Politics & history

David Lloyd George (1863 -1945)

David Lloyd George, statesman, was born in Manchester in 1863. His father died the year after he was born, and his mother moved with the children to live with her brother Richard Lloyd (1834-1917) in Llanystumdwy, North Wales. Lloyd George was educated at the National School here, and after leaving in 1878 at the age of fifteen, he became connected to a solicitor’s firm near Porthmadog. In 1884 he passed the Law Society final examinations with honours and set up a practice of his own in Cricieth where he earned himself a reputation as a strong advocate and powerful speaker.

In 1890, he was elected Liberal Candidate for the Caernarfonshire Boroughs. Initially as a member of Parliament, his attention and concern was with Wales, primarily with the governments attitude to Welsh disestablishment and land reform. He was a prominent campaigner for the Cymru Fydd Movement, its main objective to gain self-government for Wales.

He became President of the Board of Trade in 1905, when the Liberals came into power, and proved himself with his exceptional administrative and mediatory abilities. In April 1908, when H. H. Asquith became Prime Minister, Lloyd George succeeded him as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He introduced his controversial first budget in 1909, which was rejected by the Lords. In 1911, he successfully introduced a National Insurance Bill, which included both health and unemployment insurance.  When the First World War broke out in 1914 he had the challenging task of stabilising the country’s finances. With the formation of the first Coalition Government in May 1915, he became Minister of Munitions, and on the death of Lord Kitchener in May 1916, he became his successor as Secretary for War. 

In December 1916, H. H. Asquith resigned, and Lloyd George became Prime Minister, guiding the country through the remaining war years. One of his most significant acts during this time was the establishment of unity of command of the allied forces. After the war ended, he was a prominent figure in the Peace Conference, held in Paris, in 1919. In 1921, he carried through the Anglo-Irish Treaty, after lengthy negotiations. When, in 1922, the Conservative members of the government decided to resign, therefore making it impossible to continue the Coalition, Lloyd George also resigned as Prime Minister.

He remained politically active for many years, but did not hold office again. He published his War Memoirs in 1938. In the final year of his life, he was made 1st Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor and Viscount Gwynedd. He died at Llanystumdwy and was buried above the river Dwyfor.

Lloyd George was married twice; firstly  to Margaret Owen, in 1888, which produced five children. Secondly in 1843, to his longstanding secretary  and mistress, Frances Stevenson. Two of his children, Gwilym and Megan, followed their father into politics.

Angharad Llwyd (1780 -1866)

Angharad Llwyd was a Welsh antiquary and prize-winner at the National Eisteddfod of Wales. She was born at Caerwys, Flintshire, her father being the notable antiquarian and Rector of Caerwys, Rev. John Lloyd (1733-1793).

Her essay entitled ‘Catalogue of Welsh Manuscripts, etc. in North Wales,’ won her a prize at the Welshpool Eisteddfod, 1824. She edited a revised version of Sir John Wynn’s The History of the Gwydir Family in 1827. Her most notable work The History of the Island of Mona (1832), won first prize at Beaumaris Eisteddfod, in 1832. She was a member of the London Cymmrodorion Society.

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)

William Ewart Gladstone, prime minister and author, was born in Liverpool in 1809, the fifth child of Sir John Gladstone, first baronet (1764-1851) and his second wife Anne, née Robertson (1771/2-1835). His father was a MP and successful merchant.  He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. At the Oxford Union Debating Society he developed a reputation as a fine speaker.

He became a member of parliament for Newark in 1832, as a Conservative. He made an impression, and after several junior appointments under the Prime Minister, Robert Peel, he was appointed President of the Board of Trade in 1843. He was slowly moving towards liberalism, and when the Conservatives separated in 1846, he became a Liberal-Conservative. He went through a period of political detachment between 1846 and 1859, although he became Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Aberdeen’s coalition government, a position he would ultimately hold three times.

He joined the Liberals in 1859 and became, as leader of the Liberal Party, Prime Minister in 1868. Under his government, a system of national education  was established. He made major reforms in the justice system and the civil service. In 1869 he disestablished and disendowed the Irish Protestant  Church, and passed the Irish Land Act which aimed to control unreasonable landlords. Gladstone was defeated in the 1874 general election, and his arch-rival  Benjamin Disraeli became Conservative Prime Minister. Gladstone retired as leader of the Liberal leader, but continued to be a challenging government opponent.

In 1880, the Liberals came into power again with an overwhelming majority, and Gladstone became Prime Minister once more. He was successful in carrying out a scheme of parliamentary reform, which went a long way towards universal male suffrage. His slow reaction to certain imperial issues affected his reputation, and in 1885 the government’s budget was defeated, prompting him to resign.

Gladstone’s third (1886) and fourth (1892-1894) terms as prime minister were dominated by his crusade for a Home Rule bill for Ireland, an issue he tried to resolve during his period out of office. His attempts to introduce the bill split his party, and was rejected. After an appeal to the country, he was defeated at the polls. In 1893, after his final return to office, the Home Rule Bill was carried in the Commons, but was rejected by the House of Lords. His advanced age led to his resignation in March 1894. He died in Hawarden, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

In 1839 Gladstone married Catherine, daughter of  Sir Stephen Glynne, eighth baronet (1780-1815), and Hawarden Castle in North East Wales, became their marital home. They had eight children together, including Henry Neville Gladstone (1852-1935), businessman, and Herbert John Gladstone (1854-1930), Liberal politician.

Owen M. Edwards (1858-1920)

Sir Owen Morgan Edwards, historian, educationalist and writer, was born and raised in Llanuwchlyn, Merionethshire. He studied at Bala College, and then between 1880-1883 at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he studied English, history and philosophy. He furthered his studies at Glasgow, studying philosophy between 1883-1884, and at Balliol College, Oxford, between 1884-1887. He enjoyed much success here, winning three major university prizes, and in 1887 graduated with first class honours in history.

After a period of travelling in Europe, he returned to academic life at Oxford, becoming a history lecturer and tutor. Two important influences upon him during his period at Oxford were the aestheticism of Ruskin and William Morris, and the Dafydd ap Gwilym Society, responsible for encouraging the study of Welsh literature at the beginning of the 19th century.

From 1890 onwards he became involved in editing a number of Welsh periodicals, including Cymru Fydd (1890), Cymru (1891), Cymru'r Plant (1892), Wales (1894), Y Llenor (1895) and Heddyw (1897). In his publication Cartrefi Cymru (1896), he presented the homes of well-known individuals who had contributed to Welsh cultural life. In 1906 he established 'Urdd y Delyn', a children's society which was a forerunner of 'Urdd Gobaith Cymru' set up by his son Ifan ab Owen Edwards in 1922.

In 1907, he was appointed first Chief Inspector of Schools, working for the recently established Welsh Education Department. He reformed the Welsh education system by encouraging the teaching of Welsh and improving the atmosphere of Welsh schools. He worked tirelessly to encourage knowledge and awareness of the Welsh language, and the history and culture of Wales.

He served for one session as the Liberal MP for Merionethshire, but did not stand for re-election in the general election of 1900. He was knighted in January 1916 and received the degree of D.Litt honoris causa from the University of Wales in 1918.

Bibliography

  • Archives Wales, ‘National Library of Wales, Lloyd George MSS’
  • McGovern, Una (ed.), 2002. Chambers Biographical Dictionary. 7th edition. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap

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