In the Tithe Schedule of 1841 Pontlottyn is shown as made up of 131 acres of farmland and 12 acres described as “village houses garden etc”. This is in fact the only reference to a village in the whole of Gelligaer parish, and the illustration of the village on the tithe map is the only such illustration of a village. This is evidently where the population explosion that came to Gelligaer with the industrial revolution began. But what is known of the farm prior to 1841?
Most of the farms in Gelligaer can be traced back as far as a Senghennydd Manor Survey of 1540. There is earlier information on farms in Gelligaer but few of them can be identified In the 1540 survey “Pontlottyn” has been identied as the second property on the list, this is owned by Edward Lewis and the tenant is a Richard Turus and the property paid a ground rent of 3 shillings [15 new pence] to the Lord of the Manor. Properties in the Manor of Senghennydd although freehold continued to pay a ground rent to the Lord of the Manor up untill the 1930s. However the ground rents could not be raised, so they had remained virtually constant for almost 500 years, by which time inflation must have made them barely worth collecting. The Edward Lewis who owned “Pontlottyn” was Edward Lewis of the Van the largest land owner in the district.
The next information we have comes in another Manor Survey made in 1570, where we find the property still owned by Edward Lewis, and paying a ground rent of 3 shillings, but the tenant is now shown as Lewis Howell. However nothing is known of these early tenants.
What we know next has been put together from various sources. In a Senghennydd Manor list of encroachments drawn up sometime arround 1610, amongst the 56 enties relating to Gelligaer the third and forth entries read:-
“ Thomas Lewis esquire hath procured to be encroched three acres of meadowe, and one acre of pasture in Kelligare, the which Thomas Lewis died and the same descended to Sir Edward Lewis knight who sould the same to Thomas Wm Lewis of Kelligare and Lewis Thomas second sonne to the said Thomas Wm Lewis claimeth the freehould thereof as a gift by will from his said father and himselfe occupieth the same”
“ Thomas Wm Lewis of Kelligare hath encroched two acres of arrable land and fower acres of pasture in the parishe of Kelligare, the which Thomas died and the same descended to William Thomas his sonne and heyre and that John Jevan is nowe tenant therof for yeares”
Thomas Lewis was the son of Edward Lewis of the Van and died in 15xx, when he was suceeded by his son Sir Edward Lewis. And the above indicates that Sir Edward Lewis sold some land to a Thomas William Lewis. One of the oldest surviving Gelligaer Wills is that of a Thomas William Lewis written in January 1605/06 and given probate 12th July 1607, which reads as follows:-
In the name of God Amen the XXth daie of January in the yere of our Lorde god 1605 I Thomas William Lewis of the parishe of Kelligare in the countie of Glamorgan in the diocesse of Landaffe beying sike in bodie but whole in mynd laude and prayse be unto almyghtie god , I make my last will and testament in maner and forme folowynge / first I commend my sowle unto allmightie god my maker and redeemer and my bodye to the grownde / Item I give to the poore mens boxe of Kelligare 8s. Item I geve and bequeath toward the reparation of the Cathedrall Churche of Landaff 12d, Item I geve devyse and bequeathe unto William Thomas my eldest sonne and to the heyres and assignes for ever all the parcells of lande folowyng sett lyingeand beynge in the parish of Kelligare aforesaid that is to saye, twoe medowes, wone close of ground cauled y kaie bacche, and twoe other parcells of grownd commonly cauled y glyne derye ycha and the other y glyn dery yssa and another parcelll of grownd cauled kaie yr vag… and another parcell of grounde cauled Gwayne y byarthe menyth, and twoe other parcells of ground cauled y ddoyga yr koedka menydd, and all the houses where one Traharne Thoms nowe dwelleth and the howsses where wone Marie David nowe dwelleth with all the Curtolages and gardens beloinge to the said howses / Item I geve and bequeath to the said William 30 sheps 2 heyffers of 3 yeres owld which is in the custodye of John Jevan Lawrence Item I geve and bequeath unto the said William the beste kroke that I have / Item I devyse geve and bequeath unto Lewis my sonne and to his heyres and assinge for ever the mansyon howse where I nowe dwell with the owte howses to the same belonging that is to saye wone Farme and wone howse where now one Lewis Smyth now dwelleth and my myll (savyinge the third parte) with all the lande medows pasture woods and underwoode with all and singular ther appurtenances unto my nowe masyon howse belonginge savyinge that ground before bequeathed unto my sonne William / Item I geve and bequeath unto the said Lewis my sonne all my howswald stuffe savynge the so much of it is harafter shall be specfied / Item I gev unto the said Lewis 7 oxen, 30 shepes, a horsse and a mare, and all the pewter? that is abowte my howse Item I geve and bequeath unto Isabele my daughter tenne kyne 7 oxen which is in the custodie of david thomas, fowre steeres of 8 yeres owld, fowre score shepes, wone Chest .. coffer Item I geve and bequeath unto Edward my sonne and Jaene my wyffe the residewe of all my shepes and cattells savynge wone yerlinge cawffe, wich I geve and bequeath unto Edward Thomas, Item I geve and bequeath unto Marie David the third parte of the profitte and comoditie of my mylle for and durynge the tearme of her lyffe, yf she the said Marie will be …?… the third parte of the of the charges that shall be toward the reparations of the said mylle and after her decesse I devyse geve and bequeath unto Lewis my sonne and to his heyres and assinge for ever the said third parte of the said mylle Item I doe co and appooynt Jaene my wiffe and Edward my sonne to be executors to this my last will and testament Item I doe apoynt to be overseeres of this my last will and testament Edmund Williams and Arnalld Williams witness to the testament Arnalld William / Edward Lewis / and Hugh Powell clerk
syned Thomas William
We can note that in it he mentions his eldest son William Thomas Lewis and also a son Lewis Thomas who both inherit land and there can be little doubt that this is the same Thomas William Lewis who bought some land off Sir Edward Lewis as shown in the encroachment list. The Will also gives us clues as to the identity of Thomas William Lewis. He appoints as overseers to his will Edmund Williams and Arnalld Williams, (and this would indicate that certainly Edward his younest son was a minor). Arnold is not a common name but there is at least one Arnold William Lewis known from this time, and he is the brother of Edmund William Lewis of Killvach Vargoed and is also known to have a brother called Thomas William Lewis. In fact we know that Thomas William Lewis sold a property in Hengoed to his brother Edmund in 1597 as witnessed by the following deed
17 January 39 Elizabeth I (1597)
(1) Thomas William Lewis of Kelligare co. Glam gent.
(2) Edmund William Lewis his elder brother of Kelligare co. Glam gent
Grant and Confirmation [i.e. sale of]
all that messuage or tenement of land now in occupation of Edward ab Jeuan howell and 6 closes of land arable, meadow, pasture and wood all late land and tenements of William ap Jeuane David also all that close of land called Kay yr ddrissiog, one other close of land called Kay pen y bryn, one acre part of a meadow called y Wayn gogh, one other close of land called Kay Islawr Lewf, two other closes of land one of which is called Kay Islawr hewl and the other y wern bwll which last named parcels of land were lately purchased of Thomas ap Jeuan David and are now in the occupation of Thomas ap Jeuan david all of which premises are situate in the parish of Kelligaer and extend in length from the river called Rhymi on the east to lands of Edmund William Lewis and Morgan William on the west. In bredth between land of Edward Prichard esq. now in occupation of Gryffin ap Jeuan Gwyne on the south to land of the said Edmund William lewis and the torrent called drywodde on the north. To hold of the chief lord of that fee by customary rents and services
So it would seem that Thomas William Lewis sold his property on the banks of the Rhymney river in Hengoed to his elder brother and bought him self another property further north but still on the banks of the Rhymney. Edmund William Lewis was involved in a feud with the Prichards of Llancaiach and there are many court cases relating to this and from one we learn that Thomas William Lewis was aged 39 in 1695. His name can also be noted as a tax payer in a return of 1599. However his name does not appear in surviving tax returns of 1609 and 1610 although these returns do list a Jane Rees widow, who was perhaps his wife ‘Jaene’ as mentioned in his Will. Although the Will mentions various field names it has not unfortunately been possible to identify any of them in the 1841 tithe schedule.
However in the next Senghennydd Manor survey, produced in 1630, we find that the property has indeed been divided as stated in the 1607 Will. The first entry is for a property owned by Lewis Thomas William paying a ground rent of 2 shillings where the tenant is shown as Lewis Howell (surely the tenant of 1570 can’t still be the tenant?), followed by a property paying 1 shilling but now owned by Watkin Richard but with a tenant of Edward Thomas William. This would suggests that the eldest son William had sold the part of the property he inherited but that perhaps the youngest son Edward has taken on the tenancy.
1540 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Archives SC6/HENVIII/7493
1570 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute S1 & S2
1597 Conveyance : Gwent Record Office Hanbury JCH 1795
1599 Taxes : National Archives E179/221/268
1609 Taxes : National Archives E179/221/276
1610 Taxes : National Archives E179/221/277
1607 Will : National Library of Wales LL/1607/4