The introduction of church registers was just contemplated in 1535 by Thomas Cromwell, but strong opposition was offered by the clergy who were reputed to be lazy and illiterate. In 1538, orders, directing that registers of births, marriages, and deaths be kept by the clergy, were issued. The paper registers soon appeared delapidated, and Elizabeth gave instructions that the records, especially those from the year of her accession - 1558 were to be transcribed on parchment. The few that have survived are defective and show that this work was neglected during the period of the Commonwealth 1649-1660.
Newton Church possesses no books with entries prior to 1754. The earliest register is marked number two, covering the period 1754 - 1814, with the first nine pages of parchment written in ink, stained and defaced. Number four follows, and is the marriage register for the years 1813-1837 ; the record of burials from 1813 - 1866 is numbered five, while number six contains the entries of baptisms from 1813-1850. The series has been continued to the present time. The name Porthcall, mentioned in the 1628 survey of the Pembroke Manor, is first recorded in the Church Registers on May 16th, 1828, two years after the construction of the Porthcawl Docks was commenced, while the first address in Porthcawl is entered on November 14th, 1835. The etymologist might be interested in the entry . "A man was found drowned on April 18th, 1833, on Groost Rocks" - which name was applied to Sandy Bay and the rocks on its eastern side.
To the font, on the 2nd April 1847, John, William, Hannah, Mary, Catherine, Thomas, David, and Jane, the eight children of Rees and Jane Hopkins, Newton, labourer, were brought to be baptised by Edward David, Curate. There may be a correspondence between this entry and that in St. Donat's Church Register: "Their above parents having conformed again to the church after being for some time in the Anabaptist opinion, brought their children to be restored at this time to the Reform Church of England" (January 29th, 1793).
David, the son of David Hopkins, "Tymawr," Nottage, Farmer, born November 27th, l839, was baptised March 29th, 1840. "Tymawr" was practically re-built and occupied in 1854 by its owner, the Rev. Henry Hay Knight, who re-named it Nottage Court.
Tradition reminds us that large families might be expected by those who marry in Newton Church, and interesting is the reading of the entries referring to the matrimonial couples who there have given and pledged their troth.
Robert Davies, Widdower, Rector of the Parish, and Winefred Cradock, Widow, were married by License on May 19th 1768. The ceremony was performed by Edmund Williams, curate. The Rector was also Lord of the Pembroke Manor.
A familiar name is that of Watkin Bevan who married Mary Hopkins on May 1st, 1788. This Welsh family played an important part in the life of the community which, at the present time, is not unmindful of the sincere obsession of the last male representative, Tom Bevan, for the maintenance of the rights of the people in the Common Land.
Honoured is the name of Blackmore which became associated with the Parish by the marriage on February 2nd, 1822, of John Blackmore, Clerk: of the Parish of Longworth, Berks, to Anne Bassett Knight, sister of the late Rev. Ed Knight. Their son, Richard Doddridge Blackmore, the famous novelist, spent much of his time in the district and popularised Sker Farm, which is the scene of his well-known novel, "The Maid of Sker."
The wedding took place on October 17th, 1866, at Newton Church, of the Rev. Augustus Rickards Blundell, B.A., son of George Spens Blundell, Major in the Army, and of Lucy Rogers Knight, spinster, one of the five daughters of the Rev. Ed. D. Knight, of Nottage Court. The oldest resident of Porthcawl still remember the little Church- the Sailor's church - on the west side of Porthcawl docks, of which the Rev. Augustus Blundell was Chaplain during the period 1866-1868. In the latter year he removed to Newport as Curate of St. Woollos, becoming vicar of Llanvihangel-Crucorney near Abergavenny, in 1873. His son, Mr. George E. Blundell inherited the Nottage Court Estate in 1916 under the 1873 will of his grandfather, the Rev. Edward D. Knight, who left the property to two of his daughters for life.
On September 23rd, 1868, at Newton Church, Constance Sarah, another daughter of the Rev. Ed. D. Knight, was married to the Rev. Frederic William Edmondes, Clerk in Holy Orders, St. Brides-super-Ely, who become Archdeacon Edmondes of Llandaff Cathedral.
"Jane Elias, schoolmistress, her mark, " is not the least enlightening among the entries as a witness.
The register of burials tells of human buds that have fallen, of beauty's bloom snatched away, and of youths to fortune and to fame unknown. Here is the last earthly record of the journey from womb to tomb of those who 'kept the cool sequestered vale of life ' ; another shows that :
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th'inevitable hour:-
The paths of glory lead but to the grave "
The tombstones of the Lords of Tythegstone may be seen in the floor of the chancel, the last Lougher in the male line dying in 1701.
A tablet to the memory of Robert Lougher, Nottage, deceased the 3rd of January, 1692, is of interest on account of the variation in the spelling of Nottage. This is on the wall at the eastern end of the nave.
On the other side of the chancel arch is a mural tablet to the memory of Walter Whitney, died August ye 30th 1736, and to Eleanor his wife, died March ye 28th, 1732. They lived at Grove Farm. The W.W. on the brass plate refers to their son, Walter Whitney, Surgeon, who died on June ye 13th, 1745. The skull and crossbones symbolise his profession.
Another wall tablet, inside east of the south door of the nave, dated October, 1703, in memory of William William, reads :
"Here is a man free from all strife,
A liver of a christian life,
Whom to avoid the swelling tide
In sand and shallow watter dide.
There are no mortals can presage
The troubles that may be'n our age
From harm to come death did him free
To soon in heaven none can be."
The family of Llewellyns of Court Colman had a 'Garden of Remembrance' at the northern end of the eastern boundary wall until recently, when they passed it over to the church authorities. Along side, lie the remains of the members of the Tythegstone Court and Nottage Court Families, three of whom having been Rectors. In the same line is the resting place of the late beloved Rowland Rowlands, Judge of the County Courts, who died at the age of 66 years on January 17th, 1935. The other inscriptions on the tombstone are of his only child, Franklyn T Rowlands, 2nd Lieut, 20 years old, killed in France, 21st November, 1917; and also of his wife, Mary, who predeceased him in 1928 at the age of 58 years. In her memory, he initiated a fund to provide means of conveyance for poor people who might require hospital treatment. His untimely death did not enable him to endow it sufficiently to meet the ever increasing demands, but the trustees, with the Manager of Barclay's Bank as Treasurer, are grateful for the helpful gifts to the Mary Rowlands Fund.
In the large common grave are interred the bodies which have been washed ashore. Tribute must be paid to Mr John W. Rodger, who has taken a personal interest in the care and maintenance of this hallowed spot which is the resting place of the many victims - "Unknown yet known" - of storm and submarine.
A tombstone of natural ruggedness Darks the spot where the mortal remains of Richard Hill Tiddeman, of H.M Geological Survey, were laid to rest. The stone was obtained in a local quarry, and no greater respect could be paid to the famous geologist whose daughter married Mr. Geo. E. Blundell of Nottage Court.
An evergreen tree conceals the unusual inscription on a memorial to Mr. George Lloyd, late of Carmarthen, who died in 1876.
Nothing seems to be known locally of Thomas John, who died in 1857 at the age of 71, but his tombstone, with the following epitaph, is still of interest :
"Praises on tombs are praises vainly spent,
A man's good name is his best monument".
Evan Symmons, dying in 1828 aged 68, is made to give the following advice:-
"Meddwl Ddyn wrth fyned heibio
Ffel rwit tythau ffynau ffuo
Ffel rwi ffynau tithau ddewi
Cofia Ddyn taw marw ffyddi."
His wife describes her fate :
"Mewn arch yn gul, o bren Rhwyn bod
Yn rhwym heb gyffro llaw na throed,
A nghorff yn llawn o bryfaid byw,
Am enaid bach lle mino Duw"
The ever-green Yew Tree, probably 450 years old, symbolising the immortality of the soul, seems to have been planted in the line of the axis of the church. In its shade lies a rectangular tomb with inscriptions :
John Turpin born in Messingham, Lincolnshire, on the 13th September, 1736, son of William Turpin, of Grove, in this Parish, died on the 16th September, 1756, Mariner.
William Turpin of the Grove, was born in 1696, died 1774, aged 78 years.
Tradition makes William Turpin to be the brother of Dick Turpin, the highwayman of "Black Bess'' fame. Dick was born in 1706 in Essex, but later went to Lincolnshire to avoid arrest for his mis-deeds. He was later convicted of horse-stealing and was hanged in 1739.
[Last Updated : 11 Nov 2002 by Gareth Hicks]