Birth: 1827 Circa

Place or Registered Place of Birth: Newport, Monmouthshire

Baptism: 6 May 1827

Place of Baptism: St. Woolas, Newport, Monmouthshire

Death: 17 April 1869

Place or Registered Place of Death: Abyssinia

Father: Thomas Powell

Mother: Lucy

Spouse(s): Julia Philipa Jenkins

Date of Marriage: 15 September 1859

Place or Registered Place of Marriage: St. Cadoc's Church, Caerleon, Monmouthshire


Colonel Henry Lloyd Powell b. 1865

Edith Minnie Powell b. 1867


The Celtic Manor
The original manor house was built in 1860 by Thomas Powell Snr. Powell was at one point the largest coal mine owner in the South Wales coalfield and the biggest coal exporter in the world. He became the world's first coal millionaire.

Thomas Powell sen.'s wife was Lucy.

Powell's son, Thomas Powell Jnr, and his bride Julia Jenkins were given the mansion as a wedding gift when they married in 1859. They named it Coldra Hall.

The Manor House
The first step in The Celtic Manor’s development was the renovation of the 19th century Manor House, which had fallen into disrepair since being closed as a maternity hospital in 1975.

Originally known as Coldra House, the building dates from the early 1860s when it was the home of Thomas Powell Jnr, the son of a leading figure in the coal and iron trade who formed the Powell-Duffryn Company. Thomas’ tenure was short-lived - in 1869, he and his wife and young son were murdered while on safari in Abyssinia. The Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper reported that Thomas’ brother Henry went to the country to investigate the deaths, but only the bodies of the parents were found and there was no trace of their son, John. More lurid accounts suggest that ‘cannibals’ attacked them.

Thomas Powell junior had gone to Abyssinia with his wife and seven-year-old son to explore that country, and while there they were attacked by bandits and all three killed.

Internal Rivalries and Foreign Threats - 1869-1879 By Sven Rubenson
Thomas Powell, ....who had been killed together with his family and entourage - including two of the first Swedish missionaries in Kunama - while hunting elephants for ivory south of the Mereb.......

The British Colonialist - Friday Morning, July 16, 1869
The Massacres in Abyssinia
Newport Monday
The intelligence conveyed in our impression of yesterday of the reported murder of Mr. Thomas Powell of Coldra Hall , his wife , child , and servant, has caused a great deal of consternation and regret , not only in South Wales, where the murdered gentleman was well known , but throughout the whole Country and any further details of this cold blooded tragedy will be read with interest, although it will cause a pang of horror in the minds of our readers . All hope of the information being incorrect has been lost by the telegram received from Alexandria on Saturday confirming the sad intelligence and we are now enabled to give some farther details of the horrible tragedy . As stated yesterday, Mr. Powell left Newport in the latter part of January or the beginning of February to go to Abyssinia on a shooting excursion taking with him his wife and one of his children , a keeper . a native of Scotland, and a female domestic servant. Soon after leaving England the maid servant fell ill , and it is said was left at Marseilles to return home an soon as she recovered . Mr. Powell and his party proceeded on their excursion , and while at Suez the keeper was taken ill , and he also had to be left behind . Other servants, among whom was a Swiss, and the party reached Abyssinia . Mr. Powell was anxious to proceed to a part of the country known to be extremely dangerous to Englishmen to enter, and although told of this fact his determination was made, and the onward journey was pursued, the result of which has been the murder of all. On the morning of the 17th of April, it appears the Swiss went up the country, and while away a number of savages fell open Mr. Powell and his party, who were unarmed , and murdered and mutilated them in the most horrible manner ; a similar fate awaited the Swiss on his return. Beyond the brief telegram containing particulars no further details are known. London Times.

Daily Southern Cross - New Zealand - 17 July 1869
(As in the British Colonialist with further information:)
....It appears that Mr. Powell was accompanied by a Mr. Macerer, a Scotchman, who also met with the same cruel fate as the others composing the party. The following is the account of the sad occurrence that has been received by Messrs. Powell, the brothers of Mr. Thomas Powell. The letter in which the details are given is dated Kerin Bagos, Abyssinia, May 3:-
"I take the pen, heartsore in consequence of very sad news which have reached us in the last three days, and which have thrown us and the village of Kerim into consternation. I beg you will inform M. Macerer that his brother has been killed, as well as Mr. Powell, his wife, his son, his servant, a Swedish missionary just arrived from Europe, and three Abyssinians, whom Mr. Powell had taken with him in passing through Kerim, to pursue his elephant hunt. There only remain seven or eight Abyssinian servants who have been spared, two of whom have reached Kerin wounded, bringing us this painful intelligence. It appears from the version given by these men that Macerer had had a dispute with some people of the Bazame tribe (about four days from this place); that they took advantage of his going to reconnoitre a place where water was found, in company with Mr. Powell's servants and the Swedish missionary, to effect their murder, without their being able to defend themselves. Being fearful afterwards that Mr. Powell would punish them, they came and slaughtered himself, his wife, his son, and three Abyssinians in his tent. They then pillaged all they could find; having spared some Abyssinian servants, they sold two mules and five rifles. We wanted from day to day the servants, who are still at Konnamat, for more precise details. At this moment, M. Munzinger, the Consul at Massowah, has no knowledge of this affair; he will hear of it in three days' time, but he will not be astonished, for, from his acquaintance with the country, he had dissuaded Mr. Powell from hunting there. The Bazame tribe is in rebellion. The Egyptians are ravaging it now to bring it into subjection, as these people neither wish to belong to Abyssinia nor to Egypt; on this account Europeans incur great danger. We think that M. Munzinger, having advice of this event in his capacity of consul, will be obliged to repair to the spot with a good escort. I shall not be behind-hand in following him, for it is our interest as Europeans to avenge severely, these unfortunate victims, or there would be an end of all security in Abyssinia." Lloyd's Weekly, June 13.

Wellington Independent - 1869
Ronald M'Donald, the only survivor of the ill-fated party attached to the late Thomas Powell, Esq., arrived at the Coldra, the residence of his late master, on Thursday last. He bad been forwarded home by the English consul, and arrived at Southampton in the packet Nyanza. His story of the expedition and its sad termination, interesting as it is coming from the lips of one so closely identified with it, adds but little to the imperfect narrative which we have from time to time published from different sources. It appears that Mr Powell was making his way towards a flowing river for the purpose of obtaining sport among the sea cows, which were said to abound there, and which he had not yet satisfied. With elephant sporting he had been satisfied. He was cautioned of the danger which he incurred among the tribes infesting the district, but persisted in going. On Saturday morning, 17th April, M'Donald and the whole of the party breakfasted together, after which Mr Powell, with his wife and child, took the lead, and pursued the journey. This they usually did, and waited at intervals for the baggage to come up. Shortly after the start they were overtaken by a number of the Peka tribe, who professed great friendship; and shook hands with the party. They passed on before Mr Powell's party, being enabled to travel faster from having no baggage. Later in the morning, Mr Powell's party found them resting by the way, and a second time the natives went forward. M'Donald after this saw nothing of Mr Powell, and believes that at the time of the massacre he was about six miles in the rear. He had in company with him four Arabs, one European, and a guide, and they had in charge the tents and all the baggage on a number of mules and camels, M'Donald says that as soon as his party came up, the natives, who were apparently resting, suddenly rose and commenced throwing spears. M'Donald was a little in the rear, and being by the side of a camel was not at first observed. As be turned round, however, to use his gun, he saw a native aim a spear at him, which, passing in front, tore his vest slightly wounded his hand. With several of the Arabs, M'Donald ran forward in the direction which Mr Powell had taken, but saw nothing of him, and succeeded after many hours' exertion and fatigue, in reaching a missionary village which Mr Powell intended to visit. The baggage was all left behind, and was taken possession of by the robbers. M'Donald had picked up the spear with which he was wounded, but finding that the native who threw it was pursuing him, he threw it down, and the native thereupon gave up the pursuit. A party from this village went out to ascertain the fate of Mr Powell, but M'Donald was not permitted to accompany them. In two days they returned with the intelligence that they had met with the natives and had seen the murdered bodies of Mr Powell's party. Of the baggage which Mr Powell had with him on the journey M'Donald is not aware of a single thing having been recovered. The baggage which he has brought to England, and which now lies at Southampton, was left behind by Mr Powell, as not being immediately required. M'Donald, who is only about twenty years of age, is said to appear ten years older than when he left England. He was met at Southampton by his brother, and be immediately took his departure for Newport, to see the friends of his lamented master. He remained at the Coldra until Saturday morning, and then proceeded to visit his own friends at Aberdeen. No intelligence has yet been received as to the proceedings of Mr H. Powell and his brother in law, Mr Jenkins, in Abyssinia; but news is daily expected.

Thomas Powell