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Monachty Mansion


Mynachty in the Nineteenth Century

Mynachty was originally a hospitium, or guest house, of the great Cistercian Abbey of Strata Florida 30 miles to the north. The Abbey was founded in 1164 under a charter of Rhys ap Gruffydd. This Charter states that the sons of Cadwgan and his wife Gwenllian gave the commote of Anhuniog to the Abbey of Strata Florida so one can assume that the hospitium was built not long after that.

An hospitium was used as an overnight stop by travellers on their way to the abbey. For an evening meal, a bed and breakfast they gave a donation to the abbey according to their means.

At that time it was known as Crugypebyll. In 1530 Llewelyn Dafydd ap Rhydderch held a 99 year lease of Crugypebyll from the Abbot of Strata Florida. In 1536, on the dissolution of the monasteries, the reversion passed to the Crown.

The Abbey estates were granted on a 21 year lease from the 29th September 1546 to Richard Devereux on the 20th March 1547 in the first year of the reign of Edward VI. He paid an annual rent of £101.8s.8d and every third year £38 for the Cymortha. (This was a land rent but had originally taken the nature of personal service or gifts to the Welsh princes and chieftains in aid of their establishments.)

Shortly after the estates, including Mynachty, passed into the hands of John Stedman the second son of John Stedman, armiger, of Chelsey in Staffordshire.

The first Gwyn (as the name was then spelt) to live in the house was Lewis Dafydd Gwyn, son of Dafydd Gwyn, who was the son of Adda ap Meredydd of Trawscoed by his second wife, Gwerfyl daughter and co-heiress of Llewelyn Goch.
Lewis Dafydd married Lleucu, the daughter of David Lloyd Phillip of Plas Ciliau Aeron. (According to Dwnn she was the daughter of Lewis ap David Lloyd.)
Their son Huw Gwyn, whose will was proved in 1606, and who pre-deceased his father, left a son and heir, Morgan Gwyn

Morgan Gwyn came to live in Mynachty in 1613.He became Sheriff of Cardigan in 1614 and was assessed at £5 in the Land Survey of 1628.He married the daughter of Morris Gruffydd yr Aer of Carmarthenshire. He was still alive in 1645.

The Civil Wars made little difference to Ceredigion. By and large the squirearchy sympathised with the king but were not inclined to risk themseves or their fortunes on his behalf. We can assume that the Gwyns followed this line as they do not appear to have been penalized by either Parliament or the Crown on the Restoration. Not that the war years were without incident. In 1651 in an engagement between Royalist and Parliamentary forces twenty men were killed at Llanrhystud.

In 1631 John Vaughan, Morgan's distant kinsman bought the reversion of the estate from Robert, third Earl of Essex, whose grandfather had bought it from the Crown in 1564.

Morgan's son and heir, Rhys Gwyn married Gaynor, the daughter and heiress of James Williams, whose will was proved in 1661. She was a widow in 1651 when she bought the reversion from John Vaughan.

Rhys and Gaynor had a daughter and sole heiress, Elizabeth, who founded the second dynasty of Gwyns to live at Mynachty.

Elizabeth married Morgan Gwynn ap Lewis Gwyn ap Gruffydd of Cilfforch, Henfynwy who traced his family back to Grono Goch, lord of Llangathen, Carms., whose descendants bore Azure 3 stags' heads caboshed or, a variant of which would later be granted to Rev.Alban Gwynne. Morgan paid tax on five hearths in 1672. His will was proved in 1682 and Elizabeth's one year later. They had a son and heir, Griffith Gwynn who married Florence, daughter of Evan Thomas of Tremoilet, Carmarthenshire.

Florence married as her second husband, Charles Lloyd, son of William Lloyd of Llanllyr.

Their son, Lewis Gwynne was High Sheriff in 1702 and married Mary, daughter of John Price of Rhandir, Llangwyryfon, which was subject to a pre-nuptial settlement involving 23 properties in 1706.

Although Charles Gwynne was only the fourth son of this marriage, he inherited Mynachty, his brothers having died without issue. Charles married Bridget, daughter of the first John Jones of Ty Glyn Ciliau Aeron.

Charles was High Sheriff in 1744 and died in 1749 and was buried on 5th February. His wife, Bridget, lived on until 1778 when she was buried on the 20th January.

His son Lewis Gwynne was High Sheriff in 1771 (with John Jones of Aberystwyth as his Under-Sheriff) and died in 1805 a bachelor and without issue.

In his Visitations of Seats (1852) Burke tells us that, "The old house, built about two hundred years ago, was pulled down in the middle of the last century and a new house built upon its site by Lewis Gwynne. Since then large additions have been made to it by the present owner ".

When Lewis Gwynne of Mynachty died on 25th November 1805 he owned property in the parishes of Llanbadarn Trefeglwys, Henfynwy, Llanddewi Aberarth, Llanarth, Llansanffraed, Nantcwnlle, Llanddewi Brefi, Llanerchaeron, Llangwyryfon and Llandyssul.

A small simple tablet in his memory stands at the side of the parish church of Llanbadarn Trefeglwys which says "He was a man, take him for all in all, We shall not see his like again" - Shakespeare.

In 1805 the Gentlemen's Magazine published Lewis Gwynne's obituary under the heading -
Obituary, with Anecdotes, of remarkable Perfons.
25. In his 78th year, Lewis Gwynne, efq. of Monachty, co. Cardigan. He lived very private, though poffeffed of an extenfive eftate, and accumulated an immenfe fortune, the bulk of which he has left to the Rev. Alban Thomas Jones, of Tulgyn, together with his real eftate, except a fmall part, which he bequeathed to Mr. Edwards, youngeft fon of D.J. Edwards, efq. of Job's Well, near Caermarthen. He had in his houfe, when he died, such a quantity of gold that a horfe could not carry the weight, to convey it to Tulgyn, about a mile off, and, when put on a fledge, it was with difficulty he could draw it there. The amount in gold is 100,000l. befides 50,000l. in the Stocks. His other legacies are few, and of no great amount. He was generous to the poor, always a friend to the neceffitous, and an upright gentleman.

The story of the Gwynnes up to Lewis Gwynne of Mynachty (died 1805 ) has been taken from "Historic Cardiganshire Homes and their Families" based on the papers of Major Francis Jones, late Wales Herald at Arms. I am indebted to Mrs Caroline Jones, the Editor, for her permission to use the material.

Alban Thomas Jones (1749-1819) had an interesting background. His grandfather, Alban Thomas (c.1657-1734/5), parson of Blaenporth, was a poet and translator, prominent in the Welsh literary revival in the neighbourhood of Newcastle Emlyn. His marriage into a branch of the great clan of Lewes of Abernantbychan brought to the family the blood of some of the oldest families in Wales. His son, Dr.Alban Thomas (1686-1771), became Librarian of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society when Sir Isaac Newton was President and Sir Hans Sloane Secretary.In London he aided the efforts of his friend Moses Williams to preserve and publish Welsh manuscript material, but in 1723 he was suspected of Jacobitism and dismissed from office.
Alban had married a fine English lady, Elizabeth Seymour, but she died after giving birth to a child who perished at the same time. After his return to Wales he married his relative, Margaret, daughter of John Jones of Tyglyn in the parish of Llanddewi Aberarth, who was also related to his old boss at the Ashmolean, the famous Edward Lhuyd. The doctor settled down to a country practice based on Newcastle Emlyn but continued to correspond with Sir Hans Sloane in London. A younger son, Alban, was baptized at Cenarth in 1749 and followed a clerical older brother to Hampshire and into the church. He married Martha daughter of Rev.Edward Acton whose family owned the advowson of Bentworth. Alban briefly held that living until his brother-in-law was ready to take over and was then appointed to another Hampshire rectory, Nately Scures, by Martha’s relation, Lord Northington.
Martha had three surviving daughters but died four days after giving birth to an only son Alban in 1783. Two years later the Rev.Alban “rode upwards of 500 miles” to west Wales and back for his mother’s funeral and executorship. In 1794 a cousin wrote to tell him how much he was missed by his Welsh relations, especially his first cousin Lewis Gwynne of Monachty who was likely to leave him a great fortune. Gwynne’s mother had been Margaret Jones’s sister and he had no children. There had been another first cousin, Henry Jones of Tyglyn, but he had died the year before leaving a closely protected heiress Susanna Maria who had known Alban from their childhood. In the summer of 1796 Alban visited his relations and the next year married Susanna, Lewis Gwynne acting as father at the wedding. By Royal License he added the name Jones to that of Thomas.
In 1805 came the death of Lewis Gwynne who bequeathed his manor of Llyswen, otherwise Aberaeron, and nearly all his estates “to the house of my cousin, the Rev.Alban Thomas Jones of Tyglyn, and my relation Susanna Maria, his wife and their assigns”. Another Royal License allowed Alban to add the name Gwynne so that he became “triple-barrelled --- Thomas Jones Gwynne. As lord of the manor, he obtained a private Act of Parliament in 1807, the Aberaeron Harbour Act, empowering him to rebuild the pier and improve the harbour. Alban encouraged building near the harbour and many activities and trades developed, especially boat-building and the herring fishery. The present town of Aberaeron was born but the real impetus came when his son, Alban junior, came fully into the estate after his step-mother Susanna’s death in 1830. This son, who passed through the Upper Tivy Militia, Cambridge University and the Middle Temple, lived at Monachty since his father remained at Tyglyn, and has been remembered as Colonel Gwynne.
In 1808 the younger Alban married Mary Anne, daughter of John Vevers of Yarkhill Court, Herefordshire. From the early 1830s he extended Aberaeron, only allowing houses built to a set plan, evidently produced by the architect Edward Haycock, who designed a new Anglican chapel overlooking the harbour. This resulted in the charming Alban Square and streets leading from it. In 1835 Col.Gwynne built a Town Hall on arches so a market could be held under it. It was later enlarged to house the Quarter Sessions, the county government of the day, in which the colonel was active as magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant. Family papers show that he was up to date in farming practices, reluctant to put up rents in time of need and secretly caring for a tenant whose effects had to be distrained. He built a new wing on Monachty mansion for his growing family but mortgages raised to pay for such expenses seriously weakened the viability of the estate. In 1840, at the age of 57, he sailed to Australia to set up some younger sons and remained ranching there for almost four years, leaving the estate in the hands of his heir, Captain Alban Lewis Gwynne of Dolaeron. He had just married again for Mary Anne had died of typhus fever in 1837. Three children were born in Australia and a son at Monachty in 1846. Captain Gwynne married the next year so the colonel retired first to London and then to Clifton near Bristol where he died in 1861, still “of Monachty” and lord of the manor.

Three drafts or part drafts of wills or codicils of Col.Gwynne survive:- for 1823, 1831 and 1839

As circumstances changed and especially as he considered he had spent considerably on launching his sons, he revised the provisions for his large family. A scrappy draft for a Codicil dated 8 Nov.1839 says -- 
"I have expended considerable extra sums in the payment of my second son John Gwynne's debts, and in the College Education of my third son Edward Henley Acton Gwynne, now I hereby" change the terms of my 
will. His last will was dated 11 Feb.1856 and proved at Bristol 12 Oct.1861.

In 1830 the Mynachdy estate rentals were £4,000 but the total debts of the estate were £10,000. This was probably due in large measure to the agricultural depresssion which followed the ending of the Napoleonic wars.

His son and heir was Alban Lewis Gwynne (1809-1865). He married Jane Crawshay Bailey of Nantyglo, Monmouthshire in 1847. In 1853 he was Sheriff for the Summer Assizes only and served as a Captain in the 62nd Regiment

The story after 1805 has been written by Mr Henry Phythian-Adams who is the great great grandson of Col.Gwynne (1783-1861) to whom I am indebted for rounding off their story in such detail.

The Census for 1841 shows
MONACHDY MAWR Lodwig Jane F 25 Dairy maid
MONACHDY MAWR Lewis John M 13 Shepherd

The family was not there as Col Gwynne was still in Australia.

They were there for the 1851 Census -

MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Alban Lewis M 41 J.P. and Landed Proprietor
MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Jane F 28 Wife
MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Gertrude Jane F 2 Daughter
MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Agnes F 11months Daughter
MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Edward M 6 Nephew/Scholar
MONACHDY MAWR Lewis Mary F 11 Visitor
MONACHDY MAWR Thomas Richard M 28 Butler
MONACHDY MAWR Lewis Thomas M 46 Coachman
MONACHDY MAWR Davies Eleanor F 38 Cook
MONACHDY MAWR Davies Mary F 28 House maid
MONACHDY MAWR Llewellyn Hannah F 32 Nurse
MONACHDY MAWR Jones Jane F 23 Dairy maid

But not in 1861

MONACHDY Barnett John M 16 Butler
MONACHDY Jones Jane F 31 Cook
MONACHDY Pughe Fanny F 14 Housemaid
MONACHDY Samuel David M 76 Gardener
MONACHDY Samuel Margret F 57 Wife

Captain Gwynne's son Alban Gwynne (1852-1904) married Mary Edith, daughter of John Battersby Harford, of Falcondale and Blaise Castle, Gloustershire. She died in 1917.

The family were in residence for the 1871 Census -

MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Jane Crawshay F 48
MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Gertrude F 22
MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Agnes F 20
MONACHDY MAWR Gwynne Edith F 11
MONACHDY MAWR Williams Mary F 31 Cook
MONACHDY MAWR Evans Mary F 47 House maid
MONACHDY MAWR Thomas Martha F 28 Parlour maid
MONACHDY MAWR Jones John M 65 Coachman
MONACHDY MAWR Thomas Evan M 30 Groom

There are no entries for the 1881 and 1891 Censuses.

In 1873 The Landowners Return gives A.G.Gwynne of Mynachty as owning 422 acres, yielding £139 p.a. A. Lloyd Gwynne with 113 acres worth £49 p.a. and Mrs Gwynne as 315 acres at £123.

Alban Gwynne's son, Alban Lewis Gwynne was born in 1880 and was appointed a Lieut. Commander in the Royal Navy. He married Ruby, daughter of Col. Bond, of the Indian Army in 1912, and had, with other issue, a son Alban Patrick, born in 1913.

Alban Lewis Gwynne sold the Monachty Estate, including the Manor or Lordship of Aberayron or Llyswen, to Albert Henry Jarrard, Solicitor of Coventry, on 18th June 1936. 
A Sale Catalogue of 1936 describes it as of "Georgian character a southerly aspect, comprising on the ground floor: entrance hall with stone paved floor, morning room communicating with a small winter garden drawing room, dining room, smoking room, domestic offices, store room. butler's pantry, servant's hall, kitchen, scullery, fine oak staircase, cellars. On the first floor: five bedrooms, day nursery, night nursery, linen cupboard. On the second floor: three large rooms for servants. To the rear of the house, extensive buildings, yard, larders, store-room, coach house, laundry, boot room, stables, etc., walled garden, three greenhouses for peaches and nectarines, and farm buildings.

Most of the Gwynne papers were destroyed in the blitz in 1940 but a few remain in the National Library of Wales.

Jarrard sold the mansion and some land to a trustee for Ivor Jones on 11 November 1937.

On his death it passed to his son Nigel Symons-Jones who still lives there.

The story of the Gwynnes up to Lewis Gwynne of Mynachty (died 1805 ) has been taken from "Historic Cardiganshire Homes and their Families" based on the papers of Major Francis Jones, late Wales Herald at Arms. I am indebted to Mrs Caroline Jones, the Editor, for her permission to use the material.

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