DENBIGHSHIRE'S ANNUS MIRABILIS: THE BOROUGH AND COUNTY ELECTIONS OF 1868 THE great election of 1868 has always been regarded as one of the most important symbols of national awakening in Wales. It did indeed have great significance: the parliamentary returns provide testimony to the social and political changes that were taking place in the country. Even in remote rural areas, where the increase in the franchise had been modest, the 'feudal' hold of the great land- owners upon the political purse was either rudely interrupted or ominously threatened. In Carmarthenshire E. J. Sartoris, a land- owner of radical leanings, headed the poll, surpassing even John Jones of Llandovery, the Tory deputy-lieutenant of the county. In Carmarthen District, a Whig, Cowell-Stepney, gained a seat for the Liberals. In Cardiganshire, where David Davies of Llandinam had narrowly failed in 1865, a nonconformist industrialist from Swansea, E. M. Richards, ousted the Vaughans of Trawscoed. In Merioneth, David Williams of Penrhyndeudraeth, an unsuccessful candidate in 1865 and 1859, was returned without opposition. In the industrial south, Merthyr Tydfil, the constituency most spectacularly affected by the expansion of the electorate in 1867, produced the most remarkable result by returning Henry Richard, one of the most articulate nonconformist spokesmen of the day, a pillar of the Liberation Society and the Peace Society, in place of the colliery proprietor, magistrate and educationalist, the Anglican, Henry Austin Bruce. His victory symbolised the triumph of the alliance of working-class radicalism and actively organised nonconformity. It pointed the way to the extension of the radical tradition throughout south Wales and provided that tradition with its most powerful spokesman.2 The year 1868 could indeed be claimed to be an Annus Mirabilis in Welsh politics, as later historians have claimed.3 Nowhere were the results of the 1868 election more dramatic than in Denbighshire. Here the triumph of the Liberal, Watkin 1 Kenneth O. Morgan, Wales in British Politics, 1868-1922 (new edition, 1970), pp. 22 ff.; H. J. Hanham, Elections and Party Management (1959), pp. 209 ff. I I. G. Jones, 'The Election of 1868 in Merthyr Tydfil', Journal of Modern History, XXXIII (1961); idem, 'The Merthyr of Henry Richard', in Glanmor Williams (ed.), Merthyr Politics: the making of a Working-Class Tradition (1966), pp. 28 ff. For example, A. H. Dodd, Studies in Stuart Wales (second edition, 1971), p. 215.