On Wednesday, February 20th, 1828: James Webster, the proprietor of the Parys Mountain sulphuric acid works, stands in the window of his home, Fudrol, observing the huge funeral procession as it makes its way to St. Eleth’s Church; he is full of memories. It is the funeral of Cadi Rondol, or Catherine Randal as recorded by the Rev. William Johnson in the Amlwch parish register.
The Randal family probably came to Amlwch with the first wave of immigrants to work on Parys Mountain between 1761 and 1775. Jane Randal, Catherine’s mother lived in Parc Bach near Glanrafon and was buried on the 2nd September 1794. Cadi Randell had been born in 1743.
It appears that there were two daughters: one, Ellen, married Henry Wilson on October 18th, 1775 in the old parish church, when her sister Cadi, was thirty two years of age. It is interesting to note that Ellen was able to write her own name, and it is likely that Cadi, too, was literate.
Whatever became of Ellen Randall and her husband, Cadi soon began to kick over the traces in the licentious town of Amlwch; she became a notorious prostitute, whose coarse language became a byword in the town – it became customary to refer to anyone who habitually used coarse language as ‘swearing like Cadi Rondol’ ‘
She could be violent, too, as John Jones (1762-1822) a elder at Capel Mawr, found to his cost. He tried to calm her down as she was cursing everyone in the street. Cadi turned on him and threatened him – the very pillar of respectability – with a knife!
However, sometime after 1788 Cadi Rondal was converted in the ‘Capel Mwd’ at Pengraigwen and became a faithful member of the ‘society’ at Lletroed Chapel, and tramped the countryside from chapel to chapel to listen to the gospel.
On one occasion she walked to Llanfwrog and in her ecstasy jumped up on the pew and wrecked it. Another time she suddenly remembered that she had left the dough to rise, she grew agitated and shouted that Satan would not leave her alone!
After her conversion she earned a living handling and sorting out feathers and was made welcome by many a family. At Fudrol, she was invited into the dining room where the table was already laid for a sumptuous meal but she declined to eat, saying “You see, 1 have seen the Lord’s table prepared and shall, 1 hope, sit at it…. “
Around 1800-04 she was employed as a maid in the service of John Elias (1774-1841) and his wife at their shop in Llanfechell. When John Elias rebuked her for singing a lullaby to his son and suggested that a hymn would be more suitable, she replied, “Do not imagine that 1 would sing a hymn to him -1 will not sing the praises of my Lord to your son or anyone else.”
According to a Plas Newydd rent book ‘Catherine Randol’ rented a small cottage at Dyffryn Coch’ for which she paid a rent of two shillings to the Marquees of Anglesey – the lowest rent on the estate.
Owen Griffith recalled a story about John Elias leaving Lletroed Chapel with John Hughes of Ty’n Caeau to visit an old woman on her deathbed – an incident immortalised by Percy Hughes (1898-1962) in his prize-winning ballad at the Anglesey Eisteddfod in 1954
“Sion Huws a’i ‘Haleliwia, A John Elias fawr,
Yn danfon Cadi Rondol Drwy berth y dwyfol wawr”
(John Hughes and his ‘Hallelujah’ with the great John Elias
Ushering Cadi Rondol through to the heavenly dawn.)
Her funeral was paid for by James Webster, but no gravestone was erected at St Eleth Church to mark her final resting place. But with or without a stone, the name of Cadi Rondol has not passed into oblivion.