Cymdeithas Hanes Mechell
William Bulkeley (1691-
The main period of interest was the Eighteenth Century, but in order to discuss the history of the village during this period an outline of the history of Llanfechell in the Middle Ages was included.
This history was extremely interesting and an explanation of early administrative units was given, i.e. the hundred and commote. Hearing the old names that have survived from this period is quite exciting. The Rev Dafydd Wyn Williams’ knowledge of Llanfechell as well as many other areas is thorough and exact.
Having provided the context he went on to discuss the history of Llanfechell in the
Of particular interest was the information about markets and fairs that were usually held in the village square that was much larger during this time. A weekly market was held in Llanfechell and four annual fairs. Details were given about the goods that were sold and the prices that gave an impression of the age. When discussing wages it was noted that a thatcher was paid eight pence a day but only four if given dinner by the employer. A joiner earned a shilling a day but only six pence if provided with a meal and a labourer six pence a day, three if provided with food. The Brynddu gardener earned three pounds, ten shillings a year but the housekeeper earned the most, earning four pounds a year.We were also informed about football, specifically the competition between Llanfechell and Llanbadrig, starting from Tyddyn ‘Ronwy. The aim was for the Llanbadrig team to get the ball to Llanbadrig Church and for the Llanfechell team to get the ball to Llanfechell village square. These games were held in March and there is mention of one game in April 1734 that lasted for four hours with a crowd of four to five hundred people watching. Unfortunately there are no details about the results.
The Rev.Dafydd Wyn William at LLanfechell School
Part of the talk
The name ‘Ecclesia de Llanvechyll (Llanfechell Church) was recorded in 1291.
Looking at the tithe map of Llanfechell, 1841 we find that–
45 smallholdings between 1 & 4 acres
27 “ 5 & 10 “
22 “ 11 & 20 “
12 “ 21 & 30 “
12 “ 31 & 40 “
3 “ 41 & 50 “
5 “ 51 & 60 “
6 “ 61 & 100 “ -
Mynydd Ithel, Cefn Coch,
3 “ 101 & 150 “ Bodeiniol, Y Wylfa, Groesfechan.
2 “ 151 & 200 “ Cafnan, Cromlech.
1 “ 300 “ Coeden.
In addition to these smallholdings there were many more with less than one acre of
Cae Gors, Carreg Y Darren, Gors Y Rhyd, Tŷ Newydd, Wern, Gardd Y Bedd , Hafn Y Much, Ty Llwyn.
Agriculture was the main industry in the area .
According to William Bulkeley of Brynddu, on 10th December 1749, following a flood, three horses were used to carry people through the river to Llanfechell Parish Church.
Because the Bridge over the River that runs thro the Village was not confined to its own bed ‘till the next day at noon.
Here is a short description of Llanfechell-
There was a cross near the church (which, according to the diary fell on 23rd July,
1734), a vicarage, a tithe barn, a garden called Gardd yr Aner (the religious man’s
garden), a cottage called Tanyfynwent, Pen Y Dref (the present Post Office), Plas
Y Llan (an alehouse) and a marketplace (where the clock stands today) and one or
two cottages and other houses, including the old house known as Siop Newydd (behind
The markets and fairs of Lanfechell
Between 1734 and 1760, the time of William Bulkeley’s diary, a weekly market was held at Llanfechell as well as four annual fairs, 14th February, 25th July, 25th October and 15th November (Festival of St. Mechell). Any market that fell on a Sunday would be held on the following day (Monday).
The markets and fairs were held in the village square, near the Church. It should be noted that at this time the square was a larger area because some of the houses on the eastern side were not yet built.
It was to buy meat that William Bulkeley would usually go to the market – mutton or veal. Sometimes beef would be bought or goat’s meat, pork and occasionally venison. The markets were held in order to supply the needs of those living in the local Parish and surrounding area.
The purpose of the fairs, however, was to give people from a wide area the opportunity
to buy and sell animals. In addition, all sorts of goods were bought and sold there-
In the fair of October 1751 a pair of oxen was sold at Llnfechell for £11.5s. At the same fair four years later the diarist himself bought four bullocks for £22. Clearly Llanfechell was famed for its fairs and crowds of people flocked to them.
The eighteenth century was the golden age of the Gentry and during this century the
peasants, neglected for so long, received consideration. They received this especially
from educational and religious bodies. During the century education for the poor
was prominently to be found among religious charities. Establishing schools was a
clear sign and expression of charitable deeds. Charitable schools rose from this
most popular form of benevolence. To the lower classes this was the only means of
formal education. Most of the schools were Church of England Schools with the parish
parson the chief administrator as governor and almost without exception the schoolmasters
were members of the Anglican Church. The integral part of education came from the
Bible, The Book of Common Prayer and the Catechism. Anglesey parishes greatly benefited
from contributions and support of Dean John Jones-
These are examples of schools established in Anglesey from a Christian motivation. A school was established in Amlwch for boys and girls by Eleanor Kymnir from London in 1689. Richard Gwynne from Rhydygroes in the parish of Llanbadrig left Nantglyn, a smallholding, in his will in 1723 to provide education for poor children in a school in Llanfechell village. In 1733 Blanche Wynne decided to donate 40 shillings annually so that the poor children from Llantrisant could learn to read. Sir Arthur Owen from Pembrokeshire, descended from an Anglesey family, gave £4 to pay a schoolmaster to teach young people to read in Welsh in a school built in Aberffraw in 1735. A school was established in a building in St Cybi’s Churchyard by Dr Edward Wynne, Boderwyd, Chancellor of Hereford and endowed it with £120 in 1738.
As expected there were many shortcomings in these schools, especially in their organisation. The schoolmaster at Holyhead did not receive any pay for three years from 1776. There are minutes concerning Llanfechell School noting that they could not fill the post of schoolmaster although every effort had been made to seek one. In time it became obvious that charity schools were in serious trouble and only about twelve parishes had a school and the endowment money was not adequate to maintain them. They had to try and keep to the numbers and arrangements set by the benefactors. There were only 58 pupils in the five schools established by Dean Jones plus the school in Holyhead. The education provided was most elementary.
This vacuum was filled by the circulating schools using the medium of Welsh. Griffith
Jones, who became vicar of Llanddowror in 1716, is the gentleman who came to the
rescue. His scheme brought great success to the history of education in Wales. Griffith
Jones was convinced that preaching was not enough for salvation and he appealed to
the SPCK for a supply of Bibles to teach adults to read. Griffith Jones was full
of enthusiasm to save the souls of the poor. Without doubt his talent as organizer
ensured that every corner of Wales had a school. The schools spread quickly because
of their peripatetic nature and brevity. Their narrow religious nature reflected
Griffith Jones’ attachment to the Established Church. In spite of all objections
these schools secured their place in Anglesey. Within a year there were eleven such
schools established with 522 pupils. Griffith Jones contrived a scheme of employing
peripatetic teachers because of the difficulty of establishing permanent schools
in every parish. These peripatetic teachers and parsons would hold classes in parish
churches for a period of about 3-
The vicar of Holyhead, the Reverend Thomas Ellis was most enthusiastic to establish
Circulating Schools. He's a lively and industrious priest, eager for the pupils to
receive Welsh Bibles. This is how William Morris wrote to his brother Richard on
October 3, 1748 showing us the atmosphere in Anglesey-
The arrival of the Circulating Schools coincided with the Methodist stirring and activities which was quite an influence in Anglesey by this time. In October 1748 Howel Harris preached to a congregation of 2000 by the crossroads called Penygroes, in Rhosmeirch near Llangefni. By 1749 Peter Williams, Howel Harris and Howel Davies were considered the main teachers of the Methodists. They were active in Llangefni, Llanbedrgoch, Llanfair Mathafarn Eithaf and Llangeinwen. From the letters of the Morrisiaid it appears that the Methodists were quite a thorn in the sides of the Anglicans, a religious stimulation was felt throughout the island. Thomas Ellis, Holyhead clearly expressed his opposition of the Methodist by publishing a booklet – ‘A short summary of the Christian Religion together with a word of advice concerning education in regard to Schismatics who dissent from the Anglican Church.’
It is hard to know how far the anti-
Dr Edward Wynne, Bodewryd was most supportive to these schools and was anxious for
young people to receive education to civilize them a little. Dr Wynne patronized
the school that Thomas Ellis held near St. Cybi’s Church. He had converted Capel
Y Bedd into a school, which was opened in 1748. There were 70 children in this school.
William Morris wrote to his brother Richard in May 1752-
These Circulating Schools served Anglesey, its children and adults, for over 30 years
William Bulkeley's patronage : Education
This is roughly and briefly the background of William Bulkeley’s period; the middle
of the 18th Century. On account of his character and special nature the contribution
of this gentleman was remarkable to the culture and education of the period. He had
this rare ability to be quite at home in company of the poor peasants of Llanfechell.
Often he would visit the homes of the craftsmen near his home, drink their beer,
pay for it and assist them. At the beginning of the New Year he would welcome all
his servants, male and female, to his house for them all to spend a musical evening
in his mansion. William Bulkeley understood the life of his most humble servant where
the kind hearted nobleman was at its best. ‘An example’, said Thomas Parry, ‘of a
Welsh gentry before they became anglicised.’ I was amazed as how he mixed easily
with the lower strata of the peasants while his tastes were completely different
from theirs. Yet he could mix with the parsons in the nearby parishes and he referred
to the Morris brothers Lewis and Morris as his friends. He was on the best of terms
with the titled and landed gentry, as recorded in his diary for New Years Eve 1754
while in Llys Dulas, the home of William Lewis, his brother in law. ‘A good company
of neighbouring clergy and substantial freeholders at dinner and made merry until
four in the night.’ From this it is no wonder that the nobleman from Brynddu had
such knowledge and understanding of the needs of the poor peasantry that led him
to give every support to the school and education, especially in Llanfechell, and
in general, to Anglesey. I’ve had the honour to know two of his descendants-
We must remember, since Anglesey was so remote in the 18th Century, the diary of
the nobleman of Brynddu is not a true picture of life throughout Wales before the
Methodist Revival. Everyday life in Brynddu is not a true reflection of the way of
life of other families of similar statues even in this County. The English influence
had penetrated deeply into the lives of many of the gentry. But in Brynddu the Welsh
way of life persisted and the Welsh language was spoken. The parishioners had quite
a shock when John Evans, the new parson, preached in English! William Bulkeley noted
in his diary that he could not write a single word quoting from the parson’s sermon
hence forth. William Bulkeley conversed in Welsh with the peasants, in their homes
and in the village, as well as when they visited Brynddu on business. The fields
had Welsh names, and the cattle, but the status of the horses were higher-
Whilst we follow the development of culture and education we notice the special contribution
and patronage of the manor houses over the years. Many of them had a harpist or a
family poet; others collected manuscripts and so transferred valuable recourses for
the present day scholars. Some of the gentry wrote in strict poetry and others supported
local scholars and were patrons of culture... The names of some of the houses, or
manors, still stand for civilized patronage and the Welsh culture, like Sycharth.
Llanofer, Peniarth, Gwysanne and Garthewin. What about adding Plas Penucha Caerwys,
the home of Thomas Jones of Denbigh who has given patronage to literature and music
for many years, and continues to do so up to now. And we will include with pride
Brynddu, Llanfechell, with its door still open giving patronage to our culture. Yes,
of course, William Bulkeley had been greatly endowed with literacy tendencies. Lewis
Morris mentioned that he copied Welsh manuscripts as early as 1726, and sent him
poems and harp strings the same year. Lewis Morris refers to’ Llyfr Bodeulwyn’ where
is recorded ‘The most noted poem in William Bulkeley of Brynddu’s Collection’. David
William, Bodelwyn was a neighbour and good friend of William Bulkeley. In 1745 Lewis
Morris listed some manuscripts-
Let’s remember Lewis Morris’ poem ‘An ode to send a snail as a messenger to William Bulkeley of Brynddu in Anglesey in the year 1730’. In the ode it appears he had the poems of Virgil and Horace as well as Gruffudd Grug and Dafydd ap Gwilym.
There are plenty of examples to testify that William Bulkeley had a practical interest
in the Welsh language and especially in the children’s education and adults especially
the poor and deprived. He was a very cultured person and we should not take his criticism
of the preaching of the parson, Richard Bulkeley, as implying that there was not
a good relationship with him. Surely the two of them had a profitable session after
the service on Sunday evenings. The clergyman was no mean scholar and he assisted
Richard Morris to publish a version of the Bible in 1752. This is what William Morris
wrote about the parson to his brother Richard Morris in one of his letters-
Now and then the squire of Brynddu sailed over to Dublin and in 1735 he visited the
‘Playhouse’ to see-
We are much indebted to Charles Parry of the National Library for tracing diligently
a list of subscribers to Welsh books and the name William Bulkeley is prominent amongst
them. These are the works he subscribed to-
Lewis Morris: Plans of Harbours (1748)
Peter Nourse: Athrawiaeth yr Eglwys (1731)
Henry Rowlands: Mona Antiqua Restaurata 1723
Henry Valentine: Defosiwnau Priod
Dafydd Jones: Blodeu-
Richard Farrington: Twenty sermons upon the following subjects...
John Parry a Evans Williams: Ancient British Muscl 1742
Ysgrythiadau 54 mewn nifer ar gyfer y Llyfr Gweddi.
It is expected that such a literary gentleman as William Bulkeley would be more zealous for the education of needy children in the area, and his support became visible.
Although we do not have many references in the diary to the school or to education yet these references are remarkably valuable as proof of his interest and support. Unlike the squires of his day, middle of the eighteenth century, William Bulkeley showed a lively interest in every aspect of life in the community. He himself, and not a strange agent, let the farms and smallholdings on the estate. Consequently he knew the neighbourhood well enough to call the inhabitants by their nicknames. When the children of the parish came to the door of Brynddu for Easter eggs it was the squire himself who welcomed them, and not the maid. He called them by their Christian names and gave them a shilling, a good amount, which proves how much he cared for the needy. His literary nature and care for the needy compelled him to support and promote education to those who could not afford it in any way. As he wrote on February 3, 1751 ‘ I gave£5 to a young distant relation, Owen Hughes, the son of the late Bulkeley Hughes, Parson of Edern, who dying in a very poor circumstance, this lad was left to the wide world till my brother Lewis of Llys Dulas took him into his house and sent him to school where he was kept till now, that he is sending him to Cambridge.’
Griffith Jones – Circulating Schools in Anglesey: TAAS 1936 Tud. 94
A conspectus of Griffith Jones Schools in North Wales 1738-
Bulletin of celtic Studies V.4 May 1931
Bywgraffiadur Cymreig; ‘William Bulkeley’ – Dr. Thomas Richards
‘Two Centuries of Anglesey Schools’: David A. Pretty
Anglesey – The Concise History – David A. Pretty
‘Hanes Cymru’ – J. Graham Jones (1994) Tud. 82-
Bro’r Eisteddfod: 3 Ynys Môn (1983) Hen Ddyddiaduron: Helen Ramage
Baledi’r Ddeunawfed Ganrif: Thomas Parry – (1935)
The Life and Work of Griffith Jones, Llanddowror: F. A. Cavenagh
Griffith Jones, Llanddowror 1950: Thomas Kelly
November 12,1736 This day was buryed Thomas Lewis of Trefeibion-
April 4, 1737 ...gave Ambrose Lewis of Trysclwyn 1s that went about to beg for eggs, as the custom of school boys is the week before Easter.
September30, 1737 On June 30, 1736-
September 30, 1737 Having about a year and a half ago subscribed for 12 Copper-
February 1, 1738 ...gave Rice Gray the harper that had been playing most nights since the holydays 6s.
February26, 1738 One Nicholas Oughton that teaches the people of Llanerchymedd to sing (Ysgol Gân) Psalms, came to this church to day with 15 of his scholars to sing that we of this parish might have a tryall of their singing (being about to employ him to teach here). He and his scholars were entertained by the parson and myself at dinner after evening prayer, treated them with some ale where I paid my 1s.
July 1, 1738 A song sent me this day-
January 17,1739 Yesterday the election for an usher (teacher) for Beaumaris School when Lord Buckeley set up one Hughes of Denbighshire who is curate of Beaumaris. His old friends whom his father had got to be named Ffeofast flew in his face and put up young Vincent of Llanfachraeth a lad of about 19 and got him chose in opposition to the Lord.
February 29 1740 Accident in Llanfechell today, Mr John Bulkeley of Gronant who
kept a school in Llanfechell and lodge with William Mathews widow-
August 27, 1740 John Bulkeley Bwchanan in 1715 wore my Livery; the year following he kept a little school at Llanfechell which was worth him perhaps 40s a year.
January 20, 1714 ..gave Rhys Gray my old Harper 2/6 being father of four poor children.
April 8, 1741 ... gave 6d to a poor relation at Beaumaris School – (yno yn y Sesiwn Fawr)
March 22, 1742 Delivered Mr Lewis Morris 4s to subscribe for the Welsh Musick & 5s to send to London to buy me a large reading glass.
July 16, 1742 Paid 3s 6d for books from London.
November 17, 1742 Received to day the first rent of the tenant of Nantglyn to the use of Llanfechell School.
August 26, 1748 This day I sent for Nancy Warmingham’s children and their cousins Tom Ellis of Dronwy’s children, being all of them my neighbour’s the Priest’s nephews and nieces and gave them 6d a piece to buy fruits.
August 30, 1748 ..was to day to visit the Circular Charity School that is kept at the time in Caban House where there used to be about 20 children, after these, (being these children of the neighbouring parishes) are taught to read Welsh, which they will perfectly well in 6 months, they are taught the Church Catechism and Explanation of it, and reading of the Old and New Testament. They are likewise taught to write; this Charity is chiefly supported by South Wales Gentlemen and Englishmen. The Clergy are generally all against these Circular Schools and do all they can to depreciate them, calling them the Nurseries of the Methodists; but they keep their ground in several parts of the country in spite of all the resistance they give them.
November 28, 1748 Paid Abraham Jones 3d 11s being his salary at present for keeping the Charity School at Llanfechell.
January9 1749 Gave Richard Evans a Harper from Pwllhely these last days 2s
January 27, 1749 Today I sent Nancy Wright to Mrs Gold’s Boarding in Beaumaris along with her sister Grace and gave between them 2s 6d the other morning that must be laid out for Nancy in town.
February 18, 1749 Sent by Alice Jones 9s 6d to William Morris to pay for my news papers.
May 16, 1749 I went to Thomas Sion Rowland’s house (the fuller of Cefn Coch)
who teaches Psalms singing in this parish and sings with them every Sunday and holy
days. I went to his house I say where a great number of parishioners and some from
other parishes had met to drink his ale and to give him what they thought proper-
May 29, 1749 Sent the girls to school and gave them 1s a piece.
August 27, 1749 ..gave Owen my cousin Bulkeley Hughes’ son who’s at school here 1s.
August 29, 1749 ...gave Jones the Dancing Master 10s 6d entrance money before Nancy Wright at the dancing school and delivered Mrs Gold one guinea to buy what she stands in need of.
January 13, 1750 Gave 2s 6d to Owen Morris of Caernarvon the first Harper to offer himself & who for that reason I retained, but the worst, I believe as ever handled a harp.
January 31, 1750 Sent the two girls to day to school and gave each of them three shillings sent by John Ifan who went along with them seven pounds to pay for Ann Wright’s board and schooling, besides 10s 6d to her mistress by way of a present gave him likewise 7s to bear their charges.
April 11, 1750 Gave Owen Jones the son of Elizabeth ach William Mathew 1s who as a school boy came about to gather eggs before Easter.
June 7, 1751 Mrs Gold having sent here notice that Miss Grace Wright was to go to very soon to Liverpool pursuant to an order from her grandmother. I sent her today to Beaumaris and gave her 2s 6d.
April 12, 1754 Gave 8d to school boys that begged for eggs.
November 28, 1754 Paid Abraham Jones 3b 13s 10d being what is received at present from Nantglyn & left for teaching children from Llanbadrig at the town of Llanfechell.
January 20, 1756 ...sent 9s 6d to Robert Evans of Llanerchymedd to pay for newspapers.
March 5, 1756 ...gave 5s to William the son of John Hughes of Marian a blind boy that is learning to play the harp with Fowk Jones.
March 29, 1756 Sent 5s to pay for Irish News Papers
April 9, 1757 209 persons communicated this day (Easter) Gave 10s 6d – collection to the poor.
July 6, 1757 ...burying of Mrs Morris of Rhydygroes – widow of late Richard Gwyn-
June 5, 1759 ..gave Richard Williams of Ty Newydd 1s who is at school at Bangor.