Prichard was born in Breconshire in 1790 and died in Swansea in 1862. He wrote in English for a predominantly Welsh readership, (Tibbot, S.M., Domestic life in Wales, xii). He catalogued Lady Llanover‘s library.
In his novel The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shon Catti (1828), he wrote detailed descriptions of the costumes worn in various counties in south Wales, possibly to encourage English tourists to visit Wales. Numerous editions of this novel were published, and it is possible that his descriptions influenced both Lady Llanover and later campaigners for preserving Welsh costume (although there is no evidence to support this).
The main character is a squire called Graspacre ‘Above all things he admired the female costume in Wales, and protested, with much truth, that the poor people in England were not half so well, or so
neatly, clothed … and the Welsh female costume, she protested still more loudly against, and asked him with a sneer if he did not conceive it capable of improvement. … I would have the Glamorganshire girls wear shoes, and soles to their stockings; and convert their awkward wrappers into neat gowns; the Cardiganshire fair ones should doff their clogs, and wear leathern shoes; and the Breconshire lass, with all others who followed the same abominable habit, should be hindered from wearing a handkerchief around the head; but I know of no improvement that can be suggested for the Pembrokeshire damsel, except one—which, indeed, would be equally applicable to all Welsh girls—namely, to throw off their flannel shifts, and wear linen ones.
After an argument between the squire and his wife about the extent of his knowledge of women’s underwear, the novel continues:
It should have been mentioned before, that the squire, soon after his marriage, had made a tour of South Wales, and, as his lady expressed it, taken a whim in his head of engaging a maid servant in every county through which he passed ; so that in Graspacre Hall there were to be found maiden representatives in their native costumes, of all the different shires of South Wales, except Radnor, in which, the squire said the barbarous jargon of Herefordshire, and the paltry English cottons, had supplanted the native tongue and dress of Wales. There might you see the neat maiden of Pembrokeshire, in her dark cloth dress of one hue, either a dark brown approximating to black, or a claret color, made by the skill of a tailor, and very closely resembling the ladies’ modern riding habits,—a perfect picture of comfort and neatness, in alliance with good taste. There would you see her extreme contrast, the Glamorganshire lass, in stockings cut off at the ankle, and without shoes; and, although a handsome brunette with fine black eyes, dressed in a slammakin check wrapper of cotton and wool, utterly shapeless, and tied about the middle like a wheat-sheaf, or a faggot of wood : possessing, however, the peculiar conveniences that it could be put on in an instant, without the loss of time in dressing tastefully, and that it would fit every body alike, as it is neither a gown nor a bedgown, but between both, and without a waist.—There would you see the young woman of Breconshire, with her pretty blushing face half hidden in a handkerchief which envelopes her head, that at first you would fancy the figure before you to be a grandmother at least.—Her long linsey gown is pinned up behind, each extreme corner joined together in the centre, and confined inches below her waste; she has her wood ensoled shoes for every day, and leathern ones for Sunday, or for a dance, which, with her stockings, she very economically takes off should a shower of rain overtake her on a journey; and when it ceases, washes her feet in the first brook she meets, and puts them on again. This fair one takes especial care that her drapery shall be short enough to discover a pretty ankle, and her apron sufficiently scanty to disclose her gay red petticont with black or white stripes, beneath, and at the sides. Then comes the stout Carmarthenshire lass with her thick bedgown and petticoat of a flaring brick-dust red, knitting stockings as she walks, and singing a loud song as she cards or spins. Lastly, though not the least in importance, behold the clogged and cloaked short-statured woman of Cardiganshire. She scorns the sluttish garb and bare feet of the Glamorganshire maiden, and hates the abominable pride of the Pembrokeshire lass who is vain enough to wear leathern shoes instead of honest clogs; proving at the same time that her own vanity is of a more pardonable stamp, while she boasts with truth, that her own dress cost twice as much as either of the others. The Cardiganshire women’s dresses, in fact—generally blue, with red stripes, and bound at the bottom with red or blue tape—are entirely of wool, solidly woven and heavy, consequently more expensive than those made of linsey or minco, or of the common intermixture of wool and cotton, and presenting an appearance of weighty warmth more. desirable than either a comely cut or tasty neatness. …
On his return to dinner, a few days after the suggestion about the dresses of the maids, he was astonished to find that Mrs Graspacre had used this privilege with a vengeance; having, with decided bad taste, put them all, at their own expense, to be deducted from their wages, into glaring cotton prints. The girls were unhappy enough at this change, as well as at the expense to which they were put, and they never could enter the town without experiencing the ridicule of their friends and neighbours; the Cardiganshire maid, who considered such a change in the light of disowning her country and like a renegade putting on the livery of the Saxon, in something of a termagant spirit, tendered her resignation to her master rather than comply with such an innovation. This ungenerous invasion of his harmless rules, roused his indignation; and after venting a few “damns” a la John Bull, against draggletail cotton rags, without a word of expostulation with his rib, he desired the girls to bring all their trumpery to him, which they gladly did, and he made them instantly into a bonfire in the farm yard. He then in a firm under tone of subdued resentment, gave strict injunctions that no further liberties should be taken with their national costume; to which his lady made the polite and submissive reply, that the girls might all walk abroad without any dress at all if he chose, and go to the devil his own way.
T. J. Llewelyn Prichard, The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shon Catti; Descriptive of Life in Wales: Enterspersed with Poems. (Aberystwyth : printed for the author by John Cox, 1828), pp. 45-46, 49 and many subsequent editions: 2nd ; 3rd 1871, 1872, 1873; subsequent: 1896, 1890s, , 1991, 2005
Marie Trevelyan repeated much of what Prichard had written in his novel thus reinforcing the idea that there were regional variations in Welsh costume. (Marie Trevelyan, Glimpses of Welsh Life and Character (1893), pp 167-170.)
A unique piece of evidence for the colours of the available fabric as well as its cheapness comes from a guide to Aberystwyth in 1824 by T.J. Llewelyn Prichard. One of the visitors decided to commission a pair of trousers in local wool, ‘the colour dark blue, with small red stripes; being the very identical material of which the females of the counties of Merioneth, Cardigan, and other parts of Wales, from time immemorial have made their gowns and petticoats.’ These designs became very popular, at least for a season or two, and Prichard approved of this because it would be good for the local industry. He also recorded that three pairs of ‘Welsh Trowsers’ could be bought for the same price as one of other materials. This implies that there was an excess of material available in Aberystwyth at the time. No other descriptions or illustrations of these trousers are known to survive.
Prichard, Thomas Jeffery Llewelyn, The New Aberystwyth Guide (Aberystwyth, 1824), p. 179
Among T. J. Llewelyn Prichard other works are:
Cambrian Minstrelsy (1823).
Aberystwyth in Minature (poems) (Carmarthen, 1824)
The Cambrian Balnea (London : John and H.L. Hunt, 1826)
The Cambrian wreath : by various authors of celebrity, living and departed; edited and illustrated by T.J. Llewelyn Prichard. (Aberystwyth : Printed for the editor, by J. Cox, 1828).
Heroines of Welsh History (1854)
Adams, Sam, T. J. Llewelyn Prichard (Writers of Wales series), (2000)
Adams, Sam, The burial of T. J. Llewelyn Prichard : Almanac (Cardigan, Wales), Vol. 14 (2009-10), p. 214-220