2012-10-03 Leave a comment
On 21 September, 1912, Mr Lloyd George spoke in his home village of Llanystumdwy. There was a spot of bother. On page 447 of the September 28 issue of The Graphic are the three photographs included here,
Underneath the triptych is the following caption and brief description:
Ungallant little Wales: How the unfortunate Suffragettes fared in Mr. Lloyd George’s native village
Mr. Lloyd George’s visit to Llanystumdwy, the village of his boyhood, was attended by disgraceful brutality to Suffragette women. The hapless creatures, following their usual tactics, interrupted with cries of “Votes for Women.” In reply the Welshmen mobbed them savagely, hitting them with their fists, tearing their hair out by handfuls, and in one case flinging a girl over a hedge, all but killing her. Only the devoted courage of the police saved the women’s lives.
Which seems pretty damning of the behaviour of the locals. On the very same day, the London Times carried a counterpost from the local Rector:
The Suffrage Riot at Llanystumdwy
A Protest by the Rector
The Rev. J. P. Lewis, rector of Llanystumdwy, writes to correct “one or two prevailing misconceptions regarding the attack on the suffragists last Saturday”:—
(1) Llanystumdwy is blamed. — During the last week letters of protest bave been addressed to the “Mayor,” the “Aldermen,” and the “Town Clerk” of Llanystumdwy! One would fancy that our village was a huge borough of 50,000 people and could easily provide a meeting of 10,000 roughs. As a matter of fact, the total population of the parish is less than 1,000, and the villagers do not muster 150. Yet about 40 of our men were acting as stewards, told off for various duties in connexion with the meeting, including the protection of the suffragists. With the possible exception of one or two, all the roughs were strangers to us. Llanystumdwy is not to blame. We did what we could for the comfort and protection of all concerned. No rector, I am sure, has better reason to be proud of his parishioners than I have.
(2) Wales is blamed. — While details circulated regarding the damming of the river, &c., are absolutely without foundation, the Press has not sufficiently pointed out how gallantly Welshmen and police protected the women, and eventua11y succeeded in rescuing them from their tormentors. It is only fair to add that if Mr. Lloyd George had not been interrupted by a suffragist, all present in the crowd could have heard the finish of his sentence earnestly appealing for chivalrous conduct towards any interrupters of the meeting. In the face of a local protest from the best suffragist workers, these misguided women came down confessedly to invite and provoke a riot. Some blame is surely attached to them, though nothing can justify a man lifting his hand, even against an exasperating woman. He is a coward who does it. But, alas! unruly mobs of unlicked hobbledehoys are found in other parts of the kingdom and not in Wales only. Did they receive the necessary civic and religious education in the elementary schools is another question, and one that urgently demands the attention of our legislators.
John Price Lewis (1857-1930), the second son of David (b. 123, Llangurig, himself a Curate) and Mary (b. 1824, Llanbadarn Fawr) Lewis, was born in Birkenhead, the Wirral, Cheshire. Although he was born in England, the family was back in Anglesey, Wales by 1861. John P was Grammar School educated, as a boarder at Bryntirion, Dolgelly. He was the Curate of Gresford in Wrexham by 1891. Unmarried at the time of his protest, within a few months he would wed one Mary Elizabeth Ellis-Nannau, from an awfully posh family, being the daughter of Sir Hugh John Ellis-Nannau (alias Hugh John Jones), a former High Sheriff of Caernarvon (in 1870) and (from 1897) a Baronet. I do not know if Mary Elizabeth was herself a suffragist, but she has a story. John died in Pwllheli aged 73 and she lived on until 1947.