|Years ago, when I was a sixth former at Grove Park
Grammar School for Girls, Wrexham, I found an old book about the
history of North Wales in the school library. I can't remember the name of the
book now but I seem to think that it was an account of a journey across the
land. I noticed then, and this is the memory that has stayed with me for over
thirty years, that Ffynnon-y-cwrw was mentioned and either was more
important than Bwlchgwyn, or that Bwlchgwyn was not mentioned at
Does anyone know what happened to the books in the
library when they closed the school?
Today, Ffynnon-y-cwrw (or Ffynnon-y-Ceirw) is the name of
the farm at the bottom of Brymbo Road in Bwlchgwyn, just before the road sweeps round the
corner and winds uphill to the equally old Brithdir Farm.
But, trawling through the old census returns, it is clear that
Ffynnon-y-cwrw was originally the name of a sizeable area of land; various
census returns have designated properties beyond the Brithdir to the east, up to Cefn
Farm towards the north and right up to the finger post in Bwlchgwyn (at the top
of Brymbo Road) to the west as Ffynnon-y-cwrw. It was never a clearly defined area and eventually
the village of Bwlchgwyn grew and its name predominated.
More recently, my
interest in Ffynnon-y-cwrw has been rekindled by meeting Gwenda Lewis.
Gwenda was evacuated to Bwlchgwyn to stay with relatives during the war
and has recently written about her memories of the village. In her book
Gwenda mentions Ffynnon-y-cwrw as she visited the farm often although, as
a child, she was never quite sure how the families were related.
This is by no means a complete or
authoritative history nor is it intended to be, there may well be mistakes
and omissions or wrong conclusions and I will be happy to hear from anyone
who can add to the story. This first instalment just sets the background
of life at Ffynnon-y-cwrw between 1851 and 1901 approx.
born near at Llanfor near Bala in Merionethshire in 1798. Later his
family moved to the small settlement of Ffynnon-y-cwrw, to the West of
Brymbo. At that time Ffynnon-y-cwrw was not just the name of the farm, but
also the name of all the cottages and terraces between, roughly, that part
of Brymbo Road where it meets Cefn Road and the Brithdir Farm, or even as
far as Pentre Saeson Farm. Thomas Parry married a girl called Mary, who
had been born in Minera.
|By 1851 Thomas Parry,
53, and his wife Mary, 48, were farming 70 acres at Ffynnon-y-cwrw.
Living with them at the farm were their seven children:
© Gwenda Lewis 2005)
|Thomas Parry (1798-)
of Llanfor, Bala m Mary of Minera (1803)
Parry (1831-), son, single, 20, farmerís son
Parry (1832-), daughter, single, 19, farmerís daughter
Parry (1835-), son, single, 16, farmerís son
Parry (1837-), son, 14? Farmerís son
Parry (1839-), daughter, 12, farmerís daughter
daughter, 8, farmerís daughter m Griffith Williams of Mold at
Wrexham Register Office on 8th June 1864
Parry (1847-), daughter, 4, farmerís daughter
|The family seems to have
been quite self-sufficient, financially, as they had no living-in servants
or labourers in 1851 but there were at least three sons who would have
been old enough to work the farm with their father whilst Margaret, who
was 12, would probably have been a great help to her mother both as a
mother's help and with all the domestic chores of the farmhouse.
|Very little is known about
the family in 1861 as the census pages are missing from both of the
main on-line sources, but it is known that Jane Parry married Griffith
Williams in 1864 and that Nathan Parry married Cornelia Jones in 1865 Ė
an easy wedding to find because of the unusual names of both bride and
groom, but I havenít searched the BMD records for most of the children.
|Six years after their
marriage, Nathan and Cornelia Parry are farming the land at Ffynnon-y-cwrw;
the 1871 census shows them as having just two young children: John
J Parry aged 4 and Thomas Parry aged 2.; the census also suggests that the
farm is much smaller now, only 40 acres. Could this have been because
Thomas split the land between himself and Nathan and, perhaps one other?
Certainly Thomas and his wife, Mary, are still in Bwlchgwyn, Thomas is now
73 years old and farming approximately 10 acres and , despite the
circuitous route taken by the enumerator and the fact that many cottages
extant in 1871 have since disappeared, it seems that Thomas and Mary were
living much closer to the top of Brymbo Road, perhaps between Cefn
Road and Graig Wen.
|I have only looked into the
whereabouts of four of Thomas and Maryís seven children. Jane Parry married Griffith Williams and Nathan Parry is farming
Ffynnon-y-cwrw with his wife Cornelia. The other two children that I found
easily were James and Eliza Parry.
|| In 1871 James Parry is a shopkeeper and
Eliza Parry, his sister and nearly ten years younger, was his housekeeper.
The shop was sufficiently substantial for James Parry to employ an
apprentice shopman, George Harrison. Again, from the 1871 census, it is
not easy to say where Jamesí shop was located, but it seems to have been on
Brymbo Road somewhere; Iím not sure that it is at the crossroads at this
time, but might have been in one of the other buildings at the top of the
|Certainly in 1881 James
Parry is still in business; the location is described as Ffynnon-y-cwrw,
but his house and shop are quite a distance from the farm and seem to be
higher up Brymbo Road again. He is now 42 years old and has a wife about
ten years younger than him, Elizabeth Mary Parry who was born in
Duddleston. They have two sons, Thomas Parry who is 3 and John Samuel
Parry who is 2 years old. I notice that the first child was born in
Bersham whilst the second child was born in Brymbo (parish Ė meaning
Bwlchgwyn probably). I donít know whether this is because the family
moved for a while or because Elizabeth was staying at a relativeís house
at the time of her confinement
And what was happening at
Ffynnon-y-cwrw in 1881? Nathan and Cornelia Parry were still
farming 40 acres of land there, with just two sons at home, John Parry age
14 and William Parry age 9. Eliza, meanwhile, married Edward
Hughes in 1873 and they appear to have settled in one of the smaller
farms at Ffynnon-y-cwrw, again much nearer to the village of Bwlchgwyn
than to the farm at Ffynnon-y-cwrw. Their farm only had 2 acres of land
and so their main source of income was Edwardís employment as a coal
||Eliza and Edward Hughes had
three children that I know of: Thomas Hughes, Jack Edward Hughes and James
Allington Hughes. Elizaís father had died by 1881 and her widowed mother
was living with them - Mary Parry was 78 years old in 1881 and she had her
own income as an annuitant.
© Gwenda Lewis 2005)
1891, however, saw some significant changes. Nathan and Cornelia
Parry have left the farm at Ffynnon-y-cwrw to farm at Brymbo Hall Farm,
the other side of Pentre Saeson. Their 24 year old son, John James
Parry is living with them and working on the farm. Eliza and her
husband Edward Hughes have moved into Ffynnon-y-cwrw farm with
their three children Thomas, John Edward and James Allington Hughes. This
farm must have been profitable as I can only assume that Nathan acquired
sufficient capital to be able to move on and leave the original farm for
his sister and her husband to run. There could, of course, be a different
story all together and I hope to do some research in the future.
|James Parry, however, is still set up as a grocer. He and his
wife Elizabeth are now living and trading at the Beehive Bwlchgwyn. For
the time being I think that this is either the corner shop which was later
the Co-op or an earlier building in the same or an adjacent location, this
being the impression given by the census returns. Only the younger son,
John Samuel Parry, is living with them. John is 12 years old in 1891. I
have not looked into the familyís history any further at the moment.
Finally the 1901
census. Nathan and Cornelia Parry are still farming at Brymbo Hall
Farm; all their children appear to have left home but they have four
servants (domestic and agricultural) to help them. Eliza and Edward
Hughes are still at Ffynnon-y-cwrw and two of their sons are at home and
working on the farm: Thomas age 26 and John Edward age 23.
is not the end of the story, the page is "to be continued"