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RHUTHUN LOCAL HISTORY BROADSHEET                                                                          Issue No 49 March 1997


In the first decades of the last century, the organisation of the Anglican Church left much to be desired. Pluralism in the holding of benefices was rife. Bishop Sparke of Ely, for example, had an income of £30,000 from church endowments. This was shared with his son and son-in-law. Bishop Blomfield of London, a reforming bishop, resigned his multiple benefices for an annuity of £6,000 from Parliament.

It is said that the income to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was greater than the total clerical income for the whole of Europe. Clearly, this state of affairs could not be tolerated and gradually legislation was passed to reduce the greatest excesses. In 1836, the Whig government passed an Act forbidding a rector or vicar the income of more than two livings.

This move to reform continued. In 1859, the anomaly of the Deanery of Dyffryn Clwyd, an integral part of the See of Bangor, was addressed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Their first suggestion was that the jurisdiction of the Deanery be transferred to the diocese of St. Asaph, but that the all important patronage of the benefices he transferred to Llandaff. The Commissioners were an introverted Oxbridge group of clerics and probably saw this as an attempt to equate the income of the dioceses. What they ignored was the geographical and cultural differences inherent in their proposal.

Naturally, this was not overlooked here in the Vale. The Warden of Ruthin, the Rev. Buckley Owen Jones and the other clergy in the diocese were astounded at the proposal. Their fear and apprehension was that their preferment would be in the hands of a Bishop far removed from the diocese. Further, perhaps his own clergy might be appointed to some of the more lucrative livings here in the Vale. Enough to say, they rallied both clerical and secular support and on 4th August 1859, a meeting was held in the Town Hall at Ruthin. It was chaired by the Mayor, James Maurice of Plas Tirion, Well Street. He was a church warden, member of the Boards of the British School, Rhos Street, Borthyn School, chairman of the Board of Guardians, and confidant of the Wests of Ruthin Castle.

He opened with a rhetorical attack on the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He claimed that it was a matter of indifference to them whether the patronage of Dyffryn Clwyd should be given to Llandaff, Jerusalem or Brisbane. In a long speech, he went on to say that the Commissioners had ignored both the rights and sympathies of the people of the Vale. He pointed out that a clergyman might labour for many years in the Vale only to see the best livings go to a member of the cloth from South Wales. He pointed out that the colloquial Welsh of the south was very different to that of the north and would be cold comfort to a dying man who might only barely comprehend the words of the clergy from South Wales. He asked those present to sign the memorial to the Commissioners pressing for a change of heart. He pointed out that Lord Mostyn and Colonel Biddulph of Chirk Castle were against the proposal. He reassured the populace when he said that no doubt Sir Watkin and Mr. Mainwaring would be equally zealous in the cause of their county. Clearly, in that period of squirearchy, no one was going to sign a petition which did not have the support of the landed gentry.

The memorial had been drafted by the Rev. W. Williams of Llanychan and was addressed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England and Wales. In the verbose language of the nineteenth century, it reiterated the points made by Maurice, viz., the distance from Llandaff, the proximity of St. Asaph, and the language difference between north and south Wales.

Rev. W. Roberts from Llandyrnog spoke passionately about the irrationality of the decision. He praised the clergy for taking the stand over the proposal and concluded: "He was glad to see a more energetic feeling displayed by the ministers of the church for he was of the opinion that if more energy was used they might yet become the Church of Wales." The speech was made in 1859, some sixty years before this wish became politically viable.

The memorial was signed by the clergy, including the Rural Dean, and the laity present. Clearly, the objections were heeded by the Commissioners. Whether the memorial was a significant factor in the overturning of the decision is not known. However, the objections of Mostyn, Biddulph, Williams-Wynn and Mainwaring were probably too strong a lobby for the Commissioners to ignore.



REFERENCES: Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald, 13th August, 1859;                  Sir Llewelyn Woodward, The Age of Reform OUP, 1962.



The following is based upon notes gathered from the Denbighshire Free Press by the late R.H. Shingles.  By today, few shops seem to take the once traditional half-day early closing on Thursday afternoons.  Some seem to be open for six if not seven days per week while others prefer not to open at all on, say, Mondays, thereby making a good week-end break.

The practice of local shopkeepers early closing their establishments began in the mid-1800s. Prior to that, shops often kept open until late in the evenings, until 8 or 9 p.m. on Market Days and Fair Days. Then, in January 1888, an anonymous letter (not from a shop employee) appeared in the Free Press, viz., "…………… in most of the towns in north Wales the shops are closed once a week at 3 o'clock, thus giving those employed a few hours rest. Why is this not done in Denbigh? I am sure that shopkeepers would lose nothing by it whilst their employees would reap great benefit. In Denbigh, the shops are open two nights a week (Weds & Sats) till 9 or 10, while at Llangollen they are open on only one night a week till that time, the market day being Saturday. Yet in that town all shops are closed on Thursdays at 3 o'clock."

A month later, it was decided that shops in Ruthin should close at 8 p.m. on Fair Days and Market Days. There ensued a spate of correspondence. Moral issues were raised. One writer asked how many assistants and apprentices in Denbigh shops were prevented by the long hours from attending mission meetings at the castle, or the mission at the English chapel in Ruthin on Wednesday evenings, science classes at the grammar school or lectures on geology at the Town Hall on Friday evenings.
No-one was stirred or shaken by these moral issues for some eighteen months, but in Denbigh, early closing of shops at 4 p.m. on Thursdays began on 1st June, 1889. Ruthin shopkeepers followed this lead cautiously in the following March by deciding to close at 4 p.m. on Thursdays in the summer months. This led immediately to the formation of the Ruthin Cricket Club! Next year (1891), Ruthin unusually threw caution to the wind and decided to advance the early closing arrangement to 2 p.m. on Thursdays. An appeal was made to people to shop early on Thursdays and it was proudly proclaimed "This beats Denbigh by two hours!"

Denbigh tradespeople, anxious not to be outdone, held a meeting at which one man said that closing at 4 p.m. was early enough, making the point that there was a danger in giving too much free time to young people in which they might develop expensive and injurious habits. Mr. Harrison Jones, the chemist next door to Denbigh Post Office, said he resented being told at 7 p.m. by an assistant that it was time to close! In spite of all this, however, they took the plunge and followed Ruthin by closing at 2 p.m. from May to September.


An account in Musical Opinion published in October, 1926, reports the death of a hitherto 'unknown' Ruthinite, John Davies. He had died at Nottingham at the age of 77. Having left Ruthin in 1866 he worked for Messrs Bevington and Sons, organ builders, for over thirty years and eventually became manager at Messrs Casson's. He was reported as being the pioneer of 'The Positive Organ'. During his eventful career, he had constructed over one thousand. His eventful career often took him overseas and he built organs for Queen Victoria of the Sandwich Islands, the late Queen Alexandra, at H.B.M. Garrison Church of St. George, Mustapha Pasha, Alexandria, Cairo, Bethlehem, Jerusalem Cathedral, Italy and Spain. On one occasion he suffered shipwreck in the Bay of Biscay when returning from a tuning tour in the East.

While in London, he held several social positions - vice-president of the Hearts of Oak Society in 1892; steward at St. Paul's Cathedral in connection with the St. David's Day Festival held annually; member of the London-Ruthin Association and the London Cymrodian [Cymrodorion]; and latterly a promoter of the Nottingham Welsh Society. Some months before his death, he wrote his story, with a preface by Mr. W.A. Lloyd of Ruthin, an old friend. "He was always eager to contrast the life's condition of labour in the organ building industry during his apprenticeship with that of the present time". On retiring, he spent the latter part of his life at Nottingham.

Extensive enquiries have failed to reveal more about John Davies or to find a copy of his memoirs with its preface by W.A. Lloyd. Does any reader know of a copy? Mr. Lloyd, of Vale View, Market Street, was a son of Robert Lloyd, (‘Eos Clwyd’) a former headmaster of Borthyn School, and a nephew of Rev. John Williams (‘Glanmor’), author of Ancient and Modern Denbigh.  Lloyd was himself a locally renowned musician and father of the late Misses Audrey and Carol Lloyd.  He founded, produced and conducted the then ‘Ruthin and District Choral Society’ of 150 voices. They gave a concert each Easter with the Liverpool Halle Orchestra and prominent soloists. He was also partly responsible for the founding of the St. Asaph Diocesan Choral Festival.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Mr. David Castledine, Denbighshire Records Office, Ruthin; Miss Molly Clubbe, Liverpool


In this series, so many of the houses discussed have become farmhouses, that it is unusual to consider one which is still the centre of an estate and is also a hotel and restaurant. Geographically, the house was originally located in the parish of Llanarmon yn Ial, but after 1886 a readjustment of parish boundaries placed the house in the parish of Llandegla. In architectural terms, it is said by Hubbard to date from the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, with a tower-like block probably dating from the early sixteenth century. The previous house is said to have been a fortified structure. There are many interesting features to be seen, including a lintel bearing the date '1581'. Other features include a single cell, a priest hole, and a duelling staircase (having treads of different sizes to disadvantage unknowing opponents). The old Denbighshire/Flintshire boundary passed through the entrance hall.

One of the problems with regard to the dark ages is to separate legend from history, and there are many incidents relating to this house which seem to be more fantasy than fact. There are also conflicting accounts. 'Idris', however, is clearly a proper noun and Edward Pugh, in his Cambria Depicta [1816], relates that Idris was the son of Llewelyn Aurdorchog ['Golden Torques’], Lord of Iâl.

In the Dark Ages, Bodidris was part of the territory of Gruffudd ap Madoc, Lord of Dinas Bran, which with Gelligynan he gave to Llewelyn ap Ynyr in 1165. One account states that this was in recognition of Llewelyn's contribution against Henry II's expedition into Wales, reputedly at Tregeiriog, or at the fighting in the vicinity of Corwen, or both. Another account has it that the gift was in recognition of Llewelyn's contribution to a crusade. Llewelyn's son Gruffydd was buried at Valle Crucis but his effigy was transferred to Llanarmon Church at the Dissolution. D.R. Thomas states that Gruffydd had a brother, also Llewelyn ap Ynyr, Bishop of St. Asaph, 1293- 1314. The Bodidris connection with St. Asaph apparently continues at least until c.1400, when Owain Glyndwr was said to have burned the Bishop's houses at Meliden, Bodidris and St. Martin.

The Lloyds were directly descended from Llewelyn ap Ynyr. A John Lloyd of Bodidris was Abbot of Valle Crucis in 1480, until succeeded in 1498. This John was the fourth son of David Lloyd ab Tudor of Bodidris and was appointed one of the commissioners to reform the Welsh monasteries. He was also said to be connected with a Lloyd family of Gloucester. Other accounts have it that it was his tombstone that was transferred to Llanarmon from Valle Crucis.

In the Tudor period, the family prospered, partly through successful marriages and partly through their support of the Tudors. They demonstrated this by conforming to the new religion following the break from Rome. Evan was suspected of being a Papist in 1574 and Richard Gwyn is believed to have made great efforts to persuade him to proclaim his faith openly. He not only did not do so, but was appointed to a commission to root out recusancy. Evan was knighted by Elizabeth I in recognition of his services. By the seventeenth century, the family was referred to as 'the Lloyds of Bodidris of Yale'.

This Sir Evan (High Sheriff of Denbighshire in 1583; d: 1586) married Elizabeth Mostyn, and had a son whom they named John. He fought with Leicester in the Low Countries and was knighted by him in 1586. J.E. Griffith, in his "Pedigrees……", describes Sir Evan as 'Knight Banneret', so it would seem that his elevation by Leicester was to a higher order of knighthood. He died on his return after having served as M.P. for the county in 1585. Sir Evan was eulogised by local poets, including the renowned Simwnt Vychan.

Evan's son, Sir John married Margaret Salesbury of Rûg. Sir John [had] been with his father in Flanders and he too was suspected of recusancy. He was one of the local gentry who supported Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, in his fight for power in 1601. In local and national politics, Sir John played a prominent part in seeking to curb the power of the Salusburys of Llewenni and was actively associated with the many electoral and other riots arising from that struggle. He also pursued an active military career, notably in Cadiz and Ireland. The Lloyds also gained a reputation as patrons of the itinerant poets. On his death in 1606, Sir John Lloyd was eulogised by Prys of Plas Iolyn and others. Sir John and Margaret produced a son also called Evan.

Evan married Mary Trevor of Trefalun, Rosset, and became an army captain. He died in 1637 and was buried at Llanarmon church where there is a splendid memorial to him. This is one of only two of this period in the Diocese to have its inscription inscribed entirely in Welsh and is magnificently decorated with coloured heraldic shields. This monument is presumably to this Sir Evan. Evan and Mary's son, another John, married Margaret, daughter of Sir Bevis Thelwall of Llanrhydd.

Their son Evan was created a baronet in 1647, having served as Charles I's sheriff of Denbighshire for an unusual three consecutive years. His loyalty to the Crown resulted in the imposition of a fine of £1,000 by parliament and from this another legend arose. In his flight from the commissioners, he was actually sheltered by one of their local officials, Edward Davies ['Cneifiwr Glas' or 'The Blue Fleecer'] of Llangollen. Evan had to pay for his concealment more than the sum offered by the Roundheads for his capture.

It may well have been their son, confusingly another Evan, who was a pupil at Ruthin School in 1654, according to entries in the diary of Thomas Challoner, Headmaster at that time. There is another monument at Llanarmon Church to a Sir Evan, presumably this son who had died in 1700.

Sir Evan may have been the last male descendant. His daughter Margaret, described as heiress, married Gruffydd Vaughan of Cors y Gedol. Their granddaughter, Margaret Wynn, was heiress of Bodysgallen, Berthddû, Cors y Gedol, Plâs Hên and Bodidris, in all a considerable estate. She married Sir Roger Mostyn of Mostyn, Bart. Edward Pugh visited Bodidris at the turn of the 18th/19th century, when the house was in the ownership of Sir Thomas Mostyn and Pugh pointed out that Sir Thomas descended maternally from the Lloyds of Bodidris.

But Sir Evan may not have been the last male of the Lloyd’s of Bodidris family. A Robert Lloyd, residing in 19th century London, claimed to have descended directly from Ynyr Llywelyn. Robert maintained that his branch of the family centred upon the Oswestry area, and on land in the Glynceiriog district. This included a slate quarry and Glyndyfrdwy, the site of Owen Glyndwr’s palace. Robert stated that these lands had been inherited, but another account suggests that Glyndyfrdwy had been part of the Bodidris estate since Tudor times. The farmhouse, where Robert’s family had lived for a time, later became 'The New Inn'.



 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:  Edward Hubbard, The Buildings of Clwyd; Bygones, 16 July, 1890; Tom Lloyd-Roberts, ‘Flower of Llanarmon’, Country Quest, February, 1966; Ruthin School Magazine, June and September, 1899; D.R. Thomas, History of the Diocese of St. Asaph, Vol. II, pp. 81-85 [1911]; ‘Silin’, The Leader, 20/x/78; The Denbighshire County Archivist; journal Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1875, 1869, 1885; Lloyd, A History of Powys Fadog, Vols V and VI; Dictionary of Welsh Biography; G Vernon Price, Valle Crucis Abbey, Brython Press, Liverpool, 1952.

Post Script: PLAS EINWS.

In our article on this house in [RLHB] issue number 45 in March, 1996, John Jones of Gelligynan was said to have "held" Plâs Einws. Ms. Rhiannon Griffiths in Hel Achau, journal of the Clwyd Family History Society, of November, 1996 helps to identify John Jones. He was twice married, wrote his Will on 30th January 1840, and bequeathed several properties to his son, another John Jones, and daughters. He left £150 to his wife Maria, all his furniture, one cow, all the hay and corn growing at Plas Einos (sic), together with his Tenant Rights.

One of John's descendants was Fred Llewelyn-Jones, solicitor, Coroner and Liberal M.P. for Flintshire in the 1920s/1930s. His firm became known as ‘Llewelyn-Jones & Armon Ellis’ of Mold, now with a branch in Ruthin.


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