Roger Bevan
Early life:
Roger Bevan was the
2nd surviving son of Evan and Ann (nee Howell) Bevan.  It is likely that he was born at Nant-y-gaseg isaf farm, Cwmgors circa 1833 and was named after his maternal grandfather, Rev. Roger Howell of Nantmoel Uchaf farm.   At the time of his birth, Roger had an older brother, Llewelyn (named after their paternal grandfather, Llewelyn Bevan) and a sister, Ann.  He is first recorded on the 1841 census of Llangwig, aged 9 years. 

By the time of this first census Roger had already been struck
"deaf and dumb" as a result of contracting scarlet fever at the age of 7.  This highly infectious disease is caused by a streptococcus bacterium which may be inhaled or can enter the skin through a wound.  It normally only affects children under the age of 10 and in it's most serious form can be fatal.  A common disease at the time, it had a very sudden onset and as well as causing a fever and characteristic, red, "sandpaper-like" rash, it viciously inflamed the mucous membranes of the ear, nose and throat.  As in Roger's case, a complication of this symptom can be deafness, but the heart and kidneys might also be chronically affected.  Today it would be treated with antibiotics, but when Roger contracted the illness all that could really be done was to isolate the patient and try to ease the individual symptoms of fever and pain. 

This disability obviously affected the whole of Roger's life and it is recorded, in some form, on every census entry relating to him.  The isolation it caused probably made him very dependent on his family, but in
1845, when he was about 12, the stability of his home life was drastically upset when his mother, Ann died.  More changes followed.  In 1847, his older sister, Ann left home to marry the widowed, Reverend John Davies of Bettws and in 1848, his father, Evan remarried.  Evan's new wife was however a familiar figure to Roger as she had been previously married to his father's brother, William.  By the end of this decade, Roger's older brother, Llewelyn was perhaps already beginning to display some symptoms of the mental illness that plagued his own life and may also have left home.
1850s & 1860s:
In the census of
1851 Roger is recorded as being still at home with his father, stepmother, Mary and 2 younger sisters, Rachel and Sarah.  On 31st August 1855, the Swansea based, Cambrian newspaper carried an advertisement for the sale of "Nant y Gasseg Isha".  Given the infirmities of both of his sons, Roger's father, Evan perhaps saw no future in retaining the farm that he had inherited from his own father.  In 1857 Evan himself died and in 1859 and 1860 respectively, Roger's younger sisters, Rachel and Sarah were married.  In the next census of 1861, Roger is recorded, aged 28, as a farm servant employed by Samuel and Mary Williams at Bogelegel, in the nearby hamlet of Blaenegel.   It is not known if there was any  particular connection that brought him to work here, but his family are likely to have known these neighbouring farmers.  In early 1862 Roger's brother, Llewelyn was admitted to Vernon House Asylum at Briton Ferry after having previously been "farmed out" in the care of their maternal uncle, John Howell at Nantmoel Uchaf farm.  2 years later, on 4th November 1864, Llewelyn was the 3rd patient to be admitted to the new Glamorgan asylum at Angelton, Bridgend where he had been transferred from Briton Ferry.
1870s & 1880s:
1871, when Roger was 38, he was enumerated as a servant at the New Star Inn in Cwmgors - again not far from his original home.  He was now employed by quarry man and publican, David Thomas and his wife, Magdalen.  David was the elder brother of Mary Williams of Bogelegel farm - where Roger had previously worked.  It is in this census that the cause of his disability, i.e. scarlet fever is revealed.

Sometime in the next 10 years Roger strayed much further from home to the
Gower Peninsula.  In the 1881 census he is recorded as a farm labourer at Rheanfawr farm, Llanrhidian, working for farmer Richard Hopkin James and his wife, Sarah.  It was a large household which also employed a ploughman, domestic servant and a nurse.  Richard Hopkin James was a son of John and Elizabeth James of Godre'r garth, Rhydyfro and in the previous census of 1871, had been farming at Blaenegel near Bogelegel.   Roger was therefore likely to have known the family and had perhaps been invited to go with them to Llanrhidian.  In the notes on disabilities, this census reveals that Roger had contracted scarlet fever when he was 7 years old.
Later years:
1891, 58 year old Roger had returned to Cwmgors to live with his younger sister, Rachel and her husband, Morgan Walter at Red Gate Terrace.  He is described as a labourer and was probably working for his brother-in-law who was a carpenter/builder.  Also in the household are 3 of Rachel's children and her grandaughter, Edith who was born in America and unlike the rest of the household, speaks English.

Unfortunately, Roger's sister, Rachel died soon after this census in May 1891, followed 2 years later by her husband, Morgan.  Some time following this, Roger went to live with his widowed elder sister,
Ann Davies at Grove Cottage, Bettws, Carmarthenshire.  In the 1901 census he was described, aged 69 as a boarder.  Also in the household was one of Ann's stepdaughters, Catherine Thomas, and a servant.  2 years later, Roger's brother, Llewelyn died at Angelton asylym, aged 79.  It's not known if the 2 brothers had met at all since Llewelyn's admission to Angelton in 1864.  On 16th January 1907, Roger himself died aged 74 years and was buried on the Baran mountain with his parents and elder brother, Llewelyn.
Copyright © 2006 Rina Callingham
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