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LEGAL JOBBERY AND THE WELSH. OPINIONS OF PROMINENT WELSHMEN. Last week we criticised in a leading article the appointment of Mr. Cecil Beresford to the County Court judgeship of Mid-Wales. In our issue of August 14th we had previously disapproved of the appointment of Mr. Robert Woodfall as revising barrister for parts of Carmarthen and Pembroke. Our objection to both the appointments were based on similar grounds. (1) They were ignorant of the Welsh language, though appointed to posts where, in our opinion, a knowledge of Welsh was necessary. (2) The unwritten law of the profession was broken; for Mr. Woodfall—a barrister of eight years' standing-T two of which were spent abroad— was—contrary to the usual practice—appointed to the post in preference to men of older standing at the bar while Mr. Cecil Beresford, though not a member of a Welsh circuit, was appointed a Welsh County Court Judge contrary to the usual prac- tice of promoting barristers from a circuit in which the County Court area lies. We have taken some pains to ascertain the views of prominent Welshmen on the subjecttand though the list is far from being complete, we have much pleasure in publishing the opinions of the fol- lowing gentlemen :— MR. T. E. ELLIS, M.P. It is by this time pretty generally conceded that whatever Mr. Ellis's views are, they are always honest and sincere. We have, therefore, much pleasure in publishing the following letter from the Welsh Pa-nell," as he was once called by the Pall Jlull Gazette :— Druids Cross, Wavertree, Liverpool. October, 1891. Dear Sir,—Many thanks fo" your letter. I read with much satisfaction in the South Wales Star on Legal Jobbery and the Welsh L mgi age." In the Welsh-speaking portions of Wales, a know- ledge of Welsh ought to be the first qualification for legal and other public appointments. P, lis'nnen would feel insult-id r id d_0 aded if a monoglot Rus- sian were appointed to dispense justice in War- wickshire, or a monoglot Frenchman to the bishopric of Rochester. Since the abolition of the Courts of Great Sessions of Wales, and of the Welsh Judicature in 1831, Wales ha?, in the matter of County Court judgeships, been the happy hunting ground of briefless and cantankerous barristers. Under threat of Disestablishment English Prime Ministers have ceased to fill Welsh bishoprics with monoglot Englishmen. But English Lord Chan- cellors, notably the jobber who now keeps the Queen's consoier/ce, still appoint practically monoglot English- men t) Welsh County Court juJgeships. This they do in face of a solemn pledge of the House of Com- mons. The injustice is aggravated new th^t the County Court has been constituted a tithe-extracJ :r nr ine in Wales. The self-respect of Wale. will no lor-rc" tolerate th3 jobs and insults without vigorous p o est. I trust your admirable journal will continue o give prominence, week a ov week, to tim Tory disregard of our laaguage, our nationality, and our elementary rights as citizens, and that you and your fellow- journalists in Wales will not cease till it has become as difficult for Lord Chancellors to stuff Welsh County Courts with Englishmen ignorant of OPT language, as it is already for Prime Ministers to revive the ghastly caricature of foist'ng upon Wales English-speaking Bishops to confirm Welsh speakmg children, and preaching to Welsh-speaking men and women. Faithfully yours, THOMAS E. ELLIS. MR. ABEL THOMAS, M.P. Mr. Thomas is well-known as one of the ablest barristers on the South Wales Circuit. He has publicly declared that he will not accept a County Court judgeship if ever it is offered him, and we doubt whether he would consider his knowledge of Welsh sufficient to accepu it in any case. This is what he says :— DEAR SIR,—I quite agree with the purport of your article as to the appointment of Welsh-speaking judges, registrars, stipendiary magistrates, and the clerks of the peace in Wales. I have drafted a. measure to attempt to prevent further gross injustice to the Welsh-speaking popula- tion in Wales in such appointments, but I have no hope of such a Bill becoming law during this Parlia- ment, though I propose trying to bring it in next session. From the fact that I propose addressing meetings of my conslituents every evening this week, except to- day and Saturday, and that 1 shall be engaged each day in the Quarter Sessions here, it is quite impossible for me to do more than to say thrt in my opinion the appointment of any man but a Welsh-speaking one to a district like Mid-Wales—whatever his other qualities may be—is a monstrous injustice to the poorer litigants in h:s district—viz., those who cannot afford to employ a solicitor a deliberate insult to the aspiratiors of the Welsh people; and, seeing that there is already a resolution on the annals of ie House in favour of the appointment of Welsh-sp k'i'g County Court judges in Wales, it is a high-handed act of folly with which I cor'd not have credited any Government. What popular opinion in Wales has failed to remedy can only be prevented by an Act of Parliament, making the County Councils judges as to whether Welsh-speaking is required, .1 ma.ng the appoint ment invalid where, upon inquiry, the person appoin- ted to a Welsh-speak:.ng district is found not to possess a colloquial knowledge of Welsh.—Yours faithfully, ABEL THOMAS, Castle Hotel, Swansea, Oct. 19th, 1891. MR. A. J. WILLIAMS, M.P. Speaking at Bonvilstone, on Thursday night, Mr. Arthur Williams—who is }', barrister, though he he has given up practising for some years—alter a hurried perusal of the article which appeared in our last week's issue, said :—He saw that the South Wale* Star was dealing with a recent County Court appointme it in Wales. He d'd think that there was a great deal that was very w :o_ig in the ques- tion of official appointments in Wrles. It ought to be put a stop to, and it no ild be put a stop tQ. They should rot only h we good lawyers in their County Cou"ts, but they should have judges who understood the language of the country—(hear, hear —and that particularly they should have appointments made without reference to political or personal favour. He thought that the recent a~>no;ntment was open to the greatest quest'on, and he hoped that it would not be allowed io pass unnoticed. (Applause.) HIS HONOUR JUDGE GWILYM WILLIAMS. Judge Williams holds the unique distinction of being the only magistrate in Wales who has con- ducted a case wholly in the Welsh language. He is already a County Court Judge, and so, as he said on Friday, he can have no personr1 object in advo- cating the promotion of Welshmen to County Court judgeships. Speaking at the Cymmrodorion Chambers, Cardiff, at Major Jones' presentation meeting last Friday night, his Houour spoke as follows with reference to the question :—" I noticed to-day in a local pap r that the question of appointing monoglot Englishmen to legal posts in Wales is being discussed. I must agree that I do not agree with the opinion of a law journal in saying that a knowledge of Welsh js not essential. From my own personal experience, I have found a knowledge of Welsh both usefr! and necessary. To-day I had t) try a case where the defendant was sued for lacl/cx or negFgent delay, and I could see that the delay had aris" l, not through negli- gence, but through ignorance on the defer lant's part of the meaning of the Registrar's decision, given in a language the defendant did not under- stand." Our Pontypridd representative called on two gentlemen, who possess an unique experience of police courts in the Rhondda Valley, Mr. T. P. Jenkins, the first labour J.P. in Wales, and the most experienced magistrate in the district, ex- cepting, of course, the learned stipendiary himself, and Supe: intendent Jones, of Pontyp ridd, whose long and varied experience entitled him lately to well-merited promotion. Both these gentlemen are Welshmen, possessing a thorough knowledge of Welsh, and Superintendent Jones acts as inter- preter in the Pontypridd police-court. We are sorry we can only publish portions of ^he inter- views. MR. G. P. JENKINS, J.P. In reply to our representative, Mr. Jenkins said, Most public offices and all Government offices in Wales should be filled by Welshmen. Post- masters. policemen, custom house officers, magis- trates' clerks and their deputies, stipendiary and all other magistrates, as well as all county-court judges and registrars should be men who, not only are conversant with the Welsh language, but also with its idioms. I consider it the duty of every Welsh voter, in every constituency, to press upon thc:>: representatives in Parliament the desirability of passing an Act making it impossible for any person to hold a public office in Wales, unless he understands the Welsh language. In my experience as a magistrate, I have noticed that two-thirds of those who come bel'c e me prefer to give their evidence in Welsh. I have also often noticed that the interpreter has failed to catch the right meaning of the evidence, and I have been obliged to ask the question myself in Welsh, and get quite a different answer. I know of no one who has satisfied me as an interpreter, except Superintendent Jones. No mis-carriage of justice has actually occurred through it, because the stipendiary and myself could correct the inter- preter. I wrote to Mr. Justice Grantham stating that I hoped the time would soon come when English judges would not be allowed to try Welsh prisoners in Wales. 'JL.IG Welsh M.P. to whom reference was made, did not represent the sentiments of the people whom he represents in Parliameut. I am glad you have taken the matter up, and I hope that the agitation which you have set on foot may prove productive of much good." SUPERINTENDENT JONES, PONTYPRIDD. Mr. Jones, in the course of an interview with our representative, said "I was surprised at Mr. Beresford's appointment, especially because Welsh- men such as Mr. Ignatius Williams and Mr. T. W. Lewis were passed over. Preference should cer- tainly be given, all things being equal, to men who have a thorough knowledge of the language of the people. It would be far easier for justices to understand the evidence of Welshmen if they understood the language, and consequently judg- ment would be fairer. 80 per cent. of the people in the Pontypridd district are Welshmen 43 per cent. of these would prefer giving their evidence in Welsh, and 20 percent, are monoglot Welshmen. Fortunately we have had Welsh stipendiaries, but I have on several occasions noticed the interpreters giving a wrong meaning to a sentence, and have also on very many occasions heard his Honour Judge Gwilym Williams, when he was Stipendiary, correct the interpreter. Welshmen generally blunder if they give their evidence in English, and that frequently in the most important part. Con- sequently, H this evidence is taken down it would materially alter the results of the judgment." "Dayou find English policemen as good as the Welshasked our representative. I prefer telling you," was the answer, that English constables in the Rhondda Valley have failc I to tell the magistrates what the threatening language used towards them really meant; and they have therefore been under a great disadvan- tage." Many other letters have been received on this subject, but were received too late for publication. They will, however, appear in our next week's issue.






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