By the time The Lady Windsor Colliery belatedly opened and created the pit village of Ynysybwl in 1884, most of the Moses family had either been lured to Cwm Rhondda or had emigrated to the U.S. The two surviving children of Mary Edwards (nee Moses) and their descendants would however maintain a Moses presence in the Clydach Valley into and throughout the 20th Century.
The family of Gwilym (I) Moses
You get the distinct impression that Gwilym’s arrival back in 1867 was not exactly shouted from the rooftops; even the Family Bible got the year wrong – “1868“. Unsurprisingly he became a coalminer, and after leaving Hendre Rhys Farm and before getting married, he was living at Porth in the Rhondda. He married “Bible bashing Baptist” Catherine “Mamgu” Thomas on August 30th 1890 at the Registry Office down in Pontypridd. This was somewhat surprising as Mamgu is remembered by everyone as a fundamentalist Christian, and one who was possibly more Old than New Testament! Was the problem with Gwilym’s “pedigree” the reason she missed out on her walk down the aisle? Mamgu was born in Gilfach Goch in 1869, the daughter of William and Catherine Thomas; the family came originally from the Vale of Glamorgan. The couple began married life at 72 New Road Ynysybwl, next door to Gwilym’s mother and sister and just a stone’s throw from the Darren-du Level where he now worked as a coalminer. It was whilst living at 72 New Road that my Grandfather Gwilym (II) Thomas Moses was born on July 5th 1892. By the census of 1901 the family had made the short move to 23 New Road, where they actually had their own live-in servant! – 14 year old Maggie Brooks.
There was an unusually long gap between Gwilym II’s birth and the arrival of the next baby, Evan (XVI) John, on June 6th 1898 at No. 23. Perhaps the reason behind this was that Gwilym Snr. nearly met a premature end underground at the aforementioned Darren-du Level, which to put it mildly had a questionable safety record. I quote a summary of an extract from “SILENT HEROISMS OF THE SOUTH WALES COALFIELDS” by Henry Davies 1901 – “..at about nine o’clock on a Sunday morning passers-by were alarmed by perceiving a huge volume of water issuing from this level. It was ascertained that Mr. Enoch Jones the manager, and Gwilym Moses were inside.. They were trapped. The water was rising, and the rush of foul air caused their lamps to fail, plunging them into complete darkness.. The first attempt at rescue was made about 10 o’clock by Albert Weaver and Tom (his Uncle Twm) Moses who entered the level carrying naked lights.. Joined by seven other men.. they made a second attempt at rescue. Among them was Mr. Beechey, a certified manager .. who had worked in the level.. and he decided to take the lead.. time was short. Held together they pushed against the underground river; there was no returning! Hardly able to breathe; completely soaked and stiffened with cold, the two very exhausted men were rescued..” So as you can see Gwilym Jnr. was very nearly an only child. After getting his breath back, drying out and warming up, Gwilym later fathered three more boys at 23 New Road – Evan John and the two younger brothers Trefor and William John (or Jack) born on 3/9/1900 and 6/9/1902 respectively. The names John and William come from Mamgu’s family (brother and father); it is not known where Trefor comes from. By now Gwilym Moses had been promoted from colliery labourer to “Fireman in coalmine“. Previously, tragedy had struck the family on April 3rd 1899, when baby Evan John died of diarrhoea and convulsions at only nine months of age at the family home. He was buried at St. Gwynno’s Llanwynno on April 6th.
By the 1911 census, the family’s downward tour of New Road Ynysybwl had taken them to No.9. Curiously Gwilym had requested the Welsh language version of the census form, but he then completed it in English, which sort of defeated the whole object! Anyway children “Tommy, Trefor and (William) John“, were sharing the house with 27 year old boarder, single colliery manager D. Luther Evans. He must have struck up a close friendship with eldest son Gwilym T., as he later gave him his medal which he got for serving in “The Great War”. Sadly for Colliery Overman Gwilym, after a lifetime working underground, he never lived to see his retirement day or his grandchildren grow up, as he died on September 21st 1925 at 9 New Road from “Pernicious Anaemia“. His death, just two days short of his 58th birthday, left Mamgu to face 28 years of widowhood; during which she certainly did not miss out on the grandchildren growing up! Interestingly Gwilym left Mamgu an estate worth £30 in his will; roughly the equivalent of ten weeks pay back then – certainly not enough to make much impression on nearly three decades of widowhood. Mamgu eventually died on December 16th 1953, aged 85 according to the death certificate, or 86 if you go by her headstone. She passed away at the home of her youngest son (7 Glynfach Road, Porth, Cwm Rhondda) and was buried back in Ynysybwl Cemetery with her late husband.
Eldest son Gwilym (II) Thomas, Tom or much later “Pops“, followed his father into the coal industry, and apart from a brief stay in Nantgarw lived his whole life at various addresses in Ynysybwl. He studied at the old Trefforest School of Mines, and was awarded a medal by Glamorgan County Council when he passed his exams. This medal was subsequently donated by my father to the Polytechnic of Wales, which now stands on the same site. Interestingly Tom worked for his brother-in-law John Evans, who now owned the Darren-du level which was now going under the slightly grander title of The Darren-du House Coal Colliery. By 1933 Gwilym II was undermanager at Darren-du and he got a mention in the March 1933 edition of “The Ocean and National Magazine” for his part in the successful “unwatering” of the level – “Mr. Evans is to be congratulated on the result of the operations, the success of which is due in no small measure to the energy of the undermanager, Mr. G.T. Moses.” Sadly G.T. emulated his father by dying before his retirement (and my birth); by all accounts he was a really nice man – a Welsh speaking, Chapel-going member of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade who, to quote my mam “Only spoke when he had something worth saying“.
He married local girl Emily Maud Evans at the Tabernacle Chapel, Pontypridd on December 18th 1916. Maud was born on November 15th 1894 and was the youngest of five children born to collier James Evans and his wife Mary of 82 Robert Street Ynysybwl. Apparently she had a beautiful singing voice and often sang in local amateur musical productions. “Tom” and Maud started on their large family two years later at 68 New Road, with the birth of Thomas Glyndwr (Glyn) on March 5th 1918. The family were probably making a statement about their “Welshness” as the Valley started to become increasingly Anglicised – Glyndwr is probably the ultimate male Welsh Christian name. The following year found the family living briefly, for some reason, down at 37 Oxford Street Nantgarw south of Pontypridd. Whilst here, a daughter Mair was born on October 20th. Sadly Mair (Welsh for Mary) was a spina bifida baby, and subsequently only lived for five months; she died on April 9th 1920, by which time the family had moved back to Ynysybwl (9 New Road). Interestingly the story within our family say’s she died along with her younger sister in a diphtheria outbreak; clearly ludicrous given the two girls died nearly two and a half years apart! We must appreciate how well informed we are now compared to previous generations. This sounds suspiciously like an attempt at a cover up as spina bifida was a bit of a no-no back then and, with this in mind, Tom and Maud were taking a risk in continuing with their family. Indeed Maud was already pregnant with the next child, Gwladys, when poor Mair passed away. The name Gwladys is from early Welsh history, and she was born at 60 High Street Ynysybwl on November 7th 1920. Sadly, at only two years of age, she succumbed to diphtheria at the Isolation Hospital in Tonteg on August 21st 1923. By the time of her death, she had another brother who had been born on September 25th 1922. Named after his two grandfathers, Gwilym James, like his brother Glyn was probably very lucky to escape the outbreak which claimed their sister’s life. By the time of the birth of the next child, Gwynfor (Gwyn), on June 22nd 1924 the family had made the short move to 3a Clive Terrace. The name of their third son may have been a nod to (Sant) Gwynno of Llanwynno fame. It was at this new address that the three youngest boys were also born – David Phillip (Dave) (3/6/1927), John Leighton (17/1/1930) and Trefor Rodric (Rod) (4/9/1932). The name David was from his mother’s paternal side, whilst Phillip is presumably a nod to the two Phillip’s family (Elizabeth Ann’s branch and Mamgu’s maternal branch). John was named after one or both of his uncle’s; the name Leighton is a complete mystery! Trefor was his father’s brother’s name, whilst Rodric was his nan’s maiden name (spelt Roderick).
Sadly 3a Clive Terrace was the scene of a catastrophic event from which this branch of the family never really recovers. Young mother Emily Maud Moses died on March 15th 1934 from septicaemia, after a bout of tonsillitis. She was only 39 years old with youngest boy Rod still in nappies; today a simple course of antibiotics would have saved her. Maud’s life was indeed short and tragic – she had lost her father in horrific circumstances when she was just three, both her daughters died as infants and she herself died from something which today would hardly be classed as life-threatening. My dad was barely four years old when his mam (Maud) died; he was left with just one faint memory of her – standing on a chair by the “bosh”, helping to wash some dishes. Poor Tom must have been devastated, but his strong Christian faith was illustrated by the inscription on Maud’s headstone – “Di ewylys di gwneler/Thy will be done”. Tom was now a widower at just 41, and with six boys aged between one and sixteen to bring up, he was forced to call on the extended family for help. The younger boys in particular were passed “around the houses”, but child minding duties fell mainly on their paternal grandmother Mamgu, a tough devout Chapel going woman who by all accounts did not suffer fools gladly – or indeed anybody else for that matter! My Cousin Glyn described her as an awesome character, who “inspired respect and loathing in equal measure“; “Quite proper” is the nearest she gets to a compliment! My father told of how, as a young boy, he was punished for misbehaving by having his hand placed on the hot cooker hob and being promised pennies for doing errands and the pennies never materialised. In Mamgu’s defence, a widow in her late sixties must have found bringing up six boys quite a handful. Baby Rod was adopted by his Uncle Jack and Auntie Nellie in Porth, while the rest of the Moses brothers were to be brought up in a highly disciplined regime with strict adherence to rules and etiquette. This involved attending Chapel twice on a Sunday as well as Ysgol Sul; strict mealtimes, dress, hygiene (washing of hands); early rising to do chores and total abstinence from tobacco and alcohol. It is safe to say the bit about tobacco fell on deaf ear’s! Later, after her son Tom had remarried, Mamgu would sell the family home (9 New Road Ynysybwl) and move over to Porth Rhondda to live with her youngest son “Jack” and his family. This move did little for her popularity with Tom’s elder sons who returned from the War to find that the family base in Ynysybwl had gone for good – Tom had moved into his new wife’s home after re-marrying.
Gwilym Thomas Moses died on April 17th 1954 aged 61; indeed he only outlived his mother Mamgu by four months. The post-mortem (without inquest) gave the cause of death as “Empyema due to pneumonia“; a condition obviously not helped by a lifetime working underground in a coalmine. At the time of his death he was working as a Training and Safety Officer at The Lady Windsor Colliery Ynysybwl. This job involved showing the next generation of colliers “the ropes”; it was whilst doing this, that he had an accident underground which may have hastened his demise. He passed away at 8 Thompson Street Ynys-y-bwl, and before he drew his last breath he called out the name of his first wife “Maud“, with whom he is buried along with their two daughters in Ynysybwl Cemetery. The headstone incidentally will be the last in our family to be written in the Welsh language. Tom’s funeral was attended by his three year old Grandson Glyn, who was brought down to Porth/Ynysybwl from Manchester on the train by his father, but was to young to grasp what was going on. Five decades later, this faint childhood memory would trigger his research into the family’s history.
Tom was mourned by his second wife Clara, for whom it must have been strange seeing her husband being buried with his first spouse; she was however, happy to go along with his wishes. Both widowed, Tom (50) and Clara (49) had married during World War II on October 15th 1942; coincidentally Tom’s first marriage was during the 1st World War, perhaps it was a good job for mankind that he did not wed for a third time! Apparently news of the wedding did not go down well with either family; the couples response was to conceal their Sunday best under their coats, catch a Red and White bus to Ponty and quietly tie the knot in the Registry Office. Needless to say, the reception afterwards was not an all-ticket affair! Tom and Clara, who coincidentally shared the same birthday (July 5th), would have known each other as children as both family’s lived on New Road, and indeed they both attended the same Chapel (Noddfa). But it was tragic endings to both of their marriages which brought them together in middle age. Clara Thomas nee Monks was born in Ynysybwl in 1893, shortly after her parents (George and Mary Monks) and her five older siblings (Eleanor, twins John W. and Benjamin, Alice and Harry) had moved down from Leeds in West Yorkshire so her father could work at the Lady Windsor Colliery. Clara had lost her husband through stone dust on the lungs; indeed it was his condition which had prevented the couple from emigrating. They had already started packing, when their visa applications were rejected; the large trunk, in which they intended to take their belongings, ended up, complete with faded address labels, sitting poignantly in my parents garden shed in Abercynon. Clara was a local businesswoman and so was financially quite comfortable; Tom moved into her house at 8 Thompson Street, where he lived happily until his premature death 12 years later. For the first time in his life he had no money worries, not that he did worry much – apparently as long as he had enough for a packet of “Woodbines” he was content! Clara had been unable to have children of her own, and now became step-mam to the three Moses boys who were still young enough to be still living at home.
This turned out to be the start of a happier period in my father John’s life after years of being passed from relative to relative; he now adapted well to belated normal family life – eldest brother Glyn would send back postage stamps to him at Thompson Street from his overseas wartime postings for his collection. Unfortunately Clara found it harder to win over the other boys; she and Dave never got on whilst she never saw Rod again after his wedding day! The two younger boys were it seems raised quite separately from their older brothers, and this fractured upbringing coupled with The Second World War, meant they ended up more like cousins rather than brothers. My father in particular would eventually end up having a “Christmas card relationship” with his siblings. This is perfectly illustrated by a story recalled by my Cousin Glyn :- He tells of being taken by his father (Gwilym) to a football match in 1966 at the Beachley Army Apprentices School in the shadow of the 1st Severn Bridge. After a while he was introduced to a man standing next to them who turned out to be his Uncle John (my father), who he did not know even existed! As it turned out, my father was the only step-son to remain in regular contact with Clara, honouring a death bed promise to Tom to “Look after your mother“. Although my brother Ian and I knew that she was not our biological nan, we had a normal grandson/grandmother relationship for some 13 years. Clara was one of my Godparents, and visits to “Nani in the Bwl” were regular fortnightly events; on the bus via Ponty in the winter months and a walk over the mountain via Pen Parc Farm in the summer. The house in Thompson Street had not changed at all over the years – no hot water, no bathroom, a pantry instead of a fridge and a kitchen dominated by a huge built in oven which took up almost an entire wall. Whenever we visited Clara, always on a Friday, we were served tea on a table covered by possibly the worlds thickest table cloth, which looked as if it could have served as a blackout curtain during the war! Underneath the table was plunged into total darkness, and anybody foolish enough to try and retrieve a dropped piece of sandwich, risked having their hand bitten off by Clara’s snappy, spoilt Pekinese dog Fifi. The “cwtch” wall was dominated by a large oval photograph of Tom which was an enlargement of a picture which had appeared, believe it or not, in the November 1951 issue of “THE GEOGRAPHICAL MAGAZINE“.
Tom and Clara’s brush with “fame” happened by accident when a writer and photographer were dispatched to Ynysybwl to write and photograph an article about life in a typical Welsh pit village. Overshooting their brief, they found the local hotel was full, but luckily Tom and Clara were able to offer them a bed for the night at Thompson Street as none of the boys were at home at the time. Whilst there in the evening, the photographer Philip Boucas took the presumably unplanned shot of Mr. and Mrs. Moses relaxing by the fireside after a hard day’s work. Apart from a group wedding shot, these photographs are all I have to remember my grandfather by – he is also pictured in the magazine working underground, where unfortunately he was called erroneously “Gwelyn Moses“. The article entitled “A coalminers quality” was written by H. Dennis Jones and captures a way of life which has now disappeared for ever.
Clara Moses eventually passed away (aged 80) on November 14th 1973 (on the same day that Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips), nearly two decades after Tom’s death. Only four Moses family members were present as Clara was buried in the rain in Ynysybwl Cemetery; indeed not all of Tom’s grandchildren even knew of her existence; – Glyn tell’s me his father never mentioned that he had a step-mother. Following the funeral I more or less lost touch with “The Bwl”, as amazingly for such a large family there was now nobody left there with the surname Moses.
The children of Tom and Maud
I always found it interesting that not one of the six Moses boys went on to become coalminers. This was because their mother Maud wanted better lives for them and was determined that none of her boys would end up “down the mine”. An opinion no doubt influenced by losing her own collier father in such horrific circumstances when she herself was an infant. Sadly as already mentioned, Maud would not live long enough to see any of her offspring reach adulthood.
The eldest boy Glyn more than fulfilled his mother’s hopes – over six feet tall; the first ever graduate from Cardiff University with a 1st class honours degree in Mathematics; an M.B.E in 1945 from King George VI, and then becoming Headmaster at a top Grammar School in Presteigne Powys. Sadly after all this his life would end in ignominy. However before we touch on that, what about that M.B.E! It was awarded for bravery during WWII, when as a Temp. Captain in The Royal Corps of Signals he and his men were sent behind enemy lines in German occupied Northern Holland to work alongside Dutch Resistance fighters. Sadly in the mid-1960’s Glyn’s success story imploded; the first family member in the U.K. to really break free from the working class mould was charged with embezzling school funds! An impoverished upbringing, a creative mind, complete authority and ambiguous accounting rules had led him over a period of time to steal between £10-15,000; a considerable amount in 1966. Glyn was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to six months imprisonment in Swansea gaol; a lenient sentence with the judge understandably taking into account his wartime service. Bizarrely my father neglected to mention any of this to my mother; presumably he felt badly let down as he had idolised his big brother. I’ve got this mental picture of my dad cutting out the newspaper report of the trial from the “South Wales Echo” before my mam could read it! Interestingly 2nd cousin John Phillips from Ynysybwl visited and wrote to Glyn in prison, where apparently he spent most of his sentence tutoring the Governors daughter! Glyn’s release from prison briefly brought the Moses brothers back together again; he firstly stayed with Gwilym and his family before youngest boy Rod, who ironically was a policeman, found him a council house near to him in Ystrad Mynach (5 miles north of Caerphilly, Glam.). Sadly Glyn’s health went rapidly downhill following his release, apparently not helped by shame and self-neglect. He was only 50 when he died from a coronary at 32 Coed-yr-Haf Ystrad Mynach on October 24th 1968, although he had certainly crammed a lot in to his half-century. This was a sad end to a life, which until his extra curricular activities came to light, was one to be proud of.
Glyn had married state registered nurse Gwynneth Davies in Bridport Dorset in July 1943; Glyn was in the Royal Corps of Signals whose HQ was in nearby Blandford. By the time of his wedding he was a 2nd Lieutenant and stationed at Catterick in Yorkshire; the war had obviously interrupted his teaching career. The marriage produced two children – June Maud, appropriately in the June of 1944, and after a long gap David Neil arrived in March 1953 down in Pembrokeshire West Wales, where Glyn was then teaching.
Tom and Maud’s next boy, Gwilym, was also to die far to young in 1975 aged just 52, and again from a coronary. Like his elder brother, he also served in WWII, and crossed to France the day after D-Day to help build a huge temporary harbour at Arromanches in Normandy. They obviously made a good job of it as it is still standing today! Gwilym married Margaret Mary Forbester in 1949, and would end up being Chepstow based and a J.P. They had five children – Anthony Glyn (the family historian) 1951, Timothy Edward 1953, Moira Gwynneth 1956, Christine Louise 1959 and John Gregory 1961. Incidentally eagle eyed TV viewers may have spotted Christine Louise’s name (Moses and later Bibby) on the end credits of TV programmes like “Father Ted” and “Little Britain”.
Middle boy Gwyn married Senghenydd born (13/4/1924) Cicey Alice Davies in Porth on May 24th 1947; they did not have any children. Interestingly 22 year old Gwyn was living with his nan at his uncles house (Glynfach Rd. Porth), rather than with his father and step-mam, before the wedding. Cic and Gwyn would be Cwm Rhondda based for all their married life but, following Cic’s death on the 9th January 1990 aged 65, retired factory production controller Gwyn moved to Maesteg to be looked after by his niece Ros Burston, whom he and Cic had brought up. He passed away from cancer at The Prince of Wales Hospital Bridgend on October 17th 1995 aged 71.
There is an interesting tale attributed to the next boy Dave. His daughter Margaret tell’s me that a female American relative, whilst visiting Ynysybwl (presumably after Maud’s death in 1934), wanted to take the young Dave back to the States with her to give him a “new life”. Apparently the youngster refused to go; whether this is true or not, it illustrates perfectly the boys fractured upbringing following the loss of their mother. Dave would go on to get married twice; the first time in 1950 was a brief one to Agnes Margaret Vaughan, and it produced a son on June 16th of the following year – Graham Vaughan – the family were living at Oxford Street, Nantgarw. His second marriage was to Brenda Thomas in 1954, and the couple had four children – David Barrie 1953, Elizabeth Lynne 1955, Margaret D. 1958 and Julie L. 1961. After starting married life living at the Llechwen Hall near Dave’s brother John in Abercynon, electrician Dave and Brenda would then be Caerphilly based until their respective deaths in March 1988 and October 2005.
The second youngest boy, my father John Leighton, lived all his married life just over the mountain from Ynysybwl in Abercynon, where he had married Peggy Parker at St. Donats Church in 1952. The marriage eventually produced myself Leighton in 1959 and my brother Ian in 1962. After a fractured childhood marred by ill-health (he was born knock-kneed), he spent the majority of his working life at local factory A. B. Metals, where he became a Personnel Manager. His real legacy however will be in local junior football, where he helped found and run both the Ynysybwl Army Cadet Force and Abertaf C.Y.C clubs. He was awarded life membership of the “Ponty”(pridd) League in 1975 and became League Chairman four years later. He was elected to the Council of The South Wales F.A. in 1986. John would outlive all seven of his siblings, before passing away aged 73 on November 25th 2003 after battling with Parkinsons Disease for many years. His name lives on as The JOHN MOSES CUP is competed for every season by local football clubs.
Youngest boy Rod also married a Brenda – Brenda Rees in 1955; they had a daughter Helen born in 1958. Policeman Rod eventually rose to the rank of Inspector; indeed on only the third and final time I met him he was in charge of crowd control at the Merthyr Tydfil v Atalanta ECWC football match at Penydarren Park in 1987 – back in the days when Merthyr had crowds to control! He sadly passed away on December 17th 2002 aged 70.
Finally before we leave the boys, a unique non-funeral or wedding get together occurred in the early 1980’s when Glyn’s children Neil and June organised a party to celebrate their mother Gwynneth’s retirement. The four surviving brothers and their wives attended and a good time was had by all – indeed photo’s were taken of family members together; shock horror!
Go to the Evans and Roderick family histories.
The two younger son’s of Gwilym I and Mamgu
Middle son Trefor lived to a good age, passing away on March 19th 1985 at his home in Pontyclun (Rhondda-Cynon-Taf) aged 84. At the time of his marriage to Edith May Dyer of Taffs Well at the “Parish Church of Eglwys-ilian” on April 21st 1924, he was a colliery clerk living at Nantgarw, coincidentally in the same street his older brother Tom had briefly lived in. The couple were both aged 23 on their wedding day at St. Mary and St. James in Taffs Well. They only had one child, a boy Graham John, born on June 16th 1925 at Garth View Taffs Well. Trefor Moses would eventually leave the coal industry and become a civil servant.
His son Graham John Moses was a decent rugby player and, as a teenager, played for Glamorgan County Schools 1st XV in the 1942-43 season. Later as a 26 year old Medical Practitioner, he married publican’s daughter Pamela Elizabeth Davies in Taffs Well on September 17th 1951. Pamela Elizabeth was born in Pontyclun on August 15th 1926, and the couple had two daughters – Maureen Elizabeth b.1954 and Melanie Anne b.1957. After his national service where he served as a medical officer in the Korean War, he spent 18 years in general practise in Mid-Glamorgan before becoming a regional medical officer, when he was noted for “his help and guidance“. He later worked as a divisional medical officer (Cardiff) and in the Welsh Office itself. After his retirement he became an advisor to the Department of Health and the Benefits Agency medical service. Graham John had by now got letters after his name – FRCGP and an OBE! He ended up living at Garth House (presumably named for his birthplace) in the same street as his parents – Llantrisant Road, Pontyclun. He died on August 8th 1996 aged 71; his wife had died the previous year at The Royal Free Hospital, Camden, London on the 24th of February.
The youngest of the three surviving brothers William John or Jack, married farmer’s daughter Elizabeth Ellen “Nellie” Hardwick at St. Davids Chapel Pontypridd on September 18th 1933, when he would have been 31 years old. He was still living at the family home (9 New Road Ynysybwl) and was described on the certificate as a grocery assistant; his brother Tom was one of the witnesses. Jack and Nellie went on to have three children – John Dewi born January 1935 at the Lady Aberdare Maternity Home over in Mountain Ash, whilst the family were living in the imaginatively named Other Street in Ynysybwl – sorry I was being facetious, it was originally known as Oter Street; oter is an old English word for the otter. Rachel Mary b. 1939 at 84 New Road Ynysybwl, and finally Bronwen Mair b. 1940 at River Terrace Porth Rhondda. Sadly their mother died young on the 21st of September 1949 in Glanrhyd Hospital Aberkenfig from heart disease; she was only 44 years old. This had tragic echoes of her sister-in-law Emily Mauds’ passing ten years previously and, it was an awful case of déjà vu for octogenarian Mamgu as she was once again brought into action to help bring up the grandchildren – you cannot but admire her stamina. “Nellie” is buried in Ynysybwl Cemetery with a brand new headstone erected in 2001 by one of her daughters.
48 year old widowed bread salesman Jack Moses remarried less than two years after the tragedy on the 24th of February 1951 at The English Congregational Church in Porth. His second wife was Edith Alice Williams nee Wooles, who also lived on Glynfach Road in Porth; they would later end up living five miles away in Llantwit Fardre. Jack lived to the ripe old age of 87; like his brother Trefor he probably added a couple of decades to his life by not going “down the pit”. He eventually passed away at the Dewi Sant Hospital Pontypridd on November 12th 1989. His widow Edith, who was five years his junior, passed away in a Pencoed nursing home on November 22nd 1997 from Alzheimers Disease; she had at least one daughter (Joan Helena Berry) from her first marriage.
Back to Jack and Nellie’s three children, and they all got married – John Dewi married Stella Morgan in 1962; Rachel Mary married David Christopher Brown a year later, whilst Bronwen Mair became Mrs. Anthony John Evans in the same year.
Go to the Thomas family for background on Mamgu.
The family of Elizabeth Ann Edwards
Officially she was Gwilym’s half sister, but it is possible they shared the same father as well! “Always amiable and cheerful“, Elizabeth Ann spent the whole of her life in or very near the pit village of Ynysybwl, bringing up her own family and caring for the remnants of the Farm Generation. Elizabeth Ann was born either at Pant y Graigwen, according to her birth certificate, or up at Hendre Rhys Farm, if we go by the Family Bible, on August 28th 1870. She was only 14 months old when her “father” Edmund Edwards died from typhus, so her earliest memories would have been of being brought up on the farm, where she and her mother (Mary) had retreated to after their loss. Her Grandaughter Ann Ball still lives in “The Bwl”, and sent me a copy of the newspaper report of her nan’s funeral from 1948. Not only is it a fascinating account of someone’s life, but it is in many ways a potted history of Ynysybwl itself. As a child, Elizabeth Ann would have witnessed huge changes in Cwm Clydach – the laying of the railway tracks up from Pontypridd in 1886 (the old Taff Vale Railway), the arrival of the first locomotive and the cutting of the first sod for the Lady Windsor Colliery. As a teenager she was employed as a housekeeper at the temporary dwellings the “sinkers” lived in as they began work on sinking the shaft for the new colliery. Elizabeth Ann was also a founder member of the Noddfa (Refuge or Sanctuary) Welsh Baptist Chapel on the corner of Thompson Street. Before it was built, services had to be held in the “long room” of the nearby Robert Town Hotel; and unlike most of the other Chapel buildings in Ynysybwl, the Noddfa is still used today for religious worship. The newspaper account of her life also recalled the story of her full immersion Baptism in the River Clydach in February of 1880, the very same month that her Grandfather Farmer Evan Moses had passed away. The ceremony took place during a severe winter, and the report states “Snow fell throughout the service, and it was found necessary to cut the ice on the river“! – I think that if a nine year old was subjected to that today, then social services would be called!
Elizabeth Ann was still only nineteen when she married John Phillips, who was eight years her senior and was born just north of the town of Caerfyrddin/Carmarthen in West Wales (In census entries he gives his place of birth as either Rhydargolau or Llanpumsaint). They got married at the Tabernacle Chapel, next to Pontypridd’s famous bridge, on January 11th 1890. John Phillips was born in 1863, and it was his trade (carpenter) which had brought him to the new town of Ynysybwl, where street’s of terraced houses were springing up to accommodate the Lady Windsor’s growing workforce. Indeed John actually had the future family home (34 Crawshay Street) built to his own specifications with a view to eventually buying it; this resulted in it being the biggest house in the street with, unusually for the time, four bedrooms. This would turn out to be more than useful, as together with a growing family, there was also elderly dependants to accommodate. Modestly described on certificate entries as a “Journeyman Carpenter“, John was also skilled at making Crwyth’s; a musical instrument which was a form of Welsh lyre. So good was he, that his work was awarded a first prize at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1920, which was held at Y Barri/Barry. Examples of his work can be seen today at St. Fagan’s Folk Museum and The Historical and Cultural Centre in Pontypridd, which is the former Tabernacle Chapel where he was married. The display in Pontypridd tells us that John was also the village undertaker – another string to his bow, if you can excuse the pun!
Elizabeth and John went on to have a large family of seven children, and with echo’s of Hendre Rhys, they also adopted a child as well. Their first child, Evan XIII John, was born on January 20th 1891, almost exactly a year after the wedding at Lower Robert Street. Tragically the boy died at only two years of age from “Membranous Croup 36 hours” at 7 New Road on March 21st 1893. Coincidentally his first cousin and namesake Evan John Moses, would also die as an infant in the same street six years later.
The next child, Philip Morgan/Phil, had already arrived at 7 New Road on December 19th 1892. He became an electric engine driver underground at the Lady Windsor Colliery. He later moved up to Birmingham in the 1930’s, where he belatedly got married in 1946 (aged 54) to Dorothy Rubery (of Ruberys Jewellers fame). Phil was now working for the Wolsey Motor Company, but he sadly died only six years into the marriage in September 1952. He and Dorothy had adopted a four year old girl, Patricia Margaret/Pat, in 1947. Pat would later (1981) emigrate to Pennsylvania along with her husband Roy Henry Hunt and their children, coincidentally following in the footsteps of Evan IV Moses way back in 1869. Sadly Roy died in 1993, but Pat and their two daughters, Anita and Catherine, still live in PA. Incidentally Phil’s widow Dorothy Phillips passed away in 1968.
The third child was David Thomas/Tom 1896-1972. He was a colliery hewer before going off to fight in the First World War. On his return he became an ambulance driver in Ynysybwl. When he was in his late thirties, Tom married Margaret Jane (1900-1969) in 1933 and inherited a step-son Idris. It was it seems Tom who inherited his father’s musical talent, as he would later go on to play violin with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
The family were still living at 7 New Road when the fourth consecutive boy arrived on July 23rd 1898. Gwilym would also get married in 1933 (June) and his bride was Mary Elizabeth b.1899. Gwilym and his wife did not move far and set up home at 28 Crawshay Street; they had just the one child, a girl called Aredes Mair, who was born in September 1938. This unusual Christian name was presumably in memory of the late Aretes/Aredes John who had emigrated to America back in 1880, but remained in touch with her relatives back in Ynysybwl. Sadly just like Emily Maud and Nellie Moses, Mary Elizabeth Phillips died young; she was only 46 when she passed away on January 27th 1946. Gwilym would have been a widower for almost exactly 22 years, and he died on January 16th 1968. Their daughter Aredes Mair married Ken Palfrey (b.1937) in April 1954; she passed away in a nursing home as recently as May 2007.
Two years after Gwilym’s birth, and Elizabeth Ann finally gave birth to her first girl – Jane. She went on to marry Cilfynydd boy William Pugh (b. 1898) in April 1935, and they set up home literally across the road at No. 33 Crawshay Street. They also only had one child, a boy called Myrddin. Jane Pugh (nee Phillips) died in October 1976 after being a widow for 18 years. Myrddin went on to marry Thelma Wilson in 1947, and he sadly passed away in May 2002. Incidentally whilst doing this research, I discovered that the Geraint Pugh who for many years lived next door to my maternal grandmother in Nash Street Abercynon, was in fact Myrddin Pugh’s eldest son; making us both great gt. Grandsons of Mary Edwards (nee Moses). As the American comedian Steven Wright once said – “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t like to paint it“!
After a bit of a gap, youngest boy John or Jack arrived in 1906. He eventually worked his way up to a senior post in Glamorgan County Council; he never married and indeed never left the family home of 34 Crawshay Street. He died in 1974.
Born in 1908, baby number seven was a girl called Ada Mary. She married Idwal Griffiths (b.15/8/1905) who was from over the mountain in Abercynon. They got married on June 25th 1938, and moved into 34 Crawshay Street to look after Elizabeth Ann, who was not in the best of health. Idwal and Ada Mary passed away within seven months of each other on September 21st 2000 and April 10th 2001 respectively. Their only child was a girl called Ann, who was born on New Years Day 1948. Ann is married to Michael Ball (b.1943) and they still live in Ynysybwl today.
Lastly John and Elizabeth Ann Phillips adopted their nephew Luther Windsor, who must be one of the few people to be named after a Protestant reformer and a coal mine. Luther’s father Phil was a Baptist Minister based in Newport (Gwent), and his wife Minnie tragically died two days after giving birth on August 7th 1918. Luther Windsor was lucky to survive himself, as he only weighed 2 lbs at birth; he needed constant nursing from both Elizabeth Ann and Ada Mary before he was officially adopted into the family a year later. The boy went on to marry Mary Philpot, who already had a son Michael (b.1943). Luther Windsor adopted him in 1954, and he and Mary went on to have two more boys, named after his birth father and adopted father – John (b.1955) and Phillip (b.1959). Mary Phillips died in 1991, whilst Luther Windsor passed away in 2001, just weeks after his sister Ada Mary.
An interesting feature of this branch was the small amount of grandchildren that the six surviving children and one adoptee produced – just eight, and three of those were adopted; indeed it is only the Luther Windsor branch which carry’s the Phillips surname into the 21st Century.
Back to parents John and Elizabeth Ann Phillips (nee Edwards) and their marriage was cruelly curtailed in September 1927, when John (like his brother-in-law Gwilym Moses two years earlier) died from “pernicious anaemia“, aged 64. This meant that he did not live to see any of his grandchildren or indeed any of his children even get married. Elizabeth Ann would be a widow for 21 years, the last 13 of which she was sadly bedridden. Despite this she was described as “an ideal patient, and her patience and fortitude and cheerful optimism was a tonic to all who knew her.” Her passing in 1948 marked the end of an era, as she was our family’s last direct link with Hendre Rhys Farm. Indeed it is through her branch that most of the Moses Family history and memorabilia has been handed down to the present generation. Elizabeth Ann’s Grandaughter Ann Ball has in her possession many priceless family mementoes including:- ornaments which used to adorn the mantelpiece and dressers up at the farm, old photographs and letters sent back to Ynysybwl by family members who had emigrated to the U.S., and perhaps most importantly the Family Bible dating from the 19th Century. On the inside pages of The Bible is a hand written (in Welsh) role call of our ancestors; presumably written by Farmer/Parish Clerk Evan Moses, it not only provides a tangible link with the past, but confirms the accuracy of Glyn’s research. The surprisingly large book would originally have sat on a wooden lectern in the corner of a room at both Hendre Rhys Farm and New Road/Crawshay Street, and despite the front cover being loose, it is still in remarkably good condition considering it’s age.
Go to the story of “Willie The Glog”.