RHUTHUN LOCAL HISTORY BROADSHEET Issue No 43 September 1995
FROM WAR TO PEACE
The defeat of Nazi Germany brought the prospect of transferring our armies from Europe to the Far East and all the effort that would have required. Europe was ruined and Britain was battle-weary. This was suddenly changed by the dropping of two bombs. It was quite a shock - nobody expected peace so soon.
King George VI spoke over the radio and asked for nation-wide prayers of thanksgiving. Special services were held at St. Peter's Church on Sunday, 19th August. The Warden, the Rev J.E. Rowland, officiated in the morning and delivered an appropriate address with a collection being taken for the "Aid to China fund". In the afternoon, there was a United Service on the Square involving all denominations. The evening service was addressed by the Rev. Prys Darbyshire Roberts, priest in charge of Llanfwrog.
The parishioners also attended a special service at St. Peter's on Wednesday, 15th August, the first of the V.J. Days and the congregation included a group of Sea Scouts from Wayertree, Liverpool, who were camping in the district. The Warden again conducted the service and one of the lessons was read by the Rev. W. Watt. Vicar of All Saints Church, Wavertree, who was also the Group Scout Leader of the visiting Sea Scouts.
Victory dances were held on the Square on the Thursday and Saturday evenings, the first two hours for children followed by the adults until rather later. Music was supplied by the Metros Dance Band, conducted by Mrs. Morris and compered by Mr. Jack Foster. The scene was most joyous and colourful.
A Victory Flower Show was held in the Ruthin Town Hall on Thursday. 30th August followed in the evening by a dance. Also, that afternoon, the local children participated in sports and tea on the Recreation Ground. Lon Parcwr.
Ruthin was beginning to relax! Street lighting returned and the Curfew Bell tolled again. The Council resolved: "The annual sum of £10 to be paid as before." The bell was rung at 8 p.m., ending with the tolling of the day of the month. Members of the disbanded Home Guard were invited to apply for service medals. Normality was dawning. Over the next months, the boys began to return and 'Welcome Home Committees' planned local celebrations and events to raise funds to provide a gift for each. Churches and chapels organised ‘Welcome Home’ suppers and other events but there were more serious issues to be addressed, - housing, for example.
The Town Council purchased a green-field site, now Parc-y-Dre, on which to erect 50 prefabs and a further 84 permanent houses as phase two. By the summer of 1946, the first prefabs were ready for occupation. The modernity of these houses created something of a sensation, and one was furnished and specially opened for inspection by the general public.
The almost impromptu celebrations of August 1945 were by no means the last. A series of special events would be held from 7th - 12th June. 1946. On Saturday, 8th June, a merry peal of the bells of St. Peter's called the townsfolk to the Square for another service, which was conducted by the Mayor's (Councillor TJ Dobie) Chaplain, the Rev. Henry W. Jones, M.A., M.C., of Llanfwrog, who had himself served in the two World Wars with distinction. By night, the Square was brilliantly illuminated with coloured lights and the trees in Church Walks were floodlit. An enormous illuminated "V" for Victory adorned the frontage of the Castle Hotel. There were sports on the Castle Park fields, where 600 excited children were fed and watered with minerals supplied by the Cambrian Mineral Water Co., Park Road.
Further dancing on the Square was arranged for both children and "hundreds of adults" - modern on the Square and Old Time in the Town Hall. There was also a firework display in Castle Park, managed by Mr. R.E. Butland and Mr. R.C. Price.
Over the next few days, community singing on the Square was conducted by Mr. Gwilym Hughes of Porth-y-Dre, accompanied by Miss Kitty Price on the piano. A Victory Whist Drive was held and 100 girls of Brynhyfryd School (yet to be so named)
provided a display. Each schoolchild was presented with a Victory Card with a message signed by His Majesty King George VI.
Finally, on 19th September, there was an official "Welcome Home" ceremony at the Town Hall, when each ex-serviceman received a souvenir wallet containing £6. Thus ended the trauma of war, but another question remained. Could we win the Peace?
IN FAR AWAY PLACES
by P. D. Randall
In the burial ground on the north side of St. Meugan's Church, Llanrhudd, are to be seen a number of interesting memorials to members of Ruthin families.
"..Stephen Nicholls, 3rd son/ of Robert Nicholls, Surgeon, Ruthin/ 35 yrs Royal Denbigh Militia/ under command of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Bart.,/born 21st Oct. 1776. Died 22nd March 1832. Age 56..."
Nicholls enlisted in the regiment in 1797 at the age of 21 years, was promoted Ensign on 25th December 1799; First Lieutenant on 25th May 1803; Captain on 4th July 1809; placed on half-pay in 1814, and was still drawing pay in 1825. All his service was spent as Surgeon to the regiment and, at various times, he acted as Regimental Paymaster and Adjutant. Other members of the family also appeared to have served in the regiment. Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. Bart, M.P., was Colonel of the Regiment from 1797 until his death on 5th January 1840.
In a Trade Directory of 1840, there appears a Robert Nicholls, Coroner and Jail Surgeon, and a Robert Nicholls, Junior, Surgeon, both partners in the firm of Nicholls and Arnot, Surgeons, Castle Street. Ruthin. Robert Nicholls, Junior, died in 1847, aged 45 years, whose gravestone is also to be found in the same burial ground.
"...Thomas Joyce/ son of Robert and Ann Joyce of Ruthin/ who died at Melbourne, Australia/ 4th February 1837 aged 26 years..."
Thomas Joyce was buried in the year that Melbourne was founded - 1837. The city grew due to the rush of immigrants following the discovery of gold at nearby Ballarat in 1851. Melbourne became the state capital in 1901.
"Underneath," lie the remains of Elizabeth Roberts/ relict of Robert Roberts/ late of Hobart Town/ Tasmania/ who died at Ruthin on the 18th day of August/ 1864. Aged 59."
As a British penal settlement, Tasmania was first administered as part of New South Wales but in 1825 it became a separate colony. In 1853, with the transportation of convicts abolished. the colony was renamed 'Tasmania'. Hobart was named the state capital on its foundation in 1804.
The previous two gravestones record persons from Ruthin who were early settlers "down under" and saw the evolution of two of its now great cities.
"...Edith Percy, Daughter of the above/ wife of Captain Watson/ died at Calcutta. Oct. 1st. 1899/ aged 56/ also R.G. Joyce, killed in action at the Relief of Ladysmith Feb. 24th 1900, Aged 36..."
Two members of a Ruthin family lie buried in foreign fields. Mrs. Watson, no doubt, enjoyed the high life of an army officer's wife during the Victorian period of the British Raj in India.
Any further information on the above persons or their families would he appreciated.
Unfortunately, R.G. Joyce was killed only four days before Ladysmith was relieved on 28th February 1900. Lord Dundonald of Gwrych Castle, Abergele, entered Ladysmith with his cavalry, the town having been besieged by the Boers for 184 days. To commemorate the part played by Lord Dundonald, the people of Abergele presented him with an illuminated address of welcome home, together with a sword of honour costing about £100, at a ceremony on 30th November 1900. The presentation of the sword was made by Colonel William Cornwallis-West of Ruthin Castle, who was then Lord Lieutenant for Denbighshire, a position he held for 54 years. Colonel Cornwallis-West was buried on 17th July, 1917, at the age of 82 in the lower burial ground of St. Peter's Church. Ruthin. His gravestone is facing south looking towards Ruthin Castle, and not to the east as is usual for Christian burial.
"Ivan Luci/ native of BOAC/ Philippine Island' Died 27 August 1899/ aged 28 years/ Faithful servant of F.E. Glazebrook."
Luci probably spoke Spanish as the Islands were under Spanish protection during the 19th century until they were handed to the U.S.A. by the Treaty of Paris of 1898. The Philippine Islands became an independent republic in 1946.
The Glazebrook family, until recently, owned Brynbella. Tremeirchion, and other members of the family now live at Pontruffydd Hall, Bodfari.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
A rare description of the conditions of life for the poor in the late eighteenth century is to be found in a work quoted in the Denbighshire Free Press of 23rd June 1923, entitled The State of the Poor; or An History of the Labouring Classes in England, by Sir Frederick Morton Eden, published in London in 1797. Statistics are cited relating to the parishes of Llanferras [sic] and Wrexham, the only Welsh parishes to be quoted.
After giving the dimensions of the parish, one half of which was described as being common or waste land, the population was estimated to be between 380 to 400 inhabitants, chiefly employed in the lead mines or in agriculture. Forty houses were eligible to pay window tax while 30 cottages were exempt.
The cost of food. and the wages of the labourers was quoted. Beef, mutton or veal cost from 3d. to 5d. a pound; wheat was 15s. for 84 lbs; barley, 7s. for 42 quarts; oats, 4s. per 42 quarts; and potatoes, 2s. per 42 quarts 'heaped'. Labourers were paid 1s 2d. per day from Michaelmas to Lady Day; 1s.4d. from Lady Day to Midsummer; 1s 6d. from Midsummer to Lady [Michaelmas?] Day. During the harvest, men were paid between ls 6d. to 3s per day. Miners were said to earn a fairly constant 2s. to 3s. per day.
The largest farm in the parish was of 180 acres and the smallest was of 10 acres. Rents, though the land was of indifferent quality, were high, from 18s. to 25s per acre. The major crops were barley and oats, although some wheat was grown. Some pease [sic] were also grown and potatoes were becoming popular. Farmers supplemented their incomes by carrying lead ore and were dependent upon this source of income from which to pay their rents.
There was no workhouse in the parish and the author considered that in such a small parish, the poor would not benefit from such provision.
Thus, the impoverished were supported by a weekly stipend from the parish, although the amount is not stated. Their rents were also paid and a supply of coal provided. Income from the local poor rate amounted to £1013 and the expenditure amounted to £710. In 1776, the average rate was 2s. in the £, the lowest being 9d. In 1795, the highest rate was 3s.4d. in the £. The difference between the income from the poor rate and the expenditure on the poor was accounted for by the fact that the county rate was paid out of this fund. The county was said to require a considerable annual sum as there were so many bridges.
Before 1768, no poor rate was collected. Collections were made at the church for any parishioners in distress. Sometimes such unfortunates were given 2s or 3s. from the church rate to tide them over until Sunday's collection became available. Only two instances were recorded in the books. In 1719, the whole expenditure on the poor amounted to 5s. and in 1740, only 2s.6d. For ten years after its introduction, the Poor Rate did not exceed 1s. in the £, but in 1770 a heavy county rate brought it up to 2s. Assessments were based on the land tax.
Lawyers did not wax very fat upon parochial litigation originating in Llanferres. Over 115 years, it was stated that lawyers were not paid more than £20.
Friendly Societies were then in decline. Some 3 or 4 such societies had recently been dissolved because they had been defrauded of their funds. Others had fallen into disrepute as a result of political involvements.
This property is delightfully situated in the parish of Llanrhydd on the fringes of the Borough. One of the Borough boundary stones (No: 10) stands at the entrance to the farm. The earliest known owners were of the Croxton family and not a lot is known about them. Simon and Katherine Croxton's daughter Jane, co-heir of Merllyn, became second wife to Godfrey Goodman [d: 1587]. Godfrey was Chapter Clerk of Westminster, no doubt with the assistance of his older brother the famous Dean of Westminster, Gabriel Goodman.
Thus, Merllyn passed into the Goodman family. This became an important branch of the family and their descendants achieved distinction. One son, Gabriel, became a lawyer of Lincoln's Inn and Prothonotary for North Wales, while their second son was the ill-fated Godfrey [d: 19/1/1655], Bishop of Gloucester and another most generous benefactor of Ruthin. It was the Bishop's Llanberis estates that were the source of the wealth of the Ruthin Hospital Charities.
It would seem that the extensive Goodman estate at some stage divided into at least two parts, with the Merllyn portion devolving to Gabriel Goodman [d: 1641] and another to Jane Goodman [1638-1719], who married Meredith Wynne of Coed Coch, Abergele, and who thereby acquired that part of the Goodman estate, which included Nantclwyd House in Castle Street. (Later research reveals no Goodman ownership of Nantclwyd y Dre)
Gabriel had married Jane Saunders of Plas Issa, Abenbury in the Wrexham area and thereby acquired property in both Wrexham town and district. Merllyn, therefore became part of this rather widespread estate. Merllyn passed like a parcel from one family to another as a result of successive marriages. Gabriel's daughter and heiress (also heiress at law to Bishop Godfrey), Mary, married Owain Salisbury of Rug, the great genealogist. Their second daughter, Margaret, married a Richard Tracy who, seems to have gained the Abenbury/Merllyn estate at least for his lifetime. After this, by 1746, it would appear to have reverted to Margaret's sister, Elizabeth, who had married a Rowland Pughe of Mathafarn, Montgomeryshire, a Doctor of Physick [sic] [Will dated 3rdDecember 1724]. The property passed to their daughter Maria Charlotte [d: 26/8/1780], heiress of Mathafarn and Rug. The estates were then inherited by her kinsman Edward Williames Vaughan Salusbury and went eventually into the possession of Lord Newborough.
A tenant of Merllyn and other property in Ruthin towards the end of the 18th century was Robert Nicholls. Surgeon of Ruthin. It seems that Nicholls resided at Nantclwyd House, Castle Street.
The home of the Croxtons and Goodmans still exists though it is unoccupied and has been replaced by a modern dwelling house for the present family. The old house is partly boarded-up and used for farm storage.
Acknowledgements: Powys Fadog. Vol. II, p.121 Clwyd Record Office, Ruthin: Cefn Park Estate MSS. Newborough (''Estate Archives (Rug Section). Gwynedd Archives Service. A.N. Palmer: "A History of the Country Townships of the Old Parish of Wrexham" Hughes & Son, Wrexham 1903.