Pantglas and the Jones Families
By D. L. BAKER-JONES,
County Record Office, Carmarthen
The history of the occupants of Pantglas in the parish of Llanfynydd can be traced back for several centuries and the founder of the estate was possibly one Siôn ap Gwilym of Penygoidtre. His descendants became connected with the courts and especially with the Council of the Marches which sat at Ludlow. The council, it will be remembered, had been set up to cure the grave disorders within the Principality lawlessness, strife and confusion and to centralize and control Tudor government in Wales through the magistrates, high sheriffs and the judiciary. In practice the magnates and gentry often succeeded in using these offices for their own ends, and in this way the Pantglas and many other estates came about along with ancient and prestigious privileges to their owners of holding courts leet and courts baron. But it is also true that social and economic factors, as well as legal processes, led to the consolidation of freehold estates. Primogeniture had taken the place of the old Welsh custom of gavelkind and the tribal society of freemen and bondmen which formerly existed. It is true that landowners were not too scrupulous about amassing wealth, and like the generality of mankind, were eager to fill their purses and extend their broad acres. The complexities of changing law and a more fluid society gave full scope for bullying, intrigue and sharp practice. The Pantglas estate consisted of a number of farms in the parish of Llanfynydd and neighbouring districts.
An early figure in the family annals was Gwilym ap Evan ap Rhydderch, whose son Dafydd of Llanfynydd was the father of one John who married Maud the daughter of William David Rees of the same parish. They had at least three children William, David and Lewis John David. The latter is described as of Penygoedtre whose wife Mary was the daughter of Griffith Jones of Llanfihangel. Their descendants were John Jones, Thomas Jones and their sister Elizabeth. John Jones of Llanfynydd was an attorney in Sessions, and his wife was Sara, daughter and heiress of George Jones of Abercothi. His brother Thomas married Margaret, daughter of William Davies of Main Ifan in Llanfynydd. John Jones and Sara had many children, five sons and two daughters. The eldest son was John Jones of Pantglas who died in 1715, sixty-seven years of age. In an old register of the parish church of Llanfynydd was an entry that the book was bought for the use of the church by John Jones, described as 'gentleman' of Pantglas.
John Jones was buried in the chancel of Llanfynydd church. He was succeeded by his brother Thomas Jones of Pantglas, another attorney and barrister who died in 1738. Two other brothers, George and Lewis, were clergymen. Thomas Jones was followed by his son John Jones, who died unmarried and was buried at Llanfynydd on 26 December 1761.
A Waif's Inheritance
An interesting story is related of the funeral of John Jones. It seems that an illegitimate child had been born to one of his paramours a few years earlier in 1755 a boy who was six years of age at the time of his putative father's death. A neighbour of the deceased John Jones, one David Thomas of Bronglyn, had come to the funeral on horseback. Seeing the little boy on the roadside among many spectators of the cortege of the dead squire, he observed that it was a shame for the child to be so neglected. Calling out to a spectator, Thomas had the boy lifted up behind him on his horse, and after the ceremony was over, it was discovered that, according to the deceased gentleman's will, the Pantglas estate and all other property had been left to the poor lad whose former state had been so pitiable. Richard Jones grew up and became a barrister. He also served the county of Carmarthen as clerk of the peace from 1792 until 1799. He married, on 6 January 1779, Alicia Gratiana, a daughter of Capt. Williams of Brynhafod, a niece and heiress of David Lloyd, Esq., of Berllandywyll. During Alicia Gratiana's lifetime she retained the Berllandywyll estate. She adopted the additional surname of Lloyd and her husband became known as Richard Jones Llwyd. Eventually Berllandywyll was absorbed into the Golden Grove estate.
Many letters written by Richard Jones or Richard Jones Llwyd, as he was later called, have survived. The following extracts will illustrate the social life of the period and his activities at the Bar and in the political struggles and intrigues of the time. Jones Llwyd was a magnanimous person in many ways, and felt gratitude and affection for the kind hearted old farmer who had championed his cause on the day of his father's funeral. And it is significant that David Thomas of Bronglyn was a welcome visitor at Pantglas and often shared the generous hospitality of Jones Llwyd. It was at Pantglas that David Thomas breathed his last, some twenty-six years after that chill December day when he felt such sympathy towards the young Richard at his father's funeral.
Jones Llwyd was accepted into gentry circles in spite of the stigma of bastardy, and was also influential in local government affairs. Writing to his 'Ever dear Alicia' from Haverfordwest, on 12 August 1780 he tells of a Ball given by Sir Cornwallis Maude, and attended by Mrs. Vaughan, Mr. John Vaughan, Miss Pryce of Kilgwyn, Mr. Griff Philipps, Mrs. Davies, the family of Coombe, the two Miss Pembertons, and 'all the females of Carmarthen that could beg, borrow or steal a decent gown and clean apron and cap'. Of Lady Maude he said that she was a 'divine woman'. 'She engages every body's attention with such sweetness of manners'. Of her nature he added that "her voice, manner and features strongly indicate a benevolence of heart and a harmony of mind incapable of passion and resentment, tho' liable to be moved and interested by every object of pity and compassion. Miss Maude . . . is by no means handsome, she has a weakness in her eyes that disfigures and the simetry of her features and complexion are by no means favourable". The Misses Pemberton "are alike injured in appearance by the projection of the two fore teeth, and want that peculiar ease of carriage and manner that denote an education in the superior ranks of life ... Mrs Davies of Penylan did not dance, the only reason I can assign for it is that there was no person whom she thought equal to the honour of being her partner ...
as to the Riff Raff of Carmarthen they were so numerous that it is impossible to send you any account of them. Sir Cornwallis Maude was very attentive to everybody but more so to Mr. Griff Philipps". Of Admiral Lloyd of Frood he commented that "the conditions of the Admiral's friendship are too severe for any long duration nor is he so faithful to his connections as he should be. Any person who would preserve his friendship must put up with gross ill language, and submit all his affairs and conduct to his sole direction and not pretend to sin so much as to pretend to have an opinion of his own".
As there was very little activity in the court at Haverfordwest, he reported: "We put on our gowns and great wigs for form's sake only", and had it not been for a 'declaration' for Herbert Lloyd "I should not have got enough to have paid for the powder of my wig". Other references relate to Col. Owen as foreman of the Grand Jury and to Lord Milford as foreman of the Town Jury. The presiding judge was Macdonald, who had married Lord Gore's daughter. "He is very young for this office but 'interest' in these times can qualify everything", observed Jones Llwyd. The letter ends with a reference to some rumour concerning "a packett carrying dispatches from General Clinton informing the Ministry of an engagement he had had with Washington, and that he had totally defeated the army under his command. I wish the news may be true, but I shall suspend my belief till the news is confirmed by a gazette".
Cricket on the Common
On 12 July 1783 Jones Llwyd wrote to his friend John George Philipps of Cwmgwili, suggesting a game of cricket. "I have frequently heard you talk of cricket as a favourite game and that you would willingly make one of a sett at any time," he wrote. The team was to consist of Mr. Wm. Philipps, Court Henry; the Rev. Richard Lewis, Ynyswen; Rev. Thomas Williams, Llanegwad; P. Evans, William Evans and John Evans, Aberlash; Thomas Howell of Kincoed; Richard Lloyd Davies of Pibor; Mr. Wm. Anthony, David Stephenson and Richard Jones [Llwyd]. "There is a very good place on the little common between me [at Pantglas] and Court Henry", he recommended, adding, "We may fix the tent near and dine in it. Batts, balls &c shall be provided by me .... The dress, if you approve it, may be a swan skin jacket with sleeves edged with coloured ribband, which will not stand each person above 2s/6d or 3s/6d at the utmost, and be of use afterwards."
On 4 April 1787 he wrote to Philipps, this time about the administration of justice: "We had a very heavy Criminal bar at Carmarthen and all persons tried were found guilty, 2 for breaking a Shop at Llansawel, stealing goods worth £60 or £70, 2 for burglary at Llanon, one for hoorse stealing and my maid for petty larceny . . . The magistrates of the corporation seem to relax . . . . The Corporation are determined to cut off the gaol pipe. What will be the consequence I do not know for the gaol is crowded with prisoners." He is afraid of infection breaking out and the dire consequences which might follow. Only one convict is for execution, but concerning the May Quarter Sessions following he wrote that "we transported one and imprisoned two for three months and ordered two for whipping you see we were busy". On 5 December 1787 he wrote to Philipps about militia matters, returns books from Pantglas to Cwmgwili, and added, "I believe the following books belonging to me are at Cwmgwili. When you lay your hand on them please to return them, viz Zodiac or the Book of Fate, Moore's Plays, The Times a comedy, Cook's Last Voyage in octavo, Prior's Poems, Clienice - a play, 1 volume of the Town and Country Magazine, A Tour to France, and a few volumes of Sir Chas. Grandison".
On 2 March 1788 there is a letter from Jones Llwyd to Philipps in which he complains that a "record room is very much wanted indeed", and goes on to say that if a proposed House of Correction should be built on the Royal Oak Common "would it not (exclusive of its being an unhealthy situation) occasion a considerable expence to have all the materials landed at Carmarthen (for I know of no nearer place to land them) and carted down again through the turnpike". He gives an assurance that "My little friend Griffy [Griffith Philipps] is all mirth and gaiety in high health and good spirits. His love duty & respects must be sent you or else the fat is in the fire".
The proposed gaol, which was eventually built by John Nash, is mentioned in a letter of 2 April 1788. "The Grand Jury of both counties and all ranks of people are against placing the gaol and House of Correction below the town in the place mentioned. It will cost nearly £900 more than if built on the site of the old gaol .... Mr Nash is willing to depose on oath what is averred as to the saving and George the Gardener is willing to bring water into the gaol and to give ample security that it shall be well supplied at all times ... We had three persons condemned, two for horse stealing, one for stealing goods and breaking into a house in the daytime. This last was the late hangman in the gaol, a person not twenty years of age who had been tried at our bar three times. Not half an hour after he received sentence he hung himself in the gaol".
Of the April 1789 Quarter Sessions he has much to say. "We had a very full Quarter Sessions and a great deal of business. There is a County Meeting to be held .... for the purpose of considering of some means to rectify the manifold frauds and abuses in the butter trade of this county, and which has rendered it so inferior in reputation that the dealers in Bristol are come to a resolution to take no more unless some steps are taken". The letter ends: "Mears of Llanstephan is dangerously ill, having been taken in the chaise coming into Bath with a paralitick which deprived him of the use of one side".
Whigs and Tories
During the compartively short time he participated in public life, Richard Jones Llwyd continued to be an ardent supporter of the Philipps Cwmgwili faction in the political affairs of the county and town of Carmarthen. Jones Llwyd acted as election agent for John George Philipps, who was M.P. for Carmarthen borough from 1784 until 1802. The election of a member to represent the borough at Westminster was linked with the power groups on the Common Council of the town itself. In brief, the struggle was between the Whig group, largely led by John George Philipps, John Vaughan of Golden Grove, Jones Llwyd and T. W. Hughes of Tregib, and the Tory element, whose leader was Lord Dynevor. A few other letters from Richard Jones Llwyd to Philipps have survived, and three further illustrate Llwyd's political preoccupations at the time. He had canvassed John Morgan, John Vaughan, Mr. Lewes of Llysnewydd and other proprietors in the county borough and had succeeded in convincing them of the folly and mischief of exempting farmers from payments of toll towards paving and lighting the town of Carmarthen (25 April 1792). On 17 March 1793, when a general election was pending he wrote to Philipps in London, "I this moment have learnt from Mr. Lewes of Llisnewydd that Mr. Hamlyn is to stand as Candidate on the present vacancy and that he is to be supported by all Mr. Rice's friends. I have not yet engaged my vote for I wish to know your sentiments first; on the other side Mr. Campbell has declared. I confess the bent of my inclination is strongly in favour of the former, and I trust we shall not differ. I think you should return immediately but all events let me know your determination by the return of the post. Whatever threats you have had respecting the Borough have not as yet been put in execution, and before you part with all your former connections I think you should wait for an overt act".
In the event, James Hammett Hamlyn of Edwinsford was duly elected, and on 22 April 1793 Philipps was informed by Jones Llwyd, "Our election went off merrily and stood the candidate in no small sum as I do not believe so much was before drank at any Election for the county. I do not know whether you are acquainted with Mr. Hamlyn, but I think when you are, you will like him. He seems a plain downright country gentleman totally devoid of all pride and affectation, and as I hear he is a good magistrate in Devonshire, I think he will be an acquisition to this County". The letter continued with an expression of hope for the end of the war and "I wish it may be with the establishment of a free and equitable government in France, a limited monarchy is the best; and ours with a few amendments is in my opinion the finest and best in the known world". On a more personal note he asked Philipps to spend about three guineas for him to purchase a good fishing rod, reel, floats, lines, hooks and for them to be sent down by coach from London. He concluded by reporting that the enterprise regarding a proposed Canal had been marred by a drunken meeting at Llandilo where the resolutions of the county committee had been made ineffective. Another letter of 4 May 1793 complained about the provisions of a bill then before parliament for exempting persons "whose rent does not exceed £4 a year from doing their statute labour upon the highways".
Three years later, on 8 April 1796, Llwyd referred to his state of health in a letter to John George Philipps: "I fear I shall never be able to walk again, for five days I have not moved without assistance, and for the last two days I have been carried from place to place, having totally lost the use of any lower limbs and have all the time suffered the most excruciating agonies". Turning to the turmoil in the Common Council of Carmarthen he urged Philipps to assert his position by saying, "Recollect my friend that your success will be remembered for years, your defeat will bear its glory for an equal duration to your disgrace. I lament much to see the exertion of your opponents so much exceed your own".
More letters followed in the same vein. On 19 December 1796 he told Philipps: "To gain the Common Council is now our great object; and depend upon it, the other side will not be wanting in every possible exertion which they can make. Firmness and activity is the order of the day". Judging from some passages in the letters Philipps had adopted a happy-go-lucky attitude. On 4 March 1797 Llwyd wrote to him: "It is absolutely necessary for the preservation of your own Credit and the unity and well being of the Party that the Remainder of your subscription should be forthwith paid and that another subscription should be entered into without delay, as I find the actions of the sheriffs will be given up and that our opponents avail themselves and triumph in our inactivity, I may say apathy. You will therefore order the balance of the money due from you to be paid in, and that you will authorise me to add your name to the future subscription for what you think proper. I presume Mr. Morgans and Mr. Vaughan will put down £200 each."
On 3 May 1797 agricultural matters occupied his concern in a letter to Philipps: "A double toll upon turnpikes will materially prejudice this county. Most of the Turnpikes in this county were made originally to facilitate the carriage of coal, lime and manure, and they depend upon the conveyance of those articles for their existence. Lime has of late years advanced in price . . . . so that farmers can now scarcely afford to buy it. Lay another tax upon it, it puts that article beyond their reach and they have no substitute. Farmyards and composition dung hills being in their infancy; I will venture to say that if lime and manure and coal . . . are not exempted from double toll, it will nearly ruin the agriculture of this county". He hoped, too, that the tax on transfers of personal property would be confined to Bonds and Mortgages. "As to the Tax upon deeds, it may induce the gentlemen of the law to curtail the enormous prolixity of modern conveyances and reduce them to their former conciseness and simplicity. Laymen may then have some guess at their meaning and content".
In the next two years he constantly kept Philipps informed of the events and intrigues in Carmarthen town, and especially of the need to subscribe liberally to the funds of their own party. On 15 June 1797 he said: "Your servant was to be here at 7 o'clock but nobody came. I send you the resolutions herewith as no time is to be lost. Pray send them to Pantglas tomorrow morning with a strong request to Mr. Lloyd that he would go personally to Mr. Vaughan and inform him that there should be a liberal subscription entered into. If it is entered into spiritedly now, we shall succeed, otherwise we most inevitably fall. It is a pity it should be so now as our success at next Michaelmas depends on a present liberal subscription. The other party are unanimous, and they never boggle at monies. I wish it be known to Mr. V. that the solicitors concerned on our side of the question charged nothing for their trouble, they contributed at least £150 already in deductions from the agents bills and will continue to do so as they think the cause good".
A week later he wrote to Philipps urging him to come to Carmarthen without delay in order "to spur David Edwardes and Charles Morgan to go off for Golden Grove tomorrow, as no time is to be lost . . . You will dine with me today to meet Citizen Nash and another gentleman".
Some of the letters dealt with mortgages and estate matters of Cwmgwili, and lastly two other letters may be cited. As Clerk of the Peace Llwyd wrote to Philipps at Cwmgwili: "The disbanding of the Provisional Cavalry is a matter extremely necessary and has long been protracted for want of the attendance of Deputy Lieutenants to hold a general meeting, and which I ask you to attend, otherwise it must be adjourned again". This was on 18 May 1799. On the 8 July following he wrote from Pantglas to Cwmgwili that he was "still too indisposed to leave my Chamber. Have made my mind to go to Bath after Michaelmas". But in spite of ill-health he was still solicitous about Mr. Philipps' affairs: "Mr. Williams has been at Edwinsford for some time. Mr. Vaughan called here yesterday and informed me of it. It may be proper and of advantage to you with respect to the money concern to cultivate his acquaintance, calling on him at Edwinsford will at least be polite and civil on your part".
Family of Bankers
Richard Jones Llwyd died in 1799, and was only forty-four years of age. He was buried in Llangathen Church, and as he died in-testate and without heirs, much of the estate amassed in the lordship of Tiresgob became forfeit to the Bishop of St. Davids. This included one moiety of Gwaelodymaes, part of Slangrach, Caeperseli, Caegwyn, Caegwyddau, Plasllwyd and certain cottages. Llwyd's widow survived him until 1806 and was buried at Llangathen in her sixty fourth year. A pious and charitable lady, she had made plans shortly before her death to build a chapel in connection with the parish church of Llanfynydd, at a place called Llwynpiod, where at one time two roads converged. Later this was enclosed in Pantglas Park, near the clump of trees about halfway between the mansion and the south lodge. In later years the Pantglas estate reverted to Nicholas Burnell Jones, nephew of Richard Jones Llwyd and high sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1814. In 1822 the Pantglas lands and mansion house were sold to David Jones head of the firm of D. Jones and Co. of the Black Ox Bank, Llandovery. But there was no blood relationship between the old family of Jones, and the new owners.
The banking house of Jones was one of many in West Wales, and so far as can be judged the introduction of regular banking to these parts was largely due to the enterprise of merchants and drovers. The Black Ox Bank was established at Llandovery in 1799, in premises known as the King's Head. Its founder was David Jones, and it was about this time that the second family of Jones of Pantglas emerged in the annals of the landed gentry of Carmarthenshire. David Jones was the son of one Evan John, a farmer near Llandovery, and was one of a large family. He started business as a lad of fifteen, and through his enterprise and industry made tremendous headway. He married on 7 January 1785, Anne, the daughter and heiress of Rhys Jones of Cilrhedyn and sole heiress of her uncle the Revd. William Jones of Gwalrhedyn in the parish of Cilycwm and of Jesus College, Oxford. Her dowry was about £10,000 and this portion, along with the capital already acquired, enabled David Jones to found the bank at Llandovery. He was then turning forty years of age, and the enterprise under his control proved to be a profitable venture.
The Black Ox Bank was one of the earliest banks to be established in Carmarthenshire, and in the number of its branches exceeded the scope of any other private bank in the county at this period. Its career was no doubt partly shaken by the financial crisis of 1825, when many banks of mushroom growth issued notes without any check, and as a result failures were frequent and numerous. In 1824 trade had been flourishing; there was a good deal of speculation and over confidence, notes were issued to excess and a collapse was inevitable. It is estimated that over seventy banks failed in a short period of six weeks. But the Black Ox Bank weathered the storm. The success of the bank is clearly indicated by the fact that its founder David Jones, although starting with little more than the proverbial half crown, left at his death considerable real estate, besides £90,000 in consols and £50,000 in cash at the bank. There was probably no bank of its era which enjoyed more local credit than the Black Ox Bank. A story has been handed down which illustrates in a striking way the confidence placed in the bank. At a period when runs on banks were happening all over the country, a timid client entered the Black Ox Bank to withdraw his money. The bank in anticipation of a run, had just received a consignment of Bank of England notes, and the cashier on receiving the cheque, handed over to the client Bank of England notes for the amount due. The depositor, however, refused to accept the notes tendered, and demanded instead notes of the Black Ox Bank! From specimens still extant, it appears that the Black Ox Bank issued notes for £1, £2, £5, £5-5s and £20. All the notes bear an illustration of a black ox on the left hand corner. The confidence placed in the bank was naturally a temptation to counterfeiters, and even at an early date an attempt was made to victimize the public by forged notes on the bank.
David Jones had resided at Blaenos, situated on a gentle slope of the vale of Tywi, west of Llandovery. Although the house was not of pretentious appearance, it had the feeling of elegance and ease surrounded by luxuriant and picturesque scenery. Popular and rather fanciful tradition derives the name Blaenos from Blaen-eos, indicating some connection with the nightingale. Probably this is not correct etymology, but it gives a fitting and poetic description to the house and its environs. David Jones was regarded as a figure of some consequence in the county. He was a justice of the peace for Carmarthenshire, and in 1825 high sheriff, offices which in those days especially were the closely preserved privileges of the gentry and nobility. David and Anne Jones had the following children, -
i Evan Jones, who was baptised on 28 April 1785 and died unmarried in 1820.
ii John Jones, who was baptised on 18 February and died in 1813 in the lifetime of his father. After the death of Anne Jones on 10 April 1820, David Jones was married, secondly, to Catherine, eldest daughter of Morgan Pryse Lloyd of Glansevin. David Jones died on 29 Sept., 1840, and was succeeded by his grandson David Jones.
John Jones married Mary, the daughter of William Jones of Ystrad Walter in the county of Carmarthen, and by her had the following issue, -
i David Jones of Pantglas and Penylan, Llanfynydd. He was born on 1 November 1810 at Llwynberllan near Llandovery. He was educated. at the Charter house school and on 29 July 1845 married Margaret Charlotte, eldest daughter of Sir George Campbell of Edenwood in the county of Fife. David Jones was M.P. for Carmarthenshire from 1852 to 1868. He was high sheriff for the county of Carmarthen in 1845 and deputy lieutenant for the three counties of Brecon, Carmarthen and Radnor.
ii William Jones of Glandennis near Lampeter, who was high sheriff of Cardiganshire in 1860. In 1876 he married Annie Isobella daughter of James Fenton of Dutton Manor, Lancashire and died without issue on 7 January 1897.
iii John Jones of Blaenos, Llandovery who was a justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant of the county of Carmarthen, as well as high sheriff in 1854. Educated for the Bar, he did not practice. His wife was his cousin, Anne, second daughter of Major Thomas of Wellfield in the county of Radnor. The marriage took place in 1842. John Jones succeeded his brother as M.P. for the county of Carmarthen along with Viscount Emlvn until 1880. The three brothers David, William and John continued the banking business originally started by their grandfather, David Jones, who had died in 1839. The elder brother David of Pantglas continued the Llandovery Bank while the brothers William and John, respectively, founded branches at Lampeter and Llandeilo under the title of David Jones and Co.
The time when David Jones was M.P. for Carmarthen county is an interesting one. By the Reform Act of 1832, Carmarthenshire was able to send two members to Westminster to represent the county. When G. R. Rice Trevor was called to the House of Lords as 4th Baron Dynevor, David Jones and David Arthur Saunders Davies of Pentre represented Carmarthenshire. Both were of the new gentry class the former belonged to a family which had a few generations previously acquired wealth through commercial and business enterprise, while Saunders Davies was descended from the old west Wales family of Saunders and Davies of Llandovery. The latter had made money through trade and the means to enter into the professions e.g. David Davies, M.D. of Llandovery and Carmarthen had married Susannah, only surviving daughter and heiress of Erasmus Saunders of Pentre, Pembrokeshire. Consequently they acquired status in the changing social pattern of the early 19th century. Gradually they ousted the older and once all-powerful families of Cwmgwili, Edwinsford, Dynevor and others.
Although Parliamentary reform, the growing tide of radicalism and the demands of the nonconformist conscience, along with a more representative electorate, brought new issues to the fore, David Jones and Saunders Davies were still allies of the old forces, whose strength lay in wealth, land and the privileges of birth and ancient lineage. The dominant belief of these people was in a stratified society, in which a few were born to rule the rest. Alliances were contrived between the old and new gentry in the face of the turbulent days of Rebecca; the report of the Blue Books (Brad y Llyfrau Gleision) had aroused the ire of the vernacular press, and the English tory landed power-blocs were being attacked from all sides. Thus landlords, gentry and magistrates were regarded with suspicion, if not hatred. Their demeanour, with few exceptions, was haughty, oppressive and insulting.
The church journal Yr Haul
defended the Anglican and tory landlord interest, and generally there was bitter partisan spirit. It was from the pages of Yr Amserau, Y Cronicl
and Y Traethodydd
that nonconformists had their hopes and ideals moulded. They were urged to return men of their own class to parliament, and to stimulate opposition to the existing oligarchy. And thus through the 1850s and 1860s the struggle continued to secure representation for the radical and 'nonconformist' gwernin.
This often meant voting against the landlord, who in many cases, was not personally disliked but rather respected, if not revered, as the country squire and benefactor of the inhabitants on his estate and the surrounding countryside. On the other hand, there were the few rascals who would not hesitate to evict their tenants if they dared vote against the landlord's wishes. Gradually there came the realisation that justice and fair play could only be achieved through the ballot, more equitable rents and no recrimination on account of political or religious creed.
Shortly before the 1868 election David Jones was compelled not to contest the seat on account of ill-health, and he was succeeded, as we have seen, by his brother John Jones of Blaenos. David Jones had been a very sick man and had suffered a lingering and painful illness before he died on Friday 1 July 1869 in his sixtieth year. At a time when landlords were attacked on all sides by the radical press, David Jones was held in high regard as a generous friend, kind hearted landlord and considerate master. The account of his funeral on the following Thursday at Cilycwm reflects much of the feeling of the neighbourhood as well as the mourning customs of the day. The cortege left Pantglas at 10.00 a.m. and proceeded to Llandeilo, Llangadog and Llandovery. At each place groups of people showed reverence and respect, and, in the towns and villages, shops were closed and blinds drawn. As the funeral was strictly private and attended only by the family, a few friends and tenantry, processions of leading inhabitants assembled at each town and accompanied the cortege for a short distance and then quietly dispersed. About a hundred tenants wore 'the usual habiliments of mourning and with hat bands and scarves led the van'. Then followed several private carriages of Mrs. Jones' family. The press reporter of the day goes on to say how 'the hearse was georgeous with sable plumes, covered with embroidered cloth and drawn by four horses' and this was followed by only one mourning coach containing John Jones of Blaenos, the new M.P. for Carmarthen, William Jones of Glandennis and the deceased's two sons, Alfred and Gerwyn. At half past four in the afternoon the church and little village of Cilycwm were crowded with spectators, and David Jones was buried in the family vault on the north side of the church. Thus concluded "the earthly career of a good, noble and generous hearted soul who never made an enemy but rejoiced in the friendship of both rich and poor". It seems unusual that the funeral of a well-known public figure should be private, without any representatives from the county gentry and general public expected to be present. Perhaps we may look for an answer in the character of David Jones' wife (Margaret Charlotte, eldest daughter of Sir George Campbell of Edenwood, Fifeshire), who was a very colourful and original personality, to say the least. It appears that she circulated privately a book which she had written describing the landed gentry of Carmarthenshire in most scurrilous terms; and there were many tales current years ago of her somewhat daring and unconventional behaviour. Indeed within six months she married Sir George Augustus Levinge, Bart., of Knockdrin Castle in the county of Westmeath. But any marital bliss with her second husband was brief, as she died on 5 November 1871.
It was David Jones, the younger, who built the new mansion of Pantglas. It was described by an observer a century ago as a 'mansion of considerable magnificence' at a cost of about £30,000.
The house was very splendid indeed, and has been described as belonging to the ornamental Grecian or more accurately perhaps the Italian style of architecture. Its distinguishing features consisted of a central tower and balcony over classical colonnades forming the entrance front. Along the roof was a finely carved stone balustrade broken by finials and acanthus capitals at regular intervals. Many of the windows were in the Venetian style, while pedimented dripstones, ornamental urns and statuary on the terrace balustrade emphasised this grandiose and flamboyant essay in the neo-classical renaissance style. The house was situated on an elevation commanding an extensive 'prospect' over the valleys of the Cothi and the Tywi, and surrounded by a well timbered park of some two hundred acres. In front was the picturesque dingle which gave origin to its name, and whose little streamlet had been utilized for fish ponds and ornamental stretches of water through the grounds. The mansion house was the centre of an estate amounting to about 7,854 acres with an annual rental of £5000. The Jonses had acquired arms and crest which were befitting a family whose wealth had originated in banking and on the prosperity of drovers and the toil of the agricultural community. Their roots were deep in the soil of north Carmarthenshire and an agrarian way of life, and not in martial prowess nor descent from a pugnacious Welsh chieftain or a boastful Norman baron. Thus their arms were argent, on a mount vert, a representation of a Pembrokeshire ox statant proper, a chief gules thereon a falcon argent belled between two stags heads erased or. For the crest: on a mount vert a representation of a Pembrokeshire ox's head in profile proper, bezantee. The motto was Da ei ffydd.
David Jones left, by his wife Margaret Charlotte, the following children:
- Alfred Campbell Halyburton Jones of Pantglas, a justice of the peace for the county of Carmarthen. He was born on 10 March 1849 and died unmarried on 1 March 1878. He was succeeded by his brother.
- Frederic Arthur Gerwyn Jones, of Pantglas who was born on 17 January 1857 and died unmarried in September 1903. He too was a justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant for the county as well as high sheriff in 1877.
- Mary Eleanor Geraldine Jones, who married on 15 September 1869 Colonel Herbert Davies Evans of Highmead, Cardiganshire.
- Louise Madeline Maria Jones who married in 1871 the Very Rev. Henry Donald Maurice Spence (later Dean of Gloucester).
The ladies of Pantglas did much to relieve the poverty of the inhabitants of the surrounding countryside, and their code of behaviour, as in many other of the county houses of west Wales, was embodied in the adage, 'Welcome stranger, God speed the parting guest'. One event illustrates the point. On Friday 22 January 1859 there was a gathering at Pantglas when the Misses Jones and their mother provided a Christmas treat for their neighbours and tenantry. Gifts were distributed after a sumptuous meal and included the following,
'20 black bonnets for the girls,
20 scarlet cloaks for the girls,
27 blue capes for the boys,
12 shawls to the Sunday School girls of Llanfynydd church,
whole suits to the labourers at Pantglas,
1lb of tea and a quantity of sugar to their wives,
elegant silk gowns to farmers' wives living near Pantglas,
silk ties to their husbands.'
But to revert to the affairs of the Black Ox Bank. On the death of David Jones in 1869, the business at Llandovery was carried on, in accordance with the provisions of the will, by his brothers William and John as trustees, for the benefit in equal shares of his sons, Alfred and Gerwyn. Later, on the death of William and John, the three banks with their sub-branches became the property of Gerwyn Jones, his brother Alfred having died without issue during the lifetime of William and John Jones. On his death on 20 September 1903, Frederic Arthur Gerwyn Jones devised the banks, with his estates of Blaenos and Glandennis, to his sister Mary Eleanor Geraldine Davies Evans of Highmead. The business of the banks was then carried on under the direction of her husband Colonel Herbert Davies-Evans and her sons Delme and Herbert Davies-Evans, the former a colonel and the latter a major in the army. In 1909 the goodwill of the banks was sold to Lloyds Bank Ltd., and thus terminated the existence of the last survivor of the old private banks in South Wales. In 1910 the Lampeter Bank Estate was sold, but meanwhile, on the death of Frederic Arthur Gerwyn Jones, Pantglas mansion and estate were acquired by Louise Madeline Maria Spence. The Dean of Gloucester and Mrs. Spence assumed, by royal licence in 1904, the additional name of Jones, and the arms of Spence quarterly viz. or, a lion rampant gules, on a bend embattled counter embattled azure, three mascles of the field. The Spence crest was a maltster habited about the loins with a plaid skirt, sustaining with both hands a malt shovel erect proper.
Henry Donald Maurice Spence was the eldest son of George Spence, M.P., Q.C., an eminent jurist who was the author of an important work called The Equitable Jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery.
Son of Thomas Spence of Hanover Square, George Spence, was a graduate of Glasgow University and in 1811 was called to the Bar of the Inner Temple for which he was subsequently Bencher and Treasurer. He represented Reading and later Ripon in parliament, and was a strong advocate of Chancery reform. A pioneer in the cause of legal education, he was an original member of the Society for Promoting the Amendment of the Law. He was married to Anne Kelsall, the daughter of a Chester solicitor. Their son H. D. M. Spence was born in Pall Mall on 14 January 1836. He was educated at Westminster School under Dr. Liddell and afterwards at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Before entering the University, Spence spent about two years as secretary to Sir Douglas Galton at the Board of Trade. Spence's University career was one of exceptional brilliance and promise. In 1862 he won the Carus Prize for under-graduates and in 1864 graduated B.A., with a first class in Theology, and was then awarded the Carus and Scholefield Prizes for graduates. In 1866 he proceeded to the degree of M.A., (Cantab) and later to the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
On leaving Cambridge he was ordained by Bishop Connop Thirlwall of St. Davids, and at once took up an appointment as Professor of English Literature and Modern Languages along with a lectureship in Hebrew at St. David's College, Lampeter. And thus began a close connection with Wales which lasted for over fifty years. In 1870 Spence was appointed Rector of St. Mary le Crypt with All Saints and St. Owen in the city of Gloucester. At the request of Dr. Ellicott, Bishop of Gloucester, Spence became principal of the Gloucester Theological College and examining chaplain to the Bishop. In 1877 the vicariate of St. Pancras, London, was presented to him by Queen Victoria, and in the same year he was appointed rural dean of St. Pancras, thereby succeeding Dr. Thorold, who had been made Bishop of Rochester. During this period Spence attracted large congregations by his vigorous and inspired preaching. For the next ten years he was one of the most influential evangelical clergymen in the diocese of London. But Spence still retained an interest in the city and cathedral church of Gloucester, holding an honorary canonry there until his appointment to the Deanery by the Queen in 1887. This office he held until his death, and along with it the Professorship of Ancient History at the Royal Academy in succession to Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb, M.P. for the University of Cambridge and Regius Professor of Greek. Among the Dean's predecessors in this office were the historian Edward Gibbon and the poet Oliver Goldsmith. Spence was Chaplain of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, select preacher at Cambridge and frequently occupied the pulpit at St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the Temple Church.
His literary output was immense. He wrote commentaries on the Bible, including a two-volume exposition of St. Luke's Gospel. He edited the Pulpit Commentary,
which ran to forty-eight volumes, and contributed chapters on the First Book of Samuel and The Pastoral Epistles to Bishop Ellicott's Commentary; jointly with Dean Howson, he wrote a commentary on the Acts of the Apostles for Dr. Schaff's Anglo-American Commentary. He edited the Teaching of the Apostles,
a translation from the Greek text with notes and a dissertation. Perhaps the Dean's most popular and imaginative work was his History of the Church of England
in four volumes, while his Early Christianity and Paganism
traced the progress of the faith from A.D. 64 to the fourth century with copious usage of contemporary records. In addition, he wrote works on the Talmud, and a Talmudic Commentary on Genesis. His favourite recreation was the study of medieval ecclesiastical architecture, and while he held the Deanery of Gloucester be lavished his care on the cathedral, which was to him a shrine to be venerated. He regarded with pride that part of the Deanery in which, according to tradition, Anselm met William Rufus. Amongst his more 'picturesque' writings may be mentioned Dreamland and History
a chronicle of the Norman Dukes; Cloister Life in the Days of Coeur de Lion, The White Robes of Churches of the Eleventh Century,
all these and more from a prolific pen, which exhibited a rich literary style and wide culture.
Until his death Dean Spence-Jones was a frequent visitor to Carmarthenshire and played a prominent part in its social life when residing at Pantglas. He was a J.P. for the county of Carmarthen and preached from time to time at St. Peter's, Carmarthen, where large congregations came to hear him. The Dean died on 2 November 1917 and was buried at Matson churchyard near Gloucester. An application to the Local Government Board for permission to bury the body in the Cathedral in accordance with the Dean's wishes was not granted. A large congregation assembled to pay tribute to his memory and special music was composed by the eminent musicions Sir Hubert Parry, Dr. Harford Lloyd and Dr. Brewer in recognition of the Dean's friendship with them.
The Last Phase
Dean Spence-Jones and Louise Madeline Maria left a son Cecil John Herbert, who was born on 30 May 1873. In June 1908 he married Aline Margaret, elder daughter of John Vaughan Colby of Ffynone, Pembrokeshire. Colonel Spence and his wife acquired the surname Spence-Colby in 1920, when the Ffynone estate passed to them. Spence-Colby in turn was a Captain in the Rifle Brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 24 Battalion Pembroke and Glamorgan Yeomanry. He served in the South African War and the Great War of 1914-18 and was a Deputy Lieutenant and a J.P. for Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. One of the most colourful personalities of the Teifi-Side fox-hunting fraternity, he and Mrs. Spence-Colby continued to reside at Ffynone until 1927, when part of the estate and mansion house were sold. Meanwhile the Pantglas estate and mansion house had been sold shortly after the 1914-18 war.
The fragmentation of many large estates had gone on since the end of the previous century and many landlords had found themselves in financial straits owing to social, economic and political factors. Around 1920, agriculture was relatively prosperous (untouched by the depression to come) and many landlords took advantage of the circumstances of the day to sell out. Those who did were able to dispose of land profitably, as later on land prices fell owing to (amongst other factors) the repeal of the Corn Production Act, which had underwritten the price of corn and home production. There was slight trouble when the Pantglas estate was put up for sale. The owners were informed that if the tenants were not allowed to purchase their farms at the valuation of the National Farmers Union, the sale would be opposed. This angered the Estates Gazette, but the affair ended amicably when some ninety tenants of the Pantglas estate bought between them some 7000 acres at prices totalling over £100,000.
Thus ends an important chapter in the annals of one of Carmarthenshire's grand houses. Pantglas was acquired by the Carmarthenshire County Council and used for institutional purposes until it was damaged and vacated as the result of a fire a few years ago.
- CRO. Acc 714. Pedigree of Jones of Pantglas.
CRO. M 700A. Hanes Pantglas, also CRO. Acc 4038. History of Pantglas.
CRO. Cwmgwili MSS. Letters of Richard Jones Lloyd to John George Philipps.
- J. E. Lloyd editor, History of Carmarthenshire. Vol. II; 1939.
N.L.W. Journal. Vol. xiv. No. 3. Summer 1966;
Welsh History Review. Vol. 7. No. 2. December 1974;
Burke Landed Gentry 1906;
Carmarthen Journal 22 January 1869; 16 July 1869;
T. Nicholas Annals of the County Families &c 1872.
Burke Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen, Gentlemen etc 1853;
Wales : Historical, Biographical and Pictorial, London 1908;
The Times, 3 November 1917;
Who's Who in Wales, Cardiff 1921;
Trans. Cymmrodorion, 1965. Pt. I ;
West Wales Historical Records, Vol. VI, 1916;
The Clerks of the Counties 1360-1960. Sir Edgar Stephens, 1961.