Wales History Timeline

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1804-1831 AD

1804: MARTIN'S IRON-MAKING PROCESS PATENTED
In July, 1804, Mr. Edward Martin of Morriston, near Swansea, obtained a patent for making pig and cast iron with raw stone coal (anthracite). "The Cambrian" reported the success of Martin's invention and stated that there would be great benefits to South Wales, "to bring into use great quantities of stone coal, at present of comparatively little value." The report was premature, for it was not until 1837 when David Thomas used the hot blast to smelt iron ore with anthracite that the Swansea Valley began to utilize its industrial potential (the greatest benefits accrued, not to Wales, but to Pennsylvania, with its huge anthracite coal fields).



1804: EDWARD WILLIAMS (IOLO MORGANNWG) HONORED
A notice in "The Cambrian" on November 9, 1804 stated the following: "We hear that the exalted title of Bard was unanimously bestowed on Iolo Morgannwg (Mr. Edward Williams, of Flemington, Glamorganshire), by a Congress of Cambrian Minstrels lately assembled in North Wales, an honour, rarely, if ever bestowed by them on a native of one of the Southern counties." Williams had helped found the Gwyneddigion in London in 1770 and had been active in both promoting ancient Welsh traditions and inventing new ones.



1804: WELSH DICTIONARIES PUBLISHED
This year saw the publication of an English-Welsh Dictionary by W. Richards and a Welsh-English Dictionary and Grammar Book published by William Owen.



1806: HYMNS OF ANN GRIFFITHS PUBLISHED
Only one Welsh hymn writer was able to match the intensity and power of William Williams, and this was Ann Griffiths, who recited her compositions to her maid Ruth Evans on their long walks from Dolwar Fach to Bala to attend religious services. Ann died in 1805, and a year later her hymns (from Ruth's memory) were published as "Casgliad o Hymnau" (Collection of Hymns). Ann Griffiths is regarded as the most important female figure in the history of Welsh literature before the 20th century.



1811: CALVINISTIC METHODIST DENOMINATION ESTABLISHED
From this time on, the majority of Welsh congregations worshipped outside the Established Church. Wales thus became a nonconformist nation. The Methodists used the Welsh language to convert and to continue preaching their faith.



1814: "SEREN Y GOMER" FOUNDED
"Seren y Gomer" (Star of Gomer) was named after its founder, Joseph Harris (Gomer). Published at Swansea, it was the first Welsh-language weekly. Unfortunately it lasted for only one year though it was revived as a biweekly in 1818 and a monthly in 1820.



1815: THE FIRST OF TELFORD'S BRIDGES BUILT IN WALES
Thomas Telford, the great English engineer, built his first bridge in Wales over the River Conwy at Betws-y-Coed. This is the single-arch Iron Bridge known as the Waterloo Bridge constructed in the same year as the battle. The bridge was part of Telford's scheme to link Shrewsbury to Holyhead by a road now known as the A5.



1815: PEACE IN EUROPE, DEPRESSION IN WALES
The advent of peace was a calamity for the Welsh iron industry which had been heavily dependent upon supplying munitions for the long wars against Napoleon. The Tory Government suppressed all dissent, but all the ingredients for mass rebellion were being put into place. In agriculture, conditions were no better, with falling prices and high rents causing many to leave the land without any promise of employment in the coal fields and iron works. The slate industry, however, prospered with the coming of peace. Welsh slate was in great demand to roof many of England and Europe's finest buildings.



1817: RIOTING AT AMLWCH
In Anglesey, the richest seams of the Mynydd Parys mines were already exhausted by 1802. The resulting scarcity of copper ore led to a severe decline in the industrial areas of North Wales, not only at Amlwch itself where the population fell rapidly, but also at towns such as Holywell that depended on Anglesey ores. Depression also hit the lead and iron industry, with the famous Bersham works of John Wilkinson closing in 1826.



1819: THE GORSEDD FIRST APPEARS IN WALES
At an eisteddfod in Carmarthen in 1819 the Gorsedd was first introduced. This assembly of Welsh literary figures, dreamed up in London in 1792 by the indefatigable Iolo Morgannwg, created a way to bring the ancient eisteddfod to the more populated areas of the South (away from its traditional meeting in Clwyd). It has played an important role in Welsh cultural affairs ever since. It was Iolo who came up with the stirring and emotional three-time cry of the archdruid: A Oes Heddwch? (Is there peace?).



1826: TWO MORE TELFORD BRIDGES CONSTRUCTED
Telford continued his success at building an iron bridge across the Conwy by building another one (a picturesque suspension bridge now closed to vehicular traffic) over the same river at Conwy Castle, and a much larger bridge over the Menai Straits the same year. The Menai Suspension Bridge, near Bangor, is a magnificent achievement rising 100 feet above the high water mark of the straits below, and distancing 579 feet between piers. It replaced the dangerous, expensive and highly unreliable ferry from the mainland to the island of Anglesey and the road to Holyhead (and thus the route to Ireland).



1831: THE MERTHYR RISING
As early as 1801 three Merthyr men had been sentenced to death for rioting. At Neath in the 1820's attempts to form a union had been harshly suppressed. A leader of the so-called Scotch Cattle was hanged by the authorities. Then came the armed insurrection known as the Merthyr Rising in which the red flag of rebellion was raised for the first time in Britain. Incensed by the lowering of wages by William Crawshay, and by the Debtor's Court's confiscation of property, a large crowd was faced with a troop of Highlanders outside the Castle Inn at Merthyr.

In the mass confusion, large numbers of workers lost their lives as well as a number of soldiers. For his part in the rebellion, Richard Lewis (Dic Penderyn) was hanged on 31 July, 1831. Forty years later, Ieuan Parker of Cwmafan, a Welshman living in the United States, confessed to the charges that had condemned Lewis. The Welsh riot was hardly mentioned in English newspapers, yet the so-called Peterloo Massacre, at Manchester in 1819, in which considerably fewer people lost their lives, had been reported as "the most outrageous and wicked proceeding ever heard of."

  

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