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A History of Carmarthenshire

Lloyd, Sir John E., (Ed.). 2 vols., Cardiff, London Carmarthenshire Society (1935, 1939).

With the kind permission of the publishers sundry extracts from this book have been extracted by Gareth Hicks onto some parish pages, these snippets below are in random order.

Here is a list of the book's contents and contributors.

Medieval divisions

In early medieval terms Carmarthenshire was made up of  Ystrad Tywi [without Gower], Emlyn Uch Cuch and Y Cantref Gwarthaf[without Efelffre]. At some point pre the Norman conquest  Ystrad Tywi itself was divided into Y Cantref Mawr and Y Cantref Bychan.
About the time of the Norman conquest, Cantref Mawr was divided into 7 commotes, one of these was Caeo which included the parishes of Llansawel and Cynwyl Gaeo.

Post  Civil War  in Llansawel

Following the Civil War , a new Act for Wales was passed in 1649-50, this appointed 71Commissioners [none came from Carmarthenshire], and Llansawel was one of the parishes where the clergy was ejected from the parish church by the Puritan Commissioners.

Methodists in Llansawel

Two Carmarthenshire Methodist chapels- Cil y Cwm and Llansawel, are among the three which can claim to be the first Methodist Meeting Houses in Wales. Llansawel's claim is based on a monthly Methodist meeting in Abergorlech in 1744 when it was agreed " that a House should be built at Llansawel for religious purposes such as preaching, teaching school etc ." James Williams [see below] told that in 1748  he visited the society at Llansawel [which met at a place called "Bryne" or perhaps " Bryniau Bychan".]

A list of early  Methodist "exhorters"  in Carmarthenshire would include the name of Joseph John [1743] of Llansawel.

The greater number of Carmarthenshire Methodist Societies were under Daniel Rowland as "Moderator", with William Williams as his coadjutor. Under them, James Williams of Lampeter took a group in the north of the county, including Llansawel.

In 1744 there were 18 Methodist Societies in Carmarthenshire, of these Llansawel had 47 members. But by 1748 the Llansawel total had fallen to 25, part of the evidence that Methodism had "gone back" in the county, one cause thought to be the breach between Methodism and the Dissenters.

In 1905, whilst the number of Calvinistic Methodist communicants in Carmarthenshire was less than twenty per cent of the Nonconformist total, but in Llansawel, amongst other parishes in the north east of the county, they were in an absolute majority.

A historian of Welsh Methodism , one James Morris [1853-1914], he published "Hanes Methodistiaeth Sir Gaerfyrddin " in 1911, had been minister at Llansawel.

Llansawel Academy

The Rev Ben Davies [1864-1937], born in Cwmllynfell, was a pupil at Llansawel Academy preparing for Bala College, when he won his first bardic chair c 1884 .He was well known all over Wales as " Ben Davies Pant Teg" being the minister at Pan Teg Independent Chapel, Ystalyfera for 37 years.

Bridges in Llansawel

A bridge called Pont-andremus over the Cothi between Llansawel and Caeo was built in 1777, and replaced by a more modern structure in 1821 to facilitate the stream of traffic that passed that way to Glamorgan from Mid Cardiganshire. 

At Llansawel, the cost of maintaining its footbridges was a burden on the parish budget, in 1767 five shillings pa  was promised to John Morgan for repairing those that crossed the rivers Marlais and Melinddwr. The son appears to have succeeded the father as, in 1780,  6/8  was paid to one Rees Morgan for the same work. In 1798 a new footbridge was of necessity  erected over the Melinddwr.

Gareth Hicks