A Glamorgan Family History
Rebecca (Bowen) Morgan
name index
1850s 1860s 1870s Later years
Early years:
Rebecca Bowen was the
middle of farmer Henry Bowen and his wife Sarah's five daughters.  She was born at Lletty'r crydd farm, Rhyndwyclydach in the Glamorgan Parish of Llangyfelach, on 18th November 1838.  Her family had probably only just moved to the farm as they were not recorded as living there at the time of the tithe apportionments of 1838.  It's not known where they were living prior to Lletty'r crydd, which is situated near Llangyfelach's borders with both Llangiwg parish - overlooking the village of Cwmgors - and the Carmarthenshire parish of Bettws.  Both Rebecca's father and mother came from farmimg families with a long connection to the hamlet of Rhyndwyclydach and had themselves been born at the neighbouring farms of Nantmoel Isaf and Nantmoel Uchaf respectively.  At the time of Rebecca's birth, 3 of her 4 grandparents were still alive:  Jane Bowen (nee Phillip) at Nantmoel Isaf and Rev. Roger Howell and his wife Sarah (nee Price) at Nantmoel Uchaf.  Rev. Roger Howell was the founding minister of Baran Independent Chapel which stood on Nantmoel land.  He was also a teacher, and kept both a general school for local children and a theological school for young men preparing for the ministry.
4th October 1840 Rebecca's paternal grandmother, Jane Bowen died, aged 70 and the leasehold of Nantmoel Isaf farm (which was owned by a John Bevan) passed to her youngest son, David who continued to farm there until his own death in 1864.  The following year, the census of 1841 records Rebecca as being 2 years old.  She was, at that time, the youngest of Henry and Sarah's children, with 2 older sisters, Jane, aged 8 and Sarah, aged 6.  While the older girls were named, in the traditional way, after their grandmothers, Rebecca may have been named after her maternal great-grandmother, Rebecca Howell (nee Jones) of Baglan.  On 10th September 1841 another sister, Hannah was born.

Rebecca's grandfather, Roger Howell died in April 1843 and the family home, Nantmoel Uchaf was inherited by his only surviving son, John Howell.  After his death, Roger's wife, Sarah may have moved to her daughter, Jane's home at nearby, Llechartfawr farm, where she died on June 17th 1844.  In 1847 Rebecca's mother, Sarah gave birth to a 5th daughter, Ann - who she may have named after her older sister, Ann (wife of Evan Bevan) who had died, aged only 40, in 1845.
The 1850s started tragically for Rebecca's family with the
death of her mother, Sarah from consumption on 20th February 1851 - just before her 41st birthday.  Given the wasting nature of the disease, its likely that Sarah would have been in failing health for some time prior to her death and the 3 oldest girls would have needed to play their part in helping to run the family home.  The census of 1851 shows the 4 youngest Bowen girls at home with their newly widowed father, Henry at Lletty'r crydd while the eldest daughter, Jane was enumerated in her aunt's home at Llechartfawr. 

The following year, the 1st of
4 family weddings to occur in this decade took place when 19 year old, Jane married John James of Rhydyfro on 17th October.  On 14th August 1858, Rebecca's 2nd sister, Sarah married Rees Phillips of Trebanos.  6 months later on 23rd February 1859, eldest sister, Jane, aged only 26, died of consumption leaving 3 young children.  Her death may well have been a legacy of having been exposed to her mother's illness (perhaps by helping to nurse her) 8 years previously.

9th July 1859, when she was 19, Rebecca herself was married to John Morgan at St. John's parish church in Clydach.  John was a collier from Bettws in the Carmarthenshire Parish of Llandilofawr - just across the Bettws mountain from Rhyndwyclydach.  He was the 2nd eldest son of David and Mary Morgan of Brynhynydd farm in Bettws and was about 9 years older than Rebecca.  The shared occupation of farming and the proximity of their properties suggest that it is quite likely that the 2 families were fairly well acquainted. 

Despite her grandfather's strong beliefs in the benefits of education, Rebecca appears to have received little or no schooling herself as, unlike John, she was unable to sign her name on the marriage certificate and had to make her mark.  The witnesses at the wedding were William Davies and Thomas Edwards, who don't appear to be related to either family but may have been either friends or "official" witnesses.

Although John is described as a
bachelor on the certificate, he may possibly have been a widower.  Family legend tells of John and Rebecca having 7 living sons, but the censuses of 1861-1881 apparently only account for 6.  The census of 1861 does however shows a 4 year old boy named John Morgan living at Brynhynydd farm with John Snr's parents, David and Mary.  He is recorded as being their grandson.  Although I haven't been able to trace this child's birth certificate, his marriage certificate of 1881 records John Morgan as his father.  At the time of John and Rebecca's wedding John Jnr. would have been about 2 years old.  He may of course have been John and Rebecca's illegitimate child, but he continued to live with his grandparents at Brynhynydd, being recorded there on every census up until his marriage - which seems unlikely if Rebecca was his mother.

The 4th Bowen family wedding occured just 4 months later when, on
12th November 1859, the families of Lletty'r crydd and Brynhynydd farms met up again to celebrate the marriage of Rebecca's younger sister, Hannah to John's younger brother, Daniel at Christ Church in Garnant.  Hannah had now become Rebecca's sister-in-law as well as her sister.
In the census of
1861 Rebecca and John are enumerated at Pistyllwyd Cottage, No.2 in Bettws, Carmarthenshire.  This was situated in "Upper Bettws" and was probably one of the houses built to accommodate the men working at the numerous collieries then operating in the district.  Like the sons of many farming families at this time, John has turned to the more lucrative industry of mining which, like the metal industries of tin and lead, had rapidly expanded in the Amman Valley area.  The growth of these industries had been supported by the development of local roads and railways.  By the time of this census the couple have a 4 month old son, David.  2 years later, their son, Daniel (my great-grandfather) was born, followed by Thomas in 1866 and Jenkin in 1869.  In March 1869, Rebecca's sister, Sarah and her family emigrated to Lackawanna Township in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. I don't know whether the 2 sisters ever met again, but they must surely have kept in touch, with news of their families.   Later that year, on 3rd November, their father, Henry died at Brynyhydd Uchaf in Bettws (next door to the Morgan family at Brynhynydd) where he was apparently living with daughter, Hannah and her husband, Daniel.   Rebecca and her surviving sisters were named as beneficiaries in his will along with 2 of Jane's children, William and Sarah.
Henry Bowen's Will