The Foundation of Modern Wales: Wales 1642-1780

By Geraint H. Jenkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8 POLITICAL CONFLICT AND CHANGE

MORE than ever before, men who counted in Welsh politics in this period identified themselves closely with England. Landowners, especially those who had no roots in Wales, had no conception of a Welsh national interest or any memory of past glories. Wales as a nation was a concept foreign to those who identified native Welsh culture with social degradation and who spoke of the Welsh language in derisory terms. They often styled themselves 'true Englishmen' and during periods of war they became as aggressively patriotic as any John Bull. When Sir John Philipps of Picton Castle spoke of 'the honour of the nation' and 'the country's wish',1 he was assuredly not referring to Wales. Sir Charles Kemeys-Tynte viewed his candidature on behalf of the Tory cause in Glamorgan as an opportunity to 'serve poor England'.2 It is significant that, at the annual race-meeting at Lichfield in 1748, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn of Wynnstay entered a horse called 'Old England'. Even Welsh libertarians campaigned on behalf of 'free-born Englishmen'. When Evan Lloyd of Fron Dderw, Bala, threw in his lot with the Wilkesite cause, he cried 'joy to old England'.3 Eminent Welsh radicals such as Richard Price and David Williams, too, promoted the cause of 'English liberty'. Not even cultural patriots conceived of Wales as a distinct and separate political entity. However much the Morris brothers might have loathed the Welsh gentry's propensity for whoring after the English tongue, they shared the same values as far as the constitutional relationship between Wales and England was concerned. Lewis Morris, who was no Anglophile, spoke in fulsome terms of the 'happy union with the valorous English',4 whilst Richard Morris declared that 'there should be no distinction between an Englishman and a Welshman in our days'.5

What William Warrington called the 'wild spirit of independence'6 had clearly long vanished. Since Wales possessed no powerful political institutions to lend support to a sense of national identity it could not, as was the case in Ireland, produce politicians of the calibre of Henry Flood or Henry Grattan to campaign for its constitutional rights as a separate

____________________
1
L. Namier and J. Brooke, The House of Commons 1754- 1790 ( 3 vols., 1964), iii. 274.
2
P. D. G. Thomas, "Glamorgan Politics 1700-1750", p.76.
3
E. A. Jones, "Two Welsh Correspondents of John Wilkes", Y Cymmrodor 29 ( 1919), p. 126.
4
Add. Letters, i.39.
5
Add Letters, i. 322.
6
William Warrington, The History of Wales ( London, 1786), p. 556.

-300-

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The Foundation of Modern Wales: Wales 1642-1780
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The History of Wales i
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • A Note on Dating and Punctuation x
  • Contents xi
  • List of Maps xii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Part I Strife and Upheaval 1642-1660 1
  • Chapter I the Civil Wars and the Interregnum 3
  • Chapter 2 Propagating the Gospel 43
  • Part II the Return to Stability 1660-1730 85
  • Chapter 3 the Social and Economic Structure 87
  • Chapter 4 the Pattern of Politics 132
  • Chapter 5 Religion, Education, and Literacy 173
  • Chapter 6 Cultural and Intellectual Life 213
  • Part III the Age of Improvement 1730-1780 255
  • Chapter 7 Social and Economic Progress 257
  • Chapter 8 Political Conflict and Change 300
  • Chapter 9 the Spirit of Enthusiasm 342
  • Chapter 10 Cultural Revival and Invention 386
  • Bibliography 427
  • Index 465
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