Learning Trails - Lord Penrhyn's
PRICE ONE PENNY
|[THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF THIS PAMPHLET WILL
BE GIVEN TO THE BETHESDA QUARRYMEN'S FUND]
The Press Gag, and
How it was Burst.
the "Daily News," October 4th.
Lord Penrhyn's Methods
|The Press Gag, and
How it was Burst.
|Extract from the "Daily News," October
WE have received the following letter from Lord Penrhyn's
||"Re PENRHYN QUARRY STRIKE.
||"BANGOR, NORTH WALES,
||"Sept. 27th, 1902.
"Sir,-Lord Penrhyn's attention has been drawn to an article
on this subject contained in your issue of the 25th inst., headed
' Black Wednesday at Bethesda,' and he has instructed us to write
to you thereon.
"The article contains a number of absolutely false and
libellous statements, and is calculated to prejudice Lord
Penrhyn's interest in the action for libel which, as you are no
doubt aware, he has commenced against Mr. W. J. Parry, of
Bethesda, in which some of the very issues which you falsely
represent are involved. Under these circumstances we are
instructed to inform you that, if any repetition of the
statements complained of, or like statements, appear in any
future issue of your paper whilst the matters referred to are sub
judice, application will be forthwith made to the Court for your
committal for contempt. And we are further instructed to inform
you that Lord Penrhyn holds you responsible in damages for the
injury which you have or may have inflicted upon him by the
article complained of and other articles in your newspaper, and
legal proceedings will in due course be taken against you in
respect thereof.-We are Sir, your obedient servants,
"To the Editor of the Daily News."
The Gauntlet Picked Up.
ONE OF MANY EXTENDED TO THE PRESS.
To this threat the journal gave the following crushing reply
"We publish to-day a letter from Lord Penrhyn's solicitors
which raises in a most vital form the whole question of the
rights of the Press in this country to comment on matters of
public moment. The letter contains two threats. The first and
less important is a threat of action for libel on the ground of
statements made in an article contained in the Daily News
on September 25th, and written by our Special Correspondent at
Bethesda. The nature of that article may be judged from the
letter written by the same pen, also from Bethesda, which we
publish to-day. Neither of those letters contain anything but an
honest description of the facts concerning one of the most
important events of the day. If the facts are black, that is Lord
Penrhyn's own fault. We do not wonder that this implacable man
should dislike our Correspondent's faithful description of the
wholesale misery of this unhappy community. But if Lord Penrhyn
imagines that he can silence the voice of this journal by such
threats as these, he is labouring under a complete delusion. We
shall continue, in spite of his threats, to publish such accounts
of the long-drawn tragedy which is being enacted in Bethesda as
we feel the public ought to have. We shall continue to describe
the slow destruction of-
An Industrious and God=fearing
and to appeal to the Trade Unions of England and Wales not to
stand by and watch this struggle without an effort to help the
men who are fighting their own cause, but who-as our
Correspondent describes to-day-are at the point of starvation for
want of funds. We are perfectly content to leave the decision as
to these articles to any impartial mind, and Lord Penrhyn may
understand once and for all that we are not to be frightened out
of our duty to these men, and to the public of this country.
The second threat put forward by Lord Penrhyn's solicitors is
of a nature which we should not care to characterise. It seems
that Lord Penrhyn has an action hanging over the head of Mr. W.
J. Parry, of Bethesda, as to the details of which we neither know
nor care anything. But if he imagines that either public opinion
or the law of this land will enable him to use it as-
An Instrument for Gagging Newspapers,
he is vastly mistaken and misinformed. This very point arose
in a recent case, in which it was clearly decided that so long as
no direct allusion was made to the action or proceedings, there
could be no case of contempt. We alluded neither directly nor
indirectly to Lord Penrhyn's action. We were not aware of it, nor
interested in it. We were dealing simply with a great question
affecting not only the fundamental relations of capital and
labour, but full of the most poignant human pathos. Lord Penrhyn
must study the law of contempt. He may be the-
Sole Survivor of Feudal Institutions,
but he is not a Judge of the High Court. He may be able to
empty a village by his actions, and to scatter a stalwart race,
which might form a bulwark to this country in some hour of
trouble, to the four winds of heaven. He may even, if English
workmen be indifferent, be able to bring these quarrymen to their
knees, as braver men have been brought to their knees, by the
sufferings of their women and children. But he is not yet above
the law, and criticism of his action is not yet subject to
summary jurisdiction. If, indeed, Lord Penrhyn proved to have the
law behind him in such a threat, we should be faced with an
intolerable state of affairs. In any great matter of public
moment, criticism could be silenced by the issue of a writ. A
libel action brought by Mr. Arthur Balfour against Dr. Clifford,
might silence us on the Education Bill. An action by Mr. Brodrick
against Mr. Winston Churchill, might debar us from criticising
the conduct of the South African war. We are not aware of the
points which Lord Penrhyn has raised in his actions against Mr.
Parry, of Bethesda. The details seem to belong to ancient
history. But we are quite sure that our articles have referred
only to the matters of public import raised by a labour struggle
which has now acquired an-
Exceptional and almost National
and Lord Penrhryn may be well assured that no writs brought
against any of his local opponents will be considered by us for
one moment as a bar to our right of criticism.
It is high time, indeed, that the nation awoke to the terrible
wear and waste involved in the prolongation of this struggle in
the Bethesda district. It seems now to be an accepted notion in
this country that these destructive struggles between Capital and
Labour should be allowed to continue without outside interference
until one side or the other is worn out. That is not a view which
commends itself to President Roosevelt. We describe elsewhere the
efforts made by-
That Alert and Fine-spirited Ruler
to bring to a close the great labour war which is already
depriving the United States of their proper coal supplies. The
American coal struggle is a far greater matter than the conflict
at Bethesda. It threatens America with a famine of warmth. But it
raises precisely the same issue. In the American coal mines, as
in the Bethesda quarry, the men have always advocated
arbitration, and the employers always refused it. In the American
case, as in the Welsh, the fight arises over the refusal of the
masters to deal with the men through their elected Union
representatives. In other words, in both cases the principle of
combination is at issue. In both cases the attempt of the
employer is to return to the old individual relationship/where
the workman is surely driven to the wall by his individual
weakness. In both cases the men have made every possible appeal
to their employers, and in the Bethesda case those who have
followed our Correspondent's letters will have watched day by day
the slow death of the last lingering hope for some reasonable
compromise. Across the water President Roosevelt recognises these
things, and is working, even in illness, to allay this grievous
trouble. What public man is doing the same here?
Which of our Ministers is Stirred by the
Sufferings of Bethesda?
Which of them knows anything about such things? We have an
Arbitration Act, which cannot be applied without the consent of
both parties, and a Board of Trade in the possession of a
Minister who is a rigid doctrinaire of the old school. We have
just heard from Mr. Seddon his rosy accounts of compulsory
arbitration, but such good news has but stirred us in our sleep.
How long are these things to go on? Here is a struggle which has
continued for five years with but a short interval of abatement.
It has brought grievous suffering. It has scattered a community.
Are such matters of no account to our public men that they should
pass by on the other side? Surely it is the duty of the great
Trade Unions to see that this forlorn hope is not lost-that .this
outpost is not captured -and to force the rulers of this country
to attend to this cry of suffering humanity.
The Penrhyn Lock-out.
What is at Stake.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MEN'S SECRETARY.
From the "Daily News."
Mr. DANIEL, the Secretary of the Quarrymen's Union in North
Wales, is at present in London, and as no one knows more about
the circumstances of the labour struggles in the Bethesda
quarries during the last ten years, we have asked him to give us
a brief statement of the points at issue. This he has kindly done
to a representative of the Daily News.
The first question put to Mr. Daniel by our representative was
as to the primary origin of the Bethesda struggles.
The Quarry Committee.
"What," he asked, "is this Quarry Committee for which the men
are always asking, and which Lord Penrhyn is always
"To answer that," said Mr. Daniel, "we must go back nearly
thirty years. The Quarry Committee was founded in the seventies.
Upon the termination of the fourteen weeks' strike at the Penrhyn
Quarries in 1874 an agreement was arrived at, known as the
Pennant Lloyd Agreement, by which the men were empowered to form
a committee from among themselves to consider grievances, and
bring them to the notice of the management. That was the Quarry
Committee. Lord Penrhyn abolished it in 1885-and it is to the
restoration of this committee that he is so averse. His great
objection to it rests on the assertion that it controlled and
managed the quarry. To show how utterly unfounded such a charge
is, it only requires to be pointed out that the referee and
arbitrator under that agreement was none other than Lord
Penrhyn's own estate agent."
"Then what possible objection can Lord Penrhyn have to its
"`Interference'-he says that it interferes between employer
and employed, and he defies us to quote any Act of Parliament
which will compel him to recognise it. 'You can combine' he says,
`if it amuses you, but I decline to recognise your combination in
any dealings with you.' Here are his words, used during a
conference that took place during the last. dispute:-
"Meanwhile, I can only repeat what I have before said, and
what you are perfectly well aware of, that is, that you are
entitled to combine in any lawful way, that is to say, in any way
sanctioned by Act of Parliament; but I shall continue to contend
for the absolute freedom of both employer and employed from any
interference or dictation by a committee. If you wish me to add
anything to what I have already said, it will be in the form of a
query addressed to yourselves, as to where you can find in any
Act of Parliament anything which compels an employer of labour to
recognise the authority of a committee which seeks to interfere
with direct communication between employer and employed. Unless
you can show that such an Act of Parliament exists, and that I
think you know well enough is not the case, you are seeking to do
something which is outside the law when you endeavour to enforce
the intervention of such a committee upon your employer."
"It is quite clear," continued Mr. Daniel, "that combination
of this kind would be entirely useless for any purpose
The 1897 Agreement.
"But," urged our representative, "did you not fight this
matter out in the strike of 1896-7, and come to a definite
"At the end of the 1896-7 strike the men had to accept an
agreement which gave them only a limited and restricted right of
combination, under which the grievances were to be brought before
the management by means of sectional representation. It was the
best that we could get at the time, and it might have worked if a
good spirit had existed in the dealings of Lord Penrhyn and his
workmen. But the agreement never worked satisfactorily."
Cases of Injustice.
"How did it work? Can you give me any instances?"
"One of the first to make use of its provisions was the
Chairman of the Strike Committee, Mr. W. R. Evans, who had worked
for Lord Penrhyn for fifty-two years. Yet when he approached the
chief manager under the agreement, was only told that the
interview was `granted to him in order to impress on his mind and
the mind of others that he, Mr. Young, could expel whom he wished
without giving his reasons."
"This," continued Mr. Daniel, "was only one of several cases
of harsh and arbitrary conduct on the part of the management. In
a word, the agreement was a mockery. We soon found that Lord
Penrhyn had not budged an inch from his position. The `sectional'
representation was only the latest phrase for individual dealing.
Several men who have taken part in these `sectional' deputations
have been discharged without adequate reason given. The result
has been that the men have been thrown back on themselves, and
there has been a constant accumulation of petty personal
grievances, producing a bitter feeling against the management.
This feeling, combined with the fear that the contract system
would be extended, and the harsh discipline enforced, culminated
in the unfortunate attack on the contractors."
"Suppose, Mr. Daniel, that the right of combination were
awarded, what are the grievances that the men wish to press on
"I may sum them up as follows:
"1. They desire the reinstatement of certain victimised men.
This point Lord Penrhyn has refused to discuss.
"2. They desire the free use of the dinner-hour in the quarry.
o At present the men are prevented from holding meetings in any
part of the quarry, or from collecting any subscriptions. Now,
the quarry is virtually their collective living place ; for the
men's homes are scattered over a large area, and it is almost
impossible for them to meet at any other place or time. They all
carry their food, as it is impossible for them to get out of the
quarry for dinner, owing to its great size. They have, therefore,
a considerable time to spare during the dinner-hour, and it seems
a peculiarly unnecessary hardship that they should be forbidden
to meet and discuss their interests.
"3. They desire a minimum wage of 4s. 4d. a day.
"4. They desire the abolition of the contract system, but are
willing to test the point by experiment. They object to the
bullying of the contractors and subordinate officials, and wish
to deal direct with the management.
"5. They consider that the rules of discipline are too harsh
(a man who is 15 minutes' late loses half-a-day's pay-over 15
minutes a whole day).
"6. They desire more democratic management of the Benefit
"7. They wish for the right of an annual holiday.
"These grievances were discussed between Mr. Young and four
representatives on Dec. 19th, 1900. He refused any concession
either on the right of combination or on the first three points.
With respect to the contracting system, he suggested the
experiment of co-operative contracts in a part of the quarry
where contracts did not at present exist. This the men naturally
regarded as a simple extension of the contract system. On the
remaining points he was more conciliatory ; but you will see that
he refused any substantial concession, and on the proposals being
submitted to the men they were rejected by 1,707 votes to
How Long? How Long?
"You speak of December, 1900. Since when has the present
struggle been going on?"
"It began on Nov. 22nd, 1900; but owing to the suspension of
the men before the strike as a punishment for the attack on the
contractors, they have really been but of the quarry for two
years. Negotiations broke off because Lord Penrhyn refused to
discuss any modification in the 1897 agreement. Remember that the
men are not asking for the recognition of their Union officials,
but for the barest rights of combination, in the recognition of
their Quarry Committee. Perhaps I cannot do better than quote the
men's own appeal to the Trade Unions in February, 1901:
"'After the last great fight the Manager victimised the men's
leaders, and the fight is now for "to establish our right" to
appear before the management by our own freely elected delegates.
We have not gone so far even as to ask for the recognition of our
Union. We merely ask to freely elect spokesmen from our own ranks
in the quarry, for the purpose of discussing grievances from time
to time with the management. We are denied this right; we are
denied the right to discuss grievances in the quarry among
ourselves in our own time during the dinner-hour. We are not
treated as men. We are sworn at, abused, and libelled. We are
subject to a system of espionage. We are punished for fictitious
offences; if a few minutes late we were suspended for two days.
One of our customary holidays has been taken from us, and many of
our number are compelled to work under the sweating system,
without any real chance of redressing grievances when they arise.
The management is harsh and oppressive in spirit, and failing to
understand the men, it results in friction and grievances, which,
without any means of amelioration, become intolerable to men who
respect their manhood.'"
"We are now clear as to the issue. Could you tell me precisely
the number of men involved; how many men are now out, and how
"The full quota of the men employed at the quarries before the
dispute was 2,800. A small section of men seceded in June, 1901,
and there are now employed in the quarries from 700 to 800. Not
half of these are quarrymen, even if we include all officials and
boys. Over 2,000 are still outside the quarry. Of these, some
1,200 are working, either in South Wales or elsewhere, leaving
some 800 to be provided for by the Union funds, besides all the
people who are involved in the distress, and are looked after by
the Relief Committee."
"You do not refuse arbitration, or feel any unwillingness to
submit to the Conciliation Act?"
"On the contrary, we have always been willing to submit our
case to arbitration, and would accept with joy such a Commission
as has been appointed by President Roosevelt to settle the
American coal strike. If the Board of Trade sent down a
Commissioner to report under the Conciliation Act, we would give
him every facility and assistance. We are content that our case
should be submitted to the -judgment of any impartial men,
because we are convinced of the justice of our cause. Meanwhile,
we appeal to the whole country to help us in our struggle."
A Letter from the "Daily News".
TO-DAY should be a proud one for the subscribers to the
Daily News Fund for the quarrymen. This morning's meeting
of the Relief Committee marked a triumph for their efforts. The
meeting was their triumph, first of all, because, as the Chairman
pointed out, but for the Daily News there would have been
no meeting at all, or at best only an abortive one. It Was a
triumph, again, because the Committee, greatly daring, virtually
decided to organize distributions twice, and not, as formerly,
once a month; but chiefly it was a triumph because of the
decision to grant relief in certain cases to the families of
unemployed strikers now receiving the Trade Union allowance-a
much needed protection for that hard-pressed flank of the men's
army, the seven hundred strikers now at Bethesda. In all there
were 725 cases reported to the Committee as requiring instant
relief, and as no less than 130 of these came from Caellwyngrydd,
I decided to spend the day in that district, two members of the
Committee kindly volunteering to show me round.
Caellwyngrydd has for months past been a starving district. I
question if anywhere else in the world can there be found a
parallel for the spectacle it presents-that of a number of
skilled workmen, temperate and thrifty to a degree, yet lacking
with their wives and children the actual necessaries of life. It
is impossible for me to describe the scenes that I witnessed
to-day in the homes of these half distracted people, and
fortunately I need not do so. The facts are eloquent, and speak
for themselves. I need only set out in skeleton form some of the
more representative cases which I have selected from a mass of
Take first the case of Mrs. Richard Jones. Her house was, I
found, absolutely bare though scrupulously clean. When I and the
Committeemen arrived she was cutting some bread that she herself
had made into slices. That bread was the only food she had in the
house with which to stay her five children's hunger, and but for
the Relief Committee (who had supplied the flour) she would have
lacked even that. She had not a drop of milk. She was without so
much as a lump of sugar. There was a little burnt treacle and
some tea leaves, that had been used over and over again. This was
all she could add to the brew to make the children's meal. It is
small wonder that they looked haggard and worn. They had known
worse times: their mother told me that once, half demented, she
had gone out and begged from door to door for food. She had to
walk far before she could find anyone to give her more than pity.
In this case the husband, a striker, has been unemployed for
eighteen months. At the commencement of the present struggle he
got work in the Lancashire Collieries, but an accident compelled
him to return home. He and his family have had nothing since to
live upon except the Union allowance of 10s. a week. Now, thanks
again to the Daily News, the Relief Committee will be able
to add at least a trifle to this wretched sum.
Suffering and Misery.
I found an even sadder case. At the next cottage we visited we
were faced by a woman in the last extreme of suffering and
misery. She herself was expecting very shortly to be confined.
Her husband lay prostrate with rheumatism. She had literally
nothing in the house with which to get food, and her husband's
strike allowance of ten shillings a week from the Quarrymen's
Union did not become due till next month. True, the husband has
been unemployed only for a week or two, but his earnings (he
worked at Rhayadr) have not admitted of his sending more than ten
shillings a week home, and his wife has nothing to fall back upon
now that she is ill, and her two children are clamouring for
food. Small wonder therefore that she burst into tears when told
that 9. grant had been made her from the Relief Committee. That
grant, alas, was only six shillings, but to her it was priceless.
Her children would be fed at last. My own feelings I do not
chronicle. Indeed, if I allowed my mind to dwell upon the facts I
could not state them at all. One marvels as one visits cottage
after cottage in this stricken district at the extraordinary
dogged honesty of the people. Nearly all of them told me with a
touch of pride that they had paid their rent-a matter of two
shillings to half a crown a week-all through this dreadful time.
Among all these sufferers I did not find one single waverer. The
men all scouted the idea of returning to the quarry on Lord
Penrhyn's "terms" of unconditional surrender. The women answered
even more fiercely. "I would sooner die," one told me, "rather
than that he should go in."
On the hillside leading up to Moel Faban (where are the
unworked quarries referred to in your issue of to-day) we met two
women wretchedly clad. One was looking after some sheep; the
other, Mrs. Morgan, the wife of an unemployed striker, has two
children, and nothing but the strike allowance. Her children were
fed practically on the potatoes that she raised in her garden.
Another woman told me that she had supported herself for months
by gathering cockles; and more than one confessed that but for
the Relief Committee and occasional credit from tradespeople they
must have succumbed.
Need of Further Help.
The Daily News has removed that danger, but the
suffering that still remains is terrible. Consider the case of
Albert Rutglede. Before the strike he was gardener to a quarry
official. His wife's brothers were strikers, and the official
urged Rutglede to get them to submit, but the gardener preferred
to stick to his work and was accordingly discharged. To-day I
found his wife in tears, sobbing her heart out over a child. Her
husband does odd jobs in the district, and manages to bring home
perhaps Seven shillings a week. Frequently she told us she has
been for a fortnight without coal. She has to pay six shillings a
month for rent, and can barely keep body and soul together. Her
house was the model of cleanliness. It is by struggles such as
these that the men and women of Bethesda maintain the struggle.
That they cannot do so without further aid is obvious. Famine for
the moment is staved off; but if help slackens, nay, if it
doesn't instantly increase, its menace will be instantly renewed.
The men have shown unexampled fortitude, marvellous endurance.
Only three of their number have given in to Lord Penrhyn since
this nobleman's trump card, the rupture of the negotiations, was
thrown down. It will be a thousand pities if their heroic
fortitude goes for nothing.
Freedom or Slavery?
Let there be no doubt as to the issue at stake. The whole
history of the Penrhyn struggle shows it to be between freedom
and slavery. There can be no doubt whatever that if Lord Penrhyn
triumphs the men's morale will be utterly shattered and broken.
They will in very truth be helots. I doubt if even yet the public
realise the full significance of the regime at the quarries; bad
as it is to-day, it would be infinitely worse were Lord Penrhyn's
power unchecked. I can prove this by a reference to the past. In
1884, when the men were weak, a deputation from them waited on
the present Lord Penrhyn, then the Hon. George Sholto Douglas
Pennant. That high-minded and chivalrous aristocrat heard their
leaders' statements, and then, calling the three Unionist members
of the deputation before him, he read out to them a peremptory
notice of dismissal. These men had worked in the quarry all their
lives, and not a single complaint had ever been made against
their work or their character. Two of them had been in the quarry
for over thirty years. So great was the indignation roused among
the men by this savage act, that they threatened to strike if
their leaders were not reinstated. Nominally this was done, but
the Unionists were marked men. They were told that the managers
would be specially desired to report on their future conduct.
"Divine Right of the Landlord."
Lord Penrhyn has not deigned to even acknowledge the last
letter which the men's leaders sent him. The fact is, that Lord
Penrhyn presents grossly and palpably the old feudal view-the
Divine right of the landlord to do what he likes with his own.
The men who are suffering to-day urge that it is their skill and
toil which give value to the quarry, and surely they have some
claim to control the conditions of their own labour. It is, in
fact, a natural fight between the old idea and the new-a
perfectly typical phase of the great world conflict of our time.
That the sufferers are not to be deserted in this hour of bitter
trial the Daily News has made clear, but the need of
"support" is vital still, as all who have seen this stricken
division of the army of labour will agree.
One word I should say in conclusion as to the disused quarries
in this district, referred to by another correspondent in your
issue of to-day. I have been carefully sifting the evidence as to
their possibilities. Though there are difficulties in the way of
a decision, yet there seems good ground, as I hope to show
shortly, for the expectation that with sufficient capital to
develop them the blight of Penrhynism might be done away with for
Penrhyn Quarrymen's Lock-Out.
LONDON CENTRAL RELIEF FUND
Chairman-E. H. PICKERSGILL.
Secretary-C. SHERIDAN JONES.
Offices-168, TEMPLE CHAMBERS, TEMPLE AVENUE,
The Committee EARNESTLY APPEAL for SUBSCRIPTIONS in support of
the locked-out Penrhyn Quarrymen and their families.
The Members of Trade Unions and Clubs, of Friendly and
Co-operative Societies, Ministers of Religion, and Individual
Sympathisers are specially invited to further the Committee's
efforts to obtain funds.
To that end, regular Collections could be made at Meetings,
Services, Entertainments, and in Workshops. The formation of
Local Committees would greatly assist the work.
Sheets, Boxes, and Bottles for collecting, 1d. Tickets to
sell, Literature, Speakers, and every Information, supplied by
the Secretary of the Committee. Intending helpers should please
communicate with him at once.
All remittances should be made payable to Mr. John Kealey,
Daily News, Bouverie Street, London, E.C. They will be
acknowledged in next day's issue of the Daily News.