Llandeilo Past and Present

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Thomas Jenkins
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever

1840 - 27 years old

Mar 8
Went to Carreg Cennen Castle with Ann. At 1 p.m. as Mr. Williams, Surgeon of Glancennen's wife and daughter were returning from church in a phaeton, the horse took fright in Bridge Street and ran with them over the parapet of the bridge. Mrs. Williams died on the spot. Miss Williams died about 1 ½ hours at The Crown and the boy who was driving them was taken up senseless. The horse was killed on the spot and the phaeton dashed to pieces. The height of the fall is about 35 ft. (This bridge was about 250 feet further down the hill from the present one but was extremely narrow with no room for a pedestrian to pass a carriage.)
June 5
Took a cart to Carmarthen for mahogany and returned to Llandeilo in the evening. Heavy rain all the way.
June 6
George was born at 8:15 p.m. being 20 weeks and 1 day or 142 clear days.
Aug 27
Went to Golden Grove to work.
Aug 28
Had 60 ft. of birds eye maple veneer from Bristol.
Oct 25
Sat up with Mr. Jones, Saddler. He is dying. (They are now renting 3 rooms from him at £9 a year)
Oct 26
Mr. Jones died at 4 ½ p.m.
Oct 27
Made an oak coffin for him
Oct 28
Attended the funeral to Hermon this evening. Heavy rain.

1841 - 28 years old

Mar 9
Went to see Paxton's Tower. It is a triangle of 36 ft. with a small round tower at each angle, with 119 steps to the top. (Built by Sir William Paxton, M.P. in 1807 as a way of being remembered and as almost a shrine to Lord Nelson who dined there. A stained glass window of Nelson was taken from the tower and is at the Carmarthen Museum.)
Apr 1
Made Mr. Caleb Jones' coffin covered with velvet 5 yds.
Apr 4
Peter and self went to see Cilrychen Cave which was discovered Dec 13, 1823. Took a seat in the Methodist Chapel.
Apr 6
Attended Mr. Caleb Jones' funeral at 4 p.m. The Oddfellows of the Ap Tewder Lodge attended to the number of 70, dressed in black sashes and hat-bands.
Apr 24
Went at 6 p.m. together with David Davies, Peter Jenkins and John the Mason to Cilrychen Cave. I took a pistol and Peter brought his clarinet. Spent 3 ½ hours inside. The total length including all the branches is 301 yds. We returned at 12 night. May 1 Went at 6 p.m. together with Dd. Davies, Peter Jenkins, Philip Griffiths and Wm. Williams 'Rose and Crown' to see the Llygad Llwchwr Cave. The entrance is about 10 ft above where the river leaves the rock. We entered at 8 p.m., the entrance is narrow and rather dangerous. After proceeding 51 ft. I tied the end of a ball of twine to a stalactite pillar, there being so many windings and passages. We then proceeded to a stalactite pillar 5' long from the floor to the roof and 3 ft. in circumference. Each having a candle we passed through several narrow passages 'til we came to the river. The cave here is about 30ft. from the water to the roof, the river is about 15 ft. wide. Not being able to proceed further we returned after having gone through all the different passages that I could find. We came out at 1 a.m. The distance from the entrance to the water is 567 ft. Arrived home at 3 a.m.
June 7
This day a census of the population of the United Kingdom was taken.I enumerated the Rhosmaen and New Inn districts containing 55 inhabited houses, 8 uninhabitable and 2 building. 106 males, 124 females. The population of Llandeilo amounted to 1345 - 132 more females than males.Received £1.1.0.

1842 - 29 years old

Feb 4
Thomas Peter was killed at 8 o'clock this evening by Dd. Rees' wagon crushing him between the wheel and the wall near the Market House. He died instantly.
Feb 5
Made a coffin for him of elm £1
Feb 7
Attended the funeral at 3 p.m.
June 3
Went to Maerdy to clean and oil-polish a dining table for the Misses Peel.
Dec 7
Went with Mr. Thomas, T.M. in his gig to Cross Inn. Walked from there to The Raven Inn to value shop fittings. Finished at 9 p.m. When I left the night very dark and foggy. Met 5 drunken fellows on the Black Mountain who were very insulting. Got home at 11 p.m.
Dec 25
Sarah was born at 11 minutes past 6 p.m.

1843 - 30 years old

Feb 18
Very stormy with hard frost, the wind un-roofed part of my workshop.
Aprl 17
Mr. Price's body was found in the river near Dryslwyn, having been drowned in crossing on horseback opposite his house, Llwyn Mendy, the 4th of April.
July 9
A detachment of the 4th Light Dragoons arrived here having been sent for owing to people breaking down the turnpike gates in the neighbourhood under the name of Rebeccaites.

(These troops were quartered at the Cawdor Arms Hotel and were later replaced by the 41st, a foot regiment, who used the old vicarage as a barracks. For nearly two years during the Rebecca Riots, Llandeilo became a military post.)

July 10
Father came here in a phaeton with Mr. H. Williams and returned in the evening.

(Very cryptic comment filled with secrets - Thomas' father was noted as a champion of the oppressed and Hugh Williams of Carmarthen was a leader of the Rebecca Riots. These increased in strength in the next five weeks and the Walk Gatehouse at Llandeilo was destroyed.)

Aug 6
Ann bought a gold ring of Christian Moser for 7/6d and the old one which was broken.
Aug 9
The Walk Gate and house was taken down to the ground by the Rebeccaites with soldiers billeted at The White Hart and Walk on both sides, so much for soldier vigilance.
Source of the LlwchwrLlygad Llwchwr (Eye of the Llwchwr). The entrance to the cave is in the top left hand corner of the picture.
Aug 19
Went to Carreg Cennen Cave, from there to the cave at Palebryna on the hillside about ½ mile higher up than Llygad Llwchwr. Went in about 300 ft. together with B. Morgan and E.J.Griffiths. Found it very low and dirty excepting one place where it was very spacious. From there to Llygad Llwchwr Cave, borrowed kettle and cups at Cwrt-bryn-y-beirdd, made a fire and took tea before going in. Spent about 4 hours inside. Having taken a pistol with me, the report it made rivalled the loudest thunder. Got home at dusk.
Aug 29
Went, together with B. Morgan, Wm. Griffiths, Dd. Davies and Phillip Griffiths to Cilrychen Cave. From there to the cave at Pant-y-llyn where, 30 years ago, from 14 to 24 human skeletons were found in quarrying for limestone. It now extends only 30 ft having been quarried off.
Aug 30
Ann (his wife) walked to Carmarthen having received a letter from my step-mother that father was expected to die.

(This is the only time he mentions his step-mother.)

Aug 31
Father breathed his last at Pensarn 3 o'clock a.m. in his 69th year. Walked to Carmarthen this evening.
Sep 3
Left Carmarthen with poor father's remains, together with Hugh Williams and bearers in two boats. Arrived in St. Ishmael at 5 ½ p.m., father having expressed a wish to be buried there.

(He had written a poem 'The Sailor's Grave' about Hugh Williams' brother who wanted to be buried near the sea. 31 years later, Hugh would be buried alongside his brother and his dear friend, Thomas Jenkins' Senior.)

Sep 12
Went to Llygad Llwchwr Cave with B. Morgan, E.J. and W. Griffiths, Wm. Jones and Wm. Davies. Having taken a rope ladder with us we entered at 9 a.m. and having crossed the river inside we discovered two branches where no human being had been before. In one there is a plank of stalactite extending from the roof to the floor, which, when struck with a hammer, emits as a fine and loud a noise as one of the largest bells in Llandeilo steeple, from which we christened it the Bell Cavern. Came out at 3 p.m. and took tea near the entrance. Arrived home at 7 p.m. highly gratified with our day's discovery.
Sep 27
Made a pump for the intended Llandeilo new bridge, 7 ft long, 5 '' bore and 12'' stroke.
Sep 30
Made a working model of a hydraulic servo pump and presented it to the Mechanic's Mutual Instructing Institution.
Oct 9
Made a coffin for Daniel Walter Lewis, a child 11 days old, his mother, Ellen Thomas, having been confined at Dd. Harris, the Bookbinder's.
Dec 25
Went to Carreg Cennen Castle today with Peter Jenkins and David the Cooper. Found 3 Roman coins in the earth beneath the rock on the south side of the castle.

1844 - 31 years old

Mar 27
Thomas Davies, Draper, Manchester House, died of disease of the heart in leaving the Methodist Chapel. He dropped on the street and died instantly, aged 30 at 9 p.m.
Mar 28
Made his coffin, oak, covered black, wood and labour £1.7.0
Mar 30
Attended his funeral to Taliaris Church.
Apl 4
Went to Mr. Lawford's, Carreg Cennen, to get some looking-glasses silvered.
Apl 19
Stayed up last night making a coffin for Ed. James' little girl.
Apl 25
Set a sun-dial in the churchyard. Wood for post and labour 18/-
Apl 26
Went to Edwinsford to compare the dial there with the one I had set up and found it 4 ½ '' after.
Apl 27
To Golden Grove. Found the dial there 5'' before Edwinsford dial lat.52 deg. 6 mins. Golden Grove 51 deg. 32 mins
July 18
Left with Joseph Williams at 4 a.m. Breakfast at Aunt Price, Carmarthen. Walked through St. Clears, Llanddowror and got to Tenby at 9 p.m. 30 miles. Took tea at the 'Ring O'Bells' pd. -/8d.
July 19
Slept at the 'Three Mariners'. Horrid. Had no soap to wash with. Paid for bed - 4/d

(He continues his holiday by walking to Pembroke, Milford Haven, Cardigan, New Quay, up to Aberystwyth to see the Devil's Bridge.)

July 26
Went with the guide to see the bridge, which is one arch of 29ft. span and 120 ft. above the stream of the Munach. It extends from rock to rock over the old bridge, which is attributed to His Satanic Majesty, but in reality built by the monks of Strata Florida 750 years ago.

(He continues on foot to Strata Florida and then to Lampeter returning home the next day.)

Sept 3
Made three coffins for S. Stephen, the Smith's children. Two having died on Sunday and one today of scarlet fever. Aged 9, 6 and 3 years. Wood and labour £1.8.0
Sept 9
Made a coracle that may be taken to pieces and made up again for Llygad Llwchwr Cave. Cost 10/6d
Sept 10
Went together with B. Morgan, Dd. Lewis, John Thomas, Walter Jones, Puddicomb and Owen Jones to Llygad Llwchwr. Entered the cavern at 8:30 a.m. and after turning to the left at right angles to the main branch and getting down over the rock by the rope-ladder over the stream, we made up the coracle and proceeded down the stream over very deep pools through several magnificent caverns where man never dared to go. Came out to daylight at 1:30 p.m.
Oct 21
Illumination and fireworks in honour of Lord Dynevor having been married 50 years.
Nov 8
Suffered great pain from a bit of cast-iron getting into my eye in turning a pair of sugar-mill rollers for Mr. Gravell. Walter Jones attended and applied leeches to allay the inflammation, the first time I ever had them applied - they did a vast deal of good.
Dec 2
Laid down 4'' of oak planking on 12'' square bearing beams for the south abutment of the new bridge.
Dec 3
The foundation stone was laid this evening at 3:15 p.m. 4 lbs of beef and 1 pint of ale and ½ oz of tobacco given to each workman to the number of 40.
Dec 25
George (Thomas Jenkins' son) went with Edward Price to the park and returned shivering.
Dec 26
At 12 noon my poor boy went to bed very ill with scarlet fever.
Dec 27
George worse, sent for Walter Jones, Surgeon.
Dec 28
Worse. Red pustules began to appear.
Dec 29
Still worse. Sent for Dr. Prothero who ordered his head to be shaved and bathed with cold salt water and leeches applied to his temples. Continued bathing his heading from 2 p.m. til ------
Dec 30
6 a.m. Inflamation reduced. Swallowing difficult. Continued bathing his throat with hot flannels 'til 5 p.m. I went to bed at 8 p.m.
Dec 31
Got up at 2 a.m. Due to me this day £123.7.5. I owe £121.11.11 ½. Balance in my favour £1.15.5 ½

1845 - 32 years old

Jany 3
It pleased God for some wise end to relieve my dear boy from his suffering at 11 ½ p.m. I shall never see his like again. God grant that I may become resigned.
Jany 4
Peter made his coffin of inch oak, covered with grey cloth
Jany 7
The remains of my dear boy were laid in earth at 4 p.m. near Uncle Thomas Lott's grave in the upper churchyard. Aged 4 years and 6 months yesterday. (Thomas Lott was the chemist and druggist of Llandeilo 1776 - 1816.) Sarah was taken ill in scarlet fever last Saturday the 4th. (Sarah recovers 11 days later.)
Aug 29
Went at 6 a.m. up to see the Beacons and Llyn-y-fan. Spent the day on the mountain. The lake is full of fish and said to be 260 yards deep.
Aug 30
Left Blaen-sawdde on foot at 6 a.m. Home at 10 a.m.