The end of an era?

It’s been a quite couple of weeks on the blog. My son’s school has been closed for two weeks, and combined with sickness and birthdays has made getting to the office a bit more difficult than usual. When I have made it in I’ve been head down with the documents trying to get through what still appears to be the most difficult box yet.

There does seem to be a running theme in this box though, unlike the others, and that theme is the management of the Quarry/Port, in particular relating to this:

As I’m jumping about a bit time wise as I’m going through the box it’ll be quite difficult to get a linear story until I go back and review the descriptions, but the general story seems to be this.

As Edward Gordon Douglas pennants memory started to fade, George took over the management of the estate. he was quite thorough in his review of the management infrastructure and the ways it could be improved and got on board a firm of accountants from London (dealing mainly with a A Young) to review the accounts.

There are a few letters fo complaint regarding Wyatt, some from locals, and some which I assume to be related (but I’m not 100% yet) from a firm called Dunlop in London, complaining about the amount of slates received in an order. There is also a reference to a £11,000 ‘mistake’ on Wyatt’s part, and I think that the 1883 pamphlet 1883 Pamphlet “The Slate Trade of North Wales – Reprints from the North Wales Chronicle may have played a part too . The accountant firm produced a very long (32 page report) on how stocks etc should be counted and produced massive savings on tax for George Sholto. There was then a bit of cat and mouse with A Young who basically was out to catch Wyatt out, and clearly succeed. Then, after speculation about the agents post (with C. A. Cook, manager of Bryn Hafod y Wern Quarry being an assumed favourite), but the post was given temporarily to A Young’s son, E.A.Young, who clearly stayed there for some time.

I still havent pinpointed exactly the terms on which Wyatt was dismissed but it seemed to have been a rather long drawn out process of accountants/solicitors looking for evidence of his wrong doing, although the actual dismissal/appointment of Young happened very quickly. I think it is clear that Wyatt knew he was being hunted though. There is a rather vivid letter written to George Sholto from his ‘loving mother’ (who was, I assume Maria Louisa Fitzroy his step-mother as his mother had died long since) giving an account of Adela (George’s sister) driving the old Lord Penrhyn (who had already handed power over to George) up to the quarry and Wyatt brushing over his ‘mistake’ and asking Lord P for £1000. Lady Penrhyn had felt he was taking advantage of the favour of an elderly and ill man and should have, by rights been dealing with George on these matters. I thought this letter was a nice glimpse at family life for the Pennants, and also seems to signal a change in era: Wyatt (who I assume was a descendant of the Wyatts who managed the estate for over 100% years) appealing to the old, fragile lord knowing that the young son brought with him radical new ways.

Here are the descriptions of the documents I’ve been working on these past few weeks. Documents 52.09h (correspondence between E.A. You and Douglas of the North Wales Chronicle are well worthy of a read.  Their correspondence becomes increasingly sarcastic giving an insight into Young in particular and Douglas’ wit had me in giggles.

52.09   Bundle of various accounts, correspondence and miscellany relating to the estate, quarry and Port Penrhyn.




Bundle includes:

a)      March 1884 Bank account statement for Messers Williams & Co, Bankers, Bangor.

b)      24 March 1885 Translation of an article from ‘Y Celt’, responding to a letter from George Sholto Douglas-Pennant that was translated (‘clumsily’) and circulated amongst the quarrymen.  Article states that it does not condone violent behaviour, but does suggest that outburst after the Church Defence Meeting in Bethesda was provoked.  Article closes with the words “All the residents of Eryri, and the whole of Wales will anxiously look these next days to see what steps the Penrhyn Quarrymen will take to defend their independence and in so doing keep up the excellent traditions handed to us by our brave fathers who lost rivers of blood on our mountain slopes in battles for their rights.”

c)      1884-1886 Port Penrhyn slate price lists.

d)     1886 – Statement of Guarantee from the Guarantee & Accident Company re: employment of E.A. Young.

e)      1886 – Opinion of counsel on payments to be made to servants under Lord Penrhyn (Edward Gordon Douglas Pennant) will.

f)       1886 – Correspondence regarding the Slate Quarries bill.  Includes letters from Col Sackville West, John Robinson (Talysarn Slate Quarries) and W.J. Parry

g)      1887 Draft article of agreement appointing E.A. Young as principal agent to Lord Penrhyn.

h)      1887 Copies of correspondence between E.A. Young and Mr Douglas of the North Wales Chronicle regarding dispute between them regarding a letter of recommendation sent by Mr Douglas regarding a man who he describes as conservative.  Mr Young’s intitial response was “ it is not my practice to do business on a “political” basis” .  Correspondence becomes increasingly bitter and sarcastic as dispute lengthens.

i)           2 January 1888 Letter of apology from E A Young to Lord Penrhyn regarding the dispute with Mr Douglas and enclosed newspaper article on the matter.

j)          1889-92 Correspondence regarding vacancy at almshouses in ‘Yspytty’.  Includes information about the applicants and Order of the Charities Commission.

k)      1901 Envelope of documents relating to William Lewis Charity


52.10   Bundle of various correspondence, reports and miscellany relating to the estate, quarry and Port Penrhyn.




Bundle includes:


a)      1883 Pamphlet “The Slate Trade of North Wales – Reprints from the North Wales Chronicle of letters which have appeared during the last twelve months”>  Pamphlet includes letters discussing selling slates below list price, overcounts, quality of goods, commissions on freight (Porth Penrhyn) and wages in connection to Penrhyn & Vaynol quarries.

b)      11 Dec 1885 Letter from A Young regarding slate sales/accounts and Mr Wyatt.

c)      9 January 1886 Letter form barber, Penrallt regarding the 1883 pamphlet “The Slate Trade of North Wales” (item 52.10a).

d)     1887 Report on the repair work needed on the Penrhyn Estate.  Gives overview of properties on the estate and maintenance costs for estate farms, cottages with no land, fences etc and the Castle. States that in 1887 the estate has 727 farms and 1830 cottages with no land.

e)      C 1888 affadavit of H. Wyndham Carter, Earl of Wynchcombe.

f)       1893 Correspondence between Lord Penrhyn and E.A. Young regarding investment in a steam ship for slate transportation.

g)      1896 Letter from a Water {sic} Hughes regarding mis-management of the quarry.  Envelop has Libellous written on the front.

h)      25 November 1896 – Translation of a letter published in Y Faner as Anserau Cymru written by Bethesdaite.

i)           Letter from H. Vincent re partnership agreement.

j)          19 March 1896 – Anonymous letter regarding favouritism given to steam ship over sail ships in Porth Penrhyn.

k)      5 Dec 1896 Leter of apology  from D. Pritchard, Brynderwen, Bethesda to Lord Penrhyn regarding ‘Bethesdaite’ letter.

l)        Translation of a leader and letter from Y Baner ac Amserau Cymru’ and translation of an excerpt from ‘A Description of Welsh Life – Social and Public Chapter XXX11 The Workmen of Wales and the new conciliation act.  Both discuss the new conciliation act, and the former provides quite a balanced view of the current Penrhyn dispute.

m)    1890-97 Envelope of Warehorne vouchers.

n)      1898 – Envelope of documents relating to the Dr William Lewis charity.

o)      1899 – Letter regarding Ellis o’r nant and the Post Mistresses of Betws y Coed.

p)                                               N.D. Couple of hand written notes, one regarding diary entries and one relating to wagons and flanges.



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