Huw Llywelyn Rees


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23rd December

By Huw Llywelyn Rees, 2013-12-23


Hywel Dda (c.880 – 950) created the kingdom of Deheubarth and eventually came to rule most of Wales.  His name is particularly linked with the codification of Welsh law, which was thenceforth known as the Laws of Hywel Dda.

A timeline of the life of Hywel Dda; 

880  Hywel was born, the son of King Cadell of Seisyllwg.  

904  Hywel gained control of Dyfed, through his marriage to Elen, the kingdoms only surviving heir.

911  Cadell died and Seisyllwg was divided between Hywel and his elder brother, Clydog.

918  As rulers of Seisyllwg, Hywel and Clydog, submitted to Edward the Elder of England

920  Clydog died, leaving the whole realm to Hywel, who joined Seisyllwg and Dyfed into a single realm known as Deheubarth.

928  Hywel was a well-educated man, having a good knowledge of Welsh, Latin, and English and made a pilgrimage to Rome, becoming the first Welsh prince to undertake such a trip. Upon his return, he forged very close relations with King Athelstan of England, who allowed Hywel  to use the mint at Chester to produce his own coinage, the first Welsh ruler to do so for at least a thousand years. 

942  Hywel claimed himself as ruler of Gwynedd and Powys, when Idwal Foel, King of Gwynedd and his brother Elisedd were killed in battle with the English King Edmund. 

c. 940 – 945   As ruler of most of Wales, Hywel was able to pursue the accomplishment for which he is best known: the codification of Welsh law.  At a conference held at Ty Gwyn ar Daf, an occasional residence of Hywel's near Whitland, Carmarthenshire, Welsh law was set down in writing.  According to tradition, much of the work was done by the celebrated clerk, Blegywryd and deposited at Dinefwr Castle. 

950 Following Hywel's death, his kingdom was soon split, with Gwynedd  being reclaimed by Idwal Foel's sons while Deheubarth was divided between Hywel's sons.  However, his legacy survived in his laws, which were still in use until the implementation of Henry VIII's  Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542.


The Frongoch internment camp in Merionethshire,which held 1,863 Irish prisoners following the Irish Republican Easter Rising, was shut down on 23rd December 1916. 

Until 1916, the abandoned distillery had housed German prisoners of war, but they were moved to accommodate the junior officers and rank-and-file members of the Irish Republican movement, which included such notables as Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith.  British authorities had previously executed 15 of the leaders of the rising, including  Patrick Pearse and James Connolly and the surviving leaders were sent to high-security prisons. 

The camp however became a breeding ground for the revolution, with Collins, for example, giving impromptu lessons in guerilla tactics.  Indeed, Fron-goch transformed the rebel army into the driving force behind the subsequent Irish War of Independence. 

Prisoners were permitted to  exercise with route marches across the Welsh countryside, organise fancy dress competitions, seasonal games at Halloween and sporting challenge matches. A typical example was the athletics day, in which Collins won the 100 yard race in 10.8 seconds.,

The region of Wales in which the Irish prisoners found themselves ironically bore many similarities to Ireland.  The local population had also suffered from evictions and enforced emigration and soon after established a Land Commission modelled on the Land League instigated by Michael Davitt in Ireland, even inviting Davitt to address a meeting at Blanau Ffestiniog.  


The Welsh in Liverpool 

John Edward Jones (Ioan Maesgrug) was born in Liverpool to Welsh parents on 23rd December 1914.  He was educated in Liverpool before training as a barrister and becoming a  circuit judge in 1969 

He was active in many Welsh circles in Liverpool, serving as president of the Liverpool Choral Society, president of the Merseyside Branch of the Red Cross, a Fellow of the Merseyside Eisteddfod and a Moderator of the Liverpool presbyterian church.  He was a member of the Gorsedd of Bards taking the name ‘Ioan Maesgrug’ and had a particular interest in the history of the Welsh in Liverpool and published many books on the subject. 

There a strong links between Liverpool and North Wales,  indeed its very name is thought to have come from 'Lle'r pwll' - that is 'the place of the pool'.  The Welsh travel for work, shopping, cultural events and nights out, while many Liverpudlians holiday in north Wales resorts.  This is illustrated by the large number of Welsh surnames still evident in the city, such as Hughes, Williams and Owens.  The city centre's Pall Mall was known as 'Little Wales' and a chapel built in Toxteth was for a long time the largest Welsh Chapel in the world.  However, not everyone not everyone has fond feelings about the links, as illustrated by the infamous attack on the Welsh by Anne Robinson, who is from Liverpool.

There was a huge growth in rural to urban migration across the whole of the UK during the 19th century and  Liverpool experienced dynamic industrialization and rapid urban development.  The port became one of the world‟s largest and most important seaports, known as “Europe‟s gateway to the Atlantic” with a financial and commercial centre that was second only to London.  Welsh Slate had been traditionally shipped from Liverpool and as the port grew it attracted many people from the North Wales in search of work.  So much so that by 1813, around 10% of Liverpool's residents were Welsh and it became known as  the unofficial 'Capital of North Wales'.  A combination of factors including the proximity, the language, the chapel infrastructure and business success interacted to create a culturally rich and politically active Welsh community in the city, so much so that The National Eisteddfod was been held in Liverpool - 1840 - 1854 - 1884 - 1900 and 1929.   

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A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, published in 1955, is a story in which Thomas recreates the nostalgic magic of a childhood Christmas as though it were a fairy tale and how modern Christmases are not as good as the ones of his youth when for example, It was always snowing.   


Anselm Marshal (died 23 December 1245 at Chepstow Castle and was buried in Tintern Abbey). He was the sixth Earl of Pembroke (of the second creation), the youngest and last of the five sons of William Marshal 1st Earl of Pembroke, to hold that title.

His death is notable in the fact that it marked the extinction of the male line of the Marshall family and was credited to a curse the Bishop of Ferns, Ailbe Ua Maíl Mhuaidh put on the family in 1218, over a dispute about two manors belonging to him in Ireland that William Marshal, had seized.

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22nd December

By Huw Llywelyn Rees, 2013-12-22


Born on this day 1988 in Gorseinon

Leigh Halfpenny - Wales and Lions rugby international.

Halfpenny made his debut for Wales aged 19 and has since become a regular member of the side, as well as first choice goal kicker.  He was awarded Player of the Tournament in the 2013 Six Nations Championship.

He had to withdraw from the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa due to injury, but on the 2013 tour to Australia, he was player of the series, playing in all three tests and breaking the points scoring record for the Lions. 


Born on this day 1822 at Tanrhiwfelen, a house just outside Aberystwyth. 

Ieuan Gwyllt,  the bardic name of musician and minister John Roberts, who is perhaps best remembered for his Welsh translation of the hymn "Gwahoddiad" 

His bardic name is derived from the nomme de plume he used whilst writing poetry as a boy, 'Ieuan Gwyllt Gelltydd Melindwr' (John of the Wild Woods near the Mill Tower).

Roberts's "Llyfr Tonau Cynulleidfaol" was the first book of Welsh Hymn tunes.  He also founded in 1859 the Welsh hymn-singing festivals and as such was much in demand as a conductor and as an adjudicator in eisteddfodau.  In 1861, he was ordained a Calvinistic Methodist minister and was a gifted preacher.


Born on this day 1967 in Blackwood. 

Richey Edwards -  lyricist and rhythm guitarist of the Manic Street Preachers, best known for his politicized songwriting and mysterious disappearance, which have gained him cult status.

Edwards disappeared on 1st February 1995 and was officially presumed dead on 23rd November 2008 and it is widely believed that he committed suicide, by jumping off the Severn Bridge.

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On 22nd December 1844  John Jones (Shoni Sguborfawr) and David Davies (Dai'r Cantwr) were convicted for their part in the Rebecca Riots, both men were sentenced to be transported to Van Diemen's Land (modern-day Tasmania).

The Rebecca Riots were a series of protests that  took place between 1839 and 1843 in South and Mid Wales, undertaken by local farmers and agricultural workers, who took direct action against toll gates in response to perceived unfair taxes and tolls.   The general public supported the riots and very few rioters were arrested and convicted.  However, some of those taking part used the guise of 'Rebecca'  for their own gain, to exact revenge and extort money.  Two such men were Shoni Sguborfawr (Johnny Big Barn) and Dai'r Cantwr ( David the singer)  

Shoni (John Jones) was described as "a half-witted and inebriate ruffian" from Penderyn, near Merthyr had made a name for himself as a hard man in the toughest area of Merthyr.  He had shot a man in Pontyberem and had a police record for being drunk and disorderly and brawling in the streets.  

Dai'r Cantwr (David Davies) was a farm labourer from Llancarfan, near Cowbridge who was also well known to the police.,

During the riots, both men were paid to take a prominent role in attacking the toll-gates, but after the riots ended they began using extortion to gain money from several farmers, threatening to reveal them as Rebecca Rioters.  Eventually, people turned against them and they were reported to the police, warrants were issued for their arrest and they were placed in custody in Carmarthen Goal.  

On 22 December 1843, they were sentenced to transportation to Van Dieman's Land.  Dai Cantwr was sentenced to 20 years and 'Shoni' for life.  In Van Dieman's Land, they were unable to stay out of trouble and continued to be anti-social and aggressive, both men being convicted for stealing and being drunk and disorderly.  However, both men were eventually awarded tickets of leave and returned to Wales.

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21st December

By Huw Llywelyn Rees, 2013-12-21

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  Jasper Tudor (1431 – 21/26 December 1495) was the uncle and guardian of King Henry VII of England. He was also the architect of Henry's successful conquest of England and Wales in 1485.

A timeline of the life of Jasper Tudor;

1431 - Jasper was born at the Bishop of Ely's manor at Hatfield in Hertfordshire in 1431, the second son of Owen Tudor and the former Queen Catherine of Valois, the widow of Henry V of England. He was therefore, the half-brother to Henry VI. Through his father, Jasper was a descendent of Llywelyn the Great's Chancellor, Ednyfed Fychan.,

1437 - On Catherine's death, Owen Tudor was arrested and sent to Newgate prison. Jasper and his brother Edmund were put into the care of Katherine de la Pole, a nun at Barking Abbey, in Essex.

1442 - Jasper and Edmund's half-brother, King henry VI, began to take an interest in their upbringing and they were brought to live at court. Henry arranged for the best priest to educate them intellectually and morally.

1452 - Jasper was was created the Earl of Pembroke and Edmund the Earl of Richmond. In turn, they gave Henry unwavering loyalty and fought and promoted his and his Lancastrian family’s interests.

1456 - On the death of Edmund, Jasper took over the responsibility of maintaining the Lancastrian ties within Wales.

1461 -  After the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire, in which the Lancastrian forces, led by Owen Tudor, were defeated.  Jasper was forced to flee in disguise to Pembroke, eventually escaping to France via Scotland.  However the four-year-old Henry Tudor was left behind at Pembroke Castle, under the custody of Edward IV's supporter, William Herbert, who was never cruel to the boy, in fact, he and his wife, Anne Devereux, raised him as their own. 

1468 - Jasper returned to Wales, with the support of Louis XI of France and gathered 2000 men, but was eventually routed at Harlech Castle and forced to return to France

1469 - Jasper's invasion, did, however, create a breach in the Yorkist party, as the Earl of Warwick became dissatisfied with the king and switched sides to support Henry VI. Warwick later defeated and killed Herbert ( Henry's guardian) at the Battle of Edgecote, leaving Henry Tudor under the protection of Anne Devereux, in Herefordshire.

1470 - Jasper launched another invasion, this time with the support of Warwick and when they arrived in Hereford, he was reunited with Henry Tudor. Meanwhile, Warwick marched on London and freed HenryVI from the Tower, restoring him as king. Edward IV was forced to flee to Holland. It was also a reunion for Henry and his mother, who spent about six weeks together in London. Jasper briefly regained the earldom of Pembroke.

1471 - Edward IV returned from Europe, killed Warwick at the Battle of Barnet and was reinstated himself on the throne. Henry VI was killed, prompting Jasper to raise an army to fight Edward which was to be reinforced by Henry VI's widow, Margaret of Anjou and their son Prince Edward.  She gathered an army in the West Country and marched north toward Wales to join forces with Jasper, but Edward IV confronted them at Tewkesbury on 4 May and soundly defeated them killing Prince Edward.  Henry Tudor was now one of the few surviving male heirs of the Lancastrian line.  Jasper, realising Henry's vulnerability, decided to take him to safety in France, however, storms in the English Channel forced them to land at Le Conquet in Brittany, where they were given refuge by Duke Francis II. Even though Edward IV placed diplomatic pressure on Duke Francis, the uncle and nephew remained safe from the clutches of the English king for the next 12 years

1483, Edward IV died unexpectedly and support grew for Henry Tudor, now the leading Lancastrian claimant to the crown. This encouraged his mother, Margaret Beaufort and Edward IV's widow, Elizabeth Woodville (the dowager Queen) to plan, Henry's return to Britain and wed Elizabeth's daughter, also Elizabeth (Elizabeth of York) to Henry Tudor, thereby uniting the Houses of Lancaster and York.

1485 - Henry landed near Milford Haven and marched through Wales, where he received substantial support. On 22nd August, Henry defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, to become King Henry VII.

1485 - Jasper subsequently had all previous attainders annulled, he was restored to all his former titles and was made a Knight of the Garter. On 7th November, he married Catherine Woodville, a sister to Edward IV's queen Elizabeth Woodville.

1488 - Jasper took possession of Cardiff Castle.  

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Celtic Festivals.

Yule - Winter Solstice.

The Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere occurs on either December the 21st or 22nd. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year when the sun's daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest.

The midwinter festival of Yule appears first in the 4th century Gothic language of the Germanic peoples and was later absorbed into the Christian festival of Christmas. The term "Yule log" is one of a number of terms used to refer to the custom and in Welsh it is called a boncyff Nadolig.

It is speculated that the Celtic Druids observed the winter solstice, as it marks the shortest day and the rebirth of the Sun, when the hours of daylight increase, until the Summer Solstice. It is thought that the Druids would gather by the oldest mistletoe-clad oak, from which, the Chief Druid would remove the mistletoe with his golden sickle, to be caught by the other Druids standing below with an open sheet, making sure none of it touched the ground. The early Christian church, in fact, banned the use of mistletoe because of its association with Druids.

In the recent Welsh Druidic tradition, the Winter solstice festival is known as Alban Arthan. The name deriving from the writings of Iolo Morganwg, the 19th-century radical poet and is observed in a manner that commemorates the death of the Holly King identified with the wren bird (symbolizing the old year and the shortened sun) at the hands of his son and successor, the Oak King (the new year and the new sun that begins to grow). 


Wales beat the New Zealand All Blacks 13 -12 on 21st December 1935. 

Wales, captained by Claude Davey and inspired by Wilf Wooler and Cliff Jones secured victory with only 10 minutes remaining in the match even though they were reduced to 14 men following a neck injury to hooker Don Tarr.  Wooller broke the All Blacks defence then chipped ahead, but the bounce of the ball prevented him from gathering to score.  However, Geoffrey Jones was in support and managed to go over for his second try of the match, which prooved to be the match winner.  

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21st December 1990 saw the final closure of the last pit in the Rhondda when the miners of Maerdy colliery made an emotional and dignified march from the pit for the very last time.

It marked the end of an era when the Rhondda became the most intensely mined area in Britain, starting with the discovery of coal at the Dinas Mine in 1809 to at its peak, when the valleys had 66 mines in production with a yearly output of nine-and-half million tonnes, to the demise of the industry following the First World and the emergence of oil as a competitor in the 1960s and 1970s.


Editorial cartoonist and visual commentator, Joseph Morewood Staniforth (better known as J.M. Staniforth) died on 21 December 1921. 

Born in Gloucester in 1863, Staniforth began working for the Western Mail at 15 and the paper started publishing his cartoons in 1889.  His drawings and cartoons covered the changing political scene and social unrest in Wales of the period.  One of his most famous creations was 'Dame Wales'  a woman dressed in the national costume, who spoke words of reason and symbolised Wales in a similar manner to the way that other cartoonists would use Britannia to symbolise Britain.   

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21st December 1890 saw the onset of a snowfall in Wales during a winter which saw temperatures fall to the lowest ever recorded, with the River Severn being frozen over enough to allow traffic to travel over it and sheep & pigs to be roasted on top of it.    

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Born to Welsh parents on this day 1799 in Worcester.

John "Jacky" Vaughan.

At an early age, Vaughan followed his father in working at Dowlais Ironworks. Over the years, he worked his way up through the industry to become an ironmaster and in 1840, went into partnership with the industrialist Henry Bolckow, from which the ironmaking and mining company, Bolckow, Vaughan & Co.Ltd was founded in 1864.  It was this company that is credited with transforming the small rural town of Middlesbrough into the centre of ironmaking in Britain.


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20th December

By Huw Llywelyn Rees, 2013-12-20


Born on this day 1843 in Brecon.

Frances Elizabeth Hoggan (née Morgan) - the first British woman to receive a doctorate in medicine from a European university and the first female doctor to be registered in Wales.

Frances Hoggan's  father was a curate and she was raised and educated in Cowbridge and Windsor.  She obtained her doctorate from  Zurich University in 1870, after which, she married Dr George Hoggan and the couple then operated the first husband-and-wife medical practice in the UK.  Francis was also an active campaigner for social reform, particularly involved in racial issues.

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On 20th December 1955, Cardiff was proclaimed the capital of Wales. 

* The Romans settled in Cardiff in 55 AD and built a military fort on the site of Cardiff Castle.

* Llandaff Cathedral stands on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain and dates back to 1107.

* Cardiff is home to the world’s oldest record store – Spillers, which opened in 1894.

* The world’s first £1 million cheque was signed in Cardiff’s coal exchange in 1904.

* In 1910, Captain Scott left from Cardiff for his ill-fated journey to the South Pole.

* Cardiff was designated as the world's first Fair Trade Capital City.

* Cardiff has a population of 346,000 and attracts more than 18 million visitors a year. 

* Four of Cardiff’s  buildings have won prestigious RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) awards – Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff Met University’s School of Management, Chapter Arts Centre & Cardiff Central Library.

* Cardiff was the European Capital of Sport for 2014.

* The National Museum in Cardiff is home to one of the best Impressionist art collections outside Paris, boasting works by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Cézanne.  

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Born on this day 1912 in Bridgend. 

Sir Morien Bedford Morgan -  "The Father Of Concorde"

Morgan became interested in aircraft, whilst studying at Cambridge University, after which he secured employment with the Royal Aircraft Establishment, before becoming the Controller of Aircraft within the Ministry of Aviation.

In 1948, he began researching the possibility of a supersonic passenger airliner and in 1956 when Chairman of the Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee, selected the Bristol 223 as the basis for the design of what would ultimately become Concorde.  

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 Born on this day 1976 in Newport. 

Adam James Powell - game designer and businessman, who with his wife Donna founded Neopets and Meteor Games. 

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Born on this day 1792, near Llangadog, Carmarthenshire.

David Griffiths, who was a missionary in Madagascar, who together with fellow Welsh missionary David Jones, from Cardiganshire, translated the first Bible to be printed in an African language.

Griffiths and his wife, Mary, were sent to Madagascar in 1821, by the London Missionary Society, where along with David Jones, founded the first Protestant mission in Madagascar, under the patronage of King Radama I.

They also translated the Bible, which was published in 1835.  However, following the king’s death, the new monarch, Queen Ranavalona I banned Christianity in 1835.  This led Griffiths to disguise himself as a trader, in order to help the persecuted Christians.

He returned to Wales in 1840 to become a pastor and published a history of Madagascar in Welsh,  as well as a Malagasy grammar in English.   


 Born on this day 1926 in Port Talbot

Geoffrey Howe, Baron Howe of Aberavon former  Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons and Deputy Prime Minister, whose resignation speech in 1990 is widely considered to have precipitated Margaret Thatcher's downfall as Prime Minister three weeks later. 

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19th December

By Huw Llywelyn Rees, 2013-12-19


The Penmachno Document was created on 19th December 1294 at Penmachno in Gwynedd by Madog ap Llywelyn during his revolt against the unfair rule of the English.

Although the document only consists of the grant of two parcels of land, it is significant in the fact that it is the only surviving document issued by Madog in which he styles himself prince of Wales.  

Madog was the son of Llywelyn ap Maredudd, who supported the attempt to overthrow Llywelyn ap Gruffudd the Prince of Wales at the Battle of Bryn Derwin in 1255 and was subsequently exiled to England, where Madog was probably born.

Madog is known to have received a substantial amount of money from King Edward I of England in 1277, which in 1278, he used to sue Llywelyn ap Gruffudd attempting to regain his father's cantref of Meirionydd.  After the death of Llywelyn in 1282, it would appear that Madog returned to Gwynedd and received lands in Anglesey from the King. 

In the autumn of 1294, Madog put himself at the head of a national revolt in response to the imposition of unfair taxes by the royal administrators.  However, a final battle between Madog's men and those of the English crown occurred at the battle of Maes Moydog in Powys in 1295, in which the Welsh army were defeated and Madog barely escaped with his life.  He was later captured and taken to London, however he escaped execution, as he is recorded as still being alive in 1312.   

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Wales beat the New Zealand All Blacks 13 -8, on 19th December 1953. 

Flanker, Sid Judd and wing, Ken Jones scored tries for Wales in what still remains the last time Wales defeated New Zealand.  

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 A special hour-length final episode of the popular television documentary Coal House was shown on 19th December 2009 

The two-part series followed the lives of modern day families replicating the lifestyle of people in the Welsh coal mining town of Blaenavon in two earlier periods of the 20th century.

The first series is set in the economically depressed time of 1927 and shows how the men and boys over 14 were required to walk over the mountains to work in the local coal mine, while the women had to run a home without electricity and running water. 

The second series is set at the end of World War II, in 1944 and shows how the men and boys over 14 were expected to do Home Guard duties, after a long day's work at the coal mine.  The women are expected to run the home with limited rations, whilst also looking after war evacuees and Bevin Boys, who were conscripted to work in the mines. 


Released on 19th December 2008, Frost/Nixon, starring Welsh actor Michael Sheen as David Frost in a film dramatisation of the Nixon interviews of 1977. 


Owen Gruffydd (1643 - December 1730) was a poet who wrote about his sadness of the decline of the Welsh language.

Owen Gruffydd was born in the parish of Llanystumdwy, Caernarfonshire, where he was a weaver by profession and gained high repute as a poet.  He gradually lost his sight with old age, after which he dictated his verse to friends. 

Most of Gruffydd's poems were written in honor of the local aristocracy , but he also wrote popular verse, such as carols for Christmastide.  A large collection of Gruffydd's works is archived in the British Museum and the National Library of Wales.

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18th December

By Huw Llywelyn Rees, 2013-12-18

Born on this day 1818 in Llandinam, Montgomeryshire.

David Davies - the much respected coal baron and industrialist. 

Davies left school at 11, to work with his father at a sawmill.  He then began organising labourers for the railway lines that were starting to appear all over Wales, before turning his attention to the rapidly growing coal industry.  He invested all of his money, leasing land in the Rhondda in the hope of striking coal, however, he failed initially to find profitable seams and was facing financial ruin, when his workers showed incredible loyalty and faith in him, by working without wages for one last attempt to find coal.  The breakthrough came at the Cwmparc mine, near Treorchy, from which Davies's fortunes rose.

He established the Ocean Coal Company Ltd and was exporting so much coal through Cardiff docks, that when the docks owner, the  Marquess of Bute , started to raise his charges, Davies was instrumental in the building of the rival docks at Barry.

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On 18th December 1967, Newtown in Powys  was designated as a new town, the second such town in Wales.

The project aimed to reverse rural depopulation by attracting new industries and jobs to the area and involved re-channelling the River Severn to reduce the risk of flooding in the town.  


 Born on this day 1920 in Cilfyydd, near Pontypridd

Merlyn Rees - Labour party Member of Parliament from 1963 until 1992, who held the positions of both Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1974–1976) and Home Secretary (1976–1979). 


Born on this day 1707 in Epworth, Lincolnshire.

Charles Wesley - an early leader of the Methodist movement and prolific composer of hymns, who married Welsh woman Sarah Gwynne from Garth near Builth Wells.

At Oxford university, Charles formed a group dedicated to Bible study and the living of a holy life, in which he was joined by his elder brother John.  In 1738, both brothers experienced a "conversion" after which they felt compelled to spread the word of the Gospel. 

On one of his preaching tours to Wales in 1749, Charles met and married Sarah Gwynne (1726–1822), from Garth, near Builth Wells, who was the daughter of  the magistrate Marmaduke Gwynne,  The couple moved to Bristol and Sarah then accompanied Charles his evangelistic tours.

During his lifetime, Charles Wesley published the words of over six thousand hymns, including; "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" and "Rejoice, the Lord is King"  


Born on this day 1987 in Salford and raised in Llandrindod Wells.

Dan Lydiate - Wales And Lions rugby international.

During his career, Lydiate has shown an impressive commitment to overcome the adversity of serious injury.  At 19 he recovered from a serious career threatening neck injury and at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, he infamously woke every hour to treat an ankle injury.  Lydiate is regarded as one of Wales's best tacklers and was awarded the Player of the Tournament award in the 2012  Six Nations Championship.

Peggy Cummins (born in Prestatyn on 18 December 1925) is a retired Welsh-born Irish actress. Cummins is best known for her performance in Joseph H. Lewis' Gun Crazy (1949), playing a trigger-happy femme fatale who robs banks with her lover (played by John Dall).

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17th December

By Huw Llywelyn Rees, 2013-12-17

Fasting girl

 Sarah Jacobs, the 'Welsh Fasting Girl' died on 17th December 1869. 

Sarah was born in 1857 on a farm near Llanfihangel-ar-Arth in Carmarthenshire.  When she was nine, she became seriously ill and was confined to bed for a considerable period of time.  She passed the time by composing poems and reading the Bible, but then according to her parents, Evan and Hannah, she suddenly began to refuse food.  However, she did not suffer any ill effects and seemed to be thriving.

Word got about and soon, Sarah became famous, with people travelling from all over Wales and England to see her lying in her bed surrounded by flowers and reading the Bible.  They considered themselves to be witnessing a miracle and were encouraged to give gifts and money to Sarah. 

Some people, however, were obviously sceptical and Dr Phillips of Guy's Hospital decided to arrange for six nurses to carry out a 24 hour vigil, in which they would observe, but offer no treatment or help unless Sarah asked for food.  This Sarah did not do and she slowly lapsed into semi-consciousness, before dying on 17th December 1869.   An autopsy later found food in Sarah's stomach and tragically groove marks on her toes, where it was supposed she had been tried to open a stone water bottle in a desperate attempt to get water. 

People were outraged when news of the cruel experiment and Sarah's death became public and her parents were imprisoned for manslaughter, however, none of the doctors or nurses were ever prosecuted.   


The Royal mint at Llantrisant was opened on 17th December 1968 in readiness for the introduction of the decimal coinage.  It now mints all of the UK's coinage, as well as those of many other countries.   

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William Floyd born on Long Island on December 17, 1734, was an American politician from New York, and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. His family from Breconshire had emigrated to America in 1654 and become wealthy through farming.

Floyd's father died when he was in his teens and he was required to take over the family farm. He joined the Suffolk County Militia during the American War of Independence from Britain, attaining the rank of major general and in 1774, was chosen to represent New York in the first Continental Congress.  

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Born on this day 1987 in Crescent, Oklahoma, U.S.

Bradley Edward Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning

Manning is a United States Army soldier who received a 35 year prison sentence in July 2013 for violations of the Espionage Act, after making public, the largest set of classified documents ever leaked.

Bradley's mother, Susan Fox, was from Haverfordwest and met his American serviceman father while he was stationed at the nearby Cawdor Barracks. Bradley returned to Wales with his mother, after his parents were divorced and attended the Tasker Millward secondary school in Haverfordwest.

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16th December

By Huw Llywelyn Rees, 2013-12-16

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In  1800 at the age of 15, Mary Jones (16 December 1784 – 28 December 1864)  from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, walked for 25 miles, barefoot over rugged land and mountains to purchase a Bible in Bala. 

Mary came from a very religious family and from a young age, had been educated in a Circulating School, in which the Bible was used as central part of learning, she was therefore  very keen to obtain her own copy and reportedly saved for nearly six years to have enough money to buy one.

One of the only people in North Wales, who had copies of the bible at that time, was the Calvinistic Methodist  clergyman Thomas Charles from Bala, so Mary set out on the 25 miles walk to get one.  However, on her arrival, she discovered that Charles had sold out of copies he had, but impressed with her determination, he found somewhere for her stay for the two days, before new supplies arrived and then sold her three copies for the price of one.



Wales defeated New Zealand at rugby union for the first time on 16th December 1905. 

The New Zealand team arrived in Cardiff for the last game of their tour of Britain and Ireland, unbeaten to face Wales, who had just won the triple crown.  The only score of a hard, fast and uncompromising match was a try by Welsh winger, Teddy Morgan, however later in the game, Welsh centre Rhys Gabe prevented an almost certain score by New Zealander Bob Deans.   

Interestingly, during the scrums, Wales used four men in the front row, against New Zealand's three, ensuring  that they won the ball at every scrum and the. match is also notable for being the first time a nations national anthem was sung before a sporting event, when the Welsh team responded to the traditional New Zealand Haka, by singing  ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’.   

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  A national anthem was sung for the first time before a sporting fixture on 16th December 1905 when Wales faced New Zealand at Cardiff Arms Park.

After the All Blacks had performed their customary haka, the Welsh team in a pre planned response, started to sing the national anthem.  The home supporters soon joined in, with the result that "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" echoed around the stadium in one of the greatest emotional moments in sport. 


The Imperial Copyright Act of 1911, ratified on 16th December of that year, enabled the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, to acquire free copies of all works published in the United Kingdom.


Born on this day 1960 in Briton Ferry

David Pickering - former Wales rugby union international and captain.  After retiring from playing, Pickering coached Neath, before becoming Wales team manager and Chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union.

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