Radnorshire Society Notes and Queries Number 3

Radnorshire Notes and Queries number 3

The library and archives has been receiving donations during lockdown which will be accessioned in the future and put onto the website. But mention must be made of the 1817 school exercise book given to the archive by an elderly  lady in Worcestershire.  This was the handwriting book of her great great  grandfather filled with his beautiful copperplate script when he was a pupil at Heyope School. It was apparently displayed at an exhibition in London. This school was likely to be in the Church, perhaps in the Porch or belfry as in Llandegley or the Vestry as in Llanfihangel Rhydithon. The rector from 1813 to 1854 was WJ Rees, cleric and historian, also vicar of Cascob where he is buried. He was obviously keen to see children getting an education, as he mentions in a sermon in 1833 when as the Rural Dean he was opening the newly rebuilt Church at Llanfihangel Rhydithon that now there was a vestry it could be used as a school. He left an endowment of £10 to build a school at Heyope. But the project took some time and it was 1865 before the school was built. This was the same year that the nearby Knucklas Viaduct was built.  That this lovely book survives from the early school in  the Church is amazing and how lucky the Radnorshire Society is to have it.

With so much of recent news being about the Black Lives Matter campaign, and information coming out about the Slave Trade and slave owners. University College London have been researching the slave owners in the UK and those  who had payouts when slavery was abolished.  August 1834. I checked the database for local connections and came up with 2,  Thomas Drew Beavan who was the trustee for Philip Brown of the Morant Estate in Jamaica, where there were 240 slaves, and the payout was £4184, shared with others who were part owners also of the enslaved.    Thos Drew Beavan [1802- 1879] a goldsmith in London was the son of Hugh Beavan of Bryn yr rhidd, a house in Llowes. Birth and baptism of Thomas Drew Beavan, son of Hugh Bevan, Westminster 23/02/1802 and 31/10/1802; shown as goldsmith of 31 Marylebone Street Piccadilly in P.O. Directories for 1843 and 1856; will of Thomas Drew Beavan late of Brynrhydd [sic] County of Radnor who died 19/04/1879 proved 27/05/1879, effects under £7000

The other person in the lists was William Lawrence of Devannor, Abbey Cwm Hir [1790- 1844] fourth son of John and Mary Lawrence, baptised at Llanbister. He went to work for the Bank of England, with a final salary of £700 per annum. His connection seems to have been as the executor of John Matthews Boswell who had extensive holdings in Jamaica.    www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/project/details/

Rifle volunteers

Three rifle corps were formed in Radnorshire.  These appeared in the 1864 Army List as being part of the 1st Admin, Battalion of the Herefordshire Rifle Volunteers.

1st Corps was formed at Presteigne on March 8th 1860

2nd Corps was formed at Knighton on 25th April 1860 – this corps was later disbanded and disappeared from the Army List in 1878, a new 2nd Corps was raised at Rhayader on 11th September 1878

3rd Corps was formed at New Radnor on 6th August 1860, later disbanded and disappeared from the army List in September 1872.

In 1880 the 1st Herefordshire Admin. Battalion was consolidated as the 1st Herefordshire  [ Hereford and Radnor] Rifle Volunteer Corps. The two Radnorshire Corps forming the I and K Companies.


It seems that the volunteers supported the poachers…………….


 Rebecca in Radnorshire 1878/9

The Radnorshire Magistrates assembled in quarter sessions on Friday week stood aghast on learning that the formidable “Rebecca” had reappeared in the county, and was protecting lawless people who were systematically breaking the fishery laws. In the upper waters of the Wye and the Severn, it appears, there exists a poaching fraternity against which the police and watchers employed by the conservancy are powerless. Even the local volunteer corps at Rhayader, being assembled for drill, had dispersed and gone to the river side to cheer “Rebecca and her daughters”. A magistrate hinted that the offenders ought to be caught and sent up to London for trial at the Old Bailey “Where they would get no mercy”.

Ultimately the Court resolved to ask the Home Secretary what to do.

This refers to an ongoing row on the River Wye in Radnorshire, often called the \’second\’ Rebecca riots. Local people, frustrated with restrictions on salmon poaching, dressed as Rebecca and her Daughters fishing for salmon despite regulation and efforts by authorities. This lasted, on and off, from around 1856 until 1879, increasing in severity over time.

\’The measures taken by the Chairman and the Board of Conservators to secure the protection of the fish in the fisheries in 1878 and 1879 resulted more extensive outbreaks of Rebeccaism than have occurred for many years past. Every increase in watchers seems to bring forth increased strength on the part of the poachers. Three things are especially notable here. The first is that Radnorshire is fairly far from the epicentre of the original Rebecca riots. This stands as testament to the reach of Rebecca\’s meaning as an identity of protest. Second, that this largely concerned fishing freedoms and not toll gates demonstrates how Rebeccaism had become a versatile outlet for protest. Third, that even over a decade later these poachers took on the mantle of Rebecca speaks to the riots\’ temporal reach. In essence, the dress and name had evolved past simple disguises; Rebecca had become a recognised identity of Welsh. \’

Source John Lloyd and Hereford Times


Holy Well in Knighton

The well called Jackets Wells [ probably from the Welsh Iachad  meaning healing] is on the west side of Knighton, adjacent to the road close to Woodhouse Farm heading to PenyBont. It was regarded as a healing well for sprains and rheumatism, but there are few mentions of a nearby archaeological site.

Just to the SW there was the discovery of a bronze age round barrow where a collared rim urn patterned with what WF Grimes describes as maggot impressions in his book The Prehistory of Wales.
Jacket’s Well, Knighton, Powys  2000 – 1500 BC

An urn was found in the centre of a circular burial mound. It was placed upside down over the cremated bones of an older adult female and an adolescent aged 11-16.
It has a narrow collar decorated on the outside with two rows of whipped cord ‘maggot’ impressions. These are made by wrapping twisted cord around itself and pressing it into the clay. Rows of fingertip impressions have also been used on the inside of the rim, on the collar and on the shoulder of the urn.


Another rare survival arrived this year at The Radnorshire Society archives with other old deeds and documents which are being transcribed and listed by our archive volunteers.

This was a poster warning about going onto the Commons in Cwmdauddwr.  It was printed by Charles Humphrys in Kington which may account for the spelling


NOTICE is Hereby Given to all Persons

Not to Sport, or otherwise Trespass, on

Any of the Commons, or Waste Lands,

Within the Manors of CWMTOYDDWR

And Grange of CWMTOYDDWR, in the

County of Radnor, or upon and other

Lands or Grounds of Dame Frances

Otway, situate in the Parish of

Llansaintfraed Cwmtoyddwr, in the said

County of Radnor.

Dated this 1st day of August 1864


Steward of said Manors

The Radnorshire man who did not return from World War 1 – for a very different reason.

Owen Richards was born on 2nd October 1885 at Nobley Walton son of William Richards and Lauretta, part of a large family, the children being born in a number of different parishes possibly as his father was hired for labouring work around the area. He married in 1904 and had 4 children, the last born after he went to war. He worked as a builder\’s labourer for a local firm and when he was called up in 1917 he appealed,  but the newspapers reported that the local committee turned down his appeal and he was sent out to France. He joined the Kings Liverpool but was transferred to the Labour Corps, staying on beyond the Armistice and being discharged in April 1921. Regimental number 47144.This transfer could be due to his age. The Labour Corps was a regiment that operated on the rear lines and had to repair the damage caused by the war. On discharge he is shown as a Private.

It appears from family sources he did not return home during this time, but it is recorded he crossed the Channel on discharge. Whether he visited his family is unknown.

It seems that sometime during his time in France he met a Mademoiselle called Blanche, and went on to have 5 further children with her.  They were living in the Pas de Calais at the outbreak of WW2.

Thereupon there is a twist in his story as he was an alien and interned by the Germans.

In the words of his French grandson  who has all his army and internment papers

\”In 1940, it is the second world war, the north of France is under German occupation and the French police collaborated with the Germans … all English residing in France must be arrested. A long journey, which will last 5 years will begin for Owen.  In the first place, he is taken to the prison in Lille with other English. He gives his marital status as married, He will remain there until  July 21, 1940. On  July 27, 1940 they  are taken to the prison in Liege in Belgium. To be finally transferred to camp Tost in Poland, the \”camp Ilag VIII \”. This camp was opened in March 1941 ; and then the Germans closed it in June 1942, to move to a new camp from June 1942 to November 1943. On the sheet of admission we can read that my grand-father is declared to be a cabinetmaker (nowhere in his youth there is mention made of this) the Germans record that Owen is bronchitic and has rheumatism The camps of English prisoners were not concentration camps; but rather camps of \”accommodation\” and if the conditions were not out of the ordinary,  really the English were not mistreated \”Ilag is the abbreviation of the German word \” Internierungslager \”.

His wife and 4 children remained locally, she was not regarded as a war widow and his name is not on any memorial so it must have been known that he was still alive but not returned back.  She worked hard to support her family, dying in 1960s, but before that Owen had gone through a marriage with his French \’wife\’ in 1952 whereupon he became officially a bigamist.

As a result of family history enquiries from his French family, the last remaining child of the English family was able to be in touch with them and meet up, he had been born after his father had gone to war.

Neither family knew of Owen\’s double life or the existence of their half brothers and sisters.  They had an excellent reunion.

Both sides of the family were grateful for the help in piecing together their complicated family history, and the remaining French children and grandchildren are proud his story is being told.  [ It also brought my schoolgirl French back into use]



Scots Pine Spotting – a new hobby

Last year I began to take notice of the groups of Scots Pine trees about the local countryside.  And to discover that they were the signposts for the drovers driving animals and fowls across country to markets in England.  Groups of them across the hillsides and Commons near Llandegley lead to the ancient welsh longhouse The Drovers Arms [now called Larchgrove] situated on the A44.  Drovers from North Wales brought pine-cones down with them and planted them in clumps of three or five near the inns they wanted to recommend.  In the 1600’s it was drovers who re-introduced pines to the south where they had died out .  As a fast growing tall species these trees stand out.  I then realised we had a clump at the top of our land, where over the fence there is a hollow way and a path leading across the hillside for the drovers to cut out the toll house on the road below to save paying a per capita fee for stock and themselves. Looking back both ways I can see groups of Scots Pines stretching back across the Common and off to the North. Last year we planted a fresh one into the group as part of our annual tree planting.

Books on the Drovers:

Toulson – The Drovers Roads of Wales

Johnson – Walking the Old Ways of Radnorshire pub Logaston Press

Evans –Hard Road to London A Graphic Account of the Lives of the Welsh Drovers

Smith – The Drovers\’ Roads of the Middle Marches Their History pub Logaston Press

Bonser – The Drovers who they were, where they went

Hughes – Wales and the Drovers

Colyer – The Welsh Cattle Drovers