Colly Isha in 1841 was a 108 acre farm just to the North of where the village of Bedlinog stands today, it is still shown on the modern OS map with the name Coly-isaf Farm. It was an early acquisition of the Pritchard family of Llancaiach, but unusually was sold by them in the 17th century to a member of the family that built up “Heolddu” in Hengoed Hamlet. It was held by descendants of this family throughout the 18th Century. It should not be confused with the neighbouring farm of Coly uchaf which, unlike the freehold Coly isaf, was a leasehold farm owned by the Lord of the Manor. Both farms are on occasion referred to as Tir y Colly. Coly uchaf is referred to as Tir Jevan Colly in 1540 and it is presumably from this same name that this property derives its name; but in the 17th Century it was referred to as Tir Bedlinog.
In the 1540 Senghennydd Manor survey it is identified as a property paying a rental of 22 pence owned by Daffyd ap Rycharde and tenanted by Jevan Tewe. Daffyd ap Rycharde is ‘of Llancaiach’, the ancestor whose second name became the family name Prichard. Nothing is known of Jevan Tewe, except that he is also shown as having paid 4 pence in a 1545 tax list of Gelligaer residents. In the Senghennydd Manor survey of 1570 the property, still paying a rental of 22p, was owned by Edward ap Richerde with the tenant being Lewis ap Jevan. Edward ap Richerde was the son of Daffyd ap Rycharde, he had adopted ap Richard as his surname but the name had not yet come to be contracted to Prichard. We also know from the 1630 survey that mentions the name Lewis Evan tew that Lewis ap Jevan was the son of Jevan Tewe. The 1630 survey shows the owner as David Prichard, Edward ap Richerde’s son. The Tenants are given as Richard David and Edmund David, possibly of the family living at neighbouring “Bedlinog isaf”. David Prichard died in 1630. King Charles, who had difficulty raising money as he would not call parliament, reinstituted a process called an Inquisition Post Mortem in which the properties of any affluent landholder who died were examined to see if the King could have any. The Inquisition Post Mortem of David Prichard’s properties includes “ of and in a capital messuage with appurtenances called Tyr bed llynock”. Although the farm is called Tir Bedlinog this is undoubtedly the farm that was to become Coly isaf. The neighbouring farms which were later called Bedlinog were never owned by the Prichard family.
Although the Prichard family had still been buying property in Garthgynydd Hamlet at the beginning of the 17th Century, they later sold their holdings in the Hamlet. There is no detail of the actual sale of “Coly isaf” but it had taken place prior to 1651, as Edmond William Lewis of “Heolddu” mentions the property in his Will written 1st July 1651. He said:
Item I devise give and bequeath all and singular of all the Messuadge and lands which I late hadd and purchased of Edward Prichard esquire in as large and ample manner as the same nowe is in the several tenure and occupation of Jenkyn Thomas William Jo … Thomas Gwenllian Griffith or their assigns unto my said brother Thomas William and to his heyres forever, provided all waise that the said Thomas William his Executors shall and will paye and satisfy for and …. … the dischardging of my debts and my father William Lewys his Executors for and during the tenure of five years next ensuing and from and after the end and expiration of the said five years and payment of those Moneys yearly in such … (?)
He does not specifically identify the property, but it is evident from the properties subsequent history that this is “Coly isaf”. It would appear that he had only recently purchased the property, probably with a mortgage since he talks of his debts for the next five years; mortgages did not generally have long terms at that time. His brother Thomas William died ten years later and he left a Will written on the 26th April 1660; there was no specific mention of “Coly isaf”, but he made his brother Lewis William his heir. And it was this Lewis William who was shown as the owner of the property in the Manor survey of 1670, which read “Lewis William for a tenement in the tenure of William Thomas Watkin and Lewis Water pays 22 pence”.
Both William Thomas Watkin and Lewis Water are shown as tax-payers in Garthgynydd hamlet in a tax of 1660, and each pays for one hearth in the hearth tax in 1671.
Lewis William, or Lewis William Lewis which was his fuller name, died not long after and left a Will, written on the 20th November 1671, in which he left the property to his son Thomas Lewis. After making various bequest out of the first seven years of the income of his Garthgynydd Hamlet properties, which included “Bedlinog isaf” as well as “Coly isaf”, he went on to say:
“ …. Item I doe give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Lewis from and after the end and expiration of seaven yeares, which is charged before to pay my two daughters seaven score pounds, all the Messuage howses and Lands which are now in the severall tenures and occupations of William Thomas Watkin and Henry Walter Henry with all and singular their appurts …..”
Thomas Lewis was not his eldest son and we do not know what happened to him, it has to be presumed that he died young. The next reference to the property comes in the marriage settlement of William Lewis, Thomas Lewis’s eldest brother and the heir of Lewis William Lewis. In his marriage settlement of 18th February 1688 among the many properties by then owned by William Lewis of “Heolddu” is found:
a tenement and lands called Bodloynog alias Tir Coli, consisting of 4 messuages and lands called Cae alias Cae’r pymp Erw, Cae dan y Wall, Cae’r gerdiner, Gwayne y Ton, Cevn y Ton, Y wayne wrth y mynydd, y wayne arw, y Coedcae, Erw’r graig, Cae’r Llay, Cae’r Darren, y Cae wrth y Ty, y wayne bach and Coedcae (containing together 58 acres); all formerly of Edward Prichard, esq. and purchased of him by Edmund William (uncle of said William Lewis)
This is the first reference we have to this property as Tir Coli, although it is can be noted that the name “Bodloynog” or Bedlinog is also applied to the property. The field names which have been underlined were still in use 150 years later as they can be found in the 1841 Tithe schedule. This also confirms that it is the same property as mentioned in the Will of 1651, having gone from his Uncle Edmund to his Uncle Thomas to his father Lewis to his brother Thomas before finally coming into his possession. The 58 acres would have been the local acre which was about 2½ standard acres, making perhaps 130 standard acres. This is slightly more than the 108 acres of 1841, “Coly isaf” and “Bedlinog isaf” were neighbouring farms under the same ownership and it is possible some transfer of fields took place.
William Lewis continued at “Heolddu” for another thirty years, his Will of the 5th September 1720 does not mention the properties since they were all part of his marriage settlement. On his death they passed to his heirs, in this case his two daughters Mary and Elizabeth. Generally if there were male children then the heir was the eldest male child, but if all the children were female the sisters would be joint heiresses. Both daughters married outside the parish, and although Elizabeth and her husband lived at Heolddu the descendants of both daughters lived in Gwent. The families of the two daughters retained a shared interest in Heolddu, but the other properties appear to have been divided with the family of Mary having Coly isaf, Bedwlwyn and Pen Cae Mawr and Elizabeth his younger daughter having Bedlinog isaf and part of Adam isaf. But the deed by which this was achieved is not available. Coly isaf and Pen cae mawr remained with the descendants of Mary until the 1830s when both properties were sold to Sir Josiah John Guest, one of Merthyr’s iron masters. He is shown as the owner in the 1841 Tithe schedule.
Little is known of the tenants. The Senghennydd Manor records, which are available from 1747, show the farm as having two tenants one of whom is given as Henry William taylor, he was succeeded some time in the 1780s by William Harry, who was possibly his son, who held the farm up to 1791. The other part was tenanted by Thomas Jacob who was succeeded by an Edward Thomas and then a Thomas William. The land records show only a single tenant from 1786, the William Harry mentioned above. He was succeeded by Edmund William in 1792, who was succeeded by William Williams in 1813, then from 1815 to 1831 by Gwenllian Williams. The 1841 census shows the farm in the hands of 35 year old Thomas Williams. It is possible all these people are of the same family but there is no lease information on the farm.
1540 Senghennydd Manor Survey : National Archive SC6/HENVIII/7493
1545 Tax: National Archive E179/221/238
1570 Senghennydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute S1 & S2
1630 Senghennydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute M37/39
1651 Will : National Library of Wales LL/1651/16
1660 Will : National Library of Wales LL/1660/23
1660 Tax: National Archive E179/264/47
1671 & 72 Tax: National Archive E179/221/294 & 296
1670 Senghenydd Manor Survey : National Library of Wales Bute M37/41 & S11
1671 Will : National Library of Wales LL/1672/31
1720 Will : National Library of Wales LL/1720/59
1688 Settlement : Glamorgan Record Office D/D Je 2
1747-1840 Senghennydd Manor Rentals : National Library of Wales Bute R6/2-5 & 32
1763-1765 Land Taxes : National Library of Wales : Tredegar 87
1783-1831 Land Taxes : Glamorgan Record Office Q/D/LTA/CAE
1841 Tithe Schedule : Glamorgan Record Office P/1/2/13