St Ishmael


"ISHMAEL'S (ST.), a parish, in the hundred of KIDWELLY, union and county of CARMARTHEN, SOUTH WALES, 9 miles (S. by W.) from Carmarthen; containing 895 inhabitants. This parish is situated on the sea-shore, and many of the inhabitants obtain a living by taking fish, which are found here in great variety and abundance, especially cockles and muscles, although they have nearly disappeared for the last ten years. The navigable river Towy runs through the parish, which is peculiarly suited to the growth of barley, which it produces of very fine quality. It contains the improving village of Ferry-side . . . The church is built on a rock near the seashore, and at high tides the waves approach within thirty yards of its base. Within the limits of the parish is a chapel of ease, called Llansaint chapel, occupying a very elevated site, its lofty tower forming a conspicuous object and a well-known landmark to mariners approaching the coast. There is a place of worship for Welsh Calvinistic Methodists. . . In this neighbourhood was Cevn Sidan, a sand-bank highly dangerous, and dreaded by sailors, but it has almost entirely disappeared within the last eight years. . . " [From A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (S. Lewis, 1844).]


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

  • Saint Ishmael's Parish Church "Saint Ishmael being so far from any village the congregation are not so numerous in winter as summer" Thomas B Griffiths, Vicar
  • Llansaint Chapel of Ease under the Parish Church of St Ishmael "The service is held in the chapel once every two months in the morning for the benefit of the old communicants, St Ishmael the mother church being to far" Thomas Griffiths, Vicar
  • St Thomas' Chapel, Ferryside Consecrated by the Bishop of the Diocese August 1828 as an additional Church for the benefit of Ferryside Ventris & Inhabitants Erected under the care if the Revd. Edward Patron of Isgoed "The Ferryside being a sea bahting place the congregation is more numerous in summer than winter....." Thomas B. Griffiths, Minister
  • Capel Llansaint Welsh CM Erected in 1817 David Thomas, Steward, Treforis, Ferryside
  • Ferryside Baptist Erected before 1800 John Jenkons, Holewan ? Pale, Ferryside

Parish entry for St Ishmael's with Llansaint and Ferryside from The Welsh Church Year Book, 1929 (Cd by (Archive CD Books).

  • St Ishmael & All Saints (Llansaint) & St Thomas (Ferryside)
  • Incumbent and Curates; R J James
  • Rural Deanery of Kidwelly
  • Acreage 3,646 ; Population 1,468

    Edwards, T. Hanes y Bedyddwr yn Salem, Glanyfferi o'u Dechreuad hyd 1890 [History of the Baptists at Salem, Ferryside from its Beginning until 1890). Aberdare, Jenkin Howell (1891). [LDS 994004]

    All Saints Church photograph and basic information and St. Ishmael's Church photograph and basic information from Dyfed FHS.


    Church Records

    Dyfed FHS have photographs and data relating to various churches and chapels on their site

    Parish registers: Christenings (1560-1946), Marriages (1561-1920), Banns (1929-71) and Burials (1560-1969) are at the Carmarthenshire Record Office.

    Facsimile Parish registers: Christenings, Marriages and Burials (1560-1761) are at the National Library of Wales.

    Copy ts PR index C (1813-55) M (1561-1875) B (1813-63) at NLW and Carm.RO

    Bishops' Transcripts, covering the period (1671-2, 1675, 1677-9, 1681-4, 1686-7, 1690, 1693-4, 1696-9, 1701-3, 1707-8, 1710-11, 1713, 1716-58, 1760-1800, 1802-40, 1842-6, 1848-50, 1853-5, 1879) are at the National Library of Wales, and have been microfilmed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Marriage index for this parish - see Dyfed Marriages, 1813-1837, Vol. 16 - Kidwelly Hundred (Dyfed Family History Society, c1989).

    See Bap/Mar/Bur data on FreeReg

    Nonconformist Chapels:

    • Salem (Baptist, 1796), Eva Terrace, Ferryside See Hanes y Bedyddwr yn Salem, Glayfferi; members and births (1797-1846) and account of Jenkins family, Cwmslac NLW Ms 217488  On Dyfed FHS
    • Bethania (Calvinistic Methodist, bef 1860), Eva Terrace, Ferryside On Dyfed FHS Bethania, Ferryside (Glanyfferi) CM chapel still open in 2006
    • Sion (Calvinistic Methodist, 1808), Llansaint Births and baptisms (1815-29) PRO RG4/3862, LDS 828108, IGI; burials (1912-84) Carmarthenshire R.O. On Dyfed FHS
    • Tabor Ind chapel, Heol Llansaint, Llan-saint SN38550826 Built 1878 Coflein Shown as still open on the Union of Welsh Independents site (Dec 2006)



    Description & Travel

    The Religious census of 1851 : A Calendar of the returns relating to Wales, Vol 1, South Wales., byJones, I.G. & Williams, D. UWP, Cardiff, 1976. These statistics for this parish are extracted from this book which in turn got them from the 1851 census itself;

    • Area 8081 acres; Population 452 males, 516 females, total 968

      Jones, D.G. Introducing Ferryside, Llandysul, Gomer Press (1978) 42 p., ill. [ISBN: 0850886007 (pbk)]

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



      The transcription of the section for St Ishmael from The National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.



      Carmarthenshire Families

      Davies, Mabel. The Gowers of St Ishmael's, Carmarthenshire. Dyfed FHS journal Vol 7/4 April 2001. A brief article with a detailed pedigree chart covering four generations from 1560.


      Lloyd, Sir John E., (Ed.). A History of Carmarthenshire (2 vols.), Cardiff, London Carmarthenshire Society (1935, 1939). Extracts from this book can be accessed on some parish pages, see below for this parish;

      • Medieval divisions;--- "In early medieval terms Carmarthenshire was made up of Ystrad Tywi [without Gower], Emlyn Uch Cuch and Y Cantref Gwarthaf [without Efelffre]. At some point pre the Norman conquest Ystrad Tywi itself was divided into Y Cantref Mawr and Y Cantref Bychan.......................In addition to these two cantrefs Ystrad Tywi was generally assigned a third (mentioned in the Mabinogion)........with the doubtful name of Cantref Eginog..............the names of the commotes into which this cantref was divided were undoubtedly well known..........hence it would appear as if Cydweli, Carnwyllion, and Gower had been at some time or other combined to make up a cantref which was not an ancient and recognised division of the country...............the names Gwyr (Gower) and Cydweli (Kidwelly) are to be found in Nennius and other ancient authorities, so that there can be no doubt that they go back to a remote past as descriptive of the tract between Carmarthen and Swansea......................the historic commote of Cydweli consisted of the six parishes of Llangynnor, Llandyfaelog, Llangyndeyrn, St Ishmaels, Kidwelly and Pembrey............"
      • 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, ............ to the group must also be assigned three other foundations in the county viz., Llandyfeisant, dedicated to Teilo's nephew, Tyfai, and St Ishmael's, bearing the name of another nephew, Ismael........"
      • The Age of the Native Princes/Carmarthenshire under Henry I;--- "The two ancient churches of St Illtud at Pembrey and St Ishmael at Penallt were not only shorn of some of their territory to form a new parish of St Mary's; they were also attached to the priory (Kidwelly) as appropriate churches."
      • The Later Middle Ages/T he Lordships/The Lordship of Kidwelly/Messor Patrie;--- "The Messor (literally, the reaper) in England was the officer responsible for the cultivation of the manor....here he was the officer who administered the 'forinsecus of the demesne lands of Kidwelly......Professor Rees suggests that, while the Welshry or patria was normally the forinsecus i.e the lands 'without', the term forinsecus was reserved in some lordships, of which Kidwelly was one, to describe the outer portion of the Englishry, possibly the former Welshry. 'Messor Patrie' lay west and south of Kidwelly; it included the manor of Pembrey, but was chiefly located at St Ishmaels. In this parish lay 'Hallynchurch' (Hawkinchurch) where 'rent of assize' was paid in our period; according to tradition it was not submerged by the sea until the seventeenth century. The tenants of St Ishmael commuted for the service of haulage with draught horses ( ut exonerentur de cariagio cum equis et affris suis). On them was also the obligation of electing and providing from their number the reeve of the castle of Kidwelly, or of paying a mark annually to be exempt from this duty."
      • Prehistoric and Roman Times/ Carmarthenshire in the Early Iron Age/Typical Forts in the Early Iron Age/;--- A separate list of Carmarthenshire Hill Forts which show ' slight traces of a possible former existence' includes Allt Cunedda, St Ishmaels.
      • Prehistoric and Roman Times/ Middle and Late Bronze Age;--- "....we are impressed by their comparative scarcity in Carmarthenshire (finds of metal objects of the period)...the list includes, 'A socketed axe, much worn, no ornament, from Pengai, parish of St Ishmaels [In Carmarthen Museum - photograph opposite page 63]
      • Castles, Boroughs, and Religious Houses/ The Stone Castles/ Parts of the Castle;--- "Lime could be got in the river Towy, from Newton and St Ismaels (sic), and was carried in lasts or weys....."


      Parish map(Kain/Oliver)

      You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SN379098 (Lat/Lon: 51.763476, -4.350757), St Ishmael which are provided by:


      Names, Geographical

      Places, villages, farms etc within St Ishmael 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 Gareth Hicks)

      • St Ishmael (79); Broadlay; Broadway; Bron-yn; Bryn-coch; Cemetery; Cliff; Cwm; Ferryside (village); Is-coed; Lifeboat Sta.; Llan-saint (village); Maes mawr; Morfa uchaf; Pen y gau; St Ishmael; Tan-y-lan; Tre Cor; Tre-Forris;

      Public Records

      Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

      • St Ishmaels Parish Council and Community Council records 1946-1985


      Jenkins, Dilys and Roy Davies. The Log Books of Ferryside School 1889-1937. The Carmarthenshire Antiquary, 1970, Vol vi