Four killed in Mold riots – another Welsh injustice

Mold thumbSay ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ to any Welshman and he will scowl at the recollection of the great injustice of 50 years ago, when a Welsh village was flooded against the wishes of everyone in Wales to provide water for the city of Liverpool. However, few Welshmen know about the injustices almost 150 years ago in the north Wales town of Mold which led to the deaths of four people.

It started at the Leeswood Green Colliery; a small coal mine, four miles from Mold. In 1863, the owners replaced a popular Welsh colliery manager with John Young from Durham whose aggressive management style and anti-Welsh sentiment soon made him hated by the workforce. He brought in miners from England who were given the best coal seams to work, which meant they earned far more than their Welsh mining colleagues. He had an appalling safety record which included a flooding accident killing four people including a 10-year-old child. An excellent account of the disaster appears on the ‘Flue Pit Disaster’ page. Although four out of five of the miners were Welsh speakers, many of whom spoke little or no English, he banned the use of Welsh underground, arguing that rescuers might not understand a shout for help in Welsh!

The final straw came when Young announced that their wages were to be cut and they walked out on strike. A few days later the workers returned to the colliery, collecting Young and dumping him into a coal cart, placing a one-way train ticket to England in his coat pocket and taking him to the station. At the same time, another group of miners had entered Young’s home and were packing up his possessions and carrying them to the station platform. It was only by chance that a couple of police officers stumbled across the miners’ escort – they pulled Young from the crowd and led him back to the safety of Mold.

On 2nd June 1869, seven miners were prosecuted, mostly for their militant reputation, and the blue touch paper for the riot was lit. Expecting trouble, the police called in soldiers from across the border to help deal with any hostile reaction to the court’s decision

The trial was a complete travesty. The magistrates had financial interests linking them to the local coal-mining industry; only two miners had legal representation; court proceedings followed normal practice – conducted entirely in English; and despite no signs of any assault on Young, the miners were found guilty.

Mold-Riot
The scene of the Mold Riot

The two men who were identified as ringleaders, Ishmael Jones and John Jones, were given a month’s hard labour and the rest were given fines. The soldiers started to take the convicts towards the railway station to take them to the jail at Flint Castle(1) but the crowd started to throw stones causing the soldiers with their captives to take cover in a nearby telegraph office. One of the soldiers fired a shot through a front window and a protester fell to the ground. For ten minutes the soldiers continued to fire and four people were killed.

Margaret Younghusband had just stepped out of the church she had been cleaning to see what the disturbance was about and was shot in the thigh, bleeding out from her femoral artery. Edward Bellis , a collier, died from a gunshot wound to the stomach; Elizabeth Jones was shot in the back and died later. Robert Hannaby, a teenage collier was shot in the head and died instantly.

At the inquest, the magistrate was so deaf. he strained to hear through an old-fashioned ear trumpet. No miners were called to give evidence and no family members. The only evidence was from the police, a newspaper reporter and two doctors. Despite the fact the Riot Act had not been read, the jury decided in 15 minutes the deceased were killed through “justifiable homicide, caused by the crowd making reckless and outrageous attacks on her Majesty’s soldiers with unlawful missiles”.

The matter did not end there. A further court case was held with five men accused of taking part in the riot outside the court; each was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years penal labour – including Isaac Jones, whose wife had been shot in the back. It was a brutal and relentless show of power.

Mold riots The only positive thing to come out of this injustice was the fact the tragedy at Mold led the Authorities to rethink and change the way they dealt with public disorder in the future. However, it was not until 1942 that the Welsh Courts Act was passed which gave the right to use Welsh in courts providing that the Welsh speaker was under a disadvantage in having to speak English, but this was very narrowly defined by subsequent case law. The Welsh Language Act 1967, overturned these decisions and gave rise to the concept of ‘equal validity’ between the Welsh and English languages. It took 200 years from the Mold riots for that simple justice to be enacted.

(1) Knowing that Flint Castle was one of Edward I’s ruins, I was slightly puzzled, but I learned that up to the 19th century, part of the site’s outer bailey was used as Flintshire’s County Jail.

-oOo-

Since writing this blog, I had a very helpful response from historian David Rowe who has investigated the Mold riots in depth. Although I looked at a wide number of sources, all were web-based and I fell victim to the danger of not referring to primary sources, or, at least reliable secondary sources, when writing about history. Here is his helpful response:

[The blog is] an interesting précis of what has become known as the Mold Riots, but sadly this entry repeats other sources that may not be totally accurate. There is no evidence that the use of Cymraeg was banned by Young. Letters to local newspapers, and the reports of the trial itself, list many grievances, but the banning of the language does not feature in either. Indeed, during one of the two trials associated with the events, a number of the defendants were provided with a translator as they did not speak English. However, if anyone is able to provide evidence to the contrary, we would appreciate hearing from you so that this much repeated ‘fact’ can be confirmed.

Unfortunately many of the articles and books on the event repeat the same points which from my research are unsubstantiated. I have researched it in some detail and not wishing to go through point by point, it is also perhaps worth noting that very little is said about the injuries suffered by the army and police prior to them opening fire. Two of the eighteen injured police officers, Superintendent Thomas and Sergeant Dew, never returned to work and of the latter it was reported that “his helmet was smashed in, a stone was afterwards found inside it”. The affair was not supported by Mold townspeople and shopkeepers, and the miners took their business to Wrexham. The coal industry in the nineteenth century was extremely volatile with demand fluctuating considerably. This inevitably impacted upon miners and the reducing of wages & unemployment appears quite a normal practice. This often led to violence amongst mining communities themselves. Whilst from my reading of Young, I do not think he was particularly nice person, but interestingly he went back to Leeswood Green Colliery and one of the original rioters is later described as being his ‘right hand man.’

Grateful thanks to my friend Rhys Mwyn for the Blue Plaque photograph and the inspiration for this blog.

10,288 comments on “Four killed in Mold riots – another Welsh injustice

  1. Hi there! I could have sworn Iíve been to this website before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyhow, Iím certainly happy I discovered it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back often!

  2. I seriously love your website.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you develop this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím attempting to create my very own site and would love to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Many thanks!

  3. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always useful to read through articles from other authors and use something from their websites.

  4. Your style is very unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this page.

  5. An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I believe that you ought to write more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people don’t talk about these issues. To the next! Best wishes!!

  6. Good day! I could have sworn Iíve been to this website before but after going through a few of the posts I realized itís new to me. Anyhow, Iím certainly happy I discovered it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

  7. Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return once again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

  8. Hello, I do believe your blog may be having internet browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, excellent website!

  9. Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit yet again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

  10. Good day! I could have sworn Iíve visited this site before but after looking at some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím certainly pleased I stumbled upon it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back often!

  11. May I simply say what a comfort to discover a person that genuinely understands what they’re discussing on the internet. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people have to read this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you aren’t more popular since you definitely have the gift.

  12. Hello! I could have sworn Iíve visited this web site before but after going through many of the articles I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím certainly delighted I came across it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

  13. Hello there! This blog post could not be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!

  14. Iím impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís both equally educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I found this during my search for something regarding this.

  15. Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this web site.

  16. I just wanted to compose a brief note in order to express gratitude to you for all of the awesome items you are placing at this site. My considerable internet investigation has at the end of the day been rewarded with reasonable knowledge to exchange with my good friends. I would tell you that most of us site visitors are really blessed to dwell in a useful community with very many outstanding individuals with great tips and hints. I feel pretty lucky to have come across your entire webpages and look forward to many more awesome times reading here. Thanks again for everything.

  17. The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn’t fail me just as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I really believed you’d have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.

  18. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be helpful to read content from other writers and practice something from other websites.

  19. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be interesting to read articles from other writers and practice a little something from other sites.

  20. I was very pleased to discover this great site. I wanted to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every bit of it and i also have you book marked to look at new information on your website.

  21. You made some really good points there. I checked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

  22. Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit yet again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  23. Right here is the right web site for everyone who would like to understand this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic that has been written about for a long time. Great stuff, just great!

  24. Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It actually used to be a enjoyment account it. Glance complicated to more delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep up a correspondence?

  25. The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won’t disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I genuinely believed you would have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you can fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.

  26. Having read this I believed it was really enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *