CEREDIGION CYLCHGRAWN CYMDEITHAS HYNAFIAETHWYR SIR ABERTEIFI JOURNAL OF THE CARDIGANSHIRE ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY CYFROL (V'OLUME) V 1967 RHIFYN (NUMBER) 4 CARDIGANSHIRE POLITICS THE LIBERAL ASCENDANCY, 1885-1923* THERE is a spirit of vassalage among the tillers of the soil, begotten by the tyranny of the past. The shadows of the oppression and evictions of 1868 have not lifted from among the people.'1 This evidence, given before the Welsh Land Commissioners at Aberaeron in April 1894, evokes the spirit of the modern phase of Cardiganshire politics- the politics of nostalgia. It found a fitting spokesman in 1894-John Morgan Howell, ironmonger, of Portland House, Aberaeron alder- man on the new county council (and soon to be its chairman for 1895-6) prominent Calvinistic Methodist and Oddfellow and, above all, active Liberal politician. Howell and many others like him were the residuary legatees of this political nostalgia that characterised their native county. They had come to form a new ruling elite, progressive in political ideals, yet essentially drawing on the memories of ytne gorthrymedigion, the martyrs of Liberalism evicted for having voted according to their convictions at the great election of 1868. For men like Howell, indeed (he was born in 1855), the events of 1868 constituted the dominant impression of their formative years. It was memories such as these, kept vivid by the oral tradition of the country- side, which served to make Cardiganshire subsequently the most impregnable of all Liberal strongholds in Wales. In 1909, in one of those truisms that only he could make arresting, Lloyd George declared that if all constituencies were like Cardiganshire, there would not be a single Tory surviving on the Opposition benches in the House of Commons. *This article is based on a lecture given to the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society on 1 April 1967. The author is grateful to many people who were most helpful in helping him to uncover material on this topic, in particular Mr. B. G. Owens of the National Library of Wales Dr. J. F. A. Mason of Christ Church Library, Oxford Mr. A. J. P. Taylor and the staff of the Beaverbrook Library Mr. S. G. Chapman, secretary of the Cardiganshire Liberal Association Mr. David Howell of the London School of Economics Mrs. Hasiett of Aberystwyth and, above all others, his father, Mr. D. J. Morgan.