Grave of Richard Davies and relatives, Menai Bridge

menai_bridge_davies_family_graveRichard Davies (d.1896)

This is the grave of Richard Davies and several of his relatives including Gracie Davies, whose story is told separately in our Church Island graveyard tour.

Richard Davies was born in 1818, one of three sons of prosperous Llangefni trader Richard Davies (1778-1849). The family switched its business focus to Menai Bridge soon after completion of the suspension bridge. As trade thrived, the family built port infrastructure and acquired ocean-going ships – see our web page about the Prince’s Pier warehouse for more.

Richard, a Methodist, contested the Caernarvon Boroughs seat in 1852, when local politics was still dominated by men who had inherited wealth and belonged to the Established (Anglican) church. The Conservative majority was greatly reduced – a significant boost for Liberalism in Wales. Richard was Anglesey’s MP from 1868 to 1886. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Anglesey in 1884.

He and brother Robert funded construction of the imposing English-language Presbyterian chapel in Menai Bridge (near the Victoria Hotel). It was completed just in time for the wedding there of his daughter Edith to Russell James Colman, of the Colman’s Mustard family, in 1888. Some believe the chapel’s lavish architecture was Richard’s revenge after the nearby Anglican church refused to host the wedding!

In 1855 Richard had married Annie Rees, daughter of Henry Rees (1789-1869), the most prominent Welsh Methodist minister of his time. Richard, Annie and their children lived at Min-y-Don, Menai Bridge, until 1863, when they moved to Benarth, Conwy. They were about to move to Treborth Hall, directly across the water from Church Island, when Henry died while staying at Benarth. The family grave is here because Annie wanted her father buried within sight of her new home.

For Henry’s funeral, special trains ran to Bangor from Aberystwyth, Barmouth, Betws-y-coed, Caernarfon, Dolgellau, Liverpool, St Asaph and local Anglesey stations. In total, 22 carriages conveyed almost 600 mourners. The rector (Anglican) refused to allow a Methodist choir to sing a hymn at the graveside. The ensuing “agitation” was said to have inspired Parliament to amend the Burials Act.

A choir sang beside the grave for Richard’s burial in 1896. He left land in Ireland and other personal property worth almost £295,000 in total, c.£37m in today’s money!

Annie supported local causes including district nursing, the Temperance Union and the Welsh Methodist mission in Khasia, India. She died of pneumonia in 1918, aged 82.

One of her children, also buried here, was Henry Rees Davies (1861-1940), an Anglesey magistrate, councillor and expert on the history of the Menai Strait.

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