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The Thomas Family of Banwen farm, Glanaman, Carmarthenshire, Wales

Compiled by Alan James Price (

According to notes of a conversation with 77-year-old Sarah Philips taken 28 August 1968, her father's grandfather James Thomas (1800-11 January 1868) first came into the area as a servant at Ty'n-domen, Glanaman. She was unsure about the name of his wife but thought that she was also a Thomas. There is a marriage recorded at Y Bettws on 4 May 1822 between James Thomas and Anne Thomas, both with a mark, witnessed by Thomas Thomas and David Williams. Unfortunately, no parents or addresses are recorded. Thomas Thomas' signature looks very similar to that of the groom in the wedding of a Thomas Thomas and Margaret Thomas of Bettws parish who married in 1816 and appeared to reside at Penbwnshwn (a nearby farm) in the 1841/51/61 censuses. Thomas was born in Bettws, Margaret in Llangyfelach.

Whereas Anne is consistently shown as having been born in the parish, the three censuses in which James appears have him born in the county (1841), in Cydweli (1851) - Carmarthenshire, but a considerable distance, and Llangyfelach (1861), Glamorgan, the adjacent parish over the mountain. James' age also varies so that his actual birth year could be between 1797 and 1806. His death registration on 11 January 1868 shows him as aged 67 which, if accurate, indicates a birth almost certainly in 1800.

In the 1841 census we find the Thomas family at Banwen - a hill farm, like the adjacent Ty'n-domen and Penwaun - in the parish of Bettws, Carmarthenshire where they were all listed as born in the county (all adult ages were rounded down to the nearest 5 years in that census):
James Thomas 35 labourer
Anne Thomas 35
David Thomas 15
John Thomas 12
Ann Thomas 10
Esther Thomas 6
Thomas Thomas 3
William Thomas 8 months

In Esther's obituary (see below) she was said to be one of eight children, three of whom were girls (Esther being the youngest). In the obituary the other two girls were named as 'Cattws' (formally Catherine Thomas) died April 1898 and 'Nansen' (formally Ann Thomas) died May 1903. 7 children have been identified. It is possible that the 8th might be lodger/grandson/son Rees Evans/Thomas.

In the 1851 census David and Ann junior had left home. James Thomas was recorded as 51, an agricultural labourer with 63 acres, born Carmarthenshire, Cydweli - the spelling indicating that the enumerator spoke Welsh. The remainder of the household were born in Bettws parish: Ann Thomas was 49, John (a coal labourer) 22, Esther 17, Thomas 14, William 11, and lodger Rees Evans 1 year 6 months. No Rees Evans was registered in Llandilofawr mid-end 1849.

The Welshman December 2 1859 - LLANDEILO PETTY SESSIONS (...)
Jane Evans, of Tyndornen (sic), Bettws, was charged by Esther Thomas, of Cwmgarenig (sic), with assaulting her on the 17th instant. The complainant deposed: On the 17th of this month I was going to the mill, and passing the defendant's house. The defendant met me at the pine-end of his house with a large stick in his hand, which he broke on my back by beating me. My mother, who was going out with food for the pigs saw her beating me, and began to call out. He then left me, and I went back to a neighbour's house. I did not strike the defendant in return. Ann Thomas, the complainant's mother, confirmed her daughter's evidence. Fined 1s. and costs.-Paid.

The following curious piece comes from The Welshman April 20 1860:

LLANDILO COUNTY COURT. - On Monday last this court was held before John Johnes, Esq., judge. (...) There were about 60 plaints entered, very few of which came on for hearing, and all of them were void of public interest, except the following:- James Thomas, of Banwen, Bettws, against Henry Knight Eaton, of Swansea. Mr. J. L. Popkin appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. Tripp, Swansea for tbe defendant. This was an.action to replevy a cow and a mare distrained upon by the defendant for rent due from the plaintiff for a cottage and garden, called Banwen Bettws. which was bequeathed to the defendant by Thomas Thomas, in trust for the defendant's daughter. On the part of the plaintiff it was alleged that no rent had been paid to Mr. Eaton, and that the property belonged to John Thomas, a brother of the said Thomas Thomas. The case occupied the court upwards of three hours; when a verdict was found for the defendant.

NOTE: Henry Knight Eaton was married to Hephzibah Anna Padden in 1847. In the 1851 census the only child was Jane Lewis Eaton aged 2, born Swansea. Hephzibah died in 1856 and timber merchant Henry was a lodger in Clase, Llangyfelach with daughter Jane Eaton in 1861. Henry remarried to Julia Margaret Georgia Mason in Clifton in 1862. He was admitted into Holy Orders as assistant curate of Llangyfelach in 1865 and went on to be Vicar of Christ Church, Stafford where he performed a service of marriage between Jane Lewis, his eldest daughter, to the Rev. William Ostle of Shrewsbury in 1876. Jane Lewis Ostle died in 1911.

Probably as a result of the dispute, Banwen was unoccupied in the 1861 and 1871 censuses. In 1861 James Thomas was at nearby Cwmgrenig Cottage recorded as aged 63, a labourer born Llangyfelach, Glamorgan with wife Anne (59) born Bettws, Carmarthenshire. John was no longer with them. Esther (25), Thomas (23) coal miner, William (20) coal miner, Rees Evans, grand son (11) and Daniel Thomas, grand son (5) were all identified as born Bettws.

James Thomas died on 11 January 1868 at Cwmgrenig, Bettws of stomach cancer with associated Anasarca (edema). In 1871 Anne Thomas was a 69-year-old widow working as a flannel ? and living at part of Cwmgrenig with daughter Esther (32), similarly employed, son Rees Thomas (21) collier (presumably grandson Rees Evans) and grandson Daniel Thomas (17) collier.

1. Catherine Thomas (c.1823-13 April 1898) ('Cattws')

A Catherine Thomas with a rounded age of 15 was a female servant, not born in county, at Cwmgarnant in the 1841 census. The other occupants were farmer Watkin Harries and wife Margaret, both born in county with rounded ages of 60. She had a child before her marriage:

Rees Thomas or Evans (September 22 1849-1914) was registered as Rees Thomas, mother Catherine Thomas, by James Thomas, occupier of Banwen, Bettws on October 1 1849. Rees Evans' marriage certificate records his father as also Rees Evans, collier. Rees married Elizabeth Thomas (1852-1910), daughter of Richard Thomas, collier on September 26 1881 at the Register Office in Llandilo-fawr.

Carmarthen Journal February 18 1910:

I have to chronicle the painfully sudden death of the wife of Mr. Rees Evans (Vardre), near Bethel, Whilst in the act of preparing food for her husband and children who had just come home from work she suddenly dropped dead. Her medical attendant was immediately summoned, but death had been instantaneous. Mrs. Evans had for some time been suffering from a weak heart, but had always been able to perform the household duties. It is such sudden deaths as these that remind us of the words "In the midst of life we are in death."

Amman Valley Chronicle May 21 1914:

Dydd Llun diweddaf buon eto yn talu y gymwynas olaf i un o'r hen frodorion, sef Mr. Rees Evans, Vardre, ger Bethel Newydd, ac efe yn 64 oed. Claddwyd ef yn mynwent Hen Bethel, a'r Parchn. J.Edryd Jones a John Thomas yn gweinyddu.

As noted earlier, Rees was buried with Catherine Davies (nee Thomas), her husband and son.

In the 1911 census Rees was a widower who had 5 children born alive of whom 2 had died. His children included:

  • Richard Gwynrhydd Evans (August 22 1883-1944) who married Annie Williams (July 13 1886 - ). They had children including:
    1. Idris Evans (Feb 18 1915 - ) a Colliery Ring Straightener in 1939.
    2. Gomer Gwynrhydd Evans (Dec 12 1919-2005) a Railway Wagon Repairer in 1939. Married Nesta H Morris (1919- ) in 1944.
    3. Luther Glyndwr Evans (Nov 1 1921-1991) a Railway Wagon Repairer in 1939.
    4. D Charles Evans (Nov 4 1923 - ) a Colliery Labourer Below Ground in 1939.
    5. Hilda M Evans (Apr 9 1925 - ).
  • Rees Mervyn Evans (Mar 31 1888-1953). A single coal hewer in 1939 living in Penybont, Cwmaman.
  • Lizzie Olwen Evans (1890-1911)

Catherine married David Davies (1823-21 November 1861) at the Parish Church in Bettws on February 19 1853 when her residence was given as Banwen and father James Thomas. In the 1861 census they were at Gwndwnmawr with children Elizabeth Davies (1854- ), John Davies (1856-4 July 1903) and Anne Davies (1859-1937?) but her husband's gravestone shows him as being from Penywaun. In 1871 Catherine was alone with son John (collier) and daughter Anne at Cwmgrenig. In 1881 she was at Waunffosgynog with daughter Anne, son-in-law William Rees (1858-1917) and grandson Ivor Rees (29 August 1880-1948). In 1891 she was there with unmarried son John Davies. She was buried with her husband at Hen Bethel along with her sons John Davies and Rees Evans.

Headstone of David and Catherine Davies, John Davies and Rees Evans

Headstone of David and Catherine Davies, John Davies and Rees Evans. Photo by Dylan Rees.

In 1901, unmarried John Davies (42) was in Brynteg House, Glanaman with brother-in-law William Rees, Anne Rees and their children: Ivor Rees (20), David J Rees (17), a Pupil Teacher, Oswald Rees (10), and Giraldus Rees (4). William, Ivor and John Davies were coal miner hewers. In 1911 William was a colliery ripper at Tegfryn, Glanaman and Oswald was Rees Oswald Rees (1890-1947), Arts Student. One child had died.

Ivor Rees married Margaret Jane Davies (12 November 1880- ) in June Q. 1901 and had:

  • David John Rees (10 November 1901- ). Appears to have been an unemployed coal hewer at Panteg, 9 Prospect Place, Garnant in 1939 with wife Maggie Jones? (27 September 1901- ) and probably two children (officially closed records).
  • Percy Rees (24 January 1903- )
  • Ivy Rees (20 May 1906-15 Feb 1994 ) - died unmarried with final address of Caswell House, Glanaman
  • Clifford Rees (7 August 1909-)
  • Elsie M Rees (1911-1927)
  • Nancy Rees (1913- )
  • Terence Rees (1917-1997)
  • Justine R Rees (1924-1951) who married Edward Elwyn Ashton (22 July 1915-1997) of Colbren Square, Gwaun-cae-gurwen and had a son.

Ivor Rees was an incapacitated coal hewer at Caswell House, Glanamman/Garnant in the 1939 Register. This was next door to Banwen Villa.

Amman Valley Chronicle June 7 1917:

We regret to announce this week the death of Mr. William Rees, Tegfryn House (or better known as "William Rees, y Jolly"), who died last Sunday morning, after a long and painful illness. Mr. Rees, who was 60 ys of age, was well known throughout the district, having taken a great deal of interest in local eisteddfodau until his health prevented him from doing so. He leaves a widow and three grown-up children to mourn their loss, of whom one is Mr. Oswald Rees. B.A., schoolmaster at Abergorlech. The interment took place to-day at Old Bethel burial-ground. The sympathies of the whole district are extended to the bereaved widow and children in their sad distress.

Giraldus Rees (1896-1969) married Mary Evans in 1924. He was a widowed Local Government Officer, born 31 October 1896 in the 1939 Register. Giraldus Rees of 181 Cwmamman Road, Glanamman died 9 December 1969.

Rees Oswald Rees submitted a thesis to the University of Wales in January 1936 entitled Gramadeg Tafodiaeth Dyffryn Aman (National Library of Wales). Probate index shows him as being '...of Y Fron Glanamman Carmarthenshire died 17 June 1947 on the road near Berach Bridge Glanamman.' Probate was granted to David Davies retired collier and Elizabeth Ann Rees widow.

"Dechreuodd Jonah Morgan a Rees Oswald Rees ar eu gyrfaoedd fel disgybl athrawon yn mis Medi 1906, gan barhau yn aelodau o'r staff hyd 1909. Gyrfa gyfreithiol a ddewisodd Jonah Morgan, ac aeth R.O.Rees ymlaen i Goleg Caerdydd lle'r enillodd radd MA am astudiaeth o ramadeg tafodiaeth dyffryn Aman, a'i benodi'n bennaeth yr adran Gymraeg yn Ysgol Ramadeg Dyffryn Aman, - swydd a ddaliodd hyd ei farwolaeth yn 1947. (Ysgol Glanaman Y Ganrif Gyntaf, Huw Walters, 1983, pp. 21-22.)

2. David Thomas (1828- )

David Thomas, age 26, collier of Penwaun (father James Thomas, farmer) married Margaret Harries age 25, of the Star Inn, Llanguike (sic) (father David Harries) on December 2 1854 at the Parish church Bettws. In 1861 David, a farm labourer, and Margaret (born Llangafelach) were at Penyrheol with children: John Thomas (5), David Thomas (2), Isaac Thomas (1), Jacob Thomas (1) - all born Bettws - and Rachel Thomas (12), stepdaughter born Llangafelach.

In 1871 they were at Clase Lower with Rachel (20) working at a tinworks, John and David colliers. Isaac was no longer there. Additionally, they had James Thomas (9) and Sarah Thomas (3). In 1881 they had been joined by Margaret Ann, born in 1871.

Descendants of David Thomas and Margaret Harries

(i) John Thomas

(ii) David Thomas

(iii) Isaac Thomas (1860-1862). An Isaac Thomas aged 2 died in Swansea district in September Quarter 1862.

(iv) Jacob Thomas (1860-January 31 1914), married Mary Jones (1865- ) and died in Swansea. They were at 6 Clayton Street, Landore, Swansea when Jacob was a blacksmith at a tinplate factory with a bilingual family, all born in Swansea. The Cambria Daily Leader January 31 1914 carried the notice: "DEATHS- THOMAS. On January 31st, at 6, Clayton-street, Landore, Jacob Thomas. Public funeral Thursday, at 3.30, for Cwmgelly Cemetery. Jacob and Mary had:

  • David Edward Thomas (1884- ). Still with parents in 1911. A clerk at a Woollen and Fellmongery (?).
  • Phoebe Thomas (1887- ). Still with parents in 1911.
  • Margaret Thomas (1889-1967) known as Maggie. Still with parents in 1911 but married to Thomas J Maloney (not at the address). She was a milliner. Possibly had Elsie Maloney (January 29 1915-1976) who married Robert Kenneth Davenport (December 13 1911-1991) in 1946.
  • Mabel Thomas (February 22 1890-September 8 1958). Still with parents in 1911. She married Robert H Johns (1889-1939). She was at 22 Saddler Street, Brynhyfryd, Swansea when she died. Probate was granted to Margaret Elliott, widow.
  • Brinley Thomas (January 24 1893-1954). A blacksmith striker with parents in 1911. Probably married Annie M Williams (September 27 1890- ) and had Beryl Mair Thomas (August 3 1925 February 1984). A blacksmith, tinplate works living at 21 Crown Street in 1939. Beryl married Hywel M Hughes (October 18 1926-November 5 1989) in 1948.
  • Katie Thomas (June 24 1895- ). Apprenticed dressmaker with parents in 1911. A dressmaker at 6 Cwm Level Road, Swansea with widowed sister Mabel in 1939.
  • William Thomas (1898-1959). With parents in 1911. Married May Davies

(v) James Thomas

(vi) Sarah Thomas

(vii) Margaret Ann Thomas

3. John Thomas (1829- )

Appears to have witnessed the marriages of Catherine (1853) and David (1854).

4. Ann Thomas (c.1831-1903) ('Nansen')

An Ann Thomas married Benjamin Jones in December Quarter 1857. Benjamin's age and place of birth vary considerably across the censuses - he may have been born in Cwmarlais, Carmarthenshire c.1819. They were at (a different) Cwmgrenig cottage in 1861 with sons John Jones (1858- ) and Jonah Jones (1861-1933). Subsequently, David Jones (1867- ), Edgar Jones (1869- ) and Anne Jones (1873- ) joined the family. Ann was generally known as Nansen. In 1891 they were in Bryngrenig with Jonah a Life Insurance Agent. By 1901 widow Ann Jones was living with coal miner Edgar and his sister Annie in Brynteg House, Glanaman.

Tarian y Gweithiwr November 13 1884: CWMAMAN, SIR GAER. Y mae trigolion Cwmaman wedi arfer bod bob amser yn hynod am eu parodrwydd a'u careaigrwydd i'r hwn sydd mewn angen; gan hyny, deuwch i ni gael bod yn unol a'n harferiad, trwy roddi ychydig gymorth i'r brawd anffortunus Jonah Jones, yr hwn sydd wedi bod yn ffyddlon gyda phob mudiad daionus, yn enwedig gyda'r canu, cyhyd ag y gallodd, ond wedi methu bellach trwy afiechyd er ys pum' mlynedd. Yn wir, mae ei gystudd maith yn galw yn fawr arnom i gydymdeimlo ag ef yn ei gystudd. Deuwch i ni, gantorion New Bethel, gymeryd y peth mewn llaw er ffurfio rhyw gynllun i gynorthwyo y brawd uchod yn ei adfyd. Dichon mai un o honom ni fydd nesaf yn y cyfryw sefyllfa.-LLAIS O'R LLE.

Jonah Jones married Anne Hopkins (1860- ), born Brynaman Carmarthenshire, who already had a son David G Hopkins (4 June 1887- ), born Cwmgors, Glamorgan. They went on to have Bessie Ann Jones (1894- ), and Daniel Grenig Jones (24 April 1897-1978) in Cwmgors. Daniel married Catherina Thomas (1893-1976), daughter of James Thomas (1869-1950) of Banwen. Danny and Catherina had Margaret Jane Jones (February 14 1922-2001).

5. Esther Thomas (c.1835-1903)

In the 1881 census Esther Thomas, unm, 40, laborer's daughter was at Cwmgrenig with boarder Rees Evans, unm, 30, coal miner, both born Carmarthen, Bettws. In 1891 Esther was living on her own means at Cwmgrenig, single 56 with boarder Sarah Hopkins, occupation illegible, single, 23 both born Carmarthen, Bettws and Welsh-speakers. In 1901 she was again at Cwmgrenig (3 rooms), single 66 with boarder Daniel Thomas, single, 29, coal-miner hewer on own account, both born Glanaman and Welsh-speaking. The following obituary appeared in Tarian y Gweithiwr June 18 1903:

CWMGRAIG, DYFFRYN AMAN. Ar ol ond ychydig gystudd, dydd Mercher, 3ydd cyf, rhifwyd un aralli o hen frodorion Cwmgrenig at y mwyafrif, trwy angeu, yn mherson Miss Esther Thomas, 69 mlwydd oed. Daearwyd ei rhan farwol y dydd Sadwrn canlynol yn mynwent Hen Bethel, Macpelah y teulu, pryd v gwasanaethwyd gan y Parch. J. Towyn Jones.

Yr oedd. yr ymadawedig yn ferch i'r diweddar Mr James Thomas, Banwen, ac yn chwaer i "Nansen" oedd wedi ei blaenu i fyd arall ond mis yn ol - i'r diwrnod. Ni fu erioed yn briod, eithr trigianodd yn weddw diwair, ac i raddau yn feudwol ac hen ffasiynol, ar ol ei rhieni yn y "Bwthyn bach to gwellt," dan droed y Graig Ddu, tua chanol Cwmgrenig - ryw haner milldir o fan ei genedigaeth. Fel y nifer luosocaf o'r hen bobl yr oedd yn dra cheidwadol yn ei dull o fyw yn deuluaidd a chymdeithasol; ni flinwyd hi erioed gan y newydd-ffasiynau a gwagedd mympwyol costus ac afradus yr oes bresenol. Yr oedd ei dymuniad a'i sel bob amser yn fawr dros yr hen arferion fel y dengvs a ganlyn:- Bob boreu Blwyddyn Newydd yr oedd yn hynod hoff o weled a chlywed y bechgyn bychain yn dod a "Blwyddyn Newydd Dda," ond ni chredai y dylasai un ferch ymddangos allan cyn tua haner dydd y diwrnod hwnw. Y cyntaf o'r boys oedd i dderbyn y rbodd fwyaf o'i llaw, yn neillduol os buasai gan y cyfryw un "Galenig" iddi hi, hyny oedd - afal glan ar dair coes a thipyn o gelyn coch a changau bychain o bren bocs arno - yn ol yr hen arddull gynt. Wel, credwn iddi gael ei breintio a hyny gan rai o gyfeillion da ei hardal bob boreu blwyddyn newvdd ar hyd ei hoes, ac edrychai ar ei "chalenig" gyda gwen foddlongar ac ymffrost o edmygedd.

Hynodrwydd Ei Marwolaeth a'i Dwy Chwaer.

Hi ydoedd yr ieuengaf o dair chwaer perthynol i'r un teulu (o wyth o blant) sef "Cattws," "Nansen," ac "Esther." Bu y tair farw ar un dydd o'r wythnos; y cyntaf ar ddydd Mercher yn Ebrill 1898, yr ail ar ddydd Mercher yn Mai 1903, a hithau (yr olaf) ar ddydd Mercher yn Mehefin, fel y nodwyd uchod. Cymerodd angladd pob un o honynt le hefyd ar ddydd Sadwrn. Pan yn y cynhebrwng wrth edrych yn ol dros ysgwydd y blynyddau, i ddyddiau maboed - canol y ganrif o'r blaen, nis gallaswn lai nag ymson:-

Nid Cwmgrenig, hen Gwmgrenig
Yw Cwmgrenig nawr,
Gwnaeth y blwvddi chwyldroed
Gyfnewidiad mawr;
Er fod y Graig Ddu yn gwylio
Uwch ei ben o hvd,
Y mae'r bywyd gynt oedd ynddo
Bron a mynd i gyd.

6. Thomas Thomas (1836-1891) and Elizabeth Jones (1842-1917)

Elizabeth Jones was the daughter of Daniel Jones (c.1809-1888) and Ann Rees (1813-1903). In 1871 Thomas Thomas (32) coal miner born Bettws Carmarthenshire, Elizabeth Thomas (29) born Llanguicke Glamorgan, and children Hannah (5), Margaret (4) and James (1) all born Bettws were in Garnant Road, Cwmamman. In the 1881 census Thomas Thomas (44) coal miner was at Banwen with wife Elizabeth (40) (the only one born Glamorgan, Llanguicke) and James Thomas (12), Daniel (10), Anne (7), Catherine (4) and David (1) born Carmarthen, Bettws. {The death of a Catherine Mary Thomas aged 15 Llandilofawr 11a 666 is recorded in March 1891 - alternatively she was a servant elsewhere}.

In his Ty'nywern fy Ieuenctyd: Atgofion am Gymeriadau (Eng. Ty'nywern of my youth: Memories of old characters - Ty'nywern was a Sunday school) (1943), the journalist William Anthony Davies wrote (p.29):

"Dechreuwyd yn y Tynewydd, Cwmgrenig, gan Job Phillips, y Briwnant (Job Phillips y Siop, i ni), o barchus ac hapus goffadwriaeth, prif ddiacon ac arweinydd Bethel Newydd, a Bryn Seion wedi hynny. Caled a phell oedd y ffordd i frodorion rhanbarth isaf y dyffryn. Felly, wrth fynd i'r Ysgol un tro, awgrymodd Job i Mrs Beti Thomas, y Banwen, mai lle ardderchog, canolog am Ysgol oedd ei chartref. Derbyniodd Beti'r awgrym yn siriol, a symudwyd yr Ysgol am rai Suliau, i'r tyddyn bach rhamantus hwnnw yng nghesail y Graig Ddu. Penderfynwyd, drachefn, i symud yr Ysgol o le i le bob Sul, a bu felly yn grwydryn am flynyddoedd.
 "Gwelais yn ddiweddar Destament Newydd Cymraeg, dyddiad Chwefror 6, 1881, a roddwyd i James Thomas, y Banwen, gan yr Ysgol Sul ym Mhenywaun - gwobr am ddarllen Cymraeg. Cafodd pump arall Destamentau yr un pryd, sef, Daniel Thomas (Banwen), John ac Henry Lloyd (Penlle'r eglwys), Edgar a Dafydd Jones (meibion Benjamin a Nansen Jones)."

The Cambrian, 24 June 1886 reported an auction that had taken place the previous day in the ballroom of the Mackworth Arms Hotel, Swansea. The sale of properties owned by J.T.D. Llewelyn, Esq., Penllergaer, near Swansea - in 1873 he had 2483 acres in Carmarthenshire - included Banwen:

Lot 34 The tenement called Banwen, about TWO miles of the village of Cross Inn, comprising a dwelling-house, and about six acres of arable and pasture land, let to Mr. Thomas Thomas at £4 per annum. The biddings started at £70, after six bids it was knocked down to the tenant for £90.

Two years later, the following item in the Cambrian, 14 September 1888 appears to refer to Thomas Thomas. Remembering that Thomas was dead three years later one wonders what the real story may have been behind this insensitive piece:

A FOOLISH FREAK BY A COLLIER AT CWMAMMAN. A man named Thomas Thomas, of Banwen, at this place, from an aspiration to court notoriety, made himself very conspicuous last week by absenting himself from home, and not telling his wife and family of his intention of doing so. He left his residence on Monday morning, the 3rd inst., and took the direction to cross the Bettws Mountain, and as he did not come home on Monday night, as expected, his wife and family began to feel rather uneasy concerning his whereabouts, and went to search every nook and corner of the mountain for him, and the searching army increased as the time passed by. By Friday morning the anxiety became so great that the Cawdor Colliery was stopped, so that all the colliers and workmen might go in search of the missing man. He was found on that day at Gellionen Wells enjoying himself by drinking the invigorating water. The man is 50 years old, and ought to have known better than to perpetrate such a bootless freak.

In 1891 Thomas (55), Elizabeth (49), Daniel (19), Annie (16), David (11), Hugh (8) and Margaret A. (5) were at Banwen. By 1901 the widowed Elizabeth was at Brynlloi Cottage with sons David and Hugh, coal miner hewers. A grand-daughter remembered that Elizabeth's mother Ann Jones was with her in the latter's final years - Elizabeth was known as Mamgu Betty at that time.

The following item appeared in the Carmarthen Weekly Reporter 15 January 1904 regarding a case heard at Llandeilo County Court in front of Judge Bishop:

 Mr John Lloyd, Llidiad-du, near Brynlloi applied an order of specific performance against Mrs Thomas, late of Banwen, Glanamman. Mr Meager (instructed by Mr Stanley Owen, Swansea) appeared for the applicant.
 Mr Meager staged that the applicant had purchased for £160 the unexpired term (about 90 years) of the lease of a house. The money had been paid and possession had been granted, but the defendant had refused to execute the conveyance. Mr Lloyd wished to convey the house to a nephew of Mrs Thomas; and it was probablv in order to prevent the nephew getting the house that the defendant had refused to carry out the agreement. He could only ask for a decree, for specific performance. He did not know whether the defendant would execute the conveyance after the order was made. But he could not at the present stage ask for a vesting order.
 His Honour after hearing evidence, made an order for specific performance.

In 1911 she was living at Banwen Villa, Glanaman with unmarried son Hugh and an English boarder called Charles Marshall, a bricklayer from Derbyshire. She described her profession as 'keeping lodgers' and that she had a total of 10 children of whom 6 (i.e. 5 daughters and son John Thomas) were dead. Elizabeth herself died 23 June 1917.

Mamgu Betty

Elizabeth Jones (Mamgu Betty)

Mamgu Betty

Elizabeth Jones (Mamgu Betty) - close-up

The following inscription was recorded on a gravestone at Hen Bethel, Cwmaman in the 1960s:

Er Cof Am
MEHEF. 11, 1891 YN 55 OED.
"Mi a ymdrechais ymdrech deo. Mi
a orphenais fy Noyrfa.
Mi a cadwais y ffydd."
a fu farw Mehefin 23 1917
yn 75 mlwydd oed.

Descendants of Thomas Thomas and Elizabeth Jones

(i) Hannah Thomas (c.1866-1900) and John John Gibbs (1863- )

In 1881 a Hannah Thomas (15) was a farm servant for John and Ann Lewis at Pistyll Llwyd Isa, near Gellyceidrim. She appears with her grandparents in a photo taken at the Cross Keys in the 1880s (see The family of Daniel Jones and Ann Rees). In 1891 a Hannah nee Thomas (25), born Bettws, was with husband John Gibbs (28) and children Thomas J (3) and Jane (1) in Pontardawe. John and Hannah had married in June 25 1887 at Pontardawe Register Office (11a 955), her father being Thomas Thomas, coal miner and her address as Heolddu, Rhyndwy Clydach (now Heolddu, Baran Road, Rhydyfro). A Hannah Gibbs died Sep Q 1900 (Pontardawe 11a 468). In the 1911 census John J Gibbs stated that he was a widower who had been married 14 years and had 7 children of whom 5 had died. Jane Gibbs (1890-1935) was with him, along with nephew James W Gibbs aged 13 - presumably the James Williams, a nephew aged 3, who was in the household in 1891.

Thomas John Gibbs (3 January 1888 - 14 January 1955) married Sarah Louisa Price (26 May 1889-26 January 1971) in June Q 1910 (Pontardawe 11a 1327). His address at death was 28 Forge Road, Clydach. They had:

  • Elizabeth Hannah Gibbs (11 August 1913-28 December 1995) who married William Richard Williams (22 September 1913-24 June 1993) in 1932. They had Marion Williams (25 February 1934-2 March 1935) and Derek Williams (8 July 1937-3 October 2005). In 1939 they were at Heol-y-Llwynan, Pontardawe R.D. when William was a colliery banksman.
, and several other children.
T.J. Gibbs' family
T.J. Gibbs' family

Jane Gibbs (1890-1935) married John Rees in 1912 and probably had John Rees (1912- ), Margaret H Rees (1914- ), Robert Rees (1917- ), Bryn Rees (1920-1995), and Mansel Rees (1924- ). James Thomas' diary records on Jan 31 1935: "At funeral Aberdylais of Jane Rees (my sister Hannah's daughter) buried at Cadoxton Church."

(ii) Margaret Thomas (c.1867- )

In 1881 a Margaret Thomas (13) was a general servant (domestic) in the household of Rees Phillips, colliery manager, and his wife Angharad at Godre'r Waun cottages, Upper Bettws. She was probably the Margaret Thomas who was witness at the wedding of Hannah Thomas and John Gibbs in 1887.

(iii) James Thomas (1869-1950 ) and Margaret Jane Jones (1872-1896)

See James Thomas and his family at Ael-y-Coed, Glanaman

(iv) Daniel Thomas (1871- )

A Daniel Thomas of the correct age was with wife Rachel aged 44, born Morriston at (?) Arbank House, Glanaman in 1911. They had been married for a year. The 1939 Register shows Daniel Thomas, a widowed colliery assistant repairman born 20 October 1871, living alone at 1 Park View, Garnant. In the 1911 census Daniel was two households away from brother David Thomas.

(v) Anne Thomas (1873- )

(vi) Catherine Thomas (1876- )

(vii) David Thomas (1880- ) (Dafydd) and Susannah Davies (1885-1958)

In the 1911 census David was at the Temperance Hotel, Glanaman with wife Susannah Davies (Susan) (June 23 1885-1958), born Llandebie and two children: Thomas John Thomas (1905- ) and Daniel Stanley Thomas (1909- ). Susannah was still at Temperance House in 1939 with daughter (in-law) Beryl Thomas (March 21 1919-2002) and Hazel Aubrey (1918- ).

One Man Dead: Companion in Hospital
 William Lewis, a married man, of Ceidrim-terrace, Glanamman, and Thomas Thomas, a single man, of Temperance House, Glanamman, were taken to Swansea Hospital on Saturday suffering from severe burns about the head and body, the injuries being sustained in the Old Mountain Collery, Glanamman.
 The men, it is stated, had entered the slant to pick coal. They carried a safety lamp. Soon afterwards an explosion was heard, and Harold Thomas, brother of Tom Thomas, rushed into the slant and dragged both men to safety. They were attended to by Dr Ivor Morgan, who directed their removal to hospital.
 Lewis died on Sunday morning. (Western Mail Monday, February 25, 1935)

(viii) Hugh Thomas (1882-1948) and Hannah Mary Harries (1883-1950)

The Amman Valley Chronicle, 15 August 1918 describes a case in the Ammanford Police Court:

ROW OVER CHANCELLOR. - PUBLIC HOUSE ARGUMENT ENDS IN AMMANFORD POUCE COURT. At Ammanford Police Court to-day, Hugh Thomas, Ceidrim-road, Glanamman, and Thomas Davies, 3, Grenig View, Cwmamman, were charged with jointly obstructing the highway. The two men met in the Ammanford Hotel and had a row about different things, including Mr. Lloyd George. Davies afterwards waited for Thomas on Glanamman-square and jumped at him, and they fell to the ground. P.C. Phillips found a large crowd round them creating an obstruction. Davies said Thomas challenged him to fight and Thomas was advised to behave himself. He said "I will beat you and your children." Davies said Thomas was the better fighter of the two, he being too old to fight. The case against Davies was dismissed, and Thomas was fined 1s. and costs. (Cambrian Daily Leader, April 14 1913.)

Hugh Thomas (August 1 1882-July 11 1948) was recruited to the Somerset Light Infantry in May 1915. In November 1917 the Amman Valley Chronicle recorded that:

Official intimation has been received by Mr. James Thomas, Grenig View, Glanamman, that his brother, Priv. Hugh Thomas (or better known as Hugh Banwen), of the 8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, has been severely wounded in both legs by shrapnel, on the Western Front. He is now under treatment in a hospital at Stourbridge. This is the second time for this gallant hero to be wounded. Priv. Thomas was formerly emplod as a collier at the Gellyceidrim Colliery.

Hugh married Hannah Mary Harries (June 14 1883-June 9 1950) in 1920. She was the daughter of John Harries who kept the Mount Pleasant Inn, Pontaman. Hugh subsequently became the landlord and was listed as such in Kelly's Directory for South Wales, 1923 and the 1939 Register. (The Mount Pleasant Inn was renamed the Perrivale in the 1970s and became the Red Kite/Tafarn y Barcud more recently). In 1939 they were there with daughter Elizabeth Thomas (February 18 1924- ) who married Ivor Davies (?).

Hugh's probate gives his address as Banwen Villa, Ceidrim-road, Glanamman. He died on July 11 1948 at the General Hospital, Swansea. Administration was given to his widow, effects £686 7s 6d. Hannah Mary, also of Banwen Villa, died June 9 1950 with administration to Elizabeth Davies (wife of Ivor Davies), effects £639.

David Thomas

David Thomas (Dafydd)

Banwen brothers

Banwen brothers - Daniel and James sitting

According to Sarah Phillips (January 28 1969): physically, the Banwen brothers were all similar but their temperaments were different. James Thomas was a manager of men with a basically domineering mentality. Daniel was the 'cool' one - a skilled worker, diligent and imaginative. Hugh was a prodigious drinker - even before he acquired his public house. However, he remained as sober as the proverbial judge after drinking all day.

(ix) John Thomas (1885-1885)

Recorded on headstone as born March 31 1885 and died on April 8 1885.

(x) Margaret Anne Thomas (1886- )

Born 1886.

7. William Thomas (1840- )

With his parents in 1841, 1851 and 1861. In 1891, at Andrews House, Cwmgors aged 52, a coal hewer, born Bettws, with wife Margaret, 46 , born Llandybie. With them were 6 children, all born Llanguicke: David Thomas (20), Ann Thomas (17), Daniel Thomas (14), Thomas Thomas (9), Catherine Thomas (11) and Mary Thomas (7). In 1911 he was at Bryn Villa, Gate Street, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, born Banwen, Carmarthenshire with wife Margaret Thomas, 66, born Llandebie. They had been married for 44 years and had 9 children of whom 6 were still alive. William was aged 70 but working as a surface labourer at a colliery. With them were son Daniel Thomas, collier, 32, born Llandebie, daughter Mary Thomas, 26, dressmaker, born Cwmgors, and grandson Willie John Aubrey, 6, also born Cwmgors, together with two lodgers. Willie John appears on the same census at home with parents Catherine and Thomas Aubrey (1883- ) in Glanaman,along with sisters Elizabeth Olive Aubrey (1907- ) and Sarah Ann Aubrey (c.1910- ). Subsequently, they also had Cathrina Hazel Maxine Aubrey (July 21 1918-1990) who married Robert A C McGrogan and had sons, including Anthony T C McGrogan (1943-2015), publicist for David Bowie.

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