official reports

The narrow views of the tourists can be seen in a different light when their comments are compared with various official surveys.

A shoal of reports commissioned by the Government and other bodies were produced during the 19th century. They were classified by I.G. Jones in his ‘Mid-Victorian Wales: the Observers and the Observed’ (1992) as:

Religious                    Bishops and writers of State of Education and other official reports

Social Scientists       Reports on working condition, health (See Registrar General’s reports from 1839)

Personal Life             Letters on Labour and the poor (Morning Chronicle)

Literature                   Essays for Eisteddfodau

He said ‘the [official] visitor’s eye was for the bizarre and the brutal; for ignorance and immorality; for the dirty and the disgusting and his ear for the barbarous language of the natives’.

In addition, there were reports on the state of agriculture in Wales.

The authors had to travel throughout Wales, meeting people of all classes, gathering verbal and visual evidence. Some were unable to speak Welsh which led to an inability to really understand the situations they were supposed to be examining. However, they do contain descriptions of people and places in Wales which augment those written by tourists.

The reports in The Times of the Rebecca Riots (1839-1843) were generally sympathetic and the inquiry into their causes which followed was a positive and helpful balance to critical comments in earlier reports. Most of these official descriptions of the Welsh post-date the majority of published tours.

Useful reports include:

1843-1847  On the State of Education in Wales (Blue Books)

1849-1851  Letters to Morning Chronicle, 1849-1851 (see Ginswick, J., (1983) Labour and the Poor in England and Wales)

1849  Phillips, T., Wales: The Language, Social Condition, Moral Character, and Religious Opinions of the People, considered in their relation to Education (London, 1849)

1850s  and 1860s Official reports on health

1867  H Richard, Letters on the Social and Political Condition of Wales

1868  Education survey (Taunton)

1881  Education survey (Aberdare)

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