Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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GRENFELL (FAMILY) Swansea industrialists ,

who originated from St. Just in Cornwall . They were related, through intermarriage with the St. Leger family, to Sir Richard Grenville of the Revenge and Richard de Granville , the founder of Neath Abbey . Sir Richard , a direct descendant of Richard de Granville ( Visitations of the County of Cornwall , ed. J.L. Vivian ), married Mary , daughter of Sir John St. Leger . PASCOE GRENFELL ( 1761 - 1838 ) married, as his 2nd wife, Georgina St. Leger , daughter of the 1st Viscount Doneraile (of the 2nd creation) , in 1798 . Charles Kingsley , another relation by marriage, first traced the connection. The family were already prosperous merchants and bankers in the eighteenth century. In 1803 Pascoe Grenfell entered into a contract with Owen Williams to trade in copper and developed a business in London , Liverpool , Swansea and Flintshire . The firm of Pascoe Grenfell and Sons was founded in the 1820s . They owned the Middle and Upper Bank Copper Works in the Lower Swansea Valley and at their height employed 800 men. They ran a line of ships between Swansea and their Flintshire works on the River Dee . The Swansea works were sold to the neighbouring firm of Williams, Foster and Co. in 1892 .

PASCOE ST. LEGER GRENFELL ( 1798 - 1879 ) Deputy Lieutenant, J.P. ,

the eldest son of Pascoe and Georgina , came to live in Swansea in the 1840s and built Maesteg House at the foot of Kilvey Hill . He married, 1st in 1824 , Catherine Ann Du Pre , the eldest daughter of James Du Pre of Wilton Park in Buckinghamshire and the grand-daughter of Josias Du Pre , Governor of Madras , and 2nd in 1847 , Penelope Frances Madan , daughter of the Dean of Chichester . He was an active humanitarian who built model (by the standards of the times) houses for his workers , founded All Saints Church , Kilvey , and supervised the school taught by Richard Gwynne (see GWYNNE (family) above). He was chairman of the Harbour Trust and active in the development of Swansea docks . By his first wife he had four sons and five daughters: Madelina Georgina ( 1826 - 1903 ), Pascoe Du Pre ( 1828 - 1896 ), St. Leger Murray ( 1830 - 1860 ), Arthur Riversdale ( 1831 - 1895 ), Gertrude Fanny ( 1834 - 1880 ), Elizabeth Mary ( 1836 - 1894 ), Francis Wallace ( 1841 - 1925 ), Katherine Charlotte ( 1843 - 1906 ), Eleanor Catherine ( 1845 - 1928 ). MADELINA married Griffith Llewellvn ( 1802 - 1888 ) at Baglan Hall in 1850 . Llewellyn became rich from coal interests in the Rhondda and Madelina spent large sums on charity . She was responsible for the building of St. Catherine's Church , Baglan , and St. Peter's Church , Pentre , the restoration of St. Mary's Church , Aberafan , and the endowment of the Llewellyn Alms Houses at Neath and of Swansea Eye Hospital . (ELIZABETH) MARY was long remembered in Swansea for her public service . She trained as a nurse , intending to serve in the Franco-Prussian war , but returned to Swansea instead and devotedly nursed the poor . Contemporary newspapers said that 10,000 people spontaneously attended her funeral at Danygraig Cemetery in 1894 . She was responsible for the foundation of St. Thomas Church in Swansea East , where a stained glass window is dedicated to her memory.


It was the 4th son, FRANCIS WALLACE , later Field Marshall Lord GRENFELL of Kilvey , who achieved national fame: P.C. , K.C.B. 1886 , G.C.M.G. 1892 , G.C.B. 1898 , LL.D. Edinburgh 1902 , LL.D. Cambridge , 1903 , and F.S.A. He was b. in London 29 April 1841 (the DNB is in error on this point) but spent his childhood at Maesteg House , educated at Milton Abbas School , Dorset , entered 60th Rifles (later the King's Royal Rifle Corps ) in 1859 and served in Ireland during the Fenian troubles in the 1860s and subsequently in Malta , Canada and India . He went to South Africa in 1873 as A.D.C. to General Sir Arthur Cunynghame . In 1875 he took part in the expedition which claimed Griqualand West (the site of the Kimberley diamond fields ) for Britain and was one of the small party who recovered the body of the Prince Imperial , the only son of Napolean III , who was killed in a skirmish while serving with the British forces during the Zulu War of 1879 . He took part in the British occupation of Egypt in 1882 and in April 1885 succeeded Sir Evelyn Wood as Sirdar (Commander-in-Chief) of the Egyptian army which had to be totally rebuilt after the events of 1882 . He fought the Mahdi and his successor, the Khalifa , in several battles. The flag he captured in the battle of Toski in 1889 is in St. Peter's Church , Pentre . It was Grenfell 's reconstituted Egyptian army which fought under Kitchener at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 . Grenfell , who had left Egypt for a War Office appointment in 1892 , was back in Egypt in 1898 but was careful not to cramp the style of the famous Kitchener , whom he outranked. GRENFELL was a keen amateur archaeologist and initiated important excavations at Aswan . Some of his finds are in Swansea Museum . From Egypt he went to Malta as Governor , 1899-1903 , and to Ireland as Commander-in-Chief , 1904-08 . There he had to deal with serious rioting in Belfast . He represented the British army at the coronation of the last Tsar , Nicholas II , in 1896 and wrote a book, Three Weeks in Moscow , about his experiences. He was raised to the peerage as Baron Grenfell of Kilvey in 1902 and made a Field Marshal in 1908 . His later years were devoted to the Royal Horticultural Society , of which he was President , and the Church Lads Brigade . He continued to take an interest in Swansea and became a freeman of the town in 1889 . He married 1st in 1887 , Evelyn Wood , daughter of General Blucher Wood , who d. childless in 1899 , and 2nd in 1903 , Margaret Majendie , daughter of Lewis Ashunt Majendie , M.P. They had two sons and a daughter. His elder son, Pascoe ( 1905 - 1976 ), succeeded to the title on his father's death on 27 January 1925 . He was buried at Beaconsfield , Buckinghamshire , after a large funeral at which the royal family was represented.


The last Grenfell to live at Maesteg House was KATHERINE ( KATE ) , the daughter of St. Leger Murray Grenfell ; she ran a school there. The house was demolished soon after World War I to make way for the Grenfell Park housing estate .

Two grandsons of Pascoe St. Leger , the youngest (twin) sons of his eldest son, Pascoe Du Pre , Francis ( 1880 - 1915 ), who won the V.C. , and Riversdale ( 1880 - 1914 ) were killed in France and were the subject of a biography by John Buchan . The famous war-poet , Julian Grenfell ( 1888 - 1915 ), the son of Lord Desborough , the Olympic athlete , was a cousin. The twins and other members of the family are commemorated in All Saints Church , Kilvey .

Sources:

  • Memoirs of Field-marshall Lord Grenfell, P.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G. , London, 1925 , 1925 ;
  • Burke's … Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage ;
  • The Cambrian , 4 April 1879, 16, 23 March 1894, 15 June 1894 ;
  • The Times , 28 January, 2 February 1925 ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Supplement , 1922-30 ;
  • Grenfell Papers, Swansea University College Library;
  • Llewellyn Papers, Glamorgan Record Office, Cardiff;
  • [ Muriel E. Chamberlain , ‘The Grenfells of Kilvey’, The Glamorgan Historian , 9, 123-42].

Author:

Dr Muriel E. Chamberlain, Swansea

Published date: 2001