Although Evan and Catherine Moses had (only just) finished having children, their offspring was to reach double figures when they adopted Edwin Davies in 1855. Edwin was the illegitimate child of Sarah Davies who lived at “Llys-y-nant” farm, which was just up the road from Hendre Rhys. Sarah was the illiterate daughter of coalminer William Davies, and she gave birth to her son at the farm on September 7th 1855. There was no father named on the certificate; but that was the least of Sarah’s worries, as five days later she died from “Debility after Confinement” aged just 24. Curiously on the same day she died, according to Edwin’s birth certificate, she had registered the birth herself! Perhaps her epitaph should have read – “I’ll register my son’s birth if it’s the last thing I do“. Coincidentally the person present at Sarah’s death was a labourer at Llys-nant, Thomas Morgan, who’s own daughter (Mary) would also be orphaned and would later go on to marry Edwin’s cousin Charles Moses. Meanwhile Sarah’s funeral and Edwin’s Christening were held on the same day at St. Gwynno’s Church Llanwynno in what must have been an extremely poignant ceremony.
Initially whilst researching the family’s history, we assumed that the Moses family had taken in Edwin as an act of Christian charity as there were no suitable carers at Llys-nant. But would two busy people (nice as they undoubtedly were) aged 58 and 45 respectively, really want to take on this responsibility considering they had seven children of their own still living at home, including one year old Twm. The mystery was solved when The Family Bible resurfaced; on the roll-call inside, Edwin was intriguingly listed amongst the grandchildren. We have to assume therefore that the mystery father was in fact one of the older Hendre Rhys boys sowing some “wild oats” on a neighbouring farm! Given the tradition at the time of paternal grandparents taking male half-orphans under their wing when the mother died, this seems the most likely conclusion. Judging by the month he was born, Edwin was probably a “Christmas party baby”; so which one of Evan and Catherine’s three eldest boys had given Sarah Davies more than just a kiss under the mistletoe during the festivities of 1854? Moses Moses was married, whilst Charles was seven years younger than Sarah – this does not physically rule either of them out, but the other “eligible” brother, 19 year old young free and single Evan Moses must be the prime suspect. Was this extra “responsibility” the reason why Evan did not emigrate at the same time as his younger brother Morgan, but instead waited a further three years, by which time Edwin would have been nearly 14 and of working age – although of course he could have taken Edwin with him. The jury will have to remain out on this one as Edwin never married, and so never got the chance to name his father on the certificate.
Back to the actual adoption, and it seems to have been quite informal back then; no forms to fill in, no CRB checks, no visits from social workers; Farmer Evan simply changed the boy’s name from Davies to Moses in the next census! A story passed down my Cousin Glyn’s side of the family gives an interesting slant on the adoption – “Our surname shouldn’t be Moses because we are descended from an orphan who was adopted by a farmer with the surname Moses“. It now seems the adopted “orphans” up at Hendre Rhys Farm was a smokescreen, added later, to cover up illegitimate grandchildren – strange though that such a myth should have persisted for so long. Assuming Edwin was the illegitimate son of Evan (IV) Moses, then he was either not interested, or more likely not asked, about the possibility of emigrating to the U.S. in 1869 with his fathers legitimate family. Instead, teenager Edwin left his grandparents and Hendre Rhys before the census of 1871, and became an agricultural labourer, drifting around various local farms :- including the isolated Blaen-llechau near Ferndale (Rhondda Fach), Tyntyla above Ystrad (Rhondda Fawr) 1901 and coincidentally Lan Farm (above Penrhiwceiber) 1911. I say coincidentally because this farm, on the edge of the Cynon Valley, was slap bang in the middle of Gelliwrgan and Wern goch Farms where the Moses story begins. Interestingly Edwin was the only one of Farmer Evan’s “sons” never to go down the coal mines. He next turns up to be briefly nursed by his cousin Elizabeth Ann Edwards at her home, 34 Crawshay Street Ynysybwl.
Shortly afterwards, on January 5th 1932, Edwin died aged 78 at the Windsor House Home in Trecynon Aberdare (Cynon Valley). Windsor House was a former 1st World War hospital which had been converted in 1920 to accommodate “elderly and infirm men” and was administered as part of the local Workhouse. With all the people he was brought up with on Hendre Rhys Farm now long gone, coupled with the fact he never married, this sounds like a rather sad and lonely end for poor Edwin. So Edwin’s passing signals the end of the so called “Farm Generation”, almost a century exactly since Ann Moses’ birth in rural Ynus-y-bool in 1830. We include him as one of that generation, for although other grandchildren were “parked” at Hendre Rhys Farm from time to time, none were adopted to the extent of Edwin Davies/Moses.