I have now been transcribing and researching Thomas’ journals for more than 15 years. It has been possible to keep going because of the sheer variety and interest that his jottings present. I usually concentrate these posts on a single issue, but perhaps it is time to record some edited extracts from a six month period to demonstrate the range of interests and events he chose to record.
NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST Friday, March 1. Mr Woodall very kindly sent me gratis a volume of Bye-Gones for the years 1893–4. He has now sent me three volumes, representing six years. All my own contributions to the Oswestry Advertiser are reprinted in Bye-Gones. I am very pleased to have the copies.
WEATHER REPORTER March Wednesday the sixth. The ice still unbroken on Bala Lake and the reservoir. The snow is now confined to hollows, sides of roads and fences where it is of great depth in many places. Saturday the 16th. We walked to Bodwenni Gate. It was very pleasant, very clear road almost all the way and the birds singing. Great snow wreaths in many places.
FATHER Palm Sunday (the seventh) Henry, Carrie and little Alfred with me over Palé hill. It was fine and sunny. Alfred walked well and was pleased to go. Saw the Ring Ouzel. Good Friday. The whole family of us over Palé hill, and very enjoyable it was. Great snow wreaths on the hills, and a yard deep at the little farm of Bwlchysafen at an altitude of 1054 feet.
GEOLOGIST On Wednesday the 17th. I had a visit from Mr Lake of Cambridge University and his friend Mr Groom from Herefordshire. They had luncheon and tea with us and spent most of the time inspecting my fossils. Both are keen geologists and we had a pleasant time together. They enjoyed the visit and left by the 4.6 train.
FRIEND Thomas had befriended Thomas Mellard Reade as a fellow geologist, (see previous post) but in bereavement Reade chose to stay near to his friend Ruddy. Monday the 29th Frances and I met my friend Mr. Mellard Reade and his stepdaughter, Miss Taylor at the station. They came to spend a week at the Derfel to recruit their health, because Mrs Reade died the previous week. They were pleased to see us and we walked with them as far as the village. Wednesday, 1 May. I went over Palé hill with Mr Reade. We had an interesting ramble. Thursday the second. Mr Reade, Miss Taylor and I went to Sarnau, then on to Caeranucha and home by Bethel lane. It was very fine all the way. Saturday the 4th. I went to Sirior with Mr Reade. We examined some rather interesting glacial deposits and boulders. I had tea him at the Derfel where he lodges. Monday the 6th. Mr Reade and Miss Taylor returned home. They had very fine weather and much enjoyed their visit.
EMPLOYEE Monday the sixth [May]. Lady Robertson was safely delivered of her fourth daughter at 7:30 am. Both going on well.
Monday the 20th. Sir Henry and Col Burton [ Sir Henry’s brother in law] wished to see my collection of birds’ eggs. Col Burton knows much about them. He said my collection is very good and of much interest.
NEIGHBOUR. Saturday the 25th. I went after tea as far as Garnedd to see the old farmer. I found him in a very weak state and not likely to live long. He was very pleased to see me, and I was very sorry to see him in such a weak state. We have been dealing in potatoes now for over 20 years.
LOCAL EVENTS Tuesday the 28th Frances and I at Corwen where we spent most of the day after sale of furniture at Colomendy where the late Dowager Mrs Price of Rhiwlas lived for over 20 years. The articles were rather ancient, for the old lady was very saving body. Colomendy is a curious old place and house and gardens are much out of repair. It was very warm. I bid for a carpet and got it, and finished with that. Mr Owen of the White Lion Hotel kindly left it at Bryntirion here for me. We came home by the last train.
HUSBAND From their Geologically themed honeymoon onwards Frances Harriet seems to have been content to share her husband’s hobbies. Saturday the eighth. Frances and I went to Bala in the afternoon. We went along the side of the lake to Fachdeiliog boathouse. I searched for a sedge warbler’s nest there, but only found an empty whitethroat’s. I picked up two or three flint flakes by the lake on my return.
GUIDE. Thomas was always willing to act as guide to anyone who sought his instruction. Wednesday the 12th The Revd James Gracie came here on his bicycle from Bala College in the afternoon. I took him around the gardens, and after tea I guided him onto the top of Palé hill. The mountains were very clear, so I was able to show him Snowdon, Moelwyn, etc. I also showed him Moel Fammau. He was much pleased with the views, for he never saw Snowdon before. After supper he returned on his bicycle at 9 o’clock.
EXPERT Thomas was widely consulted as a horticultural expert. Thursday the 13th. I went by request to Bala College to see the grounds and give advice about the trees and shrubs. Principal Edwards, Prof Williams, and Mr Gracie went around with me. The Principal and Mr Williams were very nice and chatty all the time. Mr. Gracie came to the station to see me off.
PARENT Francis took the children in the evening to Bala to be photographed in a group.
CHESTER SOCIETY FOR NATURAL SCIENCE Wednesday the 26th. Frances and Henry went to Arenig station to see Mrs Evans Jones. I was to have gone too, to act as one of the leaders to the members of the Chester Society of Natural Science, but as the excavation was a failure, I stayed at home. It was hot and hazy all day with thunder far away; not a good day for top of Arenig.
ORNITHOLOGIST Saturday the 29th.[June] Henry and I went to see the young cuckoo for the last time; it was almost ready to fly. Sunday the 30th. Henry and I along the railway as far as Garth Goch. We found the nest of a shrike with three eggs and a whinchats with five eggs, all fresh.
Sunday the seventh. We all went in the evening to see the swans and their cygnet on the river near Dolygadfa. The cygnet is much grown. It got onto its mother’s back for a time. We came home by the village.
POLITICAL COMMENTATOR. The General Election is now over, and the result has been a surprise to all concerned. The Conservatives have made a clean sweep of the Liberals, for they got into power with a majority of 152. There has not been such an election for many years. Many of the Liberal leaders have been defeated; even Sir W Harcourt, Mr Morley, Mr Shaw Lefevre, etc. The Welsh Radicals are quite dejected over it. They thought to disestablish the Church in Wales, but now it seems afar.
GEOLOGICAL RESEARCH. Monday the fifth. Bank holiday. My old friend Mr A.C.Nicholson of Oswestry and his brother paid us visit. We had them to luncheon and tea etc. I have been for some time arranging and naming parcels of fossil material from Gloppa, Old Oswestry and Sweeny for him and also for him and Mr. Cobbold of Church Stretton. The Church Stretton material consists of fossil Beds 1 to 2 inches each in thickness which have been found in an igneous rock; this igneous rock has been for a time passed off as Precambrian by two or three geologists. I find the fossils to belong to the base of the Caradoc series and the igneous rock to be a vassicular ash. I have named the fossils and made a report of the whole.
The Nicholsons and I spent most of our time in the fruit room packing the specimens to take home and examining and discussing my fossils. We spent a very interesting afternoon together. The fossils from Sweeny near Oswestry are from Boulder Clay; the fossils being of Llandeilo age. They occur in a black shale, rather soft and I found the Lingulella lepis common in it. This fossil has not been found south of the Berwyns, so that it is of much interest. My friends left by the 8.30