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Mold Tragedy of 1869, The

Manylion a Disgrifiad y Llyfr | Book Details & Description

  • Author: Jenny Griffiths, Mike Griffiths
  • Publication December 2001
  • Format: Paperback, 211x149 mm, 68 pages

The tragic story of the Mold Riot in 1869 when four people were killed by soldiers following a court case in which local magistrates refused to accept the grievances of local coalminers, reflecting the oppression of the working classes by the ruling gentry. 13 black-and-white illustrations and 3 maps.

Gwales Review
In this attractive, well-produced booklet, published by the enterprising, productive Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, the authors, both natives of Mold, discuss an episode which had previously survived mainly in the oral traditions of north-east Wales: the riot which occurred at Mold on 2 June 1869, and the inquest into the deaths of the four individuals killed by soldiers. One of them, Margaret Younghusband of Chester, only 19 years old, was just an innocent bystander.

In a series of short, digestible, readable sections, we are told of the nature of the coalfields of Flintshire and the latent tensions which culminated in a savage assault on John Young, the abrasive manager of the Leeswood Green Colliery on 19 May 1869, following a substantial drop in miners' wages at the colliery. A detailed account follows of the arguments for the prosecution and the defence at the ensuing court case, the 'guilty' verdict which resulted as the unsympathetic magistrates shunned the miners' heartfelt grievances, and the fierce rioting which broke out immediately afterwards. We are then told of the conduct of the inquest on 4 June into the four deaths which had occurred and something of the aftermath of the riot and its repercussions. Attention is given to the coverage of the episode in the national press and a conclusion follows on its significance.

The authors conclude that the magistrates were biased against the colliers, displaying a blatant hostility which again surfaced at the inquest. They depict the Mold riot of 1869 as one index of the oppression of the working classes by the ruling gentry, a theme prominent in Wales in the 1850s and 1860s. They see a distinct change in army procedure as a result of the adverse publicity which the episode attracted and a resultant increase in the number of local constabularies. The attitude of officialdom to public insurrection changed markedly thereafter.

The booklet is well produced and contains a number of useful illustrations. Alas, the three maps, potentially helpful, come to life only with the use of a magnifying glass! The list of acknowledgements gives some indication of the research route traversed by the authors, but a fuller bibliography of the manuscript and printed sources used, and the information extracted, and possibly an index, would have constituted most welcome additions to this highly lucid, informative and eye-opening tome. One glaring blemish however: the contents list does not match the page numbers in the main text. But new light has undoubtedly been shed on an important, previously neglected, episode and its far-reaching implications.

J. Graham Jones