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Rural Rides of Long Ago

By A. B. Randall, B.Sc. (Econ.)

In 1762, just two years before he died, the Rev. Thomas Price, former rector of Merthyr Tydfil, spent eight weeks or so taking the waters of Dolycoed, Llanwrtyd Wells. While there he kept a journal, now published by permission of Mr. David White, Carmarthen, but the manuscript may be incomplete, as it relates only to the final week before Thomas Price returned to Merthyr Tydfil. Nevertheless it is of particular interest because it records information about his excursions into Carmarthenshire from Llanwrtyd Wells.

The well at Dolycoed had been discovered in 1732 by the Rev. Theophilus Evans, who claimed that the water helped to cure his "inveterate scurvy which yielded to no medicines commonly prescribed" (See Jones, The History of the County of Brecknockshire, 1909). Of the water, Evans recorded that "in a word, it is a noble tincture of sulphur, concocted and perfected in the bowels of the earth, which no art of man can imitate; it drinks as soft milk, and is not at all nauseous but is generally grateful to the taste".

The author of the journal should not be confused with another Thomas Price, also rector of Merthyr Tydfil, who, as an active member of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, played a prominent part in founding prison libraries, and died in 1729.

Thomas Price, the author of the journal, was the son of Thomas Price of Burrington in Herefordshire. His mother Margaretta was a Scudamore, a descendant of Sir John Scudamore, Owain Glyn Dwr's son-in-law. Thomas Price was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, where he obtained his B.A. degree. He married Constance Anstey, by whom he had two children, Mary and John. He was chaplain to Lord Windsor at Ringwood and also served as Vicar of Ellingham in the county of Southampton. It was Herbert, Viscount Windsor, as patron of the rectory of Merthyr Tydfil, who presented Thomas Price to the Bishop of Llandaff to succeed Thomas Johnson in 1751.

The Journal of the Rev. Thomas Price.

July 25. Went from the Well to dine with Roger Price Esq. of Maceron (a very sensible gentleman of good learning and great reading) where I met with a very kind Reception and had the agreable Company thither of Miss Vaughan of Castle Madock; Mrs. Griffiths, Richard Cony Jones Esqr. and Mr. David Williams Attorney at Law, the three last of Carmarthen.

On Saturday July 31st went to Llandovery in Carmarthenshire, and by the way to that Town had an agreable view from the Hills of an antient seat of William Gwin's Esqr. of Cunghordy a very good natured and friendly old Gentleman, and within a little mile of that Place had also a distant view of LanbrÔn* the noble seat with a Park adjoining, and of a more modern building of Roderick Gwin's Esqr. and hd on Sunday the following day a closer view of the two fore mentioned houses, and in my way to Landovery accidentally overtaking William Gwin of Cunghordy Esqr. (who seemed to me to have in him the truly noble spirit of an old Briton) and was so kind as to give me a very pressing invitation to call at his house the next morning (being under an engagement to be back at the Well by dinner time) to drink part of a Tankard of exceedingly good Ale which I accordingly did th˘ not so proper a Liquor for a water-drinker at that time of the day.

On Saturday above mentioned arrived at Landovery between ten and eleven in the morning and set up at the old Boar, kept by a civil good natured landlord Mr. Woodhouse where I heartily eat of a good beef steak, being exceedingly hungry, th˘ so very early in the morning, and immediately after dinner, and drinking two or three glasses of wine, proceeded on my journey in a very pleasant Road to Langatock, and by the way thither went close by a very pretty Seat (called Kilgwin) of one Mifs Price a young Lady of a very considerable fortune, being in the Posefsion of between seven and eight hundred Pounds a year; and a little way from Kilgwin saw another pretty Seat of Morgan Lloyd Esqr. called Lanscevin.

From Lanscevin went on to Langatock where I made a visit to the Revd. Mr. Evans the Vicar of that Town and Parish who about two ˘clock at a little Inn there sat down to dinner to a good Loyn of veal but did not myself eat thereof being not in the least hungry but my good friend and conductor thither Mr. Thomas Jones the younger having a better stomach eat a little of it; however I got acquainted there with some very good Ale which for many week before I had been a stranger to. At Langatock being treated by Mr. Evans we staid about an hour and half and so returned back to Landovery.

On Sunday the following day reached the Wells some hours before dinner. But before we left Landovery were in a very elegant manner entertained at breakfast by Doctor Williams Surgeon and Man midwife, a very good natured young man and also very skilful in his Profefsion about three miles from Dole ˘ goed. August 2nd, went to Aberannel a Countrey Seat of John Loyd's Esqr. of Brecon, with my friend and Conductor Mr. Thos. Jones, and had the agreable company thither of Mrs. Phillips of Lambedar Velfrey near Tenby Pembrokeshire, and likewise of Miss Poyer a near neighbour of hers. At Aberannel the Ladies drank Tea with Miss Loyd Sister to [lacuna] Loyd's Esqr. afore-mentioned; and as it was situated near Chairy we called there also, alighted, and took the freedom of seeing the whole House, for which I must beg Mr. Bullock [?] Lloyd's pardon.

After I had received the Benefit of drinking Dole˘coed water for eight weeks, being before my going to that well in a very weak, sickly and languishing condition as above hinted, I arrived back at Merthir Tidvil on Saturday August the seventh 1762 (God be praised) in perfect health, and now for a conclusion to the foregoing Short journal I cannot help making the following Remark upon Dole˘goed The water whereof is of such an healing Quality I am strongly persuaded were more buildings erected there for better accommodation that all the Gentlemen and Ladies of South Wales, and most other Counties, who laboured under any complaint, and are within hearing of the Fame of that excellent water, would every summer have recourse to it.

N.B. As I myself was a considerable time upon the spot I have seen many casks and bottles of the water carried off from the well into Carmarthenshire, to Bristol and also daily to the Neighbouring Gentry at any reasonable distance from Dole˘coed.

by the

Rev. Thos. Price

Late Rector of Merthir Tidvil. 1762
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