West Yorkshire regiment, was wounded , transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and served as a pilot (1917–19). He then returned to Aberystwyth, graduated as BA, entered Downing College, Cambridge where he obtained first-class honours in the law tripos. He was called to the bar in 1922. He fought two unsuccessful general elections for the Liberals in the Rhondda in Nov 1934 and Cardiganshire in 1935. He was the elected unopposed at a by-election in Carmarthen in March 1941, a seat he held until 1945. He was then returned as Labour MP for North Islington in 1950 but retired due to ill health in 1951.
He was appointed as a commissioner for inquiry on to the Burnden Park, Bolton football disaster in 1946, when 33 spectators were crushed by the pressure of numbers. He recommended that football grounds be made subject to safety licensing.
*[Llwyn Onn according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, but according to 1901 Census Finch’s Sq. The family were living at Glasynys, Priory St. in 1911 (census)]
He frequently returned to Cardigan to visit his parents. Here is an interesting (silent) film he made of his visit in 1933.
18826 Memoirs of a P.O.W. during the years 1940–45, Edward Vernon Mathias.
Available to download on to your Kindle
Only £3.06 to download. All proceeds to be donated to the British Legion Organisation.
Before the war Vernon Mathias (Mr Mathias, Bon Marche) worked at John Lewis, Oxford Street in London. At the beginning of WW2 he joined the Queen Victoria Rifles Regiment. By May 1940 he was on his way to France. He saw action in and around Calais, was wounded and was captured. There followed a 5 year term of imprisonment at several camps eventually ending up in a POW camp in Poland. His detailed and honest account describes daily life in a POW, the hardships and hopes for a better future back in Cardigan.
“We moved off stumbling over the railway lines, a stinking, dirty and dishevelled mob…”
“the Red Cross food parcel was the one thing that we looked forward to…”
“Physically I lost weight in a rapid an alarming manner and the side effects were weakness, an outbreak of skin sores, loss of some teeth and worst of all, one’s weakness encouraged the infestation of body lice which practically made life unbearable”
In the camp he meets up with another Cardigan boy – Jack Griffiths!
Autumn stretches out to winter: “The river Vestula froze to a great depth…”
“The frosty nights were marvellous and I would look at the stars and imagine Nan (later his wife) also looking at the same stars…”
He is then moved to Heydebreck. 1941 …1942… and 1943 beckons and life was hard – digging trenches while air raids were common especially throughout the summer of 1942. Then arrived a new medical officer – a Capt. James, originally from New Quay… (He died in 1981). There follows a failed attempt to escape from the camp… but leading only to (eventually three periods) of solitary confinement “ the room was roughly 6ft by 10ft…”
“1943 gradually came to a close and Christmas was here again…”
“whilst we POWs grumbled over our lot, it was as nothing compared to what the Jews suffered…”
22 January 1945 the march to freedom began, fleeing the Russian advance. After weeks of marching he eventually reached Burgermeistr, Bavaria.
“We flew home via Holland…when I arrived in Carmarthen railway station there was a taxi waiting for me. It took me the last 30 miles to Cardigan arriving in the evening where quite a few people were waiting to welcome me. My sister and my parents were waiting at the front door.”
“My journey was over” and it was time to look to the future.
A fascinating account of what life was like as a prisoner of war.