Radnorshire Society Notes and Queries Number 1

Radnorshire Society Notes and Queries Number 1

Pandemic – It has happened here before…

Joseph Wilding of Cwmygaist (1840-1923) recorded in his journal his experience of the influenza epidemic which struck the world in 1919 killing an estimated fifty million people worldwide. Joseph Wilding was born on March 4th 1840 at Greabodig farm in Llanbister, the second son of John and Susannah Wilding. As a second son he did not inherit the farm but was forced to attempt to acquire land – a  venture which, through no fault of his own, proved unsuccessful. In later life he lived in a small cottage in Cwmygaist and, being unable to work as a trader, was forced to accept an old age pension – something he resisted until forced to do so.

In 1919, at the age of 79, he witnessed the effect of the influenza pandemic on his community and succumbed to the disease himself. He survived and lived for five more years. He has therefore something to teach us as we face a similar threat.

December 2nd 1918: I have laid long this morning and took medicine. I am a little shaky. I hear numbers more are very ill a sweeping time across the land. I am waiting expecting my call for it must come soon. “     

December 21st 1918: Never in my life time has so many died is so short a time. Since the War has ended a kind of an epidemic generally through the country. Still death is sweeping away great numbers.

January 31st 1919:  I am in at the fire. It is a mercy to be favoured with such a blessing. I have been anxious the last few days where I shall find a source of supply of ordinary daily food for I am come to the end of getting anything in my business. I have been eligible for the last 9 years to old age pension and I have today filled in a form but feeling it may be a blot on my relations to have me on old age pension. It seems as if I could not possibly be within one year of 80 years of age. Marvellous how time has fled. True, I am tired, nearly worn out. It is God’s grace that keeps me feeling young in my soul. I can but thank the Lord for what I am and how I feel. I am a poor simple mortal as all our race.

[Joseph’s Journal covering the years 1872 to 1923 has been deposited in Powys Archives. Extracts were published in 2007 and copies of that booklet may be found at Powys Libraries and at Powys Archives.] 

Kindly provided by Geraint Hughes

Road Surveyor thwarted

Mr Henry Evans of Llangunllo district road surveyor charged George Reynolds Farmer of Llanfihangel  Rhydithon  with neglect to trim his hedges adjoining certain highways in the same parish. In this case it appeared that the greater part of the work had been done before the summons was granted, therefore Mr Surveyor was ordered to pay the expenses March 1860 from Hereford Times

Missing land in Old Radnor

The Tythes of Corn, Grain and Hay arising and growing in parish of Old Radnor being part of and belonging to the Rectory or parsonage are reserved out of the Lease thereof, to the use and behoof of the Vicar of Old Radnor aforsd.  All other tythes whatsoever both great and small arising…belong wholly to the sd. Rectory. We find in an ancient Court Roll that there was a little Manor and several parcels of land belonging to the said Rectory in all about 20 acres, of which we can only discover about 7acres, and no buildings at all upon the above Rectory, as by Covenant there ought to be.  The gift and presentation of the vicarage of Old Radnor remains in the hands of the Dean and his successors.

From the Cromwellian Survey  1649

October 1899  .. John Morgan, labourer, was indicted for having on the 9th September last broken into the shop of Evan Nicholls, at Llandewy Ystradenny, and stealing , there from sundry articles of clothing 1 lb. 12oss. twist tobacco, of the total value of £4 13s. 6d

Two Gladestry wills before and after the Reformation

1522 Will of Sir John ap Rese,  vicar of Gladestry Church until 1514.  Body to be buried in Parish Church pf Glawstree, to the High Altar 12d, to the GreyFriars of Hereford for half a trentall 2/6d, to the Friars of Brecon2/6d for half a trentall, to the White Friars of Ludlow for half a trentall as much.  I will £10 to be bestowed for me at the day of my burying.  I will that during the year after my burying, once in every month, 5 priests to say 5 masses for me in Glawstree Church and they to have 5d each.  To my brother Lewys 40/-  Residue of my goods to Master Richard Bedoo [ Vicar of Gladestry following Rese].   Executors Lewys, Thomas Jonys, witnesses, Thomas Bedoo, John Thomas. Lewys ap Rese, Sir John Davys.  [proved 22nd December 1525]

[A trentall is a service of 30 masses for 30 days , one each day , for the deceased person.]

And one 50 years later after the Reformation – no masses this time !

1574  Will of John ap Rees Lasse of the County of Radnor. My Soul to God, Body to Gladestrye Church ,4d to Cathedral Church of St David, poor men’s box of Gladestrye 2d. To son Ievan, son Hugh Daughter Gwellian, daughter Mauld, £7 upon a parcel of land called Irrestoyer which was mortgaged to me by one David ap Ievan of Gwilloure. To said Ievan, Hugh Gwenllian and Mauld £10 which said David ap Ievan stands indebted to me at a day now past.  To said children one ox, one mare, one colt, 2 two year old bullocks, 2 ewes equally to be divided for paying my debts.  TO oldest son Holl, one ox.  All household stuff to Ellen my wife for life and then to son Holl to Exor. Debt due open testator to John ap Llewellyn of Gladesrye 4.4d. Holl ap John eldest son to be exor, and Ievan Lewys overseer. Holl ap Gwilym, John ap David, Mauld Lloid, Robert Lewys witnesses

His Inventory 1 ox – 20/-, 1 mare and colt 20/-, 2 bullocks and 4 ewes 30/-, household stuff 20/-, corn in ground 20/-

Hereford Times – 9th December 1843

KNIGHTON. – All is quiet here, there are six night constables and an inspector who patrol the town every night. The constables receive 18s. per week. I think people will very soon be tired of the expense. Our town is very quiet, and I think to continue so.

A rise through the ranks

       Joseph Constance, 34, Police Officer, Police Station, Pig Market, Knighton  Appointed July 1847.

Previous post Police Constable in the Hereford City Force.

by 1859 Sergeant of Police stationed at Rhayader.

by 1867 he is Superintendent of Police at Pen-y-bont

Painscastle became an important agricultural centre and became the granary of a large area on the Marches of Wales, but the opening up of the railway reduced Painscastle from the status of a town to a village.  Entry to the town from Breconshire to Radnorshire was over Erwood Ford.  In its heyday traffic was so congested that Scovog Ford further up the Wye had to be used instead.  Erwood Ford has been a crossing point since 1282 when the English army were in pursuit of Llewelyn.  The importance of the ford also reduced when through private enterprise in 1877 a toll bridge was constructed, which operated for 8-10 years until it was freed.
[The Hereford Times of 8 Jul 1911]

 Enclosure Case revisited

The Society had an email a few weeks back from a family called Parsons in Australia. They were coming to the UK, now delayed, and were going to bring a silver tray with them presented to their ancestor, Cecil Parsons a solicitor of Presteigne, by the cottagers. This sent me to research in Howse’s Radnorshire and the  2006 Transactions.  When local landowners were buying up land after the enclosure of the Commons they found cottages and encroachments on the land and some wanted to evict the cottagers.  Parsons took up the case, although  it does seem he owned some of these cottages himself.  Court cases rumbled on, with well known local names from the C19 taking sides.

Parsons  was hailed a hero and after the evictions had stopped and a dinner was held in his honour when he was presented with a silver set which included the said tray.  It is hoped that the family will reschedule their visit and we get to see the tray and show them various places and  things in the Presteigne area relating to Cecil Parsons.

Another enquiry also brought up the Enclosure Act and Tithe Commutations Act in Radnorshire with a request for information on Alfred Russel Wallace, the naturalist, best known for his work on the theory of evolution alongside Darwin.  Before he started to explore distant lands he was as a teenager a junior surveyor with Morris and William Sayce of Kington.  The Sayce Brothers undertook much of the mapping of Radnorshire around 1830/40, and Wallace tells of his land surveying of Old Radnor, and Llandrindod in his memoirs.  The Sayces did much of the mapping of Radnorshire, as far as Cwmdauddwr, and the recent acquisitions by the Society of a set of tithe map copies show Sayce’s name as Surveyor on them.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

The Radnor Red Book

The 1910 second edition, a very scarce volume, is full of local information, fairs, adverts, 1909 obituaries, programme for the year, and list of residents, Councillors, schools, Churches etc.  May 15th 1910 saw the opening of the Radnorshire County Buildings at Llandrindod Wells, \”attended by Medical Men and Journalists from all parts of the Kingdom\”. It also says that the Rock Park Sulphur and Electrical Baths are being supplemented by the introduction of several new appliances of the latest and best type, among them a sulphur vapour bath of Mr. Heighway\’s own invention.


 Logaston Press have printed an updated edition of Ron Shoesmith\’s book on Alfred Watkin\’s Herefordshire in his own words and photographs, £15, ISBN  191083940X.  This has been out of print for quite a while and this reprint is welcome. Alfred Watkins was born into a Hereford family who owned a flour Mill and Brewery, and in his youth Alfred went out and about as a rep, taking his precious camera with him recording the sights around Hereford and the Border.   He was a member, and became Chairman of the Woolhope Club, our equivalent in Herefordshire, but much older !  He was interested in archaeology and wrote many articles on this, but the Woolhope Club steadfastly ignored his growing interest in Ley Lines.  He went on to write the Old Straight Track, Ley Hunter\’s Manual, Early British Trackways as well as books on photography. He invented the Bee Meter, an early exposure meter. I have one of these I bought for 50p at an auction in Warwickshire when the auctioneer thought it was for weighing bees.

I happily pocketed my rare find.

Geraint Hughes has written volume 2 of The Life of a Signalman on the Central Wales Line  Excerpts from the Diary of a James Smout    £3  Volume 1 is now out of print

A Seeking Mind, by Matthew Jarvis brings together prose and poetry in tribute and inspired by the life and work of Ruth Bidgood, one of Wales most senior and among the country’s most sensitive living poets. £9.99  9781788640633

2 reduced local books from Logaston Press.

Parties, Polls and Riots: Politics in nineteenth-century Radnorshire by Keith Parker reduced to   £5

The Life and Times of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bart by Roy Fenn and Sir Andrew Duff Gordon  £5

Books due out soon : available from Welsh Books Council http://www.gwales.com/

Depicting St David £7.99    9781912631230 Paperback

Real Hay on Wye £9.99  9781781725771  paperback

Llanilltud – The Story of a Celtic Christian Community £9.99  9781784617530 paperback

And one for the alumni of Swansea Uni – Swansea University – Campus and Community a Post War World 1945 – 2020  £18.99  9781786836069 hardback

The Marcher Lordships: Volume 1, edited by Philip Hume  from Logaston Press due Autumn

And for family researchers a free opportunity.

Powys libraries are offering free access to the Ancestry website to people holding a library ticket.  Applications for library tickets are dealt with online very quickly.


Julian Ravest has posted on YouTube a video about his work on Abbey Cwm Hir which in just a month has had 900 views.

Watch it here or on the Radnorshire Society facebook page

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IN-YOT82uc&feature=youtu.be  and also a short piece on his discovery on Offa\’s Dyke of Roman Signal Station

An extract from: Cassell’s Family Magazine, 1893. Pages 196 To 199. Courtesy of Brian Mathews and well worth the read.  The Filling-Up Of Cwm Elan   is thought provoking, and on the facebook page together with other historical bits and pieces. Please add to these if you can.

Free ebooks

The Royal Commission for Historic Monument Wales RCHMW website is searchable, and it is also offering an free ebook  Radnorshire: An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in the County (eBook). Published in 1913, it is a little out of date but well worth a browse.

Join us on facebook  https://www.facebook.com/radnorshiresociety/

Elizabeth Newman

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