Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Christina Elizabeth Frances Bevan

Last week a follower on twitter sent me an intriguing message – ‘here’s something to pass on to all your Bevan clan’ - he wrote with a link to a feature in a national daily newspaper.

The model in an enigmatic set of photographs taken by Mervyn O'Gorman, thought to be the earliest examples of colour photography, had been identified. Previously known only as Christina it was thought that the young girl in the red bathing suit was O'Gorman's daughter.

However, Christina's true identity came to light when Stephen Riddle, a retired technician, contacted Colin Harding, curator at the National Media Museum with a set of stereoscopic slides by O’Gorman.

The 16 year old model was revealed to be Christina Elizabeth Frances Bevan, the elder daughter of Edwyn Robert Bevan, a classical scholar, archaeologist and philosopher, and his wife, the Honourable Mary Waldegrave.

Mervyn O’Gorman trained first as an electrical engineer before becoming an aircraft engineer and Superintendent of the Royal Aircraft Factory but in his spare time he enjoyed taking photographs and was a pioneer of the Autochrome process.

At the time of the 1911 census, two years before these photographs were taken, Edwyn lived in a substantial property called Sun House on the Chelsea Embankment with his wife and two daughters employing a butler, housekeeper, lady's maid, cook, housemaid and a kitchenmaid.

It was a far cry from the lifestyle of Sylvanus Bevan, 80 and his wife Ann, 79, who had retired from farming and moved to The Sycamores, just a stones throw away from the home where Sylvanus grew up at Bay View Farm, Overton, Gower.

Yet the strawberry blonde 16 year old and the old man and his wife share a common ancestry, tracing their family lines back to Jenkin-ap-Evan and his wife Elizabeth After who lived in Rhossili on the Gower peninsula.

Jenkins' son William, known as William Bevan the Quaker, moved to Swanzey where he practiced his faith and spent two years in prison for his refusal to pay Church Rates and Tithes.Descendants of William founded the famous Plough Court Pharmacy, bought into Henry Thrales Anchor Brewery and married into the Barclay family of bankers.

Christina could trace her ancestry back through her grandfather Robert Cooper Lee Bevan to another Silvanus Bevan and his parents Timothy Bevan and Elizabeth Barclay, back to Jenkin-ap-Evan, the ancestor who Anglicised the Welsh name.

Back home in Gower, Jenkin's other son Francis married and moved into Oxwich Castle where the Bevan family farmed for more than two hundred years, travelling down numerous Francis's and Sylvanus's until another Sylvanus married his cousin Ann in 1855.

The photographs O'Gorman took in 1913 are the subject of an exhibition entitled Drawn by Light on show at the National Media Museum, Bradford until June 21, 2015.

When my twitter follower urged me to pass on the news of Christina's identity I little suspected I would find a link to the ethereal girl in red and the Bevan family from Gower.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sill is a 'free agent'

The Salthouse Silvanus mentions is a pair of cottages that once stood on the western end of Porteynon Bay.  Said to have been built on the site of a fortified mansion house and stone quay belong to the Lucas family, the original structure, built in the 17th century, was destroyed in the devastating Great Storm of 1703.  A pair of cottages was built on the ruin during the 18th century and, according to local guides, occupied until the mid 19th century, although Silvanus’ letter suggests occupation may have continued longer.

 Overton, Gower
June 29th

My dear Brother

I think I may venture to write with a reasonable amount of safety now the general outlook in political circles have assumed a more settled & promising prospect, both at home & abroad, which is proof of the ability of those men you ridicule & point the finger os corn (shame) our foreign relations on every hand has become settled & friendly, & that dangerous firery agitative spirit formerly so promiently universal throughout the cabinets of the known world has become a thing of the past for Britain who’s influence is so powerfully felt has placed the reins in the hands of men that has an unusual amount of common sense which they use in cool deliberation followed by firm actions, instigated by the conviction that we ask for nothing but what is right & will submit nothing that is wrong.  I have several things to say socially so I forgo polititics.  

I there comes your long list of questions, there are about half a dozen strawberries, there were about 3 qrs of gooseberries but the young apple trees are real Liberals.  There is no one a Salthouse, Mr. Madge has sold up.  Perhaps you will be satisfied to know I am a free agent.  I have no betrothal Anne Stevens is unmaried but Morgan Bevan (the ship) is home, & they are considered engaged.  Lizzie will tell you all about hers.  Francis fell in love with a girl in Swansea, who hapened to be coming down to Gower for a fortnight so he returned & all his schemes of adventure fell through.

I sent the programme of what we were treated with in school.  We the Oddfellows are going to have a dinner & march with a band & grand display of bunting.  I am one of five on a commitee to make all arrangements. I must go at once to Porteynon, write by return then you shall hear all particulars. B.

Photographs of Salt House ruins taken in 2008

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Arabella - a capital name for an Ironmongers' wife

22 George Street
June 9th 1880

Dear Brother

I was very glad to see you punctuality to orders but I denie your charge on the noun patience which of course if you were passing it you would put it in the feminine gender because you never see it in a man so much do you say about young men and women that I should think you know something about them.  Please state who she is what she is what is her name.  Arabella I should think because that would be a capital name for an Iron-mongers wife or rather a gentlemans well I suppose so much for that subject.  We are 11 young ladies besides Miss Emery she is an old maid so you might know what she is like other old maids would be It is two long years or more before I shall be free of any apprenticeship.  I am very glad to hear that you will have a chance of shaking hand with our friend and brother the Prince if you do so be sure and remind him that you have a sister at Miss Emery Bedford house Walters Road Swansea in the County of Glamorgan South Wales and would be very much obliged if he would give her half of that days income.  Today we never expected anything but a cabbage and a can of milk.  I was greatly surprised on opening thee cupboard door to see [see] 3 large gooseberry cakes we only get a letter from home once a week and that is on Saturday morning written on Friday night saying that they are quite well hoping we are the same they are very busy wants pack up and be off to bed.

(incomplete letter from Hannah)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bevan & Co.

June 9th 1880

Dear Brother

You seem to be in a great hurry for good advice which is certainly a very good sign & I hope you will profit much by it when you get it.  But having many things to write unto thee I would not on paper and ink but I trust shortly to see thee, and speak to thee, face to face, that our joy may be full.  Miss Nicholas has been here and has taken the order for your things so you may expect them soon for anything under [under]  taken by Liberals is soon accomplished, whether its Turkish reforms, shirt making or the demolishing of gooseberry cakes or any other difficult (for the last mentioned you Conservatives deserve some credit).

The present protraction (which you term Liberal selfishness) has originated from following too much the devises of the Tories, and thereby, exhausted our finances, so we are bound to retrench, & home requirements are delayed as well as those abroad.

On Saturday morning last as Dutch Galley Yatch the same rig as a Dandy was abandon off our coast in a sinking condition the crew came in to the quay and got on board the lass & on hearing their report Capt. Tom and Will Chalk, & Phil Hopkin went off, & withe the help of 2 men from another vessel brought her in to the Quay she has on board about 90 tons of knife bricks, the Salvagers claime £60 and the Insurance Company has ofered them £10 she is going to Swansea tomorrow in charge of the Salvagers.

We expect to finish sowing Swedes tomorrow.  It is getting very late so Good night

          I remain Your affection Bro.
                    Silvanus Bevan

In the 1880s Silvanus was a member of a family salvage firm about which he writes “Bevan & Co (comprising C & S Bevan, J. Steven Overton, J. Stephen Porteynon, J. Hughes.)

The Bevan family on holiday

June 6th

Dear brother

It is so long since we have had any news from you that we are thinking perhaps you have lost the address.

We have been very busy lately or I should have written before.  You are the only absent one at present as Morgan, Jane, Hannah and Frank came down yesterday morning to spend their holiday at home.  We were wishing that you could be with us too.

Morgan and Sill have borrowed Mr. beynons trap and are gone to Landymore for a drive while Father Mother Jane Hannah and Frank are gone in our own trap to green anniversary the Rev. Mr. Biscombe is expected to preach there and as the day is pretty fine they expect a good company.

Mr. Melland Threatened to summons Frank Gibbs for throwing stones and annoying a certain William Phillps nick-named Mr. Talbot. I dare say you know him.  That Frank started of to Swansea and tried to Join the Military but they would not take him.  And he got a berth to go to sea but his father would not send him any clothes and he came home looking very shamefaced repenting of his run.

We have the promise of a good many apples on the trees this year but no gooseberry’s at all.

Have you had new potatoes we have had some to day out of our own garden.

I am glad to tell you that we are all well hoping you are the same with love from all

                    I remain
                              Your Affecte Sister
                                        E. Bevan
                                        Write soon

I hope you are enjoying your holiday today.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Do not let anyone see this letter

An awkward little letter written by Morgan in response to George’s message of condolence.

22 George St.
June 3rd 1880

Dr George
I received your letter this morning & was indeed pleased to hear from you.  I have been expecting a letter from you for a long time & at the same time was thinking of writing to you but could never make up my mind to do so you know what sort of man I am of a timid disposition still there is some acts of bravery about me one for, instance, Getting Married & that seems so far to answer pretty well indeed so that I ought to be incouraged & not feel so timid.

Well George it is all very well talking foolishly still I do not believe in going half way to meet troubles it is true enough when it comes.  You spoke about my sad loss yes a great loss when mother goes it almost speaks to me in words look out for yourself home appear broken up there appear no ruling shepherd to keep us all together because it always was Mother Mother  no one to say Morgan be careful over this or that no the voice is not to be again.  She hath done what she could for every one of us & her end was peace I hope everlasting.  

You refered to buisness in your letter. I do not know what to do but I think I shall make an attempt when I can get a suitable shop & in a propper position but I may have to wait for a long time.  If I cannot get a good situation I had better stay where I am I have no dout but I should do very well because as you know I am a respectable young man have a respectable wife & we are respectable connected infact we are respectable alltogether.  Buisness keeps very quiet there is no stir here whatever.  If it would revive a little it would give a man a little encouragement. 

I scarcly know what I have put on this letter in the first place.  I have been cutting the grass in the front of the house & triming the hedge that my hand is shaking very much & Jane have been talking all the time so you can take it as it is & will promise to do better next time. Jane is first rate now since she come to Swansea & Hannah is very well. 

Do not let anyone see this letter.

From yr aff.
                                                  Bro. & Sisters
                                                        J.H. & M. Bevan

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Curly Black Lamb

June 2nd 1880

Dear Brother

We are very busy and have to work very hard.  Mother forgot to put Roberts letter with hers she thought that his and Eddy’s were folded in one another so you must not be surprised at the day of the Month on his letter.  Since he wrote it there has been an addition to the horses. Lester has got a colt and we expect one from Bright soon.  There is a prospect of a good crop of straw-berries this year by Harriet being so careful over them.  Robert and Eddy laughs about Hedley being a tinker and Eddy thinks about being an ironmonger.  We have had a letter from Hannah telling us something that you wrote to her.  Sill is going to write soon but mind you must send me a letter before you send him one.  It have been very wet here and we have to put on our long cloaks in the summer.  We are all very well except Robert who has had the headache.  We are just going to do our home-work so I must make haste.  We have begun to sow Swedes and expect to finish soon.

It is getting dark so I must conclude

Father & Mother and all the rest joins me In kind love to you all

                    I remain your
                    Aff. Sister Ellen M. Bevan

P.S. Georgie we have brought a black curly lamb Saturday last