The Welsh and the English…

Another, short, blog for St David’s day (you would never guess where I’m from!) and our celebration of all things Welsh in preparation of Rhodri Morgan’s upcoming talk to our ‘Parliaments, Politics and People’ seminar. This time an extract from a 17th century source warning against upsetting the Welsh…

The following extract is from the diary of William Schellinks, a Dutch artist who visited England in the early 1660s accompanying a young son of a rich Amsterdam merchant on his Grand Tour. Here, Schellinks retells an incident he witnessed in London, in 1661:

Thus it happened this year that near Westminster a Welsh nobleman stabbed an Englishman. So too an English cook, who, for fun, stuck a leek on his hat and addressed, as a fellow countryman, a great lord, a Welshman, who passed by with his suite, who responded in Welsh, which is as different from English as French is from Dutch. When the cook replied sneeringly in English, the lord went for him, the cook fled into his shop and grabbed a spit from the fire and with this attacked the Welshman, who, supported by his servants with their rapiers, all turned against the cook, who was immediately helped by all sorts of rabble, throwing dirt and other things, so that in the end he was compelled to retreat, and, the furore getting greater, he was forced to take to the water.

There has been some debate here as to which Welsh lord this was. There weren’t many Welsh peers in the 1660s, so the field is quite narrow. Possibilities include Henry Somerset (later Duke of Beaufort), or Richard Vaughan, 2nd Earl of Carbery. Around this time Vaughan was accused of corruption and forced to mortgage his property, so he may well have been bad-tempered enough for this incident!

The unfortunate cook did, narrowly, escape the mob, but we hope had learnt his lesson, and never again mocked the Welsh…

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus i bawb!


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