Friday, December 01, 2023

How are things in Lackawanna

If you delve deep into Welsh family history you'll soon be as familiar with Pennsylvanian counties such as Lackawanna and Luzerne as you are with places nearer home.  We tend to underestimate the Welsh contribution to North America, look at this interesting youtube of ethnic background in the US for example.  Even as late as 1931 the Welsh element made the top 17 and even that was a big decline from the proportion in earlier years.

Two things to remember, the US immigration and census authorities were the first governmental bodies in the modern world to recognise the Welsh as a separate nationality - this at a time when the for Wales see England attitude ruled the roost.   Secondly the great majority of Welsh migrants in the Victorian period were Welsh speakers.  Anyway take a look:


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

These Times We're Living In

I discovered Kate Wolf during lockdown, enjoying the sunshine and wondering at the stupidity of it all.  I do believe that some are chosen, Kate obviously.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Armageddon and Idpol

I don't know if the West ever thought they could beat Russia in Ukraine, perhaps they did but clearly that's not the case now.  Today the aim seems to be to kill as many Russians, and Ukrainians, as possible.  Hang on, they want to kill Ukrainians?  Well clearly if you think the Russians are going to win and that Ukraine will be absorbed into the Federation, then the more damage you can inflict both economically and demographically to the future Greater Russia the better.

As a last throw of the dice the extreme warmongers want any nuclear incident at the Energodar reactor to be treated as an Article 5 attack on Europe, necessitating direct Nato involvement in the war.  Clearly this is an invitation to the Kiev regime to carry out such an attack knowing that the mainstream media will rush to blame Moscow.  Today's announcement of an evacuation of Nikopol is extremely worrying in this regard.

Meanwhile Wales carries on blissfully unaware that there's a good chance that we are living in the last days of humanity.  The actions of the laughable Welsh government make even fervent supporters of devolution regret ever voting for the Assembly.  Steadfastly ignoring the real problems facing Wales the Drakeford clique and their Plaid allies seek to solve non-issues by imposing busy-body controls on an apathetic population.  The controls rather than the solutions being the whole point of the exercise.

Friday, June 16, 2023


Every now and then during the last year I've typed Wcrain into the twitter search to see what my fellow countrymen have to say about the war.

Apart from a Ukrainian lady who is learning the Welsh language - hir oes iddi  - posts from individuals are rare, the majority come from bodies in receipt of public funds,  it's almost as if posting something in support of Nato's war was a condition of receiving government handouts.  The same thing is true, if less markedly so in respect of the climate change agenda and other right-on issues.

A few months ago there was a bit of a stir when the online magazine Spiked published an article criticising the over reliance on public sector employment in Wales and the way in which a new elite was forming, employed by the state, paying lip service to the language, intolerant of criticism, prone to nepotism and group think; oh and divorced from the lives and attitudes of ordinary working class folk.

This developing class certainly fits in well with the pro-war, anti-democratic, pro-globalist forces which are dominating much of the Anglosphere and its European puppets.  The only problem is that these forces are having their bluff called by the multipolar world.  Their days are numbered.

Given how devolution and even the Welsh language have become associated with this class of apparatchiks there is a danger that their inevitable fall will see the baby thrown out with the bathwater.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Red Radnorshire

 I'm sure a lot of Welsh folk have an image of Radnorshire as a rural backwater, anglicised, probably Tory voting, an extension of Herefordshire protruding into their imaginary radical Wales.

Here's some anomalies to ponder:

Nye Bevan, mother Phoebe Protheroe, her family went to the coalfield from Glasbury

George Lansbury, the Labour Party leader, his mother was from Clyro

Arthur Horner, Communist boss of the Miner's Union, mother a Lewis from Gwystre

Clem Edwards, radical lawyer and MP, from Knighton, one of the organisers of the London dockers strike and the famous laundresses demonstration in Hyde Park

Charles Edwards, MP for Bedwellty from 1918 to 1950, a Labour Chief Whip, he was from Llangynllo

That's enough for now, maybe I'll add some more later.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Reflections on wasted opportunities

As someone with an interest in family history and the science of dna, I've taken tests with a couple of companies.  All very interesting, with hundred year old affairs being revealed and a personalisation of history - migration, war, disease and the like as they affected the extended family.

One surprise were the dozens of Mormon third and fourth cousins who popped up in my match list.  These people all traced back to a clan of Flintshire stone masons who were early converts to the church and played an important part in the development of Salt Lake City, from building the Temple to establishing the forerunner of the Tabernacle Choir.  The link was an illegitimate birth in Llanwrthwl, my great great grandmother being born the child of a visiting mason with the necessary surname.

Anyway this handful of Mormon kinsmen have multiplied so that today literally thousands of folk can trace themselves back to these pioneers.

This made me think what a great opportunity the Welsh National movement missed in the 1960s.  Now I'm not suggesting polygamy but what if patriotic couples had decided to marry and have large families back then.  No doubt their lives would have been less bourgeois but how many thousands of extra Welsh speakers would exist today, how much talent would exist, how many businesses?    Wales would surely be different, richer both culturally and economically ...... because people aren't a problem, they are an opportunity.

Instead we followed the Anglo-Saxon model, Plaid Cymru is just New Labour's little helper, the language figures might look reasonable but less Welsh is spoken in everyday life, the rural areas are taken over by outsiders and locals are priced out of the housing market.  Worse still the Sion Whites are disconnected from the ordinary folk, more interested in American virtue signalling than the everyday problems of the gwerin.

So go on your little marches, put a flag in your twitter profile, virtue signal to your heart's content but what are we doing to actually build alternative structures to the dying empire.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Another Old Post


Widows and Spinsters

You don't find much written about the Welsh businesswomen of the Victorian and Edwardian period.  Such females did exist of course, although it helped to be a widow or a spinster or otherwise unencumbered with a spouse.

The Hotel trade in pre-First World War Llandrindod was no small beer, as the buildings of the town, now somewhat decayed, still testify.  And it was a trade which was dominated by the women who owned, or managed, the majority of the most important such businesses in the town.

Look at the 1911 Census and you'll find Miss Duggan and her sister, they were from Hundred House, the owners of Duggan's Temperance Hotel.  Then there was the Llanyre born Miss Sheen, manager of Plas Winton - now the Commodore.  Miss Ace ran the Waverley, Miss Jenkins York House and Miss Smith the Montpelier.  If they weren't spinsters they were widows like Mrs Bentley of the Spring Hotel and Mrs Smith of Ye Wells - currently occupied by Coleg Powys's Llandrindod campus.

The largest hotel in the town, indeed in the whole of Wales, was the Pump House; with its posh clientele and Continental cuisine - one of my aunts married the son of a Swiss chef from there.  It was managed for many years by the Monmouthshire born Miss Duffield, who interestingly enough was elected to the town council in 1900.

 The great rival of the Pump House was the Bridge, which would eventually supplant it as the largest hotel in the country.

Like many of the businesses in the town it was originally built and operated by local Radnorshire families.  For even though Llandrindod has been described as "not a Welsh town, but a town in Wales," most of the entrepreneurial spirit that built the place was Welsh.  In 1897 the five Wilding sisters and their two brothers sold the Bridge Hotel to the redoubtable Mrs Miles (see picture) for a tidy £7850.

Born in Treforest in 1847, Elizabeth Miles (nee Spencer) was the daughter of Pontypridd innkeepers.  Married at 20, she found herself widowed by the age of 24, and with two young sons to boot.  Perhaps because of this setback Elizabeth went on to own or lease some 10 hotels in South Wales, including the Angel in Cardiff.  A Welsh speaker - and so were her two sons - Mrs Miles eventually changed the name of her Llandrindod purchase to the Metropole Hotel.  This was for the rather frugal reason that she had bought a quantity of bankrupt linen and crockery, all  inscribed with the letter M.

So why aren't such women, and others like them elsewhere, better known?   Well, apart from the fact that history has largely been written by men, such successes may not have suited the agendas of those who tend to sell Wales short

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Bill Sikes, Radnorshire's Own

Let's forget for a moment the utter stupity of supplying depleted uranium shells to a bunch of mindless idiots, who will more than likely use them contaminate farmlands described as Europe's breadbasket ...... and travel back to simpler times when I put forward a theory that Dickens' villain Bill Sikes was inspired by a Radnorian:

Bill Sikes the Radnorian

I've blogged about Bill Sheen before, see here.

I believe he was a model for the Dickens character Bill Sikes, although now we learn that the great novelist used the names of everyday folk from his teenage neighbourhood for some of his best-known creations. William Sykes, it seems, was a harmless tallow seller.

While not doubting that Dickens may have found the surname in that way, the character of Sikes is surely based in part on the Radnorian Sheen, once pursued from London to the Severn Arms in Penybont after slicing off the head of his jade Letitia's infant son and being subsequently found not-guilty of the murder on a legal nicety - twice!

Now Bill Sheen was not some anonymous Radnorian abroad in the smoke, he was famous, a 19C celebrity if you like. He was Sheen the infanticide, Sheen the child murderer, whose every scandalous court appearance for twenty years was reported assiduously in the public press - not least by the Thunderer itself.

Bill and his notorious mother Ann Sheen* ran brothels in Spitalfields, in particular in Wentworth Street. A street that was also home to another well known criminal, the receiver of stolen goods, Ikey Solomon - who many agree was the model for the Dickens character Fagin.

Sheen's brothels were infamous dens of child criminality where youngsters were lodged and sent out to pick pockets and plunder. Take a look at this evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons from 1837, just a year before the publication of Oliver Twist, evidence which was quoted verbatim in the Times.

And what of Sikes' moll, the unfortunate Nancy? Well in 1847 Bill Sheen was sentenced to two years with hard labour for violently assaulting and slashing his common law wife of eighteen years, one Mary Ann Sullivan. The Times reported that Sullivan had been "the subject of constant ill-usage" during her nearly two decades with Sheen and had frequently needed hospital attention after the brutal beatings she received. Was this violent relationship known to Dickens perhaps? He could certainly have read of the court case in 1836 where Bill had threatened to "rip up the bowels" of a lass called Mary Moore.

Radnorians may be interested in an obsequious letter Sheen wrote to the Lambeth Street magistrates from the New Prison in Clerkenwell, following the rescue of eight young mites from his clutches. Sheen boasted of "the respectability of my relations in Radnorshire." There was: a Mr___, a respectable farmer, and Mr___, shopkeeper and farmer at ___, and "aunt Sheen who lives on her own freehold estate at a place called ___, where my grandfather lived and kept his hounds for 70 years." Unfortunately the Times omits the actual names, no doubt to spare his relatives' blushes. If only the magistrates would release him, Sheen promised, he would leave London and go to Radnorshire and "never more trouble you." Thankfully for Radnorshire the magistrates ignored his plea and sent him down for 18 months.

* Like her neighbour Ikey Solomon Ann Sheen was a well-known fence - she owned a chandler's shop in Spitalfields. In 1840 at the age of 59 she was sentenced to be transported for 14 years. In the event Mrs Sheen pined away in the Millbank Penitentiary, dying in 1842. Ann left her not inconsiderable fortune in Bank Stock and properties to her favourite son, Bill.


Radnorshire must reluctantly lay claim to one of Nineteenth Century London's most notorious criminals, Bill Sheen, a man who must surely have been one of the models for Dickens' Bill Sikes.

Sheen came to prominence in 1827 when he cut off the head of his girlfriend's infant son. Fleeing from Whitechapel to Radnorshire he was tracked by a London constable, Robert Davis, to Penybont and eventually taken at the nearby home of a relative, Lane House, Llanbadarn Fawr.

You can read a report of Sheen's first trial here, He was found not guilty on a technicality, a confusion over the actual name of the murdered child. A second trial was held and Sheen was again acquited on the grounds that you could not be tried twice for the same crime.

This stroke of good fortune did not induce Sheen to follow the straight and narrow. By now something of a minor celebrity, his assaults and burglaries were widely reported in the press. A girlfriend, one Mary Anne Sullivan's throat was cut and she was left for dead after being brutally kicked, Sheen was jailed for two years. Perhaps the clearest evidence that Sheen may have been the model for Sikes comes from the fact that he kept brothels in Spitalfields which were also home to between 30 and 40 boys and girls, some aged as young as nine, who spent their days begging and thieving throughout the city. Read about them here, pages 149 and 150.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

An old post from 2014

I think this post about Ukraine has stood the test of time, not a hard thing to predict mind.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Gareth Jones

 I first became aware of Gareth Jones when I purchased a copy of the Dictionary of Welsh  Biography from Griff's bookshop in the early 1970s.  In a volume chock a block with forgettable nonconformist preachers his entry stood out.  Nowadays he's much better remembered than he was back then, the subject of a movie and a useful tool of anti-Russian propaganda.

None of this is Mr Jones's fault of course, read his actual work and you'll find nothing about a planned genocide of the Ukrainian people, rather he reported what he saw, a famine that affected all of the wheatlands, from Ukraine, through Russia and into Kazakhstan.

Now some facts - 

Western Ukraine, the heartland of Ukrainian nationalism and the main proponent of the genocide myth was not even part of the Soviet Union at the time of the famine, it belonged to Poland.

Famine was common in Russia and Ukraine during the Tsarist and early Soviet period.  This was caused by natural problems of climate and disease and the rather primitive holdings and methods of the peasantry.  The Soviet solution was American inspired mechanisation and consolidation of land into collective farms.  In reality this turned out to be successful and the only famine subsequent to that of 1931/1932 was one in the late 1940s.

Agronomists agree that the failed harvest of 1931/1932 was the result of natural causes, although the Soviet reaction certainly exacerbated the subsequent famine as it affected the steppe.  Grain was confiscated from the agricultural areas to feed the cities and the so-called kulaks, the class of richer peasants were persecuted and often deported.  In part this was a reaction to hoarding for profit, something that has happened in every famine in history.

The idea that the famine was a deliberate attempt at genocide directed at the Ukrainian population by the Russians was born out of World War Two German propaganda. It seems to have become an article of faith for many in the West who are uninterested in alternative, more realistic narratives.