Richard Fothergill Jun.


Picture of Abernant House

Abernant House (picture courtesy of RCTCBC)

The coming of age of a young man whose social and commercial position gives a reasonable expectation of a splendid, career is an event to be regarded with the deepest interest. To the young man himself it is important, but scarcely more so than to the community with which his future is to be identified. We do not know what special charm there is in twenty-one that it should have been selected as the age at which youth should be considered to have merged into manhood. Perhaps the fact of its being three times seven, both of which numbers are especially sacred has had as much to do with the selection as anything else. But be that as it may, society has agreed to make the twenty-first anniversary of a young man’s birth the date of his entrance upon the duties of life, at which point in his onward march he shuts the door upon childhood and boyish pastimes and takes fast hold of the burden which he is to carry. Until he reaches this stage in his progress, we expect nothing from him, but good behaviour and careful attention to the tasks assigned to him, but when the twenty-one years have been completed, we expect him to show that he can choose his, own course, fight his own, battle, and recognize his responsibilities as a member of society.

It is not, then, a merely formal greeting that we would offer to the Heir of Abernant on his having come of age. We cordially welcome him into the community as a young man about to take his place among us upon his, own responsibility. He has made a deliberate choice of a business in which the well-being of this district is deeply involved; on which, indeed, it entirely depends, and therefore it would ill become us not to hold out the hand frankly, and say, “Welcome! Thrice welcome!” Young Mr Fothergill appears among us as the son of one of the most energetic coal proprietors and ironmasters in the country. His father has done much to develop our staple industry, and not only so, but he has also shown a rare public spirit as compared with his predecessors. When he entered Parliament, he did not go to be a mere ironmaster there, but to reflect and advocate the views of the constituency that elected him, and we make bold to say that there is no member of Parliament whose votes more faithfully show the pleasing concord which should exist between the representative and the represented than those of our worthy member, Mr Fothergill.

The man who can carry on successfully so extensive a business as the Abernant and Plymouth Iron Works, and yet find time to discharge with credit to himself and advantage to his constituents the duties of a member of Parliament, must be endowed with uncommon ability and energy, but those who know Mr Fothergill are well aware that he possesses these qualities in no ordinary degree. Mr Fothergill will not, we are sure, feel at all displeased if we express the wish that his son may even excel him in these qualities, and thus increase our advantages. The coming of age of Mr Fothergill’s eldest son deserves hearty recognition from the inhabitants of this district were it for nothing but the cordial friendship and good feeling which Mr Fothergill himself has shown. We have not had to drag him out of his privacy, so as, to force our salutation upon his son. We have not had to implore him to allow us to prove that we wish him and his household well. He has come forward with the utmost frankness and spontaneously held out his hand, knowing that the people were ready to grasp it heartily and to cheer his advancing step with genuine enthusiasm. The reception given to all classes of the people at Abernant, both at the private ball and at the open-air festival in the park, had in it a heartiness and sincerity which were quite refreshing, a striking contrast to the fawning approach made to Baron Aberdare, and the insincere reference made to his education policy.

The Nonconformists of Mountain Ash must have been fast asleep when they allowed Churchmen to hoodwink them by drawing up an address which virtually extols the Education Act with its 25th clause, and utterly ignores the fact that Baron Aberdare voted against the views of the Welsh people in almost every great measure which concerned them. The congratulations at Abernant did not need to be those of a crowd asleep and presented to a dignified Lord by a patronizing clergyman, acting as head nurse to a people in swathing bands. The people of Merthyr and Aberdare do not regret the result of the Parliamentary contest of 1868, but, on the contrary, have reason to rejoice that in Mr Fothergill they found a man who went to Parliament not to prop up bishops and lawn sleeves, or to air his, personal crotchets, but to vote for the people who sent him, and in whose name he went.

Mr Fothergill had evidently, spared no expense in doing honour to Merthyr and Aberdare on this auspicious occasion. He never does things by halves. What he undertakes he carries out with thoroughness and liberality which has been quite refreshing to witness. The entertainments of the past week, appropriately culminating in such a display of fireworks as Wales never witnessed before, will long be remembered, not merely as in themselves pleasant to think about, but, which is additional evidence of the desire on the part of Mr Fothergill and his family to love and to be loved in the community in which they play so important a part. Some may ask why should all this honour be paid to a young man who has not yet had time to show himself useful?

We reply that this festival is the lighting of the lamp of hope. We do not look for harvest in; the month of May, but when we see the young plants shooting up in health and vigour, giving promise of future gains, we may surely exult. We expect much from the young man who has just entered into a manhood’s career among us. He is much too sensible to regard the cheers of the crowd as plaudits for work done. He knows that these cheers are the rejoicings of the people that he has been spared to manhood, their prayer that he may live long among them, and their confidence that he will enter upon his responsibilities with a noble and manly resolution to do his best. We may say on behalf of Merthyr that when Mr Fothergill, Jun., comes to live at Penydarren House, on this side of the hill, as we expect he will shortly do, he will be most cordially welcomed, and made to feel that he has already awakened the hopes of the people, and found a warm and permanent place in their affections.

Presentation 1873

An elegantly bound family Bible was presented to Mr R. Fothergill, Jun., at Aberdare, on Monday. At one o’clock in the afternoon, the neighbourhood presented an unusual scene of bustle and activity caused by hundreds of well-dressed people wending their way in various directions to the churches and chapels with which they are connected was to form a procession and take up a pre-arranged position in the vicinity of the square.

Here at half-past two o’clock, a start was made for the park, the streets in every direction being filled by those connected with the schools. The start was made for the park in the following order: Bearers of the address and the Bible, ministers of the parish, four deep the teachers and children of the following Sunday schools, four deep Bethania, Calfaria, Siloa, Bethesda (Independent), Carmel (English Baptists), a flag being borne by this school bearing the words, “Long life and happiness to Richard Fothergill;” Bethel, Trecynon, Bethesda (Primitive Methodist), Trinity (English Wesleyan), Sion (Welsh Wesleyan), Tabernacle (Aberdare), St. Elvan’s, St. Fagan’s, Nazareth (Calvinistic Methodist), St. Mary’s, Moriah (Llwydcoed), Brynsion, Horeb, Soar (Llwydcoed), Ynysllwyd (Primitive Methodist), Trecynon, Bethesda (Baptist), Bethlehem (Independent), Abercwmboy, Saron, Aberaman (Independent), Bethania, Ebenezer, Brynsion (Cwmbach), and Carmel; a branch of Brynsion and Bethel, Abernant. It will thus be seen that the whole of the Sunday schools of the valley was represented, from Llwydcoed to Capcoch, the number of adults and children who participated reaching 12,000.

On entering Abernant Park, the Rev. Canon Jenkins and Inspector Rees busily distributed copies of a special hymn to be sung on the occasion, entitled, “Shall we gather at the river.” Assembled on the platform were Mr Fothergill, M.P., Mr Fothergill, Jun., the Rev. Canon Jenkins, Dr Price, and the ministers of all denominations and gentry of the district.

The Rev. Dr Price opened the proceedings by giving out the doxology, in which the choir were led by Mr David Rosser, a solicitor. Then followed the presentation of the address and Bible, both being massive and costly specimens. It was interpreted to the recipient, in the vernacular by the Rev. Thomas Rogers, B.A., as well as English by the Rev. Mr Morgan.

An address, presented to Richard Fothergill, Jun., Esq., son of Richard Fothergill. Esq, M.P., Abernant House, Aberdare, in connection with the presentation of a Bible on the occasion of his attaining his majority, by the Sabbath schools of Aberdare and the vicinity, viz., Siloa, Ynysllwyd, Bethania, Nazareth, Trinity, Tabernacle, English Wesleyan, Bethesda, Saron (Aberaman) Carmel, (Monk Street), Sion, Bryn Sion, Calfaria. Carmel (Hirwain Road), Gwawr, Cwmdare, St. Elven, Moriah, Llwydcoed), Horeb (Llwydcoed), Moriah (Amman), Primitive Methodist (do.). Bethesda (Abernant), Bethel (do.), Ebenezer (Mill Street), Hen Dy Cwrdd (do.), Bethania (Cwmbach), Ebenezer (do.), Church School (do), St. Mary, and Capcoch, all comprising upwards of seven thousand members.

The address ran as follows:

Dear Sir, Your coming of age is a matter of unmixed joy to us, in common with the rest of the inhabitants of Aberdare town and valley, and we cannot allow this grand and important event to pass by without expressing, in a substantial though humble manner, our deep respect for you and your family, as well as our earnest hopes and sanguine expectations respecting your future, both in the present and in the coming world.

Picture of Sion House

Sion House (picture courtesy of Coflein)

Your family is closely connected with the welfare and prosperity of our town and neighbourhood in a commercial, political, and moral aspect. The trade of the locality, to a great extent, depends upon the world-renowned Abernant Iron Works and Collieries. In your father, this borough has had for some time a second voice in the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain. We say voice advisedly, for he has not like some, been a silent representative, in a moral point of view, we anxiously hope that your influence will be extensive with the commercial and political status of the family, for all power should be subservient to religion. We deem it our first duty to bless the Lord of Heaven and Earth for His unfailing protection of you from helpless infancy up to the present interesting stage and pray for a continuance of the same to the end of your life, and even during the endless ages of eternity.

The same benevolent and gracious Majesty who endowed you so richly with both physical and intellectual capacities for the full development of complete manhood is also able and willing to bestow upon you the favour of eternal life, through the vicarious death and intercessory life of the Son of God, thus, to consecrate body and soul to Divine service, and beautify your person with the varied gems and costly jewels of salvation.

Dear sir, permit us to remind you that for you; personally in this season now celebrated is the most important of your life. Thus far have you been guided by others; now you are about launching the boat of life for yourself, and your own will more than ever before will be your guide. If you now begin well, in all probability you will end well. And. provided you take the Bible thus presented for your handbook; this probability will rise into absolute certainty. Other presents with which you have been recently honoured may be more costly, but we unhesitatingly say, knowing well your concurrence with us, this is by far the most precious.

This is our book, as of Sunday school members; this is the book of great men, and the book which renders small men great; this is the book of humanity, and that because it is the book of God. Were the principles of this book universally practised, and its precepts uniformly obeyed, all wrong would cease to exist; men would become angels, and cursed earth would become translated into a blissful and glorious heaven.

That the saving and sanctifying truths of this blessed volume be ever supreme in your soul, and that your life may be-long, honoured, prosperous, happy, and useful is the earnest prayer of your humble servants.

Mr R. Fothergill, Jun., said that he could not express the gratification it gave him, and the honour he felt to receive from the Sabbath Schools of Aberdare and the neighbourhood that beautifully illuminated address and the magnificent Bible which accompanied it, both of which he should treasure through the whole of his life. He felt fortunate in his start in life to have the good feeling and friendship of so many of his neighbours in this important epoch. He trusted if he lived that in future years, he should be able to look back to that day without self-reproach and that nothing in his career would cause them to regret the compliment they had paid him on his coming of age. He thanked them heartily for their kindness.

Mr Richard Fothergill, senior, M.P., then addressed the audience. He said he felt deeply grateful for the kindness which they had shown to his son. He would never forget the many tokens of kindness and good-will which he had received from his friends and neighbours, but there was none so touching as this. He mentioned that ten years ago Mrs Fothergill received tokens of the kindness of their neighbours. His son, whom they now so greatly honoured, would start in life better than he, the speaker, had, and greater things would be expected of him. After referring to the honour the constituency had done him by electing him to Parliament, remarking that he should be delighted to be their representative so long as they had confidence in him, he concluded by thanking those present for the demonstration of that day. The whole of the proceedings was enthusiastic and cordial.

Death of Richard Fothergill 1877

We regret to announce the death of Mr Richard Fothergill, son of the hon. member for Merthyr Tydfil. The sad news was telegraphed to Abernant House on Thursday, and rapidly became known all over the district, where it elicited general sympathy. The deceased gentleman, who was suffering from ill-health, determined some short time ago to pay a visit to Tenby, where the members of his family are staying, hoping that a change of air would relieve him, but he gradually grew worse, and at length was prostrated by a very severe attack of typhoid fever.

Dr Reid, of Tenby, was called in, Dr Davies, of Merthyr, the medical attendant of the family, was sent for, and for some few days, there was every reason to believe that the young gentleman’s constitution, assisted by medical skill and good nursing, would enable him to fight through the various stages of his illness. On Sunday, although in a very low state, he was a little better, and no serious change occurred until Tuesday when the ravages of the terrible disease began to tell upon him, and but scant hopes of his recovery were entertained by his medical attendants. They, however, used their utmost exertions, and to the last did all that possibly be done for him, to save his life, all Thursday morning, about half-past eleven o’clock, the end came, and Mr Fothergill passed away quietly, after several days of suffering, which he had borne with singular courage and patience.

The deceased gentleman was well known in the district of Merthyr and Aberdare, and from his connection with the works was popular as well with the population as with the workmen generally. He took a warm interest in his father’s business and gave the promise of becoming a prominent man in connection with local industries. His general amiability of character made him a favourite with all who had dealings with him. and in social circles, he was very generally respected and beloved. Mr Fothergill, who educated at Eton, was a fine specimen of an Englishman, being about six feet three inches in height, well built, frank and genial in his bearing and disposition. He was the only son now alive by his father’s first wife, He attained the age of 25 years on the 19th of last month, and at that time any casual observer would have predicted that in the ordinary course of nature he had the promise of a long and useful life.

In Tenby, the deepest sympathy is manifested towards the family in their bereavement; and the feeling will be general in political and commercial circles today, amongst thousands of his acquaintances, when they read the announcement it is our painful duty to make.

Mr R. Fothergill, Jun.

The remains of the buried of the late Mr R. Fothergill, Jun., will be Tenby (Saturday) at one o’clock, in the cemetery, Tenby. We believe the funeral will be strictly private.

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