Willie Llewelyn might have been the regular captain of Glamorgan during their earliest days as a Minor County days, but, just when on the verge of an illustrious career, he took his life in August 1893 in the grounds of Penllergaer House, a few weeks before his marriage to the daughter of Lord Dynevor.
He was the second son of JTD Llewelyn – the founder of Glamorgan CCC in 1889 and the squire of Penllergaer, who also employed William Bancroft to coach his offspring in a series of private nets laid out in the ground of the House.
Willie was educated at Eton College, where he won a place in the school`s cricket eleven, and also won the Public Schools Racquets competition in both 1886 and 1887. The former year had seen him make his debut in the Eton XI and the following summer he confirmed his rich promise by making 124 against Winchester. In 1888 Willie went up to Oxford, but failed to make the cricket XI the following summer.
Nevertheless, 1889 saw Willie make his Glamorgan debut during their London tour – after making his first appearance in the match against the MCC at Lord’s, he was a member of the Welsh county’s side which recorded their first-ever victory as they defeated Surrey Club and Ground by six wickets at The Oval. 1890 saw Willie win the first of two Blue’s with the young Welshman also making his first-class debut, against the Australians at The Parks. He opened the batting against the tourists and top-scored with 33 in the students first innings, but could not prevent an innings defeat inside two days.
A few days later, Willie continued his rich vein of form in Oxford’s next match as he struck his maiden – and only – first-class hundred with 116 against the Gentlemen of England. Later in July, Willie also led Glamorgan for the first time against Somerset at the Arms Park. He played again for the Welsh county during 1891 but after graduating, he took a year out, travelling to Africa and the Far East. He returned to county cricket in 1893 and, besides taking over as the county`s Treasurer, he also struck a cavalier 99 against Monmouthshire at the Arms Park.
It seemed that the 25 year-old was poised to play a leading role both on and off the field with Glamorgan, but within weeks of his innings of 99, Willie had tragically taken his life. The contemporary newspapers however described it as a tragic accident, just two days after his brother Charlie’s marriage. On that fateful day of August 24th, 1893 he had spent the early morning with his fiancée before travelling to Penllergaer and deciding to walk into the grounds of the House with a fishing rod and his cocking breechloader gun.
According to the local newspapers, “it is believed that having seen a weasel or some vermin cross the path, he followed it into a copse, dropping his rod and basket as he ran. The hammer of the gun though had probably caught in a branch recoiled and shot the unfortunate gentleman through the heart.” His funeral was attended by hundreds of people from the local gentry and sporting world, plus all of the Glamorgan committee attended as a mark of respect to someone who they had seen as a future captain and administrator of the club.
His obituary in the Eton College Chronicle also sums up the measure of the man – “a character in which kindness, simplicity, cheerfulness, uprightness were so combined as to make a peculiarly attractive and delightful personality. He has left innumerable friends, and not a single enemy—nor even any who can say aught but good of him.”
LLEWELYN, William Dillwyn.
Born – Ynysygerwn, 1 April 1868.
Died – Penllergaer, 24 August 1893.
Batting and Fielding Record
|MC Friendlies||295||11||174||6 (+8)||29.00||1||–|
Minor County Friendlies – 99 v Monmouthshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1893 and 5 wkts v Devon at St. Helen’s, Swansea, 1893.