A Glamorgan Family History
name index
Jane (Bowen) James
Early life:
Jane Bowen was apparently the eldest daughter of farmer, Henry Bowen and his wife, Sarah (nee Howell), who lived at Lletty'r crydd, Rhyndwyclydach from 1838 onwards.  On her mother's side, Jane was a grandchild of Rev. Roger Howell and his wife, Sarah (nee Price) of Nantmoel Uchaf farm, while her father's family came from neighbouring, Nantmoel Isaf farm.  Jane herself may have been born at Nantmoel Isaf, circa 1833 and its likely that she was named after her paternal grandmother, Jane Bowen (nee Phillip).  Her paternal grandfather, David Bowen had died many years before. 

On the
1841 census, Jane is recorded as being 8 years old.  At this time she had 2 younger siblings:  Sarah, aged 6 and Rebecca, aged 2.  Her grandmother, Jane Bowen died just prior to this census on 4th October 1840 and in her will, made the following bequest to her son, Henry:

"I give and bequeath to my son Henry the two oak chairs and the box with a drawer.
                 I also give to my son Henry the sheep which I have with him at Lletty Crydd.
                I also give and bequeath to Henry my son the sum of Fifteen pounds."

The leasehold of Nantmoel Isaf farm was apparently passed on to Jane's paternal uncle,
David Bowen.  In April 1843, her grandfather, Rev. Roger Howell died, leaving Nantmoel Uchaf to his son, Jane's maternal uncle, John Howell.  A year later her maternal grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Howell died at Llechartfawr farm, the home of her youngest daughter, Jane Jones and her husband, Howell.
Jane is not enumerated with her family in
1851.  She is recorded as a servant in the household of her aunt and uncle, Jane and Howell Jones at Llechart Fawr.  Jane's mother, Sarah had died aged 40, of consumption - just before this census.   It is perhaps curious that, as the eldest daughter, Jane was not living in the family home so soon after her mother's death, helping to care for her father and 4 sisters, the youngest of whom, Ann was aged only 4 years.   Perhaps it was more important at this time that Jane earned some money to help support her family.

The following year, on
17th October 1852, when she was 19, Jane married John James, at St. John's Church, Clydach.   John, aged approx 25, was a wool spinner, originally from the Llanddeusant/Myddfai area of Carmarthenshire.   He was the son of William and Elinor James and wool spinning appears to have been the family's trade.   In the census of 1851, John had been enumerated with his parents, sister Ann and brothers, William and Joseph at Green Meadow (near the Royal Oak public house), Rhydyfro in the parish of Llangwig.

The couple appear to have started their married life in the Llangwig area - possibly at Green Meadow, Rhydyfro - as later censuses record that their 3 children were born there.  Their first child, a son,
Hander (or possibly Handry/Hendry/Henry) was born in 1853, followed by a daughter, Sarah in 1855 (named after her deceased, maternal grandmother) and another son, William in 1857.  

23rd February 1859, Jane died at the age of only 26 at an address recorded as Tanyrallt, Llangadock.  Her death certificate describes her as the "wife of John James, Wool factory worker" and records the cause of her death as "phthisis 6 weeks certified".   Phthisis (pronounced tie-sis) is the Greek name for tuberculosis - also known as consumption.   As already described, this was the condition that had killed Jane's mother, Sarah 8 years previously.  It may have been from helping to nurse her mother that Jane was first exposed to the bacterium that causes the condition.  After an initial exposure when an individual is healthy, the disease can lie dormant until the person becomes ill or run down from other causes.  The informant recorded on Janes's death certificate - who was present at her death - is a John Protheroe of Ynysfelinfach, Llangadog.   John's relationship with the James family is not indicated. 

I don't yet know where Jane was buried.  There is no obvious memorial stone for her at Baran cemetery.
2 years later, the census of
1861 showed widower, John James and the 3 children living in Cwmtwrch, near the George IV Arms, public house, Quarter Bach in the parish of Llangadock.  This is probably where he was living at the time of Jane's death, although Tanyrallt is not written on the census.  A John Prothro (sic), aged 28, shoemaker, of Llandysil, Cardiganshire was enumerated with his wife and family 4 schedules away - identifying him as a neighbour.

John James was described in this census as a
woollen manufacturer, suggesting that he may have established his own business.  The manufacture of wool products had become increasingly mechanised in the 19th century, transforming it from a staple cottage industry to a factory-based process.  A manufacturer of the time would need to site his business near an adequate water supply with easy access to local supplies of wool and good transport links to market his product.  Cwmtwrch, in what is today, the upper Swansea valley, was a mainly agricultural area, but it also benefited from it's proximity to the mining, iron and tin industries of nearby Llangwig and Ystradgynlais.  From the family's enumeration details in the 1861 census, it is likely that John's business was fairly small scale at this time.  He is not described as being an employer and none of his immediate neighbours appear to be engaged in this industry. 

When Jane's father,
Henry Bowen died 8 years later on 3rd November 1869 at Brynhynydd, Bettws, he left bequests for his grandchildren William and Sarah in his will:

"First, I give and bequeath to my Grandchildren Sarah, and William, children of my first Daughter, Jane James, the sum of Ten pounds each on their attaining their respective ages of twenty-one years, said money being now invested with Howell Jones, Llachartfawr, in the Parish of Llangyfelach, on interest at the rate of five per cent per annum."

No mention is made of Jane's eldest son, Hander/Henry, suggesting he may possibly have died.  The
Howell Jones charged with this investment, was Henry Bowen's brother-in-law - husband of his wife's sister, Jane.
1871, John James had moved the family to Banwen, Ystradgynlais and established a woollen factory called Melinlech (known as the Llech factory) where he employed 2 men.  He had remarried, to a widow, Mary Morgan and the couple were enumerated with John's son, William (12); Mary's son, Evan (11) and 3 children of their own:  Mary Ann, (9) - suggesting they married soon after the last census - Owen (7) and oddly, another Evan (5).  Mary Ann and Owen were born in Llangadog while the younger, Evan was born in Glamorgan.

I'm unable to find any record of John and Jane's eldest son (either because his name was wrongly recorded in 1861 as
Hander, or because he had died).  If his name was actually Henry, (which seems feasible given his grandfather's name), then he was possibly enumerated in this census as a 19 year old wool spinner in the employ of woollen manufacturer, Thomas Humphrey at Maes Iago.   Situated between the Royal Oak public house and Gelligron, Pontardawe, Maes Iago is near to where his father's family used to live. Sarah was possibly enumerated as a servant, aged 16 in Abercrave in the household of farmer, Robert Kirkhouse.

Later years:
1881, the family at Melinlech Factory has grown with the addition of sons John (13) and Joseph (10).  Curiously, son, John was not seen on 1871 census with the family - ? he is the "daughter's son" seen in the household of John and Margaret Williams of Nantygaseg, Llanguick in 1871 - although he is recorded as having been born in Cilybebill.   Jane's son, William is not enumerated with the family in 1881.   Also missing are Mary's children, Mary Ann and the younger, Evan.   In this census, John is described as both a farmer and spinner.

Sometime before the next census, John died (?1887).  The
1891 census finds the widowed Mary living at Back Row, Dylais Higher, Cadoxton with sons John and Joseph (both described as single miners, aged 23 and 19 respectively), married daughter, Mary Davies (26); Mary's husband, David (21) and a grand-daughter, Mary James aged 9, born in Onllwyn.   There is no indication as to whose daughter, 9 year old, Mary is.
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Copyright © 2006 Rina Callingham