Grave of Mary Blackwell (d.1801)

menai_bridge_grave_mary_blackwellMary Blackwell (d.1801)

Mary Blackwell lived at the ferry house in Porthaethwy (before the town got its English name, Menai Bridge). Then the “Bangor ferry” boat was one of the principal connections between Anglesey and the mainland.

Mary died, aged 59, on 30 November 1801. The inscription on her grave records that her children Robert and Anne “was buried on one of each side of her”.

Mary’s husband Thomas died on 14 December 1822, aged 71. A report of his death in The Cambrian newspaper (published in Swansea) said that he procured universal respect through his “integrity and benevolence”. Below his grave inscription is the instruction: “This stone is not to be removed from hence.”

He died while the Menai Suspension Bridge was mid-way through its construction. The bridge was opposed by ferrymen and other mariners who realised that a fixed crossing would reduce or eliminate their trade. However, the inquiry into the state of the road between Shrewsbury and Holyhead (part of the strategically important London-Dublin coach route) had, in 1811, strongly advised bridging the Menai Strait. It described the Bangor ferry crossing as “at all times inconvenient, often dangerous, and sometimes impracticable from the severity of the weather”.

The company which held the rights to operate the Bangor ferry was paid more than £26,000 in compensation for loss of future trade – about £2.4m in today’s money.

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