Henry Bath & Son
Rose Hill, The Mumbles, Swansea (Now built into the St. Anne Hotel)
Photo courtesy of the Swansea Museum and the Royal Institute of South Wales.
The following is intended to provide additional information than that found in Edward Henry's Account, though some duplication is unavoidable. The sources are many and varied; from personal correspondence to newspaper accounts and official records. For a much broader and fuller account of the copper trade and the business activities of the Swansea families involved (including the Baths), we recommend the reader obtain a copy of "The Swansea Copper Barques & Cape Horners" by Joanna Greenlaw.
The era focused on in Edward Henry's account, roughly 1820 to the beginning of the twentieth century, witnessed the profound social, economic and political changes that were the naissance of our modern society. A rural, agrarian population became an urban, industrialized society. A trip that took many weeks by horse and carriage in 1820 would be reduced to hours by railroad in the 1840s and many of the same travelers would see the advent of automobiles and airplanes by the turn of the century. Candles gave way to gas light and eventually to the electric light bulb. Telephones, radio, propeller driven steel hulled ships, even television had their beginnings during this period. Our modern society, inured to change, cannot begin to imagine what it must of been like for our Victorian antecedents. Prosperity came eventually and with it a much higher standard of living, but the necessary changes were difficult and often brutal. Progress was in almost all cases driven by individual entrepreneurs. Men like Henry Bath and his sons.
By the time Henry Bath (IV) moved to the town in 1816, Swansea was already well developed as an industrial center. It had always been noted as an excellent harbour and its nearby coal fields an important source of fuel. These assets combined to bring the first copper smelters to the area in the early 18th century. But it was the invention and increasing use of the steam engine and the corresponding demand for high quality coal (more heat, less smoke) that initially set the pace of Swansea's industrial development. The 1790s saw rapid improvements in the area's transport infrastructure with the building of canals and tramways, primarily to bring coal to the harbour, but providing an opportunity for the expansion of the smelting and refining of copper and other imported metal ores. As copper prices increased at the turn of the 19th century copper smelting became a major economic activity and would remain so for many decades to come.
In 1820 Henry Bath is recorded as "preparing a yard ...with many conveniences attending it", this likely includes the wharf he had built. By 1822 he had become the agent for the Berehaven copper mines in Ireland, founded in 1812 by "Copper" John Puxley and had established himself with some of the leading Swansea industrialists of the time. In "Pigot's Directory" of 1823 Henry is listed as an agent to Sir John Morris, who was most notable as a coal magnate, but was also instrumental in the industrial development of Swansea through his participation in the aforementioned building of canals and tramways. In 1825 or 26 Henry acquired the Landore Copper Works in partnership with R. J. Nevill, who was both a copper and coal baron and would later open the important London residential market to Welsh coal. The Landore smelting operation remained in their hands until 1837, when it was sold to Williams Foster & Co.. At an unknown date Henry wrote to Lord Audley's agents, "all the ores from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales which are brought to Swansea for sale are under my care ... I have about 800 tons now on my wharf for sale ... My friend Mr. Puxley, for whom I am Agent, has been here lately, also my friend John Taylor has very lately spent a few days at my home."***
Henry was described as "dynamic and well connected". As an agent he was allotted a portion of the mine production to sell and received a commission, but he seems to have involved himself in much more. He arranged shipments of equipment and materials for the Berehaven mine; he wrote in 1823 : "I was much gratified to find the vessel I chartered to take over the engine (from Hayle) had such a speed of discharge of it; she hauled ashore in Ballydonegan Bay on Monday week and all the engine was discharged in less than 4 hours without the least accident and the vessel hauled off and took 40 tons of ores on board the same day."***
(***From "The Berehaven Copper Mines" , R.A. Williams, 1991, Northern Mine Research Society, Sheffield)
As noted on the Cornwall Baths page, prior to becoming an agent Henry was involved with his clients in investing in ships and their cargoes (see Henry's account 1811 - 13 ). This activity continued as evidenced by the following 1825 shares of the Calstock, probably the same ship mentioned on the 1811-13 account. John Lewis was married to Henry's sister-in-law Johanna Paddy. The "Calstock" and its captain John Lewis were lost in a storm Feb. 1836. (see Paddy )
In Nov. 1823 tragedy struck. Henry's sister-in-law and his niece were on their way to visit when their ship, "Providence", was lost in a gale off St Ives, Cornwall with all aboard. This was Susanna Paddy who married Thomas Hancock at Falmouth in 1811. They had a daughter Susan, who would have been about 11 years-of-age when she died with her mother.
By 1830, Henry had acquired a house in the Mumbles; then a seaside resort area. He writes to his nephew, " Myself & Family are removed from Swansea to Lower Sketty to reside ; a pleasant situation about 3 miles from Swansea near the road to the Mumbles. we have a good House and Gardens, about 18 acres of land so that thy Uncle & Aunt may now be called Farmer Bath & his Wife & cousin Mary the Dairy Maid," This was Rose Hill, pictured above. (see Henry's letters.)
Victoria came to the throne in 1837 and is popularly credited with changing the attitudes and morals of British society. However, it would appear that that process had already begun and she did nothing but follow the trend and give it her name. The facets of this culture which most concern us are those concerning marriage, in that it is highly likely that the marriages of the Bath men and their sons were arranged. Not as in the medieval period for the good of the family, but for the good of the business. The period of which we now treat was that of the industrial age, with huge economic expansion through trade. The attitude seems to have been that a business survived and prospered based on close alliances and a network of contacts (much like the medieval attitude regarding families) and it was therefore incumbent upon men of business to marry "where it would do the most good". It should also be remembered that both Henry of Rose Hill and his son, Henry of Longlands, were members of the "Society of Friends" (Quakers) and as such were forbidden, on pain of expulsion, from marrying outside their church. Though declining, the "Friends" still contained large numbers of wealthy merchants and industrialists, a factor which would not have been lost on Henry Bath & Son. Both Henrys sent their children to board at the Sidcot School in Somerset.
Sidcot School was founded in 1699 originally to provide education to local Quaker children, but always accepted students from other denominations. In 1808 the Quaker congregations (meetings) from all over the south of England took on the sponsorship of the school. Thus we have Henry Bath (V) attending the school in 1809. His brother Edward Paddy Bath followed him in 1813, remaining for four years. ( see Edward's Descendants) In keeping with the Quaker principle of gender equality, their sisters Elizabeth and Mary were also sent to Sidcot ; Elizabeth in 1808 and Mary from 1809 to 1815.
Elizabeth, already mentioned on the Cornwall Baths page, married Thomas Birchall, a grocer in 1818 and had by him three sons and two daughters. In 1842 she married William Sibbering, another grocer of Swansea and had with him one son. (see Birchall Sibbering ) She died in 1870.
Mary was born 27, Feb. 1801 at Portreath. She attended Sidcot School from 1809 - 1815. Mary was not married at the time of her father's death (1844) and was given some special attention in his will. (see Henry's Will ) It does not appear that she ever married or had children. Mary remained a Quaker all of her life and died 12 Feb.1872 at Fulford, York and was buried in the Quaker Burial Ground there.
Henry (V) (later of Longlands) would also send his children to Sidcot. Curiously, the "Sidcot Register of Old Scholars" gives Henry's occupation as a "joiner" before becoming a merchant, this is also supported by the Quaker registers. Did his father insist that he learn a useful trade before joining the firm? Listed in the same register are Henry's children : Henry James attended 1831 - 1835, Edward 1834 - 1837, Charles did not attend Sidcot, Eliza-Jane 1834 - 1836, Catherine 1836 - 1839, Susan 1839 - 1842, Elizabeth 1841 - 1844 and Mary 1843 - 1845. Catherine died in 1844, Elizabeth in 1846, Mary in 1853. Eliza Jane married John Frederick Spencer in 1854 and had three daughters and two sons. She died in 1881. Susan married Charles Lambert and her progeny are outlined in Edward Henry's account.
Sidcot school is still very much in operation and offers an excellent academic program for students of all persuasions. They have a web site at : Sidcot School .
Henry of Rose Hill died in 1844. His will is a dry legal document in which, unlike his predecessors, signs of piety are notably absent. ( Henry's Will ) A bequest of 150 pounds is made to his sister Jane Lewis , which probably indicates the prior decease of his other sisters, Ann and Catherine, as they are not mentioned. Jane had married Thomas Lewis, a mariner, and by him had William born. c. 1818, Elizabeth born c. 1822, James born c. 1823 and Mary born c. 1825. His wife, Elizabeth Paddy, gets the house and contents as well as the benefits from an insurance policy. The business of Henry Bath & Son, which is described as a "commission business" goes to his son and partner Henry of Longlands. His other children, Edward, Elizabeth and Mary are to benefit from the proceeds of the wharf and copper ore yard, indicating perhaps that these were not part of the assets of Henry Bath & Son. No mention is made of ships nor shipping, but it is clear from other sources that at this time the firm was involved in this trade.
Henry of Longlands married Susan Madge; of a well known shipping family described in "Copper Barques and Cape Horners. ( see the Madge family) They had several known addresses where he and Susan had three sons and nine daughters. In 1830 they were residing in Nelson Place, 1838 Cambrian Place and by the end of 1844, Rose Hill, his mother Elizabeth Paddy having passed away on Oct. 3 1844, while staying in Falmouth, some five months after the death of her husband. This was a tragic period for Henry Bath of Longlands. As well as both parents he also lost his 17 year old daughter Catherine on 9 April , 1844, would lose his brother Edward Paddy Bath on May 10, 1845 and yet another seventeen year old daughter, Elizabeth in March, 1846. By 1854 he'd built a house called "Longlands" at the then western extremity of Swansea. The previous year, on 30 July, he'd lost his 19 year old daughter, Mary and on 12 Dec. 1854 would lose his 14 year old daughter Margarita. One wonders how he and his wife bore it all.
Longlands House, Swansea.
Photo courtesy of the Swansea Museum and the Royal Institute of South Wales.
Like other homes of merchant class families Longlands would have been staffed by a number of servants. Longlands may have been staffed with a housekeeper and a pair of maids who handled all of the domestic chores. A coachman or stable hand would have cared for the horses and carriages along with the grounds. To these, depending on the needs of the family may have been added any number of employees : a butler, a cook, a governess for the children, a scullery maid, footman, lady's maid etc. With the exception of the lady's maid Victorian servants were never on familiar terms with the families who employed them. They were expected to blend into the woodwork while fulfilling all of the family's needs and wants twenty four hours a day. Holidays were rare, they were separated from their families, the work was hard and other than room and board they received little remuneration. Marriage was forbidden them and any indiscretion on their part could cause their immediate termination. For a female servant, who would receive no references, this often led into a life of prostitution.
An account has been related to us regarding an undocumented branch of the Alltyferin Baths. The details begin with a young governess employed at Alltyferin in the early 1880s. She became pregnant by one of the sons of Edward Bath of Brynymor. She was sent to the Islington Work House and gave birth at the Islington Infirmary to a son. Thereafter she was employed as a nanny at the home of a metal merchant in Kensington, London, related to the Baths. The son was brought back to Llanegwad and raised in the town by a family, who also raised another illegitimate child. He was sent away to school, probably paid for by the Baths, and upon completion was given the job of coachman at Alltyferin. He took a local girl as his wife and had 6 children with her.
Lest the reader think that the life of the upper and middle classes must have been idyllic they might consider the following. What can generally be said of Victorian English town life can also be said more or less of Swansea. In short, throughout the 19th and into the 20th century municipal sanitation practices were appalling ! The industrial revolution in England caused a rapid expansion in the urban population, with only very slow changes in the methods of handling the resultant wastes. Domestic animals shared the same space ; horses, mules and oxen for transport, milking cows, beef cattle, chickens and most people kept a pig in their back shed. The thousands of tons of manure they deposited could often turn roads and streets into stinking quagmires. Human wastes of all kinds were normally dumped into a latrine, usually dug outside a back wall and often ineffectually lined. The result was leakage into the basement and saturation of the walls of the house. In some localities these wastes were simply dumped in the street. Cesspools, either private or shared were a common alternative to handling the overflow, but whether covered or not they gave off the same noxious odours. As it was a commonly held belief that noxious vapours were the root cause of all disease, these latrines and cesspools were seldom cleaned out and as a result they would contaminate nearby wells and other water sources. Typhoid, cholera, dysentery and other water borne killer diseases were as a result quite common throughout this period and were not limited to the poor. Prince Albert died of typhoid in 1861.
Most municipal councils' reactions to all this was to do only what had to be done when it was absolutely necessary. Keeping municipal tax rates low was their priority. It often required an epidemic before action was taken. Gradually, roads and streets were cleared of manure, which was then sold to local farmers for fertilizer. Inspections were made of latrines and cesspools with orders to clean them out. By mid century a new innovation for household wastes came in the form of a large metal tub with a cover that could be collected on a regular basis, dumped, cleaned and reused. The only drawback was that as most outhouses were in the rear of the building the tubs had to be carried through the house and if one of the men stumbled.... ! Running water was laid on in many houses, but as there were no sewer systems water closets (toilets) were few and far between. Early experiments to connect them to storm sewers proved disastrous. Slowly, from mid century on English municipalities began building sewage systems and treatment farms . Swansea began in the 1870s. Still it was well into the 20th century before the old waste tubs were eliminated.
The reader might also consider the lack of any hygienic practices in the food processing industry. Abattoirs (slaughterhouses) were located right in the town as were cowsheds for milk cows. The cowsheds were particularly dangerous. The sheds were filthy, often held diseased cows and the milking done by persons who could be carriers of highly contagious diseases such as smallpox. The milk was often stored in inadequately cleaned cans and could take up to three or four days before being consumed, without adequate refrigeration or pasteurization. As Victorians were great believers in bottle feeding infants it was their children who suffered the most. Average mortality rates during this period are estimated at 153 per 1000 live births and at that are considered by many to be grossly underestimated. This is to be compared with the average of 16 today. As with milk, so with meat and that underdone piece of steak or chicken being served for supper might be full of botulism or salmonella bacillus.
Those that decry the drug inflicted youth of today should consider the open and ubiquitous sale of Laudanum, throughout the Victorian era. Laudanum is derived from the Poppy flower, just as are opium and heroin and equally highly addictive. Sold under many brand names it was very inexpensive. Though intended to relieve pain, it was also advertised as a method of controlling unruly children! Victorian child care workers ( governesses, child minders etc.) would stipulate that the children must be provided with Laudanum prior to their accepting the engagement. For many working mothers a dose of Laudanum for each of the children was the last chore before heading off to work. The results could often be catastrophic and many are the cases of children starving to death because in their drug induced state they had no appetite.
Alcohol was as much a destroyer of lives then as it is now. Indeed, it was a major factor in the surprising statistic that the occupation with the highest mortality rate was that of an innkeeper ! In a study of men between the ages of 45 & 55, Innkeepers suffered death at a rate more than twice that of the national average for coal miners and some 5 times that of farmers. Even brass industry workers, comparable to the copper industry, would've had to increase their mortality rate by over 50 % to attain that of innkeepers ! It seems that innkeepers were their own best customers.
To add to all this the citizens of Swansea also had to contend with an unfortunate byproduct of the copper smelting industry, arsenic. Over the years this deadly poison turned what had once been a region of verdant farmland into a denuded wasteland. It can only be assumed that it was in the air they breathed and the water they drank, but attempts to have the industry clean up or reduce its air borne contaminants were met with threats to close down the industry and put thousands out of work. One wonders where the Baths stood in all this. Just because you didn't live in a copper smelting area didn't mean you were safe from arsenic poisoning or other air pollutants. Wherever the colour green was used in the Victorian period you would find arsenic. Arsenic was used as a colourant in everything from wallpaper, to formal gowns and candy and food packaging.
Coal was used everywhere for home heating and cooking as well as for industrial use. Millions of tons of coal soot filled the air. Buildings, streets, clothes etc. were covered in a fine black powder, which under extreme conditions could choke lungs and kill hundreds. The death rate at these times could approach that of a full blown cholera epidemic.
Of course if you fell victim to any of the above there was little contemporary medical science could do for you. It almost makes one appreciate the high taxes we now pay to support our medical institutions and regulatory agencies.
By all accounts Henry of Longlands was very active in the community and a generous benefactor to many causes. In Nov. of 1847, he is mentioned as having been elected as the chairman of the Swansea Paving and Lighting Commission and by 1851 a Trustee of Swansea Harbour. It was likely Henry of Longlands and not his father, who in 1835 joined other Swansea philanthropists in founding an organization that would later become the Royal Institute of South Wales. The RISW would later build and stock the Swansea Museum.
High grade copper ores had begun arriving from Chile in the 1820s. Over the coming decades they would become an important source for the Swansea smelters as the Cornish mines played out. To get the ores to Swansea required ships and the most serviceable type was the barque, a small three-masted ship with a square rigged mizzen. By the mid 1840s, Henry Bath of Longlands was bringing his three sons, Henry James, Edward and Charles into the business and had established a close working relationship with Charles Lambert, a copper ore producer based in Chile. This alliance would have a profound effect on both the business and his family's personal life. Both Henry James and Edward spent time in Chile where they married (1846 & 1848 respectively) daughters of Charles Lambert . In turn Charles Joseph Lambert Jr. married Susan, daughter of Henry Bath of Longlands. Edward (later of Brynymor) became operations manager for his father-in-law's enterprises and remained in Chile for several years.
Henry Bath & Son Barque, "Delta". Tonnage 566. Launched 1865.
National Museums and Galleries of Wales
By the late 1840s, Henry Bath & Son were commissioning the building of ships, both in Wales and North Devon, an activity which was to continue into the 1870s. They were also innovators in the design of steel hulled ships, such as the Zeta. Henry of Longland's favourite book was James Fennimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans" and so named many of the ships after characters in the novel. Others were named according to letters in the Greek alphabet, the "Delta" and the "Zeta" being two examples. There is also mention of the 1853 sailing of the "Great Britain", bound for Australia. Potential passengers were invited to apply to Henry Bath & Son. Family legend has it that there were 36 ships in the fleet at one time, which is borne out by later newspaper accounts and that the company flag was similar to the German Iron Cross, which has not been substantiated. The flag flying at the Zeta's main-top-mast would appear to indicate otherwise.
Henry Bath & Son Barque, "ZETA 51109". Tonnage 558. Launched 1865. (Private Collection)
Despite Henry of Longlands adherence to the Quaker religion all of his sons joined the Anglican Church. There are no indications that they were ever practicing Quakers, but as this sect forbade marriage outside the faith and as both Edward and Henry James married Anglicans (Lambert's daughters) they would have been "disowned" anyway. Indeed, Henry himself was disowned by the church on 10 May 1821, was apparently reinstated and then resigned on 12 Feb. 1863. Both instances coinciding with his two marriages.
Henry's wife, Susan Madge, died on January 12, 1861. It would appear that she became a Quaker after her marriage to Henry as her death is recorded in the Friend's register. At 64, Henry of Longlands was a prominent social and business leader and as such required a wife to manage his household and social agenda. On Nov. 14, 1862 he married Marian Osler, the 21 year-old daughter of his cousin Edward Osler; a physician turned author. The disparity in their ages suggests that this was an arranged marriage, he needing a wife, she needing a stabilizing influence. The Oslers were a staunch Anglican family. (See The Osler, Francis Connection) On 22 April, 1864 Marian gave birth to a son, Percy Atkinson Bath, Atkinson being the maiden name of Marian's mother.
On Oct. 13, 1864, Henry of Longlands died of a heart attack while he and Marian were spending a few weeks at one of her relative's homes in Falmouth. ( Henry of Longland's Will Despite his resignation from the church, his body was brought back to Swansea and interred in the family vault at the Quaker meeting house. Henry's death may not have been unexpected as he updated his will on August 8 of the same year. In it, Marian receives the house called Longlands and all of its contents. His sons Henry James and Charles Bath are bequeathed everything else. No specific mention of the firm of Henry Bath & Son is made, which may indicate that Henry of Longlands had previously devolved its management onto them. Edward Bath of Brynymor is not mentioned, presumably because he was well situated with his wife's family, though there is an indication that they were estranged. Percy, then 3 1/2 months old, is also not granted a bequest. The total value of the estate was under 14000 pounds.
Under Henry James' & Charles' management Henry Bath & Son greatly extended its shipping interests. Transporting copper ores from Chile, though very profitable, carried very high risks. Not only could they lose the ship in the treacherous passage around Cape Horn, but they also faced the uncertainty of the price they would receive for a successfully landed cargo. A London office was established to trade in forward metal contracts, by which the cargo was sold prior to shipping to interested investors. Henry Bath & Son's and other's activities in this area led to the establishment of the London Metals Exchange in 1877. The Bath brothers also decided to divest their company's risk in actually owning the vessels. The Henry Bath & Son fleet was sold off to a consortium of Swansea investors, including their brother Edward. Over time the firm focused its efforts on warehousing metals and other commodities, an activity which it continues to the present day though no longer owned by the Bath family. ( Henry Bath & Son web site. use Explorer browser.)
Henry James and his brother Charles became very wealthy men. Henry James bought the estate called Alltyferin, near Llanegwad, Carmarthenshire and built himself an opulent mansion. However, the massing of wealth during the Victorian era was not, as today, a ticket to social recognition and respectability. Both men sought this status through the holding of public offices, Charles became mayor of Swansea, Henry James was a Carmarthenshire Justice of the Peace and Sheriff. Their brother Edward ran as a Tory candidate for Swansea in the February, 1874 general election, but lost to the sitting MP Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn. However, these attempts at heightening their social position were, at times, entered into with reluctance :
The (London)Times, Wednesday, Nov 13, 1867; pg. 5; Issue 25967;Yesterday,
at the nomination of sheriffs,
in Messrs. Henry Bath & Son
Service of 205 Years
A plain business announcement just issued by Messrs. Henry Bath and Son Ltd., from their head office in London, makes an epoch in a very interesting and integral piece of Swansea history.
The firm (which now has offices also in Liverpool) announces that owing to the approaching expiration of their lease of the wharf at the North Dock, Swansea it regrets it will be unable to handle from there, after 31st December, any metals, minerals etc..
The resident director, Mr. J. W. Williams, retires from that date, together with Mr. M. J. Langdon, who held a procuration for the company; but the business will be carried on (at the same address until further notice) by Mr. H. Roswell Brown and Mr. Thomas Lane, under the direction of the London office “and special attention will be paid to the landing, forwarding, weighing, sampling, shipping, and general superintend of inward and outward cargoes.”
Over 100 Years Old
One of the oldest firms in South Wales, it was established over a hundred years ago, when the first of three generations of Baths, who have been associated with it, came from Cornwall. In all its history, in which its name has always been synonymous with high integrity, it has preserved all the old reticence and a distaste of modern publicity. But it would be unfair to the present Swansea not to recall something of the trade of the days with which those now retiring were associated.
A Famous Fleet
At one time the Baths had a fleet of over 30 vessels. Two of them, La Serena and Deerslayer, were built at the now defunct Neath Abbey Yard, and the fine sounding names of the others were taken from Fenimore Cooper’s novels and the Greek alphabet.
Those now retiring – two members of the staff, Messrs. D. H. Morgan and R. H. Brown in addition to those mentioned – remember those days, the total service of the four being 205 years. Of that number Colonel J. W. Williams’ service is about fifty years, Colonel J. Langdon’s over sixty.
Like the late Colonel Mock, formerly associated with the company, Colonel Langdon was in the old 3rd Glamorgans, while Colonel Williams was with the Glamorgan artillery.
It is understood that the local office of the firm will remain at the present address for some time.
Swansea , 1922
Swansea Harbour by Henry Bath of Longlands