A Glamorgan Family History
Llewelyn Bevan was apparently the eldest of Evan and Ann (nee Howell) Bevan's children and as such, was a grandson of Rev. Roger Howell - being possibly the eldest of all his grandchildren. Llewelyn was born about 1823 - probably at Nant-y-gaseg isaf farm, Cwmgors. Following the tradition of the day, as the eldest son, he was named for his paternal grandfather, Llewelyn Bevan. He was first recorded on the 1841 census, at home with his parents and 4 siblings. In accordance with this census' protocol of rounding down adult ages to the nearest multiple of 5, his age was noted as 15.
|Censuses of 1851 & 1861:
Llewelyn's mother, Ann died in 1845. It's not known at what point he left home, but he was not enumerated at Nant-y-gaseg isaf with his family in 1851. In this census he was recorded as a visitor in the home of another Llewelyn Bevan (aged 32), a farmer and his family at Maesivan, Trecastle, Llandilofawr. I do not yet know the nature of their relationship, but this appears to be the same Llewelyn Bevan who is recorded as being a woollen manufacturer in Llangyfelach in later censuses. He was probably the son of William Bevan of Twllygwyddyl, who was a brother of Llewelyn's father, Evan Bevan. In the next census of 1861 Llewelyn was enumerated in the household of his maternal uncle, John Howell at Nantmoel Uchaf farm on the Baran mountain. He was described as being an unmarried, 37 year old, land proprietor. As the eldest son, he probably inherited the proceeds from the sale of Nant-y-gaseg farm when his father died in 1857.
|Where was Llewelyn?
After 1861, I was unable to find Llewelyn in any census in Wales or England. If it wasn't for the fact that his parent's memorial stone in the Baran cemetery testifies that he was buried there with them, following his death on 12th October 1903 aged 79, I had begun to believe that he had either emigrated or died earlier. However, by accident, I found him listed, under his full name - but with no recorded place of birth, in the Glamorgan County Asylum at Angelton, Bridgend in 1891. He was an inmate there, described as being single, Welsh speaking, 68 years, a farmer's son and a lunatic. Using this information, I was then able to find him in the censuses of 1871, 1881 and 1901 where his name is variously denoted only by the initials L.B or Ll.B. He is consistently described as being a farmer's son and his age increases uniformly by 10 years. He is always recorded as being either a lunatic or insane. His place of birth (i.e. Llangiwg, Glamorgan) is only recorded in 1901.
|The asylum at Bridgend opened on 4th November 1864. From their records, now at Cardiff Records Office, Llewelyn was the 3rd patient to be admitted on that day. He had been transfered from Vernon House Asylum at Briton Ferry, where he had previously spent 2 years and 9 months. He had apparently been judged to be "insane" for 7 years prior to his admission to Vernon House. It is probable that in 1861 he had been "farmed out" for a period of time into the care of his uncle, John Howell. It was the custom at the time, for suitable inmates to be placed into the care of farmers (hence the term - farmed out) who would be paid to offer them shelter and suitable employment, although there was also an onus on families, where possible, to care for relatives who were afflicted in this way.
In the 19th century, with regard to the organisation of their care, so-called lunatics were usually categorised as being:
"...pauper lunatics, who were maintained out of the poor rates, and non-pauper. Paupers were poor but non-paupers were not necessarily rich. In the mid-19th century paupers exclusively occupied all workhouse asylums and most county asylums, although a few county asylums made some provision for others." (Paul Shelley, Associate editor of "A Brief Early History of English Asylums")
From the description of his status in the 1861 census, Llewelyn was probably not a pauper initially, however he was an inmate at Bridgend for nearly 40 years which probably would have exhausted any funds he had.
In his admittance record to Angelton asylum, Llewelyn was described as having:
"....a listless and apathetic manner and a confused and vacant look: answers questions with dificulty or not at all."
Even so, it was recorded that when he was focused, he seemed intelligent and rational. This led to speculation that his more usual listless state was a form of perversion - under his control. He was in good bodily health and was not considered to be epileptic or suicidal. He was deemed to be generally lazy and frequently indifferent to his food - which he often had to be reminded to eat. Although he was reported to have been violent on occasion at home, he was observed to be quiet and sullen in the asylum. No known cause was attributed to his condition.
Written observations of Llewelyn's condition were recorded at roughly 2-3 month intervals. These were generally brief, noting little change apart from the fact that he appeared to enjoy working in the garden and did so every day. After striking another patient with a chamber pot on April 2nd 1866, it was arranged that he slept alone in a single room.
As the years passed the content of the reviews became briefer, with some consisting of the single comment "unchanged". Occasionally this was supplemented by the fact that his bodily health remained good. In 1882 he struck a "Mr. Davies" - which was noted in his report as being his "first outburst for years".
In October 1901 it was noted that his hearing had become impaired but that he was otherwise well and unchanged. After an entry on 20th July 1903, nothing further was written until October 12th when it was recorded:
"He has been failing for some time, refusing his food and gradually becoming weaker. He slowly sank and at 8.40 p.m. today he died."
Llewelyn was in his 80th year and had spent 41 years of his life in the care of asylums.
A post mortem was conducted which apparently helped to determine his cause of death as "senile decay". A summary statement noted that he was single, the son of a farmer, aged 80 and that his last abode before being placed under care for treatment had been Nantmole. He was returned to Nantmole to be buried with his parents and later, his brother, Roger in the Baran chapel cemetery.