Marriage Congratulations October 1881

IMG_4568Newlyweds Thomas and Frances Harriet returned from their brief honeymoon in Folkestone on the 19th October.  They continued their holiday in London at F.H’s home, making exhaustive excursions to numerous places of interest in London.  Thomas gives pages of description in detail of each place, especially the British Museum, describing each room, probably copied from a current guide book st a later date.

Meanwhile, on the 19th October, his friend and now relative by marriage, William Pamplin, Frances Harriet’s uncle, wrote to congratulate the couple.

 

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William  was 75 years old when he penned this letter of congratulations to Thomas in his minute, precise and exquisite hand on pages measuring 7 x 4.5 inches. The black margin probably relates to mourning for Sarah Williams, half sister of Frances Harriet by her father’s first marriage, who had been living with William and Margaret Pamplin, and who had died in the previous February.

Several themes appear here – William’s great affection for Thomas and his delight that in marrying F.H, Thomas could now be considered as nephew.  Then there is religious fervour, often apparent in William’s social discourse.  There is reference in Thomas’ diaries about William giving out religious tracts at Llandderfel funerals.  Then there is the shared love of natural science.  Thomas had obviously taken time on his Kent homeymoon to collect plant specimens and send them to William, much to his delight.

Here is a wonderful little insight into a very significant and fruitful friendship.

Llandderfel, Corwen, North Wales

October 19, 1881

My very dear Friend and Kinsman,

It is not that we have not been occupied in the thinking About you both, about you all, in talking about you and you’re happy doing is since we parted at Carrog – neither have we been backward in our earnest prayers for you – that every blessing may attend your union – although hitherto we have not written – (you know we shall not be very distant neighbours) – So I wrote to my dear Sister and to my dear Nephew first;

Nothing could be more delightful to me than to read those 3 most interesting Letters which you and the one which my dear Niece now your beloved Wife so kindly have written to us it was the most good and most considerate on your parts to have written. We have both read them all over & over with increased pleasure and with many thanks and much praise to the Gracious Father of all our Mercies for the many comforts in connection with such an event as a Union for Life; everything connected with it down to its minutest details were also kindly ordered for your mutual comfort and pleasure that it really is quite a pleasure to go over the whole of the circumstances in mind and in thoughts & that tho’ we could not be present actually in person we seemed to be in spirit and I may say with truth we did, and could “joy and rejoice with you all “in the whole event and in its attending circumstances.’ – as Mr Pailin says the 13th day of October will be, may it ever be, a Red Letter day in your calendar for both, mutually, being now one – or Heirs together &c. The talking about days reminds me that this Day the 19th day of October is dear William’s birthday – we wish him many many happy returns of it – but I shall put this in – is that he may not have many more until he finds what you have done – a good Wife – for we know the Word of God on our side for this –for we know the Word of God on our side for this –

‘ He that findeth a Wife findeth a Good Thing and obtaineth favour of the Lord’ Prov. XVIII.22 – and to this I can by experience set my seal as a witness for the Truth – once and again ( = twice that is ) so I can recommend it to others.-

Thanks many for the sight of those two letters very many kind and friendly ones Mr. Pailin & Mr Shrubsole they are carefully laid up for you on your return home – why all the friends and neighbours far only know you desire me to present their warmest congratulations upon your marriage ( lists neighbour’s & wellwishers)

We have had a fearful storm as you can see by the Papers – it is most remarkable (up in East Wood and elsewhere too) how the destruction of the Timber trees is for most part in lines or as in furrows in the ploughed fields, in particular spots- The road to Bethel was completely blocked, so the road beyond Blaen y Cwm by trees uprooted and laid fairly right across the road – The destruction it has been great also in farm buildings in roofs of dwelling houses and such.

I shall now refer to your most interesting Letter 1st the little box of plants we only finished overhauling it last night the contents for most interesting to me – everyone has been carefully laid down and registered 19! Yes no less than 19 species have been made out by name beside two of whom I find myself unable to speak positively as to species – & of all of ‘em Thesium linophyllum
Pleases me most. I think – of all the Counties ever botanised by me I think my favourite was Kent, perhaps in one sense of as it was my first love and certainly for the most interesting and rare plants with which it abounds. – with what pleasure I have ransacked it’s chalk hills and especially a delight is used to be, to go poking into every hole and corner, in some of those interesting overgrown and deserted old Chalk Pits. – I cannot now think I see the beautiful and interesting Silene nectans ( the Dover catchfly) just back on the very verge of the perpendicular short chalk cliffs a short distance west of Dover near where the Samphire grows.

After you were gone we were quite as if one of our own family had left us. I was on the point are often of saying to Margaret I dare say we shall see friend Ruddy tonight and we shall be heartily glad I can assure, fairly home and stationary so near us and that for good. I’m sorry (as I always am) our neighbour Mr and Mrs Pryce have gone off to Holland or somewhere; and when he came in to say goodbye, he told us he would be about three Sundays – of which last Sunday was the first. Dear Margaret is so so, we have been out very little even to Blaen y Cwm, partly on account of the unfavourable weather we have had.
The red flag is flying at Palé which is all that we can say about it. If you have that’s fine sunlight as we have here you will enjoy the ride back to London – we are united kindest love to you both – to our dearest sister and to my dear nephew. Believe me to be your very affectionate and attached Uncle 
William and Margaret Pamplin


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Walking and waiting 1881

The White Lion Hotel, Bala
The White Lion Hotel, Bala

Thomas had lost his first wife Mary in June 1879, and by 1881 he was drawing nearer to the Pamplin family, and in particular, to Frances Harriet Williams, niece of his friend William Pamplin.  In particular he refers to a significant visit from Frances H and her mother Frances Williams, nee Pamplin, in February 1881.

Walking was always central to Thomas’ life, and several walks are recorded in the journal of the first half of 1881.  His friends, made mainly via the Chester Society and further acquaintances recommended by  friends from the Society seem to have been central in his rehabilitation following Mary’s death.

A Bank holiday walk on April 18th with Mr. Jebb, whom he met on the highest summit of the Berwyns, took him on a 20 mile round trip, ending with a meal at the ‘smartest’ hotel in Bala, the White Lion. Thomas’ friends were usually from a ‘higher’ echelon of society, as discerned by the scrupulous social order of Victorian Society, but his geological and botanical knowledge gave him the edge in any expedition into the hills.

On May 4th the Vicar of Runcorn, the Revd. William Preston arrived, introduced by a letter from Mr. Shrubsole of the Chester Society, to view Thomas’ fossil collection, and be taken on a fossil hunting expedition.

The full text of these walks here.

On May 10th Thomas walked with Mr. Dean, the brother of Mrs. Robertson, wife of his employer.  Thomas quite frequently spent time in the company of John Dean, who seems to have shared his interest in the countryside, and who no doubt relied on Thomas as guide and interpreter of the environment.

Text of this walk here

On Tuesday 4th June  Thomas set out from William and Margaret Pamplin’s house with Mrs. Williams, mother of Thomas’ future second wife, for a lengthy walk to Pont y Glyn.  William was at this time 75 years old, and Frances Williams 73.  It is interesting that Frances, who had been a widow since 1866, was visiting alone, since the friendship between Thomas and her daughter had become so close.  Was she perhaps visiting to enable Thomas to ask her permission to propose marriage to Frances Harriet?

The walk was about 7 miles, over testing mountainous country, to a height of 430 metres (400 ft)  Thomas comments on the sprightly nature of his companions (Margaret Pamplin was younger – only 43 at the time.)  From Pont y Glyn they returned by ‘a conveyance’.  Would it be necessary to book this in advance, I wonder, or could one find a conveyance in the village, or stop one passing on the road?

To end an exciting day, Thomas records feeling a sizeable earthquake in the evening.  his own world was certainly in the process of change.  I wonder whether he regarded it as an omen?

Text of the walk here

 

The Pamplin Heritage

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From a letter to Thomas Ruddy complimenting him on his marriage to William’s niece Frances Harriet

Link to *new website* dedicated to Thomas’ friend William Pamplin and his family: http://williampamplin.co.uk/

When Thomas Ruddy married Frances Harriet Williams,  niece of William Pamplin (see here) he was marrying into a family proud of its antecedents, and who kept a great deal of memorabilia from several generations of the family.  These eventually passed into the Ruddy family, probably on the death of William Pamplin in 1899.  Thomas’ son, the Revd Henry Ruddy curated them, and used his position as a clergyman to draw up an extensive family tree, often writing to fellow clergy, in the 1930’s to verify parish records.  Henry registered the papers with the National Archives, and donated certain significant objects to relevant museums, such as the two drawings made of Cyfarthfa house and works in the 1790’s by William Pamplin (1768-1844) the elder.

They have now come into my possession and I hope to share online some of the material treasured by Thomas and Frances Harriet Ruddy and passed on by them.

Introducing Miss Williams – 1880

Few photographs exist of Frances Harriet Ruddy, neé Williams.  this is apparently taken when she was a young woman.
Few photographs exist of Frances Harriet Ruddy, neé Williams. This is apparently taken when she was a young woman.

Sept 17th Friday. I went with Mr. & Mrs. Pamplin and his niece Miss F.H Williams to Dolgelly.

This is Thomas’ first mention of his future wife, Frances Harriet.  It is unclear to what extent there was a degree of matchmaking on the part of her uncle William Pamplin.  William himself had been widowed in 1876 when his first wife Caroline died from cancer.  William married Margaret Parry, a local woman considerably younger than himself, two years later in 1878.  One interesting point is that Frances’ mother, Frances Williams did not join the walk, although she was usually included in later walks.  It is likely that she had accompanied her daughter to Wales, but the party consisting of Mr and Mrs Pamplin, Thomas and Frances encouraged an opportunity for conversation on a walk of some length.

We went with the first train to Bontnewyd. On our route we could see the effects of the great floods – the debris of bridges strewn in the bed of the rivers; riverside meadows covered with large stones, sand and gravel. There were plenty of signs of destruction all along the line from Llanwchllyn to Bontnewyd [SH771 201]. From Bontnewyd we went up past the village of Brithdir [SH767188] to the head of the Torrent Walk. The village is scattered about; the bulk of the houses being covered with creepers; the tropaeoleum speciosum being very conspicuous. There was an Independent Chapel in the village, and a school a little further on. From the village we had beautiful and extensive views. South of us stood Aran, on the north conspicuous were the cone of Moel Offrum and the high Rhobell-faur. West of us stood Cader Idris in all its beauty, its east side showing the steepness of it. The walk by the torrent was most pleasing; numerous cascades or steep slopes of rock, down which the water rushed; deep gorges when the water disappeared, overhung with lichen covered trees; the rocky slopes of the torrent being covered with moss, ferns or flowers. The little filmy fern (H. Wilsonii) being most beautiful and abundant.

We lunched by the torrent, and strolled down leisurely until we arrived at Dolserau gate. We next went through the grounds of Dolgûn [SH747184] which pleased my friends very much. I showed them the old smelting work, the beautiful trees of Dolgûn, and rare ferns, especially the Ceterach and a branching, fronded Asplenium trichomanes. We were all delighted with the walk, and as it was all new to my friends, they were full of admiration. On our way to Dolgelly we found the Tutsan St. John’s wort by the roadside. We crossed the river Aran which runs down from Cader, and got into Dolgelly by 3 pm. We had a substantial meat tea at the Talbot Hotel, where we were most comfortable.

After tea we walked out to Cymmer Abbey. On the way we passed the young ladies’ school, Dickson’s Nursery and the mansion of Hengwrt – once the residence of a noted antiquary Robert Vaughan. My friends stayed on the road in sight of the abbey while I went to see it. On my way down I saw fine walnut trees in the grounds. I entered the ruin which is a long nave with three windows (lancet) in the east end, the entrance being at the west end. The walls were built of shale except the coigns and mouldings. A great quantity of Asplenium trichomanes and the pellitory of the wall grew on the walls. The garden is a square attached to the abbey, but it has no very old trees. Along the south boundary wall there is a ditch full of water cress, showing that the monks cultivated it. The abbey is situated, as abbeys usually are, in a beautiful spot at the entrance to Llanelltyd valley, and close to the river Mawddach. We returned to Dolgelly at the back of Hengwrt, where we got charming views. While waiting until train time, we had a stroll about the town, which is famed for short, crooked streets, houses with entrances by outside steps, and everything in confusion. We returned home in good spirits and delighted with our very interesting and pleasant trip.

For both Frances Harriet and Thomas the walk was something of a test of their mutual suitability.  Frances had been brought up in a town, but seems to have sustained two walks, the first about four and a half miles,  partly over rough terrain,  the second at least two and a half miles.  This must have seemed satisfactory to Thomas, who was to lead her on many such demanding expeditions for the rest of her life.  On her part, Frances appears to have relished Thomas’ commentary on all things botanical, geological and historic encountered along the way.  This is not surprising as she was the grand daughter of a nurseryman and botanist, and the niece of a botanist and botanical bookseller.  No wonder Thomas returned delighted and in good spirits from what was to be a very significant expedition.

Loss of a friend 1876

 

Caroline Pamplin
Caroline Pamplin, nee Hunnemann

1876  January 30th Sunday. Mrs. Pamplin died. This lady was a most amiable and kind friend to my wife and myself and her death grieves us very much. She was Willy’s* Godmother.

*William Pamplin Ruddy, Thomas’ second son.

Caroline Elizabeth Pamplin, nee Hunneman (19th November 1793 – 30th January 1876) was the daughter of John Hunneman (1760-1839) a botanical bookseller in Frith Street Soho.  See here.  William Pamplin, Thomas Ruddy’s friend, now living in Llandderfel had taken over Hunneman’s bookselling and publishing business after his death in March 1839.  He married Caroline in January 1840, and they continued to live in Frith Street until moving to Wales in 1862.

Later William Pamplin was to introduce the widowed Thomas to his niece Frances Harriet, who became his second wife.  It was through this connection that the papers and photographs which I inherited from the Ruddy and Pamplin families were preserved.

A local expert 1875

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Hibernating doormouse

It is now six years since Thomas became Head Gardener at Palé.  His journal entries are scant for the year, but most are concerned with the various collections and hobbies he was by now pursuing very earnestly.  It is clear that his reputation was spreading far and wide, so that he was brought objects of interest, received invitations as a judge at agricultural events and began to receive the first few of a number of international visitors to see his collections.

January 28 Thursday Mr. Robertson came to see my fossils.

Thomas was very particular about displaying and labelling his fossil collection.  I assume he now had the fossils displayed to his satisfaction, and was proud to show them to his employer.  Later, in 1889 during Queen Victoria’s visit, Henry Robertson’s son Henry Beyer Robertson allowed Thomas to lay out his fossils in the fruit room, and he was able to show them to the Queen herself.

April 29th Thursday I had a dormouse brought to me from Tyfos, the first one I have seen in Wales. It was found rolled up dormant inside a lump of leaves, which were glued together.  I am unable to discover from where the dormouse was brought, or by whom, but Thomas was obviously known as the man who would welcome this rarity.

August 19th Thursday I was at Ruthin as judge at the flower show held in the castle grounds. The show was very good and well attended. Mr More of Dublin here to see me. A [Alexander] .G. More is an excellent botanist and ornithologist and author of a very useful book on birds. He was much interested in my collection of eggs.  Information on A.G. More here.

How did A.G. More come to know of Thomas, and visit him?  The most likely answer lies with his friend William Pamplin, whose contacts as a naturalist continued to be wide-ranging after he retired from London to Wales.

Sept 8th Wednesday Mr. Pamplin, his nephew Mr. Williams and I went to the top of Aran [SH867242] We climbed up from Lanwchllyn along the ridge until we got to the top of Aran Benllyn, from which we crossed over to the other peak, Aran Mawdy [Aran Fawddwy on OS] The day got very foggy when we got to the top so that we got only glimpses now and then. When clear we got splendid views. The top is rough with large square blocks of ash rock. We went down to Drws-y-nant station [SH840259] in a rain which wet us a bit; having some time to stay we went to the inn named Howel Dda for refreshments.  A first mention of William Pamplin Williams, nephew of William Pamplin, who would become Thomas Ruddy’s brother-in-law when William’s sister became the widower Thomas’ second wife in 1881.

December 31st Friday I have been working very hard at the fossils during the summer. I have been to Gelli Grin, Rhiwlas, Aberhirnant Cynwyd and Llandrillo in search of Bala fossils. I found many of great interest

I have made some new friends such as. Davies (D C Davies) who is a good geologist and author. He lives at Ebnal Lodge near Oswestry. Mr. Davies very kindly lent me ‘Davidson’s Brachiopoda’ and ‘Sedgwicks’ book (see here) so as to enable me to name my fossils. Mr Robinson of Shrewsbury who gave me coins and a statuette of the ‘Sybil of Cumaena’ found at Viroconium or Wroxeter; an old Roman city. This statuette is of great interest. Mr Shrubsole, a Chester geologist and Chairman of the geological section of the Chester Society of Natural Science. Mr. Shrubsole has been urging me on strongly to geologize the Bala beds of the district.

Again, it is difficult to verify how Thomas made the acquaintance of these new friends, but the answer may lie with the Nurseryman George Dickson, of Chester who first introduced Thomas to Palé.  George Dickson was a prominent member of the Chester Society of Natural Science.  Thomas never actually joined that august body, but he led many geological and botanical expeditions for them in later years, and won their prized Kingsley Medal in 1889.

Friends, family, gardens and geology – 1873

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The journal entries for the year 1873 are sporadic and mainly brief, but they demonstrate the main features of Thomas’ life and interests in their mix of topics.

Once again Thomas visits a local house with a view to help with the design of the garden.:May 19th Monday Had a trip to Eyarth near Ruthin. Mr Pulestone brother-in-law To Mr. Evan Jones of Bala is having a house built there and I have promised to lay out the place for him. He bought the large farm of Ffynogion for the sum of £9,000, and he is going to have the villa built for a tenant.  We can only assume that this was with the encouragement and permission of his employer at Palé, Mr, Robertson.  It also suggests that the design and upkeep of the Palé garden was well in hand, allowing Mr Robertson to consent to the absence and wider engagement of his Head Gardener at other estates.  In the next year Henry Robertson was to become Liberal MP for Shrewsbury (he had already served in that position between 1862 and 1865).  He would have moved in the circles of those local landowners, and might have been glad to offer an obviously talented gardener and landscape designer to come to their aid.  All thanks to the nurture of Mr Williamson, head gardener at Minto, where Thomas shared a bothy and studied Geometry, French and Latin.

Thomas’ continuing interest in geology is evident:  May 30th Friday My friend Mr. William Owen (of Plasisa, Llandderfel) and I went geologising over the Berwen to the Phosphate mine [See here]. We got a few fossils at the Bala limestone; it was a very warm day and we were very thirsty and tired, but well pleased with our journey.  Throughout his life he made friendships with those in the neighbourhood who had similar interests in the natural sciences.  events were later to lead to wider friendships, visits and correspondence with significant scholars, particularly geologists.  There are over 1,000 of his geological specimens in the Natural History Museum, and he later sent a parcel of specimens to the Smithsonian Museum in New York, at the request of the curator of geology.

An intriguing mention is made of an expedition with ‘Mr. Irvine of London’.  William Pamplin, Thomas’ greatest friend and mentor had collaborated with Alexander Irvine who had lived close by WP in Chelsea in earlier years, and Irvine and Pamplin had made joint botanical expeditions both in Scotland and Wales.  Alexander Irvine had died in May 1873.  Was this a relative whom Thomas met through William Pamplin.  How else did Thomas come to have a London based friend?

 

Sept 11 Thursday I went to Barmouth with my friend Mr. Irvine of London; we got out at Arthog and botanised all the way to Barmouth. We got several interesting plants. During the year I have added largely to my collection of plants, eggs and fossils.  I have explored a great deal of the neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, events moved on in the Pamplin and the Ruddy households, bringing both joy and sadness:

August 30th Saturday Poor Miss Sarah Pamplin died from an accident caused by falling down the cellar steps at Bronwylfa. We were both exceedingly sorry, for she was a most amiable and kind person. It was a terrible blow for her family. William Pamplin’s sister Sarah had come with her sister Harriet; from their family home in Newington, South London and settled near William and Caroline in the village of Llandderfel.  They were 68 and 69 when they arrived, and lived in the home of the local doctor.

While in the Ruddy household, there was a new arrival: Dec 31st Wednesday (in the evening) Our third child born and named Mary Emily Ruddy.[In a later hand] Died on the 15th of June 1897.