RUTHIN LOCAL HISTORY BROADSHEET ISSUE 17 March 1989

RUTHINITE AT GETTYSBURG
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a spell as medical officer on a voyage to Australia, he decided to emigrate to America but before travelling to New York in 1852 at the age of 23, he armed himself with letters of introduction to a number of prominent people in the business and political circles within that city. He first earned his living as a doctor, and became prominent in the "Dewi Sant Society" of New York. He became editor of the bilingual monthly "Y Cymro Americanaidd" ("The American Welshman"). J. Puleston appears to have found journalism more attractive and perhaps more rewarding than medicine and after some 3-4 years in New York, he obtained a post as Advertising Executive [or, "Collector of Adverts"] with the Pittston Gazette in Pennsylvania.


In 1856, at the age of 27, he campaigned on behalf of the Republican Party in Vermont and Pennsylvania. He was a fluent speaker and spoke in Welsh on at least one occasion. This successful campaign must have been lucrative for he was able to buy the Pittston Gazette and remained editor of this paper and of at least one other paper, namely, The Penn Guardian between 158 and 1860. In 1857, he married Margaret, daughter of Edward Lloyd, a farmer and lay preacher with the Welsh Wesleyans of Ty'n Twll, Llanfyllin. He had met her at New York whilst she was visiting her sister Mrs Froude, who had married a prominent printer and publisher there. It was a happy marriage by all accounts. One daughter was born during their stay at Phoenixville, and another after they moved to Washington.


In February, 1861, Puleston was appointed Secretary of the Peace Congress which was held in Washington in a bid to avoid civil war. It was there that he met Lincoln, a few weeks after the great man had been inaugurated as President. They remained friends throughout the terrible years of the civil war and, indeed, until the latter's assassination. Two of Lincoln's sons attended the wedding of Puleston's eldest daughter after his return to Britain.


When civil war broke out in April, 1861, Puleston was made responsible for the financing of some of the Yankee battalions. He was made an Honorary Colonel and Military Agent for Pennsylvania. He resigned from this post at the end of 1862 and moved to Washington as correspondent for two New York papers. He also had an additional income as a lawyer, but it is not known how he had found time to qualify! He remained an "Aide-de-Camp" to Lincoln throughout the four years of the civil war. It was he who first informed Lincoln of the victories of the northern armies at Bull Run and Gettysburg.


His most challenging assignment was still to come. When the civil war ended in April, 1865, he was appointed secretary of the Peace Commission at Washington. Puleston was appointed Judge at this Tribunal or Commission [“Cymry”, March 1917], appointed to settle problems and disputes [concerned mainly with land ownership] arising from the war. He remained in this difficult post for two years, but returned to New York for employment with the well-known bankers, Wells Fargo, Co. It was not long before he decided to set up his own private bank in the name of Puleston Raymond & Co. 


This was very successful, so much so that he became a partner in a leading firm of bankers and brokers, Messrs. Jay, Cooke & Co. In 1868, we find him living in Brooklyn and the owner of extensive land on the shores of Lake Rokonkoma, Long Island. At that time, London was more important financial centre than New York and, eventually, in 1870, his fellow-partners persuaded him to return to London to open a branch of Jay, Cooke & Co., in Lombard Street.


He was always well-dressed. Mrs. Sunter Harrison goes so far as to call him a dandy. He was certainly a man of courtesy and considerable charm, and a man whom Ruthin and district can feel justly proud. Puleston must have returned home to the Ruthin area for he was appointed Constable of Caernarfon Castle and is buried with his parents in the old cemetery of St. Mary’s Church, Llanfair D.C. There is a memorial plaque to him and his wife inside the church to the left of the altar
 

In issue No. 20 the publishers apologised that an article on a ‘Ruthinite at Gettysberg’ in Issue no 17 had not made clear that a radio broadcast mentioned in the article had been the result of Mrs Harrison of Wrexham’s work.


JAMES MAURICE (1800-1876) Part 2

In the previous issue the more personal lifestyle of James Maurice was discussed, so let us now turn and examine some of the more public roles that Maurice played. One important appointment he held for many years was that of the Chairman of the Board of the Ruthin Poor Law Union. The area covered by the board included all the parishes from Aberwheeler to Derwen, and Nantglyn to Llanferres. In 1857, Maurice was elected to the chair for the sixth time, perhaps a measure of the esteem in which he was held, for this was no sinecure. He had to balance his humanitarian instincts with the necessity to keep the poor rates at a level acceptable to the landowners. Perhaps it was a measure of his humanity, but in the 1851 census there are recorded 100 paupers in Ruthin receiving outdoor relief whereas in Denbigh there was only one. The cost involved in following such a policy was quite substantial for on average it cost 4/10d per week to keep a pauper in his own home, whereas in the workhouse the cost was only 3/3d.


The workhouse was the ultimate deterrent to idleness and conditions there, even within a comparatively liberal regime, were bleak. It was under Maurice’s chairmanship that the Ruthin Board of Guardians were criticised for having the highest poor rate in Wales. However, Maurice’s concern for the poor was not confined to Ruthin.  In his papers there is a pathetic little piece of embroidery from a deaf and dumb child in Lymington, Hampshire, sent as an expression of her gratitude for Maurice's kindness in sponsoring her into the local asylum. It may be remembered that Maurice's roots lay in Hampshire and that his friends, the Wests of the Castle, also had connections with that area, so that this act of charity so far away from Ruthin may not have been so surprising after all.
In 1857, Maurice stood for Parliament, one suspects at the instigation of West, who had been forced to relinquish the seat for reasons of ill-health. Much to West's consternation, Townshend Mainwaring decided to seek election. West wrote to "The Wrexham Telegraph" saying:

"Mr Mainwaring is of such unsettled and uncertain politics as to preclude me from supporting him."


Further to this, there was a public notice posted in Ruthin dated 30th March, 1857, which was signed by West's agent which categorically denied that Mainwaring had West's support. West's reservations about Mainwaring's political stability are emphasised in a doggerel written a few years later. The pertinent verses read as follows:
"
At first he took the Tory side, 
And then the Liberal benches tried 
And then at either party shied,
Did Mainwaring.
Anon he joined the Tory set,
Then with the Liberals play'd coquette 
And Mr Gladstone was the pet
Of Mainwaring.
But all this change of sides and men 
Was not at once but now and then,
With many funny freaks between,
Of Mainwaring."

In spite of Mainwaring's uncertainty of his true political beliefs, and this is what West really objected to, he had in Ruthin a staunch ally, the Rev. E.L. Barnwell. He was Head Master of Ruthin School at this time and also Chairman of the Palmerston Whig Committee who were the political organisers for Mainwaring. Another sign of the extent of political feeling over this election was when Barnwell wrote to F.W. Smith, West's agent, and complained that he was bringing pressure to bear upon the tenants of the Castle estate. He also told Smith that he would take up the matter with West which he subsequently did. West seemed quite sanguine about the whole affair. He wrote to Barnwell as follows:-
"
As Chairman of the Palmerston Whig Committee for Mr Mainwaring, you have thought fit to write to me a note reflecting upon the conduct of my agent and others of his family. I have repeatedly declared to Mr Mainwaring that I could not support him and have no political sympathy with him. I have never named the word neutrality with him on Saturday evening. All I stated was that the tenants of mine whom I might have had influence would vote as they may think fit. My agent and others of his family have as much right to vote or use their influence as you or other members of the town."


The emphasis is mine. In no manner whatsoever, would Smith have risked West's displeasure over such a sensitive issue as an election. Smith, as the Castle agent, was one of the most influential men in the town, but his authority was derived from West and he would not jeopardise this relationship for political motives. Certainly, he must have cleared his actions with West or even received direct orders from him. West as a major landowner in the Ruthin area would expect those of his tenants who had the vote to cast it in the way they were directed. The secret ballot did not appear on the statute boots until 1872 and it was a brave man indeed who would defy the directives of the landowners. Mainwaring, of course, had similar holdings in and around Denbigh.


Barnwell himself was not above trying to use influence to sway the electorate. He was brought to Court by Treherne and Sons who were bakers in Ruthin. They sued him under the Corrupt Practices Act. They claimed he had approached them before the election and they were told that unless they voted for Mainwaring, he would withdraw his custom from their business. They were, of course, on the horns of a dilemma and they would not wish to offend the Castle by voting for Mainwaring, and on the other hand, they could lose the Grammar School order. Clearly, they voted for Maurice and sued Barnwell. In court, Barnwell stated that he had withdrawn his trade because "they were dangerous and unworthy of credit." They lost the case. Such were politics in the nineteenth century.


There are two epilogues to these anecdotes. Firstly, there is on record a brief note from Smith to Barnwell asking him for the bill for his son's schooling and withdrawing the boy from the Grammar School. Secondly, in Maurice's papers is the settlement of the legal costs of the bakers which was paid by Maurice.
In spite of West's intervention on his behalf, Maurice failed in his attempt to win the Parliamentary seat representing the Boroughs of Holt, Wrexham, Ruthin and Denbigh. The second largest of the four Boroughs was Denbigh and the dominant patronage there was Townshend Mainwaring who had married into the Salusbury dynasty and therefore inherited most of their influence in that town. The total electorate in the constituency was 861 and there was a 77% turn-out with Maurice losing by some 62 votes. This was Maurice's only attempt at a major political career. In the drive for Liberal power in 1868, the Liberals had as their candidates London-based barristers, although their roots were fairly local.

AF


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Ruthin Record Office, DD/ D5/2557; Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald, 1856-66.

ARCHAEOLOGY IN RUTHIN by K Brassil

Following the initial discovery by Ruthin archaeologist, Ted Waddelove, of pits, gullies and postholes of Roman date on the Brynhyfryd Park development site, further work by archaeologists from as far afield as Welshpool and Manchester has extended Ruthin’s past back into the prehistoric period, some 4,000 ago.
Although the six week excavation carried out during January and February was limited to the opening of narrow trenches, evidence of medieval, Romano-British and prehistoric activity has been revealed. Flaked stone tools and fragments of Roman pottery, including fragments of bowls, dishes, jars and storage vessels provide the means of dating the various pits and ditches. The function of these various features is unclear. We shall have to await the results of more extensive excavations planned for May and June to see whether the features form patterns. Are the postholes the remains of buildings or fences? Were the Roman ditches part of a farm or defensive enclosure? The discovery of four graves extends the archaeological sequence into the early medieval period – the graves may be part of a cemetery.


A limited number of volunteers are needed to assist on this and other excavations in Clwyd this Summer. If you are able-bodied and can spend at least a week on an excavation, then please write to the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust at 7a, Church Street, WELSHPOOL, Powys, SY21 7DL, for further information.
(Ed. Note: Mr Brassil is a Field Officer of the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust and we are grateful to him for contributing this short article. We hope to keep our readers abreast of this important development.)


RUTHIN STREET BY STREET SERIES [Note many properties have changed use and ownership since written]

ST PETER’S SQUARE PART 2

"SADDLE UP", South Prior House:
A printing business was established here in 1836 by a Mr Haddocks, his printing works probably located in the two cellar rooms, and his widow Jane Edwards carried on after his death. Regular readers of "The Rhuthun Broadsheet" [NO: 9] will recall that Isaac Clarke came to Ruthin sometime before 1845 to manage Mrs Haddock's business, which was believed to have been in Well Street. She was succeeded by her brother Mr Thomas Edwards who ran a draper’s shop possibly in what is now the main dining room of the Castle Hotel, on the Market Street frontage. In 1875, Mr Lewis Jones ["Rhuddenfab"] came from Llanfyllin to take over the printing business. His achievements as a printer have already been recorded ["R.L.H.B, “NO: 15], but he was also a first rate conductor at eisteddfodau and other literary meetings. He was a regular contributor to "Y Cymro", and he died in 1915 aged 80.


Lewis Jones' [1835-1915] daughter, Ann, continued to run the business for a time after his death, but she was eventually followed by a Miss Sarah Chuck who continued in business until c.1931, selling stationery and also home-made sweets and chocolates. The part of the premises now occupied by Tudor Mane, the Hairdressers, [South Prior House] was then devoted to the sale of cold meats and fudge, the latter being supplied to the tuck shop at Ruthin School. Miss Chuck called her cafe "Sarita Cafe", Sarita being the Spanish equivalent of Sarah.


Mr J. Fulgoni took over leasehold and the business in 1931. His origins and background are unknown, but he came to Ruthin from Whitchurch where he ran the Express Cafe in High Street. He must have traded on a large scale for he once had the catering contract for Ruthin Show and he apparently brought a coach-load of his own staff for the occasion. It maybe that this contract provided his means of introduction to Ruthin.
Following her retirement, Miss Ann Lewis Jones and her sister Maggie, remained in occupation of the house, which not only occupied the upstairs portion of the premises, but also separated the shop on the corner from the shop overlooking Clwyd Street. Mr Fulgoni must eventually have succeeded in persuading Miss Jones to sell the property and she went to reside at 8, Market Street. After some alterations, and using war-surplus tables and chairs, improved cafe accommodation was provided. The end shop was converted to sell traditional fish and chips at a time when Mr Fulgoni was able to purchase 14 stone of cod for 1/6d. One of Mr Fulgoni's specialities was, perhaps not surprisingly, ice cream and using a hand-cart, he went about the town selling it.

NO: 9; "THE OLD WHITE HORSE" [now Travel agent's office].
John Bryan, publican, 1829.
The present building was constructed c.1870 by Mr John Pierce who had for a long time carried on a drapery and grocery business on that site in partnership with his sister, under the style of "Roberts and Pierce". His sister was the widow of a Mr Richard Roberts. This business was followed by a Mr John Jones who was said to have had the largest grocery/drapery business in town. He was followed in turn by Mr T.H. Roberts, Gentleman's Outfitter.

NOs: 11 and 11a; "THE HARP" [now partly "Montecito"].
The main stone walls are thought to be 17th century but with older chimney stacks.
"Old Harp Shop" - John Rowlands,- green-grocer and dealer in British and Foreign fruit.
Also kept [c.1900] by Mr Maurice Edwards, brother to Mr William Edwards of "The Hand" in Well Street. He was also an agricultural seed merchant.

NO: 14; "THE QUEEN'S HEAD" [site of the present Post Office]: [Note no evidence has been found for the ecclesiastic references below]
Traditionally said to have been the site of a medieval Carmelite Priory of White Friars, said to have been founded and built by Reginald de Grey in 1304 and partly destroyed at the Reformation. De Grey also provided a large piece of land near the Castle, and alongside the Corwen Road called "Whitefriar's Field", better known locally as "Cae Gwynach". Here was located St. Peter's well although the precise site had been lost even prior to 1886. No healing properties were ascribed to its waters, but it was used for baptisms at St. Peter's church, and also for washing the church itself.


A nunnery is also thought to have been sited in the vicinity of the Priory. This has been described as being situated by the Church gates and was built originally of red sandstone. At its front was a "church-like porch” with gothic windows. A Cross stood at the east gable and a bell turret at the west end. There was a small doorway, for the exclusive use of the ten nuns, at the rear giving access to the Church. The building was substantially altered and modernised c.1814 by the late Mr Davies, draper, who died there in 1845.


Also known as "Queen's Hotel" when operated by a lady and her two daughters from Liverpool. "Owing to the introduction of some rather unorthodox features, disapproved by Ruthinites, the ladies found it advisable, after a brief sojourn, to take their departure."


In the 1860s/70s, it was a branch of the North and South Wales Bank, the Manager being Mr John Haddocks who died in 1861. It was at that date a very old edifice and, is supposed to have been originally built for some purpose in connection with the Church. It was altered again in 1882 when it accommodated two shops, one by Mr L. Jones, stationer, and the other by Mr J. Jones, draper.


C.1884, it was occupied by Messrs W. Williams & Co. It became "The Stores", occupied by Mr John Profit as a grocery and provision store. A Mr E.T. Hughes, followed in the business but the premises were destroyed by fire in 1904.

DW


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: WILLIAM DAVIES,” HANDBOOK FOR THE VALE OF CLWYD”; "JONES’ HANDBOOK FOR RUTHIN AND VICINITY”;  DENBIGHSHIRE FREE PRESS, 1910 AND 1917; ELIAS OWEN,  “ OLD STONE CROSSES IN THE VALE OF CLWYD”; MISS GWEN HUGHES, CHURCH WALKS.

John Puleston by John Williams

Readers who also listen to "Helo Bobol" on Radio Cymru, may recall a recent interview with Professor Maldwyn A. Jones of University College, London, who told of his discovery that a native of the Vale of Clwyd was present when President Lincoln made his famous address on the battlefield at Gettysburg. That man was John Henry Puleston [1829¬1908] who was later to be knighted "for his services to Wales and the Welsh" and the recent inauguration of Senator Bush as 41st President of the U.S.A. makes this an appropriate time to remind ourselves of the close association of John Henry Puleston with one of the greatest of all the American Presidents.


I described in a previous article ["Ffynogion"; R.B.S. No: 12] Puleston's upbringing at Plas Newydd near Llanfair D.C., also his career following his somewhat reluctant return to the U.K. in 1870. In this article, it would be appropriate to give a fuller account of his activities in the United States, and I am very much indebted to Mrs Sunter Harrison of Wrexham who has spent the best part of 30 years in researching the history of the gifted Puleston family. She has visited the U.S.A. for lengthy periods but has now decided to leave her copious notes to Professor Maldwyn A. Jones, who agrees with her that Sir John fully merits a biography. There is also a long article on Puleston in the March, 1917 issue of "Cymru", whose editor then was Sir O.M. Edwards.

RUTHIN LOCAL HISTORY BROADSHEET ISSUE 17         March 1989

RUTHINITE AT GETTYSBURG