Sometime around 1882 Rhys Williams moved to Tycanol to work as a shepherd for William Jones Wernfelen  and subsequently for his widow Margaret Jones. Wernfelen was (and still is) one of the principal lowland farms near Pontrhydfendigaid and Tycanol was one of its outlying sheep farms on Elenydd. The latter was situated in Cwm Mwyro (the valley of the river Mwyro), about two to three miles east of Strata Florida (see map).
In the summer of 1875, Rhys Williams was sentenced to two months in Brecon’s House of Correction for wounding Hugh Jones, a shepherd working for Mr E.D. Thomas and Mr R.M. Hope (page 3). He was discharged from prison about a fortnight following a routine visit by the Rev Hugh Bold, a local magistrate, (page 4) who wrote in the ‘Visiting Magistrate Journal’ :
Visited the prison and found everything in good order and the prisoners – 31 – all well and orderly.
Rev Bold’s written words would have sounded pretty hollow to Rhys Williams ― his time in prison must have been quite harrowing. However, he appears not to have dwelt too much on his unfortunate experience ; following his release he went back to shepherding and, soon afterwards, he was living at Nant-
Roughly a year later, (in 1876) he married Mary Evans, the daughter of David and Ann Evans of Gwarallt, Tregaron. She was then eighteen year of age and she joined him at Nant-
Their first child was born when Mary Williams was around 21, and she named him after her father (David or Dafydd). Sadly, there is no record of him in any subsequent census returns and one must presume that he died before the family moved from Nant-
Sometime around 1881/2 (?), Rhys Williams moved to Tycanol to work (still as a shepherd) for William Jones Wernfelen  and subsequently for his widow Margaret Jones. Wernfelen was (and still is) one of the principal lowland farms near Pontrhydfendigaid, and Tycanol was one of its outlying sheep farms on Elenydd. The latter was situated in Cwm Mwyro (the valley of the river Mwyro), about two to three miles east of Strata Florida (see map). Its sheep walk boundaries were more settled than those at Nantstawen and, as a consequence, there was less conflict over grazing rights.
Tycanol also had a well built hill-farm house –
On the other hand, Rhys Williams may well have been offered a string of other temptations to entice him away from Nant-
The rents are paid by the sale of cattle and horses bread on the farm, and on the uncertain profits of . . . some distant sheep walks on the surrounding hills . . . which much depend on the mildness of the winters . . . and the fidelity of the shepherd . . .
The word fidelity seems to sum up Rhys Williams’ undoubted qualities – loyalty, reliability, trustworthiness, dependability, and commitment – qualities that would appeal to any employer.
It is interesting to note that around the same time that Rhys Williams moved from Nant-
At Nantcwnlle, John Jones became a well known public figure. He was a J.P. and was elected as County Councillor in 1889. Following the marriage of one of his daughters to a J.D. Edwards he ‘set-
To return to Rhys Williams – it seems that Rhys and Mary Williams began life at Tycanol as a child-
|Elizabeth||born around 1882|
|David||born around 1885|
|Jane||born around 1887|
|Anne||born around 1890|
|John & William (twince)||born around 1893|
|Thomas||born around 1896|
By the turn of the century (1901) two of the above had left home ; Liza was working at Frongoch with William and Sarah Roberts, but little is known about David Williams’ (Dafydd Williams) whereabouts at this time.
The life story of Rhys Williams would not be complete without some reference to his wife Mary, and her family background. Her parents were David and Anne Evans and she was born and brought up at Gwarallt, Tregaron. She was one of eight children (opposite)
Elizabeth, Mary’s younger sister (born around 1857), died when she was 4 years old on the 8th April 1861 and is buried at Bwlchgwynt cemetery, Tregaron. On the gravestone are the following touching words (in Welsh) :
Gwywodd y glaswelltyn, a’i flodeuyn a gwympodd, a thegwch ei bryd a gollodd.
|John b. around 1852|
|Martha b. around 1855|
|Elizabeth b. around 1857 (d. 1861)|
|Mary b. around 1859|
|David b. around 1861|
|Elizabeth b. around 1863 (named after her sister) |
Eizabeth the youngest played a key role in the history of Gwarallt and the family. When her mother died on the 2nd October 1886 at 60 years of age the records show that Elizabeth returned to live at Gwarallt. At the time, she was the only single daughter, and maybe she felt it was her duty to return home to look after her father. By now, all the boys had left for far-
Just before the turn of the century (21st November 1899), David Evans her father died leaving Elizabeth Evans as the sole person in Gwarallt, the family home. The 1901 census describes her as a single person, 38 years of age, and a farmer living on her own account. She remained a single woman for another 15 years, or so, before marrying a David Edwards (or Dafydd Edwards). When she died in 1934, at the age of 72, she was buried with her parents, and on the gravestone is written :
Elizabeth Edwards, eu merch, 3ydd Mehefin 1934
It would be interesting to trace and record the story of Gwarallt following Elizabeth’s marriage – what happened to her afterwards, and when did David Williams (or Dafydd Williams, Mary and Rhys Williams’ eldest son and Elizabeth’s nephew) succeed her at Gwarallt? But that is another story and is too much of a diversion at this point – the emphasis here is on Rhys and Mary Williams.
To access a synopsis of Rhys Williams’s life and work click here click here or Page 6 below
|||Wernfelen and Tycanol –|
|||Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick, The History and Antiquities of the county of Cardigan, Longman, London ,1810.|
An old Elenydd shepherd