In 1841 Blaen Nant Wen was a 33 acre farm on the hillside of the Bargoed Taff valley, it is still shown on the modern OS map. The earliest deed relating to the property is a deed of 1519. Some time in the 16th century the property that was to become Blaen Nant Wen came into the ownership of the Lewis of the Van family. On the marriage of William Lewis, the second son of Sir Edward Lewis of the Van, and Anne daughter of Edmond William of Gilfachfargoed in 1611 it became part of the Gilfachfargoed estate and remained a part of the estate, being purchased by the Hanbury family in 1751. Prior to 1750 it is difficult to distinguish the farms Nant Wen and Blaen Nant Wen. The name Blaen Nant Wen is first documented in a Senghennydd Manor rental of 1765 when it was recorded as Blane Nant Gwin, but in the 1767 land tax return the name was recorded as Blaen Nant Wen.
In the 1540 Senghennydd Manor survey what was to become “Blaen Nant Wen” has been identified as part of a larger property owned and occupied by Jankyn Llywelyn ap Jankyn who paid an annual rent to the lord of the Manor of 45 pence, with a further 10½ pence every other year as cymortha. This property was subsequently divided to become the farms Nant Wen, Lan uchaf and Blaen Nant Wen. Since no tenant is shown for the property it is presumed that Jankyn lived on the property. In a comprehensive 1545 tax return for Gelligaer we find “Jeynkin ap llen” shown as paying 12 pence, this was a tax specifically on goods not land and shows that he was among the more affluent residents of the parish. The neighbouring property, which has been identified as “Tylaglas” was occupied by William Llywelin ap Jankyn, who paid the same lords rent and cymortha, and it seems likely that the two owners were brothers. This is given further credence by a deed among the Hanbury collection of deeds, which is likely an early deed relating to these properties and is catalogued as:
18 February, 10 Henry VIII (1519)
(1) Llewelin ap Jankyn.
(2) Rees ap Llewelin his son.
Grant and Confirmation.
One third part of all his lands and tenements in the parish of Kayellegare in the lordship of Senghenneth that is to say from Warecoied tave to Keveneforthe in length and from land of Philip Thomas to land of philip lloid. To hold of the chief lord of that fee by customary rents and services.
Witnesses: Rys Gruffeth, Gruffith ap hoell ap Rosser, llewelin tew ap Ieuan ap Madoc and others.
“Warecoied tave” is presumed to be Bargoed-Taff, “Kevenforthe” is recognised from another deed to be a roadway in Garthgynydd Hamlet, evidence from another deed suggests a Philip Rees ap Philip lived at “Lan isaf” the property to the south. We can conjecture that Llewelin ap Jankyn had owned a 175 acre property stretching from the Bargoed-Taff up to Gelligaer Common and had three sons Rees, William & Janken, and that the property was to be divided into thirds. But that Rees died and the property was then divided between the remaining two sons Jankyn and William. A later deed which refered to the property as “Tyr Llewellyn Jayn ap Meredyth” shows the father’s fuller name was Llewellyn ap Jankyn ap Meredith.
A deed of 1559 shows that Jeuan Jenkin, presumed to be Jankyn ap Llewelyn’s son sells a part of the property to Walter Williams. This has been taken to be the part that became “Blaen Nant Wen”. He also sold another part of the property, taken to be “Nant Wen” to John ap Jevan Philip of Merthyr Tydfil parish as the latter in his will of 1567/8 wrote
“To William [ap John] the lands and tenements in Kelligare which I bought of Jevan ap Jankin, now in the tenure of Jevan and his son, and to his heirs forever, with remainder to Phillip ap John my son and his heirs.”
All these changes are reflected in the 1570 Senghennydd Manor Survey where the entry reads “William John, Walter William and Jevan ap Jankin hold a tenement formerly of Janken Lln ap Jankin paying 45 pence”. So we find the property of 1540 now divided between three owners whose portions are identified as being the farms which were to become “Nant Wen”, “Blaen Nant Wen” and “Lan uchaf”.
A series of deeds from 1575 shows that the property owned by William John was sold to Thomas Lewis of the Van in January 1575/6. The part owned by Walter Williams was sold in 1581 as shown by
30 June 23 Elizabeth (1581)
(1) Walter Williams of Kelligare co. Glam.
(2) John Howell of Kelligare Yeoman
Release and Quitclaim
All his right title claim etc in two late messuages and lands arable, meadow, pasture and feedings, woods, underwoods, and waste together with rents, services etc. situate at Kelligaer in the occupation of Lewis Dyo Thomas and Rise William llewellin ap Jankin the younger by ancient bounds well known which the said Walter lately purchased of Jeuan ap Jenkin.
Note that one of the tenants Rees William Llewellin ap Jankin is a grandson of the 1519 owner of the property.
In the Senghennydd Manor survey of 1630 the property was recorded as “Sir Edward Lewis knight and William Thomas Williams for one tenement in the tenure of William Richard, John Thomas prosser, John Edward Lewis and Howell Rees paid 45 pence”. The property owned by William Thomas Williams is “Lan uchaf”, both “Blaen Nant Wen” and “Nant Wen” are owned by Sir Edward Lewis of the Van. It is not known which tenant was in which farm. All Sir Edward Lewis’ lands in Gelligaer had been settled on his 2nd son William Lewis when he had married Ann the daughter of Edmund William ap Lewis of Gilfachfargoed. This marriage formed the Gilfachfargoed estate of which “Blaen Nant Wen” and “Nant Wen” became a part. In the 1670 Senghennydd Manor survey the property was recorded as “Edward Lewis Esq. and William Thomas Williams for a tenement in the tenure of Watkin John, William Richard and William Thomas paid 45 pence”. Edward Lewis was the son and heir of Sir William Lewis of Gilfachfargoed and owner of the Gilfachfargoed estate. After various lawsuits over ownership, this estate which still included “Blaen Nant Wen” and “Nant Wen” was sold to the Hanbury family of Pontypool in the early 1750s and they continued to own the farms in the 19th century.
William Richard was a tenant in both 1630 and 1670 and his name is found among a 1660 list of Garthgynydd taxpayers; he pays 12 pence which is consistent with him being a tenant farmer. He also paid Hearth tax on 1 hearth in 1666, 1670 and 1671. Watkin John is also found in the tax lists.
There is little information until 1748, when the tenant was shown as Thomas William Watkin, who in theory could be the grandson of Watkin John. By 1755 the tenant is Rosser John who was succeeded in 1759 by Thomas Rosser. William John Rees was the next tenant from the 1770s up until 1788. We know that a Thomas Rosser of Merthyr was the heir to William John Rees who owned Ffos yr Hebog and Glyn y March in Ysgwyddgwyn Hamlet and who died in December 1790; and it is likely that they are the last mentioned tenants, but their exact relationship is not known – was Rosser John a brother of William John Rees? From 1789 to 92 the tenant was an Edward William. In 1794 Lewis Richard whose family had been farming neighbouring Lan uchaf since the 1750s took over and the family continued to farm both Lan uchaf and Blaen Nant Wen into the 1850s.
1519 Deed : Gwent Archives Hanbury D/1 JCH1738
1540 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Archives SC6/HENVIII/7493
1545 Tax : National Archives E179/221/238
1567/8 Will : National Archives PROB 11/50
1570 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute S1 & S2
1581 Deeds : Gwent Archives Hanbury D/1 JCH1820
1630 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute M37/39
1660 Tax : National Archives E179/264/47
1670 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute M37/41 & S11
1666, 71, 72 Hearth Taxes : National Archives E179/221/297, 294 & 296
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++
1773-1808 Local Taxes : National Library of Wales Bute G11
1783-1831 Land Taxes : Glamorgan Archives Q/D/LTA/CAE
1841 Tithe Schedule : Glamorgan Archives P/1/2/13