Vol 2 No 4: Roath Mill


Roath Mill was an ancient water grist-mill which stood on the northern arm of the Nant-mawr (Roath brook), a little north-west of Roath Church. It was the lord ‘s mill for the Manor of Roath. Some remains of the original structure were to be seen, but the later building dated from the 18th century. It was demolished in 1897, after a useful existence of a thousand years.” C.R.V.4ll.

A confirmatory charter of c.1102 (G.T.Clark’s ‘Cartae’ l. p.39) from Henry I to the Abbot of Tewkesbury (confirming an earlier charter by Robert FitzHamon) refers to the mill of Raz (Roath) being given by Robert de Haia to Tewkesbury.

J.H.M. says (C.R.II.14) “What mill is here referred to is doubtful; for although an ancient mill was standing in Roath, not far from the church, until 1897, that mill was in Roath Keynsham”.

It is difficult to imagine that any mill other than that near the parish church in the heart of the village could be described as the ‘mill of Roath’. It is true that a seventeenth century survey of the manor of Roath Keynsham describes the lord ‘s corn grist mill as being within that manor. But Roath Keynsham manor was created at least 100 years after Roath Tewkesbury during the time of Gilbert de Clare 1217-30.

In the Account of John Giffard de Brimesfeld in 1316, at a time when the ravages of Llewellyn Bren’s uprising were being felt, under the heading of “The Manor of Roath”, he has an entry:
The Lord ‘s Mills: For the fulling-mill nothing, because it is notyet made.
The same mill is referred to in the Inquisition Post Mortem of Gilbert de Clare in 1314.(C.R.I.279) under “Raath, to wit.”

…………… And there is a certain fulling mill begun, which is let to Richard Toukere and his son, by letter of the said Earl (i.e.Gilbert de Clare), to hold for the term of his life with a certain island which is called Annotesham; and they shall render therefor by the year, when the said mill shall have been completed, £4 at the four terms of the year.

In the 1349 I.P.M. of Hugh le Despenser:
And there is a certain weak fulling mill which is worth by the year 6s.8d.
Fulling was the process of teasing and burling cloth to remove oil and grease and improve its texture. A person engaged in fulling was called a “tucker.” Here we see an example of how English occupational surnames arose. Richard the tucker becomes Richard Tucker.

We cannot say, on this sparse evidence, where the fulling mill in Roath was situated. Although corn grist mills were sometimes converted to fulling mills and vice versa, it would seem unlikely that the mill on the Roath Brook in the village was ever a fulling mill. It was certainly a corn mill in the 19th century as is indicated on the 0.S.map of 1879.

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The fact that the fulling mill seems to have been associated with “an island called Annotesham” does not help to identify it because the location of Annoteshan itself is unknown. It is just possible that the “island” was a plot of land called “Yelonde” or “The Island”. (See above under “Island”).

In the Land Tax assessment for 1784, the owner of Roath mill is shown as Henry Charles Morgan and the occupier as William Harris. In later assessments the occupier appears as a Mrs Jane Harris.

References to the mill and mill lands in the Tithe Apportionment of 1840 are:
Plot 268. Waun-y-Felin. (=Mill meadow). Pasture. 5a.3r.6p.
Plot 271. Mill. 1r.25p.
Plot 272. Mill Pond. 3r.20p.
These three are listed under the heading of “The Great House” the owner of which was Wm. Evans, Junior.

Plot 276. Deg Erw’r Felin (=Ten.mill acres) 13a 0r.20p. was a large arable plot – one of many owned by Sir Chas. Morgan and leased to Miss Jennet Morgan. (See Vol.l.No.2 p.15). The name clearly relates to the ancient customary acreage of the plot.

The use of the Welsh word “melin” (in its mutated form “felin”) is significant in providing evidence that this mill was not a fulling mill, which in Welsh place-names is invariably rendered as “pandy”.

Precisely who was in physical occupation of the mill is not indicated in the Tithe Apportionment schedule. For such information we have to turn to the 1841 Census. Here we find the head of the household is given a John Evans. His age is given as 19 and his occupation as “miller”. Also living in the mill was John Hier age 45, a clerk, and Catherine Lewis age 45, the village schoolmistress. It could be that young Evans, the miller was a member of the family in the Great House.

The “Hiers” were also certainly related to the Evans family.

Roath Mill - W B Hodkinson - 1878 - Cardiff Libraries

Roath Mill 1878 – Watercolour by W B Hodkinson – Cardiff Libraries

In the 1851 census, Mill House is shown as being occupied by a shepherd, Edward Phillips age 27, Sarah, his wife age 22 and their one year old daughter Martilda (sic). Elsewhere in the parish in 1851 but at an address not specified, was William Morgan, a 27 year old miller and his wife, Jane. He was born in St. Nicholas and his wife in Llanishen.

An earlier miller was William Williams of Plwcca Lane whose son, William, was apprenticed in 1818 to Samuel Dimond, baker and confectioner. (list of Apprenticeship Indentures C.R.II.317).

Trade directories for 1891 – 1895 show George Burfitt as being at Roath Mill. He was the last occupier there. The mill does not appear in the 1896 and subsequent directories.