When gentry families are described as “of Roath”, we can be reasonably sure in most cases that the parish is intended, but there is of course a wider territory than the parish or chapelry, extending into the parishes of Llanedeyrn, Llanishen, Lisvane and even Whitchurch, which comprised the manor or manors of Roath: Dogfield, Keynsham and Tewkesbury.
As previous articles have explained, the three manors of Roath were presumably originally one before the lord made grants to the abbeys of Tewkesbury and Keynsham, and, with Llantwit Major, it was one of the two large manors retained in their own demesne by the Norman lords of Glamorgan after the conquest. With the borough of Cardiff, it comprised the southern part or Englishry of the Commote of Cibwr. Incidentally, Splott, to which reference will later be made, was not of the manor, but part of the Bishop’s lordship of Llandaff.
The northern part of Cibwr, Llanishen, Lisvane, Llanedeyrn, Rhiwperra etc. was the Welshery. There is a broad distinction between the two which I shall try to emphasise, in a greatly over-simplified way, because I see it as important to the rise of gentry families in Roath.
The Welshery of Cibwr was a country of widely dispersed settlement with Welsh free tenants of long pedigree holding their land free of service, together with a few small bond villages of unfree Welsh cottars.
Roath, on the other hand was a Norman manor in the lord’s demesne and was the sort of territory where the tenants all lived in the village and went out each day to work in the surrounding open fields. For the most part the only gentry associated with such manors were the lords themselves.
In the case of Roath, the lords were the lords of Glamorgan and for Roath Dogfield remained so throughout. When the manors or reputed manors belonging to Tewkesbury and Keynsham fell into lay hands after the Dissolution of the monasteries they ultimately passed into the possession of the lords of Glamorgan in the case of Tewkesbury and Lord Tredegar in the case of Keynsham. But since in no case did any lord of any Roath manor ever live in the parish I do not include any of them within the scope of this paper. I have been careful to say “parish” and not “manor” because the lords of Glamorgan have from time to time resided in Cardiff Castle which was within the manor of Roath.
THE LANDED GENTRY
Much of the land in Roath was of high quality and by the 15th century if not earlier, it had become a profitable investment to lease blocks of the Demesne and aggregate them into estates.
In general we would expect to find four main types of investor in this sort of activity:
(i) younger sons of the Anglo-Norman gentry of the Vale of Glamorgan
(ii) younger sons of the Welsh gentry from the Welsheries
(iii) prosperous burgesses from the town, and
(iv) prosperous copyhold tenants of the manor of Roath itself
In fact, examples of all four categories can be found in Roath. Professor William Rees in his History of Cardiff illustrates the point I have made about leasing land in the manors:
Extensive leasing of these plots was proceeding in the later Middle Ages, to build up various tenements such as Adamsdown, which originally may have derived its name from Adam, the Gatekeeper of the Castle. In 1492, John Paunton, then Gatekeeper, had 14 acres at Adamsdown which he held free of rent though formerly it had rendered 12/-. He also had 15 acres at Adamscroft.
ANGLO-NORMAN GENTRY FROM THE VALE
One family that was in early on this business of leasing land in the manors was Bawdripp. A Somerset family, they held Odyn’s Fee in Penmark and they appear to have leased Splott from the Bishop of Llandaff since the 13th century. It is quite easy to understand why Splott was the first part of Roath to be leased in a block in this way. The Bishops of Llandaff would have readily leased out their land long before the lords of Glamorgan had given up working their own demesne with villein labour in the traditional feudal style.
There are several Cibwr references and alliances in the Bawdripp pedigree given by Clark in Limbus Patrum, which indicate an association with the area and by the 16th century we have several references linking them specifically with Splott and indicating that they were actually living there.
Leland circa 1535:-
Splot, a maner place longging to Baudrem, lyeth from the mouth of Remney on the Shore, and is taken as land holden of the Bisshop of Landaf, and resorteth to the Bisshop’s court, so it is in the Commote of Kibworth, but not of the Court of it.
Rice Lewis in his Breviat of Glamorgan 1596:-
William Bawdrippe esquior father to Thomas Bawdrippe that maried a doughter of Sr John Ragland knight, Father to William Bawdripp knight that maried a do: of M’ga’Gamedg esgr Father to Thomas that maried a doughter of xpofer Mathew Esquior Father to William that maried a doughter of Sr Geo. Mathew knight Father to Thomas that maried a doughter of Richard gwin esquior Father to William that hath Adenfield nowe called West Penmarke
The Splott wherein this gent. hath builded a faire house neere Cardiff and doeth nowe make the same his. cheefe dwellingehouse but there as I take it he hath noe Lo: but holdeth the same in Socage under the Buishope of Landaphe for the tyme being.
The Bawdripps had been a family in about the middle rank of Glamorgan gentry and, despite their Somerset origin, naturalised to the extent of becoming patrons of Welsh bards in the 15th and early 16th centuries. But decline set in and in 1626 both Penmark Place and Splott were sold to Sir Edward Lewis of Van by William Bawdripp Esq., then M.P. for Cardiff. Sir Edward did not, of course come to reside in Splott although one of his younger sons was settled in Penmark House, and this. sale marked the beginning of the end for Splott as a gentry house. Not quite the end however, for William and his wife continued to live there after the sale, presumably as leaseholders under Sir Edward Lewis and when Katherine Bawdrippe of Splott, widow, died in 1658 she bequeathed the “lease of the demise of Wm Lewis Esq., unto Anthony Mathew, gent., of a house and 34 acres in the parishes of Roath and St Mary’s. Residue to niece Grace Avan.”
Katherine Bawdripp was the widow of the William Bawdripp who sold Splott in 1626 and daughter of George Van of Marcross. The following pedigree shows that the Anthony Mathew and Grace Avan mentioned in her will were her great niece and nephew and this explains the appearance in Roath of both Anthony Mathew and his elder brother Edward, references to whom the Society may well come across in the course of their further research.
Although William and Catherine had no surviving children, a branch of the family, steadily declining in social status, held a lease of Plasturton in Llandaff in the 17th century, but, though this branch is well attested by their surviving wills (printed in Cardiff Records) they are not given a place in the Bawdripp pedigree in Clark’s Limbus Patrum.
No doubt the lease of Splott from Lewis of the Van expired with the death of Anthony and Edward Mathew thus extinguishing the last Bawdripp link with Roath.
FREEMEN OF THE WELSHERY
The freeholders of the Welshery of Cibwr held their lands of the lords of Glamorgan for no service and they can be said to have formed a March within the March – a friendly Welsh buffer against the potentially hostile lords of Senghenydd to the north of Cefn Onn. The earliest lords we read of in the Welshery are an obscure family, presumed to be Welsh, by the name of Maelog. They were lords of the Welsh manor of Llystalybont and by some authorities said to have been lords of Cibwr and Rhiwperra. No satisfactory pedigree seems to exist for them, nor do they seem to have been very prolific. According to legend “a dragon flourished on the land of Sir Ralph Maelog, lord of Cibwr and made a great part of it desolate, destroying men and beasts”. (Clark, Limbus Patrum p.401). In keeping within the story, an English adventurer came by, Sir Gwrgy Grant, and slew the dragon somewhere above Pen-y-lan Hill and Sir Ralph Maelog bestowed upon him the hand of one of his daughters and co-heiresses whence sprang the family of “Grant” of Llwyn-y-Grant, which very soon abandoned their English surname in favour of the Welsh patronymic nomenclature. I am not sure that I can substantiate the dragon. More reliable sounding pedigrees claim that early in the 13th century, there appeared in Cardiff a man bringing a far more virile strain, whose name was Einion ab Owain. He was a grandson of Cadwgan ab Bleddyn, King of Powys, and doubtless had a troop of his own soldiers. He entered the military service of Robert Consul, lord of Glamorgan and Earl of Gloucester and was rewarded eventually with the hand and land of Maud, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Ralph Maelog, reputedly lord of Cibwr and Rhiwperra.
From that marriage stemmed most of the gentry families occupying land in Llanishen, Lisvane and Whitchurch, and while many of them sank into obscurity in the male line to form much of the yeoman stock of the county, some male lines lived on, and north of Cefn Onn, at least one branch, Thomas of Llanbradach, survived to modern times.
Two branches of this family appear to have owned land in Roath, Gwynn of Llanishen and Gwynn of Roath who briefly flourished in the early 16th century, though precisely where in the parish I cannot say. What happened to the estate of the Gwynns of Roath is not evident, but the estate of Gwynn of Llanishen, or a substantial part of it must have devolved eventually upon Henry Mathew of Radyr who married their heiress. Henry Mathew himself was said at one stage to have been of Roath before he inherited Radyr after his elder brother. There is little reason to doubt that it was upon his wife’s property he dwelt there, or that he would have settled his wife’s lands upon one of his two daughters, since his Radyr property was entailed in the male line. One of these daughters married Lambroke Stradling, which brings us to the Stradlings of Roath who arrived in the parish towards the end of the 16th century. Given the successive connections between Jennet the daughter of Jenkin Morgan Gwynn of Llanishen and her daughter Jennet Mathew who married Lambroke Stradling, there is every reason for assuming that the Stradling lands in Roath were substantially derived from the Gwynn holding.
Edward Stradling was an illegitimate son of Sir Edward Stradling of St Donats and he married the daughter and heiress of Robert Raglan of Llantwit Major, by whom he had a substantial estate comprising, presumably the manor of West Llantwit. His mother, with whom Sir Edward appears to have enjoyed a long and faithful liaison (she bore him 11 children) was the daughter of John Lloyd Kemeys, coroner of Wentllwg in 1497 and a copyholder in Rumney. John Lloyd Kemeys was a younger son of Hywel Kemeys of Llanrumney in St Mellons and a nephew of William Kemeys of Newport also an important official of the lordship of Wentllwg in the 15th century. This William bought Rogerston and Sutton in Wentllwg from Sir Harry Stradling, Sir Edward’s grandfather when the former had been obliged to raise his own ransom on being captured by the Breton pirate Colyn Dolphin.
It thus has every appearance that when Edward came to arrange a marriage for his eldest son Lambroke Stradling with a Roath heiress, he was mindful of his own mother’s connection with the neighbouring parishes across the River Rhymni. Indeed, it is interesting to note that three of his grandchildren married in the St Mellons and Bassaleg area.
It is interesting also to note the curious name, Lambrook or Lamrock, which was bestowed on Edward Stradling’s eldest son and continued in the family.
The pedigrees give no clue as to where the name originated and the only other family of the period which I have found to be using this name is Mathew of Maesmawr in Llanilltud Faerdref. Maybe it is significant that Robert Mathew of Maesmawr in the 16th century married Joan, younger daughter and co-heiress of William Young of Rumney Wentllwg.
This slight clue suggests the possibility that Edward Stradling named his eldest son after some family association of his own mother’s in the Wentllwg area.
Lambrook Stradling, as we have already indicated, married a daughter of Henry Mathew of Radyr and consequently appears in a number of deeds relating to the Radyr estate which was mortgaged to Sir Henry Billingsly who had married Henrys other daughter and was therefore Lambrook’s brother-in-law.
Lambrook was dead by 1612 and his son Edward a ward of court. There are surviving documents arising from this fact, including the following deed in the N.L.W. at Aberystwyth, among the Plymouth Estate records:
Plymouth 548 1. Master of H.M.Court of Wards
Oct 16 1632 2. Edward Stradling son & h. of Lambrook Stradling Esq.,
Grant of a general livery of all lands etc. which are the inheritance of said Edward Stradling….. a valuation and extent of all this land etc.
These papers which list and value the Stradling estate in Roath as well as their land elsewhere are of obvious value for the light they may throw upon land values in 17th century Roath.
Edward Stradling was Sheriff in 1653 and he married Blanch, daughter of Thomas Morgan of Llanrumney, who would have been of distant kin to him. In 1656 Edward and Blanch were party to a marriage settlement between their son Lambrook and Jane, daughter of Sir John Horton of Wiltshire. (Was this some connection with Col. Horton who was one of Cromwell’s commanders at the battle of St Fagans?)
By 1687 we find a reference to Lambrook Stradling late of Roath Esq., deceased. The Stradlings had lived in Roath for about a century and Lambrook II was the last male of their line. He had two daughters and co-heiresses, Blanch, who married Thomas Lewis of Roath, gent., and Catherine, who married Rowland Hughes.
Thomas Lewis and Blanch had two daughters Ann Lewis and Blanch. The latter seems to have been unmarried, but Ann married Thomas Rice, gent., of Roath and by 1698 they had sold their share (except 20 acres in Roath) to George Howells of Bovehill in St Andrews Major, Esq.
Who George Howells was I have no idea – he suddenly appears on the Glamorgan scene as an Esquire perhaps coming from Monmouthshire and soon became a knight. His link with Roath was probably brief, though he does seem to have lived here himself. His daughter married Marmaduke Gwynne of Llanelwydd in Breconshire and G.T.Clark has a pedigree on p.523 of Limbus Patrum called Gwynne of Roath, but this has no connection at all with the
Gwyn family discussed earlier in this paper. The pedigree claims that George Howells was of Roath Court, but I am not convinced that this is right.
John Hobson Matthews, in Cardiff Records Vol.11. p,12 has:-
“In this manor (i.e.Dogfield) is Ty Mawr (otherwise Llys ddu) which in 1748 was in the occupation of Sir George Howells. It stands close to Roath Church.”
This I take it be Ty Mawr demolished in 1967 and on the site of which now stands Ty Mawr Old People’s Home. If John Hobson Matthews is right in Saying that this was the house of Sir George Howells then it was probably the home of the Stradlings for the 100 years they lived in Roath, and perhaps the site of the Gwynn home before that.
The Thomas Lewis who married Blanch Stradling, was very likely, I feel, to have been Thomas Lewis of Mynachdy.
Catherine, the other daughter of Lambrook Stradling, married one Rowland Hughes who appears to have had the manor of West Llantwit which was eventually sold to Thomas Lewis of Van by Catherine Hughes, then a widow, and Lambrook Hughes her eldest son and heir. This sale also included land in Roath, which seems to imply that this conveyance, which took place in 1711, finally severed the Stradling connection with Roath.
The next gentry family to appear on the scene are the Richards of Roath. We have seen several Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Welsh families from the Vale and pure Welsh families from Cibwr coming into Roath to establish gentry lines, but, although we began with an illustration of John Paunton the gatekeeper leasing land in Adamsdown in the 15th century, it is not until we get to Richards of Roath that we find a clear example of wealthy burgesses from the Borough of Cardiff moving out into Roath to set themselves up as County Gentry.
Perhaps there was not that much prosperity in early Cardiff that it is not until the 17th/18th century that we see the Richards rise from the Aldermanic Bench into the gentry and it was not until the 19th century that they finally blossomed forth as the Richards of Roath.
Their mansion was the crenellated Plas Newydd, now the Mackintosh Institute and described in Lewis’ Topographical Directory of 1848 as the most important of several gentry houses in the parish.
Their pedigree, which ends with Harriet Diana Arabella Mary Richards who married The Mackintosh of Mackintosh, contains a number of names familiar to us today as street names on the Mackintosh Estate, which was the estate built up by the Richards family and probably a larger accumulation
than any of the gentry estates we have so far considered. Among the names is Priest, which commemorates a family of Cardiff merchants and shipmen who flourished among the Burgesses of the town in the 18th century.
Almost contemporary with the Richards of Plasnewydd was the family of Crofts Williams of Roath Court, a house which had formerly been the home of John Wood, Clerk of the Peace. The Williams family came from Caerleon and were shipowners in Cardiff. They later moved to Llanrumney Hall in St Mellons. Perhaps we can see them as representing the new mercantile strain, not the old Burgesses of the Town, but incoming entrepreneurs making their fortunes in the newly expanding docks.
These brief notes of the rise and decline of some of the gentry families of Roath are of course, very far from complete and make no attempt to cope with the yeomen/gentry families who proliferated in the 18th century such as Meredith of Pengam and later Morgan of the same place.
The earliest reference I have found to Meredith is 1655, the will of Thomas Meredith, yeoman of Pengam. In 1682, Mary, daughter of William Meredith married Richard Jevan of Collenna in Llantrisant. She later married her husband’s cousin, Richard Prichard of Tylcha in Llantrisant. But a witness to the marriage settlement of 1682 between Mary Meredith and Richard Jevan was one Philip Herbert of Cogan. This suggests to me the strong possibility of a link with another reference to be found in the Plea Rolls of the Court of Great Sessions in 1638 to an Edmund Meredith gent. of Cogan Pill. Who he was I do not know, but I would not be surprised if he were an ancestor of the Meredith family of Roath.
I am only too aware that these notes are somewhat sketchy and disconnective but they are based on a talk given to the Roath L.H.S. some time ago at short notice by invitation of the Chairman. I hope they may form a useful research framework into which project workers may be able from time to time to fit some of the names they come across when handling old Roath records.
As I began with an illustration relating to Adamsdown and as mention has been made in a previous Newsletter (Vol 1.No.3.p.18) of Mr Whitlock Nicholl, I will conclude with a reference to the Nicholl family of Adamsdown, just to identify them as a branch from Nicholl of Ham in Llantwit Major. It is not the first time in the history of the gentry of Roath that we find a Llantwit Major family coming to settle in Roath. And let us not forget that when FitzHamon conquered the Vale of Glamorgan he retained two great manors in his own hands – Llantwit Major and Roath.
Compiled by J Barry Davies
5 GWYNN OF ROATH
6 GWYNN OF ROATH