It was usual for farms such as Llys Nini to have “live in servants”. Male agricultural workers were hired on annual or 6 month contracts given board and lodging.
The farms were extremely labour intensive, relying on labour and horses and oxen for the muscle power. Farmers often had large families, the sons would help to work on the land or acquire a craft or trade that would complement the agricultural industry, while the girls would work in the diaries.
Those farms that could not work the land using solely family members had to hire labourers and servants. Most families hired labourers to do the heavy work. These were taken on at the Brecon Fayre, which happened twice a year, on Lady’s Day March 25th and Michalmas Day September 29th.
The men used to have 6 or 12 month contracts; they often came from areas like Brecon, Llandovery and Hirwaun. Records show that some of the Llys Nini “servants” came from Llandeilo or Llandeilo Talybont and Llanedy. They were often sons of farmers and as they came from so far afield they would live on site. The male farm workers or “gwerin” were housed above the byre or barns, such as the loft space above the byre in Llys Nini.
However the female workers or “morynion” were usually employed locally on a daily basis and were not often accommodated on the farm. Therefore it is unusual for a farm such as Llys Nini to have 2 female servants.
At Cynghordy Fawr, a relatively large local farm in Craig Cefn Parc, some female workers lived on site. They were accommodated in a loft area above the men’s loft. It was reached via a ladder and when they had retired for the night the farmer would remove the ladder so the male workers could not reach the women.
Access to the female servants’ loft in Cynghordy - left
It is not known where the female servants slept at Llys Nini. The census records show both male and female servants employed. Did the females sleep in the loft as in Cynhordy and the males in the barn?