18th century lamentations about persistence of Welsh

Dave Sayers dave.sayers at CANTAB.NET
Wed Mar 5 10:10:09 UTC 2014

An interesting little something I stumbled across: an 18th century diatribe about the 
pesky persistence of the Welsh language.


(You'll be prompted to log in with your university account.)

 From the 'plan text' version of that online book, I've pasted the following excerpt 
(no time to tidy it up I'm afraid but you get the gist):

“The inhabitants of Britany in France, who were a colony from Wales, still retain 
many of the British words, adulterated with an impure alloy of barbarous French. 
Ireland, the Highlands of Scotland, and the Isle of Man, fill retain a diale& of the 
ancient British or Celtic language. But in particular, so tenacious have been the in- 
habitants of Wales of their Language and Customs, that notwithstanding it has been 
the policy of the English Parliament, ever. since the conquest of Wales by Edward the 
First, to introduce the English Language and Customs there, both by planting colo- 
nies of English, keeping garifons, giving the Welsh encouragement to learn their 
language, and to inlift * in the English army;: notwithstanding, I fay,! all there 
.means * This was the cafe of David Gami and several others, ho, though highly 
extolled by Englifih hifto- rians, proved a traitor to his native country, in 
opposing Owen Glendowry, who endeavoured to rescue his country from the flayery of 
the English. means which the English pointed out as the most effetual to plant their 
language, and thereby totally to subjugate the flubborn Britons; yet they could never 
prevail upon them to submit to that most ignominious badge of slavery, the language 
of the con- querors. THIS policy of the English Court, which was wife and well 
founded before the union of Wales and England by the 27th of Henry VIII. became since 
that time useless and nugatory. Notwithstanding the mani- set inutility of pursuing a 
plan more dofely to conned what was already sufficiently ce- mented by the many 
reciprocal advantages resulting from the Union. Henry VIII. Queen Elizabeth, and 
their successors, had the fame intention in view, of planting the English Tongue, and 
extirpating the British Language. This is evident from several Ats of Parliament. In 
the preamble to the 27th of Henry the VIllth, the Ad of Union, it is r 17 3 is 
recited, " That the cause of diflnfions "between the Englilh and Welsh was, that 
"they used a language discrepant, nothing "like ne consonant to the mother tongue." 
And by the VIth Chapter, Se&. a2th of that Statute, it is enacted, " That the Sef- 
"sions and other Courts- hall be held in "the English Tongue, and Oaths, Affida- 
"vits, and Wagers of Law hall be in that " tongue; and also, that no person or per- " 
sons that use the Welsh Speech or Lan- "guage hall have or enjoy any manner of " 
office or fees within the realm of England "or Wales, or other the King's Dominions, 
"on -pain of forfeiting the office or fees, "unless they llall use or exercise the 
English " speech." AND by the Vth of Elizabeth, Chap. 26, it is enacted, that " there 
shall be two Com- " mon Prayer Books in every Welh Church " andChapel, one Welsh and 
one English, "in order that by comparing them they "may sooner attain to the 
knowledge of the " English Language." B Thus we fee how desirous the English 
have'always been of introducing their lan- guage into the Principality of Wales; yet 
they never went so far as to deny the Welsh the use of their own tongue in their 
public religious worship. They, on the contrary, allowed and confirmed it by 
two'different Acts of Parliament, the 5th of Elizabeth, and the 3th and 4th of 
Charles the Second. IT is the infringement of this right that has obliged the Author, 
however unequal to the talk, to enter the lifts as an advocate for the privileges of 
his Countrymen,-and to trouble the public with the following CONSIDERATIONS. …”



Dr. Dave Sayers
Senior Lecturer, Dept Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Honorary Research Fellow, Arts & Humanities, Swansea University, UK
dave.sayers at cantab.net | http://swansea.academia.edu/DaveSayers

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