BENJAMIN HALL'S YOUTH: 1802-1823 (PLATES XII. 8—9) Little has survived to tell of the childhood of Benjamin Hall1 the third. A copybook carefully written out by Benjamin at the age of five2 was preserved by his grandfather, Dr. Benjamin Hall,3 but has nothing outstanding about it. Occasional paragraphs in the newspapers recording that the family were among the visitors at the then fashionable and charming seaside resort of Swansea, and other watering-places, show he spent holidays with his parents,4 brothers and sister beside the sea, and there were visits to his grandparents in Merthyr6 and Llandaff.7 The rest of the time was spent in London,8 or, after his fifth birthday, when his father acquired the Abercarn estate,9 either in the manor-house beside the River Ebbw (now a Doctor's house), or in High Meadow, the small but charming Georgian house set on the wooded hill above the river, which now gives its name to the Council Housing Estate by which it is surrounded. Before the nineteen-fifties, when the Housing Estate was built, the whole valley was still thickly wooded, and the woods are still sufficiently beautiful to show how incomparably lovely it must have been in the early years of the nine- teenth century. The Abercarn estate covered nearly 3,000 acres, of which 700 acres were woodland,10 and the shooting was carefully preserved. Here young Benjamin developed the brilliant marksmanship for which he was afterwards noted. Here, too, he became an accomplished horseman and whip, and learned to be a skilful angler, for there was salmon and trout fishing in the Ebbw, the Afon Gwyddon, the Afon Carn, and other tributary streams. 1 1802-67. Created a baronet on 16 August 1838; President of the Board of Health, 1854; sworn a member of the Privy Council, 1854; Chief Commissioner of Works (without a seat in the Cabinet), 1855-8, during which time he arranged for the installation of 'Big Ben', which was named after him. Raised to the peerage as Baron Llanover of Llanover and Abercarn, 29 June 1859; sworn Lord-Lieutenant of Monmouthshire, 1861. 2 National Library of Wales MSS. No. 2871 A. 3 1742-1825. Born at Daisyback, Gumfreston, near Tenby, Pembrokeshire. Fellow of Jesus College, Oxon., and Chancellor of the Diocese of Llandaff. For further details see The Halls of Pembrokeshire, ancestors of Benjamin Hall, afterwards Lord Llanover of Llanover and Abercarn, by the present writer. The National Library of Wales Journal Vol. XII, No. Summer, 1961. pp. 1-17. 4 Benjamin Hall, M.P. (1778-1817) and Charlotte (1784-1839), daughter of Richard Crawshay of Merthyr Tydfil. ibid. 5 Richard Crawshay Hall (1804-84); Charlotte Hall (1806-85); Henry Grant Hall (1810-22); Charles Ranken Hall (1812-90). William Thomas Hall (1818-76) was born eight months after the death of his father. ibid. « Richard Crawshay (1739-1810) and his wife, Mary Bourne (1745-1811). John P. Addis, The Crawshay Dynasty, Appendix I. University of Wales Press, 1957. 7 Dr. Benjamin Hall, (See Note 3 above) and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Moses Grant, Vicar of Roch and Nolton, Pern., and sister of Henry Grant, of Gnoll Castle, Neath, Glam. 8 Although the G.E.C. Peerage shows Upper Brook Street as the home of Benjamin and Charlotte Hall at the time of their eldest son's birth, the notice of the baby's birth inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine, November, 1802, p. 1063, gives the address as Upper Gower Street. London Directories from 1801 to 181 show the address of Benjamin Hall as 'Barrister of 7, Old Square, Lincoln's Inn, and 14 Upper Gower Street' (now 114, Gower Street). He removed to 12, Upper Brook Street in 1812. 9 In 1808, the last of the Glover family of Birmingham, who had become owners of the Ironworks at Abercarn, Monmouthshire, agreed to sell the freehold of the Abercarn estate to Richard Crawshay, and when the sale was completed, he handed the estate over to Benjamin Hall 11, who made his home there. John Lloyd The Early History of the Old South Wales Ironworks, 1760-1820, pp. 64 and 160, London, 1906. 10 Official Guide to Abercarn Urban District Council, 3rd. edition, p. 14