Bard of the Vale

A VETERAN VALE WORTHY

JOHN MORGAN (IOAN TRITHYD) – LIFE STORY OF THE BARD OF THE VALE

(By Mr. T. M. PRICE, Late of Boverton).

First published 1915

No history or account of Llantrithyd Village and Parish would be complete without the brief biography and life story of Mr. John Morgan (loan Trithyd), the well-known venerable bard and veteran agriculturist of the Vale of Glamorgan, who derives his bardic title from the historic old-world village of Llantrithyd, and is recognised as one of the oldest tenants on the Aubrey-Fletcher Estate in Glamorganshire.

ANCESTRY OF IOAN TRITHYD.

loan Trithyd is a descendant of one of the oldest families in the Vale of Glamorgan, being the youngest surviving son of the late Mr. Christopher Morgan and Mrs Margaret (Peggy) Morgan, Ty Uchaf Farm, Llantrithyd. He was born on the 12th October, 1830, at the old farmhouse, which was demolished in the year 1895, twenty years ago, and re-built in the same year. It is interesting to note that several generations of the Morgan family (loan Trithyd’s ancestors) formerly resided at the same old-fashioned farmstead for the long period of about six hundred years without a single break in the family tenancy. His father, grand-father and great-grandfather were all bred and born at Ty Uchaf old farmhouse, Llantrithyd.

The late Mr. Christopher Morgan, father of loan Trityd, was a well educated, intellectual gentleman, and trained to be an Excise officer, but he had a preference for farming. loan Trithyd’s mother was also an excellent scholar. loan Trithyd told me his mother was a good teacher and often taught him his home lessons and made up his sums, many times, to save him having a thrashing from his schoolmaster.

His father married twice. By his first wife Anne he had one daughter, who became the wife of the late Mr. John John, of Aburthin, Cowbridge, and subsequently the mother of the late Mrs. Evan Morgan, Village Farm, Marcros, and grandmother of Mrs. Richard Morgan, Pentre Farm, Llantrithyd, and Mrs. T. J. Yorwerth, Cowbridge.

His first wife was Miss Anne Jones, of Brocastle Farm, near Bridgend. On their wedding day, the bridegroom brought home his bride riding behind him on the mare, and in coming through the main street of Cowbridge a large number of the inhabitants assembled and held a long iron bar across the roadway to chain the newly-wedded couple by the Old Bridge in High Street, Cowbridge. The mare made a sudden halt and jumped clear over the iron bar, with the youthful bride and bridegroom, and they escaped scot-free, to the great discomfiture and disappointment of the crowd. It should be stated that there were few vehicles in those days, and no honeymoons like the present time. After the wedding ceremony was over, they proceeded to their home and straight to the work on the farms, etc. Mrs. Anne Morgan died December 18th, 1811, in the 30th year of her age. Mr. Christopher Morgan’s second wife was Margaret (Peggy), daughter of Richard Dafydd, Prisk Farm, in the parish of Welsh St. Donats, by whom he had several sons and daughters, including Mr. John Morgan (loan Trithyd), the subject of our present sketch. The late Mr. Christopher Morgan died on the 23rd of June, 1859, in the 94th year of his age. His second wife (Peggy Morgan) passed away November 11th, 1870, in the 80th year of her age. All of them were laid to rest in the pretty little graveyard of St. Illtyd’s Church, Llantrithyd, with many other members of the Morgan family, who were bred and born at Ty Uchaf Farm, Llantrithyd.

The late Mr. Thomas Morgan, eldest brother of loan Trithyd, was the last member of the Morgan family at Ty Uchaf Farm. He passed away 27th September, 1888, aged 74 years. His widow, Mrs Margaret (Peggy) Morgan, kept the farm for some years afterwards, but subsequently handed it over to her nephew, Mr. Edward Watts, the present occupant. Mrs. Peggy Morgan died February 27th, 1908, in the 87th year of her age.

THE OLD METHODIST MEETING-HOUSE AND AN ECCENTRIC OLD DAME

It is interesting to recall that it was at old Ty Uchaf Farmhouse, Llantrithyd, the Calvinistic Methodists of the district held their services on Sundays and week days until Zoar Calvinistic Chapel was erected in 1834. Several notable and distinguished Nonconformist preachers officiated there at the great annual meetings, but they have all long since passed away.

loan Trithyd told me a very amusing story about an eccentric old dame in the old days at Llantrithyd. The old dame was known by the name of “Hen Wraig Rebeca,” and she lived in apartments with another old lady, named Rebecca Richards, who resided in a quaint old cottage at Llantrithyd Village. Hen Wraig Rebeca was an aged woman, and shook very much, suffering from palsy, and it was very difficult to understand her talking. The old dame was proceeding to Llantrithyd Church one Sunday afternoon, and one of the villagers who was going to the Methodists’ meeting at Ty Uchaf Farmhouse, asked the old lady if she was coming to the meeting. “No indeed,” she replied, there is sixpence or a shilling to be had now and then for going to Llantrithyd Church, but there is not a penny to be had in Christopher Morgan’s meeting.” Hen Wraig Rebeca was in very poor circumstances, and was maintained by parish relief. The old lady lived to a very old age. Her walking-stick and snuff-box were placed in her coffin when she died, in accordance with her expressed wish. Her funeral took place on a Sunday, her coffin being carried by willing bearers all the way to an old chapel graveyard near Pentyrch, situate near the summit of the lofty Garth Mountain by Taffs Well.

THE OLD WOODEN PLOUGH AND THE OLD MARKET DAYS

loan Trithyd remembers his father using an old-fashioned wooden plough, which made four furrows or ridges, to set wheat, and a man sowing the wheat by hand before the wooden plough. loan Trithyd often drove the team of horses attached to the plough, in his young days. When he was a boy he recollects his mother going to Cardiff Market every Saturday with farm produce. She always rode on horseback. A saddle was fastened to the horn of the side-saddle, and a wallet was slung over, filled with farmhouse cheese at both ends, and she carried a large basket of butter on her arm. It is difficult to conceive of any farmer’s wife doing this to-day, as they have their cars and traps to suit their purpose, and times have changed in every way in this progressive age.

HIS BARDIC TITLE

In his young days loan Trithyd was a frequent competitor at local Eisteddfodau, and he won several prizes for his englyns and lines of poetry. When he was a young man, from 20 to 30 years of age, he was known by the name of lolo Llantrithyd, but about the age of 30 years he was christened and had the bardic title of loan Trithyd conferred upon him by Dewi Wyn O. Assyllt, a noted bard of distinction, who was a member of a Welsh Society at Cardiff called “Bwrdd y Beirdd,” of which loan Trithyd was a member. About sixty years ago Ioan Trithyd won his first prize with an englyn which he composed for an eisteddfod held in the Stuart Hall, Cardiff, situate on the corner of the Hayes Bridge, Cardiff. The lines were as follow:-

Y GWENYN

Gwen Hani Gwyn, cilw’r gwenyn,

I swgnol gasanu’r blodeuyn,

I’r cwch gwydda y cewch gwedyn

Miloedd ddont a mêl i ddyn.

He won a second prize with the following englyn to “The Tide” (Y Llanwr), at an Eisteddfod held at Cowbridge fifty years ago, the first prize being awarded to Dewi Wyn O. Essylt, Dinas Powis –

Hyf lanw lyth aflonydd – ni – erys

Hen arof ymwelwydd,

Ar er daith, dwywaith y dydd

Try i’w gawell trugywydd.

He won a large number of prizes in addition to the two mentioned, and was a most popular and successful Eisteddfod conductor at local eisteddfodau in by-gone days.

Although loan Trithyd received little education in his boyhood days, he acquired a great amount of knowledge. He only had a few quarters’ schooling in the winter months at Bonvilstone, under the tuition of the late Mr. James Tutton, a stringent old schoolmaster, and later in life he attended a night school. Farmers had little time for education then, but they were often better scholars than children who to-day have so many educational advantages. It is a trite saying that every person receives two educations – the one which he receives from others; and the one, more important, which he gives to himself. This is evidently the case with loan Trithyd, the bard of the Vale.

Some years ago, loan Trithyd contributed to the Welsh columns of the “Central Glamorgan Gazette,” under the nom-de-plumes of “Gwitiedydd Arthur Llwvd” and “Yr Hen Baeman.” He is a great reader and takes an especial interest in passing events, and in spite of great age he retains all his mental faculties intact. His handwriting may be described as excellent, considering he has attained the age of 85 years, and his caligraphy would put many of our present youthful scholars in the shade, with all their educational facilities.

HIS SERVICES TO AGRICULTURE

Few men have rendered better service to the agricultural community than loan Trithyd. He ably and faithfully discharged the office of secretary to the Glamorganshire Ploughing Match for thirty years. He resigned two years ago owing to advancing age, and his third son, Mr. Richard Morgan, Pentre Farm, Llantrithyd, now holds the office of secretary.

loan Trithyd has been farming on his own account since he was 28 years of age, or, to be precise, since the year 1857, and he carried on the butchering business in addition to farming, and held a stall in Cardiff Central Market for 37 years, which he handed over to his second son, Mr. William Morgan, Maerdy Newydd Farm, near Bonvilstone, in 1900. loan Trithyd lived at Llantrithyd sixty-four years, and held the Rectory Farm lands and The Cross Farm for many years after the death of the late Mr. John Williams. He also acted as agent for the Rev. Roper Trevor Tyler, M. A., Rector of Llantrithyd, until his death in 1885, and was assistant overseer of Llantrithyd Parish for many years. He became a member of the Cowbridge Farmers’ Club soon after it was founded, and takes a special interest in agricultural matters in general.

IOAN TRITHYD’S MARRIAGE AND FAMILY ISSUE

loan Trithyd married in July 1858, 57 years ago, Sarah, daughter of the late William Matthews, of Waterton Court, near Bridgend, her mother being the only daughter of the late Lewis Jenkins, of Tyr Tran, in the parish of Llanilid, near Pencoed, and a sister to ten brothers, the youngest of them being the late Mr. Daniel Jenkins, of Rythin, near St. Mary Hill, father of the present Mr. Daniel Jenkins, Rythin Farm. loan Trithyd was married very quietly at the Tabernacle Baptist Chapel, The Hayes, Cardiff, which is one of the oldest Non-conformist places of worship in Cardiff, founded in 1821.

By this marriage there were seven children, comprising four sons and three daughters, namely, the eldest son, Mr. Christopher Morgan, who resides at The Cross Farmhouse, Llantrithyd, and has held the farm for the past 20 years, when his father removed to Penyrheol Farm, St. Mary Church. William Morgan, the second son, occupies Maerdy Newydd Farm, near Bonvilstone Village. Richard, the third son, is tenant of Pentre Farm, Llantrithyd, and his youngest son, Thomas Morgan, resides with his father and holds the joint tenancy of Penyrheol Farm, St. Mary Church. Mary, the eldest daughter, married the Rev. W. E. Evans, pastor of Carmel Congregational Chapel, near Bonvilstone Village, of which loan Trithyd has been a member and regular attendant for many years. Alice, the second daughter, is married to Mr. Thomas Watts, Llanmihangel Place, near Cowbridge, a well-known Vale farmer, and the youngest daughter, Maggie, resides with her aged father at Penyrheol, St. Mary Church. The wife of loan Trithyd, the late Mrs. Sarah Morgan, passed away in October, 1899, after raising a family of seven children, and was laid to rest in the peaceful graveyard adjoining Zoar Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Bonvilston. The only surviving sister of loan Trithyd is Mrs. Keziah Davies, residing at Coity Road, Bridgend.

loan Trithyd has 40 grandchildren and one great-grandchild; thus there are four generations of the family living to-day. Four of his grandsons have joined the colours, and are now serving their King and country – three of them brothers, sons of the Rev. W. E. Evans, Congregational minister, Carmel Chapel, Bonvilston (who resides at Llanblethery and has a small holding under Miss Samuel, of London), and the fourth is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Watts, Llanmihangel Place, near Cowbridge.

REMOVAL FROM LLANTRITHYD TO ST. MARY CHURCH.

Twenty-one years ago loan Trithyd removed from Llantrithyd to Penyrheol Farm, St. Mary Church, which is about 2½  miles from Llantrithyd Village, but he still regards Llantrithyd affectionately, and pays frequent visits to his sons at Llantrithyd. During the time he was farming jointly with his youngest son, Mr. Thomas Morgan, at Penyrheol, they won two first prizes, valued £10 each, for the best and tidiest kept farm holding within the limits of the Glamorgan Hunt, besides the first prize of fifteen guineas and two second prizes of five guineas, given by Messrs. Webb and Sons, for the best swedes in the six adjoining counties including South Wales and Monmouthshire.

loan Trithyd often acted as judge at several ploughing matches, and won many prizes at various ploughing matches in his young days. He well remembers several farmers in the Vale ploughing with oxen. His father ploughed with oxen at Ty Uchaf Farm. It is of interest to note that Major-General Tyler’s father, the late Rev. Roper Trevor Tyler, M.A., was the last gentleman to work with oxen on the Rectory Farm at Llantrithyd, and the old plough-man, named Tom Roberts, of Llantrithyd, used to sing to them, and he could be distinctly heard all over the parish exercising his vocal powers to the dumb creatures. Here is a specimen of the songs old Tom Roberts, the ploughan, used to sing to the oxen, at Llantrithyd:-

Mae byd mae bud maibedwen

Mae dur mae dur mae derwen

Mae clai mewn clawdd mai clyw mewn clust,

Mae ffon mae ffust ffaean.

O mari mari fwyn, mae hedd y fo-reu mwyn

Ma’er a-dar bach yn canu a’r gw-cw yn y llwyn

Hw ymlan Hw ymlan Hw.

A BARDIC DUEL.

About 45 years ago, when Mr. Rees Thomas, of Boverton Place, lived at St. Hilary, there were several interesting and exciting ploughing competitions in the Vale. Mr. Rees Thomas, the present well-known Vale farmer, was a first-class ploughman in his young days, and won several first prizes at various ploughing matches. He had, however, a prominent opponent in the person of Mr. Cornelius, of Ogmore, who often competed in these ploughing matches. The rivalry between the two noted ploughmen got exceptionally keen and exciting and loan Trithyd composed some interesting lines eulogising Mr. Rees Thomas, the champion ploughman of the Vale, and another bard or poet from the Bridgend district composed some flattering lines in praise of Mr. Cornelius, the noted ploughman from that district. The general public took a keen interest in the bardic duel. Perhaps some readers of the “Gazette” have preserved these lines of poetry. Mr. E. T. Lloyd, J.P., Llantwit Major, tells me in a recent letter that they caused quite a flutter of excitement among the agriculturists of the Vale, according to the traditional stories he has gleaned from the various inhabitants in the Vale of Glamorgan.

THE HOME OF IOAN TRITHYD

Penyrheol, St. Mary Church Village, the present residence and ideal home of loan Trithyd, occupies a pleasant elevated site, near the right-hand side of the highway leading from Cowbridge to St. Athan Village, Gileston, and The Leys, by the Severn Sea. The house is a substantially built modern structure, erected 21 years ago, with every convenience for a farmhouse and with splendid out-buildings attached. The farm forms part of the extensive Margam Estate, owned by Miss Emily C. Talbot, Margam. The exterior of the house has a picturesque south frontage, with a miniature lawn and a fine display of various old-fashioned flowers and rose trees, which have been carefully and artistically arranged by Miss M. Morgan, loan Trithyd’s youngest daughter, who takes much interest in flower gardening during her spare moments.

THE INTERIOR APARIMENTS

The house contains a large dining-room, containing a number of interesting pictures and family portraits, etc., including a group of loan Trithyd’s family, taken in 1910, on his 80th birthday, and portraits of Miss Talbot, Margam; Sir Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, Bart., Ellesborough Manor, Bucks; Captain Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, M.V.O., and his young baby son and heir, representing three generations of the Aubrey Fletcher family. Near by a portrait of the late Mrs. S. Morgan, wife of loan Trithyd, who passed away in 1899.  A very antique oak table, many centuries old, occupies a space in the dining-room, and four old-fashioned solid oak stools, which are all well preserved. These have been family heirlooms for many generations. On the sideboard table are a number of valuable silver utensils, including a large solid silver teapot, presented to loan Trithyd on his 80th birthday by Sir Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, Bart, with name engraved on it, and a beautiful silver cake dish, given by Major-General and Mrs. Tyler, Llantrithyd House, on his 80th birthday. Some interesting old pictures, purchased recently at Llandough Castle, occupy spaces in the dining- room, one depicting “The Time of Peace,” after Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., and “The Return of the Red Coats,” from the painting by Frank Craig, R.A., and a fine old war picture, “Back from the Battle.” Near the window of the dining room is an antique old-fashioned grandfather’s clock, nearly a century old, and an old picture depicting a scene, entitled, “The Time of War” (engraved by C. Zoben).

In the entrance hall is a very antique oak chair and table, and some interesting pictures of Llantrithyd Parish Church, Carmel Chapel, The Rectory, Llantrithyd (where loan Trithyd and his family resided for 12 years), and a portrait of the grand monument in St. Illtyd’s Church at Llantrithyd.

The sitting room contains a number of interesting pictures, family portraits, and curios, and a very old-fashioned oak corner cupboard, with lozenge-shaped panes, containing a set of antique china over a century old and several unique glass ornaments and old curios of much interest to the antiquary.

INTERESTING REMINISCENCES

Born 85 years ago, loan lrithyd has lived to see great changes and progress made in social reform and in comforts in life. It would need a special chapter to pen all his interesting reminiscences of the days of old. He remembers the old mail coaches travelling from South Wales to London before the Great Western Railway was opened for traffic in 1841; the death of King William IV., in 1837 the Accession of Queen Victoria, June 21st, 1837, and her marriage to Prince Consort in 1840; and the Repeal of the Corn Laws by Sir Robert Peel, 1846.

In conclusion, it should be mentioned that loan Trithyd was specially honoured by a personal visit of the Right Hon. Walter Runciman, M.P., and Mrs. Runciman, and other notabilities, in December, 1912, Mr. Runciman at that period being President of the Board of Agriculture. Both Mr. and Mrs. Runciman were greatly interested in the venerable bard of the Vale during their brief sojourn in the Vale.

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