Chartists…and Artists...

Thomas Henry Jerman (1811-?), Richard Jerman (1814-1886) and William Jerman (1800-1880) were members of a notable local family of master carpenters and joiners.  Their father William (1777-), and grandfather John (1734-1811) before them, were known to have worked on some of the most important buildings of the town, and may well have worked on the interior and fitting out of the Trewythen Arms Hotel on Great Oak Street.  Frustratingly, they can't really yet be linked to the wider family of Jermans in this area.

This was the scene, in 1839, of one of the uglier scenes in Llanidloes history.  Brothers Thomas and Richard were deeply involved in the Chartist movement which had been fomenting for some time in South Wales and, due in no small part to Richard Jerman's evangelism, was moving to the now industrial towns of Newtown and Llanidloes.  Public meetings received emotional addresses and local men were suspected of drilling in quasi-military fashion in the surrounding hills.  Guns were stolen or "borrowed" from local farmers and the authorities, led in large part by local solicitor and mayor, Thomas E. Marsh, became nervous, suspecting imminent insurrection and unrest.  Their response was to request a detachment of both militia and policemen from London.   Suspected of being ringleaders, Lewis Humphreys and Thomas Jerman were arrested and detained in the Trewythen Hotel.  This action incensed local people, already on a knife edge.  Confusion followed.   Some suspect Thomas Marsh of then instigating the charge of the mob on the hotel, in which resultant melee both prisoners escaped.  Thomas Jerman raced to Liverpool, no doubt helped alsong his way by his many friends and supporters.

This plaque is affixed to the front of the Trewythen Arms Hotel in Llanidloes. It is incorrect in the assertion that all escapees were re-captured.  Thomas Jerman sailed from Liverpool to New York and remained forever a free man.  

He did return to Llanidloes sometime before 1851, when he is showing resident in China Street, with his wife Sarch, of Irish orgin, who he probably met in New York, together with two children, Ann and William, born in New York, and one, Eleanor, born in Llanidloes.  Thomas, Sarah and family are then known to have re-emigrated to the United States.    In 1870, they are found in Flushing, New York, Thomas; occupation is still carpenter.  Thomas appears to then be alone, in Saratogoa, Nebraska, by 1880.

William Jerman (1800-1880)

His brother's notoriety did not prevent William from becoming another successful builder and timber merchant in Llanidloes, building amongst others Dolenog and Vaynor Park.  He became mayor between 1848-49, though frustratingly his portrait is one of the very few that do not appear in E. Horsfall Turner's survey, "A Municipal History of Llanidloes (1908).

Hugh Jerman (1837-1895)

Hugh Jerman (1814-1895) was the son of Richard Jerman (1814-1886) and became a schoolmaster, musician and artist of at least local renown. In his early life, he appears to have travelled to London and Yorkshire. He established the Severn Grove Academy as a private school on the Trefeglwys Road in Llanidloes. After his retirement due to illness in 1892, the school became the Llanidloes Grammar School, to be quickly superseded by the County Intermediate School, which remained at the Severn Grove premises until 1898. Hugh Jerman died in 1895. The picture and article below appeared in the "County Times" of 19 December 1970. I am grateful to Rowena Griffiths who provided a copy.

A Llanidloes artist who started his own school

If it had not been for an invitation to visit Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Williams at Llanbadarn Fynydd I should never have heard of artists from Llanidloes whose name was Jerman.

When Mr. And Mrs. Williams lent me an old twopenny guide book to Llanidloes which I wrote about recently, they offered to show me paintings by Hugh Jerman and his son Richard.

So I went to Mandeley, an attractive house behind the church at Llan­badarn Fynydd. It is a conversion of two cottages, full of old timbers which had to be stripped of paper when Mr. and Mrs. Williams took it.

This is a village that hides from the main road motorist. Part of it -a new estate - lies up a lane beside the forge; while the district where Mandeley is situated is reached by a small road that drops sharply down­wards at a narrow angle from the A.483 just past the church.

Hugh Jerman, who died in 1895 was the grandfather of both Mr. and Mrs. Williams; and was a remark­able man, being both an artist and a musician.

1886 painting

An old cutting from the County Times on December 23rd. 1933, which Mrs. Williams still treasures contains a reproduction of Hugh Jerman's painting of the Glanyrafon Hunt which was presented to Edward Bennett in 1886 and at one time a copy hung in the Bear Hotel at Newtown.

Everyone in the picture is named in the reproduction, and there were more than two dozen of them, including the Town Clerk of Llanidloes who was at that time Mr. J. D. Davies. Mr. Edward Bennett was the Master and Mr. Richard Owen the Huntsman.

The original is owned by Lady Hamer's sister. Miss H. Owen of Llanidloes.

One of his pictures which she has in her collection is of Crowllwm, the house which may have been the first Sunday School in Britain, and which formed the subject of my article a fortnight ago. She also has one of his oil paintings of a retriever dog with a mallard.

He must have been a remarkable man because he was a musician as well as an artist, and a taxidermist into the bargain. Mrs. Williams says that he taught himself to play the piano by drawing the keyboard on the kitchen table. He also made him­self a violin out of a cigar box and played it.


He was born in Llanidloes in 1836, and had hls schooling at David Humphreys school in Church Laneand John Davies' Commercial School, but transferred to the National School when it was opened in 1845.

He was then nine and at 13 was apprenticed as a Pupil Teacher. He began to develop musical and artistic talent, and learnt to play pianoorgan and violin.When he was 18 he won a scholarship to Battersea Training College and while there won prizes for his musical compositions. Then he became a schoolmaster at a school at Bawtry in Lincolnshire leaving after two years to take up an appointment at St. Marks School, Connah's Quay.

He became organist at St. Marks Church, and Mrs. Williams has a French clock in ornamental metalwork which was presented tohim for his services

When 23 he married a Miss Salter whose brother .became Headmaster of the National School at Llanidloes. Hugh Jerman followed him as Master of Kerry Grammar School, and there he developed his painting. But he moved on again, this time to Yorkshire, only to return to Llanidloes to start his own school the Severn Grove Academy.

Bridal anthem

While he was in Yorkshire he came to know Lady Augusta Milbank, and composed a bridal anthem for her daughter's marriage to the then Earl of Powis' youngest brother.

Much more seems to have been recorded of his musical prowess than of his art, but as he grew older he devoted more and more time to art. Failing sight and poor health forced him in the end to give up. He died in 1895 and was buried in his home town in the old churchyard.

More seems to have been preserved of his son's artistic life and achievements. Mrs. Williams recalls that he painted her mother as a little girl wearing a Victorian dress, and she still has the picture. I noticed that the child is holding in her hands a book with the title The Holy Land, a typical piece of Victorian portrait-dressing.

One of his paintings is in the National Museum of Wales, I was told; and he painted the murals in the old Council Offices in Swansea.

In Detroit

He was fond of painting lake pictures, and I saw a remarkable seascape of his at Mandeley, and a painting of the Shaky Bridge near Llandrindod Wells.Other studies include an old salt and a prancing horse, in both of which he captured the basic elements - the power and movement of the horse, and the character of the man.

Mr. Williams is a Llanidloes man who spent many years in Detroit in the car industry and then returned to Britain. But Mrs. Williams is a Londoner, and it is interesting that her great-grandfather, David Thomas, had the only dairy in the City of London. This she told me, was near Aldersgate, and was ultimately bought out by the Express Dairy Company. It must therefore, have been their branch in Redcross Street, just behind Alders gate, which I used to patronise with my wife, before we were married, when she worked in nearby Fann Street.

Both Hugh and Richard Jerman, although gifted, are missing from the reference books.

I gather that neither of them ever held any London exhibitions, but they must have been quite well-known in Wales.

Possibly there are pictures which they painted still on the walls of farmhouses and hotels in various places, but especially in the countryside around Llanidloes.

I gather that Richard Jerman died in 1951 at the age of 85, so it should not be difficult to locate some of his paintings, though it might be harder to discover any more of his father's.

Perhaps someone in the art world might find it worth while to list and evaluate the paintings of these two men, so that their achievements may not be lost to posterity. "

Hugh Jerman_crowllwm

JERMAN, HUGH (1836-1895), artist and musician; b. Church Street, Llanidloes, Mont., 28 Sept. 1836, son of a carpenter, Richard Jerman and his wife Mary. He was educated in local schools and the National School before becoming a student at Battersea Training College, 1854-55, and then becoming a teacher. He taught in Lincolnshire, Connah's Quay, Kerry, Kirkby Fleetham and Wells in Yorkshire. In 1877 he returned to Llanidloes and established a private school, Severn Grove Academy, where he taught the sons of the richer town and country folk until 1890.

He was a talented musician who won many prizes at eisteddfodau. In the Conway national eisteddfod of 1861 he won first prize for an anthem, ‘Deus Misereatur’. He conducted an accomplished choir in the town. He taught himself the violin and piano. But he became best known as an artist, skilled in oils and water-colours, and many of his pictures are in private collections. His best-known is ‘The Glanyrafon Hunt’, painted for Edward Bennett, brother of Nicholas Bennett (DWB, 32) in 1885. There are three of his paintings in the National Library. He was also a very effective portrait painter.


In 1859 he married Elizabeth Salter of Kerry, and they had two sons and five daughters. One son, Richard Henry Jerman, 1866-1951, was also a gifted artist. His brother-in-law, Edward Salter, b. 1831, was a schoolmaster and artist and father of E.H. Langford Salter, 1870-1949, who established a music business in Neath and manufactured organs. He died May 8, 1895 and was buried in the parish cemetery at Llanidloes

 Entry from the Dictionary of Welsh Biography

The Glanyrafon Hunt, by Hugh Jerman

                                         The Glanyrafon Hunt: I am grateful to Nicola Bennett-Jones for providing a copy of this painting.

Presented to Edward Bennett, scion of a notable local Llanidloes family, this painting is interesting in that it presents a snapshot of the representatives of the local gentry and assorted hangers-on.

 © 2013-18