history

John Thomas: lluniau confensiynol, lluniau hynod

July 24, 2021 0 Comments
John Thomas: lluniau confensiynol, lluniau hynod

Mae’n anodd astudio bywyd cymdeithasol yng Nghymru yn ystod ail hanner y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg heb droi at y drysorfa fawr o luniau, dros 3,000 ohonynt, a dynnwyd gan John Thomas, Lerpwl rhwng y 1860au a’i farwolaeth yn 1905.  Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru yw eu cartref bellach, a gallwch chi weld y mwyafrif ar wefan […]

Continue Reading »

‘A Gentleman had just arrived, with – a black servant!’

July 16, 2021 0 Comments
‘A Gentleman had just arrived, with – a black servant!’

The gentry of eighteenth-century Wales, like most rich people in any country at any time, longed to be fashionable.  One of the rarer badges of fashion for them was to be seen as enjoying the services of a black servant.  As Chris Evans, the historian of Wales and slavery, puts it, ‘their presence spoke of […]

Continue Reading »

The soul of a blackbird

July 9, 2021 0 Comments
The soul of a blackbird

The other day, as I was coming home from an evening walk, a strange thing happened.  I was nearing a place where the road narrows and the pavement gives out and you need to take care before crossing to the safer side.  On a small patch of grass, outside the gate of the house called […]

Continue Reading »

Four quarters

June 18, 2021 0 Comments
Four quarters

If you move to live on the coast it doesn’t take long to discover that your world, enriched as it might be by the presence of the sea, has been reduced.  You can no longer travel in all directions, but only, at most, in three.  I learned this lesson late.  I was brought up in […]

Continue Reading »

Erasmus Lewis: spad, spy, friend of Gulliver

June 11, 2021 0 Comments
Erasmus Lewis: spad, spy, friend of Gulliver

This small corner of Carmarthenshire is new to me – the point where the Cothi flows into the Tywi, just west of Llanegwad.  A track leaves the village, passes a cottage, Penygoilan, and a farm, Llwchgwyn, and then turns into a narrow lane that leads down to the banks of the Tywi and a large […]

Continue Reading »

Walters: gwallter’s top 10

May 14, 2021 3 Comments
Walters: gwallter’s top 10

Walter was already an old-fashioned forename in 1952, when my parents donated it to me.  To be fair, they were anxious about the commonness of my surname, and eager to load me with as many other names as they could, to avoid misidentification (later, my brother suffered the same fate).  By the time they reached […]

Continue Reading »

Sir Humphrey Mackworth, ‘a genius richer than thy mines below’

March 20, 2021 0 Comments
Sir Humphrey Mackworth, ‘a genius richer than thy mines below’

The earth, thy great exchequer, ready lies is the title of a superb new collection of stories by the Welsh writer Jo Lloyd, who won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2019.  The nine pieces are very different one from another, in subject, setting and register.  But they all share at least two things. […]

Continue Reading »

Anna Maria van Schurman

February 19, 2021 2 Comments
Anna Maria van Schurman

One of the most useful things an historian can do is to restore to us people from the past who have unjustly slipped from our collective memory.  Until recently an outstanding figure of early European science had vanished from sight almost completely, except in his home country.  In his lifetime, the second half of the […]

Continue Reading »

The Cyfarthfa Philosophical Society

January 9, 2021 0 Comments
The Cyfarthfa Philosophical Society

The end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century saw the rise of local ‘literary and philosophical institutions’ throughout the British Isles.  They aimed to bring together like-minded people to discuss issues of the day.  The label ‘philosophy’ usually meant not logic or metaphysics, but an interest in the latest developments in […]

Continue Reading »

Henry de la Beche defends slavery

December 4, 2020 5 Comments
Henry de la Beche defends slavery

If you were a financial beneficiary of a Caribbean sugar plantation dependent on slave labour, how would you react to the movement to abolish slavery?  Fight the movement aggressively in order to defend your interests?  Keep your head down and wait to collect your government compensation?  Admit the rightness of the movement’s cause, and ‘disinvest’?  […]

Continue Reading »