Thursday, 3 September 2015

Brenin Enlli, King of Bardsey

The name derives from Ynys Enlli – Bardsey, at the western tip of Llyn, and the Brenin Enlli was the Bardsey King. A hundred years ago, there was a 200-strong community of fishermen and crofters on the island and as is customary on many islands, they elected their own ‘king’. The last king was Love Pritchard, here seen wearing the crown of the island.

It was tradition for the island to elect the King of Bardsey, and from 1826 onwards. He would be crowned by Baron Newborough or his representative. The crown is now kept at Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, although calls have been made for it to return to Gwynedd. The first known title holder was John Williams; his son, John Williams II, the third of the recorded kings, was deposed in 1900, and asked to leave the island as he had become an alcoholic, it is said because of the spirits that came ashore following shipwrecks in the First World War.

It is said that a cairn of empty beer casks was built on the mainland to attract John Williams as a kind of decoy- bait. He unwillingly crossed the Swnt to the Promised Land and was soon taken to the workhouse in Pwllheli where he died. At the outbreak of World War I, the last king, Love Pritchard, offered himself and the men of Bardsey Island for military service, but he was refused as he was considered too old at the age of 71. Pritchard took umbrage, and declared the island a neutral power.  This refusal did not please him and "probably" explains why Enlli remained neutral during the war and that it allegedly supported Kaiser Wilhelm II.  What a surprise, a Royal supporting German nationalism like that. In 1925, Pritchard left the island for the mainland, to seek a less laborious way of life, but died the following year. 

North Utsire

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