Profits in their own Country

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).

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Hynt a Hanes Llawysgrif Gyfreithiol

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

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The Golden Treasurer: F. T. Palgrave

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?

The First Welsh Missionary among the Khasis

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.

Lloyd George at Paris, 1938

In September 1936, Lloyd George paid two visits, which were soon to become infamous, to the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler at his mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps. Before the end of the same year, and indeed into January 1937, he spent an extended vacation at Jamaica where he remained, increasingly frustrated, as the abdication crisis dramatically unfolded in Great Britain.

Between these events and the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 was a notably crowded period internationally. For Lloyd George personally, two important events took place. The first was the family celebration of their golden wedding at Antibes in the south of France on 24 January, 1938.1 The second was a brief, but widely reported, visit to Paris in March, 1938, where he conducted a series of important meetings with several prominent French government ministers. These included Monsieur Léon Blum, who was then serving very briefly as Prime Minister of France for the second time; Monsieur Herriot, the President of the French Chamber; and Monsieur Joseph Paul-Boncour, the Foreign Secretary. He also met representatives of the right led by Monsieur Paul Reynaud (who was later to become Prime Minister of France himself), Monsieur Pierre Cot, the Minister of Commerce, representatives of the French trades union movement, and also a few prominent academics, writers and journalists. Lloyd George’s main purpose in conducting these interviews was to persuade the French government to lend assistance to the Republican Government in Spain against the forces led by General Franco.2

Crime, the Welsh and the Old Bailey

On 6 April 1752, between the hours of one and two in the morning, George Basset, with his accomplice, George Hall, broke into and entered the dwelling house of Samuel Sumpshon and stole forty-six handkerchiefs to the value of seven pounds. Both were found guilty of burglary and sentenced to death.1

This case is just one of numerous examples of burglary that occurred in London, and were heard and indicted at the Old Bailey in the mid-eighteenth century. But what is of significance, especially to this study, is that George Basset was a ‘London- Welsh’. George Basset, aged twenty-one, a needle-maker apprentice in the city, ‘was born in the Parish of St. James’s Clerkenwell, of industrious poor Parents; and he had his Education in the School upon Clerkenwell-Green, commonly called the Welch School’. However, although being given a good education at the London- Welsh Charity School, ‘he was too early initiated into bad Company’ and soon became:

…a very wicked Youth, Swearing, Profaneness, and Sabbath- breaking, being Vices he was too early, and too much addicted to… He was a Pick-pocket almost from his Cradle, and never expected any other Fate, but to be hanged. Though he never was before detected, yet he had often industriously deserv’d Punishment, and could not but own the Justice of his Sentence… He says, he had always an Itch at Thieving, and tho’ he never went any further than picking a Pocket, or some little low Piece of Thievery, he confessed he had been a very wicked Youth.

The Counterfactual Case for Sir George Cornewall Lewis

After many decades of neglect and obscurity, even in his home county of Radnorshire, it appears that the name of the late George Cornewall Lewis is beginning to emerge into the light of a wider public awareness.1 For many a decade it might well have been wondered how many denizens of New Radnor, a few miles along what is now the A44 from Lewis’s seat at Harpton Court, were knowledgeable about the grand monument in the Gothick ‘Eleanor Cross’ style at the approaches of their township dedicated to Lewis’s memory and inaugurated in 1864 as the tribute from Radnorshire ‘To her most distinguished Son’. Parishioners at the splendid parish church on the other side of Harpton, at Old Radnor, where he rests among the Lewises in the crypt, could hardly fail to mark the monumental marble slabs at the west end of the nave proclaiming the merits both of the father, Thomas Frankland Lewis, first Baronet, and the son, George Cornewall Lewis, second Baronet, distinguished as Chancellor of the Exchequer 1855–58, Secretary of State at the Home Office 1859–61, and Secretary of State at the War Office 1861–63. That exalted degree of public eminence, then and since, has never been commonplace in poor, sequestered little Radnorshire. Citizens of Hereford might perhaps be excused for making little of the larger-than-life bronze statue of Lewis, an MP for the county 1847–52, erected in front of their shire hall. And visitors to Westminster Abbey could hardly be expected to notice particularly the bust set up among so many in the North Transept depicting the ‘massy’ features described by Disraeli as ‘antique but not classical’. Lewis fairly takes his place in both the original Dictionary of National Biography, and its replacement, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.2 Yet a feeling persists that he deserves better in public memory.

Alfred Zimmern’s Brave New World


‘The tents have been struck and the great caravan of humanity is once more on the move.’ ‘We are making the world safe for democracy.’ Thus General Smuts and President Woodrow Wilson on the new post-war outlook in 1919.1

There was an apocalyptic mood, symbolised by the creation of the Woodrow Wilson chair of International Politics in the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1919, the first such university chair anywhere in the world. It shows vividly how the optimism and brave new world idealism of the immediate post-war period focussed on the creation of the new League of Nations at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. The naming of the chair after Wilson reflected the fact that the idea of a League of Nations was in practice very much an Anglo-American one. Wilson had developed the idea during the war – the League provided the climax of his famous Fourteen Points. He regarded it as the pivotal aspect of the Peace Treaty signed at Versailles, and got his close friend and confidant, Colonel House, to work out a detailed scheme.2 At the peace conference at Paris that spring and summer, it was widely noted that Wilson seemed prepared to make concessions on other matters – the composition of Czechoslovakia and Poland, even German reparations – in order that his cherished idea of the League could come about.

Devolution and Broadcasting

I am deeply grateful to the Cymmrodorion for this opportunity to address the Honourable Society for the second time in less than a decade, and this time for an opportunity to do so in Cardiff. I am equally delighted that the Institute of Welsh Affairs has been able to support the event. I also confess to a small frisson at being allowed to speak in this chamber – modest when compared with its successor, but uniquely historic.

It was in March 2001 that I first addressed the Cymmrodorion on the subject of communications in a devolved Wales. At that time the National Assembly was less than two years old, and its first Culture Minister had been in post for less than six months. I outlined the immediate benefits that had accrued to broadcasting as a result of devolution – substantial increases in BBC Wales funding for its own services, and a sharp reduction in the money paid by ITV in Wales to the Treasury – but I suggested and I quote –

The Authorship of Drych Cydwybod [?1616]

In 2009, in the Transactions, I described the discovery, in the Mazarine Library in Paris, of a unique copy of an early seventeenth-century Welsh book called Drych Cydwybod (A Mirror of Conscience). The book is anonymous and undated and all that could be discovered from the book itself was that it seemed to have been printed in Douai and that the copy now in the Mazarine had originally belonged to Robert Owen, a Welsh priest from Plas Du, Caernarvonshire, who had been a canon in Le Mans and is recorded as having died there, a very old man, in November 1629.1 It is now possible to suggest, in a tentative way, the identity of the original text from which Drych Cydwybod was translated or adapted into Welsh and, more excitingly, the identity of the Welsh author.

The obscurity of the original work from which Drych Cydwybod is derived is mainly due to two factors. First of all the Welsh text appears to be more in the way of an adaptation than a translation and this is quite unusual in a genre where textual fidelity is an important element in the dissemination of doctrinal truth. Printing itself was recognised as a process in which error could be introduced and disseminated, which is why Pope Leo X (r. 1513–21) introduced a licensing system for printed books, announced in 1515.2 So the free adaptation of the source text of Drych Cydwybod is perhaps surprising but it was, nevertheless, printed with diocesan approval, as indicated by the licensing phrase ‘Permissu Superiorum’ on the title page. This approval must be presumed to have been granted to a person of good standing who was in a position to apply for it and to vouch for the contents of a book which could not be read by the local ecclesiastical authorities. This strongly suggests Robert Owen, who owned the only surviving copy of the book, had personal connections with the college in Douai, the town where it was probably printed, and held a diocesan position in France as assistant to the politically powerful Bishop of Le Mans, Claude d’Angennes.3 The other thing which obscured the source text is that the title of the Welsh book is descriptive of its contents but it is not a translation of the title of the book on which it seems to be based. The title page material in the Welsh book appears to be original so it may have been supplied, together with the prefaces and other introductory matter which make up the whole of the first gathering, by the person who saw it through the press in France. But this meant that an extensive search for the source text in books whose titles contained the words ‘speculum’ or ‘mirror’ or ‘conscience’ proved fruitless.

Believer or Atheist? – The Priest/Poet R. S. Thomas

The title of this lecture, ‘Believer or Atheist? – The Priest/Poet R. S. Thomas’, sounds a shocking one for an Archbishop, in whose church R. S. Thomas served as a priest for his whole ministry. I have chosen it because R. S. Thomas has been accused by many of not believing in God because of some of the things he said and some of the poetry he wrote. John Barnie, the editor of Planet, calls him an atheist manqué.1

Adar Cymraeg mewn Coedwig Americanaidd

Mae Llenyddiaeth Gymraeg America yn faes academaidd newydd ac felly nid ar chwarae bach y mentrir diffinio’r agweddau creiddiol arno ac ateb y cwestiynau sy’n ganolog iddo. Rwyf wedi bod yn ymgodymu ag un o’r cwestiynau hyn ers nifer o flynyddoedd bellach, sef: i ba raddau y gellid sôn am lenyddiaeth Gymraeg America fel maes neu bwnc ar wahân i lenyddiaeth Gymraeg Cymru? Credaf fod mwy nag un ateb a bod yr atebion hynny i’w canfod yn y dystiolaeth gynradd ei hun. Mae’n bosibl y dylid aralleirio’r cwestiwn hwn a gofyn: i ba raddau yr oedd beirdd, llenorion, beirniaid, golygyddion a darllenwyr Cymraeg America yn credu’u bod yn perthyn i ddiwylliant llenyddol Cymraeg Americanaidd? Rwyf wedi awgrymu bod y dystiolaeth yn caniatáu i ni gasglu bod o leiaf rai Cymry Americanaidd yn synio am lenyddiaeth Gymraeg yr Unol Daleithiau yn y modd hwnnw cyn diwedd y 1850au.1

Bid a fo am arwyddocâd cymdeithasau Cymraeg, Eisteddfodau a gweithgareddau eraill sy’n tystio i dwf diwylliant llenyddol Cymraeg America, mae’n rhaid mai datblygiad gwasg gyfnodol Gymraeg yr Unol Daleithiau yw’r ffactor mwyaf allweddol. Os oedd y wasg gyfnodol yn ganolog i ddiwylliant llenyddol Cymru’r bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg, roedd hyd yn oed yn bwysicach yn y Gymru Americanaidd newydd gyda chymunedau Cymraeg wedi’u gwasgaru ar draws y cyfandir mawr hwnnw.

The Mansion of Owain’s Grave

The disappearance of Owain Glyn D ̆r in 1415 is probably the most celebrated unsolved mystery in the history of Wales. His revolt against the English crown and his struggle to establish an independent Welsh state with its own native prince, language, government, church and universities is well documented. R. R. Davies’ comprehensive study of Owain in his historical context, The Revolt of Owain Glyn D ̆r (1995),1 is a magnificent sequel to Sir John Lloyd’s seminal book of 1931.2 However, when it comes to the death of Owain and the location of his final resting place there is practically no reliable contemporary documentary evidence.

The most popular account tells how Owain became a fugitive and eventually took refuge with his daughter at Monnington Straddel where he died and is buried.3 This account is given some credibility because his daughter, Alice, did indeed marry John Scudamore and live at Monnington,4 although this place has been confused with Monnington-on-Wye, a different village.5 Other places claimed as the burial ground include Valle Crucis Abbey, the ancestral burial place of Owain’s family, Bangor Cathedral, and numerous others. Sadly, it seems that no-one can provide incontrovertible documentary evidence for any of these places. A study of the sources published by J. R. S. Phillips in 1972 includes previously unconsidered fifteenth-century Welsh manuscripts in the National Library of Wales and the Bodleian Library.6 These, quite independently of each other, record a tradition of very early date that Owain Glyn D ̆r died in September 1415, and the study concludes, ‘there seems to be no evidence to make such a date impossible’.7 Indeed, this is concordant with the offer of a royal pardon to Owain in July 14158 and a similar offer made to Owain’s son, Meredudd, in February 1416 which, significantly, makes no mention of Owain.9 Furthermore, from internal evidence it can be deduced that one of the manuscripts (Peniarth MS 26) was written in the area around Oswestry, Owain’s home district. But no mention is made of his burial.10

The Machinery of Justice in a Changing Wales

In recent years, immense changes have taken place in the machinery of government in Wales as a part of the process of devolution. Public attention has concentrated principally on the executive and legislative powers which have been transferred to new Welsh institutions under the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the Government of Wales Act 2006.1 However, the Report of the All Wales Convention chaired by Sir Emyr Jones Parry draws attention to another aspect of devolution, observing that ‘as devolution progresses, full account must be taken of the role and standing of the judiciary in Wales’.2 In this article, I propose to survey the present state of the judicial branch of government in Wales and to consider the extent to which it is adapting to meet the needs of a devolved Wales.3