Evans family of Erwanfach, Llangrannog - evicted from their farm following the 1868 Elections

My own ancestral tree through the Thomas family of the Green, Glynarthen and of Rhydwern in Llandysiliogogo, includes the Evans family of Erwanfach near Llangrannog.

According to a newspaper report published in 1910 by Professor John Evans in The Cambrian, the Evans family had been tenant farmers at Erwanfach for several generations, before they were evicted from their home following the general election of 1868 - David Evans had been enfranchised for the first time in 1867, and was enthusiastic about voting for a local candidate with disastrous consequences...


"In the long and interesting list of evicted farmers which you published last Saturday week, will be found the name of my father David Evans, Erwanfach and of my uncle William Evans, Tredwr. My father is still alive and well, though over 82 years of age he retains his faculties unimpaired, and his memory, which has always been exceptionally tenacious, is still quite clear as regards the events of long ago. A fortnight ago I had a talk with him about the election of 1868 and the evictions that took place in consequence. Many a time has he during the intervening years, detailed to us the circumstances of those stirring times.


I will now give a brief summary of the events of that time as they relate to me. Doubtless this narrative is typical of many other tales that could be unfolded. Many things fade from the memory of a boy as he grows up but there are a few incidents and episodes that stand out bold and clear. The election of 1868 is one landmark event in my history which can never be deleted.

Erwanfach is a farm of a littleover 80 acres on the coast of Cardiganshire, two miles to the north of Llangrannog, and in the parish of Llanysiliogogo. The portion bordering on the sea is rough and land covered with gorse and fern, too steep and dangerous for animals except mountain sheep. My father took this farm in 1855. My father's ancestors had been farming it for about 150 years. The rent which had been £32 for years, was raised to £38 soon after the new tenant entered into it. In 1861 the dwelling-house had to be rebuilt, the family meanwhile finding accomodation in the barns and other outbuildings. Haulage of stones (about 50 loads) devolved upon the tenant, besides the maintenance of the masons and carpenters. The house having been rebuilt, the rent was raised to £47. In addition to the rent the tenant was expected to supply annually to the landlady a gift of poultry and eggs, called in the vernacular "Ynyd". Our portion was fixed at two fowls and 20 eggs.


In 1867 my father became qualified to vote in a Parliamentary election. In November of the following year there was a General Election. The two candidates for Cardiganshire were Mr. Evan Matthew Richards (Liberal) and Mr. Mallet Vaughan (Conservative). It was a hotly contested election. The Welsh constituencies were at that time awaking to the importance of electing, as members of Parliament, persons that would truly represent them and advocated certain much-needed reforms. I can recall the enthusiasm and vigour that was thrown into that election. A neighbour of ours, Evan Evans, Tynewydd, was an ardent LIberal. He and my father had fluent converse, the one prompting the other to play the man. They discussed the priority of the issue. Both were regular readers of the Baner ac Amserau Cymru edited by the redoubtable Thomas Gee. All the landlords were strong supporters of the Tory candidate, they and their agents canvassing their tenants on his behalf and not scrupling to bring strong pressure to bear upon them. The agent of the estate canvassed my father more than once and brought with him the nearest landlord.

I can vividly picture one scene which took place a few days before the poll. One day, I as a lad was engaged in driving the horses in the threshing machine, while father was feeding the machine in the barn. Suddenly there appeared at the gate of the farmyard two gentlemen on horseback.They were the neighbouring landlord and the agent of the estate on which we were. The threshing had to stop. They wished to see father. I can recall him walking between the two visitors from the barn towards the house, and I overheard the following conversation in the vernacular:

Agent: Take care David, what you are doing. If you do not cast your vote for the Tory candidate it ismore than likely you will have to quit the farm

Father in reply said- I have well considered the gravity of the issue, and it is my firm belief that I ought to support the Liberal candidate, and I cannot act counter to my convictions.