Monday, 24 January 2011

El hermano di Isaias White y Lewis

Isaias White and his brother Thomas

Thomas was born on 25th January 1824.  He was thus a couple of years older than Isaias.  Thomas married Ann Evans and they went on to have six children—John, Ann Alice, Mary Jane, George Henry and Thomas Lewis. 

In his early days Thomas, like Isaias worked at the Maesteg Iron Works as an engineer.  Clearly he was also out of a job when the Maesteg works closed in 1848.  It seems that initially he and his family went out to Spain to join Isaias as his second son George Henry was born at  Plaza de Armas 7 in Seville on 3rd October 1865.  However, things possibly did not work out for him in Spain, or he and/or his wife felt homesick for Wales, as it seems he was back there by 1867.  This is clear because he bought the lease of Lliw Forge in Pontlliw near Swansea around this time and he and his family lived at Lliw Forge House.  He may have been encouraged or helped to do this by Isaias.

On 1st March 1867 a notice appeared in The Cambrian, a local newspaper, that stated:
“In consequence of the death of Mr Richard Edwards.  The lease of the old established well known premises Lliw Forge Manufactory situated in the Parish of Llandeilo Talybont, in the County of Glamorgan belonging thereto, will be sold by Private Contract together with the new and commodious house and grounds.  Application to be made to Henry Jones, 23 Queen Street, Neath.  The above is well worthy the attention of investors, being present in full work and plenty of orders; the position which is much improved by the opening of the Dunvant Valley Railway, which runs close by the same.”

The Forge supplied local farmers, ironmongers and collieries.  Isaias must have known the forge before this as the account books give details of his various orders from Richard Edwards, the former owner. He ordered connecting rods, cranks and crossheads for Portilla White.  There were also orders at a later date for the same items and said to be for gunboats for the Spanish Navy.  One can perhaps conclude that there was not yet the expertise for making these close tolerance machine parts for the steam engines etc. in Seville. 

 Around the turn of the century Pontlliw was no more than a mere scattering of dwellings, one chapel, two public houses and one general store cum post office. A village of very few inhabitants and even fewer amenities, none of the necessities one takes for granted today, no gas, electricity, or running water, the latter having to be carried from the nearest well or stream, no made-up roads except of loose stone or cobbles, no public transport, not even its own school, the village children having to trek the two miles to Penllergaer for their education.    
Pontlliw could best be described as a mining village, as the major employer was the 'Graig Merthyr' colliery, or 'Cory' as it was known to the locals, after its owners, the Cory brothers. But Pontlliw did boast an industry of its own, that of the Lliw Forge, from where metal castings and machine parts were exported to all parts of the world, and which in its heyday employed some sixty men. The Lliw Forge was renowned for its workmanship, and an article and illustration published in the 'Daily Mail' on December 5th 1908 clearly shows that it was a respected member of the South Wales iron, steel and tinplate industry.
 This was the village of Pontlliw at the beginning of this century, but its roots go back much further, at least to 1740 when it can be proved that the Lliw Forge was in existence. Developed by a descendant of the Huguenots, the forge was situated to make use of the water discharged from the Mill wheel, so it must follow that the Lliw Mill was in operation even before this date. It was no accident that the Lliw Mill was situated next to one of the highest points of the village, but part of an ingenious plan. The man-made watercourse which feeds the mill was diverted from the River Lliw at a point known as Penfach and its level was maintained by a weir and sluice gate. The contour of the 'Mill Race' was kept as level as possible, not following the natural fall of the River Lliw, to the extent that at the point where it feeds the mill wheel its level is some 15 feet above that of the river.
Even after providing all the power needed to turn the mill wheel and its associated machinery the work of this little stream was not over, for just a hundred yards or so along was   another set of sluice gates, these diverted the course yet again to feed the three ponds which stored the water to power the heavy jack-hammers and lathes of the Lliw Forge, which was itself built below the level of the ponds therefore reaping the maximum possible benefit from the power of the water. In today's energy conscious age this would be a credit indeed to its designers, but one must remember that this was all at least 250 years ago. The Lliw forge stood for the most advanced development of the iron industry of the old period, and showed how far this had developed before the coming of the newer inventions. It is very saddening to think that this major part of our local and indeed national heritage has been allowed to deteriorate beyond any hope of repair.
The reputation of Lliw Forge was clearly extremely good and Isaias was not the only one from abroad ordering castings and machined parts.  In the 1871 National Census Thomas was described as a ‘Spade and Shovel Manufacturer’ and in the 1881 Census as a ‘Mechanical Engineer employing 20 men and 6 boys.’  As above in its heyday the Forge   employed 60 men.  Thomas had printed business cards which stated that he was an ‘Engineer, Millwright, Iron and Brass Founder’ with items for sale as:
Moorwood & Cookley’s Tinning Sets, complete or in parts;
Rolls and Frames always ready;
Horizontal and Vertical Engines, Steam Hammer, and all kinds of Piston Rods repaired.
Manufacturer of Pins and Boxes for Roll Standards in Steel and Iron;
Ladle Plates and Turned Ladles;
Shear Moulds and Plough Beams, Sledge Moulds and Coal Wedges, and every description of Hammered Uses;
Every kind of Iron and Brass Castings;
Solid Steel, Steel and Iron, and all kinds of Shovels and Spades, made and supplied at short notice;
Repairs of every description executed with despatch.
Thomas died in 1883 and his widow and only surviving son George Henry carried on the business at Lliw Forge.  No doubt they relied on the existing workmen’s skills, as George was only 18 years of age when his father died.  In due course George expanded the range of work, and continued there until his retirement and the consequent closure of the works after World War I in the great recession.
Thomas’ daughter Mary Jane stayed on in Seville after Thomas had returned to Wales, and some years after her father died she married a Joseph Williams in Seville on 18th January 1890.  However, she herself returned to Wales in due course.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Minas de plomo en Cartagena

Jacob Chivers

The industrialist Jacob Chivers was born in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England on 29th May 1825, and like Isaiah White, his family moved to South Wales.  He was only one year older than Isaiah and similarly started work as an engineer but at the other iron works in Maesteg -  the Cambrian Iron and Spelter Works - and so was on very similar career path to Isaiah.  No doubt there were others there from the Forest with the skills required, and they probably they all knew one another.  People like Isaiah and Jacob, particularly as contemporaries, would have had much in common.

It is quite likely that Isaiah and Jacob, and perhaps others, discussed the future extensively and got to hear about the opportunities in Spain from those on ships docking at Porthcawl and visiting the iron works in Maesteg.  It is possible that some of the ships were bringing metals like copper from Spain for processing in Wales and returning with loads of Welsh coal which was cheaper to mine in Wales and transport rather than use expensive local coal.  When the Maesteg iron works closed down in 1848, and Isaiah was out of a job, this could have been the catalyst for him and Jacob, and perhaps others, to make the brave decision to take the five day steamer journey to Cartagena, a fortified sea port in South East Spain. 

The exact year of their arrival in Spain is not known, but it is known that Jacob had already married Elizabeth Bright, and that their daughter Elizabeth was born in Cartagena in 1848.  Jacob settled in Cartagena and became the operator of a lead mine.  It is not known when Isaiah went on to Seville, where he eventually settled, but it is likely he spent some time with Jacob in Cartagena first.  

                                Marrazon lead mining area
Jacob’s son William Bright Chivers was also born in Spain on 21st February 1858, but Jacob returned to Wales fairly soon afterwards, having made enough money to buy the Kidwelly Tin Works in South Wales in 1860.  He bought the works for £2,225 with the initial help of his brother Caleb, a chemical manufacturer living in Carmarthen.  As a working partner he took on Thomas Bright, an iron founder at Carmarthen, who retired when Jacob’s son Thomas, born in Maesteg in 1843 before Jacob went to Spain, entered the business.  Jacob was Mayor of Kidwelly in 1872 and 1873.  The business was clearly very successful and Jacob went on the purchase further property and estates and the Hawkwell Colliery in the Forest on 1st January 1874, where he struck a valuable new seam of coal in 1876.  He also went on to establish a tin plate works at Hawkwell. 

Looking back at the time that Isaiah and Jacob arrived in Spain the Spanish Government were seeking to close the gap between its country’s economic development and that of other European countries.  However, they did not really know how to go about it and so took little useful action.  Despite having important mineral resources, there was not the wealth to exploit them. Consequently significant foreign investment was allowed into the country after 1850, but this merely created enclaves of activity that hardly affected the rest of the economy at all.  Spain’s rich mineral resources provided a very suitable source for investment, being second in importance only to the textile industry.  Mining experienced successive booms, the capital being provided from abroad, and most of the resulting ore was exported.  Overall little ore was processed in Spain.  One of the main ores to be exploited was lead and it was here that Jacob took his interest.  Lead mining was well established on a large scale by 1868, but little of the resulting wealth found its way back into the Spanish economy, thus allowing people such as Jacob Chivers to return home as wealthy men with money to invest in British enterprises. 

Thomas Armstrong’s novel of Skewdale (Swaledale in Yorkshire) lead mining - ‘Adam Brunskill’- opens in 1879 with a description of the community in Spain in 1879 in which Adam was born and grows to manhood.  This gives a very clear picture of the involvement of a foreign company and its servants in Spanish lead mining.  “He took the steamer to Spain and then travelled by mule and cart to the mine. The village is in the foothills of mountains that rise to 6,000 or 7,000 feet.  The view from the village is not beautiful—the land is scarred by the crumbling headgear of disused mineshafts. A vast area has been poisoned by fumes from the smelt-mill chimneys, forming a wilderness with sickly herbage that could kill or maim straying livestock.  Nevertheless it is a happy place, and although the older people remember their origins with nostalgia, they are aware of the poverty they left behind (in England).”

“The Company village has at its centre a main thoroughfare, where the Company offices are housed, with a counting house, a bar-room for the British workers where beer is served, and a separate common room for Spaniards where food and wine are available.  The company provides a minister (there is a stone built Wesleyan chapel) and a doctor for their staff.”

“The British community lives in a separate part of the village, with cottages set around a green—where no decent grass could be persuaded to grow—looking for all the world like a Yorkshire village green, but a closer inspection reveals differences of detail.  A roof pitch here, a style of door latch there, a massive squat chimney, all reflecting connections with the various lead mining areas of Britain and the faithfully characteristic cottages where the Yorkshire Dales folk live.”

“British people provide all the company’s managers at this site—the general manager, the head agent and his four assistants, a cashier, clerks, and the skilled men. Their families are with them. Rivalry exists between the different groups of British—a Cornishman, a Yorkshire man.  Adam’s father is dying, probably from lead poisoning, at the age of 50, having worked in Spain for nearly 30 years.  The Wesleyan chapel is full, with men from the lead mines of Durham, Northumberland, the isle of man, Alston Moor in Cumberland, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Wanlockhead in Dumfriesshire, the once famous Leadhills of Lanarkshire, ,from the western dales of Yorkshire.  The Spanish miners are also present, the southerners more demonstrative in their grief than the grave men of the Asturias in the north.  Despite this touching display of community feeling, the funeral tea is given only to those with Skewdale connections. The old links are the strongest.”

“Adam, born in Spain decides to leave to travel to Skewdale, where he knows times are hard and lead mining is in a poor way.  He is given greetings to carry to all manner of friends and relations who live along the Dale, and the Head Agent is surprised that he and his friends have never seen Skewdale but only know it through the conversations of their elders.”

“Adam travels from the mine with the mule teams hauling wagons laden with pigs of lead and bars of silver. The cheapest way home from Seville would be to take passage in a grimy coal ship going to Newcastle carrying part treated ore for reduction, but he chooses to travel to London, then by rail to Yorkshire.”

Armstrong’s fictionalised account bears all the hallmarks of a true picture, and one has no reason to dispute that his view of a Spanish lead mining community is less than faithful.

It is clear that Jacob and Isaiah could easily have fitted into this scenario in Cartagena, perhaps taking jobs initially as clerks for example.  Jacob in due course made his fortune, and Isaiah, now known by his Spanish name Isaias, moved on to Seville?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Adolfo Corveto o Adolfo Corvelo

Saludos A Ramirez!
Tambien quiero saber!  Quien es Adolfo Corveto o Corvelo?  Creo que fue un socio comercial para Isaias White (Lewis) antes Jose Portilla.  Alguien saber?  Aqui ser una listade barcos de vapor de El Diario de Isaias White blog sitio:

Mi perdone! Mi Espanol es probablemente muy pobres!


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Isaias White comienza una nueva vida en Espana

I am trying to piece together the life of the White family in Spain, and dear blog reader anything that you know, or can direct me to, would help. Also this brief history of an Englishman in Spain may be interesting to you.  

It is thought that Isaias arrived in Spain in about 1850 after the Maesteg Ironworks in Wales closed sometime after 1847, although I have no formal record.  It seems likely that he did not go straight to Sevilla as 1890 records show him then as having been in Sevilla for 35 years - since only 1855.  It is likely that the picture below was taken sometime after 1890.  He looks a very stern figure. 

Isaias White

After a few years it seems that he was in partnership with Adolfo Corvelo (Corveto?) with offices at Plaza de Villasis, 4, and so was likely then living in Sevilla.  Together they were running a Shipping Company with perhaps just one steamship - the flagship Adela.  Did the Isaias White Company build this ship? Was this the name of a daughter who was the eldest, or who had died?  Later on it is likely that  the Portilla family put money into the partnership and it became Portilla and White with offices near Plaza de Armas. 

Was this the steamship Adela?

Perhaps around 1860 Isaias met his future wife - Maraquita (Maria) Luisa Mendez of Almaden born about 1840 - and they were to settle down in Sevilla and have a family. 

I hope dear blog reader that you will be able to add to this very brief information or put it right if it is wrong!  I am a long way away in England and do not have access to any local records - I would just say that Isaias was my distant uncle!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Buscan fama y fortuna

Isaiah White senior was born in the Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England on 11th June 1826.  He was one of seven children born to George White and Alice Lewis. He was baptised on 9th July 1826 in Littledean Parish Church in the Forest.  His father George was a carpenter, and at the time of the 1841 National Census in England he and his family had moved to Maesteg, Glamorganshire, Wales.  George's two eldest sons John and George were carpenters like their father, but Thomas, William, Isaiah and Isaac all worked in the local Maesteg Ironworks as Engineers.  The only daughter Mary was at home.

Littledean Parish Church, Forest of Dean

Many stories are told in England of men going to seek work and their fortune, perhaps in America, but none seem to be told where the destination was Spain.  However, a little research shows that Andalucia in Southern Spain received many immigrants from various countries.  Jacob Chivers made his fortune after purchasing a lead mine near Cartegana, and then returned to Wales to purchase an ironworks near Kidwelly, and became a major employer and benefactor in the town.  Inspired by such stories, no doubt,  Isaiah set sail for Spain around 1850 to seek his own fortune.  He became Isaias White and was seemingly very successful, eventually becoming a Spanish citizen. 


Bienvenido a mi blog con titulos en Espanol!

Isaiah White was born on 11th June 1826 in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England.  He emigrated to Spain, becoming Isaias White, and was very successful as an industrialist.  There is also strong evidence that he started the Sevilla Football Club in 1890.