Rowland (1818 – 1890)

John Cambrian Rowland was born at Ystafell Wen, Lledrod, Cardiganshire in 1818. He moved to Caernarfon in 1850 and transposed some of his costume drawings, originally thought to have been set in Cardiganshire into a Snowdonian landscape. He produced a number of prints of groups of women in Welsh costume from 1848. Similar ones were produced by R Griffiths and others from 1851. These show women from various backgrounds, some of whose status is recorded. In these, the farmer’s daughter and an old woman have Welsh hats while the market girls and labourer’s wives have straw hats, cotton bonnets or what visitors called men’s felt hats. It is likely that this series of these groups of women (men rarely appear in them) were derived from one or two originals and one of the subjects, the old woman knitting and wearing a cloak, appears in a number of prints. It has been suggested that the categories of people represented in these pictures would not have been recognised by the Welsh themselves and they may not be an accurate guide to variations in costume or to the prevalence of Welsh hats. (Payne, Ff.G., Welsh Peasant Costume, Folk Life, II, 1963, pp. 42-57) John Cambrian Rowland may have produced his first works in Ceredigion, then moved to north Wales, changing the background to make the prints easier to sell there. The prints were quite large and some, at least, were published in large volumes.

The grouping of figures is similar to other Welsh Costume group prints also of the mid 19th Century

In 1930 Caradoc Rowland of Caernarfon, son of J.C. Rowland, wrote to Iorwerth Peate, then assistant keeper of the National Museum of Wales, discussing the future of his father’s original drawings and some books from the school of art in Caernarvon in the 1850s and 60s of which J.C.R. was art master till the time of his death. Peate pleaded with him to give all the original works to the National Museum and made arrangements to visit him.

A dismantled sketch book of costumes by J.C. Rowland is in the art department of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (NMW A 1849, 2059-2061, 16282-16294 [and others?]) It seems likely that Caradoc gave all his collection to the National Museum, but this does not include the originals of some of his printed works (which may have been retained by the engraver or publisher). (Lord, Peter, (2000), The Visual Culture of Wales, Imaging the Nation, p. 253)

The letter includes very brief bibliography of J.C Rowland.

“He was born in a small farm, Pen y Bryn in Lledrod, December 7, 1819, from there the family migrated to Aberystwyth en route for Canada which did not come off, as they were … nearly all struck down with … small pox … my grandfather purchasing a tanner’s premises …” but he did not explain how they came to live in Caernarfon, nor how J.C. Rowland became an artist and art master.

There is a biography of J C Rowland in the Welsh language magazine, Yr Haul (details unknown)

J. C. Rowlands (Drawing Master) – North Wales Training College, Church Street (1868)
J. C. Rowlands (Master – Government School of Science & Art) – Castle Square (1874, 1876)
J. C. Rowlands (Drawing Master – North Wales Training College) – Church Street (1880)
John C. Rowland (Headmaster – School of Art & Science) – Brunswick Buildings (1880)
J.C. Rowland (Head Master – School of Science & Art) – Over Free Library, Bangor Street (1889) Carnarvon traders, a listing extracted from Trade Directories & Census Returns (With Further Details from Newspapers, Parish Records, etc.)

print: ‘Welsh Costumes’ 1848,

‘Welsh Costumes, Errand girl, Farmer’s daughter, Market woman, Winter costume, Llanarth girl.’


NLW P5878  J.C. Rowlands del.; W Banks Sc. Edinburgh. Published by T Catherall, Chester. 11.1 x 15 cms. Published in Catherall’s Picturesque Views in North Wales, 1850.







There are at least four versions of this print but surprisingly little has been written about its significance. One marked ‘First Series’ has the church tower (said to be Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth) on the left and one has the same group of women, but the church tower in the centre. Presumably the Llanarth girl is from Ceredigion, not north Wales.

The errand girl has a straw hat, goffered cap, a blue and black striped bedgown with short balloon sleeves; a red shawl over a white kerchief and a white apron over a blue, black and red striped skirt. Like the next two women, she is wearing rather delicate shoes.

The Farmer’s daughter has a silk Welsh hat over a goffered cap; a fine paisley shawl with a white bodice with a kerchief tied around its collar and a blue flounced? skirt. She is carrying a small basket.

The Market woman has a straw hat over a white cotton cap; a blue and red bedgown with a white kerchief tucked into it, and a bold check shawl tucked into the white apron and a quilted skirt. She is carrying two baskets with her market goods, and has a tin can containing a drink attached to her apron.

The woman in winter costume appears in a number of prints and is always knitting. She has a silk Welsh hat over a cotton kerchief, and a large hooded cloak over a grey and white striped apron with a flounce in it, with a striped skirt beneath. The cloak hides any detail of a bedgown, but a little of a green check shawl is visible. She is wearing patens under her shoes.

The view of the Llanarth girl is rare in that it depicts a side and rear view of a Welsh costume. She has a cotton cap, blue and red striped bedgown, with the corners of the tail tucked in; a red shawl with green border; short spotted cotton sleeves, and a green and red striped skirt with a light coloured binding along the bottom edge. She is wearing wooden soled clogs with leather uppers.

This print suggests that while the farm servants could afford straw hats, the farmer’s wives and daughters could afford silk Welsh hats and paisley shawls. The older woman in winter dress is still in the habit of knitting when going to market: indeed, the knitting may well have paid for the hat, while the younger woman in a Welsh hat has a kerchief in one hand and a basket in the other which may just be for her purchases at market.

An unusual feature of this well-known version of the print is the presence of green in both a shawl and skirt, a colour which is not present in most other prints or in surviving women’s costume.

Some versions are Engraved by McGahey (Liverpool) after J.C. Rowland, printed by Day and Son, published by T. Catherall, (Chester), 1848, 21 x 28.1 cm

NLW PA4795 ‘First Series’

NLW PA5342 (different colouring)

NLW PA5596 (small version) J.C. Rowlands del, W Banks Sc, Edinburgh, Published by T Catheral, Chester. 11.1 x 15 cms.


Print: ‘Welsh Peasantry drawn from living characters, in 1850, Llanberis Slate Quarry, Dolbadarn Tower’

pz4771  pz4771a  pz4771b

NLW PZ477 (24 x 37.5 cms)

Hand-coloured print, Anon, (probably after J.C. Rowland) This print is similar to Rowland’s ‘Welsh Costumes’ The woman on the right is wearing a man’s hat over a goffered cap; a long-sleeved, horizontally striped, V necked bedgown with collar over what may be another V necked bedgown with collar, into which a white kerchief is tucked. She is wearing a horizontal striped skirt rather without an apron.

The second woman from the left has a silk Welsh hat over a goffered cap and a yellow shawl hiding the top of what appears to be a one piece striped dress. She, like the similarly placed young woman in the ‘Llanbadarn’ version has a small bag in her hand and is not knitting. The central figure is almost exactly the same as in the ‘Llanbadarn’ version, except that she does not had a flounce on her apron, nor is she wearing patens. The forth woman is a post-woman and is carrying a satchel for her letters. She is wearing a man’s hat over a goffered cap; and a long-sleeved, striped, V neck bedgown with collar and an apron over a striped skirt. Shel is said to be Peggy Dennis, post woman for 20 years from Beaumaris [who travelled] 12 miles to different villages [each day] (according to a note on a copy of the print in Cardiff City Library.)

The fifth woman has a straw hat, cotton cap, and a spotted V neck, short-sleeved, short bedgown with large collar into which a kerchief is tucked, and a striped apron and skirt. This bedgown very like a surviving printed cotton example in Gwynedd Museum, Bangor.

Another copy: NLW PA9098



another version NLW PA7610







print, hand-coloured : ‘Welsh Wedding, Running away with the bride’, 1850s  after J.C. Rowlands.

This shows women in Welsh hats and goffered caps, but elegantly tailored bodices. NLW PA9092. Versions of this image were reproduced by Rock and Co. and Newman and Co.




Watercolours by J.C. Rowland

The following 5 images come from a dismantled album given to the National Museum of Wales in 1930 by JC Rowland’s son, Caradoc.

1  Watercolour, ‘North Wales Costumes / Winter, Flintshire, Caernarvonshire, Anglesey, Parson’s daughter’ Signed J C Rowland with some illegible text below the signature. NMW A 2060

2 Watercolour ‘Brynperved’ and the woman in the middle is named ‘Ann Pugh’

Not signed or dated. This shows some unusual views of women’s costumes – from the side and back – and a rare illustration of a woman carrying a baby on her back. NMW A 2061

3 Pencil sketch, not signed or dated. NMW A 16284

4 Pencil sketch, two men and a woman in Welsh costume NMW A 16285

5 watercolour, woman seated, reading. signed and dated ‘drawn by J.C. Rowland, 1849’ NMW A 2059


Watercolour ‘The bidder’ JCR, 1850 NMW 16282 on which the following print is based:

J.C. Rowland, published by T Catherall (Chester), 1.6.1850

image : h x w : 20.6 x 27.8





A cobbler, by J C Rowland, 1849, National Library of Wales : P5872








see also Jenny Jones for other watercolours and prints by J.C. Rowland

Oil painting

Bellringer of Caernarvon in Costume of Trade by J C Rowland, about 1870



‘Welsh Market Woman’

This determined looking woman is wearing a Welsh hat over a goffered cap; a long-sleeved short fold-over bedgown with broad frilled collar, a plain apron over a striped skirt. The umbrella, like the silk hat is a sign of prosperity. NLW PA3417







Roberts, Huw, Pais a Becon, Gŵn stwff a Het silc, Traditional Welsh costume in nineteenth-century Anglesey. (2007)

Lord, Peter, The Visual Culture of Wales, Imaging the Nation, (2000), p. 253