Living and working at Llys Nini 1767 to 1994
Llys Nini stone farmhouse was built some time during the 1600s, probably by the Mathews Family who owned Llys Nini and a number of other farms in the area.
Morgan David 1767
Morgan David was the first person recorded as living at Llys Nini. He was a tenant of Gruffydd Price, the owner of the combined Nydfwch and Penllergare Estates.
The National Archives has a copy of his will, Morgan David, Yeoman SD/1767/144 1767 in the parish of Llangyfelach. Llandeilo Tal-y-Bont, Diocese of St David’s and the Township of Llysnini. (70)
He was presumably resident before his death in 1767, his is the only will in that catalogue which gives a township within the parish of Llangyfelach. Whether Llys Nini was bigger then than it is now is unknown.
He would have lived in the C17th stone longhouse farmhouse which was made up of a single “ hall” ; the living area, where people cooked, ate, relaxed and slept. There was a loft above the living area which may have provided more bedroom space. The other end of the house was the barn or cow byre. The family would have shared the entrance to the building with the animals. A large family with grown up children, would have been very cramped.
John and Jane Davies 1784
By 1784 John and Jane Davies and their children, John, William, Catherine and Jane had moved into Llys Nini. Unfortunately John died in 1784, leaving the family at the farm. They remained there for the next 16 years but it seems that after John’s death the family may have been short of money as between 1801 and 1804, Jane and son John were involved in legal and financial proceedings with both Richard Jenkins of Llangyfelach and David Penry, also of Llangyfelach.
Richard Hoare Jenkins appears in the 1807 documents as “Trustee of William Vaughan”. The 3 men in the documents are variously described as “gent”, “farmer” and “yeoman”, (Source; the Maes-Y-Gelynen Estate papers. 71) although the author believes that Llysnini was at the time owned by Molly Wall ( or perhaps had a life interest in the property). However another property in Loughor, known as Beddexe was also involved in the proceedings which may have been part of this estate.
Llys Nini was extended in the 18th Century, additional living rooms and first floor bedrooms were added. This could have been done by the Nydfwch between 1699 and 1750 or Gryffydd Price of the Penllergare Estate between 1750 and 1784 or perhaps the Llewellyns of Penllergare when they re-acquired it after 1803/4, however this is unlikely as the Estate sold the farm almost immediately in 1804. More likely it was done by the next family who were owner occupiers and therefore had a greater stake in the house.
David Jones of Ystradfellte 1807
In 1807, the farm was sold to David Jones of Ystradfellte it is recorded as being “formally in the tenure of Jane Davies”, which means by 1807, Jane and her family had moved out.
Farming was very labour intensive, the whole family was usually employed in working the farm and often had to employ live-in farm male labourers and sometimes female dairy maids.
David Jones’ son Morgan, was born in Ystradfellte in 1796. He married Elizabeth in 1816/7. Morgan and Elizabeth were living at Llys Nini in 1817 when their daughter Margaret was born on the 7th August. They had 3 more children while living at Llys Nini, Anne (28th March 1819), David their eldest son ( 21 April 1821) and John (4th April 1823). 96 They family moved to “Courty Carne” (Cwrt Y Carnau) in 1823, and had 2 more children Elizabeth and Mary R. The 1841 census shows the family living at the farm with 9 servants.
Whether the Jones owned Cwrt Y Carnau or not is unclear but they continued to own Llys Nini, even though they did not live there. David Jones died in 1838, place unknown but is buried in Llangyfelach.
However the 1841 census shows that Llys Nini was owned by David Jones’ son Morgan Jones who had let it to the Walters family. A David Jones of Dantwyn Farm was convicted of riot at the Bolgoed Gate - see Rebecca Riots.
Morgan Jones, with unmarried children David, ( aged 39), Elizabeth and Mary R had moved to the 120 acre Dantwyn Farm by the 1851 census. Morgan died at Dantwyn in 1875 and the farm passed to David, where he lived with one or more of his sisters until his death in either 1895 or 1901. Elizabeth remained at Dantwyn until her death sometime between the 1901 and 1911 census.
Eldest sister Margaret seems to have left home and possibly married between 1841 and 1851. The1851 census records a John Jenkins aged 4 at Dantwyn on census night. The record John Jenkins’ of relationship to Morgan has been changed from nephew to grandson. This could mean that John was Margaret’s son, Margaret having married a Jenkins and the boy was staying at the house on census night.
Morgan’s will has not been found and it is not known whether Llys Nini passed from him to his remaining siblings, culminating with Elizabeth or whether he left Llys Nini to a nephew or niece, the child of John, or one of his married sisters, perhaps the John Jenkins recorded as Morgan’s grandson in the 1851 census? The next recorded owner of Llys Nini, some 80 years later, was also John Richard Everett Jenkins.
William and Mary Walters 1841
The Jones Family moved out of Llys Nini in 1823 and possibly the Walters Family moved in then. William was from Llanon while Mary and eldest son Evan are recorded as being from Llanedy , their 7 other children are recorded as being born more locally. The 1841 census shows the Walters Family at Llys Nini and describes them as tenant farmers. William and Mary were both born about 1800, and their 8 children, Evan 15, William 15, Griffiths 14, David 11, John 9, Ann 7, Mary 5, and Rebecca 2 were living in Llys Nini. Also living at Llys Nini were 2 female servants, Sarah Harris 15 and Sarah Rees 60, plus John Rees aged 20 an agricultural labourer.
Llys Nini had been extended in the C18th, there was now another living room or parlour next to the original hall and some more bedrooms above the parlour. It is likely that the servants would have slept in the original loft space above the hall, which could have been divided into separate bedrooms for the male and female servants. However there would not have been an arrangement as in the contemporary Cynghordy Farm for keeping the sexes separate.
The Walters family were living at Llys Nini in July 1843 when the Bolgoed gate was attacked by the Rebecca Rioters. There is no evidence to suggest that any of the family were involved in the attack, but the family were certainly affected by the bad harvest, the cost of the tithes and poor law levies and obviously the tolls on the turnpike roads. It is more than possible that William and his 3 teenage sons were present at the Bolgoed Gate. The family may have had sympathies with the Rebecca movement, which began in 1839. Their youngest daughter was born in that year and they called her Rebecca.
By the 1851 census , the Walters family had moved to Tyr Y Ford Farm in Llangyfelach (possibly Tir-ffos Farm). The census shows John Clement’s and his family had moved into Llys Nini by 1851, possibly in 1847. The Walters family and Clements may have been known to each other for a considerable time.
A Walters family were considerable land owners in the area in the 17th and 18th centuries various land transactions with the Clement Family are recorded. The Walters family sold Gerdinen Ganol to Henry Clement in 1692, Twyn to John Clement II in 1780 and Gwenlais Uchaf to Thomas Clement I in 1786. A member of this family also became a successful business man in Ffynone Swansea, having Walters Road named after him. However, it seems unlikely that the family resident at Llys Nini was a prominent branch of that family, if related at all.
John and Mary Clement 1847
John and Mary Clement lived at Tynyrheol before 1847 89 after which they had taken up residence at Llys Nini, they are recorded in the 1851 census. They had come from Llandeilo Talybont. John Clement born 1821 and wife Mary (1820) and 4 children, Margaret 1846, John 1848, William 1850 and Sarah born 1851. They also had 3 live-in servants; John Jams aged 22 and John Davies 16, both from Llangyfelach and Mary Rees aged 19 from Llandeilo Talybont.
John Clement was the son of Thomas Clement III and Margaret of Gwenlais Uchaf and his wife Mary was the daughter John Walters of Tynyrhoel (Ty Rhoel).
The parish records show that in 1852 they had a daughter Elizabeth who was baptised 19th September of that year and in 1855 they had their son John baptised on 15th April. The Clements already had a son called John, born in 1848, to call another son by the same name suggests that the elder boy had died sometime between 1851 and 1855 at between the age of 3 and 7 years.
The 1861 census described Llys Nini as 100 acres. There is no mention of the John Clement born 1855 but there is a Thomas born in that year, perhaps John was known as Thomas or had died? There was also a new baby Edward, who was baptised on 6th January 1861 and only one male live in servant, Daniel Hugh aged 20 from Swansea.
In 1863 another son Walter was baptised and in 1865 Sarah Clement married John Griffiths aged 22. .
There is a grave in Carmel Chapel Pontlliw for an Edward Clement born 1861 who was living at Pengelli in Grovesend at the time of his death.
“EDWARD CLEMENT, of 'Pengelli', bu farw Chwefror 22 1931 aged 70, also JANE his wife, Ionawr 7 1945 aged 82, JOHN his son Awst 22 1946 aged 59, also his two daughters SARAH ANN, Medi 28 1975 aged 82, and BLODWEN, Mai 18 1992 aged 92.”
John Clement Senior was a farmer and a respected member of local society. In April 1858 he was made a Poor Law Observer.
LLANGEFELACH – A vestry for the Hamlets of Penderry Higher and Lower, was held on Friday evening last, at the Old Inn, Cors Einon, for the purpose of examining the Overseer’s accounts for the past year, when it was found that four rates had been levied during the year ending March 25, 1858, at one shilling in the pound; and also for appointing new overseers, and nominating guardians for the ensuing year. Mr. H. Griffiths, of Bryndafydd, and Mr. G. Griffiths, of Bachygwriddin, were nominated for Penderry Higher and Lower respectively. We trust that the incoming guardians will be “up and doing” as the business of these Hamlets has been very much neglected, in consequence of which, a radical reform is very desirable, especially in the Districts Roads Board, when we expect the newly elected Guardians to pay special attention, and not follow the examples of their predecessors, who left the business to anybody, when it turned up to be nobody’s business, which may go some way to account for the rates to be sixpence in the pound, and less amount of labour done than under the old administration when the rates were three-pence in the pound and more labour done. We again and again insist on the guardians to look out. – Overseers for the ensuing year – Penderry Higher, J. Clement Llysnini, and H. Harries, Tredegar. Penderry Lower, Mr. Edward Bevan, Bailiff, Penllegare, and Mr. G. Grinning, Cefengevelach. We hope Mr. Bevan will be as successful in the discharge of his duties as overseer as he has been in his discharge of the duties of vestry clerk, which he has highly and satisfactorily performed for upwards of sixteen years, and has amicably settled very many disputed points without recourse to law and equity. – Communicated. (90)
However there was some controversy in that same year when John is reported in the Cambrian Newspaper as having been found guilty of straw fixing and was severely reprimanded and had “blasted his character” but escaped transportation. Luckily for John, the paper didn’t print his correct name but called him Joseph.
A BAD CASE – Joseph Clement, a farmer, of Llysnini farm, Llangefelach, renting 100 acres, was summoned by Mr. Henry Day, public weigher at the Quay, under the following circumstances, and which displays as bad a case as we have met with for a long time past in any court of justice.
Mr. Day on being sworn, said, that on Saturday last about half-past twelve o’clock, the defendant came to the weighing machine to weigh a load of straw which he had sold to Mr. Williams, livery stable keeper. The load of straw weighed 14cwt. 1qr. In consequence of what he was told by a by-stander, he weighed the straw a second time, and found it deficient 31lbs. of its former weight! William Thomas, the by-stander alluded to, said that he saw the defendant weigh the straw and immediately after he did so, he pulled out of the cart a sack containing two large stones (produced) weighing about 30lbs!! He told Mr. Day what had taken place, and the straw was re-weighed.
The defendant in answer to the charge said “I admit that I did it – but I’ll never do it anymore. It was only two small stones they were.” The Magistrates expressed their surprise that a man in defendant’s position in life, farming 100 acres of land, should have descended to such a mean and contemptible act for the purpose of dishonestly obtaining the value of 30lbs. of straw about 4 ½d or 5d. For this paltry sum he had for ever blasted his character, had set an awfully bad example to his children and neighbours, and had ran the risk of being transported, for had the offense been completed – had Mr. Day suffered him to have carried the load of straw to Williams, and had be obtained the money for the same, the Magistrate would have been bound to have committed the defendant to have taken his trial at the assizes, and in all probability he would have been transported. As it was, the obtaining goods under false pretences not being proved, he was ordered to pay 16s costs. The Town Clerk said he was afraid cases of this description were of too common occurrence, especially with those persons who sold coal about the streets. The Bench said that in any future case they should certainly carry out the law to its utmost, and send the case for trial before a jury. (91)
John and family were still at Llys Nini in 1866, when John appears in the local Cambrian Newspaper as the winner of a ploughing competition (Class II).
Penderry Ploughing Match – This match was held lately on a field kindly lent for the occasion by Mr. Rees Howell bailiff to J. D. Llewellyn Esq. This, in point of importance, outstripped the others in the race of ploughing matches, as there were 19 entries, 18 of which bounded like things of life on a notice given by Mr. John Williams, Gwenlais-fawr, under whose stewardship the field was most orderly conducted, and everything passed off in admirable style. The exchequer was in the custody of Mr. Rees Howell, Penllergaer Farm, who managed the finances in a most satisfactory mannar. Mr. George Beddow acted as hon. Secretary.
The judges were Messrs. T. Davies, Courtyceidrim, Llanedy, and D. Beynon, Pencrug, Llandon, assisted by Mr. Rees Rees, Wit Cottage, and Mr. Rees Howell, Penllergaer. The judges gave unqualified satisfaction, as is always the case wherever we have met Mr. Davies as judge – no subterfuges, but everything above board, plain and straightforward. The weather was remarkably propitious, although the day of postponed in consequence of a snow-fall which occurred on the day first appointed, which of course dampened the ardour of a great many and was a drawback on the general attendance, notwithstanding there was a large number of spectators. The field was all that could be wished for and the ploughing was of a first-class order, especially that of Mr. John Williams, Brynrhos, who is verily a champion indeed. There were many others who ploughed A.1. the ploughs here with one exception, were all Swing, and the Welsh casting, Pont-illy No. 6, carried the palm here as in Loughor, although there was also Howard’s BB. here, butter the want of proper management did not go as expected, for the boy who used it never ploughed until within a few months of the competition; nevertheless, this lad promises fair to become an excellent ploughman – his name is David Beven, in the employ of Mr. Howell, Penllergare Farm. The adjudication was given by Mr. T. Davies and was received with the utmost satisfaction, and was as followes: -
John Williams, Brynrhos
David Davies, Bachygwnddin
Thomas Williams, Cefnfforest
Griffith Davies, Abergwenlais
John Clement, Llysnini
Servant to Mr. John Williams, Gwenlais-fawr
Ditto to H Williams, Gorsgoed
Henry Griffiths, Pantyla
The officers and ploughmen adjourned to the Old Inn to partake of a substancial dinner provided by the host and hostess in that “old house at home.” The chair was occupied by Mr. John Williams, Gwenlais-fawr, and Mr. S Lewis, Ystrad-ucha, vice. The cloth having been removed the usual loyal and patriotic toasts having been proposed and duly honoured, the company separated at an early hour, everything having passed off in very good order and the greatest harmony reigned. Our special thanks are due to the following gentlemen who cheerfully aided by their contributions, some of whom we had not the least claim on the munifience, especially H. H. Vivian, Esq., M.P., who these last three or four years contributed handsomly although he had no interest whatever in the neighbourhood until very recently.
The first deserving of notice is J. D. Llewellyn, Esq., for his kind use of the field and subscription , J. Hore, Esq., Old Brewery, Swansea; Richard Hughes, Esq., Morriston; Messrs. Andrew and Crowhurst, Orange-street Brewery; Mr. William Thomas, Penrhiwfeler near Llangafelech, &c. – CORSEINONIAN (92)
Although the Clements were still living at Llys Nini in 1866 they moved to Bach Y Gwreiddyn (Bachygreiddin) Farm shortly afterwards and were there for the census of 1871. John’s father Thomas Clement III of Gwenlais Uchaf Farm died in about 1882 and John moved back to the family home, where he died in 1896 aged 84.
In 1975 a number of John Clement’s old “school” books from 1824 to 1848 were found at Tynyrheol. They included books on numeration, reading, accounts and measurement, Derek Williams as descendent of Clements said that these books were hardly the property of an uneducated man.
David and Sarah Rees 1871
The 1871 Census show Llys Nini occupied by the Rees family who were to remain there for at least the next 40 years. The family originated in Llanedi where David and wife Sarah were born in 1807 and 1812 respectively. Sarah died in 1886 and the parish records show that she was buried on 29th December. The 1871 census shows that all their children were also born in Llanedi. The oldest boy at home for the census John ( 1843) and Samuel (1850) probably worked on the farm as they are recorded as “farmer sons” their daughter Sarah, born 1853, also lived at the farm in 1871., along with a servant Ann Edwards of Llandeilo Talybont who was 17.
However the 1881 census show that the Reeses had at least 2 other sons, who were not recorded at home on the 1871 count, William born 1836 and Henry born 1841.
Henry’s occupation is given as farmer’s son but William also held the post of “Relieving Officer and Registrar of RD”. He was therefore a Registrar and registered Births, Deaths, and Marriages, under the Superintendent Registrar for the District. Also working as a Relieving Officer who worked for the Guardians of the Poor. Among the main duties of a Relieving Officer were:
“To receive applications for relief, and forthwith to examine into the circumstances of every case by visiting the house of the applicant, and making all necessary inquiries into the state of health, the ability to work, the condition and family, and the means of such applicant, and to report the results of his inquiries to the Guardians at their next meeting, and also to visit from time to time, all paupers receiving relief.
“ In any case of sickness or accident requiring relief by medical attendance, to procure such attendance from the District Medical Officer.” (93)
William Rees married Jane Parker in November 1882 and Henry married Mary Ann Jones in December 1887. Neither figure in subsequent census records at Llys Nini so presumably they moved away.
Samuel died 30th August 1889 in Bridgend Asylum and presumably David died sometime between 1871 and 1881.
In 1879 the parish records show that Margaret Cuoler (although the hand writing is difficult to read and could be Cosslet - a name with connections to Llys Nini) of Llys Nini was baptised, her parents being William and Harriet. Whether the parents were servants at Llys Nini or whether they were just visiting the farm is unknown.
Moreover, there is also a record that in 1886 Florence Maud Harris was born at Llys Nini but no further details are available.
16 year old Fredrick Charles Manning of Llys Nini was buried at Penllergaer 16th June 1890; presumably he was a farm labourer.
Sarah Rees died and was buried in December 1886 aged 75 and John took over the running of Llys Nini as head of the family.
The 1891 census shows that John (B 1844) was head of the household and that he had married Esther who was born in Llandeilo Talybont in 1851. The household was able to speak both English and Welsh and they had 3 children, twins David and Sarah born in 1886 and baptised in Llangyfelach 11th July 1886 and John, born 1889 and baptised 20th January 1889. They had a general servant Mary Elizabeth (no surname given) born 1874 in Llandeilo Talybont.
John had died or left by 1901 and Esther was head of the household and employed presumably at the farm. Both David and Sarah were still living at Llys Nini and worked on the farm. Their younger brother John was also there plus 2 more brothers, William born 1894 and baptised 16th September and Henry born 1896, baptised 1st November. Their general farm servant was Caleb Nicholas a Llangyfelach boy born 1873.
Little had changed by 1911. Esther was still farming, her occupation given as Dairy Woman, David was the farmer while Sarah assisted Esther in the diary and John helped on the farm. William had become a joinery apprentice and Henry helped on the farm as a cowman until he joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery (RG&RFA) 28th Jan 1916 aged 19. Henry survived the War, indeed he may not have been posted to France. He is recorded as living at Llys Nini on the Electoral Role of 1930.
Margaret Ann Erasmus (nee Rees – no relation) was born at number 2 Penderry Cottages in 1909 and after her marriage she lived with husband at no 3. In her youth she was friendly with the family, especially one of the Rees brothers who had a Trojan motor cycle and who gave her rides on it.
Esther Rees died aged 76 in 1927 and was buried on 10th December. The Electoral Roles show that Henry, John, William and Sarah were still at Llys Nini in 1930. The 1935 Role does not include Henry, who had presumably died. Elizabeth and John were still living there in 1958 but by 1959 John was alone. John married a woman some years his junior before retiring from farming to be cared for by his wifre.
TheThomas Family took up the tenancy of Llys Nin in 1959.
Victor and Mable Thomas 1960
William Victor and Mabel Thomas had 2 sons, Sion and Russell. The majority of the farm was then owner by a Dr John Richard Everett Jenkins of Bullcroft Michaelston le Pit, Dinas Powys, a descendant of David Jones and a medical worker during the relief of Belsen Camp in 1945).
The lower fields across the stream were owned by the Somerset Trust part of the Duke of Beauford’s Estate.
The Thomases purchased the lower fields in 1978 and the remainder of the farm in 1983.
Their time at Llys Nini saw major changes to the farm and the local community. Farming changed considerable with increased automation and the changes in the labour market.
In the 1960s, the area around the farm was a huge open cast mine; they also suffered from the legacy of of earlier mine workings when their tractor was damaged when it fell into old coal workings in Cae Tranch ( the current pony field).
In the 1970s, when the M4 Pontarddulais By-pass was built through their land, they lost about 20 acres.
Other changes were more beneficial, such as indoor plumbing and electricity, which not only made living at Llys Nini more comfortable but also made milking a lot easier.
The farmed the land until 1992 or 3 when they retired due to Mabel’s health. They sold the property to David Royston Walker.
The Walkers lived at Llys Nini for only a short time, during which the property was used as a landfill site. The Walkers sold the farm to RSPCA Llys Nini in May 1994.
David Royston Walker 1992
The Walkers lived and worked Llys Nini for only a short time. During their tenure the site was used for landfill. A small area behind Penderi Cottages had a landfill licence and the area in front of the farm house had a considerable amount of soiled tipped on it, so much so, that the present day car park is a several meters above the motorway, whereas there was once a gradual slope down to the main road.
The Walkers sold the farm to RSPCA Llys Nini in 1994.