Janice B

Y Cysylltiad Cymreig o Vermont (The Welsh Connection from Vermont), ©by Janice B. Edwards

Welshman who became worlds first to transmit and receive radio waves
being researched from Vermont and Wales

Poultney, Vermont

The late D.E. Hughes

Photo and text not to be downloaded by any means
without written permission of Ivor Hughes

     Ivor Hughes, Vermont resident and member of the Poultney Area St. David’s Society, was born in Liverpool, England. His parents now live in Abergele, North Wales near his mother’s family from Llanrug near Caernarfon. Recently retired from a long-standing career with technical background as an electronic systems engineer designing and developing electronic equipment for the aerospace industry, Ivor has now joined forces with North Wales resident David Ellis Evans in researching the late David Edward Hughes, (D.E.Hughes), of Corwen (Druid) - the Welshman who became the first person in the world to transmit and receive radio waves.
     Evans, resident of Corwen (Druid), North Wales, works with a local engineering company and lives in the home his grandfather brought into the family eighty years ago – that residence located 200 yards from "Green y Ddwyryd" cottage believed to be the birth home of D. E. Hughes. (Historical resources conflict on this fact; some recorded his birth as having been in London.) Evans, knowledgeable with the necessary Welsh language skills to research and translate information from the period, joins force with Hughes’ technical knowledge  and research into the early American life of D.E. Hughes.   Together, they are actively working with a number of descendants of the late D.E. Hughes' family who possess documents, photographs and memorabilia relevant to Hughes.  Evans and Hughes noted, "These family members have made available to us a rich source of information and are being very supportive of our research and the potential for publication."
     According to Hughes and Evans, "{D.E.} Hughes’ work was, and has been the subject of many technical articles and papers, and it is often referred to in published works on Lodge, Heavenside, Morse and Preece, as well as in text related to Telegraphy and Telephony. He has, however, to-date escaped a chronicle of his own. We plan on rectifying this by writing a biography on David Hughes and his work."

The late David Edward Hughes

     Following a March 1999 exhibit about D. E. Hughes at Wales’ Denbigh library sponsored by David Jones of the Wireless in Wales Trust (Gwefr heb Wifrau Trust), report by Wales’ Daily Post noted the exhibit clearly set forth Hughes’ previously unrecognized achievements. It further noted, "Italian born Guglielmo Marconi is world famous as the inventor of the wireless radio and German scientist Heinrich Hertz attained fame by giving his name to radio frequency waves. Yet, eight years before Hertz, Welshman D.E. Hughes (1831-1900) became the first person in the world to transmit and receive radio waves." Yet, his work failed to satisfy colleagues’ demands for proof and his achievements went unrecognized for years. Jones (Wireless in Wales) noted, "Marconi developed the radio system and the first transmission across water was from Lavernock Point to Bream Down in 1897."
     The Jones exhibit at Denbigh portrayed, "A Wales-Marconi connection was strengthened in 1914 when Marconi established the first long wave transatlantic wireless station or radio communication with the USA, at Waunfawr [North Wales]." Jones further noted, at Waunfawr sometime after 1896, Marconi befriended another Welshman, William Preece, and both of them experimented with transmissions across the Conwy estuary. Waunfawr was site to major achievement in 1918 when transmission of Morse signals was sent across the world to Australia. 58 years after D.E. Hughes became the worlds first radio pioneer; the new Welsh Regional wireless service was broadcast from Washford Cross and Penmon relay station in Anglesey." Objective of Gwefr heb Wilfrau in Wales is to establish a permanent exhibition(s) depicting the history of broadcasting in Wales.
     Ivor Hughes noted that D.E. Hughes was a successful innovator who made valuable technological and philanthropical contributions to society. Inventor of the Printing Telegraph, Microphone and Induction Balance, he also experimented and demonstrated wireless transmission and reception years before Hertz. Ivor Hughes is also extremely interested in the musical achievements of D.E. Hughes as well as those of his family.
     He further noted, "In Hughes’ early life he was an accomplished musician, as was the rest of his family." With their children, Joseph Tudor, David Edward, John Arthur and Margaret, D.E. Hughes’ parents and siblings were often musical performers. Margaret was able to play the harp from an early age, and  all had been considered as child prodigies. The father, David Hughes, started touring and giving concerts with Joseph when Joseph was only five and they played the major cities in the UK as well as playing before Royalty. As each son attained a suitable age, he joined the group. Immigrating to the USA, they toured giving concerts in the major New England cities. Tragedy struck while they were in New York State when young Joseph died in a drowning accident. After several months, the group decided to restart their concerts and toured extensively including Canada and the West Indies before settling down some years later at a farm they bought in Virginia.
     At an early age, D.E.Hughes developed such musical ability that he is reported to have attracted attention of Herr Hast, an eminent German pianist in America who procured for him a professorship of music at St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Kentucky. Simultaneously with his musical studies, he appears to have developed a remarkable fondness for physical science and mechanics, and at the young age of 19 was appointed as chair of natural philosophy at that same college where he was professor of music. He diversified into philosophy and invented the Printing Telegraph when he was just 23 years of age. This he patented in the United States in 1855, and in less than two years, a number of small telegraph companies, including Western Union in early stages of development, united to form one large corporation - Western Union Telegraph Co. to carry on the business of telegraphy on the Hughes system.
     David Edward Hughes married Anna Chadburn (1826 – 1919). Born in New Hampshire, she moved to Paris with her first husband who died early in his life. David Edward Hughes met Anna, an accomplished artist, in Paris and they moved to London where they were married. (Portrait of Anna, painted by notable artist George Healy, is now on display in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. She is credited today by descendant Don Smith and other family members with ensuring her husband’s notebooks and papers were preserved.)
     In Europe, Hughes’ Telegraph System became the adopted standard and for it he received many honors. He became one of the highest decorated technologists of the period and was honored by the majority of European nations. Honors included a Grand Gold Medal in 1867 awarded at the Paris Exhibition, the Royal Society gold Medal in 1885, and The Albert Gold Medal, Society of Arts in 1897. Reportedly, there is no case on record of these three great distinctions being conferred on any other one person.
     For his numerous inventions and discoveries, especially the Printing Telegraph and Microphone, Napoleon III created Professor Hughes a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour awarding him Commander of the Imperial Order of the Legion of Honour (France). Hughes also was awarded: The Order of Saint Meurice and Saint Lazare (Italy), The Order of the Iron Crown (Austria) which carried with it the title of Baron, The Order of Saint Anne (Russia), The Noble Order of Saint Michael (Bavaria), Commander of the Imperial Order of the Grand Cross of the Medjidie (Turkey), Commander of the Royal and Distinguished Order of Carlos III (Spain), The Grand Officer’s Star and Collar of the Royal Order of Takovo (Servia), and Officer of the Royal Order of Leopold (Belgium).
     Inventor of the carbon microphone, this free present by him to the world made practical telephony a possibility. His long succession of researches in the domain of the experimental theory of magnetism afforded major contributions to electrical science. His Papers on this subject were read before many scientific and technical societies and brought him the Fellowship of the Royal Society as well as medals and similar honors from institutions. In 1886, he filled the presidential chair of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.
     He was an accomplished musician, playing his own compositions on the Concertina, the violin, piano and harp, and for the latter in his youth received special medals. (Further inventions included technical instruments with musical applications which Ivor Hughes and David Ellis Evans will delve into in more depth in their publication.)
     The Electrician, January 26, 1900 noted, "It is with profound sorrow that we have to announce the death, on Monday evening last, of Prof. D.E. Hughes. His death, at the age of 69 years, deprives the world of one of its most accomplished electricians, the electrical profession of one of its most honoured and respected members and a worldwide circle of admirers of a genial and well beloved friend. It truly can be recorded that David Hughes lived without making a single enemy, and died mourned by all whose good fortune it has been to come within the cheery circle of his friendship."
     Childless, upon his death, it is reported he left 470,000 pounds sterling in his will – a major share of that given to four London hospitals. Lesser amounts were provided to a number of technical societies.

     Evans and Hughes’ research continues on the life and achievements of D.E. Hughes. They would be pleased to hear from anyone with additional information or interest in their project, and can be reached through Ivor Hughes at 212 Rotax Rd., N. Ferrisburg, VT 05473 USA ( brhughes@accessvt.com ), or David Ellis Evans, Glanaber, Druid, Corwen, Denbighshire, LL21 ONL North Wales, UK ( david@deevans.freeserve.co.uk ). Publication of their work  is projected for 2001.

Ivor Hughes (Vermont, USA)  and David E. Evans (North Wales)
D.E. Hughes Researchers

Photo not to be reproduced in any format without express permission of Hughes & Evans.

Double click to return to Article Titles.

(Double click below to return to Index)


LAST UPDATED23 December, 2006