Reminiscences of Wales by Hugh Lloyd Parry (1865-1950)

transcribed by Eirlys Gruffydd

Though for many years past the coalmines in the neighbourhood of Mold have been derelict, in my early days they were in full work. Among my earliest recollections is one that remains vivid I was out walking one day by the side of my nurse and the perambulator she was wheeling. On emerging from a side road on to the main street we were caught up in a tumult of colliers running excitedly along the street. The nurse being alarmed, the alarm being communicated to me, we made for home with all speed. The occasion was the Mold riot of 1869 , when the military were called out and four persons were shot dead. Two of these were women, one being a mere spectator but the other one of a number who were carrying stones to the rioters.

My first school was a dame’s school held in her house and attended by eight or more children, the object seeming not so much for the purpose of education as to “get me out of the way”. The dame’s name was Alice Jones, Alice being pronounced Ailes as more genteel. Here I learnt the rudiments of reading and writing and to knit woollen mats. Part of the
equipment of the school as a high pointed dunce cap and a crown, the latter being made of beige coloured cardboard on a wooden framework. The wearing of the crown was a distinction for good work or good behaviour. It was hard to the head and for comfort the dunce’s cap was much to be preferred. In course of time I attained the proud position of head of the school and a show pupil for visitors.

My second school was a private school kept by a man named Edward Drury. He had no assistant and the school was held in a room situated at the end of a short lane leading from his home. His wife conducted a school for girls in a room of their house and every Christmas the two heads gave a party for the combined school We had tea and cakes followed by games in which kisses played a large part in payment of forfeits.

In this school I was well grounded in the three R’s. Geography and History were also taught. For Geography we merely committed to memory lists of names and learnt to find their place in the atlas. For History we were taught little more than the dates of the accession of English sovereigns and of the chief battles and names of the wives of Henry VIII. Drawing was taught but for this an extra fee was charged.

An excellent way of teaching spelling was by way of a game. Two boys were appointed to choose sides and the sides were drawn up to face each other. Then in turn each boy would give a word to his opposite number and challenge him to spell it. If he failed to spell it correctly he was taken prisoner and made to join the enemy. Each evening before the spelling lesson I, and doubtless the other pupils, would prime ourselves with the most difficult words we could find as ammunition for the morrow’s fray.

About this time a rage for Spelling Bees infected this country from America. One evening a performance was held at the Town Hall, Mold, which I attended with my father. I was, with some difficulty, induced to enter the event for juveniles which I won easily, and was rewarded with an illustrated edition of “Swiss Family Robinson”. Fired by this success, when later on competitors were invited for the open event, I evaded the restraining hand of my father and was one of the first to mount the platform. This appearance of a minnow among the tritons caused great amusement in the assembly but the minnow survived nearly to the end being floored eventually by quite a simple word. It was the difficult words only that I had learnt.

Friday afternoon at the school was eagerly anticipated for on that afternoon an hour was assigned for a reading by the master or a senior pupil of some book of boy’s adventures such as Ballantyre’s. The object was to cultivate a love of reading. It was wise of the master for some boys coming from Welsh speaking homes had read very few, if any, English tale books and needed encouragement. It led to their joining one of the two small lending libraries in the town, one consisting entirely of children’s books.

Almost the only form of punishment in the school was strokes by a cane on the palm of the hand. The cane was ever ready but the relation between master and pupil was on the whole pleasant.

In time , well before I left for my schooling in England, I had learnt all that he could teach me and not infrequently he would leave me to supervise or teach the class while he went out for a mid-morning refreshment or dozed in a chair near the stove. Both master and pupil took the school work easily, being entirely free from the oppression of examinations and inspections.


Although bom in Pentraeth, Anglesey, Hugh Lloyd Parry was brought up in Mold. Both his parents were Flintshire people. His father, William Parry was born in Llanasa and his mother Sarah in Ysceifiog. Hugh had an older brother called William and younger sisters called Dorothy and Elizabeth. In the 1871 Census the family are living at 50 Wrexham Street and the father is described as a Commercial Traveller .

A list of publications by Lloyd Parry, primarily on education and local government in Devon, are listed ( October 2013 ) in

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