Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Thomas Assheton Smith (the elder) (1752 – 12 May 1828) was an English landowner who played a major part in the development of the Welsh slate industry


  1. South Wales had it's English Iron Masters and North Wales had it's Slate Masters as the Assheton Smith Family whose history is a fascinating look at a land grabbing Gentry building up their estates by shrewd use of Enclosure Acts.
  2.  A study of this family at land grabbing enclosure of common land informs a little as to how parts of England lost it's land owning peasantry.
  3. They were to become landless labourers or labourers employed by big farms and gentry estates,
  4. I dare say similar patterns existed in parts of Wales but what interests me here is the making of common people into quarry workers in association with slowly developing slate Industry in Gwynedd.
  5. Of particular interest here are the Faenol and Dinorwic Estates of the Assheton Smiths' Slate Masters, focusing attention on Llandeiniolen which witnessed Enclosure trouble of 1808 and disturbances of 1809.
  6. At Llandeiniolen Quarrymen of the area led by Foulk Evan and Richard Jones resisted being evicted from their cottages, the cottages were pulled down but upon being rebuilt by the Quarrymen Constables were called out to protect and oversee their being pulled down again.
  7. A crowd gathered and soon stones, mud, turf and hot water was thrown at the constables, as consequence a magistrate was called out to read the Riot Act and the disturbance quelled.
  8. Foulk Evan and Richard Jones along with four women , Margaret Owen, Jane Jones, Margaret Hughes and Jane Evans of Llandeiniolen went on the run.
  9. The Men were captures and imprisoned but later released whilst the women had a five guineas price put on their heads requiring their arrest.
  10. Unfortunately Assheton Smith was to win out and he gained possession of the land and the Quarrymens cottages were awarded to Assheton Smith.
  11. The peasantry and workers, often living in Tai Unnos occupation of the commons and margins of waste land were not just fearing enclosure because of eviction alone. The majority lived a subsistence existence as a poor scrap of land owning underclass be it just an acre for growing a little food or use of waste for pigs and chickens and gathering of wood, nuts and berries.
  12. Denied this and they would indeed be reduced to poverty and have to go 'on the Parish' and be put in the work house or migrate away to seek work, an irony for in many rural areas in the late 18th and early 19th century the poor had been encouraged by the local 'powers that be' to occupy marginal land and build a Tai Unnos as a means of giving them opportunity to be a little self sufficient and of course not requiring parish relief.
  13. For further Information on Enclosures in Wales, see the book Before Rebecca, Popular Protest in Wales 1793 - 1835, David Jones, Penguin Publications.

Cefn Du and the Vagabond Quarrymen

Sign of the Great Unrest

  1. Thomas Assheton Smith I - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Thomas Assheton Smith (the elder) (1752 – 12 May 1828) was an English landowner and all-round sportsman who played a major part in the development of ...

  2. Thomas Assheton Smith II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Thomas Assheton Smith (the younger) (2 August 1776 – 9 September 1858) was an English landowner and all-round sportsman who was notable for being one ...

  3. Quarry Proprietors - The Faenol Dynasty

    Thomas Assheton Smith The Faenol estate developed from the Crown manor of Dinorwig, and was leased in the sixteenth century to a member of the ...

  4. Thomas Assheton Smith - The National Library of Wales :: Dictionary ...

    SMITH , THOMAS ASSHETON ( 1752 - 1828 ), of Vaenol , Bangor , landed proprietor and quarry owner ; b. 1752 , the son of Thomas Assheton of Ashley ...

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