|The above crest and shield was in the possession of the Zachary Lewis family of Bel Air Plantation VA. However, that Lewis family also descends from the Smith family who descends from this Lewis family. A detailed discussion of the many connections can be found at Lewis Family Research.|
Ceredigion: Journal of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society v. VIII, no. 4, 1979
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Origins of the Lewes family
Fortunately for social historians the deputy herald Lewys Dwnn made two calls at plas Abernantbychan in the Cardiganshire parish of Penbryn. On the first, 15 January 1588-9, he was entertained by the head of the household, James Lewes, esquire, Justice of the Peace, which resulted in the production of an exhaustive family tree, duly signed as correct by the squire, and faithfully recorded by the deputy- herald (Heraldic Visitations of Wales, i, 39-40). Dwnn's host died in 1599 and some ten years later, Dwnn called on his son Sir John Lewes who had succeeded to Abernantbychan, and again made a detailed tree, with numerous additions bringing it up to date (ibid, i, 54-5). Whereas on the former visit Dwnn had enjoyed hospitality only, the second proved more profitable, for in addition to board and lodging, the knight presented him with ten shillings for his travail. Although no biographical details of the earlier ancestors are entered, we can deduce that they belonged to the pedigreed freeman class, the bonheddig, whose marriages were invariably made with partners from families of a similar status, and that they enjoyed a position of local importance.
In the atrium of the house of Lewes, the statue of Ednowain ap Bradwen occupies pride of place. A twelfth-century Merionethshire mag-
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nate, he is listed as the founder of one of the Fifteen Noble Tribes of Gwynedd, and as husband of Marged daughter of the prince Cynan (died 1173,) a younger son of the redoubtable Owain Gwynedd. He is also the heraldic ancestor of the Lllwyth whose descendants bore the arms posthumously assigned to him, the distinctive bearings of gules three serpents nowed argent, to which some branches have added the crest of an eagle displayed enwrapped with a serpent, and the mottos sine dole and Innocent as the dove, wise as the serpent. The lineage of Ednowain and his family group occur in numerous early genealogical compilations, notably in the folios of Lewis Dwnn's Visitations and in the Golden Grove Books.
Llewelyn Dalran, fifth in descent from the founder of the tribe, was the first of his line to settle in Ceredigion--'y kynta i ddod i Ddeheubarth' saith Dwnn--probably as a result of marriage with Jonet daughter of Gwilym ap Seissyllt, 'Lord of Abernant Bychan" according to the same authority. In all probability Jonet was an heiress for it was at her home that Llewelyn settled during the early part of the fourteenth century, which continued to be the main residence of some fourteen generations of his descendants, until alienated by testamentary devise to a son of Gogerddan in 1739. An informative essay on the Abernantbychan family, written by Mr. Daniel Huws, M.A., of the National Library of Wales, appeared in the journal of this learned society for 1969, based on documentary evidence contained in the collections of deeds from Coedmor, Noyadd Trefawr and Gogerddan, in which he discusses the formation and devolution of the Abernantbychan estate from Elizabethan times.
Towards the middle of the seventeenth century the Leweses seem to have preferred their other residence, Coedmor in the Tivyside, and to have let the old home to tenants. In 1666 James Williams, esquire, of Abernantbychan was High Sheriff, and his name together with his address, occurs in Blome's list of gentry in 1673, and also in documents of Cardiganshire Great Sessions so late as 1688. During his tenancy an ancient British coin was found in the parish and kept by 'John Williams esq., of Abernantbychan who communicated a drawing of it to bishop Gibson' (Gough, Camden's Britannia, Vol 2 (1789), p. 529, and PI. XVIII, fig 12. opp.p. 501). The last owner of the mansion in the main line, George Lewes Langton (his mother [Catherine] was the Lewes heiress) died unmarried in Rome on 22 August 1739 and was buried in a lead coffin in the English cemetery there, leaving by his will, Abernantbychan to Lewis Pryse of Woodstock, a member of the Gogerddan family. Nevertheless the property is marked on Kitchin's map as "Abernant Buchan. Lewis Esq. When Lewis Pryse was made a Justice of the Peace for the county in 1748 he was described as of Abernantbchan,
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his qualifying property as by that time he had not inherited Gogerddan. In 1760 the tenant was James Thomas a local farmer.
S. R. Meyrick tells us a little more. For him Abernantbychan "is an ancient edifice, though not the original one on the estate, that having stood a little to the southeast of the present building. The arch of the door is of the pointed ellipse, and the wainscot within the house, from its carved work and the figures on it seems about the date of Elizabeth's reign. The mould in the garden is said to have been brought from Ireland, and the vulgar add, on that account no venemous reptile will live in it (Cardiganshire, 1811, p. 211) The house described by Meyrick is marked on Colby's map (1830) as "Plas Abernant bychan" and immediately south of it, Bryn Arthen and Glyn Arthen, all to the east of the river Dulas and on the Tithe map of the parish made in 1838 it is marked as a farm called Abernant Bychan owned by Pryse Pryse, esquire, and tenanted by James Owen, being a group of four buildings through which a public road passed. In 1882 it was described as a "superior Farm-house."
According to Mr. Daniel Huws, not only has the original mansion almost disappeared, but its very name has passed into limbo. He states that the present house was built in 1835 and is known as Plas or Plas Glynarthen or Plas-y-glyn, while slight traces of the old Plas Abernant-bychan may still be seen in a field to the west of the present house (Ceredigion, 1969). Apart from random foundations wrapped in their perennially green shroud, and a few vague memories of local inhabitants, the original home of the once powerful family of Lewes is as submerged as Cantre'r Gwaelod.
And so, a man of Gwynedd, Llewelyn Dalran, became a "Cardi", and for many generations his successors selected wives from the ancient stocks of the county, becoming an integral part of Ceredigion life, their arms alone reminding us of their northern origin. Indeed, the quarterings similarly indicate non-Cardiganshire roots, for Dwnn registered their arms as those of Ednowain, quartered with Elystan Glodrudd ruler of Twixt Wye and Severn (or a lion rampant gules) and Gronw Goch of Llangathen in Carmarthenshire (azure three stags' heads guardant or).
Lewis David Meredith, sixth in descent from Llewelyn Dalran, was living at Abernant-bychan in the first half of the sixteenth century. He married Joan daughter of Rhys ap John ap Howel of Gernos in Llan- gynllo, by Elen daughter of Sir James ab Owen of Pentre Ifan in Nevern, Pembrokeshire. He is mentioned" in a deed of 1539 as living at Abernant-bychan and was still there some twenty-five years later. He seems to have had another residence as well, for in a deed dated 27 April 1542 Lewis ap David ap Merededd, gentleman, is described as "of Gwernykoreid", doubtless somewhere in the parish of Penbryn.
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During that year he executed a settlement of his Cardiganshire estate on himself and his wife the trustees being George ap Owen and Lewis ap Jenkin (Noyadd Trefawr Deeds, No. 335).
Lewis continued to add to his possessions, and soon graduated from "gentleman" to "esquire". Thus on 9 May 1554 Rhys ap Sir Richard of Llangoedmor, gentleman, quit-claimed Tyddyn Abergwenffrwd in Bettws Ithel parish to Lewis ap David ap Meredudd, esquire, and on 31 October 1560 John Lloyd of Cilgwyn, gentleman, assured peaceful possession of two acres called Blaen y Ffinnant in Penbryn parish to the same esquire (ibid. nos. 320, 260). On 26 June 1564 a Final Concord in a fine between John Mortimer and Rhys Gwyn, plaintiffs, and Lewis David ap Merredeith, esquire, and Joan his wife deforciants, was made, to facilitate a settlement of 26 messuages and 500 acres in Blaenporth, Llandygwydd, Llanfairorllwyn, Llangunllo and Troedyraur, to be made on the deforciants for their lives, with remainder to their younger son, Rees Lewys of Troedyraur and his heirs (ibid. No. 195). Lewis died shortly afterwards, and on i October 1564 ("or later" according to Mr. Huws), Hugh Lewes David Meredidd of Nevern, gentlemen, gave a bond to his eldest brother James Lewis, esquire, for peaceful possession of Cardiganshire lands that had been "devised to the said Rees by his father Lewis David Meredidd, lately deceased" (ibid. No. 54). The full extent of the estate is not known, but it must have been very considerable to have enabled Lewis to grant large properties to younger sons, bearing in mind that he had eight sons and six daughters to provide for. Indeed, on 8 September 1564 Lewis David ap Merredd- ieth, esquire, had conveyed his capital tenement or mansion house called Aber Nante Bechan, Melin Brithdire water corn mill, with other poperties in the parishes of Penbryn and Llandisilio gogo (certain properties in Bettws Ievan, Brongwyn, and Penbryn expressly excep- ted) to John Mortymer of Llangoedmor, John Stedman of Stradd- fleere, James ap Rees ap Morgan of Penbryn and Phillip Howell of Llandysul, gentlemen, to enable the grantor to make a settlement on his eldest son James Lewis (NLW. Bronwydd deeds. No. 2176).
By Joan, Lewis David Meredith had eight sons and six daughters, who adopted their father's Christian name as their permanent patron- ymic. The surname was spelled variously by those who bore it, as Lewis, Lewys, and Lewes, which ultimately became fixed as Lewes, a form used exclusively by the Abernantbychan family and its numerous branches, enabling the historian to identify persons when no other way of doing so presents itself. Throughout this essay I shall use the finalized form unless quoting from original documents where the orthography may differ. James Lewes the eldest son and heir is an important figure in the family's chronicle. In addition to adding very considerably to his
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already extensive heritage, thereby increasing his economic and social position, be held prominent public offices which enabled him to influence the administrative and political life of the county. Mr. Huws has traced fifty records of his acquisition of real estate, mostly from local freeholders, some of them major acquisitions that became the basis of the formation of further independent estates to be enjoyed by his descendants. Between 1570 and the end of the century he had purchased properties in the Cardiganshire parishes of Blaenporth, Bron- gwyn, Llangeler, Llangoedmore, Llanfairorllwyn, Llandyfriog, Llan-dygwydd, Penbryn, St. Mary Cardigan and Troedyraur in the Car- marthenshire parishes of Cenarth and Laugharne; and in the Pembrokeshire parish of Nevern.
He married twice firstly, in 1564 to Elizabeth daughter of John Stedman of Ystrad Fflur (High Sheriff in 1580 and 1588) by Anne daughter of William Philipps of Pentypark, Pembrokeshire and secondly, in 1577, Anne Wogan, widow of Rhys Lloyd, daughter of John Wogan of Wiston, Pembrokeshire marriages which allied him to two of the most powerful and established families in southwest Wales.
Nucleus of the Gellidywyll estate
So far as this essay is concerned James Lewes' most important purchase was Gellidywyll and other properties in Cenarth, nucleus of an estate, in due course to become wholly independent of the parent Abernant-bychan.
In 1589 James Lewes of Abernant-bychan started to purchase lands in Cenarth, the deeds of which are preserved among the Noyadd Tre- fawr muniments in the National Library. On 6 June 1589, Jenkin ap Howell Moris of Cenarth parish, gentleman, quitclaimed the following properties to James Lewis-messuages called Argoed, Tythen yr Arg- oed, Gwastad bychan, an un-named messuage, and land called Cae Iago, all being in the place called yr Argoed; 41 acres in Dol y Mynach, pasture called Penrhyn Dol y Mynach, a wood and piece of pasture called Glyn Crogwch lands in Dyffryn Tal y bryn and elsewhere in the parish of Cenarth and without the borough of Emlyn, which descended to vendor from his grandfather Morris ap Owen and from his uncle Jenkin Morris on 5 July Thomas James of Cenarth parish, yeoman conveyed a tenement at Yr Arth Fawr in Cenarth village, and a close called Park Nant y Llan by the parish church on 20 September Jenkin ap Howell of Llandygwydd parish, yeoman, son and heir of the late Howell David ap Jenkin, quitclaimed two messuages "formerly called Tir Merche Ievan David Lloyd, now called "Gellie Dowyll" on 3 October David Lewes of Gernos in Llangunllo, gentleman, younger brother of James Lewes, conveyed Tythyn gardd hynydd in Cenarth
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parish to him; and on 15 November, Elizabeth verch Howell ap Jenkin, of Cenarth parish widow, conveyed to him a messuage in Dyffryn Tal y Bryn (including a meadow called Gwaun Iago). Further purchases were made by James Lewes in 1591 on 14 May he bought from Sir Thomas Johnes of Abermarlais, a messuage called Tythyn Park Nest in the parish of Cenarth and liberty of Emlyn, and four messuages called Tythyn Pen y Wern, Blaen Gwthan Ucha and Issa, Tir y Berllan in Abergevenny, and a close called Park Rees Du, in Llangeler parish on n October Thomas James, yeoman, and June verch Howell ap Jenkin, widow, both of Cenarth parish, conveyed to him a messuage called Tyddyn Gardd Hynydd, a house and garden called Tir David Patrick in Cenarth parish; and on 2 December, Jenkin ap Howell Morris of Cenarth gentleman, granted to him Y Ty yn y Ian in the town of Emlyn.
During the years 1589-91 some 27 properties had been purchased in the Cenarth district, so that the basis of a major estate had been established in north-west Carmarthenshire by the Lewes family. These were added to the parent estate of Abernantbychan, but in less than a decade Gellidywyll had acquired an autonomy and became an estate in its own right.
James Lewes must have been an active man for in addition to his continuous involvement with the acquisition of real estate, he took a leading part in public life. Dwnn described him as Justice of the Peace and Quorum and lord of a moiety of the Pembrokeshire manor of Maenclochog (the other lord being William Longueville), and the Earl of Essex's steward of the lordships of Caerwedros Uwch Cerdin and Iscoed Is i'r Wern, which may be the reason for his description as one of "the serving men in livery" of the Earl. He was clearly a man of means otherwise he would not have accepted the appointment of high sheriff for Cardiganshire on two occasions, in 1571 and 1579. In 1592-3, following his acquisition of property in Carmarthenshire, he was appointed to be keeper of the peace for that shire.
He died, probably early in 1599, for on 7 September of that year James Lewes of Gellidywyll, described as eldest son and heir of James Lewes "late of Abernantbychan", made an assignment of the manor of Maenclochog and an annual rent of £ 3. 7s od charged on the freeholders of the manor, a water grist mill, six messuages, all in Maenclochog parish, two messuages (one called Tyn yn lloine) in Cenarth, and a messuage in Cilrhedyn, as dower to his step-mother "Anne Lewes alias Wogan, relict of the late James Lewes". She did not remain widowed for long, and before 17 February 1603-4 had married George Philipps of Cardigan Priory.
By Elizabeth Stedman, his first wife, James had one son and one daughter, and, by the second, four sons and three daughters. Normally,
the eldest son by the first wife, in this case James, would have inherited the main portion of the estate, and certainly the ancestral residence. However, it is clear that an arrangement had been made whereby the eldest son James was to inherit the newly-acquired Cenarth property [across the river in Carmarthenshire], and his eldest step-brother, John, was to receive ancestral Abernantbychan and the bulk of the Cardiganshire estate. The reason for such succession remains unknown.
From this juncture the family history of Lewes bifurcates, and although both lines continued for nearly a further two hundred years, that of Gellidywyll proved the stronger stayer.
The younger brother, John had a distinguished career. Born in 1580, he was educated at Jesus College, Oxford and at the Inner Temple. Like his father, he added substantially to the estate, was equally active in public life, and in 1604 elected Member of Parliament for the county, serving until 1611. In 1604 he was knighted, served the office of High Sheriff in 1608 and 1633, and appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the County in 1617. He bought Coedmor on the banks of the Teifi from Rowland Mortimer in 1615, which became the main seat of his descendants. Sir John, who had married Bridget Pryse of Gogerddan, died intestate in 1656, and the property passed to his son Col. James Lewes of Coedmor.
The elder half-brother, James settled at Gellidywyll, and it is to him and his descendants that we now turn.
The Leweses come to Gellidywyll
James Lewes, born in 1575, came to Gellidywyll about 1599 the year when his father died. In some genealogies he is described as "Counsellor" which suggests he had been educated for the law. He never achieved anything like the eminence of his half-brother and seems to have been a stay-at-home squire, contented, unambitious perhaps. Few references occur to James in contemporary documents. After his step-mother's second marriage, she released her dower to him, which included a moiety of the manor of Maenclochog, for £ 100, and on 17 February 1603-4 her husband George Philipps of Cardigan Priory signed a bond assuring peaceful possession of the properties his wife had held in dower. In 1608 he wanted ready money in a hurry and on 27 July of that year mortgaged two messuages called Argoed, a parcel in Dolgatten, parcels called Cae Iago, Allt goch, Park y Person, Penrhyn dol y mynach, and one in Dol y Mynach, all in Cenarth, to John Thomas Beynon, gentleman, also described as of Gellidywyll Perhaps the money was required to help him to pay Thomas William Griffith, gentleman, for two messuages called Tai penn y Cnoock, which he bought in December 1608. On 10 April of the following year Margaret Griffith Morris, spinster, assigned the lease of Tir bach yr erose alias Tir bach y
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kevencoed, to him for his lifetime. All these properties were in Cenarth parish.
James Lewes (II) married Joan daughter of Morgan Lloyd (died 1604) of Llanllyr (descended from Cadifor ap Dinawal of Castell Hywel) by Elizabeth daughter and heiress of Lewis ap Henry Gwilym John Llewelyn ddu (descended from Gwyddno). As James's name does not appear as party to his son's marriage settlement in 1629, we may conclude that he had died before that year. His children were: I. Thomas Lewes, the heir. 2. John Lewes, who married his cousin Lettice daughter of Hugh Bowen of Upton Castle, Pembrokeshire, widow of John Vaughan of Penbryn, whose sons James and George Lewes settled at Penalltybie (Llandygwydd) and Hendre (Nevern) respectively. 3. James Lewes. 4. Margaret. 5. Anne.
Thomas Lewis succeeded at Gellidywyll, and took to wife Mary, daughter of David ap David Lloyd of Pantstreimon, in Llandysul, a lady with a marriage portion of £276. By the prenuptial settlement executed on 20 January 1628-9, the bridegroom settled the following lands in Cenarth to the uses of the marriage: the capital messuages and lands of Plas y Gellydowyll otherwise called Tir Merch Evan, and Plas Penkelly Yssa, the messuages and parcels called Perth y Piod, Tir Ychlau Eglwyse Kenarth, Gwastod bychan, Penrhyn dol y mynach, Allt goch, Park y person, Tythynod Argoed, Dol y Mynach, Tir pen y Knwcke, Parck y Wyen fychan, Parck y fynant, Park y wern, Park y coed bach, Park pen y Pombren, Tal y bryn, Ty yn y lane, Parke y shoppe, Tythin Aberarad and numerous un-named messuages, houses and lands in Kenarth village, in the town and liberty of Emlyn, and in Talybryn. The trustees were Sir John Lewes (uncle) of Abernantychan and Rees Lloyd of Gellyvraith, Llandysul, gentleman. In some genealogies the bride's father is said to be of Wern, Llanarth, but he is specifically described in this settlement as "of Pant Ystreymon in the parish Llandissil, gentleman."
Apart from the fact that they had an only child, no further information concerning Thomas and Mary his wife, has been found. It seems probable that both died, comparatively young.
In due course, the only child James Lewes [b. c. 1630] succeeded to Gellidywyll. I have been unable to discover anything about his younger years. The earliest record I have seen is a deed dated 20 January 1663-4, whereby John James, gentleman, of Cilrhedyn parish (son and heir of James Howell) and his [James' ?] widowed mother Mary, bargained and sold Tir Llwynbedw and Tir yr Hendy, totaling 266 acres, to James Lewes, to assure a lease for life of those properties to the said widow.
The parentage of his wife is not clear. In post-nuptial settlement of James Lewes of Gellidywyll and his wife Joan [the second James and Joan], made on 23 January 1666-7, she is described as the youngest daughter of (illegible),
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deceased and Margaret Knolles alias Owen, whereby the properties enumerated in his late father's settlement [?] (20 Jan. 1628-9 supra), are entailed on the couple [James and Joan] and their issue, their eldest and second sons James and John Lewes being named. [Uncle] James Lewes of Coedmor and Alexander Ford of Eglwyswrw were trustees. Joan's mother was clearly descended from the Owens of Henllys, with whom Knolles and Ford were connected by marriage. Joan's marriage portion was £230. The settlement contained the names of sixteen tenants who attorned on this occasion.
Judging from the mortgages he created James seems to have been often in need of money. In 1685-6 James Lewes the elder, Joan his wife and his son and heir apparent, James Lewes the younger, mortgaged messuages and lands called Place Tallbryn and Gweyn Iago; in ????, to Thomas Vaughan of Maenclochog parish, gentleman, and Margaret, his wife; on 26 March 1690 the said father and son, and Owen Ford of Nevern and John Knolles of Cardiganshire, gentlemen, gave a bond to James Laugharne of Pontfaen, Pembs., gentleman, for performance of covenants; on 16 March 1691 father and son mortgaged nine messuages in and about the town of Emlyn; in ???? to the same James Laugharne, who later (13 August 1695) assigned the mortgage to Rees Evans of Talybont, Carms.; on 24 March 1691, a Final Concord was effected in a Fine levied between Sir John Barlow, Bt., and Rees Evans, plaintiffs, and James and Joan Lewes and their son James, deforciants, in respect of the Gellidywyll estate described as comprising 20 messuages, 8 cottages and 1020 acres in Cenarth parish; on 7 December 1691 James, Joan and their son James, mortgaged the capital messuage of Place y Gelly dowyll otherwise called Tir merch Evan, to Rees Evans of Lakes in Llanstephan parish, Carms., in the sum of £500; on 21 August 1693 he further mortgaged the farms called Penylan and Argoed to John Morris of Cardigan, gentleman, in the sum of £100.
These transactions suggest the family was passing through a difficult period. Nevertheless most of the mortgaged properties were redeemed for they appear later in Lewes hands. The last reference I have found to him is on 17 January 1693/4 when father and son gave a lease of possession of the capital messuage called Place y Gelly Dowill otherwise called Tir Merch Evan, the messuages of Penylan and Argoed, houses and lands called Penkelly Yssa, Tyr bach, Parke y Weyne, the fulling mill, Parke y velin, and Parke y persone, and other properties in Newcastle Emlyn, Aberarad, Tir Dyffryn, and Talybryn, all in Cenarth parish, to enable lessors to effect a settlement of the estate. Very shortly after this, James Lewes, the father, died.
By his wife Joan he had nine children, all of whom, except the eldest son and the youngest daughter, died without issue. They were
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1. James Lewes the younger, the heir
James Lewes the younger married Mary daughter and co-heiress of Rees Evans of Talybont in Llandeilo Abercywyn parish, Carmarthenshire by Anne daughter of Francis Lloyd of Plas Llanstephan. Although he lived in Carmarthenshire at Talybont and occasionally at Laques, Rees belonged to the old Cardiganshire family of Llechwedd dery, who intermarried with the families of Dolegwyrddon, Moelifor, and the Herberts of Hafod. It was Rees' nephew, Daniel Evans (High Sheriff in 1691) who "built ye great fabric at Peterwell" according to to the Golden Grove MSS.
His tenure of the estate was particularly short, for in 1695 about a year after he succeeded, James Lewes died, and administration was granted to his widow on 13 July. Indeed it was a sad period in the history of the family, for James' father died only a year before, and in 1697 his father-in-law also died. Mary did not mourn for long, and within a few years found a second husband, John Williams, of Dolgwm Issa in Pencarreg, a member of the Abercothi family. He was living at his wife's home when a local correspondent informed Edward Lluyd "The Gentlemen of this parish are John Williams (who gives for arms a chevron or on a chief argent a lion passant gules), he lives now at Gelhy Dywylth by marrying the relict of James Lewes who gave armes gules 3 snakes fretted argent" (Parochialia, III, 79). This union also proved brief, for John died in 1703. She never married again and passed a widowhood of over half a century for she was still alive in 1755.
By Mary, James Lewes had an only child, a posthumous son, christened James. In due course he became squire of Gellidywyll, and married twice. His first wife, Mary, was the only daughter of Roger Vaughan of Esgair Fychan in Merthyr Cynog, descendant of the Breconshire chieftain Moreiddig Warwyn. Under the prenuptial settlement made on 9 March 1724-5, James Lewes and his mother settled the capital messuage called Place y Gellydowill otherwise called Tyr merch Evan, and messuage called Pen y Ian, Park y person, Argoed, Place Tal y bryn, Gwayn Yagoe, Tir Clawdd Conye, and Penkelly Issa, all in Cenarth parish, and a fulling mill, Park y velin, and nine messuages in Newcastle Emlyn, and houses and lands in Aberarad and Talybryn, to the uses of the marriage. The trustees were John Morgan of Llandovery, gentleman, David Lloyd of Carmarthen, apothecary, Richard Gwynne of Taliaris, William Barlow of Haroldston, William Gwynne Vaughan of Trebarried, esquires, and Walter Vaughan of Esgair Vychan, gentleman.
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Within ten years, Mary had died, without issue. James then looked around for a second partner and his choice fell on Grace daughter of a Pembrokeshire landowner, John Symmons of Llanstinan by Martha Harries of Tregwynt. He may have met her through his association with the high Tory Society of Sea Sergeants, of which two of the Llanstinan family were members. James Lewes belonged to it in 1733 and was one of the society to be elected a burgess of Carmarthen some five years later. He was also a burgess of Cardigan and Mayor in 1734. When the artist Taylor painted portraits of the Sea Sergeants, James Lewes was delineated in "a coat of red velvet, gold edging, blue waistcoat, and a wig" (Trans. Cymmr. Session 1967 Pt. 1, p. 80). The prenuptial settlement made on 16 September 1735 included the following properties in Cenarth parish-Gellydowill otherwise called Plas y Gellydowill, messuages called Penylan, Bryn Eynon, Bwlch Melyn, Argoed, Tyr Bach, Tyr Yet Werngornach, Parck Tynker, Park yr Eglwys, messuages and lands in Cenarth village, messuages and lands called Tyr Godor, Penkelly Issa, Pompren Gwyddon, Tyn yn y Cwm, Llwyn y gog, Pontgarreg, messuages and lands in Dyffryn Talybryn, a messuage and lands called Aberarad with a fulling or tucking mill, messuages and lands called Perth y Piod, Ty hen, Waun Vechan, Pen y lone issa and ycha, Finnant, a field called Caerodyn, messuages and lands called Tyr Coed Bach and Park y dderwen, and properties in and about the town of Newcastle Emlyn (Eaton Evans and Williams Deeds, 3011).
Little has been found about his life. He seems to have shared the family's penchant for mortgages, and on 18 February 1740/1 mortgaged Tir Park y Brace, Rhagddole otherwise Rhag y Ddole, Penyknwck, Bron y Blewin, Penrhyn bach, an unearned messuage, land called Tyr Keven yr Argoed, Dole Gatten, Allt fach, messuages and lands called Pen Issa yr Dre in the lower end of Kenarth village, and Ty wrth y Dderwen, all in Cenarth parish to Miss Mary Lort of Tenby [ibid. 3277). He took an active part in the affairs of Cardigan town, and supported the Gogerddan interest during parliamentary elections. He died in 1746, his wife in February 1750 and administration of the latter's goods was granted to her aged mother-in-law Mrs Mary Williams.
The second marriage had produced a reasonable number of children, three sons and a daughter, and it seemed that the continuance of the family was assured for some time to come. But not so. None of them married and with the death of the last surviving member of that generation, the name of Lewes of Gellidywyll ceased to grace the roll of West Wales gentry.
The eldest son, James Lewes, entered the army at a young age and served in Europe as an officer in a troop of dragoons in Burgoyne's
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regiment, seeing action against the French and Spanish during the war which led to the Peace of Paris in 1763. On 9 September 1765 he was commissioned as Second Cornet in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, later became a Captain in the 16th Light Dragoons and in due course promoted to major in the same regiment. Later, he retired seemingly in a pique from seeing a junior officer preferred to purchase before him "on this event he quitted the army and ended his days in the middle of life, in the retirement of his paternal seat" [Camb. Reg. 1795 (1796) 462).
As he spent most of his time away from Wales few references to him occur in local records. He remained loyal to the family's financial theme-song, and on 19 January 1765 mortgaged the capital messuage of Gellidywyll and other lands in Cenarth, in the sum of £I,500 to Robert Morgan of Carmarthen, and in April of the same year mortgaged the messuages of Bwlch Melyn, Argoed, Dyffryn Talybryn, Ty Hen, Finnant, Tir y Coed Bach, Park y dderwen, Llwyn y Gog, Ty yn y Cwm, Pen Rhippin, Penrhyncych, Penlan, fields called Wern Gornach, Park yr Eglwys, Perth y Piod, Waun Fychan, two houses and fields called Cae yr odyn, all in Cenarth, in the sum of £500. These properties were redeemed later, and on 24 January 1771, they were reconveyed to him.
In 1768 the land surveyor Thomas Lewis produced a map book of the estate, giving the statutory acreages of the properties. The mansion, outhouses, gardens and plantations covered 13 acres 38 perches and the other properties as follows:
James Lewes died at Gellidywyll in 1779 aged about 39 years, and the estate passed to his next brother, Thomas.
Thomas Lewes, born at Gellidywyll in 1742, became a Justice of the Peace for Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire but spent little of his adult life at home, being mainly engaged in serving Britain on the high seas. At the age of 13 years he entered the Royal Navy and during the earlier years of his service was seconded to government missions. A
p, 386 Ceredigion
contemporary informs us, "His acquaintance with foreign countries was extensive for besides a residence of some continuance in France, and a tour in which he traversed Hungary, and was present at all the principal courts of Germany, he twice visited, on interesting occasions, the continent of America once as the friend of Mr. Maurice Morgan who was sent by the British Ministry to Canada for the purpose of preparing a system of legislation for that valuable colony and once as the secretary and friend of the Earl of Carlisle when that nobleman crossed the Atlantic on a mission of peace to the thirteen United States" (Cambrian Register, 1795, 465). In 1768 he accompanied Maurice Morgan (from Blaenbylan, a close friend of Lewes's cousins at Llanstinan) on a mission to Quebec, and his account of the voyage to that port and a description of Newfoundland, have survived; in 1776 he was seconded to serve as a member of the mission of Sir John Stepney, Bart. (from Llanelly), Britain's envoy extraordinary to the court of Dresden, and during the years he was on the Continent recorded his experiences and impressions in papers now preserved among the Noyadd Trefawr muniments. He tells us of the countries and towns he passed through--Vienna, Prague, Budapest, etc.--about the people he met, anecdotes, details of expenses, note on the history of the Habsburgs, on Russia, accounts of Saxony and Prussia, description of a naval engagement, notes on American grievances and other matters. Early in 1778 he sailed to America with the commissioners to treat with the colonists, then on the verge of rebellion. Lord Carlisle, head of the mission, spoke highly of Lewes's abilities, expressing great satisfaction with his conduct.
In a deed of 10 October 1780 Thomas Lewes is described as "late of Gellydowill and now First Lieutenant on board HMS The Formidable" (Llwyndyrus Deeds, 11). Having served for twenty years in the rank of Lieutenant, he was promoted in 1782 to Post-Captain, afterwards serving in large fleets, principally as Admiral's Captain. At the commencement of the French Revolutionary War he was appointed captain of HMS "Sampson" (64) on the Jamaica station, and, shortly afterwards of HMS "Hannibal" (74) whose company had suffered severely from the prevalent fevers. Service in tropical climes had undermined his own health, and he was given an option of returning to Europe with the "Sampson", but elected to stay at his post on the afflicted "Hannibal". Shortly afterwards he suffered a stroke and died on 16 July 1795 aboard his ship off Cape Nicola Mole, Jamaica. He was in his 54th year. Of middle height, Captain Lewes combined in his person a strict adherence to discipline tempered with an humanity and fairness which earned him the respect of all ranks.
The third son, John Lewes, born at Gellidywyll in 1743, like his eldest brother, chose the army as a profession, and when 13 years of
p, 387 Gellidywyll
age was commissioned an Ensign in the 64th Regiment. He served throughout the American Revolutionary War, and was engaged in nearly all the battles in the flank companies of different regiments, and for some time as Major of Brigade. On returning to England he was given the rank of Brevet-Major. About this time he decided to retire from the service. However, he was favoured with the friendship of HRH The Duke of York, who, on hearing of John's intention, influenced him to continue in the army, and at the commencement of the French Revolutionary War promoted him Lieutenant-Colonel of a newly raised regiment, and Quarter-Master-General in command at Cape Nicola Mole, Jamaica, with the local rank of Brigadier-General. His health was affected by the climate, and in 1795 he suffered severely from fever. To recuperate he moved from St. Domingo where he was at the time, to Jamaica, but died there on 6 July, in his 53rd year. Ten days later, his surviving brother Thomas followed him to the grave.
The only sister, Martha Maria Lewes, lived mostly with her Symmons cousins at Llanstinan. Several sprightly letters addressed to her by an admirer, Maurice Morgann, have survived. She died unmarried in 1782.
With the death of the three brothers and their sister, the senior line of Gellidywyll and Abernantbychan became extinct. [But, the junior line of Abernantbychan continued through the family of James of Coedmor, second son of Sir John Lewis.] The family is still represented in Cardiganshire through descendants of cadet lines, who continue to possess landed property and to contribute to county life. To the most public-spirited of them, Captain J. Hext Lewes, O.B.E., of Llanllyr, Lord Lieutenant of Cardiganshire from 1956 to 1974 and a Lieutenant of Dyfed from 1974 to 1978, and to Mrs. Lewes, I am grateful for advice, assistance and many kindnesses, which made my researches on the family of Lewes both pleasurable and rewarding.
The final phase
As the last Lewes generation to own Gellidywyll died unmarried, the estate, under the terms of entail created by previous legal settle- ments, would pass to the next of kin. To find the heir we have to go back for two generations, to Bridget Lewes who, shortly before 1675, had married William Jenkins of Carrog and Blaenpant (see page 383). Their only child, the heiress Elizabeth Jenkins, married William Brigstocke second son of William Brigstocke of Llechdwnny in south Carmarthenshire, descendant of a Croydon brewer. After marriage, William Brigstocke settled at Blaenpant in Llandygwydd which became the family's main residence. On his death in 1725 he was followed by his son, also named William (1708-1751), and he, in turn, by his son Owen Brigstocke. The last named died in 1778, to be followed by his son William Owen Brigstocke, and it was he who
p, 388 Ceredigion
found himself the heir as nearest of kin to the Gellidywyll family in 1795.
W. O. Brigstocke continued to live at Blaenpant, and shortly after 1800 Gellidywyll was let to Dr Evan Jones (member of the Jones' of Penrallt in Llangoedmor) who remained there until he inherited the Dolwilym estate in 1813. Gellidywyll was then given to W. O. Brig- stocke's second son, the Revd. Augustus Brigstocke, vicar of Cenarth, who held it until his death in 1852. The property then passed to the vicar's son, William Owen Brigstocke (1831-1900), who lived principally at his Cardiganshire seat, and in 1873 advertised Gellidywyll to be let as a mansion consisting of an entrance hall, dining, drawing and sitting rooms, eleven bedrooms, rooms for housekeeper, butler, and other servants, numerous outhouses, garden, pleasure ground, coach house, stables for eight horses, dog kennels, and other out-buildings. The walls of some of the rooms in the mansion were paneled. However, the sands were running out, and before the end of the nineteenth century, W.O. Bridgstocke had sold Gellidywyll to the Earl Cawdor. And thus the link between Gellidywyll and the blood of Ednowain ap Bradwen, after a period of over three hundred years, was finally severed.
Ceredigion: Journal of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society <https://journals.library.wales/> 18 May 2019.
THE LEWES FAMILY OF ABERNANTBYCHAN*
THOSE who have rummaged in seventeenth century Cardiganshire history will probably have become vaguely aware of the prominence in the public affairs of the county of the Lewes family of Abernant-bychan, later of Coedmor. Although three groups of records of the family have come down to us, it is unfortunately the fact of this prominence rather than the intrinsic interest of the surviving documents that will have to justify an account of the family. Members of the family were thirteen times returned to Parliament, yet nothing new comes to light concerning their political or parliamentary activities, perfunctory though these may largely have been. Colonel James Lewes had a conspicuous part during the Civil War and under the Commonwealth, yet it remains one of which we only catch glimpses. We have next to no means of judging the intellectual qualities and interests of any of the family. It does, however, seem that Abernant-bychan was not among the Cardiganshire plasau which continued into the seventeenth century to patronize the Welsh poets, even though Sir John Lewes married a daughter of Gogerddan, the last great home of such patronage in the county, no poems written to or for a member of the family appear to be extant. No portraits of any of the family are recorded. The material we are left with, in the three groups of records mentioned, consists for the most part of deeds, and the account that follows is primarily a story of land, its purchase and descent. A section so cut does not provide a very instructive view of history; it is, however, a necessary aid to the understanding of family archives.
The three archives in which groups of Abernant-bychan records are to be found are those of Gogerddan,1 Coedmor,2 and Noyadd Tre-fawr.3 On the whole the Abernant-bychan records that are now in the Gogerddan and Coedmor archives are those that, given the descent of estates described below, one would expect to find, where they are a fairly small number of deeds relating to the Coedmor estate are among the Gogerddan muniments, and vice-versa, no doubt because of imperfect sorting when John Lewes sold the Coedmor estate. The presence of Abernantbychan deeds in the Noyadd Tre-fawr archive, on the other hand, makes prima facie no archival sense whatsoever; and one has to search for an explanation.
The Noyadd Tre-fawr archive contains besides that of Abernant-bychan a substantial stray group of deeds and papers relating to the Lewes family of Gellidywyll (in the parish of Cenarth) for the period.
*Based on an address delivered to the Society at Aberystwyth, 28 June 1969.
p. 151 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
1589-1788. Among these Gellidywyll papers is a notebook in use about 1775 which includes a list of deeds in the large trunk.4 The deeds listed are mostly Gellidywyll deeds, but among them are a number that can be identified with Abernant-bychan deeds in the Noyadd Tre-fawr archive. Some, therefore, at least, of the Abernant-bychan deeds were at Gellidywyll about 1775. The Lewes's of Gellidywyll were descended from James Lewes of Abernant-bychan (see pedigree), but at no time after the death of James Lewes did the estates come together. We have to look elsewhere for clues. They come in some letters among the Abernant-bychan papers in the Gogerddan archive. The first is a letter dated 1736 from James Lewes of Gellidywyll to George Lewis Langton (see pedigree) concerning the management of the Abernant-bychan estate and enclosing a rental of it.5 Other letters from the same James Lewes to Walter Pryse, written in 1738 and 1743, show that at that time James Lewes was acting as agent for Walter Pryse in the management of the latter's Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire estates.6 Walter Pryse, a London lawyer and a cousin of James Lewes, had come into the Abernant- bychan estate on the death of George Lewes Langton in 1738 he had previously had the management of it during Langton's infancy. This correspondence and some associated documents make it clear that some of the Abernantbychan estate records were at this time in the custody of James Lewes, presumably at Gellidywyll. It is reasonable to suppose that at a later date carelessness or ignorance allowed them to remain there. The latest document relating to Walter Pryse's estate among the Gellidywyll deeds and papers is of 1741.
Granting that the presence of Abernantbychan muniments among those of Gellidywyll has now been accounted for, there remains the problem of how the latter came to be at Noyadd Tre-fawr. The estates of Noyadd Tre-fawr and Gellidywyll were never connected. The following is a tenable explanation. In 1795 the last of the Lewes's of Gellidywyll died and the estate passed to William Owen Brigstocke of Blaen-pant, a distant cousin. His son, another William Owen Brigstocke, married in 1835 Maria, one of the daughters of Admiral William Henry Webley Parry of Noyadd Tre-fawr. William Henry Webley Parry, the only son of the admiral, died in 1853 and left an only son, David, an infant, his heir. In the same year the contents of Noyadd were sold.7 In 1856 David formally entrusted the management of the Noyadd estate to his maiden aunt, Ellen, another daughter of the admiral.8 We have record of the letting of the house and demesne of Noyadd for seven years in 1858.9 In 1861 we find Ellen addressing a letter (the only one of hers surviving) from Blaen-pant;10 in the same year her sister Maria was widowed. It seems fair to
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deduce that Ellen had gone to live at Blaen-pant, her sister's large house, only a mile from Noyadd, and to guess that it was under the roof of Blaen-pant that the muniments of Gellidywyll (already joined with those of Abernantbychan) and Noyadd Tre-fawr met and merged, later to be removed to Noyadd, whence they came to the National Library of Wales in 1955.
The name Abernantbychan has disappeared from current use. It is preserved, in the form Abernant Vaughan, on a slate tablet above the door recording the building of the present farm-house in 1835. It is today known as Plas or Plasglynarthen or Plas-y-glyn. The house stands a mile due south of Sarnau church, in the parish of Penbryn, marked but for no accountable reason not named on the I" O.S. map. Meyrick says of the house standing in his day (the original' one he locates a little to the south-east) The arch of the door is of the pointed ellipse, and the wainscot within the house, from its carved work and the figures on it, seems about the date of Elizabeth's reign'.11 There is a tradition in the family of the present owner, which has been there for four generations, of the old house being in a field below, and west of, the present one, where a course of stonework is just visible above the turf.12
While the pedigree books carry back the connection with Abernant- bychan at least a further six generations,13 the first of the family to appear in the surviving muniments is Lewes Dafydd Meredydd, in 1539. I have not searched elsewhere for earlier documentary refer- ences. In 1542 Lewes Dafydd Meredydd made a settlement of all his lands in Cardiganshire on himself and his wife.14 In 1564 he made a new settlement, this time entailing estates on his eldest son, James.15 The occasion was perhaps the marriage of James one of the feoffees was a Stedman, the family of his first wife. Between these two dates there are a number of deeds which show Lewes Dafydd Meredydd acquiring land on a modest scale in the parish of Penbryn.16 Genea- logically, Lewes Dafydd Meredydd is of some significance as the fount of the surname Lewes. Among the many branches of his descend- ants in the male lines in Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, and Pembrokeshire (generally, though not invariably, recognisable by the spelling Lewes) are, at various periods, apart from those mentioned in this article, the Lewes families of Gernos, Llysnewydd, Llanllyr, Dol-haidd, Llwynderw, Penybenglog, Plasnewydd, Pantyrodyn, Cwm- owen, Glasgrug, and Llwyndafydd. Representatives of three of these families will be found in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography. There is hardly need to remind members of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society of the special place among them occupied by the present-day representative of one of these families.
p. 153 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
By the conventional measure of public office it was in the person of James Lewes, the eldest son of Lewes Dafydd Meredydd, who was sheriff of Cardiganshire for the first time in 1571, that the Abernant- bychan family came to prominence. Lewys Dwnn, the herald, writing in 1588, names the offices that James Lewes then held 'Jams Lewys justis of pies ar korwm arglwydd maen klochog yn haner a Wiliam Langffild sgwier o vewn sir benfro ag ystiward kar wedros uwch kerdyn and is koed is irwem.17 His listing among five Cardiganshire justices of the peace who were said to be serving men in the livery of the Earl of Essex places James Lewes in a wider pattern of affairs.18 Caerwedros Uwchcerdin and Iscoed Ishirwern were Essex lordships. The Essex connection no doubt had influence on James Lewes's estate-building, a pursuit in which he was very much a man of his time.
Between 1568 and 1597 we have record of some fifty conveyances of land to James Lewes.19 The majority of these present a piecemeal acquisition of tenements over a wide area on both sides of the lower Teifi. Two groups are worthy of mention. Between 1586 and 1597 he took eight leases from the Crown.20 (He held other Crown lands by assigned leases.) Then, in the years 1589 — 91, by a series of eight distinct transactions, lands in the parish of Cenarth were acquired and the Gellidywyll estate created for James, the eldest son of James Lewes's first marriage.21 Here the senior branch of the Lewes's remained until the death of its last member of the name in 1795. Two other transactions are of interest. In 1593 James Lewes bought the Castell-llwyd estate in Laugharne which his son John was later to give in part-exchange for the Coedmor estate.22 In 1596 he took an assignment of a Crown lease of all profits of commote and borough courts in Cardiganshire.23 Two years later we find him sueing two mayors of Aberystwyth for detention of issues of courts.24
The education that James Lewes gave his son John suggests a man alive to the trends of his time.25 John, the eldest of the second marriage, was sent to Jesus College, Oxford, and then to the Inner Temple. Before attending further to John, three others of the six sons of James Lewes's second marriage deserve notice. The relevance of Nicholas, the fourth, generally met as Nicholas Lewes of Hean Castle, is that he did extremely well for himself and, having no children by either of his wives, devised most of the considerable estate he had built up (he died old) to his great-grand-nephew, John Lewes, in whose person it joined the Abernantbychan and Coedmor estates. Nicholas-Lewes's estate lay mostly in Pembrokeshire, the most notable properties being the lordships of Cilgerran (bought in 1631) and East and West Pembroke, including Pembroke Castler (bought in 1661) and coal-mines in the parish of St. Issells.26 One regrets not knowing more about two
p. 154 Ceredigion
other sons of James Lewes. A contemporary annotator of Lewys Dwnn's pedigree of the family has this to say of them27: of Richard, the second son, who also went to Jesus College and emerged a bachelor of laws, 'a great and generall gamester but somewhat unfortunat' and of Huw, the fifth, died at Naples in his return from Jerusalem having visited the sepulcher of our Saviour at xxi yers of age We now return to eldest sons.
Regarding John Lewes, or Sir John Lewes, as he became before the age of twenty-five, we are made particularly conscious of the shallowness of Cardiganshire source material for the seventeenth century. For half a century Sir John Lewes was a power in the affairs of the county, yet we can come no closer to him than by the bald array of facts that follows. Outside the State Papers no letters of his appear to survive, nor do any to him. John Lewes was returned as M.P. for Cardiganshire in 1604, succeeding his father-in-law, Sir Richard Pryse of Gogerddan he was knighted the same year. He was a deputy lieutenant for Cardiganshire and twice sheriff.28 He headed the Cardiganshire members of the commission appointed in 1626 to investigate the levying of money to raise soldiers for Ireland and of a similar com- mission the following year to apply the money to the defence of Milford Haven.29 In 1632 he arbitrated between John Vaughan of Trawscoed and Morgan Herbert of Hafod Uchtryd.30 In 1635 he headed a petition from the county complaining of an excessive rating for Ship-money.31 We have a suggestion that in the 1648 insurrection he was, with his son James, a tacit supporter of Laugharne.32 This — one could add a few lesser facts — was the public career. Only when we return to the story of property does greater detail become possible.
Although only the eldest son of the second marriage, Sir John Lewes inherited the greater part of his father's lands. He was no less active than his father in adding to his estate. The surviving deeds show fewer transactions but bigger deals. They also reflect by a fairly regular series of borrowings on bonds and occasional mortgages mostly made in London (later, together with his son James) the cost of court life, one which his father does not seem to have had to face. A number of these by then old debts brought trouble when they finally came home to roost towards the end of Sir John's life. The chief transactions in which Sir John was involved are now noted. In 1608 he sold to Anthony Rudd, bishop of St. Davids, for £1,600, the rectory of Pencarreg, with other lands in Carmarthenshire;33 (there is no record of how he came by this property). In 1613 he was granted the wardship of Rowland Mortimer, the heir of Coedmor,34 to whom he had married his sister Sisli. In 1617, giving in exchange the Castell-llwyd estate in Laughame, which his father had bought, plus £200, he acquired from
p. 155 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
his young brother-in-law the Coedmor estate.35 This comprised the manor of Iscoed Mortimer (alias Coedmor), the mansion houses of Coedmor Uchaf and Isaf, lands in the parishes of Llangoedmor, Llechryd, Llandygwydd, Blaen-porth, and Aber-porth and burgages in Cardigan and Cilgerran (a slightly more extensive estate than that settled in 1650, cf. Appendix). In 1631 he married his daughter Lettice to David Parry ofNoyadd Tre-fawr, with a portion of £1,ooo,36 and in 1635 his daughter Margaret to George Owen of Henllys, with a portion of £850.37 In 1633, together with his son James, he bought the boroughs and manors of Cardigan and Aberystwyth, with rents of assize of burgesses, tolls and other perquisites;38 these after 1660 passed to the Nanteos estate. In 1637 Sir John and James Lewes sold to John Vaughan of Trawscoed for £755 twelve tenements in the parishes of Llanilar, Llanafan, and Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn;39 (there is no record of the acquisition of these lands by the Lewes's but one may bear in mind that James Lewes's marriage to the heiress of Aber-mad gave them an interest in the district). In 1641, together with his son-in-law David Parry, Sir John took a 25-year lease (from Sir Roger Palmer, Cofferer of the Household) of a large number of north Cardiganshire rectories and chapels.40 The annual rent on this lease was £ 500, besides a reserve rent to the Crown of nearly £ 80 p.a. clearly formid- able speculation. The potential return is suggested by an allegation (in a lawsuit and no doubt an exaggeration) that from one of these rectories alone, that of Llanbadarn Fawr, the issues were worth over £ 1,000 a year.41 The events of the years following 1641 probably meant that Sir John profited little in fact.
We have a succession of settlements of the Abernantbychan estates made by Sir John Lewes and his son James between 1638 and 1650.42 The two complementary settlements made in 1650 at the time of the marriage of John, the eldest son of James by his first marriage, were of some consequence in effecting a division of the estates that proved to some extent permanent. The aim of these two deeds was, in brief, to settle on John Lewes (a) the older Abernantbychan estate, centred on the parishes ofPenbryn (with Betws Ifan and Bron-gwyn) and Tredreyr (Troed-yr-aur), (b) the Aber-mad estate (see below) and (c) a miscell- any of properties including the rectory of Penbryn, and to settle the Coedmor estate on the issue of James Lewes's second marriage. The early death of John Lewes, childless, altered the situation. Nevertheless, his widow, who soon re-married, retained the greater part of the older Abernantbychan estate as her jointure until 1704, when she surrendered it. Since in the first of these two settlements the estate is described in detail, with names of tenements, occupants, and annual values, and since no surveys or rentals of this, or any earlier, period survive, the
p. 156 Ceredigion
description from this document is given below as an appendix. The settlement of the Coedmor estate is unfortunately not nearly so inform- ative, but for the sake of completeness its description of the estate is added to the appendix. These two deeds between them show the extent of the Abernantbychan possessions at their greatest, excluding of course unsettled lands and speculative interests such as have been mentioned above. One other such interest about which there is little record was in the Grogwynion leadmines.43 The annual value of the estates settled on John Lewes was, as may be seen, nearly £600.
In 1651 Parliamentary Commissioners made a survey of manors for the Trustees appointed for the Sale of Crown Lands. Of the manor of Iscoed Uwch Hirwern they reported:
They reported likewise of the moiety of the manor of Gwynionydd Iscerdin belonging to the Trustees.45
Sir John Lewes died in 1655 or 1656. His wife, Dame Bridget, and his son Richard had died in 1643 and 1622 respectively and are commemorated by a tablet in the floor of the chancel of Penbryn church. Beneath the chancel is a crypt, now sealed, which was opened in 1886 and found to contain seven coffins, one of them that of Richard Lewes.46 This presumably was the Lewes family vault. It is at least a legitimate guess that the arched recess in the south wall of the chancel, which apparently has never been filled, was intended for a monument to Sir John Lewes himself, or himself and family. Carrying conjecture yet further, one may bear in mind that shortly before his death Sir John was being pressed for debts and that, inherited by his son James, these debts led to the extent (i.e., seizure) of half of his estates in 1663. Sir John Lewes died intestate.
The annotator of Lewys Dwnn tells us that Sir John Lewes was Captan of the Milfordians that reskued Rees ap Rudderch I have not identified this incident.
We have already had reason tonotice James Lewes, the eldest son of Sir John. Like his father he was sent to Oxford and like him he became M.P. for the county in his early twenties. He was returned to five successive parliaments from 1624 to 1640, without, however, making much of a mark for* himself, any more than his father had done.47 That his character is slightly better outlined for us than that of any other member of the family is due to the Civil War. James Lewes's part in the war is conveniently summarized in the list of charges brought
p. 157 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
against him before the Committee for Advance of Money in 1649.48 (By no friend, it is granted. James Lewes was among those who had earned the not unjustified resentment of John Poyer and his supporters, who very likely were at the root of the charges.)49
James Lewes and those charged with him, Roger and Sampson Lort and John Elliot, were in the event discharged, having surrendered, taken benefit of the Declaration of Both Kingdoms, borne arms and held office for Parliament, and been active in opposing Laugharne, Poyer, and Powell in 1648.50 James Lewes, in fact, had to his credit the taking of Newcastle Emlyn for Parliament in December 1645.51 Whatever weight we may give to assertion in the charges against him of James Lewes's siding with the insurgents in 1648, contradicted as it is in the order for his discharge, we have record of his complying with the Parliamentary Ordinance to disband, disbanding his company about the beginning of April 1648, despite the contrary orders from Powell' on pains of death to assemble at Carmarthen.52 It is interest- ing on the other hand to note in this connection that the abortive Royalist rising in Cardiganshire in June 1651, inspired apparently by false rumours of Charles's approach, was headed by a brother of Sir John Lewes.53 James Lewes during the years 1645—60 was on almost every Committee for Cardiganshire and South West Wales, of Assess- ment, Militia, Sequestration, and Ejection of Scandalous Ministers. He was sheriff for Cardiganshire in 1645 and once more M.P. in 1656. Then, in 1659, his son James married a daughter of Richard Harrison of Hurst, near Reading, a prominent Royalist. When the Restoration
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came James Lewes's name was among those listed as eligible to be knights of the Royal Oak. For his own good, or for the public good, he had steered a sensitive course. The gist of the charges against him in 1649 should probably be upheld. The three men with whom he was charged appear to have been fairly unscrupulous opportunists. The verdict on the Lort brothers in the often-quoted Restoration tract, A True Character of the Deportment for these 18 years last past of the Principal Gentry within the counties of Carmarthen, Pembrocke and Cardigan is totally damning.54 The author of this tract undoubtedly had prejudices of his own, and on some points of fact he has been shown at fault, but his observations are too memorable to be dismissed. He it is who furnishes James Lewes with his ultimate acquittal, not unflatteringly:
According to the Golden Grove MS. James Lewes's first wife was the daughter and heiress of Lewis Lloyd of Aber-mad.55 There is no mention of her in the surviving documents, but that James Lewes's first wife was heiress of Aber-mad is certainly implied by the nature of the settlement of the Aber-mad estate made in 1650 (already referred to) where it is entailed on John Lewes, the son of the first marriage, with no remainders to the children of the second marriage. By virtue of the final remainder in this settlement, to the right heirs of John Lewes, James Lewes on his son's death acquired the fee-simple. He later sold the Aber-mad estate to a cousin, James Jones (Johnes) of Dolaucothi56 (whose father Thomas Jones had married Mary, a daughter of James Lewes and sister of Sir John).
The most notable purchase that James Lewes made independently of his father (or nominally so) was of the lordship of Iscoed Ishirwern, from the corporation of the city of London, in 1633, for £ 275.6.8, together with appurtenances that included Cilgerran weir and the associated fishery.57 This was, in George Owen's words, the chiefest weare of all Wales'.58 This property became part of the Coedmor estate.
James Lewes made use of various residences. He is described at different times as of Abernantbychan, of Cardigan (cf. the house late in the tenure of Edmond Bradshaw beinge the newe house wherein the said James Lewis dwelleth Appendix), of Aber-mad, of Cilciffeth (in right of his second wife, whose first husband's home it was), and of Coedmor, the last-named only after 1660. After his father's death James Lewes found himself in money trouble. In 1663 his late father's
p. 159 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
and his own estates were extended on elegits to recover for a London creditor a long-standing debt for which father and son had been bound together.59 The sale of Aber-mad will have been about this time.
James Lewes died in 1668 and his son James the following year, leaving an only son, John, then aged about nine, who was entrusted by his father's will to the guardianship of Richard Harrison (his mother's eldest brother) and his step-mother. He seems to have been brought up at Hurst, near Reading, the Harrison home. When he came of age John Lewis (as he chose to spell his surname) was described sometimes as of Hurst, sometimes of Coedmor, but one senses that the former was his true home. He sold Coedmor mansion to Nicholas Wade in 1 70060 and thereafter we only find him at Hurst. John Lewis kept up the family's parliamentary tradition he was returned six times, three for the county of Cardigan and three for the boroughs, defeating John Vaughan of Trawscoed in his one contested election, in 1689.
To the estates that John Lewis inherited came additions from two directions. In 1672 Nicholas Lewes of Hean Castle, Sir John's younger brother, died and, as has been mentioned, left most of his extensive property to the infant John Lewis. Then, in 1680, John Lewis married an heiress, grand-daughter of Sir William Lewis, who brought with her the Llan-gors estate in Brecknockshire. The Cardiganshire estates were from 1682 onwards subjected to a succession of progressively heavier mortgages, leading eventually to the sale of the Coedmor estate. This was subsequently, in 1714, bought by the Lloyd family.61 We find a complaint made of John Lewis, after his death, that he was indolent in his affairs';62 estate papers of this period confirm as much.
After John Lewis's death his estates vested in his widow and a grand- son of about five. The widow married Walter Pryse, a London lawyer descended from John Pryse of Gogerddan (d. 1584) and one with a claim to interest as a friend of the fourth Earl of Orrery, a provoker of Swift's Battle of the Books and giver of his name to the English language.63 Walter Pryse took in hand the management of the estates of his wife and her grandchild. She died in 1734 and four years later, soon after coming of age, George Lewis Langton, the young heir, died in Rome. By his will he left all his real estate to his dearest and most loving Friend Walter Pryse of Castle Yard for the Care, Love and Regard he has always shewn and expressed for and towards me in my Education .and for his kind Advice and Assistance in all my Affairs'.64 A singular windfall to come from a step-grandson, in any circumstances.
Thus it was that when Lewis Pryse, the son of Walter, came into the Gogerddan inheritance in 1774 he brought to it three other Welsh
p. 160 Ceredigion
estates the Llan-gors estate in Brecknockshire, once that of Sir William Lewis the estate, mostly in Pembrokeshire, brought together by Nicholas Lewes of Hean Castle and, in Cardiganshire, the Abernantbychan estate, now, having discarded intervening ex- crescences, remarkably similar to what it had been in the time of the first James Lewes.
p. 161 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
ESTATES OF SIR JOHN LEWES AND JAMES LEWES SETTLED IN 1650
The descriptive matter in the two deeds has been reduced to bare data and a tabular framework has been imposed. The columns represent properties, parishes, occupants, and annual values. The spelling of all proper names is as in the documents. Tenement names are in italic. Values are all reduced to £ s. d. Names of a few unnamed tenements and a few significant variant readings (from a deed of 6 Aug. 1657, also in Gogerddan, Wm. Jones 3/3) are given as footnotes.
Settlement Made 20 Nov. 1650
[A ABERNANTBYCHAN ESTATE]
p. 162 Ceredigion
[B ABER-MAD ESTATE]
3. Tre r pike.
p. 163 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
Settlement Made 23 Nov. 1650
p. 164 Ceredigion
8. An annual rent of
£40 is reserved to Sir John Lewes on these properties.
p. 165 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
1. In the National Library of Wales, see its Annual Report, 1949, pp. 558.
The Abernantbychan group falls in that part of the archive not yet
listed. The group has fortunately remained fairly intact and there is a
useful schedule of it prepared by William Jones in 1828, shortly before
these records were removed from Buscot Park to Gogerddan. William
Jones's reference numbers (which refer generally to a bundle rather than
a single document) are used in this article, in the form Wm. Jones 3/6'.
28. Noyadd Tre-fawr 1664 and 418 are deputations of the lieutenancy to Sir
John, dated 1617 and 1619.
p. 167 The Lewes Family of Abernantbychan
remayne inclosed, and are therein killed with an iron crooke proper for that
use, there hath beene often times taken 100. 140. more, or lesse in some
daye, the fishe being most excellent, and for fatteness, and sweetenes
exceeding those of other ryvers.
Unfortunately a few errors have crept into the genealogical table during its reproduction, viz.
i. For Rhys ap Sion ap Hywel of Gemes read Rhys ap Sion ap Hywel of Gemos.
ii. It is not clearly indicated in the table that James Lewes of Coedmor (d. 1669), who married Catherine Harrison in 1659, was the eldest son of James Lewes of Abernantbychan and Coedmor by his second wife, Mary, daughter of John Wogan.
iii. For H. S. Brees read H. S. Brecs.
Ceredigion: Journal of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society <https://journals.library.wales/> 19 May 2019.
The Lewis Family in History