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Lewis JAMES
and
Margaret MORRIS



Lewis James was born in March 1857 at Star, Clyday, Pembrokeshire to Henry JAMES, a farmer and his wife Pheobe whos maiden name was REES. Lewis was the seventh of eight children. He was brought up on the farm in Pembrokeshire but became a slate quarrier probably before he was 15 years old.

By the age of 21 he had moved to Breconshire as a quarryman, perhaps to find work. It was here in Rhayader that he married Margaret MORRIS who came from the other side of the mountains.

***


Margaret was born on the last day of 1845 at Lluest near Pontrhdfendigaid, Gwnnws, Cardiganshire which is not far from the ruins of the famous abbey at Strata Florida (meadow of the flowers).

This is a recent photograph of Lluest farmhouse; a plain faced two storey house with slate roof. It is attached to the original stone built barn.
Lluest Farmhouse and Original Barn.

Her parents John and Elizabeth MORRIS were both lead miners and had been born locally. Metal ore mining and hill farming were the main occupations of the area at the time. Like Lewis, Margaret was the seventh of eight children. They were of course Welsh speakers. The family lived at Pantyffynon, a farm opposite Lluest. John's brother David, his wife Ann and their family lived at Lluest. John also owned Gwarffynon, near the "Great Mountain", which he rented out to various people including John EDWARDS, John JAMES and Thomas JONES.

This is a recent photograph of the front of Gwarffynon.
Gwarffynon.

Her eldest brother Richard, born in 1826, was a male servant at 14 with a JONES family at Caemadog which is less than a mile north west of Strata Florida. He became a tailor living at Cambrian Street, Gwnnws and was still single in 1871 but by 1881 was a widower. If correct it was an unfourtunately short marriage.

The next brothers, David born in 1827 and John in 1830, both became miners. David married an Elizabeth and lived in Cwmcednu, Gwnnws which he also farmed. There is no record of them having any children though they employed a young boy, Jacob JONES, as a farm servant. David died in 1877 and John in 1859 at the age of just 29 years.

Margaret's sister Mary, whom she never saw, was born in 1834 but died one year later. Another girl was born to her parents in 1834 and they also called her Mary. Her brother Evan was born in 1836 and like David and John became a lead miner. Her sister Winifred was born in 1839 and as well as her brothers also became a lead miner. Margaret's younger brother William born 1848 was also to take up the same occupation. He married an Elizabeth and had at least one child.

By the age of fifteen, Margaret too had become a lead miner and probably, like the other children, had been a lead dresser before that. Lead dressing is the cleaning up of the ore, removing stones and chipping away rock. It is a crude form of refining. Considering that lead is toxic, it is surprising that several family members lived to an old age.

In 1871 Margaret, now a stocking knitter, was still at Gwnnws. In July 1877, whilst working as a domestic servant, had a son she called David at Nantycar, Llanwrthwl, Breconshire. This is to the west on the other side of the "Great Mountain". By December she gave her address as Rhwnant, Llanwrthwl when she married Lewis at Rhayader Register Office. She may have been a domestic servant at Rhwnant.
This photograph taken in 2006 shows the site and remains of Nantycar.
The site and remains of Nantycar in 2006.

This photograph taken in 2006 shows the farm Rhwnant.
The farmhouse of Rhwnant in 2006.

***


In January 1880 they had a daughter Pheobe born, as was David, at Nantycar in Llanwrthwl. The following year they moved south to 10 Foundry Place, Porth, Glamorgan. Porth is in the Rhondda which had developed as an important mining area. Lewis was now employed as a coal miner. Their son David was also to become a coal miner before joining the police force. He married Catherine Jones, always known as Kate, and they had one daughter Ceinwen born in 1903. In 1886 Lewis and Margaret had a second daughter Elizabeth, though she was always known as Betty.

By 1891 they moved a few miles to Pontypridd, famous for its single arch bridge over the river Taff, coal mining and the home of James James and Evan James who wrote the Welsh National Anthem. Lewis, Margaret and their children lived at 80 Rickard Street.

This is a recent photograph of the famous arched stone bridge. It has three large holes each end to lighten the weight. Behind it is a newer road bridge.
The "Old Bridge" in Pontypridd. It was built in 1756.

By 1905, when his daughter Pheobe married John MORRIS, Lewis was working as a commercial traveller.
Four years later Margaret died in the summer of 1909 from cardiac valvular disease at the age of 63.

Lewis survived her by another twenty two years. He died whilst staying in Bridgend and working as a hawker. He probably had his home with his daughter Pheobe in Pontypridd at this time.

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