Some time ago we
published the recollections of a maidservant at Bodwrdda. At the time we
knew little or nothing about who Mrs M Williams the author of the
recollections was. But we now know that she was Margaret Williams, Tir
Glyn. Margaret was born at Tai’r Efail, Pencaerau on the 2nd of
October 1880 and when she was thirteen years of age she went to nearby
Bodwrdda to work for Jeremiah Griffith’s family. By the time Margaret was
eighteen she had risen to the position of housekeeper. She married
Griffith Williams, a farm labourer and they set up home at Glanrafon,
Rhydlios. Margaret and Griffith had five children, but sadly four died
young, and Alice their only surviving daughter died when she was
twenty-three. Margaret lived to be a hundred, out living her husband
Griffith by twenty years. In her latter years she moved to Tir Glyn to
live with her nephew and niece and their family.
When she celebrated
her hundredth birthday, Glyn Russell Owen came to interview her, asking
her about her secrets for longevity.
Maid servant at
‘Her secret was to
drink plenty of buttermilk and eat plenty of bacon. “Apart from that, I
have to confess that hard work didn’t do anyone any harm either” Mrs
Williams told me at the time. “Yes this old world has changed a lot and
become a strange old place, though I might as well confess I haven’t seen
much of it, but yes it’s changed and not for the better either to my mind”
Apart from the Lord’s
Prayer, Mrs Williams couldn’t speak a word of English and never travelled
further than Caernarfon in her life, never set foot in a hospital and to
cap it all it’s only in recent years that she’s been to the doctor’s!!!
Her sight was good, to the end, and she never wore glasses.
Mrs Williams was a
native of Pencaerau and like most children of her time she left school at
thirteen to work on local farms. At eighteen she was promoted to
housekeeper at Bodwrdda – quite an achievement at the time. The pay was
small, Mrs Williams couldn’t quite remember how much it was, but no more
than a few pounds a year. “That’s how it was then, but through it all
everyone seemed happy, or at least they tried to be,” she said. Mrs
Williams got married when she was quite young to Griffith Williams, a farm
labourer, who passed away twenty years before her. They had five children,
but four of them died when they were very young, and their daughter Alice
also died when she was twenty-three.
Mrs Williams had one
rule in her life, and that was to say her prayers each night, she doesn’t
think she missed saying them once during her long life. As I left she
urged me to call again soon “I might have had an opportunity to do some
churning by then, and I might have some buttermilk for you” she said.
Margiad on her
hundredth birthday in 1980
One thing was for
sure she had faith in the goodness of buttermilk ‘til the end. And
Margaret Williams, Tir Glyn, Aberdaron, wasn’t the only one to have faith
in the virtues of that drink.