Elihu Yale – The Great Welsh American


Elihu’s father, David, had been Joshua Edisbury’s neighbour at Plâs Grono when Erddig was built. Edisbury sent Elihu a present of ‘four roundletts of sandpatch ale’ to Fort St. George. Elihu’s letter of thanks dated 1682 is still preserved with the Erddig papers in the Clwyd Record Office. In it he promised to send in return a japanned screen.

Mr Merlin Waterson has speculated that the outstanding late 17th century Chinese lacquer screen in the State Bedroom at Erddig was the present to Edisbury in 1683 from Yale and that the State Bed itself may have been curtained by rich textiles brought back by Yale from the East.

When Elihu inherited Plâs Grono in 1699 on his return from India Edisbury was already in financial difficulty and loans from Elihu and others at high rates of interest forced him into bankruptcy. Erddig was eventually acquired in 1716 by John Meller who thus became Elihu’s near neighbour. Meller’s nephew Simon Yorke inherited Erddig from his bachelor uncle and Erddig remained in the Yorke family until the last squire, Philip Yorke, gave the house and the whole estate to The National Trust in 1973. The house and gardens had been badly neglected by Philip’s elder brother for many years. Much of the damage to the house had been caused by subsidence due to coal mining beneath the house and gardens. Unfortunately the house had subsided unevenly, dropping by about three feet at one end and five and a half feet at the other. This caused severe cracking. The gardens were completely overgrown and some of the garden walls had collapsed. The gardens have now been restored to the design shown on a print of Erddig dated 1740. They are therefore a unique survival of early 18th century garden design. The important eighteenth century furniture, much of which had been bought by John Meller was also in a neglected state and required considerable expert repair.

After extensive restoration the house and gardens are now open to the public.

The Yale Arms

The heraldic description of the armorial bearings of the Yale Family is: Ermine, a saltire gules, of the crest on a mount vert a boar azure within a net or in the mouth an acorn slipped proper. This means – on a white or silver shield powdered with black ermine tails a red diagonal cross. The crest above the shield consists of a green mount on which stands a blue boar caught in a gold net, holding in its mouth an acorn on an oak twig in natural colours.

The motto is Praemium virtutis gloria – Glory is the reward of virtue.

The red saltire cross is a reminder of the descent of the Yales through Osburn Fitzgerald – Osburn Wyddel (the Irishman) – from the Fitzgeralds – Earls of Kildare, Earls of Desmond and Dukes of Leinster who bear a red saltire on a white or silver shield.

Reproduced from the booklet ‘Elihu Yale the great Welsh American’
ISBN:- 0 9517425 0 7
Copyright © Wrexham Area Civic Society