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Henry Owen and the Guild of Handicraft


Henry  Owen and the Guild of  Handicraft

By David  Ellis

To those who are familiar with Pembrokeshire’s rich history Henry Owen needs no introduction but for those unfamiliar with his sterling work as a local historian need look no further than to the late Dillwyn Miles’ summary of his life, career and achievements in the second article of this Journal.1


Besides soliciting  on  behalf  of  the  law  while resident  in London, Henry Owen gave his spare time to charitable work mainly connected with hos­pitals. He was a member of the management committee of the Samaritan Hospitals in  Marylebone  Road  and Honorary  Secretary  of the Lying In Hospital in York Road, Lambeth . It was in the latter hospital in the early 1870s that Henry  Owen  met Dr. John  Williams (later  Sir John  Williams GCVO)  and  the two became life-long friends.  It was  Dr. Williams who persuaded him  to lecture to the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion on the life and writings of Gerald of Wales, but who afterwards told him that it was the worst delivered address he had ever listened to, at the same time advising him to extend his account into a book. This he did in 1889 and it gave hi m immediate recognition, not just of h is gifts of literary expression, but also of a keen sense of humour.

In his Memoirs of a Literary Bloke,2 H . M . Vaughan recounts his visits to Dr. Owen at Poyston in winter as being uncomfortable because:

Henry  Owen  detested  warmth  fully   as much   as I  desired   and required it. Now and again I was forced to wearing an overcoat, scarf and hat in the chilly dining room, which  my host  seemed to think effeminate though excusable on my part

Vaughan describes how he:

was fond of him and consequently was only amused by his eccentric and sometimes rather alarming manners, although many people who met Dr. Owen were liable to be upset by his brusqueness and even sudden explosions of anger, assumed rather than genuine, I aways suspected.

Interesting too, that:

Dr. Owen had a perfect mania for displaying the white boar chained to a holly bush , which is the coat of arms of the Owen family, in every guise at Poyston. It decorated the entrance gates of the drive, it appeared  on candlesticks  and  Sheriff ‘s banners, and  it occupied a large portion of the specially  woven  carpet of the parlour. Some  of us used irreverently to allude to these heraldic figures as “The Poyston Pigs”.

There is a connection too with Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936),  a noted   medieval   scholar  and  Vice-Chancellor   of  Cambridge  University ( 1 913-15), perhaps best known as the author of some of the greatest ghost stories in the English language. He had met Dr. Owen when they both sat  on the Royal Commission  on Public Records in  1912-3. In ‘A View from a Hill’ , published in 1926, James modelled Squire Richards on Dr. Owen:

. . . the two of them had met on an official inquiry in town, had  found that they had many tastes and habits in common, and liked each other, and the result was an invitation from Squire Henry Richards  to Mr. Fanshawe.

It is perhaps surprising to learn that Henry Owen had a close association  with the Arts and Craft movement of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods and was friendly with Charles Robert Ashbee, the driving force behind the Guild of Handicraft. A highly significant figure  in  British  artistic and cultural life in the early twentieth century, Ashbee’s philosophy was influenced by the Romantic anti-industrialism of William Morris and John Ruskin. He started the Guild of Handicraft  as a small craft workshop  in the east end of London in 1888 before moving it to the small Cotswold town of Chipping Campden in 1902. A man of great energy  and passion, part socialist, part imperialist, his interests included architecture, the history of architecture in relation to political and social factors, the medieval craft tradition,  printing  and publishing,  town  planning  and social reform.

Born  in  1863 Ashbee  grew  up  in  Bloomsbury  in  a  comfortable middle class home. His father, Henry Spencer Ashbee, had married well and was senior partner in an export firm. His wealth enabled him to  establish  himself  as  a  bibliophile  and  scholar.  Curiously,  under  the  pseudonym of  Pisanus  Fraxi  he  compiled  Cantena  Librorum  Tacendorum  (London,  1 885), a bibliography of erotica. In 1898 C. R. Ashbee married twenty­ year-old Janet Forbes, the daughter of a prosperous stockbroker who had been a supporter of the Guild of Handicraft for many  years.  In one way  this was a curious partnership as for many years she had found him ridiculous, ‘clouded with his own conceit’, whilst he had always, as he told her  in a letter, felt a ‘coldness to her sex’, preferring  the affections of men.

A connection between Henry Owen and C. R. Ashbee has long  been  known, and the writing desk made for Henry Owen by the Guild of Handi­ craft in 1892 and currently on display at Scolton is  evidence  of  this. Further information came to light in 2004 when Graham Peel of Tenbury Wells, a researcher working on the life and career of Alec Miller (1879- 1961 ), a Glasgow-born sculptor, found reference to a pair of cast lead heraldic  boars apparently  made in  1906 and  installed  on gateposts at the entrance to a house belonging to a Dr. Owen in Haverfordwest. This, of course, was Poyston. Normally working in wood and  stone, and  mainly  for ecclesiastical clients, Alec Miller’s boars were, for him, an unusual commission. From 1 902 he worked with C. R. Ashbee and the Guild of Handicraft at Ch i ppi ng Campden, although eventually he emigrated to the United States.

The relationship between Henry Owen and C. R. Ashbee appears to have come about through his being the family solicitor to Janet Forbes’ family. By 1904 Owen had visited Campden and in August of that year Ashbee stayed at Poyston. Two quotes from Ashbee’s journal relate to these two events which seem to show a degree of affection, perhaps greater than that usual between  solicitor and client:

The family lawyer has been with us. A dear frowsty old thing, very human and very shrewd, who smokes like a chimney, balances his gold eye glasses on the bridge of his nose and blows up his moustache like a walrus. To us he is inseparably connected with a stuffy little office in Old Jewry, where he sits among deeds and papers, where he draws up family documents and never by any means sends out a full bill of charges. It is his most charming trait to firmly believe that legal charges are always too high and should be reduced whenever possible. This is what he appears to Janet and me, in reality he is the great Dr. Owen of Owen’s Pembrokeshire, historian, antiquary, JP, mayor of Pembroke, Lord High Sheriff of the County, fur and tipstaves,  pomp  and antique dignity  . .  .

Poyston  . . . is a delightful  stretch of wild woods and lakeland in the Owen Withybush estate and he is nursing it for his retirement in his old  age.

Henry Owen was also involved in amending the rules of the Guild of Handicraft and in 1910 was advising Janet Ashbee  about a possible  move to the Norman chapel at Broad Campden. This was a building that Ashbee had surveyed in 1903 when it was derelict and for which he had prepared plans for its reconstruction and enlargement, in 1905-7, for a Singhalese scholar Ananda Coomaraswamy and his wife Ethel. By 1910, with Janet Ashbee pregnant with their  first child, the Coomaraswamys  were giving  up the tenancy of the Norman  Chapel and the opportunity therefore arose


for the Ashbees to live there, which they did, moving in in the summer of 1911.

It is likely that Henry Owen had also been a trustee to the marriage settlement of C.R. and Janet Ashbee. In July 1914 Janet Ashbee stayed at Poyston and her journal includes a picture of the gates captioned ‘The  Gates (with lead boars) designed by CRA (modelled by Alec Miller)’. The actual making of the gates was undertaken by two members of the Guild, Bill Thornton and Charley Downer, described as ‘truculent but  insepar­able’, and a photograph exists showing the partly assembled gates in the blacksmiths’ workshop at Campden.3 In August 1907 a photograph of them was used in an advertisement for the Guild of Handicraft in The Archi­ tectural Review.

In the late 1890s and early 1900s Henry Owen extended and remodelled Poyston with the help of architect D. E. Thomas, embellishing it with several decorative details with a strong Arts and Crafts flavour. As well  as the gates i t is likely that the plaster fireplace overmantel commemorating General Sir Thomas Picton’s battles is  a  Guild of  Handicraft  product utilising the Tree motif that features in many of  the  designs  listed  in  the Guild Workshop Record Book in the library of the Victorian and Albert Museum. It is  seen  also  on  the  library  book  case  ends  at  Madresfield Court,  Worcestershire.   At   Poyston   the   library   fireplace   overmantel   is a sophisticated exercise in wood, repousse brass and ivory incorporating Henry Owen’s initials. It is known that Alec Miller carved an overmantel based on the story of The Jackdaw of Reims for a house near Ledbury, and that he was commissioned for a sizeable work in plaster for the Coronation Hall in Ulverston.
Editorial Note
The editor wishes to thank Kath Woolcock, Senior Library Assistant, Pembroke­  shire County  Libraries,  for supplying  the photograph  of  Henry  Owen.

1. See also the notice of Henry Owen printed in the Dictionary  of   Welsh Biography.
2. H. M. Vaughan,  Memoirs  of  a Literary  Bloke  (Privately  printed, 1941).
3. A. Crawford, C. R. Ashbee (London, 2005), 142.

The Pembrokeshire General Election of 1970




By J. Graham Jones

Desmond Louis Donnelly entered the House of Commons in the general election of February 1950 as the first Labour MP for the highly marginal Pembrokeshire constituency. 1 At just 29 years of age, he was the youngest Labour MP in the new House of Commons. From the outset he was widely viewed as something of a political maverick and was initially seen as an avid follower of Aneurin Bevan before in 1954 veering sharply to the right within the Labour Party and becoming a supporter of the new party leader Hugh Gaitskell who had succeeded Clement Attlee in December 1955. He also forged a close friendship with George Brown who became the deputy leader of the Labour Party. Throughout these years Donnelly was seen within the Labour Party as a rather dubious, unreliable character, ever liable to defect to another political party  and one who could never really  be relied upon to toe the party line. When Gaitskell died very suddenly in January 1963, and an intensely fought contest for the party leadership ensued with Harold Wilson and George Brown as the forerunners, Donnelly became one of Brown’s leading campaign managers. But it was of course Wilson who succeeded Hugh Gaitskell as party leader and indeed became Labour Prime Minister in October 1964. Although Donnelly’s position within Pembrokeshire seemed very secure – he had a substantial majority of 8586 votes there in the 1964 general election – he was predict­ably not offered even junior ministerial office by Wilson and subsequently became something of a backbench rebel constantly sniping at many aspects of governmental conduct and policies.


During 1965 Desmond Donnelly and his close political associate Wood­row Wyatt, the equally maverick Labour MP for the Bosworth division of Leicestershire, were a particular thorn in the government’s flesh over its plans to nationalise the British steel industry. In his memoirs, Wyatt wrote at length about his associate and his political activities, ‘Desmond Donnelly was a large, lumpy man with an ugly but not repulsive face. He had ability and energy and was a good, unpolished speaker. He had strong enthu­siasms, sometimes sustained and sometimes not. . . . He had courage and verve but was not assiduous in studying details, so his writings and speeches lacked content. He became a strong adherent of Hugh [Gaitskell]’s, always in attendance. He was an encouraging  friend  to have  around’. Eventually, on 6 May 1965, the day of the crucial debate on steel nationalisation in the House of Commons (when the government’s  defeat  had  seemed  a  very real possibility), last-minute concessions from George Brown persuaded Donnelly and Wyatt to vote with the Labour government, support which gave it a majority of just four votes in the House (310 votes to 306). In the course of an impassioned speech during the debate, Michael Foot (fully sensitive to the many problems facing the Ebbw Yale steelworks within his constituency) had actually referred to Donnelly as ‘a compulsive traitor’, while Donnelly had retorted by dismissing Foot’s remarks as ‘Restoration comedy’. (One of Foot’s biographers has described Desmond Donnelly as ‘one of the few men in public life for whom Michael [Foot] entertained a positive loathing’).2 But, although  their  MP had  finally  come into line at the eleventh hour, rumbles of discontent persisted in his Pembrokeshire constituency for several months, while at Bosworth there was a concerted attempt to unseat Woodrow Wyatt. Donnelly’s personal relations with the Prime Minister reached an all-time low, a deep-rooted personal animosity increased still further by Donnelly’s advocacy of  a  ‘Lib-Lab’ alliance  and his  friendship  with  the  Liberal  Party  leader  Jo  Grimond.  Wilson’s   biographer has recorded that, by the early months of 1966, the Prime Minister was most anxious to sack George Brown,  but  admitted  to Barbara Castle that, if  he did, Brown  ‘would only  make cause with  Wyatt  and Donnelly  to destroy us’ . When Harold Wilson eventually decided  to  go  to  the country in the spring of 1966 mainly because of his party’s  very  small  overall majority in the Commons, four Labour Party delegates from Pembroke Dock  formally  opposed  Donnelly’s re-nomination  and  even  set in motion moves to nominate a rival  Labour  candidate.  In the event, time was against the dissident delegates, and Desmond Donnelly was again re­ elected to parliament with a somewhat  reduced  majority  of  5931  votes after a keenly  fought  four-cornered  contest.  In  July  Donnelly  launched  a vitriolic attack on the Labour government during a further debate on steel nationalisation and, together with Woodrow Wyatt, he abstained in the ensuing vote in the House  so that  both  were then  formally  ‘reprimanded’ by Joh n  Silkin, the government chief whip.3

Desmond Donnelly remained a real thorn in the flesh of the Wilson govern­ment, especially in relation  to  its  patently  half-hearted  attitude  towards British entry into the EEC, Rhodesia, and steel nationalisation, and he provocatively advocated the establishment of a coalition government between Labour and  the  Liberals,  an  idea  which  he  discussed  with  the Liberal Party leader Jo Grimond . By the summer of 1967 he was openly advocating the abolition of the Westminster parliament and the traditional local government structure in favour of a national network of regional assemblies,  including  an  elected  council  for  Wales  with  its  own prime minister.4  By the autumn Donnelly was even anticipating the election of  a
Conservative government under Ted Heath as in the best interests of the nation. His political  opponents within Pembrokeshire  observed closely his   highly ambivalent standpoints and his inconsistent voting records in the House of Commons. Research by the opposition whips’ office at West­ minster revealed that, during the parliamentary session 1966-67, the MP for Pembrokeshire had voted on just 129 occasions out of a possible 428 divisions in the House, that he had failed to vote on the Iron and Steel Bill and that he had voted with the Labour government at the end of the  economic debate on the devaluation of the pound on 22 November 1967. 5  Yet,  during  the  devaluation  debate,  he  had  launched  a devastating attack
on his own government’s economic and industrial policies and on the Prime Minister personally. 6
On 18 January 1968, following a heated debate on substantial cuts in government spending, twenty-five backbench Labour MPs chose to vote against the government, twenty-two of these in protest against the reduc­tion in the social services budget, two demanding a tougher line with left­ wing rebels, and Sir Dingle Foot, the former Solicitor-General, because of the withdrawal east of Suez. It was also the withdrawal east of Suez which convinced Desmond Donnelly that he must resign the Labour whip as he sharply denounced  the government ‘s action – ‘Mr. Wilson. should resign and leave public life. He is a transitory phenomenon of limited signifi­cance’. Amplifying the reasons for his dramatic decision, Donnelly asserted that he had resolved to resign his party whip because of his ‘patriotism and principle . . . . I believe that Socialism in thirty years has given a higher standard of living and a fairer life for the British workman. The withdrawal from the Orient will strike directly at the British workman in exactly the same way as the refusal to see arms to South Africa’. He went further, contrasting the government’s  decision  to  pull out  of  Singapore with Neville Chamberlain’s weak-kneed abandonment of Czechoslovakia shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Donnelly declared that he felt sure that his local constituency party would ‘approve’ of his resigning the party whip, further protesting that his dramatic action as ‘only the beginning of the campaign’ to remove Harold Wilson as Prime Minister.7 His resignation had taken place five years to the very day since the death of the previous party leader Hugh Gaitskell.  Initially it seemed that the Pembrokeshire Labour Party was prepared to rally behind their renegade, unpredictable MP. When the party met on 10 February, general support was voiced for Donnelly’s action, local agent Glyn Rees, a close personal friend and supporter of  the MP, reporting  ‘tremendous  support for Mr Donnelly. . . . I have not had one word of criticism so  far’ .8

This intriguing course of events moved along with some rapidity as Desmond Donnelly’s stand was evidently contributing substantially the growing anti-Harold Wilson bandwagon within the Labour Party. Writing in The Times on 1 February, Ian Trethowan detected that Donnelly enjoyed ‘a very special relationship with his local party’, but  anticipated  ‘a diffi­cult local meeting’ due to take place ten days later. If their MP was still being denied the party whip at the time of the next general election, anticipated Trethowan, ‘the local party will either have to pick someone else more  acceptable  in  Smith Square  [the Labour  Party headquarters], or else risk being disaffiliated and seeing a new local party created’ .9 Trethowan’s predictions were remarkably close to the mark. When the Pembrokeshire Labour Party’s county management committee met on 10 February, a motion instructing Donnelly to re-apply for restoration of the Labour whip was lost by 40 votes to 24.10 But the wayward MP for Pembrokeshire certainly had his enemies too, both at Westminster and in his constituency, especially at Pembroke Dock where twelve local trades union branches resolved to withhold their affiliation fees to the Labour Party ‘until a new candidate has been nominated’ instead of Donnelly to stand at the next general election .11 Action was also taken against him centrally where an attempt by the Labour Party NEC to expel Donnelly from the party, at the instigation of Harold Wilson , failed, ruled out-of­ order by the Labour Party chairman Alice Bacon. But it was resolved that  a disciplinary panel comprising three prominent trades union leaders should investigate and report back to the Labour Party. Barbara Castle recorded these traumatic events in her diary: ‘The day started with an NEC meeting in which we had an illuminating discussion on the future of Mr. Desmond Donnelly. Nobody could hate him more than the left wing, but with an eye on their own fates [Ian] Mikardo and others were all for letting his misdemeanours ride for a bit. Jo Gormley and the right wing were thirst­ing for his immediate blood. Finally they were headed off by Alice Bacon’s suggestion that we ought to go through the usual routine of inter­viewing him first. The next argument was about who should interview him, and the general view was that it ought to be the Organization Sub­ Committee’. Desmond Donnelly defended himself vigorously, asserting his heartfelt belief that, since the October 1964 general election, many of the policies implemented by the Wilson government had been, in his view, ‘mistaken and would eventually bring the Labour Party into disrepute with the working man’. It was widely feared that, if Donnelly adamantly stuck to his guns and continued to receive the backing of his local party, eventually this ‘could mean both being cut adrift’. Eventually, the Labour Party would have no alternative, it was thought, but to ‘reconstitute’ the local party in Pembrokeshire  ‘with loyal members’ .12

But there was to be no backing down. Donnelly  met the disciplinary  panel  on 20 March, but  refused  to retract  a single word  of his previous  attacks  on the party and the  Prime  Minister, telling journalists  immediately  after the  fraught  meeting,  ‘I  don’t  scare  easily.  I  have  retracted   none  of  my views . I am doing what I consider right for my country, my county and my party. I shall not give in – never ‘. He claimed that four prominent Conser­vative politicians, two of them MPs and two former MPs, had  voluntarily agreed  to  finance  his  next  general  election  campaign  in   Pembrokeshire and to address his campaign meetings in the now quite likely event of his expulsion  from  the  Labour  Party  – ‘I  cannot  say  who   they   are  but  one of  them  is  very  well  known’.  Within   a  week   the   Labour   Party   NEC  had indeed agreed, by an ‘overwhelming’ majority,  to  expel  Desmond Donnelly from the party. Tremendous  pressure  had  been  exerted  for  Donnelly ‘s expulsion by prominent trades union  leaders  like Jo  Gormley  and Frank Chapple. He had no right of appeal against the decision  of  the party NEC, and it seemed highly unlikely  that Harold  Wilson  would  allow him the right to address the party’s annual  conference  in  the  autumn. Appearing gaily  and  confidently  on  radio  and  television  programmes  in the wake of these events, the MP for Pembrokeshire  reacted  defiantly,  still pouring scorn on Harold Wilson , and anticipating the publication of his own monograph entitled Gadarene ’68, a harsh diatribe on the Wilson governments, due to appear on 29 April. 1 1 The next hurdle for him to face was a meeting of the Pembrokeshire Labour Party scheduled t o take place on 29 March when Donnelly again characteristically stubbornly refused to give an undertaking that he would apply in due course for the restoration of the Labour Party  whip.  (It was  pointed  out  that,  ever since the end  of the Second World War, every single Labour M P who had been deprived of the party whip had eventually re-gained it before the  next  general election.) At a meeting of the party management committee, there was widespread  support  for Donnelly’s standpoint, local  party  agent  Glyn Rees
asserting,  ‘I cannot  see anything  being done  to get  rid  of him  from the local  Labour  Party.  He  has  served  us  well  for  seventeen  years!’ 14  It was notable that Pembroke Dock remained the bedrock of opposition to the MP; Cledwyn Nicholls, one of the Pembroke Dock delegates, described Donnelly’ s expulsion from the Labour Party as ‘the best thing that could have happened . We might as well have a Conservative to represent us’.15 Donnelly, a shrewd political operator, knew full-well that his retention of most Labour support within the constituency would be guaranteed if the county Labour Party resolved to disaffiliate from Transport House, and was delighted when a motion introduced at the 29 March meeting by the delegates from Transport House demanding that Donnelly re-apply for the Labour Party whip was rejected by 44 votes to 24. 16

As this bizarre course of events unfolded, the Pembrokeshire Conservative Party turned to the pressing task  of  choosing  its parliamentary  candidate for the next general election. Their choice soon fell on Roger Nicholas Edwards, a 34-year-old married man with two children , educated at West­minster School and Trinity College, Cambridge,  where  he  had  graduated BA in history. Descended from a notable family of Welsh Anglicans (the first archbishop of Wales, A. G. Edwards, was his great-great uncle, as was Dean Edwards of Bangor) , he had served on national  service  with  the Royal Welch Fusiliers from 1952 until  1954  when  he  had  undertaken some of his military training  at  Castlemartin  in  Pembrokeshire.  He  also had family links within the county. At the time of his selection  Edwards was the managing director of W. Brandt’s Sons  and  Co.  (Insurance)  Ltd and he  was  also a director  of  three other  subsidiary  companies  as well  as a member of Lloyds. He had travelled widely and had visited the USA,  New Zealand , Australia, South Africa, Rhodesia as well  as a large number of European countries. Nicholas Edwards had already taken  a substantial part in parliamentary and local government elections and had played a prominent role in study groups responsible for the formulation of Conser­vative Party policies, especially on monopolies  and  restrictive  practices. He was also heavily involved in educational matters as an  experienced school  manager and governor. 1 7

At  his  adoption  meeting  at  Haverfordwest  on  16  March   1 968,  Nicholas Edwards hit out at Desmond Donnelly in a personal attack full of biting invective.  Noting  that  Donnelly  had  recently  attended  a  Monday  Club meeting in the company  of Duncan Sandys, Julian Amery  and Patrick Wall – ‘strange bed-fellow s for a Socialist’ – he went on:

We can acknowledge that it was brave,  but  it  revealed  the great flaw in his position. While attacking the Government for its foreign and defence policy, Mr. Donnelly said: ‘I do not take back a single Socialist principle’ . Minutes before Mr. Sandys had declared to a thunderous applause that it was our duty ‘to cut the canker of Socialism right out of our system’; and in the speech that followed, Mr. Amery told us that there was a clear alternative to the Wilson foreign policy for Britain, and that was provided by the Conser­vative Party.
Here is a man who proclaim s his Socialism, but repudiates the policies  of  a  Socialist  Government.  Here  is  a  man  who  is blind to the fact that socialism has failed on the three  occasions  it  has  been tried , under three different leaders,  because  the  system  is  wrong, and not the personality at its head . Here is a man who says he is a Socialist while putting forward the declared policies of hi s political opponents. Here is a man who, for all the words  he has uttered , has for more than three  years  sustained  the  Government  by  his  presence in the Labour Party, and by his failure to pass through the Opposition lobbies. For all his words he has not changed Govern­ment pol icy, and he will not change it. M r. Donnelly can not dodge the  central  dilemma:  politics  is  about  power  and government.

During the same impassioned speech, Edwards assailed his rival as  ‘an intellectual fence sitter who asks the people of  Pembrokeshire  to believe  that a Cabinet of Donnelly’s will solve all Britain ‘s problems’. Concerning the  Liberal  Party  he was  equally  dismissive – ‘all   that  is  left  are the pathetic  lamentation s of a lost people ‘ – while Plaid  Cymru, in  his  view, had  become  ‘inspired  by  hatred   of  the  English  rather  than   by   love  of Wales, and from  that hatred springs its negative, inward  looking character.
. . . How are they to attract capital when all they have to offer are  snide remarks about the companies that have established here [ in Pembrokeshire] the nucleus of our prosperity ?’.18     Letters appeared in the local  press in response to Nicholas Edwards’s powerful speech. Some or these at least, it is now clear, were  drafted  by  Donnelly himself  and  published under false names. One such  communication read as follows :

In the belief that Pembrokeshire should always be hospitable to newcomers, I read the report of Mr. Nicholas Edwards’ Conservative adoption meeting with great interest. However, I became more and more disappointed as I read on. At first I thought ‘Me1hi11ks he doth protest too much ‘. Then when h e came lo hi s wild attacks on Mr. Desmond  Donnelly  M P. I was  astonished  that this   London gentleman should be so abusive and impertinent about  someone who has served Pembrokeshire people of all parties so well and for so long. Why cannot he stick to his own policies’! By this time l had decided the local Tories had got another Farey-Jones but  then Mr. Farey-Jones , for all his wild speeches, had a sense of humour. Mr. Edwards may  have  one but  he has yet  to show it.”,

On 6 April at its annual general meeting at Willie Jenkins House at Haver­fordwest the Pembrokeshire Labour Party voted by 69 votes to one  to disaffiliate from the  Labour  Party  and  thus  effectively  declared  UDI  and  set   out   to   establish   its   own   organisation   and    membership   structure. At around the same time Desmond Donnelly’s long anticipated volume Gadarene ’68, sub-titled The Crimes, Follies and Misfortunes of the Wilson Government, finally saw the light of day and immediately enjoyed  impres­sive sales and publicity throughout the country. The renegade MP at once ebulliently announced a nationwide crusade ‘from  John  o’Groats  to  Land ‘s End’ to effect a transformation in government policy,  and  he  appealed  to  other  constituency  associations  to  follow  the  bold  lead  of  Pembrokeshire. It was  anticipated  that  the  Labour  Party  would  soon  take  steps  to  establish a new Pembrokeshire DLP, and it was widely believed that a legal  tussle over the local Labour headquarters and the local party’s funds, estimated to approach some £60,000, lay in prospect. Within days  it  was  revealed that  senior  party  mandarins  had  taken  steps  to  attempt  to  freeze  the bank accounts  of  the  local  Labour Party. 20  A  week  later  Desmond Donnelly announced  the setting  up  of  a national  campaign  committee  as a prelude to the eventual establ ishment of a new  political party, the campaign  to  be launched  in  Scotland  at  the  end  of  May  on  the  lines  of  an  American primary, then to hold meetings at all the big cities in England  and Wales, concluding with a huge public demonstration at Harold Wilson’s Huyton constituency – ‘This could be a  breakaway  party  from  the  Labour  Party, and could embrace radical Conservatives and practical Liberals. . . . Many Labour supporters, middle-of-the-road people, and “open-minded Tories” were thinking  as  he  was’.  On  24  April  the  Labour  Party  NEC  resolved lo suspend the local constituency organisation, re-establi sh  ‘a  local  group loyal to the national party’ and set in  train  moves to  select  a  new  Labour cand idate for the next general election . Sara  Barker,  the  Labour  Party’s nation a l agent and acting general secretary, circulated all branches of affiliated trades  unions  within  Pembrokeshire  notifying  them  of  their M P’s suspension  from the Labour Party  and  the required  reconstruction .21

There was a general welcome in Pembrokeshire for Nicholas Edwards’s candidalure. As one correspondent wrote in the local  press,  ‘The Conser­vatives have my full support. We must never forget that Mr. Donnelly is a dangerous Socialist. Even if it means splitting the vote and pulling in the Welsh  Nationalist , the Pembrokeshire Conservatives are right  to  put party before else. The country must come second’ .22 Such sentiments were evidently widely shared throughout the county. The new Conservative candidate delivered a number of impressive public speeches, speaking on such issues as transport, race and immigration , industrial development, tourism, and subsidies to the fishing industry.23 Enoch Powell, the shadow minister for defence, spoke at a coffee reception at Haverfordwest arranged by the county Conservative Association at the end of March . He was highly critical of the  Labour  government’s  Transport  Bill , which  was  designed to force bulk transport off the roads to the advantage of the railways, and promised a new maritime forces set-up under a future Conservative govern­ ment.24

On 17 May  the  funds  of  the  Pembrokeshire  Labour  Party  were  frozen  in the  High  Court  (apart  from  routine  administrative   outgoi ngs)   pending  hearing of legal proceedings over the  party’s  future. It  was  announced  that the party would be reconstituted at  a  meeting  of  delegates  on  22  J une.25 During  the  middle  of  May  significant  numbers  of  local  Labour   Party members went over to the new local Labour Party  set  up  by  the  party ‘s NEC. Much  to  Donnelly’s  chagrin,  there  were  large numbers  of defectors at Fishguard, St Davids, Pembroke, N eyland , Haverfordwest and Tenby. Transport  House began  to  send  individual  communications  to   Labour Party members i n the county as a means of winning over their support and demanding  conformity  to  the  constitution  of  the  Labour  Party,  while  on the last day of the  month  in  the  local  press, Desmond  Donnelly  published the manifesto of his embryonic new party. Just days later, speaking at Col­ chester, Donnelly savaged the Prime Minister’s  policy  towards  Rhodesia which, he asserted,  had  ‘deservedly  earned  him  the  “political  dunce’s” cap for 1968’.26 A long, unpleasant legal  battle  seemed  in prospect  during  the  high summer of 1 968 as Labour Party national organisers  continued  their  efforts to reconstitute the local party in Pembrokeshire, and,  at the  meeting which took place on 22 June,  which  about  100 delegates  attended  (all  of  these opposed to Desmond Donnelly), Cecil John, an elderly local school­ master,  was  confirmed  as  the  president  of  the  new  Pembrokeshire   CLP  and  a  completely   new   executive  committee   was  chosen.  At  this   meeting
Cecil John noted that thirteen local parties had been reconstituted , seven­teen local trades union branches had pledged their full support to the new party, and that the party had the backing of about 3000 Pembroke shire people.27

At the hearing which took place at the High Court in London from 10 July, Mr Justice Megarry was told by Mr Charles  Sparrow  QC,  representing Cecil John, the former president of the Pembrokeshire CLP, that Desmond Donnelly was a ‘self-proclaimed rebel of the Labour Party who started a country-wide crusade to start a new opposition party.  His idea  seems  to  have been to harness to the crusade funds contributed  by  the Pembroke­shire people to the Labour Party. The funds  were to become  the  war  chest of the new one-man party. Mr. Donnelly announced that he had decided to declare his own UDI’. Cecil John meanwhile was ‘one of [the local Labour Party’s] elder senators and keeper of the party’s conscience’. Sparrow described  to  the court  in  some detail  the uproar  which  had  ensued  at the infamous local party meeting on 6 April and  lengthy  exchanges  ensued with passions rising on both sides. When Donnelly’s wife Mrs Rosemary Donnelly  returned  home   after   attending   court,   she  found   a  telegram summoning her to appear before a special committee of the Labour Party to explain her apparent refusal to make a declaration  of  loyalty  to  the party. She commented, ‘Behind  it they  were  trying  to get me  to agree not to support my husband any longer. I wrote  back  and said I wished  to give my support to my husband’. Two days later she responded angrily to an apparent threat  by  the party  NEC  to expel  her and a further thirty  of  her  husband’s supporters unless they signed an undertaking of loyalty to the Labour Party – ‘How can one be a member of a radical party, a party of change, if one is asked to sign a declaration representative of stagnation?’. Donnelly’s local agent Glyn Rees dismissed the imperious attitude of Transport House as ‘taking things right back  to the days of  the jackboot’ .  All thirty Donnelly supporters were soon to receive a registered letter  warning them bluntly of the threat to  expel  them  forthwith  from  the party.28

As this dramatic course of events unfolded , both at London and in Pem­brokeshire , there were criticisms in some quarters that Nicholas  Edwards was not participating actively in the life of the county where  he  was  to stand for parliament. In July, however, he revealed the results  of  the detailed study which he had taken into the question of the unemployed in Pembrokeshire. His conclusion was that some of those without work were ‘genuine victims’ of unkind circumstances, but  that  there  were  others  whom he labelled ‘the phoneys – people who prefer to live on a combi­nation  of  casual  labour and  their  unemployment  benefits’ , and  he rightly castigated those ‘idle men  living  off  the  backs  of  those  who  work’ .29  During the same month  Edwards  won  general  commendation  for putting in an appearance at the Royal Welsh Show at Builth  Wells  (where  he turned up in the company of party leader Ted  Heath,  David  Gibson-Watt, the Tory spokesman on Welsh affairs, and Sir Raymond Gower, the Conservative MP for Barry) and visited the stands of  the  NFU  and  the FUW on the showground. He also spoke out repeatedly against  the  pro­posal that Pembrokeshire should me submerged into the huge county of Dyfed at the time of local government reorganisation . The proposed new county gave ‘every sign of having been invented in the minds of politicians and bureaucrats who [had] never been closer to West Wales than  a small scale map’. During the high summer of 1968 Nicholas Edwards (possibly responding to repeated criticism that he had rarely been seen in the county since his nomination in March) adopted a notably high profile within the constituency, visiting many areas, fulfilling an array of official engage­ments, and turning up at many old people’s homes, hospitals and schools throughout Pembrokeshire. He also threw his weight behind the preservation of Withybush Hospital at Haverfordwest, protesting that seriously ill folk could not tolerate the long journey to Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen and were currently having  to  endure  an  exceptionally  long wait before being seen by a consultant. Edwards also pressed for improved transport links in Wales and welcomed warmly the recent reduction in the voting age to eighteen.’30

During October it was announced that party leader Ted  Heath was likely  to visit Pembrokeshire, probably speaking at Haverford west, and other south Wales venues at the end of November. It was widely assumed that the Conservatives now sensed the scent of victory in the county as a result  of Desmond Donnelly’s expulsion from the Labour Party and his subse­quent formation of a new political party. They  saw  Donnelly  as  ‘a tough nut to crack’, and it was anticipated that ‘the  star  men  of  both  major parties’ would visit Pembrokeshire ‘to try and unseat the dauntless Desmond. Our county will become the cock-pit of the country’ .31 There were some who forecast that Donnelly might well himself stand as a Conservative candidate at some point in the future – following his likely defeat in Pem­brokeshire at the next general election (a prediction uncannily close to the mark). But it was by no means certain that Donnelly would be defeated in  the county  where  he clearly  enjoyed  a substantial  personal  following and potentially a strong personal vote. At the 6 April meeting Glyn Rees had spoken out – ‘A fact that must now be realised is that the votes cast for Labour at each general election in Pembrokeshire are not really Labour votes, but Donnelly votes. The seat in Pembrokeshire has been retained for Labour against very strong opposition largely, if not entirely, through Mr Donnelly’s personal hard work and triumph and the help of a small group of hardworking supporters. It is estimated today through public opinion that Mr Donnelly holds a personal following of anything between 15,000 to 20,000 supporters’ .32 During the summer the Western Telegraph con­ducted a detailed opinion poll of 1,000 individuals throughout Pembroke­ shire, a poll which suggested that Donnelly was likely to be re-elected in the county with a majority of some 7000 votes. The detailed figures were: Donnelly 40.2 per cent; Conservative 27.4 per cent; Labour 13.4 per cent; Plaid Cymru 12.3 per cent; Liberal 4.1 per cent; and ‘undecided ‘ 2.6 per cent. In the report detailed figures were given for each part of the county. The official Labour Party was apparently being dismissed by many in the county as ‘Transport House Socialists’.” Donnelly himself, with his customary bravado, publicly forecast that he would easily hold Pembroke­ shire at the general  election  with  a majority  of 10,000 votes.34

There was considerable consternation within the Pembrokeshire Conser­vative Association in September when it was discovered that Desmond Donnelly had received and accepted an  invitation  to address a meeting of the Barry Conservative Association. Representations were made  by  the  Pembrokeshire group, but were simply ignored. As the local  secretary wrote to the party’s central office in Wales, ‘. . . Knowing the way the “guest speaker” works, I am sure Pembrokeshire will suffer – not only will a  press  report  of  the  speech  appear  (probably  stating  what  a   rapturous reception   he  received   from  Conservatives)   in  our  local  press,  but  our supporters will  be hurt  in one sense and  furious in  another ‘ . He enclosed a  press  cutting  of  a  Young  Conservative  meeting  which   Donnelly   had recently addressed at Chelsea – ‘It is not what he says that matters   so much  as  the  impression  he creates  that  he  is “well  in”  with  the Conser­vatives’. Donnelly ‘s conduct was clearly causing the Pembrokeshire Con­servative Association considerable discomfiture and embarrassment , and it was known  that Nicholas  Edwards had  appealed  to his associates  at Barry not to invite Donnelly. ”
In October the Donnelly camp received a welcome boost with  the high  court judgement that the officers elected by the Donnelly party at its  meeting on 6 April had been properly chosen. Further, it was ruled that the funds and possessions of the party belonged to the Donnelly group.36 This rather unexpected outcome caused attitudes to harden on all sides. When George Thomas, formerly a close personal friend of Desmond Donnelly’s, now the recently appointed Secretary of State for Wales, spoke at Haver­fordwest at the end of October, he launched a sharp attack on Donnelly’s ‘wild outbursts’ and vigorously defended Harold Wilson .37 As the autumn ran its course, Nick Edwards and the Conservative Party machine clearly stepped up its campaign in Pembrokeshire. At the party  conference convened at Blackpool in  October,  Edwards  delivered  an  important, widely reported speech on the problems of the constituency and the urgent need for the government to devote resources to the development of an improved transport system: ‘The old industries are fading away and the employment prospects of many depended upon Government establish­ments that are threatened  with  closure. We now  have the greatest oil port  in the United Kingdom [in Milford Haven], but it is highly automated and employs few. The industrial complex that should go with it will remain a dream until we have a government which will recognise that the greatest single contribution they can make to the prosperity of many of the devel­opment areas is an adequate transport system ‘. In this speech he drew attention to the unusually high unemployment levels within  Pembroke­shire and the very poor prospects of future employment – unless the govern­ment acted.38 Shortly afterwards, the Conservative candidate pressed  government departments for an assurance that the projected concorde test flights over west Wales would not pose a threat to historic  buildings like  the  St David ‘s Cathedral.

A major political meeting was then convened  at the Fishguard  Bay Hotel on 9 November – to be addressed by Nick Edwards, David  Gibson-Watt (as the Conservative spokesman on Welsh affairs) and David George (the Conservative candidate for Cardiganshire). Gibson-Watt, who experienced severe difficulties with the local railway service in reaching the remote constituency (eventually arriving at Pembroke Dock instead of Haverford­ west as originally planned!), urged caution over further devolutionary concessions for Wales: ‘The future well-being of Wales stands or falls on whether  the United  Kingdom  as a whole can surmount  its difficulties ‘. In response to current government plans to give the Secretary of State for Wales responsibility for health and agriculture within the principality, Gibson-Watt spoke out, ‘Let nobody blind himself to where all this may eventually lead us in Wales. The Welsh Nationalists want a Welsh Parlia­ment and economic separation’. At the same conference Edwards under­ lined his party’s  commitment  to  increasing  the defence  budget.39  On 13 November the prospective candidate addressed the Pembrokeshire Young Farmers on the difficulties facing agricultural communities and in support of the decision that the voting age in parliamentary elections should be reduced to  eighteen  years.  Party  leader Ted  Heath  visited the county on 29 November, travelling there by overnight sleeper from London, and attending functions at Milford Haven and Haverfordwest before departing for Carmarthen in the afternoon. To an audience exceed­ing four hundred of the party faithful who nibbled chicken legs and sipped white wine at the Market Hall, Haverfordwest, the Tory leader declared that the county would certainly fall to the Conservatives at the next general election, along with many other Welsh seats – ‘As the result of research we have come to the conclusion that there is now an opportunity, as never before, to gain almost half the votes of the people of Wales at the next election . We now have new voters ready to turn to our cause when the general election comes’ . Heath also spoke out against the growing swirl of devolutionary demands: ‘The prosperity of Wales will always depend upon the prosperity of the United Kingdom as a whole. We can none of us cut ourselves off from the others without damaging each other, and this applies to all parts of the United Kingdom . The first task of any Govern­ment must be to produce good government for the whole of Britain’ . The day after the visit to the county, the Tory leader wrote to Nick Edwards, ‘I shall look forward to seeing you in the next House of Commons’ .40

The Conservative pre-election campaign in Pembrokeshire rapidly gathered momentum. Within a week  of Ted Heath’s  visit,  a party  rally  and bazaar at Haverfordwest was addressed by Sir Ted Leather, the party’s vice­ chairman, well-known nationally as a regular panellist on the BBC radio programme ‘Any Questions’ .41 It was agreed  on all sides that the result  of the next general election remained wide-open partly as a result of the ‘massive floating vote’ within the county and the unknown impact of the split Labour vote there. There remained, it was thought, a substantial body  of  ‘undecided   Socialists  who  have  still  to  decide  whether  to  back   the breakaway Desmond Donnelly or the pro-Wilson Transport House Brigade’. A further poll undertaken by Western Telegraph reporters at the end of the year revealed a quite dramatic change in the voting intentions of the county’s electorate: Conservatives 36.1 per cent; Desmond Donnelly 28 per cent; Official Labour 1 2.5 per cent; Plaid Cymru 7.8 per  cent ;  Liberal Party 5.7 per cent; and ‘Don ‘t know ‘, 9.9 per cent. At the  time  opinion polls conducted throughout the UK were revealing a dramatic swing of some 20 per cent to the Conservatives. Within Pembrokeshire the swing was rather less, but still significant, while Desmond Donnelly still enjoyed ‘an amazing personal following’ within the county whose impact was very much an unknown quantity.42 Right at the end of this extraordinary year, Desmond Donnelly did make an attempt to reach some kind of agreement with the Labour Party nationally, but his tentative olive branch was con­temptuously swept aside by Transport House which doggedly resolved to press on with its investigation into the affairs of the constituency Labour Party. On 9 January  1969 the  secretaries  of  all  the  local  Labour  Parties in Pembrokeshire were informed by Sara Barker that they were to be summoned before the party’s NEC individually for questioning and the possibility that they might well then be expelled from the Labour Party. Rosemary Donnelly was indeed  expelled  from  the party  at the beginning of February, and she then lost her Goodwick seat at the subsequent local government  elections.43

But the Desmond Donnelly crusade attracted a considerable amount of interest and publicity across the globe – even in such remote places  as Hong Kong and New Zealand where newspapers carried reports on his activities and progress.44 He clearly enjoyed  a fair measure  of  sympathy  and support, but many spoke out against hi m too. There were some in Pembrokeshire who, with some justification, depicted Donnelly as an MP who ‘had no mandate ‘ from his constituents to remain in the House of Commons. One correspondent noted in the columns of the local press, ‘A continuation of abusive remarks which have now reached the border of scurrility will not improve the image of our M.P. in his attacks on Mr. Wilson. On the contrary, it is a serious blow to the prestige and popularity  he has had in the County for many years’ .45 The reformed county Labour Party was in very serious difficulties. Early in 1969 Glyn Rees, the local party agent, had written to Sara Barker to inform her that the party had an overdraft  of  over  £2000  at  Lloyds  Bank,  Haverfordwest,  and  that there were further debts owed to the Midland Bank, Milford Haven which was pressing for repayment. Such was the severity of the local party’s finances  that it seriously considered disposing of its headquarters Wille Jenkins House at 61 and 62 Dew Street, Haverfordwest, a  suggestion  which provoked an angry reaction from the local party membership. Further indignation was caused by the fact that both Glyn Rees and his nominated deputy had failed to turn up at party meetings convened early in the new year, and by the ongoing proceedings of the NEC investigating committee.  At a meeting in January, one of the delegates present asserted,  ‘There was  a lot of money in the party up to the time of the split, and it was often said that there were sufficient funds for Desmond Donnelly to finance  an election every six months. What has happened to it all now ?’. It was noted that the party ‘s balance  sheet  for the  year  1967 had  shown  an excess  of income over expenditure  of £600  ‘which  was quite healthy ‘.46

It  was  widely  anticipated  that,  in  consequence  of  this  course  of events, Nicholas Edwards stood a very good chance of capturing the Pembroke­ shire constituency. By March  it seemed that at least five candidates   would contest the next  general  election  in  Pembrokeshire  as the county  Liberal Party  announced  the adoption  of Alan  Coulthard,  a 45-year-old  Swansea
barrister who had already stood in the county in the October 1 964 general election when he had polled a fairly impressive total of 9679 votes.47 Wynne Samuel, the Plaid Cymru aspirant, had already been adopted some months earlier and had been nursing the constituency assiduously in the meantime, and the Labour Party, too, had chosen Gordon Parry to stand in the constituency. In the middle of March, Donnelly wrote a little glumly to his friend Sir Roy Welensky , the former Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland , ‘I am feeling a little grim at the moment. The Liberals have now gone and adopted a candidate against me in Pembroke as well, which is not good. This means we shall have Conservative, Labour, Welsh Nationalist , Liberals and me.  If I can beat that lot, I can climb Mount Everest’.48 Possibly he sensed that his fate was scaled by the decision of the Liberals (which whom he had had genuine hopes of forming some kind of electoral alliance in  the  county  and possibly beyond) to put up a candidate against hi m. Meanwhile Desmond Donnelly ‘s own behaviour was growing increasingly bizarre and indeed unpredictable. At the Brighton Pavilion by-election , due to take place on 24 March,  he gave  his full  backing  to Julian  Amery,  the Conservative candidate, with whom he had apparently formed a very close bond of fnendsh1p. Shortly afterwards, he gave an impassioned address to a  packed meeting of the Chelsea Conservative Political Centre during the course of which a man at the back of the hall demanded, ‘Why are you not a Tory?’ , to which Donnelly relied at once, ‘Because my duty is to the ordinary common people of Pembrokeshire and to Britain as a whole, not to a sall group of Home Guard colonels’, a response which surprisingly gave rise to loud cheers from the Tory faithful present at the meeting. Within the Labour Party he was now regarded as an outright traitor. Before the end of the month, amidst recurrent rumours  that  the wayward  MP was on the point of .setting up his own independent political party, he suffered a real body-blow when fourteen prominent members of the Milford  Haven  Labour  Party,  previously  among  Donnelly’s staunchest supporters, announced their resignations and readiness to back the party’s NEC and national constitution.49 By this time it was rumoured that, although the Pembrokeshire CLP had some £50,000 worth of material assets, it was still in debt to the tune of about  £14,000.50


On the first day of the month the three officials – the president, secretary and treasurer – of the Pembrokeshire Labour Party which supported Desmond Donnelly had announced their resignations from the Labour Party, as did fourteen members of the twenty-four strong committee, among them Rosemary Donnelly. One of their number was Glyn Rees, who had been secretary and agent to the party ever since 1955 and was extremely well-known in political circles throughout the county. In the words of the local press, ‘What started as a small crack in the surface unity of the local Labour party has gradually widened to become a major split   …  and  now,  finally,  a  complete  division’ .51  It  was  now  abundantly  clear  that  there  could  never  be  any  real  reconciliation   between   Desmond Donnelly and the official Labour Party. Donnelly’s new party was  indeed launched at a Haverfordwest hotel (significantly a location within the Pembrokeshire  constituency  rather  than   at  Westminster)   on   8  April   1969 to  a  large  gathering  of  national  journalists   and  television   cameras.  From the outset, although it was agreed that the timing  of  the  launch  and  the  delivery of Desmond Donnelly’s inaugural speech were  auspicious,  it  was widely felt that the  new  party  had  but  little  prospect  of  making  any significant  long-term  impression  upon ·the  course  of   British   political   life and  that  the  new  Donnelly   party   did  not   have  a  distinguishable   enough political platform and policies. To a large  extent  his  political  standpoint  seemed remarkably close to  that  of  the  Conservatives,  and  an  Edwards victory now   seemed   ever   more   likely   in   Pembrokeshire.   Donnelly   was himself also stirring the political waters with his articles in  the News  of  the World which claimed  that  a  general  election  was  likely  in  the  autumn  as  was a change of party leader.52 In an impressive speech at the AGM of the Pembrokeshire  Conservative  Association   in   April   1969,   Nick   Edwards assailed each of the other  candidates  in  turn,  reserving  the following  attack for Desmond  Donnelly:  ‘We have  been  told  that  soon  Mr.  Donnelly  is going to tell us  his  plans  for  the  future  and  what  he  stands  for.  I  know  what  it will  be – an  attempt  to  retain  Socialist  votes  with  Conservative  principles. Recently Mr. Donnelly wrote about  the  sensitivity  of  certain  politicians  to TV  and  press  criticism;  basically   it  stems  from  a  desire  to  pull  their  own publicity strings and present themselves as big men – well the cap fits ‘. Alan Coulthard regarded  Edwards’s  peroration  and  claims  of  assured victory as ‘a little pathetic’ , and  asserted  that  there were,  in  reality,  now two Conservative candidates standing in Pembrokeshire. Desmond Donnelly, Coulthard described as ‘that new pillar of the right ‘, who had openly supported the candidature and policies of Julian Amery – a figure notoriously on the extreme right wing  of  the  Conservative  Party.  and  a man  already  spoken of as a successor to the hapless Mr.  Heath ‘ 53

But Donnelly pressed ahead with the development of  his n new  party,  by now christened the United Democrats, holding a formal foundation conference, again at Haverfordwest, at the end of May, and proclaiming ambitious plans to put up some thirty -six party candidates at the forthcoming general election , seven of these in Welsh seats, while each of the three three party leaders was to be opposed by Donnelly candidates and  a candidate was also to be put up at  the  pending  by-election at Newcastle-­under-Lyme due to be held in the autumn . Donnelly announced with characteristic bravado at the Haverforwest launch conference, ‘Some fifty people have come forward as parliamentary candidates.  Our greatest needs are money and time. If we have enough time, and Mr Wilson does not run out on his job, we hope to put  something like thirty to  forty candidates in different  parts of  Britain ‘. Warming  to  his  theme,  he  went on, ‘Our challenge is to bring about a new alignment altogether in British politics. Our appeal is to all those who may have voted Tory, Liberal  or Labour in the past, but who now see our nation is in  rapid  decline’. He underlined the fact repeatedly  that it  was the new  party’s  firm intention  to put  up a candidate  against the Prime  Minister in  his  Huyton  constituency
– ‘We have a retired judge who is a very distinguished man  of  great  dignity to fight there, and he may well have to don his black cap for M r. Wilson’ .54 (This was presumably a reference to Mr Gerald  Sparrow,  the  former  Bangkok  judge,   who  was  then  66  years  of age.)

The published manifesto of the new  party  advocated  the  near-abolition  of the welfare state, a massive reduction in  public  spending  of  some  75  per cent over the  next  quinquennium , substantial  tax  cuts, the  denationalisation of British industries, a major reduction in the scope of the civil service, the removal of governmental controls on prices and incomes (thus allowing substantial  increases in  the  cost  of  basic commodities),  and  a  reduction  in the number of MPs from 630 to 250. As the functions of central govern­ ment were thus much curtailed, the role of local councils would be con­siderably enhanced to carry a substantial additional work-load . Donnelly’ s avowed objectives were to transform a constituency organisation into a national movement by forming new constituency parties at the rate of two per month , and to amass  a political war-chest  in excess of  £1 million  within the next five years. Most political commentators responded by doubting the prospects of success for the new party, but in the Sunday Teleraph eminent historian and writer Robert Skidelsky hailed Desmond Donnelly as ‘a brave man who has made a brave dash for freedom . . . . We should not despise the logic that drove him to it’ .55 Nicholas Edwards was predictably far less charitable towards his political rival. Within a week of the official launch meeting of the new party at Haverfordwest, Edwards stood on the very same platform and compared Donnelly ‘s ill-fated efforts to win power with those of Winnie the Pooh to reach the ‘honey ‘: ‘The Labour Party will be with us long after Mr. Donnelly ‘s vainglorious escapade is forgotten, because for all its shortcomings it represents ideals und common interests which are not to be found among Donnelly ‘s casual collection of political  dropouts  or  in  his  extraordinary  and  entirely artificial mixture of ideas from opposite ends of the political  spectrum. United and Democratic? We shall see!’. Edwards was clearly especially well informed about the Democratic Party foundation conference, stating that of the 212 chairs placed in the Masonic Hall for the potentially high­ profile occasion, only about 150 had been taken, out of which only some 100 were Pembrokeshire folk prepared to turn out to salute ‘their hero’, while the proceedings overall, claimed Edwards, had been characterised by a profound ‘sense of anti-climax’ – ‘The most remarkable thing about the meeting was not the poor attendance, but the complete absence – even of a verbal message – from a single figure of national distinction from our political and public life’. He continued:

Over a year after announcing his intention of forming a new party, after an unparalleled campaign of self-advertisement, in spite of an enormous public relations exercise, this was all that  Mr.  Donnelly could offer. A year ago we were told that three well-k n own – but nameless – politicians were about lo declare their support for Mr. Donnelly. We have heard  nothing of them since. Now  a retired – but, or course, nameless – High  Court Judge is apparently  to devote his old age to this noble cause. Thirty-eight – but faceless – candi­dates are to offer themselves as a sacrifice on the altar of Mr. Donnelly’s ambition, after being vetted – and how appropriately – by a former member of the Secret Service. In the shadows, we are told, a large, but anonymous part of the Parliamentary Labour Party is merely biding its time before declaring itself ready to abolish the Welfare State.56

By August it was clear that an intensive five candidate election campaign lay in prospect in Pembrokeshire, a feature widely noted in the national press.57 On 20 September, at a very enthusiastic meeting  convened  at Willie Jenkins House, the county Labour Party considered an impressive short-list of six potential candidates of whom the favourite  – Gordon Parry, a 43-year-old schoolmaster from Neyland – was eventually chosen by an overwhelming majority of the delegates as candidate, In previous years Parry had been a staunch supporter of Desmond Donnelly’s in the county; now, perversely, they were to be electoral opponents.58  Although in his heart of hearts Desmond Donnelly must have known that his prospects of electoral success were inevitably remote in a five cornered contest, in public his optimism continued: ‘Our aim in the next general election is 27-28,000 votes’, he told the September quarterly meeting of the Democrats at the Mariners Hotel, Haverfordwest, ‘The Liberal can­didate will lose his deposit, with ignominy. The Welsh Nationalist will do likewise. And the Wilsonite Labour man will either just save or just lose his deposit. I am not minimising the task ahead. But we can beat  the lot  put together. And we have one advantage, one priceless advantage – the Conservative candidate himself (loud laughter and applause)’.  He  then went on to discuss at length the serious unemployment problem facing Pembrokeshire and anticipated keenly the impending by-election at Newcastle-under-Lyne where a Democrat candidate was to stand for the first time – ‘The Newcastle-under-Lyne by-election is the first test and the Common Market will be an issue. Never mind the polls, this is the first time that people will have the chance actually to vote for a candidate who  is not pledged to be lobby fodder for the Common Market like the other three’. He boldly anticipated that Democrat divisional parties  were about  to be formed in constituencies throughout the country, and welcomed to  the meeting delegations from Birmingham and Coventry who, he claimed, sought to emulate the example of  Pembrokeshire. 59

Donnelly’s optimism in relation to Newcastle-under-Lyne was misplaced  as David Parker, the Democrat candidate, polled just 1699 votes, about three per cent of those cast, and, at another by-election in the Louth division of Lincolnshire a little later the Democrat polled no more than 1225 votes (4.3 per cent). Both candidates easily lost their deposits, but at least some interest in the cause had been created, and the campaign in Pembrokeshire continued.60  Gordon Parry alleged that Donnelly had even received a message wishing him well from Ted Heath, while Donnelly himself liked to boast that his new party was receiving generous donations from Conservative, Liberal and Labour supporters, including from  Sir John Wedgwood, the former deputy chairman of Josiah Wedgwood Ltd.61 The Young Conservative group at Haverfordwest even invited Desmond Donnelly to elucidate his policies at a public meeting – until the county Conservative Association got wind of the invitation and it was promptly withdrawn. 62 The Labour campaign in Pembrokeshire was clearly gather­ing momentum too. At the Labour Party annual conference in October Gordon Parry was given a very warm reception. As he walked to the microphone to address the conference, Jim Callaghan, the home secretary, called out, ‘Come on, Gordon, you can win Pembroke!’. In a cogent address to the delegates, Parry told them that, during the previous two years, ‘Pembrokeshire had been engaged in fighting off a bid  for  personal  power’ .63

On the last day of 1969 one local newspaper hailed the recent  formation  of ‘a new political party with positive, identifiable and attractive policies appealing to the mass of the uncommitted middle class’ and anticipated  that Donnelly’s Democratic party might well make  some impact  at the next general election.64 But, as 1970 dawned, Desmond Donnelly himself clearly realised that his prospects even of retaining Pembrokeshire were slim indeed. The pro-Labour vote would inevitably be split in Pembroke­ shire, possibly allowing a Conservative victory at the polls. Nicholas Edwards had proved himself a doughty campaigner in the county  ever since his nomination, making lavish promises to rescue the county’s rail links and to being new jobs to the area, and consistently making vitriolic personal attacks on Desmond Donnelly in his many public speeches. He had also become actively involved in the local campaign to save the naval air base at Brawdy.65 Moreover, Donnelly’s good name was inevitably somewhat  tarnished  by  the  civil  war  which  had  waged  throughout the previous two years. Intense speculation ensued on  the  precise  date of  the next general election as The Times asserted at the end of February that Donnelly’s spirited bid to retain  Pembrokeshire  had  ‘all  the  markings  of first class, and fierce, farce’ .66 There was  conjecture  that  Donnelly  had offered to withdraw the Democrat candidate at  Newcastle-under-Lyme  in return for an undertaking that Nichola s Edwards might stand down in Pembrokeshire. Bill Weale, the Conservative agent in Pembrokeshire, commented, ‘Needless to say,  this  last-ditch  effort  to  save  his  own  skin was as fruitless as all his other ventures to prove he is God’s gift  to  the luckless electors. He is obviously a worried man ‘.67  Talk  of  possible electoral pacts and deals between  the  Conservatives  and  the  Democrats persisted for months, and there was even conjecture about direct  talks  between Desmond Donnelly and Ted Heath  on  such  matters . Donnelly’s close friendship with right-wing Conservative MP J ulian Amery was often mentioned (both shared very similar anti-Labour and indeed anti-Wilson viewpoints), and it was widely known that Desmond Donnelly was well acquainted with two former Conservative Prime  Mini sters Anthony  Eden and Harold Macmillan. At a University of Wales Air Squadron dinner held  at St Athan in  mid-M arch, Julian Amery,  the secretary  of state for air  in the last Conservative government and the son-i n-l aw of Harold Macmillan ,  had  lavished praise  on  Donnelly,  ‘I  want   to  say   what  a privilege it is to share this table with my  friend  and  colleague  Desmond Donnelly. It is very rare in public life that a political figure has the courage to stand for principle and nation before any thought of  personal  self­ interest, and I am privileged to be here with  Mr.  Desmond  Donnelly because of what he had done and is seeking  to  do  for  the  defences  of Britain (applause) . We have been on opposite sides  of  the  House  in  the past, but we have always been friends and colleagues’.  It was  generally agreed  that,  by  speaking  out  in  this  way,  Amery,  viewed  as   ‘one  of Britain ‘s leading Conservatives’ , had deliberately  ‘cold-shouldered ‘ Nicholas Edwards, his own party ‘s candidate in  Pembrokeshire, as he went on: ‘It is a well known fact and I make it no secret that I can not understand why my political party should be opposing Mr. Donnelly in his constituency and  I know  how  I would  vote if l were an elector in Pembrokeshire’. 68

On 16 February the Democratic Party published a detailed sixteen-page policy statement – ‘The objective is to save a sinking nation ‘. A mong its many  proposals  were  a  tough  stance  on   ‘permissiveness ‘ – ‘Rome  fell because of its permissive society. Britain’s permi ssive society is rotting the soul of the nation’. It consequently advocated raising the moral standards of television and radio programmes and newspaper s, a harder line on drug taking , and a rigorous review of the laws on abortion, homosexuality and divorce. Other policies included heavier penalties for convicted criminals, a re-assessment of capital punishment, and con­sideration of the introduction of corporal punishment. Income tax  was to  be cut to a flat rate of five shillings in the pound , while those earning less than £2000 per annum were to be exempt from the payment of income tax . An added-value tax was to be introduced , support for industry, and a clamp down on the trades  unions and  on  immigration, together  with  a slimming-down of the civil service, and an increase in Britain’s defence commitments. 69 It was a notably right-wing agenda which  immediately did have its supporters, indeed admirers, but it was also widely felt that there was also an element of ‘something for everyone’  in  its contents. Most commentators agreed that the manifesto presented ‘a picture of an Utopia which the Democrats will never be given the chance to provide’. The proposals concerning taxation were considered bizarre and incapable of implementation , while surprise was voiced at the failure to discuss Britain and the EEC, a burning i ssue in 1970. 70 The same month – Feb­ ruary 1 970 – saw a widely reported political meeting at Haverfordwest addressed by Jim Callaghan, the home secretary, at a ti me of major dis­ enchantment among the county ‘s  farming  communities.  Other  political big guns, too, came to the remote constituency, including Michael Hesel­tine, the Conservative spokesman on transport, Edward Short, Cledwyn Hughes (a former secretary of state for Wales), and Mrs Barbara  Castle, the secretary of state for employment and productivity. Mrs Castle told a Labour Party meeting at Haverfordwest that Donnelly ‘fell by the wayside when the going got tough. He should be repudiated for repudiating Socialism ‘. At a Democratic Party conference at Saundersfoot a week later, Desmond Donnelly retaliated sharply by asserting that Barbara  Castle had ‘lied and cringed’ over trades union legislation the previous year.71 At the same conference he warned his followers against setting their sights too high. Early bravado about putting up a large number of Democrat Party candidates at the general election had by now largely dis­ appeared: ‘I would rather run ten candidates well than twenty indifferently. We have too many action stations. We have got to decide what constituencies we are going to fight. Do not let us set our sights too high ‘.72  The influx of Labour heavweight politicians into the constituency during the. re-elect10n and elect10n campaigns was often commented upon in political columns. Commentators attributed their anxiety to visit Pembrokeshire to the fact that Transport House now considered the seat ‘winnable’ and to Donnelly’s general lack of popularity among his former colleagues  in the Labour fold.

An enterprising opinion poll conducted by the Western Telegraph in ten areas of Pembrokeshire  at the end of March  revealed  the following trend: Labour 30.9 per cent, Conservative 29.3 per cent, and Democrat 24.7 per cent.73  Desmond   Donnelly’s   own  predictions   were   predictably  more favourable to the Democrat cause. During April there was a great deal of speculat10n about other Democrat election  candidates  in  various  parts  of the country. Peter Hancock , the president of the Democratic Party in Pembrokeshire,  announced that  he  would  seek the nomination for Carmarthenshire, but  this eventually  came  to  nothing .74  Noel Armstrong, a Norwich solicitor, announced  that  he  would  stand  at Norwich  South  as  a  Democratic Party  candidate  rather  than  as  an independent   as  he  had originally intended.75  Press  columnists  noted that Desmond Donnelly’s close rapport with Woodrow Wyatt, the Labour MP for the Bosworth division and previously a political soul-mate, had conspicuously come to an abrupt end  since Donnelly had  been  expelled  from the Labour Party.76 In his own diary entry in the middle of the month Donnelly himself wrote, ‘I think Heath will win. Some do not. The public do not like him enough’ .77 He was convinced that a general election was imminent, even though the Labour government did not have to go to the country until the spring of 1971. As Donnelly wrote to his friend Dean Acheson, a former secretary of state in the United States, ‘The clue is Harold Wilson’s in­discreet remark, “Always remember I am still young enough to be P.M. for another  five  years after 1974-75” ‘.78  Just  ten   days  later  he  wrote  to Acheson again, ‘I am sitting writing this in bed at 7.30 am in a hotel in Reading – where I am a conference of Democratic Party candidates. In the last week I have spent three nights on trains, driving myself about 650 miles on British roads – and can confirm Chesterton’s rolling English roads! And made several – I cannot remember how many – speeches. There are easier ways of earning a living’ . Anticipating the likely date of the general election, he went on, ‘I am pretty sure we will hold in Pembroke. I have one or two other startling possibilities.  When and if they  are nearer to fruition, I will tell you’. In an addendum to this very long letter, Donnelly wrote, ‘An opinion poll with 1,000 sample in a 70,000 electorate in Pembrokeshire says: DD 20,500; Labour 19,800 (cannot be right); Tory 18,800 (about right); Nationalist 2,500 (I’d say a little more drawn from Lab); Liberals 1,650 (man now packed up). Rosemary [Donnelly, his wife], Glyn Rees (my agent) and Peter Hancock  (my President)  all returned unopposed to the Pembrokeshire County Council. Six other Democrat gains locally’ .79

During the June 1970 election campaign Desmond Donnelly gave priority to transport issues, law and order, welfare questions and defence. He caused ripples at Westminster at the beginning of May when he  summoned  a press conference at the House of Commons to demand the appointment of  a new editor of The Times to replace William Rees-Mogg on the grounds that, during recent months, the newspaper  ‘had pursued  policies contrary  to the British national interest ‘. It soon emerged that the real reason for Donnelly’s grouse was that the paper had refused to publish an advertise­ment for the Democratic Party on 15 April without some amendment of  its contents – ‘I think that the editor was imposing censorship, and that this was impertinent’ .80 At around the same time he wrote to Sir Roy Welensky :

Since I wrote life has been one hell of a mad rush. On March 14, when I was speaking at the University of Wales Air Squadron Dinner at St. Athan, I was dragged out to be told by my Intelligence that the General Election was July 2 or 9. And bang on! Since then everything has had to go by the board, including friendships,  almost. . . . I have been getting up at 2, 3 or 4 am. This letter is being written at 6 a.m. Anyway the situation is as follows. I shall hold Pembroke. The tide has turned, definitely. It is my eighth general election as a candidate and ninth if I throw in a by-election too. And I sense it without false optimism. In the country it is going to be a damn close run thing. Wilson could win. Repeat: he may win. The public do not like  Heath.81

Before the end of the month, Welensky, clearly aware of the very real danger that Donnelly might reduce his chances of success in Pembroke­ shire by giving overmuch support to the other Democrat candidates scattered across the country, warned  him kindly,  ‘. . . I sincerely hope you will take my  advice  and  concentrate  on  winning  your  own  seat. You  will of course help your candidates, but  remember  that,  if  you  are  defeated,  it  will be the end of  the  Party  and  I think,  if  this  can  be  avoided,  it  is  vital that  it  should  be’ .82  Soon  it  was  announced  that  the  general  election  was  to take place on 18 June  1970,  and  the  local  press i n  Pembrokeshire revealed that the local contest was ‘neck  and  neck’  and  published  the  following odds on the outcome of the election: Desmond Donnelly 5 to 2; Nicholas Edwards 4 to 5  favourite;  Gordon  Parry  5  to  4;  and  Wynne  Samuel the 100 to 1 outsider. As it was  widely  felt  that  the  traditional Liberal vote  in  the  constituency  had  simply  disintegrated,  those  with  Liberal sympathies were encouraged to vote for their second  choice  can­didate. At the eleventh hour there was a switch in the Liberal candidate.83 Following the withdrawal of  Alan  Coulthard,  the  county  Liberal  Associa­tion first announced that it would  not  be  putting  up  a  candidate  at  the general  election,  but   then   stated   that   they   had   found   a   new   aspirant in  Wynford  Thomas,  a  22-year-old   native   of   Loughor   near   Swansea  who was a law student at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. Nationally the election was a presidential style campaign  with  the  person­alities of Harold Wilson and Ted Heath looming large throughout, and the opinion polls  generally  suggested  that  the  Labour  Party  would  be  returned to government with an overall majority of about twenty seats.  The  pre­ election campaign in  remote  Pembrokeshire  had  probably  lasted  longer  than in any other constituency – ever since Desmond Donnelly  had  resigned the Labour whip, been expelled from the party and then formed his own Democratic Party, a series of events which threw the Labour Party  organ­isation in the  county into  ‘disarray,  confusion  and  consternation’.  When Peter Walker, the  shadow  minister  for  housing  and  local  government, spoke at the Masonic Hall, Haverfordwest on 15 May,  shortly  after the  general election had been called, he anticipated ‘one of the dirtiest fought elections in history’ .84 Surprisingly, Desmond Donnelly rarely featured in news bulletins broadcast from London  during  the election  campaign,  and  was  just  occasionally  mentioned  in  passing  as  ‘a  departed  comrade  from  the  Labour  Party’.  This  may  be  explained  by   his  absence  from   London as he campaigned hard within Pembrokeshire and in the other five con­stituencies  where  Democratic Party  candidates were  standing.

Late in the campaign Desmond Donnelly characteristically threw a spanner into the works by announcing dramatically  at an election  press  conference that  he  had  received  a letter of  support  from Edward  du  Cann,  a former chairman  of  the  Conservative  Party,  a  ploy  which  deeply  angered  local Tories and forced du Cann into making a public denial. A little later Donnelly claimed at a Haverfordwest press conference that he had also received a ‘good wishes’ message for his electoral success there from Edward  Heath,  a  claim  which  compelled  the  Conservative  leader  to interrupt an election tour of the West Country in order to send a com­munication to the local press in Pembrokeshire – ‘I have not, at any  time – wished Mr. Donnelly success in the election campaign in Pembroke­shire’. When pressed further, Donnelly retorted that the message had been hand-written by Heath on the back of a menu for a rugby dinner – ‘It was given to a third party whom I am not prepared to name at this stage. When the chips are down, I will produce the man . . . . It’s perfectly true. It’s in his own handwriting’. Following the publication of this story in the local press, a writ alleging libel  was served  by  Desmond  Donnelly  on the  publishers of the Western Telegraph and a further writ alleging slander was served on Nicholas Edwards by Donnelly.85

At around the same time  the  Democratic  Party  published  its  election manifesto which had as its centre-piece  a radical  overhaul  of the  system  of personal taxation and the restitution of some form of national service extending for eighteen months to all young people. A separate Welsh manifesto was devolutionist in tone, advocating ‘far less government from London’ for the Welsh people. 86 Donnelly offered himself for re-election to the electors of Pembrokeshire as a ‘tried and trusted representative for twenty  years’  who  had  played  a  major  role  in  the  establishment  and   expans on of the new county general hospital. Throughout the frenzied campaign  he continued to assail Harold Wilson for the massive increase in the national debt, the recent increases  in personal  taxation,  and his failed policies on  Rhodesia,  South Africa and defence.87

As is well known,  the  Labour  Party  lost  the  June  1970  general  election against all the odds,  a  severe  personal  rebuff  for  Harold  Wilson  who, totally nonplussed and  unprepared,  soon  had  to vacate 10 Downing  Street at  just a  few  hours’ notice.  As  Desmond  Donnelly had often predicted during  the  run-up  to  the  election,  the  next  government  was  to  be  led  by, Edward  H eath, who hecame Conservati ve Prime  Minister for the  first and only  time. One of  the Conservative gains  in  the election  was Pembrokeshire where Nick Edwards won with a relatively small majority of 1231 votes, and the county reverted to the Tories for the first time since 1929. It was precisely the kind of highly marginal constituency which the Conservatives had needed to win in order to form a government in 1970. Although Donnelly won no fewer than 11,824 votes, a substantial total, he was still beaten into third place behind Gordon Parry and was predictably at once accused of having split the Labour vote in the marginal seat and of thus allowing a Conservative victory. 88 None of the other five Democrat candidates in the election had polled a creditable total poll, and it was widely felt that a bold experiment had come to an end with Donnelly’s personal defeat in Pembrokeshire. It could well be argued that Donnelly’s near obsession with bringing down Harold Wilson had meant the end of his own potentially promising political career. Whereas Wilson was, how­ ever, to return to government as Prime Minister in February and October 1974, eventually announcing a sudden retirement from the premiership in March 1976, Desmond Donnelly ‘s subsequent fate was especially sad. Not surprisingly, he realised that his defeat at Pembrokeshire in June 1970 heralded the effective end of his Democratic Party and, as widely anti­ cipated, he made overtures to the Conservative Party. He formally joined the Conservatives, where he had a number of friends, in April 1971, but sadly failed to secure adoption as a prospective parliamentary candidate for the party. Eventually, an intense feeling of political failure, coupled with financial and business pressures, saw him commit suicide on 4 April 1974. Although Nicholas Edwards’s initial return to parliament in June 1970 could perhaps be attributed primarily to the split Labour vote in Pembrokeshire, he subsequently held the constituency until his retirement from parliament in 1987, serving as the secretary of state for Wales during the first two Thatcher administrations. 89

1. See J. Graham Jones, ‘Desmond Donnelly and Pembrokeshire politics, 1964- 70’, Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society, No. 12 (2003), 67-102; and the fuller account available in Allen Layne, ‘Desmond Donnelly ‘, unpublished University of Miami Ph.D. thesis, 2004 .
2. W. Wyatt, Confessions of an Optimist (London, 1985), 295; H. Wilson, The Labour  Government,  1964-1970:  a personal   record  (London,  1971), 102;
B. Pimlott, Harold Wilson (London, 1992), 357-58; K. 0. Morgan , Michael Foot : a Life (London , 2007), 239; M. Jones, Michael Foot  (London,  1994), 288 . See also J . Grimond, Memoirs  (London ,  1979), 218-19.
3. P.  Ziegler, Wilson:  the authorized  life  of  Lord  Wilson of  Rievaulx  (London,  1 993), 2 1 5; The Times, 26 July 1966.
4. Western  Telegraph, 29 June  1967.
5. N ational Library of Wales (hereafter NLW), Pembrokeshire Conservative Assoc i ation Records, file 74, W. E. Austen , Opposition  Whips’ Office, House of Commons, to W. V. Weale, Pembrokeshire Con servative and Unionist Association , Haverfordwest, 27 November 1967.
6. House of Commons Debates, 5th series, vol. 754, cc. 1196-1201  (21 Novem­ber 1967).
7 . The Times, 19 and 29 January 1968. Donnelly ‘s resignation letter to John Silkin , the government  chief  whip, dated 18 January 1 968, was publish in full in The Times,  9 January 1 968.
8. The Times , 20 January 1968. See also ‘Stormy petrel Donnelly is so popular ‘, Western.  Mail, 20 January   1968,  for  a  sympathetic evaluation  of  Donnelly’s local popularity.
9. The Times, 1 February 1 968.

10. The Times, 1 2 February 1968.

11. Western Mail, 9 March  1968.
12. The Times, 22 February and 21 March  1968; Manchester Guardian, 18 March 1968;  B. Castle, The  Castle Diaries,  1964-70 (London ,  1984), 376-77, diary
entry for 21 February  1968.
13. The Times, 21  and 23 March 1968.
14. Minutes of meeting of the Pembrokeshire Constituency Labour Party, 29 March 1 968, cited  in  Layne, op. cit., p. 334.
15. Ibid.
16.  bid .
17. Western Telegraph , 28 February and  14 March 1 968.
18.  Western Telegraph, 2 1 March 1968.
19. .  NLW, Pembrokeshire Conservative Association Records, file 74, draft of  letter in  the hand  of  Desmond  Donnelly  to  local  newspapers [March  l 968]. At the close of the campaign Nicholas Edwards was able to  prove  that  some of  the letters printed  in  the local  press attacking him  and  supporting Donnelly  were in fact penned by Donnelly  and published under false names.
20. The Times, 8 and 10 April 1968.
21. The Times,  18, 25 and  30 April  1968; West  Wales Guardian,  1 8 April  1968.·
22. NLW, Lord Crickhowell Papers 4/1 , scrapbook I, unlabelled press cutting from a local newspaper, letter from Colonel I. M. Fogbound, late 1st Battalion, Pembrokeshire Airborne Regiment.
23. NLW, Lord Crickhowell Papers 4/1, scrapbook I, unlabelled press cuttings.
24. West  Wales Guardian, 5 April  1968. ·

25. The Times, 18 May 1968; NLW, Labour Party Wales Archives, vol. 12, execu- tive committee minutes,  17 J une  1 968.
26. West Wales Guardian, 3 and 31 May 1968; Western Mail, 5 June 1968.
27. The Times, 24 June 1968.
28. The Times, 1 1 , 13 and 15 July 1 968.
29. Western Telegraph, 4 July  1968.
30. NLW, Lord Crickhowell Papers 4/ I, scrapbook I, unlabelled press cuttings.
31. West Wales Guardian, II October 1 968.
32. NLW, Desmond Donnelly Papers, file B22, Report of Secretary & Agent to the AGM of the Pembrokeshire Labour Party, 6 April 1 968
33. NLW, Lord Crickhowell Papers 4/1,  scrapbook  1,  unlabelled  press  cutting from  the  Western Telegraph.
34. West Wales Guardian, 6 September 1968.
35. NLW, Pembrokeshire Conservative Association Records, file 74, W. V. Weale, Pembrokeshire   Conservative   and   Unionist   Association,   Haverfordwest,   to
L. Wolstenholme, 23 September 1968 (copy); Wolstenholme to Weale, 25 Sep­ tember 1968.
36. The outcome of the court case was widely reported in  the  national  press.  See the reports in The Times, 18 October 1 968, Manchester Guardian, 19 October 1968, Daily Telegraph, 19 October 1968, and the Western Mail, 18 October  1968.
37. Western Telegraph, 3 October  1968.
38. Western Telegraph, 1 7 October  1968.
39. NLW, Lord Crickhowell Papers 4/1 , scrapbook I, unlabelled press cuttings.
40. Western  Telegraph,  21  November  1 968;   West  Wales  Guardian,  22   and   29 November and 6 December 1 968; Western Mail, 30 November 1968; NLW, Lord Crickhowell Papers 4/1, scrapbook I, letter from  Edward  Heath  to Nicholas  Edwards , 30 November  1 968.
41. Western Telegraph, 12 December 1 968. 42. Western Telegraph, 26 December   1 968.
43. West Wales Guardian, 20 December 1968. See also the Western Mail, 24 October 1968, and Layne,  op. cit., pp.  349-51 .
44. See the column entitled ‘Echoes’ in the Tenby Observer, 14 February 1969. 45. Letter from F. D. Worvell , Llanychaer, Fishguard, to the Western Telegraph,
23 January 1969.
46. NLW,  Lord Crickhowell  Papers 4/1, scrapbook  2, unlabelled  press   cuttings.
47. Western Telegraph, 6 March  1969; West Wales Guardian, 7 March    1969.
48. NLW, Desmond Donnelly Papers, file A 1041, Donnelly to Sir Roy Welensky, 15 March  1969 (copy).
49. Layne, op. cit., pp. 352-53.
50. West Wales Guardian, 4 April 1969.
51. The Times, 1 April  1969;  Western Telegraph,  3 April  1969.

52.  The  Times, 9  April   1969;  Western  Telegraph,  10 April   1969;  Western Mail, 19 April  1969; R. Crossman, The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister, Vol. 3: Secretary
of State for Social Services, 1968-70 (London,  1977), 447, diary entry for  20 April 1969.
53. NLW,  Lord  Crickhowell  Papers 4/1, scrapbook  2, unlabelled  press cutting.
54. The Times, 28 May 1969; Western Telegraph, 8 June  1969;  South  Wales Evening  Post, 2 June  1969; Layne,  op. cit., p.  354.
55. Robert   Skidelsky,   ‘Any   chance  for  Donnelly?’,   Sunday   Telegraph,  8  June 1 969.
56. NLW,  Desmond  Donnelly  Papers, file F63,  unlabelled  press  cutting  from the West  Wales Guardian, [June  1969]; Western Telegraph,  12 June  1969.
57. Daily  Telegraph, 28 August  1969
58. Noted  in  The Times, 22 September  1969.
59. West Wales Guardian,  19 September  1969.
60. See ‘Donnelly satisfied with Democratic vote’ , West Wales Guardian, 31 October 1 969.
61 .  West  Wales Guardian,  I O October  1969; Sentinel , 23 October 1969.
62. Western  Telegraph, 23 October  1969.
63. NLW, Lord  Crickhowell  Papers  4/1 , scrapbook  3, unlabelled  press cutting.
64. Derby Evening Telegraph, 31 December 1969. See also the interesting article by ‘Radar’ in the Lincolnshire Echo, 2 January 1970 – ‘1970 target for Donnelly the Democrat’.
65. West  Wales Guardian, 9 January   1970.
66. The  Times, 27 February  1970.
67. Ibid. See also the report in the  West Wales Guardian, 27 February  1 970, and  the article by  David  Rosser  in the  Western Mail, 27 February  1 970.
68. Western Telegraph,  19 March  1970;  West Wales Guardian, 20 March  1 970.

69. See the  summary  in  the Daily  Mail,  1 6 February  1 970. There are  references, too,  in a number of many  other newspapers  and  journals.
70. West Wales Guardian, 20 February  1970.
71. Western  Telegraph,  19 March 1970.
72. Western Mail,  16 March  1970.
73. Noted  in  The Times, 4 April 1970.
74. Western Telegraph, 16 April  1970.
75. Norwich  Mercury, 24 April  1 970.
76. See the  ‘Cross-bencher’ column  i n  the Sunday  Express, 26 April  1970.
77. NLW, Desmond Donnelly Papers C7, Donnelly’s diary entry,  1 6 April  1970, ‘The  British  General  Election’.
78. NLW, Desmond Donnelly Papers file A 1040, no. 47, Donnelly to Dean Acheson, 16 April  [1970] (copy).
79. NLW, Desmond Donnelly Papers file A 1040, no. 49, Donnelly to Dean Acheson , 26 April  1 970 (copy).

80. The Times, 6 May  1 970. Also reported  in  the South  Wales Argus, 6 May 1970.
81. NLW, Desmond Donnelly Papers, file A l 041 , no. 50, Donnelly to Sir Roy Welensky, 5 May  1970  (copy).
82. Ibid.  no.  52, Welensky  to  Donnelly, 20 May   1 970 (‘Dictated 17.5.70’).
83. Western Telegraph, 2 l May 1970.
84. Ibid.
85. Western Telegraph, 4 June 1970. The letter was quoted in full in the West Wales Guardian, 5 June  1970. Western  Telegraph,  11 and  18 June  1970.
86. The Times, I June 1970; West Wales Guardian, 12 June 1970.
87. Ibid . and further press cuttings in the NLW, Desmond Donnelly  Papers,  file  F70.
88. See D. Butler and  M. Pinto-Duschinsky,  The British  General  Election  of  1970 (London, 1971), 412.
89. See the reflections in N. Crickhowell, Westminster, Wales and Water (Cardiff, 1999).


Public Health Inspections in Pembrokeshire in the Nineteenth Century

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By  Ray Jones

At the start of the ni neteenth century, there was little or no significant concept of disease prevention or ‘public health ‘. ln l805 the Privy Council established a Board of Health because it was concerned about the potential spread  of  yellow  fever,  then  endemic  in  Spain  and Gibraltar. This threat did not materialise and the Board  met until 1806 when  it was disbanded.1 The cholera epidemic of 1831 led to the formation of another central Board and as a result about 1 ,200 Local Boards were formed. As the epidemic receded, Local Boards disappeared and the central Board was dissolved in l832. From 1834-1847 public health and sanitation became the concern of the Poor Law Commission.

Following the report of the Royal Commission  on the  Health  of Towns, the Public Health Act was passed in 1 848. This established the General Board of Health which enabled the formation of Local Board s of Health (after an inspection by the General Board). These inspections could be carried out following a petition by at least one-tenth of the ratepayers of  any place having a defined boundary, by the General Board itself  where local death rates exceeded 23 per 1 ,000 living for seven years or follow­ing a request by a ‘prominent person’ .2 However, Local Boards were voluntary and unpopular. They were thought to be expensive and represented  national  control over local  matters.

As well as Local Boards, such bodies as Registration authorities, parish vestries, Boards of Guardians, highway boards and  various  Commissioners had input into public health. The  1871 Local  Government  Board Act together with the Public Health Acts of 1872 and 1875 consolidated public health matters. It established  rural  and  urban  sanitary  authorities and made compulsory the appointment of medical officers  of  health  (MOH). County Councils, with their  own  MOH,  were  set  up  in  1888  and in 1894 urban and rural district councils were designated health administrators. In Pembrokeshire, these were Tenby Urban Sanitary Authority, Pembroke Rural and Pembroke Urban Authorities , Haverford­ west Rural and Haverfordwest Urban Authorities and Narberth Rural Authority together with Milford Port Sanitary Authority. However, Narberth Authority  had  the  same membership as Narberth  Union  Board  of Guardians and others, for example Tenby, Pembroke Urban and Haverfordwest U1:b n, were t he Town Counci ls ‘meeting as the Sanitary Authority’. Milford Port A uthority was princpally made up of representatives of the nearby Urban and Rural Authorities. Some Authorities, e.g. Pembroke Urban appointed ‘Sanitary Committees’ and later  ‘Ward Sanitary Com­mittees    which  appeared  to act as sub-committees  of  the main Council. 3

These Sanitary Authorities appointed  Inspectors of Nuisances and MOHs as required by the Act, but the MOH was always part-time and salaries  were low. Most MOHs appeared diligent, reporting to their Authorities, in some cases every three months, with statistics of diseases and complaints abou t percei ved sanitary problems. Sanitary Authority Minute books sur­viving show that in  most cases, the MOH Reports were merely  ‘received’ or ‘noted’. Despite  this,  most of the Authorities  conscientiously  pursued nuisances, cleaned streams, closed suspect wells, sunk others, ordered privies, drains and water to be supplied  to houses and improved  sewerage and water supplies. On the other hand , a few Authorities were rebuked by  the Local Government Board. For example, a letter  from  the  Local  Government Board to Haverfordwest Urban Sanitary  Authority  dated March 9, 1885 stated  ‘. . . the Town Council  will  incur a serious respon­sibility  if  they  do  not  proceed  with  the  Works  of  Sewerage  which  are required  for the Borough ‘.4

From 1848-1857, a total of  399 reports were made by  the  General  Board of  Health covering some 414 town s and villages  in 49 counties. Of  these,
35 were in Wales but only one in Pembrokeshire, Tenby. This was the ‘Preliminary Inquiry into the Sewerage, Drainage, and Supply of Water, and the Sanitary Conditions of the Inhabitants of the Parish of St. Mary, w1thin the Borough of Tenby in the County of Pembroke’. The author was George  T.  Clarke,  a  sanitary  engineer  and  one  of  the  General  Board’s
Principal  Inspectors. A public meeting  was held and the Report was published in 1 850. 5

The  Report  followed  the general pattern  of such reports. There was a map and a general description of the town – ‘a pleasant, well-ordered and clean wateri n g place . . . [with] various rows of new and commodious houses built upon the  several sea-fronts ‘.6 There followed a description of the corporation  with  extracts  from  financial  affairs  and  details  of     debts.
Mortality figures gave a death rate of 22.3 per 1 ,000 living for Tenby. This was above the death rate in the Pembroke Union which was 20 per 1 ,000. Inspection of areas described as ‘of the poorer classes’ showed an ‘accu­mulation of rubbish and filth’ with  open  sewers and  a  ‘vast  accumulation of decayed animal and vegetable matter’ at  the  south  sands.  In  one row there were 26 houses with 173 inhabitants with one house holding 18 individuals. The next row had 23 houses  with  159 inhabitants.  There  was no drainage in any of the houses and a total of  II privies  with  cesspools. One tap supplied water for the whole of the row. Several drains were described as ‘most offensive’ as were the  smells emanating  from  pigsties and the drains from the fish market. The lockup  was  described  as  the ‘worst . . . in the Principality’. Houses were described as  ‘poor,  ill-built, undrained, very damp . . . and rarely provided with privies’. Sewers were also inspected and found to be ill-regulated and inefficient with numerous private drains discharging into the fields and seashore. Some streets were kept in good order; others were filthy and ill-paved . The burial ground was said to be ‘insufficient for the needs of the inhabitants  and  should  be  closed’  and  the  sands  were  ‘disfigured’.

There are three pages of suggested remedies including that the Public Health Act be applied. Tenby was said to be in need of ‘water, sewerage, [and] a proper burial ground . . . there is a great want of privies . . . pigsties are a common nuisance . . . and the gardens within the town are receptacles for damp and decayed  vegetable  matter’. The  population  of Ten by at this ti me was about 3,000 (2,803 at the 1 841 census) with about 570 houses and the inspection was made following a petition  by the ratepayers  of the parish. As a result of the report, Tenby petitioned the General  Board  of Health to establish a Local Board of Health 7  and a motion  to carry out  the  provisions  of  the Act  was  passed  on  November  15, 1851. This Local Board  first  met  on  November  21,   1851. 8   The  November   15  motion   was rescinded on December 22, 1851 but this December motion was  over­  turned  on January  12,  1852 and  the Act  was adopted.

During 1852 Tenby enacted a number of byelaws concerning Lodging Houses and Slaughter Houses and a Surveyor, Clerk, Treasurer  and  Inspector of Nuisances were appointed.9 Appointment  of  an  MOH  was also discussed but nothing was done until 1872 when an appointment was made at a salary of £10 per annum pl us £3 expenses .10 Over the years there was no mention of infectious diseases in the Minutes of  this Board  but  the local Gas Works was taken over  and  Byelaws  concerning  sea-bathing, boating and cabs  were instituted.  Drainage  was  established  and  a  number of houses were ordered to install privies. 11 The Tenby  Board  of  Health continued  in  this  vein  until   1894 when   it  became  a  Sanitary Committee.

As well as the Local Reports referred  to  above,  a further  series  of  reports, also termed Local Reports, was made to the Local Government Board. 12 Between   1869  and   1 908,  a  total  of  799  were  made.  Many  were  specific investigations of outbreaks of disease on various  parts  of  the  country  and  were often  made  by  temporary  medical   inspectors  from  the  London Hospital appointed for this purpose. A  number  were  done  in  Pembroke­ shire  when   local  outbreaks  of  disease  were   investigated.

One of the earliest such investigations  in  Pembrokeshire  was  when  Dr Parsons reported to the Local Government Board on typhoid fever and the sanitary state of Haverfordwest in April 1881 .13 This rather scathing 11­  page report begins by giving the actual number of deaths from typhoid and fever,  it  ‘having  been  stated  that  before  the  [present]  epidemic  . .  . typhoid fever had not often been prevalent in Haverfordwest ‘.14 The report went on  to  state that:

‘. . . opportunities for the dissemination of the infection . . . abound throughout the town. Badly made and foul sewers, defective and untrapped house drains. Ill contrived waterclosets, large privy middens, and other depositories of filth poison the air. . . . The public water supply is, or has been till lately, liable to dangerous pollution, . . . and has been shown to be . . . seriously contaminated; and the shallow wells and other subsidiary sources are in no better case.’ 15

The report continued with details of the various water supplies and likely sources of contamination and includes Professor Wanklyn’s analyses of the local water where two samples were said to be ‘bad,’ one ‘contaminated’ and one of ‘fair average organic purity’ .16 There is also a detailed description of ‘the sewers in the principal streets’. The report recom­mended a better system of excrement disposal should be adopted,  sewers and drains be improved , nuisances be abated and pig-keeping  be given ‘due attention’. Better death returns should be kept and bye-laws promul­gated to regulate new streets and houses . There was need for overcrowding to be repressed and unfit houses closed. Further recommendations  were that the water supply should be increased and purified and additional sources secured and that the Sanitary Authority should ‘diligently exercise . . . the powers which they posses under the Public Health Act of 1875 for the prevention  of infectious disease’.17

The next report concerned an outbreak of diphtheria in Clunderwen and Llandissilio in 1888 and was prepared by Mr Spears. 18 Mr Spears reported that most, but not all cases had been  in contact with  one another   but:

‘No incidence upon the  consumers  of  any  special  food-stuff  could be discovered; nor did such an influence  appear  to  be  probable .  What little milk was used was from several  sources;  the  water supplies, too, were various. No evidence of infection from domestic animals could  in these cases be obtained.’  19

The home of one set of sufferers was ‘an ancient cottage: damp, dilapidated ill-ventilated . . . dirty, without privy accommodation, and surrounded by solid and liquid refuse of various  kinds’.20

In Llandissilio:

‘The houses are mostly small, ill-ventilated and often damp and dilapidated . . . cleanliness  is . . . unsatisfactory  . . . overcrowding is not uncommon.
In the long straggling  village  foul  sewage deposits  meet one on
either hand . Privy accommodation is occasionally altogether absent and . . . is generally of the most objectionable   kind.’ 21

Clunderwen was thought to be a bit better but there and at other nearby villages visited by the Inspector, ‘homes were damp and dilapidated ‘ and ‘the means of sewage disposal inadequate’ .22

Pembroke Rural Sanitary Authority was inspected in 1890 following several earlier  outbreaks  of  diphtheria  in  its  Districts.  The report 23  reminded the Board that in 1885, the Authority had been prompted to exercise their powers under the Publ ic Health Act more efficiently, to protect water supplies against surface pollution, to  provide  apparatus  for  disinfection and to provide some means of isolation. In 1887 the Local Government Board had authorised a large loan to the Rural District Council but after much vacillation the Council decided, in 1890, not to take up this  loan.  The report went on to say that there was no drainage at Llanstadwell and that privies were ‘dangerously near ‘ water  supplies. At Angle  there were 12 drains and 6 cess pits choked and there was no sewage in new houses. Neyland needed a better water supply and throughout the area there was a ‘general  state of  filthiness’ .

Apart from the 1890 report above, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock were the subject of several ‘general ‘ reports, that is not related to an outbreak of  a particular disease. Reports of 1878, 1884, 1885 and 1893 together with the 1890 report were summarised in a further report dated 1895  24 reiterating comments in the earlier reports. The water supply was inadequate and a better method than privy and pit was needed. Nuisances should be strictly repressed, slaughtering prohibited in the town , sewerage improved and byelaws introduced to control building of houses, laying of drains and similar improvements. Finally the report commented on the ‘imperfect degree in which the majority of the Town Council appear to realise their responsibilities as the Local Sanitary Authority  . . .’ .25

In 1899 there was a ‘general’ report on the St Dogmells (sic) Rural District.26 It was inspected because of the ‘plurality of Medical Officers’ and the fact that the District was divided among two medical officers who ‘rarely confer with each other or give concurred advice regarding  the  district as a whole.’ The report noted that Dr Havard, the MOH  for Newport (Pembs) was unpopular with the (local) Authority as his 1896 Annual Report had criticised sanitary arrangements. However, he was formally thanked for his 1897 report which was ‘of a brief and meagre nature’. There had been outbreaks of Enteric fever (typhoid) in St Dogmaels and Cilgerran and the water supply was defective and prone to pollution. There was no proper provision for disposal of excrement, ashes and house refuse and no proper sewerage. ‘Privy vaults’  were  still found and the author recalls a smallholding at St Dogmaels in the early nineteen­ fifties where the sanitary arrangements were built on a ‘pier ‘ over a   stream and the excrement dropped directly into the water! A better class of houses, more in accordance with modern sanitary requirements had recently been constructed at Newport and Llanfihangel but most cottages were old and dilapidated, a few thatched. ‘Proper drainage, with few exceptions is absent.’ The report added that the 1890 Infectious Diseases  Act  had  not  been adopted and that there was no provision for isolation of infected patients. Details of cases and deaths from diphtheria for 1894-1897 were given but without  commentary.

Diphtheria was also a problem at Fishguard in the late nineteenth century. There were no deaths from the disease in 1897 and l 898 but an epidemic struck i n early 1899 and continued in 1900. The outbreak was investigated and a report made to the Local Government Board i n 1 901 .27 There was a total of 83 cases with 12 deaths. The disease had started at  the  National School which was found to  have  blocked  drains  and  ‘several  years’  accum ulation of sewage’. The subsoil around the school was ·sodden wi th filth’. Although the schools had been closed for three weeks there was no isolation of victims and no disinfection . No true records of infectious  diseases were bei ng kept and Publ ic Health duties were not being carried out. It was recom mended that sewerage at Fishguard be i mproved and  sewers constructed at Goodwick. Isolation accommodation should  be provided for victi ms of infectious diseases and apparatus for disi nfecting bedding and clothes supplied. This inspection found that sanitary administration had been much neglected and following  this,  a  further  report, to Haverfordwest Rural District was issued  in  1904.28  This  found that the Council’s arrangements for public health were in  disarray  and  needed to be re-organised.  This was  perhaps  the  most  prescri ptive  report of those perused and required four ful l-time MOHs to be employed together with two i nspectors of nui sances, isolation accommodation and disinfect­  ing apparatus. Water supplies and sewerage needed to be attended to, scavenging systems put in place and unhealthy houses and those unfit for human  habitation  closed.

The totality of these reports, spread across Pembrokeshire, confirm that living conditions and sanitary measures in both urban and rural areas were of a very low standard even for the times. Further, there was reluctance by local government to accept both that these conditions existed and to implement the remedies recommended. Similar reports 29  on other areas of south-west Wales and other regions show that this was by no means unique to this County.
1.  National  Archives.  Catalogue Research Guides. Leaflet  ID = 117. 2002.
2. Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain. Series One: Local Reports to the General Board of Health,  1848-1857.  Brighton.  Harvester Press.   1979 (Microfiche).
3. Pembs.R.0.  Minutes  Pembroke  Sanitary Authority.  1892-1900. PEM/SE/2/3.
4. Pembs .R.O. Minutes Haverfordwest Corporation acting as Urban Sanitary Authority  1874-1891.  HAM/SE/ l/5
5. George T. Clarke, Preliminary Inquiry into the Sewerage, Drainage, and Supply of Water, and the Sanitary conditions of the inhabitants of the parish of St. Mary,  within the Borough  of  Tenby in the County of  Pembroke  (London, 1 850).
6. Ibid ., 4
7. Tenby  Museum.  Minutes  Tenby  Local  Health  Board   1851. TEM/BOOKS/ 12/3.
8. Tenby Museum . Minutes Tenby Local Health Board 1852-1872. TEM/BOOKS/ 3/6/I/I.
9. Tenby Museum . Minutes Tenby Local Health Board 1872-1894 .  SE/24/ 12/1/3.
10. Idem.

11. Idem .
12. Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain. Series Two: Reports to the Local Government Board, 1869 – 1908 (Brighton, 1979) Microfiche .
13. Pembs.R.O. Dr Parson’s  Report  to the Local Government Board  on the  Pre­valence of Typhoid Fever in the Borough of Haverfordwest, and on the General Sanitary  Condition of the Borough  (April,  1888). HQ/7/1881.
14. Ibid., 1.
15. Ibid., 3.
16. Ibid., 5.
17. Ibid., 11.
18. Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain, Report No. 402. Mr Spear’s Report on the Outbreak of Diphtheria in Clynderwen and Llandisilio in March 1888.
19. Ibid., 2.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid .,
22. Ibid.
23. Report on Pembroke Rural Sanitary Authority . Urban and Rural Social Con­ ditions in Industrial Britain. Report s to the Local Government Board 1869- 1902. Series Two. Report No. 462. 1890.
24. Report on Pembroke and Pembroke Dock. Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain. Reports to the Local Government Board 1869-1902. Series Two. Report No. 549.  1895.
25. Ibid ., 12.
26. Report on the St Dogmells District Rural Sanitary Authority. Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain. Reports to the Local Government Board  1869-1902. Series Two. Report No. 602. 1899.
27. Report on the Diphtheria Outbreak at Fishguard and Goodwick  in  1899. Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain. Reports to the Local Government Board  1869-1902. Series Two. Report No.642.1901.
28. Report on the Sanitary State of Haverfordwest Rural District Council. Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain. Reports to the Local Govern­ ment Board / 869-1902 . Series Two. Report No. 685. 1904.
29. See for example the reports on Carmarthen (Report 71), Llandeilo Fawr ( 199) and Llangadock (20 I). Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain. Series One: Local Reports to the General Board of Health, 1848- 1857.


Aspects of the Old Poor Law in Pembrokeshire


2008 Journal

By Simon Hancock
At a meeting of the parish vestry for Steynton, Milford Haven, Pembroke­ shire, in February 1820, the public-spirited magistrate and collector of customs for the port of Milford Haven, Henry Leach , made the chilling prediction that unless checked, poor relief was ‘an evil which must other­ wise overwhelm us and shake thefoundations of civil society’ .1 Leach was referring to the system of parochial poor relief financed from local  taxation, and although his comments were among  the  more  sensational, the Old Poor Law was, and remained, bitterly contested historical ground. No analysis of the efficacy of the Old Poor Law system can ignore the fundamental question of who the poor were and how widely experienced was poverty by the population  of south-west  Wales.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that in the overwhel mingly rural agricultural parishes poverty was all too real a personal experience  for a high percentage of people. Much of this was ‘life-cycle’ poverty, the consequence of child-birth , accidents, illness, old age and unemployment and thus difficult to avoid.2 The causes were indeed cumulative.3 In the social world of the old poor law the majority of working men would be described as ‘the labouring poor’ which was quite distinct from the demeaning epithet of ‘pauper ‘4 with its later connotations. Poverty was a shifting concept and  concepts  and  perceptions  relating  to  it shifted  over time. Percentages of those in receipt of poor relief from parishes or unions are difficult to measure. Marshall puts the figure at 8.6 per  cent  for  England and Wales in 1803, rising to 12.7 per cent in 1813 and  13.2 per cent in 1818. 5 In 1802-3 1,040,716 people were in receipt of relief with children accounting for nearly a third and the old or infirm 16.0 per cent.6 Naturally this was reflected in a sharply curtailed life expectancy for the poor which  was rather less than 50 years and with high   infant mortality.7

We  should  be mindful  that any analysis  of  the Old Poor Law  must acknow­ledge the demographic and economic context  of  the  late  eighteenth  and  early  nineteenth  century  in  which  it  operated . The period  1795-1834  saw unprecedented  social  and economic  pressures  to which  existing poor  relief methods had to respond accordingly.8 Important factors included a rising population, inflation , agricultural depression  and  structural  unemploy­ment which resulted in virtual ‘starvation years’ of the mid-1790s.9 The population  of Wales  rocketed  from 587,245 in  1801 to 904,400 just  thirty years later.10 The Old Poor Laws were an astonishingly resilient body of legislation  which  stood the test of  time over two hundred  years. Enacted   in 1601, they made each parish responsible for its own poor  with  poor­ houses to be erected for those who were unable to support themselves. The ‘able bodied’ were to be provided with work and all of this was  to  be financed by a poor rate based on local property values. Each parish had to appoint Overseers of the Poor who assessed and  collected  rates  and  actually arranged for the direct relief of the poor either in cash or kind or sometimes both . They were appointed by the parish vestry, representatives of ratepayers who were ultimately accountable to justices of  the peace for the enactment of the poor law provision . Localism was the cornerstone of the regime, which was, in reality, a collection of expedients blessed  by Acts of Parliament. The main principles of the 1601 act remained unaltered although there were significant  modifications  to the Old  Poor  Laws, such as Gilbert’s  Act, to  meet  changing  circumstances.

No aspect of the Old Poor Law was more controversial or aroused such passionate debate than the financial cost borne by ratepayers.  Poor  rates were merely one of a number of charges levied on property owners in pre­ income tax days. Tithes, church rates, highway rates and land  taxes  all made   a  charge  on   people’s   purses   and   their   complaints   of excessive impositions  were loud  indeed. 11  Taxpayers pointed  out that whereas  poor rates  had  raised  £2  million  in  1784,  the  figure  rose  to  £5.3  million  in 1802/3 and in 1817-8 was £9.3 million. 12 Over the 85-year period from 1748/50 to  1832/4 real  per  capita expenditure  on  poor  relief increased at an average rate of 1 per cent per annum. 13 On a per capita basis the increases appeared even more alarming, rising from 2s 10d per head in 1750 to 16s 8d in  1812. 14 This amounted to 1.9 per cent of national income in  1802/3,15 miniscule in our time of nationalized  welfare services. In fact, poor rates rather mirrored economic  and  social  conditions  rather  than rising  exponentially.

In 1828 Pembrokeshire raised some £28,211 6s in poor rates, an increase of  two per cent on  the previous  year. 16   However,  an analysis of parochial accounts paints a picture alien to the notion of ever spiralling costs which detractors of the status quo claimed. For the parish of St. Mary’s, Tenby, a major sea port and rapidly developing seaside resort, some £344 14s 6d was spent on poor relief around the turn of the century. In 1815 the figure was £419 18s 9d, falling to £367 7s in 1 818 and only £218 8s Od in 1830-1 .17  This  hardly   represented   the  annihilation   of  property.   Gumfreston parish near Tenby saw its annual expenditure decline from £65 11s 6d in 1 828-29 to £63 3s in  1831-2.18 The Old  Poor records of Carew parish   are exceptionally  well-preserved  and  from  them  we  glean  that  poor  relief  expenditures  there  reached  a peak  of £575  14s 8d  in  1802 before  falling to £553 1s 2d in 1817.19 In 1822-3 St. Mary’s parish, Pembroke spent £650 9s 3d 20  on  poor  relief  although  the parish  did contain  the  royal  dockyard at  Pater with a rapidly rising population .

Concerns over perceived  risng poor  law costs found legislative expression in  the  1818  and  1819  Sturges  Bourne  Acts  which  created  ‘closed’  or
‘select’ vestries of prominent ratepayers to specialize in poor law policy 21 and with  the power to appoint a salaried assistant overseer.22 This standing committee virtually appropriated all policy matters which had  previously been discussed in  public  vestries. 23 At  Steynton , a twenty-strong  com­mittee ‘to watch  over the expenditures  of the poor rates’ 24 was  appointed to meet twice a month. By 1828 there were 29 select vestries in the county of Pembrokeshire. 25 Carew parish appointed a select vestry on 11 August  1819 ‘to inspect from  time to time and audit the poor accounts, to employ the poor and manage the funds of the said parish’.26

They decided to employ a permanent overseer with the handsome salary of £30 per annum. He was one of twelve assistant overseers in Pembroke­ shire,27  collecting  money, collecting  settlement  certificates , obtaining
bonds of affiliation  and other varied  duties.28 Enacting the poor law  statute to ‘take order for setting to work all such persons as have no means to maintain and use any ordinary or daily trade ’29 parishes frequently found work for unemployed  people and it invariably involved road mending. 30 At Llanstadwell, when David Thomas applied to the select vestry for either money  or work, he was put to work on the roads3 1 . Steynton parish   seems to have been more stringent in extracting work for relief. On 21 July 1820 Edward Wallace was offered 5s a week to be employed by the surveyor of highways,  or 2s a week  ‘upon his own exertions ‘.32

The Settlement legislation  which  allowed  for  the  removal  of  paupers  back lo the parish of their birth if  they  were considered  ‘likely  to  be chargeable’ was another matter for the  overseers  and  the  inter-parish  litigation  as  to who was responsible for support of such poor persons was  ‘a very fruitful source of parish expense to which the poor rate is applicable’ .33 Pre-1834 Wales must have seen a constant migration of paupers compelled  to travel  long distances before  they  found  relief.  Sometimes  people  were  sent relief by  one  parish  even  though  they  lived  considerable  physical   distances away.  In  1822  the  Llanstadwell   overseer  sent  Margaret  Lewis,  who was living  in  Herefordshire,  £2 on  account  of  her  weekly  allowance.34 Some­times the settlement of an individual could  be  both  complex  and  time­  consuming. In 1833 Richard Mathias of Hayston,  Llanstadwell,  was allowed  his  expenses  in  trying  to  secure  the  settlement  of  Mary  Esmond in  London. 35  When  a clear settlement  could  not  be obtained  then removal orders were issued for the pauper to  be  ordered  to  move  on.  On  21 February 1 817 Elizabeth  Jenkin, widow, and  her five sons, aged  nine years to six weeks, were adjudged by the overseers of Llandeloy pari sh to be chargeable to  the  ‘Parish  of  Stainton’.36  Settlement  examination  docu­ments are fascinating and we can learn m uch from them. I n 1 806 Hester Gibbs of Jeffreystone claimed settlement  in  St. Mary’s Parish , Pembroke on account of being employed  there for  18 months  on  wages of one  pound
and five shillings per annu m.37 Employment was on e of the criteria where­ by settlement could be claimed.

One important aspect of the Old Poor Law was the attitude of parishes to pauper children. Crompton points out that the apprenticing  of  pauper children was highly useful in rural areas,38 dominated by agriculture . At Mydrim, Carmarthenshire,  in 1817, all parish apprentices went to farmers who were paid a premium of £2 10s each.39 At Llanstadwell all persons rated over £ 100 per annum in poor rates were to draw lots to  take  appren­tices.  A   number  were  bound ,  along  with   the  payment   of  two guineas for  those  who  took  them.40 At  Carew,  in  1820 some  twenty-two parish apprentices were bound at £2 2s each costing the poor fund £46 4s, a very considerable  outlay.41 Those  pauper  children  who  suffered  any  form of disability were clearly less easy to apprentice. On 21 January 1831 the Carew accounts recorded  the cost of apprenticing  ‘the clubfoot boy’ at   no less than £7.42 In coastal parishes pauper children  were far more likely   to be apprenticed to mariners and fishermen than farmers. On 5 April  1804  Benjamin Thomas aged 15, was apprenticed to Captain William Reed in Tenby 43 and  two weeks later Captain George Williams of the same   town also took  an apprentice.

In rural parishes the birth of an illegitimate child was far from being a rare occurrence,  but  one  which,  nevertheless,  had  important  implications   for the Old Poor Laws. Often a couple were forced to marry by parochial  authorities before the  birth  of  the  child .  In  other  cases  the  expectant mother would be examined and if the  father  could  be  identified  then  an  order was issued for both the delivery of the child and its future mainten­ ance.44 These bastardy bonds could either be a lump sum, or far more likely,  a  weekly  sum  paid  by  the father until  the child reached  the age of 14.  The  actual  frequency  of  illegitimacy   i s  not  always  easy  to  ascertain. Nevertheless  the  rector  of  Roch  parish ,  seething  with   moral  indignation noted the baptism of 52 bastards in his parish between  1763 and 1789. 45

Parishes  meticulously  recorded  all  the  costs  associated   with  pregnancy and  were  at  pains  to  receive  full  recompense  from   the  father  for  their pains. At Tenby, in 1831, Mary Edwards was delivered of  a female child.  The costs amounted  to £5  17s  11d  and  included  6s 9d  for clothing, £3 pay [for  30 weeks] and  13s for constables  to  travel  to  Druidston  and  Roch   to serve notices on the  father.  The  costs  also  involved  4s  for  a  coffin  and 2s  for  a  grave  for  the  child  who  sadly  expired  shortly  after  birth.46  At Gumfreston  the overseers paid £3  l ls 3d for taking Charles Edwards and for paying  for  his  bond .47   Bastardy  bonds  demonstrate  the determination of  parishes  to  avoid  future  expenses  for  illegitimate  children.  In  Llangan in  1 807  William   David   was  unable  to  pay   the  full  costs  of  his  child   begotten on the body of Esther Morris, but was ‘willing to contribute the utmost he can’.48 More usual was the recording of a precise figure for maintenance. In 1819 in Llandeloy, Lewis Williams ‘did beget the said bastard child on the body of the said Margaret Morris  ‘and agreed to pay
 1s 9d per week.49

Parish poorhouses were perhaps the most physical reminder of the old poor law legislation, although they  only  accommodated a tiny fraction of the total numbers in  relief. In 1803 some 60 Welsh parishes maintained all, or part of their poor  in  workhouses. 50  Parliamentary  returns  for  1776-7 listed the operation of almost 2000 parish workhouses. 51 Images of old poor law work houses invoke George Crabbe’s memorable description  in  The Village [1783] with its walls of mud and broken door.52 In fact, as Oxley reminds us, conditions inside  these  workhouses  are  exceedingly poorly documented and were ‘outstanding neither for its squalor and indiscipline nor its exemplary efficiency‘ 53 Work was  often  supplied  for the inmates. spinning or weaving. Pembrokeshire ‘s Old Poor Law work­ houses are very  poorly  documented  indeed  with  only  fleeting  mentions in overseers’ account books and the references to  the  Johnston  and Llawhaden Poor Houses in 1800 and 1787 respectively. Records usually  relate to the provision of items for the building, like culm  for  the Llanstadwell poorhouse in June 1821. 54 We can be sure that  running  costs were  kept  to  an  absolute  minimum.  On  23  April   1823 the  Llanstadwel select vestry ordered that no more than one fire be allowed in the poor house.55

Nevertheless, they later ordered ‘necessary utensils for the house, a small bucket  and  a  small  table for  making  bread’ .56  Most  poor  houses were either a cottage or row of cottages which could be rented cheaply. On 19 March 1828 the Llanstadwell select vestry rented a cottage on Cant’s Hill from Lady Day 1828 for £2 10s a year.57 Even sparsely populated parishes had their poor houses. In 1822 the Hodgeston  Overseer paid  1s for mending the bed there.58 Others paid for renewing the thatch roof of their workhouse. 59  The  actual  relief   granted   to  individuals  and  families was entirely discretionary  to the vestry  and overseer and  ‘was based  not on a fixed scale but rather on individual needs’ .60 Most outdoor relief went out as small weekly sums,61 paid either weekly, fortnightly or monthly. It was at least flexible and could be increased or decreased to reflect changing cirumstances. 62 Other help  could  be  in kind  or cash  sums for   specific articles. There doe not seem to have been much difference in the help given to the poor m either rural or urban parishes. In August  1821  the Llanstadwell vestry ordered the overseers to provide Ann Williams with a flannel petticoat and two shifts 63 whilst Griffith Twynning was ordered tohave a hat and pair of stockings on 19 December 1821. 64 Sometimes food stuffs were provided directly. On 4 February 1824 Margaret Lewis was given ‘a strike of potatoes’ .65 On another occasion the vestry gave one applicant 7s i n settlement of debts.66 The Hodgeston  vestry gave  Thomas Evans a strike of  barley  in  1815  67  and  Carew gave John  Eynon  half  aWinchester of barley in 1822 costing 1s 6d. 68

A portion of relief under the Old Poor Law went to recipients to enable them to earn their own livings, in other words to promote self­ employment. Old poor law accounts have numerous references to people being supplied with the means of generating their own income. In 1803 Mary Rees of Sychpant was provided with a spinning wheel by the authorities at Llanfihangel-ar-Arth.69 In October 1821 John Child of Llanstadwell was given £3 to buy  a cow 70 whilst William Briant, a fisherman, was given 20s to help repair his boat.71 Similarly, on 28 April  1830Martha Hart was given £1 so that she could buy a donkey and sell culm.72 In 1818 William Harris was given 4s 6d by the Gumfreston Overseers to buy a plough.13 The usually niggardly Steynton vestry gave Benjamin  Edwards of Pill, aged over 80 years of age, £1 so that he could repair his boat which had been ‘injured in bad weather ‘.74

Many entries in the Old Poor Law accounts are concerned  with    medical
matters; payments for nursing, surgery and for sickness, even though the 1601 legislation  made no specific mention  of the sick.75   Nevertheless,
medical treatment became an essential part of the   overseers’ duties, often
with  successful  results.  In  smaller  parishes  there  was  a greater  chance of individual   attention .76  Thomas  is  of  the  opinion  that  parish  authorities were  generally  sympathetic  and  generous  in  their  approach to medical care, a fact not emphasised enough in studies of poor law adm1nistration. 77
Parishes   whether  rural  or  urban,  spent  significant  sums on  salaries of doctors and surgeons. Tenby paid Doctor Gower £20 for his annual salary 78 whilst a rural parish with far fewer people like Llanstadwell, paid George Williams, surgeon, £8.79 In 1825 Carew parish paid Doctor Paynter £15. 80 Urban Pembroke remunerated Thomas Mansel to the tune of £25 4s per annum. 81 Parishes seem to have gone to some length to ensure that practi­tioners were suitably qualified. In 1821 the Steynton vestry received an application from William Folland for £3 to allow him to pay John Hughes, ‘the Blackbridge Doctor’ for curing his daughter’s leg of a white swellmg. The parish refused ‘as the parish employs a surgeon and will not pay an ignorant pretender to the cost’ .82
Most medical expenses involved the birth of children, treating fevers, abscesses and healing broken bones. The Old Poor Law rendered relief in the shape of repairs to the homes of paupers and in the payment of rents. Since the parish often paid rents, paupers could be seen as eligible or eve desirable tenants.83 David Howell has  noted  how  the  payment of  cottage rents out or the rates was a comm on form or relief to labourers in Wales.84 Numerous Pembrokeshire parishes provided relief with rents. The Hodges­ton Overseer  allowed  Rebecca  Rees   10 s   ‘for  rent’ .85   Carew  advanced ‘Widdow Jinkings’ 15s  for her half-yearl y  rent.86  William  Simmond  got two guineas from the usu a l l y parsimonious Steynton vestry for a years  rent, perhaps on account of his ‘weakly condition’ .87 Board  and lodging were also paid. David Harries received 4s for such hospitality which he meted out  to  ‘a black man’  at Tenby in 1801 .88

Even if it  is stretchi ng the facts to represent  the Old  Poor  Laws as a cradle  to grave regime, it did often assist with  funeral  and  burial  expenses  for those without  the  means  to  pay for them . Tenby  paid  6s 6d  for the  funeral expenses for George Hughes 89 whilst John Jenkins of Llanstadwell was given  assistance  to  bury  his  wife. Carew  paid  the  comparatively large sum of £1 3s 2d for Thomas Kendry ‘s funeral 91 and later a coffin for William Jones cost  15s.92  Parish  authorities  were  not  always  sympathetic .  At Steynton in 1 821, Bella Samuel applied on  behalf of  William  Griffiths,  a pauper of this parish  ‘now a corpse’ 93  for  beer and  candles at his funeral. The vestry flatly refused,  disapproving  ‘of the continuance of such customs  for  the burial of paupers’ .94

The 1601 legislation had expressed the dichotomy between deserving and non-deserving poor and the old poor law, involving as it  did  an  intimate social exchange,95  occasionally  invoked  moral  reproach  upon  recipients. There was a strong link between morality and the right to poor  relief.  This  often went beyond mere paternalism of looking after one’s own poor.96 In January  1833  the  Llanstadwell  vestry  immediately   stopped   the  relief   it was paying to Joseph Child on account of ‘his idle and drunken habits ‘.97 Occasionally recipients were admonished for their temerity in asking for help. In September l820 the wife of David Lewis of Milford who had left his family  looking  for  work  was  told  in  no  uncertain  terms to  look  to  her husband  ‘as she  will  receive no more’ .98  It was  the same  parish,  which  in 1823 started making written notes in the  vestry  minute  book  on  the characters of recipients. When John Thomas, who  was  ill  with  small  pox  was given 10s, the vestry clerk commented  ‘a very hard  working  man but  his  wife  good for nothing’ .99  At  the  same  meeting Elizabeth  Phillips was described as ‘a  beggar  I fancy’ 100  and  Elizabeth  Williams  elicited  the  heady praise of ‘tolerable good’ .101 In a number of parishes there was the further indignity of paupers having to wear special badges alluding to their status.
The  Old  Poor  Law  was  the  major   mean s  of  support  for  the  poor  before 1834,  but  we  should   never  ignore  the  contributions   made   towards  poor relief which came from charitable giving  and  friendly  or benefit  societies. The  great  virtue  of   voluntary   charitable  giving   was   that   it   preserved existing social hierarchies and could not be taken for granted by the recipients.102 Charity came in a variety of guises, either in cash or kind. 103 It is significant that in 1788 charitable income, many founded to assist the poor, reached £258,700. 104 Friendly or  benefit  societies  were  another means of preventing  destitution  and  were  a  defensive  reaction  to  heightened life-cycle risks. 105  In fact it was a collectivist approach to poverty. The  payment  of  small   sums  each  week  would insure  against  sickness, unemployment or bereavement. This notion of self-help  provided  an  alter­native to the poor  law and  helped  to keep rates down.!06

Some clubs acquired large cash funds. In 1844 the St. George’s Friendl y Society in Milford had £1101 5s 2d in the bank despite having paid out £250 9s in sickness benefits. 107 Such beneficiaries were not considered eligible for parish relief. In 1 832 Martha Codd of Llanstadwell was refused help since she had recently received £27 on the death of her husband ‘from the club‘. 108 It can be seen that the Old Poor Law was nothing if  flexible  and  although  costs could  rise,  they  generally  reflected  the  wider  economic and commercial  health  of  communities.  Nevertheless,  from  around  1815 the system came under savage and sustained criticism. Irate correspon­dents  wrote to  newspapers  calling  for economy  in  poor  relief  ‘and the reduction of  the great  costs incurred‘ .109 It is not  surprising  that the  Whig Government, in the spirit of the 1 832 Reform Act, set up a Royal Commi ssion to inquire into the working on the poor laws, especially their costs and alleged corruption . The nine commissioners included lawyers Edwin Chadwick and Nassau Senior, the former a fanatical Benthamite who was driven by  a  hatred  of  waste  and  inefficiency. 110  Their results, nine folio volumes running to almost 5,000 pages, 111 savaged the old poor law regime and ultimately  ushered in  the Poor  Law Amendment Act of   l834.

A complex picture emerges from any serious analysis of the Old Poor Laws. There was undoubtedly a wide-ranging paternalism or look i n g after ones own, and yet that sense did not prevent nilateral harshness , as in 1822 when the Llanstadwell vestry curtly cut those receiving weekly allowances without reason or explanation being given. 112 On  the positive side the Old Poor Law seems to have been applied in parishes across Pembrokeshire with surprising uniformity, regardless of urban or rural contexts. Costs were in fact not out of control and indeed, in many  costs  were actually declining. Flexibility  and  adaptability  were  key  features  of the pre-1834 poor relief system 113 combined with personal attention from overseers whom recipients would know. However, there was conversely infinite danger in giving inordinate power  to local elites  and  rural  tyrants and inconsistency of approach to similar circumstances.  There  was  the  cruel and unedifying spectacle of pregnant women being carted off to thei r place of Settlement, the often cruel treatment meted out to parish  appren­tices and the treatment of pauper ‘idiots’ . Whim and caprice were not acceptable and critics made the most of this. Nevertheless, flexibility and sensitivity to human need , adjustment to local circumstances, compre­hensiveness and local participation counted for much . Marshall thi nks that we can  learn as much from the Old Poor  Law  as we can  from  the New. 114


1. E. J. R. Morgan, ‘The Ad ministration of the Poor Laws i n Pembrokeshi re, 1780-1870.’  Ph.D.  thesis,  University   of  Wales, Swansea.
2. ‘The Old Poor Law’ , Notes provid ed by M A Tutors at Trinity College, Carmar­then [hereafter Trinity College Notes].
3. Edward Royle, Modern Britain. A Social History 1 750- 1985 (London, 1985), 162.
4. G. E. Mingay, Land  and Society in England  1750-1980 (London, 1994),   93.
5. J. D. Marshall, The  Old Poor  Law  1795-1834  (London,  1985), 35.
6. M. J. Daunton , Progress and Poverty. An Economic and Social History of Britain  1700-1850  (Oxford,   1995), 449.
7. E. D.Evans, A History  of Wales 1660-1815 (Cardiff ,  1 993), 193.
8. J. D. Marshall , The Old Poor Law , 13.
9. David W. Howell, The Rural Poor in Eighteenth-Century  Wales  (Cardiff, 2000), 93.
10.   Russell   Davies,  Hope  and  Heartbreak. A  Social  History  of Wales  and  the Welsh  1776-1871  (Cardiff,  2005), 35.
11.  ‘The Old  Poor  Law’,  Trinity College Notes.
12. Edward  Royle, Modern Britain , 174.
13.  George  R.  Boyer,  ‘The  Economic  Role  of  the  English  Poor  Law 1780-1834’ Journal  of  Economic History, Vol. 45, No.  2 (1985), 451.

14. G. E. Mingay,  Land  and Society in England,  97.
1 5. Paul Slack, The English Poor Law  1531-1782 (London , 1990), 30.
16.  The Cambrian, 29 March  1828.
1 7. Overseers of the Poor  Accounts  1765-1836.  St. Mary’s  Parish,  Tenby. Tenby  Museum  Archives  [hereafter  TMA, TEM/Box  5]
18.  Overseers  of  th e  Poor  Accounts  18-9-1946.  Gumfreston  Parish.  Pembroke­shire Record  Office  [hereafter  PembsRO]  HPR177/ 30.
1 9. Overseers of the Poor Accounts 1 815- 1 837. Carew Pari sh PembsRO HDX/ 935/1 .
20. Overseers of the Poor Accounts 1 820-1828. St. Mary ‘s Parish , Pembroke PembsRO, HPR/24/6.
2 1 . Peter Murray, Poverty and Welfare 1815-1850 (London , 2006), 22. 22.  ‘Poor Laws’, Trinity College Notes,  5.
21.  David   Eastwood ,  ‘Government   and  Community   in   the  English   Provinces 1 700-1970′. Trinity  College Notes,  I .
24. The Cambrian, 1 8 December 1819.

25. Ibid ., 29 March  1 828.
26. Carew  Parish Overseers Accounts, Pem bsRO, H DX/935/1, op. cit.
27. The Cambrian, 29 March   1828.
28. Geoffrey  W.  Oxley,  Poor Relief’  in Eng land  and  Wales  /601-1834 (London 1 974), 46.
29. John   Burnett,  Idle  Hands.  The  Exeriences  of  Unemployment,  1790-1990 (London,  1 994),  16.

30. Geoffrey W. Oxley, Poor Relief  in Eng land and Wales, 1 1 7.
31. Minute book  of  Llanstadwell Select Vestry  1 821-1894. Pem bsRO,   HPR/1 31/add I.
32.  Minute book  of Steynton  Select Vestry  1820-1824. PembsRO, HPRJ3/28.
33. Times,  11 February  I819.
34.  Llan stadwell  Select Vestry  PembsRO, HPR/131/addl.
35 . Ibid.
36. Removal  Orders   1 817-1825.  Llandeloy  Parish  PembsRO, HPR/82/20.
37. Overseers  of   the   Poor  Account s,  St.  Mary ‘s  Parish,  Pembroke ,  PembsRO., I I PR/24/6, op. cit.
38. Frank Crompton , Workhouse Children (Stroud, 1997), 16.
39. Parish   Apprentice  Book,   Mydrim   Parish.   Carmarthenshire   Record Office.
40. Llanstadwell Select Vestry. PembsRO,  HPR/131/addl.
41.. Overseers of the Poor Accounts, Carew  Parish. PembsRO, HDX/935/ I, op. cit.
42. lhid.
43.  Overseers of the Poor Accounts. St.  Mary’s  Parish. TM A .TEM/Box  5, op. cit.
44. ‘Poor Laws  1601 – 1834’. Trinity College Notes, 3.
45. David W. Howell, ‘Society, 1660- 1 793’, Brian Howells Pembrokeshire County History Vol. Ill Early M odern Pembrokeshire. 1536- 1815 (Haverford­west, 1987), 284.
46. Overseers of the Poor Accounts, St. Mary ‘s Parish, Tenby. TMA, TEM/Box 5.
47. Overseers of the Poor Accounts, Gumfreston  Parish PembsRO,   HPR/77/30.
48. Bastardy  Bonds, Llangan  Parish, PembsRO, HPR/67/10.
49. Bastardy Orders, Llandeloy  parish  1819-1821. PembsRO, HPR/82/21.
50. David W. Howell, The Rural Poor, 105. 5 1 . ‘Poor Laws’, Trinity College Notes, 4.
52. Ronald  B. Hatch,  ‘George Crabbe and  the Workhouses  of  the  Suffolk Incorporations.’ Philological Quarterly, 54:3 (1975), 690.
53. Geoffrey W. Oxley, Poor Relief in England  and Wales, 93.
54. Llanstadw ell Select Vestry. PembsRO, HPR/131/addl.
55. Ibid.
56. Ibid.
57. Ibid.
58. Overseers  of   the  Poor  Accounts   1813-1837.  Hodgeston   Parish,  PembsRO,
59. Overseers of the Poor Accou nts. Carew Parish , PembsRO, HDX/935/1.
60. David W. Howell, Land and People in Nine 1een1h-ce111u1·y Wales (London, 1977), 103.
61. Paul Slack, The English Poor Law. 27.
62. Geoffrey W. Oxley, Poor Relief in England  and Wales, 63.
63. Llanstadwell  Select  Vestry.  PembsRO, HPR/131/add l.
64. Ibid.
65. Ibid.
66. Ibid.
67. Overseers of the Poor Accounts. Hodgeston pari sh, PembsRO, HPR/70/8.
68. Overseers of the Poor Accou nts. Carew Parish, PembsRO, HDX/935/1.
69. ‘The Poor Law’, Trinity College Notes, 7.
70. Llanstadwell Select Vestry. PembsRO, HPR/1 31/add l. 71.  Ibid.
72. Ibid.
73. Overseers of the Poor Accounts. Gumfreston  Parish, PembsRO,  HPR/77/30.
74. Minutes  of the Steynton  Select Vestry  1820-1824. PembsRO, HPR3/28.
75. Edward Royle, Modern Britain, 173.
76. E.G. Thomas, ‘The Old Poor Law and Medicine’, Medical History, Vol. 24, 2 ( 1980).
77. Ibid., 3.
78. Overseers of the Poor Accounts, St. Mary’s Parish, Tenby. TMA  TEM/Box 5
79. Llanstadwell  Select Vestry.  PembsRO, HPR/ 131 /addl.
80. Overseers of the Poor Accounts. Carew Parish, PembsRO, HDX/ 935/l.
81 . Overseers of the Poor Accou nts. St. Mary’s Parish Pembroke. PembsRO HPR/24/6.
82. Steynton Select Vestry. PembsRO, HPR/3/28 .
83. E. D. Evan s, A  H istory  of Wales, 194.
84. David W. Howell, Land  and People, 103.
85. Overseers of the Poor Accounts.  Hodgeston  Parish, PembsRO, HPR/70/8.
86. Overseers of the Poor Accounts.  Carew Parish, PembsRO,  HDX/935/1.
87. Steynton  Select Vestry. PembsRO, HPR/3/28.
88. Overseers of the Poor Accounts, St. Mary ‘s Parish Tenby. TMA, TEM/Box 5.
89. Ibid.  ·
90. Llanstadwell Select Vestry. PembsRO, HPR/1 3 1/addl.
9 1 . Overseers of the Poor Accounts. Carew Parish Pembs RO HDX/935/1
92. Ibid.
93. Steynton Select Vestry.  PembsRO, HPR/3/28.
94. Ibid.
95. ‘Poor  Laws before  1 834’, Trinity  College Notes,  I .
96. Trinity College Tutorial, 7 February 2007.
97. Llanstadwell Select Vestry.  PembsRO, HPR/3/28.
98. Steynton  Select  Vestry.  PembsRO, HPR/3/28.
99. Ibid .

100. Ibid .

101. Ibid .
102.  M. J. Daunton , Poverty and Progress, 448.
103. John Broad, ‘Parish Economies of Welfare 1 650- 1 834’, The Historical Journal,  Vol.  42, No. 4 ( 1999), 987.
104. Paul  Slack, The English Poor Law, 52.
105. Martin Gorsky, ‘The growth and distribution of English friendly societies  in  the early  nineteenth  century’, Economic  History  Review, No.  3 ( 1998), 489.
106.  The Poor Law System: An Overview’, Trinity College Notes, 23.

107. Pembrokeshire Herald, 26 Apri l  1844.
108.  Llanstadwell   Select Vestry. PembsRO, HPR/  131/addl.
109.  The Cambrian, 6 July  181 6.
110. ‘The Royal Commission on the Poor Laws, 1832-1834’, Trinity College Notes, I.
111. Mark Blaug, ‘The Poor Law Report Re-examined’, Journal of Economic Htstory, Vol. 24, No. 2 ( 1 964), 230.
112. Llanstad well  Select Vestry.  PembsRO,  HPR/131 /add I.
113. M. J. Daunton, Poverty and Progress, 1 1 3.  1 14. J. D. Marshall, The Old Poor Law, 50.

Pembrokeshire Antiquarians


By Dillwyn Miles
Pembrokeshire has a long recorded history. He who carved a name on a stone at Nevern a millennium and a half ago wanted to inform posterity in ogham and in Latin that there lived in those parts at that time a person of eminence with Irish connections by the name of Maglicunus son of  Clutorius. An unknown poet ‘s lamentation in the ninth century at the death of the lord of the sea-girt fortress at Tenby revealed that here reposed ‘the writings of Britain ‘. From the quill of Gerald de Barri, or Giraldus Cam­brensis as he chose to be known , there came a portrait of life as it was  lived at the end of the twelfth century in that most western peninsula of Wales that was to become  known  as Pembrokeshire.


Giraldus Cambrensis was born c.1 146, the youngest son of William de Barri of Manor­bier, and Angharad,  daughter of Gerald de Windsor,  the royal custodian of Pembroke, by his wife Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, whom he  had judiciousl y married not only for her alluring beauty. Giraldus, therefore, was the son of an Anglo-Norman knight, the great-grandson of a king of Deheubarth , a nephew of Prince Rhys ap Gruffudd (The Lord Rhys) and of Bishop David Fitzgerald of St David ‘s, a kinsman of the Geraldine invaders of Ireland and of the Flemish  lords of Haverford, 1  and of most of   the Welsh princely families. ‘I am sprung from the princes of Wales and from the barons of the March ,’ he once said, ‘and when I see injustice in  either nation , I hate it’. His Cambro-Norman origins, however, did not always stand him in good stead. When the king wanted a bilingual emissary or diplomat, he sent for Giraldus, but he also made it known that ‘were Giraldus not a Welshman  he would be worthy  of high  honour ‘.
At an early age Giraldus came under the  tutelage  of  his  uncle, Bishop David , who arranged for hi m to be sent to the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter’s at Gloucester where he acquired  a mastery  of Latin  that made him arguably  the  finest  Latin  writer  ever known  in  Wales. In August  1165 he entered the University of Paris  where he remained for the  next ten  years. On his return to Wales Giraldus was given the livings of Llanwnda, Angle and Tenby and the ‘golden prebend ‘ of Mathry, together with  the benefice or Chesterton  in  Oxfordshire.  He was also made a prebendary  of  Hereford and  a canon of St David ‘s. His reforming zeal  became  evident when  he   in formed Archbishop Richard  of Canterbury  that  there were people  in  the diocese of St Dav id ‘s who had not paid the tithes of wool  and cheese. The Archbishop appointed him legate whereupon Giraldus lost no time in bringing any defaulters  to justice.  He  charged  the  sheriff  of  Pembroke with having removed eight yoke  of  oxen  from  Pembroke  Priory  and  brought him to Llawhaden Castle where he was beaten with rods in the presence of the bishop. He also had the elderly Archdeacon of Brecon suspended for concubinage and had himself appointed archdeacon in  his place.

Giraldus’s one ambition in life was to be the bishop of St David’s: he declined offers of the bishoprics of Bangor and of Llandaff , and of Ferns and of Leighlin in Ireland. He wanted to establish or,  as  he  claimed  restore, the metropolitan status of St David ‘s on the grounds that St David had been archbishop of  Wales  owing  no allegiance  to  Canterbury. When his uncle died in 1 176, he was nominated to succeed hi m  by  the Chapter and by the Arch bishop of Canterbury but the Ki ng, aware of his ambitions, would not hear of it and appointed Peter de Leia, prior of Wenlock, to the see. Giraldus returned  to Paris to pursue his studies, but  when  it was found that the new bishop was at loggerheads with the Chapter, the Archbishop appointed Giraldus as administrator of the diocese, an office that  he held  from  1179 to 1182.

When  Peter de Leia died  in  1198 Giraldus  was again nominated  but after  a  prolonged   dispute,  which  culminated   in  a  dispute  between  the  Pope, Innocent III, and the king, he was rejected and Geoffrey of Henlaw, prior of Llanthony, was consecrated bi shop in November 1 203. Giraldus accepted the situation and gave up hi s metropolitan ambitions. He resigned the archdeaconry  of  Brecon  and  secured  it  for  his  nephew  Giraldus,  son  of Philip de Barri, whose ingratitude and treachery was later  to cause  him deep concern.
In 1184 Henry II made Giraldus a royal clerk in  which  capacity  he acted  as a contact with the Welsh princes. His blood relationship to the Anglo­ Norman conquerors of Ireland led to his appointment as chaplain and  adviser to Prince John, newly made Lord of Ireland, and  he accompanied him on his visit to that country in 1185. John behaved badly and had to return home but Giraldus remained in Dublin until the spring of 1187 and during that time he gathered material for his books, Topographica Hibemica (The Topography of Ireland) and Expugnatio Hibernica (The Conquest of Ireland) which  appeared  in  1188.

When the Patriarch of Jerusalem came to seek the king’s  help  to recover  the Holy City from the Saracens, Henry sent Baldwin, the new Archbishop  of Canterbury, to Wales to preach the Cross and raise recruits for the Third Crusade. Baldwin chose as his companions  the  archdeacon  of  Bangor, who acted as interpreter, and Giraldus, whom  he  had  previously  known, not only for his Welsh connections but also for his entertaining compay. Giraldus presented hi m with a copy of his Topographia Hibernica  which the Archbishop  read , or had read to him  mostly  by Giraldus, each day.

The party set out from Hereford on 4 March 1188 and the Archbishop preached his first sermon at Radnor where Giraldus threw himself at his feet and became the first person in Wales to take the Cross. The Journey lasted seven weeks, ten days of which were spent in Pembrokeshire. They reached Whitland Abbey on Monday, 21 March , and stayed at Haverford­west, St David’s and St Dogmael’s. Although they did not go to Pembroke, Giraldus wrote at some length about its conquest by the Montgomerys and could not resist referring to the ‘ingenious stratagem’ employed by his grandfather, Gerald de Windsor, to be rid of the Welsh beleaguer in  1096. He recalled the Manorbier of his happy childhood with its turrets and ramparts, its deep fishpond, the beautiful orchard and high hazel groves, standing over  the  Severn  Sea, and proclaimed  it  ‘the most  pleasant  place in the whole of Wales’, naively seeking to be forgiven for lavishing such praise  upon  it, as it was  the place  where he was born.

At Haverfordwest, after the Archbishop had delivered a sermon, Giraldus, now  describing  himself  as the Archdeacon  of  St David’s,  preached   ‘with some eloquence’ in  Latin  and  then  in French  and  ‘those  who could  not understand a word of either  language  were just  as moved  to tears  as the  others, rushing forward in equal numbers to receive the sign of the Cross’. His knowledge of Welsh was limited and he hardly ever spoke English . He embellished his account of the visit  with  strange tales  and dwelt on the  folk  customs  of  the Flemings,  to  whom  he  was related , and  he revealed that  Flemish  was  still  spoken  in  Pembrokeshire  in  the early  part  of the thirteenth century.2

The party  spent three days at St David’ s where Baldwin  took  advantage of t he occasion to establish his authority  in Wales by celebrating Mass at the  high altar in the cathedral. He then departed to meet Rhys ap Gruffudd at Cardigan, leaving Giraldus to preach to the people. Many ran to take the Cross,  but  ‘when  his words were  interpreted  they  recoiled  from  the vow they had taken 3 and, instead , they were ordered to  ‘bestow their labour and aid ‘ upon the building of the cathedral.4 While passing through Nevern, Giraldus recalled the evil deed of Rhys ap Gruffudd who had broken a solemn oath by evicting his son-in-law William Martin, lord of Cemais, from Nevern Castle and reckoned that ‘God took vengeance on hi m in the most apposite way’ when he was disgraced and discountenanced by being made a prisoner  in  the very  same castle by  his own sons.

The party was comfortably lodged at the monastery at St Dogmael ‘s and the next morning they proceeded to Cardigan where they were entertained by the Lord Rhys at his castle. A large crowd including Rhys and his sons, Maelgwn and Gruffudd , had assembled on the Cemais side of the river Teifi and, once more, many were persuaded to take the Cross. The sick came to be healed and miracles were performed , but Giraldus stated that he had no time to tell about them. He may have been too anxious to dwell on another matter. Giraldus regarded himself as ‘a careful investigator of natural history’ and he was quick to observe that ‘the noble river Teifi’ was not only ‘better stocked with the finest salmon than any other stream in Wales’ but that it had ‘another remarkable peculiarity’ in that it was the only river, south of the Humber, where there were beavers. He then proceeded to describe the life history of the animal, adding the legend that in the East the creature would save itself from hunters by self-castration.

Giraldus kept notes from day to day along the journey which  enabled  him to  produce  his ltinerarium  Kambriae  (Journey  through  Wales) giving a description of incidents that occurred along the journey, providing con­temporary glimpses of everyday life in the latter part of the twelfth century, and  an  account  of  the  role played  by  the Archbishop  and  by himself in preaching the Cross. The work was enlivened by digressions, sometimes in the form of folk tales with some of which, no doubt, he had regaled his fellow travellers in the manner of the professional story-teller, the cyfarwydd , at the courts of the Welsh nobility. There were tales of evil spirits, such as the one who came in the form of a red-haired steward to the house of Elidyr of Stackpole, and onomastic tales to explain place names, as in the case of Seisyllt Esgairhir (Cecil Longshank s) who was devoured by toads at Trellyffaint (Toad ‘s-town) in the parish of Nevern. There were miracles like the one that happened at Haverfordwest when a blind old woman had her sight restored as a piece of turf upon which the Archbishop had stood was applied to her eyes. He also wrote about things that he saw and heard, and about a people still reeling from the Norman occupation and now having to suffer the hostility of the planted Flemings.He gave of his own  experience  of the  political  and  ecclesiastical  events of the  time.  He  made  ordinary   happenings  interesting  and  sprinkled  his narrative  with  anecdotes  while, at the same time, providing the most im­portant source history of the period. The first edition of  ltinerarium Kambriae appeared in 1191 , a second version in 1197 and a third , some­ what extended, version in 1214. It was followed by his Descriptio Kambriae (The Description of Wales) in which he gave ‘a broader  and  more philosophical survey of the country and the people taken from the Olympian  height  of  a  scholar’s  lofty  seclusion’ .5

Giraldus was a prolific writer, his work s including Vita Sancti  Davidis  (The Life of St David) in 1194 and a ‘Life of  Geoffrey, Archbishop  of York’  in  1 1 95 as well  as  ‘Lives’ of  St Remi  and  St  Hugh.  His Gemma Ecclesiastica   (The  Jewel  of  the  Church)  that  appeared in  1197  was  a handbook of moral  exhortation  for the clergy of St David ‘s, De Rebus  a
Se Gestis, an autobiography, in 1 208, De lnvectionibus (A Book of Invec­tives) and Speculum Duorum (A Mirror of Two Men), a personal con­troversy arising out of the betrayal and  ingratitude of his  nephew  to whom  he had given the archdeaconry of Brecon, both in 1 216, De Jure at Statu Menevensis Ecclesiae (The Rights and Status of St  David’s)  and  De Principis lnstructione (The Instruction of a Prince) , a denunciation of the Plantagenet kings, in 1218, and Speculum Ecclesiae (The Mirror of the Church)  in  1220.

The last twenty years of  his  life were spent mostly  at Lincoln. He visited  his  relatives in  Ireland i n 1 204  and  in  1206 he  set  out  on  a  spiritual  pilgrimmage  to  Rome,  and  made  three  short  visits  to  Wales. He  died  in 1 223,  probably  at Lincoln  where he  is believed  to have  been buried.

George Owen of Henllys, 6 ‘the  exquisite  antiquary’ ,7  was  ranked  among ‘the four best-known antiquaries of sixteenth century Wales’ .8 He was, besides, a cartographer, a geographer, a geologist, an armorist, a farmer, a lawyer, a social  commentator  and  a patron  of  literature  and  of  the bards.


His roots  lay  among  the  freeholders  of  the  lordship  of  Cemais,  tracing Lo Philip Fychan of Henllys Uchaf in 1 273 and his  wife,  Llywelydd, daughter  of  Gruffudd  Hirsais, son of  Sir William  Cantington  of Trewilym in the parish of Eglwyswrw . His ancestors found wives among the leading local families until Rhys ab Owen  married  Jane, daughter of Philip Elliott  of Earwere. They had a son , William , who was admitted at the Middle Temple  in  1 514 and  ‘was among the first Welshmen  in London  to  make  a significant name for themselves in the English common law as a recog­ nised commentator’ .9 In 1 518 he met John Touchet, Lord  Audley  of Heleigh and lord of Cemais, who appoi nted him his legal adviser and clerk of the courts of the lordship of Cemais. He was married in 1 521  to  Margaret Swyllyngton of the parish of St Clement Danes and it is possible that her dowry enabled  him  to establish  himself  as a lawyer  at Pembroke in 1524, where he was mayor in 1527, and also to set up  a  practice  at Bristol. There was no issue of  the  marriage  but  Owen  became  the father  of nine illegitimate  children  during that period.

Lord Audley, having been  impoverished  following  his  father’s  execution for treason, was able to borrow money from Owen and, in 1543, he  conveyed to him the barony of Cemais in settlement and ordered  his  tenantry  henceforth  to regard  William  Owen  as their  rightful lord.

In 1551, when he  was  sixty-three  years  of  age, William  Owen  married  Elizabeth,  daughter  of  Sir  George  Herbert   of   Swansea  and   niece  of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. Their only son, George, was born at Henllys i n 1 552 and he is believed to have received his early education at home wi th his father, now in retirement, providing hi m with tuition in the law and in estate management. Nothing is known of his early life until February 1 572 when he was i nvolved in a fracas that took place at Haver­ ford west between the supporters of Sir John Perrot and the anti-Perrot faction, led by William Phi l i pps of Picton, to which Owen belonged. 10 He was admitted at Barnard’s Inn in 1 573 and in the same year he married Elizabeth, daughter of William Philipps of Picton by his wife, Janet,  daughter of Thomas Perrot of Haroldston and sister of Sir John Perrot. Having borne him eleven children, Elizabeth died in 1606 and he then married his mistress, Anne Obiled, by whom he already had seven illegiti­ mate children, among whom were Evan Owen, Chancellor  of  St David’s, and George Owen, York Herald. Anne produced six more children after marriage.

Owen’s main interest lay in the land and in improving its quality. He advocated the spreading of lime to counter  the natural  acidity  of  the soil, but first the limestone had to be burnt in a lime kiln fired by culm (anthra­cite dust), both of which had to be brought  from  south  Pembrokeshire, where  Owen  traced   the  carboniferous   limestone  outcrops  and  observed that  they  ran in  close  parallel  with   the  veins   of   anthracite  coal.  He  parlicularly advocated the use of clay marl, his description of which  in his  Treatise of Marle 11 enabled  it to be recognised  as glacial till  deposited  by the Irish  Sea  glacier,  though  he  subscribed  to the popular  belief  that  it was the deposit of Noah ‘s Flood. His contribution to geological study led to him  being described  as  ‘the patriarch  of English geologists’ .12

Owen was regarded  as a cartographer  second  only  to Humphrey  Llwyd.  When Christopher Saxton’s Atlas of England  and Wales was published  in 1579, showing for the first  time the county  boundaries,  Owen  complained that ‘Pembrokeshire seemeth to be one of the biggest and largest shires of Wales, haveinge the roome and place of a whole  sheete of paper  allowed  to it  selfe’, while other counties were shown two or more on the same page.  He was concerned that this exaggerated appearance would cause heavier demands to be  made on the county,  already  overstrained,  in  the  provision of men  for  foreign  service.  In   1602  he  made  his  own  map  of Pembroke­shire that was  well  executed  except  that  the  north-western  part  of  the  cou nty  had  an  exaggerated  southward   trend.   It   is   decorated   with   the emblazoned  coats-of-arms  of  the  Earls  of  Pembroke  in  a  border  and those of  t wenty-eight  of   the   Pembrokeshire   gentry   laid   out   above   the map. H e made a  similar  map  i n  1603 but  this  time  with  the  arms  of  fifty-six  families. In each case, Owen  ‘made  and  contryved’  the  map  and  a  fair  copy   was  drawn   by  his  amanuensis   John  Browne. 13   When   Camden  pub­lished maps of the counties  in  his  1607 edition  of Britannia , most  of them  by   Saxton,  he  invited  Owen  to  provide  the  map  of  Pembrokeshire .

Ow en took his public duties and responsibilities  seriously.  He was placed on the commission for the peace in 1584 and in  1587 he  and  Thomas  Perrot were appointed the first deputy lieutenants of the county of  Pem­ broke . He was sheriff of the county in  1587 and  again  in  1602 when  he had  the  unpleasant  duty  of  arranging  the execution  of two of his  wife’s    kinsmen, John and Hugh Bowen of Llwyngwair, who  had  killed  their  cousin, Robert Young of Tredrysi at Eglwyswrw fair. He was deputy  vice­ ad miral  of  the  counties  of  Pembroke  and  Cardigan  and  on  1 November 1 595 the Earl of Pembroke wrote to ‘my very loving cozen George Owen esquier’ stating that he had long expected to have received  from him a map  of Milford Haven that he could show to the Queen who was  concerned  about coastal  defence against a Spanish  invasion.  Owen  sent him  the  map together with ‘a pamphelett conteinginge the description of Mylford Havon’ with  proposals  for its defence. 1 4

Owen was fortunate in having  lived  at a  ti me  when  there  was  an  awaken­ing of  interest  in  Welsh  antiquities  and  although  he  resided  in  a  remote  part of Wales,  he  had  a  well-stocked  library  at  Henllys.  He  had  also gathered  arou nd  him  a  coterie  of  antiquaries  including   George  Owen Harry, vicar of Whitechurch, and  George  William  Griffith  of  Penybenglog,  and he maintained contact  with  others,  such  as  Thomas  Jones,  Fountain Gate.  He  employed   scribes  and  research   assistants  at   Henllys.

He endeavoured to prove that Cemais was a lordship marcher, although he was aware that marcher  lordships had been abolished by the Act of Union  of 1 543, and he was not averse to extending his ancestry in an effort  to prove that he was lord thereof by descent from the Martin conq ueror of Cemais. Even so he was regarded as a  reputable  genealogist  and  had  among his friends Lewys Dwnn, the Deputy Herald, and William Camden, Clarenceux Ki ng of Arms, whom he visited at the College of Arms,  where his son, George,  was to become York  Herald  of Arms.

In 1594 Owen wrote ‘A Treatise of Lordshipps  Marchers  in  Wales’, 15  which is still regarded as a standard work  on  the subject, and a ‘Catalogue and Genealogy of the Lords of the  Barony  of  Kernes’.  His  ‘Prooffes  that the Lordshipp of Kernes is a Lordshippe Marcher’ and a transcript of ‘A Register Book of the Baronye of Kemeys’ appeared as a supplement to Archaeologia Cambrensis in 1861 and was then publ ished by the Cam­brian Archaeological Association as a volume entitled Baronia de Kemeys. Owen’s common place book, The Taylor’s Cussion, was reproduced in facsimile by Emily Pritchard in 1 906. More than seventy  manuscri pts of his works and notes on antiquarian, historical,  topographical,  genealogical and  heraldic  subjects, have  been  traced. 16

His most important work was The Description of Penbrokshire which may have been inspired by the publication of Richard Carew’s Survey of Cornwall that appeared in May 1602. Owen started work on his book in December of that year. He was familiar with the works of chroniclers like  Holinshed and Polydore Vergil, and copies of the printed  works  of Humphrey  Llwyd,  Sir John  Price,  Rice Merrick  and  David  Powel  were to be found in his library. 17 He may have been influenced by John Leland and certainly by William Camden, whose Britannia first appeared i n  1586. He  relied  much  on  David  Powel’s  Historie  of  Cambria and  on his translation,  in 1585,  of Girald us  Cambrensis’s  ltinerarium Kambriae.

There are  two  manuscript  copies  extant  of  Owen’s  ‘First  Booke  of  the description of Penbrokshire in  generall’,  both  written  in  the hand  of one of  his  scribes. The  earlier,  at  the  National  Library  of  Wales  (NLW  MS 13212 ), is inscribed  13 December  1 602-18 May  1603, and the other, in  the British Li brary (Harleian 6250), is dated 18 May 1603 at the  end.  Owen began to write a ‘Second Booke’ of  the Description  of  Penbrok­shire, which was  the first attempt to write a  history  of a county  parish  by parish  but  he  made  little progress.  The surviving fragments  were  published in 1948. 18

None  of Owen’s work  appeared  in  pri nt  until  Richard  Fenton  published, in The Cambrian  Register for the Year 1795, a chapter giving an  ‘account of  an  ancient  Game  [cnapan ]  formerly  used   in   Pembrokeshire,   South Wales (and  not  till  of  late years  entirely  disused  in  some  parts  of  it), from a Manuscript in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth by one of that Country, who had himself been often an Actor in it’ .19 It had been taken from the earlier copy of the manuscript of George Owen’s ‘First Booke’ that was in the possession  of John Lewis, Manorowen. Fenton  published  the remainder of the manuscript in the Cambrian Register for the Year 1796 as ‘A History or Pembrokeshire from a MSS of George Owen , Esq., of Henllys,  Lord  of K emes’. Lewis passed the manuscript to Fen ton at whose death it was sold by  his son  to Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middle  Hill  and, by  1892, it was in  the possession of the  Marquis  of  Bute  from  whose  descendant  it  was  acquired by the National Library of Wales. The later version of the manu­script was purchased from the  bookseller  Thomas  Osborne  by  William Oldys for Edward  Harley, Earl  of Oxford, at whose death in  1 753 it was  purchased  by  Parliament  and  placed  in the British  Museum and is now  in the British Library.

The Description of Penbrokshire first appeared in book form when it was pu blished by the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion in its ‘Cymmro­ dorion  Record  Series’,  edited  by  Henry  Owen  of  Poyston,  in   1892. The Society later publ ished another three volumes of Owen ‘s papers under this title  as  Parts  II-I V.  Part II appeared  in  1 897 containing  collections of  documents relating to the county and to the barony of Cemais, accounts of suits in the Star Chamber, the inquisitiones post mortem of William and George Owen and the ‘Description of Milford Haven’. Part III, in 1906, is largely taken up with ‘A Dialogue of the Present Government of Wales’ which provides an early example of the Socratic method of writing in the form of question and answer that Owen may have seen employed by the Tenby-born mathematician Robert Recorde, together with a summary of ‘Cruell Laws against Welshmen following the rebellion of Owain Glyn Dwr’, ‘A Treatise of Lordshipps Marchers in Wales’ and the first half of ‘The Descri ption of Wales’, covering five counties in south Wales. Part IV, dealing with the remaining counties, was not published until 1936 when it appeared under the editorship of Llywelyn Wyn Griffith. The Description of Penbrokshire did not appear in print again until  1994. 20

Owen suffered from childhood with an  infirmity  in  his  right  leg  and,  from middle  age,  with  gout  in  both  legs,  and  yet  this  did  not  prevent him from travelling in pursu it of his researches. In the end, he had to be carried from his bed and lifted on to his horse and thus travelled to Ludlow and  to London .

As his parents had done before him , he provided the traditional hospitality towards the itinerant bards who came to Henllys. Elegaic poems  were  written  when  his  father  died  and  his  mother ‘s  death  was  mourned  by no less than seven poets. Poems of praise were sung to him by Sion Mawddwy, Dafydd Llwyd Mathe, Ieuan Tew Brydydd , Dafydd Emlyn, Gwilym Hafren and Robert Dyfi during his l ifetime but no elegies survive. The high regard i n which he was held by the bards is indicated in a cywydd addressed to hi m by Sion Mawdwy with a request that he should use his influence with the Queen and ask her to commission an eisteddfod  at  Henllys, as she had done at Caerwys in 1 568, to sort out ‘the  vagrant  and idle  persons  naming  themselfes  minstrelles  Rithmers  and  Bards’  from the ‘expert minstrelles and musicians in tongue and coning’. He was described as the brave, wise and generous lord of Cemais, the guardian  of  the bardic tradition, the protector  of  the  Welsh  language,  and  ‘keeper  of the  silver  harp  of Henllys’.

At his death the greater part of his collection of manuscripts passed to his neighbour  and  colleague  George William  Griffith  of  Penybenglog, though some went  to his  illegitimate son, George Owen, York Herald , and  some to John  Lloyd  of Vardre. They then  passed  through  various  hands before t hey were purchased by Edward Protheroe,  of  Over  Court,  Gloucester, who sold them, in 1828, to the College of Arms where they remain as the Protheroe  MSS XVI  and XVII. 21

Owen  died  at  Haverfordwest  on  26  August  1613  at  the  house  of  his daughter and her husband , William Davids, who was mayor that year. His body  was taken to Henllys and he was buried  in Nevern  church.

George Owen Harry  (c. 1553-1614),  a  native  of  Llanelli ,  was  presented to the l ivi n g of Whitechurch  in  1584 by  George Owen , lord of Cemais,   w i t h  whom  he worked closely on historical  and genealogical  research  for t h e next thirty years. His  Wellspringe of True Nobilitie  was too substantial a book to find a publisher and a shortened version , under the title of The Genealogy of  the High and Mighty M onarch, James  . . . King  of  great Brittayne, &c., appeared i n London  in  1604. The  ‘Short  Pedigrees  of Diver Noblemen ,  Knights,  Esquires  and  Gentlemen  &  Women   of Pembrokeshire, &c.’ forming an appendix to Edward Laws’ Little England beyond  Wales, is believed  to be the  work  of  George Owen  Harry.22

George William Griffith (1584-1655) of  Penybenglog  in  the  parish  of Meline, was an  attorney, appeari ng at the manorial  courts of  Cemais, and a magistrate. He spent m uch ti me from an early age at  nearby  Henllys assisting George Owen with his work. When Owen  died  most  of  his  papers came into Griffith’s hands and he carried on with hi s historical and genealogical  research  so diligently  that  ‘of all  the early genealogists  he is   the only one who has given authorities for his statements, and may  thus be  truly  described  as a pioneer  of modern  scientific research’ .23

John Lewis of Manorowen, a prosperous farmer, a magistrate and mayor of Fishguard eleven times, did much to promote the development of Lower Fishguard as a port. He had in his possession one of the manuscript copies of George Owen’s First Book e of the Description of Penbrokshire, and also of a remnant of the Second Booke, both of which came into the hands of his great-grandson Richard Fenton who described him as ‘an antiquary of no mean  note in his day, the friend of Bishop Gibson  and Edward Lhuyd’. Lhuyd, in his notes for Edmund Gibson’s new edition of Camden ‘s Britannia  ( 1695), stated that he had taken his account of Pentre lfan cromlech ‘out of Mr George Owen ‘s Manuscript History communi­cated  to me by  the worshipful  John Lewis of Maenor Nawen,  Esquire’  .24

Richard Fenton was born at Rhosson in the parish of St David ‘s and was baptised on 20 February 1747, ‘being then a month old’.25  He was educated at the Cathedral School and at the Haverfordwest  Grammar   School and, it is said, at Magdalene College, Oxford, but there is no evidence of his matriculation. He became a civil ser­vant and was employed at the Custom House in London until he ruffled his superiors  by  holding them  to ridicule in satirical verse. He then turned to the Law and was admitted at the Middle Temple on 24 August 1774. He was called to the  Bar  i n 1783 and, for  a number of years he practised on the Welsh circuit.

Little is known of his early l ife beyond that wri tten by his grandson, Ferrar Fenton 26, who claimed that his grandfather was ‘on the male side the descendant and direct representative of an energetic Baron  and  Lord  of  Wi l l iam the Conq ueror named Ricard, surnamed Le Fentone’; that the family had come to Pembrokeshire with Sir William Fenton, Bart., an officer on the staff of Oliver Cromwell, and that he had ‘ancestral con­nection wi th Strongbow  and  with  Martin , the conqueror  of Cemais, and with the martyred Bishop of  St David ‘s, Robert  Ferrar’,  none  of  which claims can be substantiated. His paternal lineage can be traced no further than hi s grandfather, Richard Fenton of Fishguard who married Diana Lewis, daughter of John Lewis of Manorowen , and had a son, Richard Fenton  of  Rhosson  who,  by  his wife, Martha Wilkins,  was the historian ‘s father. Fenton  was  said  to have spoken  of  his ancestors as  ‘ancient Welsh princes’ 27  but he does not give the pedigree.  He may, or may  not, have been aware that, through his maternal grandfather, John Lewis, he could claim descent  from  Gwynfardd Dyfed.
Ferrar Fenton referred  to  the Middle Temple  as  ‘the headquarters  of  the cultured aristocracy and genius of Britain’ and made the improbable claim  that his grandfather, while at Oxford, ‘became intimate with Oliver Gold­smith , Edmund Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Fox, Owen Pughe and Samuel Johnson ‘ and stated that he belonged  to  one  of  Dr  Sam  Johnson’s  Clubs’. Fenton  himself  recalled   that he ‘had once the pleasure of passing a day in company with the great moralist’ whom he found ‘affable, communicative, and not  at  all  dictatorial ‘. This was when he visited Johnson’s blind protege Anna Williams or Rosemarket who, ‘finding that I was a Welshman , she increased her attentions; but when she traced me to Pembrokeshire, she drew her chair closer, took me familiarly  by  the hand, as  if kindred  blood  tingled  at her finger ends, talked of past times, and dwelt with rapture on Ros Market’ .28

Fenton  married  Eloise,  daughter  of  the  Baron  Pillet  de Moudon,  a  Swiss  a ristocrat who had been a Colonel  in  the French Army  and had  settled  i n  En g land .  They   had   three  sons:  John ,29    Richard   Charles,   who   became a clergyman in Li ncolnshire and was the father  of  Ferrar  Fenton,  and Samuel, vicar  of  Fishguard  from   1 825 to  1 852.

During his time in London Fenton became a member of the Gwyneddig­ ion  Society and of the Honourable  Society of Cymmrodorion  and  got to  k now some of the leading London Welshmen , and when Owain Myfyr and Wi ll i am Owen Pughe decided to pu blish The Myvyrian Archaiology, they invited hi m to assist them. Owai n Myfyr referred to him as a poet, ‘fond of Welsh  and  of  its poetry,’ and expressed  the view  that  ‘as he is a zestful a nd talented scholar, it will  not be  long before he masters  the language’. To what extent he succeeded  is not clear, but he is said to have translated   a chain of englynion by the twelfth century poet-prince of Powys, Owain Cyfeiliog. Richard Morris, writing to Thomas Pennant in August 1779, referred to ‘my friend Fenton, of the Custom House’  as  ‘a good  English  poet and a great  Scholar,’ and stated  that  he  was  ‘endeavouring  to  make him a good Welshman : born in Pembrokeshire , he is deficient that way, but comes on bravely ‘.30 Fenton had published , in London in 1773, a volume of his poetical works which was re-published in 1790 in two volumes dedicated  to  John  Campbell,  Lord  Cawdor. He  was  regarded  as  a  good linguist and ‘a Greek, Latin and French scholar’, having translated Deip­nosophistae (the Banq uet of the Learned), a collection of anecdotes and extracts from  the  works  of  the Greek grammarian, Athenaeus.
By 1 788 Fenton was living near Machynlleth  where he had taken a house so as ‘to facilitate his studies of Welsh records and literature’, but also for convenience  in pursuing his legal work on the Welsh  circuit, and during  this period he travelled extensively in north Wales. In 1792 he went to Dublin in connection with the trials following the Emmet rebellion after which he decided to withdraw from his professional practice, except for conveyancing, and devote himself to literature.  He  left  Machynlleth  in 1793 and returned  to Fishguard,  taking  a house at the top of The Slade so as to be near his uncle, Lieutenant Samuel Fenton.  Samuel  Fenton  had sailed under Admiral Vaughan of Trecwn, and when he retired from the Royal Navy he set up a lucrative business exporting herrings to Mediter­ranean countries and to the Baltic. When he died  in  1796 he left a part  of  his estate to his nephew Richard who, meanwhile, was building himself a gentleman’s residence on the meadow below Carn y Gath in Lower Fishguard. By blasting into the cliff-face, he made a large recess  in  which to build a house which he called Glynamel , a word  having  no  known meaning that locally  became  known  as ‘Glynymel ‘.

Fenton published ‘A History of Pembrokeshi re from a MSS of  George Owen, Esq ., of Henllys, Lord of Kernes,’ i n the Cambrian Register.for the Year 1795, ‘with Additions and Observation s by John Lewis, Esq., of Manarnawan’ .3 1   In a footnote he warned  the reader   that:

as the vast mass of supplementary matter collected by my ancestor was never meant to meet the public eye in the state I found it, and as it was very richly interlarded with personal invective and private anecdotes of families which, from respect to their  descendants, men of high honour and character, I could not with any degree of delicacy suffer to go abroad. I have been able to make use of but a very small portion of his collection which, if ever I have leisure thoroughly to garble and methodize, may serve not only to eluci­ date the history of Pembrokeshire in particular, but to enrich the general flock of antiquarian knowledge.

Fenton was negligent in editing the work, omitting paragraphs and  one whole chapter, and adding or rearranging words and phrases at will. He misread ‘Giraldus Cambrensis’ as ‘Gerard Mercator’ and Lewis compounded the error by  observing in  his additional  notes that:

Here Mercator, with  all deference to that great Cosmographer, talks lik e an old woman, and with a bigotry  unworthy  of a true philoso­pher. That Ireland is so blessed as to number venomous creatures amongst its wants, may still require confirmation , and seems a popular  error  engendered  by  pious  fraud  and  propagated   without examination, unless,  as  I  heard  a  witty  lady  observe  of  that island , it would be overcharging it with the ills of Pandora’ s box to give it any other noxious animals than its inhabitants of the human species.32

Fenton had intended publishing an extended  edition  of  Thomas Pennant’ s  Tour of Wales  ( 1778-83)  with  illustration s  by   Sir   Richard   Hoare   but Pennant ‘s  son  would  not  give  his  permission   and  he  then  turned  to  pro­ d u c i n g  a  comprehensive  History  of  Wales, county  by  county,  in  prepara­tion for which he  kept  notes  on  his journey s  through  various  parts of  the  Pri n ci pal i ty.  The  first  to  be  completed  was  A  Historical  Tour  through  Pembrokeshire which  he finished  on  20 October 1810 and  had  published in London the same  and  the  following  years  so  that  some  title  pages  are dated   1810 and  others   1811 . The  book  comprises  twelve  itineraries,  with t he author sometimes redoubling his  tracks in  order  to give  the  county  a fair coverage.

Fenton dedicated the book to Sir Richard Colt Hoare,33 stating that it had been  written  at  Sir  Richard’s  suggestion ,  and  that  its  ‘chief  embellish­ments were the result of his  ‘fine taste in the application  of the pencil’. Of   the thirty illustrations in the book , fourteen were drawn by Hoare, eight by his  friend  John  Carter, and  six by  Fenton’s  son, John. It is not known  to  what extent he was accompanied by  Sir  Richard  on  the  Pembrokeshire lour as he refers to his presence only on two occasion s, when they visited Caldey and, when they set out, on 28 June 1808, from Archdeacon Davies’s house   at  St  David’s   to   ‘explore  the  neighbourhood   of  Porthmawr  for the station [of Menapia]’ . They had first met on 13 June 1793 when Sir  ichard called at Fishguard , on his way to St David ‘s, carrying a  letter from his friend Captain, later Admiral, Thomas Lewis of Gellidywyll that ‘procured me the acquaintance  of Counsellor Fenton  from  whom  I gained much information respecting my tour, no one being more versed in the ancient history  and records of  hi s native county’ .34  On 4 July I 802, whilst travelling from  St David’s to Fishguard,  Sir Richard  found that  his  ‘friend Mr Fenton has built a neat house in  a  romantic  situation  under  some ragged rocks’, but he had stayed at ‘a decent inn (Captai n Laugharne’s – no sign)’ which had afforded him ‘a good bed and dinner but no wine’. 35 Fenton visited Sir Richard’s  home,  Stourhead ,  where  his  portrait  by Samuel Woodforde that appears in A Historical Tour still hangs . He stated that he regarded Sir Richard as ‘the friend of my fortunes and of my life’ ,36 and  in  his  will he left him  a mourning ring.

Fenton made considerable use of George Owen’s First Booke of the description of Penbrokshire in his Historical Tour, and admitted that ‘by some, perhaps, I may be thought to have been too liberal of my quotations from the old Pembrokeshire antiquary ; yet I trust , the greater part of my readers who are told that they are the only original and faithful records of the facts they relate to will easily forgive me, and may regret  that I have  not oftener enriched my coarse work with his curious inlay’ .37

He had  planned a second edition  of the book  but this was not done until  1 903 when Edwin Davies of Brecon , who had re-published Theophilus Jones’s History qf’ Brecknockshire, was persuaded to reprint Fenton. The additional notes made by Fenton and by his son,  John,  for  a  second edition, were included as Addenda and Ferrar Fenton’s ‘Life of Richard Fenton ‘ appeared in the form of an introductory chapter.  The  plates engraved for the original work had been lost but the ill ustrations were reproduced by The Western Mail. This edition was reprinted by the Haver­fordwest Library  in  1995.

Fenton’s papers, including the notes he had made for his county series of histories, were sold by his son, the Rev Samuel Fenton, to Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middle Hill, in 1858 and in 1896 they were purchased by the Cardiff Free Library where they remain as the Fenton MSS comprising some sixty volumes . Some of the notes were edited and published by John Fisher, Secretary of the Cambrian Archaeological Association, in 1917, ‘as compensation to members for the unavoidable postponement of their annual excursions on account of the war’, under the title Tours in Wales 1804-1813. On some of the journeys in north Wales Fenton was accom­panied by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, whom he visited at Fach Ddeiliog, his cottage on the shores of Lake Bala.
In   1811 Fenton  also published  A  Tour  in Quest of Genealogy   through several parts of  Wales, Somersetshire  and  Wiltshire in a series  of Letters to a friend in Dublin interspersed with a description qf’ Stourhead and Stonehenge . . . by a Barrister, and in 1815 a humorous anecdotal book appeared , again anonymously, as Memoirs of an Old Wig, which contains passages concerning south-west  Wales.  The  latter  was  made  rare  by  a rumour  at  the time  of publication  that  the  author  was  the  poet  and connoisseur  Samuel   Rogers  who  bought   up  and  suppressed  as  many copies as he could find.

‘A gentleman  who knew him  well described Fenton  as a man of indefatig­able industry, of a fine poetical fancy, of a very  cheerful  disposition,  of  particularly gentlemanly  and fascinating  manners, and the person  of best information on almost every subject.’ 38 Fenton was a descriptive  writer and his book is a pannier vade-mecum to his native county. He has also  been described as ‘an iconoclastic gourmet  who  went  through  the  land breaking  up barrows and cracking cromlech s’,39  and some evidence of this is provided in his own accounts of h s  excavations.

Fenton died suddenly at Glynymel in November 1821, in his seventy-fifth yea r, and he was buried at Manorowen. The site of his grave is lost but his grand son , Ferrar Fenton, placed a memorial tablet in the shape of a coffin on the wall inside the church bearing the inscription Richard Fenton  KC FAS.  Historian  of Pembrokeshire.

Joseph Allen, of the parish of  St  Michael  in  Pembroke,  a  teacher  of  mathematics, was engaged by William Wilmot, who had settled in Pem­ broke in 1 784 and had established himself as a printer and bookseller, to  produce ‘a work entitled A History of the County of Pembroke, originally com piled by George Owen, with additions; a New  Map of the said County,  a Chart of Milford Haven, both on a large scale, with five other plates,’ for which  he was  to receive £61. 5s. 5d in payment,  the work  to be  ‘delivered  finished  within  the  space  of  six  months  from  the  1st day  of  Jaunauary 1 792’. Wilmot had paid £10 to the British Museum for a transcript  of  George Owen’s manuscript and £5 for a drawing of the map and chart, and had expended other amounts in preparing for publication. He had  also  written some notes in three small books, which Henry Owen bought at the sale of  Sir Thomas Phillipps ‘ papers,  with  which Allen  was to annotate the work. A notice was prepared advertisi ng the book as A Tour thro’ Pem­brokeshire, compiled by William Wilmot, ‘most humbly inscribed to the Nobility and Gentry of Pembrokeshire ‘. Nothing further is known about the proposal but Edward Laws observed that ‘possibly its sad fate was not to be regretted , for had Wilmot published a History of Pembrokeshire based on a transcript of George Owen ‘s work in 1798, Fenton might have been discouraged in 1811 and the grand edition of the Description of Pembrokeshire , issued by Henry Owen in 1892, might never have seen light’. 40


James Allen (1802-97), the son of David Bird Allen , vicar of Burton, was educated at Westminster and Charterhouse before proceeding to Trinity College, Cam bridge. He was vicar  of  Castlemartin  from  1839 to 1 875 and dean of St David’s from 1878 to 1 895 when he devoted much time and money to the restoration of the Cathedral by Sir Gilbert  Scott. He began to compile a l ist of the sheriffs of the county of Pembroke from 1541 but got no further than 1740 when he died and  the  work was completed by his friends, Henry Mathias, Edward Laws and Henry Owen  and  published   in   1900.4 1   A proposal to publish a list of the Sheriffs of Pembrokeshire by J. P. Ord of Tenby advertised by  R. Mason, publisher, Tenby, in the  Cambrian Journal in  1864, does  not  appear  to have materialised.

Edward Laws, born at Lamphey in 1837, was the son of Rear-Admiral John Milligen Laws of Binfield, Berkshire, by his wife Mary, daughter of Charles Delamotte Mathias of Lamphey Court. He was educated at Rugby and at Wadham College, Oxford, where he matriculated in 1856. He held a commission in the 35th (Royal Sussex) Regiment until he was wounded, when he decided to settle in Tenby and teach himself archaeology, architecture and botany among other subjects. He was a magistrate, sheriff of the county of Pembroke i n 1 899 and mayor of Tenby in 1900. In 1887, i n col laboration with  his  adopted  daughter,  Emily  Hewlett  Edwards,  he published A Short  History  of  the  Civil  War as  it affected  Tenby and  its  Neighbourhood , and they jointly  contributed  a  number  of  articles  on monumental effigies to Archaeologia Cambrensis. In  1888 he  published his History of Little England Beyond  Wales and  the Non-Kymric  Colony  settled in Pembrokeshire , covering the parts of the county that he knew best.  He  made  references,  however,  to  the  ‘Kymric’  areas,  in  particular    Dewisland  and  St David’s,  and even  Cemais,  when  it  suited  his  purpose. I n 1907 he published The Church Book of St Mary the Virgin, Tenby. With Dr Henry Owen , he undertook an Archaeological Survey of Pembroke­shire that was completed in  1908, and he was chairman of the Association for the Preservation  of  Ancient  Monuments i n  Pembrokeshire.  He  died following a road accident on 25 July 1 913.


Gilbert  Nicholas  Smith,   the   rector   of Gumfreston   from   1835  unti l   he  died  in 1 877, havi ng found the remains of extinct Pleistocene  and geologically  recent  animals in Eel Point Cave, Caldey, went on to ex­ amine  Hoyle’s  Mouth  and  Longbury  and other caves and formed an archaeological collection that became the nucleus  of  the Tenby Museum . He published several papers,  letters and notes in Archaeologia Cambren­sis  between  1849 and 1872. 42

Henry Owen was born in 1844, the son of William Owen JP, DL, of Withy bush, the noted architect and cabinet-maker of Haverfordwest. He was educated at Cowbridge Grammar School before proceeding to Corpus Christi College, Oxford (1862-66), where he graduated BA (1866) and BCL (1869) and proceeded to DCL in 1900. He joined a firm of London sol icitors – Jenkinson, Owen and Co. – of which he became principal before he retired to Pembrokeshire in 1914 and settled at Poyston , near Haverfordwest , where he built a fine library and devoted his leisure to antiquarian and historical studies. He was appointed a member of the Royal Commission on Public Records in 1910 and of the Royal Com­ mission on Ancient Monuments of Wales in 1914, and he was chairman of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion and the first treasurer of the National Library of Wales. He was high-sheriff in 1902, a magistrate and vice-chairman  of  the  Pembrokeshire  Quarter  Sessions.  The  University  of Wales honoured him with the degree of D.Litt. in 1916. In  1889  he published  Gerald  the  Welshman  and  there  followed Old Pembrokeshire Families (1902). With the assistance of Egerton Pillimore he edited George Owen’s Description of Penbrokshire (1892) and, aided by Dr E. A. Lewis, A Calendar of Public Records relating to Pembrokeshire (1911- 14). When he died in 1919 he bequeathed a selection of his boks to the National Library of Wales and the remainder to the Pembrokeshire County Library, Haverfordwest (In January 2007 these books too were donated to the National Library). His manuscript collection was bequeathed to the National Library (NLW MSS I 341 -1453) as was his marble bust by Sir Goscombe John RA. Owen’s portrait by Streatfield was donated to Haver­fordwest Library.

John Roland Phillips, born at Cilgerran in 1 844, entered a solicitor’s office in Cardigan prior to being admitted at Lincoln’s Inn in l867. He was called to the bar in 1870 and in 1 881 he became the first stipendary magistrate for West Ham. He confessed to ‘an early addiction to the study of antiquities ‘ and he was awarded  the  prize at an eisteddfod held   at
Cardigan   in  August   1866  for  the   ‘History   of   Cilgerran,  including the Topography  of the Parish , an Account  of the Churches, Castle, Slate Quarries and Tinworks with Transcriptions of charters, &c’. Phillips enlarged upon this essay and it was published in London in 1867 as The History of Cilgerran, using real photographs to illustrate the book. This was followed by a List of the Sheriffs of Cardiganshire (1868) and An Attempt at a Con­cise History of Glamorgan (1879). In 1874 he published his two-volume Memoirs of the Civil War in Wales and the Marches and, in 1886, Memoirs of the Owen Family of Orielton. He had a history of Wales in preparat10n when he died in 1887.­



John Romilly Allen, though born in London in 1847, was the son of George Bough Allen of Cilrhiw in the parish of Lampeter Velfrey, a member of the Allen family of Cresselly. He was educated at Rugby and at King’s College, London, and qualified as a civil engineer. He gained eminence in that field and became a lecturer at University College Lon­ don.  He developed  an  interest  in  archaeology  and  as a member  of the Cambrian Archaeological Association he contributed regularly to Archaeologia Cambrensis  from 1873 onward. He was
appointed its co-editor in  1888 and editor i n 1891 . In 1873 he  wrote  an article to the  jou rnal that resulted in a meeting being held at Shrewsbury to devise a scheme for an ethnographical survey  of Wa les, which led  to the Archaeological Survey of Pembrokeshire 1896-1907. Wi th Sir John Rhys, he carried out a sur­vey of early-i nscribed stones in Wales . He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1 885.

James  Phillips,  born  at  Haverfordwest in 1 847, was the son of James Phillips who was of Quaker stock and was  mayor of the town i n 1 871 . He was educated ata  private  school  on  St  Thomas  Green, Haverfordwest ,  and  although he stammered,  h e  was  in  demand   as a  local preacher  with  the  Wesleyans .  In his middle age  he entered  the Congregational  College at Bristol  and  in  1889 he was  ordained  minister  at the Tabernacle  Congregational  Church , Little H aven. He was a member of the local  education  committee and an alder­man of the Pembrokeshire County  Council.  He  wrote  numerous  articles for A rchaeologia Cambrensis dealing mainly with Elizabethan Haverford­west.  He died in  1907 without  completing  his History  of  Pembrokeshire,  hav i n g got as far as the evangelical revival of the eighteenth  century. The u n fi nished  volume was published posthumously  in 1909.


Francis  Green,  the  son  of  Francis  Green  of  Carmarthen  and  his  wife  Elizabeth Harries of Trefcwn, was  born  in  1854. He was educated at the  Moravi an school at Pendine, the Chapter School at St David’s and at Shrewsbury, and studied Law in London. From 1 878 he spent some ti me farming  in  Canada before returning  to London  to work  for The Financial
Times. He retired  to St David’s  in  1907 where he spent the remainder  of his life in historical and antiquarian research. He was editor of West Wales Historical Records, contributing valuably to its columns, as well as to Y Cymmrodor, the Transactions of the Honourable Cymmrodorion Society and Archaeologia Cambrensis. He calendared The Coleman Deeds (1921), The Crosswood Deeds (1927) and The Hawarden Deeds (1927) in the National Library of Wales, but his calendar of the Peniarth Deeds remains unpublished. He died in 1942  and  his  manuscripts are a treasured possession of the Pembrokeshire County Library.

Egerton Grenville Bagot Phillimore was  born  in  London  in  1856 and was educated at Westminster School and at  Christ  Church  College,  Oxford, and was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1877. His interest in Wales was awakened while at Oxford and he soon learned the language thoroughly. He settled at Corris in 1 903 and devoted his time to Welsh studies. He wrote articles for Archaeologia Cambrensis and for Y Cym­mrodor, of which he was editor from 1889 to 1901, but his most valuable contribution     is to  be found  in the notes    that he prepared  for Henry  Owen’s  edition of George Owen’s Description of Penbroke­shire. His  manuscripts were  purchased by Sir John Williams in 1894 and are deposited at the National Library of Wales. Phillimore died on 3 June 1937 and was buried at Carris.


Arthur Leonard Leach, born  in 1869, the son of John Leach,  a  printer  with  the Tenby Observer who established his own printing works in the town. He was educated at Tenby and at Trinity College, Carmarthen,  and   was   employed   as  a teacher  in  London  but   he   returned   to Tenby whenever possible and, in 1898, he published Leach’s Guide  to Tenby.  He  contributed  to  the  Proceedings  of  the  Geological Association and  to  Archaeologia  Cambrenesis  with   reference   to  discoveries   made during the geological exploration of the cliffs of south Pembrokeshire. His History of the Civil War ( 1642-1649)  in Pembrokeshire  and  on its Borders published in 1937 remains a definitive work. He settled at Tenby in 1940 and became honorary curator of Tenby Museum. He died in 1957 and was buried  at Tenby.


Herbert Millingchamp Vaughan was born at Penmorfa , Llangoedmor in 1870, and he was educated at Clifton College and Keble College, Oxford. His private means enabled him to pursue   his   interests   as   a European historian and antiquary. From 1 899 to 1910 he lived i n Naples and Florence studying Italian history and topography, and in 1912 he went to Australia for a year where he wrote An Australian Wander Year. On his return to this country he lived at Plas  Llangoedmor  and moved to Tenby in  1924 where he published his best known work, The South Wales Squires. He contributed to the West Wales Historical  Records  and to Archaeologia   Cambrensis.

Sir Frederick Rees was born at Mil­ford in 1 883. He was educated locally until he entered the University College at Cardiff and then went to Lincoln College, Oxford. He was lecturer at Bangor, Belfast and Edinburgh before he became Professor of Commerce at Birmingham. He was appointed Prin­cipal   of   the   University   College at Cardiff  in  1929 and he remained  in that position for twenty years. In 1953 he  went to Ceylon  as visiting Professor in Economics and remained there until 1958 when  he was appointed head the department  of Economic History at Edinburgh. He was knighted in 1945 and was sheriff of his native county in  1955. He was president of the Cambrian  Archaeological  Association   in   1956-7,  and  was  the  first   president  of the  Pembrokeshire  Local  History  Society. He  was  the  author  of a number of books including Studies in  Welsh History  (1847)  and  The Story  of Milford (1954).  He died  at Cardiff  in 1987.


William  Francis  Grimes  was  born   at Pembroke  in  1905.  He  was  educated  at Pembroke  County  School  and  at   Univer­sity  College,  Cardiff,  where   he  specialised in Roman  Britain.  He joined  the  staff  at the National Museum of Wales in 1 926 as assistant    keeper    of   Archaeology    and    in 1 938 he  was  appointed  assistant  archae­ology   officer   at  the  Ordnance   Survey.   In 1 945  he  succeeded  Sir  Mortimer  Wheeler as  director  of  the   London   Museum,   at  the same time excavating in the bomb­ shattered   city   of   London   making   many important discoveries that were over­shadowed by  the  much-publicised  find of the temple of Mi thras. He was appointed CBE in 1955. In 1 956 he became director of the Institute of  Archaeology  and  Professor  of  Archaeology  at the University of London. There were few institutions concerned with archaeology in which he did not take an active, and often leading, part including the Cambrian Archaeological Association of which he was  president in 1963-4. His published works included the Guide  to  the Collection Illustrating the Prehistory of  Wales (l939) that  was republished  as The Prehistory of Wales in  1951, and  he  wrote  innumerable  papers  to the journals  of  learned  societies.  He  died  in  1988 in Swansea.


Bertie George Charles was born at Penparc, near Trefin, in February 1908 and educated at the St David’s and Fishguard County Schools, the University College at Aberystwyth and University College, London . He graduated  BA and MA  with  distinction  following hi s research  work on ‘The Viking Influence  i n  Wales ‘ which  led to the pu blication of  his  Old  Norse Relations with  Wales  in  1934.  He  was award ed    the    degree    of    Ph.D.    at    the U n i versity of London for  his  research  on Pembrokeshire  place-names.   He   worked   at the  National   Library   at   Aberystwyth   all his  life   and   contributed   regularly   to   the National   library   of   Wales   Journal.    He published Non-Celtic  Place-Names  in Wales in 1938,  Calendar  of  the  Records  of the  Borough  of  Haverfordwest 1539-1660 ( 1 967),  George  Owen  of  Henllys: A  Welsh Elizabethan (1973) and Pembrokeshire Place-N ames  (1992),  a  work   of  two vol­umes and the first of its kind for a county in Wales.


Francis Jones was born at Trefin in 1908 and was educated at Fishguard County School. In 1936 he was appointed an assistant in the Manuscripts  Department at the National Library  of  Wales  where he remained until the outbreak of war i n 1939. After the war he worked in the Historical Section of the Cabinet Office until 1958 when  he  was  appointed  the first County Archivist for  Carmarthen­ shire. In  1963  he  became  Wales  Herald of Arms Extraordinary  and  was  ap­pointed CVO. He was president of the Cambrian  Archaeological   Association  in
1985-6 and  of  the Pembrokeshire  Historical  Society from  1988 to  1994. His published works include The Holy Wells of Wales (1954), The Princes and Principality of Wales (1969)  and  Historic  Carmarthenshire  Homes and their Families  ( 1987). His Historic Houses  of PembrokeshireHistoric Cardiganshire Houses  and ITreasury   of   Historic   Pembrokeshire    were published by   members  of  his  family  after  his  death.  Most  of his work, however, appeared in learned journals, including The Pembroke­ shire Historian, one volume of  which  was  dedicated  to  his  work.

These, the antiquarians of the past, are being followed by living historians, many  of  whom  have  contributed  to the pages  of  this journal.

Editorial  Note
Dillwyn Miles completed this paper on 18 May 2004. In choosing his title ‘Pembrokeshire Antiquarians’, Dillwyn seized  the  opportunity  to catalogue the lives and major works  of  those  antiquarians  born  in  Pembrokeshire  who wrote about their native county, as well as a smaller number of antiquarians from other regions who chose to write about Pembrokeshire. Dillwyn’s brief, like his scholarship, was expansive,  covering  the  period from the twelfth century to the  late  twentieth  century.  This  paper  is  a fitting testament to Dillwyn ‘s scholarship and his love of Pembrokeshi re history.

I . Giraldus’s aunt , Gwen l l ian, was married to Tancred, the first Flemish  castellan of Haverford, whi lst his brother, Philip, lord of Manorbier,  married a daughter  of  Richard  F1tzTancred.  Lauran  Toorians,  ‘Wi zo  Flandrensis  and  the Flemish Settlement in Pembrokeshire ‘, in Cambridge Medieval  Celtic Studies, 20 ( 1990) 1 1 2. ‘
2. A Flemish knight Ernaldus Rheti ng  had  spoken  in  Flemish  to  Giraldus’s brother, Philip de Barri,  while  comparing  the  character  of  a  man  with  the nature of the cloth made at Haverforclwest as having ‘too much  grey  wool,  and  too little native black wool’. Yves Lefevre and R. B. C. Huygens (ed.), Giraldus Cambrensis: Speculum  Duorum  (Cardiff ,  1 974), 37-39.
3. Thomas Jones, ‘Gerald the Welshman’s ‘Itinerary through Wales’ and ‘Description of Wales’ in The National Library of Wales Journal, VI ( 1949), 128.
4. Charles  Kightly, A  Mirror  of Medieval  Wales (Cardiff,  1986), 78.
5. Sir John  Edward  Lloyd , A  History  of Wales (London,  1912), 564.
6. In the parish of Nevern the  foundations  of  the  original  house  have  recently been  discovered.
7. William Camden, Britannia , ed. E. Gibson (London,  1722), 757.
8. The others bei ng Wi lliam Salesbury, Humphrey Llwyd and David Powel , according to ir Glanmor Williams in his Renewal and Reformation Wales, 1415-1642  (Oxford,  1 993), 245.
9. W.  P.  Griffi th,  ‘Tudor  Prelude’  in  Emrys  Jones  (ed .),  The  Welsh in London 1500-2000  (Cardiff , 2001), 15.
10. Archaeologia Cambrensis ( 1 896), 193ff.
1 1 .  Henry  Owen  (ed.), The Description  of Penbrokshire,  I (London,  1892), 71-5.
1 2 . Edinburg h Review, 73 (1841), 3.

14. Henry Owen, op. cit., 99-107, 173-4
13.   B.  G. Charles, The National  Library  of Wales Journal,  XXIII  (1983), 37-40. 1 4.  Henry  Owen, op.  cit.,  II, 531-2.
1 5. Ibid., III 127-205.
1 6. B.  G.  Charles,  George  Owen of Henllys:  A  Welsh Elizabethan  (Aberystwyth, 1 973), 1 93- 9.
1 7.  B.  G. Charles, op.  cit., 99- l07,  173-4.
1 8. B. G. Charles,  The National  Library  of Wales Journal, V  (1948), 266-85.
1 9.  The Cambrian Register for  the Year 1795 (London,  1 796),  1 68-1 77.
20. Dillwyn Miles (ed.), The Description of Pembrokeshire: George Owen (Llan­ dysu l , 1 994).
2 1 .  Francis  Jones,  A  Catalogue  of  Welsh  Manuscripts  in  the  College    f Arms
( 1 988),  1 3-6.
22 . E. D. Jones, ‘George Owen Harry’ , in The Pembrokeshire Historian, 6 ( 1 979), 72.

2 3.  Francis  Jones,  ‘Griffith  of  Penybenglog’  in  The Transactions of the Honour­able Society  of Cymmrodorion (1938),  1 37-149.
24. William  Camden, op. cit.,  1 89-90.
25. Richard Fenton, A Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire (2nd edn., Breck­ nock ,  1 903), reprinted  by  the  Haverford west  Library  ( 1995), xi.
26. I bid.,  ‘Life  of  Richard  Fenton,  KC,  FAS,  The  Historian,  Archaeologist,  Poet a nd  Scholar’ by  Ferrar  Fenton , FRAS, MCAA , his  grandson,  ix-xxxi  i.
27. Archaeologia Cambrensis (1858), 380. 28. R ichard Fenton, op. cit.,  1 1 1 .
29. John Fenton wrote the last paragraphs of the Historical Tour through Pem­brokeshire and a number of the illustrations were his. In 1814 he married Elen , daughter of William Owen Pughe, through  whom  he came under the  influence of the fanatic Joanna  Southcott and this alienated  him  from his father  to   the extent that he disinherited  him.
30.  E. D. Jones, ‘More Morris Letters’ , The National Library of Wales Journal,  VI
( 1 949), 193.
31 .  The Cambrian Register for  the Year I 796 (London,  1799),   53-230.
32. Ibid ., 59-60 .
33 . R ichard Fenton , op. cit., vi.
34.  M.  W. Thomson  (eel.),  The Journeys  of Sir Richard  Colt Hoare (Alan  Sutton, 1 993), 8.
35 . Ibid. , 45.
36. Pers. comm., Thomas Lloyd to whom I am grateful for this and other useful suggestions.

37. Richard  Fenton, op. cit., 309.
38. The Dictionary of National Biograph y.
39. Archaeologia  Cambrensis ( 1895), 159.
40. Archaeologia  Cambrensis ( 1 906), 35-46
4 1. Dillwyn Miles, The Sheriff · of the County of Pembroke: l 541-1974 (Haver­ fordwest, 1978), 6.
42. Archaeologia  Cambrensis ( 1 945), 248-50.

Tribute to Dillwyn Miles



By Judith Graham Jones et al.

Introduction:  Judith  Graham Jones
Tributes to Dillwyn Miles given at the  service  in  celebration  of  his  life and achievements on Friday, 26th October 2007, in St Martin’s Church, Haverford west.

Dillwyn was a unique man, often known as ‘Mr Pembrokeshire’. He was a man of letters and organisations, a workaholic – not only busy at week­ ends but even on Christmas and Boxing days. He believed that everyone should fulfil their potential and not waste their time in trivial pursuits. The public face was evidenced in the books – over twenty that he wrote and the last posthumously.

Fewer people perhaps are aware of the numerous organisations that he instigated and for which he worked,  starting with  the Welsh  Society that  he founded in Jerusalem during World War II. The tributes included  here are a selection from representatives of a small number of the organisations that  he  served to demonstrate  the wide  spectrum of Dillwyn’s interests.

It was my good fortune to be Dillwyn’s companion and soul-mate for the last twenty-five years. But it all began in Pembrokeshire where he was born and lived until the out break of World War II, when he volunteered for the army and served in Palestine before returning to Newport in 1945.


Robin Evans, Alderman of the Barony of  Cemais
and Vice-Chairman  of Pembrokeshire  County Council

Dillwyn was born in Newport  in May  1916. He was  educated  at New­ port Primary School and Fishguard High School, where he blossomed academically, thence to the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth.  An  important factor in his education  was Sunday School and, unusually,  he was given the choice of attending Tabernacle Chapel or St  Mary’s Church. He chose Tabernacle.

The war found Dillwyn a British army officer posted to the Middle East. He was closely involved with the peace accord signed with the Vichy French in Lebanon – an imperative at the time given the French defeat to Germany in 1940. He typed the document and kept the pen . Com­missioned, he became a ‘hirings officer’ with the duty to find land and buildings for training purposes, airfields and accommodation. I was enthralled on reading the chapter in his autobiography A Mingled Yarn to learn how he related the places he visited to his biblical knowledge . He was in a way biblical himself given that his ‘patch’ in what  was  then known as the Near East took in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Trans-Jordan and Mesopotamia.

He met Joyce out there and they were married on 2nd February 1944 at St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. Not long after the war, Dillwyn returned to Newport with his young family, Anthony and Marilyn. He had left Wales as an undergraduate and teacher and returned a man. The family took up residence in Newport Castle, a place with a panoramic view over the old town, over the river Nevern, Newport bay and Penmorfa. Well might he have thought that he was Lord of all he surveyed – he had every right to think so – he had done his duty in the war and, besides, he knew well the workings of the town, having been clerk to the Parish Council while still a schoolboy and become a Burgess, while still under  age.

During his time as Mayor, occurred the only royal visit in living memory, when HRH the Duchess of Kent came to Newport. By all accounts it was a great success and Dillwyn and Joyce would have been admirable hosts. Later, Dillwyn wrote the Official Newport Guide that had a photo of him with the Duchess. Ever since, every revised and reprinted edition has had a similar photo: very Dillwyn  that.

I came to Newport in 1971. I can recall the time well as the currency was decimalised on 1st March. A year the following November, I was made a Bu rgess of the Court Leet. About ten years later, I had my first confronta­tion with Dillwyn. We met in Long Street. He said, ‘You are a Burgess, we a re looking for a Mayor and you are just the sort of man we need’. I started to mumble excuses but he would have none of it.

Joan and I did our duty for two years and shortly after I had left the  office of  Mayor,  I  was  appointed  the  Mayor’s  Secretary,  a post  I held for 20 years. The duties are mainly  administrative  and I must have made  some adjustments  in procedure  that did not  accord  with  the views  of  the   senior alderman,  Dillwyn  Miles.  The  phone  would  ring  and  I  would be quietly reprimanded. As the new  boy  on the block,  I would  put  my  case  forward and he would  explain the historical  significance of the matter. Later I realised he was right. He was always right!

The last  book  he  gave  me  was  The Mariners  of Newport.  Later, on  going through   the  book ,  I  was  surprised  and  delighted   to  find  that   he  had included my father. He had been a master  mariner  who was  lost with  all his  crew  in  the  Indian  Ocean  during  the  war.  He  had  no  obvious  con­nection with  Newport.  I rang Dillwyn  and said how  pleased  I was to find  him mentioned in the book but it was  a very  tenuous connection.  There  was a pause, and then he reminded me that my mother had retired to  Newport.  So that  was it.

Finally in 1947, on returning to Newport , Dillwyn became a member of Pembrokeshire County Council, representing Nevern. He served for 16 years. Latterly, I visited  Dillwyn  in St Anthony’s Way.  On my  last visit,  Judith warned me that he was very frail. I found him as usual in the study and we talked briefly. A few days later, Anthony phoned to say his father had died.
Peter MacGregor, Vice  President  of  the National  Association of  Local Councils

Dillwyn Miles’ local government career began before the Second World War when , aged 16, he became Clerk to the Parish council of Newport, Pembrokeshire; he was therefore the youngest Clerk ever to be   appointed to a Parish Council. After the war during the  1950’s, he became Secretary  of the Pembrokeshire Association of Parish Councils. In 1974, upon the reorganisation of Local Government, he became Secretary of the Dyfed Association  of Local Councils.

During this period, he had served as a distinguished member of the Rural District Council, chairing a number of committees in particular  the Libraries and Museums committee. He was Chairman of this association from 1975 until in 1987 I succeeded him. During that time he led the association successfully through the big changes that devolved from the Local Government act of 1972: the change of Welsh parishes to Com­ munity Councils, the creation of some 400 new Parish Councils and Community Councils in the old Municipal Boroughs  and Urban  Districts. A Forum of the larger Local Councils was also established under his guidance.

He represented the NALC abroad on several  occasions  at  international local government conferences, notably at the Hague in 1979, in Columbus, Ohio in 1981 and in Strasbourg in 1986. After stepping down from the chairmanship Dillwyn became a Vice-President and served in  that  post until  his death.

He was mayor of the Ancient Borough of Newport several times, in 1950, 1960 and 1979 and in 1961 became Mayor of Haverford west and, thereby, Admiral of the Port of Haverfordwest, an ancient custom that he had revived.
James Nicholas, former Archdruid and  Recorder  of  the Gorsedd  of Bards,·Royal National  Eisteddfod  of Wales

It was as a schoolboy at Ysgol Dewi Sant in St Davids that James Nicholas first became acquainted with Dillwyn, who was teaching at the school.  Aged 22 Mr. Miles was remembered by Nicholas as a stern disciplinarian. Dillwyn at that time had already entered the Gorsedd of the  Bards  of Britain to which he had been appointed at the age of 20 in 1936, when for the first time the Eisteddfod visited Fishguard.  He remained  in office for  60 years,  until  his  retirement  in  1996 at the  Eisteddfod  in  Llandeilo and for  many   of   these   years   he  served   as  Grand   Sword  Bearer.  At  the Investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales in July 1969, it was Dillwyn as Herald Bard who led the procession through the Watergate into  Caer­narfon Castle and later, welcomed His Royal Highness to the National Eisteddfod at Flint. Between 1964 and  1972, by  virtue  of his office, he  was on the Council of the National Eisteddfod and did much to ensure that established  protocol  was followed  in its proceedings.

Poem by Dillwyn Miles, written  on his fourth St David’s Day in exile in  Cairo.

St David’s Day, 1944.
As  read  by  his daughter  Marilyn Mason

I’m home in thought tonight, under the scowl of Carn Llidi

Walking the steely slopes at the coming of  night,
In  the cathedral  church  of purple stone.
Apart from the croaking of the frogs on the ditch

There is no sound in the Vale of   Roses,
Nor dying embers on the hearth of Ty Gwyn.

The godless Boia’s sword  is a  lump of rust
And  the pirates’  ships are now  one with  the seaweed.
Where there was conflict, nothing but the murmur of a brook,

And only a red rose to remember  the  blood.
As I stroll back there tonight with the Saint

You  cannot hear even the sound of our  feet.
Colonel David Davies, High Sheriff of  Dyfed

My first knowledge of Captain Dillwyn Miles was hearing my father, who was a policeman in St Dogmaels, talking about him and all his positions of authority – as my father used to say, ‘a very important man!’

My own first contact with Dillwyn was during the middle to late 1950’s when , as a teenager, I was very interested in history, especially Local History and  my  main  point  of interest  was  St Dogmaels Abbey. At that  time Dillwyn  was  Secretary  of the Pembrokeshire  Local History  Society based at 4 Victoria Place, Haverfordwest and we corresponded on several occasions about the Abbey and its surroundings. As a result, I joined the Society and still possess volumes 1, 2, and 3 of the journal, The Pembroke­ shire Historian, edited by Dillwyn and produced by Pembrokeshire County Council.

To me he was very helpful over the years and a very impressive Gentleman. I was more than delighted, indeed greatly honoured, when in March of this year he accepted with Judith my invitation to witness my Declaration of Office as High sheriff of Dyfed in the Council Chamber of Pembrokeshire County Council.

Dillwyn has done and achieved so much over the years, especially  in  his public life. He was a fount of knowledge especially i n local  and  Welsh history, with such a desire  to  serve the  community  and  country  in  which he lived. It has been a great  privilege  to have known  hi m and to have  been  in his company. He enhanced the lives of those like  myself,  who  met and knew him over the years and his autobiography A Mingled Yarn records some of  what  he achieved.  I  shall  remember  him  with  respect  and admiration.
Tom Lloyd, Antiquarian and Member of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society

I knew Dillwyn for 25 years – from when I was quite young and Dillwyn already of retirement age – but he had known members  of my family all his life, from their connections with the Barony of Cemais and with Newport, the town he loved  and knew  so well and where he did so much to help people rediscover the proud roots of the place. I always enjoyed listening to his memories of the curious governance of the town and its ceremonies, several of which Dillwyn had helped to revive and of some of the old characters and their antics, best not set down  in print.

Others here have told of his dedicated career in local government. I will confine myself to his achievements with local history and  to the tireless and valuable products of his pen, mindful always, that for much  of the  time, he was also writi ng about the landscape and natural history of the county  with  equal output and understanding.

Dillwyn was a born writer. As you have heard, while serving in the Middle Fast, he contributed to journals in between the fighting  and  founded  the Welsh Society in Jerusalem – which must have been a hoot! After coming home to Wales,  he  lectured  for the Extra Mural  Department  of the Univer­sity College  of  Wales,  Aberystwyth,  both  on  the  Middle  East  and  local history.

Remarkably at this period, Pembrokeshire,  county of so many notable  historians, had no historical society – the only Welsh county without one. It took much trouble and discussion that he wrote up for the Society ‘s Journal a few years ago. Dillwyn was a key player in establishing it, becoming its first secretary from 1954. From 1971 to 1979 he was its assiduous editor, his attention to detail is clearly evident, and from 1994, in succession to the late Major Francis Jones, he was our distinguished President. In recent years, volumes of the Journal have rarely been with­ out a valuable essay by Dillwyn, wide ranging in subject and deep in their research . The Society and I had the honour to be its Chairman for a period under Dillwyn ‘s attentive leadership.

Another key achievement was the foundation of the Pembrokeshire County History Trust in 1973, with the aim of producing a definitive history of the county. Today, three out of the four volumes are on the shelf large, handsome and authoritative. A monument to the county’s past. Having myself been appointed  a trustee  some years ago, it has been  a revelation to see the determination that Dillwyn brought  to the task of getting the volumes fashioned, parcelled out to experts and written. It takes patience loo: 35 years on and not finished   yet!

He was, as we have heard , a meticulous organiser. But he was never too self-assured to take the opinion of others. This gave great integrity to his scholarship that shines through in his books. He wrote or edited  twenty­ two of them, quite a record: I was quite astonished when I was asked to write the entry for Dillwyn in the New Companion to the Literature of Wales, a few years ago. It was a humbling experience for one who  is trying to be a writer and imagines he works quite hard. Besides those on natural history and Eisteddfod subjects there are a great many on local history to which  we all refer constantly.
But I will close with mention of what was perhaps his finest work of scholarship,  his  edition  of  George Owen’s Description  of  Penbrokeshire  of 1603, published in the Welsh Classics series in 1994. I had the pleasure of discussing it soon after with the late Sir Glanmor Williams. Glanmor  was warm in its praise, deeply impressed by the qualities of Dillwyn’s learned commentary. He reviewed the work  for  the  Historical  Society  Journal,  so let me end with words of that review  from one far greater than  I, that  sum  up  Dillwyn  so finely.

“What a splendid edition it is! Edited, introduced and annotated with the greatest care by Dillwyn Miles and also with genuine affection and enthu­siasm. Nothing could be more heart warming for his readers than qualities like these. It would be difficult to draft a prescription  for the ideal editor  of George Owen and come up with a better fulfilment than Dillwyn Miles. Born in Cemais, a Welsh speaker and a man who has lived virtually all his life in the county, he knows Pembrokeshire from the inside, as few others could claim to do. An ardent local and Welsh patriot, he has a genuine feel for the cultural and artistic life of Pembrokeshire and Wales. He is also someone who has the same innate sense of duty to his county that George Owen had, and that is a characteristic that is becoming even rarer these days. In producing this edition, he has fulfilled a cherished and long standing ambition. By doing so, he has placed deeply in his debt all those who have an interest in the history and culture of Pembrokeshire and of Wales  ‘beyond  little England’.”
Lyn Hughes, Author  and Publisher

I never, I hope for obvious reasons, knew the young Dillwyn Miles: a dashing, conspicuous and gregarious fellow by all accounts, famously described  by Dylan Thomas as  ‘Mr Pembrokeshire’ .

We first met in the late seventies when he was nearing retirement  from  official public life. I,  as  a  book  publisher,  had  had  the  temerity  to  edit  his books The Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales and A Pembrokeshire Anthology: I must have come up to scratch for, thereafter we became firm friends. He later contributed his masterly George Owen of Henllys to  my Welsh   Classics   series  for  Gomer  Press.  Despite  the  age  difference,   we were always soul-mate friends, sharing the same interests in life and literature, politics and people – and the same sense of humour. He knew, or had known, everyone in Wales worth knowing – and many who were not! – and was at his best when  telling their story. Dillwyn  was a delicious – but  never malicious – gossip.

But, I  am  here  to  talk  about  his  contribution  to  wild  life  conservation.  Dillwyn met Ronald Lockley in 1958, and assisted him with seal ringing. Lockley soon persuaded him to become Honorary Secretary of the then West Wales Field Society – previously The Pembrokeshire Bird Protection Society  that had been founded in 1938 – a position he held until 1976, by which  time  it was  known  as the West Wales  Naturalists Trust.

From   1 971  he  was  managing  editor  of  Nature   in  Wales,  that  demised  ignominiously when he  was  obliged  to  let go the  reins  in 1980. In 1973  Dillwyn founded the Association of Trusts for Nature  Conservation  in Wales. All these were major undertakings and splendid achievements. One  day,  he  bestowed  on  me  a bound  copy  in  three  volumes of  his Nature in
Wales. Beautifully produced, it is a treasure-trove of curious and scholarly information, and one of my  most precious possessions.

It cannot be said that Dillwyn was a field naturalist, not a man that got his boots muddy very often, but as an administrator, organiser  and  leader of  men  he was without  doubt unique. And  an  indefatigable  hard  worker.

After the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park had been designated and accepted by the Countryside Council for Wales in the early fifties, Dillwyn, Ronald Lockley, William Condry, H.R.H. Vaughan and others conceived the idea of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. After Lockley had surveyed the route’. Dillwyn was involved in painstakingly negotiating rights-of-way over its – then – 167 mile length. Many were the tales of his convoluted dealings with the many different land-holders. During his term of office, he was also involved in the leasing of Cardigan Marsh, the purchase of Cardigan Island and Skomer, and he lived to see Skokholm taken into care. These were adventurous ambitions, all realised, though not always without mishap: he recalled having to deal with a goat, destined for Skomer, stranded on Haverfordwest station that ate all the luggage labels; ridding Cardigan Island of rats and finding decoy puffins; and the ignomy of falling into  the sea  on  one  occasion  while  landing  on  Skomer,  and  wandering  about  the island  swathed  in  a bath towel  while his clothes dried out.

It is on Skokholm island that my mental image of Dillwyn endures. I was producing and narrating a film for S4C on the life and times of R. M. Lockley – who had  not  revisited  the  island  since he was forced  to quit in 1 939 by Herr Hitler. A veteran radio broadcaster and TV front man , Dillwyn was involved and in hi s element. We had  flown  the 90-year-old Lock ley over from N ew Zealand for the filming – he stayed for three months, a guest of  Dillwyn and Judith ‘s generosity.

It was the ideal May day;

Blue sky, blue-green sea,

Bluebells, red campion

And  sea pinks.

Little, white-haired Ronald

And tall, dark Dillwyn stood.

Leaning  on  their sticks
Looking out to sea –
A Kyffin Williams cameo.

They  were reminiscing and  laughing

In  a squawking, crying
Blizzard  of sea birds.

Simon Hancock, Curator, Haverfordwest Town  Museum

The contribution of Dillwyn Miles to museum developments in Pem­brokeshi re i s an aspect of his long and distinguished life which should not be overlooked. During the 1950s and 1960s he was a member of  the nascent Museum s and Libraries Committee of the original Pembrokeshire County Council which hoped to use Foley House as a museum. Sadly the project never came to fruition and only a few cabinets containing artefacts in  the  library  on  St. Thomas’ Green  could  be achieved.

Nevertheless, he was an ardent supporter of local museums and he was scathing of the decision by Dyfed County Council to close the Haverfordwest Castle Museum after 27 years in 1994. When  the opportunity ca me to take a lease of Castle House, the old prison governor ‘s house as a home for the proposed new Haverfordwest Town Museum, he assisted the project in many ways. Dillwyn attended many early meetings of the Trust, provided many useful suggestions regarding themes and displays and he assisted with Welsh Language translation of the museum’s interpretive panels. When  I met him  at  the official opening of  the museum  in May  1996 he was very pleased with the end result. Dillwyn continued to attend meetings of the museum’s research committee well into his 80s offering words of advice and encouragement to future plans and displays.