Thursday, April 4, 2013

George is to receive a salary of £20 a year

George discusses his future plans in an incomplete letter to Sill

May 10th
Saturday night

Dear Brother

I am writing away we have only just closed shop and it is now nearly ten oclock and I must go and get my supper or I shall not have any.  I shall not post this letter until Monday as I have no stamps and shall not be able to get any until then.

Your letter duly arived and I expected with it a long eloquent exposition on the portion of Scripture referred to.  But behold my dissapointment when I opened it and found nil.  But happly for me the teachers were changed and our usual classes were all joined and formed a singing meeting to prepare hymns for our anniversary so my paper was not read and I was not sorry for it was but a poor affair.  My Teacher has it or I would send it you.

I should advise you to begin it in your class, let several of you bring a paper and you will see in what points you differ and thus promote a healthy discussion amongst the scholars, which will enlarge their mental capabilities create a more intimate knowledge of the scriptures and the truths that is by them contained.  I am glad to hear your young horse is free from vices and hope he is swift in speed and sound in limb for when I come home he will have to swift whether he is sound or not.

I have come to arrangements with Uncle I shall have £20 for the first year and my washing & mending.  I did expect £25, but he says 20 was what he got at first and I suppose he measures my value by his own.  He said he would be very glad for me to stop and advised me to do so because I was rather small and boyish to try to get another situation.  I do not think I shall stay another year without he promises to do as he said when I came her first for I can learn no more here and shall try to get larger experience elsewhere.

Ofcourse this decision of mine will be greatly influenced by the advice I get from home and the circumstances which may transpire during the year.  But I cannot see that I shall be justified in staying here in comparitive ignorance (even for good wages) when I could improve myself and learn more thoroughly elsewhere.  Though as I told them I had spent 4 years of my life very happley on the whole with them and never expect to spend 4 such happy ones again, even that should not detain me for gathering experience and improving my talents with due care.  Except he opens a Branch establishment in some neighbouring place and sets me there, as he used to talk about and brighten my day dreams with the thought.  Of course for that I shall be quite fit for it will be precisely the same class of trade as we have here.  I do not wish any one to know of this only Father & Mother for I would that Uncle & Aunt should hear about it yet.


Views inside a traditional ironmongers shop courtesy of The Bygones Victorian Museum and J.B. Banks & Son Ltd.

The Bygones Victorian Museum, St Marychurch, Torquay

 J.B. Banks & Son Ltd., 13-14 Market Place, Cockermouth.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Congratulations from Rowland

‘Loss leader’ marketing tactics are obviously not a new phenomenon. George's cousin Rowland married his Lizzie in the early summer of 1882 in her home town of Leek in Shropshire, prudently waiting until he was making a success of his business.

R.T. Bevan
17, The Hayes,

May 5th 1880

My dear Cousin

I was exceedingly pleased to hear from you the other day for tis such a long time since any communication passed between us, allow me to congratulate you on the termination of your apprenticeship and I must say with all due diffedence to Uncle’s welfare, that I commend your determination to leave Llandudno at an early period, for I presume your position and experience have now somewhat the same as I passed through, and I found that I had to learn and unlearn a great deal, if Mr. Hern was now in business I should recommend you to spend six months or so under his tuition, for he certain made a man of me if a man I am.  

Well dear Cousin you see I am now fairly in the battle of life and I find the struggle hard and as yet somewhat uncertain for you and I have opened a new business altogether matters would be far different perhaps had I taken on an old established place, as it is you see I must be content with merely casual customers as they pass by, for I have not been long enough in Cardiff to be very severally known but I flatter myself that the majority of my customers will come again once they have been here, nevertheless we have done very well indeed and things are improving.  

We are in a very good position and quite opposite a large American meat market, but Cardiff is such a place for cheap goods and unless you can get your hand up being a cheap man you are nowhere so I have some things outside my door every day marked very cheap, (a sprat to catch a mackrel). 

Mother has been up here for some time putting me all square or round, but she is now gone home again and I am left alone in the cargo hould, the first night (Sunday) I was left alone I heard a great noise down in the shop and must confess to having felt rather nervous, however so far so good as to having a housekeeper I have not the slightest intention of having a permanent one for years to come but when I do I suppose it will be the one I met at dear old Llandudno, I saw her at Xmas and she is still very well and just the same Lizzie Stubbs as ever.  

I suppose you have heard something from Gower on the subject but I have not pleased them so will as to tell them the particulars I have told you and you need not do so for they never said a word to me about Jane my old sweetheart wedding nor even sent me a bit of wedding cake, of course is quite natural for them to suppose I am going to marry so do all the Cardiff people but I should not like to take anyone from a comfortable home until I had provided at least an equal one for her.  

I am glad to know dear Cousin you are still going on in the good old way and earnestly pray you may continue so to do, please give my love to Florey and all the family dont forget Sill and tell him I am not in immediate want of a tinman but may be in the not very distant future, tell him I have not forgotten my promise to write to him.

          With love
                    Your affectionat Cousin
                              R.T. Bevan

 The Hayes and other old images of Cardiff

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gowerian Farmers

Family letters are abuzz as George comes to the end of his apprenticeship and Sill wants him to read the marriage advertisements.

                                        Overton Gower
May 4th 1880

Dear Brother

I received your letter duly but cannot comply with your request as I never attempted anything of the sort, and do not know what form you would require it in, please send me a copy of yours and then I shall see, and may try at some future one, such a plan has been proposed in Horton Sunday School, for some of the big scholars to prepare papers on the lessons, but I do not think it ever will be practised. 

Pitton tea meeting will be held on Thursday next & some two or three of us are thinking to go, if all is well.  I expect to spend the Whit Sunday & Monday in Swansea with Jane to rest a bit after working so hard sowing barley etc.  The crops are looking very promising about here & the dry fine weather, with yesterdays rain has done not a little to cheer the drooping hearts of the Gowerian Farmers.  Uncle George has had a misfortune, in losing one of his horses (Boxer) on Saturday night, they have one young one 3 years old, besides old Pedlar he is very feeble & I think Uncle is going to Swansea fair on Saturday to buy another.

Our Lyster & Bright are in foal this year, & Boxer is very quiet in saddle, harness being free from vice.  We are well in advance with out work.

I shall like to know whether you & Uncle have made any arrangements, and from what date you receive wages and the amount.

Father and Mother are gone up to Castle this afternoon, as the school board meets at Oxwich this evening & Father is an Hon: Member,

Hoping you & all are quite well again, with kindest love

                              I remain
                                        Your loving Brother
                                                  Silvanus Bevan

P.S. Don’t forget to look over the marriage advertisements in the Camb after the sixth time of asking

N.G. The letters you send to me that you don’t wish Father to see please address to _ _ Jun without which of coarse I cannot open them.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

General Election April 1880

A General election in April 1880 returned a Liberal government after six years of Conservative rule. In the grip of both an industrial and agricultural depression, the country at large was disappointed and disillusioned with the Conservative government. With 112 seats and a majority of over 50, Gladstone was Prime Minister for the second time.

The promise of a reform of the property law to ease the burden on tenant farmers and with Joseph Chamberlain as President of the Board of Trade, modernisation became the buzz word of 1880 politics.

Silvanus and George continue the topical political debate in their letters. It is difficult to assess how much of the discussion is gentle banter between the two brothers, especially in the incomplete letter written by Silvanus on 27th April.

Overton, Gower
April 27th 80

My dear Brother

We are all quite well at present and have been expecting to hear from you since your last, because Mother wrote about three weeks ago to enquire about the measurement of your drawers etc as I suppose you want new ones, please let us know per return whether you received her letter or not, we are not surprised at your delay in answering it, because it is characteristic of conservation to neglect home duties, for the brag and bunkum! Of her foreign policy, no doubt you are very despondent now you have suffered such an unparalleled defeat you certainly are valiant fellows with all your great and grand achievements in maintaining the integrity and raising the glory of our nation to be able, only to return 2 to members for the principality of Wales.  So you see your leader has had the sack.  Without a character the nation would not be led on in blindness any further.  You remember the secrecy brought to light through the publication of a confidential clerk, just before the Berlin congress & that we evidently would have been at war with Russia had not it been for the zealous efforts of the Liberals who brought such a pressure to bear on the turn of events that happily we escaped a disastrous war & now the country has gratefully repaid them for their untiring energy in attempting to protect her trade and commerce and general welfare & now we feel thankful that

          Once more the flow of manly fervour rules,
          And checks the bloody, fratricidal strife,
          Redeems our Manhood from the clutch of fools,
          And lightens up the peaceful charms of life.

I am verily grevied that you are so blindly mislead by Jingoism & would urge you to turn from the evil of your ways, for you are fast becoming (instead of your father’s pride and Mother’s joy) your fathers shame and mother’s sorrow, by your darkness through unbelief in ……. (incomplete)