About this Blog

Welcome to this blog about the coalmining community living in and around Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

One line of my ancestors came from this area, Begelly in particular. They were coalminers but while they no doubt left many marks below ground, they failed to leave too many in the records of the time. Having started my research into my family history around 1999 and finding little information to go on, I turned my interest instead to researching how they lived. I have been captivated by the local history of the area ever since.

Bonvilles Court Colliery early 1900s (Copyright Gary Davies)

I have two purposes in writing this blog. Firstly, I want to relay some of the research I have picked up over the last few years. Several of you “in the know” tell me it is new and interesting material covering both local and family history topics.

Secondly, I would like to encourage others to post both comments and articles. I know from our emails and/or speaking to you that many of you also have something to say about your family’s history in the area and I’d like this to be a platform for you to say some of it. The WordPress software I am using to host this blog allows anyone anywhere in the world to post a comment and, with the right access from me, a fuller post. My hope (fantasy?) is that new sources of original material such as letters, photos and diaries come to light. Fingers crossed.

Richard Nash with family (top right) born Begelly 1860; he is my great-grandfather; picture taken c. 1934 (Copyright J Mein)

Let me finish with 4 quick points:

  1. Having said what this blog is, I must add what it is not. This is not a history of mining techniques. My knowledge of these is non-existant. Anyone interested in this should peruse Martin Connop Price’s books.
  2. Posts will be around 500 words in length at most and should include relevant pictures. Underlying all the posts is the knowledge that, for most of our ancestors, life was tougher than we can imagine today.
  3. My research has covered the parishes of Begelly and East Williamston, Reynalton and St Issells although there will be references to other parishes in the coalfield such as Amroth and Jeffreyston.
  4. Feel free to link to these pages or copy written material from this blog if for non-commercial purposes. In return please do attribute my research if you do publish or pass on to other researchers – it’s a simple courtesy. Please note that most of the images on here are under copyright, details of which are embedded in the image and noted on the post.

So, please read on and tell me what you think by leaving any comments or questions you have. You can also to subscribe to receive notification of new posts and/or comments by RSS. If you know of others who might be interested, do let them know that this blog exists.

If you want to contact me “off blog” then email me at snorbensblog@aol.com



73 thoughts on “About this Blog

  1. Hi Jon.

    My TEAGUE family comes from Begelly {1750’s 1840’s} when my direct Teagues left Pem. for Aberdare, Glam, for work in the coal mines.

    If by chance you come across any info on the TEAGUE’s please let me know.
    As I think all the Pem TEAGUE’s are related into one family back in time.

    Best Regards


    • Hello James

      As you no doubt know there were Teagues in Begelly from the 1851 census to the mid-1870s. George held the Miners Arms pub from around 1854 for most of this time. He had married into one of the long-established families in the parish.

      He was fined £20 at the Narberth Petty Sessions by the Inland Revenue for mixing Guinea pepper in with the hops for the purpose of adulterating his beer. I bet his collier customers loved him for that! (Pembrokeshire Herald, 24/5/1861)

      There’s a nice story in one of W R Morgan’s books about George and a frog. If you haven’t seen this I’ll dig it out for you.

      Were his parents John and Mary who are in Begelly in the 1851 census? If so, I have some notes on burglary at John’s house in 1855.

      You suggest that there were Teagues in the parish in the1700s. I have not come across them if so.


  2. Hi Jon,
    As you know I have particular interests in this part of the world, been a bit quiet of late but couldn’t resist having a peak .. well done

    The photo of Bonville’s Court Colliery reminds me of my 2 x GGrandmother Mary Belt who was a housekeeper for quite a few years (until 1894, when she married and vanished) at Bonville’s Court House, owner Sarah Child – maybe the same Childs’ family of Begelly House? This is the last place I have a record of her, marrying in Sardis Chapel and stated residence as above.

    Anyway keep up the good work, I’ll keep popping in

    • Thanks for your comments, Kevin.

      Yes, you are right. Sarah Child was the widow of James Mark Child of Begelly House. She was his 4th and last wife.

      Probably by the time this picture was taken, the house had disappeared under the spoil heap. I have a sketch of the house and old tower from the 1840s. If I can sort out the copyright, I’ll post a copy on here.


  3. Hi Jon,
    Thanks for the information,
    Was Sarah Child the last occupant of the house, do you know when she died?
    It may be a pointer to my Mary Belt mystery after her marriage, but I do suspect she moved to Trecelyn (Newbridge, Mon) as the man she married, John Davies widow, stated his residence was there on the marriage certificate. I have a theory about this John, being the real father of Mary’s illegitimate son James Belt (my GGrandfather) born 1876 but not registered on his birth certificate. I think he moved to the Newbridge area and after being widowed he came back to Pembrokeshire and reunited with Mary Belt and whisked her off back to Newbridge, a nice little story if it was true, if only I could find them after 1894.


    • Kevin

      Sarah Child: I should have noted on the previous comment that her first name was Sally. She wasn’t the last occupier. She moved out sometime around 1904 and died in Llandudno in north Wales in 1911.

      Have you found John/Mary in the 1911 census?


  4. Hi Jon,

    Well I failed to make any connection in 1901 but I did a search on the 1911earlier this year and found a possible candidate for Mary but not John .. I didn’t pursue it further at the time because the Davies surname is so common, perhaps I’ll revisit and see what comes up.
    At the moment I’m going through some extracts you sent me last year from the Narberth Weekly .. I may have some questions to ask you once I get my head around what I need to ask you, seems like this weekend I’m getting the FH itch again!


  5. Hi Jon,
    Well I had a look at the 1911 and found what I believe to be a match, ages correct, married years correct, both born in Pembrokeshire. I think thats as close as I could get under the circumstances
    I had a suspicion that this may have happened as she also had 2 sisters who had moved to that part of the world and a branch of the family was there as well. The added bonus is the daughter because this means I may have found a parallel descendant line from Mary Belt that no one in my family new existed.


  6. My 3xgreat grandfather John Powell Matthew Myers had a connection with Bonville Court Colliery. Always interested in learning more about both.

    • Ah the illusive Mr Myers!

      We swapped emails about him several years back. I’ve found good information on various of his contemporaries in the coalfield but next to nothing about him. As you no doubt know he took out a lease with James Mark Child to work the seams under Child’s estate at Bonvilles Court in 1840 but there’s no clear evidence for when he gave up the operation. He seems to have traded well and his name became eponymous for the local quality anthracite coal.

      Not much else to add unfortunately apart from some titbits.

      Any thoughts you have will be most welcome.


  7. Hi Jon

    I am in the process of looking up my family tree and came upon your site in the process of looking for any information on the East Pembrokeshire coalfield. According to the 1841 census my great great great grandfather, named Lewis Phillips, lived in the village of St. Issels and his listed occupation is that of collier. I must admit I was rather suprised at this information as like most people I thought that all the major coalfields in South Wales were in the Rhondda valley. Lewis, who was 25 in 1841 came from Swansea originally and is listed as living in Hill Street, St. Issels and being married to Susan, a local woman hailing from St. Issels. One can only presume he moved to Pembrokeshire for the work and met his wife there. The couple went on to have four children and the eldest one, called Thomas is also listed on the 1861 census as living in 39 Mountain Park, Begelly with his wife Elizabeth and is also listed as a coal miner. Thomas’s daughter Anne is the mother of my Grandmother Florence Lewis who was born in Begelly in 1895 and lived at 30 Broom, Begelly in 1895. Her father George Lewis moved to Pembroke dock around about the turn of the century and worked at the royal Dockyard there. It seems Lewis Phillips was a collier all his life and died at St. Issels in 1878 aged 67, his wife Susan died shortly afterwards. Their last address at St. Issels was Balls Caith, which appears to be a cottage. I can only presume that they were both buried at St. Issels church. It would certainly be interesting if you could dig up any interesting tit-bits about the Phillips or the Lewis’s and it would certainly be interesting to know which coal mine Lewis and Thomas worked at.

    Yours sincerely

    Leslie Rutledge

    • Hello Leslie

      Some thoughts on your Lewis/Susannah Phillips:

      1. His parents could be Jeremiah Phillips and Mary (nee Bowen) married Begelly 1796. They had a daughter Jane born in Swansea (according to census returns) abt 1809. In an earlier post on this blog I mused that there is some evidence for a major depression in local mining in the 1809-11 period so it is possible that Jeremiah and family lived in Swansea at this point. They moved back to the St Issells area before 1815.

      2. You are right that Lewis at least was buried at St Issells. He was bured in the burial board plot at the church (see my blog post on the burial board register) on 23/11/1878, the officiating minister being Rev J Thomas, a non-conformist of some denomination. I haven’t found a burial for Susannah so assume she was buried in one of the local chapels.

      3. One of their sons, David, died in a pit accident at Bonvilles Court colliery on 14/11/1867. There are a couple of local newspaper reports about this. He too was buried at St Issells in the burial board plot on 17/11/1867 by Rev Pascoe, Primitive Methodist (PM) minister. This may be a pointer to his mother, Susannah, being buried at the yard at Kingsmoor PM Chapel, now mostly cleared of stones. This chapel is a few hundred yards north of where Lewis/Susannah lived.

      4. No employment records have survived for the local mining companies. It appears that David was working at Bonvilles Court colliery, close to where his parents lived. Lewis may not have worked there as there were several other collieries in operation throughout this period which were close as well eg Moreton colliery.

      Hope this is of interest


      • Hi Jon

        thank you for your answer, sorry I have not replied sooner but now living up in London I’m a little bit away from home and have not had much time to look up anymore of this recently until last weekend when I visited the castle at Haverfordwest. I am certainly sorry to hear about David, it is something I will have a look at. The problem I have with Susan/Susannah is that she constantly changes her name so it becomes more difficult to put the pieces together. Although two ladies of the name Susannah Phillips died in that area about the same time that she died I do not have a perfect match between date of birth and date of death. I did find a Susannah Phillips who died in the Haverfordwest area and was a much better match but could that really be her? Last weekend I went through the parish records of St. Issels church for baptisms and found the combination of Lewis and Susan only once, which was for a couple living in Wooden in 1837 and the child was called Ann. The father was listed as a collier so that fits. On the 1841 census Lewis does not list any of his children of that name. Of course it is possible that the child may have died by then but why are there not records of the baptisms of his other children Thomas, Mary, John and David at St. Issels church. Also I could find no trace of Susan/Susannah having been baptized in St. Issels church although she gives that parish as her birthplace, of course I do not know her maiden name so that was a problem. I also found no trace of Lewis and Susan getting married in St. Issels church, I went back to 1832 when they were both about 14 years old but alsa no trace …. hmm I think there’s a lot of mileage in this one. I would certainly be grateful for anymore information on this part of my family.

        yours sincerely … Leslie Rutledge

      • And apologies for my tardy response…

        Not sure I have anything else to offer on the death of Susan/na Phillips. Did any of her children migrate to south Wales? Maybe their mother went with them.

        There is a baptism for one of Lewis/Susanna’s children at Begelly church, Thomas 28/3/1834, Lewis shown as collier of Pentlepoir Wells, St Issells. Although of course the other children may not have been baptised at all, the link to the Primitive Methodists I mentioned on the previous reply may point us towards the children being baptised at Kingsmoor PM Chapel. The baptism register for this chapel only survives for 1844 onwards and the chapel was open before this. THis is conjecture of course.

        I’d suggest that Susanna’s maiden name was Williams as there’s a marriage at St Issells 12/7/1833 between Lewis Phillips and Susan Williams, witnesses Thomas Prickett and John Thomas. There’s a baptism for a Susanna Williams at St issells 8/12/1812 to John and Hannah Williams.


    • Hello leslie, My relatives are also called Lewis Phillips, he was killed in a mining accident in the Danygraig drift Colliery, Swansea in 1884 aged just 27. Lewis’s parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Phillips, Elizabeth nee Adams, all from Begelly Elizabeths parents were James Adams and Anne Adams Nee Brace, she also had 2 brothers, John, 14 and James, 11 all info on these I found on the 1851 Census. I wonder if our two stories are linked? Kind Regards, Jo

      • Hello Josephine,

        thank you for your reply … sorry I could not reply to your message sooner.

        Reading what you have said it seems that we have a 100% match so my question is … who are you and how are you connected to my family. As I mentioned earlier my Grandmother is Florence Lewis, who’s father was George Lewis from Monkton. His wife was Ann, Anne or Annie Lewis (nee Phillips) from Begelly. Ann was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Phillips and was the sister of Lewis Phillips. Ann must have been 13 when Lewis was killed (sorry to hear about that).

        I did not know that Anne Adams maiden name was Brace so thank you for that …. you mentioned that they had two sons which I was aware of but I also have two daughters Jane and Elizabeth on the 1841 census and I presume that they had more children as their ages at Jane’s birth was given as 30 so it’s reasonable to assume that they had children earlier than the 1841 census. Jane married some fellow called Thomas (haven’t looked into that one yet) but on the 1861 census Jane and her daughter Ann are listed as living with their mother Ann Adams at 32 Bunkers Hill.

        Interesting that the owner of the Thomas Chapel Colliery on the day of the flood disaster 6th June 1838 was called William Brace (any relation to Ann Brace). Four of the six men who died were called Henry Lewis, William Phillips, John Bowen and James Thomas .. all of those names are somehow connected to me in the Begelly area … wonder if any of those poor souls were my relations.

        Anyway Josephine if you have anymore information or need anymore information on the Begelly branch please give me shout.

        Yours sincerely …. Leslie Rutledge

  8. Hey Jon,
    Fantastic blog.
    I have discovered that I had relatives in St Issels involved in the mining community courtesy of the 1851 census.
    John Childs, his son Lewis and his daughter Sarah, all worked at the colliery. His eldest daughter Elizabeth “kept house”.
    Are these the same Childs of Begelly House or is it just coincidental?
    Would love to know….
    Thank you so much

    • Hello Debs

      Apologies for the delay in responding. Nope, there’s no link that I know of with the Child family of Begelly House. The surname “Child” was not uncommon in Pembrokeshire at the time.

      I have a couple of snippets of info on your John Childs if you are interested.


      • That would be amazing! Its all very well doing Ancestry. com but it can be only the” bones” you get and not the” flesh” to pad out the form. Its wonderful to know more about our past and I would be delighted to know more from you. Thank you. 😀

      • John Child was a member of the Tenby Union Society, a benefit society, joining on 17th May 1817. Little original material survives for these early societies in the county, this information coming from a list in the Quarter Sessions records held at the country record office at Haverfordwest (PQ/7/Epiphany/1846). It lists him as a collier born in 1794 and had by 1846 claimed no sick days, surely unusual for the normally poorly colliers of the time. A Thomas Child – his son? – is also listed as a member joining 15/12/1838; he is a collier, born 1818 with 2 sick days claimed for in 1841. There’s a good article about friendly and benefit societies in Pembrokeshire in the Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society – this links to an on-line copy: http://welshjournals.llgc.org.uk/browse/viewpage/llgc-id:1165908/llgc-id:1167232/llgc-id:1167239/get650/friendly%20societies

        In the St Issells tithe award of 1843, John Child is shown holding a cottage, garden and 3 acres of fields from the Hean Castle estate at Little Churchton. By the looks of it, his property was other side of the road from the church heading up to Hean Castle, close to where the modern extension to the cemetery is. Three acres is not much but provided him land to grow some spuds and keep a few cows (two?). Many of the local colliers held small-holdings such as these, a benefit in the frequent downturns in mining activity but the Hean Castle estate charged him £5 5s in 1846 for this benefit (Pemb RO D/PEH/2/21), a hefty sum.


  9. Hi
    I would be interested to get in touch with Joyce Phillips re. her ancestor (William Morris). William’s GP (William Morris and Ann Morris nee Evans) were my Gtx3 GP. In the mention of William living with GM and 2 Uncles (and a Gt Uncle), one of the Uncles was my Gtx2 GF, George Morris. In 1881, William and Matilda lived at 108 Vale Terrace Tredegar, and his Uncle George and family lived at No 111.

    Also, the Josiah Bowen of Woodside (Sardis Mountain) mentioned in your 28 July 2010 blog was George Morris’s father-in-law.

    In addition to Ann Morris nee Evans being a Gtx3 GM on my mother’s side, one of Ann’s brothers, Henry Evans, was a Gtx3 GF on my father’s side. All down to the mass exodus in the 1870s-80s from Pembrokeshire coalfield to the South Wales Coalfields.

    Chris Davies

    • Chris

      Apologies for the delay in responding. I saw a post from you on one of the bulletin boards about contacting Joyce. Have you been successful?

      Josiah Bowen was great-uncle of my g-gfather, Richard Nash.

      The mining community around Begelly and St Issells were close-knit so you’ll probably find you have interests in most of the families in the area.


  10. Hi Jon

    I have just spent an hour or more reading your blogs and the comments and have found it all extemely interesting and very informative.

    My great grandmother Sarah Jane Davies was born in Wooden in 1884, although christened at her mother’s home parish of Jeffreyston. Her father, James Davies’s occupation was a coalminer at that time. He was born around 1859 in Begelly and at his marriage to Esther Hooper in 1880, he records his father as being Thomas Davies, although I have yet to find a birth certificate or baptism record to confirm that.

    Many thanks for sharing your research, I shall keep reading.


  11. Hi Jon

    I haven’t got all my notes to hand, but I think both their addresses were just Jeffreyston – they married there in 1880. They were in Gumfreston in 1881 where James was a farm labourer. Their son John was born and baptised in Gumfreston in 1883. By 1884 when my g grandmother Sarah was born at Wooden, he was a coalminer – not sure why she was baptised at her mother’s parish of Jeffreyston, I had wondered if they had been living there but that Sarah had been born at a relative’s home in Wooden. James and Esther were in Redberth, where they later settled, for the birth of their son William in 1886 and Catherine Ann (Annie) in 1888.


  12. Hi Jon,

    I have only recently discovered your blog and find it fascinating. I have found reference to several of my ancestors in your various articles. One entry that just caught my eye is “They Don’t Make Them Like That Anymore…”. I thought, initially, that the John Thomas referred to was my great-great grandfather who lived at Temple Bar and was married to Elizabeth (Betsey) Craig, but some of the information confused me. I wonder if you can clear it up for me.

    According to the censuses my ancestor John Thomas was born in about 1828 (i.e. would have been 80 in 1908) and was indeed an Under Manager of a Coal Mine in 1891. However the 1901 census shows him as a farmer working on his own account at home. If this is true he would not have had 62 years of unbroken service at Bonvilles Court in 1908. Do you think that the slight age discrepancy and the fact that my ancestor appears to have left mining by 1901 must mean that the newspaper article is about a different John Thomas?

    Hope you can help.

    Best regards,


    • Thanks for your post, Mike.

      Your comment makes good sense. However, who else could it be? The 1891 census establishes a clear link between the JT (married to Elizabeth Craig) and the role as under-manager at BOnvilles Court Colliery (BCC). Moreover, the St Issells Burial Board Register records his occupation as ‘Underground Manager’, residence Temple Bar, aged 82 at the time of his burial 8/12/1909.

      Although of course John Thomas is a common name in the area, there’s no other likely suspect I could find to whom this article could have referred.

      As you can tell, I am dancing around your point about the ‘farmer’ entry in the 1901 census without answering it. The reason is because I can’t explain it. We know from the landowner’s rentals (held at the Pembrokeshire RO, ref HDX/197/186) that John Thomas of Temple Bar was paying £10 10s in rent for a cottage and land at Temple Bar although how much land this was is not clear. I would assume, based on £1 per acre that it was around a 10 acre small-holding, not enough to survive on for a living. The figures for the area was 30 acres minimum to be a full-time farmer. So, he had probably had a few cows and a bit of arable. In this context, the appelation “farmer” might seem erroneous to our eyes.

      So, this reference to a farmer in the 1901 census could simply be an enumerator’s mistake.

      Interestingly my original source for the newspaper article was a short comment in the Narberth Weekly (11/6/1908) which refers to there being a short article about him in he South Wales Daily News (SWDN) including a photograph. When I checked the copy of the SWDN held at the British Library Colindale there was indeed a short article but no photo. I wonder whether there were different editions of this paper and the one the Narberth Weekly referred to is not the same as the one I read at Colindale. If you can find a copy of the SWDN with a picture in it and if you too have a picture of him, then you’d be able to compare them to see if they tally.

      Back to you…I am always willing to be proved wrong!


      BTW…his gravestone at St Issells states that he died ‘through injuries received at Bonvilles Court Colliery’. I couldn’t find any proof that this was a mine accident so never added him to the GENUKI list of local pit deaths that you can link to from my blog page.

  13. My Grand Father William George Beynon worked underground at Bonvilles Court Colliery. I have somewhere one of his pay dockets. My Father who passed away last November 2011 aged 82 worked at Stepaside incline colliery which was owned by Edgar Howells at the time. When Stepaside closed down my Father worked in Seven Sisters Colliery for a while before returning to Kilgetty,

  14. Hi Jon

    I’ve only just seen your blog and was fascinated re 9/5/2011 comments as my GGGGrandfather was John Child! It was great to learn more about him and where he lived. I wonder whether he is bured in the churchyard at St Issells? I am also very interested to know if you have any further information re: his parent’s names or the names of his wife’s parents. Ann Smith (I know Smith is not an easy name to research, but maybe less common in Wales?) was John’s wife. I do know that they were married 26/10/1816 at St Issells. I have also never been able to find a definite death date for John. John’s GGrandson Thomas Childs met and married an American called Elizabeth Jenkins and they lived in Merthyr Mydfil. I don’t know whether they met in Saundersfoot or elsewhere. Family legend has it that Elizabeth, her parents and siblings (inc. one board on board and all Americans) were lucky to survive ther joourney due to the ship they were on, foundering off the coast of Wales. Unfortunately I have no idea when that was or whether it was the original ship or a transfer steamer from Liverool that foundered with no lives lost.

    I guess it’s unlikely you would know anything of the above, but wait with bated breath!!!!


    • Afternoon Hilary

      Yes, John was buried at St Issells on the 24/12/1853 aged 60, residence being Coppit Hall. Probably his parents were David & Susanna Child, baptised 9/8/1793 as it is the only baptism that fits but I can’t prove it. If I am right, then his father, variously a collier or blacksmith, was tenant of land near the church called Little Churchton held from the Hean Castle estate.

      There is a possible Smith famly baptism too. Seeing that John’s wife was buried at St Issells 16/10/1843 aged 52 (residence Churchton), the baptism is 6/10/1791 John (Labourer) and Elizabeth Smith. There are no other siblings baptised in the parish although this is perhaps not surprising as the early-mid 1780s St Isslls register is missing and the surviving part for the late 1780s is probably incomplete.

      As to Thomas : who was he son of?


      • Hi Jon

        Wow, thank you so much for that. I had found various Childs at Coppit/et Hall and did wonder if there might be a connection, I’ll definitely follow this up. It’s quite possible that John would have taken over the tenancy of Little Churchton from his father. I wonder if David was his father, that John might have inherited Coppit Hall on his father’s death.

        Thomas Child’s father was John Childs b 1852. He lived at Rhodewood Terrace, Saundersfoot (now altered/built on in the last few years). John, unlike nearly all the other Childs who were miners, was an ag lab and later gardener. Thomas’ mother was Martha Evans a Calvanistic Methodist.

        Thank you again for the information, more than I could have hoped for.

        Best wishes

      • Hilary

        I don’t know what happened to Thomas. You might find a clue in the obituary and list of mourners/wreathes in the Narberth Weekly newspaper for his father – see 1st & 8th August 1929 for this information. The paper is often full of wonderful information. If you live close to London you can see copies of it at the the British Library at Colindale. If not, let me know and I’ll see if I can get you a transcription.

        There’s a marriage notice in the Tenby News newspaper for Thomas’ sister, Margaret. She married John Jones at Bethesday Calvinistic Methodist Chapel 2/4/1904.


  15. Hi

    Thanks so much, I live in Devon and don’t know when I will next be able to get to London. Is the Colindale branch of the library still open, I thought for some reason that it may have closed and been incorporated at Kew, though I may have got that wrong?

    Thank you very much for the additional info, it’s very good of you.


    • Here are the entries from the Narberth Weekly. Nothing to solve your immediate problem with Thomas but hopefully you’ll find something of interest.


      Thursday 1/8/1929
      pg 5
      “Obituary: We regret to record the death at an advanced age, and after a painful and protracted illness, of Mr John Child, of Rhodewood Cottages.”

      Thursday 8/8/1929
      pg 5
      “Funeral: The funeral took place on Wednesday of last week of Mr John Childs, of Rhodewood Cottages, whose demise at the age of 76 we recorded last week. The Revs. Thomas Griffiths, BA., Bethesda, and C. David, Saundersfoot, officiated at services at the house and chapel. At the latter place, deceased’s favourite hymn, “Peace, perfect peace” was feelingly sung. Miss Phillips, Hollybush, presided at the organ. The chief mourners were: Mrs Childs (Widow), Mr Robert Childs, Pembroke (son); Misses Ruth & Rhoda Childs (grand-daughters); Mr Howard Childs (grandson); Mr & Mrs Watkins, Pembroke, etc; while the general public was also well represented. Beautiful floral tributes were sent by the family, Mrs Stewart, Mrs Glascott, the Misses Hale, Miss de Vine and Mary; Mrs Warlow, Mrs Seabourne and family, and all at Rhodewood Lodge.”

  16. Wow
    Thank you so much Jon, as I suspected Thomas was not around, I believe he may have already died as the result of a mining accident at one of the Merthyr Tydfil pits. He didn’t apparently die in the accident but I believe died a few years later, probably as a result of his injuries. As per usual I have no idea which pit he worked in or when the accident occured, but that’s another story.

    Interestingly since our last communication I’ve been looking into John Child snr (the above’s Grandfather of Coppet Hall), I believe you are right that David Child is his father as David is listed on the UK Land Tax redemption re Little Churchton as is John Snr on the 1842 Tithe Allotment record for St Issells.

    Once again thank yiou so much for fleshing out the bones of my ancestors your time and effort are very much appreciated.

    Best wishes

  17. Hello Jon – really interesting blog.

    We haven’t any relatives in the area but we own a house in Begelly that we are trying to find some more information about. Now known as Brynawelon (last occupant Len Turner), it was shown previously as “The Lodge” and “Begelly House Lodge” as it was the lodge to Begelly House. We met a little girl who was born there – Megan Lewis who remembers going to stay with relatives when an upstairs floor went on in 1927. We also know (Megan told us) that it was owned by her Grandfather (William Griffiths) who sold it to her father (William Thomas – the one armed post man).

    I have found references in census records to the lodge being in existence in 1850’s, but we think it may be older than that. We are doing an extensive renovation and having taken plaster off have uncovered what we think was an old external doorway into what we believe was the original past of the house.

    Also we have been told by locals of a story that at one point (no idea of validity or dates) the lodge was home to the mistress of the owner of Begelly House who supposedly had his illegitimate child. The owner was said to have let the hounds have the baby!

    If you know any more than us, we’d be really interested as the history of the house and area fascinates us.

    Many thanks


    • Thanks for your comments, Helen, and thanks for your interesting questions.

      The history of the Lodge is obscure but I can offer some thoughts.

      Firstly, the tradition of the mistress. As so often’s the case, there’s more than a grain of truth in this. The owner of the Begelly House estate for the period from 1815-70 was James Mark Child (JMC). His domestic circumstances are bewildering. Married four times with a son born to the second wife in 1824 and a son born posthumously in 1871 to the fourth wife. That’s not all. He had at least four illegitimate children too and one of these is closely linked to the Lodge. This is Albert Theodore Hook Child born 1851 to JMC and his married servant, Mary Hooks. You’ll find her in the 1851 census in Begelly with her legit kids, the husband Isaac away mining in Llangattock. The link to the Lodge is in the 1861 census where you’ll find her in the Lodge with one of her legit sons AND also another of JMC’s bastards, Frederick Lloyd. Now bear in mind that JMC and his then wife were living 50 yards up the drive in Begelly House, what do you think? Not sure about the ‘hounds’ part – JMC treated his illegitimate family better than his son.

      Secondly, I’ll have a ponder about the history of the lodge over the next couple of days and come back to you. I have a note that it was called Hill House in the 1850s but I need to check that.


      • Sooner than I thought, Helen, I have an answer for you with which I am comfortable.

        Have you come across tithe awards before? If not, these are often very detailed surveys including a large scale map and list of owners and occupiers for many parishes in the country. The Begelly tithe map dates to 1842 – give or take a year. I have looked at this and it is clear that the Lodge does not exist. Instead there are three houses (shaded black) in the area where the Lodge and garden are today. As I generally trust this map, I suggest that the Lodge was built after 1842. There are two further properties which are not shaded – maybe small barns or uninhabited properties.

        However, the buildings on the tithe map clearly don’t share the same alignment with the Lodge as it is today. So at some point the Lodge was built from scratch OR perhaps it is an enlargement of one or two of the existing Hill House buildings. It may be that it is an 1840s redevelopment and it so this would tie in with my comments about the second phase of development of Begelly House on my blog.

        That’s where I can take you no further and you’ll need an architectural historian to take a view. At the very least you may want to take some photos of this doorway you have found so you have some evidence.

        Via email I will send you a copy of the Lodge part of the map so this all makes more sense.


  18. Thank you Jon for this very helpful information.

    Anyone reading this – I am very interested if anyone has any old photographs of the Lodge or previous inhabitants – especially Len Turner who everyone speaks about with such fondness.

    Thanks again Jon


  19. Hi, my family are from Begelly too in 1841. James Barzey was living with his family in Mountainpark. I am struggling with locating his birth. Any information would be really great.

    • Not sure I am going to be any help here. Other than the family’s presence in Begelly in the 1841 census and then in the St Issells census in 1851 (birthplace Carew), which I am sure you know, I have nothing else much to offer. They appear in the Begelly tithe award for a cottage and small garden at Mountain Park – although I have transcribed his forename name as William, my mistake perhaps.

      Looking at the pre-1837 non-conformist registers recently published on Ancestry, there is a large grouping of the surname in the north-west of the county from the 1790s onwards although no one called James. I assume he doesn’t appear in the parish registers index on Findmypast but I don’t have access to that service.

      There were several men named Barzey around the Begelly area in the 1680-1730 period but that’s not anything you can build a research idea around.

      And that’s it!


  20. Hi there Jon.

    A very interesting blog site here – well done on publicising these oft forgotten coalfields of Pembrokeshire.

    I’m currently rather confused. I have growing reason to believe that my ggg-grandfather and his eldest son were killed in the Garden Pit Disaster of 1844. Their names were James and John Davies. They would seem to be the same family mentioned in the Carmarthen Journal report mentioned here – http://www.welshcoalmines.co.uk/Carm/Landshipping.htm.

    There was indeed left a widow and 5 children from this family – including a Thomas Davies who I believe to be the same that would later father my great-grandmother Sarah Davies.

    Which begs the question, how is there no James Davies (as mentioned in that Carmarthen Journal article) inscribed on the plaque down at Landshipping Quay which was unveiled back in 2002??

    I’m not expecting any clear answer here but am just bouncing the dilemma around to see where I go from here.


    Mark Cole

    • Thanks for your post, Mark.

      As you can tell from my blog, Landshipping is outside my area of interest.

      However, were I researching this area of the coalfield, I’d turn to the following book. It covers the history of the parish of Martletwy, which includes Landshipping, and there’s something at the back of my mind that the book’s researchers had something to do with the erection of memorial.

      These are the details:

      Davies, Robert Llewellyn. A river never sleeps : a local history of Martletwy, Minwear, Newton &, Coedcanlas 1750-1950 . Landshipping, Martletwy & Newton Millennium Committee?, c1999. (pp.436).

      If you don’t live in the Pembrokeshire area, you might be able to get a copy on inter-library loan or from one of the second-hand book websites.


  21. Hi Jon,

    Many thanks for your swift reply.

    Yes, I have a paperback copy of ‘A River Never Sleeps’ and also Martin Connop-Price’s History of the Pembrokeshire Coalfield. I’ll revisit them both.

    I’ve also found matching death indexes for both a James and John Davies with which I’m going to request death certificates from Haverfordwest.

    Many thanks once again,


  22. Anyone related to the Childs of Roch in Pembrokeshire? They were tenant farmers in the 18th century.

  23. My family are Childs and were tenant farmers in Begelly, about 20 miles away. Are you able to give me an idea of what time period you’re interested in? Not sure if there’s a connection.

    • They have been traced back to about 1700 give or take a few years, but of course it would be nice to find out more about them. A friend of mine said that the name Childs was common there but some research shows that that name is not common at all, and I don’t even think it is Welsh at all. If you would like to correspond I would prefer to do so privately via email. If we can, we could email Jon and communicate through him initially, unless you are related to Jon then you may know my email address anyway?! Please free to email me if so, if not, you or I contact him and we could communicate, I have a little research but some may be interesting and the name is so uncommon we may indeed be related somewhere down the line.

  24. Hi Tim….think the surname Childs pre-dates the Norman conquest and so is a really old Anglo-Saxon name given to a nobleman’s first born son. There have been Childs in Pembrokeshire since at least the 1600’s….there was definately an enclave in Tenby, a few in Haverfordwest and Roch and then they gravitated towards Goodwick and Fishguard. I’m on Ancestry.co.uk and the tree is Childs-McCreadie. Please feel free to have a look or ask me anything that might be pertinant…I’m always intrigued to see how we all inter connect!!
    Good luck!
    Debs Childs McCreadie

  25. Yes definately get in touch via email…. can I leave that with you to organise?

    • Will do right now Debra. I will ask Jon via his email to give you mine, or give mine yours; it doesn’t matter really does it? Chat soon.

  26. Great stuff… I’m in Cambodia at the mo'( NOT researching any Childs’…) but fly back on Thursday. Give me a week to reply to anything you may need from me. Thanks Tim….

    • Sure.. no probs… get back to me when all is convenient… I’m a patient kind of guy!!! And kind of busy too most days!!!

  27. Hi my Partner had ancestors that were miners in spadeland a George Powell b 1849 in 1891 census he is a coal miner in 1911 he is a farmer in begelly and one of his sons William George Powell 1890 is a Postman in Begelly George’s father was also in begelly in 1851 a john powell b 1811 anyone on here now any of these names

    • Hi Chris
      I now live at Spadeland and have some research on the Powells, there is a photograph of William in “The Story of Begelly” by W. R. Morgan, p 22
      Steve Insell

  28. Very interesting blog! In the parish churchyard of St Mary Magdalene in the town of Saint Clears, Carmarthernshire, there is the following monument to my ancestors, which shows that, in fact, a house called the Lodge at Begelly was in existence prior to 1824, and was inhabited by a Thomas Bowen (c.1764-1824). I would be extremely grateful for any more information concerning the Bowens at Begelly.

    “In memory of Thomas Bowen, late of the Lodge in the Parish of Begelly, in the County of Pembroke, who departed this life in this town Decr 10th 1824, aged 60 years”

    “Also in memory of Ann Bowen, youngest daughter of the above Thomas Bowen, who departed this life July 1st 1826, aged 17 years”

    “To left lieth the remains of Mary, wife of Thomas Rees, of Saint Clears, eldest daughter to the above Thomas Bowen, died Octr 5th 1831, Aged 33 years.”

    “Also in the same grave lieth the remains of Thomas Rees, husband of the above Mary Rees, who departed this life Febr 26th 1840, in the 44th year of his age.”

    [“this monument was erected by Thomas Rees’s and Mary Bowen’s grandson, Thomas Bowen Rees, of Boudjah, Smyrna, Asia Minor, in the year 1919”]

    • Hello Graham

      I was interested to read your comment as I live in a house in Begelly that used to be called “the Lodge” as it was the lodge to Begelly House. However I don’t think it was the house that Thomas lived in as we think it was built around the 1850’s. However we know that there is an old map 1800’s ish that has 3 small buildings that could have been small dwellings (or animal sheds) so it’s possible that some of the walls (that we think are the oldest in the house) may have formed part of these.

  29. Hi
    I have been researching my Clunn /Gwyther ancestors of Manorbier for over ten years
    There is a connection with the Child’s of Coppits Hall
    I wondered if there are any photos of any if my ancestors
    Particularly William Davies Clunn and Annie Gwyther if Oatk Farm ,Manorbier

  30. My family was the John fsmily from begelly the moved to Pennsylvania about 1864 their nect door neighbors were Thomas and childs they lived in shamokin pa my e mail is mr_ndrws@yahoo.com I’m just browsing thru and away from my info. When I saw this post I will be in wales in may 2016 I live in calif. Would be fun for all of us on this sit to get together …the old neighborhood so to speak 🙂

  31. Hi Jon, thank you for this wonderful blog! I am researching the Hughes and Hale family of Amroth/Stepaside. Mary Ann Hughes (nee Hale, her father farmed Pwll-y-grippin) took all of her children to Canada in May, 1913, where they all settled in Alberta. Mary Ann and James lived at 12 Woodside Cottages, Stepaside, and by 1901 on Brookland Terrace, Nantymoel, Glamorgan. I’m struggling to find news of her husband James Hughes, born in 1867, Band of Hope, Amroth, and who did NOT go to Canada with the family; I’ve heard he lived in Wales until around 1940. Would very much love to understand what happened there! All my research is in a public tree on Ancestry, if anyone would like to connect.

    • Hello Alison

      Thanks for your post. I checked my files just now and unfortunately have nothing to offer on this. Hopefully someone else will pick this up in due course and solve the conundrum.

      Happy hunting.


      • Hi! Found my way back to your blog with an update–I have traced the Hughes family a lot further now, including the death of James Hughes (12 May, 1928). He had returned to Staggers Hill, Amroth. Mary Ann lived in Canada until her death in British Columbia in 1961. One of her sons, Vern Hughes, wrote a wonderful book about the family’s life in Alberta and BC: it’s called “My Life On The Alberta Coal Branch” and tells the stories of growing up in a migrant, mining community in Alberta, Canada. This is where the Hughes family from Amroth settled for several years, along with others from the same area of Wales. You can sometimes find a copy of the book on Amazon.

  32. My G Grandad was the child of JMC and Sally. Unfortunately when he was born his father who was in his 70s had already died. The estates and house reverted back to the family of a previous wife, his other legitimate son had already died. My GG Grandmother Sally was given a house to live in known as de Bonville Court near Saundersfoot and given an allowance for as long as she stayed unmarried. She never married again but I suspect she had another child a daughter. My G Grandfather, also James Mark Child, was very well educated at Cambridge and became a well known mathematician. He had eight children one of which was my Grandfather Robert Mark Child.

    • My family was the john family Martha john and John john ….they left about 18 64 to go to Shamokin Pennsylvania …their are child families , that were there as well in the 1870 census …near by and I believe Teague if you’re looking for families that have disappeared it was a mass migration to America during this time specifically from Begelly

      • Evening

        Thanks for your post. The Child family that Annette refers to were the big cheeses of Begelly owning the main House and fair chunks of both Begelly and St Issells parishes. So, they were a cut or two above the John (yours) and Nash (mine) families. No migration for the Childs.


      • I went back to begelly two years ago?..and going back next , summer I actually walked down the pathway to the Begelly house..in the fences of mt.carmel there are child family living down the street from my great grandparents from Begelly ..they came over the same year…. Tintypes we’re not sure who they are … either the john or the andrews family photos anyway it’s just something that someone might check into have a good morning

  33. I’m part of the John clan too. Also related to the Teagues of Cornwall.
    Do you have any more information by chance?
    Thank you.

  34. Also… does anyone know anything about a Childs being the miller at Amroth Mill? I think he’s one of mine but need a bit more info to confirm. Thank you !

  35. Hi my ancestors Rebecca & Thomas Hall leased land..Bonville Court. From the 1790 Land Tax Assessment records Thomas Hall was the tenant of part of Bonville Court. Bonville Court was owned by James Child of Begelly. After Thomas Hall’s death, the property known as part of Bonville Court was leased by widow Hall. She died 1826. Would anyone have photos or information as to what this land would have been used for..thank you..I have read comments above and I don’t think Thomas was a miner…

    • Local artist, Charles Norris, did a pleasing sketch of the house as it was in June 1835 showing what appears to be the medieval tower as well. When I saw it about 10 years ago, it was held by Cardiff Central Library (ref. CL Index XV-506). One of the problems with Bonvilles Court is that at this time the land was let individually by the Child family – hence ‘part’ you refer to in the Land Tax returns. I could never be certain who leased what. Did the Halls have the main house that Norris sketched? The fields would have been set to agriculture although pock-marked by bell-pits marking former mining activity.

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