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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

Calvinistic Methodism

"Among men of less wide-spread fame we may note Rhys Morgan of Talley, who died in 1847 at the age of eighty-three --- he was a convert of the Independent Isaac Price.........."

"In 1744 there were 18 Methodist Societies in Carmarthenshire, ..............of these Talley had average 62 members.................the figures for 1748 are too incomplete to allow of any very trenchant conclusion, ................ but Talley had gone down to 49...."

The Lists of Dr John Evans (1714+)

"Nearer time to the Lists are the numbers of Dissenters in the various parishes as supplied by by Archdeacon Tenison in the Visitation of 1710.............when his numbers are added up, allowing them the most favourable interpretation by accepting the highest of his alternative figures, he is found to admit that there were over 1200 Nonconformists in his archdeaconry ..................................none of the sectaries of Talley could be depended upon to attaend the meeting-house, unless they heard that  'a strange preacher' was coming there................."

Literature and Literary Associations

Other Names

"............lives by a single verse...... and so does Thomas Lewis, the blacksmith of Talyllychau (1759-1842), by a single but well known verse, ' Wrth gofio'i riddfannau'n yr ardd'....."

History of the Church in the County

The Reformation/The Early Stuarts

"The county of Carmarthenshire had long been celebrated for its monastic houses and schools. On these Henry VIII, through the instrumentality of Thomas Cromwell and his agents, began to lay the violent hand of suppression and confiscation. Whitland, Talley, Kidwelly Priory, Carmarthen Priory with the friary, were all suppressed. Their valuable property passed into the king's hands. "

Puritan Domination:a Period of Depression

"The account given of the dismantled abbey at Talley is suggestive. 'Our parish church is part of the demolished monastery ; the walls and roof thereof are not in good repair, the windows have had no glass on them in our memory. They are so very large, and too chargeable for our small parish to keep them glazed.' The minister was resident in the parish and had no other cure, but there was 'no house belonging to ye church.' "

Economic and Social Life

Agriculture/The Sixteenth Century

"In two important respects only had the monasteries allowed themselves to be affected by external changes in rural economy. Many duties and rents had been commuted into money, as were also many payments made in kind at various periods in the year. The monasteries had also commenced to follow the new fashion of leasing tenancies for a specified number of years, and including many of the customary perquisites and dues in the annual rent. By the time of the Dissolution, leasehold had become the general practice in most of the monastic territory, with the exception of that of Talley Abbey, which adhered to the old system of copyhold. "

"Despite these innovations, the relations between the monks and their tenants had remained cordial, and there was no indication that the latter were discontented with their lot, or were prepared to exchange it for any other. Moreover, it cannot be too often stressed that the monastic ownership of land was propitious to the development of agriculture in Carmarthenshire. The monks had always been practical exponents of the medieval theory that the welfare of society was intimately bound up with the proper and consistent cultivation of the soil. Thus, the Abbots of Whitland and Talley stipulated in their leases that their tenants should still pay certain dues in cereals, live stock, and dairy produce, thus ensuring the continuation of agrarian operations. "

The Woollen Industry

"A perusal of local records for this period will show an increasing number of references to the distribution of the industry within the confines of the county. During the 18th century there are references to .......... while at Talley, tuckers and weavers are mentioned. .................. 'A Pedestrian Traveller,' passing through Carmarthenshire in 1797, describes how the 'wool is manufactured in the county into all forms and colours, supplying the inhabitants with every vestment, even to his shirt'


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.
About the time of the Norman conquest, Cantref Mawr was divided into 7 commotes, one of these was Maenor Deilo which included the parishes of Llansadwrn, Talley , Llandyfeisant and part of Llandeilofawr.

The Age of the Native Princes

The Early Church;Rise of the Kingdom of Deheubarth

"A considerable number of churches in the county are dedicated to St Michael; in addition to the six which are styled Llanfihangel, this is also the dedication of .... Talley ....."

Family Feuds

"The invading army encamped on January 25 1213 at Trallwng Elgan, a holding of the canons of Talyllychau, which lay a little to the north of the abbey......"

Llywelyn and the Barons

""...on August 17th (1271?) Rhys Fychan died at his castle of Dinefwr. He was buried in the abbey of Talyllychau to which he had been a benefactor, confirming the gifts of his great grandfather, the Lord Rhys, and his grandfather, Rhys Gryg, and adding further donations of his own. The canons were good friends of the Welsh cause, and it may be that we owe to one of their number the full record of Welsh victories of this time embodied in MS.B of the Annales Cambriae. "

The Ascendancy of the Lord Rhys

"One house within the limits of Carmarthenshire owed its existence to the pious liberality of the Lord Rhys. This was the convent of White, or Premonstratensian Canons (the only one of this order in Wales), which he established at Tal-y-Llychau (Below the Lakes), often abbreviated to Talley was a retired spot in the heart of the mountains, well fitted for monastic seclusion, with abundant pasture for sheep and cattle, and two little lakes for the supply of fish. No date can be assigned to the coming of the canons...........the settlement soon became thoroughly Welsh, until it was able, in 1215, to furnish a bishop of St David's entirely acceptable to Llywelyn ab Iorwerth.......we can attribute to the gifts of Lord Rhys..the adjacent lands of Cefn Blaidd, Crug y Bar, and Trallwng Elgan.......................... as the canons were not mere monks, but ordained for the discharge of clerical duties, the church became parochial and the parish of Talley was formed at the expense of Llandilo and Cynwyl Gaeo."

Castles, Boroughs, and Religious Houses

Castles/The Motte and Bailey Castle

"....several of our castles  are distributed along the highways, Roman and medieval, radiating from Carmarthen...... others again are actively associated with the abbeys, e.g Talley, so admirably placed between two lakes ............. not far from Allt-y-ferin once stood a grange of Talley traceable only by the name 'Mynachdy'..."

"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......both types are present in the parishes of ... and Talley .................Low secondary mounds situated at one of the terminals of the rampart, for resting one end of the bridge, may be seen at St Clears, Ystum Enlli, Twrla in Talley, and Pembrey...."

Opposite page 347 in the book is a photograph of a derelict Talley Abbey.

Religious Houses/Foundation and General History

The Abbeys

"..... towards the end of the eleventh century.....there arose a reaction which found expression in what is commonly known as 'the Monastic revival'. Truly representative of the new movement were Citeaux and Premontre, to which Whitland and Talley belonged..."

"Talley enjoyed the distinction of being the only Premonstratensian Abbey in Wales. for Talley , tradition regarding an abbess Christian has led some to postulate  either the existence of a previous abbey or a double monastery with an abbess in control of a sisterhood..........while others incline to the view that it was first a Cistercian abbey that was handed over to the Premonstratensians at the death of Rhys Arglwyudd..."

"....costly litigation followed in England, and eventually Talley lost the very fertile grange of Rhuddlan Teifi...... (around 1200)"

"The jealous intrigues of the Cistercians had no lasting effect upon the fortunes of Talley, which proved no less popular than Whitland. All but three of its benefactors were Welsh, its abbots wholly so, and in 1215, its abbot, Iorwerth, a man of pure Welsh blood, was elected Bishop of St David's......the abbey suffered grieviously during the wars of the 1277 its lands were taken into the king's hands owing to impoverishment resulting from the Welsh war, and no one was to be lodged in the abbey or any of its granges. In 1285 Talley had fallen from opulence to poverty, and in 1410 it was reported that frequent incursions of men-at-arms had despoiled, burned, and almost destroyed the house..............The Church of Talley was dedicated to the Blessed Mary and St John the Baptist...."

Monastic Lands and Revenues

On pages 355/6 (vol I) are lists of churches which came into possession of the religious houses, Talley is one such religious house with its own list of church possessions which aren't extracted here.

On page 342 (vol I) is a drawing of the Seal of Talley Abbey.

"The bulk of the possessions of Talley is set out in the inspeximus charter of Edward II dated 1324, which confirms the gifts of Lord Rhys and his family. The lands given as follows --- Cefnblaidd, Llechwedd, half of Cumblehauc (Cwmluog), Brinwyn, Trallwng Elgan, Brynyllech, Crugybar --- all in the parish of Talley --- ".........[followed by a long list of places in other parishes, not extracted]

"Also a portion of the land of Esgeirnant in the parish of Talley, namely that which lay between Nant Velin Coyg and the ditch made from the river Dulais towards the chapel, and from that ditch up through the valley past a great heap of stones to Gwaun Colman; and thence by a boundary leading between the wood and the plain towards Blaen Penfynydd to a ditch, and from that ditch in the valley leading to Crug Cledwyn, and from that Crug to Carn Toll, and from Carn Toll to Rhyd Garegog on the stream next beyond Carn Toll, following which it descended into Crymlyn. Also all the land between the stream descending from the spring of Gueliauc and the Abbey and from that spring all the wood up to Blaennant Cwmbyr, and from thence all that land called Esgair Cuelin. All this territory was the gift of Rhys, great grandson of the Lord Rhys. "............... [There follows in the book a similar description of lands gifted by other people [which may not be be in Talley parish] --- the simple names are  listed here in the order they appear; Naumhaur stream, Moelfre, Caregog ford, river Gwen, Cwmbyr, Croys, Blaen Pyb, Rhyd Morynnion, Marleis river, Nantywetiw river, Blodeuyn].

"From the account of the litigation arising from the attack upon Talley by the Abbot of Whitland, as given by Gerald Cambrensis, it would appear that Rhuddlan Teifi originally formed part of the lands of Talley, but was appropriated by the Cistercians in exchange for territory not names...."

"In 1239 the Abbot of Talley, 'for the sake of peace', and at the bidding of the Bishop of Worcester and others, restored the churches of Llandeilo Fawr and Llanegwad Fawr etc........ to the Bishop of St David's..."

"In 1343/4 a commission traveresed Wales to receive homage due to the Black Prince, recently appointed Prince of Wales, and Rhys ap David of Talley took the oath at Cardigan for the Cardiganshire lands of the abbey and at Carmarthen for possessions in that county "

"In 1391 the king ordered his officials at Carmarthen to administer the lands at Talley and take them into his protection, allowing the abbot sufficient moneys to meet his needs."

How administered

"The lands that fell into the possession of the monastic houses were carved into manors and vills ..........attached to Talley were Cefnblaidd and Gwastadau, in the parish of Talley .." [and various lands in other parishes which are not extracted]

Conditions of Gifts

"...other donors, although this is not specifically stated in any of the charters, sought burial in the Abbey precincts ........... according to Brut ........ and Rhys the Younger, son of Rhys Mechyll, at Talley ..."

"..when an abbot proved too liberal with his money, the convent was reduced to poverty. It happened at Talley in 1381...."

The Dissolution

" Talley there were eight canons....."

"Most of the lands of Talley were leased to Richard Dauncey, a member of the king's household......."

" James Nicholas of Talley migrated to St Bartholomew's, London....."

Supplementary note/The Tiles of Whitland and Talley Abbeys

There are several pages of notes on the subject of both abbeys (not extracted), with diagrams of various tiles.

Monastic Architecture

There are three pages of notes on the subject of Talley Abbey(not extracted

Prehistoric and Roman Times

The Great Stone Monuments

A list of Carmarthenshire Megaliths includes under Standing Stones;

  • The Twrla Stone, Talley
  • Stone at Cwm Gwyddil Farm, Talley
  • Carreg y Bwci, Talley

[Gareth Hicks  20   July 2003]