In 1841 Blaen Llwynau was a 156 acre farm on the hillside bordering the common above what is today Bedlinog in the Bargoed Taff valley, it is still to be found on the modern OS map as Blaenllwynau. Although the property had been owned by the Prichard family of Llancaiach, it was not part of the Llancaiach estate which was jointly owned by the Dynevor and Richards families; it was wholly owned by the Dynevor family and thus part of their Castlemenydd estate. The earliest reference to the name Blaenllwynau is in a deed of 1681 as blaen lloyna. It shares its early history with the neighbouring farm Garth-gynydd, both being formerly owned by the same person.
In the 1540 Senghennydd Manor Survey the property has been identified as part of two adjacent properties owned by Dyo Griffiths recorded as
Dyo Grf for a tenement now in tenure of hoell dyo pays 48 pence
the same Dyo Grf for a tenement now in tenure of Thomas hoell pays 9 pence
In this same survey the cymortha (a traditional welsh ‘tax’ due every other year on certain properties) for these properties was recorded as “For land called hendre lavor 6 pence”. In a document of 1449 this same payment of 6 pence for hendre lavor was recorded, but it is not possible to identify who the owner was at that time.
There are also two pre-1540 documentary references to Dyo Griffith, the first from 1527, is catalogued as
Gift 6 Sep. 1527
Wm Ll[ewely]n ap Gli [?Gwillim] ap Rees, to Dio ap Griffith Thomas ap Rees vachan and Tho.ap Ll[ewely]n ap Jevan ap M.
A tenement of land at Garth Kenyd; in Lordship of Senghenydd supra; in Gelligaer
‘Gift’ here does not mean that the land was given as a free gift, rather it would have been a sale; also commas were not used in documents at that time and the string of names probably refers to three people Dio ap Griffith (as in the 1540 survey), Thomas ap Rees vachan (one of half a dozen brothers who were major landholder in Gelligaer) and Thomas ap Llewelen ap Jevan ap M. This deed which is among those in the archive of the Dynevor family possibly refers to the purchase of the property, although the relationship between the three ‘buyers’ is not known.
The second, a deed of 1537, is catalogued as
Gift, 1 Dec. Hy VIII xxix 
Jevan Thomas ap Jevan D[avi]d Phi[lip] to Dio Griffith Lle[welyn] Thomas ap Owen and Tho.[?Thomas]
A meadow called Wheyn grone; in lordship of Senghenydd supra, in Gelligaer
[boundary details not extracted];
Examination of the document shows the boundary details and witnesses as
“in length between a place called reydwherne and a place called kay lloyd, in breadth between a place called gweyne ye bryne Kooch and gweyne pen ye g..reg”
Witnesses: Jankyn Lln ap Jankyn, William dd ap Md and holl dio griffit and many others
The property here is undoubtedly Wayn Garon (field 1220 in the 1841 tithe schedule) a field on Pen y Garreg farm in Ysgwyddgwyn hamlet which is adjacent to Bryn Coch, and possibly the oldest identifiable field in Gelligaer. What is also of interest is that one of the witnesses was Hoell Dio Griffith. The tenant in the 1540 survey was given as Hoell Dyo and this suggests that he was Dyo Griffith’s son.
In the 1570 survey the properties were recorded as a single item “David Howell Dyo holds a tenement at 24 pence and Gr Dyo land at 33 pence – paying 57 pence”, the cymortha is recorded as “Griffith Dyo and Howel Dyo pay 6 pence”.
It seems likely that David Howell Dyo is a grandson of Dyo Griffith who owned the property 30 years earlier, with Gr(iffith) Dyo his uncle. Subsequent information suggests that Grifith Dyo occupied what was to become “Blaenllwynau” whilst David Howell Dyo occupied what was to become “Garth-gynydd”.
A deed of 1581 shows the sale of “Blaenllwynau” to the Prichard family
Bargain and Sale for £20, 10 June 1581;
Jn. Griffith Dyo of Gelligaer, yeoman, to Edward Prychard of Gelligaer, esq.;
A moiety of a messuage, appurtenances and lands in Gelligaer;
Also: Bond in £200 to ensure good title, 10 June 1581; Quitclaim 11 June 1581
In the 1630 Senghennydd Manor Survey the property is recorded as two separate properties “Thomas Prichard for one tenement late the landes of Griffith Dio now in the tenure of Morgan David and Thomas John Howell” paying 33 pence for what was to become Blaenllwynau; and “Morgan David Powell dio for two tenements” paying 24 pence for what was to become Garth-gynydd farm.
Thomas Prichard was one of Edward Prichard’s younger sons, and he had received certain properties in Gelligaer by his Marriage Settlement of 1607/8, this was one of them. It is not known who Thomas John Howell was, but Morgan David is no doubt Morgan David Powell dio. The survey of 1670 again shows the property as owned by Thomas Prichard, but this is the nephew of the Thomas Prichard who had owned the property in 1630. The tenants were Watkin Henry and Rees William Jenkin. Rees William is shown as a tax payer in Garthgynydd Hamlet in 1660 and as paying for 1 hearth in the Hearth Tax returns of 1671 and 1672 but there appears to be no record of Watkin Henry.
After the death of Thomas Prichard in 1681 the property passed to his younger brother John Prichard who sold it with other properties to David Jenkins the husband of Mary Prichard his niece and one of the co-heiresses of the Llancaiach Estate. In the sale document the farm is described as
One tenement of land within the parish of Kelligare conteining by estimation one messuage, one barn, one cow house, one stable, one garden, one courtledge, elevan acres of meadow ground, eight acres of arrable & pasture ground and fifteen of heath and eleven acres of wood land called by the name of blaen lloyna now in the tenure and occupation of Rees Wm Jenkin.
The acres here are local acres which were about 2½ standard acres. Another document shows that Richard William was paying a rent of £8. The property remained with the descendents of Mary Prichard who by 1840 had become the Lords Dynevor.
In 1694 the property was leased to a Rowland Rees, maybe a son of Rees William Jenkin the tenant of 1670? The catalogue entry for the lease reads
Lease for 99 years or 3 lives (of Rowland Rees, wife Mary, and daughter Malt Rowland), for £35, annual rent £11 for first year and £8 thereafter, 10 August 1694;
David Jenkins (of Hensol) to Rowland Rees of Gelligaer, yeoman;
Two messuages and land called Blan Loyna, in Gelligaer.
The lease would have continued so long as one of the 3 ‘lives’ was still alive, Rowland Rees had paid an initial £35 for the lease. Three and a half years later there is a second lease.
Lease for 99 years or 3 lives (as in 1694), for £30, annual rent £1, 6 January 1697/8;
Richard Jenkins of Hensol, esquire to Rowland Rees of Gelligaer, yeoman;
Two messuages and land called Blan Loyna in Gelligaer;
It appears to be a renegotiation, but in 1721 when the lease is renewed it mentions the surrender of 2 leases
Lease for 99 years or 3 lives (of Rowland Rees, son William aged 21, and daughter Malt aged 28), for surrender of 2 leases and £12 fine, annual rent £5, heriot of best beast, 5 July 1721;
Richard Jenkins to Rowland Rees of Gelligaer, yeoman;
A messuage and lands called Blan Loyna in Gelligaer
What is noticeable here is that the rent is only £5 as compared with £8 back in 1681. It is difficult to make exact comparisons because of the initial payments (the so called ‘fine’), but that is not large in this case. The rents on farm lands did dip at this time and it was not till much later in the century that they recovered. In the parish register for 1736 and 1737 there are the following entries “Rowland Rees buried 21 May 1736” and “William Rowland buried 11 Apr. 1737”, and it seems likely that these are the father and son in the above lease since in July 1738 the lease is again renewed:
Lease for 3 lives (of Edward Thomas, nephew David James aged 24, and Malt Rowland, daughter of Rowland Rees of Gelligaer), for Surrender of former Lease and £40 fine for adding two lives, annual rent £5 during life of Malt Rowland, and £7 thereafter, heriot of best beast, 1 July 1738;
William Lord Talbot, baron. of Hensol, to Edward Thomas of Gelligaer, yeoman;
Two messuages and lands called Blaen Lwyna in Gelligaer.
It is not known whether Edward Thomas was related to Malt Rowland or whether he had merely agreed to ‘purchase’ the lease from her. In fact he was already the tenant in 1733 since a Deed to the neighbouring farm of “Tylaglas” mentions ‘Edward Thomas Howell’ as a neighbour.
In 1736 he was accused of not paying his tithes; he was found to be not guilty but the court documents do provide a schedule of what he was supposed to have grown in each of the years 1734 and 1735.
The sayd Edward Thomas Howell had in each of the years … six acres of wheat each acre worth £5 and tieth accordingly
Also ten acres of barley each acre worth £4 and tieth accordingly
Also 12 acres of oates each acre worth £3 and tieth accordingly
Also as many cows which farrowed as many calves as there was a tieth calfe due yearly worth 10s.
Also the tieth of the milk of those cows was worth 30d[?] yearly
Also as much garden fruit the tieth whereof was well worth 10s.
Honey and wax the tieth whereof was worth 5s. yearly.
As many colts foald as there was 2s. yearly due in respect of the tiethes thereof.
As many eggs the tieth whereof was worth 1s. yearly.
Also as many eaws that yean’d as many lambs as there were ten tieth lambs due yearly each lamb worth 3s.
Also as many sheep of all sort depastureing and shorn within the sayd parish the tieth of the wool whereof was well worth £3 yearly.
Easter offerings for the sayd Edward Thomas Howell and his family amounting to 1s. yearly.
The tithe is nominally one tenth of what he produced. The acre used in the courts in Cardiff were standard acres, the Llancaiach estate stopped using the local acre in the early 1740s. The court case does not name the farm, but it seems likely that it was Blaenllwynau, although the 1841 tithe schedule shows that at that date there was less than 15 acres of arable land. We know from his Will that by 1753 Edward Thomas also owned a property called Tir yr Inkill in Merthyr Tydfil parish, but the above court case concerned Gelligaer tithes.
Other information shows that Edward Thomas was the son of Thomas Howell who was the tenant of a farm called “Dyffrin Rhymney” in Brithdir Hamlet; his brother William Thomas owned Penrhiw in Cefn Hamlet. Edward died in July 1754 having made a Will in May of that year in which he left his lease to his nephew:
Item I give unto Edward William my nephew one lease which is called Blaen Llwna from my Lord Tallbot in the parish of Kellygare in the county of Glamorgan imediatly after the decease of William my brother which I give unto for his natural life and then to the said Edward William and his heirs for the terms of the said lease with all the profitts thereof
The burial of Edward Thomas Howell is recorded on the 7th July 1754 and probate of the Will was granted on July 14th. His brother William died within a year; and within a month of his death a new lease was granted:
Lease for lives (of Jennet William, Mary William and Martha William, wife and daughters of lessee), fine £60, annual rent £10, £3 in lieu of heriot, 20 May 1755;
Llancayach Estate[!?] to Lewis William of Gelligaer, yeoman;
A messuage, 2 cottages and gardens, and a tenement of lands called Blaenllwyna (156 acres) in Gelligaer.
It is not known who Lewis William was but the Will of William Thomas Howell does show that he had a daughter called Jennet; a court case concerning Edward Thomas’ will also shows he had a niece called Jennet who was married to a Lewis William; so there may be a family connection. The lease continues in effect for some time as a survey of the Castlemenydd estate which is undated but believed to be from about 1790 shows the lease was still operational with Mary and Martha still living but the tenant was a Thomas Henry. In fact the Manor rentals and land taxes show a variety of tenants, none very long term until Thomas Llewelyn became the tenant in 1824; He was still shown as the tenant in 1841 in the tithe schedule, and his family continued at Blaenllwynau throughout the 19th century. He may have been the tenant at Maerdy Bach in Ysgwyddgwyn hamlet from 1817-23.
15th Century Rent Roll : National Library of Wales Plymouth 412
1527 Deed : Glamorgan Record Office Dynevor D/DD 342
1537 Deed : Glamorgan Record Office Dynevor D/DD 343
1540 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Archive SC6/HENVIII/7493
1545 Tax : National Archive E179/221/238
1570 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute S1 & S2
1581 Sale/Purchase : Glamorgan Record Office Dynevor D/DD 333-336
1630 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute M37/39
1660 Tax : National Archive E179/264/47
1670 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute M37/41 & S11
1671 & 72 Tax : National Archive E179/221/294 & 296
1694 Lease : Glamorgan Record Office Dynevor D/DD 452
1697/8 Lease : Glamorgan Record Office Dynevor D/DD 453
1721 Lease : Glamorgan Record Office Dynevor D/DD 455,6
1736 Court Case : National Library of Wales LL/CC/G787
1738 Lease : Glamorgan Record Office Dynevor D/DD 457
1753 Will : National Library of Wales LL/1755/34
1755 Will (Court Case): National Library of Wales LL/CC/P.462
1755 Lease : Glamorgan Record Office Dynevor D/DD 431
1747-1840 Senghennydd Manor Rentals : National Library of Wales Bute R6/2-5 & 32
1763-68 Land Taxes : National Library of Wales Tredegar 85/2230++
1783-1831 Land Taxes : Glamorgan Record Office Q/D/LTA/CAE
1841 Tithe Schedule : Glamorgan Record Office P/1/2/13