The bridge of the Blessed Ford
The ruling families of north Cardiganshire decided that a stone bridge should be built at Rhydfendigaid in 1759.
Rather than repair the existing wooden bridge, the three named gentlemen (representatives of the ‘great ruling families’ referred to above) decided that a substantial stone crossing should be built at Rhydfendigaid
. . . the Honourable Wilmot Vaughan Esq., William Powell Clerk and James Lloyd clerk of the peace be desired to inspect the decay of Pontrhydbendidged bridge presented to be out of repair and that they, or any two of them, agree with proper workmen and artificers to rebuild the same and that such agreement be under the general order of this court for the reparation of publick work.
In the mid 18th century, a stone bridge, anywhere outside of a main town, was a rarity. So, what prompted these gentlemen to direct the county to invest a significant sum of money in this development (see previous page). Surely, improving communications in the area could not have been a priority ; neither could the bridge be of significant benefit to the county. So, what was the reasoning? Edward Richard, gives some indication in his bridge song. He wrote – it will attract the rich, loaded with money, and will make this pleasant little village forever wealthy’  :
Gwna’r penter’ mwyn serchog, tros fyth yn gyfoethog,
Wrth ddwyn yr ariannog yn llwythog i’r lle.
The chief thing to be considered in a new mine . . . is its situation, a mine poor in ore if well situated may be more profitable than a very rich vein ill situated.
Alun R Jones – a comprehensive and authoritative biography of the life and work of Lewis Morris (1701-65). He was one of the Anglesey Lewises, a prolific letter-writer, poet and bardic teacher, land and sea surveyor and customs officer, farmer and mine overseer in Cardiganshire.
Cick image for more details.
Lewis Morris was an experienced mine manager who, in the early 1750s, re-
Edward Richard, probably, thought (and rightly so) that any improvement in the infrastructure (i.e. a substantial bridge across the Teifi) would entice investors and speculators to the area in search of rich mineral deposits. Lead ore was known to exist at several places in Caron, in particular, at Bronmwyn, The latter must have been an attractive site, full of potential ; an article in the Cambrian Register (1796) written by an anonymous local man refers to a  :
. . . hill called Bannau Bron y Mwyn, from the mine work which used to be carried on here. There are now to be seen several deep shafts, and a level on the east side of the hill, in a place called Cwm y Graig Goch . . . it is said that silver, as well as lead ore, is lodged in the bowels of this rocky hill ; but no attempt to dislodge it has been made for many years
Evidently, by the end of the century, this mine had been abandoned, but in Edward Richard’s time, it must have been considered very promising, especially, because of the high silver content of the ore.
Edward Richard, plainly, had an interest in mining, and was mindful of possible benefits to local communities. However, there is no evidence to suggest that he was ever, personally, involved in the mineral-
It was the latter (the Honourable Wilmot Vaughan of Trawcoed, William Powell of Nanteos and James Lloyd of Mabws) who authorized the Rhydfendigaid development. Perhaps, this was not surprising. The Trawscoed and Nanteos estates had a lot to gain by improving communications in this part of the county ; between them, they owned virtually the whole of the land in Caron and Gwnnws. They were already heavily involved in mining north of Rhydfendigaid and were involved, at the time, in a ‘mad scramble’ to exploit all the underground wealth in all corners of their estates, including that which was south of the Teifi
The mid 18th century was a high point in the authority and influence enjoyed by Nanteos and Trawscoed estates ; they formed part of a very small privileged group of families at the top of the social pyramid in north Cardiganshire. Every aspect of public life in Caron and Gwnnws was dominated by them. Most importantly, the economic fortunes of the region was under their control. It is not unreasonable to say that their power over the common people was unrestrained, and. perhaps not unexpectedly, they used their position to maintain their social status and lifestyle wherever and whenever possible. This, in part, meant monopolizing and taking advantage of all the wealth creating opportunities that presented themselves. Often, it meant adopting cut-
For instance, in the early 1750s, Lewis Morris was the Deputy Steward of the Crown Mines of Cardiganshire and he claimed the Esgair-
The story has been documented by W.J. Lewis  (see below)
This so excited the envy of the landowners concerned, mainly Lord Lisburne and the Rev Dr William Powell of Nanteos, that they decided to take possession of the mine by force. In February 1753 a small army made up of landowners, Grogwynion miners and Nanteos tenants marched to the mine and took possession. Morris was threatened with a pistol by the notorious Herbert Lloyd of Peterwell, Lampeter, and thrown into goal in Cardigan. While he was there, the Rev Dr Powell of Nanteos ordered his men to carry away £2000 worth of ore lying unsold on the bank of Esgair-
At first, Morris was strongly supported by the Treasury, which not only had him released from prison but also sent a detachment of soldiers to repossess the mine. But such was the power and influence of the landowners that Treasury Officials began to change their attitudes and Lewis Morris was forced to yield Esgair-
mwyn mine to his opponents
Following the above skirmish, metal mining in the area became totally controlled by the Nanteos and Trawscoed estates. But the Esgair-
. . . thought nothing in 1731 of gathering a posse of servants and tenants together, arming them with guns, blunderbusses, swords, pistols and staves and using them to intimidate alleged trespassers
Perhaps Lewis Morris may have been a little biased, but his opinion of landed gentry was not particularly flattering. He wrote  :
Your landlord shall be your God
Beside him you are a mere wren
For you dwell on his land
Evan Evans (Ieuan Brydydd Hir), one of Edward Richard’s brightest pupils, also questioned whether most of Cardiganshire’s gentry had  :
. . . thrown away all regard for religion and morality, and are become as slaves to their vile lusts ; and in order to pamper them, rack their poor tenants?
Edward Richard’s may have expressed a wish that the Rhydfendigaid bridge would attract the rich, loaded with money, and make the village forever wealthy. However, he was an astute man, and probably knew quite well that the main beneficiaries would be the landed gentry. The village welfare was never a primary consideration – that was unquestionably to improve the means of transport across the Teifi, so as to stimulate interest in mineral exploitation on land south of the river. This land was owned by Trawcoed and Nanteos and this was, almost certainly, a case of the privileged using their dominant position (and in this instance, public finances) for private gain. Of course, there was nothing unusual in this at the time, and the immense disparity between the wealth and power of the gentry compared with that of the lower orders of society was, in general, accepted by both sides.
Bu’r ardal unwaith yn El Dorado i speculators ac arianwyr, ond ni chafodd y gweithwyr nemor ddim o’r cyfoeth a wnaed
Edward Richard chose to emphasis the financial benefits of a new stone bridge to the village but he was silent about the potential gain to the gentry. There is no question, if the resources south of the Teifi were to be mined the main beneficiaries would be the big landowners –
 See Samuel Smiles, Lives of the Engineers : History of Roads, London, 1904
 Ceredigion Archives, Quarter Session Records.
 Yr Eos: sef gwaith awenyddawl Mr. Edward Richards, I. Bugeigerdd; II. Bugeugerdd; III. Can y Bont; IV. Ateb i Gan y Bont; V. Emyn neu Hymn; VI. Marwnad Iorwerth Rhisiat, [sic], Carmarthen, 1813. Caneuon y Bont are the first Welsh pastorals in the classical style
 Owen, Hugh (ed), Additional Letters of the Morrises (1735-1786), Part 1, London 1949, pages 49-50
 Cambrian Register (1796) p 231
 Anonym, Some Account of the Parish of Caron, Cambrian Register, 1796
 Lewis, W.J. Leadming in Cardiganshire, Cardiganshire County History, Cardiff 1998, pages 163-164
 Geraint H Jenkins, The Foundations of Modern Wales, Oxford, 1987, p. 100
 David W Howell, The rural poor in eighteenth-century Wales, Cardiff, 2000 p. 119
 W Jones-Edwards, Ar lethrau Ffair Rhos, Aberystwyth, 1963, p 2
 Geraint H Jenkins, The Foundations of Modern Wales, Oxford, 1987, p. 100
 Gerald Morgan, Nanteos : A Welsh House and its Families, Llandysul, 2001, p 30-31
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