Remembering the Founders
On Friday 14 October 2016, we shall once again be celebrating the establishing of Aberystwyth University in 1872, at a Founders Breakfast at the Old College.
The founding of the University College of Wales, as it was originally known, has its origins amongst the London Welshmen of the mid-19th century, with individuals such as Hugh Owen, Thomas Nicholas, William Williams, MP for Coventry, George Osborne Morgan, MP for Denbighshire, Morgan Lloyd, MP for Beaumaris, John Griffith, journalist and London correspondent of Baner ac Amserau Cymru, Revd Robert Jones, Rotherhithe, Revd David Thomas, Stockwell, and Stephen Evans playing prominent roles.
There were also others but these were the regulars on the committee that was formed on 1 December 1863 at the Freemasons’ Tavern, 61-65 Great Queen Street, where the Connaught Rooms are now.
Following William Williams’ death in 1865, Morgan Lloyd became treasurer. Born in Merionethshire, Lloyd was educated at Edinburgh University and was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1847 – the year that the notorious Blue Books which had galvanised the university movement were published. A number of barristers had chambers at Mitre Court and it was there in Morgan Lloyd’s chambers in King’s Bench Walk that the committee often met.
On 9 October 1922, as part of the College’s Jubilee Celebrations, a plaque “To the memory of the men of Mitre Court of the men of the Freemasons’ Tavern and of all those brave old founders by whose labour the young people of Wales now enjoy the gift of knowledge” was unveiled at the new Students’ Union building that had been bought and presented to the College by the Old Students’ Association as a joint Memorial to the Founders of the College and to the students who had fallen during the First World War.
Also on that occasion a Roll of Honour commemorating the students and staff was unveiled at the Students’ Union.
Both the Roll of Honour and the Founders Plaque have now been relocated to the Quad of the Old College, the first home of the University of Wales.