Welsh Journals

Search over 450 titles and 1.2 million pages

and as strong in their beliefs as the natives. These men were naturally not unaffect- ed by their low economic and social conditions, and it is therefore not surprising to find them in the van of an active radicalism, supported, as we shall see, by the family of Gogerddan. The election speech delivered by J. S. Harford at Cardigan on Friday, 9 February 1849, epitomises the whole trend of political thought and action in Cardiganshire for the remainder of the century. Primarily it turned upon the opposing ideas held by members of the Established Church and Dissenters. Appealing to the electorate as a Conservative and a Churchman, much of his speech was an attempt to persuade the Nonconformist voters that he was not their enemy. 'The points of difference between us are very minor compared with those cardinal points upon which we all agree and I trust that in future no honest man will venture to say that I am either intolerant or bigoted towards Dissenters.' All Churchmen were not Tories, nor were all Nonconformists Whigs, although as far as the clerics were concerned it was the exception rather than the rule to find a parish priest consorting with the Reformers. To some of them there was something repugnant and wholly immoral in the insidious methods and ideas of the latter. An example of this point of view is contained in a letter, dated 14 September 1882, from the Reverend John Pughe, vicar of Llanbadarn Fawr, to Major G. J. Williams, agent to the Gogerddan estate, in support of two appli- cations for the tenancies of certain fields. Having recommended one party for the first lot, he proceeds: 'With regard to the fields on the hill I do hope you will not let them to the Preacher and William Evans the Bailiff. These men are sworn enemies of all existing institutions, and are some of the chief members of the Liberal Club at Aberystwyth, from which all the agitation against Landlords in the upper part of Cardiganshire originates. If you do let the fields to these men, you will be nursing vipers in your bosom who are sure to sting you each time they have an opportunity. I do hope and trust you will let the fields to Simon and David Jones Inspector of nuisances who are well to do men- faithful to the Constitution-and peaceful inhabitants. They will never join any movement against Landlords, but will at all times discourage such disreputable intrigues, and give you no trouble.' On the other hand there were other parish priests, such as the Reverend Griffith Thomas, vicar of Cardigan in 1840, who were in the forefront of the Reforming Movement, and were prepared to forego any preference for the sake of their principles. Before the days of the secret ballot every voter was particularly liable to an extraordinary series of approaches from both contestants and their supporters. As the vote was publicly cast one can well envisage the innocent conceit which encompassed many an independent freeholder as he arrived at the polling booth. Election time was also the season for currying favours or driving home a rather doubtful bargain. One cannot but smile at the naive diplomacy of some, such as Morgan Morgans who lived not far from Hafod at the time of the 1849 election.