Nant-y-ffin map?

In 1841 Nant y ffin was a farm of 192 acres towards the top of the Bargoed Taff valley in Cwm Bargoed. It was for much of its history associated with two other farms in Cwm Bargoed – Bryn Caira and Blaen Bargoed which are in Merthyr Parish. Nant y ffin itself was previously known as Blaen Bargoed (note that the farm Brithdir uchaf on the banks of the Bargoed-Rhymney was also peviously referred to as Blaen Bargoed), and in the 16th and 17th century Senghennydd Manor surveys it appears in the section devoted to Merthyr Parish. Even today there is no easy access to the lands of Nant-y-ffin from Gelligaer. The name Nant y ffin still appears on the modern Ordinance Survey maps although there is no farmhouse in Gelligaer.

The earliest reference to the farm comes in a deed of 1432, for which the catalogue entry reads

2nd February 1432

(1)   David ap Ieuan ap Jankyn Kemmeys

(2)   Morgane ap David Willim and Isabell his wife

Release and Quitclaim

of all right and title in one tenement, late of Iuean Whitt, later of Jankyn Kemmeys, in the lordship of Synhenydd Supra K(ayach) and parish of Kellycaye in a place called blayn vargod.

Witnesses:- Morgan ap Willim ap Mc Traharne, Lloyd Gruffin ap Cadogan and many others

This tells us not only that the property was sold by David ap Ieuan ap Jankyn Kemmeys but that it had previously been owned by his grandfather Jankyn Kemys and before him by Iuean Whitt. Another deed tells us that six months later Morgan ap David Willim bought a property in Blaen Rhymney on the other side of the parish and this deed gives his wife’s name as Isabell Morgan. However it has not been possible to identify the property in a 1449 list of Gelligaer and Merthyr properties. The next reference to the property can be found in the 1540 survey of the Lordship of Senghennydd, where it has been identified as one of four properties recorded in the Merthyr section of the survey simply as “Thomas William for four tenements,  rent 12s. 6d.”. Thirty years later in the 1570 Senghennydd Manor survey they were recorded as  “Thomas Morgan Esq of Arston in county of Hereford for four tenements formerly land of Thomas William  rent 12s. 6d.”

There is nothing to identify the individual tenements here but it seems likely that the four tenements are represented in the 1841/45 Tithe plan as Nant y ffin in Gelligaer (192 acres, ground rent 60 pence in 1757), Bryn Caira in Merthyr (83 acres, ground rent 39 pence in 1757) and Blaen Bargoed in Merthyr (139 acres, ground rent 11½ pence[1]). It is likely the other tenement is the Blaen Rhymney property, see the farm Dyffrin Rhymney (N) in Brithdir Hamlet.

Can a connection be found between Morgane ap David Willim and Isabell Morgan his wife of 1432 and the Thomas Morgan esq of Arston in 1570. Somewhat surprisingly the answer is yes. In 1887 G.T.Clark published Limbus Patrum Morganiae et Glamorganiae a book on Welsh Genealogies, and on page 194 he mentions “Morgan son of David Gwillm Jenkin (Herbert) married Isabella ap Morgan ap Llen ap Howell - whence Morgan of Arkston”. On page 258 under the title of ‘Morgan of Arkston’ he gives more, but somewhat contradictory, detail,

Morgan third son of David Gwillim Jenkin was deceased 12 Aug 1448, married Alice daughter and co-heiress of Sir Hugh Landon of Llandewi Skyrrid.  

Issue:  1. Gwillm.   2. David.   3. Isabella

Gwillm or William Morgan, 1483 married Daisy daughter and heiress of Morgan Llewelyn ap Howel vychan of Brecon, from Einon Sais.

Issue:   David

David died 10 Apr 1520, married Ann, daughter and heiress of William de la Hay of Arkston co. Hereford

Issue: 1. William,  2. John , 3. Margaret , 4. Jane ,  5. Morgan (base)

William Morgan of Arkston, ob. v. p., m. Elizabeth, d. of Sir Thomas Morgan of Pencoyd. 

Issue: 1. Thomas,  2. Charles …,  3. Cecily …,  4. Margaret …

Thomas Morgan of Arkston aet. 30, 16 Henry VIII., m. d. of James Whitney

Issue: 1. James,  2. Margaret …,  3. Blanch …

James Morgan, m. Catherine, d. of Thomas Wey of Lyppiat, co. Gloucester

Issue: 1. Thomas,  2. Jane ……

But where does Thomas William who is shown as the owner of the properties in 1540 fit into this. G.T.Clark says that David died 10 Apr 1520, but this can’t be true as he wrote his Will on 2 June 1523. The Will was given probate 18 April 1524 under the name of David ap Glm(Gwillim) Morgan esq of Kingston, Herefordshire & Llandewi Skyrrid. There was no mention of Blaen Bargoed in the Will but ‘Arxston’ was mentioned. He mentiones his son John Delahaye (he had evidently adopted his maternal grandfather’s surname), his son Morgan and his daughter Ann, but his heir he called Thomas William. He did not give his relationship to his heir, but reference to G.T.Clark’s genealogy suggests that the heir was his grandson by his eldest son William, whom we must presume had died, and that the family had not yet adopted a surname but was still using patronymic naming. And it is likely this was the Thomas William who was shown as owning the four tenements in 1540.

There is another reference to Blaen Bargoed from the Morgan family of Arkston. This comes in the 1562 Will of a Thomas Morgan of Arkestone, Herefordshire in which he says

“……Item I give and bequeath unto the saide Elizabeth my wiefe all my goodes and cattalls moveable and unmovable all the kyne that I shall have at the daye of my death in Blayne Rhumnye and in Blayn Bargod in the countie of Glwademorgan only excepted whiche kyne I give and bequeath to my righte heire ……”

He also mentions son Thomas Morgan, “Margaret my daughter now married to John Danser gent”, “Elizabeth Morgan my daughter”, “Jane Morgan the daughter of my sonne Charles Morgan desseased”, and “William Jones my brother sonne”, which does not correspond to G.T.Clark. The exact relationship between  this Thomas Morgan and Thomas William is uncertain; they could of course even be the same person if Thomas (ap) William adopted the surname Morgan. It was not unusual for the same person to have different names in different documents during the period when surnames were being adopted. It is interesting to note the reference to “Blaen Rhumnye”, which indicates both properties bought in 1432 had been retained.

In 1573 the properties were sold to Edward Lewis of the Van by Thomas Morgan of Arkston as evidenced by a Deed for which the catalogue entry reads:

26 July 15 Elizabeth (1573)

(1)   Thomas Morgan of Arkestown co. Hereford esq

(2)   Edward Lewis of the Van co. Glam esq.

Bargain and sale         200 marks,

All and singular his messuages, barns, buildings, lands, tenements, meadow, pasture, feedings, woods, underwood, waste, rents, reversions and services with all their appurtenances situate in the parishes of Merthyr Tydvyll and Kelligaer co. Glam. To hold of the chief lord of that fee by customary rents and services, the said Thomas appoints Hoel Christopher of Llanthewy Skynyd co.Mon yeoman and Roger Prichard of the Van co. Glam to be his attornies to make seisen

1 mark is 2/3 of a pound, so the cost of the properties was about £134. The 1573 purchase of the properties brought them into the Van estate which was the biggest estate in the area at that time. In 1611 a marriage was arranged between William Lewis (later to become Sir William Lewis) 2nd son of Sir Edward Lewis of the Van and Anne younger daughter of Edmund William of Gilfachfargoed who had built up a considerable estate in Gelligaer. As part of the Marriage Settlement of 30th July 1611 all the Van properties in Gelligaer were combined with Edmund William’s Gelligaer properties. This meant that “Nant y ffin” became part of the Gilfachfargoed estate, while the other properties being in Merthyr, remained with the Van estate. Evidently the Deeds were given to the Gilfachfargoed estate. In the 1625/30 Senghennydd Manor survey most of the Gelligaer Van properties were still shown in the ownership of Sir Edward Lewis – the actual transfer not taking place till his death in 1628. So in this survey we still find all the properties recorded in Merthyr Parish as “Sir Edward Lewis four tenements in the tenure of Hywel Meredith (30 pence), John Thomas Griffith (40 pence), Rhys John (40 pence) and Rhys Thomas Evan (40 pence)”.

In the Senghennydd manor survey of 1670 the properties were still recorded in the Merthyr section where it says “Edw Lewis esq & Edward Lewis esq for four severall tenements in Kelligaer”. The Merthyr properties being owned by Edward Lewis esquire of the Van whereas the Gelligaer properties were owned by his cousin Edward Lewis esquire of Gilfachfargoed. Further detail was provided showing the tenants as John Powell paying 40 pence, Howell Thomas paying 40 pence, William Lewis Thomas paying 30 pence and Jenkin Thomas paying 40 pence. A John Powell pays hearth tax in Brithdir Hamlet, a Jenkin Thomas pays for hearth tax in both Garthgynydd hamlet in Gelligaer and the neighbouring Forest Hamlet in Merthyr Tydfil. Jenkin Thomas was also shown paying 6 pence in Garthgynydd Hamlet in a 1660 tax.

Following the death of Sir William Lewis in 1664 and his eldest son Edward in 1679, title to the estate was disputed and in a Chancery court case of 1684 we get a mention of the properties “and lands called Blaen Bargoed ycha Blaen bargoed issa” The exact settlement of the court case in not known but it is evident that these properties came into the ownership of Sir William’s third son William Lewis since in his Will of 1692 he says “I bequeath all my estate in Kelligar aforesaid except Tir blaen Bargoed which I give unto my wife Margrett Lewis, the said lands is called by name Tir Rees John Rees a Thir John Walter during her natural life….”. It was not unusual for farms to have local names as well as names that an estate might know them by, especially as there might be more than one farm on a property; and here we see that the farms are known as Tir Rees John Rees – presumably after Rhys John who was shown as a tenant in the 1625/30 survey and Tir John Walter who must also have been a tenant of the farm at some time. These would have been alternate names to the Blaen Bargoed ycha and Blaen bargoed issa in the court case.

The next reference we have to the farm is a particular (or schedule) of 21st August 1718 of the property of Edmund Lewis, the above William Lewis’s son, where among other properties we find

“And also one other Messuage etc called Tyr blaen bargod ycha then in the tenure of Tho: Harry

And also one other Messuage etc called Tyr blaen bargod ysha then in the occupation of Wm Lewis”

In October 1719 we find that Tir Blaen Bargoed Isha was sold to John Morgan of Tredegar. There is another mention of Blaen Bargoed Isha in 1726 where we find that the rent was £8 13s. 4d. There appears to be no record of any other sales but we know that all Edmund Lewis’s properties became the properties of the Morgan family (subsequently the Lords Tredegar) and they remained in the hands of the family throughout the 19th Century.

Sometime between 1726 and 1765 the name was changed from Blaen Bargoed to Nant y ffin, Nant y Ffin being a stream that forms the boundary between the parishes of Gelligaer and Merthyr Tydfil (and is the eastern boundary of the farm) until it joins the Bargoed-Taff which then becomes the boundary. Somewhat confusingly the neighbouring farm in Merthyr parish becomes known as Blaen Bargoed.

There is little consistent detail on the tenants of the farm, and it is often necessary to deduce the tenants from other documents. The following is a list of possible tenants.

1611 Hywel Meredith Marriage Settlement
1630 Rhys John (40d.)   Hywel Meredith (30d.) Manor Survey
1660 Jenkin Thomas Tax Assessment

Jenkin Thomas   [Howel Thomas]

Manor Survey

Tir Rees John Rees & Tir John Walter

Will-names - probably refer to previous tenants – see 1630]
1718 William Lewis (Tyr blaen bargod ysha)
  Thomas Harry ( Tyr blaen bargod ycha)
1747-1788 William Evan (60d.) Manor Rentals
1786- 1788 Jane Evan and Wm. Thomas Land tax assessment
1789 -1796 Jane Evan and Wm. Richards Land tax assessment
1800-1808 William Hughes Land tax assessment

William Evan who is shown as the tenant for at least the period 1747 to 1788 was also the tenant of neighbouring Coly uchaf XE "Coly uchaf"  from 1742 to 1783. In 1808 the farm was leased to a William Richard of Merthyr Tydfil as evidenced by the following lease

1808, Dec. 10

1. Sir Charles Morgan of Tredegar, bart

2. William Richard of Merthyr Tidvil, farmer

LEASE for 14 years of a messuage and lands called Nant y Fyn in parish of Gellygare, co. Glam., but reserving timber and minerals.

And the farm continued to be farmed by William Richards up to at least 1841.

[1]There is an unresolved anomally in the Lords Rent. Note also that of the 139 acres one field alone is 53 acres.

Data Sources

1432 Conveyance : Gwent Record Office, Hanbury Archive D8/1 JCH1801

1523 Will : National Archive  PROB 11/21

1540 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Archive SC6/HENVIII/7493

1562 Will : National Archive  PROB 11/45

1570 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute S1 & S2

1573 Purchase/Sale : Gwent Record Office, Hanbury Archive D8/1 JCH1888, JCH1845, JCH1718

1611 Marriage Settlement : Gwent Record Office, Hanbury Archive D8/1 JCH1957A

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

1666, 1671 & 72 Tax : National Archive E179/221/297. 294 & 296

1692 Will : NationalLibrary of Wales, LL1692-47

1718 Particular : National Library of Wales, Tredegar: 56/238

1719 Sale : National Library of Wales, Tredegar 56/408 & 410-11

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++

1773-1809 Local Taxes : National Library of Wales, Bute G11

1808 Lease : National Library of Wales, Tredegar 125/4

1783-1831 Land Taxes : Glamorgan Record Office Q/D/LTA/CAE

1841 Tithe Schedule : Glamorgan Record Office P/1/2/13


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