In September 1883 Frances Harriett Ruddy took the 11 month old Henry Ernest to London for three weeks to visit her mother. This left Thomas in Wales with the three children of his first marriage, Thomas Alexander aged 13, William Pamplin 11 and Mary Emily 10. The children are not frequently mentioned in the journal, but Thomas’ affection for them is obvious. The census of 1881 shows a live- in servant, Jane Richards, at the Garden House, who presumably looked after the children from day to day. From the accounts in the journal of the months following the death of Thomas’ first wife Mary, it would be reasonable to speculate that additional help was available from staff at Palé and from neighbours.
Thomas gives a series of charming insights into the time he spent with the children of his first marriage during the absence of their stepmother and half brother.
Sunday evening the 9th. The children and I had a ramble up the Berwyn road as it was so fine. We saw several ring ouzels and two British tumuli which had been opened long ago.
Friday the 14th. The children and I went to Barmouth by the 7.20 train in the morning. It was most pleasant all the way to Dolgelly as the country looked so nice. We had to wait at Dolgelly for half an hour. The trains were late as it was the Agricultural Show day in the town. I pointed out several places of interest to the children, and particularly the clear peaks of Cader Idris. We had another most pleasant ride down to Barmouth Junction; the little ones were very excited all the way as they saw gulls, herons, curlews, green plovers and other birds on the estuary of the Mawddach. The rocky patches were aglow with the fine-leaved heather and the woods were putting on their autumnal tints of colour. We got out at the Junction to walk over the bridge to Barmouth as it is a charming walk.
We first explored some of the salt marshes near the Junction. [Lists some plants found]
The boys caught some crabs which caused some fun as the big crabs caught them by the fingers. The walk over the bridge was most enjoyable as it was blowing a light breeze. There is a fine view from the bridge up the estuary with the rugged hills on each side with
Cader Idris overlooking all.
We got into Barmouth at 11 o’clock and went straight through to Llanaber old church. It
was rather warm but it was a pleasant walk with the sea on our left and the rocky heath- clad hills on our right., with various trees and plants mixed up with the heath. We kept [to] the road all the way. [There follows a list of plants, molluscs & shells found in churchyard, beach and sand hills] We got back to Barmouth and had tea between 3 and 4 o’clock. After tea I sent Frances a post card to let her know we were in Barmouth. then walked up to Aberamffroch on the way to Dolgelly. [more details of botanical finds]
we next walked up the road by the side of the estuary, which was a most pleasant walk.
On our return we examined the boats in the town harbour, which pleased the little ones very much.. We left Barmouth at half past seven o’clock and got to Dolgelly by a little past 8 o’clock. There was a great crowd eager to get into the train, but we had a very comfortable journey all the way home, where we arrived at half past nine after a most enjoyable day.
Sunday the 16th. The children and I went up to the cairn called Carnedd Wen [SH999351] which is on the hill overlooking Croggen; it is a very extensive one. From there we went on to the Berwyn road [B4391] near Brynselwyn, near which we saw another little cairn, and then home.
Frances Harriett arrived home with baby Henry on 1st October, bringing her brother William Pamplin Williams, who stayed with the family for a fortnight.