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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 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

" addition to the commissioners, twenty five Puritan ministers, or 'approvers' ,were selected......these 'approvers, or any five of them, were responsible for the filling of the churches ordered vacant by the Commissioners. Carmarthenshire again had not a single representative among the approvers. The clergy were ejected from the following parishes............. Merthyr etc...."

Nonconformity and Methodism

The Propagation of the Gospel

"The three years' Propagation Act expired in 1653 and was not re-enacted......early in 1654 the Commissioners for Approbation of Public Preachers came into force (fortunately known for short as Triers)......who had the fullest powers to to review and revise all previous Puritan appointments...............the Triers also made a bold attempt to fill some of the vacant parishes by approving new ministers...........(the following name is in the list of the Trier nominees )

  • 1657, James Davies, Merthyr

"It must be at once admitted that , with four exceptions, these new nominees of the Triers were obscure and mediocre men, who have left but little impress on the records of the time. Anglican critics remembered the days when James Davies was a labourer .......The four exceptions were......... James Davies at Merthyr......

"It was very soon seen that it was much easier to turn men out than to find worthy men to fill their places; as an exception (though the evidence is a little conflicting), it is very probable that Stephen Hughes was approved to the living of Merthyr at this juncture..."

1650-87, Independents

".......such of the clergy ejected by the Puritans who had survived up to ...1660..... were restored to their old livings.....Only two, James Davies of Merthyr, and Meredith Davies of Llannon, of a certainty, were turned out after 1661.....!

The Census of 1676

This census was ordered in 1676 by Archbishop Sheldon who wanted to know the most accurate numbers available of the inhabitants, Popish recusants, and other Dissenters respectively in every parish in his province.

"..........nor does the census disappoint those who believe that Nonconformity could never be flourishing in those parishes served by the feckless 5 Anglicans who managed to throw dust into the eyes of Puritan office-holders between 1645 and 1649......... On closer enquiry however, the spiritual descent of those 31 , quite the largest number of Nonconformists entered opposite any parish in the county , is to be traced, not to the ministrations of Nicholas Owen, but to the pastoral care of the James Davies who was ejected from Merthyr in 1662, and who held a licence to preach at the house of John James in Cenarth from 1672 to 1675. No doubt the strategic position of the place, hard by the junction of three counties, had also much to do with this concentration of Nonconformists. "

1687-1715, Independents

"....Archdeacon Tenison is the best authority for the exact dates when meeting houses were set up ad hoc in place of the casual and improvised rooms in private dwellings.........................the old Henfwlch chapel, right on the Newchurch boundary, but actually in the parish of Merthyr, was already up before 1710: Mr Vaughan of Derllys was glad to say that not a single person from the latter parish attended it (which might have been true)..."

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

List of Carmarthenshire Hill Forts/Hill Forts with Earthen Ramparts


  • Castell-y-gaer, Merthyr


"West of Carmarthen; .....thus another 'Via Julia' is shown on the maps in the parishes of Meidrym and Merthyr, the high road from Carmarthen to St Clears being thereby denoted as 'Roman'.

Castles, Boroughs, and Religious Houses

Monastic Lands and Revenues

"The churches that came into possession of the religious houses were as follows;

  • Whitland; ............ a third of Merthyr and Llanwenog.......

The Age of the Native Princes

The Early Church/Rise of the Kingdom of Deheubarth

"No vestige remains of any ecclesiastical building erected during this period (400-1282)......the abundance of wood led to the neglect of the use of stone for this purpose............but stone was used.......setting up memorials to the dead...........these are found in association with many sacred sites in Carmarthenshire........indicate places of Christian interment as early as the sixth century..........Inscriptions with the Latin character only are recorded from.........and Merthyr........"