Two New History Books with Morgan Connections

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A NEW BOOK November 2013

The Williams Family of Maesruddud House (now known as Maes Manor Hotel) Blackwood

This book traces the history of the Williams family who by a, system of purchasing, inheriting and probably the most important method, marrying, over a period of nearly 400 hundred years assembled an estate of at least 23 farms in the old parishes of Bedwellty and Gelligaer. In the early 1800s the family fortunes greatly increased because of the coal that lay beneath their lands, furthermore some towns were built on their farm land. The town of Pontlottyn in the Rhymney Valley was virtually built solely on Maesruddud estate land. One of the sons of Maesruddud became one time vicar of Undy ,near Newport. His son EDMUND KEYNTON WILLIAMS went to Oxford with the intention of also taking Holy Orders, but he entered the army and had a distinguished career, finally, as Sir Edmund Keynton Williams, he concluded his military career as General of the Central Division of the Madras Army, East India. He was made a Freeman of the Borough of Newport in 1816. But, back at Maesruddud, the family fortunes increased and in 1894 the old, but substantial, farmhouse was replaced by the present day building. The house was built by Edmund Davies Williams who died in 1895, his estate was valued as the equivalent to £4.5 million in today’s money. In his funeral report it was said that his nephew, Edmund Williams Tom Llewellyn Brewer of Dan y  Graig House near Christchurch, Newport was the next male heir to the Maesruddud estate; in 1907,by Royal license, he was allowed to take the additional surname of Williams. The photographs below are, left to right, Maes Manor hotel, and E.W.T. Llewellyn Brewer-Williams in his uniform as a Deputy Lieutenant (of Monmouthshire) outside the Great Castle House, Monmouth.

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Mr Brewer-Williams was called to the Bar (The Inner Temple) in 1894, but he never practised as a Barrister. He did not need to work because of his fairly substantial income from the Maesrudud estate. Instead he maintained a flat above a jeweller’s shop in Vigo Street (which is just off Regent Street) London. He had an “arrangent” with Willie Bertolle, the jeweller; Brewer-Williams had the cash and Bertolle the expertise and reputation as a jeweller. Bertolle had in fact made Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubille bracelet; he supplied,in 1923, the Queen mother’s engagement ring. In 1947 he gave the remains of the nugget of Welsh gold, which had been used to make Royal weding rings, to the present Queen Elizabeth II when she married the Duke of Edinburgh. Brewer-Williams and Bertolle had a very comfortable life style, they travelled around the world together.

In 1909 Mr Brewer-Williams married a very young widow by the name of Etienne Dunbar, she was age 30 and had a daughter who regrettably spent most of her adult life in care because of mental health issues. In the 1930s Mr & Mrs Brewer-Williams loaned many paintings, items of furniture and porcelain to the Newport Museum. Following the death of Mr Brewer-Williams in 1945 the loan was converted to a donation, there are now nearly 1000 items held at the museum which form the Brewer-Williams collection. Foremost amongst the collection is a leather bound book containing sketches by Turner.

Mr Brewer-Williams  bequeathed the estate to his wife, but there is a distinct possibility that he had an amount of jewellery stashed away in London. Etienne, died in 1960, by then she had moved out of Maesruddud House. She set up a trust for the lifetime of her daughter, and upon her death the trust went absolutely to Dr Barnado’s charity.

Thank you Newport Museum for your invaluable assistance

THE BOOK, 199 pages, is available from the author, David Mills for  £8.50 plus postage of £1.50

Contact david.mills1947@hotmail.co.uk or tel. 02921401684 or 07816604234

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A New Book

THE HISTORY OF THE TREDEGAR MINERAL ESTATE.

Whilst researching the history of the South Wales Iron and Coal industries with a view to writing a local history of the village of Aberbargoed, a village in the Rhymney Valley and its roots, including Pontaberbargoed, a chance visit to Tredegar library in 2011 and a meeting with Janet Carn the librarian, turned up a set of old books named “The history of the Development of the Tredegar Mineral Estate”, a narrative written by J. Hopkins Thomas in 1933/34. Mrs Carn referred to them as “The Skip books”.

Further enquiries revealed that the books, along with other materials, had been thrown into a skip in Mynydd Y Garreg, near Llanelli, in 2002, after the death of the owner of a house in that village.

Fortunately, the books were discovered before they could be dumped and were sent for safekeeping to Tredegar library where they remained until Mrs Carn brought them out for inspection.

 At the time, some notes were taken but it soon became apparent that the information contained in the books was virtually unique as it did not appear in any other local history book. From then on, several visits to the library over a two year period with a camera meant the every page was copied one by one and transcribed into “Word” documents. It was in the summer of 2013 that I sought permission from Janet to publish  a new book based on the old narratives. This was granted and the book appeared in early October 2013.

This first book, called “The History of the Tredegar Mineral Estate” covers a large number of leases granted by Sir Charles Morgan and his son Charles Morgan Robinson Morgan to a variety of coal owners and prospectors in Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire from the early 1820’s up until 1934. It also describes in detail, the negotiations and wrangling that led to the granting of the leases. The second book, which has not yet been published, will be named “The History of the Tredegar Mineral Estate in Glamorganshire”. The publishing date has not yet been set. It will, however, follow the original narrative very closely with some additions based on information that was not available at the time of writing in the same way that book 1 was produced.

The book is available by post from the Publisher, Park Mile Publications, details 01443 822649, from the Author,(email gw0giq@hotmail.com), from the Winding house at New Tredegar and on Amazon. It is priced at £10-95 plus £2-80 postage.

W. Smith

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