GENUKI Home page up Llansawel Contents Contents

 

 

History of Llansawel

By Fred S Price

Published by the author in 1898

Extracted by Gareth Hicks

Please use your browser's 'find facility' to search for particular names etc.
This is a substantial, but edited, extract from this book, the items that have been extracted are shown as  live links in the Contents listing . I have not always extracted poetry, or Welsh text, or sections that seem to me to have limited appeal or particular relevance to this parish in isolation.
I cannot provide copies of photographs.

Contents

[Page numbers shown first]


Preface

Return to top

Oh ! come and hear of former days,
Of rural scenes, and rustic ways ;
Of sports and manners long gone by,
And feats of ancient revelry:
Legends of love, or simple tale,
Of wassail hours in Sawyl's vale.
Come then, and with reverted eye,
Forms, faded long, we may espy:
Smiles, seen no more, we shall review.
'Tis a poor village, sir, and mean,
Not over large, not over clean:
Yet somehow to my heart 'tis dear,
For many a friend lies buried near !
And it can boast a lengthened day,
Its tales of mirth, and wild affray;
And many a monumental stone,
Recording names in life well-known
.
[Adapted]

The author lived at Danygraig House, Swansea. He dedicated the book to his late father, Evan Price, about whom a short sketch is included at the end of  the book. He mentions friends who helped him, they were the Rev. D H Davies, B.A., Vicar of Verwick and Mount, Cardigan, and his old schoolmate Mr William Lewis, Swansea.

Return to top


Introduction

Return to top

BEFORE going into times more especially historical, let us glean what we can from the memories of the older inhabitants.

It should be recollected that there were no stone bridges over the two rivers, only wooden foot bridges and nearly all the houses were straw thatched, many being hardly better than huts. Gradually however, they gave way to larger and slate-covered dwellings.

The old parish church stood where it does today, but its pews were at one time deep enough to conceal the sitters from all eyes below, and naps might be taken without scandalizing anybody. The pews were painted light, and became a source of sore temptation to every man and woman whose turn of mind was artistic and poetic, rather than pious and devotional, and ample was the testimony presented by the interior of the pews as to how numerous were the instances in which the victim succumbed to the temptations to leave the liturgy,---to neglect the pulpit and take to his pencil,---then sketch and write to his heart 's content on the pews.

Llansawel was once a market town, and the central station connecting the whole industrial pursuits of the surrounding parishes, and part of Cardiganshire, with the outside world. Through it passed all the cattle, sheep, horses and pigs: cart-loads of pigs killed for the Brecon, Merthyr, and Aberdare markets were often seen on its roads. Through it also passed the Cardiganshire farmers for lime and coal.

Again it was the farmers 'and cattle dealers' place for shoeing the cattle on their way to the famous Barnet and other markets ; and for many days in those times, the fields around were crowded with cattle and sheep. During the winter the ringing anvils at the smithy were busy preparing the iron "cus" and nails for thousands of the "da war". The cus were two small iron plates under each foot, the outer plate having four holes and the inner one three. Here the cattle were shoed, and one can guess that Llansawel must have been a lively place, not dead nor unknown. Here many of the old characters --- drovers--- spent some pleasant days, but the race of drovers are gradually lessening in number, and they have found, like Othello, that their occupation is gone.

Church Rates were due and had to be paid, ranging from a half-penny to two shillings in the pound, and the only religious instruction they had was in church on Sundays. Here again one is reminded of the vast improvement which has taken place in the religious and mental condition of the people. Our elders look upon the days when they were young as better than the present, but we can hardly realise how they existed without the many luxuries and advantages which we have in these days. Then it took eleven days to elect a member of Parliament for the county, and every public house was open to the electors to " eat, drink and be merry" during those exciting times.

Schools were few and far between, and very poor schools they were. The clergy and the Church of England as by law established, took but little trouble in the cause of education. Never had any church a better opportunity of showing what it could do to civilise and christianise the people than the church assisted as it was by the gentry, with a church rate and a field wholly to itself. It could have pursued its labours gloriously, but how did it employ that golden opportunity amongst the thousand souls in this parish ? It is not for me to say, but history speaks for itself. Only here and there could a labouring man and farmer be found able to read, and no shame was felt by them on account of their state of ignorance. The children of the poor had no education at all, because they could not pay for it. Here again one finds an improvement.

At the present time the Calvinistic Methodists and the Independents have each a flourishing church in the parish, to which reference is made elsewhere.

In 1811 the population of the parish was about 1000; in 1831 it was 1024; in 1881, 944; and at the last census in 1891, only 898. Here again one notices a change in the population, the young and old leaving the quiet country places for the active towns of Glamorganshire, etc. For many years there were no police officers at  Llansawel, but the parish vestry nominated and appointed so many of the farmers and others as fit and qualified men to act as constables. In 1850 the parish vestry petitioned the Quarter Sessions in reference to the police.

One could not drive a horse and cart out of the place without paying a toll either at the Charing Cross gate, Snow Hill gate, Michael's gate, Porth gate, or Penny gate, and it was to redress long-continued oppression that led the old inhabitants to take up the Rebecca movement in this place, which had for its object the destruction of what was really the injustice of turnpikes. It was a wrong movement towards a right end, and Michael's, Porth, and Penny gates were destroyed, and now there is hardly any trace left of their existence.

Charing Cross and Snow Hill gates had been done away with before the Rebecca movement commenced. Michael's gate was destroyed twice by the Rebeccas, the finishing stroke being given in 1843. The ring-leaders appeared on fine horses, and to call their helpers together blew their horns. They were closely watched by Twmmi Davies, of Clynmarch, who, on their approach, hid himself in a tree near. As they were about starting to destroy the gate, he shouted "I know you, I know you". The leader caught Twmmi, and they then made him set fire to the gates with his own hands. The poor toll-gate keeper, known as John mab Deio Josi, who was lame and almost decrepit, was taken to Cilwennau-isaf for safety. The poor fellow was terribly frightened.

The most singular incident of the Rebecca movement in this parish was the destruction of the Penny gate. They made a clean sweep of the gates, locks, and gate posts, which were never found. A person known as Hannah Evans, or Hannah "Penny"--- as she was called, was the toll-keeper at the time. owing to this movement the Dragoons and special police were sent to Llansawel to prevent any further disturbance.

The great bar to the happiness and general enjoyment of the old inhabitants' life was ignorance. The effects of ignorance was disastrous, both as regards soul and body. It was the parent of superstition, and the train of evils to which superstition gives birth. The country was bound with ignorance and superstition. Superstitious rites and customs heralded the child into the world, and they attended him as he grew up to maturity, thence to his grave. But gradually though very slowly things began to change ; people could read more, and those that could not were very anxious in getting their offspring to learn to read and write.

Now two daily papers can be seen here, and most of the farmers and inhabitants take in one or two weekly papers, besides the Church, methodist and Independent monthly periodicals.

I may here mention a few of the old customs and superstitions, slight traces of which still remain.........

Return to top


All Hallow's Eve

Return to top

Called in Welsh "Nos clyngauaf". On this eve most of the people remained at home and had indoor games, such as "apple and candle biting" etc. A good feast of the "flowing bowl", with nuts and cakes, ended the night's entertainment. Many of the children paraded the place with "Jack o' Lantern", made out of swedes or turnips.Afterwards the children would go home, where they had games, one of the most exciting being that in which a large tub was filled with water, and the children amused themselves in catching the apples from the water by their teeth. After All Hallow's Eve the farmers kept the cattle indoors for the night, and the smiths, tailors, and shoemakers worked by candle light.

Return to top


Weather Prognostications of Llansawel

Return to top

The cat washing her ears is a sign of wet weather.

When the swallows are seen flying high, a sign of fair weather; when flying low, rain will follow.

When the donkey brays, sign of rain.

When the sheep make for the top of the hills, fine weather follows.

If the rainbow appear in the morning, rain. If it appear in the afternoon, fine.    
[Bwa y borau, aml gawodau; Bwa prydnawn, tegwch a gawn.]

Return to top


Further signs

Return to top

When a magpie crossed the path of a person on going a journey, it was supposed to foretell an evil or unlucky day.

To see a single crow in the morning, when starting on a journey, was unlucky.

To see two crows together was a most happy omen.
[Dwy fran ddu, lwc dda i mi]

Return to top


Superstitious signs

Return to top

The following were believed in the parish to be sure signs of the approach of death;-

Return to top


Parish Apprentices

Return to top

Another old custom was that the Parish, through their Vestry meetings, would apprentice the children of the poorer classes to the farmers. In 1827 Margaret Jenkins was apprenticed to William Jones, Maesllan,--- maintenance and clothing at 2d per week; and in 1828 David Bowen to David Morgans, Cellinfawr,--- maintenance and clothing, at 8d per week. Then in 1837, it was resolved that it is the opinion of this Vestry that it is " not expedient to apprentice any of the poor children of this parish ' except to trading' " which was carried out as far as practicable. This shows a vast difference between the conditions under which the poorer class lived then and the condition of things today.

Return to top


Leet Court [Crown Manor]

Return to top

This unique and ancient court is held annually, when the haywards, pound-keepers, and all other officers are elected.

Llansawel is in the Lordship or Manor of Cayo. Chief rent due to Her Majesty the Queen, as Lady of the said Lordship or Manor, is paid annually at the 'Black Lion'. Mr Thos. Lloyd, of Lampeter, is deputy steward. The amount of chief rent paid by the tenant of Penlan farm in 1896 was five shillings and three pence.

The Court Leet was a court of record ordained for punishing offences against the Crown, and to settle any disputes that took place between the inhabitants with respect to boundaries, fences, trespasses etc.

Return to top


Poor

Return to top

As the wages are very low, there is of necessity some amount of pauperism among the old and this is met to a large extent by out-door relief. This is as it should be, as it is better to give a little assistance to old people to live together at their own homes, than to adopt the unnatural and cruel practice of separating them within the walls of the common workhouse.

Return to top


Sanitary

Return to top

Until recently the commonest sanitary precautions were neglected by the almost total absence of privy accommodation. Pigsties were allowed to be kept anywhere; drains and ditches were in a bad state, and the killing of pigs was permitted in the open streets.

In 1846 the village school, as was usual in those days, had no privy, and the master informed the Commissioners that the churchyard was generally used as a privy. Happily great improvements have taken place in this respect.

Return to top


Public-houses

Return to top

There are seven in this parish, viz, The Black Lion, Red Lion, Angel Inn, George Inn, Swan Inn, Bush Inn, and Cart and Horses.

As the population of the parish is 898, there is a public-house for each 127 of the whole population.

At one time there was another, named The Pelican, which was in Church Street.

The Cart and Horses was once known as the Reform Inn.

Return to top


Fishing

Return to top

There is good fishing in the Marles, Melinddwr, and Cothi rivers, where trout, sewin, and salmon are caught. License for trout with rod and line is 2s 6d a year; for salmon the license is 21s.


Tonic Solfa

Return to top

The Tonic Solfa system was first introduced into the parish in 1865, by Thos. Williams, son of Pengelly. It was taught by him for many years at the "loft fach", Bethel.  Mr T Melinddwr Davies was the first to pass and obtain a certificate.


Fairs

Return to top

Llansawel fairs are held on April 26th; first Friday after May 13th; July 15th; October 23rd, and the first Friday after November 13th.


Smithy

Return to top

The smiths, as a rule, have always been practical, hard-working men, a combination of smith and wheelwright. I have pleasant recollections of William y Gof, who was loved and respected by all. He was also an experienced dentist, one that relieved many a person from pain, after going through the ordeal of having the tooth extracted.

Near the Melinddwr river
The village smithy stands.

.........a rare place for gossip on autumnal and wintry nights, for, true to the instincts of his calling, the smith knew all the gossip; and the din of hammer on anvil gave zest to the conversation, which was always breezy or "bellowsy", or savoured of the hard ring of iron.

To the smithy we did go,
To tell our sorrow and our woe.

The present smithy is much superior to the old, low, thatched building of former years.


Rhod Nyddu [Spinning Wheel]

Return to top

She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff

There is ample evidence of the great antiquity of the art of spinning. The simple apparatus was used from the earliest ages until recent times. There was no art more widely practised than that of yarn-spinning. The fibre to be spun was usually attached loosely to the distaff, which was held under the left arm of the operator. A rotatory motion was given to the spindle by twirling it between the fingers of the right hand, and the fibre to be spun was then drawn out between the fingers of both hands and twisted into yarn by the rotating spindle to which it was attached. The portion that was sufficiently twisted was wound on the body of the spindle , and the operation was continued until the spindle was filled with yarn of a smooth and equal calibre. The illustration given is one of the few left in the parish, which were very largely used at one time.


Llansawel, a description of

Return to top

Llansawel is a small town in the northern half of the western parliamentary division of Carmarthenshire, and is 10 miles north of Llandilo, 10 miles south of Lampeter, 14 miles west of Llandovery, and 20 miles north of Carmarthen.

The town stands on the banks of two tributaries of the Cothi, viz. the Marles, which divides the town into two, and the Melinddwr. About a thousand yards to the south of the church they join, and about a mile further on they meet the Cothi. The place stands in a hollow amid mountain scenery.

It is a parliamentary polling station, and was once a market town noted for its great cattle fairs. The Vale of Towy Railway and the Manchester and Milford Railway, by diverting their traffic into other channels, made it an unusually sleepy hollow.

The parish includes the townships or hamlets of Edwin's, Glyn, Ganol, and Wen. 10,199 acres of land; 61 of water; property, 4,672; with 207 houses. The property is owned by a few landlords.

The name Llansawel or Llansawyl--- the proper Welsh name, is generally supposed to be derived from Sawyl Benuchel, the brother of Dunawd or Dunod Fyr, sometimes called Dunawd Fawr, and Dunawd Wr, a warrior of distinction, in North Britain. Sawyl Benuchel is described as an overbearing prince, and on account of his oppression his party joined alliance with the Saxons, with whom they became one people. He afterwards devoted himself to the service of religion, which appears to have been the common practice of British chieftains upon the loss of their dominions, and the growing superstition of the age was favourable to such a custom. He closed his life in the monastery of Bangor Iscoed, on the banks of the Dee in Flintshire. He is the patron saint of Llansawel, and flourished at the commencement of the 6th century.[Rees' Welsh Saints]

Llansawel is in the hundred of Cayo, the petty sessional division of Llandovery, the union of Llandeilo-fawr, the rural deanery of Llangadock, the archdeaconry of Carmarthen, and the diocese of St David's.

The town is supplied with excellent water from a natural spring called Ffynon Sawyl.

The soil is gravel, and on Bailey-tew farm there is excellent clay, which could be utilised for making bricks and pipes.

The post office is under that of Carmarthen; the mail reaches Llansawel at 10.0 am from Llandilo, and returns at 4.15 pm. The cost of posting from Llansawel to Llandilo usually amounts to 10s. Now , however, some of the farmers charge half that amount. The easiest way to get to Llansawel is by  the mail cart, which leaves Llandilo at 8 am ; fare, 2s single journey.

Agricultural operations are not very successful, the quantity of corn grown being insufficient for home consumption. This is largely due to the poverty of the soil. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, and hay. However, there is some excellent pasture-land. Dairy-farming is, perhaps, the most important operation of the farmer. Butter forms an article of export to Glamorganshire, etc, and cheese is made for home consumption.

About the year 1864 the sanction of Parliament was obtained for the construction--- or rather completion--- of that railway which was to connect Swansea directly with Aberystwyth. This line, so very important to this locality, is still waiting to be carried through. It was to pass through Talley, a part of the vale of Cothi, to within 1 1/2 miles of Llansawel. It will be a great boon to the inhabitants when a railway runs through this district. The Light Railway Act now being in force, with the help of the County Council it may become an accomplished fact. Soon may those happy days arrive.

The first recorded mention we have of Llansawel is found in the "Taxatio Ecclesiastica" of Pope Nicholas IV [1288-1291]. The Pope granted the tenths of all churches worth above 6 marks [4] to King Edward I towards defraying the cost of an expedition to the Holy Land. In this taxation Llansawel is entered thus:-

Meneven's Dioc'.
Taxacio Archidiaconatus de Kermerdyn.
Decanatus de Strattewy,
Eccl'ia de Kenwell Cayo cu Capella....13.6s.8d.

We find Llansawel next mentioned in a charter of Talley Abbey, AD 1331 :-

Pro Abbate et Conventu de Tallach
Rex omnibus ad quos etc. Salutem
Preter terram filiorum Bledri choch, Ynystewillh &c.

Translated it is ;- "Excepting the land of the sons of Bledri Coch, Ynysdywyll &c."

This Ynysdywyll is now called "Ynys". It is a farm which adjoins the "Dinas"......"de ecclesia Sancti Kynwil cum capellis de Llansadurn, et Llanurdam, et Pistillsawil, et Lanypymseint, et ceteris ad eandem [ecclesiam] spectantibus." The same in English is " The church of Saint Cynwil, with the chapels of Llansadwrn and Llanwrda, and Pistillsawyl, and Llanypymsant, and others to the same [church] belonging, etc ".
It is evident that Pistillsawyl is designated as one of the "capellis" annexed to the "eandem" [ecclesiam] (i.e the mother church - Cayo). The "Groes" farm, in the parish of Llansawel, still belongs to Talley Church.

The next document we come to, wherein it is mentioned, is the

"Valor Benefic' in Walia.
Caermarden Receytes.
Com' Carmarden : viz. Rector'et decim., &c., in infra offic'
Joh'is Osborne, auditoris, Will 'mi Wightman. Receptoris.
Com' Caerm'then' inffa dioc' Ministerij (? Meneven)
Talley nuper Monasteriu...........
Inde
R'toria de Counwellgaio cu capella de Llansawell in tenur'
Thome D'd ap Howell assign' Eliz' Basset
p'ann' xlvj li. xiijs. iiijd. (46.13s.4d.)"

John Osborne was auditor or teller of the Court of Exchequer, and William Wightman the receiver-general of the King's revenue in South Wales.

In "Liber Regis" Cynwyl Cayo, always including Llansawel, which was only a chapel of ease, is entered as a vicarage-in-charge. The patron, the Lord Chancellor; the value, 60, and the tenth, 10. The term "in charge" applied in the "Liber Regis" to a benefice means that it was exonerated from the duty of paying the customary first-fruits, and in certain cases also of tenths. This important record was taken on the eve of the Reformation.

In "Valor Beneficiorum," or a valuation of ecclesiastical preferments, published in 1695, we find---

Ecclesicorum in Wallia.
Decanatus de Llandelio and Llangadoc,
Value Comvile Gayo...............5.0s.0d.

In "Liber Regis" by John Bacon, Esq., receiver of the first-fruits, published in 1786, we find that in the Diocese of St David's,  "Llansawel [St Sawell] Chapel to Caio, Prince of Wales nominates, was not in charge."

Return to top


Tithe

Return to top

A Grant to Sir John Perrott, knight, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, refers to ; --- a grant to Robert Purcell of the Rectory and Church of Conwelgaio and the Chapel of Llansawell, with all their rights and appurtenances, formerly belonging to the dissolved Monastery of Talley to have, to hold to him from Lady Day, 1571, or from the determination of the estate of John Bassett, for 21 years at the yearly rent of 46.13s.4d..........in consideration of the good, true , faithful, and acceptable service to us by John Perrott, knight, have given and granted to John Perrott a reversion...of all that moiety of the Rectory and Church of Conwelgaio and the Chapel of Llansawell. And the reversion of the moiety of all and singular the houses, edifices, barns, stables.............tithes and other all and singular the premises of the rectory of Conwelgaio and the chapel of Llansawell.....and all that our annual rent of 23.6s.8d. parcel of the said annual rent of 46.13s.4d.

[Sir John Perrot is declared as having rendered "service" to the Crown, without specifying its nature. There is every probability that the "service" rendered was that of aiding the Crown in pillaging the religious houses.  He was the stepson of Sir Thomas Jones, of Abermarlais, and lived at Haroldstone, Haverfordwest. he was one of those who carried the canopy of Elizabeth's coronation; was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland, and Vice-Admiral of the Sea around South Wales; was attainted in 1592 ; condemned to death in June of the same year, but died suddenly in the following September. He was suspected by some of being the son of Henry VIII]

According to the Tithe Commission, [Tithe Commutation Act, 6 & 7 William IV] the apportionment of the rent-charge in lieu of tithes in the parish of Llansawel, valued by John Bowen and William Morgan, the total amount of the Vicar's tithes payable is 102.5s.0d., on 2850 acres, 3 roods, and 10 perches of land, of which 828 acres was cultivated as arable land; 1656 acres meadow or pasture land; 165 acres woodland; churchyard, 1 acre.

The amount of tithes payable to the impropriator, Sir Jas.Williams, is 232.0s.0d. on 7167 acres, 3 roods, and 2 perches of land [ including the 77 acres, 3 roods, and 20 perches of common land], of which 2193 acres was cultivated as arable land; 4388 acres meadow or pasture land; 400 acres woodland; and 50 acres common land. The value and price of wheat was 7s.10 1/2d; barley, 3s11 1/2d.; and oats, 2s.9d. per bushel at the time.

In the Schedule it states;---

"The undermentioned moduses, prescriptive or customary payments, are payable instead of the undermentioned impropriate tithes of the said parish, and the undermentioned tithes are covered thereby, that is to say --- for the tithe of hay of each farm, one penny per hay loft; for the tithe of milk, two pence per cow; for the tithe of wood, one penny per hearth; and four pence per hive for the tithe of bees or honey."


Church

Return to top

The church is situated on the south side of the town and between the rivers Marles and Melinddwr.The river Marles runs on the east side and the Melinddwr on the west. The term "Llan", which is the earliest in use for church or sacred enclosure, is very appropriate. "Llan"--- church; "Sawyl"- the patron; the church of Sawyl ---Llansawel.

The church was probably erected in the sixth century, when Sawyl Benuchel lived here, as it is dedicated to him. The present edifice is supposed to have been erected in the 13th century.. It consists of a chancel, nave, transept, porch, and a tower, and has undergone several repairs and alterations since. The church was restored in 1887, and the tower in 1890, at a total cost of 1491. The living is a vicarage annexed to that of Cayo, where the vicar resides. Tithe rent charge Llansawel 102 ; joint net income, 170, with 2 1/2 acres of glebe land in Llansawel. Part of the tithe belongs to Edwinsford. The living is the gift of the Lord Chancellor, and has been held since 1898 by the Rev Henry Lloyd [St Bees' College]. The tower has room for 4 bells, but at present there are only two, and but one in use. Cast in 1715. Nicholas Williams, Baronet ; David Lloyd churchwardens

In the list of occurrences one will find many references to the church in respect of repairs, christening, grave digging etc. The gravestones in the church are on the whole creditable. There are no epitaphs of note inscribed upon any of them.

In the chancel there is a reredos, which was erected in 1890 at a cost of about 150....................................................it was erected to the memory of Lady Louisa Agnew and Sir James and Lady Williams-Drummond by their children, James and Madeline Drummond.....................................

The "Long Parliament" was summoned in 1641, and the feeling of the people, so long crushed down, came to a head. The strong thoughtful men of England, many of whom were Puritans, had seen what the power of Laud and the bishops meant. The weapons of law and of force which Laud had used against the Puritans were turned against himself and his followers. From the moment when it was seen that Parliament was for religious reform, petitions came pouring in complaining of the immoralities of the clergy; and a committee was appointed to enquire into these, who went through the country expelling many for their irregularities. For two years there was no uniform order of worship, but men did what was right in their own eyes, and men of all sects seized upon the pulpits.And it needed the strong hand of Cromwell to reduce this chaos into some sort of order. By means of the Committee of Triers appointed in 1654, he succeeded in ousting from the charge of parishes those who were either unfit or were favourers of Episcopacy. The following quotation is from Walker's " Suffering of the Clergy", published in 1714 ; ---

"A list of some of the loyal and Episcopal clergy who were dispossessed of, driven from, or did otherwise lose, or were kept out of their preferments, etc, for their loyalty and affection to His Majesty and the Established Church, during the time of the Grand Rebellion, etc"

The Act of Propagation began in the year 1649, and almost every one of these livings referred to appears to have been in the Sequestrators' hands in 1650. Among this list is found the following entry ;

" Rev George Prichard, Llansawye and Yestadowin, Caermarthen. He was sequestred by the same Commissioners for malignancy, insufficiency, and refusing the engagement."

From 1754 to 1762 Rev Henry Thomas was curate an Llansawel.

In 1749 Rev Leyshon Lewis was curate in Cayo.

From 1762 to 1784 the said Leyshon Lewis was vicar, and from 1764 to 1808 the Rev Morgan Morgans was curate.

In 1769 the Rev William Morgan, curate of Llanarthney, did duty here.

In 1784 the Rev Eliezer Wiliams, MA., the son of the Rev Peter Williams [author of the Welsh Commentary on the Bible], was vicar. he was presented to the vicarage of Caio and Llansawel through the interest of Lord Galloway, in whose family he had been tutor. He was born in 1754......................................he died in 1820..........................................................

From 1820 to 1837 the Rev William Morgan was vicar; from 1838 to 1840 the Rev Daniel Prytherch Price was vicar; from 1840 to 1846 the Rev George Enoch[ brother of Colonel Enoch, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who distinguished himself at Waterloo and the Peninsular war] was curate; from 1846 to 1851 the Rev George Howell was vicar; from 1849 to 1851 the Rev Benjamin Marsden was curate ; and from 1851 to 1873 the Rev Henry Jones Davis, St David's College, was vicar.........................................he had the church thoroughly repaired......in July 1861 the church was reopned, the number of communicants at the time being 100.

From 1873 to 1897 the Rev Charles Chidlow, MA., Jesus College, Oxford, was vicar.............he took an active interest in agricultural pursuits, the famous " magnum bonum" potatoes, introduced by him into the locality, are known to this day as "tato'r ffeirad."

In 1898 the Rev Henry Lloyd was appointed vicar.

There was no church Sunday school in 1846, nor previously to that. It seems it was established in the fifties. The number of scholars in 1861 was about 70.

Sunday services are at 11 am and 6 pm, English and Welsh sermons alternately at morning and evening service, school at 2 pm.

Restoration

Return to top

On August 1887 the church was reopened after its restoration. At 11.30 am the Lord Bishop of St David's preached in English.The choir was under the leadership of Mr Watkin Davies, of Penybaily, Mrs D Long Price of Talley, presiding at the organ. In the afternoon service  Archdeacon James preached in English and the Rev T P Lewis, Gorseinon, in Welsh. In the evening the Rev Canon Evans of Rhymney officiated in Welsh and the late Rev Evan Davies BA, Vicar of Highfield, Queensland, presided at the organ.....................................the contract for the retoration work was given out to Mr Daniel davies, Talley, for about 950...............Sir James H W Drummond, Bart, and Mr John M Davies were the churchwardens, and Mr Watkin Davies, clerk..........................................................

Area of churchyard 1 rood, 36 perches, yet in it about 1090 persons have been buried since 1813 to the present time [1898].

.....................................During the above restoration Hagioscopes or Squints on each side of the chancel arch were found. These enabled the worshippers in the nave to witness the ceremonials at the alter. There are also two small windows one on each side of the church, near the chancel arch, which are supposed to have enabled those from outside to see the ceremonials. Inserted in the wall on the right side of the entrance is the stoup or benitier for holding the holy water, in which the worshippers dipped their fingers and cross-marked their foreheads on entering the church, while the font is inserted into the left hand wall ---a most unusual place.

Vicars

Return to top

These are in addition to those mentioned above, the date is that of institution;

The earlier of these institutions were to Conwil Gaio only without any mention of Llansawel, and it is not until Eliezer Williams' institution in 1784 that there is any reference made to that chapelry........................Since that date Llansawel has been invariably mentioned in every institution generally as " with Llansawel annexed".


Calvinistic Methodists

Return to top

The Methodists had to put up with many inconveniences, as the preaching services and societies were held in private dwelling houses or in the open air. The old, cautious Methodist fathers seem to have been at a loss to determine by what name to call the meeting house. To call it a chapel would clash with the Church of England chapels, and to call it a "meeting house" would savour of dissent.  To avoid danger it was necessary to devise a name, so they called it "Ty i ddybenion crefyddol"--- a house for religious purposes. According to the Rev John Hughes' history of the Calvinistics, the meeting house, or as they called it " Ty i ddybenion crefyddol" erected in Llansawel, was the first the Methodists had in Wales, and is supposed to have been built about 1744, or three years before the meeting house at Llanfair-yn-Muallt [Builth, Breconshire], but in the Rev Wm Williams' history we find among the minutes of an Association meeting held at Porthyrhyd in 1744, the following resolution :---"Agreed that a house for religious purposes be erected at Llansawel". This resolution was not carried into effect, for the first place of worship was not erected until 3 years after it was passed, and that not at Llansawel, but at Builth, in Breconshire. I cannot say which of the two is correct but the following quotation from "Y Gwyddoniadur Cymreig" will be of interest...............[the quotation is in Welsh , is not extracted, but the gist of it is that Builth's claim may be based on  being the first  in Wales to be called a chapel, with Llansawel being called " Ty i ddybenion crefyddol" ]

The first Moderator for Carmarthenshire was Daniel Rowlands of Llangeitho. Overseers, John Richards, James Williams, William John, and David Williams. In the first report of James Williams, [as overseer of Llansawel amongst other chapels], we find that " Llansawel Society contains 47 members, 18 of whom are in Christ, the others under the law; Joseph John, exhorter, and John David, steward" [Williams' History of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists].

In the Rev John Hughes' History we find that the number of members at Llansawel in 1743 is given as 40 ...................................................... .........................................................................

About 1751 William Williams of Pantycelyn married Mary Francis, the daughter of Penlan Farm, Llansawel, formerly a native of Llanfynydd. The first exhorter at Llansawel was Joseph John; steward John David, and overseer James Williams. The first pastor stationed at Llansawel was the Rev R Salmon, who came in 1867 and left in 1874. Rev D Byron Lewis, 1874-1880. Rev James Morris 1881-1892. The present pastor is the Rev D Jones, and the number of members is 180. The chapel was enlarged in 1820, the previous one having been built in 1749........................

At Caio there was a popular preacher with the Methodists, of the name of William Lloyd, related to the Lloyds of Brunant, who was born in 1741. He married the daughter of John Jones of the Black Lion, Llansawel. They have a branch place at Rhydcymerau, which commenced in about 1815..........................

An Association was held at Cae-yr-efail, Llansawel in 1864.......................The last Association held in Maesllan field, near the Board School was in 1876.

The Sunday School was first established by the Methodists in 1801.The only Sunday School in the parish was held at Bethel. In 1846 the number of teachers on the books was 15, the number of scholars 53 , only 18 of whom attended the day school. The subject taught in the Sunday School was"Y Rhodd Mam" [the mother's gift].....................

Circulating Sunday School.--- The Methodists used to hold Sunday Schools in various farmhouses;--- Rhuglyn, Treglog, Bank, Blaenresgair, etc, alternately.

One Sunday late in the forties, the children attending Bethel Chapel were catechised by the preacher officiating. The subject was "The Life of Christ". After leading the little ones gradually on step by step through the history of Christ's life, he pointed Him out as the Great Shepherd, and solemnly asked them---"Pwy yw eich bugail chi, blant bach ?" [ Who is your shepherd, little children?]. One child, with an eager look and a smiling face, answered " Deio Lanwen yw ein bugail ni!" [Deio Lanwen is our shepherd]. It is easier to imagine than describe the effect of this unexpected answer upon the preacher and congregation. "Dafydd Lanwen" was the shepherd par excellence of the neighbourhood in those days. He lived at Lanwen, a straw-thatched cottage on the lands of Cilwenauchaf. David was never seen without some half-a-dozen sheep dogs at his heels. He was well known from Llanybydder to Brecon.
[He was also my ggg grandfather, I can't resist adding the 1841 census entry]---Llansawel, Glyn hamlet, Lanwen. David Davies 40,ag lab, Mary 40,William 15, Enock 12,Elenor 9, David 6, John 3.[y].]


Independents

Return to top

The want of an Independent cause was felt at Llansawel for many years. From time to time many persona came to live in this parish who were Independents, some of whom joined the churches of Abergorlech, Crugybar, Esgairdawe and Carmel, and many who found these places too far, joined the Calvinistic Methodists.

Soon after the great religious awakening of 1849 they made an effort to erect a chapel at Llansawel, but were unable to find a suitable site. After waiting and seeking patiently, a very suitable plot of land was purchased in 1867, near Penybailey, after which the case was laid before the Quarterly Meeting of the denomination, who promised to give them all the assistance possible. Amongst the first subscribers were David Evans, Pistillgwyn, member of Esgairdawe church, 20; Stephen Jones, Llansawel, and Daniel Morgan, Trelog, members of Abergorlech church, 10 each ; Rees Evans, Tyr'ddinas, member of Abergorlech church, 5 ; David Williams, Pengelly, 9 ; Rev Jonah Evans, Llansawel, 5 , members of Crugybar church ; The Rev Evan Jones, of Crugybar, collected from house to house in eleven of the neighbouring parishes , and among friends in England. He thus collected the greater part of the money required.

In 1868, a meeting was held, when D P Davies Esq, of Troedybryn, Cayo, laid the foundation stone , and the following took part ;--- Revs Jones, Hermon; Jones, Faldybrenin; Jones, Crugybar; and Davies, Llandilo. Before the end of the year the chapel was under cover. By the opening services, which took place in October, 1869, 400 had been received. The remaining debt on the chapel of 100 was cleared by 1872 through the efforts of the Rev Jonah Evans, Llansawel.

No church was formed until after the opening services , when 14 members from Crugybar, 12 from Abergorlech, and one from Carmel were admitted by letters of transfer..............At the present time there are 80 members. The set of communion vessels was presented to the church by Mrs Samuel Davies, of Penlan.

After the church had been  formed they they appointed the Rev Evan Jones of Crugybar as pastor, assisted by the Rev Jonah Evan, who was ordained as a minister in 1870. The total cost of the chapel and burying ground was 550. When this was all cleared jubilee services were held, and the following preached ;--- the Revs Jones [Dock] and T Johns [Capel Als],Llanelly ; T G Jones, Gwernogle ; H Jones, Ffaldybrenin; and T Thomas, Llanfair....................In 1877 the Rev Evan Jones retired and was succeeded by a young student from Bala College,  Mr D B Richards, who was ordained pastor of both Crugybar and Llansawel churches.

The first person interred in the burying ground was Esther, the wife of Daniel Williams, of Pengelly, who died in 1872, and is buried facing the east. All other graves face the south..........................


Baptists

Return to top

The Baptists have no place of worship. Although there are several persons living in the parish who are baptists, no great effort has been made by them to have a place of worship, or to hold services. In 1823, the prince of Welsh preachers , Christmas Evans, and Daniel Davies, the blind preacher of Swansea, visited Llansawel and preached to a large audience assembled on the road. The preachers mounted the horse-block at the corner of the Angel Inn and preached therefrom, and afterwards dined at the Inn.


Latter Day Saints [ or Mormons]

Return to top

These saints visited Llansawel about 1847, and created quite a stir by their preaching and teaching. They baptised many persons in the river. Thomas Thomas of Pantmawr, and Daniel Davies ["saint"] of Old red Lion, and their families went with them to Utah. An old soldier, Wm Jones, of Garnwen, and family, followed at a later period. Daniel Davies ["saint"] is still living, his wife was buried a few years ago. Their doing inspired James Jones, of the Town Hall, or "Jemmy Jones" also called " Jemmy saer pob man" to compose the following lines [in Welsh, not extracted].


Welsh Charity Schools

Return to top

In 1730 the Rev Griffith Jones , rector of Llanddowror, Carmarthenshire, the greatest educationalist Wales has ever seen, set up in almost every town, village, and parish in South Wales, and at some places in North Wales, his Welsh circulating charity schools ["ysgolion rhad"], also called "Madame Bevan's schools". In the year 1740 this white-robed angel of education with healing in his wings, paid a visit to Llansawel. The following is the first record extant;---[the report by Rev E Jones, Curate at Cayo is not extracted but refers to a Welsh school in the parish of Cayo, dated 1741].

In 1750 the Rev Leyshon Lewis, curate of Cayo, wrote testifying with great thankfulness his approbation of the Welsh circulating schools.

The business of the school was simply to teach all the ignorant people that came to read the Word of God in their mother tongue, free for one, two or three months, according to circumstances. The Rev Mr Jones was greatly supported by Madame Bevan to carry on these schools.  We find that the school started in Llansawel in 1740 with 48 scholars; in 1742 the scholars increased to 64 ; in 1743 to 84; and in 1745 decreased to 33. During 1745 the school was held at a place called "Eithyn duon".

The first schoolmaster whose name we find recorded is David Jones, a native of Llanwenog, Cardiganshire. He kept school at a place called Dolwlff and afterwards at Llansawel..................................he wrote a Latin epistle to Mr Lloyd, Gallt yr Odyn, asking for help towards visiting the Holy Land.....................................he visited Palestine........................


Village School

Return to top

The report of the Commissioners on the state of education in Wales, published in 1847 states ;---

"Village School.---I visited this school on November 2nd; it is held in the churchyard in a ruinous old building, the roof of which in windy weather is dangerous from the looseness of its tiles. The master had been three quarters of a year at Ffrwd Vale. He seemed  a well meaning, civil and kind young man. His desk contained a few tattered maps of his own providing . Lady Mary Williams pays him 5.10s pa, for which sum 18 scholars to be taught. Eight of the children in school could read fairly well. Average attendance 50. Income from school pence, 18. Subscriptions and donations 5.10s. Master's age, 29; formerly a farm servant. I found both this parish and Cayo in charge of a single curate, who resided in Cayo.I, unfortunately, twice failed in meeting the Rev George Enoch, curate of this parish [Cayo] and Llansawel---once on the 22nd October, when I called, and again on the 1st November at Llansawel, where I had written requesting him to meet me, but he was otherwise engaged."


Girls' Infant School

Return to top

This was an infant school kept by Mrs Ann James in her own house. It was changed into a sewing school, where girls learnt to sew and make samplers, some of which may still be seen framed and hung up in a conspicuous place, as mementos of work done at the school.


Sawel Academy

Return to top

This was established in 1871 at the old Parish Schoolroom by the Rev Jonah Evans, a Congregational minister. The building could not boast of much architectural skill. It was built by the Parish vestry in 1805, at a cost of 31.10s.0d. It had been used as the Parish school for many years, and it had also been the headquarters of the 4th Company of the Carmarthenshire Rifle Volunteers.

The Academy became one of the most successful in the training of young men to go out into the world, and especially in preparing for the various conformist and nonconformist colleges. There are many now in the ministry who thankfully confess their indebtedness to Mr Evans for his able tuition. Sometimes there were between 40 and 50 pupils. In 1886 a new schoolroom was erected on the Penybaily estate. To build this he was considerably helped by a testimonial presented to him by his numerous friends and neighbours.

The following received their earlier education at his Academy ;--- Revs J Rogers, Pembrey ; D Silyn Evans, Aberdare ; D W Vaughan,MA, London; D G Jones, Pontyates ; H Eynon Lewis, Bryncethin ; D Morgan, Penarth/Welshpool; W Thomas, Llanboidy ; W D Thomas, Brynaman ; D Lloyd, Bwlchnewydd ; J D Williams, Flint ; G Palmer Lewis, Whittlesea; W Davies, Bronllys/Breconshire; late Rhys Jones, Ammanford; W Jones, Curate, Penclawdd; Late Evan Davies, BA, Vicar of Geham/Highfields/Queensland; D W Hoskin, Neath ; J S Hopkins, Gorseinon ; R D Phillips, Cilfynydd; Ben Davies, Panteg, the chaired bard; J D Jones, Abercanaid; Messrs Arthur Lovell, author of the "Ideal of Man", John D Williams, now town clerk of Southport; D Lleufer Thomas, barrister-at-law; besides several others.

The two sons of the Rev Jonah Evans are in the ministry---D Lloyd Evans, at Cowlings/Suffolk, and T Eli Evans, at Pwllglas/Ruthin.

The Rev Jonah Evans was born at Llanstephan, in 1836. He received his education at a Swansea school, and afterwards at Davies' Rhydceisiaid School, from which he entered the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen......................................He was buried in the family grave at Shiloh churchyard.

The Academy is now carried on by the rev Thos. Glyn James.


School Board

Return to top

After the passing of the Education Act 1870, the inhabitants were anxious to establish a School Board for the Parish, and D Long Price Esq, Talley, attended several Vestry Meetings and very fully explained the new Act. At a vestry meeting held in December 1870, Mr David Jones, Esgair, proposed Mr and Mr Morgan Jones, of Castle Green, seconded, " That application be made at once to the Education Department for the appointment of a school Board for the parish. An amendment was proposed and seconded. The amendment secured three votes, and the School Board party twenty votes.

In July 1871, the members of the first School Board were elected viz, Mr J M Davies, Froodvale; Mr E Davies, Esgerwen; Mr D Long Price, Talley; Mr David Thomas, Pantiauau; and Mr Thomas Thomas, Maesllan. The first chairman, Mr D Long price; clerk Mr E Price; first master Mr A Hubert, a native of Kent.

In 1875 and 1876 the present Board School was built on part of Maesllan farm, Mr Daniel Davies of Talley being the Contractor.

The present chairman of the Board is Mr Cyril F Davies JP, of Froodvale; clerk, Mr John Parry, Froodvale; master, Mr D B Evans. The triennial election took place in July 1898, when the following were elected ;---C F Davies, Froodvale 181 ; David Jones, Esgair 151; J Humphreys, Pengelly 91; J Myles Jones 87; David Davies, Cwmlogin 80.

List of masters of the Old Parish and Board Schools;---

From 1740 to 1805 the parish enjoyed the benefit of the "Welsh Charity School" [Ysgol rad].

1805 to 1871, the benefit of the "Old Parish School" [ Ysgol y plwyf]

Since 1871 the benefit of the Board School.


Highway Board

Return to top

This Board was formed in the year 1852. Its first meeting was held at the Town Hall, March 30th 1852. First chairman, George Lloyd Esq.,; vice-chairman, David Davies Esq.,; clerk John Morgan Davies Esq.. It was composed of the parishes of Conwil Caio, Llanycrwys, Pencarreg, Talley, Llanybyther and Llansawel. This Board ceased to exist on December 27th 1894, the appointed day under the Local Government Act, 1894.


Parish Council

Return to top

This council, formed in 1894 under the Local Government Act, 1894, has taken the place of the old vestry meetings. The following were the first members of the council, with the number of votes each received;--- T Melinddwr Davies, 51 ; James Thomas, Maesllan, 49; David Jones, Esgair, 46; Thomas Evans, Warren Cottage, 42; Watkin Davies, Penybailey, 39; Elias Davies, Brynau-uchaf, 38; John Humphreys, Pengelly, 37; D B Evans, Church Terrace, 35; Lewis Bowen, Edwinsford, 34; Rev Jonah Evans, 33; and John Myles Jones, 33. The council consists of eleven members. They appointed John Davies Esq JP., of Froodvale as the first chairman, who still holds the position, and Mr E Price, clerk. The present clerk is T Melinddwr Davies. The council hold their meetings in the board school.


Cookery School

Return to top

In 1896 a cookery school was held at the Town Hall for six weeks under the auspices of the Parish Council, with Miss Cooper as teacher. A number attended to learn the art and the school was a success.


Butter-making

Return to top

In 1891 a butter-making class was formed at the Town Hall when a large number of farmers' daughters attended to learn the art of butter-making in accordance with the most modern principles.


Candles

Return to top

At one time it was very general for farmers and others to make their own candles from tallow and coarse cotton which served as wick. When a boy I often watched "Nelly Bwtshwr" make her own candles. The wick was first arranged on sticks. It was then smartly dipped into the hot, melted tallow, and lifted up to dry. This double process was continued until the candles were the thickness required. Candle making is another lost art.


Public Hearse

Return to top

In 1895 a committee of young men got up an eisteddfod, with the proceeds of which, together with subscriptions, a hearse was bought, to be handed over to the Parish Council. It is kept in a coach house specially built for it by the council. The first time the hearse was utilised was at the funeral of the late David Lewis, Ynys, who was buried at Talley.


Bostock's Menagerie

Return to top

When this menagerie visited Llansawel in June 1888, a very fine African elephant, known as "Alice" died on the Penybont field. It was afterwards purchased by the Council of the Royal Institution of South Wales, Swansea, and at great expense was mounted in a most natural and skilful manner and now stands in the vestibule of the above Institution, where it may be seen.


Street Light

Return to top

In the beginning of 1898 a committee got up a concert, with the proceeds of which three lamps were bought and fixed. They were lit for the first time in February, and are a great improvement to the place in the long winter evenings.


Telegraph

Return to top

The telegraph has been laid down to the Llansawel post office, and was opened for transmitting messages on July 20th 1898.


Liberator Building Society

Return to top

In December 1893, the Liberator Permanent Building Society [ Jabez Spencer Balfour MP, chief director, with a reported invested capital of 7,000,000] failed through forgery and fraud, causing great national distress, which was felt by many in this parish who I need not name. Relief was given to some of the sufferers in 1894, but we are not aware that the relief was extended to any in this parish. " Put not your trust in men nor princes"


March 10th, 1863

Return to top

The marriage of the Prince of Wales was commemorated in this little town with great zeal and loyalty. The children of the Sunday and day schools met at 11 o'clock and marched to Edwinsford where they sang. They then returned to meet the Misses Davies of Froodvale, and at the Town Hall abundance of tea and cake was provided for all. In the evening rustic sports were held, and a large bonfire was lit on the Dinas. The committee and others partook of a dinner at the Black Lion, when the health of the Prince and Princess of Wales was drunk with musical honours.


Eisteddfod, 1863

Return to top

The following advertisement appeared in the "Welshman" in August 1863:---

"Llansawel Eisteddfod, Carmarthenshire.
An Eisteddfod will be held at the above place on Wednesday, 25th September, 1863.
President --- Sir J W Drummond, Bart.
Vice-President --- Rev H J Davis, Vicar of Cayo.
The Brass Bands of the Royal Carmarthen Artillery and the No. 4 Carmarthenshire Rifle Volunteers will be in attendance.
Adjudicator --- Llew Llwyfo, B.B.D.
A Concert in the Evening
E Price, Treasurer; David Jones/John Davies, Secretaries."

A pavilion was erected in "Cae yr Efail", in which the eisteddfod was held. It was well attended, but was not a financial success. Sir James and Lady Drummond and all the family were present all day. The committee presented the president with an address, signed on September 23rd, 1863, on behalf of the committee by Henry John Davis, vice-chairman.  Mr John Davies, of Tynycwm, read the address to Sir James Drummond. The two bands were in attendance and played several airs. A prize was offered for the best stanza to Lady Drummond : eight competitions were received, the best being sent in by "Glancunllo" [the winning stanza itself has not been extracted].

The concert was also well attended, and Llew Llwyfo and his children sang the A.B.C etc. which took well.


Royal Commission on Land in Wales and Monmouthshire

Return to top

This Commission met at the schoolroom in April 1894, and a second court was held at the Town Hall on the same day when all the Commissioners were present. Lord Carrington, GCMG., Chairman, presided at the first court; Lord Kenyon, at the second court.The Secretary to the Commissioners was Mr D Lleufer Thomas. There was a crowded attendance of the public, including the principal land agents and owners of the district.

Mr J Myles Jones was the first witness examined, when he handed in a list of 15 small farms in the parish which had been added to others, also 36 cottages now in ruins.

Mr Thomas Davies, Tynycwm [then chairman of the Llansawel School Board], next gave evidence on his own behalf, and on behalf of the farmers in the district. In his evidence he referred to the sleeping accommodation; sleeping under an inch of snow; bad housing accommodation; loss from pheasants; Ground Game Act, etc. In his evidence, he said

"Llansawel Mill--- low thatched house, leaking, no proper loft, no windows or ventilation, and no partition up in the sleeping place, and yet obliged to use it for sleeping, for both sexes. It is not the worst, but it is near enough for you to see it if you will come over, it is on the Edwinsford Estate."

The Commissioners inspected this house, which was described as a disgraceful hovel. Llwyncelyn --- rent, 14; two rooms, both on ground floor, no kind of a loft. The family of six are obliged to sleep in the same room. House adjoining, seven in family, only two rooms in which the whole family have to live during the day and sleep at night; one measures 16 by 7, and the other 7 feet square. These are a few representative cases out of many in the district.

Mr David Jones, late of Esgair, said he took Esgair farm 1849, under an agreement for a lease of 31 years, at a rent of 65 a year. He rebuilt house, barn and cow house at his own cost. In 1879 rent increased to 75. In 1881 he left, and one of his sons is the present tenant.

Mr John Jones, Penlan Farm, gave evidence. He took the farm in 1877, rent 182. 16 acres taken away to make the warren. Game makes tremendous damage. "Before I can sow a field I am obliged to put wire netting all round it, and parts of it are eaten up after all. In 1897 considerable damage was done to to 9 acres of wheat. I only received 5 for damage done. It is impossible to keep down the rabbits because the farm adjoins the landlord's covers. Allowance made in 1888, 10 per cent; in 1887, 10 per cent on half year; in 1886, 10 per cent on half year"

Mr Dudley Williams-Drummond gave rebutting evidence to Thomas Davies' evidence; admitted that the mill in the village inspected by them was a disgraceful hovel.

Carmarthen .---Meeting of the Commissioners in October following. Mr J Myles Jones gave further evidence in reference to the mill at Llansawel which he stated had been sold in September, why, it was difficult to prove, but it appeared likely that the former owner wished to wash his hands of all responsibility concerning it. For a full account of all the evidence given see "Minutes of Evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Land in Wales and Monmouthshire" vol 3.


Terrier or Rent Roll

Return to top

Of Peterwell, Millfield [Maesyfelin], etc estates in the several counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen, and Pembroke. From the above we extract the following :---

References to farms in the parishes of Llansawel:

The date of the above terrier or rent roll is 1810.

Sir Lucius C Lloyd of Maesyfelin, and John Lloyd Esq of Peterwell, being brothers in law, in a frolicsome humour " made wills in favour of each other, the survivor to take all".  Sir Lucius died first, and the glory of Maesyfelin fell to the dust on its union with Ffynonbedr. As to the name "Wion" in a pedigree of Thomas Griffiths, Lord of Lampeter, circa 1588, we find in following the pedigree that a certain Llewelyn Lloyd, ap David, ap Llewelyn, had amongst his sons one named "Gwion". This farm--- "Wion"--- was at one time in that son's possession and was called after his name. It is a common custom to call houses and lands after persons' names.


Land holding in the olden time

Return to top

The Norman conquerors of Wales introduced what is called the feudal system, under which all the freeholders held their lands direct from the King, by military or knight's service. The Welsh, or the native peasants, were allowed to hold small tenements by certain fixed service, or personal labour, for the benefit of their Norman master. These were afterwards changed into payments in "kind", and finally commuted for money payments, in other words, rents in lieu of aids. It is wonderful to notice how long the old custom of paying in kind, or at least a certain portion of it, continued to exist. Only to quote one instance, at any rate, as late as the year 1851 the tenant of Cilwenau-isaf had to pay a fixed rent of 105, and had also to render in kind ten ducks or five geese every Christmas, and three loads of coal yearly, to be carried from the pit to Manoravon, and to pay for it himself.


Mill Toll

Return to top

The Mill Toll is but a relic of the same old custom of payment in kind surviving to this day. In years gone by each locality had to depend upon its own resources for its supply, especially of flour, and in good harvests the people were provided with most delicious brown bread. The miller's pay was taken in kind, a toll which varied according to the locality. Most of the farmers took their corn to the mill for grinding into flour, after having been dried at home by the "Odyn grasu". The miller's capacity for taking toll passed into a proverb, "Fel y melinydd am y doll".

Names of Millers

The daughter of the above John Lloyd was killed in the mill in 1846 whilst engaged in "malu Cynnos Harri'r Castell". Her age was 21 years. She was buried at Crugybar. The following hymn was sung as the funeral proceeded through the town:---[not extracted].

On October 13th 1883, John Davies, a bright lad of 13 years, the son of William Davies, the present miller, was killed in some wheels in the mill. He was buried at Bethel Churchyard.

In 1896, Daniel Davies, aged three years, son of David Davies of the mill [grandson of William Davies], fell into the mill pond, and was drowned.


Odyn Grasu

Return to top

Our forefathers prepared the corn by means of the "brenan" [quern] and "odyn grasu" [drying kiln]. At first the mills had no drying-kilns attached to them, all the corn being dried at home.  The last "odyn grasu" in use in this parish was at Cilwenau-isaf, which was worked as late as 1845, and "Michael Pantalog", afterwards called "Michael y Gat" was always entrusted with the management of the kiln. The shape and the build of this ancient apparatus was certainly primitive. On a gently sloping ground, a hollow , three yards long, two yards wide, and two deep, was cut similar in shape to a "cladd tato". Two planks were placed at right angles to each other, their ends resting on the surface outside the hollow. These served to support the sticks which were placed regularly over the kiln until covered. Over the whole clean straw was laid, upon which the corn was placed to be dried.  Underneath all this, and at the lower end of the kiln, the fire was placed, so that the heat and smoke went under the straw contrivance above. One man looked after the fire, which was generally of furze and brushwood. He always kept by him a tub of water, and a straw-wisp or a mop, to regulate the force of the fire. He kept moving the corn continually to obtain even drying, with a short-toothed wooden rake, and when ready it was raked off the straw into a large canvas, and was then fit for the mill. Instead of straw some covered the kiln with what was called "Carthen rawn, carthen odyn" [kiln-cloth or hair-cloth]. It is said by old people that corn dried after the old fashion makes sweeter bread than that dried in the modern brick-kilns of the mills.


Priodas Ceffylau

Return to top

It was the custom for the wedding party to ride to and from the church. On the way thither they resorted to racing, and chasing each other over the country....................................................it is scarcely possible to imagine anything more wild and irregular than the various movements of the whole party upon this occasion.......................................................when the bridegroom caught the bride the whole party would gallop away to the church.

The last "Priodas Ceffylau" in this parish, when both parties rode to the church, took place May 29th 1846 when Mr Jas Williams, Cilwennau-uchaf, married Mary Evans.


Dafi Dafis ["Turnor"]

Return to top

[Of] Rhydcymerau, born at Llwydcoed, near Llanybyther, August 1814. Died at Cwmcyfyng, near Capel Isaac, January 1891. He was one of the old, original, and eccentric preachers of Wales. He lived for many years at a small farm between Llansawel and Rhydcymerau known as "Abernant," but better known as "Ty'r Turnor". He belonged to the Calvinistic Methodists, and spent most of his life as a "Cynghorwr", or lay preacher. He was a self made man, who managed to scrape together a vast amount of varied information, and was by no means devoid of culture, though his outward guise was as rough and uncouth as that of an ancient cynic. He was a close observer of nature, and a systematic student of his Bible, and could apply scriptural quotations with the force of wit, sometimes with stunning effect.In this respect , probably, he stood unrivalled. He sometimes carried his economy to the verge of meanness. When his first wife died he went to the undertaker himself, and the following conversation took place between the two [ not extracted].

An excellent biography has been written by the Rev James Morris, of Penygraig, Rhondda, published by the "Goleuad" Office.


William John

Return to top

[Of] Llywell-fawr, was one of the first lay preachers of the Calvinistic Methodists in this parish during the days of Daniel Rowlands and Howell Harris.  He was an eccentric character, well known as a faithful christian worker, and one of the first pillars of the cause in the district. After his death Rev William Williams, of Pantycelyn, composed a memorial poem.


Josuah Williams

Return to top

[Of] Llywell-fawr, who died in 1835, 80 years old, was another of the faithful workers of the cause at Llansawel, and at the sister church at Rhydcymerau.


Welsh Costumes

Return to top

The old Welsh costumes are now seldom seen. The men were dressed in swallow-tailed coats of light or dark blue colour, with brass buttons; red or bright-coloured waistcoat; tight knee breeches, fastened with buttons; home-made grey stockings, and a peculiarly shaped hat.

The women were dressed in Welsh flannel petticoats and gowns [pais a gwn bach] of various colours, smart caps and tall beaver hats. The last two persons who wore these "tall hats" in this parish were Mrs Charlotte Jones, the "Angel", and Mrs Davies, Blaenyresgair.


Wills

Return to top

In 1603 Richard ap Lewis, Llansawel, died and left a Will,

In 1622, John Griffith, of Llansawel, died and left a Will, part of which reads as follows;---

"In the name of God, amen.  I, John Griffith, of the parish of Llansawel, within the Diocese of St David's, being sick in body but in perfect mind and memory, the Lord be praised, this 7th day of May, 1622. I give to the Cathedral Church of St David's, fourpence. I give to my wife Gwenllian John all lands and messuages of Thomas David ap John during her life only, and after her death I give the same unto Evan John Griffith, my eldest son, etc."

In the inventory of his estate it is stated that one heifer, 4 years old, was worth 7s.4d.


William Jones

Return to top

[He] bequeathed 10, directing the interest to be divided annually among the poor communicants of this parish, but we regret having been unable to trace this charity, or particulars of the donor.


John Thomas Phillips

Return to top

.........., the poet was a native of the parish. He was preceptor to William, Duke of Cumberland, and other members of the Royal Family; also author of some well known Latin Epistles.  He bequeathed 60 pa for the support of a school for the gratuitous instruction of the children of the poor inhabitants, but dying before the will was duly signed, the legacy was lost.


Morgan Jones

Return to top

[Of] Castle Green, Llansawel, was born at Maesllan on July 9th 1816. On the 16th he was christened by the Rev Wm. Morgan, the curate, at the house, and, as was customary in those days, great preparations were made for the occasion. He lived nearly all his life time at Llansawel, and at one time kept a shop, which he sold to Mr Evan Price. On Dec 9th 1846, he married Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of William Parry, Tretower Court, Breconshire. The knot was tied at the Independent Chapel, Llangadock, Breconshire, by the Rev Wm Hopkins. When he brought his wife to Llansawel the little town was the scene of unusual festivity and gaiety. He was road surveyor for the Llansawel Highway Board for some years; clerk to the same Board for 12 years; a member of the School Board for 7 years, and churchwarden for 30 years. In politics he was an uncompromising Conservative. He was well versed in most subjects, especially in legal matters, and one can safely describe him as a "hedge lawyer", or a "walking encyclopaedia". He was very humourous, and always enjoyed a good yarn. His interest in the affairs of the parish won for him the title of the "Mayor of Llansawel". He died on November 27th 1887, and was buried in the parish churchyard.

We give the words of a favourite old song of Morgan Jones, Charles Williams [teilwr], and Billy James, of Trewaun. [it mentions Pontardrumis Bridge which was built AD 1777].

The song is not extracted but it includes the names ;--- Timoth Penny, Rees Harri, Lewis[Abercrymlyn], hen Lettice, Wil Treharn, Mari, William. And the rivers Twrch and Cothi, and these places;--- Trewaun, Waun Clomendy, Rhydodyn.


Local Poet

Return to top

Thomas Davies "[Melinddwr"], born in Llansawel parish was the son of a weaver, which handicraft he has also followed. From his boyhood he endeavoured to blend poetic effort with the weaving shuttle, gradually expanding in literary efforts. he appeared very early on eisteddfodic platforms, and often carried off some prize either in singing, recitation, or in poetry. The first prize he won was three pence when a lad. He has won hundreds of prizes since then, figuring repeatedly in all the local eisteddfodau. He still treasures the little bags which contained the prizes for his earliest efforts, and values them quite as much as the medals, the crown, and the oak chair of later years. In November 1867, he obtained his first certificate from the Tonic Solfa College.......................................His services have been sought as conductor and adjudicator at many of the eisteddfodau in the district. Appended is a list of the prizes won by him ...................................................... [ not extracted but one of the high spots was at the London National Eisteddfod in 1887 when he won a prize of 15 and a silver medal for his Cywydd on "Cymru Fydd"].

One of his last successes was at Ogofan Eisteddfod in 1896. This was a prize of half a guinea for the best six stanzas to Lieut-General Sir James Hills-Johnes GCB., VC, of Dolau Cothi, president of the eisteddfod.[stanzas not extracted]


Rhydodyn [Edwinsford]

Return to top

Rhydodyn [Edwinsford] , the seat of Williams, of Rhydodyn, is situated on the banks of the Cothi, in the parish of Llansawel, at a distance of a mile from the town.

The Edwinsford genealogy takes us back to a remote period in the known annals of Wales. This place when first mentioned as the location of a family of importance, was called Rhyd-Edwin, of which Edwinsford is a literal rendering; it afterwards for a long period took the form Rhydodyn. In Camden's Brittannia, vol ii., page 27, it states that a stone has been found in this neighbourhood with the following inscription thereon : " Talor," "Advent,"-"Magverag,"-"Filius."
We find he further states, "Whether Odin or Odyn in the several names of places in this neighbourhood be from Advent or Adwen, whose monument this was or some other origin, is recommended to the observation of the inhabitants. However it be, it is certain there are more of them hereabouts than in all Wales besides, as Rhydodyn, Pantyrodyn, &c."

The Williamses of Rhydodyn, as will be seen from their pedigree, which has been drawn with care, and tested by the collation of several recognised authorities and MSS. of known accuracy, have descended from princely and royal blood, and have never, amid all changes of time, fallen into an obscurity which threw into shadow any portion of this genealogy. Through Rhys ab Tewdwr they descended from Howell Dda and Rhodri Mawr, Kings of Wales; and through Ellen, wife of Llewelyn ab Philip, from Henry I. of England.
[In the book there now follows a long detailed pedigree which has not been extracted]

Mansion

The mansion was partly rebuilt and greatly enlarged in 1864 and 1865. The private bridge over the Cothi, near the mansion, was built in 1783.

The Estate of Edwinsford consists of about 10,700 acres.

Drummond

The connection of the Drummond family of Hawthornden, Midlothian with Edwinsford began when Sir James Drummond, Bart, married in 1853 to Mary Eleanor, daughter of Sir James Hamlyn Williams, Bart of Edwinsford.
[In the book there now follows a detailed pedigree which has not been extracted]

Knights

Amongst those considered fit and qualified to be made Knights of the Royal Oak in 1660, we find entered for the said Order, as a Royalist, the name of "Nicholas Williams, Esq., Rhydodyn, Co. Carmarthen", with the value of his estate set opposite his name at 1000 pa. [In the book is also a reference to the same person being mentioned on the back of a letter of Howel Gwynne, Glanbrane, High Sheriff of Brecknock 1644-5]


1850/Memorial

Return to top

In the beginning of this year it was moved , carried, and adopted at the Parish Vestry, that the following Memorial should be presented at the next Quarter Sessions by John Johnes and George Lloyd Esquires; ---

"To the Worshipful the Justices of the Peace for the County of Carmarthen, in Quarter Sessions assembled.

"The memorial of the undersigned ratepayers of the parish of Llansawel humbly sheweth ---

"That the present depressed state of the prices of agricultural produce demands the strictest economy in the expenditure of the County Rate. That with a view of effecting a saving of a large amount, the rural police force can, in the judgment of your Memorialists, be safely disbanded. That this force was raised at a time of great excitement, which never happened before, nor is it ever again likely to occur in this county.

"That your Memorialists represent to your Worships that there has not been a police officer stationed in Llansawel, nor the adjoining parishes of Talley, Cayo, Llancrwys and Pencarreg for many years, and should the force be continued your Memorialists implore your Worships to rate such portions of the County towards their support as derive benefit from their presence and their services, and relieve your Memorialists from the support of a force which renders them no service.

"And your Memorialists will ever pray, &c."

How many of the ratepayers signed this memorial is not known, but no doubt all the farmers of the parish did so willingly. About 1864 the County built a Police Station, one of the finest in the County, and at the present time two police officers are stationed here.

Petty Sessions

The Petty Sessions are now held in the Town Hall since 1878, every month;  previously they were held at Pumpsaint. The first meeting was held on April 9th 1878, when Edward Jones Esq, and Major A P Jones sat on the bench. The Petty Sessions district comprises the parishes of Llansawel, Conwil Caio, Talley, Pencarreg and Llanycrwys.


Parish Registers

Return to top

Parish Registers were introduced by Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's Vice-regent, in the year 1539.

These documents were at first very unpopular from fear that they would be used as the basis of a new taxation.

The following are copied from the Parish registers ;---


Bowling Green; Llansawyl; Ymladdwyd; Dywedir; Baily Vicar

Return to top

These next four sections are in Welsh and are not extracted. However, the names appearing therein are shown below each heading.

Bowling Green ;

Rhydodyn ; Cothi ; Bryn y Ddinas ; Pawlin ; Gildas ; Paulinus ; Sawel Benuchel ; Bowling Green .

Llansawyl;

Sawyl Benuchel; Tref Goch yn Neheubarth

Ymladdwyd;

Rhydymeirch; Rhyglyn; Rhunglyn; Rhwyglyn

Dywedir;

Bryn y Ddinas ; Lynau Talyllychau

Baily Vicar;

Sir D Thomas, Bart


Volunteer Officer's Decoration

Return to top

A signal honour has been conferred upon an old Llansawelian, viz, the Rev Daniel H Davies, BA, Vicar of Mount and Verwig, Cardigan [ and brother to the late Dr Davies, of Nantgwinau], the acting chaplain of the Cardigan Company of Volunteers, for over 21 years 'service.

He has had bestowed upon him---for long service---the Queen's Decoration, a massive silver wreath of oak leaves, tied with golden bands, encircling the monogram "V.R." in gold and enamel, and surmounted by the imperial crown, also in gold and enamel.


Evan Price,  draper of Llansawel

Return to top

At the old farmstead of Baily Vicar in the parish of Llansawel within one mile of the town, on the 4 th of October 1821, Evan, son of Thomas and Mary Price, was born. Although not destined to become illustrious in the world, Evan Price spent a useful life in his own parish for many years........................................................His parents occupied the largest farm in the district, and were much respected in the neighbourhood for their kindness and their honesty. His father was a cattle dealer as well as a farmer, and the herds of cattle in those days were not sent to their destination in cattle-trucks on railways, but were driven over mountains and dales, highways and byeways, by a gang of men to the fairs of Barnet, Kent, and various parts of England. His father, Thomas Price, was the son of John and Margaret Price, of Tyllwydd Cwrt-y-cadno, Caio, and was born on the 6th of June 1791; his mother was the daughter of Evan and Sarah Evans, of the Plas, Talley.

.................................................................He supported the Liberal Party..........and his political opinions caused him to be named "Gladstone Bach". He acted as the Liberal Agent for this district for many years. About 1849 he opened business as a Draper and grocer in Llansawel, where he spent the rest of his days. In 1861 he was appointed Treasurer of the Llansawel Highway Board, which appointment he held until 1886....................................In March 1866 he was appointed Assistant-Overseer for the parish, which office he held until his death................In the seventies he, with others, took in hand the formation of a School Board, and in 1871 the Board was formed, when he was appointed Clerk, until 1875 ....................

As Assistant Overseer he officially attended the audit held at Llandilo on Friday the 7th of August 1896. The following Saturday he was in the Parish Churchyard trimming and cutting the "Weeping Ash" tree on the family grave, little dreaming that on the following Saturday he would be laid under its shadows......................


Advertisements

Return to top


Return to top

[Gareth Hicks]

InfoFind help, report problems, and contribute information.

Copyright GENUKI and Contributors 1996 to date
GENUKI is a registered trade mark of the
charitable trust GENUKI

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Hosted by Mythic Beasts Ltd.