Thomas and Elizabeth Davies

'Soariana'

This little book was written by John Thomas being a History of Soar Chapel, Pen-y-graig then Ffrwydamos is a brief history between 1834-1901. A translation has been published by the Glamorgan FHS.

A History of Soar Chapel, Pen-y-graig gives preachers' names and brief history 1834-1901. An Index of Names given in this book was done by Huw Daniel and is available online here.

Detail from 'Soariana', Soar Chapel, Ffrwydamos, Penygraig.

Thomas Davies, "Maesyrhaf".

He was the oldest Trustee of Soar and was so faithful in his attendance and generous in his support of the cause, that although on three occasions new deacons were appointed Thomas Davies was never nominated for office, mainly because he made himself so useful in Soar that the members thought that he was one of the deacons. He was a true Christian and held in high esteem in the district.

Source: I am indebted to Rhiannon and Ira Powell, Llwynypia for a copy of the book and for this translation.

The Ystradyfodwg Rate Book shows Thomas Davies living in a cottage in Pandy. There was more than one named Thomas Davies, so it may not be him, but when Friswith married William Jones (August 1873) she then lived in Pandy, where she was born.

1861 census for Brynhyfrwd, Tonypandy - RG9/4064 Folio 36 Pg-20 ‎‎(& Folio 37 Pg-21)
Thomas David Head m. 42 Collier   Cards N.K.
Eliz. wife m. 33     Ystradyfodwg
Thomas son un. 12     Ystradyfodwg
David son   10 Scholar   Ystradyfodwg
Richard son   08     Ystradyfodwg
William son   04     Ystradyfodwg
Friswith dau   06     Ystradyfodwg
Lettice dau   01 mo.     Ystradyfodwg
Shadrach Llewellyn Boarder   31 Collier   Ystradyfodwg

Elizabeth Davies nee Bevan

Eliza, was born at Penygraig*. This is highly likely to have been Penygraig Farm, as from 2 Feb 1832 Walter Coffin leased Brithweunydd Isha, Brithweunydd Ucha and Penygraig Farms at a yearly rent of 100.

At her marriage to Thomas Davies in 1847, Elizabeth made her mark, whilst Thomas signed.

I was in fact struck by the number of females in this family who did not sign their names.

In 1842 when Jennet Bevan married she made her mark.

In 1864 Sarah Bevan, Elizabeth's sister, at her marriage did not sign her name, but marked.

On her daughter Letitia's Birth certificate in May 1867 Elizabeth registered the birth herself and signed with a 'x'.

In "The Rhondda Valleys" E.D.Lewis says:
"There can be little doubt that the educational standards of the small farmers and labourers of these valleys were appallingly low in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is evident from the parish registers of marriages that most parishioners could not write, for the overwhelming majority signed their marriage certificates with a 'mark'.

The ability to read, too, was confined to comparatively few. With the exception of the larger farmers ... no Rhondda farmers had the means to send their children to the nearest Grammar School at Cowbridge, and the last of the seven Circulating Welsh Charity Schools established by Gruffydd Jones in the parish of Ystradyfodwg ceased in 1766 .........

Throughout the first half of the century, there was no educational provision for the children of the Upper Rhonddas, save that offered by the Sunday Schools and 'Private Adventure' Schools such as that at Cwmsaerbren, initiated by another Davies family to whom we are related.