Ladies of Llangollen free ebook

Ten years ago on the 13th March 2007 Project Gutenberg released one of their free ebooks:

as sketched by many hands;
with notices of

The book had first been written in 1847 by John Hicklin who was known for writing local history books about Chester and Llandudno. Not much is known about John but there is a short obituary in the Wrexham Guardian January 20, 1877:

“The Courant announces the death of Mr John Hicklin, which occurred at Torquay, on Saturday last. The deceased was in early life the proprietor and editor of the Nottingham Journal, one of the oldest newspapers in that county, and in which high Tory principles were advocated with fervour and eloquence. He afterwards became editor of the Chester Courant, a position which he held for many years, and subsequently editor of the Notts. Guardian, and the Carlisle Patriot. After assisting in an unavailing attempt to establish at Plymouth a daily Conservative journal for Devon and Cornwall, he settled at Torquay, where he became the organizing secretary of the Devonshire Church Defence Institution. Mr Hicklin was an earnest and devoted Churchman, and an eloquent and energetic advocate of Church principles on the platform. He was author of an admirable compilation of historic facts, ancient and modern, entitled, “Church and State,” “Leisure Hours,” “Guide to Chester and North Wales,” and other works. His geniality of disposition and urbanity of manners endeared him to a large circle of friends.”

The “Ladies of Llangollen” is dedicated to “Miss Lolly and Miss Andrews” who bought Plas Newydd, the Ladies house, after their demise. Two maiden women who were said to “emulate the Ladies.”

The free Project Gutenberg ebook, in a variety of formats, can be downloaded at:

The “Ladies of Llangollen” by John Hicklin

The Female Husband

On This Day – from a Welsh newspaper 23 January, 1829

“The following particulars have been collected relative to the female who styled herself James Allen, and upon whose body an inquest was held a few days since. The woman who had been married to the deceased has produced the certificate, by which it appeared that it was solemnised at Camberwell church, on the 13th day of December, 1808. Previous to its having taken place, the deceased lived as a groom in the service of a Mr. Wood, No. 6, Camberwell-terrace.

Our informant, Mary Allen, was also housemaid in the same gentleman’s family, and it was while living there she first became acquainted with the deceased, who was at that time considered a smart and handsome young man, and an excellent groom, doing all the work belonging to the situation quite to the satisfaction of the gentleman with whom he acted in that capacity. Mary Allen remained a housemaid with Mr. Wood for three years, and it was at the latter part of this period the deceased began to be extremely attentive to her, and was viewed in the light of a lover by Mary: who at length consented, at the earnest entreaties of the deceased, to be married.

The matrimonial alliance took place between the parties at the time above specified, and from the church they retired together to a house called the Bull, in Gray’s Inn Lane, where they slept; very soon after they had retired to bed the bridegroom was taken ill, and continued or pretended to be so the remainder of the night. Previous to the marriage the deceased had lived in the service of Alderman Atkins as groom, and with other gentlemen in the same capacity. Subsequently to the marriage Mary Allen went back to service, and the deceased was hired into the service of Mr. Lonsdale, of Maze-hill, Blackheath, and stayed there some time, during which period the new-married couple seldom saw each other, but carried on an epistolary correspondence, in which the deceased always wrote most affectionately to the bride, addressing her in all the endearing terms of a wife, and concluding his letters by subscribing himself the bride’s most loving and affectionate husband until death.

They were absent from each other eight months and, at the expiration of that period, the deceased prevailed on the bride, Mary Allen, to throw up her situation, and both live together as man and wife. Mary consented and at this period the deceased, having accumulated some money, became landlord of a public house called the Sun, at Baldock, in Hertfordshire, and was getting on most prosperously in business until their house was broken into one night, and robbed of all the money they possessed.

After this misfortune it appears the deceased gave up the business and came to London with his wife, and took lodgings in the neighbourhood of Dock-head. Here the deceased determined to work as a labourer, and obtained employment in a shipwright’s yard, as a pitch-boiler. During the time the deceased was in this situation her sex was never discovered by any of the men with whom she laboured, and with whom she was in the constant practice of associating. When she left the above situation she got employment in the yards of other shipwrights, and was always considered a sober, steady, strong, and active man; there was rather a peculiarity in the tone of her voice which subjected her to the raillery of the men with whom she worked, but they never for a moment thought that she was of any other than the male sex. The deceased also worked in a vitriol manufactory previous her having entered the service of Mr. Crisp, at Dockhead, in whose employ she had worked for a considerable time preceding the accident which deprived her of life. The woman to whom the deceased was married, on being questioned as to whether she knew her sex, declared most positively that she never did.

The deceased was described as of rather an ill temper, and expressed strong resentment against the poor woman to whom she was married whenever the latter noticed a man particularly. Upon those occasions the deceased never failed to act the part of the jealous husband and has often inflicted corporeal chastisement on the wife when she considered that she was not conducting herself as she ought to do. The deceased person, Mary Allen, as she had been called ever since the solemnization of marriage, assigns for not disclosing her suspicions relative to the sex of the deceased to her friends, that it was in consideration of her generally kind and affectionate behaviour towards her for the deceased worked early and late for their subsistence, and the labour she was employed at could not be performed, except by a person of uncommon strength of body, which the deceased possessed to an extraordinary degree.

The deceased generally dressed in sailors’ clothes, like hipwrights, and always wore thick flannel waistcoats, which extended from the neck down to the hips. She also wrapped a bandage of linen over her chest, for the sham purpose of protecting her from the cold, as she was in the habit of being much exposed to cold and wet, after working over her knees in water, when engaged in clearing out the ways – that is, clearing a part of a shipwright’s yard of the mud collected on the receding of the tide.

The deceased was of a most ingenious turn, and was a very expert carpenter, in addition to her other qualifications: in fact, as Mary Allen describes, she could turn her hand to anything. During the whole period they lived together, Mary Allen never heard of any relatives belonging to the deceased, who at one time stated that she was born at Yarmouth, but as to whether this was true or not there was no evidence, no person coming forward who knew the deceased previous to the time she had adopted the garb of man, and laboured in that character. Subsequently to the examination, the body of the deceased was placed in a coffin, and conveyed to the lodgings of Mary Allen, who appeared greatly affected at the death of her “lord.” The former seems to be in very indignant circumstances, and can scarcely scrape up money enough to pay the undertaker for the expenses of interment. It appears that the deceased was a member of a benefit club for many years, and regularly paid up her arrears to the society. Since her decease, however, some demur has been made to the benefits arising from the society, on the ground that the deceased had been all along imposing on it, by representing herself as a man, and always appearing in the character of one when she attended their meetings.

Since the publication of the inquest on the body of the deceased, no person has come forward who knew her previously to her having adopted the garb of a man, and the circumstances which caused her to endeavour to conceal her sex will never be discovered.

The deceased appears to have been an interesting looking girl; her limbs were well proportioned; and the only thing of a masculine character that we observed about her was her hands, which were large, and the flesh extremely hard, owing to the work which she performed for so many years.”


(Image: Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, The New York Public Library. “Portrait of Abigail Allen. Portrait of the female husband!” The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

The Disappointed Bridegroom

On This Day – 17 January 1818

“The following curious development forms a topic of general conversation in the town of Frome. It appears that some years since a weaver of that place had a female apprentice bound to him, from a neighbouring parish – she served her prescribed time with credit and fidelity, and has since conducted herself with great propriety. Being arrived at a marriageable age, and possessing an agreeable person, she naturally enough engaged the affections of a young man of that place – the whole happy course of wooing had gone through in the usual manner – the fair weaver sympathetically returning glance for glance, vow for vow, and sigh for sigh – when oh! dire mishap – some doubts were excited respecting the sex of the amiable bride elect – a convocation of grave matrons was held—and after a mature investigation, they decided—that she was a MAN!”

Some Ioan Trithyd poems (Welsh only)



Unwyd hen ddeddfau anian, – enynwyd

Mân ronyna’r trydan;

Celf un doeth* ac elfen dân

Oleuant fel gwawl huan.





Nid pabwyr a gwer y “Seren – y De,”

Ond daeth fel clir heulwen

Ar unwaith; nid llaith yw’r llen

A yra drwy’r ddaearen.



Y diwair deg flodeuyn – a dorwyd

O dir y byw’n sydyn!

I well gwlad, uwch gwyll y glyn

Ac o olwg pob gelyn.





Mor raddol mae Duw, ‘n ei ragluniaeth,

Yn darllen ei feddwl i ddyn,

Yr hyn y mae wedi ‘i fwriadu

Er maith dragwyddoldeb ei hun;

E dry dudalenau ‘i rol enfawr,

Fe’i dengys yn haen ar ol haen,

Yr hyn y mae dwylaw’r ddynoliaeth

Hyd heddyw heb arnynt roi staen.


Mae Duw yn darparu ei arwyr

I ddangos ei fwriad i’r byd;

Ond rhyfedd i lyfrau mawr Barri

Gael bod yn seiliedig cyhyd;

Anturiaeth! a fuost ti’n hepian?

Neu ynte mewn carchar tan glo?

Na feiddiet ddadblygu’r drychfeddwl

Gychwynwyd yng Nghastell Gwaenfo.


Fe fu Captain Jenner yn curo*

Yr haiarn pan nad oedd yn boeth;

Rhyw hyf anturiaethwr gwyllt ydoedd-

Meddyliwyd ei fod yn annoeth;

Ond ha! erbyn heddyw dychymyg

Y gwron o Gastell Gwaenfo

Fydd ffaith anwadadwy yn gweithio

I lusgo’r mynyddoedd i’r fro.


Mae clywed a gweled cerbydres

Yn cyflym chwyrnellu trwy’r fro,

A buan hirfeinion linynau

Yn llwythog a llawnion o lo,

Yn gysur i galon trigolion

Tref Powis a Chadoxton syw,

Y porthladd a’r rheilffordd dynasant

Rhai miloedd i Farri i fyw.


I Walker, yr hyf anturiaethwr,

Estynwyd allweddau y graig,

Agorodd hen goffrau cloedig

Rhwng pentref yr Hafod a’r aig;

Dyffrynoedd a lanwodd i fyny,

Clogwyni yn ddarnau a wnaeth,

Ac heddyw mae’r rheilffordd yn siglo

Hen ddwylo y mynydd a’r traeth.


Dadwreiddiodd brif dderw cadarngryf,

Agorodd y creigiau o’i flaen,

Fe dreiddiodd i’r celloedd dirgelaf,

Dadtododd hwynt faen ar ol faen;

Fe rwygodd ddirgelion llyfr anian,

Fu’n nghau er dechreuad y byd,

O! ryfedd gywreinwych beirianwaith,

Ti yraist ddynoliaeth yn fud.


Pe codai trigolion cyn Barri

I fyny’n ddamweiniol o’u bedd,

A gweled y porthladd a’i fasnach,

Ni fedrent adnabod ei wedd;

Llewygent a gwelwent ar unwaith,

Rhyfeddent wrth glywed y draul;

Dychmygent eu bod wedi codi

Ar blaned tu arall i’r haul.


Bu Cwmni y Taff yn gwrthsefyll

Ei dwyn hi trwy’r Senedd ar frys;

Ond ah! yr oedd wedi ‘i chynllunio

A’i chario mewn llawer uwch llys;

‘Doedd Walker ond dynol offeryn

I gario y bwriad i ben;

‘Roedd Duw wedi creu y defnyddiau,

Ac yntau’n agoryd y llen.


‘Roedd Davies, Llandinam, anturus,

A’r glewion Ddavisiaid Blaengwawr

A’u llogell wrth wraidd yr anturiaeth,

Pa fodd ä yn fethiant yn awr?

Mae gan y cwmpeini cyfoethog

Lawn ddigon o nwyddau mewn stôr,

I gadw y reilffordd i weithio

O bentref yr Hafod i’r môr.


O gelloedd mynyddoedd Cwm Rhondda

Daw allan y “diamwnd du,”

Y Cymmer, y Coedca, a’r Ocean-

Rhai ydynt ddihysbydd eu bri;

Priodant â hi yn yr Hafod.

Y fan lle’r agorodd ei dôr,

Trosglwydda hwy ‘i waered i Barri,

A denfyn hwynt ffwrdd gyda’r môr.





Wrth droi tudalenau hen gyfrol y cread,

A chwilio ‘i dirgelion yn haen ar ol haen,

Gwneir darganfyddiadau newyddion beunyddiol,

A dwylaw’r ddynoliaeth heb arnynt roi staen;

Dadguddiad diweddar yw’r goleuni trydanol,

Ddangosodd celfyddid a gwyddor i’r byd,

Yr hwn a fu’n llechu yn nh’wllwch yr oesoedd.

O werthfawr oleuni, b’le buost ti c’yd?


Dy chwaer ydyw’r fellten, fu’n fflachio ar Sina,

Nes gyru’r fath ddychryn drwy’r gwersyll islaw,

A’r daran ruadwy arswydus yn canlyn,

R’un lanwai fynwesau y genedl â braw;

Ond ah! erbyn heddyw mae dyfais dynolryw

Yn medru dy arwain di gerfydd dy drwyn;

Hwy wnant i ti gludo mil myrdd o negesau,

Gosodant ti losgi fel canwyll wen fwyn.


O lachar oleuni! wyt blentyn trydaniaeth,

A’r baban ieuengaf sydd ganddo yn awr;

Wrth edrych i mlaen i’r dirgelion dyfodol

‘Rwyn gweled dy deulu’n lluosog a mawr;

Chwi yrwch yr ager yn ddi-son am dano,

Ysbeiliwch y ceffyl defnyddiol o’i daith,

Dy dad fydd yn gyru peirianau’n glo byllau,

A thithau’n goleuo pob cell yn y gwaith.


Efeilliaid elfenol yw’r fellten adeiniog

A’r goleu trydanol mewn gwydrau uwch ben;

Pan egyr ei lygaid mae’r ser yn c’wilyddio-

Ni phrisia ddifoddi aur lampau y nen;

Goleuni sy’n gyru y nwy i’r cysgodion,

Goleuni arbeda i’n trefydd fawr draul;

Ca wresog dderbyniad i’n mawrion balasau-

Goleuni mor llachar a pheledr yr haul.


Oleuni trydanol! mawrygir di heddyw,

Wyt fel ymherawdwr yn codi i fri;

Croesawir di mewn i’r neuaddau cyhoeddus,

Mae urddas St. Stephan yn plygu i ti;

Tydi sy’n goleuo i ddadleu gwladlywiaeth,

Ti wedi roi sêl ar gyfreithiau ein gwlad;

O dan dy oleuni boed iddynt gyduno;

Llewyrcha i galonau blaenoriaid y gâd.


Ac fod y fellten hyf, chwimwth mor ffyrnig,

Mae’r dyn ddigon beiddgar i danio ei ffroen;

Ac yn lle crochruo yn daran ddychrynllyd,

Ymostwng i’w deddfau yn ufudd fel oen;

Fe ‘i gesyd mewn lampau ar hyd ein dinasoedd,

Arweinia i fewn i balasdai ein gwlad,

Fe dynodd y colyn oedd farwol o’i chynffon,

Mae’n llosgi fel olew, heb chwerwder na brâd.


Pan fyddo hen Anian gan nwyau’n clafychu

Try’n ryfel elfenol drwy’r gwagle uwchben;

Y mellt fydd yn gwibio fel meinion ribanau,

Neu seirff tanllyd ffyrnig yn gwau trwy y nen;

‘Rol hollti canghenau y derw llydanfrig,

A thaflu castellau cadarngryf i’r ffos,

Hi dry yn forwynig ‘wyllysgar ac ufydd,

Hi yra i gerdded dywyllwch y nos.


Tydi yw’r daranfollt sy’n hollti pinaclau,

Ti fedri ddychrynu y teyrn ar ei sedd,

A llenwi ag arswyd holl demlau annuwiaeth,

Pan chwythu a’th anadl gyfeiliion i fedd;

Er cymaint beiddgarwch a dewrder y morwyr,

Pan fyddi’n llefaru ânt hwythau yn wan;

Ond er eu dychrynu pan ddelont i’r porthladd,

Harweinia’th oleuni hwy’n ddiogel i’r lan.


Mae amser i ddyfod â llongau yr eigion

Heb hwyl ac heb ager o amgylch y byd;

Bydd teulu trydaniaeth yn troi en holwynion

A llachar oleu’u ‘stafelloedd ‘r un pryd;

Dileir gwrthdarawiadau ar wyneb y cefnfor;

Goleudai nofiadwy fydd llongai y lli;

Rhybyddiant eu gilydd o bell drwy’th oleuni –

Dirgelwch y morwyr rhyw ddydd fyddi di.


Rhwydd hynt i ti bellach, oleuni ysblenydd,

A brysia i oleuo holl demlau’r gwir Dduw;

Rho fwy o oleuni i droi pechaduriaid

O’u ffyrdd cyfeiliornus at Iesu i fyw;

Bydd yno oleuni y dysglaer ogoniant-

Goleuni tragwyddol, goleuni di-draul;

Lle na fydd trydaniaeth nag angen am dano,

Goleuni a bery pan ddiffydd yr haul.

Bard of the Vale



(By Mr. T. M. PRICE, Late of Boverton).

First published 1915

No history or account of Llantrithyd Village and Parish would be complete without the brief biography and life story of Mr. John Morgan (loan Trithyd), the well-known venerable bard and veteran agriculturist of the Vale of Glamorgan, who derives his bardic title from the historic old-world village of Llantrithyd, and is recognised as one of the oldest tenants on the Aubrey-Fletcher Estate in Glamorganshire.


loan Trithyd is a descendant of one of the oldest families in the Vale of Glamorgan, being the youngest surviving son of the late Mr. Christopher Morgan and Mrs Margaret (Peggy) Morgan, Ty Uchaf Farm, Llantrithyd. He was born on the 12th October, 1830, at the old farmhouse, which was demolished in the year 1895, twenty years ago, and re-built in the same year. It is interesting to note that several generations of the Morgan family (loan Trithyd’s ancestors) formerly resided at the same old-fashioned farmstead for the long period of about six hundred years without a single break in the family tenancy. His father, grand-father and great-grandfather were all bred and born at Ty Uchaf old farmhouse, Llantrithyd.

The late Mr. Christopher Morgan, father of loan Trityd, was a well educated, intellectual gentleman, and trained to be an Excise officer, but he had a preference for farming. loan Trithyd’s mother was also an excellent scholar. loan Trithyd told me his mother was a good teacher and often taught him his home lessons and made up his sums, many times, to save him having a thrashing from his schoolmaster.

His father married twice. By his first wife Anne he had one daughter, who became the wife of the late Mr. John John, of Aburthin, Cowbridge, and subsequently the mother of the late Mrs. Evan Morgan, Village Farm, Marcros, and grandmother of Mrs. Richard Morgan, Pentre Farm, Llantrithyd, and Mrs. T. J. Yorwerth, Cowbridge.

His first wife was Miss Anne Jones, of Brocastle Farm, near Bridgend. On their wedding day, the bridegroom brought home his bride riding behind him on the mare, and in coming through the main street of Cowbridge a large number of the inhabitants assembled and held a long iron bar across the roadway to chain the newly-wedded couple by the Old Bridge in High Street, Cowbridge. The mare made a sudden halt and jumped clear over the iron bar, with the youthful bride and bridegroom, and they escaped scot-free, to the great discomfiture and disappointment of the crowd. It should be stated that there were few vehicles in those days, and no honeymoons like the present time. After the wedding ceremony was over, they proceeded to their home and straight to the work on the farms, etc. Mrs. Anne Morgan died December 18th, 1811, in the 30th year of her age. Mr. Christopher Morgan’s second wife was Margaret (Peggy), daughter of Richard Dafydd, Prisk Farm, in the parish of Welsh St. Donats, by whom he had several sons and daughters, including Mr. John Morgan (loan Trithyd), the subject of our present sketch. The late Mr. Christopher Morgan died on the 23rd of June, 1859, in the 94th year of his age. His second wife (Peggy Morgan) passed away November 11th, 1870, in the 80th year of her age. All of them were laid to rest in the pretty little graveyard of St. Illtyd’s Church, Llantrithyd, with many other members of the Morgan family, who were bred and born at Ty Uchaf Farm, Llantrithyd.

The late Mr. Thomas Morgan, eldest brother of loan Trithyd, was the last member of the Morgan family at Ty Uchaf Farm. He passed away 27th September, 1888, aged 74 years. His widow, Mrs Margaret (Peggy) Morgan, kept the farm for some years afterwards, but subsequently handed it over to her nephew, Mr. Edward Watts, the present occupant. Mrs. Peggy Morgan died February 27th, 1908, in the 87th year of her age.


It is interesting to recall that it was at old Ty Uchaf Farmhouse, Llantrithyd, the Calvinistic Methodists of the district held their services on Sundays and week days until Zoar Calvinistic Chapel was erected in 1834. Several notable and distinguished Nonconformist preachers officiated there at the great annual meetings, but they have all long since passed away.

loan Trithyd told me a very amusing story about an eccentric old dame in the old days at Llantrithyd. The old dame was known by the name of “Hen Wraig Rebeca,” and she lived in apartments with another old lady, named Rebecca Richards, who resided in a quaint old cottage at Llantrithyd Village. Hen Wraig Rebeca was an aged woman, and shook very much, suffering from palsy, and it was very difficult to understand her talking. The old dame was proceeding to Llantrithyd Church one Sunday afternoon, and one of the villagers who was going to the Methodists’ meeting at Ty Uchaf Farmhouse, asked the old lady if she was coming to the meeting. “No indeed,” she replied, there is sixpence or a shilling to be had now and then for going to Llantrithyd Church, but there is not a penny to be had in Christopher Morgan’s meeting.” Hen Wraig Rebeca was in very poor circumstances, and was maintained by parish relief. The old lady lived to a very old age. Her walking-stick and snuff-box were placed in her coffin when she died, in accordance with her expressed wish. Her funeral took place on a Sunday, her coffin being carried by willing bearers all the way to an old chapel graveyard near Pentyrch, situate near the summit of the lofty Garth Mountain by Taffs Well.


loan Trithyd remembers his father using an old-fashioned wooden plough, which made four furrows or ridges, to set wheat, and a man sowing the wheat by hand before the wooden plough. loan Trithyd often drove the team of horses attached to the plough, in his young days. When he was a boy he recollects his mother going to Cardiff Market every Saturday with farm produce. She always rode on horseback. A saddle was fastened to the horn of the side-saddle, and a wallet was slung over, filled with farmhouse cheese at both ends, and she carried a large basket of butter on her arm. It is difficult to conceive of any farmer’s wife doing this to-day, as they have their cars and traps to suit their purpose, and times have changed in every way in this progressive age.


In his young days loan Trithyd was a frequent competitor at local Eisteddfodau, and he won several prizes for his englyns and lines of poetry. When he was a young man, from 20 to 30 years of age, he was known by the name of lolo Llantrithyd, but about the age of 30 years he was christened and had the bardic title of loan Trithyd conferred upon him by Dewi Wyn O. Assyllt, a noted bard of distinction, who was a member of a Welsh Society at Cardiff called “Bwrdd y Beirdd,” of which loan Trithyd was a member. About sixty years ago Ioan Trithyd won his first prize with an englyn which he composed for an eisteddfod held in the Stuart Hall, Cardiff, situate on the corner of the Hayes Bridge, Cardiff. The lines were as follow:-


Gwen Hani Gwyn, cilw’r gwenyn,

I swgnol gasanu’r blodeuyn,

I’r cwch gwydda y cewch gwedyn

Miloedd ddont a mêl i ddyn.

He won a second prize with the following englyn to “The Tide” (Y Llanwr), at an Eisteddfod held at Cowbridge fifty years ago, the first prize being awarded to Dewi Wyn O. Essylt, Dinas Powis –

Hyf lanw lyth aflonydd – ni – erys

Hen arof ymwelwydd,

Ar er daith, dwywaith y dydd

Try i’w gawell trugywydd.

He won a large number of prizes in addition to the two mentioned, and was a most popular and successful Eisteddfod conductor at local eisteddfodau in by-gone days.

Although loan Trithyd received little education in his boyhood days, he acquired a great amount of knowledge. He only had a few quarters’ schooling in the winter months at Bonvilstone, under the tuition of the late Mr. James Tutton, a stringent old schoolmaster, and later in life he attended a night school. Farmers had little time for education then, but they were often better scholars than children who to-day have so many educational advantages. It is a trite saying that every person receives two educations – the one which he receives from others; and the one, more important, which he gives to himself. This is evidently the case with loan Trithyd, the bard of the Vale.

Some years ago, loan Trithyd contributed to the Welsh columns of the “Central Glamorgan Gazette,” under the nom-de-plumes of “Gwitiedydd Arthur Llwvd” and “Yr Hen Baeman.” He is a great reader and takes an especial interest in passing events, and in spite of great age he retains all his mental faculties intact. His handwriting may be described as excellent, considering he has attained the age of 85 years, and his caligraphy would put many of our present youthful scholars in the shade, with all their educational facilities.


Few men have rendered better service to the agricultural community than loan Trithyd. He ably and faithfully discharged the office of secretary to the Glamorganshire Ploughing Match for thirty years. He resigned two years ago owing to advancing age, and his third son, Mr. Richard Morgan, Pentre Farm, Llantrithyd, now holds the office of secretary.

loan Trithyd has been farming on his own account since he was 28 years of age, or, to be precise, since the year 1857, and he carried on the butchering business in addition to farming, and held a stall in Cardiff Central Market for 37 years, which he handed over to his second son, Mr. William Morgan, Maerdy Newydd Farm, near Bonvilstone, in 1900. loan Trithyd lived at Llantrithyd sixty-four years, and held the Rectory Farm lands and The Cross Farm for many years after the death of the late Mr. John Williams. He also acted as agent for the Rev. Roper Trevor Tyler, M. A., Rector of Llantrithyd, until his death in 1885, and was assistant overseer of Llantrithyd Parish for many years. He became a member of the Cowbridge Farmers’ Club soon after it was founded, and takes a special interest in agricultural matters in general.


loan Trithyd married in July 1858, 57 years ago, Sarah, daughter of the late William Matthews, of Waterton Court, near Bridgend, her mother being the only daughter of the late Lewis Jenkins, of Tyr Tran, in the parish of Llanilid, near Pencoed, and a sister to ten brothers, the youngest of them being the late Mr. Daniel Jenkins, of Rythin, near St. Mary Hill, father of the present Mr. Daniel Jenkins, Rythin Farm. loan Trithyd was married very quietly at the Tabernacle Baptist Chapel, The Hayes, Cardiff, which is one of the oldest Non-conformist places of worship in Cardiff, founded in 1821.

By this marriage there were seven children, comprising four sons and three daughters, namely, the eldest son, Mr. Christopher Morgan, who resides at The Cross Farmhouse, Llantrithyd, and has held the farm for the past 20 years, when his father removed to Penyrheol Farm, St. Mary Church. William Morgan, the second son, occupies Maerdy Newydd Farm, near Bonvilstone Village. Richard, the third son, is tenant of Pentre Farm, Llantrithyd, and his youngest son, Thomas Morgan, resides with his father and holds the joint tenancy of Penyrheol Farm, St. Mary Church. Mary, the eldest daughter, married the Rev. W. E. Evans, pastor of Carmel Congregational Chapel, near Bonvilstone Village, of which loan Trithyd has been a member and regular attendant for many years. Alice, the second daughter, is married to Mr. Thomas Watts, Llanmihangel Place, near Cowbridge, a well-known Vale farmer, and the youngest daughter, Maggie, resides with her aged father at Penyrheol, St. Mary Church. The wife of loan Trithyd, the late Mrs. Sarah Morgan, passed away in October, 1899, after raising a family of seven children, and was laid to rest in the peaceful graveyard adjoining Zoar Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Bonvilston. The only surviving sister of loan Trithyd is Mrs. Keziah Davies, residing at Coity Road, Bridgend.

loan Trithyd has 40 grandchildren and one great-grandchild; thus there are four generations of the family living to-day. Four of his grandsons have joined the colours, and are now serving their King and country – three of them brothers, sons of the Rev. W. E. Evans, Congregational minister, Carmel Chapel, Bonvilston (who resides at Llanblethery and has a small holding under Miss Samuel, of London), and the fourth is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Watts, Llanmihangel Place, near Cowbridge.


Twenty-one years ago loan Trithyd removed from Llantrithyd to Penyrheol Farm, St. Mary Church, which is about 2½  miles from Llantrithyd Village, but he still regards Llantrithyd affectionately, and pays frequent visits to his sons at Llantrithyd. During the time he was farming jointly with his youngest son, Mr. Thomas Morgan, at Penyrheol, they won two first prizes, valued £10 each, for the best and tidiest kept farm holding within the limits of the Glamorgan Hunt, besides the first prize of fifteen guineas and two second prizes of five guineas, given by Messrs. Webb and Sons, for the best swedes in the six adjoining counties including South Wales and Monmouthshire.

loan Trithyd often acted as judge at several ploughing matches, and won many prizes at various ploughing matches in his young days. He well remembers several farmers in the Vale ploughing with oxen. His father ploughed with oxen at Ty Uchaf Farm. It is of interest to note that Major-General Tyler’s father, the late Rev. Roper Trevor Tyler, M.A., was the last gentleman to work with oxen on the Rectory Farm at Llantrithyd, and the old plough-man, named Tom Roberts, of Llantrithyd, used to sing to them, and he could be distinctly heard all over the parish exercising his vocal powers to the dumb creatures. Here is a specimen of the songs old Tom Roberts, the ploughan, used to sing to the oxen, at Llantrithyd:-

Mae byd mae bud maibedwen

Mae dur mae dur mae derwen

Mae clai mewn clawdd mai clyw mewn clust,

Mae ffon mae ffust ffaean.

O mari mari fwyn, mae hedd y fo-reu mwyn

Ma’er a-dar bach yn canu a’r gw-cw yn y llwyn

Hw ymlan Hw ymlan Hw.


About 45 years ago, when Mr. Rees Thomas, of Boverton Place, lived at St. Hilary, there were several interesting and exciting ploughing competitions in the Vale. Mr. Rees Thomas, the present well-known Vale farmer, was a first-class ploughman in his young days, and won several first prizes at various ploughing matches. He had, however, a prominent opponent in the person of Mr. Cornelius, of Ogmore, who often competed in these ploughing matches. The rivalry between the two noted ploughmen got exceptionally keen and exciting and loan Trithyd composed some interesting lines eulogising Mr. Rees Thomas, the champion ploughman of the Vale, and another bard or poet from the Bridgend district composed some flattering lines in praise of Mr. Cornelius, the noted ploughman from that district. The general public took a keen interest in the bardic duel. Perhaps some readers of the “Gazette” have preserved these lines of poetry. Mr. E. T. Lloyd, J.P., Llantwit Major, tells me in a recent letter that they caused quite a flutter of excitement among the agriculturists of the Vale, according to the traditional stories he has gleaned from the various inhabitants in the Vale of Glamorgan.


Penyrheol, St. Mary Church Village, the present residence and ideal home of loan Trithyd, occupies a pleasant elevated site, near the right-hand side of the highway leading from Cowbridge to St. Athan Village, Gileston, and The Leys, by the Severn Sea. The house is a substantially built modern structure, erected 21 years ago, with every convenience for a farmhouse and with splendid out-buildings attached. The farm forms part of the extensive Margam Estate, owned by Miss Emily C. Talbot, Margam. The exterior of the house has a picturesque south frontage, with a miniature lawn and a fine display of various old-fashioned flowers and rose trees, which have been carefully and artistically arranged by Miss M. Morgan, loan Trithyd’s youngest daughter, who takes much interest in flower gardening during her spare moments.


The house contains a large dining-room, containing a number of interesting pictures and family portraits, etc., including a group of loan Trithyd’s family, taken in 1910, on his 80th birthday, and portraits of Miss Talbot, Margam; Sir Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, Bart., Ellesborough Manor, Bucks; Captain Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, M.V.O., and his young baby son and heir, representing three generations of the Aubrey Fletcher family. Near by a portrait of the late Mrs. S. Morgan, wife of loan Trithyd, who passed away in 1899.  A very antique oak table, many centuries old, occupies a space in the dining-room, and four old-fashioned solid oak stools, which are all well preserved. These have been family heirlooms for many generations. On the sideboard table are a number of valuable silver utensils, including a large solid silver teapot, presented to loan Trithyd on his 80th birthday by Sir Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, Bart, with name engraved on it, and a beautiful silver cake dish, given by Major-General and Mrs. Tyler, Llantrithyd House, on his 80th birthday. Some interesting old pictures, purchased recently at Llandough Castle, occupy spaces in the dining- room, one depicting “The Time of Peace,” after Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., and “The Return of the Red Coats,” from the painting by Frank Craig, R.A., and a fine old war picture, “Back from the Battle.” Near the window of the dining room is an antique old-fashioned grandfather’s clock, nearly a century old, and an old picture depicting a scene, entitled, “The Time of War” (engraved by C. Zoben).

In the entrance hall is a very antique oak chair and table, and some interesting pictures of Llantrithyd Parish Church, Carmel Chapel, The Rectory, Llantrithyd (where loan Trithyd and his family resided for 12 years), and a portrait of the grand monument in St. Illtyd’s Church at Llantrithyd.

The sitting room contains a number of interesting pictures, family portraits, and curios, and a very old-fashioned oak corner cupboard, with lozenge-shaped panes, containing a set of antique china over a century old and several unique glass ornaments and old curios of much interest to the antiquary.


Born 85 years ago, loan lrithyd has lived to see great changes and progress made in social reform and in comforts in life. It would need a special chapter to pen all his interesting reminiscences of the days of old. He remembers the old mail coaches travelling from South Wales to London before the Great Western Railway was opened for traffic in 1841; the death of King William IV., in 1837 the Accession of Queen Victoria, June 21st, 1837, and her marriage to Prince Consort in 1840; and the Repeal of the Corn Laws by Sir Robert Peel, 1846.

In conclusion, it should be mentioned that loan Trithyd was specially honoured by a personal visit of the Right Hon. Walter Runciman, M.P., and Mrs. Runciman, and other notabilities, in December, 1912, Mr. Runciman at that period being President of the Board of Agriculture. Both Mr. and Mrs. Runciman were greatly interested in the venerable bard of the Vale during their brief sojourn in the Vale.

Continue reading Bard of the Vale

Once a Girl, Now a Boy

On This Day – 14 January 1888


“There resides in a fashionable part of Kathmines, Dublin, a family consisting of a mother, who is a widow, two or three sons, and three young ladies’ sisters — at all events they were supposed to be so. The family were held in the highest respect, and until an incident we are about to relate occurred their household was undisturbed by any out-of-the-way occurrence. Two of the young ladies were prepossessing in appearance, and gifted with many accomplishments. The third — the eldest, we believe — was not devoid of good looks either, and possessed a certain amount of musical culture, which was displayed effectively at numerous reunions, parties, and evening assemblies about the neighbourhood. She also developed a remarkable talent for drawing. She was frequently met with at social assemblies and places of entertainment, and was admired everywhere for her good looks and accomplishments. She was an admirable tennis player, and was altogether an agreeable figure in the set in which she moved. About a couple of months ago it was announced that she was about to proceed to London to complete her studies in the South Kensington School of Art, and naturally the news caused some interest among her acquaintances. She came back at Christmas, and many ladies who were acquainted with the family called at their house to see her. What was the astonishment of the visitors when the mother calmly announced that her “daughter” was a boy, and then the quondam Miss —— entered the room dressed in masculine attire, having completely abandoned the character which she or he (as we must now call him) had been so long assuming of a girl. The incident gave rise to great perturbation among the acquaintances of the family, and, as a result, no little unpleasantness has occurred. Those who knew the young gentleman as Miss are extremely astonished at the turn affairs have taken. They find it hard to believe that such a deception could have gone on for years without any suspicion of the real circumstances being entertained. The young man has been regarded as a girl from his infancy. He went to school as a girl, entered society as a girl, dressed as a girl, and behaved as a girl so that the sudden announcement of his true position in society has naturally caused some commotion among the acquaintances of the young man.”

The Conquest, or a Mail Companion Review

SPOILER ALERT – This review includes information which may spoil your reading of the original story. To read The Conquest first – click here.

In January 1837 the Welsh newspaper the Monmouthshire Merlin published a short story by a writer who is only identified by the initials I.H. Although the Merlin features a number of short stories by writers using initials alone only one other story by I.H. can be found. Mistress Annabelle Herbert Struth Pelham appeared in December 1836. The story concerns a woman who falls in love, discovers her beau is married and so remains single. In later life she hears that his wife has died but declines to revive the love affair and continues to live alone. A story which fall outside of societal norms in that at this time most women would have been expected to get married.

The Conquest, or a Mail Companion appeared a month later. It is set in 1818 but published in 1837. As we do not know who the writer is we cannot know when it was written. This story concerns ‘a weeping female, in flimsy, spoilable array’ called Ethelinda travelling via mail coach to take up a new position. There is only one other passenger in the coach and the story revolves around the conversation they have during the journey.  What is interesting about this short story is that from a queer theory perspective it raises a number of points.

From the very outset the author establishes in the reader’s mind that the subject of the story is male. The first words are “The hero of the following sketch…” and within a few paragraphs we hear the elderly man who hands Ethelinda into the coach referring to the other occupant as ‘sir.’ When Ethelinda settles herself she examines her travelling companion who is, “still young, not too tall, with a dark and bright complexion, prominent profile, black curls, and short whiskers, deep set, swarthy eyes.” Once again there is the reminder of masculinity with the reference to ‘short whiskers.’ This concept is constantly reinforced throughout the narrative. The character is unnamed and so for convenience sake will be referred to as ‘Hero’ in this article. Hero is constantly referred to as ‘he’ including at one point ‘Monsieur’ and Ethelinda repeatedly calls him ‘sir.’

Hero himself enforces the perception when he brags that he is “a capital sailor” and is later referred to as a “hardy tar.” He takes a pinch of snuff and when the coach stops briefly Hero holds out a hand to stroke some dogs with “a manly, yet neither a large nor a coarse hand, decked with many a ring.”

However there are hints that not all is as it seems. When Ethelinda says, “I should not be ashamed of owning anything that was true to a perfect gentleman like yourself.” Hero teases “I fear I shall disappoint you before we part, or on better acquaintance.”

Despite all descriptions of Hero there is no intent to imply cross-dressing. The blanket that Hero spreads over Ethelinda’s legs covers them both and “so concealed the figure of their wearer, that not even the tip of a boot could be seen.” The history of cross-dressing is an old one and from the early 19th century stories featured in the media rose steadily. In the Welsh press alone from 1800 to 1829 there were 21 stories. By the 1830s there were 21 for the whole decade and the number continued to rise until the 1890s when 160 instances occurred. One of the reasons that women cross-dressed as men was for protection and travelling in a coach at night would be a good reason to do so. Hero at one point states, “many gentlewomen now go about alone, by stage.” However we learn later that Hero knows the coachman and would therefore not need protecting.

Throughout the story the author uses a number of devices to imply distance from normality. The departure point is “a stage out of London, in a dull little town, whose name I spare” and “nor shall I say whither the vehicle was bound.” Hero asks of Ethelinda “Do you go all the way to __?” leaving the name blank. We cannot know then if the final point is in Wales but what is made clear is that the destination is rural.

The time of the journey is at night in December a journey that was to “last from nine till twelve, three dark and drowsy hours.” Ethelinda is alone, almost an orphan the “elderly man” who handed her into the coach is unnamed as is her father. Indeed the elderly man may have been her father. She confides that he only calls “me Ethelinda, to quiz my liking for novels.” So this is not even her real name. We know she is late taking up her job as Hero points out that the assistant was “to have been on her post two days since” but the delay is not explained. The ‘assistant’ is, according to Hero, “thirty, is very plain, the daughter of an (sic) humble tobacconist, and leaves a home which is anything but comfortable.” It was the humble tobacconist who acquired the job with a Mrs M__, whose name again appears as a blank, as “he was known to the husband,” and “long had her husband’s acquaintance.”

Throughout the journey Ethelinda never enquires of Hero’s name or other personal details. She does however have an attraction to Hero. No sooner has the coach left than “over her tear-wiping kerchief, strove to ascertain whether her fellow passenger was likely to afford her one of those stagified romances of which she had read and dreamt, long and often.” Having assumed Hero was a married man the reply was “not I” and so Ethelinda took him for a bachelor.

Ethelinda describes her circumstances saying her father, “Poor man because he saved and spared to give me a boarding-school education, he insists on my accepting this offer, and has vouched that I am fit for it; but, oh sir! it is a sad pilgrimage for me; no friend to read my heart, to rescue me at the precipice’s edge; I go a victim to the sacrifice, a bear to the stake —a beast to the slaughterer!” To which Hero replies, “but don’t cry so I’ll rescue you.” Earlier Ethelinda had described herself, on meeting the stranger in the coach, as “a young, a single lady …” A description Hero plays along with when, despite knowing Esther to be thirty flatters Ethelinda by suggesting she is only 16.  Ethelinda continues “— to be thrown — unprotected — with an unknown —” Hero interrupts with the assurance that the “…unknown is bound to protect her. If, during our trip, any intruders arrive to mar the, tête á-tête, they shall not obtrude their flatteries on you while I am by…” To which Ethelinda felt faint and Hero offers her Eau de Cologne adding drops to the girl’s handkerchief. ““You are very good,” faltered Ethelinda, between love and fear.” At another point Hero implies he knows who Ethelinda really is: “your account to me of yourself, marks the strongest possible contrast between my fair Ethelinda and Esther Humphries.” ‘Fair Ethelinda’ belongs to Hero, Esther Humphries is someone else. Indeed both the story and the coach are called The Conquest with a play on the subtitle of ‘a mail companion.’

Eventually the coach reaches its destination and Hero leans out of the carriage and calls for the coachman to stop. Ethelinda peers out to see “a servant, lantern in hand, came from the garden of a cottage ornée.” The use of the term cottage ornée is an interesting one. This was a decorated or stylised ‘cottage’ popular from the late 18th to early 19th century. It was inspired by the Romantic Movement in a move away from a formal heavy architecture to a more ‘natural’ way of living. They were built mainly by the wealthy, and even royalty, as retreats or additions to their estates. The term was coined to distinguish structures that turned a labourer’s cottage into aesthetic artefact. The cottage ornée was seen as pure, rural, back to nature type of living where children could be brought up in a heterosexual and wholesome environment. This is emphasised in the story when Hero refers to the name of the cottage as ‘The Nest.’

However by the early 19th century the cottage ornée was also being utilised by women for their sole use. Designs began to reflect this and they were being deliberately marketed as appropriate dwellings for women without families. The Ladies of Llangollen’s famous house Plas Newydd was described as a cottage ornée and this emphasis on female only occupation began to undermine the heterosexual ‘pure’ concept. As more women moved into them the term began to fall out of favour.

As the coach stops and Hero leans out Ethelinda begins to wonder who this person is when she catches sight of a “petticoat of a dark cloth habit.” “So,” says the narrator, “vanished Ethelinda’s fairy dream.”

The story quickly moves to unravel the ‘dream’ and establish Hero as a woman, that Ethelinda’s “conquest had been achieved by the equestrian Mrs. M., who had gone to town on business for her husband, as he had recently lamed himself in a hunting leap. Though she had no desire to be taken for a man, or her side curls for whiskers, she, would not undeceive the blunderers; especially as she suspected, from the locale at which the young lady joined her, that this might be the very female whose disposition, for her children’s sakes, she thought it her duty to ascertain.”

As Hero’s identity is revealed the story moves into more ‘normal’ aspects. Although it would have been dark in the carriage it is not until the servant appears with the lantern that the first mention of light is made. Mrs M.’s husband is quickly identified as Frank and the servant as Matthew. At the start of the story the narrator had reassured readers that the hero is “now too wealthy to incur adventures,” so normality is restored as Mrs M never tries this again. Furthermore the narrator states that those who know the hero know she is so unchanged that they would have readily guessed her identity “even if they have not previously heard the tale from the original’s own lips” – the last implying that it had become a favourite story of Mrs M.’s.

The final paragraph abandons Ethelinda and her real name is substituted. “Esther, though no longer lady’s maid, yet lives with Mrs. (now Lady) M., her own woman, to Sir Frank’s French cook.” So although she is married she remains with Mrs M but no longer a servant. She is “though devoted to her mental, exemplary, and kind-hearted mistress, calls horse-riding, and its masculine costume, “dangerous and unmerciful for fine women.” The narrator ambiguously agrees, “I am, though not in her sense of the words, inclined to say so too.”

And so normality is restored.

What then is the point of the story? It’s hardly a warning against cross-dressing which was a great taboo at this period. The last paragraph confirms that Mrs M. continues to wear masculine costume when horse riding. And the portrayal of Hero is not a condemnatory one. Can we go so far as to call it a lesbian story? Ethelinda was under the impression she was talking to a man but Mrs M indulges in what can only be described as flirtatious behaviour. From the moment they met Mrs M encourages the girl to see her as an adventurer – someone who can and will ‘rescue’ her. Can anything even be read into the use of Ethelinda as a name? It was a medieval one but enjoyed a revival in the early 19th century and means ‘noble snake.’ Can we draw any parallels with the temptress Eve?

What is certain is that this story can be cited as an example of both gender and sexual blending and as such deserves a place in queer literature.


(With thanks to Kirsti Bohata for correcting some earlier mistakes)

The Conquest, or a Mail Companion

The hero of the following sketch, though now too wealthy to incur adventures such as the one I am about to tell, is, in other respects, so unchanged, that our fair Amalekites will readily guess who sat for this portrait, even if they have not previously heard the tale from the original’s own lips:-

Beneath the starlight, uneclipsed by gas (December, 1818) the Conquest night coach stopped to change horses, at its first stage out of London, in a dull little town, whose name I spare; nor shall I say whither the vehicle was bound; enough that its journey was to last from nine till twelve, three dark and drowsy hours.

“Ve takes up ‘tother hinside here,” said coachee, come, marm,”

An elderly man led to the steps of this equipage a weeping female, in flimsy, spoilable array. While her luggage was hoisted he placed a large heavy flail basket on the seat, saying, “Well, Ethelinda, you won’t be quite alone. Sir, any attentions you”-

“I’ll take every care of the lady!” replied a free voice, as the capped, cloaked, and comfortered personage, who sat with back to the horses, held out a thickly-gloved hand, to help and hasten Ethelinda’s entrance. She sobbed “good by,” and was driven off; but soon, over her tear-wiping kerchief, strove to ascertain whether her fellow passenger was likely to afford her one of those stagified romances of which she had read and dreamt, long and often. Brief, fleeting, “few and far between,” as were the glimmerings that aided her feminine scrutiny, they, by degrees, informed her that her opposite neighbour was still young, not too tall, with a dark and bright complexion, prominent profile, black curls, and short whiskers, deep set, swarthy eyes, that seemed to light up the obscure, as would those of a dog or cat, yet very steadfast withal.

“As an old traveller,” said, at length, the proprietor of these noticeable orbs, “I always take this side, because women usually prefer the other; but now with your leave, I’ll cross, that my cloak may have the honour of falling at your feet; no matter how we look, on these occasions, so we are but warm enough.”

The interminable, fur-lined folds, so concealed the figure of their wearer, that not even the tip of a boot could be seen. They were now officiously adjusted round the knees of Ethelinda, and a large shawl wrapped over her shoulder, by this beau galant.

“Apparently,” he resumed, “ma’amselle is unused to the road.”

“Quite, Sir, I assure you,” sighed Ethelinda, to public conveyances. Next to one’s own carriage, which can’t always be spared, a postchaise is best; but to travel all night by the mail –”

“Our leathern convenience has not even that dignity,” said the stranger, fixing his peculiar eyes upon her; “yet many gentlewomen now go about alone, by stage; ‘tis economical, and avoids fuss.”

“True,” coincided the damsel errant, “but — really — for a young, a single lady — to be thrown — unprotected — with an unknown —”

“Nay,” laughed her hearer, “that unknown is bound to protect her. If, during our trip, any intruders arrive to mar the, tête á-tête, they shall not obtrude their flatteries on you while I am by, even if so inclined, which ‘tis just possible they might not prove.”

Ethelinda felt she knew not how; and called herself “faint.”

“What d’ye mean?” asked her new friend, “on this side? Why — hah! you heroines are always unpoetical. Let me drop some Eau de Cologne on your handkerchief, the only thing to use and, here, take a cayenne lozenge, my dear!”

“You are very good,” faltered Ethelinda, between love and fear.

“I,” continued the other, “can’t, even at sea, forgive the ‘inglorious slaves,’ as Byron calls them — who that could sketch or scribble but would be well to gaze, listen, breathe, sing, dance, on deck? I’m a capital sailor, and shipboard always gives me an appetite, even for the homeliest fare!”

‘‘Indeed? Perhaps then —even”— hesitated Ethelinda, half turning towards her panier, but the hardy tar rattled on.

“Now one has nothing to put up with on land in that regard. Inns would lose — what now they have a right to expect – our custom, if they did not furnish good refreshments; though they charge highly for the accommodation but persons of our caste, my love, could not, of course, be either so stingy, or so vulgar as to burden ourselves with substantial cates, such as nobody can require during the hours usually devoted to rest; one might as well lie with sandwiches and Maderia, cake and Cognac, under one’s pillow.” He adjusted his stock, and drew up his collar in spite.

Poor Ethelinda actually feared that awful eye through dunnest night (wicker-work and brown paper) had seen — or that Roman nose smelt — the hoard of cold pork, gingerbread, and “ardent spirits diluted,” which now she dared not offer to Monsieur, nor taste herself, nor even own.

“Still,” pursued the provoking one, “that I may not lose your conversation by a doze, I must resort to ma tabatiere, if you please. I promise not to smoke.”

He explained the mystic phrase by taking a pinch of snuff from a small silver box, as the lady tittered forth.

“No, pray don’t smoke, sir; for though pa sometimes indulges in a cigar, ma and I never let him bring it into the drawing-room.”

“Well,” rejoined the incognito, “to-morrow I shall be in the atmosphere of home, with which tobacco’s fumes may blend, and no lady’s leave asked.”

“Bless me,” exclaimed Ethelinda (we may guess how sincerely) “I hoped you were — at least — a married man.”

“Not I, though, perhaps, every man should marry at my age.”

“La! sir, you make me curious — to know the age when a gentleman ought to take a wife.”

“Oh, if you want to know my years, child, I am nearly six and twenty, which, I presume, is full ten years older than am at liberty to call you, eh? Come, ladies are invariably candid on this subject.” He brushed up his curls maliciously.

“I will be so at any rate, sir; I am just of age, so all I have is at my own disposal.”

“Ha! then beware of fortune hunters! Talking of hunters, oh that I were exercising my limbs on the back of mine instead of being cramped in here! Do you ride?”

“Donkeys, by the sea-side, sometimes.”

“Ay, at Margate your very fine folks quiz that place unjustly. I’ve had many a capital swim there, and such walks! I’m a desperate peripatetic; are you?”

“Sir, I —” Ethelinda did not know.

“Nay, don’t be ashamed! Remember Queen Caroline was a pedestrian, as well a Davie Deans’ bairn.”

Whether she was that unintelligible something, or which Queen Caroline was meant, the half-frightened, half-affronted maiden could not tell; but, resolving to tax her taxer’s generosity, said,

“I should not be ashamed of owning anything that was true to a perfect gentleman like yourself.”

“You are too civil,” he laughed, “I fear I shall disappoint you before we part, or on better acquaintance.”

“Sir,” faintly articulated Ethelinda but the gentleman seeing, at the inn door where now they stopped, a couple of fine spaniels was whistling to them instead of heeding the lady.

“They remind me of my own dogs,” he cried; “have you so much as a bit of biscuit with which to coax ‘em near us?”

Ethelinda reluctantly produced a slice of pig-impregnated bread from her store, with which the merry wayfarer fed the animals from a manly, yet neither a large nor a coarse hand, decked with many a ring. Again they started, and he now enquired,

“Do you go all the way to ——?”

“Not quite. I am about to stay some time with a friend of pa’s. But — you will excuse me —how very well you whistle! I am so fond of music; are not you?”

This was saying anything to blink the question.

“When ‘tis music indeed,” replied he of the forage caps “I love, though I but imperfectly understand it; yet hate to have my ears bored by Misses who attempt French and Italian songs knowing as little of the sound as the sense, in every way. From the very parlours behind shops issue the discords of these would-be cantatrice’s.  If tradesmen’s daughters are to gain their bread by teaching, let them be thoroughly taught first. But tell me — I know most families on this road — the friend you visit the rich Mrs. D__, the fashionable Lady Y__, that charitable spinster Miss F__, or the so-called CLEVER Mrs. M__?”

“So-called!” repeated Ethelinda, unguardedly. “Is she not clever, then? I heard that she was very severe.”

“Umph! if it be she to whom you go, I am surprised at your asking her character of me,” equivocated the stranger.

“Oh, sir, papa has long had her husband’s acquaintance, but I never yet saw her. Is she not extremely proud, satirical, strict, and —”

“She is a sworn foe to vanity, affectation, and deceit; so she ought to be, as she educates her own children — though, as the eldest of the four is now seven years old, she has just engaged an assistant, who was to have been on her post two days since.”

“Think, dear sir!” nearly wept Ethelinda, “how humiliating must such a situation be to a girl of any appearance and feeling, accustomed to all the comforts of home.”

“May be so, ma chère; but this person owns to thirty, is very plain, the daughter of an humble tobacconist, and leaves a home which is anything but comfortable. Waste not your sympathy in judging her feelings by your own. The character her father gave his customers to procure this place, and your account to me of yourself, marks the strongest possible contrast between my fair Ethelinda and Esther Humphries.”

The poor maiden burst into tears, sobbing out,

“Oh, sir, though I couldn’t resist the temptation of your politeness to make the most of the first and last such interview that I can ever hope to enjoy, yet, as soon as I found you were a friend of that lady’s, I resolved to trust.”

“Or rather, you knew that I must soon learn the fact. Well?”

“Well, sir, father only calls me Ethelinda, to quiz my liking for novels. Poor man because he saved and spared to give me a boarding-school education, he insists on my accepting this offer, and has vouched that I am fit for it; but, oh sir! it is a sad pilgrimage for me; no friend to read my heart, to rescue me at the precipice’s edge; I go a victim to the sacrifice, a bear to the stake —a beast to the slaughterer!”

“Ay, that’s something like,” commented her hearer; “but don’t cry so I’ll rescue you; you need not fear — you shall never be a governess!”

“Sir,” ejaculated Miss Humphries — visions of rank and matrimony still floating in her brain —  “How’ sir?”

“Quite honourably; you shall find a matron in my house, though it lacks one just now; but till you become a bride — tell me honestly — is it teaching or service you shrink from? What can you do to merit such a sanction?”

“Any thing — every thing! make gowns, caps, bonnets, wash lace, dress hair, keep accounts; — who would not rather be a lady’s maid than a governess?”

“Very few waning flirts, I should hope — but — hollo! coachman! remember where you put me down. Mr. M.’s__ the Nest — you know,” he craned from the window.

“I does, bless your voice,” shouted back the driver.

What! was this Mr. M. himself? — but no, he had said he was a bachelor. Ethelinda dared not speak; she peered over her companion’s shoulder, and listened to his panting breath, as a light flashed across the road. The carriage drew up, its door was opened, the steps fell; a servant, lantern in hand, came from the garden of a cottage ornée, followed by a gentleman, leaning on a stick. The gathered up cloak now betrayed the petticoat of a dark cloth habit, and the supposed hero leaped out, clamouring,

“Dear Frank! the ankle better? how are the youngsters? Bring in Humphries; boxes too, Matthew. Alight, my girl, and make yourself at home!”

So vanished Ethelinda’s fairy dream. Her conquest had been achieved by the equestrian Mrs. M., who had gone to town on business for her husband, as he had recently lamed himself in a hunting leap. Though she had no desire to be taken for a man, or her side curls for whiskers, she, would not undeceive the blunderers; especially as she suspected, from the locale at which the young lady joined her, that this might be the very female whose disposition, for her children’s sakes, she thought it her duty to ascertain.

Esther, though no longer lady’s maid, yet lives with Mrs. (now Lady) M., her own woman, to Sir Frank’s French cook, who yearly imports foreign snuff for his father-in-law, and Paris romances for the too susceptible Ethelinda. She still, though devoted to her mental, exemplary, and kind- hearted mistress, calls horse-riding, and its masculine costume, “dangerous and unmerciful for fine women.” I am, though not in her sense of the words, inclined to say so too.

I. H.

About Me and Contact Me

Most of my adult career has been about history. I started off as an archaeologist but when it all got a bit too dusty, wet and cold I moved inside. I’ve worked or volunteered for a variety of venerable organisations such as the British Museum, the Museum of London, National Museums Scotland and others.

Before long it was only natural I should get interested in LGBT history and have been researching and recording that history for over ten years. In 2012 I applied for a Heritage Lottery Fund to host the first LGBT exhibition in Wales. We had a launch at the Senedd and it was a great success. John Davies, the celebrated Welsh historian, gave his first speech on gay history. I also asked the National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, if she would write a poem commemorating the event. The reason for asking was that no National Poet, or Poet Laureate, of any country in the world had written a poem celebrating the LGBT people of their country. Gillian kindly agreed and taking as her inspiration the Ladies of Llangollen she wrote Sarah at Plas Newydd, July 5th 1788.

Since then I continue to specialise in the LGBT history of Wales and give talks throughout the year. The aim is to raise awareness of the enormous impact people from Wales have made, not just on British LGBT history, but on international history. All this will culminate in my forthcoming book Forbidden Lives, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and events from Wales to be published by Seren Books in September 2017.

Anyway, hope you like the posts.


Human Wales

All who would study the conditions of the worker in modern industrial Wales should purchase Human Wales said the Daily Mail in 1907.

grsimsgaietyThe author, George R. Sims was an English journalist, poet, dramatist and novelist and had come to Wales in 1907 to write a series of articles. He had been commissioned by the Western Mail and Evening Express to look at how the people live in the cities, on the plains and the towns on the hills of Wales.

He was well qualified for the job. “No man,” said the Express “has devoted more time and attention to the study of the social conditions of the people.”

Sims was a prolific writer covering numerous topics and had written extensively on the conditions of the poor particularly in London. He also published a number of ballads attempting to draw attention to the predicaments of the poor. His most famous being “It is Christmas Day in the Workhouse” (1877) which has been widely parodied.

As he travelled around Wales collecting material for his articles Sims sometimes added descriptions of his travels:

“I spent Empire Day [1] motoring among the Welsh mountains. A splendid car, whose motto was ‘Excelsior’ in the matter of climbing, was most kindly placed at my disposal by Mr. Edward England, of Cardiff, and Mr. England, jun., drove me, taking the torrents and precipices with a nerve and a skill that won my intense admiration. So with England at the helm – wasn’t that splendid for Empire Day? – and the British Flag flying at the prow, we rode triumphantly into Tonypandy, and so to the heart of the valley. There such a terrible storm burst over us that we made a wild dash for a colliery, and the manager very courteously had us lowered to the bottom of a shaft, where we remained snug and dry among the black diamonds until the storm was over. We took the British Flag down the mine with us to keep it dry. It was the only time it was lowered on that day of days.

“I have the greatest difficulty this week in preparing the weekly salad which it is my privilege to offer to my kind friends in front. But it is all the fault of wonderful Wales. I have been in the Principality all the week, and am still there while these lines are being written. I have been whirled about Wales, and putting in some nice, healthy mountain-climbing under the expert guidance of my friend Mr. John W. Evans, of the Western Mail. I have been to Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil and Dowlais, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar, Pontypridd, Tonypandy, and the Rhondda Valley. I have been down a coal mine and up in a balloon. I have been attending eisteddfodau and Hibernian sports, to say nothing of a service in a Chinese Temple and a Somali wedding in the Arab quarter of Cardiff. These things are absorbing, and leave little time for the serious occupation of life. But I hope to be back in London on Sunday, after which it will be my endeavour to drop back again into the ordinary routine of conventional nose-to-the-grindstone life.”

Part of that grindstone was finishing Human Wales. “My endeavour,” he said in the introduction “will be to present a true and faithful picture of things seen in certain areas and districts, where the need for reform is frankly acknowledged by all who have become acquainted with the facts, officially or otherwise.” And he added “This, then, is a record of a journey through a land of contrasts in which wealth and poverty gaze at each other across the way, in which the mighty mountains towering to the sky look down upon miserable hovels in which human beings herd in squalor, and sometimes sleep, packed together in damp, dark dens, into which the light of day has never penetrated.”

Human Wales is something of a grim read but deserves its place in list of publications about Wales. Get the free e-book here

[1] 24 May. It later became Commonwealth Day