Dulais Higher                    Family Histories

Dulais Higher

Margaret Morgan (1857-1933) & Rees Jeffreys (1858-1932) Coelbren, Penygraig 

Richard Morgan (1828-1903) and Gwenllian Walters (1827-1918)

Margaret Morgan (1857-1933 & Rhys Jeffreys (1858-1932)

Howell Jeffreys (1884-1973) &

Claudia Williams

Richard Jeffreys (1887-1962) &

Gladys Charles

David Jeffreys (1889-1967) &

Morfudd Davies

Elizabeth Jeffreys (1891-1969) &

David Lewis

Rice Jeffreys (1894-1916)

Killed in WW1

Jack Jeffreys (1895-1973) &

Mary Bevan

Llewellyn Jeffreys (1897-1939) &

Gwen Leonara Lewis

Brycchan Jeffreys &

Annie Williams

The Jeffreys family is an old and prolific Coelbren family: they figure as pivots around which many families, including our Jones and Morgan families revolve.    

In 1861, the family of Howell (1813-79) and Elizabeth Jeffreys (1824-) is recorded at Corslwyndu Uchaf, a small farm to the south east of the existing village of Coelbren.  At this time, there was no village, just a scattering of these quite remote little farmsteads.  Elizabeth was originally a Benjamin, daughter of Howell Benjamin, also of Corslwyndu and seemingly a long-established local family. At this point the young Jeffreys family was thus living next door to Elizabeth’s parents.  Interestingly, father Howell Jeffreys’ occupation is given as “Labourer at Ironworks” and maybe this was at the nearby, but short-lived and ill-fated Banwen ironworks. 

Ten years later, in 1871, Howell and Elizabeth are shown quite nearby, but even more remote, up the Llech river at Blaenllech.  This property has stayed in the Jeffreys family, through one of Howell and Elizabeth’s sons, Llewellyn.

Howell and Elizabeth Jeffreys had at least ten children and all appear to have grown up quite locally and started their own, also sometimes large, families.  It is of no surprise then that the Jeffreys family became closely inter-twined with both the also indigenous Jones, and recently-arrived Morgan families under consideration here.  Slightly confusingly, a relatively limited stock of forenames was used for naming Jeffreys boys: Brychan, Howell, Llewellyn and Rice figure prominently throughout the generations.

One of Howell Jeffreys’ sons, David, had firstly married Ann Jones in 1868 – these were to be known henceforth as the “Camnant” Jeffreys.   Later, in 1884, David’s brother Rhys (1858-1932) married Margaret Morgan of Coelbren House  This provides the first indirect link between our Jones and Morgan families. This branch of the family would be “Jeffreys, Penygraig”, after the farm just outside Coelbren, and this property remains today in the occupancy of  the same Jeffreys family.  Just to make things slightly more complex, in 1886, Rees Jeffreys’ sister, Harriet Jeffreys married Lewis Lewis of Coelbren Farm and while there are no direct Lewis/Morgan/Jones connections, at this point, there is nevertheless a complicated web of third-hand relationships through marriage. 

Such inter-linking is again exemplified by another child of Howell and Elizabeth, Jane Jeffreys (1854-), who married a Richard Evans in 1876.  One of their children, Richard John Evans (1878-) married Margaret Ann Evans, herself daughter of Daniel Evans (Price’s Arms) and Sarah Morgan (Coelbren House).  This was the family known as “Temperance”.  

The young Jeffreys family headed by Rhys and Margaret Jeffreys is  shown at Penygraig in 1891: their children Howell (6), Richard (4), David (2) and the infant Elizabeth (2 months).  Rhys’ occupation is given as a coal-miner, although this is probably only what he considered primary at the time.  As was common in this area, men worked variously as colliers, farmers and small-holders according to their needs and inclinations

Above left: Rhys Jeffreys and Margaret Morgan, probably late 1920s, with one of their grandchildren, Mair Jeffreys (daughter of Llewellyn Jeffreys).  With thanks to Alun Jeffreys for clarification. 

Photo with kind permission of WT Davies. 

Left: Gravestone in Nantyffin graveyard, Rees & Margaret Jeffreys. Photo by G. Jones 2014

The family is shown below in 1901, at Penygraig.   All eight children are present and, right at the foot of the entry, another family member, their “servant”, Margaret Morgan, who was actually Margaret Jeffreys’ niece.  Aged 14, she had lost her mother when she was 6 and her father the previous year in 1900.   Her family (John Walter Morgan) does seem to have been touched unusually by tragedy.

In this census, Rees declares his occupation as Farmer.  However, previously in 1891 it was Coal Miner and in 1911, Butcher.  It was likely he was all these things at all these different times and again this case neatly illustrates what was the case for many of the miner-farmers in this area; in some families there was not a complete dependance on the mines.

Ten years later, in 1911, on the eve of war, we have another snapshot of the Jeffreys family at Penygraig.  The eldest child, Howell, is already showing promise, aged 26, as a Fireman and Mine Deputy.  Richard Jeffreys, 24, is an Elementary School Teacher.  The other sons are Colliers Boys (if 14 or above), the youngest two Schoolboys.  The only daughter, Elizabeth, while shown aged 20, is simply recorded as Unmarried, such were young women’s unembellished status in those days.

Below: 1921 census, Jeffreys family at Penygraig.

By 1921, in an interesting example of movement in this family from essentially working class to middle class, four Jeffreys sons and one daughter, all aged 24+ remain unmarried and living at home with their parents at Penygraig.  Now, father Rees declares himself as a butcher and we will see that son Jack eventually took over the business.  As for the other siblings, variously schoolmasters and colliers, perhaps they were delaying marriage and living, literally, off the fat of the land for as long they reasonably could.  Certainly this would have been a comfortable existence for them all relative to conditions elsewhere in the village and wider surrounding area.


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Copyright © the text and authorial photographs Gareth Jones 2015-23