A Sad State of Affairs

Box number 52 is going to be a challenge I can tell you now. It is full to the brim with what looks like bundles of random correspondence. One day in, one document down and the second document looks like its going to take me all week. If the rest of the box is the same, this is going to take frever; bye bye to the joy of getting through box 41 so quickly.

The bundle I’m reading now seems to consist mainly of correspondence about Port Penrhyn. There are a few letters of complaint regarding unfair distribution of work, favouritism etc; with a letter complaining about the steam ship from Liverpool taking work away from the local sail ships painting a vivid image of what was a a changing world.

There are also some pieces of correspondence relating to the quarry, including quite an amusing letter about the appointment of a new matron from Dr Williams of Bryn Meurig who was doctor to the quarry hospital. It seems that a young lady was about to apply to or the post, but the Dr feels quite strongly that a more mature and matronly figure (a Mrs Roberts I believe) should be appointed, not matter how popular the young lady is with the male patients. I assume she was something of a beauty!

There is also a press cutting of a speech given by Lord Penrhyn to the quarrymen who were working in 1902, and he claims that they will always be considered his friends and have his support, and also the support of his son and heir should he pass. It seems Edward Sholto also stood and spoke to the men. Another press cutting told of a meeting in Bethesda, 20 years previously, which shows that unrest was already taking hold. It was about a meeting of the Church Defence Association, chaired by Col Sackville-West. The non-conformists had already met and trouble was anticipated, and it came in the form of W.J.Parry storming the stage and rallying chapel goers, who were already agitated by the fact the meeting had given secret entry to the church goers via ticket through a back entrance before throwing the doors open to everyone else, who, having waited in the cold were angry to find the meeting already half full. The comparison between the reception of Col Sackville West, and W.J. parry are quite striking:
“Colonel West, who was received with derisive cheers and was frequently interrupted, said that he had come prepared to listen to arguments in support of Church defence, and not to preside over and unruly mob. (Laughter)” ………
“The appearance of W.J.Parry was the signal for cheers, which were renewed yet again and again.”

The documents I found most emotive though were a hand written note (I assume in the hand of Edward Gordon Douglas Pennant) stating that he was now over 85 years of age and his memory was failing, and he was therefore handing the management of the Quarry and his North Wales estates over to his son George Sholto and Colonel West. Whether he wrote this himself or someone else drafted it for him would be interesting to find out when I have more examples of his hand writing to compare. There was also a letter that would have accompanied some form of medical certification that his memory was failing him, so it seems that George Sholto took over the management of the estate legally before his father died. I found it quite sad that age clearly affects us and makes no allowances for fortunes or titles.

I will post a more in-depth breakdown of what I found when I complete the bundle.

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4 responses to “A Sad State of Affairs

    • I have! One of the earliest letters I read, written by Benjamin Wyatt mentions the Bath House being built. I think it dated from 1805/6. I’m keen to know more about it too, I’ll post any info I find. I’d love to go an visit it one day, it may be next on my agenda of walks to drag the kids along!

  1. Aha! I was wondering when it dated from. I popped along the shoreline from Port Penrhyn when the tide was out to have a little mooch around. The jetty and path heading back into the estate looked pretty overgrown. Hard to imagine fine folks having luxuriated there when you see those crumbling remains.

  2. And I think it would have been real luxury too. I’m sure I heard somewhere that they had their own tiles commissioned for it, and the sea water was heated I believe. How lovely does that sound! Hopefully I’ll unearth something that explains why it was left to go to ruin.

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