Many men and women born in
Monmouthshire have contributed
to events on the Welsh, British,
European and World stages.
Here's a short selection,
in chronological order
|GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH I HENRY V I CAPTAIN MORGAN I JOHN FROST/ZEPHANIA WILLIAMS/WILLIAM JONES I BENJAMIN HALL I LADY LLANOVER I ARTHUR MACHEN I EVAN JAMES & JAMES JAMES I ALFRED RUSSELL WALLACE I ISLWYN I W H DAVIES I BERTRAND RUSSELL I JAMES JOHN DAVIS I CHARLES ROLLS I MAI JONES I ANEURIN BEVAN I RAYMOND WILLIAMS I RAY REARDON I DESMOND LLEWELLYN I ROY JENKINS I JOHNNY MORRIS I GWYN JONES I GWYNETH JONES I MARGARET PRICE I ALUN PASK I JOHN DAWES I NEIL KINNOCK I JOE CALZAGHE I MARK WILLIAMS I DARREN MORGAN I MANIC STREET PREACHERS|
GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH , (c1100 - c1154)
studied at Oxford and was Archdeacon of Llandaff and Bishop of St Asaph.
One of the county's leading literary figures, he was the prime influence in
launching the Arthurian legend in his classic "Historia Regum Britanniae
(History of the Kings of England)" This was a totally fictitious history
of Britain, in which he traced the descent of the British kings back to the
Trojans. Geoffrey claimed that he had based his writings on old Welsh
chronicles which only he had seen.
Henry, thought to have been born in Grosmont castle, was the most trusted advisor to Edward III,
and the most powerful feudal lord in England.
During the Hundred Years War he served in naval battles off the coasts of Holland and Sussex, and from 1345 to 1347 was Edward's lieutenant and captain in south west France.
He won a notable victory over the French in October 1345 and sacked Poitiers in October 1346.
He was largely responsible for negotiating the provisional Treaty of Bretigny in 1360 and was subsequently Edward's ambassador to most of the courts of Europe. He died of the plague in 1361.
When his father the
Earl of Derby seized the throne from RICHARD II, Henry (who was born in
Monmouth Castle) was created Prince of Wales and succeeded to the crown in
On 25th October, at AGINCOURT, he gained a battle against the French at such great odds as to make his victory one of the most notable in history. Many of the so called 'English' archers at that battle were in fact from Gwent.
(The picture is of HENRY V and Charles ROLLS in Agincourt Square, Monmouth.)
JOHN FROST (1784 - 1877) Born in Newport, a prosperous tailor and draper, he became Mayor of the town in 1836. He campaigned for manhood suffrage and became prominent in the Chartist movement. On 3rd November 1839 he led a march on Newport to try to obtain the release of some fellow Chartists who had been arrested. Lying in wait for them was a detachment of soldiers. There is conflicting evidence about what happened when the marchers arrived at the Westgate Hotel but fighting began and shots rang out. FROST, along with ZEPHANIAH WILLIAMS from Nantyglo, and WILLIAM JONES of Pontypool was arrested and they were later found guilty of high treason. They were sentenced to death by hanging, drawing and quartering but the sentence was later commuted to one of transportation to Van Deimen's Land for life. In 1854 they received conditional pardons and Frost returned to Newport among great celebration. He died in 1877 and is buried at Horfield, near Bristol.
LADY LLANOVER, the wife of the above Benjamin Hall, was a patron of Welsh culture who encouraged eisteddfodau and Welsh language education even though it wasn't her own first language. She took the name "Gwenynen Gwent" (the Honey Bee of Gwent) and was largely responsible for the adoption of what is now widely recognized as the Welsh national costume for women.
Evan James lived in the Ancient Druid, Hollybush
His son, James, was born there in 1832.
They later moved to Pontypridd where they wrote the Welsh National Anthem ( Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau - Land of my fathers ) Words by Evan, and music by James.
Throughout the 1880's, whilst working as a publisher's clerk in London, he wrote some minor works such as a translation of the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the novel The Chronicle of Clemendy. It was after the death of his father, who left him a considerable sum of money in 1887, that he found himself economically independent. Some of his greatest writing followed and during the next decade he wrote the supernatural tales which have brought him everlasting fame. The Great God Pan, The White People, the episodic novel The Three Imposters, and others. Most of these works, including the later The House of Souls, and the heavily autobiographical novels The Hill of Dreams, and The Secret Glory were condemned as the outpourings of a diseased imagination.
After exhausting his inheritance he earned his living in Fleet street writing for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the London Evening News. His weekly at-homes attracted a wide circle of friends and admirers, especially when the American editions of his work brought in much needed money. In the late 20's though he fell out of fashion in America and he died in poverty in 1947.
JAMES JOHN DAVIS a United States Senator from Pennsylvania was born in Tredegar October 27, 1873. He emigrated to the United States in 1881 with his parents, who settled in Pittsburgh, Pa., and later moved to Sharon, Pennsylvania. First apprenticed as a puddler in the steel industry when 11 years of age he worked in steel and tin-plate mills. Davis held various offices in the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers of America; was city clerk of Elwood, Ind., 1898-1902; recorder of Madison County, Ind., 1903-1907. He moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1907 and engaged in organizational work for the Loyal Order of Moose; became chairman of the Loyal Order of Moose War Relief Commission in 1918 and visited the various camps in the United States, Canada, and Europe. (Tredegar Lodge becoming number one lodge in the UK.)
He was appointed Secretary of Labor by President Warren Harding and reappointed by Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover 1921-1930. He died in 1947.
Born in 1890 the daughter of the Station Master at Pontypool Road she will be chiefly remembered for the song 'We'll Keep a Welcome', for which she wrote the words.
A fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge and professor of drama there he was active in New Left intellectual movements. He produced the May Day Manifesto, but his novels Border Country (1960), Second Generation (1964), The Volunteers (1970), The Fight for Manod (1979), and Loyalties (1985) underline the significance of Welsh consciousness for him and he was later identified with Welsh nationalism.
He wrote many works of socio-literary criticism, of which The Country and the City was perhaps the most inspirational.
Among the most loved of television presenters, Johnny Morris (born Ernest John Morris in Newport, on 20 June 1916) entertained and educated generations of children and their parents through the BBC children's series Animal Magic (BBC, 1962-83). In his inimitable, relaxed, avuncular style, Morris presented the series for over twenty years, communicating his fascination for animals and investing them, through the humorous filmed inserts featuring his voice-over mimicry, with human emotions and characteristics.
Educated at Balliol College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1941, he served in the Royal Artillery in World War II and first entered Parliament in 1948, carrying on a family tradition. His father had been a miners' union official, an MP, and parliamentary private secretary to the Labour prime minister Clement Attlee. On the formation of the 1964 government Harold Wilson invited him to join the Cabinet as air minister (1964-65). He then became Home Secretary (1965-67) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1967-70)
As a strong supporter of both NATO and the European Community he felt compelled to resign from the Labour Party in protest at its decision to support a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the Common Market. He re-entered the shadow Cabinet in 1973 as shadow Home Secretary and became Home Secretary after Labour's victory in 1974.
In 1976 he resigned from the Cabinet and Parliament to become president
of the executive branch of the European Community and
remained in that post until 1981.
In 1981, along with Shirley Williams, David Owen and Bill Rogers, he left the Labour Party to form the Social Democratic Party, of which he was briefly leader.
In 1987 he accepted a life peerage and moved from the Commons to the House of Lords, where he was a leader of the newly formed SDLP. Jenkins wrote several books, including Pursuit of Progress (1953), Mr. Balfour's Poodle (1954), Sir Charles Dilke - A Victorian Tragedy (1958), The Labour Case (1959), Asquith (1964), Afternoon on the Potomac? (1972), Nine Men of Power (1975), Baldwin (1987), Gallery of Twentieth Century Portraits (1988), and a biography of Winston Churchill (2002)
The English Amateur champion in 1964, Ray captured his first World Professional title in 1970 and went on to dominate the decade by winning the World title on another five occasions including a remarkable quartet of successes from 1973-1976. A former president of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, Ray remains a snooker legend and managed to reach the semi-finals of the World Championship in 1985 - at the age of 53! Awarded an MBE for his services to snooker, Ray was a role model for many young players coming into the game in the 1970's and 1980's. CAREER HIGHLIGHTS - winner World Championship (1970, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978), Pot Black (1969), B&H Masters (1976) Professional Players' Tournament (1982) Yamaha International Masters (1983); World Team Cup winner (1979, 1980); former World No.1
He gained 26 consecutive Welsh International Rugby Union caps
from 1961 to 1967 and was Wales' captain six times.
Hailed as one of the finest No. 8 forwards of his time he was capped eight times for the British Lions.
Alun died tragically during a fire at his home in 1995.
Former Wales international rugby centre JOHN DAWES was born in Abercarn and educated at Lewis School, Pengam.
He made his international debut aged 23 on
Saturday, 7th March 1964 v Ireland in Dublin, when Wales won 15-6.
While gaining a total number of 22 caps he captained Wales to a Grand Slam in 1971. Also in that year he won 4 British Lions Caps when he was the first Welsh captain and the first captain to lead a British side to series victory over New Zealand.
He took part in "THAT" try for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973, as described by Cliff Morgan: "Kirkpatrick to Williams. This is great stuff. Phil Bennett covering, chased by Alistair Scown. Brilliant, Oh, that's brilliant. John Williams? Pullin, John Dawes. Great dummy. David, Tom David, the half-way line. Brilliant by Quinnell. This is Gareth Edwards. A dramatic start. What a score."
His final appearance for Wales was on 14th August 1971 in Paris when Wales scored
a narrow victory over a talented French side, 9-5.
He was Welsh national coach from 1974-79, winning 2 Grand Slams, 4 Championships and 4 Triple Crowns.
Rt. Hon NEIL KINNOCK (1942- ), Vice-president of the European Union Commission and former leader of the Labour Party was born in Tredegar and educated at Lewis School, Pengam, and the University of Wales, Cardiff
Elected Member of Parliament for Bedwellty in 1970 and to the National
Executive of the Labour party in 1978 he was said to be MICHAEL FOOT's
personal choice to replace him when he resigned as leader in 1983. Although
Mr Kinnock was normally considered to be on the left wing of the party while
serving his two terms as it's leader he succeeded in isolating the more extreme
elements, paving the way for the relaunch of the party by TONY BLAIR as the
more electable (but, many would say, less socialist,) "New Labour" party.
After his unexpected defeat by JOHN MAJOR in the 1992 election he was appointed as one of Britain's two representatives on the Commission of the European Union. One of the few survivors after a mass resignation of Commissioners he was given the task of reorganising the Commission. He is currently Vice President of both the European Commission and Socialist International .
World Super Middleweight Championship boxer JOE CALZAGHE comes from Newbridge.
Joe turned professional in 1993, after a glittering amateur career which featured 3 consecutive A.B.A. titles, then set about knocking out a whole series of opponents. His first 9 contests lasted no longer than the second round and a grand total of just 11 rounds ! After cruising to the British title, Joe faced experienced, world renowned Chris Eubank for the vacant W.B.O. title in 1997, in a bout promoted as 'The Full Monty'. For Eubank this was his 22nd world title contest and while acknowledging the Welshman's power of
punch expected to emerge victorious.
After a tremendous 12 round battle Wales had a new World Champion, Joe Calzaghe W.B.O. Super Middleweight Champion. He remains unbeaten after 36 fights.
MARK WILLIAMS (1975) Current UK, Masters and World Champion and No 1 in the World Snooker rankings, was born in Cwm
After a successful amateur career he turned professional in 1992. A promising amateur boxer before opting for a career on the green baize, he showed his ability to perform under pressure when winning the Benson and Hedges Masters at Wembley in 1998. Trailing Ian Hendry 9-6 in the final, he drew level at 9-9 and, at 56-56 in the deciding frame, potted a re-spotted black to land the £145,000 first prize.
Hendry took his revenge in the 1999 world championship final, winning 18-11. But Williams, part of the victorious Welsh team in the 1999 Nations Cup, put that experience to good use a year later. In the closest Crucible final since Hendry defeated Jimmy White 18-17 in 1994 Mark Williams showed nerves of steel to become the first left-hander to lift the World Championship trophy in the 73-year history of the event. In doing so he became only the third player to win the UK and world titles in the same season.
Snooker Player and Commentator hails from Cwmfelinfach.
World Amateur Champion 1987.
Welsh Amateur Champion 1987.
Turned professional 1988.
Embassy World Championship semi-finalist 1994.
Benson and Hedges Irish Masters Champion 1996,
Captained Wales to victory in 1999 Nations Cup.
Pop superstars the MANIC STREET PREACHERS are from the Blackwood area.
All text ©Copyright 2002-5 Glyn Hale