AN ETON SCHOOLBOY
VISITS THE AMMAN VALLEY:
Diary of a Public Schoolboy (1843)
Terry Norman and Nigel Lawford
First published in the Carmarthenshire Antiquary
Volume XL, 2004, pages 104 - 117
"The country was quite new to us, & the hats
of the Welshwomen struck me very much"
Those words represent the reaction of a sixteen-year old Eton schoolboy named Edward Melville Lawford on his first visit to Wales on Wednesday 12th April 1843. He spent the rest of the month in this country of quaint hats, most of it in the area around Carreg Cennen Castle, near Llandeilo, and Cross Inn (renamed Ammanford in 1880). More than the hats of Welsh women has changed since 1843, of course, but fortunately for posterity this young Etonian recorded his impressions in a diary.
This article is indebted to Mr Nigel Lawford, a modern-day descendant of Melville's brother, Henry, who has kindly made the diary and his account of the family's history available, and it is from these that details relating to the Lawfords are taken. We shall produce the diary entries for inspection presently but first it would be productive to outline his family's background and how they came to settle in the area.
At the end of the eighteenth century a London merchant, Samuel Lawford, decided to invest in land in the tiny village of Trap, near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and started his family's association with Trap and nearby Ammanford that was to last fifty years or so. Carreg Cennen House was built around 1807 and in 1843 it was the location for a short holiday by Samuel Lawford's grandson, Melville Lawford. Young Melville kept a diary for some five years from the time he went to Eton in 1840. The diary included his stay in Wales and offers today a glimpse into the life of a gentry family in the Trap and Amman Valley area in the spring of 1843. Among other items, the diary contains what is possibly the first record of a train journey along the newly built Amman Valley railway line, with young Melville witnessing a near collision in the process.
In consequence of the migration of an ancestor who had uprooted himself from his native Hereford early in the eighteenth century to seek his fortune in London, the various members of the Lawford family had by 1843 become prosperous merchants, bankers and lawyers in the City of London, a progression from provincial obscurity to metropolitan success still sought after in our own time. Thomas Lawford (1679-1726), the intrepid ancestor who made the London journey from Hereford, died in obscurity in 1726 aged 46. But his children and grandchildren fared considerably better, so that Samuel Lawford (born 1749) was able to make his Carmarthenshire investment at the end of the century thanks to his grandfather's adventurous spirit at its beginning.
In 1775 Samuel married an heiress, Ann Wright, who claimed royal descent from Meredith Tudor, great-grandfather of Henry VII. (See Note 1 below.) Whether Samuel Lawford knew it or not, Trap could hardly have been a more appropriate place for a family claiming a historic connection with Henry VII. It is sometimes said that Trap takes its name from a contraction of 'Tir ap Thomas', that is, the 'Land of ap Thomas'. This was the late-medieval Sir Rhys ap Thomas (1449-1525) who was granted the land by Henry VII in 1485 as a reward for raising an army in support of Henry at the Battle of Bosworth, where Richard III was defeated and killed.
Carreg Cennen House was listed Grade II* when surveyed by CADW in 1991 and 1998. The description mentions the approach by an avenue of limes and summarise the early history as follows:
Country house built in 1807 for Thomas Wright Lawford, who appears to have been land agent to Lord Dynevor and may have been connected in India to Sir William Paxton of Middleton Hall, Llanarthne. In 1841 Lawford owned 43.74 hectares with the house It is suggested that S.P. Cockerell, Paxton's architect at Middleton Hall in 1793-5 could have also designed this house, altogether plainer but with internal detail that might match Cockerell's work. (Note 2)
Thanks to Nigel Lawford we have a detailed description of the house that young Melville Lawford and his thirteen year old brother Baring found on their arrival at Trap:
The house was inhabited just by their uncle and aunt, and two teenage servants (according to the census of 1841). The accommodation was arranged on two storeys and included six or so bedrooms on the first floor. The exterior was discreet and unostentatious with little by way of ornamentation no stone pillars or Roman arches, no grand portico. The house seemed designed for the comfort of an unassuming country gentleman a man indifferent to the need to impress and very carefully designed. Its interior was elegant, light and well proportioned. The front door divided the two main reception rooms of the house, which faced south-east. To the right of a modest entrance hall was a sitting room some twenty-two feet long and to the left a dining room of comparable size, both rooms occupying their respective corners of the building. When Melville glanced out of the main sitting room window his eye would have been led along the stone wall of the kitchen garden to his left, then forward to the stonework of Carreg Cennen Castle, perched spectacularly on its limestone crag about a mile distant. Directly to the front of the house, past the carriage circle, the garden dropped away to the cultivated fields that rolled beyond. The servants' hall attended behind the dining room, with the kitchen bringing up the rear, and a large cellar ran the length of the dining room side of the building. The centre of the house was filled by a distinctive inner staircase hall, and the ground floor was completed by a roomy parlour positioned behind the sitting room. The staircase itself was of simple design but the landing above featured square pierced pillars topped by a depressed arch between two semi-circular arches, which are known to be a signature of the renowned architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell. (Note 3)
Nigel Lawford informs us that: 'Samuel worked in the City like his father but his family grew to maturity in a country house. He had four sons who survived to adulthood Thomas (1776-1851), Samuel (1777-1865), Edward (1787-1864), and John (1790-1869)' (Note 4) There are several generations of Lawfords named Thomas in our story so we will identify this one (1776-1851) as Thomas Wright Lawford senior and his son as Thomas Wright Lawford junior (1807-1895). Nigel Lawford continues:
Samuel's will of 1825 begins with the bequest to Thomas senior of "all my real estate in the county of Carmarthen now in his occupation together with all the appurtenances thereunto belonging" (and less fortuitously a mortgage on them for £2,000). By 1825 Thomas Wright Lawford senior had been living in Carmarthenshire for around eighteen years, but we have no idea when Samuel first invested in the area In 1806 construction began on a small country house on the Carreg Cennen estate near Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, and this was to become the home of Thomas Wright Lawford senior and his wife a year or two later. Samuel died in 1835 and his will suggests that he remained in control of the property until that year ...
....Thomas Wright Lawford senior, with wife and child [Thomas Wright Lawford junior] took up residence at Carreg Cennen House in about 1808. Based on such records as we have, Thomas Wright senior appears to have remained at Carreg Cennen until the marriage of his son [in 1832], and then to have moved to Kidwelly, leaving Carreg Cennen for occupation by the newly-weds. He moved again to Swansea in 1838, and then back to Carreg Cennen in 1841 when Thomas the younger vacated the premises [to lease Tirydail House from Lord Dynevor in nearby Cross Inn] At some stage Thomas Wright junior trained as a lawyer and the Law Society records feature him at a Llandeilo address in 1840 From his mid thirties, farming, or more particularly market gardening, seems to have been his major business activity and by the late eighteen forties Thomas Wright junior was apparently managing at least three farms [Dyffryn, Myddynfych and Tirydail, all in Cross Inn] as well as the Carreg Cennen estate. He reared poultry for the London market and was also a dealer in "guano, bonedust, and other manures". For a time he was agent for Lord Dynevor's estates He formed a horticultural society to encourage the working people to cultivate gardens and founded the local branch of the Total Abstinence Society, being the first to take the plunge himself. Some residents of Cross Inn the village that was to become Ammanford in 1880 were appreciative and in 1854 they presented him with a silver medal bearing the inscription: (Note 5)
"Presented to T. W. Lawford, Esq., Tyrydail, by the working classes of Cross Inn, for his exertions to promote their domestic comfort and intellectual advancement" (Note 6)
Those who gathered to honour Thomas Lawford at Cross Inn on 1st November 1854 heard an address from the chairman of the meeting which began: 'Sir, We, the working classes of Cross Inn, beg most respectfully to testify the high sense we entertain for the solicitude with which you have uniformly regarded our best interests'. It should be noted that the chairman the vicar of Bettws quite confidently includes himself among the 'working classes of Cross Inn', though by what authority seems unclear. Those present were the vicars of Betws, Llandeilo, Milo, Cwmamman and Ystradgynlais (five in all, but no non-conformist ministers), two drapers, a grocer, an ironmonger, a postmaster, four people labelled 'Esq.' and an assortment of 'Mr', 'Mrs' and 'Misses'. While all this might produce the slight suspicion this could have been a trial run for Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, a representative selection of 'the working classes of Cross Inn' it was not, and instead seems to have been a gathering of its Anglican middle classes. (Note 7) The 'working classes' of Cross Inn at this time, like the rest of Wales, were mostly non-conformist in worship, not Anglican. In 1854 Cross Inn didn't even have its own church, and wouldn't have one until 1885, but it already had non-conformists chapels and would build many more as the century progressed.
Meanwhile, the actual working classes of Cross Inn would have to wait a century before one of their own would venture judgement on Thomas Wright Lawford junior for them. Time has left us an alternative portrait of Thomas Lawford junior which, if true, is not quite so flattering. The conversion of Thomas Lawford's former home of Tirydail House into an orphanage in 1953 gave occasion for Betws-born miner and poet Amanwy (David Rees Griffiths, 1882 - 1953) to pen an article in the local newspaper. He wrote a weekly column for many years in The Amman Valley Chronicle entitled Colofn Cymry'r Dyffryn (column for the Welsh speakers of the valley) using the pen name of Cerddetwr (one who wanders aimlessly) and Lawford does not come out too well in an item published on 28th May 1953:
Old Tirydail House has seen great changes in recent times. When I was a boy, Colonel W. N. Jones rented the place, and there was an extensive farm attached to the old mansion. Indeed, it was not as a mansion but as a farm that Tirydail was known in earlier days. In the beginning the farm must have stretched for three or four hundred acres, from the bottom end of Parcyrhun to Brynmawr bank, at a time when there was hardly a house built on the land. It was a big farm when W. N. Jones looked after it, but there was little good farming on it. He kept a small number of fat cattle and a few hundred sheep, but paid more attention to his work as an auctioneer.
....I have heard a great deal about the two Scotsmen that farmed Tirydail before the days of "W. N.", namely Mr Brodie and Mr Lawford. They were excellent farmers who had come from the Scottish Highlands to get away from the cruel landowners that were oppressing the common farmer. Mr Brodie was a true gentleman, and he has a good name in the district to this day. He settled in Carmarthenshire, and some of his sons were prominent lawyers in Llanelly until fairly recently. He acquired a good reputation as a farmer too, being not too much of a slave driver.
....Mr Lawford was a man of a very different nature [to Mr Brodie], and the people of Cross Inn trembled when he spoke. A number of workers came with him to Tirydail from Scotland, and one of the families is well known in the area still, namely the Marshalls of Penybank and Ammanford. Mr Charlie Marshall became a bailiff for Lawford at Tirydail, but having married a Welsh woman, he left to take care of the horses at the oil and paint works. It was a pleasure to see the old man driving his cart, overflowing with copperas, from Pantyffynnon to the oil works, his horse a picture of sleekness between the shafts. Dear Charlie Marshall knew how to keep a horse handsome and contented.
....Tirydail Farm was an important focus for the small number of people that lived in Cross Inn in the days of Mr Brodie. There were at least a dozen men working on the farm, and the women of the district worked periodically on the land making hay, harvesting the wheat, and picking turnips and potatoes. These women would receive very little money for their labour, but an extra penny or two towards their husbands' pay was worth a great deal to them in those days. It is worth remembering that young people today spend more in pocket money on a Saturday night than a good worker earned for a full week's work on Mr Lawford's farm in days gone by.
....Lawford was a scoundrel according to the stories we have of him. He was a despot of the worst kind, and treated the people of Cross Inn like slaves. To be merciful was not in his nature. Everyone trembled when he spoke. Isn't it shocking to think how servile the people that lived on the banks of the Aman and Loughor were just a hundred years ago? But work was scarce in the area, and many a cupboard often nearly bare in those days. The stories of the treatment received by the people of the village of Cross Inn at the hands of Mr Lawford give us cause to be grateful for the Industrial Revolution, despite its cruelties.
....I give here two examples of Lawford's cruelty. One of his workers told him one morning that the chickens of a widow who lived close to Parcyrhun were trampling his grass. He went down there with his gun over his shoulder, drove his dog to round up the chickens and then shot every one of them to pieces before the eyes of the hapless widow. Another time, some of his sheep were killed by dogs, and someone said it was the Carregamman dog that was the leader in the slaughter. He went down to Carregamman and got hold of the dog without seeing or asking anybody. Lawford made his workers hang it by a rope from a nearby tree, and when it was almost done for, seeing that there was no blood coming from its mouth, he released the half-dead dog. He was fortunate that the people of Carregamman did not get hold of him, or it would have gone badly for him. And there you have an impression of the dictatorial Mr Lawford, who farmed Tirydail in the middle of the last century. (Note 8)
What evidence Amanwy had for these stories he doesn't reveal. Amanwy was born in 1882 and while growing up in Betws and Ammanford could have known some people with first-hand memories of Lawford, who left for Canada in 1855. However, he is factually incorrect when he claims Lawford 'had come from the Scottish Highlands to get away from the cruel landowners that were oppressing the common farmer'. As we have just seen, Thomas Wright Lawford junior had come from London, with an ancestry from Hereford, not Scotland. And he was certainly not an oppressed common farmer either, but a lawyer. In the interest of fairness to Thomas Wright Lawford junior's reputation (and historians, too, are generally suspicious of hearsay evidence) there are other inaccuracies in Amanwy's article which need pointing out. A modern day descendant of Charlie Marshall writes:
The Charles Marshall referred to must be my great-great-grandfather, being the only Scottish-born Marshall recorded in the local census from 1871-1901. As he appears to have been born in 1843, we can either add "child labour" to the list of Mr Lawford's calumnies or congratulate him upon perceiving the precocious management potential of young Charlie ... The bit about the horse does ring true. I remember my mother telling me that he was a colliery ostler His occupation is stated as "ploughman" on my great-grandfather's (John Marshall) birth certificate in 1866. His census details for 1871-1901 contain the usual inconsistencies: his birthplace is stated in one as Aberdeen and in another as Forfar, whilst in 1901 he appears to have gained 3 years and forgotten his Welsh. (Note 9)
The Mr Brodie referred to rented Tirydail House after Thomas Lawford junior, and is listed as being in occupation in the 1881 census. (Note 10) Charles Marshall appears therefore to have come from Scotland to work for Brodie, who was Scottish, and not the English-born Lawford as Amanwy claims.
These inaccuracies must therefore cast serious doubt on the other claims in Amanwy's article, written a hundred years after the event. As yet, we have no other contemporary evidence to pass a confident verdict on Thomas Lawford's record as an employer and neighbour, so final judgement will have to be suspended until we do.
Thomas Lawford junior appears to have had novel ideas about farming that broke with the conventions of his time. In his history of Ammanford, W. T. H. Locksmith writes:
by all accounts in 1841, [he] was regarded as a progressive farmer, introducing new agricultural and horticultural techniques, such as the 'Cow Vinery' (taking advantage of animal heat to grow hanging fruit). His advanced ideas were chronicled in the 'Cottage Gardener' and other publications on 'Model Farming'. (Note 11)
Innovation is no guarantee of success, however: Thomas Lawford junior seems to have overstretched himself with all his ventures, and in November 1854 he was declared bankrupt, followed by his departure to Canada in 1855. He eventually settled in Baltimore, USA, and though no one knows when he arrived, he was certainly there by 1870 (US census). (Note 12)
The circumstances of the bankruptcy are still unclear to his descendants on both sides of the Atlantic, even now, but appear to have been caused by his numerous agricultural investments. (Note 13) Whatever the reasons, he was forced to sell all his chattels at a public auction held on the 28th of August 1855 furniture, books, dairy utensils, hurdle-making, threshing, winnowing and corn-crushing machines, etc, all coming under the hammer. By then, the house in Trap built by his grandfather only fifty years earlier had already been sold. But whatever his lack of business success in Cross Inn/Ammanford, his removal to America seems to have revived his fortunes, as Nigel Lawford writes:
Beyond law, market gardening and trading in manures, Tom may also have included insurance amongst his business activities in Wales as it is reported that many years later he founded an underwriting firm in Baltimore. A report of his death in a Baltimore newspaper refers to his work in North America and depicts him as a popular figure, as well as offering another example of his predilection for new ideas:
.... "[Regrettably notification] has been received of the death in Buckingham County, Va., of the veteran underwriter and agriculturist, Mr Thomas W. Lawford, in his eighty-ninth year. He was of English birth and for many years was British vice-consul at this port. He established the widely known insurance firm of Lawford & McKim, and until his retirement to his Virginia country seat, eight years ago, he was one of the most active, prominent and highly respected underwriters in this community. His activity, even in the later years of life, was so incessant and so extraordinary as to command the wonder of all his friends. His geniality was delightful and he was remarkably popular in a wide circle of friends. He was the first man to introduce and to ride a bicycle in America, a distinction by no means to be lightly esteemed now in view of the universal use of the wheel. May he rest in peace." (Note 14)
From their transatlantic diaries, Thomas Lawford junior and his wife Eliza seemed to have had different emotions after emigrating. Eliza was miserable in Canada in November 1855, while Tom seems to have been enjoying life as much as ever. This diary entry is from Eliza, (Note 15) alone in Dundas, while Tom has moved in advance to London, Ontario:
the loneliness of receiving it [communion] alone & the recollection of the last communion we all received together on our last Sunday (in Sept.) at dear pretty Tirydail were so painful that had I not driven my thoughts to higher and happier subjects it should have overcome me. (Note 16)
We have by now met the main characters at the time of the visit of young Edward Melville Lawford, the sixteen year old son of Edward Lawford (1787-1864) of Eden Park, Beckenham, and thus the cousin of 36 year old Thomas Wright Lawford junior, of whom we have already heard so much. The diary also mentions several stays at Tirydail House, built near the river Loughor in modern-day Ammanford. (Note 10) (The original course of the river by Tirydail House was altered in the 1960s.) The house was leased by Thomas Wright Lawford junior from Lord Dynevor and shares its location with a motte and bailey castle dating from the 12th century Norman occupation of the area. All that remains of the castle now is the thirty-foot high motte completely overgrown with trees and long since colonized by a rookery. Cutting across the fifty acres of Tirydail House, and separating the house from the river Loughor, was a mineral railway line built in 1842 to carry coal from collieries at Tirydail, Blaenau, Cae'r Bryn and Penygroes (today it is a section of the Heart of Wales passenger line). Tirydail House, which has been thoroughly renovated since Thomas Lawford junior's occupancy, was eventually sold by Lord Dynevor in 1946, and is currently used as a day centre called 'Cartref' by Carmarthenshire County Council. (Note 18)
Both Tirydail and Carreg Cennen Houses were undoubtedly rather fine dwellings, but Melville was accustomed to even better at his home in Kent. Nigel Lawford again:
Melville's father [Edward] was probably the most prosperous of Samuel's four sons and the residence of Eden Park, Beckenham, was on a grand scale. The house was built in the late eighteenth century by Lord Auckland (William Eden) and set in three hundred acres of parkland and fields with entrance lodges at the west, north and east boundaries, and a home farm to the south. Fronted by an imposing portico, with four ionic columns supporting temple pediment at roof level, the building provided bed chambers for more than twelve gentlefolk with four dressing rooms and servant accommodation. Its drawing room and eating parlour were well over thirty feet long and it was a house fit to entertain ministers of the crown, as was the requirement of its first owner (Pitt the Younger was probably Lord Auckland's most notable guest, and it is here that he is said to have courted Lady Eleanor Eden). Melville was accustomed to the lifestyle of grand houses but his tutor's house at Eton provided a more frugal existence, and life with his relatives in Wales was somewhere between the two. (Note 19)
Whatever the standard of accommodation at Tirydail and Carreg Cennen, his stay at these two places left an impression on young Melville that other holidays didn't. As Nigel Lawford observes:
Several family holidays feature in the diaries of Melville and his sister Jane between 1840 and 1845 but none are comparable with the visit to Wales. There are trips to Cambridge, the continent, Canterbury and the Lake District all of them involving sightseeing, but none of them featuring visits to local businesses or industries. (Note 20)
Melville Lawford had arrived at Tirydail on 12th April and he left Tirydail en route for London on 27th April. Then, on his way home, he made a lightening two-day tour of several industrial sites before sailing from Cardiff on 29th April, reaching London on 30th April. Fishing and home entertainment were regular activities during the stay in Wales, yet by the end he'd been shown over a bone mill, a clothier's, a coal mine, a copper-smelting works, potteries, a steam engine manufacturer, several iron works and a chain-and-anchor works (the footnotes to this article contain brief explanatory notes to several of the places mentioned in the diary).
After our rather lengthy preamble, we are now ready to proceed to the diary entries for Melville Lawford's visit to Wales, recruiting the aid of Nigel Lawford to provide brief notes for those mentioned in its pages.
MELVILLE'S JOURNAL OF HIS HOLIDAY IN SOUTH WALES (Note 21)
Notes on the diary extract people and places (by Nigel Lawford)
The extract from Melville's journal covers the period from 7th April to 2nd May 1843, starting with Melville in residence at Drapers' Hall in London and ending with him back at Eton. As background to his account of the holiday I will begin by giving brief details of some of the people mentioned. The main characters in order of appearance are:
The diarist Edward Melville Lawford, 16 years old and third son of Edward Lawford of Eden Park, solicitor to the East India Company and Clerk to the Drapers' livery company.
Baring Henry Baring Lawford, 13 years old, fourth and youngest son of Edward Lawford.
Tom Thomas Wright Lawford junior, nephew of Edward Lawford, aged 36.
Jennings David Jennings, a friend of Tom Lawford junior, aged 38 and unmarried.
Dubieson William Dubuisson of Glynhir, a friend of Tom Lawford, educated at Winchester and Oxford University, aged 24 and unmarried (in 1853 he was to marry Mary, daughter of John Lawford of Downhills).
Uncle Tom Thomas Wright Lawford senior, eldest brother of Edward Lawford, aged 67.
The Greens friends of the Lawfords, who lived at Court Henry, near Llandeilo.
The Thomases friends of the Carmarthen Lawfords.
Other characters mentioned include:
Fanny and Jane two of Melville's five sisters.
The Ames at Cote the family of Edward Lawford's niece, Anna Ames.
Charles Edward's second son (ordained priest in 1844), aged 25.
Tuke Francis Tuke, a friend of Melville's from Eton (Captain of Boats) and Norwood.
Pott a friend from Beckenham and Eton.
Marianne at 8 years old, Tom's eldest child.
Aunt Acland Edward's sister Maria, mother of Anna Ames.
My tutor Rev. Francis Edward Durnford.
I have reproduced Melville's exact words and spelling in this extract, but have taken the liberty of adjusting his punctuation in places to make it easier to read (the study of English was outside Eton's classical curriculum at this time). (Note 22)
In addition to Nigel Lawford's editorial interventions, accepted spellings of local place names in the diary are indicated in square brackets [.. ] where they are unclear. Melville Lawford, after all, couldn't be expected to have been familiar with Welsh orthography and his brave attempt at spelling the river Llwchwr (as Llweea) in his April 17th entry shows he wasn't afraid to fail either. On the same day he also went out in a coracle on the river, which will certainly surprise today's residents of Ammanford.
Drapers Hall, April 1843
Friday 7th After breakfast I went out with Mamma, and in the afternoon Baring and I went to the Glaciarium. We had skates put on, but the stuff was abominable & we soon came off. Williamson & Curry were there. In the evening we had a dinner party. The Lyalls, Tuckers, Mauberts, Mrs Marjoribanks, Miss Parker, Miss Mary & some others dined with us.
Saturday 8th I went out a little this morning. In the afternoon I went in the carriage with Mamma. We went in the Park & called on the Tuckers. Fanny and Jane went to Norwood. In the evening I wrote and read &c.
Sunday 9th We all went to St Peter Le Poor. Dr Vivian preached. In the afternoon we went to Downhills, Cousin Tom joined us there.
Monday 10th We stayed in in the morning. I went to a concert at Crosby Hall in the evening.
Tuesday 11th I got some fishing tackle in Crooked Lane & Tom chose me some flies. At one o'clock to day Tom, Baring, and I started from Princes Street in an omnibus for Paddington, where we took tickets for Bristol. We stopped at the different stations, Slough, Twyford, & Reading (where we saw a nice castle being built), Wallingford, Steventon Farringdon Road, Shrivenham, & Swindon (where we had refreshments), Wooton Basset, Chippenham, Box, Bath, & arrived at Bristol at 27 minutes to 7. We had two very nice people in the carriage all the way. We walked from Bristol to the Ames at Cote, where we dined and slept, Mrs Ames & family &c with Caroline making our dinner party. Went to bed at 10.
Wednesday 12th We were called this morning at 20 minutes to five, & had breakfast at a little past. At a 1/4 past six we got into the Mail for the old passage, which we reached safely. We crossed the Severn in a steam boat & were safely landed in Wales. We started from Beachely & changed horses Chepstow, where we had a good view of the castle. We went over a capital bridge over the Wye. We next changed horses at an inn on the road, the "Rock and Fountain", then Newport, & Cardiff where was a market, Aubrey, Cowbridge, Pyle, Neath, and then Swansea, where we got out and had some luncheon, & then came on to Pontardulais. In Swansea we took up some more passengers & had five inside, which was unpleasant after having had the coach to ourselves all the other way. Some part of the time we rode outside. The country was quite new to us, & the hats of the Welshwomen struck me very much. At Pontardulais, Tom's carriage met us & we came to his house at Terrydail [Tirydail], where we found all well. We had a very pleasant journey and day.
Thursday 13th We had breakfast at a little past eight. I wrote to Mamma. We went to fish to day. I caught four, 3 little salmon and one trout. After dinner we went out in the coracle. Jennings came here to day after tea. Tom and I went to meet him & had a very nice walk.
Friday 14th Good Friday. We went to church in the morning at Llandibeoir [Llandybie]. Part of the service was in Welsh. Dubieson, Uncle Tom & Jennings dined with us. In the evening we came to Carrig Cenen with Uncle Tom.
Saturday 15th Breakfast at 1/2 past eight. I drove Uncle Tom to Llandilo, there was market day. We went over an inn. At 1 we went to fish with Tom. I caught one & landed two others. We walked home again. Jennings & Tom dined with us here, we had cards in the evening. Before dinner we went to see the bone mill.
Sunday 16th After breakfast Baring and I went to Carreg Cenen castle. We went all over it & brought away some relics. We climbed down the rock & went to see the blind woman. After luncheon we went to the church in Lord Dynevors park but finding service began an hour later than we thought, we came away and did not go at all. I had a letter from Jane to day. (Note 23) In the evening we wrote &c.
Monday 17th Tom and David Jennings had breakfast with us. At eleven Uncle & Aunt Tom, Baring and I set out for Llandibei church. We arrived there at a little past twelve, as well as Tom & his wife, who were going to have their sixth child christened. Williams the vicar christened the baby. David Jennings, Uncle Tom were god fathers and Miss Thomas godmother. It was named Jasper Mauduit. When the christening was over we went to Tirydail. Baring and I went out to fish in the Llweea [this must be Melville's spelling of the river Llwchwr, or Loughor, which flowed close to Tirydail House] before dinner. I caught six salmon fry, & once caught two in one pull up, & one little trout. After dinner we went out in the coracle, & in the evening came in and had a game at cards, when tea was over. We stayed at Tirydail till 1/2 past eleven & Aunt & Uncle Tom were dreadfully afraid of going home at night, particularly Aunt Tom, who saw a man lying in a ditch & thought he must be a robber. Her conversation on the way home, her changing subjects, kept me and Baring in continued laughter. (Note 24)
Tuesday 18th After breakfast Baring and I went to fish in the Cenen, but not finding any sport, we came away. At 1/2 past three Uncle Tom, Baring & I went to dine with the Thomases. Aunt Tom came in the evening & after french blind man's buff & cards we came home, & arrived here at 1/2 past twelve.
Wednesday 19th Soon after breakfast Aunt & Uncle Tom, Baring and I went to Court Henry to see the Greens. We had dinner there & afterwards went out with two of the Miss Greens to see Dryslym [Dryslwyn] Castle. We also went to see their church, one of the Miss Greens played the organ for us. We had tea in the evening, and reached home at a little past nine.
Thursday 20th Tom came to Carreg Cenen soon after breakfast & stayed there all day. The Thomases dined with us & after dinner Baring and I came with Tom to Tirydail. We drove part of the way in the chaise & I rode Cambria the rest, & Tom & Baring walked. As we came home we saw something shining very bright on the bank of the road &, on examination, found it was a decayed ash tree, which gave a most beautiful phosphoric light.
Friday 21st After breakfast Tom, Baring and I walked about the grounds. I also fished but only caught two salmon fry. After dinner, as it rained, Tom, Baring and I went to Cwm Ammon [Cwmamman; ie, the Amman Valley] to see a coal mine. We went part of the way by train & sat in a rough carriage without buffers next to the engin, before it, so that we were continually covered with steam & went bump, bump every minute against the engin. Soon after we were in, the engin broke down, so we got out & walked on. When we had walked about a mile, we saw a coal train coming down the railway by itself, full swing, gaining speed every minute as the line is an inclined plain all the way. When the engineer saw it, he reversed the engin, which was just mended, & an active workman took hold of the coal waggon, swung to the top, & put on the brake, so no mischief was done. When we got to Cwm Ammon, we went to William Jones's inn & had some bread & cheese &c. (Note 25) We afterwards went into the mine. We sat in a tram cart with chairs in it & were pushed half a mile into it. We brought some coal & iron from the mine. We came home in a carriage down the inclined plain, at a good pace with a man to drive. In the evening I wrote. I had a letter from Charles who sent me my holiday task, I also had a letter from Pott.
Saturday 22nd Tom, Baring and I set out for Llanelly by train directly after breakfast. When we got there we went over Mr Neville's copper works. (Note 26) We saw the copper melted, cooled, refined, smelted, made in sheets, & saw the whole process, from taking the metal out of the ore, to the making the purest copper. Mr Neville let us bring several specimens of ore & metal away with us. We had luncheon at an inn in Llanelley. We came home by train, after having been wetted through by the rain, before we reached it. After dinner we fished but had no fun. In the evening I received a letter from Tuke.
Sunday 23rd Tom, Marianne, Baring and I went to Llandibei [Llandybie] church. We sat in Du Buisson's pew. The service was nearly all Welsh, as well as the sermon, so I read a sermon out of a book Dubuisson lent me. In the evening Tom, Baring and I walked along the banks of the Amman.
Monday 24th I fished in the river after breakfast and caught fifteen nice fish. The Greens came here, so Baring and I rode to Glynhir, & after seeing the waterfall came home with DuBuisson to dinner. While Baring and I were looking at the cow house, a pig rushed out, & jumping through my legs, pitched me down head first. The Greens & DuBuisson went away in the evening. I wrote a letter to Jane after breakfast. In the evening I wrote &c.
Tuesday 25th After breakfast Tom, Baring and I walked by the Amman. In the afternoon we rode to Carreg Cenen. We went over a clothiers, we also looked in at the cave at the source of the Llwchwr. (Note 27) We had tea at Carreg Cenen & heard the echo. I let a gun off several times and it sounded very well. We came home at about 1/2 past ten.
Wednesday 26th Baring and I went to Swansea to day. We went to a Mr Stroud, who took us all over the town. (Note 28) We went over the potteries & the institution. We crossed the river in the ferry & examined the cabin of the troubadour. We dined with Mr Stroud & reached home at about 1/2 past ten. We also walked round the pier & saw the mumbles lighthouse.
Thursday 27th Tom, Baring and I left Tirydail at five. We reached Ponterdulais at six & took the mail to Neath, where we had breakfast. We took a post chaise from Neath to an inn, & when we wanted horses on the way found they were out carting manure. We had to wait on hour there for the Swansea Bay horses. We went to the falls & went under a very beautiful one, called Calepste. Baring and I rode a pony there. After seeing the falls we came on to Mertha [Merthyr Tydfil], a very dirty place. We put up at the Castle Inn, a nice hotel, (Note 29) & after having tea went over Mr Crawshay's Iron works, which are well worth seeing. (Note 30) We saw some fellows at work pressing out bars, one of which ten years since, shot through the press so quickly that the boy on one side could not catch it in his pincers, & shooting completely through his body, killed him on the spot. We saw the iron tapped & run in moulds. We came from the works late, after enjoying the scene very much. The bellows, which are kept in work by an engin of thirty horse power, have an immense force of wind. On the way here we went over the Neath Abbey works, where we saw them making steam engines &c. (Note 31) We also went over some tin works & saw the whole process from beginning to end. We saw the old ruin at Neath very well indeed. The works at Neath are kept by Quakers named Price & Tregelles. After seeing the Mertha works, we came back to our Inn & wrote &c. We called on a Mr Howell on our way to the works.
Friday 28th We had breakfast at a little past eight & left Merthyr soon after it, in a "jolly bounder". We got out when we had gone some way & went into a farm house and had some oaten cakes & ale. We next got out at Newbridge & after seeing the rocking stone, went over Mr Lennox's iron chain works, where we saw them making anchors & chains &c. (Note 32) We had luncheon at Newbridge & then went to Mr Booker's iron works on Garf mountain. (Note 33) We looked down his iron mine & saw the men at the bottom. They looked like large dolls from the height we were above them. We brought away several beautiful specimens of spa from the mine. After seeing the iron works we went on to Llandaff Cathedral where we got out & walked round, & then came on to Cardiff to stop for the night. We went all over the Marquiss of Bute's house & saw the pictures and organ. We also walked a little in the garden. We came in at eight & had dinner & tea. (Note 34)
Saturday 29th We started from Cardiff this morning at 1/2 past four in the steamboat "Lady Charlotte", & arrived at Bristol in about 3 hours. We went to the cathedral & heard the service. In the afternoon I had a corn cut. We had tea with Aunt Acland.
Sunday 30th We left Bristol at twenty minutes to nine by the Great Western & arrived in London in a short time. We came to Drapers Hall & Tom and I went to the Temple church. In the evening we had music.
Farewell cities! Who could bear Give me woodbine scented bowers, All your smoke & all your care Blue wreaths of the violet flowers, All your pomp, when wooed away Clear sky, fresh air, sweet birds & trees, By the azure hours of May? Sights & sounds & scenes like these LEL
May 1st After breakfast Baring and I walked out for a little. Mamma went to the Ancient Music this morning with Tom and the girls. In the afternoon I wrote &c.
Tuesday 2nd Baring and I after breakfast packed. After luncheon Mamma, Baring and I went to the bazaar (Soho) in the carriage. We also drove round the Park. The Freshfields came in the evening. Baring and I started from Princes Street at 1/2 past six, & from Paddington at 1/2 past seven, for Eton. We had tea at Slough & then came on to my tutor's.
[End of diary entry]
A LADY COMES CALLING
After Melville returned to Eton on May 2nd 1843, his diary naturally ceases to mention his Welsh sojourn; but on September 8th 1843 an unexpected entry turns up in the diary, relating to the Rebecca Riots which were now at their height in west Wales. Thomas Wright Lawford junior had come into possession of one of Rebecca's threatening letters sent to a number of local people and he sent Melville a transcript, which Melville pasted into his diary for 8th September 1843:
Friday 8th Sept
A notice of Rebecca's sent to a man named Williams, a very respectable Innkeeper of Cwm Amman, because he seized one of the bridles of a Rebeccaite & tried to discover who it was. Sent me by Tom from Tirydail.
Mr William Jones John Williams Shopkeeper Doctor Thomas John Jones Nantmain and William Thomas Ma[r]en Level __________
Take notice that you will not meddle with Rebecca and her Royal Daughters when she is getting a free liberty to the Country her works is nothing But honesty and getting the yoke of Bandage from the people and County let honesty take its course and you must not Ride the People with your proud and shameful Rascality Empty pockets no further notice Bride your tongue with Double Mains if not Rebecca will come in full force with her Royal army and supper with you according to her daughters Wishes no more notice
Rebecca and her Daughters
Drech Gwlad nac Arglwyd [Country mightier than Lord] you may Depend. (Note 35)
Melville is here referring to one William Jones, who was the innkeeper of the Raven Inn, Garnant, which Melville visited on 21st April 1843: 'When we got to Cwm Ammon, we went to William Jones's inn & had some bread & cheese &c' (see above). How William Jones came to be present at one of Rebecca's visits we can only speculate, as the Amman Valley was free from incidents during the Riots. The valley's main economy, coal, was being transported to the docks at Llanelli on the newly built railway line, thus by-passing tollgates. The Llanelly Dock Company's railway had reached Pantyffynnon at the confluence of the Amman and Loughor rivers by 1840 and by 1842 had been extended up the Amman Valley to Brynamman, with stations at Cross Inn (Ammanford), Glanamman and Garnant en route. It was on this railway line that Melville had journeyed to Garnant for his visit to the Raven Colliery, leaving us one of the earliest records in the process.
The nearest incident to Garnant in the Rebecca disturbances had been at Rhydypandy, six miles or so directly across the Betws Mountain, but that had been on 20th July 1843. (Note 36) The diary date 8th September should give us a clue, however, which incident William Jones could have attended. On 6th September the tollgate at Pontardulais received a night-time visit from a hundred and fifty of Rebecca's daughters, intent on its destruction. (Note 37) Unfortunately for Rebecca Pontardulais is on the Glamorgan side of the river Loughor, and Glamorgan was the first indeed at that time, the only Welsh county with a police force, formed two years earlier as a response to the near-insurrectionary activities of the Chartist movement. A tip-off to the Chief Constable of the Glamorgan Constabulary by an informant meant that the authorities were ready for Rebecca this time and a bloody confrontation ensued on Pontardulais bridge with Rebecca retreating in confusion. Two days later Rebecca was back again, but this time on the other side of the river, at the Hendy tollgate in Carmarthenshire, just a mile from the Pontardulais gate (Note 38). No informants got wind of this attack, and Carmarthenshire wouldn't have its own police force for some months yet, its creation entirely due to the Rebecca Riots. (Note 39) Tragically, the 75 year old gatekeeper at Hendy, Sarah Williams, was shot and killed by an unknown 'daughter' of Rebecca, which had by now been taken over by a much more violent element. These two incidents were to prove the turning point in the Rebecca Riots but at which one, if any, did William Jones seize the bridle of one of Rebecca's horses? If Melville Lawford made his 8th September diary entry on the day he received the note from his cousin Tom, then it would be the Pontardulais incident on the night of 6th September. But he could have made the entry for the day it took place, in which case William Jones incurred Rebecca's wrath at Hendy on 8th September. Unless someone has other information, we shall never know. It would also be interesting to find out what took this Amman Valley innkeeper so far from home to participate in such a dangerous event that didn't concern him.
By 8th September 1843 Rebecca had been causing her mischief for about a year. But even back in April the Lawford family may have felt her presence:
We stayed at Tirydail till 1/2 past eleven & Aunt & Uncle Tom were dreadfully afraid of going home at night, particularly Aunt Tom, who saw a man lying in a ditch & thought he must be a robber. Her conversation on the way home, her changing subjects, kept me and Baring in continued laughter. (April 17th diary entry above.)
Nigel Lawford conjectures on this entry:
When I first read Melville's account of his visit to Wales I was struck by his reference to the fear shown by his aunt and uncle at the prospect of their journey late at night from Tirydail to Carreg Cennen. I knew nothing of the history of the region then and it seemed strange that they should feel anxiety over travelling a familiar route in such a remote and sparsely populated area. It is quite possible that their fear was simply irrational Melville seems to have thought so or it may be that they were sensitive to the conflicts within their community and felt threatened by the more lawless elements, most notably the Daughters of Rebecca. (Note 40)
This is at least possible. At the time of Melville Lawford's visit in April the Rebecca Riots were still in their early stages. The 'Daughters of Rebecca' had made their first appearance in Pembrokeshire on 13th May 1839, when a large group of men disguised in women's clothes demolished the tollgate at Efailwen near Narberth and attacks took place again in June and July. The Whitland Turnpike Trust did not attempt to re-instate the Efailwen gate after it had been destroyed on three occasions and 'Rebecca' disappeared for a while before reappearing in November 1842 when a gate near St Clear's was destroyed. The attacks reached their peak during the summer and autumn of 1843, by when the authorities had sent for troops and the Metropolitan Police.
But by April 1843 only about 26 gates had been destroyed and Cross Inn and Trap were relatively far from the scenes of turmoil that was soon to grip the whole of west Wales. (Note 41) The authorities hadn't yet dispatched the 2,000 troops, or the contingent of Metropolitan Police that would soon arrive in great numbers, in their attempt to quell the growing disturbances. The Lawfords however would surely have been aware of what was going on. Thomas Wright Lawford junior was Lord Dynevor's land agent who, as the Lord Lieutenant of Carmarthen, was responsible for policing the riots. We can only speculate on such matters, of course, but young Melville Lawford would have heard plenty of discussion about local affairs while at Tirydail and Carreg Cennen, and the fact that Thomas Wright Lawford junior sent Melville a copy of Rebecca's threatening letter, four months after his departure, would indicate that Melville was well aware of the lady's nocturnal ramblings.
By now we must all be rather intrigued as to whom this young scholar was who fished in our rivers and roamed our countryside in April 1843, and curious to learn what happened to him in the years after his rural retreat. The family portrait of him made a few years after his visit, by when he was a soldier of the British Raj, gives his relative Nigel Lawford an opportunity to muse:
Portrait of Melville Lawford, probably painted about 1849 in England when he was home from India on leave. Photograph courtesy of Nigel Lawfford.
The family portrait of a junior Madras cavalry officer shows a slightly effeminate young man with wide forehead and fair hair curling above his ears. His pink cheeks are full, his jaw rounded, and despite an even gaze and confident poise it is hard to imagine this soldier prompting second thoughts in the mind of a sepoy bent on mutiny. In this, the picture of Melville gives a false impression. He was amiable and highly sociable, and an enthusiastic singer and musician, but his delight was in outdoor pursuits and his physical toughness was undoubted. At his father's country house in Beckenham he shot almost any form of wildlife, fished, hunted with the beagles, boated, rode cross-country, gardened and helped on the home farm. For him evening entertainment could be a family concert or blowing up wasps' nests, and to pass the time after church on Christmas day in 1842 he attended the bleeding of a cow. His hands would have been dirty more often than not however delicately he might appear to hold his ceremonial gloves in the Indian army portrait. While his elder brothers Henry and Charles progressed from Eton to Oxford and Cambridge, then the law and church respectively, Melville began sword lessons with the drill sergeant of the 7th Hussars in 1844 and embarked on his military career two years later. His destiny was the horse rather than pen or lectern. (Note 42)
And so it is that we must leave the Lawfords to the attentions of their modern-day descendants on both sides of the Atlantic, where diaries recently discovered by the American branch will no doubt keep family members occupied for many years to come. In the meantime, we must express our gratitude to Nigel Lawford for making his extensive papers available for this brief survey of his ancestors during their fifty-year stay at Tirydail and Carreg Cennen.
(1) Nigel Lawford: An Eton boy's holiday in South Wales, 1843: The Lawfords in Wales 1806-1843, (typescript), 2004, p. 5. (2) CADW, 1991 and 1998, Record No 15616. Nigel Lawford however comments: 'I don't think Thomas could have had any India connections, but his father Samuel may well have had a City connection.' (correspondence 27 May 2004). The CADW report continues: 'Lawford's son sold the house to Nathaniel Davies, and alterations were made in the late 1860s or early 1870s for his nephew Thomas Powell, great-grandfather to the present owner.' CADW cite their sources as Carmarthen Record Office, Llandeilo Fawr Tithe Map; and information from W. Powell Wilkins Esq. (the current owner of Carreg Cennen House). (3) Nigel Lawford, ibid., pp. 12-13. (4) Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 6. (5) Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 9. (6) Carmarthen Journal, 3rd November 1854. (7) Carmarthen Journal, 3rd November 1854 (8) Amman Valley Chronicle, May 28th 1953, p. 2 (translation made for this article). I am indebted to Dr Huw Walters of the National Library of Wales for drawing my attention to this item. (9) Mr Phillip Davies, correspondence, 26th June 2004. (10) W. T. H. Locksmith, Ammanford Street Names and Notable Historical Records, 2001, pp. 242 - 247. (11) W. T. H. Locksmith, ibid., p. 242. (12) Nigel Lawford, correspondence 27th May 2004 (13) 'I think we are reasonably clear that his legal practice failed and his farming activities traded at a loss from the early forties (as set out in the reported court proceedings) but we aren't clear whether he got up to anything else as well. Amazing that he survived effectively without an income for around 10 years.' (Nigel Lawford, correspondence, 27th May 2004). (14) Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 10. (15) Eliza's maiden name was Eliza Player, and her family also moved to Carmarthenshire sometime before 1832, the year Thomas Lawford junior and Eliza Player were married in Loughor. The Players were a notable local family by the eighteen forties but it is uncertain which members had which professions. Pigots Directory of 1844 observes that in Loughor 'independent of the coal works, the most prominent business is the extensive chymical works of Mr Player'. The directory lists John Player as the incumbent Manufacturing 'Chymist'. The Player ancestors were Quakers, with links to the chocolate-making Frys of Bristol. Gomer Roberts in his history of Llandybie mentions that 'a John Player, a well-known Quaker' visited the Quaker meeting-house in Llandeilo in December 1753. (Note by Nigel Lawford, ibid., pp. 7 & 9.) Did these various Players belong to the same family? (16) Correspondence from Nigel Lawford, 15th May 2004. (17) 'The railway ran close to the house, but there was a field between the house and the river plot 1450, tithe map 1840, "Waste Gravel & river, Pasture."' Nigel Lawford, correspondence, 6th Sept 2004. (18) W. T. H. Locksmith, ibid., pp 242 - 247 (19) Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 12. (20) Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 14 (21) The diary extract is from Nigel Lawford, ibid., pp. 19-22. (22) Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 19. (23) This is Llandyfeisant Church in the grounds of Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo. It ceased being used for worship in 1961 when its font and stained-glass window war memorial were removed to nearby St Teilo Church for safekeeping, and since when it has been locked. Originally a medieval church, it was almost completely rebuilt around 1858, possibly by R Kyrke Penson, the architect who renovated Newton Park for the Dynevors in 1856-1858 and built the fine lime kilns for his quarry at Cilyrychen, Llandybie at the same time. (24) It seems strange that the group should leave Tirydail House to make the six-mile journey to Carreg Cennen so late at night, but perhaps there was no room at Tirydail for them: 'No image of the house has survived to this day in the Ammanford records, nor any plans or details, so we know only what the census of 1851 tells us that it was big enough to accommodate seventeen souls, comprising Tom [junior] and Eliza, eight children, Uncle Tom [senior], cook, governess, nursemaid, parlourmaid, housemaid and dairy maids.' (Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 12.) (25) This is the Raven Inn, Garnant, still open for trade. The coal mine, now long closed, was also called the Raven Colliery. (Information supplied by Dr Huw Walters.) (26) 'Richard Janion Nevill was the manager and joint owner of the Llanelli copper works. He inherited his trade from his father who ran a copper works in Birmingham before migrating to Swansea to take charge of a smelting house there. Copper smelting required coal and copper ore, and in 1805 the Nevills had established a partnership to process Cornish ore using Welsh coal, with the ore shipped direct from Cornwall to the port of Llanelli. A factory was erected on a site to the south of Llanelli, with a chimney three hundred and twenty feet tall to dispose of the noxious copper smoke, and the Llanelli Copperworks dock was opened. By 1843, the Llanelli Copper company owned about a dozen small ships and operated at least six small collieries to meet its need for coal. It maintained warehouses in Birmingham, Bristol and London to store bars, ingots and sheet copper for sale, and further supplies were maintained in seaports for the sheathing of wooden ships. While originally its copper ore came from Cornwall, it soon drew supplies from North Wales and Ireland and from 1843 when the harbour was improved to accommodate larger ships it imported increasing quantities from further afield Spain, Newfoundland, Cuba and Chile.' (Note by Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 15.) (27) By coincidence, someone else descended into the speleological murk of Llygad Llwchwr just one week after Melville Lawford, leaving us a much more detailed description: 'May 1, 1843: Went at 6 p.m. together with Dd. Davies, Peter Jenkins, Philip Griffiths and Wm. Williams 'Rose and Crown' to see the Llygad Llwchwr Cave. The entrance is about 10 ft above where the river leaves the rock. We entered at 8 p.m., the entrance is narrow and rather dangerous. After proceeding 51 ft. I tied the end of a ball of twine to a stalactite pillar, there being so many windings and passages. We then proceeded to a stalactite pillar 5 ft. long from the floor to the roof and 3 ft. in circumference. Each having a candle we passed through several narrow passages 'til we came to the river. The cave here is about 30ft. from the water to the roof, the river is about 15 ft. wide. Not being able to proceed further we returned after having gone through all the different passages that I could find. We came out at 1 a.m. The distance from the entrance to the water is 567 ft. Arrived home at 3 a.m.' (The Diary of Thomas Jenkins of Llandeilo, 1826 - 1870, ed. D. C. Jenkins, 1976; entry for May 1st 1843.)
....Thomas Jenkins made other explorations of the cave: 'Sep 12, 1843: Went to Llygad Llwchwr Cave with B. Morgan, E.J. and W. Griffiths, Wm. Jones and Wm. Davies. Having taken a rope ladder with us we entered at 9 a.m. and having crossed the river inside we discovered two branches where no human being had been before. In one there is a plank of stalactite extending from the roof to the floor, which, when struck with a hammer, emits as a fine and loud a noise as one of the largest bells in Llandeilo steeple, from which we christened it the Bell Cavern. Came out at 3 p.m. and took tea near the entrance. Arrived home at 7 p.m. highly gratified with our day's discovery July 14 1848: Went to Llygad Llwchwr Cave together with the Revd. John Lewis, Messrs. D. Lewis, R. W. Lewis, H. Bundy and J. Roberts. Left coracle inside. Entered 10 a.m. Out 4 p.m. Thermometer in shade outside 68 deg. Water 49 deg. Quantity of water discharged per minute 450 ft 28,325 lbs 12 tons 11 cwts. 12 lb 45 hogsheads. Holywell discharges 84 hogsheads per minute.' (Thomas Jenkins, ibid.)
....In recent years the cave has been sealed due to several deaths from drowning, thus ending its long history as a tourist attraction (and death trap).
(28) 'The Pigot's Directory of 1823 lists just one Stroud the agent for insurers Norwich Union. Slater's Directory for 1859 lists two, one of them a member of the Gentry and Clergy named Captain Stroud. Slater's commercial Stroud is still agent for Norwich Union, but his roles have multiplied and he presents himself as a nineteenth century Mr Fixit (and is therefore preferred candidate). In 1859 George Turton Stroud was an insurance agent, accountant, auctioneer and appraiser, gunpowder agent and Deputy Vice Consul for the Netherlands (as well as Secretary to the Infirmary & Public Baths, Sea Beach). This curious combination would have provided a breadth of knowledge ideal for a tour guide.' (Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 15.) (29) 'Melville pronounced the inn "a nice hotel", but some twelve years earlier it had been the site of an unpleasant not to say bloody confrontation between the army and rioting workers from the local ironworks ... It is thought that twenty-four rioters were killed. For several days Merthyr was in a state of siege but then the authorities regained control. Subsequently two of the supposed ringleaders were arrested and one Dic Penderyn was sentenced to death. Joseph Tregelles Price was convinced of his innocence and launched a campaign to save his life. Apparently he won over the trial judge but the Home Secretary Lord Melbourne would not be moved and Penderyn was executed.' (Note by Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 16) (30) 'Merthyr Tydfil was the capital of Welsh iron production at a time when about forty percent of Britain's iron output was produced in South Wales. It had grown to be the largest town in Wales as its booming smelting industry sucked in outsiders from England, Ireland and the rest of Wales and boosted its population from 7,000 in 1801 to 64,000 by 1851. There were four large ironworks in Merthyr, with forty furnaces between them, and the Crawshay's Cyfarthfa works was the largest of them all. The Crawshays had taken over the Bacon family's ironworks in the late eighteenth century and expanded production to the extent that by 1803 their workforce numbered fifteen hundred and they could claim to be the largest iron works in the world. Cyfarthfa's production volumes reached their peak near the time of Melville's visit.' (Note by Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 16.) (31) 'The Neath Abbey Works originated at the end of the eighteenth century. In 1792 the Quaker families of Fox, Price and Tregelles founded an ironworks near the ruins of Neath Abbey with the aim of producing pig iron for their Cornish foundry. They diversified their activities over the years and by 1818, when Joseph Tregelles Price took over as manager, the company was producing machine parts and complete steam engines as well as iron. Under Joseph's stewardship the company developed into a world-class producer of marine steam engines, railway locomotives, and steam power units for the mining and metal production industries, with exports to France, Spain and South America. By 1833 there were about four hundred employees and the works consisted of two blast furnaces, an iron foundry for casting engine parts and milling, and the engine "manufactory". Engineers who trained at their works later established businesses in the Neath area, and their alumni included such eminent men as Benjamin Baker, who worked as chief designer on the Forth railway bridge, and David Thomas, who developed the first anthracite-fuelled furnace.' (Note by Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 16.) (32) 'The Brown Lenox business was founded at the turn of the century by a former naval officer. Returning from service in the Napoleonic wars, Captain Samuel Brown persuaded the Admiralty of the superiority of iron chain cables over hemp and established himself as supplier of patent cables to the Royal Navy. He formed a partnership with his cousin Samuel Lenox in 1808 and they set up their first centre of production in Millwall. The Newbridge works followed in 1818, and the Brown Lennox company name was adopted in 1823. Apart from supplying marine products to customers like the Royal Navy and the East India Company, Brown designed chains for suspension bridges and he built the first road-carrying suspension bridge in the country at Berwick-on-Tweed. Both the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Hammersmith Bridge in London were built with his chains, and Melville did at least include a picture of the former in his diary. For lsambard Kingdom Brunel, whose Great Eastern needed the largest chain cable yet made, there was only one possible supplier and he later observed that Brown Lenox 'were not the cheapest, but the best.' (Note by Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 18.) (33) 'The Pentyrch ironworks of Thomas William Booker MP.' (Note by Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 18) (34) 'It seems likely that they spent the night as guests of the Second Marquess, John Crichton-Stuart. The house was Cardiff Castle, which had been acquired by the First Marquess in 1766.' (Note by Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 18.) (35) Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 24. (36) Pat Molloy, And They Blessed Rebecca: An account of the Welsh Toll-gate Riots, 1839-1844, 1983, p. 127. (37) Pat Molloy, ibid., p. 228 ff. (38) Pat Molloy, ibid., p. 241 ff. (39) Pat Molloy, ibid., p. 156. (40) Nigel Lawford, ibid., p. 23. (41) Pat Molloy, ibid., p. 52. (42) Nigel Lawford, ibid., pp. 11-12. 'After joining the Indian Army in 1846 Melville returned to England on medical certificate in 1848 and it is likely that the portrait was painted in the next year or so in England.' (Nigel Lawford, correspondence, 6th Sept 2004.)
Date this page last updated: October 1, 2010