A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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'Yerbeston - Y Vaenor Isav', in A Topographical Dictionary of Wales, (London, 1849) pp. 438-446. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/wales/pp438-446 [accessed 4 March 2024]
YERBESTON, a parish, in the union and hundred of Narberth, county of Pembroke, South Wales, 4 miles (S. W.) from Narberth; containing 148 inhabitants. This parish is situated near the turnpike-road from Pembroke to Narberth, and comprises a small extent of land, all inclosed and cultivated. Culm is found in some parts of it, but it is worked only for home consumption and the supply of the immediate neighbourhood. The living is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £5. 3. 9., endowed with £400 private benefaction and £400 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Baron de Rutzen: the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £70, and the glebe comprises 50 acres. The church, dedicated to St. Lawrence, is not distinguished by any architectural details of importance. There is a day and Sunday school in connexion with the Established Church.
YN-DRE-ISA (YN-Y-DRE-ISÂF), a township, in that part of the parish of LlanbadarnVawr which is in the Lower division of the hundred of Geneu'r-Glyn, in the union of Aberystwith, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 1 mile (E. S. E.) from Aberystwith; containing 354 inhabitants. The parochial church of Llanbadarn-Vawr and the greater part of the adjacent village are situated in this township, a small part of which is included within the limits of the contributory borough of Aberystwith. It is bounded on the north-west by the river Rheidiol.
YN-DRE-UCHA (YN-Y-DRE-UCHÂF), a township, in that part of the parish of LlanbadarnVawr which is in the Lower division of the hundred of Geneu'r-Glyn, in the union of Aberystwith, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 1¾ mile (E. by S.) from Aberystwith; containing 393 inhabitants. It is bounded on the south by the river Rheidiol, and contains a portion of the village of LlanbadarnVawr.
YNIS-Y-MOND (YNYS-Y-MWNT), a township, in the parish of Cadoxton, union and hundred of Neath, county of Glamorgan, South Wales; containing 238 inhabitants. An act of parliament was passed in 1847, authorizing the construction of a railway, to be called the Swansea and Amman Junction, from Ynis-y-Mond to Nantmelyn, in the parish of Llangyvelach. There are several coal-works in operation, but the number of persons employed is uncertain, depending upon the fluctuating demand for the produce. This township, and certain parts of the parish of Llangyvelach, form the ecclesiastical parish or district of Clydach, formed under the act 6th and 7th Victoria, cap. 37.
YNYSAWDRE (YNYS-Y-NAW-DRÊF), a hamlet, in the parish of St. Bride's Minor, union of Bridgend and Cowbridge, hundred of Ogmore, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 9 miles (N.) from Bridgend; containing 117 inhabitants. This township, the name of which means "the isle of nine habitations," is situated on the banks of the Ogmore, and is a distinct place, supporting its poor and appointing its own officers, but paying church-rates conjointly with the parish of St. Bride's Minor, to which place it is contiguous, being only separated by the river. It forms a part of the liberty of Ogmore, is within the jurisdiction of its coroner, and pays all fees and fealty to the lord of Ogmore manor. The area is 332 acres, of which 30 acres are common or waste.
YNYSCYNHAIARN (YNYS-CYNHAIARN), a parish, in the union of Festiniog, hundred of Eivionydd, county of Carnarvon, North Wales; comprising the town of Trêmadoc (which is described under its own head), and containing 1888 inhabitants. This parish derives its name from its low maritime situation, and from the dedication of its church to St. Cynhaiarn, who flourished about the close of the sixth century. The surface is very uneven, in some portions mountainous; the soil varies exceedingly, but in the lower grounds is fertile: in the hilly parts copper-ore is found in various places, but none of the mines are worked with spirit or success. The living is annexed to the rectory of Criccieth: the tithes have been commuted for a rentcharge of £160. The church has been rebuilt upon a more commodious site, in the later style of English architecture, and is a very handsome structure; the churchyard, also, has been considerably enlarged, a measure rendered absolutely necessary from the increase of population since the formation of the town of Trêmadoc. Here was buried the noted Welsh harper, Davydd y Garreg Wen, who was born at Carreg Wen in the parish. At Trêmadoc is a small church in which service is performed in the English language. There are places of worship for Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists; a day school, and some Sunday schools. Poor children of the parish are eligible to be admitted to the school at Criccieth, founded by the Rev. David Ellis. Here were born the two celebrated brothers, the Rev. John Thomas, M. A., head-master of the free grammar school of Beaumaris, and the Rev. Richard Thomas, A. B.; genealogists and antiquaries. In the township of Gest, in the parish, lived Blaidd Rhudd, one of the three royal tribes of Wales.
YR-DDREINIOG, a hamlet, in that part of the parish of Trêgayan which is in the hundred of Tyndaethwy, in the union and county of Anglesey, North Wales: the population is included in the return for the parish. The name signifies a place abounding with thorns.
YSCEIBION, with Bachymbyd, a hamlet, in that part of the parish of Llanynys which is in the hundred of Isaled, in the union of Ruthin, county of Denbigh, North Wales, 4 miles (N. W. by W.) from Ruthin: the population is included in the return for the parish. A large portion of the township was inclosed in 1803, under the provisions of an act of parliament.
YSCEIVIOG (YSGEIFIOG), a parish, in the union of Holywell, Caerwys division of the hundred of Rhuddlan, county of Flint, North Wales, 4 miles (S. W. by S.) from Holywell; containing 1740 inhabitants. This place was formerly called Llanvair-Ysceiviog, but is now known merely by that appellation which was originally only its affix, and which signifies "a place abounding in elder-trees:" the term appears to have been applied to the locality in reference to the number of trees of that description once growing here, and of which a few still remain in the churchyard. The parish is situated on the road from Denbigh to Mold and Holywell, and bounded on the north-east by the parish of Holywell, on the east by that of Halkin, on the south by that of Nannerch, on the west by the county of Denbigh, and on the north-west by the parish of Caerwys. It comprises by admeasurement 5857 acres, of which between 400 and 500 are wood, a small portion meadow, and the remainder arable, with some barren tracts too lofty and rocky for cultivation. The larger part of the parish consists of high table-land, with a substratum of limestone; the other portion comprehends some well-wooded valleys, exhibiting a variety of beautifully picturesque scenery, and watered by the rivulets called Avon Draws, Avon Disgynva, and the Whielor, a favourite resort of anglers. A waste tract of 3500 acres in this and the adjacent parishes of Nannerch and Whitford was inclosed some time ago by act of parliament. The soil in general is fertile, and well adapted to tillage, in which the farmers are chiefly employed. There are limestone-quarries on almost every farm; and the parish contains some mines of lead-ore, affording employment to part of the population: calamine and manganese have also been found, in small quantities. The old timber is principally oak, none of which is of great age: there are several new plantations, comprising beech, large numbers of larch, and some beautiful sycamores, which grow very luxuriantly. Most of the mansions formerly occupied here have fallen into decay or been deserted, and are now become mere farmhouses. The Marquess of Westminster and Lord Mostyn are among the chief landed proprietors, and the former, as a lessee under the crown, possesses a right to the royalties of the mines and quarries on the lands inclosed by act of parliament.
The village, which is situated on elevated tableland near the church, and commands some extensive prospects, contains only about a dozen houses. The principal part of the population, consisting of miners, who are chiefly employed in the neighbouring parishes, reside at or near a straggling hamlet called Lixwm, about a mile from the church. A considerable part of the parish is destitute of running water, and the inhabitants are supplied from ponds or from brooks situated at a great distance from their habitations. There are four corn-mills, a small wire-mill, and a paper manufactory. The Holywell race-course, long distinguished as a fashionable resort, is situated in the parish.
The living consists of a rectory and vicarage united, the rectory rated in the king's books at £18. 10. 10., and the vicarage, which is discharged, at £6. 3. 6½.; present net income, £651, with a house, and a glebe of 9 acres; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, was an ancient and spacious edifice, partly Norman, and partly in the early English style of architecture, with a massive and lofty tower of rude construction. The body consisted of a nave and chancel, with a large chapel or chantry on each side of the latter, lighted by ranges of lancet-shaped windows: on the north side of the nave was a very elegant Norman doorway, afterwards walled up, the mouldings of which were richly ornamented and in an excellent state of preservation. The church has been pulled down, and a new one built. The present church, on the same site, was finished in 1837, at a cost of about £1135, defrayed by the landowners, aided by grants from the metropolitan and diocesan societies. It is an elegant structure in the early English style, with lancet windows, and a handsome tower, and measures ninety feet by forty-four; the number of sittings is 630, of which 301 are free. There are three places of worship for Calvinistic Methodists, and one each for Baptists and Wesleyans. Two day schools are carried on, one of them in connexion with the Established Church, and the other conducted on the British and Foreign School Society's system. Of five Sunday schools, one is in connexion with the Established Church.
Several charitable donations and bequests have been made in sums varying from £50 to £3, which appeared on three benefaction-tables removed from the old church; the whole amounting to £156. Of this, £111 were expended in 1794, in building a house, on extra-manorial waste land enjoyed by the parish, for the purpose of picking cotton therein; the house is now let to a weaver for £3. 10. per annum, and the field for £1. 5. The residue of the £156 was lent on mortgage, paying an interest of £2. 5. In addition to these, is a rent-charge of £1. 6., bequeathed by John Wynne, of unknown date; which, together with a similar sum included in the above aggregate of £7, is distributed in bread; the residue of the produce of that aggregate being given to the poor in money, on Easter-eve and St. Thomas's day.
At Bryn Sion was found, in the year 1816, a very beautiful torques of pure gold, measuring fifty-two inches in length, and weighing twenty-four ounces, which was purchased by the late Marquess of Westminster for three hundred guineas, and is now in the cabinet at Eaton Hall. On the upper ridge of the chain of mountains that separates the parish from the Vale of Clwyd, are the remains of a distinguished British camp called "Pen-y-Cloddiau," or "the summit of the dykes," fortified by a high rampart, and, in the most accessible parts, by double and triple dykes. Near the village is a noted well, termed Fynnon Vair (St. Mary's well), highly reverenced in popish times, but now entirely neglected. The celebrated Dean Shipley was for fifty-nine years incumbent of Ysceiviog.
YSCIR-VAWR (ESGAIR-FAWR), a hamlet, in the parish and hundred of Merthyr-Cynog, union and county of Brecknock, South Wales, 8 miles (N. N. W.) from Brecknock; containing 197 inhabitants. The parochial church is situated in this hamlet, which comprises the vale watered by the larger branch of the Yscir stream. The population is exclusively agricultural, and the right of common on the surrounding bleak and extensive mountains is in general use. A bequest was left by Edward Gwynn in 1760, producing £2 per annum for the relief of the poor of Yscir Vawr and Vechan, and regularly distributed on Christmas-eve.
YSCIR-VECHAN (ESGAIR-FECHAN), a hamlet, in the parish and hundred of Merthyr-Cynog, union and county of Brecknock, South Wales, 9 miles (N. W. by N.) from Brecknock; containing 232 inhabitants. The lesser branch of the Yscir, from which the hamlet takes its name, flows along a vale here. The surrounding country is composed of barren and mountainous commons.
YSGWYDDGWYN (YSGWYDD-WYN), a hamlet, in the parish of Gellygaer, union of Merthyr-Tydvil, hundred of Caerphilly, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 5 miles (S. E.) from Merthyr-Tydvil; containing 123 inhabitants. It is situated on the right bank of the river Romney, near its source, and forms the upper portion of the parish, where the ground is bleak and mountainous, the inhabitants thinly scattered, and the right of common generally exercised. There is a place of worship for a congregation of dissenters.
YSPYTTY-IVAN (YSPYTTY-IEUAN), a parish, in the union of Llanrwst, composed of the townships of Tîr-Evan and Trêbrys in the hundred of Isaled, county of Denbigh, and the township of Eidda in the hundred of Nantconway, county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 3 miles (S. W.) from Pentre-Voelas; containing 839 inhabitants, of whom 427 are in the Denbighshire, and 412 in the Carnarvonshire, portion. This parish derives its name from a commandery belonging to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, founded by Ivan ab Rhŷs, about the year 1189, and which continued to flourish for some time, affording a sanctuary to travellers and others during the conflicts between the English and the Welsh. The privilege continuing with the lords of the manor, after the abolition of the house, and the place being exempted from all civil jurisdiction, rendered it an asylum for robbers and other malefactors, who became the pest of the surrounding country, until the reign of Henry VII., when they were extirpated by the courage and firmness of Meredydd ab Ivan. The site of the commandery, or hospital, is now occupied by the parochial church, and there is not a single vestige of the buildings. The parish is intersected by the river Conway, a few miles below its source. Fairs are held on March 17th, May 21st, July 1st, August 13th, September 15th, November 23rd, and December 2nd; and a manorial court is held periodically.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with a rent-charge of ten guineas private benefaction, £600 royal bounty, and £600 parliamentary grant; patrons, alternately, Lord Mostyn and the representatives of P. Jones, Esq., who are the impropriators; net income, £122. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a small neat edifice, containing three alabaster figures in a tolerable state of preservation, though much neglected; one of them representing Rhŷs Vawr ab Meredydd, to whom Henry, Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., intrusted the standard of England, at the decisive battle of Bosworth Field, after Sir William Brandon, his former standard-bearer, had been slain; a second representing his wife Lowry; and the third, in canonical robes, his son Robert ab Rhŷs, crossbearer and chaplain to Cardinal Wolsey. There are places of worship for Independents and Calvinistic Methodists, and four Sunday schools. Captain Richard Vaughan, in the year 1700, gave the sum of £200, which was subsequently vested in land, for the endowment of an almshouse, containing six tenements for as many poor aged men, which he had previously erected in the township of Tîr-Evan; and the produce, £8 per annum, is still distributed among the inmates. Mrs. Catherine Vaughan founded a house for six poor aged women at Eidda.
YSPYTTY-YSTRAD-MEURIC, a parochial chapelry, in the parish of Yspytty-Ystwith, union of Trêgaron, Upper division of the hundred of Ilar, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 14 miles (S. E.) from Aberystwith; containing 152 inhabitants. This place belonged to the Knights Hospitallers, and an hospitium or cell was situated here: from this circumstance, probably, and from its position near the river Meuric, is derived its name. It is of very limited extent; but is much distinguished in history for its ancient castle. Of the original foundation of the structure, nothing satisfactory is known; the first notice of it occurs in the history of the siege of Aberystwith Castle by Grufydd ab Rhŷs, when the governor of that fortress sent to Ystrad-Meuric by night, and received before morning a reinforcement, which enabled him to defend himself against the attacks of the Welsh prince. It was partly destroyed by Owain Gwynedd, in 1136, when that chieftain, aided by his brother Cadwaladr, destroyed several other castles in Wales, held by the AngloNorman invaders; in 1150, however, it was repaired by Rhŷs, Prince of South Wales, who, and his brother Meredydd, sons of Grufydd ab Rhŷs, took it from Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd, and fortified it for themselves. In 1158 it was besieged and taken by Roger, Earl of Clare, but in 1189 was retaken by Maelgwyn ab Rhŷs, who in 1194 gave it to Anarawd, his brother, as a ransom for the liberation of his two brothers Hywel and Madoc, whom that chieftain had made prisoners. It did not remain long in the possession of Anarawd, for Maelgwyn again retook it in 1198, and kept it till the year 1207, when, despairing of being able to defend the fortress against Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, from whom he expected a hostile attack, he razed it to the ground. From that time it does not appear that it was ever rebuilt.
The chapelry is surrounded by the parishes of Llanvihangel-Lledrod, Llanwnws, and the remainder of Yspytty-Ystwith, being bounded on the east by the river Meuric, and on the south, west, and north by the brooks Nant-y-Castell, Sychnant, and Marchnant-Vâch. It contains 930 acres, of which 500 are common or waste land. The surface consists of elevated and sterile hills; the rocks are clay slate; the soil of the arable land is sandy, and the chief agricultural produce is barley, oats, and extensive potato crops. The turnpike-road from Aberystwith to Trêgaron passes through the place. A fair is held on the 2nd of July for pigs, for wool, and pedlery. The tithes are impropriate, and have been commuted for a rent-charge of £36. 7. The chapel, which has no separate endowment, is served by the incumbent of Yspytty-Ystwith, or his curate; it is dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and is a small plain building, consisting only of a nave.
A free grammar school was founded in 1757, by Edward Richard, who endowed it in that and subsequent years with lands and houses, now producing at least £86. 10. per annum, for thirty-two boys from any part of the country, preference being given to those of this place and neighbourhood; and the grammar-school of Llanvihangel-Lledrod, adjoining, of which Mr. Richard was master, and which was endowed with rents now amounting to about £150, for forty boys of the Upper division of that parish, was, after his decease, merged in the school here, which was long eminently distinguished as one of the best classical academies in the principality. A very handsome school-house was erected by subscription, previously to 1812, in the chapelyard, in the later style of English architecture; to which is attached an excellent library, comprising books in various languages, principally the gift of the founder. About 60 boys receive instruction in the classics, mathematics, and arithmetic; the institution is conducted by a head master and his assistant, and there is an exhibition to St. John's College, Cambridge, belonging to the school, for the best Greek scholar. Though the two schools are united, and the endowments are paid to one master, there are still two different trusts: the Bishop of St. David's is visiter. Among the persons who have been successively masters may be noticed Mr. Edward Richard; the Rev. John Williams, who conducted it for forty years; and the Rev. D. Williams, late fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, an eminent divine and critic, who distinguished himself as an impartial magistrate, an elegant scholar, and a polished gentleman. A Sunday school is held, in connexion with the Established Church.
Upon the summit of a gravelly hill near the village are some remains of the ancient castle of YstradMeuric, which, though inconsiderable, denote it to have been originally a place of great strength and importance. On one of the lofty hills in the chapelry, called Friwllwyd, are vestiges of a Roman intrenchment, occupying a commanding site to the north of the chapel; and on another hill, designated Tommen Vilwyn, is a cairn of tolerable size. An ancient house, styled Mynachtŷ, is supposed to have been the hospitium from which the chapelry most probably derived its name.
Edward Richard, founder of the grammar school, and a native of the place, was distinguished as a profound scholar and critic, an antiquary, and a Welsh poet, and was the author of some pastorals, which, for elegance of composition and purity of style, are unrivalled by any writings in the Welsh language. He is thought to have been born in the year 1714, but his name does not appear among the baptisms in the register.
YSPYTTY-YSTWITH, a parish, in the union of Trêgaron, Upper division of the hundred of Ilar, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 13 miles (S. E.) by E.) from Aberystwith; containing 754 inhabitants, of whom 602 are in that portion of the parish not comprised in the chapelry of Yspytty-Ystrad-Meuric. Its name is derived from an ancient hospitium formerly existing here, which is supposed to have belonged to the Knights Hospitallers; and the adjunct to its name, from its situation on the banks of the Ystwith. On the north the parish is bounded by that of Llanvihangel-y-Creiddyn and the river Ystwith, which flows between the two places; on the west and east by Llanwnws, and in the latter direction also by the small rivers Marchnant and Meuric; and on the south by the parochial chapelry of YspyttyYstrad-Meuric, which is subordinate to YspyttyYstwith. It comprises, with the chapelry, about 4000 acres, one-half waste. The surface is hilly, the most lofty elevations being Glog-Vawr and Glog-Vechan, which command extensive views of the surrounding country. The soil is various; the lower grounds, which in some portions are subject to partial inundation, are boggy, and the higher, rocky and barren: some arable land that is inclosed and cultivated produces chiefly barley and oats. Leadore is found, of which some mines are worked with advantage, employing several hundred persons; and a stone-quarry and two mills of small size are partially in operation.
The living is a perpetual curacy, with that of Yspytty-Ystrad-Meuric annexed, endowed with £800 royal bounty; total net income, £86; patron, the Earl of Lisburne: attached are about 200 acres of land scattered in other parishes. The tithes of YspyttyYstwith have been commuted for a rent-charge of £60. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and situated on a rock commanding a fine view of Maen Arthur wood, is an ancient edifice, consisting of a nave, divided by a screen to form a chancel; the length is about thirty feet, the breadth fifteen, and the roof is supported by octagonal pillars, in one of which is a cavity for the purpose of a font. There are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists; a day-school in connexion with the lead-works; and three Sunday-schools, one of them belonging to the Church, and the others to the dissenters; exclusively of the Church Sunday-school in Yspytty-Ystrad-Meuric, which see for an account of the grammar-school there.
YSTRAD, with Argoed, a hamlet, in the parish and union of Trêgaron, Upper division of the hundred of Penarth, county of Cardigan, South Wales; containing 793 inhabitants, of whom 692 are in the market-town of Trêgaron.
YSTRAD, with Garth, a hamlet, in the parish of Llandewy-Brevi, union of Trêgaron, Upper division of the hundred of Penarth, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 8 miles (N. E.) from Lampeter; containing 90 inhabitants. It is situated on the Teivy; and the Roman road from Llanio to Pennal passed through it, from which circumstance the name Ystrad is supposed to be derived.
YSTRAD, a hamlet, in that part of the parish of Llandingat which is in the Lower division of the hundred of Cayo, in the union of Llandovery, county of Carmarthen, South Wales, 2¼ miles (S. W. by W.) from Llandovery; containing 178 inhabitants. It occupies part of the right bank of the Towy, and the road from Llandovery to Carmarthen passes through. Near the road stands Llwynybrain, a beautiful seat, situated within view of the Towy, and sheltered by luxuriant plantations behind. There is a ford across the river in this hamlet.
YSTRAD (MIDDLE), a hamlet, in the parish of Ystrad-Dyvodog, union of Merthyr-Tydvil, hundred of Miskin, county of Glamorgan, South Wales; containing 218 inhabitants.
Ystrad-Dyvodog, otherwise Ystrad-Dyvodwg (Ystrad-Dyfodwg)
YSTRAD-DYVODOG, otherwise YSTRAD-DYVODWG (YSTRAD-DYFODWG), a parish, divided into the two townships of Ystrad-Dyvodog and Rhigos, in the poor-law union of Merthyr-Tydvil, hundred of Miskin, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 8 miles (N. W. by N.) from Llantrissent; containing 1363 inhabitants. The scenery in this neighbourhood is singularly wild and romantic; the mountains, which are very lofty, often rise abruptly, and almost perpendicularly, from the level ground, and present an unbroken face to the summit, so as to have obtained the designation of the "Alps of Glamorgan." The tourist, as he ascends the vale, is gradually more and more delighted, until he reaches Talcan-y-Byd, or the "forehead of the world," which is one of the most prominent features in the parish: but the roads are bad, and frequently prevent tourists from penetrating into these secluded and romantic scenes. Throughout the valley flows the rapid stream Rhondda, which, though of an indifferent appearance, and having only a small volume of water, affords some sport to the angler. The Rhigos and Penrhin collieries, and the mine-patches of the Hîrwaun iron-works, are within the limits of the parish, which forms a long narrow strip extending from Hîrwaun, across the centre of the county, to Dinas in the parish of Llantrissent. From the Dinas collieries a communication is formed by tramroads with the Glamorganshire canal and the Tâf-Vale railway. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £600 royal bounty, and £800 parliamentary grant; net income, £120; patron, the Vicar of Llantrissent, who receives the vicarial tithes; impropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester. The church, dedicated to St. Tyvodwg, is situated nearly in the centre of the parish. There are places of worship for Baptists, Particular Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans; a day-school in connexion with the Established Church, and three Sunday schools belonging to the dissenters.
YSTRAD-DYVODOG HOME, a hamlet, in the parish of Ystrad-Dyvodog, union of Merthyr-Tydvil, hundred of Miskin, county of Glamorgan, South Wales; containing 212 inhabitants.
YSTRAD-GUNLAIS (YSTRAD-GYNLAIS), a parish, comprising the Upper and Lower divisions, in the union of Neath, hundred of Devynock, county of Brecknock, South Wales, 14 miles (N. E. by E.) from Swansea; containing 2885 inhabitants. The name of this place, according to some authorities, is derived from the dedication of its church to St. Gunleus, a prince of "Glewissig," who, by his residence here, gave his name to the small vale in which the edifice is situated. Others more correctly state that the church is dedicated to St. Mary; and it has been thought that the proper appellation of the place is Ystrad Gurlais or Garwlais, signifying "the vale of the rough-sounding brook," being derived from a stream a little below the church, which separates this parish from that of Kilybebill, and also forms a boundary between the counties of Brecknock and Glamorgan. The parish comprises 12,000 acres, of which 5500 are common or waste land. It is bounded on the south-east by the river Tawe, and on the south-west by the brook Garwlais above noticed; and is intersected by the turnpikeroad from Swansea to Brecknock. Its surface is adorned with several gentlemen's seats, the principal of which, Yniscedwyn House, once the residence of the Aubreys, and now the property of the Goughs by marriage with the heiress of that ancient family, is a handsome mansion, in a delightful part of the Vale of Tawe, environed by some richly-varied scenery, and in the centre of an extensive and a highly improveable domain. In the Upper division stands the old seat of Glynllêch Isâv.
The entire district abounds with mineral wealth, and in the parish are valuable strata of iron-ore, stone-coal, and limestone, which, combining with other local advantages, have led to the establishment of large works. The iron-works belonging to the Yniscedwyn company are considered as among the oldest of the kind now in operation in the kingdom; and the opinion of their antiquity has been confirmed by the discovery of an old pig of iron in a cinder-bank in 1795, on which was the date 1612. These extensive works comprise seven blast furnaces for smelting the ore, air furnaces and cupolas for converting the pig-iron into castings, with fineries for making the refined metal used by the tin-manufacturers. The furnaces are blown by a large steamengine, made by the Neath Abbey iron company; as well as by a powerful machine erected in 1828, from designs by Mr. Brunton, of London, and worked by a water-wheel of large diameter. The iron-ore, limestone, and coal used are all procured in the parish. Formerly, the stone-coal being considered unfit for the purpose of smelting iron, a supply of another kind was obtained from mines in an adjoining parish; but, about the year 1836, the late George Crane, Esq., the managing partner of the Ynyscedwyn iron company, discovered a mode of using stone-coal in the blast furnaces, and since then stone-coal has been in general use for iron-smelting throughout this district. When in full operation, the works afford employment to about 1000 men, exclusively of whom, about 260 are constantly engaged in the collieries of the parish: the stone-coal and culm raised in these are partly used in drying malt, and burning lime. Great quantities of limestone are quarried at the Cribarth rock, and purchased by farmers and others along the line of the Swansea canal, to burn for manure and other purposes. On the limestone to the north of this rock is found an abundance of tripoli, or lapis cariosus, of a very pure quality, much of which is collected and sent by the canal to Swansea, and thence shipped to England, to be used in the burnishing of metals.
The Swansea canal, a branch of which reaches to the Yniscedwyn works, terminates at a place called Hên Neuadd, in the parish, two miles above the church; and to it converge numerous tramroads from the works, for the conveyance of their produce. A long tramroad was laid down in 1825, by John Christie, Esq., of London, extending from the Gwain Clawdd, over the forest of Devynock, to Rhŷd-y-Briw, in the Vale of Usk, by means of which a communication is established between this mineral district and the heart of Brecknockshire; and a branch, six miles in length, from Penwyll to the head of the Swansea canal, forming a junction with the main tramway, has also been constructed. In 1847 an act was passed for the construction of a railway on the broad gauge from Abercrave Farm, in Ystrad-Gunlais, to Swansea, called the SwanseaValley Railway.
The living is a rectory, rated in the king's books at £9. 10. 7½., and in the patronage of the proprietor of the Yniscedwyn estate: the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £372: the church is a small neat fabric, consisting simply of a nave and chancel, with a belfry at the west end. The chapel of Coelbren, situated in the Upper division of the parish, has been endowed, and the living is now a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the rector. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic Methodists; several day schools, and fourteen Sunday schools. Morgan Aubrey, of Yniscedwyn, Esq., bequeathed a rent-charge of £4. 5., payable out of a farm called Twyn-y-Ceilog, n Devynock, for the benefit of the poor.
A Roman road, now called the Sarn Lleon, or Sarn Helen, is still visible, passing along a high ridge of rock which separates the parish from Ystrad-Velltey, and from Cadoxton in the county of Glamorgan, and hence declining southwards towards the station Nidum (Neath). On this ridge, between Coelbren and Cevn-hîr-Vynydd, was formerly an erect stone, supposed to have been a Roman milliary, with an inscription, of which only the letters impc were in later times legible: this relic has been removed or destroyed. Upon the hills towards Llywel, and bordering on Carmarthenshire, are several carneddau, and the remains of three ancient British encampments; but nothing has been recorded of their original formation. Near the chapel of Coelbren is an encampment, which, from its quadrilateral shape, and its contiguity to the Sarn Helen, is thought to be Roman; and at a short distance from this place is a kind of natural wall, formed by the side of the limestone rocks, in which is a small cavern, styled Cradock's Church, or Hermitage. This cavern, according to Mr. Jones, the historian of Brecknockshire, is erroneously named, as he supposes it to have been the cell in which Gunleus died in the arms of his son Cattwg, who gave his name to this cavern, as his father had in like manner given his to the vale.
About three-quarters of a mile east of Coelbren chapel is one of the most remarkable waterfalls in this part of the county, designated 'Sgwd yr hên Rŷd. It is formed by the Llêch, or Llêchog, a small mountain stream, which, for a considerable distance from its rise, flows over a rocky bed, in a part of its course entirely destitute of vegetation, and without any feature of beauty, except where in some places it expands into a river. The stream afterwards crosses the road from Ystrad-Velltey to Coelbren, when it is lost in a deep wooded glen, on emerging from which the whole river, in one unbroken sheet, descends from a perpendicular height of more than 100 feet. Being interrupted in its fall by a projecting ledge of rocks, about ten or twelve feet below the summit, it dashes into foam, and after its descent for the remaining ninety feet, without further impediment, the stream disappears in the thick foliage of the woods which clothe its precipitous banks, and pursues a winding course to the river Tawe. Though this fall is of much greater height than that of Eiro Hepstè, the water in its descent has less grandeur and breadth, when the two rivers are equally full. At an inn known by the sign of the "Lamb and Flag," in the parish, the outlawed criminal Hatfield, who, under the assumed name of the Hon. Colonel Hope, had seduced into marriage the beautiful and artless Mary of Buttermere (in Cumberland), was arrested; he was committed by the magistrates to the gaol at Brecknock, and thence conveyed to Carlisle, where he was tried and executed.
YSTRAD-MEURIC, county of Cardigan, South Wales.—See Yspytty-Ystrad-Meuric.
Ystrad-Owen, or Ystrad-Owain
YSTRAD-OWEN, or YSTRAD-OWAIN, a parish, in the union of Bridgend and Cowbridge, hundred of Cowbridge, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 3 miles (N. E.) from the town of Cowbridge; containing 196 inhabitants. Ithel, surnamed Dû, or "the Black," Prince of Glamorgan in the tenth century, occasionally dwelt here; and the place is distinguished in the historical annals of the principality as the scene of a desperate battle between the invading Saxons, and the ancient Britons under Conan ab Seisyllt, in the year 1031, when that chieftain and all his sons were slain. It derives its name from Owain ab Collwyn, who lived in a palace here, the site of which is marked by a large tumulus near the church, now covered with a thriving plantation. The parish comprises a moderate extent of good arable and grazing land, and a portion of common affording pasturage for sheep and young cattle; the surrounding scenery is pleasingly diversified, and enlivened with some interesting features. Ash Hall is a handsome modernised mansion, situated on an eminence above the church, commanding a fine view of the whole Vale of Glamorgan, from the house to the sea, with Cowbridge in the foreground, and Somersetshire in the distance.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £1200 royal bounty, and £200 parliamentary grant; net income, £41; patron, the Bishop of Llandaf. The church, dedicated to St. Owain, is a very small ancient edifice, not remarkable for any architectural details. On a tablet is an inscription recording that Sir Leoline Jenkins, Knt., presented to each of the churches of Ystrad-Owen and Llanblethian a tenor bell; and that Evan, his brother, gave a house and thirteen acres of land, yielding £22. 4. per annum, to repair the bells, directing the surplus to be appropriated in apprenticing children, and relieving aged labourers not able to work, in both parishes, in equal shares. Under Sir Leoline's will, £20 are received by the parish every fourth year: see Cowbridge.
On a hill to the south of the church are some inconsiderable remains of the ancient castle of Tàl-yVaen, or Tàlavan, one of the twelve fortresses erected by the followers of Fitz-Hamon, by whom this portion of the conquered territory was granted to Sir Richard de Seward, in whose family it continued for many generations. The estate formed part of the dowry of the widow of Hugh le Despencer, when affianced to Guy de Brien; it was subsequently conveyed by marriage to the Dukes of Lancaster, and is still included within the duchy. In a field near the village were two large monumental stones, rudely ornamented, which were supposed to have been placed at the head of the graves of Owain ab Ithel and his consort, and thence called the King and Queen stones; but they have been removed some time. Near the churchyard, in a field adjoining it on the west, is a very large tumulus, of which not even any traditionary account has been preserved. An annual assembly of the bards was held here for many years, under the auspices of the ancient family of Hensol, and the custom was kept up till the year 1721, when the male line of that family became extinct: a house in which the meetings are said to have taken place is still remaining.
YSTRAD-VELLTEY (YSTRAD-FELLTAU), a parish, composed of the Lower and Upper divisions, in the union of Neath, hundred of Devynock, county of Brecknock, South Wales, 15 miles (S. W.) from Brecknock; containing 682 inhabitants, of whom 414 are in the Lower, and 268 in the Upper, division. This parish is situated in the sequestered Vale of the Melltè, from which it takes its name, and on the turnpike-road from Brecknock, through Pont-Neath-Vaughan, to Neath and Swansea. It is remarkable for the romantic beauty of its scenery, and the numerous and highly interesting objects of natural grandeur which it comprehends within its limits. The area is 7033 acres, and the population is mainly dependent on farming and sheep-breeding. On the confines of the county of Glamorgan, but within the parish, is the picturesque little village of Pont-Neath-Vaughan, situated on the Lesser Neath river, over which is a neat stone bridge, connecting the two shires of Brecknock and Glamorgan. At this village, which may be regarded as the head of the district, fairs were formerly held on the first Saturday after the 12th of March, the Saturday before the 5th of July, the Saturday before the 26th of August, on September 21st, and November 14th; but now only two take place there, one on the 12th of May, and the other on the 14th of November, for cattle. At Craig-y-Dinas, and in its immediate neighbourhood, is found an abundance of fire-clay of the best quality, some of which is conveyed down the Neath canal (which penetrates as high as Abergwrlych, in this vicinity), to be used in the furnaces near Neath, and for exportation.
The living is consolidated with that of Devynock; the tithes have been commuted for an annual rent-charge of £270, which is divided in three equal portions among the impropriators, the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, and the vicar of Devynock. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient edifice, consisting of a nave and chancel, with a square tower, and is situated in the centre of the village, which is very small. There are places of worship for Independents and Calvinistic Methodists, with a Sunday school held in each of them. David Walter or Gwalter, of Maes Gwalter, in Devynock, charged the tenements of Vyle and Heol Vawr, in this parish, with the annual payment of £5 each, one for apprenticing a child of this place annually, and the other for the instruction of ten children, five of this parish, and five of that of Penderin. Morgan Llewelyn, in 1630, left three tenements, called respectively Tîr-Pen-y-Graig, Tîr-Pwll-yGelynen, and Tîr-yr-Ynysvor, the two former in this parish, and the latter in Vainor, the rents of which, now amounting to £22. 10., he appropriated for distribution among the poor. Sir David Williams of Gwernyvet, Knt., in 1612 bequeathed a small sum for a distribution of bread among the poor and for preaching a sermon on Whit-Sunday, chargeable on the great tithes of Gwenddwr; and the produce of the bequest has so much increased, that £6. 8. 6. are now received: the original gift of £1. 10. is annually distributed in bread, and the surplus in money. Margaret Lewis, of Brecon, in 1733, bequeathed a house and a smith's shop; and Griffith Morgan, of this parish, charged the tenement of Tîr-Gorov-Nedd with the annual payment of £3 to the poor.
The Sarn Lleon, or Sarn Helen, enters the parish at its north-eastern extremity, in a line parallel with the turnpike-road from Brecknock, and, after intersecting the small Vale of Melltè, again continues its course for nearly a mile and a half parallel with the turnpike-road, after which, taking a west-northwestern direction, it crosses Cwm Nedd Vychan towards Blaen Nedd. At a short distance from that place is an old stone, having on its edge an inscription in Roman characters, very much defaced, of which only the words hic ivcit are legible; the first part of the letter h is wanting, and the a in the second word is reversed. Mr. King, in his Archæologia, states that a gold coin of Vespasian was found near this place. Close to the village is an artificial mound, but nothing is recorded of its origin.
The Melltè river, in the summer, when the water is low, runs in a confined rocky channel, till it arrives nearly opposite the village, when it enters a small whirlpool on its southern bank, and disappears. Its course for nearly half a mile is concealed by stones, till it reaches a cavern a little below Porth yr Ogov, or "the mouth of the cave." This remarkable cavern is entered by a horizontal aperture, twenty feet high and about fifteen yards wide, leading into a spacious apartment with a vaulted roof, from which hang stalactites and other calcareous concretions, which, on the introduction of lights, exhibit brilliant and splendid reflections, of numberless hues; the floor is strewed with large masses of broken rock, scattered about in all directions, and in many parts presenting almost insurmountable obstacles to the progress of the visiter. Through this cavern the river Melltè pursues its course, rushing over the rocky fragments that impede its flow, and near the centre of it precipitates itself from a very considerable height into a deep abyss, where the roaring of the cataract and the darkness of the cavern tend to excite a sensation of awe. At the distance of a few hundred feet the river reappears, and, in time of floods, bursts out with prodigious force, presenting a series of cataracts of uncommon grandeur. From a projecting cliff, on the eastern side of the vale, the river, just above its confluence with the Hepstè, rushes with violent impetuosity, and descends in one unbroken sheet, forming a magnificent cascade; the noise is tremendous, and such is the violence of its fall, that the cataract loses every appearance of water, and assumes that of heavy spray and foam. After this point the river struggles along a deep channel, obstructed by projecting rocks on each side of its precipitous banks, diverting its current into a variety of fantastic directions, in a course of nearly three miles, till it falls into the river Neath, or Nedd Vechan. In the month of June 1842, when the Melltè was unusually low, the author of the admirable "Book of South Wales" succeeded in penetrating more than 500 yards through Porth yr Ogov, walking occasionally by the side of the stream, as far as the White Cave, a point which the guide had only succeeded in reaching once before. Here, the light was seen gleaming through an aperture at some distance; the water was found to be deeper, and it appeared to be impossible to proceed further. The fatigue to the visiter is great, as it is necessary to assume a stooping posture for the greater part of the cavern.
There are several other cataracts in the immediate vicinity, some of which are beautifully picturesque. Near the junction of the counties of Brecknock and Glamorgan is a remarkably fine cascade, called 'Sgwd Einion Gam, formed by the Pyrddin, which, after emerging from a narrow glen, falls from a height of nearly eighty feet down an abrupt precipice; one side of the precipice is richly clad with verdure, and with trees and shrubs that have taken root among the stratifications of the rock, and the other is naked, dreary, and rugged. At a small distance below the place where the Pyrddin and the Llêch join to form the Nedd Vechan, is a singularly picturesque and graceful fall, styled 'Sgwd Gwladis: though the breadth of the sheet of water, and the elevation from which it falls, are less than the breadth and height of the others, this cataract is infinitely more romantic, and the scenery around it more striking.
YSTRAD-YNOD, a township, in the parish of Llanidloes, union of Llanidloes and Newtown, Lower division of the hundred of Llanidloes, county of Montgomery, North Wales. Three-fourths of the tithes are payable to the Dean and Chapter of Bangor, and the remaining fourth to the vicar of Llanidloes.
Y Vaenor Isâv
Y VAENOR ISÂV, a hamlet, in the parish of Cayo, union of Llandovery, Higher division of the hundred of Cayo, county of Carmarthen, South Wales, 8½ miles (W. N. W.) from Llandovery. This place, also called the Lower hamlet, lies on the bank of the Cothy stream; and the road from Llandovery to Llansawel passes through it.—See Cayo.
END OF THE DICTIONARY.