RUTHIN LOCAL HISTORY BROADSHEET Issue NO. 24. December 1990
Christmas Greetings to Our Readers
"EIGHT PENN'OTH OF NEWS."
by D. Gwynne Morris.
My interest in postal history led to my discovery and purchase of certain correspondence of the early 19th century, known as "Entire Letters". Before the introduction of the penny post in 1840, letters were not placed in envelopes but folded and addressed on the outside and referred to by postal historians as "entire letters". There was no uniform postal rate, but charges depended upon the number of sheets on which the letter was written and the distance over which the letter had to be carried to the postal town nearest its destination. There was no delivery beyond that point. A list of waiting mail would be displayed in the office window and the addressee had to collect from this "Receiving Office".
This particular correspondence was conducted by Ann Owen, spinster, of Fachlwyd Hall, Gyffylliog. She was the daughter of yeoman farmer John Owen, and his wife Anne of Tregannol, was baptised at Gyffylliog Church on 1st April, 1777 and buried there on 5th September, 1851 at the age of 74.
One of Ann's nephews was the Rev Edward John Owen, M.A., [see also "The Font at Jesus Chapel"] vicar of Llanfair D.C. from 1848 until his death at the age of 65, and he too was buried at Gyffylliog on 11th February, 1870. He had been perpetual curate of Gyffylliog from 1830 until his elevation to Llanfair D.C. After his death, his widow, Elizabeth [nee Wilson] moved back to Fachlwyd where she remained until her death in 1891 at the age of 80. Elizabeth was a lady of some means and cared for the sick and the needy of the area.
It was she who registered a deed of gift on 17th December, 1886, which conveyed "nine cottages and bakehouse in the village of Llanfair D.C., near the former turnpike from Ruthin to Wrexham and the road from Llanfair to Pwllglas to be used as almshouses and called Mrs Owen' s Charity in Trust" and on 22nd December, 1886, "a sum of £300, £3 per cent, annuities to be held in trust for the endowment of almshouses in Llanfair Village." She also had an interest in the Denbighshire Infirmary.
The Rev. Edward Owen had three brothers, Owen, Robert and John, but of these Edward seems to have been Ann's favourite nephew for in her Will she instructs him that with the proceeds of the sale of the surplus of her estate -upon trust - he was to " lay out the sum of .£400 in the erection of a decent cottage upon that croft which adjoins my cottages called Pen y LIan in Gyffylliog and it is my wish completed be offered by my nephew the reverend Edward John Owen to the officiating Minister of the Parish of Cyffylliog at a reasonable rent."
On 22nd August, 1800, Ann Owen wrote to her friend Miss Anwyl at Lligwy, Machynlleth. For the interest of postal historians, it bore a 38mm x 6mm straight line town postmark of Ruthin, a mark known to have been used from 1779 - 1783 and again from 1797 - 1801. The postal charge was 8d. This was the rate charged between 1796 and 1801 for letters carried for a distance of over 150 miles and this gives us a clue of the route taken by the letter before reaching Machynlleth. More than likely it was carried by horse post from Ruthin to St. Asaph, via Denbigh, there to join the Holyhead to London mail coach. It could then have been dropped off at Shrewsbury to join the Cross Post to Machynlleth or taken to London before being transferred to the Mid-Wales coach.
Ann's letter begins with an account of the jollifications that accompanied the Assizes that had then just been held at Ruthin, giving details of all the various social events, dances and balls that had been held with details of the gowns worn and all the latest gossip. She related - .... we danced about 30 couples some said forty but the room being much crowded it was impossible to tell the exact number. I believe there were as many Gentlemen as were wanted for dancing as I think there were few Ladies short of partners. The Ladies were exceptionally Gay, Pink muslin was worn, also pink and blue satin bodies trimmed with black with a white train. The waist rather long. Gold, Silver and Beads also artificial flowers were common for the Head with high ostrich feathers. No sprigs of any kind worn. The Assembly was not so much crowded as the Ball which made it much more comfortable for dancing. I danced every dance during the time I was there, except two dances each night which rest was of service. I know none of my partners except Mr Williams of Ruthin that I can name to you as you are an utter stranger to them. I believe they had an Assembly on Monday night but I did not attend having taken a cold and soar [sic] throat in coming from the Assembly on Friday night which makes me yet unwell. Mr Jenkin Jones your new curate at Machynlleth was there and seemed very attentive to Miss Williams, it is expected to be match very soon as he has been at Ruthin for some time."
The letter then refers to the trial of John Jones of Aeddren [Eiddren, Llangwm] for his alleged part in the Denbigh riots of 1795,- five years previously. Thus, -
"You'll please tell Mrs Anwyl that on Saturday Mr Jones of Eiddren's trial came on for extorting money from the Magistrates in the year 1795 at the time the mob was raised at Denbigh (which I mentioned to Mrs Anwyl when at Lligwy] it lasted from four to five hours after which the jury brought in their verdict of not guilty. On Monday, he was tried again for the same offence, the Judge not being satisfied with the Jury of Saturday a special one was called of whom my father was one, which I assure you gave me extreme uneasiness as they had a case of a very serious nature to determine. The trial having lasted about the same time as on Saturday the Jury withdrew for about three hours after which they brought in their verdict of 'not guilty' to the great joy of many present. He is a creditable man and of a respectable family. I am sorry to observe his trouble are not yet over, he has given Bail to appear at the next Assizes to be tried again for rioting which was done at the same time at Denbigh - but I trust the next cannot be so serious as the last as he was tried for robery [sic] which had he been found guilty would have been death to him as supposed by all the judge being so much aggravated at him…"
The circumstances which gave rise to these events was the requirement of the law to recruit 585 men from Wales for the navy. This requirement was placed on the magistrates and those of Denbighshire were required to provide 75 local men. This was achieved by ballot, taking into consideration the population of each parish in the county. This was not a popular arrangement, and the local populace was determined to resist the raising of yet more men for the `Mareens', as they were called.
On the day in question, a mob gathered in Denbigh to protest to the magistrates and farmer John Jones of Aeddryn was regarded as their leader. The reference to the demanding of money arose from the protestors demands for compensation for the loss of time and the provision of food and drink. It was proposed that each parish represented should be given five shillings and when this was granted, the mob dispersed.
Such are the privileged insights we have been given as a result of Ann Owen of Gyffylliog's private correspondence.
Additional sources gratefully acknowledged. Clwyd Record Offices, Ruthin; Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, 1927; Act 35 Geo III, c. 5, passed 5th March, 1795
THE FONT AT JESUS CHAPEL by Peter D Randall
In the small Jesus Chapel, situated in a field off the A525 Ruthin to Wrexham Road, 1¾ miles south of Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd is an unusual, fine stone font. The font was, for over two hundred years, in the parish church of S.S. Cynfarch and Mary, in the village of Llanfair D.C., but during 1872 when extensive restoration work was being carried out to the church, the font was transferred to its present location in Jesus Chapel.
This sandstone font is located at the west end of the chapel, being some 3 foot 7 inches in height, octagonal with a lead lined bowl. The eight sides of the bowl are carved, one with the initials of the Church Wardens of the time, i.e., E.P., I.LL., E.T., and T.M. The front panel has the date '1663 DB 12'; five other panels have a quatrefoil and one is plain
The date panel is unique as it appears to be the only font in the Deanery of Dyffryn Clwyd, possibly in the Diocese of St. Asaph, which has the actual date in addition to the year, i.e., 'December 12, 1663'. The reason for the inclusion of this date is not recorded. Could it have commemorated an important event in the life of the church at Llanfair, a restoration, or the replacement of a much earlier font?
The names of the Church Wardens of the time are not known as the church records survive from only 1680. However, the Vicar of the parish was the Reverend John Price, B.A.
The bevelled base to the bowl has incised representations of angels on the sides, and the octagonal shaft, on a twin plinth, has incised trefoils on seven of its sides
Due to the imagination of the Victorians, this fine font has been preserved for our generation and future generations to admire, unlike the old font at St Peter's Church, Ruthin, which was during the 1859 restoration of the church, buried beneath the existing font. It would be appropriate at any time in the future for the font at Jesus Chapel to be returned to its former home if the chapel ever had to close as a place of worship.
It is interesting to note that the replacement 1872 font now in Llanfair church was a gift of parishioners and friends in memory of the Reverend Edward John Owen, M.A., [see also "Eight Penn' oth of News"] Vicar of the Parish for twenty-two years, and who lies buried at Gyffylliog. The carved stone font of 1872 cost £31.-7s.-9d., cover extra, and was supplied by Mr George Clark, builder of Wrexham. The 1872 timber/stone porch of the Church was also a memorial to this Vicar by his widow.
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN RUTHIN, 1868
The election of 1868 was probably one of the most significant in Wales. It was the last election when an elector publicly recorded his vote in a poll book for the secret ballot was introduced in 1872. It was the first election under the conditions laid down by the Disraeli Reform Act of 1867. This had trebled the franchise in the Borough and when the election came in November of 1868, there was great excitement in the town.
The protagonists were Townshend Mainwaring for the Conservatives and Watkin Williams for the Liberals. The town was split into at least two principal factions, firstly the Anglican Church group for the Tories, headed by the Warden, Rev. Bulkeley Owen Jones. Secondly, the Liberal group, mainly nonconformists but with an influential Anglican sympathiser, William Cornwallis West, who that year had inherited the Castle from his brother. Although West did not participate in the campaign, he later stood as a Liberal for Lymington, Hampshire, where he failed to get elected. He won the seat for Denbigh West in 1885 for the Liberals.
The two candidates were diametrically opposed in their manifestos. Williams supported the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland. Mainwaring's objections to this was that it left large revenues in the hands of the clergy. On education, the chasm between their ideas was even greater. Williams proposed abolishing the religious conditions for entry into the universities and endowed schools, to which entry was conditional upon being an Anglican. Further, he proposed a National Education Scheme to 'educate the masses'. Mainwaring suggested that education should be on a scriptual bases and be purely voluntary. Williams was in favour of widening the franchise, but Mainwaring was not.
Those were the issues and on 17th October, 1868, there was a meeting of the Tories in the Town Hall, Ruthin. Amongst many others were the Warden, Rev. Bulkeley Owen Jones, the headmaster of Ruthin School, Rev. J.W. Freeborn, John Jesse and Mr W.T. Rouw. In his opening speech, the Warden claimed that the nonconformists and Roman Catholics were working hard to elect the man of their choice, Williams. But he was seeking election only for his own ends, to obtain a 'judgeship' [Watkin Williams was a barrister]. Mainwaring was an old and trusted friend who was responsible for the convalescent home in Rhyl and the beautiful Church at Trefnant. Opening the Universities to Roman Catholics and nonconformists would only lead to discord. His speech was met with loud acclaim.
Mr Cooper Wynne Edwards, the next speaker, claimed that the nonconformists would excommunicate members for not voting for Williams, whilst the landowners would not evict their tenants. He concluded:
"A landlord may oppress the body but these tyrants would oppress the body and soul."
Mr Martin Smith, secretary of the Vale of Clwyd Railway, was the next speaker but all this was too much for Mr Francis of the Soda Water Works who interrupted the meeting in spite of Ellis, the owner of the works being on the platform.
John Rowlands, a stonemason and a housekeeper who had just been enfranchised was another who interrupted the attacks on the nonconformists. Marcus Lewis from the platform shouted that men like him had only obtained the right to vote through Mainwaring and his party and he did not realise what his obligations were. The meeting appears to have broken up in chaos. Outside on the steps of the Market Hall, Robyn Ddu Eryri held an impromptu meeting supporting Williams.
Baner claimed the high ground of political opinion when it said: "We are not in the present contest deciding on this matter or that, but on the whole spirit and character of our constitution." In another letter, the Reverend James Jones, Rector of Llanfwrog, wrote denying he had sacked a labourer, Gabriel Roberts, because he had Liberal sympathies. That a Rector should write to the press to justify the sacking of a labourer was indicative of the strength of feeling at that time.
The Liberal Rally in Ruthin appears to have been a more orderly affair. The chair was taken by Rev. E. Jones, and LI. Adams, E. Edwards of Nantclwyd House, J.D. Jones of Clwyd Bank, the Revs. John Foulkes and James Roberts, all attended. There was a Denbigh contingent, including Thomas Gee and J. Griffith [Gohebydd]. Watkin Williams addressed the meeting, outlining the Liberal manifesto and proclaimed that with the support of the Ruthin electorate a great Liberal victory was possible. The meeting closed by Thomas Gee proposing a vote of thanks and this was seconded by Major Johnson of Woodlands.
Polling Day was a day of great excitement. The Liberal waiting rooms were the Temperance Hall in Market Place and J.D. Jones's school at Clwyd Bank, Clwyd Street. The Tories had the White Lion (Castle Hotel), and Mr Hugh Williams's Park Place Inn. The Tories employed some of the rougher elements to try to intimidate the voters. Some were stripped to the waist in the Market Place, challenging all-comers to fight.
It was a great victory for Williams. He had a majority of 374, most of which came from Wrexham, but Ruthin contributed 77 to that majority. Watkin Williams and his wife were drawn in a carriage through the streets of Ruthin by the Liberal supporters with the crowds singing "See the conquering hero comes." A.F.
[See also "Rhuthun Broadsheet" NO: 10, June, 1987.]
LLWYN YNN - A LOST TUDOR MANOR HOUSE
The Vale of Clwyd has abounded with many fine and ancient houses. Sadly, some have been demolished and lost forever; others are still occupied, many as farm houses, many are carefully preserved and well-cared for, while others again are at risk. Ruthin's splendid hinterland has more than its fair quota to contribute to this fine collection, but the first short article in our new occasional series on these houses deals with Llwyn Ynn, one which was demolished in the 1950s.
Nicholas  described the house as "the ancient demesne". The Jacobean house was very probably not the first on the site. Nicholas claimed that the Roman encampment of Caerddynan was located on this estate, and connected by road to Caerwys. Modern research  has traced a Roman road to the east of Llwynn Ynn which linked Varae (St. Asaph?) with Caer Gait (Bala).
It is difficult to ascribe a precise date to the house, but Hubbard  felt that it must have been earlier than the inscribed date of 1672. Indeed, Hubbard felt that it had been altered for one William Parry at that time, following which it probably remained substantially unaltered. Powell  suggests that some of it had been demolished as part of those alterations.
The 1914 Inventory  description was of a long, stone house of three stories, many mullioned and transomed windows, with some stepped gables. Over the 1672 doorway were the arms of Edwin ab Goronwy, Prince of Tegeingl - a cross fleury, en-graded between four choughs, with the date 1672. On another part of the doorway was a shield bearing three boars’ heads, the arms of Cadell Deyrnllwg, King of Powys, impaled with a lion rampant with the letters "P" over "W.K." representing William Parry and his wife Katherine Holland. The house remained with their descendants until 1830.
The old hall and other rooms had panelled walls and low ceilings, having woodwork and furniture of great age. The pride and joy of the house was the really fine staircase, of carved, old oak. Outside, a sundial and iron gates bore the date 1676. The drive to the site of the house from the Ruthin-Wrexham Road was about a mile long.
The first Parry to be associated with this manor is said to have been Richard Parry, Bishop of St. Asaph [d: 1623] who acquired it through his marriage towards the end of the C16th to the heiress, Gwen Price . Gwen's brother, Edward Pryse, was High Sheriff in 1627 and married Susan, sister of Bishop Goodman of Gloucester. The association of the Price family with this estate is less well-known, though the family claimed descent from Bleddyn ap Cynfryn, Prince of North Wales and founder of one of the Royal Tribes. It is said that Bleddyn was a contemporary of William the Conqueror.
Be that as it may, more accessible history refers to the Parrys, whose connections included the Parrys of Ponty-Gof [Nantclwyd Hall] and Gruffydd Goch who had the temerity to beseige the Thelwall family in Ruthin Castle. They came to acquire respectability, position and wealth in the county, extensively inter-marrying with most if not all the well-known families of the county and beyond, including the Mostyns, the Salisburys, the Wynns, the Pulestons, the Bagots, Herberts, Bulkeleys and Goodmans.
Henry Parry was Sheriff of Denbighshire in 1585, William in 1668, David in 1695, and Humphrey in 1735. Other high offices of state were occupied by this family, e.g. David Parry [d:1759] was Governor of Barbados.
By the C19th, the estates extended over a wide area, including Llanrhaiadr Hall, Plas Newydd, Llanfair D.C., and Marfield Hall, Berkshire. Richard Parry, the owner, died at Marfield in 1828, which he left to his unmarried daughters, who sold the property. Llwyn Ynn passed to his eldest son Richard who died unmarried and he left Llwyn Ynn to his nephew, one Colonel Haygarth of the Scots Fusilier Guards who had been severely wounded at the Alma campaign of the Crimean War. Colonel Haygarth died in 1902 and the estate passed to his brother until his death in 1910, after which the estate was dispersed by sale in 1912. Thereafter, the Preston family, of Lancashire, were in residence for a time.
Nicholas: "Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County Families in Wales."; .
E. Waddelove: "A Roman Road in the Vale of Clwyd"; [1979, privately].
Hubbard: "The Buildings of Clwyd."; Penguin/UWP; 1986.
Powell: "History and Antiquities of the Parish of Llanfair D.C.", Clwyd Record Office DD/DM/2/17.
1914 Inventory: R.C.H.A.M., Vol. IV, Denbighshire, 1914.
Lloyd: "Powys Fadog", Vol.III, pp.45-49; 345-352; Vol.IV, pp.185-187; Vol. V, pp.209 - 225
see also "RHUTHUN BROADSIIEET" NO: 13; Ruthin Cleric Commemorated', by D. Gwynne Moms.