Snippets about the sea around Llyn


1287. Nevin in this year possessed 63 fishing nets and some boats.

1587. French privateer in distress at Porthdinllaen Bay.

1647. Bardsey Island attacked by pirates.

1650. Bardsey Island again attacked.

1690. William III, and his fleet anchored at Porthysgaden, Llyn on their way to Ireland.

1716. Customs built a storehouse at Porthdinllaen.

1725. Smuggling riots at Nevin.

1729. First Customs Office appointed to Nevin.

1735. Sloop “Maria” with a cargo of timber, on passage from Barmouth to Milford, put in to Aberdaron on account of the weather.

1735. Thomas Williams, a native of Wales, found guilty of piracy at the Old Bailey and hanged.

1748. 51,000 barrels of herrings were disposed of in Nevin during this year.

1759. Brig “Barry” of 46 tons, built at Pwllheli. She was the first vessel to be built ther of which there are any records.

1760. The first vessel built at Nevin. She was the sloop “Hopewell”

1762. Nevin ships in this year supplied herrings to Cork and Dublin, and at Cork they supplied a transport sailing for H.M. Plantations.

1763. Smuggling Cutter landing rum at Porthdinllaen.

1767. A sloop of 100 tons anchored at Aberdaron smuggling tea and brandy.

1767. Sloop “Nancy” built at Edern.

In 1771 there was a glut of Herring in Porth Neigwl, so numerous that a 100 could be bought for three pence, and farmers carried them away in carts.

1774. Sloop “Venus” built at Abersoch.

1780. Capt. Timothy Edwards of Nanhoron, who was in command of the 76-gun ship “Cornwall” died.

1785. A large smuggling cutter was temporarily disabled on the rocks at Porthdinllaen and was seized by the Customs Officer.

1786. Boat seized at Porthdinllaen after being in communication with a smuggling lugger. Another lugger sailed from there for Bardsey.

1790. John Evans, a native of Caernarvonshire, sailed to America to discover the Welsh Indians. He penetrated 1300 miles up the Missouri river.

1791. In February a smuggling lugger and French Privateer seen off Porthdinllaen.

1791. Customs boat seized at Porthdinllaen by a smuggling lugger.

In 1801 a pilot was dropped ashore by Grepach Rocks, Uwchmynydd. He climbed the cliff safely but fell asleep in a sheepfold and awakening suddenly, fell headlong to a terrible death on the rocks below.

Nefyn, which possessed 63 fishing nets and some boats, and had its own Goldsmith, had a population of 1028 in 1801. in the next hundred years this increased by over 700 people. The population of Pwllheli in 1801 was 1166, so Nefyn must have held a high position as a town in Lleyn in those days.

In 1802 the “Lovely” was wrecked at Maen Mellt, Porthoer, it carried a cargo of foodstuff and hailed from Chester. In the hold were copper bars, found years later amongst the Maen Mellt rocks. Some of the foodstuff consisted of cheese and these floated about on top of the waves, the local people speared them from boats with pitchforks. This must have been the strangest fishing ever witnessed in Lleyn.

In 1804 some 700 ships sought shelter in the harbour at Porthdinllaen and in one month alone a 100 ships came there to escape storms. These were the days when Porthdinllaen was considered to have claims of becoming a first rate harbour, and up to 1873 when Holyhead harbour was opened, many thought the former might obtain that honour. In later years traffic grew so brisk that locals talked about a railway being constructed to Porthdinllaen. But it never materialized for which many of us are thankful today.

 In 1811 the population of Bardsey was 71 and during the next 90 years it rose to 124, whilst the population of Llanfaelrhys went down from 224 to 198. In 1812 and 1813 the bridges at Rhydlios and Saithbont were built, the former bridging over what had always been considered a very dangerous crossing.

1n 1814 the “Dunahoo” was wrecked on the rocks at Porth Colmon, Llangwnadle and the captain, whose body came ashore, was buried on the cliffs. About this time there was a heavy tax on salt. Restrictions were stringent and salt became difficult to procure, two natives of Llangwnadle who possessed a boat took a trip to Ireland to buy the untaxed salt there. They brought it back to Lleyn, evading the Customs when selling. In spite of the success of the venture, the story got round, and Government officials swooped down, the two men were imprisoned at Caernarvon. One of the men, William Williams, decided to escape and tearing his bedclothes into strips, made a temporary rope with which he descended safely to the ground and ran home to Lleyn. When the officials tracked him down, his mother hid him in a churn. When they left, he dressed up as a woman, boarded a ship in Liverpool and finally reached the U.S.A. where he lived for many years.

In December 1817 Evan Thomas, of Pwll Parc, Edern lost his life in a terrible storm, when proceeding by boat from Porthdinllaen to Caernarvon. The boat struck the Chwislan rock in Porthdinllaen bay.

In 1821 the Lighthouse on Bardsey was built. And on November the 30th 1822 the Bardsey Light Tender was wrecked and six persons lost their lives. They were Thomas Williams, Mariner of Bardsey and his daughter Sydney, David Thomas, Pantfali, Rhydlios, Ellis Griffith,Rhydlios, and John Jones and William Williams. In gratitude for the past services of Thomas Williams as master of the Bardsey boat, Mr Joseph Goddard, collector of H.M. Customs at Caernarvon, had a stone raised to his memory in Aberdaron churchyard.

In April 1830 the 3-masted sailing ship Newry of Warren Point, Ireland was wrecked at Porth Orion, Anelog. It had on board 400 passengers for Canada, and many of them lost their lives. The bodies which came ashore, were buried in St Hywyn’s churchyard Aberdaron. Those saved went back to Ireland. This was a shipwreck to remember, and a cave near where the ship came ashore was afterwards named “Ogof Newry”

On September 25th 1831 Richard Parry of the Brig “Endeavour” was drowned when he fell overboard near the Rivals, Nafyn.

In 1832 the ship “Rossey” of Ireland came ashore at Morfa Trwyn Glas, the crew being saved.

In 1834 the Tax on almanacs was repealed. It used to be the custom for sailors that call at Dublin on their voyages to Ireland to buy almanacs. Some of these were printed in Welsh at a penny each. These were smuggled into Wales and sold at a profit.

In 1839 the ship “Transit” was wrecked at Porth Neigwl with a cargo of cotton.

In 1840 the ship “Arfestone” came ashore at Porth Neigwl with a part cargo of gold. The ship carried a crew of 22.

On April 14th 1841 John Williams lost his life crossing to Aberdaron with the Bardsey boat.

On January 7th 1843 the s.s. Monk was lost when crossing Caernarvon Bar on a journey from Porthdinllaen to Liverpool, in a great storm. Six local men lost their lives, including Thomas Jones, brother of Robert Jones of Tocia Coaches, Aberdaron.

In 1843 John Williams, King of Bardsey, was drowned when fishing from a rowing boat, which overturned in a squall.

In 1847 a mysterious event occurred at Porthychain, Penllech, Tydweiliog. A ship was wrecked and came ashore with no one aboard her. When boarded, a watch was found still ticking in the cabin, together with a live pig, which was taken to Nanhoron.

In  1848 a ship came ashore in Porth Neigwl with a cargo of saddles and leather goods.

In 1850 the “Sellar” was wrecked on Porthor (Whistling Sands) rocks. The captain was William Owen, of Glanymor, Llangwnadl.

In 1853 a Norwegian ship cams ashore at Porth Cadlan. She carried a cargo of oil, and after refloting was towed to Pwllheli for repairs, but was lost on her next voyage with all hands. In the summer of 1853 hot weather prevailed and many people died of sunstroke.

On October 26th 1859 a great storm swept the country. Many ships were wrecked at sea, notably the “Royal Charter” on the Anglesey coast. A Spanish ship, the “Villa” came ashore at Cerrig y Defaid, Llangwnadl. Nine other ships were wrecked at Porthoer and seven were lost with all hands. Some of the bodies were terribly crushed between the rocks. Capt William Richard, one of the skippers was drowned. This was one of the greatest storms known in Lleyn.

In 1861 a ship carrying flour was wrecked near Porth Llanllawen, Anelog, and a boy came ashore carrying a bible under his arm. Two of the crew were drowned.

In 1864 the first Lifeboat went to her station in Porthdinllaen. Previously thirteen shipwrecks were reported in the bay in one day. The first boat was a large rowing boat with sails and was named the “George Moore”.

On Thursday Dec 6th 1866 the schooner “Henry Catherine” of Nefyn was wrecked at Porth Neigwl and her Capt Henry Roberts lost his life, but many of the crew were saved.

In 1867 the brigantine “Columbia” of Carnarvon and the “Catherine” of Barmouth were wrecked at Porthdinllaen.

In Porthdinllaen in 1868 the schooner “Denbighshire Lass” of Bumaris was wrecked, and from 1869 to 1870 the “George Moore” Lifeboat saved eight lives from the flat “Williams”, brigantine “Gleaner” and the schooner “Gronant”, all hailing from Caernarvon.

On January 24th 1868 the “Sarah Caroline” was wrecked at Porthdinllaen.

1876, October 3. The men of Bardsey rescue the hands of the ship ‘Leah’ they were four in number. The ship was completely wrecked on the rocks.  

1877, December 15. A shipwreck at Trwyn y Fonwent, close to the Cafn, the islands harbour. The vessel struck the rocks at midnight. The two men onboard namely Capt Thomas Jones, Amlwch and Isaac Collins of Holyhead managed to get ashore safely and were kindly given hospitality at his home by Mr Griffith Pritchard, Ty Pella.

1881, October 14. Bardsey, a storm of wind and rain the like of which no one on the island can recall ever experiencing before. This has been a very tempestuous month indeed. (See Cyprian wreck)

1881, November. This month in relation to Bardsey can be best described as the month of the great imprisonment, when it was three weeks before any communication could be had with Aberdaron. This was due to gale force winds that lasted from the 8th to the 29th of this month. It’s been thirty five years since the islanders were stranded for so long.

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1891, July, on Bardsey the lighthouse tower colours are changed from white to red and white.


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