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 extracts from this book have been extracted by Gareth Hicks onto some parish pages, these snippets below are in random order.

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

History of the Church in the County

Puritan Domination: a Period of Depression

"........so far, Carmarthenshire had escaped rather well, but the Puritan committee succeeded in appropriating.... Llangeler etc...."

Nonconformity and Methodism

Early Puritanism, 1620-1660

"......the central Committee for Plundered Ministers sitting in London.............later ordered to turn out unworthy clergymen, supply their vacant livings with new ministers.........approve as Puritan ministers Anglican clergy who were found satisfactory..........The two men approved in Carmarthenshire, both in 1646, were David James, rector of Cilrhedyn, and ............. Thomas Griffith, vicar of Llangeler, ................ the second invested with all the rectorial profits which hitherto had gone to a distant Englishman in Suffolk ...........were they aware that Thomas Griffith, who now is only remembered in the pedigrees as founder of the family of Cilgynydd, was married to a close relative of Dr Theophilus Field, Bishop of St David's a few years previously ? Never were mortal men, where Welsh matters were concerned, so innocent and credulous as this hard headed London committee. "

"...... The pitiful conclusion is that almost the only definite and drastic measure accomplished before 1650 was the sequestration of the sinecure rectory of Llangeler from the Englishman, Jeremy Holt........................"

Calvinistic Methodism

"............... A study of the place names in Welch Piety, confining ourselves to the period before 1761 (the date of Griffiths Jones's death), yields many instances of Methodist homes being used by Griffith Jones as school-houses, some of them very well known, such as..............and at least two Methodist Meeting Houses which were so used --- Ty Newydd (Cil y Cwm)................ and Clos y Graig ( Llangeler), which was in almost continuous use from its erection in 1754 to 1760."

Independents, 1687-1715

".....under the sunshine of freedom, fed by increasing numbers, reinforced with sound sense, the subsidiary meeting places became separate causes .......... Llangeler (freed from the tutelage of Pencader) setting up its own hearth....."

The Older Dissent/ Expansion and Organisation

"....we may reckon that there were in 1715 seventeen Presbyterian or Independent churches...................the next 60 years  add only eight to this number.......Penlon (Drefach --- later known as Saron, Llangeler ---  which may indeed, and in one sense certainly does, belong to the earlier period, but the earliest reference is 1738..."

""It should of course be bourne in mind that meetings had been held in most of these towns for some time previous to the dates given; and also that in nearly all cases there were large 'extra-mural' churches at no considerable distance from the town.......... Newcastle Baptists had Pant Teg close at hand, and its Independents could resort to Drewen (in Cardiganshire) and Capel Iwan, or Llangeler....."

"...the beginnings of a more general advance along the new lines may be dated  approximately at 1785. David Davies, the son of an inn-keeper, was already a married man, and had none of the educational advantages which the older Independents thought requisite in a minister, when in 1784 or 1785 he was accepted as a preacher by the church at Pencadair. In 1790, he was ordained joint pastor at Drefach. So immediately successful was he that Drefach chapel became too small, and the congregation moved to a new home (Saron) at Llangeler; Davies was also for a time in charge of Gwernogle. In 1795 he removed from this county, first to assist, and eventually to succeed the eminent Lewis Rees at Mynydd Bach, near Swansea; he remained at Swansea till his death in 1816. By common consent, David Davies is regarded as the leader of the new school among the Independents of Carmarthenshire, and indeed, of Wales in general. "

Literature and Literary Associations

David Davies (1763-1816)

He was a native of Llangeler: Christmas Evans and he in their youth both attended Penrhiw chapel. He was ordained for the Independent ministry at Drefach in 1790. After five years' ministry of conspicious success, he was called to Mynyddbach, near Swansea, where again his ministry was so blessed that it extended in many directions; among the churches he founded was that of Ebenezer, Swansea. His annotated family bible, Y Bibl Santaidd, gydag Ymylnodau a Nodau Haneisiol, Eglurhaol, av Ymarferol, appeared in 1816, the year of his death. He wrote over eighty hymns, several of which are still in general use. "

High Sheriffs of Carmarthenshire, 1541-1900


  • 1748, Hector Rees of Llangeler

Economic and Social Life

Public Elementary and Secondary Education/Elementary Education

"Mr Longueville Jones's report for the year 1849 pointed out that many Church schools in the county were in what might be called a transition stage. Although they would most probably become effective in course of time, the general position in the county did not appear to him "to correspond with the great wealth and prosperity of what was one of the most important counties in the principality." In the following year, it was pointed out that comparatively few Church schools were under Government inspection. After noting that new ones had arisen at Newcastle Emlyn, Llangeler and Llandybie,............."

The Development of Communications/Highways

"The first few decades of the C19th..........in the parish of Llangeler, much attention was devoted to parish roads between 1825 and 1830, and, in order to ensure a supply of cheap labour, it was decided by the vestry that those who were in receipt of parish relief and who were capable of manual labour, should be given work on the highways..."

The Woollen Industry

"...... there are references to ..................  a weaver in the famous cloth district of Llangeler and Penboyr in 1650...."

"An effort was made towards the end of the 18th century and the early part of the 19th century to encourage the poor of Carmarthenshire who lacked a 'sufficient industry' to turn their attention to the spinning of yarn and the knitting of stockings. The Carmarthenshire Agricultural Society formed towards the end of the 18th century offered each year premiums to 'cottagers having nothing to depend on but their day labour, who, with the assistance of their wives and children living with them, such children not being above 12 years old, shall spin the greatest Quantity of Yarn from the first day of January to the end of the same year.' The five premiums offered by the society in this competition were won practically  every year by residents in the two parishes of Llangeler and Penboyr, the two parishes which have the most developed woollen trade at the present day. Such a scheme clearly illustrates the continued domestic character of the trade, and even the casual tourists of the period pay their tribute to the great industry of the peasants, and particularly of the women. Donovan says that 'every female is acquainted with the art of carding and spinning wool, which they knit into stockings, wigs, caps etc,' and that the women could card, spin, and knit about four pairs of stockings a week.

Even in the 19th century, the woollen manufacturers of Carmarthenshire were most reluctant to take up the factory system, notwithstanding that at that time the English woollen trade was prospering greatly with the increasing mechanisation. Although the power-driven carding and spinning machines had appeared within the county towards the end of the 18th century, the history of the woollen trade in the two parishes which still lead in the industry shows the reluctance to change. Llangeler and Penboyr had only four fulling mills at Pentrecourt, Dolwyon, Drefach, and Cwmpengraig at the end of the 18th century, and there were no factories for carding and spinning until the 19th. The first factory was set up at Cwmpengraig early in the century, and the second at Dolwyon in 1820, but these two had only machines for carding, the willying and spinning being done by hand. A third factory at Llwynbedw had spinning machines. Up to about 1850, the word 'factory' in Carmarthenshire simply meant a building where carding or spinning machines were driven by water power. "

Boundaries and local divisions

"One of the seven cantrefs of Dyfed was Emlyn, occupying the south bank of the Teifi from the Tyweli to the Broyan. It was an important lordship, with a castle at Cilgerran overhanging the gorge of the Teify, until, about 1240, its owner, Gilbert Marshall, earl of Pembroke, gave the portion which lies east of the river Cuch to Maredudd ap Rhys, who built, in the parish of Cenarth, the 'New Castle' ever since known by that name. The two halves of the ancient cantref were never again united , and in Henry VIII's groupings of lordships into counties Emlyn Uch Cuch went to Carmarthenshire and Emlyn Is Cuch to Pembrokeshire. The former comprised the parishes of Penboyr, Llangeler, and Cenarth, with the hamlet of Cwm Morgan in the parish of Cilrhedyn; thus the river Cuch, familiar to legend as the scene of the hunting of Pwyll, prince of Dyfed, forms the county boundary throughout its length."

Castles, Boroughs and Religious Houses

Castles/The Motte & Bailey Castle

"Eleven of the motte castles show traces of a bailey, rather a small number compared with those listed in the Inventories of other counties in Wales. The bailey is frequently absent from Wales, but in some cases it has been obliterated by the plough; this has happened at Llangeler......."

"........several of our castles are distributed along the highways, Roman and mediaeval, radiating from Carmarthen........others again are actively asociated with the abbeys, e.g Talley, so admirably placed between two lakes, and Castell (Llangeler), a grange of Whitland..."

Monastic Lands & Revenues

"The lands that fell into the possession of the monastic houses were carved into manors and vills and were administered precisely as any other lordship. On them were established granges or farms where conversi tilled the land, and, if they were situated at some distance from the abbey, were housed.........Whitland possessed ..........Manorforion in Llangeler......."

Prehistoric and Roman Times

The Great Stone Monuments

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

  • Yr hen lech, Llangeler

A schedule of Standing Stones

includes ;  

  • Near Yr hen lech Cromlech, Llangeler
  • Near Pen Castell Farm, Llangeler

List of Carmarthenshire Hill Forts/Hill Forts with earthen ramparts


  • Y Gaer Wen, Llangeler (in fair preservation)

List of Carmarthenshire Hill Forts.
Forts constructed with some regular plan which bears no relation to the immediate topography


  • Castell Waun Wthan, Llangeler ( in good preservation)

And also a list where 'slight traces indicate the possible former existence of a hill fort with earthen ramparts at the following sites';


  • Castell Pant-y-ffynnon, Llangeler
  • Castell Henfryn, Llangeler
  • Castell Blaen Nant Rhys, Llangeler

Native Sites/Topographical Index


" Llangeler(Newcastle Emlyn). Castell Waun Wthan. Rectangular earthwork, 96 ft square, surrounded by a ditch (Roman?). Two entrances. 'Stone Basin' (?Quern-stone) [RCAM, 468]