To question the beg.

This week, I’ve been mainly reading through a vast collection of begging/thank you letters. Or rather, trying to stop myself from reading a vast collection of begging letters, quite simply because I don’t have time to go through them all. It’s hard not to get engrossed in these letters though, each one contains a story of personal tragedy which is hard to ignore.

There are two things that have particularly surprised me in relation to these letters:
1. That they came from far and wide. I had assumed that begging letters to Lord Penrhyn would come from people somehow connected to him; tennants, servants or their families, old friends and aquanitances etc but it seems that people wrote to him asking for money from semingly unconnected circumstances. I suppose that in a time before the welfare state, wealthy landowners were the main providers of charity and proficient solicitors of aid would write to landowners far and wide to ask for help. Which also begs the question of how many of them were scammers, which brings me to the next surprise:
2. The thoroughness with which these requests for help were investigated. Although Penrhyn does seem to have donated quite generously, each case was scrupulosly investigated first (sonething to do with his obsessive nature or merely par for the course?). These investigations led to many requests being rejected, and it is the letters from the very large bundle of ‘help refused’ that I find most distressing.  You can not help but wonder what happened to these poor unfortunates whose stories I found too distressing to read to be honest.

I have just come accross letters from one man who I couldn’t ignore however, mainly because there is also a picture of him, which is a first. So, may I take a moment to introduce you to R. J. Jones of Porthmadog:

RJ Jones had throughout his life been a strong supporter of the Conservatives in what Penrhyn refered to as a ‘hostile district’. At the age of 91, Jones’ sight had failed him and he was unable to continue in his business as a chemist, so he wrote to Penrhyn to see if he could help secure him some funds from the government/civil service for his hard work. A reflection of Penrhyn’s social status, he took the matter straight to the top -writing to Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, and of course, Prime Minister at the time. Here is a copy of the letter:

I find the closing line – ‘You will notice that he is 90 – so that if you can spare him anything out of the CS it will not be for long’ particularly moving.

However, after months of deliberation and correspondence back and forth between Balfour and Penrhyn, this is the response he received.

This blog is not a forum for political views, but two words that seem to pass my lips with increasing frequency come to mind.  The first begins with B, and the second is Tories.

It seems Penrhyn gave him £10 along with the bad news. Lets hope that went a little way to make th eold man comfortable in his old age.

Here is the list of the other begging letters I’ve catalogued this week, and below it you will find the list of documents from the previous box, Box 60, which I forgot to post.

49.01 Box file of ‘Old Letters’.  c.1650 – 1830  Box file includes:a)      1830 Letters from Thomas Hopper.

b)      March-May 1785 Letters from William Pitt relating to duties of products from the West Indies.

c)      1812-1814 Letters from Lady Penrhyn to George Hay Dawkins, mainly discussing estate/financial matters but also giving some insight into their lives and personalities.

d)     1816-1819 Letters from the Leycesters and excecutors of Lady Penrhyn’s will relating to organ at St Anns, enclosure of Hundred of Uchaf, discussions about the property 14 Grosvenor Square and relating to debates between Dawkins-Pennant and the excecutors.

e)      C 1650-80 Letter from Robert Williams relating to the right to appoint curates to Llandygai.


49.02 Envelope with ‘Begging Case helped – F. Barber’ written on the front, containing large volume of correspondence relating to Frank Barber (son of Barber, former Penrhyn solicitor), his employment at the Ogwen Brickworks and his subsequent decline for fiscally and in health.  Contains numerous begging letters to Lord Penrhyn.  1893-1900  Correspondence/estate/begging letters. 
49.03 Envelope containing numerous begging letters whih were granted help. 1893-1900 Written on the envelope isBegging Cases Helped

L.D. Roberts, Portmadoc & Helidon

J. Jones, Caellwyngryd – now Rev T. Llechid Jones

Rev W. Huges – Llanuwchlyn

H. Dalby – Banbury

Edwin B. Jones – Houghton – Stockbridge

Ritchie Thomas. 1895

J.J. Davies

Rev Canon Williams

Eos Llechid’s widow.

Envelope contains another envelope with the following written on it:

‘Begging Cases Helped

Thomas Jones Llanllechid at Lampeter now Rev. T. Llechid Jones

49.04 Envelope containing letters of thanks to Lord Penrhyn, mainly for gifts given as acknowledgement of support/excellent service during the strike 1900-1903..  1892-1903  Written on the envelope isThanks


Warren Trevor

D D Davies 1903

John Jack 1903

Mr Gray 1903

Mr Pughe’s test £5

E Garnnett.  My carriage patent for locking. 1892.


Correspondence/estate/quarryletters of thanks 
49.05 Letter of thanks to Lord Penrhyn from Annie Iwstone-Roberts (?)  of 26 May 1906.  Letter mentions that her only surviving child has been ill with diphtheria.  26 May 1906  Correspondence/estate/quarryletters of thanks 
49.05 Envelope containing letters of thanks sent to Lord Penrhyn.  1887-1902  Written on the envelope isThanks

Mary Ellis Penffridd. Cous

Mrs Buckland

Mrs Llwyd

Mrs Jones, sister of one armed man

Ann Griffith Penygroes

Owen Parry’s widow

Nellie Ellis

R Pritchard. Gerlan

E. Jones 9 James Street. Braichmelyn

W Jones. Mason. Llangefni

Mrs Birknell 1880


Correspondence/estate/quarryletters of thanks 
49.06 Envelope containing letters of thanks sent to Lord Penrhyn.  1887-1902  Written on the envelope isThanks

Mary Ellis Penffridd. Cous

Mrs Buckland

Mrs Llwyd

Mrs Jones, sister of one armed man

Ann Griffith Penygroes

Owen Parry’s widow

Nellie Ellis

R Pritchard. Gerlan

E. Jones 9 James Street. Braichmelyn

W Jones. Mason. Llangefni

Mrs Birknell 1880


Correspondence/estate/quarryletters of thanks 
49.07 Envelope containing letters of thanks sent to Lord & Lady Penrhyn.  1888-1904  Written on the envelope isThanks

F Dorrien

L Bayley – Gardener

Mr Andrews – Goodwood

W Gill – Pimlico

Thomas Poulter – late Lampman

Mr Wise – Caernarvon

Miss Rowley

John Scouell 1890

St Paul’s Knightsbridge 1904

Poor Poet 1904

R E Pritchard 1888


Correspondence/estate/quarryletters of thanks 
49.08 Envelope of correspondence from Mr H Pikeares including a letter of thanks to Lord Penrhyn for a gift along with a letter thanking Lord Penrhyn for his permissioned to be named as referee along with a request to use the title ‘engineer in local charge of the Penrhyn Quarries’ which Lord Penrhyn refused. Correspondence/estate/quarry letters of thanks 
49.09 Envelope of press cuttings and correspondence relating to Col Francis Cornwallis Maude V.C. who died in 1900. 1893-1900 Envelope contains begging letters, letters of thanks, letters as to Maude’s character (which are not supportive of him), printed appeals for help and press cuttings relating to his death. Correspondence/family/letters of thanks 
49.10 Envelope containing letters of thanks sent to Lord Penrhyn along with further information/solicitours letters from some of the causes he donated to.  Written on the envelope isThanks

Welsh Industries

St Mary’s Schhols (Crossed Out)

Duke of Westminsters Memorial

Infirmary (2 oct)

Arfon Monthly Meeteing re Temperance

Borough Hospital. Bangor

Caernarfon Eisteddfod 1894 (Crossed out)

Bangor Cathedral Organ & Choir rest

Caernarvon Cottage Hospital (Crossed out)

Golf Cup


Correspondence/estate/letters of thanks 
49.11 Envelope containing large amount of begging letters sent to Lord and Lady Penrhyn deemed  ‘Undeserving Cases’..  1879-1904  Correspondence/estate/begging letters refused 
49.12 Correspondence from R. Richard, quarryman regarding his emigration to America (and desire to return to Wales). 1864-1867 Correspondence/letter of thanks
49.13 Speech given at Bangor Infirmary written in the hand of George Sholto Douglas pennant  N.D. Misc? charity? Infirmary  Speeches 
49.14 Envelope of correspondence relating to financial difficulties of Mr Wynn Griffith, of Llanfair Hall, Caernarfon. 1881-1885 Lord Penrhyn agreed to act as security for a bank loan of £3000 for Wynn Griffith a separate envelope relates to a loan. Enveloped was sealed but was opened by the researcher as part of the cataloguing process. Correspondence/friends/financial help.
49.15 Letter of thanks from Mr Williams, Rhydllanfair, Betws y Coed.  28 November 1906  Correspondence/estate/thanks 
49.16 Envelope of correspondence relating to the begging requests of Major Griffith, Harol Rd, London. 1906 Correspondence/begging 
49.17 Letter of thanks from J. A. Jones, Elwy House  190627/11/1906  Correspondence/estate/thanks 
49.18 Envelope containing various letters of thanks received by Lord Penrhyn  1895-1903  Written on the envelope is:Thanks

Rev R.H. Williams Curate

Rev William Owen Llanfrothen

Rev Morris Roberts – Penmachno

Rev R. Jones Bettwsycoed

Mr Frank Williams – Glanogwen

Mrs Pierce Jones Aber

O.R. Owen Lampeter 1901


49.19 Envelope containing letters of thanks from Bryncroes Church and Pwllheli Church and Parish Room 1904 Written on the envelope is:Thanks

Bryncroes Church £150

Pwllheli Church & Parish Room £150

49.20 Envelope containing begging letters of Major Mulchinnock  1905  Correspondence/begging letters 
49.21 Letter from Robert Thomas, Bangor and E. Skepton Tanymarian, requesting that Lord Penrhyn changes his mind about his refusal to grant land for a non-conformist chapel to be built at Tregarth. 26 August 1868 Correspondence/estate/chapels
49.22 Letter of thanks from W.J. Parry on behalf of the Arvon Congregational Association for the lease of a plot of ground to build a chapel at Sling. 1877 Correspondence/estate/chapels
49.23 Envelope of correspondence from Williams Brooks, of Sprinh Hill Lodge, Moreton in Marsh,  ‘Old Brooks’, mainly giving thanks.  181897-1905  Correspondence/estate/thanks (pension?) 
49.24 Envelope of correspondence relating to Yoke House, Pwllheli and the Picton-Jones/Pryce-Picton family.  Includes begging letters, and letters of thanks.  1881-1900  Correspondence/estate/thanks 
49.25 Envelope of begging letters sent to Lord Penrhyn  1888-1906  Written on the envelope isBegging 1888 Mrs Cousens

1903 – Louisa Cousens Oct 10 £20

1904 June 27 – £10


49.26 Envelope containing a begging letter from Mrs Routledge nee Barber on behalf of her brother.  Also contains letter from Rev W. H. Butlin giving advice on setting her brother up as a poultry farmer.  Januray – February 1896  Correspondence/begging 
49.27 Envelope containing begging letters of Mrs Thomas of Gelli, Nantlle. 1894-1899 Correspondence/begging 
60.42 Envelope of correspondence relating to the building of a new church in Bangor (probably St Mary’s Church, Garth Road.  June 1862  Lord Penrhyn wrote in objection to a plan which suggested that a road may be needed across a field of his to connect the church to the high street, something he felt that as the owner of the field and subscriber of £200 toward the church he should have been consulted upon.  Numerous responses from various members are included, including a response that suggests that the road access to the Church should br from garth Road, and that the architect had acted without the permission of the committee in placin an entrance arch next to Lord Penrhyn’s field.  Correspondecne/estate/church/st Mary’s 
60.43 Correspondence between Edward Gordon Douglas Pennant and the chief constable of police relating to policing in Bethesda.  Penrhyn feels that given the volatility of the situation, particularly in relation to Ireland, the police should be taking a more active role. 6 February 1868 Correspondence/patriarchal/police matters
60.44 Correspondence between Edward Gordon Douglas Pennant and Mr Williams, Bodafon, Llandudno relating to an article published in the North Wales Chronicle  that alleged that Lord Penrhyn had stated the diseased cattle came from Llandudno.  Penrhyn replies that the paper had mis-represented his comments and he was seeking to rectify their mistake.  October 1868  Correspondence/patriarchal/agriculture 
60.45 Correspondence between Edward Gordon Douglas Pennant and Philip Constable Ellis, rector of Llanfairfechan regarding the issue of burial of “still born” children.  6 & 7 October 1871  Letters probably relate to the situation described in the letter in bundle 54.03.  While the rector sets out the legal responsibility for the burial of babies, Lord Penrhyn argues that men of the church have a moral responsibility to ensure that the babies that are being buried truly were still born and not the victims of neglect, abuse or infanticide.  States concern that the current situation “… a practice which affords neat facility for the concealment of culpable neglect and ill treatment of those children, and even of child – murder and I should think that the moral influence of the clergyman even if he has no legal authority – might be beneficially exercised in furthering a stop to such a practice.”  Correspondence/patriarchal/estate/church/morals. 
60.46 Summary of the debts of the First Lord Penrhyn (assumed Richard Pennant although the handwriting on the envelope is that of George Sholto Douglas Pennant) c.1808 Accounts/Debts/ misc
60.47 Correspondence between Lord Penrhyn, James Vincent (dean of bangor cathedral) and Philip Constable Ellis Rector of Llanfairfechan relating to a MR Boucher.  Written on the envelope (possibly by George Sholto Douglas pennant) is ‘(Rev P.C. Ellis) -letter from the Dean of Bangor (James Vincent) grand row about something – P’  21-24 March 1868  Correspondence/estates/patriarchal/legal? 
60.48 Two letters from the Rev D. W. Thomas, St Anns, regarding new Sunday school buildings. 6 & 8 October1880 Correspondence/Estate/Partiarchal/Charitable/churches
60.49 Two letters from Lord Penrhyn objecting to the choice of tenant for the Capel Curig hotel following advice from his son George.  December 1872  Correspondence/estates/tennants 
60.50 Correspondence between Lord Penrhyn and Archdeacon John Evans, Llanchellid relating to a passanger station at Talybont, and the garland subscriptions to a drainage scheme.  December 1871  Correspondence/estates/drainage/railways/subscriptions. 
60.51 Bundle of correspondence relating to the strike.  Bundle contains letter from a Mr Gibson, giving his views on the matter, responses to Mr Gibson’s letter from Evan R. Davies solicitor & Hugh Vincent as well as letter from Vincent acknowledging receipt of an instruction from Penrhyn to recover costs from W.J. Parry or make him a bankrupt.  One of the letters from Vincent also refers to a statement prepared for parliment  April 1903  Correspondence/strike. 
60.52 Penrhyn Castle card with ‘Old Miscellaneous letters & documents chiefly from the time of Edward Gordon Lord Penrhyn’ written on it.  c. 1886  Misc/catalog card 
60.53 Letter relating to ‘sporting’and poaching over certain lands at Ffestinion. 17 December 1868 Correspondence/estate/leisure/shooting

2 responses to “To question the beg.

  1. Seeing a photo of the old fellow does make the case seem more personal. Pity he could not avail himself of the wonderful and caring ‘Big Society’ that we have today 😉

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