Some Bedtime Reading

Two local history books were published late in 2010 during the hiatus on this blog.

Craig's Medal (reproduced courtesy of Janice Jackson)

Craig's Medal (reproduced courtesy of Janice Jackson)

One is by Saundersfoot-born Janice Jackson called “The Life of a Pembrokeshire Soldier, 1782-1854” about her ancestor, Philip Craig. A Pembrokeshire man he settled near Wooden around 1815 having served in numerous battles in the Peninsular War rising to the rank of sergeant. He certainly led a risky existence as his wounds and participation in the forlorn hope on two occasions pay testament to. He was later awarded the Military General Service Medal, something that all veterans could apply for, but it is the large number of clasps, twelve in all, that sets Craig apart from his peers. If you have mining ancestry in the Saundersfoot area, you may well have links to Craig’s extensive family. Keep an eye out for the July edition of the BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” magazine where his story will be reprised at length.

Lexden Terrace, Tenby, the building of which was commissioned by John Rees

Lexden Terrace, Tenby, the building of which was commissioned by John Rees (Reproduced with permission of Pembrokeshire County Library Service)

The second book is “A Legacy of Opium” by Douglas Fraser. It is the history of three Rees brothers from Tenby who spent most of their working lives away from home in the Far East. They rode the wave of Britain’s aggressive trading growth around the Chinese coast, the middle of the three, John, playing a leading part in the formative years of the Jardine Matheson company. On his retirement to Tenby in the 1840s, he invested heavily buying the Jeffreyston estate and the associated mineral rights under parts of Jeffreyston, Loveston and Reynalton. The most conspicuous memorial to his wealth is Lexden Terrace, above the harbour in Tenby, which he commissioned in the early 1840s.

What is interesting about the men at the heart of these books is how far they travelled as well as the experiences they had. In the 1840s Rev Buckby of Begelly tried to explain the problems that the supposedly dissolute mining community faced believing that one of the root causes lay in the fact that “the population is mostly indigenous, not imported”. That Craig in particular, like other locals, returned to the Saundersfoot area with many rich military experiences behind him raises the question of how far he and his peers could influence their local community. If Buckby is to be believed, they could do little.

Details

The Life of a Pembrokeshire Soldier 1782-1854, Janice Jackson, self-published, 2010

A Legacy of Opium, Douglas Fraser, Tenby Heritage Publications, 2010

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