A History of Carmarthenshire


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

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

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


"Here some reference should be made to a tradition, enshrined in the Hanes of Joshua Thomas, that Vavasor Powell, the greatest of the Puritan preachers of Wales, paid a visit to the county, preaching under a yew-tree by Llwyn Cynwyl. Not a word is said of the date of this visit, whether it was before he became a Baptist, or afterwards; not a clue is given as to whether he came as chiefest defender of the Commonwealth, or the most virulent critic of the Protectorate. Really it makes no difference. Neither the habitat nor the movements of Vavasor allow of this stray, unrecorded visit to Cynwyl Elfed....."

Nonconformity and Methodism

Calvinistic Methodism

"At the ordination at Llandeilo Fawr in 1811, four out of the thirteen ordinands were men of the county..............Arthur Evans (1755-1837) of Cynwyl Elfed, an old Carmarthen student who had once sought holy orders, was an able organiser who was for many years secretary of the monthly meeting......" (see below also)

"...........a vigorous chapel building movement marks the last twelve years of the century (18th)..........Cynwyl Elfed  was built in 1795."

Independents, 1687-1715

"....the Archdeacon (Tenison) reports the existence of meeting houses in the parishes of Cynwyl Elfed etc .......but in the absence of the words 'built' or 'set-up' it would not be wise to make the Archdeacon responsible for too many Nonconformist chapels............a strict interpretation of the Archdeacon's phraseology will safely give a dozen Independent chapels dotted over the county by 1715....."

Economic and Social Life

The Woollen Industry

"The 17th century sees the first glimpse....in local records.......of the distribution of the industry in the countryside beyond the confines of the boroughs.............there is reference to a weaver in Cynwyl Elfed in 1662....."

Literature and Literary Associations

Hymnody and Sacred Poetry

"..........David Lewis..........his life has no known dates of birth or death........he is spoken of as from Cynwyl Elfed, and he held the pastorate of Henllan for 'some time before 1691'. He died about 1705, for the Rev Matthias Maurice, writing of him in 1726, speaks of his having died more than 20 years before. He speaks of him as possessing much learning and piety, of his sound doctrinal equipment, and of his speech dropping as the dew. A little volume of verse bearing his name, Caniadau Nefol....ynghyd a rhai Hymnau ysprydol, appeared posthumously in 1714, there was a second edition in 1740."

".....The power of a hymn in preserving a name is shown by the number of folk who hang on to immortality by the slender thread of a short hymn, or even a single verse.......................The Rev Arthur Evans, Calvinistic Minister of Cynwyl Elfed (1755-1837), lives by the help of a single verse ; 'Dyro afael ar y bywyd'........."

Medieval boundaries

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

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

Prehistoric and Roman Times

Middle and Late Bronze Age

"When we turn from the funerary vessels of this period .....we are impressed by the comparative scarcity of metal objects in Carmarthenshire, ........the list includes;

  • A leaf shaped sword, Crug-y-durn (cairn), parish of Cynwyl Elfed (RCAM, 104) (Cast in Carmarthen Museum)

A list of bronze age barrows includes;

  • Crug-y-durn, 'flat oval stone, cist and burnt bones'

The Great Stone Monuments

A list of Carmarthenshire Megaliths includes under Dolmens (mostly ruined);

  • Cerrig Llwydion, Cynwyl Elfed

A list of Carmarthenshire Megaliths includes under Standing Stones;

  • Carreg Wen, Cynwyl Elfed
  • Carreg Wen 2m north east of preceding stone
  • Carreg Hir, Cynwyl Elfed

Castles, Boroughs and Religious Houses

Material and Garniture

"Fuel was to be had at Cynwyl Elfed, coals and charcoal are mentioned in 1340..."

See the county page for a general introduction to The Early Iron and Coal Industry

The Cwmbran Ironworks

"It has been difficult to locate this early forge but the old OS maps (1809-1836) shows Cwmbran a little to the west of Cynwyl Elfed. The production of this forge was small --- 60 tons of bar-iron per annum. It must have ceased producing very early in the 19th century, as there is no reference to the site other than on those earlier maps.

A small stream --- Nant Ring, joins the Gwili river at Cynwyl Elfed --- a few miles from the Cwmdwyfran ironworks. Cwmbran is in the upper section of this stream about half a mile from Clawddcoch. Mules conveyed the raw materials to and from the forge."

Gareth Hicks