Striving for a world transformed by justice and peace - a TL from 1827

Aneurin did not like living with Maire's siblings, so he was looking forward to moving to Ferryside and Maire's brother and two of her sisters staying in Swansea.

The next morning at breakfast on Saturday 2 June 1877, Maire told her brother and three sisters that she and Nye and their children would be moving to a house in Ferryside. Because Mairead was only ten years old she would be moving with them. Sean, Siobhan and Brid could move with them or stay in Swansea. Maire said she would ask Mrs Kelly if she would let Siobhan and Brid live with her, and she would find somewhere for Sean to live.
 
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I have amended Brighid's name to Brid, which it was originally.

Later that morning Maire went to see Elizabeth Kelly and told her that she, Aneurin and their children and her sister Mairead would be moving to Ferryside the following month, and asked if Brid and Sinead could come and live with her. Elizabeth said she would be delighted for them to live with her, as only Kate [age 14] and Patrick [age 18] were still living at home.

That afternoon, Maire and Aneurin and their children and Maire's siblings all caught the train to Ferryside. [1] They went to see the new home they, except for Brid, Siobhan and Sean, would be living in.

[1] Here is a website about Ferryside with photos: http://beachguide.wales/swalessomerset/ferryside.php.
 
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Maire loved being out in the countryside and was much aware of the presence of God in nature. When she got off the train at Ferryside station and saw the River Tywi and the beach and surrounding countryside, she recited the opening lines of a Welsh praise poem dating from the tenth or eleventh century.

'Glorious Lord, I give you greeting!
Let the church and the chancel praise you,
Let the chancel and the church praise you,
Let the plain and the hillside praise you,
Let the world's three well-springs praise you,
Two above wind and one above land,
Let the dark and the daylight praise you,
Abraham, founder of the faith, praised you:
Let the life everlasting praise you,
Let the birds and the honeybees praise you,
Let the shorn stems and the shoots praise you,
Both Aaron and Moses praised you:
Let the male and the female praise you.
Let the seven days and the stars praise you,
Let the air and the ether praise you,
Let the books and the letters praise you,
Let the fish in the swift streams praise you,
Let the thought and the action praise you,
Let the sand-grains and the earth-clods praise you,
Let all the good that's performed praise you.
And I shall praise you, Lord of glory:
Glorious Lord, I give you greeting! [1]

[1] This poem is taken from the book The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination by Esther de Waal, London: Canterbury Press, 2003.
 
Aneurin knocked on the front door of the house. It was answered by a young woman dressed in a maid's outfit who asked him what he wanted. He asked her to tell her master that Mr and Mrs Griffiths, the new tenants, and family have come to look around the house. About two minutes later a couple in their fifties came to the door. They introduced themselves as Mr Ifor Rees and Mrs Tanwen Rees and invited Nye and Maire and the children in. After introductions all round, Nye explained that he and Maire were the new tenants and would be moving in with their four children and Maire's sister, Mairead, and would be very grateful if they could look round the house and garden. Maire asked if the furniture was staying and Mrs Rees told her that it was.
 
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Maire and Nye and children entered the house through a front door which led into the vestibule. From there a door opened into the living room. This was furnished with two tables, several chairs and a sofa. There were square carpet squares on the floor with spaces between the edges and the walls covered with oil cloth, the predecessor of linoleum. There were heavy curtains on the windows. There was a profusion of ornaments on available surfaces and pictures on the walls. The living room led into the kitchen. This had a cooker and a dresser with cupboards and drawers for saucepans, pans, cutlery and crockery.The kitchen led into the scullery with a wash basin and cold war tap and a larder to store food.

Upstairs there were four bedrooms. The front and largest bedroom had a capacious wardrobe with plenty of space to hang clothes, a deep drawer for hats and bonnets, another drawer, wooden knots on each of the inner walls on which to hang wooden hangers, a full-length mirror on the inside of one of the doors, and a brushing tray. This was a 'pull-out shelf on which to spread a skirt for the day's mud or dust to be brushed off.' [1]

[1] See the book Victorian London: The Life of a City 1840-1870 by Liza Picard, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005.
 
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The front bedroom had a writing desk. All the bedrooms had two chairs and a wash basin with a soap dish and toothbrush holder, and a mirror on the wall behind. In the bathroom the bath was free standing with a flat bottom. The front garden was very small. The back garden was a tenth of an acre [484 square feet] with a lawn in the middle and flower beds on three sides and a vegetable bed on the fourth side. The water closet, or toilet, was in the back garden. Because the house faced west with views over the Tywi, the back garden got the morning sun.

Siobhan, Sean and Brid complained about how boring it was living there out in the country, but Mairead loved it. She loved nature, particularly plants, so she loved the garden.
 
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Maire said she very much liked the wallpaper in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms. Besides designs of flowers, there were also other designs from nature of animals, plants, landscapes and seascapes. Also scenes from Welsh history and legends. Mrs Tanwen Rees told her that it was designed by Carwyn Richards. [1] Richards was born in 1831 in Machynlleth, Merionethshire, where Owain Glyndwr held his first Parliament in 1404. Besides designing wallpapers, Richards was a painter and a writer. He had written historical novels based on Llewellyn the Great, Owain Glyndwr and other Welsh heroes, and political books on socialism and Welsh nationalism. He lived and worked in Carmathen. He was married with seven children - five sons and two daughters. Aneurin and Maire knew about him.

'Aren't his wallpapers expensive?' Maire asked.

'They cost more than most wallpapers because of their high quality, but they are not all that expensive.' Tanwen said.

Aneurin asked if there was a ferry across the Tywi.

'There isn't a ferry service but you can hire a boat across the river when the tide is high enough. The river is tidal up to past Carmarthen.' Ifor Rees told him.

Aneurin and Maire thanked Ifor and Tanwen for showing them around their house. Aneurin asked if his mother, Mrs Angharad Griffiths and her friend Mrs Helen Price, could visit the house with them the next day in the afternoon [Sunday 3 June 1877] without the children. Tanwen said they would be delighted to see them. Then they all said their goodbyes and Maire, Aneurin and the children walked back to the railway station and got a train back to Swansea.

[1] A fictional character.
 
In the afternoon of Sunday 3 June, Aneurin, Maire, Angharad and Helen got a train which left Swansea about 1.05pm which arrived in Ferryside about an hour and twenty minutes later. After they had a good look round the house, which Angharad and Helen liked very much, they went for a walk around the village and on the beach. The women wore trousers. They had almost two hours to spare in Ferryside before the return train which left Ferryside at about 4.20pm and arrived in Swansea about an hour and ten minutes later.

On Saturday 14 July 1877, Maire, Nye, their four children and Maire's youngest sister Mairead, moved to their new house in Ferryside. Maire, Nye and Orla, their youngest child, had the front bedroom; David was in the back bedroom, while in the two middle bedrooms were Eithne and Roisin in one room, and Mairead in the other room.

At the present time [2019] in this TL, the house is a museum about the life and work of Aneurin Griffiths and hosts regular poetry readings and other events.
 
The Poor Law Abolition Act 1877 meant that workhouses were no longer used for that purpose. They were converted for other uses such as apartment blocks, houses of hospitality for homeless people, hospitals, hotels, educational institutions. Some were demolished. The Liverpool workhouse on Brownlow Hill was demolished and the site became Brownlow Gardens. [1] The St. Pancras workhouse in north London was converted into flats.[2]

[1] For the Liverpool workhouse see http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Liverpool.

[2] For the St. Pancras workhouse see http://www.workhouses.org.uk/StPancras.
 
In the summer of 1877, Maire and Nye loved walking around Ferryside - on the beach, by the Tywi and in the surrounding countryside. On Saturday 4 August, they and their children, and Maire caught the train for the twelve minute journey to the historic town of Carmarthen. They were joined by Nye's sister, Megan and her girlfriend, Esther Jenkins, who had come up from Swansea.

Carmarthen is on a bluff above the Tywi. Its Welsh name is Caerfyrddin [Merlin's City] and Merlin was supposed to have been born near the town. The Black Book of Carmarthen was written in Carmarthen Priory in the early twelfth century. It is the earliest known manuscript in the Welsh language and contains a priceless collection of early Welsh poetry. Carmarthen castle was captured by Owain Glyndwr in 1403, and by his French allies in 1405. It was held by the Royalists in the Civil War, and after it was captured by the Parliamentarians fell into ruin. In 1843 Carmarthen was invaded by Rebecca Rioters in protest against the high road tolls charged at toll gates. The gaol was attacked and the mob finally dispersed by dragoons. [1]

[1] Information about Carmarthen taken from The Shell Guide to Wales, published by Michael Joseph, London, 1969.
 
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There must be a general election in the United Kingdom no later than 13 October 1878. No one knew when it would be, even the Prime Minister, George Cowell, had not decided on the date. But there were signs that it would be in spring or early summer of 1878. Parliament returned from the long summer recess in mid November 1877, which was two to three weeks later than in previous years of a Commonwealth Party government, the Christmas recess was three to four weeks, compared with two to three weeks in previous years. Also the government's legislative programme was thin and uncontroversial compared with previous years.
 
Maire Griffiths gave birth to a boy on Wednesday 10 April 1878. She and Aneurin named him Thomas. He was their second son and fifth child. He was conceived in their bed in their house in Ferryside. Maire's friend, Elizabeth Kelly, acted as womb woman or midwife. When Maire went into labour, Aneurin sent Mrs Kelly a telegram asking her to come to their house. Mrs Kelly gave Thomas birth baptism.
 
On Wednesday 15 May 1878, the Prime Minister, George Cowell, announced in the House of Commons that a general election would take place on Monday 10 June. Parliament would be dissolved on 17 May and nominations close on 31 May. The new parliament would meet on Tuesday 18 June.

Although the Commonwealth Party won a majority of only 38 in the October 1874 general election, and it would take a loss of only nineteen seats to lose their majority, the Conservatives would need to gain 132 seats to win an overall majority.
 
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The Conservative Party was divided on the issue of Fair Trade. This was tariffs on imports of manufactured goods from countries in retaliation for tariffs on British goods. Most of the party advocated Fair Trade but a significant minority supported Free Trade, particularly the liberal Conservatives. They argued that adopting Fair Trade as party policy would alienate Liberal voters. The party leader, Sir Stafford Northcote, tried to hold his party together by various formulas. The Fair Trade League, founded in 1876, was popular among the grass roots of the party.
 
Most Tory Fair Traders were in favour of tariffs on agricultural as well as industrial imports. Though Northcote and other prominent Tories feared that food tariffs would be electorally disastrous for their party.
 
The Commonwealth Party manifesto defended the record of the government. It promised not to introduce tariffs on agriculture or industrial imports. Among the laws pledged in the manifesto were the following: two weeks annual holiday with pay for all workers; the bringing of the railways into 'common ownership'; funeral grants to pay for a basic funeral; local authorities would be empowered to establish municipal pawnshops; Home Rule for Ireland. As regards Home Rule, the manifesto stated that a Commonwealth government would enter into negotiations with the other political parties with the aim of ending the veto of the House of Lords on this issue.
 
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The Commonwealth Party slogan for the general election was 'For the Many, Not the Few'. It was the idea of William Morris and was on all the party's campaigning literature and election addresses, and displayed on banners at their election meetings.

The Conservative Party was split three ways on the issue of tariffs. 351 Conservative candidates supported the party's policy of tariffs on industrial imports, but no tariffs on food imports; 229 candidates were in favour of the full Fair Trade policy of tariffs on agricultural and industrial imports. Only 67 Tory candidates were free traders.

All the party headquarters had copies of A Compendium of Results of the General Election of 1874 in Great Britain and Ireland, compiled by Arthur Waldegrave. This gave numerical and percentage votes for all the candidates in all the constituencies in the October 1874 general election, and for subsquent by-elections.
 
Local constituency parties and party agents also had copies of the Compendium of Results for the 1874 general election. This book enabled the political parties to concentrate their resources on marginal seats. The most marginal constituency was Kingston-upon-Hull North where the Conservatives were defending a majority of three over Commonwealth. Among other very marginal seats with majorities of under one hundred were Norfolk East [Conservative majority of 28 over Liberal]; Nottingham South [Commonwealth majority of 41 over Conservative];
Hackney North [Conservative majority of 61 over Liberal[; Ribble Valley [Commonwealth majority of 95 over Liberal].

The Liberal had received a number of donations amounting to several hundreds of thousands of pounds. This enabled them to contest more seats than in 1874.
 
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