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St Issells

"ISSEL'S, ST., (ST. ISSELL'S), * a parish in the hundred of NARBERTH, county of PEMBROKE, SOUTH WALES, 3 1/2 miles (N.) from Tenby, containing 1226 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated at the western extremity of Carmarthen bay, has its surface singularly diversified with abrupt and precipitous eminences and deep dingles, which, being richly wooded, form a striking contrast to the dingy and sterile appearance occasioned by the coal mines in the immediate vicinity. . . Iron-ore is also found in connexion with the strata of coal, and was formerly wrought to a considerable extent by the Pembrey Iron Company . . . The sands on this part of the coast are extremely favourable for sea-bathing, and a few families, who prefer retirement and tranquillity, resort hither during the summer season, prefering the humbler, but more peaceable, accommodations which the inns of this place afford, to the gaieties of Tenby. . . The church is romantically situated in one of the richly wooded dells with which the parish abounds, and is a neat structure in the early style of English architecture, with a square embattled tower. . . The free school was founded by John Jones, Esq., who, in 1757, bequeathed £300 in trust for the gratuitous instruction of an equal number of children of both sexes, in reading and writing . . ." [From A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (S. Lewis, 1833).]          * See also below under Description and Travel

Nonconformist Burials in the Begelly & St Issells area - databases by Jon Mein

St Issells Burial Board Register of Burials 1862-1922.
Pembrokeshire Record Office catalogue HSPC/18/3. There is also a plan of the yard dated 1893,  HSPC/18/104
The register lists:

  • Deceased's name; Occupation/status; Age at death; Residence at death; Occasionally details of death (such as cause, place if different from residence etc); Date of burial; Name of minister conducting service (can be used to trace possible religious affiliations of deceased)

All burials are (confusingly) at the St Issells parish churchyard but cover not only the church but members of the following chapels:

  • Hebron - Baptists; Bethany - Calvinistic ; Bethel/Thomas Memorial - Congregationalist; Saundersfoot - Wesleyan; Kingsmoor - Primitive

The above data was contributed by Jon Mein who further states; "about 40% of the 1008 entries in the register are burials for non-conformists"


The 1851 census for this parish has been indexed by Dyfed Family History Society.

Census Returns for this parish have the following LDS Call Numbers:

  • 1841 Census - 0464344
  • 1851 Census - 0104232
  • 1861 Census - 0543242
  • 1871 Census - 0850852
  • 1881 Census - 1342302
  • 1891 Census - 6099636


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the St Issells area that are recorded in the GENUKI church database. This will also help identify other churches in nearby townships and/or parishes. You also have the option to see the location of the churches marked on a map.

Church History

Some church and chapel data from The Religious census of 1851 : A Calendar of the returns relating to Wales, Vol 1, South Wales. Ed. by   I.G Jones, & D. Williams. UWP,   Cardiff, 1976. The names are those of the informants

  • St Issells Parish Church                                James Dalton, Vicar
  • Sardis   Ind                      Erected in 1808                     William Thomas, Minister
  • Bethesda    CM            Erected in 1826                 Thomas Ashford, Minister, Begelly
  • Bethel          Ind               Erected in 1838          William Thomas, Independent Minister, Saundersfoot
  • Hill chapel, Kingsmoor     Primitive Methodist             Erected in 1837       John Maylard, Minister, Pembroke Dock

Parish entry for St Issell's with Kilgetty (Saundersfoot) from The Welsh Church Year Book, 1929 (Cd by Archive CD Books).

  • St Issell
  • &
  • Mission Church (Kilgetty)
  • Incumbent and Curates; E O Jones (T R Lloyd)
  • Rural Deanery of Narberth
  • Acreage 3,787 ; Population 2,064

Church Records

PR CB (1753-66) recorded in 1831 apparently lost

Parish registers: Christenings (1766-83, 1787-1922), Marriages (1778-1938), Burials (1766-75, 1783-1908) at NLW with Mf copies at Pem.RO

Copy ts Pr [extracts] CMB (1766-1829) and ts PR/BT (1656, 1685, 1775, 1799-1837) at Pem.RO

Bishops' Transcripts, covering the period (1685-6, 1775, 1799-1837, 1839-89, 1892, 1895-8) are at the National Library of Wales, and have been microfilmed by the LDS - Call Number: 0105207

See Bap/Mar/Bur data on  FreeReg

Nonconformist Chapels:

  • Hebron Baptist chapel, Church Terrace, Saundersfoot        SN13540502    Built 1854, restored 1881.   Still open 1998          Coflein         On Dyfed FHS
  • Bethany , in Saundersfoot [Calvinistic Methodists, 1867]                               On Dyfed FHS
  • Bethesda [Calvinistic Methodists, 1826].                  On Dyfed FHS                     Bethesda Saundersfoot CM chapel - still open in 2006
    Some early history relating to Zion CM chapel, Begelly and Bethesda CM chapel, St Issells
  • Kingsmoor, in Kingsmoor  [Primitive Methodists, 1837]. Records ; Baptisms, 1847-1907 ; other records such as accounts, Sunday School papers, and minutes are deposited at the Pem RO.    On Dyfed FHS
  • Bethel, (Thomas Memorial) in Saundersfoot village  [Independents, 1838]. Records ; See Sardis/St Issells parish                On Dyfed FHS
    Rees, Thomas & John Thomas. Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru (History of the Welsh Independent Churches), 4 volumes (published 1871+). Here is a translation of the entry from this book for this chapel contributed by Jon Mein
  • Sardis [Independents, 1809]. Records ; births and bapts, 1803-37 in connection with Bethel/St Florence at PRO RG4/3919, and have been microfilmed by the LDS - Call Number: 819966, IGI    On Dyfed FHS
    Rees, Thomas & John Thomas. Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru (History of the Welsh Independent Churches), 4 volumes (published 1871+). Here is a translation of the entry from this book for this chapel contributed by Jon Mein
  • Saundersfoot Wesleyan chapel, Saundersfoot            SN13420493     Built 1892        Still open 2000    Coflein                    On Dyfed FHS
  • St Bride's Saundersfoot RC church                   On Dyfed FHS

Dyfed FHS have published a series of indexes of baptisms, marriages and burials from Pembrokeshire hundreds for various periods.

Description and Travel

You can see pictures of St Issells which are provided by:

*What is the Welsh name for St Issells?   (The NLW publications PRW and NRW disagree).
"It appears that 'Parish Registers of Wales' has followed the form found in Elwyn Davies, 'Rhestr o Enwau Lleoedd/A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-names (Caerdydd, 1967). The database 'Capeli Cymru' on which 'Nonconformist Registers of Wales' is based has obviously used Melville Richards, 'Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units' (Cardiff, 1969).In an annotated copy of Dr Elwyn Davies's work kept here among his papers, the form Llanusullt (St Issels) is found for the parish and church at map reference 22/1305 and the source E. Llwyd Williams, 'Crwydro Sir Benfro' is quoted. Dr Davies has St Issels, gw. Llanusullt and St Issells gw. Saint Ishel." (NLW, Feb 2002)

Places, villages, farms etc within St Issells parish as shown on the online parish map from the CD of  Historic Parishes of England and Wales: an Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata [computer file]. (Kain, R.J.P., Oliver, R.R.).  (Extracted by Barry Johnson)

  • St. Issells (126); Blackmoor, Bonville's Court, Catershook, Catershook Gate, Hean Castle, Hill, Kilgetty Fm., Kilgetty Ho. (Antiquity), King's Moor, Newton Fm., Pentlepoir, Ridgeway, St.Bride's Hill, Sardis Mountain, Saundersfoot, Saundersfoot Sta., Stammers, Stepaside, Stonybridge, The Valley, Tre-berth, Tregallet, Trewern, Woodside.

Books marked * have an entry on the separate 'Review/Contents' page.

Daniels, D. Ken. Saundersfoot and Tenby. Stroud: Chalford, 1995. 159p : ill, facsims,map,ports ; 24cm. Series title Archive photographs

*Howells, Roscoe. Old Saundersfoot from Monkstone to Marros. 2 ed. 1987, Gomer, 125 pp.+ glossary of local dialect and index, 225 illust.

Price, M R C. The Saundersfoot Railway. Lingfield, 1964.


Transcript of complete entry in Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Wales of 1833.


Pembrokeshire Families

St Issells wills - a database compiled by Owen Vaughan


Harris, Gordon J. Harris to Harry. Dyfed FHS journal Vol 7/4 April 2001. Concerns George Henry Harris of Saundersfoot [1864-1937]

Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which St Issells has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


Books marked * have an entry on the separate 'Review/Contents' page.

*Stickings, Thomas G. The Story of Saundersfoot. 1st ed. 1970, 169 pp, with glossary of dialect terms.

Price, M R C. Industrial Saundersfoot, Llandysul, 1982.

Land and Property

Held at the NLW ;

  • Deeds deposited by Miss N. Thomas, Saundersfoot relating to properties in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen and Cardiganshire, 1553-1877.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SN133058 (Lat/Lon: 51.719725, -4.704349), St Issells which are provided by:

Merchant Marine

Morris, Ray. Ships at Saundersfoot Harbour During the 1861 and 1871 censuses. Dyfed FHS journal Vol 7/3 Dec 2000. Saundersfoot Harbour in the mid  to late 1800s was a thriving coal port, the article details the names of the ships and crew in port on these census nights.

Morris, Ray. Ships at Saundersfoot Harbour During the 1891 census. Dyfed FHS journal, Vol 7/7, April 2002.


Kilgetty (Stepaside) Ironworks and Grove Colliery. " This was a mid 19th century iron works erected to take advantage of local anthracite and coal measure iron stone resources. For historical detail see Price, M. R. C., Industrial Saundersfoot, (Llandysul, 1982).

Bonvilles Court Colliery, Saundersfoot on the Welsh Coal Mines site

A Pembrokeshire Mining Community - Some thoughts on the history of the coalmining community around Begelly and Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire


[Gareth Hicks  - 30 Dec 2012]