Snippets translated from Dewi Cynon's "Hanes Plwyf Penderyn" (Aberdar: 1905).

PRESENT BOUNDARIES
The parish is bounded to the south by the Rhigos Region and the Parish of Aberdare; to the east by Merthyr and Vaynor; to the north by Cantref; to the west by Ystradfellte and Llangatwg Nedd. We will be more precise by following this (boundary) line:- The “Maen Brych” (speckled stone) will be the starting point: The “Maen” stands on the junction between Mynydd Hendrebeili, Tynycoedcae, and Penmoelallt – a little to the north of the Croesdy. Near the “Maen” three parishes meet – Aberdare, Merthyr and Penderyn. The boundary takes an easterly direction from here over the mountain to Nant y Ffrwd; it follows the Nant to the Taf near Pontycapel. It follows the Taf upwards to Ynystaf; and it then turns a little to the western side past Pontyglec near Ynysyfelin. Having passed Penpont, it follows the river again up to the place where Nantygeugarn flows into the Taf before reaching the lower dam. It follows that stream to Mynydd y Gadair, and takes a southerly route from the Nant over the mountain and cliffs downwards to Taihirion sheep walk. Having made a turn towards the south, it crosses the main road and the Parish road on Esgairfach and proceeds downwards to the river Hepste at the bottom of Taihirion smallholding. The river is now the boundary down to the confluence with the Hepste and Mellte at the river mouth. The Mellte is the boundary until the Sychryd flows into it below Graig y Dinas (Dinas Rock). It follows the Sychryd to the Gamnant, and it follows it (the Gamnant) up to the wire fence between Taicyplau and Tynewydd; and between the latter and Trebanogfach. At this junction the line comes to Nantyderyn, and it follows the Nant to the River Cynon near the Gelli. The Cynon is the boundary down until Nanthir flows into it near Gamlyn Isaf. It follows this stream up the mountain to the “Maen Brych”.

MEASUREMENT
Its length is roughly ten miles and its width is about eight miles. Its surface is 13,366,337 acres; with roughly six thousand acres of mountain land, and free common to taxpayers in earlier times. (See Cambrian for April 18, 1827).

POPULATION
Its rateable value was £11,548 15s 0d in 1904. In 1673 its population was one hundred and twelve (112); and in 1801 seven hundred and thirty (730).
See the population table down to the 1891(sic) census;
Year 1831. 1841. 1851. 1861. 1871. 1881. 1891. 1901.
Ppn. 1385. 1488. 1775. 1331. 1668. 1598. 1433. 1346
Dwellings. 366 Families. 319

MOUNTAINS OF THE PARISH

These are small compared to many mountains of the south. The main ones are the Foel, the Glog, Cefn Cadlan and Cadair Arthur (Arthur’s chair).

Y Foel. – Moel – poor (bare). Local inhabitants call it “Twyn y Foel” (the Foel hill). Its peak is 990 feet above sea level. It has splendid views over the vales of Neath and Cynon as well as the Brecon Beacons.

Y Glog. - Clogwyn – (precipice), Clogwynog – full of precipices, and the frequency of its precipices convey the meaning. Its height is 1,108 feet above sea level. Previously, there were many legal battles concerning this mountain (see Treialon y Mynydd – “mountain trials”).

Penmoelallt. – The name has been explained under the name of the farmstead. Its height is 1,207 feet. The local inhabitants have corrupted the name to Penmeulart. Tradition has it that a pony belonging to a Glamorganshire farmer had mistakenly wandered on to the fields of this farmstead, and the farmer came to look for it, and while on his way on one of the Merthyr roads, he asked a man for the correct way to Penmeulart, and this is the answer he received:-

“Ar hyd y plyf yn gro’s i’r gran,
Gan ddechre’n mla’n y gynffon;
Na thro i’r aswy nac i’r dde,
Ti ei i’r lle yn union.”

(Along the feathers against the grain,
by starting at the front of the tail;
Do not turn to the left or to the right,
and you’ll get there, you will not fail.)

That humorous gentleman was the Rev. D. Saunders, Capel Seion.

Cefn Cadlan.- Theophilus Jones chose to believe that battles had taken place on this mountain, and that the cairns here are “cofarwyddon milwrol” (military memorials). There are four cairns of differing measurements here on the mountain plateau, but Mr Jones only observed two of them; his measurements of the one is 14 yards, and the other 20 yards in circumference. If Mr Jones had been here in person, it is strange that he didn’t see the largest cairns that are here, because one measures 64, and the other 46 yards in circumference, on the south side of the road that leads from Cadlan to Cwmtaf.

Cadair Arthur.- This mountain lies on the northern side of the parish, near the foot of the “Bannau” (Beacons). It is a high ridge, with limestone outcrops. There was previously much burning of lime here, its kilns were well known in the countryside. Its height is 1,225 feet above sea level. Jenkin Howell maintains that this was the location of one of “Arthur’s Chairs”. From its slopes, one of our bards commented:-

“Iach weunydd hen Frycheiniog, - ha molaf
Eu moelydd awelog;
Hen greigiau glain dan grug glog,
Onid ydynt odidog?

“Old Breconshire’s fair moorlands – I worship
their breezy bare hill-tops;
Beautiful old rocks below heather cliffs,
Aren’t they just splendid?

Yn gaeth ‘nol bod mewn gweithiau, - afiechyd
Yn faich ar fy nghamrau;
Un drem ar yr hen drumiau,
A’i nych oll geir yn iachau.

Imprisoned having been in work, - ill-health
a burden on my mobility;
One view of the dear old mountain ridges,
And all feebleness is healed.

Y Bannau yn eu bonedd, - O mor heirdd
Yw eu muriau llwydwedd,
Gwyn i mi yw eu pob gwedd,
A llachar eu pob llechwedd.”

The Beacons in their nobility, - O how handsome
are their grey stoned walls,
To me, their appearance is blessed,
And every slope is brilliant.”

- Lewis Davies, Cymmer. (Translation - DMJ)

AGRICULTURE

As Gwallter Mechain noted in his Report on Agriculture in South Wales in 1815, views of the countryside are not majestic or beautiful without woods on the fields. Although there is much mountainside and moorland in Penderyn, thank goodness there are also forests here to shelter animals from the harsh winter storms. On the slopes of the hills we see the remains of furrows as reminders of our forefathers’ labour, as well as the remains of old lime kilns on the mounds, clearly showing that they had been treating the land with much hard labour. But today we can announce above these old kilns “Ichabod” ( Hebrew, ‘the glory is departed’). Nowadays, nearly all the land is for grazing. Very little labour occurs throughout the country, let alone this parish. Yet, the land in this parish is suitable for producing butter, yes, butter of the highest quality, and we can apply the words of the bard of Cymmer for the produce of these farms in the two following lines:-

“Nid oes, ni fu trwy Gymru gell
Mewn unlle’n well am enllyn.” – Lewis Davies.

“There isn’t, or hasn’t been throughout Wales
a better place for butter (relish)”.

Farmers themselves admit that a great decline has taken place in agriculture during the last thirty years, and the common complaint is that the rents are too high, so that they cannot afford to pay for labourers. That is true, but what is the reason for such high rents? Are not the men themselves to blame? Aren’t there many applicants for farmsteads who bid amongst themselves when they become vacant, so that the price exceeds its worth? It is futile to expect rent decreases until men become wiser in this respect.

We would like to see present landowners take on the task of disafforestation and stone clearance in those parts of their lands that are desolate and barren, as did our ancestors of yore. From 1660 until 1833, much of Ysguborfawr farm was disforested and cleared of stones by the owners (see their names under the families). Later, on the same farmstead by Jenkin Rhys Esq., the owner between 1860 – 1870. Stones were cleared and ditches raised on Garw Dyle farmstead in 1870 – 1880, by the owner J. Jenkins, Esq. Also on Garwnant, Wern and Pentwyn Uchaf important improvements were carried out by planting trees and making road improvement &c., by the new owner, W. T. Lewis, Baronet Mardy. It is quite appropriate to be able to adapt Daniel Ddu of Cardigan’s verse to the work of these gentlemen in cultivating the above lands:-

“Eithinawg dir diffrwyth anial, - dygwyd
I degwch anhafal;
Hwy wnaeth a daeth iddynt dâl,
Fron hirdwf yn fri’n hardal.”

(Furzy barren wild land, - was brought to
incomparable beauty;
They performed and they received payment,
Fertile hills became the district’s pride.)

The old parish mills were Melin y Pwll Coch and Melin Pontycapel in Cwmtaf; and the Rhydiau and Trebannog mills in Dyffryn Cynon: the latter had been the last to grind, but it also has been idle for years.

Comments

Thanks for the translation, Deric.

Which edition of Hanes Plwyf Penderyn is this from?

Its translated from the 1905 edition, printed by Jenkin Howell, Aberdare.