Strike stories.

Most of Friday was spent reading through a collection of newspaper cuttings from Sept/Oct 1902.  Again, each was encased in a ‘Romeike and Curtice Press Cutting and Information Agency’ folder.

These were a fascinating read.  Each paper told the same story in a different way; some supporting Lord P and others the quarrymen.  The articles were full of information, such as printed correspondence between both parties, and a detailed account of one of the quarry meetings.  Together, they paint a vivid picture of the breakdown in negotiations that happened between Lord P and the quarrymen during this period.

But what got to me was, again, the personal story behind these actual pieces of paper rather than the bigger picture they paint.  These are very likely to be the very pieces of paper Lord Penrhyn would have held in his hands, not only telling him of the latest developments in his quarry, but also letting him know how the world at large felt about him and his battles.  How did he feel upon reading these? Please by some accounts I’m sure, and also almost certainly angry, indignant and annoyed.  But I wonder if he ever wavered in his resolution, if he ever felt lonely, or experienced sadness or remorse? The Liverpool Post on 01/10/1902 quoted the ‘Daily News’ in saying

“We deeply regret the decision; we regret it for Lord Penrhyn’s sake as well as for that of the men.  They and their families will of course, be the greater sufferers, but he will bring upon himself an odium which few men, even among the peers, would care incur.  There will be other sufferers during the coming winter – entirely innocent victims of the dispute.  The whole district will feel the stoppage of work at the Bethesda quarries, and ruin and starvation now stare in the face a great part of the population of a distracted countryside.”

Given that Lord P brought a libel case against the ‘Daily News’ I doubt he felt their stance was justified, but as a mother of two young sons living at Bethesda, the following poem  , published in the ‘Daily News’ did affect me deeply, and stayed with me over the weekend.

They are fighting for their freedom in the valley
Over yonder; and the fight is hard and strong;
For they come with Truth and Right to the
war with Wealth and Might,
Ancient adjutants of Tyranny and Wrong.
They are fighting for their freedom, oh! my brothers,
For their children, for their liberties, and you,
But they’re hungry, by the way, for the fight has come to stay,
Let us send them heart and courage to renew.

Fight on brave hearts,
Hope on stout hearts,
Truth is strong and still prevails.
Freedom’s calling, hunger’s calling,
We are with you, sons of Wales.

There are women, noble women, in the valley,
And they clasp the thinning babies to the breast.
There are many that would run for the food that’s meant for one,
And the heartache of the mother does the rest.
But they murmur not, nor falter. Oh!my brothers;
It is only in the night the sad eyes weep.
Better starve and still be free, than a serf or slave to be
But I’m wondering can sleep

Fight on brave hearts etc

There are children, little children in the valley,
And their eyes gaze out from every open door,
For they cannot understand how just one man in the land
Is a greater man than many who are poor.
And the faces of the children, oh! my brothers,
They are sorrowful and pitiful – and thin;
It is hard for babies to die, who know naught of reasons why,
Let us forward that the battle may begin!

Cheer up, brave hearts,
Stand firm, great hearts.
Truth is strong and still prevails.
Freedom’s calling, hunger’s calling,
We are coming, sons of Wales.

J.J. Clark

On a different note, I also read an interesting account given by Lord P about his horse racing interests.  It details his background with the sport as well as, in detail, his involvement with three horses ‘Noble Chieftan’, ‘Carmine’ and ‘Robin Hood’.  It seems to me that this is a statement given as evidence in a trial relating to race fixing.  I would love to spend more time finding out the details of this trial, and Lord P’s involvement in it (I am assuming it is his trainer under trial, but I can’t be certain).  Unfortunately, with only a year to spend on the projects, it’s the kind of thing I just don’t have time to do.  Maybe, if I get things finished quickly I can come back to it, or I may stumble upon some more on it at a later date. I did find this though (Lord P’s case 6th paragraph from last). And I was blow away by the scale of the bets he would place (bets of up to £1,200 placed within days of each other).

Just before I left I started reading a copy of the will of Anne Susannah Warburton, leaving Penrhyn Castle to George Hay Dawkins-Pennant.  I had always believed that Richard Pennant had left the Castle to George Hay, but this document has made me question that assumption.  It may be that Lady Penrhyn was in fact just echoing her husbands will, but it would be interesting to find out more about her.  She did, it seems own the estate for eight years following her husbands death before it passed to George.  What kind of involvement did she have in the running of the estate?  Is she a forgotten mistress of Penrhyn, or did she have little to do with it and her ownership was merely a formality.  I’ve always been intrigued by her, and I’m sure that she plays a greater part in the Penrhyn story than she is given credit for, but only time, research, and the documents will tell.


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