Martha & Margaret Llewellyn

Yn anffodus, does dim llun o’r chwiorydd y gwyddom amdano, ond dyma syniad o fel y gallent fod wedi ymddangos / Unfortunately, we know of no photo of the sisters, but here is how they might have looked.
Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald - 28-8-1847
Medal Margaret Llewellyn, sydd mewn casgliad preifat yn ardal Abergwaun / Margaret Llewellyn’s medal which is held in a private collection in the Fishguard area.
Erthygl o'r wasg Mawrth 3ydd 1849. Newspaper article from March 3rd 1849.
The Welshman - 14/5/1847
Lloyds Ship News - cyhoeddi £5 o wobr i Margaret a Martha o Abergwaun / awarding £5 to Margaret and Martha of Fishguard
The County Echo 13-8-1896
The County Echo 31-7-1902
29th January 1848
Caernarvon & Denbigh Herald

‘Grace’ pwy?

Merch o’r ‘Cwm’ ydw i.  Mi allech weud mod i wedi ‘ngeni â halen yn fy ngwaed. Yn sicr mae gen i ysfa i wybod mwy am y cymeriadau diddorol we’n byw yn yr harbwr bach bishi ‘ma ‘slawer dydd. Yn yr ysgol ces fy nysgu am Grace Darling, arwres Oes Fictoria, a achubodd fywydau ger Goleudy Longstone ar Ynysoedd Farne. Wnes i ‘rioed ddychmygu bod arwresau tebyg yn arfer byw yn ein cymuned ni ein hunain. Des ar draws y stori yn ddiweddar wrth edrych ar hen bapurau newydd ar wefan Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru ‘100 Papur Newydd Cymru’ ( – dyma ffordd wych o hala prynhawn Sadwrn gwlyb!)

 

Roedd y chwiorydd Margaret a Martha Llewellyn o Gwm Abergwaun yn eu hugeiniau  pan wnethon nhw ddenu peth sylw a chodi cywilydd ar rai dynion lleol, oherwydd eu dewrder. Mae adroddiadau papur newydd y cyfnod yn egluro sut y gwnethon nhw gamu mas yng nghanol tonnau enfawr, mewn storm ddifrifol, i achub bywydau morwyr ar fwrdd llong fasnach arfordirol oedd wedi trawo’r creigiau ger y Cei. We ddim un o’r dynion lleol yn ymddangos yn awyddus i ymgymryd â’r her, ond we nhw’n ddigon parod i gadw gafael ar y rhaffau we o amgylch gwast Margaret a Martha! Llwyddodd y chwiorydd i achub tri bywyd.

Yn fuan ar ôl y digwyddiad, tynnodd y mater sylw yng ngholofnau papurau newydd yn Llundain. Pam, gofynnwyd, na chafodd y chwiorydd hyn unrhyw gydnabyddiaeth am eu dewrder? Tywalltwyd canmoliaeth ar Grace Darling, pan achubodd hi fywydau mewn amgylchiadau tebyg, ryw ugain mlynedd yng nghynt. Ai rhywbeth i wneud â phwy a achubwyd oedd hyn?  Yn eu cwch rhwyfo, achubodd Grace a’i thad bobl a oedd yn gefnog, ac wedi derbyn addysg dda. Ni chollwyd unrhyw amser ganddynt wrth gyhoeddi’r ffeithiau a lledaenu’r newyddion,  gan godi Grace i statws arwres genedlaethol. Nid oedd gan y morwyr tlawd a gafodd eu llusgo, yn rhewi a thuchan i’r lan gan Margaret a Martha ddim o fanteision bywyd. Nid oedd ganddyn nhw, nac unrhyw un o’r teulu Llewellyn y modd i ledu’r gair am weithredoedd dewr y ddwy chwaer.

Cymerodd beth amser, ond yn y pen draw, gyda chefnogaeth y papurau newydd, derbyniodd y chwiorydd Fedalau ‘Lloyds’ am ddewrder a swm anrhydeddus o arian a gasglwyd trwy danysgrifiad cyhoeddus. Anfonodd y Frenhines Victoria,hyd yn oed, ddymuniadau da a chanmoliaeth iddynt, gyda £20 am eu hymdrechion.

Wel, da iawn nhw. Mae trigolion y Cwm yn dal i fod yn rhai cymwynasgar, serchog a charedig heddi’, ond hefyd, yn dal i fod yn amharod i wneud sioe o’u gweithredoedd da. Efallai mai dyma’r rheswm nas gwelir plac glas na llechen garreg wrth ochr yr harbwr, i goffáu ein harwresau dewr lleol. Mae hyn yn gam â’n gorffennol, ac mae’n bryd unioni’r cam.

Ar hyd hanes, bu cymaint yn llai o straeon am ‘arwresau’ nag ‘arwyr’. Ar adegau, roeddem ni ferched yn fwy tebygol o gael ein portreadu fel seirenau, yn denu morwyr i ddistryw, yn hytrach nag achubwyr bywyd! Mae’n bryd gwella’r cydbwysedd ac i blant mewn ysgolion lleol gael eu hysbrydoli gan arwresau yn ogystal ag arwyr, yn arbennig arwresau lleol.

Mae  pobl ifanc wrth eu bodd yn clywed straeon am eu hamgylchedd, y filltir sgwâr a’r tirlun.  Maent yn datblygu gwreiddiau a mwy o barch at eu tirwedd a’u cymuned.  Faint o blant Abergwaun sy’n gwybod y byddent wedi cael eu magu ar sgadan (herrings) yn hytrach na ‘bysedd pysgod’ ganrif neu ddwy yn ôl? ‘Sgadan Abergwaun’ oedd prif gynnyrch yr economi leol ar y pryd. Ie, er fy mod yn gwerthfawrogi cael dysgu am Grace Darling  yn yr ysgol, a phob parch iddi, cymaint yn well fyddai petai’r wers wedi bod am Margaret a Martha Llewellyn a’u bywydau!


Parhaodd Margaret, sydd hefyd yn cael ei hadnabod fel Pegi, i fod yn arwres leol a chymeriad adnabyddus yn Abergwaun am weddill ei hoes hir. Mae’r adroddiad canlynol yn ymddangos yn y County Echo a’r Western Mail ym mis Chwefror 1894 — bron i hanner canrif wedi’r digwyddiad gwreiddiol –

Roedd y stemar ‘Morfa’, o Abertawe, yn teithio am Belfast, pan yr aeth i drwbwl, brynhawn Llun, milltir i’r dwyrain o Strwmbwl. Dechreuodd y llong ollwng , ac yn fuan wedyn drylliwyd hi. Pan welodd y criw nad oedd unrhyw obaith o’i hachub, aethant i’w cychod a glanio yn harbwr Abergwaun. Roedd ‘Y Morfa’ ar ei ffordd i Belfast gyda glo…. ac wedi masnachu o Abertawe i Arfordir Iwerddon ers blynyddoedd lawer heb anffawd.’

Ar yr un dudalen o fewn y ‘County Echo’, dan y penawd ‘WHAT THEY SAY AT FISHGUARD‘, mae’r canlynol  – ‘That the crew of the ill-fated steamer were well treated by the Lower Town folks. That they were entertained to tea by Peggy.’


Move over Grace Darling

I am a ‘Lower Town’ girl. You might say that I was born with briny blood. I have always felt the need to know more about the seafaring characters who lived at the busy little harbour in days gone by. At school I was taught about Grace Darling, the Victorian legend who saved lives at Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands. I never imagined that we, at Lower Fishguard, had similar heroines of our own. I came across the story recently while perusing old newspapers on the National Library of Wales website ‘100 Old Welsh Newspapers'(an excellent way to while away a rainy Saturday afternoon!)

 

Yes, Fishguard sisters, Margaret and Martha Llewellyn were in their twenties when they drew some attention at the fisherman’s quay, outdoing local men for bravery. Newspaper articles of the period relate that they strode out among massive breakers, during a roaring storm, to save the lives of sailors aboard a stranded coastal trader. None of the local men seemed up for the challenge but were ready enough to keep hold of the ropes which were tied around Margaret and Martha’s waists! The sisters succeeded in saving three lives.

 

 

Shortly after the event, the matter drew attention in the columns of a London newspaper. Why, it was asked, didn’t these sisters receive any recognition for their bravery? Praise had been poured upon Grace Darling, when she had saved lives, some 20 years earlier. Was it something to do with the fact that the souls that she and her father saved in their rowing boat were well heeled, well educated people? They had lost no time in publishing the facts and spreading the news, hailing Grace as a national heroine. The poor sailors who were dragged, coughing and spluttering to shore by Margaret and Martha had none such of life’s advantages. Neither they, nor any of the Llewelliyn family had the means to make the sister’s selfless actions known to the public.

 

It took some time for word to spread, but newspaper support eventually resulted in the sisters receiving Lloyds Medals for bravery and a decent sum of money collected by public subscription. Even Queen Victoria sent good wishes and a gift of £20 for their efforts.

 

Good for them. The people of Lower Town are still public spirited today, but also, still reluctant to make a show of their own achievements. Maybe this is the reason that no blue plaque or stone tablet is seen at the harbourside, commemorating our local lifesaving heroines. Maybe, this is something we should put right. In history, there have always been so many fewer tales of ‘heroines’ than ‘heroes’. At times, we were more likely portrayed as sirens rather than savers! It is time to redress the balance.

It is time for children at local schools to be inspired by heroines as well as heroes, and also, to be given more opportunities to learn about those whio feature in our local history.

 

Young people love to hear stories which are belong to the environment in which they live. They develop roots and a greater respect for the landscape and community.  How many of Fishguard’s children know that a century or two ago, they would have been raised on herrings rather than fish fingers? ‘Sgadan Abergwaun’ (Fishguard herrings) were the mainstay of the local economy at the time. As much as I appreciate learning about Grace Darling at school, I so wish my lesson had been about Margaret and Martha and their lives, instead!

 

 


Margaret, also known as Peggy, continued to be a local heroine and well know character of Lower Fishguard for the rest of her long life. The following report appears in the County Echo and the Western Mail  in February 1894 — almost half a century after the original event-

 

‘The steamer ‘Morfa’, of and from Swansea for Belfast, foundered on Monday afternoon one mile east of Strumble. The vessel sprang a leak, and shortly afterwards foundered. The crew, when they saw no hope of saving her, took to their boats and landed at Fishguard harbour. The ‘Morfa’ …. was on a voyage to Belfast with coals…. and has traded from Swansea to the Irish Coast for many years without mishap.’

 

On the same page of the ‘County Echo’, under the heading ‘WHAT THEY SAY AT FISHGUARD’, the following appears –  ‘That the crew of the ill-fated steamer were well treated by the Lower Town folks. That they were entertained to tea by Peggy.’


 

Comments about this page

  • Following on from my earlier comment regarding the whereabouts of Pen-maen-y-for I now see, thanks to your new item on the growth of Fishguard, that the earliest map, by Thomas Evans in 1817, gives that name to the headland directly above Lower Town quay. (It’s spelt there “Penmanivawr”.) Thus it makes perfect sense that the Llewellin sisters would have waded out beyond the end of the the quay to bring the sailors to safety. Clearly, the far end of Quay Road is the place where these brave women should be commemorated.

    By Natasha de Chroustchoff (14/01/2024)
  • I’m delighted to read this excellent tribute to the sadly-neglected Llewellin sisters (or were they mother and daughter as has been suggested?) of Lower Town.

    I did some research on these women a while ago and discovered that one of their medals was sold at auction in 1998 and went for £550. There was no information as to who sold it or who bought it, The description that accompanied the sale was as follows:
    “On the morning of the 21st October 1846, about five o’clock the Margaret, of Beaumaris, after vainly buffeting with the storm, got on shore under Penmaen-y-for point, in Fishguard bay. The crew, consisting of a master, a mate, and one seaman, sought a temporary security in the rigging; in this awful position the dreadful agony of despair gave energy to their calls for help – nor were these unheeded. Margaret Llewellyn, of the lower town, Fishguard, having heard their cries above the howling of the storm, soon espied their dreadful situation. Assisted by her sister Martha Llewellyn, William Griffiths and Thomas Phillips, they procured a rope, and with this attached to their bodies, they boldly faced the white crested breakers, towering as high as any which ever washed the Fern Island*, and succeeded in bringing these three apparently doomed individuals safe to shore. Both Margaret and Martha Llewellyn were awarded the R.N.L.I. silver medal together with one sovereign each, whilst Griffiths and Phillips each received a reward of 10 shillings. The Royal Humane Society awarded its bronze medal to each of the sisters, together with a reward of £3 to Margaret and £2 to Martha.”
    *Farne Islands where Grace Darling performed her heroic deed.

    [Does anyone know where Penmaen-y-for point is?]

    Diolch yn fawr Hedydd for turning the spotlight on these worthy successors to Jemima Nicholas. Martha and Margaret Llewellin deserve to be commemorated locally in some way. Perhaps there’s an artist who would feel inspired to portray them or a balladeer who could render their deed in song?

    By Natasha de Chroustchoff (02/06/2023)

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