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John MORRIS
and
Pheobe JAMES

John was born in October 1877 to Thomas and Mary MORRIS at Pen-y-bank, Llanychair, Pembrokeshire by the picturesque Gwaun Valley south east from Abergwaun (Fishguard).

This is a photograph of Penbank farmhouse; a plain faced two storey house with slate roof. It now has a single story plain faced extension with a tiled roof.
Penbank with extension in 2000.

Pen-y-bank is a small farm that was run by John's grandfather, James MORRIS from the 1840's and passed on to John's father Thomas. The farm more recently became known as Penbank. All the family were Welsh speaking but could understand some English though seldom used it.

The stone built cowshed and dairy now used as a store.
The stable that was later used as a tractor shed.
Buildings that were the cowshed and the stable.

John was the fourth of six children but although brought up in a farming environment, did not become a farmer. Instead he went to South Africa and earned enough money to buy, on his return, a grocery shop at Trehafod near Pontypridd in Glamorgan with his brother James. Later, John bought a shop at Pontycynon, Abercynon. It was here that he and his wife Pheobe lived after their marriage in 1905. James still ran a shop at Trehafod at least until 1910.

Photograph of John Morris in his early thirties, wearing a jacket and tie and sporting an Edwardian style mustache.
Photograph of John

***

Pheobe JAMES was born to Lewis and Margaret JAMES in January 1880 at Nantycar, Llanwrthwl in Breconshire in mid-Wales. It was a remote spot near the quarry where Lewis worked. Margaret had been a domestic servant at Rhiwnant a farm further down the valley.

This is a photograph of the remains of Nantycar. Just part of the stone walls are left.
The remains of Nantycar in 2006.

Pheobe had an older brother David and a younger sister Elizabeth who was always known as Betty. All were Welsh speakers.

Shortly after Pheobe's birth the family moved south to Porth in the Rhondda in Glamorgan. Her father, who had been a slate quarrier, now became a coal miner. A few years later they moved a short distance to Rickard Street in Pontypridd. Pheobe became a dressmaker and lived with her parents until she married John at the Calvary Baptist Chapel in Treforest just before Christmas in 1905.

Studio photograph of Pheobe as an attractive young woman
Pheobe as a young woman

***

John ran the shop and became a master grocer. The Morris's grocery shop served a busy coal mining community in the Cynon valley.
The terraced house that was the shop.
The larger property in the centre of the row was the shop. This photograph was taken in 2001.
This shows the wooded mountains across the valley.
The present day view from near the back of the shop.

Pheobe raised a family of eight children though three died very young. By 1912 they had moved to Bonvilston Road in the Trallwn area of Pontypridd but still owned the shop up the valley. They called their house Penbank.

Three Morris children in Welsh national costume, around a small tea table.

Trallwn Infant School on St.David's Day 1913. Left to right; Tegwen, Gwyneth and Morfeth.

Click photograph to enlarge and for more information (89k)

Three Morris daughters in their young teens.

Three young daughters. Left to right; Gwyneth, Tegwen and Morfeth.

Click photograph to enlarge and for more information (16k)

John and Pheobe lived the rest of there lives at Bonvilston Road. John died in 1956 at Graig Hospital in Pontypridd. Pheobe continued to live at Penbank with her son Berwyn until she died in 1965 at the age of 85 .

A black and white photograph of the elderly Pheobe.
Pheobe. Photograph taken about 1956.

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