The lure of “King Coal”, a couple of miles to the west, prompted Moses Moses to leave behind Hendre Rhys Farm as a young man and make the short move to the bottom end of the Rhondda Valley’s. He and his young family initially settled in the Pant y Graigwen/Hopkinstown area, where the Valley’s meet the town of Pontypridd. His only census entry with his first wife was in 1861, where they were living at Godre Wen Houses in Hopkinstown. Moses, and three of his brothers, were not the only one’s drawn to the valley next door to dig for coal. When Moses first arrived there in 1853, the population of the two Rhondda Valley’s (Fach and Fawr) was only around 1,000; by the time of his death in 1922, he would have seen it grow to more than 160,000! Today Moses’ descendants have spread out from Cwm Rhondda – stretching from Pembrokeshire in West Wales to Fakenham in Norfolk – with surnames including Alexander, Bowen, Cage, Davies, Garrett and Rees.
Children from his 1st marriage
Moses Moses certainly had a full and eventful life; sadly his first born child, and the first grandchild of Evan and Catws, did not. Evan (V) born on the 14th of May 1853 in “Cwm Rhondda” and Christened on July 3rd, was an asthmatic from the age of six. So, bearing that in mind, becoming a coalminer was probably not the best career choice he could have made. He died up at Llwynypia on the 6th of March 1879 with his father present; he was just 26. He was buried at St. Gwynno’s Llanwynno four days later.
Moses’ eldest daughter Catherine or Kate , born on the 9th February 1856 at “Pant y Graig“, went on to have a short-lived illegitimate daughter called Mary Jane in December 1872, when she was just 16 years old. The baby died of convulsions at The Ivor Hael Inn in Llwynypia on 24/1/1873 aged just six weeks old – there was no mention of a father on either certificate. The Ivor Hael, which still exists today, was owned at the time by the Richards family, and Obadiah Richards was the informant on the death certificate. The baby was buried at St. Gwynno’s Llanwynno, two days later, on the 26th of January. Three years after this sad event, Catherine married carpenter Morgan Davies; they were both living in Dyffryn Uchaf at the time of their wedding at Llantrisant Church on January 25th 1875. With such a common surname like Davies, the trail inevitably goes cold; although in the 1891 census, their 13 year old Llantrisant born daughter, another Mary “Davis“, turns up living with Gt. Uncle and Aunt Evan and Jennet Thomas on the outskirts of Porth. Incidentally, the birth’s of Kate’s two daughters made Evan III and Catws (back at Hendre Rhys) Great Grandparents.
The third child of Moses Moses was Charles II, who was born on the 21st of December 1857 at Graigwen. He died on September 3rd 1931 at 41 Pant-y Graigwen Road from “Acute Bronchitis and Heart failure” aged, according to his death certificate, 72 – he was in fact 73. The informant on the certificate was his only son Ivor Charles. Charles was unsurprisingly a coalminer and according to the 1871 census was working underground at the age of 12! He was living in lodgings at 18 Pant y Graigwen Hopkinstown before he married Mary Morgan at Pontypridd Registry Office on the 31st of December 1881- he was 24 years of age. Mary, the 20 year old daughter of the late farm labourer Thomas Morgan, was also living in Pant y Graigwen. She was born in December 1861 at Llys-nant in the shadow of Twyn-y-Glog, just like Charles’ cousin Edwin. Sadly, like Edwin, she too was orphaned and had to be brought up on a neighbouring farm; in her case it was the Glog Farm next to Hendre Rhys. Charles and Mary had five children, three of whom would go on to have either tragic or unorthodox lives. In the family’s first census entry of 1891, the four young girls were sharing their home (11 Pant y Graigwen Rd.) with 20 year old servant Margaret Phillips. Charles probably only got to “give away” one of his four daughters as the eldest two both died young and single, whilst the third Annie (b.3/6/1887) was still single aged 34 in 1921. The two older daughters Margaret Jane (b.15/12/1882) and Catherine or Katie (b 25/8/1884), like their Gt. gt. grandfather became schoolteachers. Tragically both of them died in separate T.B. outbreaks aged just 25 and 27 respectively; perhaps their occupations made them vulnerable to infection from their pupils. This must have been truly awful for poor Charles, who was present as his two daughters died at the family home (41 Pant y Graigwen) only three years apart. Margaret Jane died on September 4th 1908 and was buried over at Llanwynno four days later. Her sister Catherine died on Boxing Day 1911.
Daughter number four, Elizabeth Sophia (b.30/6/1890 at 11 Pant y Graigwen Rd, d. June 1969 in Yeovil.), would later be involved in an amazing deception. She had an illegitimate daughter called Gwladys Eluned on March 26th 1911 at 41 Pant y Graigwen, with no father declared on the certificate. Now contrast what happened next, compared to the attitude towards illegitimate births two generations earlier up at Hendre Rhys Farm. By now illegitimacy obviously carried a stigma, as Grandmother Mary Moses now pretended to be Gwladys Eluned’s mother -despite being 50 years old! Real mam, Elizabeth Sophia, was relegated to the role of “Auntie Phie“. Elizabeth Sophia then went on to marry collier Percy Parsons on October 26th 1921 at the Bethlehem Chapel in Porth, and started on a second family with her secret still intact. The marriage produced two boys – Trevor Charles (b.1922) and Frank Frederick (b.1926. d.2016); both were born at Ty Mawr Terrace Pant y Graigwen, before the family moved to Somerset. The Parsons brothers had no idea they were leaving behind their half-sister in South Wales. The cover up was only uncovered when my cousin Glyn Moses began researching the family history nearly a century later, by which time sadly both Gwladys Eluned and Trevor Charles had passed away in 2000 and 2004 respectively. Meanwhile the children that Gwladys Eluned goes on to have after she married John Charles Bowen in July 1932, have despite suspicions about the large age gap between Mary Moses and Gwladys Eluned, no idea that the lady they knew as Gt. Aunt Phie was in fact their grandmother! Interestingly Mr. Bowen knew the identity of his wife’s father, and even today his one surviving sister is sworn to secrecy. It is incredible how they managed to maintain such a deception, but as one of Gwladys Eluned’s daughter’s, Mair Rees, said recently “Our parents were very private people and such things were never spoken about“. Sad though that Elizabeth Sophia’s husband would have been too scandalised to accept her illegitimate daughter. The children of John Charles and Gwladys Eluned Bowen were :-Margaret Jean (1932)/David Charles (1939)/ Brenda (1943)/Mair (1946) and Marion (1950). Meanwhile back to pretend mam Mary Moses, and her second spell of “motherhood” obviously did not do her any harm as she lived to the impressive age of 91. She died on January 13th 1953, still at 41 Pant y Graigwen Road, and presumably took her secret to the grave with her.
Mary and Charles Moses’ last child was Ivor Charles born on the 3rd of July 1897; but this time the family were living at yet another house in Pant y Graigwen Road – No.32 this time!. Later as a young man, Private Ivor Charles Moses was a member of the British Expeditionary Forces during the 1st World War, serving possibly literally, in the canteen of the 38th Welsh Division HQ in France. Happily he survived the carnage and returned home to eventually marry Pontypridd girl Frances Kate Louise Lawrence at the relatively mature age of 37. Ivor Charles had to travel back to South Wales for his wedding at the Carmel Chapel Pontypridd on 21/1/1935, as his job as a commercial traveller had taken him up to Preston in Lancashire. Presumably the couple then made their home in Preston as Ivor Charles’ widow died there in hospital on September 16th 1984 aged 86. We can be fairly certain that they had no children, as it was sister-in-law Gwladys Eluned Bowen who travelled up from 82 Pant y Graigwen road to be the informant on the certificate. We now know that Ivor Charles Moses died on April 2nd 1979 at his home 12 Boys Lane Fulwood Preston Lancs.
The last child from Moses Moses’ curtailed marriage to Jane was a girl, Mary, born on the 28th of March 1862 at Pant y Graigwen. We are fairly certain that, as an 18 year old Penygraig-based domestic servant, she had an illegitimate son there on the 22nd of April 1880. The baby was yet another Evan (XII), and although there was no father declared on the birth certificate, it was almost certainly someone with the surname Jones as, in the following years census entry, the baby was living in Beddau with presumably his paternal grandparents- David and Elizabeth Jones. This results in one of the daftest census entries of all time, with the couple aged 62 and 59 respectively, trying to pass the one year old infant off as their own – I believe you David and Elizabeth, but thousand’s wouldn’t! In the later census of 1901 Evan, now a 20 year old “Railway Breaksman” with the surname Moses, was living with his widowed nan in Llantrisant. With her eight year old son settled with his grandparents, Mary moved from Cowbridge (where she was working as a servant) to Glyncoch near Pontypridd to marry local farmer William Williams on January 26th 1889 at the Sibanus Chapel Trefforest. A boy Thomas was born later that year in Pontypridd, and he was joined in 1892 by his sister Helena or Hena, born at Craig yr Hesg Terrace (between Glyncoch and Pontypridd) where the family were then living. A brother, the regal sounding Tudor Charles, completed the family in 1895. By the census of 1901, the family were Hopkinstown based, and William had swapped farming for coal mining. Mary comfortably outlived her husband, and in the 1930’s was still living at the same address – 5 Underwood Terrace Pant y Graigwen; virtually next door to her eldest son Thomas. He and his wife Mabel lived at No. 2 with their children Glyn, Billy and Betty. The girl Helena/Hena married William Protheroe, whilst youngest child Tudor Charles married Katie and had three children – Enid, Nancy and James.
Step-children and inter-marriage child
In 1868 Moses became step-father to three of Sophia’s children – Gwilym Jones born 1854, Jennett Jones born 1856 and Mary Ann Jones born 1862. He must have made a good job of it as, Gwilym never left home, whilst Mary Ann returned home for good after being widowed in her early thirties. Gwilym never married and sadly died on the 5th of December 1904 aged just 51. Mary Ann became Mrs. Thomas when she married “Llanelly BRE“-born miner David Thomas. They lived at 115 Williamstown in the Rhondda; there is no record of any children. David sadly died aged just 38 on June 25th 1893. Mary Ann returned to live with Moses and Sophia after the tragedy; she never remarried and so was a widow for 46 years. Mary Ann died on February 17th 1939 aged 77. She and David are buried together in Trealaw Cemetery Porth Cwm Rhondda; also in the same grave is Gwilym and perhaps surprisingly, their half-sister Kezia(h) along with her husband and son.
As mentioned in the chapter on Moses Moses I, inter-marriage child and namesake Moses Moses III perished either conveniently, tragically or suspiciously – take your pick, aged just ten days on September 8th 1868.
Children from his 2nd marriage
Moses Moses’ youngest daughter Kezia(h) was born on the 20th of May 1872 at the Ivor Hael Inn in Llwynypia. This was an eventful year for Moses, as seven months later he briefly became a grandfather for the first time (see eldest daughter Catherine/Kate). Keziah went on to marry 26 year old Laleston (Nr. Bridgend)-born coalhewer Rees Lewis, of 25 Amos Hill Penygraig, at Pontypridd Register Office on November 17th 1896. Twenty four year old Keziah was living at the quaint sounding Alma Cottage Williamstown at the time of her wedding. The couple had nine Rhondda born children – Sophia Catherine b.1897 at 62 Cornwall Road Williamstown/ Jennet Ann b.1899/ Gwilym Baden b.1900/ Trevor b.1904/ Edgar b.1905/ Ivor b.1906/ Rhianydd b.1908, Tudor b.12/3/1912, and finally Katie. Husband Rees was now a colliery engine driver, and by the 1901 census he had moved his family back to Amos Hill – No. 59 this time, with eldest daughter Sophia Catherine living next door with her Grandparents Moses and Sophia. Ten years later they had made the short move to No.84 Amos Hill; Moses and Sophia had also moved – to No. 83! Kezia, who had apparently lost the h from the end of her Christian name, died from “Cerebral Thrombosis” aged 79 at the new family home – 72 Hendrecafn Road Penygraig, on the 7th of August 1951. Rees was still alive, but it was their son Ivor who was “Present at the death“. Kezia was buried in Trealaw Cemetery Nr. Porth Cwm Rhondda in the same plot as her half-siblings Mary Ann and Gwilym, as well as Mary Ann’s husband David Thomas. Amazingly there was still room in this family grave for husband Rees, who died on November 19th 1959 aged 89, and youngest son Ivor who died aged 84 on December 15th 1989. Surprisingly despite having nine children, Rees and Keziah only had three grandchildren; indeed there was a lot of sadness connected with this branch of the family. Ivor never married, schoolteacher Rhianydd never married, whilst Katie also remained single and sadly died young. Jennet Ann lost her husband in a mining accident and later died young after going into a diabetic coma, whilst Edgar was also widowed prematurely (his wife was Ceinwen) and he later tragically committed suicide. Gwilym B. and his wife Sylvia‘s only child died as an infant, whilst eldest child Sophia Catherine’s marriage to Isaac Watts ended childless. Trevor’s marriage to Ann eventually produced a surviving grandaughter- Dilys, and finally youngest son Tudor moved to Birmingham and married Alice Pace in 1936; they too had one daughter – Raye (married name) Garrett (b.1944).
Moses Moses’ last born child, Morgan II (b.14/4/1875 at Blaenclydach) turn’s out to be a strong contender for the “black sheep of the family” award! His first census entry (1911) after belatedly leaving home, finds him living as a single boarder at the Ivy Bush Inn in the St. Thomas area of Swansea. Perhaps it was whilst living in a pub, and working as a “coal miner hewer“, that the seeds of Morgan’s future problems were sown. Sometime in the next six years, he returned to Cwm Rhondda (16 Margaret St. Hopkinstown) and belatedly got married. He was 40 when he took the plunge at St. David’s Chapel Pontypridd on the 15th of September 1917; and boy did he go in at the deep end. His bride was a 33 year old widow Janet Ann Thomas nee James of Soar Cottage (born Hopkinstown 1885), the eldest daughter of Rees and Elizabeth James. Janet had four children from her curtailed marriage to David Thomas, who died young from “miner’s disease” – Phyllis, Selwyn, Marion and Glyn were the names of Morgan’s new step-children. Not content with a ready made family, Morgan began making up for lost time, and three sons arrived in quick succession in Hopkinstown over the next five years – Haydn 9/3/1919, Arthur 7/9/1920 and Trevor 1922. Sadly the summer of 1922 turned out to be a turning point in Morgan’s life; the arrival of another mouth to feed, so close to the death of his father, seems to have pushed him over the edge. Morgan now deserted his wife and large family, and began “travelling” around Wales. His eldest son Haydn, later recalled in his memoirs that his father “had a reliance on alcohol and fell in with a bad crowd“. This suggests that Haydn was blessed with a somewhat forgiving nature; I’m not sure Janet Ann would have been quite so charitable back in 1922! This episode has echo’s of Morgan’s father’s treatment of Martha Powell back in 1868; but whilst Moses Moses got his act back together and became a pillar of society, Morgan’s life was in a downward spiral.
Some years later he was reported to have died in North Wales, where he had been working as a “Hawker” and using the alias “Morgan Williams otherwise Moses“! One wonders whether this change of name was to stop his family from tracking him down, or was it purely a business decision -“Moses” possibly having Jewish connotations. Either way, his Gt. Grandfather, Evan I, will have been looking down and shaking his head; remembering all the trouble he went through to get the name changed back to Moses over a century before. Morgan actually died on the 4th of July 1929 at the Croesnewydd Hospital Bersham, from Lympho Sarcoma (neck)“. He was living at the time at 12 Pentrefelin Wrexham U.D. and his age on the death certificate was given as “60“. This was obviously a “guesstimate”; his actual age was sadly only 54 – his lifestyle and illness had understandably made him look older. One wonders did any of Morgan’s family travel up from South Wales for the funeral. Talking of De Cymru, and Morgan’s abandoned widow would outlive him to the extent that she only just missed seeing The Beatles make the U.K. singles charts! Janet Ann Moses passed away in early 1962, aged 76. So poor Janet Ann was widowed twice by the age of 44; you wonder how she managed financially, pre-welfare state, with young children to support
Morgan and Janet Ann’s eldest son Haydn married a Nesta Morgan (2/11/1924-24/6/2013) in 1945; he remained in Hopkinstown and ended up working at County Hall in Cardiff. He passed away as recently as 6/6/2011, aged 92, after claiming the male Moses U.K. longevity record from his Grandfather Moses Moses. Haydn and Nesta had three daughters – Daryl, Delyth and Eluned (d.12/6/2010). Middle son Arthur’s life took an unexpected turn when, during WWII, he was shot down in 1942 over The Mediterranean. He was picked up by The Royal Navy, taken to a hospital in Alexandria (Egypt) and then posted to an RAF station in South Africa for recuperation. Whilst there he met and married a South African WAAF. After the war, Arthur emigrated to South Africa and had two children. He died in Somerset West, Cape Town in 1980. Lastly, youngest son Trevor passed away on April 15th 2009, comfortably outliving his wife, Jessie and sadly, his children, Richard Lawrence (d.14/9/2004) and Kathryn. Trevor ended up living in Tonteg, and died in The Royal Glamorgan Hospital Llantrisant
So through this branch, five generations later, the descendants of Farmer Thomas “Wern goch” Moses have reached the southern tip of the African continent – ongelooflike!