Welsh Journals

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SIR BENJAMIN AND LADY HALL IN THE 1840's PART 1: 1840-1845 (PLATES XIV. 2-3) XTER all the stress and strain of the Chartist rising, 1840 proved a comparatively peaceful and uneventful year, so far as the Halls1 A were concerned. Nevertheless, the first hint of the difficulties which were to arise within a few years were contained in a letter written by the Ven. John Williams,2 Archdeacon of Cardigan. Although the Archdeacon's success as Rector of the Edinburgh Academy3 (a post to which he had been appointed through the influence of Sir Walter Scott)4 was so great that it has been said it was 'in some respects even more remarkable than that of Arnold at Rugby',5 he longed to return to his native land. He obtained written promises that he should have preferment in the diocese of St. David's, and it was therefore with bitter disappointment that he heard Connop Thirlwall6 had been appointed Bishop of St. David's, on the death of Bishop Banks Jenkinson in 1840. Conscious of his great claims to consideration, and the crying need for Welsh-speaking bishops in Wales, not to mention the promises which had been made to him, the Archdeacon wrote to a friend, enclosing the letters he had received, and asked that copies should be made, and shown to Sir Benjamin Hall: in confirmation of my statement. Tell him that. I place myself in his hands, and again beseech him and the whole body of those liberal M.P.'s connected with Wales who either opposed my elevation to the bench or remained passive, or on the other hand were influential in exalting the Rev. Connop Thirlwall to a position which will enable him to trample underfoot the man whom he has calumniated and injured, and whom consequently he never can forgive I again say I beseech him and them to procure me that learned leisure which I so much need and may say deserve The English bishops in Wales, the Primate of England,8 and the Prime Minister,9 have all combined in giving heavy blows and discouragement to a poor Welsh scholar, whom while they injure they must respect .10 Sir Benjamin, who had already spoken so eloquently in favour of Welshmen being appointed to Welsh sees, took up the cudgels again at every opportunity, and it was eventually through his influence that the Archdeacon returned to Wales as the first Warden of Llandovery College, when it was founded in 1847. In August 1840, the main Great Western Railway line was opened to the public as far as Bristol, from whence the journey into South Wales could be made by coach and the New Passage to Chepstow, and two years later, the South Wales Railway was completed, but another nine years passed before the opening of the Chepstow Bridge across the Wye