Reports of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the state of Education in Wales. 1847


This report was published by three English university scholars into the educational system in Wales. The three were Lingen, Symons and Vaughan Johnson. The report unfairly drew attention to the inadequacy of Welsh education . One of their main points was that Welsh children , and often their teachers too, could not speak English. The report was produced in blue books, hence the name. Apart from , and because of, the understandable outrage of Welsh people the report helped to forge a  greater sense of national identity and the publication was referred to as "The Treachery of the Blue Books" [Brad y Llyfrau Gleison]. One of the principal Welshmen who fought a campaign against the report was Evan Jones , better known as Ieuan Gwynedd, a  minister and a journalist .. One of the report's statements was that Welsh was a " peculiar language isolating the masses from the upper portion of society". Sadly, for the Welsh language, faced with such criticism many people did opt for an education in the English language despite the efforts of Ieuan Gwynedd and others. [ Based on an article in"A Helping Hand "by W J Jones 1996]

This is an extract by Aidan Jones from the actual Report as far as it relates to this parish;


I visited this singular place on December 8th, accompanied by Mr. Price and the Rev. Mr. Evans, the Incumbent of Verwig, the adjoining parish. There is no school of any-kind in this desolate parish. It is at the sea side, forming a small promontory, crowned by a hill, which gives it its name, beneath which, the church stands remote from any houses.

The inhabitants are all of Flemish origin. Their ancestors having landed here and made an incursion into the country, were beaten back to this place ; and after a severe conflict, exterminated the inhabitants, and planted themselves in their stead.

I caused eight children to be assembled at a farmhouse, and examined them through Mr. Price and Mr. Evans, who translated every question into Welsh, and promised pence for correct answers. They were nowise bashful or unwilling to tell all they knew. There were four girls and four boys of all ages, from 5 to 16. The two eldest lads alone had been at the Verwig day school for three months each. One only could read English, with great difficulty ; one could read a little in the Welsh Testament with somewhat more ease. None of the others could read at all ; two knew their letters. The others did not. I then examined them in Scripture, and ordinary topics of general knowledge; every pains being taken to make them comprehend and answer, by Mr. Evans and Mr. Price.

None knew whether Christ would come back to the earth nor what death he died. He gave the Commandments to the children of Israel. None knew who St. Paul was. The judgement day means hell, or brimstone and fire: all thought this, a penny having been offered for a better answer. One girl only could give any notion of a future state. One or two had heard they should go to hell if bad, but some of them never heard that they should be happy if they were good. They were utterly devoid of all general information, and had no idea of countries, towns, or the division of time. None could name the month. The sun they thought went round the world in twenty-four hours, and the moon went away sometimes, and then came back. The world was to be burnt in 1000 years. One only could say half the Lord's Prayer; the others had no knowledge of any prayer. Every correct answer was confined to two of the children, one girl especially who had been to a Dissenting Sunday school. Mrs. Jenkins, the farmer's wife, who heard the whole examination, and all the answers, said that she thought all the children in the parish were much the same, and that none better informed could be found in it.

J. C. S. [Jelinger C. Symons, the chief commissioner in Cardiganshire]

(Gareth Hicks)