VITORI PEDELINA 1798 – 1876 A Swiss Clockmaker, Hawker, and General Dealer.

Somewhere here in St David’s cemetery lie buried the mortal remains of Vitori Pedelina and his wife Sarah, no burial marker or headstone exists. When researching the names of many of those buried in this cemetery, it is always a fascination coming across a most unusual name and surname that appears in the burial registers. One then begins to wonder who were they, what they did, and where did they come from ?

The burial register entry for Vitori Pedelina

Such was the case with VITORI PEDELINA who was buried here on January 12th 1876 aged 79 in the same grave as his (second) wife Sarah who had died in December 1862. Sarah was born in Carmarthen in 1806 and her maiden name was TOMSON. The officiating minister at St David’s for Sarah’s burial was the Reverend Latimer Maurice Jones who the following year in 1863 was to become Vicar of St Peters Church and in 1874  the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Freemasons.

Vitori and Sarah were married at Llanllwch Church on April 17th 1843, his profession being a Clockmaker and hers a Seamstress. We can also deduce from the Census records that Vitori was born in Switzerland in 1798. There has never been a central registry for civil affairs in Switzerland and there is still none today. In the early nineteenth century the parents would have registered the birth of their children at the local church registry (if they wanted to have them baptised). Nowadays civil matters are registered with the local authority and because the town/village is not known of where Vitori was born we can never know the full story.

Having carried out some detailed research it is my belief that Vitori and his (first) wife left Switzerland around 1830 during the Swiss Revolution. The Ustertag revolution occurred on 22 November 1830, when 10,000 men of the Canton of Zürich gathered on Zimiker hill and demanded a new constitution. Their primary concern was parity between the urban and rural areas. The Ustertag is described as a “revolution” due to its impact, its focus, and its speed of events, which caused great change in the Canton of Zurich.

A painting depicting the Revolution in Ustertag, Zurich in 1830

Quite how he ended up here in Carmarthen is a mystery that will never be solved. What we do know is that a six month old infant called Mary Pedelina was buried in St Peters Cemetery on August 2nd 1837. It seems obvious to me therefore that this must be Vitori’s daughter as the address is also given as Bridge Street –the same address as his in the later Census records of 1871. Unusually however, no burial records can be found of his first wife, as she must have passed away prior to 1843 in order for Vitori to re-marry.

Six month old Mary Pedelina’s entry in St Peters Burial Register

It is interesting to note that a small notice appears in the Carmarthen Journal of 1876 stating that Vitori died at the residence of his Stepdaughter, in Bridge Street, whose name we know to be Anne Davies as she is also listed in the Census documents of 1851 as “Daughter” aged 23, clearly indicating that Anne was a daughter from a previous marriage of his late wife Sarah.

It is also interesting to note the difference in the spelling of Vitori Pedelina throughout this time. Firstly on his marriage certificate his Christian name is spelt Vitory, in the 1851 Census he appears as Vittoria Patalina, and in the deaths column of the Carmarthen Journal he appears as Vitori Pedelina Brown. To have travelled from Switzerland to Carmarthen almost two hundred years ago is a feat in itself, but the fortitude of the human spirit and determination to survive is something that has endured since the birth of Christendom itself, and Vitori was just one of those survivors.

The Lych Gate to St Peters Church Carmarthen commemorating the Reverend Latimer Maurice Jones, officiating minister at the burial of Sarah Pedelina in 1862

From being a specialist clockmaker in Switzerland, escaping the horrors of revolution to becoming a hawker (a person who travels about selling goods, typically advertising them by shouting) and general dealer in Carmarthen shows just how hard and difficult life was all those years ago. Nevertheless Vitori Pedelina lived to a good age for the time (79 years old) and will be remembered once again in February next year together with his wife Sarah when the Cross of Souls is unveiled and consecrated which will finally become a lasting tribute to all those buried here without a grave marker or memorial.