Welsh Journals

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After the close of the poll there followed a lengthy discussion about the mode of forwarding the poll books to Cardigan and it was finally left to the mayor to see to their safe delivery. Rather foolishly the mayor engaged a post boy from the Belle Vue Hotel-Harford's headquarters. The boy rode with them as far as the Feathers Hotel, Aberaeron, and there left them, presumably in the charge of the innkeeper. It so happened that Mr. Simons, on his way by chaise to Cardigan, called at the Feathers Hotel, and he was asked to deliver the parcel to the Black Lion Inn, Cardigan, for Patrick Browne, the mayor. The parcel was safely de- livered to the Black Lion Inn, but mysteriously disappeared soon afterwards. The available evidence infers that Simons was responsible for the loss of the poll books and was consequently summoned to appear before Patrick Browne to answer a charge of theft. Harford's attitude to the whole business was summed up in a printed address to the electors which he issued before leaving Cardigan on 8 July. He expressed his deep concern and regret at the subtraction of the Aberystwyth Poll Books, 'whether it has been by accident or fraud; if the latter I want language strong enough to denounce the malignancy of the act'. While he did not wish to impede Pryse Pryse from peaceably taking possession of his seat, he reserved the usual right of petitioning against the return on any legal grounds. When Pryse Pryse died in January 1849, he was succeeded both in his estates and in Parliament by his son Pryse Pryse. In the election of 12 February 1849 he was opposed by J. S. Harford, and was narrowly elected by 299 to 291 votes. By this time the Reform Movement was gaining strength in the country, and in Cardiganshire as elsewhere throughout the country Dissenters were taking an increasing interest in politics. The Sunday School was not only teaching them to read but also helping to quicken their powers of debate. In this respect it is interesting to note that this point was still not appreciated among Cardiganshire Conservatives even as late as 1872. For at a dinner held at the Belle Vue Hotel, Aberystwyth, on 24 October of that year, to launch the newly-organised 'Cardigan Conservative Club' the vicar of Aberystwyth, in replying to the toast 'The Bishops and the Clergy' proposed by the secretary, Colonel Lewes of Llanllyr, suggested amid laughter 'that if you would only just go to the Sunday School, and take classes I am certain the influence of such an act would be very greatly in favour of the party. Depend upon it, that by such means as these you could do more to build up and cement a party of true, honest, zealous, and steadfast Conservatives than by any other means whatever'.11 I do not think that the reverend gentleman insinuated that party politics should be (or were being) taught in Welsh Sunday Schools, but rather that a process of mental conditioning favour- able to a particular line of argument was possible within its frame-work. Sensi- tive as he must have been to the influence of the Nonconformist Sunday Schools among his parishioners at Aberystwyth, the vicar no doubt appreciated the worth of a good teacher and the value of a tutorial method of study properly used. While the lead mines were in production north Cardiganshire experienced a large influx of miners from Cornwall, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, who in due course were infused into the local population so that they became as sturdy in speech