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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 snippets from this book have been extracted by Gareth Hicks onto some parish pages, these below are in random order.

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

Economic and Social Life

Agriculture/The seventeenth century

"Enclosures and encroachments did not cease with the advent of the Stuarts to the English throne. With the increase of population, there was a demand for land to form new holdings, and, until the Enclosure Acts became more common in Carmarthenshire in the 19th century, these holdings were mostly formed by the process of squatting upon the unclaimed waste and the common land. Even the property of the church was not always safe from the squatters. In the Churchwardens' Presentments for Trelech and Betws in 1684, it is stated that there were cottagers settled upon the vicarage land."

History of the Church in the County

The Reformation; the Early Stuarts

"A notable figure of this period was Humphrey Toy of Carmarthen.......about 1557 he is described as a merchant on a large scale, supplying cloths, holland, and fustian to customers in Llangeler, Trelech and Eglwys Cymyn...."

Nonconformity and Methodism

Independents, 1650/87

"........the records of the time leave no doubt regarding the weakness of Independency. 1684 --- when persecution was at the hottest, it is true --- the churchwardens have very few schismatics to present in the districts where Independency would naturally be expected to have made some ground --- none in Trelech, one in Pencarreg, three families in Henllan ..."

Independent, 1687/1715

"....Archdeacon Tenison is the best authority for the exact dates when meeting houses were set up ad hoc in place of the casual and improvised rooms in private dwellings.........................the same authority tells us a chapel had been built at Trelech about 1703....."

".....under the sunshine of freedom, fed by increasing numbers, reinforced with sound sense, the subsidiary meeting places became separate causes ......... the northerly members of Henllan concentrating at Trelech ........."

The Henllan Secessions

"......the moderate party thought it high time to invoke the the principles of the Savoy Conference and the Happy Union by appealing to a synod of ministers ..... such a synod actually met, first at Pencader, afterwards at the Rock chapel in Trelech ...."

The Lists of Dr John Evans

"....In two or three parishes, in the absence of the clergyman, those who usually went to church often went to the meeting house; at several places, especially Caeo and Trelech, many of the Dissenters attended church when there was some hope of a sermon............. "

 "In two districts only does the Archdeacon refer to a sectarian landslide that might justify the figures of the Lists. Before the chapel was set up at Trelech, he said, there were only four Dissenting families in the parish; in 1710, by far the greatest number of the inhabitants, 'some part of every family', frequented the meeting-house --- in face of this transformation, the 150 of the Lists for Trelech seems eminently reasonable. "

"Other men made prominent by the Lists are ..... and Lewis Richards of Trelech (d. 1729)...."

The Older Dissent/Expansion and Organisation/

"............subject to these cautions we reckon that there were in 1715 seventeen Presbyterian or Independent churches (in Carmarthenshire);............................ including Trelech ..."

"In 1774, Evan Griffiths, pastor of Capel Seion Independent Church, compiled statistics of Dissenting 'hearers'. He names nineteen Independent churches, with a total of 6,340 'hearers', and ten Baptist churches with 1500. ....the largest Independent churches being ....... and Trelech (with 670).............."

".....indeed the portraits of ministers towards the close of the century show the preacher 'wearing his own hair', as did Christmas Evans himself, or Morgan Jones of Trelech --- in contrast with the bewigged portrait-gallery of the earlier period...."

"Less aristocratic, yet distinctly of the older academic stamp were ......... and Owen Davies, pastor successively at Crofft y Cyff (1743-67) and Trelech (1767-88)......."

Calvinistic Methodism

A list of early exhorters in Carmarthenshire has the following;

  • David John (Cefn Telych 1743; Trelech 1744

".....Griffith Jones saw no objection to using even Dissenting Meeting Houses where they were convenient --- the well known Independent chapel of Trelech gave him house-room, and the school there is duly 'certified', without any sign of perturbation, by the Vicar of Trelech, who was one of Griffith Jones's most prolix correspondents........"

Carmarthen Academy and Dissenting Education

"A few words may be added regarding the 'secondary' education of Dissenting ministers in the county .................. schools were also kept at .............. and Trelech by Owen Davies......"

Arminianism, Arianism, and Unitarianism

"The seceders eventually (1787) founded Rhyd y Parc (Llanwinio). But in the meantime , some of them had sought admission into the neighbouring church at Trelech. Owen Davies, the pastor, was willing to admit them, but the majority of his church was against it, and after vain attempts by neighbouring ministers to still the tempest, Owen Davies himself, and those who sided with him, joined the rest of the Glandwr seceders at Rhyd y Parc."

Concluding Remarks

"......yet David Rees at Llanelly and Joshua Lewis at Henllan, both Trelech men, continued to represent the older state of things.."

Literature and Literary Associations

Eliezer Williams (1754-1820) [essayist and founder of  a grammar school in Lampeter]

" 1777, he had the curacy of Trelech; from there he went to Tetsworth, Oxfordshire....."

George Lewis (1763-1822)

"His birthplace is given as Coed, and is supposed to have been in the Meidrym district; but the exact location remains doubtful. He became a member of the Independent church at Trelech, but that church in those days was a centre for a wide district, and the fact does not help in locating his early home. "  He was pastor at various Independent churches, a teacher and author --- his chief work was ' Drych Ysgrythyrol, neu Gorph o Ddifinyddiaeth' published in Chester in 1797.

Benjamin Davies (1840-1930)

Born at Dinas Rhondda, ordained in 1867, pastor  in Carmarthenshire for 45 years divided between Trelech and Capel Iwan (1885-1930).

The Age of the Native Princes

The Early Church; Rise of the Kingdom of Deheubarth

"In the Liber Landavensis, five churches are claimed for Teilo(Saint) in Cantref Mawr and six in Cantref Gwarthaf. These cannot all be identified ........... Trelech and Brechfa are also Teilo churches "


Physiographical Background

"To the north of this lowland, the high ground is formed by Ordovician and Silurian shales and mudstones, and may be said to form two roughly parallel ridges, separated from each other by a lowland divide, which follows the upper Cothi valley as far as Brechfa, and then passes through Llanllawddog  ......... and Trelech a'r Betws etc ....."


"Within each one of the major dialect divisions there are variations and local features which could be considered fully only in a comprehensive survey of the subject. A peculiar phenomenon of the dialect of Llanelly and the neighbouring villages of Llwynhendy, Llangennech, and Hendy is the use of the third person in familiar conversation. This practice also occurs, though less generally, in the west of the county around Llanboidy and Trelech ........"

Medieval boundaries

The western limb of Carmarthenshire belonged to the ancient kingdom of Dyfed, as opposed to  the adjacent Ystrad Tywi. One of the seven cantrefs of Dyfed was Y Cantref Gwarthaf, signifying  the 'topmost' division of the realm, i.e the one furthest from the governmental base. The size of Cantref Gwarthaf in Dyfed is shown by its containing the unusually large number of eight commotes, viz., Elfed, Derllys, Penrhyn, Ystlwyf, Talacharn, Amgoed, Peuliniog, and Efelffre, all of which except the last are now in Carmarthenshire. The data for fixing their boundaries is not so conclusive as up until this point, six of the eight commotes were merged under Henry VIII in the hundred of Derllys and the thorough Norman settlement of most of this region previously makes it difficult to disentangle the ancient areas.

Elfed alone appears to be a simple case; when the parishes which belong to Emlyn and Widigada have been detached, the rest of the hundred of Elfed stands out clearly as representative of the original commote. The parishes left are Cynwyl Elfed, Newchurch, or Llan Newydd, Carmarthen, Merthyr, Abernant and Trelech a'r Betws...............

Prehistoric and Roman Times

List of Carmarthenshire Hill Forts/Hill Forts with earthen ramparts


  • Castell Mawr, Trelech

And a list of  sites where slight traces indicate the possible former existence of a hill fort with earthen ramparts includes;

  • Parc yr Eglwys, Trelech

Human Settlement and Economy in the Early Iron Age/Fortresses utilising promontories etc


  • Pencaerau Bach, Trelech

  Carmarthenshire in the New Stone Age/Standing Stones


  • Pen-yr-allt Stone, Trelech a'r Betws
  • Godre Llain Stone, Trelech a'r Betws
  • Treparcau Stone, Trelech a'r Betws

Carmarthenshire in the Bronze Age/The Early Bronze Age

A list of perforated axe-hammers found in Carmarthenshire includes;

  • Parc-y-garn, Bronllan,   Trelech a'r Betws

[Gareth Hicks  17 July 2003]