VCW’s Welsh Origins

There is much yet to be discovered regarding Vincent’s origins in Wales. We know that he was born in 1889 in Ffestiniog, North Wales, was brought to the south as an infant, and appears with his parents and three younger siblings in census records for 1901, living in Abertridwr, Glamorgan. So far I have found no trace of the family in the 1911 census; neither of his parents appear as head of a household.

We do however know that he married Beatrice Ellen Oates in 1911, fathered two children with her, and abandoned this family in 1913, for which he was convicted and sentenced in 1920; see the Chronology page.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his time in Wales is this: Why did he change his name and leave? We can conjecture that doing so and ‘joining up’ in 1915 were a means to escape what may have been a lifetime as a coal miner. But although he is recorded as a miner at the time of his marriage, his occupation at the birth of each of his sons is given as “boot-dealer’s salesman”, so he would have had to return to the mines after leaving Beatrice in 1913 for this theory to hold water.

It may be no coincidence that Britain’s worst ever mining disaster occurred on 14 October 1913 at the Senghenydd colliery, just minutes’ walk up the valley from Abertridwr, where David lived with his parents and siblings at the time of the 1901 census. 439 men lost their lives in a series of gas and dust explosions. David’s father had already died by this time (he is reported ‘deceased’ in 1911 on David’s marriage certificate) but his remaining family cannot have remained unaffected by this tragedy.

The coal mines were brought under government control in 1916 by the Defence of the Realm Act and mining was declared a reserved occupation; miners were forbidden to ‘join up’, as the supply of coal for the war effort was under threat from the number of volunteers leaving South Wales. Prior to this, the task of deciding who could be spared from the mines for military service was delegated to the trades unions. David enlisted in 1915, under his assumed name of Vincent Carron Wellington, a distinctly non-Welsh name, and it is possible that avoiding the mines was a motivation — but we cannot yet be sure.

If anyone can shed light on this period of Welsh mining history, please get in touch via the Contact form.