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Wales - Genealogy Help Pages - Not everyone knows this .... (5)

Carmarthenshire
Town, county and parishes

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Apprenticeship in Carmarthenshire

Corn Riots in Wales, 1793-1801         See Glamorgan

Carmarthenshire county

Betws

Carmarthen town

Cil-y-cwm

Kidwelly

Llandeilo

Llandovery

Llandybie

Llanelli

Llangadog

Llansadwrn

Llansawel

Llanybydder

Newcastle Emlyn/Cenarth parish

Pencarreg

Penboyr/Llanddowror

St Clears

.

.

 

Apprenticeship in Carmarthenshire

For more online information about the county of Carmarthenshire  see Genuki 

Extracted  from the Dyfed FHS journal Vol 5/7 August 1996 for the purpose of linking it to the Genuki page for Llanarthney parish, originally from the " Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society" , transcribed 1913 by Geo. Eyre Evans, which is held at Carmarthen Archives.

Llanarthney parish Vestry Book 1799-1807.

24 June 1801, the Vestry assembled " according to the Provision of an Act passed in the 32nd year [i.e 1792] of the reign of King George III, entitled an Act for further regulation of parish apprentices" and agreed on these conditions;

"1st. That every person that receive an apprentice of the age of eight years is to have one pare of clothes, to wear at the time of the delivery and six pounds to be paid by the parish officers in six months after the enrolment of the said Indenture.

2nd. Likewise every person that receive apprentice of the age of nine years a pare of clothes as aforesaid and five pounds and likewise from nine to thirteen  decreasing one pound according they arrive to one year older , decreasing one pound as they increase in age till they arrive at the full age of fourteen years, and he that arrive at that age is [to] have no more than one pare of clothes.

Having settled these terms the Vestry forthwith agree " to settle the following apprentices under named , Elizabeth Griffith with Mr Thomas Francis of Llanarthney; John Thomas, the son of Richard Thomas, to Thomas Richards of Berleymount; Evan Rees with Mr Thomas Morgan of Heolddu; and also agree that the age of the above apprentices is to be satisfied by the parish register".

[Gareth Hicks 4.4.2000 D]

Llansawel

For more online information about the parish of Llansawel see Genuki, this parish page includes snippets from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.             


Connections to Jesus College, Oxford

Welshmen had been students at Jesus College since at least the C14, many intending to take Holy Orders. In its early period the College was closely associated with Carmarthenshire through 7 of its Principals, two of whom came from Llansawel. They were : firstly Dr John Williams [1550-1613] who was also Dean of Bangor in 1605 ; and secondly, Dr Griffith Powell who left his estate of £650 to the College.


Turnpike Trusts

The Three Commotts Trust controlled the road south of the Tywi between Llandeilo and Carmarthen, as there was no river bridge between these two towns a Trust was authorised to build one at Llandeilo Rwnws in Llanegwad parish. From this crossing ran the roads of the Brechfa Trust, one along the Cothi valley to Brechfa and Llansawel.........


[Above based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


Cattle drovers

Herds from south west Wales travelled towards the Hereford and Gloucester routes into England up the Tywi Valley to Llandovery. Herds from South Cardiganshire reached Llandovery through Llanybydder and Llansawel.

The part of the route between Rhydcymerau and Llansawel did not follow the course of the present main road, instead the drovers turned left at the Cart and Horses and continued towards Post Carreg to join the old drift road which ran above Cwmcoedifor and Cwm Hywel Farms eventually joining the main road again at Sunnybank Farm about half a mile west of Llansawel village. There is a strong local tradition in the existence of a cattle shoeing enclosure , Cwm yr efail bach, along the course of the said drift road above Cwmcoedifor. Sunnybank Farm ,and Rhydyglyn Farm which lies on the Abergorloch-Llansawel road, were both regularly used by drovers for overnight corralling of cattle, while animals were being shod in Llwyn Felfryn field  in Llansawel village as recently as the mid 1880s.

Leaving Llansawel, the drovers crossed the Cothi above Glanyrannell Park and on to either Caeo via Crugybar , or to Porthyrhyd.

[Partly based on The Welsh Cattle Drovers by Richard Colyer 1976. Gareth Hicks 3.6.2000 D]

Betws

For more online information about the parish of Betws see Genuki, this parish page includes snippets from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.             

Recommended  reading ;

Trumor Thomas, D. Old Characters of Bettws. Glanamman, 1894. (Trans. from the original Welsh by Ivor Griffiths, Gorseinon.) [Index] .
See Betws for an extensive summary of the book


Methodists

Some of Griffith Jones's schoolmasters in Carmarthenshire were Methodists, one example would be Anthony Rees who taught at Llandybie and Betws in 1738-1739.

David Morris [1787-1858]of Glyn-hir, Llandybie, an Independent convert , joined the methodists at Betws and later at Capel Hendre.He obtained the copyright of Williams Pantycelyn's works and published several editions between 1833 and 1854.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]

Before the middle of the C18 there was a mixed congregation of Methodists and Congregationalists meeting at a house called Argoed in Bettws parish. Howell Harris preached there in 1740. In 1748 a license was obtained from the Quarter Sessions at Carmarthen which said;

"11th Jan 1748. Ordered that the house of Hopkin John, called Argoed, in the parish of Bettws, be registered as a place of worship for dissenting protestants, and that a certificate be given thereof."

Nonconformists worshipped in this house for a long time.

[Based on The History of Llandybie by Gomer Roberts 1939[Translated by Ivor Griffiths]. Gareth ]


                                                                                                                                                                           

Llansadwrn

For more online information about the parish of Llansadwrn see Genuki, this parish page includes snippets from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.             


  The SPCK and Charity Schools

Some 96 schools were opened in Wales under the auspices of the SPCK between 1700 and 1737 with about 50 others endowed by private benefactors. Several schools  in Carmarthenshire conducted mainly by local clergy were opened   and included one in Llansadwrn.                                                                                                                                                                

[Above based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]   


Sir Rhys ap Thomas

Sir Rhys ap Thomas [ 1449-1525] had several mansions such as Abermarlais in Llansadwrn, Derwydd in Llandybie , Carew, and Newcastle Emlyn.

He was head of the Dynefor family, an important figure in South Wales, his positions included Chamberlain of Cardigan and Carmarthen and Justiciar of South Wales. He successfully aided Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field and tradition says that he himself slew Richard III and was knighted on the battlefield.

Based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ]

Llandybie

For more online information about the parish of Llandybie see Genuki, this parish page includes snippets from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.             

One book that is recommended reading for  this parish is by Roberts, G.R. - The History of the Parish of Llandybie, written in 1939 and translated by Ivor Griffiths (1995). Here is an  Index  and also some snippets from the book on Genuki


Sir Rhys ap Thomas

Sir Rhys ap Thomas [ 1449-1525] had several mansions such as Abermarlais in Llansadwrn, Derwydd in Llandybie , Carew, and Newcastle Emlyn.

He was head of the Dynefor family, an important figure in South Wales, his positions included Chamberlain of Cardigan and Carmarthen and Justiciar of South Wales. He successfully aided Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field and tradition says that he himself slew Richard III and was knighted on the battlefield.

Based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ]


Du Buisson of Glyn-hir

Richard Fenton , a traveller in Carmarthenshire, said that one of the Du Buisson family of Glyn-hir had made his estate " by great perseverance and profound agricultural knowledge, from cold mountain ground, as good land as any in the county ". This French Huguenot family had settled in the Llwchwr valley near Llandybie after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

[ Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]   


Turnpikes and lime kilns

Some Carmarthenshire Turnpike Trusts sponsored their roads to gain better access  from the uplands to their lime kilns at Ludchurch, St Clears, Llanddarog, Llandeilo and Llandybie. Among these were the Llandeilo and Llandybie Trust, the Llandovery and Llangadog Trust whose road carried the lime traffic from the Black Mountain kilns and coal from the Amman Valley; and the Three Commotts Trust which controlled the road south of the Tywi between Llandeilo and Carmarthen.

[ Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]   


Charity schools

The aim of the SPCK was to get a charity school set up in every parish with the assistance of the local clergy, gentry and well to do residents. John Vaughan and his daughter Bridget  founded at least two, at Llandelo Abercywyn and at Llandybie.

[ Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]   


Moravians

With reference to the Moravian community established by Howel  Harris at Trefeca in Breconshire, it is noted that the Moravian Brethren considered establishing a religious colony at three sites in Carmarthenshire, one of which was Glyn-hir , near Llandybie.The project did not proceed.

[ Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]   


Methodists

At the beginning of the C19,   Welsh Wesleyanism had found foothold throughout  CMN, notably at Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llangadog, Llandybie,Carmarthen, St Clears and Llansteffan where Wesleyan Methodist societies were formed.

The debt of Carmarthenshire Methodism to Griffith Jones's schools is difficult to assess. Some, at least, of his schoolmasters in the county were demonstrably Methodists; for instance... Anthony Rees taught at Llandybie and Betws in 1738-9.

[ Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ] 

and [ Based on The History of Carmarthenshire by Sir John Lloyd 1939. Gareth Hicks]

Penboyr/Llanddowror

For more online information about the parish of Penboyr see Genuki  and for Llanddowror see Genuki


Gruffydd Jones of Llanddowror [1683-1761]

Gruffydd Jones was born at Pant-yr-efel in Penboyr parish, and likely attended Carmarthen Grammar School in preparation for Holy Orders.Ordained in 1708, held a curacy at Laugharne, and had the living at Llandeilo Abercywyn in 1711, and that of Llanddowror in 1716 where he stayed until his death 45 years later.

Although an influential preacher he is mainly remembered for his work for education in Wales.He realised the difficulty of preparing  illiterate people  to receive the sacrements and began to teach people of all ages to read the Bible. His method was to open a school for 3 months in a neighbourhood, using the village church for that purpose when the incumbent approved, with evening classes too. Books were obtained from the SPCK, he trained teachers himself at Llanddowror.

He cultivated his connections with the gentry in order to raise money for his campaign. He owed much to his brother in law, Sir John Philipps of Picton Castle; also to Madame Bevan of Derllys Court, and her friends in London and Bath.

He also wrote an annual report called Welch Piety. In the year of his death,  8023 pupils had atended the 210 schools then in being and it was claimed that more than 150,000 persons between 6 and 70 years old had learnt to read their Welsh Bibles in the 24 years of their existence. There can be little doubt that this army of readers conversant with the standard Welsh  language of  their Bibles made possible the awakening of interest in education amongst Welsh people in the following century.

Partly based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ]


                                                                                                                                                                                 

Cil-y-cwm

For more online information about the parish of Cil-y-cwm see Genuki  


Morgan Rhys [1716-1779]

Born at Efail-fach, parish of Cil-y-cwm near Llandovery, he joined the Methodist reformers there and probably conducted a school at Capel Isaac in Llandeilofawr parish. He is known to have taught at the schools of Gruffydd Jones, Llanddowror and Madame Bevan between 1757 and 1775 and was a member of the Established Church in that period. He was buried at Llanfynydd churchyard where a monument was raised in his memory.

He is best remembered as a hymnist, his hymns were published in Golwg o Ben Nebo[1755]. In this period religion laid stress on the soul of the individual and this attitude is reflected in the work of Morgan Rhys. Two of his well  known hymns are Beth sydd i mi yn y byd and Fe welir Seion fel y wawr illustrate this.

Compared with Williams Pantycelyn, Rhys wrote little but although lacking the former's imagination is still one of the foremost hymn writers in Wales.

Based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ]                                                                                                                                                                                     

St Clears

For more online information about the parish of St Clears see Genuki


Thomas Charles [1755-1814]

Born on the farm of Longmoor, near St Clears, educated first at Llanddowror and later at Carmarthen Academy and Jesus College, Oxford. He joined one of the Methodist "Societies" whilst at Carmarthen and heard Daniel Rowland preach, an experience which deeply influenced him.  At Oxford he came into contact with the leaders of the Methodists in England, he held curacies in various places in England and at Llanwddyn and  Llanymawddwy . He was deprived of his office for cahechising the children and joined the Methodists in Bala in 1784.

During his extensive preaching journeys he continued to catechise and also revived the Circulating Schools many places.  At first he was not in favour of Sunday Schools but by 1797 changed his mind and initiated the distinctly Welsh development  of these schools.  In 1799 he and Thomas Jones started publication of Trysorfa Ysbrydol , a Methodist periodical, and in 1803 a printing press was brought to Bala and from that year to the year of his death 320,000 of his  school books were printed . This period also saw the publication of the work which enlightened thousands, his Geiriadur Ysgrythyrol [Scripture Dictionary]. He was an ardent supporter of the London Missionary Society and helped to establish the British and Foreign Bible Society. In his time as as one of the leading Methodists in Wales the movement ceased to be a part of the Established Church and became a separate denomination. He is buried in Llanycil, it is his work for the Sunday School in Wales which is his greatest glory.

Based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks 17.5.2000 D]                                                                                                                                                                        

Newcastle Emlyn/Cenarth parish

For more online information about Cenarth in which ancient parish Newcastle Emlyn was ,  see Genuki


Theophilus Evans [1693-1767]

Theophilus Evans was born at Penywennallt, a farmhouse near Newcastle Emlyn. His family was wealthy and ardently royalist, his grandfather had fought for the king in the Civil War.

At an early age he developed an interest in literature, it is likely he attended the Grammar School at Carmarthen. He was ordained in 1717, became curate at Defynnog, Breconshire, where he came under the influence of Humphrey Llwyd, author of Historie of Cambria [1584]. This became one of the chief sources of Drych y Prif Oesoedd, Evans's greatest work which put him in the front rank of Welsh prose writers.Like Geofrey of Monmouth he aimed at glorifying the Welsh nation.  From 1722-25 he was Vicar at Llandyfriog, afterwards held several livings in Bre. Williams Pantycelyn was his curate at Llanwrtyd in 1740 but the latter was obliged to leave when he came under the influence of the Methodist Revival who Evans greatly disliked. Evans was buried at Llangamarch Church.             

[Based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ] 


                                                                                                                                                                   

Kidwelly

For more online information about the parish of Kidwelly see Genuki 


A dear old lady from Cidweli

Nursery rhymes are an important part of our literature and folk lore. One of the most well known refers to a dear lady  who kept a sweet shop in Cydweli. She specialised in selling liquorice[losin du], offering 10 pieces for a half penny[dimai], but "I" always had an extra piece. The rhyme goes;

"Hen fynyw fach Cydweli

Yn gwerthu losin du

Yn gwerthu deg am ddimai

Ond un ar ddeg i fi."

[ Based on "A Helping Hand " by W J Jones 1996. Gareth Hicks 5.5.2000 D]    


Bridge over the Llwchwr

In 1831, the Kidwelly Trust on the recommendation of the famous Thomas Telford , built a bridge over the River Llwchwr at a cost of £10,000, this shortened the journey from Kidwelly and Llanelli to Swansea , by cutting out the detour through Pontarddulais, by 15 miles.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]                                                         

Llanelli

For more online information about the parish of Llanelli see Genuki 


The Whitford Lighthouse

This unique lighthouse is a prominent landmark at the mouth of the Burry Inlet. It is an impressive sight when it stands alone amidst vast sand banks at low tide, or when the empty tower is battered by heavy seas. Today, the Burry Inlet is used only by small craft, but the Whitford Lighthouse belongs to an era when Llanelli was a major Welsh port with an important coastal and foreign trade.

The present structure is the second to have been built on the Whitford sker. Its predecessor was erected about half-a-mile north of Whitford Point, in 1854. Its designer was Captain John Paisley Luckraft, who was the Harbour Master at Llanelli. ........................The light was first lit on the night of 22nd January, 1855..........The following year, events conspired to almost wreck the Whitford Lighthouse. .......wreckage became trapped amongst the piles, and broke one of the stays. .......more wreckage became entangled during a storm on 7th February, which led to the loss of the remaining stayrods. Later that day, Michael Leheane, one of two keepers, reported to Captain Luckraft that the tide had risen to an extraordinary height, and that the sea was the heaviest he had experienced. Fearing for their lives, both keepers abandoned the lighthouse at low water. On the following day, Captain Luckraft found that 13 of the 18 stayrods had been washed away. .... Michael Leheane and William Hughes, a Llanelli pilot, bravely agreed to stay the night there.

More damage occurred in 1857 when the " Stark", of Dublin, collided with the lighthouse, demolishing the north-east pile. By 1864, the lighthouse had become a major headache for the commissioners of the Burry........[who] called for a report on the scientific construction of lighthouses.

Plans for a new lighthouse were drawn up by John Bowen, a local engineer. He was a blacksmith's son and was employed by Messrs. Nevill, Druce and Co. as an engineer at Llanelly Copperworks..... he was responsible for the design and building of Llanelli's tallest chimney, the " Stac Fawr", at the Copperworks, which was completed in 1861. At the time, it was claimed to be the tallest chimney stack in Europe. A different siting was chosen for the new lighthouse, about 300 yards south of the old one.......the successful tenderers- Messrs. Hennet & Co. ......the lamp was lit in November, 1866.

Repairs were found to be necessary during the 1880's.......The lighthouse continued to operate satisfactorily for over fifty years, and, in 1919, Llanelly Harbour Trust considered installing a more powerful automatic gas-light at Whitford, but came to the conclusion that the estuary would be better served if a new lighthouse were to be built on Burry Holms.

This was built during 1921, and, ......the Whitford Light was finally extinguished.

The lighthouse obtained official recognition when the Ancient Monuments Commission listed it as a building of historic interest in 1981. This was achieved because of its unique position as the only cast-iron lighthouse regularly surrounded by the sea. John Bowen's tower has survived over 120 years of buffeting by the sea and, although his other masterpiece, the "Stac Fawr", is but a dim memory, the Whitford Lighthouse remains as a fitting memorial to this talented engineer.

[Based on the THE WHITFORD LIGHTHOUSE by Richard Davies . Maureen Thoms  14/15.6.2000 D]


Llanelly Copper Works

[Nevill MSS]

In 1805 a copper works was established at Llanelly under the direction and management of Nevill[of Swansea and Birmingham], Savill [ of London], Daniell  [of Cornwall]and Guest [of Birmingham]. Effectively it was a vertically integrated partnership of interests in which copper ore from Cornwall was shipped to Llanelly for smelting and conversion to fine copper. The Cornish interests were represented by R A Daniell and the marketing of the finished product was through the Savill-Guest connection.

The Accounts of the Llanelly Copper Smelting Company for the 6 months to June   1838 showed that 984 tons of ore worth £73,798 had been bought from Cornwall and 489 tons worth £40,828 from Swansea. Some £6,168 of coal was used in the smelting process with Wages of £4,989 as the next biggest item of expenditure.
The analysis of profit centres shows £12,259 from the Copper Trade, and the following amounts from the stated collieries; Dafen £3619, Box £1938, Penygare £68 and Llanlliedi £43.  R J Nevill was the Manager of the Copper Works and Collieries at a salary of £700 pa.

The partners at that date as shown in the Balance sheet were; M. Thomas, G T Thomas, R J Nevill, W Unwin Sims, Alexander Druce, Thos Devas, Humphrey Willyams, Exors Col Johnson, P Gowan.

[Based on  "Accounting, Costing and Cost Estimation[Welsh Industry 1700-1830]" by Haydn Jones 1985, Gareth Hicks  14 July 2000 D ] 


Llanelli--name derivation

In Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Wales 1833[see Genuki page] , it says;

"This place, which appears to be of great antiquity, derives its name from its church being dedicated to St. Elliw . . . "

But , a differing modern view is;

"I am very interested in your [Genuki] page but would just like to add the comment about Llanelli and how it derived its name. Previously it was thought that the Parish Church was dedicated to St Ellyw the daughter of Saint Brychan King of Brycheiniog. However, in the light of more recent information it is thought that the Parish Church was dedicated to Saint Elli the favourite disciple of Saint Cadog of Llancarfan. If the saint had been female it would have been Santes being the female form; the name Sant denotes a male."

[Benita 13 Jan 2001]


Trimsaran Colliery disaster

The following is a news story taken from the The Daily Mail dated April 27th 1923, .

RUNAWAY TRUCKS IN MINE , 9 MEN KILLED: MANY INJURED

Seven miners were killed outright, two died from injuries on the way to hospital, at least five are so terribly injured that their recovery is doubtful, and about 20 others were less seriously hurt by an accident at Trimsaran Colliery, near Llanelly in the Welsh anthracite coalfield yesterday.

The morning shift had just finished and a string of trains containing men and one containing tools were being drawn up the drift, which is 1400 yards deep. the trams had ascended about 300 yards, when a link in a shackle snapped and five of the trains rapidly descended the drift.

They careered wildly for a distance before going off the road, when they became piled up in confusion. The cries of the injured men and the noise of the smash drew the attention of those waiting their turn to come up at the bottom of the drift. These men hurried to the rescue. The injured were got out as speedily as possible, but it was hours before all could be disentangled from the wreckage. The injured were taken to Llanelly hospital.

The names of the dead are:

  • William Jenkins, 42, married, with four children, under manager.
  • Thomas Williams, 48, married with grown-up family.
  • Sid Williams, 25, married with one child.
  • Thomas John, 68, married, with grown-up family.
  • Albert Probert, 16.
  • Harold Parry, 15.
  • Wm. John Reece, 24, single.
  • Arthur John Davies, 22, single.
  • Wm. Rodgers, 21, single.

The colliery, which is owned by Mr. Evan Jones, is one of the best equipped in West Wales, and has a fine electric installation.

[Mick Goddard   G 15 April 2002]  

 

 

Llandeilo

For more online information about the parish of Llandeilo Fawr see Genuki, this parish page includes snippets from  'A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.

There is another extensive site dedicated to Llandeilo-fawr, based on the book   Llandilo, Present & Past.      


Catholics

Catholic Missionaries in the C16 were known as seminary priests, there appear to be no records of their activities in Carmarthenshire ,which was generally infertile ground, apart from the short ministrations of Morgan Clynnog who was trained at the English College in Rome. He returned to Wales in 1582 and c 1590 he is known to have worked in the Llandeilo area , and other parts of the Tywi valley. He was later at Margam and Cowbridge in Glamorgan, he  recruited a number of Welshmen from good families for training at Douai and Valladolid[Spain] and was active in missionary work until at least 1619.                       


Methodists

The Methodist Revivalists , treated very violently in North Wales, do not appear to have been always welcomed with open arms in Carmarthenshire either.  It is recorded that from time to time they were mobbed at Llandeilo, Llangyndeyrn and especially at Kidwelly and Llandovery. As late as 1770 Howel Harris wrote of Llandovery "I still call this the Devil's headquarters, as the Old Vicar did."

The Calvinistic Methodist Association meeting in Llandeilo in 1791 proceeded to excommunicate Peter Williams, one of its prominent and devoted members who had worked and suffered for Methodism for over 40 years.His expulsion was deeply resented by a number of Methodists, especially in the Vale of Glamorgan where  the well known Welsh  hymnists Thomas William and John Williams left Methodism and eventually became Independents worshipping at Bethesda 'r Fro, near Llantwit Major.

At Llandeilo in 1811 was held the historic "South Wales Association" which completed the final separation of the Calvinistic methodists from the mother Church by the formal ordination of 13 exhorters to the work of the Methodist ministry. The ordination of 21 preachers at Bala and Llandeilo as  Calvinistic Methodists lead , in 1823, to a new and vigorous Nonconformist denomination being  born in Wales.

In 1807 there appeared at Llandeilo Fawr the man who has been regarded  [inaccurately ?] by Wesleyanism as its pioneer, he was Edward Jones of Bathafarn[Ruthin].The mission there was instantly and remarkably successful.
Now Welsh Wesleyanism had found foothold throughout  CMN, notably at Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llangadog, Llandybie,Carmarthen, St Clears and Llansteffan where Wesleyan Methodist societies were formed.


Absentee landlords

The traveller, B H Malkin, was as much impressed by the number of country mansions he saw in north Cardiganshire as he was by those in the Llandeilo area. But with this difference, that many who owned the former did not live in them. He added that there were landlords in the districts referred to who, between them received £25,000 every year from rentals " without ever seeing the spot from whence they derived their wealth". This, he maintained, drained the resources of the countryside and thus impoverished the community.


Floods

T J Barber in his "Tour through South Wales and Monmouthshire" in 1803 gave a graphic account  of one of those floods that periodically affected the vale of Tywi, he observed "The morning that we left Llandeilo brought with it a scene of affliction to the neighbouring country; one of those deluging rains....fell with unparalleled violence during the night , when the vast accession of water , unable to discharge itself by the ordinary channels, swept away trees , fences, small buildings, cattle and poultry in its devious course. Several mills were destroyed , and many an industrious cottager , awakened by the flood eddying round his bed, saw himself at once dispossessed of the fruits of many years hard saving."

[Above based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks 4.5.2000 D] 


St Teilo's Church  OS Ref SN 629222

The last service in the old church at Llandeilo was on 20th Feb 1848. The rebuilt church, by  Sir G G Scott, opened in October 1850, the original C13 tower  and an old font survived the rebuilding . It is  double aisled like the old one, the rebuilding cost was £3723.13.10.The north aisle is now partitioned off as a hall, there are two C10 or C11 cross slabs.

[Partly based on Romilly's Visits to Wales 1827-1854.MGR Morris, 1998; and Churches of Carmarthenshire by Mike Salter 1994. Gareth Hicks 8.5.2000 D]


Timber !

Some of the best timber in the county stood on the Golden Grove Estate, the largest in West Wales. When John Vaughan took possession of the Estate in 1751 he disposed of a large quantity of mature and older trees  to an English timber merchant, Robert Chitty of Sussex.  This covered the sale of 6,620 trees , mainly oaks and elms, in the parishes of Llanfihangel Aberybythych, Llandeilo fawr and Llangathen for the sum of £10,300.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


The Well-cult in Carmarthenshire

Wells, springs and river pools have been closely associated with religious observances since time immemorial.Many which had been considered sacred in pagan days were rededicated later for Christian purposes, and often churches were built near them or chapels or canopies erected over them.

Major Francis Jones covers the subject in scholarly fashion in his "The Holy Wells of Wales" . One of the wells mentioned  is Ffynnon Gwyddfaen , now known as Ffynnon Llandyfaen, in Llandeilo.

The operations of Morgan Clynnog , mentioned above under Catholics, may account for a case brought to the Star Chamber in 1594-5 against one Morgan Jones, a local magistrate and squire of Tregib. The evidence in the case includes reference to the fact that orders had been given by the Council of Wales to a certain John Gwyn Williams to suppress pilgrimages and " idolatrous places", more especially the well of Ffynnon Gwyddfaen, Llandeilo. One day Williams arrested many people at the well and brought them before Mr Jones who dismissed the case which resulted in him being brought before the Star Chamber..
Major Francis Jones concludes ".....there is no doubt that this was a pilgrimage pure and simple, made under the excuse of healing......"

The further history of Ffynnon Gwyddfaen shows continued religious association, after the suppression of Sunday games and festivities there, the Methodist  preacher Peter Williams, preached on the spot in 1748. And between 1771 and 1787 the local Baptists immersed their converts in the well, "a circumstance [ wrote Francis Jones] which caused a great sensation at the time." In 1808 a chapel called Soar was built there.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. 10.5.2000 Gareth Hicks ]


Turnpikes and lime kilns

Some Carmarthenshire Turnpike Trusts sponsored their roads to gain better access  from the uplands to their lime kilns at Ludchurch, St Clears, Llanddarog, Llandeilo and Llandybie. Among these were the Llandeilo and Llandybie Trust, the Llandovery and Llangadog Trust whose road carried the lime traffic from the Black Mountain kilns and coal from the Amman Valley; and the Three Commotts Trust which controlled the road south of the Tywi between Llandeilo and Carmarthen.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


Quakers

In the ecclesiastical report sent to Archdeacon Tenison in 1710, it is stated that the Quakers had a meeting house in Llandeilo fawr, and a congregation containing six families.

They were visited in 1753 by a John Player, a well known Quaker, and he reported

"The morrow a meeting was appointed to be at Pen-place at the wido, Bowens..."

A meeting was held next day at Pen-y-banc, about 7 miles away, and that is where John Player went.

"The morrow set forward to Penybanc to the house of Thomas Price...where we had a meeting in the evening.........."

At a meeting of ten friends at Pen-y-banc  in 1757 this resolution was arrived at;

"As Friends are not satisfied to keep their Meeting at Penplace any further, this meeting appoints Jacob David, Lewis William, to look for a convenient place for a Meeting-house and agree for the same."

At a meeting at Pen-y-banc in 1758, William Reynolds and Thomas Price were appointed " to have the new meeting-house at Kaeglase near New Inn, Llandeilo to be recorded at the next Quarter Sessions". This house stand today about two miles outside Llandeilo on the way to Dalyllychau ; it is still known as the "Ty-cwrdd" although turned into a dwelling house many years ago.

[Based on The History of Llandybie by Gomer Roberts 1939[Translated by Ivor Griffiths]. Gareth 22 Sept 2000 D]


Education

An early school

The Rev. Nicholas Roberts was headmaster of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Carmarthen, he wrote certain letters at the time[1673-4] which contain interesting snippets of information about C17 schools in the county.

One letter mentions three "eminent personages who taught school in this county" , Jeremy Taylor; William Nicholson, Vicar of Llandeilo; and William Thomas, Vicar of Laugharne. The last two were ejected from their livings by the Puritans. Jeremy Taylor joined Nicholson in conducting a private school at Newton, Llandeilo, and William Thomas opened a similar school at Laugharne. All three became Bishops after the Restoration.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


Carreg Cennen Castle

The dust jacket to the book The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr by R R Davies shows a photograph of Cerreg Cennen Castle in Llandeilo fawr parish  which was captured by this most famous figure in Welsh history in 1403 during his Revolt.

See an  introduction to the book with chapter headings here

[Gareth Hicks ]


Living conditions c 1775

Sir Thomas Gery Cullum visited Llandeilo in 1775 and this is part of what he recorded;

"The mud houses of these Parts are of the most wretched Construction. The Walls do not consist of Lath and Plaster..but are entirely of earth, and that not of straw wrought up with it, but with sometimes a layer of Straw; the chimnies scarcely rising above the roofs, and conical Wicker-work barely plaistered over. The walls are often seen in a state of Vegetation; the roofs universally thatched....Most of the cottages are destitute of Glass Windows, instead of which neat lattice work. Yet the inhabitants of these wretched huts are better Cloathed than the tenants of better Houses of England. Their Woollen Cloathes are not subject to hang in Tatters as the slight Stuffs and Linen of the English. And I think that upon the whole that the Poor of Wales are a happier set of People indeed very indistrious, but they are sober and content with a little. Beggars are to be met with but very rarely; I have been asked for a Halfpenny for Tobacco."

[Based on The History of Llandybie by Gomer Roberts 1939[Translated by Ivor Griffiths]. Gareth 26 Sept 2000 D  ]

 

Llangadog

 

For more online information about the parish of Llangadog see Genuki, this parish page includes material from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.              


Sir John Williams [1840-1926]

He was born at Blaen Llynant, Gwynfe, educated at Normal College, Swansea , and University College, London. He became famous as a doctor in London , was one of the Royal Physicians and a professor at University College, London.

After his retirement he settled at Llansteffan, CMN. He had always been interested in collecting books and manuscripts and had set his heart on a National Library for Wales. He laboured enthusiastically to this end and when the NLW was opened in Aberystwyth in 1890 he was chosen as its president. he transferred his  most valuable collection of  about 25,000 books and about 1200 manuscripts,[the Llansteffan Collection] some quite rare,  to the NLW where they formed the basis of that institution. The NLW recieved its Royal Charter in 1907 and moved to the present purpose built buildings in 1916.

He is thus remembered as a real benefactor to his nation.

Based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ]


Turnpikes and lime kilns

Some Carmarthenshire Turnpike Trusts sponsored their roads to gain better access  from the uplands to their lime kilns at Ludchurch, St Clears, Llanddarog, Llandeilo and Llandybie. Among these were the Llandeilo and Llandybie Trust, the Llandovery and Llangadog Trust whose road [completed  by 1833] carried the lime traffic from the Black Mountain kilns and coal from the Amman Valley; and the Three Commotts Trust which controlled the road south of the Tywi between Llandeilo and Carmarthen.

Lime

Agriculturalists who lived in the more isolated districts in the county transported the lime to their homes in panniers on horses, while the lowland farmers conveyed it in their rough and narrow wheeled carts[these carts were presumed to cause more injury to road surfaces than other form of transport]. It was reasonably cheap, costing 3 shillings a load at the kiln , and as 3 to 10 loads were considered sufficient to every acre and were expected to produce 3 good crops, the farmers were lavish in its application to the soil. Lime laid on grass brought white clover and increased the quality of the hay, and it was also spread on meadow land as a deterrent to rushes and noxious weeds.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks 2.6.2000 D ]


Cattle drovers' route

In Archaeologia Cambrensis of 1869, "HLJ" indicated that a track over the mountain above Ystradgynlais and Cwmtwrch formed part of an ancient route by which cattle were driven from Glamorgan to the Tywi Vale. Perhaps this approximated to the direction taken by the existing road across the Black Mountain from Brynamman to Llangadog. Certainly, the numerous "pedol" [animal shoe] type names in the Brynamman area indicate a link with the droving trade. Hence Nant Pedol, Cwm Pedol, Blaen Pedol, Foel deg ar bedol, and Bryn Pedol, all occur on the hills to the north east of Brynamman. At Pontarllechau on the Brynamman-Llangadog road , the Tithe map indicates a track heading in an easterly direction past the Drovers Arms above Llanddeusant across the open mountain to Trecastle and Brecon via Pont-ar-Hydfer. It is generally thought in the Llanddeusant area that this was one of the principal drove routes along which cattle and sheep were driven from Glamorgan and the Gower Peninsula for sale at Brecon Fair.

[Based on The Welsh Cattle Drovers by Richard Colyer 1976. Gareth Hicks 24.5.2000 D/G]


Forenames--how popular ?

[By comparison to Helen's list in Margam] I have a very much smaller database of the first-named person in each household in the 1841 census living in Gwynfe, Llangadog, Carms. There are only 156 people, so the results are not very significant, and comparison can only be made for men, as there are very few women in the list.

The first 4 names are identical to Helen's list, and the proportion of names covered by the first 4 is almost exactly the same at 2/3rds. However there are some interesting differences. Not surprisingly names which are Welsh in origin are more common in Gwynfe than in Margam. There are no Richards or Benjamins in my list, although they are in Helen's top 10 - and Griffiths and Walters appear in mine but not in Helen's. The tiny sample of women (17) had 3 Gwenllians,a much higher proportion.

I also analysed the surnames. The vast majority were patronymic in form, and probably represent the first name distribution a century or so earlier. There's a wider distribution of names, and my own family names - Griffiths and Rees - are much more common than they are among first names. Details are below

FORENAMES no. SURNAMES no.

  • John 26 Jones 23
  • William 23 Williams 16
  • Thomas 22 Thomas 10
  • David 20 Davies 18
  • Morgan 15 Morgan(s) 7
  • Rees 9 Rees/Price 16
  • Lewis 5 Lewis 9
  • Evan 3 Evans 10
  • Griffith 2 Griffiths 13
  • Walter 2 Walter 2
  • Edward 1 Edwards 1
  • Michael 1 Michael 2
  • Henry 1 Harry/Harries 2
  • others 9
  • Surnames only
  • James 5
  • Howell 3
  • Richard 3
  • Aubrey 2
  • Hicks 2
  • Hopkins 2
  • Morris 2
  • Peregrin 2
  • Phillips 2
  • others 4

Women/ forenames

  • Elizabeth 6
  • Gwen 3
  • Mary 3
  • Jane 2
  • Margaret 2
  • Ann 1

Total 156

[Anna Brueton 21 Oct 2000 D]


The north/south divide as seen through a conversation on George Borrow's journey from Llangadog to Brynamman

This piece comes from a section of the book where the author describes his journey from Llangadog to Gutter Vawr[Brynamman]. After he's been walking 3/4 hours he relates ;

".........on my left to the east upon a bank was a small house on one side of which was a wheel turned round by a flush of water running in a little artificial canal; close by it were two small cascades, the waters of which and also those of the canal passed under the bridge in the direction of the west. Seeing a decent looking man engaged in sawing a piece of wood by the roadside I asked him in Welsh whether the house with  the wheel was a flour-mill.

"Nage" he said, " it is a pandy, fulling mill".

"Can you tell me the name of the river", said I, " which I have left about a mile behind me ? Is it the Sawdde ?"

"Nage", he said, "It is the Lleidach"

Then looking  at me with great curiosity he asked if I came from the north country.

"Yes, " said I, " I certainly come from there".

"I am glad to hear it", said he, " for I have long wished to see a man from the north country".

"Did you never see one before?" said I.

"Never in my life," he replied, "men from the north country seldom show themselves  in these parts."

"Well," said I, " I am not ashamed to say that I come from the north".

"Aint you? Well, I don't know that you have any particular reason to be ashamed, for it is rather your misfortune than your fault; but the idea of anyone coming from the north---ho, ho !"

"Perhaps in the north," said I," they laugh at a man from the south ".

" Laugh at a man from the south ! No, no, they can't do that ".

"Why not?" said I, "why shouldn't the north laugh at the south as well as the south at the north?"

"Why shouldn't it? why, you talk like a fool. How could the north laugh at the south as long as the south remains the south and the north the north ? Laugh at the south ! you talk like a fool David, and, if you go on in that way I shall be angry with you. However, I'll excuse you; you are from the north, and what can one expect from the north but nonsense ? Now tell me, do you of the north eat and drink like other people ? What do you live upon?"

................and so it went on a bit finally ending with;

"Where are you going tonight ?"

"To Gutter Vawr"

"Well, then, you had better not loiter, Gutter Vawr is a long way off over the mountain. It will be dark, I am afraid, long before you get to Gutter Fawr. Good evening David ! I am glad to have seen you, for I have long wished to see a man from the north country. Good evening ! you will find plenty of good ale at Gutter Vawr."

[From ' Wild Wales, Its people, Language and Scenery' by George Borrow, 1862. Gareth Hicks 1 June 2001 D/G]

 

Carmarthen town/parish

For more online information about the parish of Carmarthen see Genuki 


Here are some historical facts about Carmarthen town [Caerfyrddin] ,which are otherwise not easily found in one place online, and  which I hope will  give the reader a "flavour" of the town's history.

The book to read for an in depth coverage of the county as a whole is " A History of Carmarthenshire "Vols 1 & 2 by Sir John E Lloyd 1939, see here  for a listing of chapter headings.

For a very readable and informative book on Carmarthen town then " The Story of Carmarthen " by Malcolm and Edith Lodwick, 1953 is recommended.
See here for details of its contents and illustrations.
Some historic facts from this book are included  below .


General description and timeline

The town , the county town of Carmarthenshire, is situated on the River Towy [Afon Tywi], about 10 miles from the sea and the lowest bridging point on that river, which position in the past helped to make it an important market town and port . It remains today a centre of communication and  the focal point for a very large part of the county.
The River Towy is 68 miles long and the longest river wholly in Wales.

The following notes are  in the  general format of a timeline of random events in Carmarthen's history;

The Roman fort called   Maridunum was built at Carmarthen c 75 and was their main control point for south west Wales. It later became an English medieval stronghold and a walled borough with many features of that age still surviving in 1610 as shown on John Speed's map/plan where he calls the place "Caermarden".
This shows that the  Norman castle , built c 1090,  had a commanding position over the bridge over the Towy, the priory was just outside the town walls which , with their gates, were nearly all still intact in 1610 although the town had spread outside them. In fact Speed's plan of the town's streets corresponds pretty well to today's town centre [pre modern development anyway ].
St Peter's Church, outside the town walls, is shown more prominently than St Mary's which was near the main gate of the castle.The streets named on Speed's plan are ; " Priory Stret, S.Peters Stret, Water Stret, Spilmans Stret, Kings Stret, High Stret, S. Maries Stret, Key Stret."

In 1188 Archbishop Baldwin  preached at Carmarthen., accompanied by Giraldus Cambrensis who described seeing the ruined walls of a Roman fort at Carmarthen.

In 1253, Henry III approved the election of William de Haverford as Prior of Carmarthen.

In 1312, the Prior of Carmarthen was appointed , "during pleasure", the Chamberlain of South Wales.

In 1327, Kermerdyn and Kaerdiff [later changed to Shrewsbury as Cardiff was not a King's town] are the only staples of merchants and merchandise in Wales.Merchants to stay in these staples for 40 days before departing with their goods.

In 1399, Richard II signed three letters at Carmarthen.

In 1451 there was held the Great Eisteddfod at Carmarthen under the patronage of Gruffydd ab Nicholas of Dinevor.

At the beginning of the C16 , Carmarthen had c 1000 inhabitants.

Before the C16, Carmarthen effectively comprised two distinct towns based on the castle and the priory . Old Carmarthen [mainly Welsh]which was ruled by the prior claimed wider privileges including its own markets and fairs, whilst New Carmarthen, [mainly English]with its charters and royal privileges, resented the existence of this independent jurisdiction outside its walls.The dissolution of the priory in 1539 should have resolved the bickering but it took a new charter in 1546 to remove Old Carmarthen from the hundred of Derllys and annex it  to the borough.That charter authorised the appointment of a mayor and 20 burgesses who were to elect a common council of 20 citizens; the mayor and 2 bailiffs were then to be appointed annually at Michaelmas.[27.3.2000 D]

In 1548, Carmarthen was described  in a record as " a fayre[fair]  Market Towne , having a fair haven and the ffarest [fairest] towne in all South Wales and of most  scevillyte [civility]". The place was undoubtedly the "centre of county social life".

1551, the year the earliest preserved Carmarthen manuscript dates from, , "Book of Orders of the Common Council".

In 1566, the town had 325 houses.

In 1569 fraternities were granted for the Tanners, Hamarmen, Tailors, Cordiners and Saddlers.

In 1574 the fraternities of Weavers and Tuckers was granted, and 1583 the Glovers.

In 1576 the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School was founded.

In 1583 a Fish Market was ordered to be erected.

In 1602, George Owen of Henllys, said that Carmarthen was the largest town in Wales, and in "fair and good in state".

In 1602 Kidwelly men entered Pensarn Common and were repulsed by Carmarthen men.

In 1604 the plague raged in the town, and again in 1611.

In 1604, the town became a county borough by charter of James I.

In 1633, Father Arthur, an Irishman, was hanged, drawn and quartered for " conspiring King's death or for cursing him".[20.4.2000 D]

In 1644, the "Towne of Carmarthen was fortified with a mudd wall round about it" and "gotten by sword by Pembrokeshire men".[20.4.2000 D]

In 1651 , fraternity of hatters and felt-makers granted. Another outbreak of the Great Plague.

In 1724 the first Freemasons Lodge established, meeting at "The Bunch of Grapes".

In 1729 it was ordered that "the pigg market be kept in Lower Water Street."

In 1735, Isaac Carter is recorded as a printer in Carmarthen, probably the earliest in a town which became well known for its printers.The most well known  printer perhaps being William Spurrell who published a Welsh-English dictionary in 1848 and The History of Carmarthen and Neighbourhood in 1860.

In 1739, one Edwards of Llandefeilog was hanged at Pensarn for pilfering. Elinor Williams, servant at Job's Well, hanged on Common below Royal Oak Gate for murdering her child. Two lads executed for stealing cider from E van Thomas of the Greyhound Inn, Carmarthen.[20.4.2000 D]

In 1750 , the town had 500 houses.

In 1755 Carmarthen Canal was commenced.

In 1763 John Wesley preached in Carmarthen.

In 1764 a new borough charter put an end to the prevailing "complete dislocation of   government " caused by political considerations.

In 1781, Evan Williams, inmate Carmarthen Workhouse,died aged 145 [Bailey's "Records of Longevity"].[20.4.2000 D]

In 1800, eighteen oil lamps ordered for lighting of town.

In 1801, the census population of the town was 5548. New Meat Market  Place opened in Backway.

In 1804 John Morris was executed at Pensarn for horse stealing.

In 1810 the Carmarthen Journal was first published and is therefore the oldest surviving newspaper in Wales.

In 1811 part of Castle fell burying several cottages, no loss of life.

In 1831 the population of the town was 9935, but it was no longer  "the largest town in Wales " having been overtaken by  Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea .

In 1832, Charter Day Riots, Star and Garter Inn attacked by mob, landlord defending himself woth powder and shot. Treadwheel erected in County Gaol.

In 1852, South Wales railway reaches Carmarthen.

In 1882 town first lit with gas.


A Market town and trades

Its position at the lowest bridging point of the River Towy made it a key east west route centre. It became the most important cattle and milk  products processing centre in south Wales.

The privilege of trading within the borough was jealously guarded by the burgesses, which is why so many trading companies were formed; in 1569 companies of tanners, cordwainers, hammer men, tailors and saddlers; in 1574, of tuckers ; in 1583 of glovers ; and in 1651 of hatters. Members  paid an annual subscription, in exchange for which  they were granted  an absolute monopoly in their particular trade. In 1633, Lewis Lloyd, a hatter, applied for burgess-ship and  since there was no hatter in the town, was admitted on payment of £3 and entering into a bond for £100 not to meddle in any other trade.In 1724 the shop of Enoch James was ordered to be closed down" he having refused to be sworn burgess of the town". In 1712, barbers and barber chirurgeons were incorporated into a company. These trade gilds disappeared after 1746 for political reasons, a commission of 1834 found no trace of their existence.[24.3.2000 D]

In the square by St Mary's, the modern Guildhall Square, Speed's plan of 1610 shows the pillory and the High Cross around which the fish and butter markets were held. A mill is shown to the west of St Mary's, later on other corn and fulling  [or pandy] mills  were built nearer to the river.

In 1748, one of the latter was replaced by an iron forge with bellows worked by water power.
Lead was smelted in another forge. The tinplate works  built nearby in the late C18 by John Morgan & Co , who also formed the "Carmarthen Furness Bank" in 1792 which issued its own coin , and tokens to pay the workmen . In fact Carmarthen's metal based industries were never very big and ceased operations during the C19 with the advent of coal for smelting and the migration of works and workers to the coalfield areas.

In the C14 , after the Flemings introduced the fulling mill into this country, Carmarthen became a place where wool from all over Wales was sent for exporting to cloth making centres in Flanders and was also the " staple " town  [Ordinanace of the Staple 1353] through which  all Welsh wool had to be sold to England. Welsh cloth found its way  to the great cloth fair of St Bartholomew in London. At this time many hand loom weavers lived in Carmarthen and surrounding area, and many a peasant home saw carding, spinning and weaving as part of the domestic scene.[30.3.2000 D]

A Port

Carmarthen had a thriving Bristol Channel trade from medieval times to the mid C19, Speed's town plan  of 1610 shows some ships lying at the quay below the castle.

The  fact that town is 10 miles from where the Towy finally reaches the sea was at one point an advantage until piracy was suppressed in the C17. But the same fact was also finally its undoing as a port .

In 1592, merchants of the town complained to the Privy Council that they had been despoiled by pirates of " 4 barkes laden with silks velvets, wine and oil to the value of £10,000".

Oak timber used to be shipped from here to the main English dockyards for the construction of battle ships or trading vessels, other exports included bark[mainly to Ireland], slate, bricks, lead, ore, grain, eggs and butter. And in the other direction came imports of foreign timber, pitch, tallow and resin, coal, culm, malt, salt and various manufactured goods. In the C17 and C18 coal was shipped from Carmarthen to London.

In 1792 , Carmarthen was a more important port than Cardiff,  with 57 vessels of total tonnage 2293 against Cardiff 's 22 vessels with total tonnage of 789.An old directory of 1794 gives a list of some ships belonging to Carmarthen port, these include ;
At "Pickle Herring Wharf" there were the Race Horse, John Sally, Neptune, Industry, Welcome, Lovely Cruiser, Union, Elizabeth.
At "The Back" [Bristol], there were ; Lark, Speedwell, Providence, Constant Trader, Ceres, Polly and Betsy, Emlyn, John and Mary, Mayflower.

In 1831, prior to the increase in individual ships' tonnage capacity which ruined Carmarthen's sea trade, 13 foreign and 426 coasting vessels came into  the port, and some £3000 was paid in customs duty.[25.3.2000 D]
The registered number of ships belonging to the port was 51, and 152 men were employed there.

[ Partly based on  The Story of Carmarthen " by Malcolm and Edith Lodwick, 1953 Gareth Hicks]


Carmarthen port and lead ore

From the Cawdor Collection Box Carmarthen Archives

The affairs of the Cawdor Estate in West Wales includes various trading accounts. In these accounts there is reflected a whole way of life; of mining for lead ore in the hinterland of South West Wales ; of moving it by land and water to the quay in Carmarthen; smelting it and shipping the lead finally produced in ships such as the Emlyn, Hero, Mayflower, Speedwell, John and Mary, and Constant Trader. In the  accounts for the year 1767 headed " Stock of Lead at Carmarthen" next to the names for the ships Constant Trader and Speedwell are the names Philips George & Co, and James George Esq.

Shipping in and out of Carmarthen has been recorded for centuries. In 1636 the Company of Mines Royal gave leases to various developers jointly to work the lead mines for precious metals in Carmarthen, Caernarvon and Flint[ the counties]. After the Civil War there was much activity in Carmarthen[shire] and  neighbouring Cardiganshire in mining for lead, copper etc.

[Based on "Accounting, Costing and Cost Estimation[Welsh Industry 1700-1830]" by Haydn Jones 1985, Gareth Hicks  14  June 2000 D]

 

Carmarthenshire snippets

For more online information about the county of Carmarthenshire see Genuki, which includes snippets from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.       


Carmarthen and Llanboidy links to the US Presidency

John Adams [ 1735-1826], second President of the USA  and his eldest son John Quincy Adams[1767-1848], the sixth President, were descended from the Adams family of Penyback, Llanboidy.

The above John Adams was the grandson of David Adams of Penyback,  who in 1662 was ordained by the Bishop of St David's and emigrated to the USA in 1675.

David Adams was a student at the Queen Elizabeth Endowed Grammar School.

[Based on an article contributed by Rhydwyn Lewis to Dyfed FHS journal Vol 6/5 with permission of the Carmarthen Journal (1952)]                                                                                                                                        [Gareth Hicks 4.4.2000 D]       


Party time !

Background notes to the growth of Chartism in Wales.

Politics in Wales in the early C19 involved very few people with the right to vote and usually those that did were expected to support the local land owners' candidate. Candidates who stood against the latter would use all sorts of means to try and break the landed gentry's stranglehold on the political system.  

There follows a breakdown of one such candidate's expenses in the election of 1802 in Carmarthenshire taken from the Report of the Royal Commission on Land in Wales and Monmouthshire, 1896..

"....Expenses amounting to £15,690.4s.2d. This sum included payments to innkeepers for 11,070 breakfasts; 36,901 dinners;  684 suppers; 25, 275 gallons of ale; 11,086 bottles of spirits; 8,879 bottles of porter; 460 bottles of sherry ; 509 bottles of cider; and eighteen guineas for milk punch.  The charge for ribbons was £786, and the number of separate charges for horse hire was 4,521.

[Based on People, Protest and Politics in C19 Wales, by David Egan. Gareth Hicks 27.5.2000 D/G]

Poverty and the insecurity of life in rural Carmarthenshire, South Wales, 1780s-1830s; a paper by Gail Thomas on .  

Gareth Hicks (2012)

Llanybydder

For more online information about the parish of Llanybydder see Genuki, this parish page includes snippets from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.       


Cattle drovers

Herds from south west Wales travelled towards the Hereford and Gloucester routes into England up the Tywi Valley to Llandovery. Herds from South Cardiganshire reached Llandovery through Llanybydder and Llansawel.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


Aberduar Baptist Church

The Baptist cause began in the area with  members of Rhydwilym Chapel in Llandyslio parish living in scattered places between Newcastle Emlyn and Capel Iago in Llanybydder parish. In the C17 they met mainly at Glandwr in Llandysul parish, Cardiganshire but also Bwlchog, Felindre and Newcastle Emlyn. They continued meeting in homes well into the C18, membership increased during the ministry of Enoch Francis in the 1730s. The congregation met at Capel Iago until the first chapel was built in Aberduar.

The first chapel building in Glanduar village was built in 1761, the second  was opened in 1835 on the same spot at a cost of £340. This chapel did not have its own graveyard until 1833 when land was leased for 200 years at ten shillings a year rent, and added to in 1839 and 1931.

The number of members for each congregation in this Baptist region in 1751 were;

  • Bethel  [built 1741] and Bwll-y-rhiw [ built 1748] ---22
  • Argoed---9
  • Pen-y-coed [ built 1735]---17
  • Aberduar,---37
  • Members living away---7
  • Ministers--- 9
  • Total,---101

Below is the list in the old ' Llyfr Cyfnodion' of the names of officials and members of Aberduar Baptist Church in 1751. the actual chapel building was not built in Aberduar until 1760/61.

Ministers [coverering Aberduar] ;

  • Thomas Dafydd Evan
  • Rees Jones
  • Timothy Thomas
  • John Thomas

Elders;

  • John Evan[Pen-y-coed]
  • Thomas Morgan [Bethel]

Members;

  • Thomas, Evan [deacon and wife]
  • Morgan, Benjamin and wife
  • Morgan, William
  • Evan, Moses and wife
  • John, David and wife
  • Thomas, Mary
  • John, Hannah
  • Jones, Elizabeth
  • Thomas, Margaret
  • David, Mary
  • David, Mary
  • Rees, Mary
  • David, Mary
  • Williams, Catherine
  • Evan, Elizabeth
  • Richard, Mary
  • Rees, Jennet
  • James, William
  • Jenkins, Hannah
  • Jacob, Sarah
  • ?, Catherine
  • Thomas, Sarah
  • Rees, David Evan and wife
  • John, Anne
  • John, Anne
  • Thomas, Mary
  • ?, Margaret
  • John, Anne
  • Saunders, Gwen
  • Saunders, Mary
  • Rees, William John

The following were baptised by the Rev Timothy Thomas in 1761/2 at Aberduar Chapel;

  • Saunders, David and his wife
  • David, Enoch and his wife
  • David, Elias
  • Evan, Jane David
  • David, Anne John
  • Griffith, Margaret Evan
  • David, Mary
  • Bazinus, Thomas
  • Evan, Mary
  • Jenkins, Rachel
  • Dafydd, Evan and wife
  • Morgan, Evan
  • Beynon, David and sister and step-mother
  • Stephen, Elizabeth
  • Evan, Elizabeth
  • Hugh, John
  • Griffiths, John John
  • Griffiths, James John
  • James, Mary
  • Williams, Hannah
  • Evan, Samuel
  • David, John and mother
  • William, David
  • Evan, David
  • Gwyn, Anne [wife of Thomas David], Talardd
  • Rees, Mary
  • Williams, Sarah
  • Saunders, Rees
  • David, Lettice
  • John, Jemima
  • John, Sarah
  • Thomas, John
  • Thomas, Anne
  • Evan, Rachel
  • Rees, Anne
  • William, Jane
  • Evan, Hannah
  • David, Rees
  • Evans, Miles and sister
  • Jones, Martha
  • Thomas, David
  • Rhydderch, D and wife
  • Saunders,---[wife of Thomas]
  • Simon, Enoch
  • David, Sarah, Felindre
  • David, Sarah and Ann
  • David, Evan and Mary

The following were baptised in 1775 at Aberduar Chapel;

  • Jenkins, Thomas
  • David, Daniel, Llanwenog
  • Evan, Mary
  • Evan, Martha
  • Morgan, Evan, Blaen-pen-dernyn
  • Thomas, Timothy
  • Thomas, Thomas
  • Evans, David
  • Williams, Anne

The following were baptised by the Rev Timothy Thomas in 1761 at Pencoed-gleision Chapel;

  • Morgan, Evan
  • David, Sarah Evan
  • Evan, John and sister
  • David, Sarah
  • David, Samuel Thomas

The following were baptised by the Rev Timothy Thomas in 1761 at Bethel Chapel;

  • Griffith, Ann
  • Lewis, Mary
  • Simon, Mary

The following were baptised by the Rev Timothy Thomas in 1762 at Bwlch-y-rhiw Chapel ;

  • Rees, William and Lettice
  • Harry, Rebecca
  • David, Thomas
  • Morgan, Evan

[From Hanes Eglwys Aberduar, W Hugh Davies 1962. There is an index to the book on /big/wal/CMN/Llanybydder/Aberduar  Gareth Hicks 27 April 2001 D]


Llandovery

For more online information about Llandovery see the Genuki page for Llandingad parish


Focus on Llandovery
A partial extract from an article in the Dyfed FHS journal Vol 6/1, Aug 1997, by Tom Evans welcoming people to the Open Day of the FHS at Llandovery College.

The three major rivers of the area, the Bran, Gwydderig and Towy run their course through and around the town of Llandovery, in the parish of Llandingad,  with its " Church amidst the waters ". Of historical importance dating back to Roman times, Llandovery has a remarkable history to tell. It is even assumed that the Romans were preceded by ancient Britons who built a castle here in the Deheubarth.

The remains of a later castle, built by the Normans, stand guard over the town today. The warring past is the distant past. More recent times have given the town and its environs even greater fame. This is the town of the Vicar, Ficer Rhys Prichard, author of many works, the most famous of all being "Cannwyll y Cymru [ the Welshman's Candle]. Prichard is buried in Llandingad Church, although folklore claims that his corpse was washed away during a severe flood in times gone by !

In nearby Pentre-ty-gwyn is the old farm house of Pantycelyn, the home of William Williams, one of the three great Revivalists of the C18 who left an indelible mark on the life, language, culture of the whole area. His famous hymn is still sung at rugby internationals being the second national anthem of Wales..." Guide me o Thou great Jehova...". Williams is buried at Llanfair ar y bryn, a church on the outskirts of the town.

This too was the last stamping ground of David Owen [Brutus], who made his mark during the last century when coming to Llandovery to edit a religious journal that was a blatant attack on Nonconformity. He died in poverty and buried  in the churchyard at Llywel.[7.4.2000 D]

Another important aspect of the town's history is printing, although all that remains today is the building known as the Old Printing Office , and an old press in the Heritage Centre.In its prime Llandovery was one of the most important printing centres in Wales, Gwasg y Tonn co-published here with the then major publishing house of Longmans of London.

In 1851 the population of the parishes of Llanfair ar y bryn and Llandingad was 15,055, in 1861 it was 14,755, with houses numbering 2,985. In 1863 there were 101 marriages and 481 births of which 31 were illegitimate. The number of deaths recorded for 1863 was 280 , of which 86 died before they reached their 5th birthday, and 18 were 85 years old.

The Drovers also made Llandovery an important centre, being a resting place on the droves to England. Banc yr Eidon was established here in 1799 [the Bank of the Black Ox] and was later to become Lloyds Bank. The original premises are now part of Kings Head public house.

Llandovery College was founded in 1848 for the promoting of the Welsh language,  as a result of an endowment from  Dr Thomas Phillips to establish a Welsh Collegiate Institution. The late Arber-Cooke in his history of Llandovery suggests that Llandovery was chosen for the College in view of its position at the centre of  the Welsh literary and cultural revival then in progress. The site of the present college was purchased by Lady Llanover [Lady Hall] and funds were raised by the then Town Clerk of Llandovery. Williams Rees of Tonn, also owner of the famous Tonn Press in the town.

Sir O M Edwards in his book "Cartrefi Cymru ac Ysgrifau eraill" 1962, describes Llandovery thus;
" As I walked through the town, I was given the impression that it was a place that was rapidly deteriorating. I did not see any work being carried out here, and I failed to see any industrious people in the place. Every one walked at a relaxed pace, from the errand boy to the doctor, as if the only purpose in life was to spend the day waiting for the evening to fall and to spend the nights waiting for the dawn".

The above is a partial extract from an article in the Dyfed FHS journal Vol 6/1, Aug 1997, by Tom Evans welcoming people to the Open Day of the FHS at Llandovery College

[Gareth Hicks  8.4.2000 D]


A follow on re Vicar Pritchard [1559-1644]-see first item above

He was born in Llandovery, graduated from Jesus College, Oxford in 1602 and ordained priest at Witham in Essex and was appointed Vicar in Llandingad and Llanfair-ar-y-bryn.Became Rector of Llanedi in 1613, and Chancellor of St David's in 1626. There is some conjecture on where he was in fact buried, Dr D. Gwenallt Jones , author of a book on Vicar Pritchard, has it that he was buried at St David's Cathedral churchyard and not in Llandingad churchyard as stated above,.

The book Cannwyll y Cymry was published after his death and is a collection of homely poems by the Vicar.It has been the subject of frequent reprints and is thought to have had a deep and abiding influence on Welsh people.

[ Based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ]


A follow on re Williams Pantycelyn [1716-1791]

William Williams was born at Cefn-y-coed, near Llandovery and was sent to Llwyn Llwyd Academy. Tradition says that he intended to become a physician but on his way home in 1738, he stayed to listed to Hywel Harris preaching in Talgarth churchyard, was converted and set his heart on becoming a clergyman.

In 1740 he became curate to Theophilus Evans at Llanwrtyd but because he and Evans could not agree on certain aspects of his duties he was not ordained a priest and gave up his curacy in 1743 and joined the travelling preachers. In the meantime his mother had inherited Pantycelyn and he joined her there and became known as Williams Pantycelyn. He married Mary Francis of Penlan, Llansawel and bought a small estate with her dowry.

From here on his story is one of travelling and preaching, he travelled thousands of miles each year and di dthis for 50 years. He became Wales's foremost hymn-writer, and it was he more than anyone who, through his poetry and prose, gave expression to the emotions and aspirations of the Methodist Revival. At his best he wrote some of the finest lyrics in the Welsh language.

Towards the end of the C19 a "Pantycelyn " Memorial Chapel was erected in High St., Llandovery, the oak Communion table and chairs were presented by the natives of the Khasia Hills , Assam, India, the first mission-field of the Welsh Calvinistic methodists.

Partly based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ]


A follow on re Bank of the Black Ox, Llandovery

Banc yr Eidion Du in Welsh, because the notes issued by it were engraved with the picture of a black ox. This bank was opened in 1799 by David Jones  in rooms at the King's Head, Llandovery. He was a local farmer's son and a former drover whose wife brought with her a fortune of £10,000. The business was very profitable, it was said that its founder "knew of more ways of making money than there are public houses in Llandovery." There were a few ! When he died David Jones left an estate of £140,000 plus landed property. He was High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1825, during the financial crisis of 1825/6, when 70 private banks in England and Wales failed, the reputation of the Black Ox was so high that customers had more faith in its stability than  in the Bank of England. He was followed in the businesss by 3 sons who opened branches in Llandeilo and Lampeter. The firm continued under the name of David Jones & Sons until 1909 when it ws taken over by Lloyds Bank.

[Above based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


Snippets

Bridge building in the Llandovery area

Before the building of reliable bridges , travellers on foot, horseback or in carriages crossed rivers by using fords and at Llandovery many people had lost their lives whilst trying to ford the Tywi when it was in flood.

Clos Glas bridge over the River Dulas on the road  from Llandeilo to Llandovery was built in 1764.
Two of the older wooden bridges on the London route at Llandovery were swept away by swirling waters in 1772 and 1773 and replaced by that of Dolauhirion over the River Towy to the north of Llandovery , in 1785, designed and built by Thomas Edwards of Pontypridd whose father was William Edwards the bridge builder and Independent minister of Groes-wen, Glamorgan.

 The Pont-rhyd-Owen bridge over the River Bran on the turnpike road from Llandovery to Llanwrtyd was completed by 1826.
Llandovery also had a suspension bridge, built in 1832 it was designed by Philip Thomas of Ynysangharad in Glamorgan, he adopted Telford's Menai  Straits bridge as his model. The private Act which authorised its construction empowered the Justices of the Peace to advance £1000 out of the rates to the trustees of the new bridge , the money being mortgaged on the tolls levied upon the branch road from Llandovery to Llwyn Jack ford. This bridge was replaced by a stone one in 1883, still known locally as the "Chain" or "Spen" bridge. [10.4.2000 D]


Quakers

It seems there was no specific meeting house for the Society of Friends in Llandovery, though yearly meetings were sometimes held in the town. Such a meeting in 1702 , for instance, was held in a tavern. As early as the C17 there was a burial ground at Cae Newydd , which was in the charge of one Thomas Price in the 1760s, but abandoned by 1808 and subsequently became the scene of railway shunting operations.[25.4.2000 D]


[Above based on The History of Carmarthenshire by Sir John Lloyd 1939.G areth Hicks ]

Other Llandovery men of note

One of the most original characters of his time was the Rev James Rhys [Kilsby] Jones [1813-1932] of Llandovery.He was a well known Congregationalist preacher[at Llandrindod Wells ] , wit and eccentric;  also remembered for producing a book of the complete verse and prose of Williams Pantycelyn.


Sheep in abundance

During the C18 tens of thousands of long tailed sheep grazed on the hills around Llandovery and on the Black Mountain which was then said to be inhabited only by shepherds.


Cattle drovers

Herds from south west Wales travelled towards the Hereford and Gloucester routes into England up the Tywi Valley to Llandovery. Herds from South Cardiganshire reached Llandovery through Llanybydder and Llansawel. Llandovery was also the centre for fitting the animals with shoes to protect their hooves from damage.

On setting off from Llandovery the drovers followed the road to Velindre , then north across the Gwydderig river and over Cefn Arthen near Pantycelyn to Llanddulas in Breconshire.


Methodists

The Methodist Revivalists , treated very violently in North Wales, do not appear to have been always welcomed with open arms in Carmarthenshire either.  It is recorded that from time to time they were mobbed at Llandeilo, Llangyndeyrn and especially at Kidwelly and Llandovery. As late as 1770 Howel Harris wrote of Llandovery "I still call this the Devil's headquarters, as the Old Vicar did."

In the formation of the first purely Methodist "Association" [Sasiwn] of Welsh Methodist Societies which took place first in Dygoedydd farm in the Tywi valley above Llandovery in 1742, Gruffydd Jones of Llanddowror, who was disturbed by the excessive zeal of the Methodist exhorters,  saw the danger of the ultimate separation from the Church and never acknowledged the status of the Association meetings.

In 1752, the split between Methodist leaders was complete when Harris, under the influence of Madame Griffith, who died that year, declared that he was no longer a Methodist and organised a rival "Association" which met at Llwyn-y-berllan near Llandovery. But many of his converts and exhorters joined the Dissenters , others became followers of Rowland and Williams.

In 1811 ,  the ordination of 21 preachers at Bala and Llandeilo as Calvinistic Methodists lead , in 1823, to a new and vigorous Nonconformist denomination being born in Wales. In the meantime, Welsh Wesleyanism had already found foothold in CMN, notably at Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llangadog, Llandybie,Carmarthen, St Clears and Llansteffan where Wesleyan Methodist societies were formed.


Enclosures/squatters

Encroachment on common and waste land had been going on for many years, small upland farms had been enclosed and cultivated and numerous squatters had built their  "tai un-nos "[one night dwellings] on the hillsides and edges of village commons and outskirts of townships. Some such squatters lived in dire poverty in miserable one roomed hovels, at one time parts of the road built by the Llandovery-Lampeter Trust was infested by squatters. Many of these semi destitute people left their bits of land to join the growing number of unemployed in Carmarthen and other towns.


Llandovery Priory

During the great period of monastic flowering in the C12 and c13 , the monks and friars had made significant contributions to Welsh life, in religion, scholarship and learning. But in the C14 and C15 decline set in for various reasons but in particular, after the Black Death of 1348-9, not a single religious house in CMN could muster more than 10 inmates. In fact the Priory at Llandovery had been permanently closed as early as the end of the C12 , probably for unacceptable personal conduct and neglect of the buildings.


Turnpike Trusts

In 1763 parliamentary authorisation was secured to set up the Main Trust in CMN, this took over the section of the London Road which had fallen into a poor state of repair. It ran from the BRE border through Llandovery, Llandeilo, Carmarthen and St Clears towards the PEM border at Tavernspite. The old steep part from Llandovery to Trecastle was almost impassable in winter so a new road was made along the lower slopes of the mountain. It was along this route that Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton travelled in 1802 to Milford, breaking their journey at Carmarthen where they saw a play at the New Theatre in King St.

Other CMN trusts were soon established, among these was the Llandovery-Lampeter trust.


[Above based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


Unimpressed visitors

Romilly in his diary note when he passed through Llandovery in 1827 said ;

" Llandovery is a beggarly place".

Malkin in his book The Scenery, Antiquities and Biography of South Wales 1804, following his 1803 visit  said ;         " Its buildings are mean, irregular and unconnected, its streets filthy and disgusting".

[Above based on Romilly's Visits to Wales 1827-1854, M G R Morris 1998. Gareth Hicks, 9.5.2000 D]

Leland described it as " a poore market....[it] hath but one streate and that poorely builded of thatchid houses.."

George Owen said it was falling into " Ruinne and utter decaye ."

A lady tourist in 1791 described it as " the meanest and dirtiest town I have yet seen in Wales" although she afterwards confessed that Llandilo was even worse.

Lloyd sums up " in a word, Llandovery had shared the fate of many of those old Norman boroughs which had originated as the centres of feudal lordships."

[Above based on The History of Carmarthenshire by Sir John Lloyd 1939. Gareth Hicks ]


John Thomas of Llwyncelin, Ystrad, near Llandovery.

Sunlighting; having two day jobs at once[ moonlighting being a night and day job].

John Thomas of Llwyncelin, Ystrad, near Llandovery. CMN, was into sunlighting big time.

On the 1891 census [RG12/4503, f 65] for his "Occupation" was listed ;

Town Clerk; Clerk to the Justices ; Vestry Clerk ; Vaccination Officer; Clerk to the Main Roads Committee; Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths; Tithe and Rent Receiver ; Clerk to the Burial Board; and County Court Clerk.

Submitted by Jim Golland of Pinner, his great grandson, who says this took up 5 lines on the census !

We all wonder whether this is the longest.........

[Family Tree Magazine January 2001. Gareth  22 Dec 2000 G/D]


Pencarreg

For more online information about the parish of Pencarreg see Genuki 


Random snippets concerning the Independent cause in Esgairdawe

The Independent cause started in this district in 1690.

The history of the mother church, viz Esgairdawe, and the daughter, viz Ffaldybrenin, is tied together with the history of Blwch-y-rhiw and Crug-y-bar.

From around 1690  [ for about 66 years] licensed prayer meetings were held in the house /barn of Daniel Harry of Esgairowen  farm in Pencarreg parish, he was a deacon in Crug-y-bar. From time to time visiting preachers came there, these included the Revs. James Lewis, Pencader, John Powell, Tredwstan and Lewis Richards, Tre-lech.

In 1754, one John James bought Esgerdawe farm  and leased  a piece of land on it for 999 years for the purpose of building a church, it was opened in 1756 and they called it  'Hen Dy Cwrdd'.

These are the seven ministers who preached at Esgairdawe before 1900;

  • Owen Davies, 1743-1767
  • John Tibbot, 1767-1785
  • Howell Powell, 1786-1789
  • David Morgan, 1789-1810
  • Thomas Jones, 1810-1814[or 1811-1816]
  • Rhys Jones, 1818-1858
  • Henry Jones, 1859-1899

Ministers in the C20;

  • James Jones, 1900-1907
  • D Myddfai Thomas, 1907-1912
  • David Williams, 1913-1928
  • Giraldus Jones, 1928-1978
  • Guto Prys ap Gwynfor, 1984-1989
  • Hywel T Jones, 1990-

The present chapel at Esgairdawe stands by the side of the road from Llansawel to the crossroads at the main road to the north, near Tafarn Jem. It was built around 1844, there is little recorded history as to the circumstances and to why they moved from the site of Hen Dy Cwrdd, although the latter was becoming dilapidated after 88 years use. The land was leased at an annual rent of  2/s 6d to the trustees for 99 years by John Johnes Esq of Dolecothy[and James and Evan Davies of Cwmdawe.]. In 1941 the Johnes family of Dolau Cothi bestowed the land containing the chapel and graveyard on the trustees without payment of further rent.

In 1953 further land was conveyed by Thomas Lewis Jones of Llundain fach  to the trustees for a new burial ground.

The name Esgairdawe comes from Nant Tawe, a stream that flows nearby. [Esgair being a 'ridge' in Welsh.]

[Based on a piece meal translation of   Hanes Eglwys Annibynnol Esgairdawe, Mary E Williams, 1992 Gareth ]


Wills

Ministers of the Gospel usually signed/witnessed the wills of the natives of the district. Here are  examples;

" Owen Davies [minr] signs will of Dd Samuel [Gwarcoed], Pencarreg, 1763"

"Owen Davies [minr] signs will of Wm Davies, Pencarreg in 1764"

This is from the will of David Lloyd of Pistyllgwyn, Llansawel , dated 25th Nov 1805

"To David Morgan Minister of the Protestant Dissenters at Eskerdawe Meeting house p. Pencarreg--- £50 upon Trust put in Securities......Interest---to Pay a Teacher or Teachers of a Welsh Charity School + Schools within several parishes...... and for buying Welsh Books for use of such poor children".

[From   Hanes Eglwys Annibynnol Esgairdawe, Mary E Williams, 1992 Gareth ]


Elders and preachers

"4th Nov 1765, John Matthew had a call by ye Brethren to exercise his gifts to preach the Word of God occasionally at Esgair Dawe.

"March ye 13th 1766. Thomas David, David Matthew and John Matthew were chosen at Esgairdawe to be Ruling Elders in the Church."

[From    Hanes Eglwys Annibynnol Esgairdawe, Mary E Williams, 1992 Gareth ]


Llyfrau Cosb [ Punishment/Sanction Books] of the chapel

  • William John, John Harry, Thomas William Evan, James Thomas, David David, and William Thomas were regularly admitted Members, but they are to be looked upon as backsliders, as likewise John Edwards, David Jenkin, Lewis Griffiths, David and John Williams. I heartily wish they may be recovered by Ye Power of Divine Grace.
  • Esther Williams, October 31st 1752, she committed Fornication and professed her Repentance. I wish it may be sincere.
  • Esther Morgan, April 24th 1757 was excommunicated for Fornication and there is no sign of her recovery.
  • November ye 1st 1765. John Thomas being a Ruling Elder was overtaken with Drunkness several times of late and neglects to attend ye publick Worship. May the Lord see over him by his True Grace and preserve him from total apostasy.
  • Margaret William Jenkin who at present  being Nov 1765 is under some Token of God's Displeasure, may Ye Lord Look in Mercy upon her. She labours under a Melancholic Frenzic of Spirit.
  • Mary Edwards ye wife of John Edwards after unbecoming behaviour in our Church has conformed and is now in Communion in ye parish Church.

[From  Hanes Eglwys Annibynnol Esgairdawe, Mary E Williams, 1992 Gareth ]


Some notes from the chapel accounts book

  • 1861---To T Thomas, Maesteile, for cups and plates.......7/s
  • 1862---To T M Prydderch, deputation to London..............2/s
  • 1870---To assist weak churches......................................12/s
  • 1873---For the solemnation of marriage........................3-0s-0d
  • 1874---Load of coal for Chapel.....................................1-5s-6d
  • 1875---For two new seats..............................................1-15s.0d
  • 1876---To University College Aberystwyth...................1-11s-11d
  • 1876---To support the little children of the factories.....1-0s-0d

[From   Hanes Eglwys Annibynnol Esgairdawe, Mary E Williams, 1992 Gareth  23 June 2001 D]


Some entries from the chapel's books

The explanation for the second item below [ which appeared 3 times that year] is that the 'elements' are the bread and wine of the communion service.

#########

1832---Payments

  • To Wm Jenkins for thatch...........2/6d
  • Towards the elements................2/3d
  • To two strangers........................2/0d
  • To 4 students.............................4/0d

1877---Payments

  • 2 lbs of candles........................1/8d
  • Paid for cleaning the chapel..1-0-0d
  • I Range Oven.........................1-2-0d
  • Pan and Teapot.........................2/0d
  • Load of coal for chapel............13/5d

1904

  • Grave ladder.............................2/0d

1906

  • New wheelbarrow...................14/6d

1907

  • Wallpaper, Chapel House.........7/3d

1913

  • Income tax................................../2d

[From Hanes Eglwys Annibynnol Esgairdawe Mary E Williams, 1992 Gareth  26 June 2001 D]