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Wales ( / ˈ w eɪ l z / ( listen ) Welsh: Cymru [ˈkəm.rɨ] (come-ree) is a country on the island of Great Britain. It is one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom. It is west of England, and east of the Irish Sea and Ireland.

– on the European continent ( green & dark grey )
– in the United Kingdom ( green )

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Wales is one of the six Celtic nations. [10] The native people of Wales, the Welsh, have their own culture and traditions. They have their own Celtic language, Welsh. Although not all Welsh people can speak Welsh, it is a real living language for about 20% of Welsh people. Nearly all Welsh people can speak English. Some of them speak only English. The Welsh language has official status in Wales.

Three million people live in Wales. Most of them live in the southern and eastern parts of the country. In this area is the capital and largest city of Wales, Cardiff, and the next largest city, Swansea.

The daffodil

This is one for those who believe that contemporary culture is all style over substance. The origins of the national flower of Wales appears to be as an attractive interloper, introduced during the 19th century, as a replacement for the humble leek. David Lloyd George, the only Welshman to serve as Prime Minister, was a public advocate of the Narcissus (its Latin name) and its appearance in early spring as a symbol of nature’s optimism neatly coincides with St David’s Day on March 1. A more unusual link is that daffodils are grown commercially in Mid Wales to produce galantamine for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.


Historical influences Edit

Wales has been identified as having been inhabited by humans for some 230,000 years, as evidenced by the discovery of a Neanderthal at the Bontnewydd Palaeolithic site in north Wales. [1] After the Roman era of occupation, [2] a number of small kingdoms arose in what is now Wales. These early kingdoms were also influenced by Ireland but details prior to the 8th century AD are unclear. [3] Kingdoms during that era included Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth. [4]

While Rhodri the Great in the 9th century was the first ruler to dominate a large portion of Wales, [5] it was not until 1055 that Gruffydd ap Llywelyn united the individual Welsh kingdoms and began to annex parts of England. Gruffydd was killed, possibly in crossfire by his own men, on 5 August 1063 while Harold Godwinson sought to engage him in battle. [6] This was just over three years before the Norman invasion of England, which led to a drastic change of fortune for Wales. By 1070, the Normans had already seen successes in their invasion of Wales, with Gwent fallen and Deheubarth plundered. [7] The invasion was seemingly complete by 1093. [8]

However, the Welsh rebelled against their new overlords the following year, and the Welsh kingdoms were re-established and most of the land retaken from the Normans over the following decades. [9] While Gwynedd grew in strength, Powys was broken up after the death of Llywelyn ap Madog in the 1160s and was never reunited. [10] Llywelyn the Great rose in Gwynedd and had reunited the majority of Wales by his death in 1240. [11] After his death, King Henry III of England intervened to prevent Dafydd ap Llywelyn from inheriting his father's lands outside Gwynedd, leading to war. [12] The claims of his successor, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, conflicted with those of King Edward I of England this resulted in the conquest of Wales by English forces. [13]

The Tudors of Penmynydd grew in power and influence during the 13th to 15th centuries, first owning land in north Wales, [14] but losing it after Maredudd ap Tudur backed the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr in 1400. Maredudd's son, Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur, anglicised his name to become Owen Tudor, and was the grandfather of Henry Tudor. [15] Henry took the throne of England in 1485, at the end of the Wars of the Roses, when his forces defeated those of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. [16] [17]

Under Henry VIII, son of Henry Tudor, the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542 were passed. This Act integrated, in the legal sense, Wales with England. In turn, the Welsh language was banned and stripped from official status or role, abolishing the Welsh legal system in turn. This, for the first time, defined the England-Welsh border.

The House of Tudor continued to reign through several successive monarchs until 1603, when James I (James VI of Scotland) took the throne for the House of Stuart his great grandmother was Margaret Tudor. [18]

Identity and nationalism Edit

Welsh nationalism (Welsh: Cenedlaetholdeb Cymreig) emphasises the distinctiveness of Welsh language, culture, and history, and calls for more self-determination for Wales, which might include more devolved powers for the Senedd or full independence from the United Kingdom. While a sense of nationhood has existed within Wales for over 1500 years, the idea that Wales should be a modern self-determining state has only been mooted since the mid-18th century. [19] During the 15th century, Owain Glyndwr campaigned with initial success for Wales to be reestablished as a country independent of English control.

National symbols of Wales include the dragon, the daffodil and the leek. Legend states that the leek dates back to the 7th century, when King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd had his soldiers wear the vegetable during battle against Saxons to make it easier to identify them. [20] Though this same story is recounted in the 17th century, but now attributed to Saint David. [21] The earliest certain reference of the leek as a Welsh emblem was when Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, was presented with a leek by the yeoman of the guard on Saint David's Day in 1537. [21] The colours of the leek were used for the uniforms of soldiers under Edward I of England. [20]

Cadwaladr is also said to have introduced the Red Dragon standard, [22] although this symbol was most likely introduced to the British Isles by Roman troops who in turn had acquired it from the Dacians. [23] It may also have been a reference to the 6th century Welsh word draig, which meant "leader". [24] The standard was appropriated by the Normans during the 11th century, and used for the Royal Standard of Scotland. Richard I of England took a red dragon standard with him on the Third Crusade. [22]

Both symbols were popular with Tudor kings, with Henry VII of England (Henry Tudor) adding the white and green background to the red dragon standard. [22] It was largely forgotten by the House of Stuart, who favoured a unicorn instead. [24] By the 17th and 18th centuries, it became common practice in Great Britain for the gentry to wear leeks on St. David's Day. [20] In 1807, a "a red dragon passant standing on a mound" was made the King's badge for Wales. Following an increase in nationalism in 1953, it was proposed to add the motto Y ddraig goch ddyry cychwyn ("the red dragon takes the lead") to the flag. This was poorly received, and six years later Queen Elizabeth II intervened to put the current flag in place. [24] It has been proposed that the flag of the United Kingdom be redesigned to include a symbol representing Wales, as it is the only nation in the United Kingdom not represented in the flag. [25]

The daffodil is a more recent development, becoming popular during the 19th century. It may have been linked to the leek the Welsh for daffodil (cenhinen Bedr) translates as "St Peter's leek". During the 20th century, the daffodil rose to rival the prominence of the leek as a symbol of Wales. Prime Minister David Lloyd George ensured that the daffodil had a place in the investiture of Edward, Prince of Wales. [20] The traditional Welsh costume and Welsh hat were well known during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Princess Alexandrina Victoria (later Queen Victoria) had a hat made for her when she visited Wales in 1832. The hat was popularised by Sydney Curnow Vosper's 1908 painting Salem, but by then its use had declined. [26]

The two main languages of Wales are English and Welsh. Throughout the centuries, the Welsh language has been a central factor in the concept of Wales as a nation. [27] Undoubtedly the strongest of the Celtic languages, [27] figures released by the Office of National Statistics taken from the 2011 census, show that Welsh is spoken by 19% of the population. [28]

Before the Roman occupation, the dominant religion in Wales was a pagan one, led by the druids. Little is known about the traditions and ceremonies, but Tacitus, whose claims were sometimes exaggerated, stated that they performed human sacrifice: he says that in AD 61, an altar on Anglesey was found to be "drenched with the blood of their prisoners". [29] Christianity was introduced to Wales through the Romans, and after they abandoned the British Isles, it survived in South East Wales at Hentland. In the 6th century, this was home to Dubricius, the first Celtic saint. [30]

The largest religion in modern Wales is Christianity, with almost 58% of the population describing themselves as Christian in the 2011 census. [31] The Presbyterian Church of Wales was for many years the largest denomination it was born out of the Welsh Methodist revival in the 18th century and seceded from the Church of England in 1811 [32] The Church in Wales had an average Sunday attendance of 32,171 in 2012. [33] It forms part of the Anglican Communion, and was also part of the Church of England, but was disestablished by the British Government in 1920 under the Welsh Church Act 1914. [34] Non-Christian religions have relatively few followers in Wales, with Muslims making up 1.5% of the population while Hindus and Buddhists represent 0.3% each in the 2011 census. Over 32% of the population in Wales did not note a religion. [31] Research in 2007 by the Tearfund organisation showed that Wales had the lowest average church attendance in the UK, with 12% of the population routinely attending. [33]

The patron saint of Wales is Saint David, Dewi Sant in Welsh. St. David's Day is celebrated on 1 March, [35] which some people argue should be designated a public holiday in Wales. [36] Other days which have been proposed for national public commemorations are 16 September (the day on which Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion began) [37] and 11 December (the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd).

The traditional seasonal festivals in Wales are:

    (a Hallowe'en or Samhain-type festival on the first day of winter) [38][39] (literally Mary's Festival of the Candles, i.e. Candlemas also coinciding with Imbolc) [40] (May Day, and similar to Beltane) [41] (1 August, equivalent to Lammas and Lughnasa) [42] celebrated by each parish in commemoration of its native saint, often marked by a fair [43] , a Welsh equivalent to St Valentine's Day [44] is a Welsh New Year celebration [45]

Visual arts Edit

Many works of Celtic art have been found in Wales. [46] In the Early Medieval period, the Celtic Christianity of Wales participated in the Insular art of the British Isles and a number of illuminated manuscripts possibly of Welsh origin survive, of which the 8th century Hereford Gospels [47] and Lichfield Gospels [48] are the most notable. The 11th century Ricemarch Psalter (now in Dublin) is certainly Welsh, made in St David's, and shows a late Insular style [49] with unusual Viking influence. [50]

The best of the few Welsh artists of the 16th–18th centuries tended to move elsewhere to work, but in the 18th century the dominance of landscape art in English art motivated them to stay at home, and brought an influx of artists from outside to paint Welsh scenery. The Welsh painter Richard Wilson (1714–1782) is arguably the first major British landscapist, but rather more notable for Italian scenes than Welsh ones, although he did paint several on visits from London. [51]

It remained difficult for artists relying on the Welsh market to support themselves until well into the 20th century. An Act of Parliament in 1854 provided for the establishment of a number of art schools throughout the United Kingdom, [52] and the Cardiff School of Art opened in 1865. [53] Graduates still very often had to leave Wales to work, but Betws-y-Coed became a popular centre for artists, and its artists' colony helped form the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art in 1881. [54] The sculptor Sir William Goscombe John made many works for Welsh commissions, although he had settled in London. [55] Christopher Williams, whose subjects were mostly resolutely Welsh, was also based in London. [56] Thomas E. Stephens [57] and Andrew Vicari [58] had very successful careers as portraitists, based respectively in the United States and France. Sir Frank Brangwyn was Welsh by origin, but spent little time in Wales. [59]

Perhaps the most famous Welsh painters, Augustus John and his sister Gwen John, mostly lived in London and Paris [60] however the landscapists Sir Kyffin Williams [61] and Peter Prendergast [62] remained living in Wales for most of their lives, though well in touch with the wider art world. Ceri Richards was very engaged in the Welsh art scene as a teacher in Cardiff, and even after moving to London he was a figurative painter in international styles including Surrealism. [63] Various artists have moved to Wales, including Eric Gill, [64] the London-born Welshman David Jones, [65] and the sculptor Jonah Jones. [66] The Kardomah Gang was an intellectual circle centred on the poet Dylan Thomas and poet and artist Vernon Watkins in Swansea, which also included the painter Alfred Janes. [67]

Ceramics Edit

Historically, there were three main areas of pottery production in Wales: south-west Wales, northern Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan. [ citation needed ] Several further sites can be identified through their place names, for example Pwllcrochan (a hamlet near Milford Haven estuary in Pembrokeshire), which translates to Crock Pool, and archaeology has also revealed former kiln sites across the country. [68] These were often located near clay beds, for ease of resource gathering. [69] Buckley and Ewenny became leading areas of pottery production in Wales during the 17th and 18th centuries these are applied as generic terms to different potters within those areas during this period. [70] South Wales had several notable potteries during that same period, an early exponent being the Cambrian Pottery (1764–1870, also known as "Swansea pottery"). The works from Cambrian attempted to imitate those of Wedgwood. Nantgarw Pottery, near Cardiff, was in operation from 1813 to 1823 making fine porcelain. Llanelly Pottery was the last surviving major pottery works in South Wales when it closed in 1922. [71]

Literature Edit

Theatre Edit

Theatrical performances are thought to have begun after the Roman invasion of Britain. [72] There are remains of a Roman amphitheatre at Caerleon, which would have served the nearby fortress of Isca Augusta. [73] Between Roman and modern times, theatre in Wales was limited to performances of travelling players, sometimes in temporary structures. Welsh theatrical groups also performed in England, as did English groups in Wales. The rise of the Puritans in the 17th century and then Methodism during the 18th century caused declines in Welsh theatre as performances were seen as immoral. [72]

Despite this, performances continued on showgrounds, and with a handful of travelling groups of actors. [72] The Savoy Theatre, Monmouth, the oldest theatre still in operation in Wales, [74] was built during the 19th century and originally operated as the Assembly Rooms. [75] Other theatres opened over the following decades, with Cardiff's Theatre Royal opening in 1827. After a fire, a replacement Theatre Royal opened in 1878. [76] [77] Competition for theatres led to further buildings being constructed, such as the New Theatre, Cardiff, which opened on 10 December 1906. [78] [79]

Television Edit

Television in the United Kingdom started in 1936 as a public service which was free of advertising, but did not arrive in Wales until the opening of the Wenvoe transmitter in August 1952. [80] Initially all programmes were in the English language, although under the leadership of Welsh director and controller Alun Oldfield-Davies, occasional Welsh language programmes were broadcast during closed periods, replacing the test card. [80] In 1958, responsibility for programming in Wales fell to Television Wales and the West, although Welsh language broadcasting was mainly served by the Manchester-based Granada company, producing about an hour a week. [80] On the 1 November 1982, S4C (Sianel Pedwar Cymru) was launched bringing together the BBC, HTV and other independent producers to provide an initial service of 22 hours of Welsh-language television. [81] With the completion of the digital switchover in Wales on 31 March 2010—which made English-language Channel 4 available across Wales—S4C's bilingual analogue channel closed, and what had been S4C Digidol became the default S4C channel, available on Freeview and pay television, and broadcasting entirely in Welsh.

The decision by Julie Gardner, Head of Drama for BBC Wales, to film and produce the 2005 revived version of Doctor Who in Wales is widely seen as a bellwether moment for the industry for the nation. [82] This in turn was followed by the opening of the Roath Lock production studios in Cardiff. Recent English language programmes that have been filmed in Wales include Sherlock and His Dark Materials, while other popular series, such as Hinterland (Y Gwyll) and Keeping Faith (Un Bore Mercher) have been filmed in both Welsh and English. [82]

Film Edit

The Cinema of Wales comprises the art of film and creative movies made in Wales or by Welsh filmmakers either locally or abroad. Welsh cinema began in the late-19th century, led by Welsh-based director William Haggar. Wales continued to produce film of varying quality throughout the 20th century, in both the Welsh and English languages, though indigenous production was curtailed through a lack of infrastructure and finance, which prevented the growth of the industry nationally. Despite this, Wales has been represented in all fields of the film making process, producing actors and directors of note.

Music Edit

Wales is often referred to as "the land of song", [83] and is notable for its harpists, male choirs, and solo artists. The principal Welsh festival of music and poetry is the annual National Eisteddfod. [84] The Llangollen International Eisteddfod echoes the National Eisteddfod but provides an opportunity for the singers and musicians of the world to perform. [85] Traditional music and dance in Wales is supported by many societies. The Welsh Folk Song Society has published a number of collections of songs and tunes. [86]

Male choirs (sometimes called male voice choirs), which emerged in the 19th century, have remained a lasting tradition in Wales. Originally these choirs were formed as the tenor and bass sections of chapel choirs, and embraced the popular secular hymns of the day. [87] Many of the historic Welsh choirs survive, singing a mixture of traditional and popular songs. [88] [89] [90] Traditional instruments of Wales include telyn deires (triple harp), [91] fiddle, [92] crwth, [93] pibgorn (hornpipe) and other instruments. [94] The Cerdd Dant Society promotes its specific singing art primarily through an annual one-day festival. [95] The BBC National Orchestra of Wales performs in Wales and internationally. [96] The Welsh National Opera is based at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, [97] while the National Youth Orchestra of Wales was the first of its type in the world. [98]

Wales has had a number of successful singers. In the 1960s, these included bands such as Amen Corner and The Iveys/Badfinger and singers including Sir Tom Jones, Dame Shirley Bassey and Mary Hopkin. [99] By the 1980s, indie pop and alternative rock bands such as The Alarm, The Pooh Sticks and The Darling Buds were popular in their genres. But the wider view at the time was that the wider Welsh music scene was stagnant, as the more popular musicians from Wales were from earlier eras. [100]

In the 1990s, in England, the Britpop scene was emerging, while in Wales, bands such as Y Cyrff and Ffa Coffi Pawb began to sing in English, starting a culture that would lead to the creation of Catatonia and the Super Furry Animals. [101] The influence of the 80s bands and the emergence of a Welsh language and dual language music scene locally in Wales led to a dramatic shift in opinion across the United Kingdom as the "Cool Cymru" bands of the period emerged. [100] The leading Welsh band during this period was the Manic Street Preachers, whose 1996 album Everything Must Go has been listed among the greatest albums of all time. [102]

Some of those bands have had ongoing success, while the general popularity of Welsh music during this period led to a resurgence of singers such as Tom Jones with his album Reload. It was his first non-compilation number one album since 1968's Delilah. [103] Meanwhile, Shirley Bassey reached the top 20 once more in the UK Charts with her collaboration with the Propellerheads on the single "History Repeating". [104] They also introduced new acts, such as Catatonia's Owen Powell working with Duffy during her early period. [101] Moving into the 21st century, Bullet For My Valentine were named the Best British Band at the Kerrang! Awards for three years running. [105] Other successful bands from this period include Funeral For A Friend, [106] and Lostprophets. [107]

Over fifty national governing bodies regulate and organise their sports in Wales. [108] Most of those involved in competitive sports select, organise and manage individuals or teams to represent their country at international events or fixtures against other countries. Wales is represented at major world sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, [109] the Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. [110] [111] At the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete alongside those of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland as part of a Great Britain team. [112]

Rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness. [113] The Welsh national rugby union team takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship and has also competed in every Rugby World Cup, [114] with Wales hosting the 1999 tournament. [115] The five professional sides that replaced the traditional club sides in major competitions in 2003 were in turn replaced in 2004 by the four regions: Scarlets Cardiff Blues Newport Gwent Dragons and the Ospreys. [116] [117] The Welsh regional teams play in the Pro14 league, [118] the Anglo-Welsh Cup (LV Cup), [119] the European Heineken Cup and the European (Amlin) Challenge Cup. [120] [121]

Wales has had its own association football league since 1992. [122] For historical and other reasons, two Welsh clubs (Cardiff City and Swansea City) play in the English Football League. [123] Another three Welsh clubs play in English football's feeder leagues: Wrexham, Newport County and Merthyr Town. [124] This also qualifies those teams to compete for England's domestic trophies. On 23 April 1927, Cardiff City became the only team outside England to win the FA Cup. [125] In European football competitions, only teams playing in the Welsh leagues are eligible to play for Wales. The five teams in the English leagues are eligible to represent England only, and they are not allowed to compete for domestic Welsh trophies. [124]

In international cricket, Wales and England field a single representative team, administered by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), called the England cricket team, or simply "England". [126] Occasionally, a separate Wales national cricket team plays in limited-overs competitions, mainly against English county teams. [127] Glamorgan is the only Welsh participant in the England and Wales County Championship. [128] Plaid Cymru have argued that Wales should have its own international team and withdraw from the existing arrangement under which Welsh players play for England. The proposal has aroused opposition from Cricket Wales and Glamorgan County Cricket Club, who argue such a move would be financially disastrous. The debate focused on a report produced by the Welsh National Assembly's petitions committee, which reflected the arguments on both sides. Bethan Jenkins, Plaid Cymru's spokesperson on heritage, culture, sport and broadcasting, and a member of the petitions committee, said: "Cricket Wales and Glamorgan CCC say the idea of a Welsh national cricket team is ‘an emotive subject’. Of course having a national team is emotive. You only have to look at the stands during any national game to see that. To suggest this as anything other than natural is a bit of a misleading argument." [129] [130] [131] [132] [133] [134] In their strategic plan, Cricket Wales state they are "committed to continuing to play a major role within the ECB" [135]

Wales has produced several world-class participants in individual sports, including snooker players Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths, Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens. [136] Successful track athletes include miler Jim Alford who was a world record holder in the 4 x 1500 metres relay, the 110-metre hurdler Colin Jackson who is a former world record holder and the winner of numerous Olympic, World and European medals, [137] and Tanni Grey-Thompson who has won 11 Paralympic gold medals. [138] Wales has also produced a number of world-class boxers. Joe Calzaghe was WBO World Super-Middleweight Champion and then won the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine super-middleweight and Ring Magazine Light-Heavyweight titles. [139] Other former boxing world champions include Enzo Maccarinelli, Freddie Welsh, Howard Winstone, Percy Jones, Jimmy Wilde, Steve Robinson and Robbie Regan. [140]

Wales is not considered to have a strong food identity some people consider that there is "no such thing as Welsh food". [141] Welsh cookery is said to be similar to English cuisine in style. [142] However, there are regional variations in the food seen across Wales, which can be traced historically to the availability of certain crops and produce in specific areas of the country. [143] The cuisine of Gower is particularly different to the rest of Wales. It was strongly influenced by Somerset and Devon, and developed dishes such as whitepot while ingredients such as pumpkin were used, which are unusual in the rest of Wales. [144]

Cattle farming produces the majority of Wales' agricultural output. Welsh beef is protected under European Union law, meaning that it must be produced and slaughtered in Wales. [145] Welsh pigs are raised, providing good cuts of meat. [146] The mountainous areas of Wales are suited to sheep farming and this has led to an association of their meat with the country. [147] The mutton of Wales has been popular in the rest of the United Kingdom since the 16th century, [148] and by the end of the 20th century there were more than 11 million sheep in Wales. [147]

Several Welsh dishes are thought of as Welsh because their ingredients are associated with Wales, whereas others have been developed there. Cawl is regarded as the Welsh national dish [149] it is a slow-cooked meat and vegetable broth. Traditionally it was a vegetable-heavy dish, [150] but now it is more likely to contain beef or lamb. [151] Welsh rarebit is thought to date from the 18th century, although the original term "Welsh rabbit" may have been intended as a slur against the Welsh. [152] [153] [154] Another use of cheese in a traditional Welsh dish is seen in Glamorgan sausage, which is a skinless sausage made of cheese and either leek or spring onion, [155] which is then rolled into a sausage shape before frying. [156] [157] Laverbread is made using a purée of seaweed, and is traditionally served in a Welsh breakfast. [158] Welsh cakes are made on a bakestone, and are small round spiced cakes containing raisins, sultanas and occasionally currants. [159] Bara brith contains similar ingredients to Welsh cakes, but is similar to a tea bread. [160]

The Welsh have their own versions of pancakes: crempogau (sing. crempog) (sometimes called ffroes, sing. ffroesen) are traditionally layered on top of each other to form a large cake. Some are very much like American pancakes others may be made with yeast (called crempogau burum, sing. crempog furum) or oatmeal (although this is also true of American pancakes) and some are like Scotch pancakes. [161] [162]

Beer is the national drink of Wales, despite the influence of the link to temperance movement in Wales. [163] The Wrexham Lager Beer Company was the first successful lager producer in Britain when it opened in 1882, [164] and the Felinfoel Brewery was the first brewery in Europe to put beer in cans. [163] Whisky production in Wales was historically a niche industry, and completely shut down in 1910 when the last distillery was bought out by a Scottish firm. However, the Penderyn distillery produced the first Wales-created whisky in a century to go on sale when it was launched in 2004. [165] There are 20 Welsh vineyards producing 100,000 bottles of wine a year in total. [166] [167]

How the 1966 Aberfan Mine Disaster Became Elizabeth II's Biggest Regret

The avalanche raced down a steep hill in Aberfan, Wales, sucking everything in its path into the chaos: landscape, buildings, an entire schoolhouse. When David Evans, the owner of a local pub, heard about it from a neighbor, he ran into the street. 𠇎verything was so quiet, so quiet,” he told historian Gaynor Madgewick. 𠇊ll I could see was the apex of the roofs.”

The avalanche wasn’t snow—it was coal waste that had slid down a rain-saturated mountainside. On October 21, 1966, nearly 140,000 cubic yards of black slurry cascaded down the hill above Aberfan. It destroyed everything it touched, eventually killing 144 people, most of them children sitting in their school classrooms.

The tragedy in Aberfan would become one of the United Kingdom’s worst mining disasters𠅊nd it was completely avoidable.

Despite the magnitude of the calamity, Queen Elizabeth II at first refused to visit the village, sparking criticism in the press and questions about why she wouldn’t go. Finally, after sending her husband, Prince Philip, in her place for a formal visit, she came to Aberfan eight days after the disaster to survey the damage and speak with survivors. Nearly four decades later, in 2002, the queen said that not visiting Aberfan immediately after the disaster was “her biggest regret.”

Queen Elizabeth II laying a wreath to commemorate the victims of the Aberfan disaster of 1966, years later in September of 1973. 

The foundation of the disaster was laid nearly a century before, when the Merthyr Vale Colliery, a coal mine, was opened in the area. Wales had become famous for coal mining during the Industrial Revolution, and at its peak in 1920, 271,000 workers labored in the country’s coal pits. By the 1960s, coal mining was in decline, but was still a lifeline for some 8,000 miners and their families around Aberfan.

Coal mining creates waste, and the waste rock was dumped in an area called a tip. Merthyr Vale had seven tips. By 1966, the seventh tip, which was begun in 1958, was about 111 feet high and contained nearly 300,000 cubic yards of waste. It was precariously placed on sandstone above a natural spring, which lay on the steep hill above the village.

As mining progressed, the heaps of waste grew and grew. In 1963 and 1964 residents and local officials had raised concerns about the seventh tip’s location with the National Coal Board, which owned and operated the mine. They were especially worried because the tip was located right above Pantglas Junior School, which was attended by about 240 students.

Those concerns were all too prescient, but the National Coal Board ignored them. “The threat was implicit,” notes the BBC: “make a fuss and the mine would close.”

On October 21, students at Pantglas were only scheduled for a half day of school ahead of a mid-term break. It had been a rainy day, but that wasn’t unusual—not only had it been raining for weeks, but the area got at least 60 inches of rain annually. The children had just arrived at school when it happened: saturated by rain, the fine coal material piled on the hill liquefied into a thick slurry and began hurtling toward them.

It happened so quickly that nobody could prepare. Students heard a sound like a jet plane. It was black quicksand burying everything in its path. The slurry hit the school, slamming its walls to rubble and pouring in through the windows. Pipes burst and water began flowing outside the school.

Down the hill, the town, which had begun to flood from streams clogged with debris, sprang into action. Emergency workers and volunteers ran up toward the school to help. 𠇌ivil defense teams, miners, policemen, firemen and other volunteers toiled desperately, sometimes tearing at the coal rubble with their bare hands, to extricate the children,” reported The New York Times. 𠇋ulldozers shoved debris aside to get to the children. A hush fell on the rescuers once when faint cries were heard in the rubble.”

Alix Palmer, a young journalist on his first major assignment, went to Aberfan to report on the rescue efforts. It had been hours since anyone had been pulled out alive. “The fathers straight from the pit were digging,” he wrote to his mother afterward. “No-one had yet really given up hope, although logic told them it was useless.”

In the aftermath, the true scale of the disaster became clear. One hundred and forty-four people were dead, 116 of them children. Half of the village’s children had been killed. 𠇊ll our friends were gone,” Jeff Edwards, who survived the disaster pinned beneath his desk, told the BBC in 2016.

A tribunal later concluded that the National Coal Board was responsible for the disaster after examining 300 exhibits and interviewing 136 witnesses. “The Aberfan disaster could and should have been prevented,” said the tribunal in its report. The disaster was a matter “not of wickedness but of ignorance, ineptitude and a failure in communications,” it wrote.

Two rows of white arches near the top of Aberfan cemetery, as seen here in 2016, mark the graves of the children killed in the colliery tip disaster of 1966.

Rowan Griffiths/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Great Britain quickly mobilized on behalf of the people in Aberfan. The Aberfan Disaster Memorial Fund, which was set up on the day of the disaster, raised the equivalent of $16.6 million in modern dollars. The money was used to pay for repairs in the village and the care of those who were injured and bereaved in the disaster.

But the money also had to help pay for the removal of the remaining tips that lurked above the village. The head of the National Coal Board refused to visit Aberfan and parents of children had to prove they were 𠇌lose” to their children to receive a payment of 򣔀 from the board. The funds for removing the tips were only repaid in 1997—without interest.

Someone else had lingering heartache about the Aberfan disaster: Elizabeth II. Instead of visiting herself, she sent Prince Philip in her stead. “We kept presenting the arguments,” an advisor told biographer Robert Lacey, 𠇋ut nothing we said could persuade her.” Finally, she had a change of heart and visited eight days after the slide, speaking with village residents and showing poignant grief𠅊n uncharacteristically emotional display for the usually stoic queen.

For the people of Aberfan, the visit was part of the healing process. “They were above the politics and the din and they proved to us that the world was with us, and that the world cared,” Marjorie Collins, who lost her eight-year-old son in the disaster, said in 2015. But nothing could make it less bitter to lose a child. “I lost my daughter and we were lucky to save the lad,” an Aberfan father told LIFE in 1967. “No amount of money will fetch any of them back, will it?” 

Political Life

Government. The Principality of Wales is governed from Whitehall in London, the name of the administrative and political seat of the British government. Increasing pressure from Welsh leaders for more autonomy brought devolution of administration in May 1999, meaning that more political power has been given to the Welsh Office in Cardiff. The position of secretary of state for Wales, a part of the British prime minister's cabinet, was created in 1964. In a 1979 referendum a proposal for the creation of a nonlegislating Welsh Assembly was rejected but in 1997 another referendum passed by a slim margin, leading to the 1998 creation of the National Assembly for Wales. The assembly has sixty members and is responsible for setting policy and creating legislation in areas regarding education, health, agriculture, transportation, and social services. A general reorganization of government throughout the United Kingdom in 1974 included a simplification of Welsh administration with smaller districts regrouped to form larger constituencies for economic and political reasons. Wales was reorganized into eight new counties, from thirteen originally, and within the counties thirty-seven new districts were created.

Leadership and Political Officials. Wales has always had strong left wing and radical political parties and leaders. There is also a strong political awareness throughout Wales and voter turnout at elections is higher on average than in the United Kingdom as a whole. In most of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Liberal Party dominated Welsh politics with the industrial regions supporting the Socialists. In 1925 the Welsh Nationalist Party, known as Plaid Cymru, was founded with the intention of gaining independence for Wales as a region within the European Economic Community. Between World Wars I and II severe economic depression caused almost 430,000 Welsh to immigrate and a new political activism was born with an emphasis on social and economic reform. After World War II the Labor Party gained a majority of support. During the late 1960s Plaid Cymru and the Conservative Party won seats in parliamentary elections, weakening the Labor Party's traditional

Military Activity. Wales does not have an independent military and its defense falls under the authority of the military of the United Kingdom as a whole. There are, however, three army regiments, the Welsh Guards, the Royal Regiment of Wales, and the Royal Welch Fusiliers, that have historical associations with the country.

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Mrs Nicholson&rsquos recollections of her tour among the peasantry are still revealing and gripping today.

The author returned to Ireland in 1847&ndash49 to help with famine relief and recorded those experiences in the rather harrowing:

Annals of the Famine in Ireland is Asenath Nicholson's sequel to Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger. The undaunted American widow returned to Ireland in the midst of the Great Famine and helped organise relief for the destitute and hungry. Her account is not a history of the famine, but personal eyewitness testimony to the suffering it caused. For that reason, it conveys the reality of the calamity in a much more telling way. The book is also available in Kindle.

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List Of Common Welsh Surnames With Meanings

1. Awbrey

The Norman name arrived in Wales after the Norman Conquest of the Wales region. The original bearer of the name was known to live in a place planted with elder trees, and it is also a derivation of Baptismal name meaning ‘son of Aubrey.’

2. Bach

It was used as a nickname for a short or small man, and is taken from the Welsh word, ‘bach’ meaning ‘little.’

3. Baughan

It is derived from the Welsh words ‘bychan,’ which mean little or small. This surname is also a family name in Oxfordshire in England.

4. Beavin

This is a patronymic name created from the Welsh name, Bevan that itself is derived from ‘ab-lefan’ or ‘ap-lefan.’ The prefix ‘ab’ or ‘ap’ means ‘son of,’ and thus the name means ‘son of lefan.’ The name ‘Lefan’ is likely the Welsh version of the name John.

5. Beddoe

It is a variant of the name ‘Bedo,’ which is the pet form of the Welsh name Meredith that means ‘sea lord’ or ‘protector of the sea’ in Welsh.

6. Bennion

It is the anglicized form of the name ‘ap Einion’ meaning the ‘son of Einion.’ The name Einion is the Welsh word for ‘anvil.’

7. Bethel

It is a patronymic surname and an anglicized form of Welsh name ‘ab Ithel’ or ‘son of Ithel’ meaning ‘bountiful Lord.’

8. Blayney

This is derived from the Welsh words ‘blaenau’ meaning ‘uplands’ or ‘blean’ meaning ‘a river source.’ The name is also associated with the place called Castleblayney in Ireland.

9. Breckon

It is a toponymic name for someone from the county of Brecon, also called Brecknockshire, in south Wales. The name is also said to be the name of a 6th century Welsh prince from the same place.

10. Caddell

This is derived from the Old Welsh personal name ‘Cadell’ that itself comes from the Welsh word ‘cad’ meaning ‘battle.’ The surname was popularly associated with the 7th-century saint Cadell ab Urien.

11. Cadogan

It is a derivative of Old Welsh family name Cadwgan where ‘cad’ means‘ battle’ and ‘gwgan’ means ‘glory.’ The surname thus means ‘glory in battle’ or ‘honor in battle.’

12. Cardiff

It is a toponymic name for someone from the Welsh city of Cardiff. The name Cardiff comes from a combination of two Welsh words, namely ‘caer’ meaning ‘fort and ‘taf’ meaning ‘stream of water.’

13. Carew

It is a toponymic name for anyone from the several places of the same name in Wales, including a castle called Carew. The name is a combination of the Welsh words ‘caer’ meaning ‘fort’ and ‘rhiw’ meaning ‘hill’ or a ‘slope.’

14. Cecil

It is taken from the Old Welsh name ‘Seisyllt’ that is derived from the Latin name ‘Sextilius.’ The name ‘Sextilius’ comes from the Latin word ‘sextus’ meaning ‘sixth.’ The name ‘Cecil’ could also be the modified form of the Latin name ‘Caecilius,’ which is derived from ‘Caecus,’ the Latin word for ‘blind.’

15. Collins

This surname is derived from ‘Collen,’ which is a Welsh word for hazel or a hazel grove. Hazel is a shrub and the source of hazelnut. This surname likely has English and Irish origins.

16. Coslett

This is a variant name of Corslett or Cosslett that is considered to have migrated to Wales from Germany. The exact origin of the name is unknown. The surname is common in northern Wales and around Liverpool in England.

17. Craddock

This is a derivative of the Welsh personal name, Caradoc which traces its origin to the ancient Celtic name ‘Caratacos.’ The Celtic name comes from the Celtic word ‘car’ meaning ‘love.’

18. Davies

It is the Welsh variant of the name ‘Davis’ that means ‘son of David.’ The name ‘David’ itself comes from Hebrew and means ‘beloved.’

19. Dee

It is derived from the Welsh word ‘Du’ meaning black or dark. The name ‘Dee’ likely started as a nickname for a person with a dark complexion or dark skin color. Another origin could be the River Dee in Wales. In this case, the name could be a toponymic one referring to those who lived along the banks of the Dee River.

20. Dew

It is considered to be one of the new names that migrated to England after the Norman Conquest. The name means ‘treasured one’ in Welsh


It is a variant of the Welsh personal name Idris that is made of two Welsh elements, namely ‘uud’ meaning ‘lord’ and ‘ris’ meaning ‘impulsive’ or ‘ardent.’

22. Edwards

It is a patronymic name that means ‘son of Edward.’ The name Edward itself comes from Old English words ‘ead’ meaning ‘wealth’ or ‘fortune,’ and ‘weard’ that means ‘guard.’ The name Edward thus means ‘rich guard.’

23. Elijah

The name means ‘my god is Yahweh’ or ‘my god is lord’ in Hebrew. Elijah has been the name of several saints in the past.

24. Ellis

It is a derivative of the Welsh personal name ‘Elisedd’ that is derived from the Welsh word ‘elus’ meaning ‘kind’ or ‘benevolent.’ This surname has been the name of a few kings that ruled over Wales.

25. Evans

It is a patronymic name that means ‘son of Evan.’ The name Evan is the anglicized version of ‘lefan,’ which is the Welsh version of the name John.

26. Eynon

This is a derivative of the Welsh personal name ‘Enion’ that comes from the Welsh word ‘Einion’ meaning ‘anvil.’

27. Flint

It is a toponymic name for someone from the place called Flint in the Flintshire county of Wales. The place is famous for its castle, that is called Flint Castle.

28. Flower

It is an anglicized form of the Welsh personal name ‘Llywarch’ that has an unexplainable origin. The surname may be of English origin where it refers to a blossoming flower or a derivative of Old French word ‘flur’ meaning ‘flower.’

29. Floyd

It is a variant of the surname Lloyd that is a derivative of the Welsh word ‘llwyd’ meaning ‘gray.’ The word ‘llwyd’ is also used to refer to the color ‘brown.’ The name may have been a reference to a young man.

30. Gaynor

It is a variant of the feminine name ‘Gaenor’ that came from ‘Gwenhwyfar,’ a compound of Welsh elements ‘gwen’ meaning‘fair,’ ‘wyf’ meaning ‘smooth,’ and ‘fawr’ meaning ‘large.’ A few variants of the name Gaynor are Guinevere, and Jennifer, which is a popular feminine name.

31. Gethin

It is derived from the Welsh name ‘Cethin’ meaning ‘ugly’ or ‘hideous.’ The name would have likely begun as a nickname.

32. Glace

It is the anglicized form of Welsh word ‘Glas’ that means ‘green’ or can even refer to ‘silver-gray.’ The name could have originally been a nickname.

33. Goff

It is a variant of the name ‘Gough’ that comes from the Welsh word ‘coch’ meaning red. The name likely began as a nickname for someone with red hair or a reddish complexion.

34. Gower

It is a toponymic name for someone from the Gower peninsula, which lies to the south-west of Wales.

35. Griffiths

It means ‘son of Gruffudd.’ The name Gruffudd comes from the Old Welsh name ‘Griphiud’ meaning ‘chief’ or ‘lord.’

36. Guild

It is an anglicized form of Welsh surname ‘Gwyllt,’ a nickname that means ‘wild’ in Welsh.

37. Gwalchmai

It is derived from two Welsh elements, ‘gwalch’ meaning ‘hawk and ‘mai’ meaning ‘field.’ It is also the name of a village in Anglesey, an island off the north-western coast of Wales.

38. Hanmer

This surname is likely a toponymic one, referring to a place called Hanmer , which is a place within the Wrexham County of Wales. The name means ‘lake’ or a ‘pond’ in Old English.

39. Havard

The name is of uncertain origin but is considered a toponymic one. It could refer to someone from the place called Hereford in the Herefordshire county of England. The name Hereford is a combination of the Old English words ‘here’ meaning ‘army’ and ‘ford’ meaning ‘ford’ (a shallow section of a river or a stream).

40. Hier

It is derived from a descriptive nickname derived from the Welsh word ‘hir’ meaning ‘long’ or ‘tall.’

41. Hopkins

It is a patronymic Welsh surname meaning ‘son of Hopkin.’ The name Hopkin is a derivative of the name ‘Robert’ that comes from the Old Germanic name ‘Hrodebert’ meaning ‘bright fame.’

42. Howell

It is an anglicized form of the Old Welsh name ‘Hywel’ which means ‘eminent.’ It was a popular name during the Middle ages and also the name of a ruler of Wales.

43. Hughes

It is the Welsh variant of the surname ‘Howells,’ which means ‘son of Howell.’ Another origin could be the name ‘Hugh’ that comes from the Old Germanic word ‘hug’ meaning ‘heart’ or ‘spirit.’

44. Idle

It is a derivative of the Welsh personal name ‘Ithael’ that comes from Old Welsh name ‘ludhail’ meaning ‘bountiful Lord.’

45. Ithell

It is a variant of the name ‘Ithael,’ which traces its origins to the Old Welsh name ‘ludhail’ meaning ‘bountiful Lord.’

46. James

It is adapted from the first name ‘James.’ The name ‘James’ originated from the Hebrew name ‘Jacob’ that means ‘supplanter.’ The name likely came to Great Britain during the Norman Conquest.

47. Jenkins

It means ‘son of Jenkin.’ The name Jenkin is derived from the name ‘John’ with the suffix ‘kin’, thus the name likely referring to ‘John’s family.’

48. John

It is a popular biblical name that is a variant of the Hebrew name ‘Yochanan’ meaning ‘Jehovah has been gracious’ or ‘god is gracious.’

49. Jones

It is a variant of the name ‘Jon,’ which originates from the name John.

50. Keelan

It is a toponymic name for someone from any of the several places called Cilan in Wales.

51. Kemble

It is derived from the Old Welsh personal name ‘Cynbel’ that is composed of the Old Welsh elements ‘cyn’ meaning ‘chief’ and ‘bel’ meaning ‘war.’ The name thus means ‘war chief.’

52. Kendrick

It is derived from the Old Welsh name ‘Cynwrig’ that is a combination of elements ‘cyn’ meaning ‘chief’ and ‘gwr’ meaning ‘man ‘. It is a popular surname in Wales and counties bordering England.

53. Kneath

The name is likely a toponymic one and likely derived from the name Neath – the name of several places including a river in Wales.

54. Kerry

The origins of the name are unknown, but the surname comes from Old Welsh and means ‘near the castle.’

55. Lewis

It is derived from the Welsh name ‘Llywelyn’that likely originated from the Welsh word ‘llyw’ meaning ‘leader.’ Another variant of the name Lewis is Lewison.

56. Lloyd

It comes from the Welsh word ‘llwyd’ meaning ‘gray’ or also used to refer ‘brown.’ The name may have been a nickname or a reference to young men.

57. Maddocks

It is derived from Welsh personal name ‘Madoc,’ which comes from the Welsh word ‘mad’ meaning ‘good’ or ‘fortunate.’ The other alternatives of the name are Maddox, Mattock, Maddick, Maddog, Mattack and Madog.

58. Meredith

It is derived from the Old Welsh names Meredydd or Maredudd, which means ‘great lord’ or ‘sea lord.’ Another origin of the name could be the Old Welsh name Morgetiud with its first part meaning ‘pomp’ or ‘splendor’ and second portion meaning ‘lord.’

59. Merrick

It originates from the Welsh name ‘Meurig,’ which is the Welsh form of the name ‘Maurice.’ The name ‘Maurice’ comes from the Late Roman name ‘Maurus’ meaning ‘dark-skinned.’

60. Moore

It is a derivative of Welsh word ‘mawr’ meaning ‘big’ or ‘large.’ It may have been originally a nickname for a large or big man.

61. Morgan

This is a derivative of Old Welsh personal name ‘Morcant’ composed of the Welsh elements ‘mor’ meaning ‘sea’ and ‘cant’ meaning ‘circle.’ It is a popular surname in Wales and other parts of Great Britain as well.

62. Morris

It is an anglicized form of Welsh personal name ‘Maurice’ that comes from the Late Roman name ‘Maurus’ meaning ‘dark-skinned.’

63. Moss

It is derived from either Old English ‘mos’ meaning ‘peat-bog’ or Irish ‘Maolmona’ referring to an ancient Gaelic devotee. Another origin of the name could be the Hebrew name ‘Moses.’

64. Mostyn

It is a toponymic name from someone from the place called Mostyn in Wales. The name of the place comes from Old English and means ‘moss town.’

65. Myrick

It is a variant of the Welsh name ‘Myrick’ that ultimately traces its origins to ‘Maurice.’ The name ‘Maurice’ comes from the Late Roman name ‘Maurus’ meaning ‘dark-skinned.’

66. Nanney

It is a toponymic surname derived from the name of a place called Nannau in Wales. The root word for the name is the Celtic word ‘nant’ meaning ‘brook.’

67. Nest

It is the Welsh form of the name ‘Agnes.’ The name Agnes comes from the Greek name ‘Hagne’ meaning ‘pure’ or ‘holy.’

68. Nevitt

It is derived from the Old English word ‘cniht’ that meant a ‘young man’ or a ‘knight.’ The name ‘Nevitt’ could also be the anglicized form of the Old Welsh name ‘Ednyfed.’ This name likely comes from the Welsh names ‘Edenevet’ or ‘Eidniuet’ composed of two Welsh elements, ‘iud’ meaning ‘lord’ and ‘nemeto’ meaning ‘sacred grove.’

69. Owen

It is derived from the Welsh personal name ‘Owain,’ which is likely the Welsh form of the name ‘Eugene.’ The name Eugene comes from the Greek name ‘Eugenios’ that means ‘well-born’ or ‘noble.’

70. Parry

This is a patronymic name that is an anglicized version of the Welsh name ‘ap Harry’ meaning ‘son of Harry.’ The name Harry is derived from the name ‘Henry’ that comes from the Germanic name ‘Heimirich’ meaning ‘home ruler’ or ‘ruler of the homeland.’

71. Pembroke

It is a toponymic surname for someone from the town called Pembroke in Wales. This surname is considered to have been established since the 17th century in Ireland.

72. Pennoyer

The name’s original spelling was ‘Penoyre,’ and it is composed of two Welsh elements, ‘pen’ meaning ‘head’ and ‘aur’ meaning ‘golden.’ The name likely referred someone with golden hair. The name ‘Pennoyer’ could also be a toponymic one referring to someone from the place called Golden Valley in Herefordshire, Wales.

73. Phillips

It means ‘son of Philip.’ The name Philip comes from the Greek name ‘Philippos.’ It is composed of elements, ‘philein’ meaning ‘love’ and ‘hippos’ meaning ‘horse.’

74. Pierce

It is a patronymic surname from the Welsh personal name ‘Piers.’ The name ‘Piers’ come from the name ‘Peter,’ which comes from the Greek word ‘Petros’ meaning ‘stone.’

75. Poyner

This surname is an anglicized form of the Welsh patronymic name ‘ab Ynyr’ or ‘son of Ynyr’. It is a derivative of the Latin name ‘Honorius’ meaning ‘honored.’

76. Price

This is a patronymic name derived from the Welsh personal name ‘ap Rhys’ meaning ‘son of Rhys.’ The name ‘Rhys’ means ‘enthusiasm.’

77. Priddy

It is a patronymic name that is the anglicized version of the name ‘ap Redith’ meaning ‘son of Redith.’ The name ‘Redith’ comes from the Old Welsh name ‘Meredith’ meaning ‘protector of the sea.’ Other origins of the name could be ‘ap Rhiddid’ meaning ‘son of Rhiddid.’ The name ‘Rhiddid’ is of unknown origin. The name ‘Priddy’ could even be a derivative of the Welsh word ‘prydudd’ meaning ‘bard.’

78. Pride

It is a derivative of the Welsh word ‘prid’ that means ‘precious’ or ‘dear.’ This popular name likely represents a valued and cherished person.

79. Prothero

It is the anglicized version of the Welsh name ‘ap Rhydderch’ meaning ‘son of Rhydderch.’ The name Rhydderch means ‘reddish-brown’ and the name may have been a reference to someone with reddish-brown hair or complexion.

80. Rees

It is derived from the Old Welsh personal name ‘Rhys’ that means ‘enthusiasm.’ Another source could be the Old Welsh word ‘Ris’ meaning ‘ardor.’ Other variants include Rice, Reese, and Reece.

81. Roberts

It means ‘son of Robert.’ The name Robert comes from Old German and is made from the Germanic elements ‘hrod’ meaning ‘fame’ and ‘beraht’ meaning ‘bright.’

82. Roderick

It is an anglicized form of Welsh personal name ‘Rhydderch’ that meaning ‘reddish-brown.’

83. Rosser

It is the Welsh version of the English name ‘Roger.’ The name Roger comes from Old German and is composed of the Germanic elements ‘hrod’ meaning ‘fame’ and ‘gar’ meaning ‘spear.’

84. Sayce

This surname comes from the Old Welsh word ‘sais’ that means ‘saxon.’ The name was a reference to the English people settled in and around Wales.

85. Scurlock

It is originated from the Welsh personal name formed by the element ‘ysgor’ meaning ‘fort’ or ‘camp.’ The surname is associated with fortified manors in several parts of Wales.

86. Sealy

This surname is derived from the Welsh personal names ‘Selyf’ or ‘Selau.’ These names are the Welsh version of the name ‘Solomon,’ a Biblical name that means ‘peaceful.’

87. Tew

It is the Welsh word for ‘fat, ’ ‘plump,’ or ‘portly.’ The name likely began as a nickname for a fat person and eventually transformed into a surname.

88. Thomas

It is a biblical name and was a popular medieval personal name in Europe. It is a derivative of Aramaic byname meaning ‘twin.’

89. Trahern

It is derived from the Welsh personal name ‘Trahaearn,’ composed of two Welsh words, namely ‘tra’ meaning ‘most’ and ‘haearn’ meaning ‘iron.’ The name originally would have referred to someone who was as strong as iron.

90. Trevor

It is a toponymic surname derived from two Welsh words, namely ‘tref’ meaning ‘town’ and ‘mawr’ meaning ‘large.’ The name thus means ‘large town,’ and could have referred to someone who came from a large town.

91. Tudor

It is taken from the personal Welsh name ‘Tudur’ that comes from the Celtic word ‘Toutorix’ meaning ‘ruler of the people.’

92. Uren

It is a derivative of Brythonic personal name ‘Orbogenos’ that was known as ‘Urgen’ or ‘Urbgen’ in Old Welsh. Although the first element is unknown, the root word ‘gen’ represents ‘born’ or ‘birth.’

93. Vaughan

It is derived from Welsh word ‘bychan’ that means ‘small’ or ‘little.’ The name would have originated to distinguish the younger of two bearers of the same personal name. The name could have also been a nickname.

94. Voyle

It is originated from the Welsh word ‘moel’ meaning ‘bald.’ It may have begun as a reference to a bald person or a dry patch of land.

95. Wathen

It is a derivative of the Welsh personal name ‘Gwaiddan.’ The name ‘Gwaiddan’ is a toponymic one and likely refers to someone from the place called Robeston Wathen in Wales.

96. Williams

It is a patronymic surname that means ‘son of William.’ The name William comes from the Old German name ‘Willahelm’ composed of the Old Germanic elements, ‘wil’ meaning ‘desire’ and ‘helm’ meaning ‘helmet’ or ‘protection.’

97. Wogan

It is derived from the Old Welsh personal name ‘Gwgan’ or ‘Gwgon’ that comes from the Welsh word ‘gwg’ meaning to ‘frown.’

98. Wynn

It is a variant of the Welsh name ‘Wyn’ that comes from the Welsh word ‘gwyn’ meaning ‘white’ or ‘fair’ or ‘blessed.’ Some other variants of the surname Wynn are Wyne and Gwynne.

99. Yale

It is a toponymic name derived from the Welsh word ‘ial’ that refers to a ‘fertile upland.’ The name originally may have referred to people who came from a place that was a fertile upland.

100. Yarwood

It is an anglicized form of Welsh personal name ‘Iorwerth’ which has Welsh elements ‘ior’ meaning ‘lord’ and lenited form of ‘berth’ meaning ‘handsome.’

Welsh surnames are interesting and have several unique attributes that make them intriguing as well. These names are thus quite likely to catch your eye! Do you have some more Welsh surnames to add to our list? Let us know of them in the comments section below.

History of Wales

Wales is a small upland town located at the headwaters of the Quinnebaug drainage system. It was settled by colonists from Brimfield and Springfield during the mid-18th century. Settlement of the town was late despite grants having been made to Springfield entrepreneurs as early as 1701 because the threat of Indian attack and a legal dispute over land ownership discouraged colonists.

The first settlers were Anthony Needham and John Bullan, who built houses in 1726 near Lake George. Their arrival was swiftly followed by the establishment of the first burial ground in 1732, the first grist mill in 1750 by Shubael Dimmick, the first tannery in 1752 by Phineas Durkee and the first meetinghouse in 1760. Unlike many other of the colonies which were primarily Congregationalist, the earliest religious society in Wales was formed by Baptists. Townspeople in Wales farmed and made shoes and boots and in the 19th century the Wales and the Shaw companies made the town an important woolen producing town. The jobs in the mills drew immigrants from Ireland and French Canada.

The peak population in 1880 was 1033 people, reflecting this immigration. Residents who didn't work in the mills worked in market gardens, dairy farms and woodlands as some of them continue to do in the 21st century. The town center of Wales retains a remarkable early 19th century character as a street village with several stylish brick houses and a Greek revival meeting house. Growth of the town in modern times has been in the recreational land around the Brimfield Forest and Lake George.

Wales Today

Wales is a town in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 1,838 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. Wales was officially incorporated in 1762 as South Brimfield, a name it kept until February 20, 1828. The town was named after James Lawrence Wales, a local benefactor.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 16.0 square miles (41.3 km²), of which, 15.8 square miles (40.8 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (1.32%) is water. Wales is bounded on the west by Monson on the south by Stafford, Connecticut and Union, Connecticut on the east by Holland and on the north by Brimfield.

Wales in 1890 (as described by Elias Nason in 1890)

Wales is a small mountainous town of 853 inhabitants, 166 dwelling-houses, and a valuation of $ 282,754, in the southeast section of Hampden County, and 93 miles southeast of Boston. The nearest railroad station is that of the New London and Northern Railroad, in Monson. Brimfield (from which it was taken) lies on the north, Holland on the east, Stafford and Union, Conn., on the south, and Monson on the west. Mount Hitchcock, in the northwest corner of the town, rises to the height of 1,190 feet, and commands a prospect of remarkable extent and beauty. A fine expanse of water, called "Wale's Pond," sends a tributary northward to the Quinebaug River and other streams flow from the highlands into Chicopee River. Though small, these rivulets are rapid, and furnish motive power for several mills. There were in the town at one time five woollen and several saw mills and one silk manufactory there are now two woollen mills, employing, in June, 1885, 194 persons. There were several other small manufactures.

The hillsides afford good pasturage, and the valleys excellent land for tillage. The number of farms is 74 whose aggregate product in 1885 was valued at $39,810. A specialty here is the preparation of aromatic and medicinal roots and herbs which in 1885 yielded $905.

The town has one post-office, a good public hall, a public library, six school-houses, a Baptist church and a Methodist church.

This town was incorporated as "South Brimfield District," Sept. 18, 1762 and as the town of "Wales" (so named from James Lawrence Wales, Esq.), Feb. 20, 1828. The first dwelling-house in the town was erected by John Moulton as early as 1730. It was for some time used as a fort. A Baptist church was formed here as early as 1736. The Rev. Ebenezer Moulton was the first pastor.

p. 654 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890 Gazetteer

Wales in 1862 Centennial Pamphlet

Click here to read the full pamphlet.

Town of Wales Centennial pamphlet photos courtesy of Wales resident, Ed Morrow.

Mineral Collecting in Wales

Mineralogy, in the context of collecting minerals for their own sake, is an activity with a relatively short history in Wales. This is in stark contrast to the many centuries during which minerals were sought after as metal ores. It fell to the gentleman naturalists who flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to begin assembling together the jigsaw that, although still incomplete, constitutes the Mineralogy of Wales. This is incomplete, because almost every year, records of species new to Wales are made and published.

Occasional notes on individual mineral occurrences in Wales can be found in the early literature (e.g. Lhuyd, 1684 &ndash as noted in Greenly (1919) Sowerby, 1811). However in in 1858, Robert Philips Greg and William Garrow Lettsom, following on from Sowerby&rsquos British Mineralogy (1804-1817) published their famous Manual of the Mineralogy of Great Britain and Ireland.. This book represented the first attempt to list comprehensively and describe all of the minerals known to occur in the British Isles. A total of 241 mineral species was listed, of which 47 were noted from Welsh localities. Most of the species mentioned from Wales were, perhaps not surprisingly, minerals encountered during mining and quarrying - hence the common ores and alteration products of copper, lead and zinc feature in the list, as does gold. Their work was not exhaustive. For example, a description of analcime from Anglesey, published by J.S. Henslow (incidentally Charles Darwin&rsquos tutor) in 1822, was omitted.

In contrast to other mining districts, such as those of Devon and Cornwall, the orefields of Wales were not greatly frequented by mineral dealers and specimen hunters. However, there were some exceptions including the noted eighteenth century naturalist Thomas Pennant (1726-1792) who was particularly active in his local area (the Halkyn district of north-east Wales). The famous mineral collection of his Cornish contemporary, Philip Rashleigh, contains specimens from this area: interestingly a Mr Pennant was one of Rashleigh&rsquos specimen suppliers.

Welsh mineralogy had a useful boost in the early twentieth century when much important material was collected by the then Chief Inspector of Mines for North Wales, G.J. Williams. His was a job of which many modern mineral enthusiasts would dream. During his tours of duty around the then working mines throughout North Wales, the opportunities to obtain fine contemporary specimens would have been legion. In 1927, the National Museum of Wales obtained Williams&rsquo material.

Despite the gradual decline in the Welsh mining industry, interest in Wales&rsquo minerals grew steadily throughout the twentieth century, with the 1960s onwards seeing a massive expansion in the numbers of active amateur collectors. Access to microscopes has enabled the study of microcrystalline (but often stunningly beautiful under magnification) minerals resulting in the discovery of many rare mineral species in Wales by the dedication of several amateur mineralogists.

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