Years 1350 to 1700

Owain Glyndŵr  

 

Owain  Glyndŵr led probably the last major rebellion in Wales against the Norman overlords. He attacked Swansea and Gower in 1402 and took Carmarthen on 6th July 1403.

 

He travelled through Gower to Carmarthen and possibly along the old road passed Llys Nini to the bridge at Pontarddulais.

 

  Glyndŵr restored the Welsh as owners of estates previously usurped by the Norman and English Lords.  

 

It is unknown whether any of “Gwlad Nini” was in the hands of the Normans, it is suspected that it was already in Welsh ownership.

 

Many of the Welsh landowners kept their lands after Glyndŵr's defeat. Thus originates the claim that, despite Glyndŵr’s defeat, Wales was never completely conquered.  

 

The War of the Roses - Hari Tudur

 

 

The local Welsh  supported the Lancastrian cause during the Wars of the Roses and when Hari Tudur /  Henry Tudor triumphed at Bosworth in 1485, he rewarded his fellow countrymen’s loyalty by irrevocably establishing their rights to their land.

 

However it was not an easy time for the local lords and land owners. It seems that many of them supported the Lancastrian side in 1641, they possibly even fought in the Battle of Mortimer's Cross when the Yorkists under Edward, Earl of the March defeated Jasper Tudor's army as it marched into England from South Wales.

 

After the battle several of the Lancastrian leaders, including Owen, Jasper's father, were captured and then executed. While many of the Welsh noblemen had their lands confiscated and given to Yorkist supporters. Jasper was stripped of the title of Earl of Pembroke and he fled to Brittany.

 

It seems likely that Bach Y Gwreiddyn was confiscated from the family of Gwilym Du ( a descendent of Gruffudd Gwyr) and given to  William Herbert Earl of Pembroke.

 

Herbert, a politian, watched the progress of the War between the 2 Royal Houses, initially supporting the white rose of York and then perhaps, switching sides to the red rose of Lancaster and the Tudors.  In 1478, 7 years before the deciding Battle of Bosworth, Herbert was giving land back to the original Welsh landowners.

 

A deed in the West Glamorgan Archives says

 

Gift dated 12 July 1478; (i) William earl of Pembroke, Lord Herbert of Raglan, Dunster, Chepstow and Gower, to (ii) John ap Llewelyn ap Gruffuth ap Howell; 6 Welsh acres of land at Bagh Gwreythyn [Bach-y-gwreiddyn] between the rivers Gwonoc and Llyw [Lliw] in the parish of Llangyfelach and manor of Gower Supraboscus, and 8 Welsh acres at a place called Presgedwyn [Pryscedwyn] and Gweyn [...] in Gower Supraboscus, to be held in the same manner as the freeholders of the manor of Pennard; "

 

Where "Gruffuth" is probably an error and should read Gwilym (Ddu).  This is supported by the deed of 1490 for the same Land where Gwilym is cited correctly: 

 

"Gift dated 23 Oct. 1490; (i) David Gogh ap Llu. ap Guillim Duy to (ii) Rees ap John ap Llu. ap Guillim Dduy; Half share in a farm which (i) inherited after the death of Llu. ap Guillim Duy his father, at a place called Bagh Gwreiddyn [Bach-y-gwreiddyn] in the parish of Llangyfelach, bounded by the rivers Llyw [Lliw] and Gwynnoc, in the manor of Gower Supraboscus, with the exception of [fields called] Grynagh and Gweyn Vaur."

 

Bach Y gwreiddyn was adjacent to Llys Nini and we know from the 1507 Quit claim that it belonged to Gwilym Ddu during the war, so it is likely that the same fate befell Llys Nini, being first confiscated and ten returned but there is no evidence for this hypothesis.

 

1536 The Act of Union

 

The division of the Lordship of Gower into Englishry and Welshry continued through the 1400s and in to the early part of the 16th Century, until the Act of Union 1536, which abolished the Laws of Hwyel Dda and united Gower under one law.

 

Henry VIII's  Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 established the County of Glamorgan through the amalgamation of the Lordship of Glamorgan with the lordships of Gower and Kilvey; this in effected moved Gower from Ystrad Tywi into Glamorganshire.

 

The power and influence of the mense lords started to decline from the 14th Century; they could no longer demand  dues from their servile peasantry but developed into manor lords with  rent-paying tenant farmers.

 

The Dissolution of the Monasteries

 

The Dissolution of the Monasteries,   began  1536  by  Henry VIII. He  disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland, appropriated their income and disposed of their assets.  

 

Locally, Neath Abbey, which owned large tracts of land around Gwlad Nini,  including mills, farms and churches was dissolved 1539.  Local land owners bought much of the Abbey’s lands and so there is a link between the lands in the “Gwlad Nini” area and many old Estates in Neath.

 

John Pryce alias John ap Rhys ab Ieuan of Queen Elizabeth' 5 was a local man who had moved to London where he worked as a lawyer.  In 1575 he came back and bought Cwrt Y Carnau and much of the surrounding land.

See Neath Abbey

 

Many of these landowners and local familes became owners of karge estates. Many of these families and estates would become hugely significant in the industrialisation of  the area.

 

 

The Civil War

 

“Gwlad Nini” became a relatively peaceful place until the Civil War in 1642 The Civil War was a conflict between forces loyal to Parliament and those who supported King Charles I.  South Wales, with the exception of Pembroke, was initially Royalist but as time went on, a significant number changed sides to support Oliver Cromwell and  the Parliamentary forces.

 

During this period, both Parliamentarian Armies and Royal Troops passed through Gwlad Nini on the road between Pembroke and England. The troops travelled mainly on foot only the officers had horses. They set up camp along the way. It was not just the soldiers who travelled, women would accompany the soldiers to cook their food, mend and wash their clothes.

 

At the start of the Civil War, Wales strongly supported the King as the case with most of the large landowners supported the king.  Religion was an important factor in deciding which side to support. The Puritans (non conformist chapel-goers) tended to support Parliament, while most Anglicans and Catholics were Royalists. However tenant farmers and ordinary people probably did not have strong views but had to support the side chosen by their Lord or landowner.  The leaflets distributed by the Parliamentarians to encourage people to join them had little effect in Wales, as they were in English, a language the people locally could not understand.

 

During the Civil War there was a huge expansion of the Baptist Movement and other Non-conformist Churches. This happened due to increased religious freedom and the breakdown of censorship.  The Baptist Community of Ilston flourished and preacher such as Marmaduke Matthews started to oppose the established Church of England.  

 

Local notables such as Bussey Mansel of Briton Ferry, Rowland Dawkins of Kilvrough, and Richard Seys of Swansea became prominent Parliamentarians. Swansea was held for the King by Walter Thomas of Danygraig as Governor. In 1645 the Parliamentarians under Colonel Herbert took Swansea. 

 

In that year Phillips Jones of Llangyfelach was appointed by Parliament as Governor of the Garrison of Swansea.  

 

Colonel Phillip Jones born 1618 in the Great House in Swansea. His family were from Pen-y-Waun, Llangyfelach. He was a contemporary of Thomas Matthews (probable owner of Llys Nini) and his brother Marmaduke Matthews the Puritan Preacher.  See page on Marmaduke Matthews

 

He joined the Parliamentarians in the Civil War and was appointed by Parliament as the Governor of the Garrison of Swansea in 1646.

 

The following year he was promoted to Colonel and played an active part in the Battle of St Fagans in 1648 and then Governor of Cardiff Castle. He became a powerful and influential member of Cromwell’s advisors.  

 

It was claimed by Royalists and dispossessed clergy that he had amassed a great fortune at the expense of those dispossessed of lands and livings. The charge was not proved.

 

Philip Jones was one of the most powerful men in the country in the days of the two Protectors. He was a member of the Council of State , and on numerous sub-committees: he was on the committee at the end of 1653 to deal with provocative speeches by people like Vavasor Powell) , and to draft a new ordinance to keep such excesses within the bounds of reason; he was the most prominent member of a commission in 1655 to bring about peace between English merchants and the king of Portugal. (38)

 

He survived the return to monarchy sufficiently to have become Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1671.

 

In 1648, Oliver Cromwell arrived in Swansea on his way to Tenby, he was described in the minute book of the Common Hall in Swansea as " ..the truly Honourable Oliver Cromwell Esq., Lieutenant General of all the  Forces of this Kingdom of England, under the command of the Parliament, Lorde of this Towne, the Seigniory of Gower and Manor of Kilvey." It is also recorded that he gave £10 for the use of the poor.  Cromwell’s route from Swansea to Tenby is not recorded but it is  likely that he would have travelled through Gwlad Nini on the old Swansea Road.  Local legend has it that he spent the night in Allt-Y-Gaban Farm House in Pontlliw.

 

Oliver Cromwell confiscated much of Gower from  Edward Somerset, the 2rd Marques of Worcester (the Earl of Glamorgan), which with the Lordship of Gower he gave to Jones.   Following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the Marques of Worcester regained the manor and his son, Henry Somerset, was elevated by Charles II to the title of Duke of Beaufort in 1682.  The Duke of Beaufort still owns large portions on land in and around Gwlad Nini, particularly the waste or common lands.

 

Also see the section about Living at Llys Nini