Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Little Local Colour

What a pleasure, after the minus 20C temperatures of December, to find the hedgerows and fields of Radnorshire festooned once again with colour. Yes, the Assembly Election approaches and our Liberal and Tory supporters have been out in the sunshine planting their bright Kirsty and Chris placards.

How different things are today, with both parties in happy union at Westminster, compared to the bitter rivalries of the 1890s. Then the Welsh Land Commission was set up by Gladstone to conduct "a thorough, searching, impartial and dispassionate inquiry" into Welsh agriculture and its problems. For the Tories this meant extolling the virtues of landlordism, while the Liberals were able to once again relate the iniquities of tenants being evicted for voting Liberal or for attending the wrong church.

Whereas in much of Wales this all harked back to the last non-secret vote of 1868, in Radnorshire the accusations were of a more recent nature. Evan Bufton, a Llandrindod auctioneer who had recently lost his Liberal seat on Radnorshire County Council to a Tory, accused J P Severn of Penybont Hall and his elderly sister of evicting tenants for refusing to say which way they would vote.

The tenants were unwilling to testify in person but Jeffrey Jones, a thirty something Llandovery born haulier and prominent Llandrindod Liberal - he was later proprietor of the Brynawel (now the Glen Usk) Hotel - was willing to stand up and be counted. Interestingly Thomas Owen, the 78 year old Abbeycwmhir born gardener Miss Severn was accused of dismissing from her employ, was recorded in the 1891 Census as being a Welsh speaker.

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