In 1841 Lan Ucha was a 34 acre farm on the hillside of the Bargoed Taff valley to the south-west of where Bedlinog is today. The name Lan uchaf still appears on the modern OS map but the farmhouse appears to have gone. There are no old deeds available which relate specifically to this property. But prior to the mid 16th century Lan uchaf, and the properties on either side, Nant Wen and Blaen Nant Wen were one property and there is a deed of 1519 that almost certainly relates to this larger property. The earliest reference to the property as Lan uchaf does not occur until the second half of the 18th Century.
In the 1540 Senghennydd Manor survey what was to become “Lan uchaf” 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 was 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” 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 is likely that the two owners were brothers. This is given further credence by a deed, among the Hanbury collection of deeds, which appears to be 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 refers to the property as “Tyr Llewellyn Jayn ap Meredyth” shows the father’s fuller name was Llewellyn ap Jankyn ap Meredith.
In the 1570 Senghennydd Manor survey, the property owned by Jankyn Llywelin ap Jankyn had become divided into three properties, owned by William John, Walter William and Jevan ap Jankin. There are deeds in the Hanbury Archives relating to the sale by Jevan Jenkin of the portions owned by William John and Walter William. Since the Hanbury family owned Nant Wen and Blaen Nant Wen it must be the portion owned by Jevan ap Jenkin that is “Lan uchaf”. Jevan ap Jenkin is presumed to be the son of Jenkin Llewelyn ap Jenkyn the owner of the property in 1540.
The next information we have is in the 1630 Senghennydd Manor survey where we find that the 1540 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”. We know that Sir Edward Lewis was the owner of “Nant Wen” and “Blaen Nant Wen” (it was these properties that the Hanbury family later bought) so “Lan uchaf” must be the property owned by William Thomas William.
In 1670, William Thomas William was again shown as the owner of “Lan uchaf”. A William Thomas William was also shown as owner of “Lan isaf” at this date but we know that the William Thomas William who owned “Lan uchaf” in 1625 is not the same William Thomas William who owned “Lan isaf” in 1670. There appear to have been two people on neighbouring farms called William Thomas William, the kind of occurrence that is not as unusual as might be imagined. The William Thomas William who owned “Lan isaf” can be identified but nothing is known about the owner of “Lan uchaf”. There was no William Thomas shown as a Gelligaer taxpayer in 1628, although there is a William Thomas William shown in Merthyr Tydfil. In the 1660 tax however a William Thomas is shown as paying 18 pence, and in the hearth taxes of 1670 & 1672 William Thomas is shown as paying for 2 hearths. [Note there is also a William Thomas Watkin in Garthgynydd hamlet, and a William Thomas testifies in a Chancery case of 1676 concerning payment of tithes. William and Thomas along with Lewis are the most common names in Gelligaer parish.]
There is then a period of 75 years with no information on the farm. In 1747 the Senghennydd Manor records show the tenant of the farm was Jane Lewis widow, and the lord’s rent was 18 pence [“Nant Wen” was 21 pence and “Blaen Nant Wen” was 10 pence – making a total of 49 pence compared with the 45 pence in 1540]. In 1756 the records show the owner as Thomas Jenkin, but the Manor Freeholder list shows that he was the owner “in the right of his wife”. A marriage licence of 1749 shows that Thomas Jenkin, bachelor, yeoman, of Gelligaer was to marry Cecil Thomas, widow, of Gelligaer at Llandaff. A Cecil Thomas was the widow of Lewis William of Bedlinog uchaf who had died in 1739, and “Lan uchaf” is later owned by their son Thomas Lewis so it is likely that this is the same Cecil Thomas who married Thomas Jenkin and that she was in fact the real owner of “Lan uchaf”. Although exactly how she came to be owner is not known, possibly she owned it as part of her Marriage Settlement with Lewis William, or perhaps she had inherited it or even purchased it herself. Thomas Jenkin died in 1771 and left a will:
The last Will and Testament of me Thomas Jenkins, of the Parish of Gelligaer in the County of Glamorgan, yeoman. First of all I devise and bequeath unto John Jenkin, my brother, all purchased freehold lands messuages and tenements in Merthyr Tydfil to his heirs forever subject nevertheless and upon this special trust and confidence that he his heirs and assigns for the time being will pay or cause to be paid unto the minister of the Church of Christ meeting at Craig Fargoed in Gelligaer Parish the sum of two pounds every year for ever out of the profits and issues of the said lands and messuages. The first payment thereof to be begun and made within one twelve months next after my decease and subject also and upon this further trust and confidence of paying unto my sister Mary the sum of twenty-five pounds, unto my sister Jane the sum of ten pounds, and to Margaret and Jane the two daughters of Edmund Evan fifty shilling to each of them and also of paying the sum of fifty shillings to each of the two sons of John Watkin, named Lewis and Edmund all the above said legacies I do charge upon my aforesaid lands and messuages called Godrecoed in Merthyr Tydfil and all to be paid by my said brother John within one six month after my decease. The first mentioned two pound to be paid within one twelve months as aforesaid. I also give and bequeath unto Lewis son of Thomas Lewis my cousin all monies dues and demands due to me from his father Thomas Lewis as also my silver watch at the age of fourteen years, and in case he shall not happen to live to attain that age, I give the said watch only to Joseph the son of Joseph Harris, also I give and bequeath unto my Uncle Thomas John the sum of two pounds to be paid within one month next after my decease by my executrix hereafter named. Lastly I do nominate and appoint the said Mary my sister sole and only executrix of this my last Will and Testament revoking and disclaiming all former wills and testaments heretofore by me made. In witness hereunto I have set my hand and seal this twenty-nineth day of September in the year of our Lord Christ seventeen hundred and seventy and one.
In it he mentions the church at Craig Fargoed (today the small unused chapel at Bedlinog Cemetery) and it is there that he was buried as recorded on a gravestone “Here lieth the body of Thomas Jenkins of this Parish who departed this life 6 Oct 1771 aged 56 years”.
“Lan uchaf” continued to be owned by the family that owned Bedlinog uchaf, being owned first by Thomas Lewis, then passing to his cousin Lewis Edwards of Ysgwyddgwyn isaf, and then continuing in this family up to the Tithe Schedule of 1841. There was a slight glitch in that in 1805 Lewis Edwards II settled the farm on his second son Thomas Edwards after his death. However after he died in 1815 his eldest son Lewis Edwards III challenged his father’s Will and the settlement, claiming that by a marriage settlement of 1783 the farm and Bedlinog uchaf must go to him. He won his case and so the farm remained with Bedlinog uchaf.
Nothing is known of the Jane Lewis widow who was shown as the tenant in the period 1747 to 1757. Local taxes show that by 1758 the tenant was a John Richard, and his family continued to farm the property through into the 1850s. He was probably on the farm before that since in a return of the “residents” of Garthgynydd hamlet presented at the Senghennydd Manor Leet Court of May 1758, not only does John Richard’s name appears but he was elected as petty constable for the hamlet for the coming year. There is no information on his original lease but the settlement of 1805 mentioned above tells us that “Tyr y Lan ycha (38 acres) leased 26 June 1772 to and for lives of John Richard, his wife Sarah and son Lewis of whom Sarah and Lewis still live”. Church records show that John Richard of Gelligaer, bachelor, yeoman, applied on 16 June 1757 for a licence to marry Sarah Rosser of Mynyddislwyn, spinster at Mynyddislwyn Church; and there is a record of a baptism of Lewis son of John Richard on 16 July 1758 at Gelligaer Parish Church. It seems likely that these refer to the family at Lan uchaf. John Richard was shown as the tenant in surviving local tax returns between 1758 and 1784. Sarah Richard was given as the tenant in 1785 and from then on Lewis Richard was the tenant. The family used the Craig Fargoed chapel local to the property and their graves are still there. They record that John Richard died 17 September 1784 aged 65 and his wife Sarah died in April 1811 aged 90 years.
Lewis Richard spent his whole life at the farm. In the 1841 census he is shown as living at Lan uchaf a farmer aged 80, his wife is Hannah aged 75 and he had a son Rosser Richard aged 45, presumably named after his grandmother’s father. Lewis Richard of Gelligaer is shown as marrying Hannah Edmond of Merthyr Tydfil at Merthyr on 1st July 1786. In a poll book of 1820 he is shown as a voter as he owned a house and land in Garthgynydd hamlet, but where exactly this house and land was is not known. Lewis Richard died, aged 86, on August 18 1844 and was buried in the same grave as his father and mother. He left the following Will:
In the name of God Amen
I Lewis Richard, farmer, of the parish of Gelligare in the county of Glamorgan being of sound mind and of bodily health do constitute and ordain this as my last Will and Testament in the thirtieth day of May in the year of our Lord and Saviour one thousand eight hundred and thirty three in manner and form following – that is I do demise and bequeath unto my beloved wife Hannah Richard and my son Rosser Richard after my decease share and share alike to be equally divided among them all and singular my goods, money, bonds, notes, chattels, plate, linen and all my household furniture and all implements of husbandry, whatsoever things or wheresoever things I may have or may be possessed at the time of my decease except as is here excepted and that is I bequeath that my beloved wife Hannah Richard and my son Rosser Richard shall pay or cause to be paid unto my son Thomas Richard his heirs or executors the sum of thirty pounds of good and lawful money of Great Britain at the expiration of twelve calendar months after my decease And also my will is that the said Hannah Richard my beloved wife and my son Rosser Richard shall pay or cause to be paid to my son John Richard the sum one pound, and likewise my will is that the said Hannah Richard and the said Rosser Richard shall pay or cause to be paid unto my daughter Sarah the wife of William Davies the sum of one pound to be paid at the expiration of twelve months after my decease; and I do hereby constitute and appoint my beloved wife Hannah Richard and my son Rosser Richard to be joint executors of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking and disannulling all former Will or Wills heretofore made by me as witness my hand the day and year above mentioned Lewis Richard
Witnesses: Phillip Thomas; David Jones
Probate granted 4 October 1844 to Rosser Richard the lawful son and surviving executor.
His wife Hannah had predeceased him, her grave is also to be found in the small plot beside the old Craig Fargoed chapel, she died in June 1843 aged 85 years. It is interesting to note that although the family had used the local chapel for burial, all the children mentioned in the above Will were baptized in 1807 in the Ynysgau Presbyterian Chapel in Merthyr Tydfil. Lewis Richard was succeeded at Lan uchaf by his youngest son Rosser. It was not unusual for the youngest son to succeed to a tenanted property in Victorian times; presumably because when the older children wished to start their own families the father still had young children of his own to support and the farm could not support two families. But when the younger sons came of age the father was getting older and needed his younger sons to help him on the farm. In this case Lewis Richards’ son Thomas was the tenant at the neighbouring farm of Tylaglas, his daughter’s husband farmed Cefn Bach in Brithdir hamlet, and his son John was possibly the John who farmed at Pen-y-fid next to Cefn Bach.
The land tax records show that in 1794 Lewis became the tenant of neighbouring Blaen Nant Wen thus doubling the size of his farmland to just over 70 acres, which he still held at the time of the 1841 Tithe Schedule. Rosser continued to farm both farms into the 1850s; he died in 1862 and was also buried beside the Craig Fargoed chapel.
1519 Deed : Gwent Archives Hanbury D/1 JCH1738
1540 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Archives SC6/HENVIII/7493
1545 Tax : National Archives E179/221/238
1570 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute S1 & S2
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
1758 Senghennydd Leet Court return Cardiff Library Bute XL / 183
1771 Will : National Library of Wales LL/1771/31
1772 Lease detail : National Library of Wales Bute D127/4
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++
1775 Administration : National Library of Wales LL/1775/35
1779 Marriage : National Library of Wales Marriage Bond 57/82
1783-1831 Land Taxes : Glamorgan Archives Q/D/LTA/CAE
1841 Tithe Schedule : Glamorgan Archives P/1/2/13
Church/Chapel Records : National Library of Wales