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A History of Carmarthenshire

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

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

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

Nonconformity and Methodism

Early Puritanism, 1620-60

In the context of Puritan domination and a London Committee for Plundered Ministers is mentioned....

"Four others were directly appointed by the Upper House, which was then composed of the few lords who had refused to follow the king to the wars.............the four were................Daniel Jones, rector of Llanddowror...........the other three (including Jones) lay snugly in their livings until 1660 and then promptly conformed............Daniel Jones in September 1661 subscribed as a free gift to the restored king no less than £5................As far as is known all were good men but not one of them, though each had to take the Covenant and prove satisfactory to the devines of the Westminster Assembly, had the slightest claim on the name Puritan. The Lords, again, had been thoroughly deluded by the reports sent up by the Carmarthenshire committee."

Calvinistic Methodism

"Abundant room has been found for argument whether Griffith Jones was, or was not, a Methodist, but none at all as to his importance in the history of Methodism --- and he was a native of Penboyr, and lived at Llanddowror..."

"......honest Richard Tibbott, whom Griffith Jones had trained at Llanddowror to be a circulating-school teacher, writes in 1741 that ' Mr Jones cast me down sadly, saying that he was willing to hope for the best, but did not know whether there was grace in Mr Harris and Mr Rowland --- which made me doubt all that I had ever experienced.' ...........Methodist leaders kept on visiting the good old man, no doubt wondering uneasily what reception awaited them...........Howell Harris was at Llanddowror at least 22 times during the first fifteen years of his career.....The last occasion (as far as we know) on which he saw Griffith Jones was in 1750......but he corresponded with him right up to 1760.when he acknowledged the receipt of a letter and books , with kindly words on Griffith Jones's many services 'to poor Wales' ".

The Older Dissent--Expansion and Organisation

"It may be well to exemplify this process (of expansion) by giving some detail of the 'life history' of one or two of the 'mother-churches'...............No better example could be chose than the historic Presbyterian-Independent church of Henllan Amgoed. Henllan meeting house itself (1696-7) was but the metropolis of a far flung community which straggled over the whole of Carmarthenshire west of the river Cynin, and even strayed across the eastern Cleddau and the Crunwear brook into Pembrokeshire...................................another meeting assembled at St Clears................a chapel (Bethlehem) was built close to the town (St Clears) in 1764, and was given autonomy in 1803. Bethlehem in its turn set up a cause in...................and at Elim in Llanddowror"

The Gouge Movement

There is a statement that in 1675 there were in Carmarthenshire a total number of pupils of 266 getting some schooling, not just via the Welsh Trust of Gouge and his friends though, a breakdown shows the number in Llanddowror as 20.

History of the Church in the County

Puritan Domination; A period of depression

"..The condition of the church of Llanddowror , a few years before Griffith Jones made it the centre of a religious revival, was far from satisfactory. There was no chalice, no flagon, no pulpit cloth, no parchment book, no resident minister, and no box to receive the alms for the poor.  The church was served by a non-resident curate...."

"In 1643, the House of Commons pledged itself to 'endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, that is, Church government by Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors and Commissaries'. ................the confiscated possessions of the bishops and cathedral clergy, and even their private estates, fell into the hands of a small committee which 'enjoyed almost complete autonomy of jurisdiction'..........So far Carmarthenshire had escaped rather well, but the Puritan Committee, succeeded in appropriating  Cenarth, Llanegwad, Llanddowror, Llangadock, Llangeler and Meidrym........."

A Religious and Educational Movement

"The educational movement and religious revival of the 18th century began in Carmarthenshire, and within the church. The true pioneer of both was Griffith Jones, rector of Llanddowror......"

"In 1716 he (Griffith Jones) was given the rectory of Llanddowror by Sir John Philipps, which he held with Llandeilo Abercywyn. .........Llanddowror became the centre of the religious revival which had been started at Laugharne. We are informed by John Evans, who was an enemy, that large multitudes from every part of South Wales, Monmouthshire and Herefordshire, congregated to Llanddowror for their monthly communion, and that young Daniel Rowland after his ordination spent several months at Llanddowror......"

"Bishop Adam Ottley(1713-23) saw the beginning of a religious revival at Laugharne and Llanddowror....."

"The religious revival which had its centre at Llanddowror was on distinct church lines, but, after about 30 years, it drifted into an anomalous position in the Church......"

"After 20 years of preaching and evangelising, Griffith Jones realised that preaching alone would not cure the evils of his time, because thousands of his listeners were unable to read, and were therefore ignorant of the simplest truths. He tried a Welsh school at Llanddowror. This proving a success, the plan was tried in other parishes, and the movement spread....................................a serious lack of competent teachers was felt, and he established a seminary at Llanddowror for the preparation of teachers......"

Economic and Social Life

Agriculture; the Sixteenth century

"In the manor of Llanddowror, a bitter quarrel broke out between the the lessee of the manor, Morgan Phillip, and his neighbour, Sir John Perrot of Laugharne, concerning a portion of waste land belonging to the former.  Both gentlemen had covenanted to exchange lands, whereby Sir John would receive part of the waste land of Llanddowror to enable him to realise his cherished design of creating a large deer park in his manor of Laugharne. Owing to some fraudulent dealing on Sir John's part, the scheme of exchange fell through, but he was determined to allow nothing to prohibit him from proceeding with his original plan. He intruded upon the waste land, and hired a number of Herefordshire men to enclose a large section of it.  Morgan Phillip retaliated by ordering his tenants to destroy the hedge, and they had rased some twenty perches of it before being interrupted by Sir John's men. As a result, there was much bickering between the two lords of the manor before the matter was finally brought before the Court of the Star Chamber....."

The Development of Communications; Highways

"Many new roads were constructed..................the Llanddowror road to Tavernspite in 1830...."

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............................................ ..........

It remains to locate Ystlwyf. This is not easy, both in its Welsh form and in the English form Osterlof (which may be the original), the name occurs frequently in ancient authorities, but nowhere is its situation described. The lordship of Llanddowror has been suggested, but, upon the whole, it appears safer to accept the view (embodied in Dr Rees's map) that this commote lay between the Cywyn and the Cynin, and was co-extensive with the ancient parish of Meidrym.......................

Henry VIII's 1536 Statute had only to add outlying lordships to what was already a quite substantial part of mention is made in the Act of the district west of Carmarthen, i.e the commotes of Cantref the case of Penrhyn, Ystlwyf, Talacharn, and Efelffre, the omission was deliberate this same Act , 'Lansteffan';  'Langeharne', otherwise called Tallangherne; 'Landofleure' (Llanddowror); and 'Herberth' (Narberth) were united to the county of Pembroke, which was thus to extend almost to the gates of Carmarthen...............

The arrangement , however, was one that could not stand, and by a clause in the Act of 1542 it was provided that 'Llanstiffan, Usterloys (Ystlwyf) and Langham (Laugharne) ' should be transferred to the county of Carmarthen, and form part of the new hundred of Derllys......."

(Footnote; The inference that Usterloys = Landofleure is not supported by other evidence.)

Castles, Boroughs and Religious Houses

The Motte and Bailey Castle

"........several of our castles are distributed along the highways, Roman and mediaeval, radiating from Carmarthen.  such are................Llanddowror to the west......."

The Age of the Native Princes

The Early Church; Rise of the Kingdom of Deheubarth

"In the Liber Landavensis, five churches are claimed for Teilo(Saint) in Cantref Mawr and six in Cantref Gwarthaf. These cannot all be identified, but there is no doubt about...................and Llanddowror....."

Carmarthenshire under Henry I

"With the Normans military and ecclesiastical aggrandisement went hand in hand. They had little respect for the old Welsh monastic communities, in which, by this time, hereditary succession was the rule, and churches like Llanarthney, Llandeulothog and Llanddowror must have fared badly. Their favour was reserved for the new foundations which they established, and which were constituted in accordance with continental ideas...."

Prehistoric and Roman Times

List of Carmarthenshire Megaliths, includes following standing stones;

  • Castell Standigng Stone, Llanddowror

Gareth Hicks  

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