Gerald Morgan, Historian, Teacher and Author takes part in our #LoveMaps campaign.
Glanystwyth Map 1787Of all the National Library’s resources, none has given me more pleasure than did the maps of Trawsgoed (Crosswood) and other estates when I researched their history and that of Ceredigion. More than one landsurveyor drew maps for the owners of Trawsgoed: their purpose was to show them how much land they owned and where, showing also the uses made of their fields and their names. A W.W. Matthews surveyed Trawsgoed in 1756, but only the demesne map survives, showing the grounds around the mansion.
The same was done with greater artistic skill by Mercier in 1771, and in 1781 Thomas Lewis made a comprehensive survey of the whole estate in Cardiganshire. These survive in three substantial volumes, and although a few maps have vanished during the intervening years, the collection is particularly valuable to the historian. They also contain a map of Tan-yr-allt, Abermagwr, where the writer lived with his family for fifteen happy years. But a different map is under consideration today.
By the second half of the eighteenth century most of the farms in Cwmystwyth and upper Dyffryn Ystwyth beyond Llanilar were formed a mosaic of two different ownerships, Trawsgoed and Hafod Uchdrud. In 1790 there was a grand exchange of these farms to consolidate their two estates between Wilmot earl of Trawsgoed and Thomas Johnes of Hafod. But one farm in Dyffryn Ystwyth remained with Hafod – Glanystwyth, together with the attached farm, Gwaununfuwch, forming one tenancy.
When Johnes went bankrupt in 1814, dying in the following year, the Hafod estate remained in Chancery until his widow Jane died in 1834. Then the Duke of Newcastle bought the whole estate except for Glanystwyth, which had been sold to the third earl of Lisburne in 1832 for £8,400. The acreage was estimated at 300, and the annual rent was £250. What then of the Glanystwyth map? It’s a complicated story.
Thomas Johnes had commissioned a survey of the Hafod estate in 1787, but alas, apart from a volume of maps of the Llanddewibrefi farms, all were lost some time after 1830. But the Glanystwyth map had gone with the sale of the farm in 1832, and so survives. Unfortunately we cannot show the schedule of fields which belongs to it, but every field has a number corresponding to the schedule: A1-A24 for Glanystwyth, B1-B14 for Gwaununfuwch.
How then does this map relate to today’s geography? We are in the lower Ystwyth, on the northern side of the river, a mile east of Llanilar village. The road shown running from the top to the bottom of the map is today’s B4340 from Aberystwyth to Pontrhydfendigaid. The rivulet shown running from right to left below the fields is the one called today Afon Llanfihangel, but its original name was Afon Pyllu, as shown by the the names Pwlly Uchaf and Pwlly Isaf (at one time the Aberpyllu estate, long vanished). A road is show running above the river Pyllu: this is now a green lane for most of its course.
Glanystwyth itself (A1) appears to the right of the high road. Although the house has been modernised more than once, its massive walls betray its ancient origin. From the point of view of the historian, the most interesting name is at A10, Pentre Du, on the bank of the Pyllu. It is described as ‘Houses, Mill, etc’. Nothing is visible today, but the name is still known to some local people. It’s likely that this was a cluster of earthen houses, possibly built by squatters. The Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn registers show that in 1801 two girls from houses in Pentre Du died of small-pox. In 1861 there were still three families living in ‘Black Village’; by 1901, only one family remained.
Most of the field names are common ones: Cae Pwll, Cae Bach, Cae Coch and so on. More interesting is A3, Dol y Cappel (Chapel field). What does this refer to? There is no record of any chapel close to Glanystwyth, nor any other institution such as a Sunday School. The same problem occurs on the Tan-yr-allt map, where a Cae Capel is located in 1781: it turned out to be the site of the recently-discovered Roman villa. Field A16 is Cae Ty’n y fron, a good example of the way a larger farm (Glanystwyth) could absorb a smaller property, the tyddyn of Ty’n y fron.
On the bank of the river Pyllu is Dol-y-pandy (A14), literally ‘Fulling-mill meadow’, though the mill itself seems to have gone by 1787. Next to it is A13, land ‘about the Mill Leet’ referring to a channel made for water from the Pyllu to the mill at Pentre Du. There is nothing special about the field names of Gwaununfuwch: the farm name (‘One-Cow Moor’) suggests poor land.
When I first saw the map about thirty years ago I showed a copy to Mr Hugh Tudor, son of Mr Tom Tudor the then owner of Glanystwyth, now owned by his brother Richard. Hugh listed the current names of all the fields, and though many fields had been joined together and lost their old 1787 Welsh names, a good percentage still remained in use. But the use made of the fields had changed dramatically: some ten fields then used for corn had almost all joined the others under pasture.
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This post is also available in: Welsh