Richard Burton (born Richard Jenkins, Pontrhydyfen, Glamorgan, 1925; died Celigny, Switzerland, 1984) is one of the most famous Welshmen of the twentieth century, whose global renown (or notoreity, depending on your point of view) is perhaps only exceeded by that of the equally colourful Dylan Thomas. Following on the publication of the Richard Burton Diaries (Yale University Press, 2012) this lecture by the Diaries’ editor examines the relationship between Richard Burton and Wales. Burton was a proud Welshman who is reputed always to have worn an item of red clothing and to have had a clause in his film contracts excusing him from working on St David’s Day. But what was the real nature of Burton’s relationship with and understanding of Wales? Was he, in more ways than one, a ‘stage Welshman’, with the necessarily distanced and inflexible patriotism of the exile? Drawing on his own words this lecture will explore the interweaving of both hwyl and hiraeth in the life and career of one of modern Wales’s most iconic figures.
About the speaker: Professor Chris Williams
Chris Williams is Professor of Welsh History at Swansea University and Director of the university’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities. Educated at Balliol College, Oxford and at Cardiff University he previously held posts at Cardiff and the University of Glamorgan before joining Swansea in 2005. A specialist in the modern history of industrial South Wales he has written(amongst other topics) on the miners and the political history of the South Wales coalfield, on the utopian industrialist Robert Owen and on Wales and the First World War. His edition of the diaries of the actor Richard Burton is published by Yale University Press in November 2012. Chris is also a Royal Commissioner with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Chairman of the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative and was historical adviser for the BBC / Open University television series ‘The Story of Wales’ (2012).
Until recently, almost everything written about the society created by the Welsh coal boom has focused on the workers and the unions. This talk will attempt to redress the balance a little, by examining the nature of the middle-class society created by the entrepreneurs – not only the coalowners, but also the railway contractors, the builders, the land speculators, the professionals, the shopkeepers and the wide variety of people, from far and wide, who had been attracted to the rich pickings in the Valleys. These entrepreneurs (in contrast to the iron and copper pioneers who had preceded them) were predominantly Welsh. By taking a number of specific examples of people and events, we will see something of the changing nature of that society, from the tough first-generation pioneers to the second-generation operators and their complicated networks of power and influence. It all ends with the ‘rush to the sea’ – to the towns on the coast – as the boom came to an end.
Professor Richard Griffiths
Richard Griffiths is Emeritus Professor of French, King’s College London. Born in Barry, Glamorgan, he was educated at Lancing College and King’s College, Cambridge. He has held Fellowships at Selwyn College Cambridge and Brasenose College Oxford, and Chairs and Headships of Department at University College Cardiff and King’s College London, and has published widely on French and British literature and political history. He has also served on the Welsh Arts Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the General Advisory Council of the BBC. Now living in Penarth in his retirement, he has turned to Welsh history, and recently published The Entrepreneurial Society of the Rhondda Valleys 1840-1920 (University of Wales Press 2010).
The paper will look at the history of one particular manuscript of medieval Welsh law, or Cyfraith Hywel: Peniarth 259B. Following an introduction to medieval Welsh law and manuscript production, the discussion will turn to an interesting note found in the manuscript which appears to link it with Pontefract. In order to explore this matter further, attention will be given to Pontefract castle, imprisonment in the middle ages, monks and monastic libraries, war and hostages, and end with a summary of what may have happened to this manuscript and why.
About the speaker: Dr Sara Elin Roberts
Dr Sara Elin Roberts is a legal historian whose work on medieval Welsh law is a valuable and acknowledged contribution to the field.
Educated at Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni, Anglesey, she won the Richard Hughes Scholarship to study at the University of Wales, Bangor, where she achieved first class honours in Welsh and History. She won the J. B. Davies Scholarship to St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, where she gained an M.St. in Historical Research (Medieval): she studied under Professor R. R. Davies and Professor Thomas Charles-Edwards, concentrating on Welsh law and the law of the March. Funded by the AHRB, she undertook research for her doctorate in Celtic at Jesus College, Oxford, on the legal triads and fifteenth-century aspects of medieval Welsh law. University of Wales Press published her pioneering study of the legal triads in 2007,The Legal Triads of Medieval Wales. It was awarded the David Yale Prize by the Selden Society for a distinguished contribution to the study of the laws and legal institutions of England and Wales; and also the Hywel Dda Prize by the Board of Celtic Studies for her contribution to the field of Welsh law.
As a member of a number of academic societies, Sara Elin Roberts is regularly invited to give public lectures both in Britain and abroad on various aspects of medieval Welsh literature.
Her main interests are legal history, in particular later, fifteenth-century developments in medieval Welsh law and the training and learning of the medieval Welsh lawyer. She is also an authority on medieval Welsh poetry, in particular the work of Dafydd ap Gwilym, as the editor of the bardic debate for www.dafyddapgwilym.net.
Listen to an MP3 edition of a lecture by Martin Shipton (Chief Reporter of the Western Mail) given to the Society on 8 May 2012 at the Medical Society of London.
I first became acquainted with the name of Palgrave in 1950, when my brother Rhodri and I were invited ( with our parents) to be the only guests at the ninetieth birthday party of the Revd Howell Elvet Lewis ‘ Elfed’, at his home in Penarth, near Cardiff. Elfed’s career as a Congregational minister had begun in 1880 at Buckley, not far from Hawarden Castle in Flintshire, home of the Prime Minister, W. E. Gladstone, and Elfed’s first wife was the daughter of a tenant on the estate.
Naturally enough, conversation turned to Elfed’s acquaintance with Gladstone and his wife, and some of their guests at Hawarden, such as Lord Tennyson and Francis Turner Palgrave. Elfed himself impressed us with his five-year engagement diaries, in which he had already accepted preaching engagements stretching far into the future. In fact, he died in 1953, and Elfed’s widow, with great generosity, and in her husband’s memory, gave us as a present a splendid second edition of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury, signed by the editor himself, and enclosing a letter sent by him to Elfed in 1891 from Lyme Regis in Dorset, thanking him for a Welsh translation of one of Palgrave’s hymns, explaining that he could understand the translation, ‘a dictionary assisting’.1 But who exactly was Palgrave, and how had he come to learn Welsh?
India has been part of the psyche of the Welsh since the eighteenth century. Since the days of the hymn writer William Williams Pantycelyn we have been singing of ‘the large India’, and this in the 1830s proved an inevitable call to young men in Liverpool and Wales who responded to the proclamation of the gospel in India.
The London Missionary Society reluctantly refused to support their applications, but the most stubborn of them all was Thomas Jones (1810–1849) who belonged to Berriew in Montgomeryshire and the Liverpool Welsh. He refused to budge. With the support of a nucleus of Liverpool Welsh Calvinistic Methodists they formed their own Foreign Mission in 1840 and by the end of that year Thomas and his wife Anne Jones were on their way to the Khasi Hills in Assam. By 22 June 1841 they had arrived in Cherrapunji. To Thomas Jones goes the credit for many firsts in the Khasi Hills. He began the building of an everlasting edifice of modern Khasi society through his linguistic skills, his stamina and determination. Suffering from prejudice and his own intemperate spirit his final years were spent under a cloud. His death from malaria at the early age of thirty-eight in Calcutta however was a devastating loss to the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist missionary work on the Khasi Hills.