The earliest written record found is the “Quit Claim” (a transfer of ownership), at the Neath Antiquarian Society and catalogued in the West Glamorgan Archives:
<NAS BG/P 1/9> Quitclaim dated 11 Aug. 1530; (i) William ap Jeuan ap William Thuy to (ii) Thomas ap Jeuan ap William Thuy; Farm called Biettinge alias Llesneny [Llys-nini] in the parish of Llangyfelach.
However, when the quit claim was translated it was found to have been incorrectly dated in the catalogue and should have been 1507 and that it related to 2 different farms Biettinge and Llys Nini.
“William ap Jeuan ap William Thuy”; ap means “son of”. The document was probably written by a non-Welsh speaker who used the Anglicised forms of the names, the Welsh forms would be: Gwilym ap Ieuan ap Gwilym Ddu., and Tomos ap Ieuan ap Gwilym Ddu. As Gwilym ap Ieuan and Tomas ap Ieuan had the same father, they were obviously brothers.
Gwilym Ddu was a major land holder in the area and a descendant of Gruffydd Gŵyr a Lord of Gower in 1217.
Translation of the Llys Nini Quit Claim held at the Neath Antiquarian Society, Neath. Formally dated 1530
Translated by Andrew Dulley Assistant County Archivist City and County of Swansea.
Know all men by these presents that I, Gwilym ap Jeuan ap Gwilym Thuy have remised, released and in every way by me, my hiers and executors forever quitclaimed to Thomas ap Jeuan ap Gwilym Thuy, all my right and claim which I ever had, have or in any wise could have in the futures, of and in two tenements with all their apputenances lying in the parish of Llangevelagh [Llangyfelach] in Gower Supraboscus*, of which one is called Biettinge and the other llesneny, according to their usual ancient metes and boundaries, so neither that I the said Gwilym, nor my hiers, nor any other person, by us or in our name, may have any right, title or claim to the said tow tenements, or sell off part of them separately, claim or sell them, nor should we in the future, but rather keep them from all actions, lawsuits, title, interest or demand, to which purpose we are bound in a penal sum, and I the said Gwilym and my hiers will guarantee and forever defend the said two tenements with all their appurtenances to the said Thomas, his heirs and assigns against all people, in witness thereof I have set my seal to these presents, dated at [illegible; possibly Loughor] the 11th day of August in the twenty second year of the reign of Henry VII (1507)
The document indicates that by 1507 Llys Nini already had “ancient boundaries” and that there was at least one dwelling or “tenement” on the property and that the property was probably rented. Appurtenance in property terms is a minor right, interest or privilege which is transferred with the title to the principal property. (C14th from Anglo French) and this suggests that Llys Nini was a principal or important property.
The quit claim mentions a second property “Biettinge”. There are a small number of farms bearing this name in the Llangyfelach area. The much respected academic and place-name expert Gwynedd O. Pierce believes that the name Llys Nini is a much older name than ‘Biettinge’. This would indicate that the “ancient boundaries” of the quit claim probably refer to Llys Nini and not Biettinge.
The document is probably refering to a building which predated the old farm house that survived until the 1990s, which was probably C17th or post medieval and was therefore built after the earlier Tudor “tenement” mentioned in the document.
Under old Welsh Law – the Laws of Hwyel Dda, property was inherited by all the sons in equal shares and not just by the eldest as in English Law. That William and Thomas both inherited the land from Jeuan could be a co-incidence or could be due to that Welsh custom. Although there was certainly a strong Anglo-Norman influence in the area by 1507, it was before the Acts of Unions in 1535 and 1542 and The Law of Hwyel Dda was still strong in North Gower.
It is entirely possible that after the brothers Thomas and William exchanged their parcels of land, that Thomas may have either done an additional land exchange with another brother David or left or sold Llys Nini to David’s son or grandson, as Llys Nini is passed down David’s line and not Thomas’