RICHARD DAVIES AND NONCONFORMIST RADICALISM IN ANGLESEY, 1837-68: A STUDY OF SECTARIAN AND MIDDLE-CLASS POLITICS1 CONCLUDING an otherwise undistinguished campaign speech on the eve of the 1874 election, Captain Richard Mostyn Lewis Williams- Bulkeley, scion of the Baron Hill family of Beaumaris and Con- servative candidate for the county of Anglesey, appealed to his audience 'not to allow Messrs. Davies, Donne and Dew to say who you shall send to Parliament'.2 A voice from the Tory gathering in the town hall at Llangefni responded with a shout of 'Not the three D's', and this might simply be taken as a catchy rallying-cry for the party faithful. But much more was involved, namely, a scornful recognition of the political power and influence wielded by a radical, Calvinistic Methodist triumvirate headed by Richard Davies, the Liberal M.P. for the county since the election of 1868. Aided by his first lieutenants, the Rev. James Donne,3 minister of Capel Dinas, Llangefni, and Samuel Dew, a local solicitor and deacon in the same chapel-who were themselves but representative of an activist leadership group-Richard Davies had emerged as the symbol of a middle-class Nonconformist political awakening that made possible the historic triumph of '68. He embodied not only the assertive ideology of a developing social class attracted by mercantile Liberal- ism, but also the related aspirations of an increasingly self-confident dissenting majority which was tilting at the established, aristocratic landed order alienated by its religion, language and political values. To the politically motivated Dissenters the cry was the declaration of their political independence. Indeed, Richard Davies's career was tightly linked with the dramatic events that spurred the radicalization of the Calvinistic Methodists both in Anglesey and Caernarfonshire-a process which can be traced back to the formative by-election of 1837 in his native county. Apart from its sheer novelty, the involvement of leading 1 I am grateful to Professor G. O. Pierce for reading this paper, and for his comments and advice. North Wales Chronicle (N.W.Ch.), 7 February 1874. James Donne (1822-1908): a native of Bala, he settled in Llangefni in 1847 and became the minister of Capel Dinas for almost forty years-a post he combined with a flourishing building and grocery business. 4 Samuel Dew (1814-84): born in Llangefni, for a short period in 1846 he assisted H. Vaughan Johnson, one of the Education Commissioners responsible for the infamous 'Blue Books' Report of 1847. He was elected first president of the Anglesey Liberal Association in 1874.
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