The Organiser: Robert Godfrey Llewelyn (1893-1986)

Family Background

This family name has been spelt many ways over the years and originally seems to have been spelt 'llewelyn'. The variations are put down to the difficulty of non-Welsh speakers in enunciating the 'll' sound. It even became the practice in Norman times to write down the name as Lewis and this caught on to an extent it seems. I will use Llewellyn in the text for consistency but some source documents quoted may use Llewelyn.

The pedigree chart below shows Robert Godfrey Llewellyn with his name highlighted.

Neill Pedigree
Robert Godfrey Llewellyn. Family pedigree chart [78]
Click image for enlarged view

Robert Godfrey Llewellyn's Paternal Ancestors

Robert Godfrey Llewellyn's direct ancestors on his father's side of the family were:

  • Great-grandfather: William Llewellyn (1773-1840)
  • Grandfather: William Llewellyn (1821-1898)
  • Father: Robert William Llewellyn (1848-1910)
William Llewellyn (1773-1840)

Godfrey's great grandfather became a surgeon in the Royal Navy and served with Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, at Collingwood's personal request. He is shown in The Navy List with a seniority of 12 March 1796.

William Llewellyn
Portrait of William Llewellyn (1773-1840) [49]
The Navy List
Extract from The Navy List [74]

The Battle of Trafalgar

Collingwood took part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. I have been unable to determine whether William Llewellyn was wounded during the battle or otherwise. If he was physically with Collingwood, he would have been aboard HMS Royal Sovereign which was in the thick of the battle. According to the following account from Wikipedia: [75]


Royal Sovereign and Santa Ana duelled for much of the battle, with Santa Ana taking fire from fresh British ships passing through the line, including HMS Mars and HMS Tonnant, while nearby French and Spanish vessels fired on Royal Sovereign. Santa Ana struck at 14:15, having suffered casualties numbering 238 dead and wounded after battling Royal Sovereign and XHMS Belleisle.

Royal Sovereign lost her mizzen and mainmasts, her foremast was badly damaged and much of her rigging was shot away. At 2.20 pm Santa Ana finally struck to Royal Sovereign.[ Shortly afterwards a boat came from Victory carrying Lieutenant Hill, who reported that Nelson had been wounded. Realising that he might have to take command of the rest of the fleet and with his ship according to his report being "perfectly unmanageable", by 3 pm he signalled for the frigate Euryalus to take Royal Sovereign in tow. Euryalus towed her round to support the rest of the British ships with her port-side guns, and became engaged with combined fleet's van under Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, as it came about to support the collapsing centre.

Fire from the lead ships shot away the cable between Royal Sovereign and Euryalus, and the latter ship made off towards Victory. Royal Sovereign exchanged fire with the arriving ships, until Collingwood rallied several relatively undamaged British ships around Royal Sovereign, and Dumanoir gave up any attempt to recover some of the prizes, and made his escape at 4.30pm.

Private Medical Practice

In 1805 he was wounded, left the Navy, and established a medical practice in Taibach in South Wales. Taibach sprang up at the beginning of the 19th century in the parish of Margam as homes for colliery and other incoming industrial workers about a mile from the historic centre of the village. In the 20th Century the Port Talbot steelworks would be built on the edge of Taibach and completely dwarf the place. As it seems unlikely that the industrial workers at the beginning of the 19th Century would be able to afford doctor's fees, I would imagine that William Llewellyn would have had relatively few patients.


In 1837 William purchased Court Colman, which would have been at least 10 miles away from Taibach and on the outskirts of Bridgend, but he died before legal complications had been resolved.

William Llewellyn (1821-1898)

Godfrey's grandfather William LLewellyn (1821-1898) was born in Brombil, Margam in 1820. He was educated at Oxford University.


He inherited Court Colman on the death of his father in 1840 and moved into the house with his mother Catherine the following year. She lived there until her death. This became the family residence and William administered it throughout his life.

Court Colman
Court Colman Circa 1850. Original source unknown [49]

On the 1851 census he was described as a County Magistrate and farmer of 170 acres with 20 farm labourers. The Brombil mentioned as his place of birth was probably Brombil Farm which is on the edge of Margam at the beginning of Cwm y Brombil as shown on the map below. Collieries had opened in Cwm y Brombil between 1777 and 1780 by the English Copper Company. In 1838 a horse-drawn tram road had been constructed to transport coal to the Taibach Copper Works. Margam Farm is now skirted by the M4 Motorway.

Brombil Farm
Brombil Farm - 25" OS map of 1917. [44]

William Llewellyn was appointed High Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1854 and described as Magistrate (County) on the 1881 and 1891 census returns. He died 9 May 1898 and probate was granted to his eldest son Robert William Llewellyn (1848-1910). The estate was valued at £29,438 11s 10d - equivalent to about £3.8M at 2019 values.

Robert William Llewellyn (1848-1910)

Godfrey's father had 7 siblings and was the eldest son. He was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset - an independent boarding school founded in 705 AD and re-founded in 1550. He married Harriet Annie Blandy in 1882 and they had 7 children of whom Robert Godfrey Llewellyn was the youngest.

Portrait
Robert William Llewellyn [103]

In 1891 he was living at Baglan Cottage on the edge of the village and was recorded on the census as a County Magistrate and Estate Agent. Apart from family members the household contained 8 servants - a governess, a nurse, an under-nurse, a parlour maid, a house maid, a cook, a kitchen maid and a coachman.

Baglan Cottage
Baglan Cottage - 6" OS map of 1884. [44]

Robert inherited Court Colman when his father died in 1898. He was recorded as a Magistrate living on his own means in the 1901 census. According to Wikipedia [7] he was Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of Glamorganshire. He was also Chairman of the Newcastle and Ogmore Petty Sessions.

Robert William Llewellyn
Portrait of Robert William Llewelln from about 1900 [7]

In 1903 Robert provided funds to build the Church of All Saints at Pen-y-fai as a thanksgiving for the recovery of his wife Harriet from a serious illness. The interior of the building is said to contain many interesting features, including a shell-shaped font held in the arms of a life-sized angel, said to have been sculpted in the likeness of the young Harriet on her wedding day.

Pen Y Fai church interior
Pen y Fai Church interior [117]

Robert died on 10 Feb 1910 at the age of 61 leaving an estate valued at £427,176 12s 6d - equivalent to about £55.9 Million at 2019 values. An obituary attached to details of his Will were published by the Glamorgan Gazette [116] and described Robert as Formerly of the 1st Dragoons and the Glamorgan Militia, a former secretary of The Glamorgan Hunt and chairman of the Bridgend Bench. Amongst the property bequeathed were ... real estate, mines and minerals.

Robert Godfrey Llewellyn's Maternal Ancestors

Robert Godfrey Llewellyn's direct ancestors on his mother's side of the family were:

  • Great-grandfather: Adam Blandy (1783-1841)
  • Grandfather: William Blandy (1817-1864)
  • Mother: Harriet Annie Blandy (1862-1952)
Adam Blandy (1783-1841)

Godfrey's maternal great-grandfather was born Adam Walker in the village of Kingston Bagpuize in Berkshire. In 1791 he succeeded to the Kingston Bagpuize estate on the death of his great-uncle John Blandy and changed his surname to Blandy.

Kingston Bagpuize House
Modern photo of Kingston Bagpuize House [115]

Adam was at Christ's College Cambridge from 1801 to 1805 and married Sarah Mott on 3 Nov 1807 at Lichfield Cathedral. On 30 Nov 1808 he became a Freemason being registered at the Foundation Lodge in Abingdon with his profession shown as 'Gentleman'. Adam and Sarah had two children, William (see below) and Adam.

He died on 24 Oct 1841 at Abingdon. An obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1842 [114] describes him as Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Berkshire.

William Blandy (1817-1864)

Godfrey's maternal grandfather William was born at Wall near Lichfield in Staffordshire and christened at St. Michael's churh.

The 1851 census records him as a solicitor in Chipping Wycombe in Buckinghamshire and living with his wife Mary, 3 children and 7 servants - a nurse maid, a cook, a housemaid, a nursegirl, a footman, a groom and a solicitor's writing clerk (aged 12). The 1861 census lists him in St. Peter in Jersey and records him as a farmer of 26 acres employing 4 men.

In all William and Mary had 7 children of whom Llewellyn's mother Harriet was the youngest. William died on 27 Dec 1864 at Cheltenham at the relatively young age of 47 leaving an estate valued at under £7,000 - about £896,000 at 2019 values. His wife Mary died in 1870 in Dawlish in Devon.

Harriet Annie Blandy (1862-1952)

Godfrey's mother was born in Jersey on 11 Sep 1862 and lost her father when she was 2 years old. The census of 1881 records her as a 19 year old scholar at a small private school called Wavertree in Sevenoaks run by an Elizabeth Carr.

In 1882 she married Robert William Llewellyn at Bridgend Glamorgan. Whether the couple moved into William Llewellyn's house at Court Coleman or had their own place I don't know but by 1891 they were living at Baglan Cottage.

Harriet had a very long life and remained at Baglan Hall until her death on 9 Mar 1952.

Life of Robert Godfrey Llewellyn

Robert Godfrey Llewellyn was born 13 May 1893 to Robert William Llewellyn (1849-1910) and Harriet Annie Blandy (1863-1952). He was the youngest of seven children and liked to be known as Godfrey.

His siblings were:

  • William Herbert Clydwyn Llewellyn (1883-1976): Army officer and later Estate Owner.
  • Dorothy Mary Llewellyn (1885-1964): Church Sunday School Organiser
  • Griffith Robert Poynton Llewellyn (1886-1972): Some time Army officer - later living on own means
  • Eleanor Caroline Llewellyn (1887-1971): Married solicitor Lionel Robert Lloyd
  • Owen Knight Llewellyn (1888-1891): Died in childhood
  • John Blandy Llewellyn (1890-1979): Manager and director of companies

Military Service

Royal Navy

According to the document further down this page recommending Godfrey for a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB), he entered the Royal Naval College at Osborne at the age of 12 and served for 8.5 years and retired on the death of his father. Osborne was a training college for Royal Navy officer cadets on the Osborne House estate, Isle of Wight, established in 1903 and closed in 1921. It occupied the site of the old stable block at Osborne - the favourite place of Queen Victoria but considered surplus to requirements by her successor Edward VII. Given he was born in 1893 the service should have been from about 1905 to 1914, however his father died in 1910. He would have completed his cadetship at the Dartmouth Naval College.

The image immediately below shows the record of him passing out as a Midshipman on 15 September 1910.

Midshipman
Passing out as a Midshipman in 1910 on the Navy Lists [12]

The next document (below) shows him serving as a Midshipman from 1910, an Acting Sub-Lieutenant from 15 Jan 1913 and a Sub Lieutenant from 12 Jan 1914. The same document states that he was allowed to resign his commission on 18 Jun 1914 with the reasons given:

  • Impediment of speech causing difficulty in making reports and giving orders
  • Sea sickness

It seems strange that he had presumably served aboard RN ships for 4 years before his seasickness caused a problem. Maybe he had been given shore-based duties but the available records do now show where he served.

Report
Royal Navy Service Report from ADM-196-55-97 [23]
Territorial Army
Service in WW1

The document recommending the CB honour shown below states that Godfrey Joined the Montgomery Yeomanry in the Great War 1914-1918 and served with Cavalry Signals in Palestine.

According to Wikipedia [7]:

When war was declared on 4 August 1914, the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry mobilised at Brook Street Drill Hall with Brevet Colonel Robert Williams-Wynn, DSO, in command. It formed part of the South Wales Mounted Brigade, which assembled at Hereford. In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split in August and September 1914 into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.

Presumably Godfrey served with the 1/1st Mongomeryshire Yeomanry about which the Wikipedia entry goes on to state:

The 1/1st Montgomeryshire Yeomanry moved with the South Wales Mounted Brigade to Thetford in Norfolk by the end of August 1914. That month the brigade joined the 1st Mounted Division, replacing 1st South Midland Mounted Brigade which moved to 2nd Mounted Division. In November 1915, the brigade was dismounted. It was replaced in 1st Mounted Division by 2/1st Eastern Mounted Brigade when it departed for Egypt.

With the brigade, the regiment was posted to Egypt in March 1916. On 20 March, South Wales Mounted Brigade was absorbed into the 4th Dismounted Brigade (along with the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade. In March 1917 they were re-roled as infantry and together with the Welsh Horse Yeomanry were converted into the 25th (Montgomery and Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. They joined 231st Brigade in the 74th (Yeomanry) Division. In May 1918, the Division moved to France, and the battalion saw action on the Western Front.

The Medal Card index below indeed confirms service in Egypt.

Medal Card
Medal Card [12]

The website The Long, Long Trail [113] which researches 'soldiers of the British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918', gives the movements of the 1/1st Yeomanry as follows:

  • August 1914 : moved with the brigade to Hereford.
  • 29 August 1914 : moved to Thetford in Norfolk, later going on to Aylsham near Blickling. Brigade came under command of 1st Mounted Division.
  • By late September 1915 was at Holt and in October moved to Cromer.
  • November 1915 : dismounted.
  • 4 March 1916 : sailed from Devonport for service in Middle East. Arrived Alexandria 11 March.
  • 20 March 1916 : brigade joined with Welsh Border Mounted Brigade to form 4th Dismounted Brigade, under command of Western Frontier Force.
  • 1 January 1917: a draft of c. 40 men under Capt. H. D. Clinch were on the troopship”Ivernia” when it was torpedoed in the Mediterranean
  • 4 March 1917 : merged with 1/1st Welsh Horse to form 25th (Montgomery & Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Placed under command of 231st Brigade in 74th (Yeomanry) Division.
  • May 1918 : moved with division to France.

Godfrey was awarded the Military Cross (MC) - The MC is granted in recognition of an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land and was twice 'mentioned in despatches' but I have found no information about what he did.

Post War Service with The Royal Corps of Signals

After WW1 Godfrey was given the task of reconstructing the 53rd (Welsh) Divisional Signals and also served as Deputy Chief Signals Officer TA Western Command. During WW2 this unit would serve in Europe between Normandy and the Baltic and landed in Normandy on 28 Jun 1944. Divisional Signals were to lay 7,347 miles of cable, despatch riders travel 47,511 miles and telephone calls averaged 6,773 per week. [118].

Home Guard WW2

In 1940 Godfrey was tasked with organising the setup of the Home Guard in the South Wales district. Starting as Area Organiser he was promoted to C/C Administration Home Guard and was leter awarded an O.B.E. for his work.

I don't know when he moved there but by this time Godfrey was living at Tredilion Park as this is shown as his address on the Mercantile Navy List entry for Wendorian.

Tredilion Park
Tredilion Park from an undated postcard photo [103]

Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)

In 1950, a recommendation for the award of CB to Godfrey Llewelyn was signed by Major-General G.N. Wood on Army Form W 3121 (Revised) and this was approved by the War Office. The form is reproduced below and cites the following:

  • 6 years in command of the Glamorgan Army Cadets
  • 8.5 years service in the Royal Navy
  • Service in the Montgomery Yeomanry (1914-1918) and Palestine being awarded the Military Cross and being twice mentioned in Despatches
  • Service in the Territorial Army for 23 years being appointed Brevet Lt Colenol, Brevet Colonel and being awarded an OBE
  • Organisation of the Home Guard in the South Wales Distric in 1940
CB Recommendation CB Recommendation
Recommendation for award of CB Honour [23]

Political Activities

In October 1954, Godfrey chaired the 74th Annual Conference of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations at Blackpool.

During the 1950s and 1960s he regularly spoke in favour of a limited devolution of power to Wales and was ahead of the majority of the Conservative Party in that respect.

British Empire and Commonwealth Games 1958

Godfrey was appointed Chairman of the Organising Committee for the British Empire and Commonwealth Games that were held in Cardiff from 18–26 July 1958.

Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games Railway Poster [72]

Although the games were a success, this was a time of anti-apartheid demonstrations and there were some against the all-white South African team. Games organisers responded that non-white South Africans were ineligible as their associations were not affiliated to the international federations. Godfrey must have been party to this response and technically, if not morally, he was probably correct. South Africa left the Commonwealth in 1961 and did not appear in later games until 1994 after apartheid had been abolished.

Honours and Awards

The London Gazette

It seems that someone must have set up a kind of 'standing order' for honours for Godfrey and a lot of them were listed in The London Gazette as shown below:


Date Entry
15 Jan 1914 Promotion to rank of Sub-Lieutenant in His Majesty's Fleet
11 Apr 1918 Award of the Military Cross
3 May 1935 The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Territorial Decoration upon the undermentioned Officer under the terms of the Royal Warrant dated 13th October, 1920: ROYAL CORPS OF SIGNALS. Lt.-Col. & Bt. Col. Robert Godfrey Llewellyn, O.B.E., M.C. (D.C.S.O. for T.A. duties, W. Comd.).
3 Jan 1953 The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to signify Her Majesty's intention of conferring the Honour of Knighthood upon the following: Colonel Robert Godfrey LLEWELLYN, C.B., C.B.E., M.C., T.D., J.P., D.L. For political and public services in Wales.
30 Dec 1958 The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention of conferring Baronetcies of the United Kingdom on the following: Colonel Sir (Robert) Godfrey LLEWELLYN, C.B., C.B.E., M.C., T.D., D.L., Chairman, Organising Committee, British Empire and Commonwealth Games
16 Jul 1961 PRIVY COUNCIL OFFICE. NOMINATION OF SHERIFFS, 1961. The names of those who were nominated for Sheriffs in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice on the thirteenth day of November (the morrow of Saint Martin falling .on a Sunday) in the tenth year of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth the Second and in the year of our Lord One thousand nine hundred and sixty-one. Colonel Sir (Robert) Godfrey (Llewellyn, Bt., C.B., C.B.E., M.C., T.D., of TrediKon Park, Abergavenny.
14 Nov 1961 The QUEEN has been 'graciously pleased to sanction the .following Promotions in and Appointments to the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem: Sir Robert Godfrey (Llewellyn, Bt., C.B, C.B.E, M.C., T. D., D.L.
Llewellyn Baronets of Baglan - Created 1959

Godfrey was rewarded for the success of the games in the form of a Baronetcy in the New Years Honours List the following year.

According to Wikipedia:

The Llewellyn Baronetcy, of Baglan in the County of Glamorgan, was created in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom on 20 January 1959 for Sir Godfrey Llewellyn, subsequently President of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations. His son (Sir Michael Rowland Godfrey Llewellyn (1921–1994), the second Baronet, served as Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan from 1987 to 1994. On his death in 1994 the baronetcy became extinct or dormant.

Stephanotis and Sailing

Stephanotis must have been put up for sale by William Frothingham Roach in 1939 as Godfrey is shown as the owner in that year. I have been unable to find out whether the vessel's name was changed by Godfrey or Roach.

I am inclined to think that Godfrey purchased the vessel with the intention of using her but the war intervened and took up all of his time and energies. Stephanotis appears in the Mercantile Navy List for 1939 as Wendorian after being absent since 1915. She was registered to Col. Robert G Llewellyn, Tredilion Park, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire.

Wendorian
Extract from Mercantile Navy List (1939) [48]

Although Godfrey became the new owner of Stephanotis, I have found nothing to demonstrate how he used her, or come to that IF he used her during his period of ownership. As we have already seen he suffered from seasickness and this had led to him resigning from the Royal Navy just before the start of WW1.

Tredilion Park is about 18 miles from Newport, Monmouthshire and my first thoughts were that the yacht would most probably have been kept there. But looking at the aerial photograph from 1926 below, it looks a very industrial place and not the sort of location I would expect to see a luxury yacht. Town Dock - Newport's first major dock had been built in 1842 and the Alexandra Dock added in 1875. Newport became the South Wales largest coal-handling port in the Victorian era but the use of the docks declined in the 20th Century. There may have been other moorings in the vicinity or the vessel could even have remained at Cowes.

Newport Docks
Newport Docks 1926 from Image No. WPW016930. [89]

Last Years and Death

Llewellyn died at Tredilion Park 3 October 1986 leaving an estate valued at £731,421 - about £2.1 Million at 2019 values.

Probate
National Probate Calendar Entry for Sir Robert Llewellyn [12]

For anyone researching Llewellyn, there is archived material which I have not viewed held in the University of Leeds Special Collections [71] and, according to the archive index, includes an Issue of Mounted Brigade journal Chlorine, No. 2 (February 1918); Typescript narrative of events during 4th Cavalry Division operations, 10 September-15 October 1918; 2 panoramic photographs and typed transcript of an interview recorded with Peter Liddle (September 1976).

Summary

Robert Godfrey Llewelyn was born to a family with a long tradition of serving their country in the armed forces going back until at least the Battle of Trafalgar. Later family members were landowners and magistrates.

Godfrey served in the Royal Navy for many years and then in the Army. He went on to become an organiser of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958. He was awarded a cascade of honours over the years and has been described by a friend as 'a good egg'.

It seems strange that he purchased Stephanotis as he suffered from seasickness whilst in the RN. I can find no evidence of his use of the vessel and he may have taken her on at a bad time. Her name may have been changed to Wendorian during his ownership.