JAMES BAGNALL JP. 1808 – 1889
James Bagnall was one of three children, his brother George passing away in 1900 aged 95. Their father was the celebrated Wesleyan Methodist Minister the Reverend James Bagnall who was a close friend and compatriot of John Wesley who very often preached in Carmarthen. The Bagnall’s were one of the oldest and most respected families in Carmarthen and James himself had notoriety of his own in fathering sixteen children from two separate marriages. His elder brother George on the other hand had no children.
It was also his refusal as a staunch Methodist to pay church rates – a legal requirement at the time, and the seizure of his corn by the police which raised considerable agitation in the community eventually leading to the abolition of church rates in Carmarthen.
His brother George also gained notoriety by running after the carriage occupied by His Majesty King George IV on its way through Carmarthen in 1821 when it failed to stop at the Guildhall to acknowledge the local dignitaries assembled there, finally giving up his chase in Priory Street, almost a mile away. It finally stopped to change horses at the Lion Royal in Tanerdy. George, it is said was also the last surviving person to have witnessed a man being pilloried outside the Gaol in Carmarthen.
Two Grandsons’ of James Bagnall died on active service. One James Stanley Bagnall Gething died in the Boer War in South Africa in 1901 after falling off his horse, and his younger brother Hugh, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars was killed in action at Gallipoli on the 21st August 1915. Both have no known grave. Hugh is commemorated on the Llanddarog War Memorial (the village where he was born) and in Gallipoli and James on the Boer War memorial in Guildhall Square Carmarthen.
The following is an obituary of James Senior that appeared in the Carmarthen Journal…..
DEATH OF MR J. BAGNALL, J P. CARMARTHEN.
With very great regret we have to record that another of the old inhabitants of Carmarthen has joined the great majority. On Wednesday Mr James Bagnall, of Castle-hill, died at the age of 82 years. Mr Bagnall was the son of the Rev. John Bagnall, one of the earlier of the Wesleyan Methodist ministers stationed in South Wales. Mr Bagnall, senior, was stationed here at the time that Swansea and Haverfordwest were in the same circuit, and Carmarthen was one of the preaching stations. He married a Carmarthen lady, and settled in business here, having three children, one being Mr George Bagnall and another, the subject of our sketch – James Bagnall. Mr James Bagnall was born in September, 1808. He was apprenticed to a bookseller at Birmingham in 1822, and afterwards went to Bristol, where he entered into partnership with Mr Wright, of railway time-table fame. Subsequently Mr Bagnall returned to Carmarthen, and joined his elder brother George in the drapery business of G. and J. Bagnall in Guildhall square. In 1841 he married a Miss Lewis, a sister of Mr J. Lewis- Philipps, of Bolahaul, by whom he had eight children, five of whom survive. Subsequently he returned to Bristol, and resumed partnership with Mr Wright, returning to Carmarthen in 1852 and setting up business as a merchant, which he continued till a few years ago. In 1867 Mr Bagnall married a second time, and raised another family of eight children, all of whom survive him. In 1865 he was placed on the commission of the peace for the borough, and made a most efficient magistrate. At that time Lord Westbury was Lord Chancellor, and in the list of names sent up were Mr George Bagnall, and his brother James. The Lord Chancellor declined to appoint two brothers at the same time, and Mr George Bagnall, waived his prior claim on the ground of seniority in favour of his brother. Mr James Bagnall was instrumental in getting the borough bench to arrange a rota of attendances. For a short period, about 25 years ago, Mr James Bagnall occupied a seat on the Carmarthen Town Council. He took much interest in the Carmarthenshire Infirmary and the Carmarthenshire Literary and Scientific Institution. In 1860 he was actively associated with the late Mr Edward Joseph in establishing the Carmarthen Weekly Reporter, and acted as its first editor.
He was a staunch Liberal in politics, but of strong intellect and independent in thought and action. It is said that he nearly got into trouble in youth on account of his real or supposed sympathy with the Chartist movement. Apart from politics he was a genial and kindly man who made numerous friends. In earlier life he was a Wesleyan Methodist, and held office as a steward up to the time of the second settlement at Bristol. The death of Mr James Bagnall makes the fourth gap made by death in the Carmarthen borough bench during the last 13 months, his colleagues who have preceded him being Messrs. R. M. Davies, G. W. White, and W. Spurrell.
CARMARTHEN JOURNAL 26TH APRIL 1889 PAGE 5