The Diary of Thomas Jenkins

Death-bed scene, Mistresses & Coffins

1851 - 38 years old

Jany 2
Miss Davies' father came and left on the 3rd.
Feb 25
Made 2 wax figures for William Lewis, Llandyfan (who owned a woollen factory there) from models of his son and daughter dressed in Welsh costume of his manufacture to send to the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. Cost of making, exclusive of clothes £4.2.0 Packing box and carriage to London £2.4.5 Received for the whole £6.16.0
Mar 24
Took Sarah Davies to the 'Coach and Horses'. Mr. Gwynne Hughes and his Lady arrived at Tregib. Illumination and fireworks.
Mar 26
Distributed 50 enumeration schedules. Sarah Davies and her mother returned.
Mar 31
Enumerated 41 inhabited houses, 1 uninhabited, 74 males and 80 females.
Apl 4
Up all night casting brass, being the second night without rest.
Apl 6
Took Miss Davies and her brother for an airing in a phaeton.
Apl 10
J. Thomas returned.
Apl 16
Sarah Davies attained her 21st. year at 6 this morning. (But does she live much longer.)
May 5
7 p.m. Sarah Davies after suffering from cough and difficulty in breathing became perfectly free from pain. I was supporting her in nearly a sitting posture, she said 'Now I am dying, Call Mother.' I desired for her brother, who was in the room, to call his mother from the next room. She then said 'Mother, I am dying. Don't vex yourselves after me Mother, if you do you displease me. Blessed be the Lord for taking me. I am going to a place of bliss. I now see Heaven open before me, together with my Saviour and the God I worshipped from my youth. A description of what I see is not given me to reveal to you if it were in my power but some things are given me to reveal for your good. Never more doubt the existence of a future state. Oh! Where are those who doubt? I wish they were here now.'

Speaking to me, she said 'You see God revealed in this creation, in the beautiful flowers, in hill and valley, in all around you. If not enough, all is clearly laid before me and I have authority to tell you never have the slightest doubt again.' She then told her mother and brother never to forget my kindness to her 'but the Lord will reward him and his children when my body is reduced to dust. Much that I tell you I speak not of myself, but I have authority to tell you. You may think from many things do, or may, hear me say that I am deranged but I am not indeed.' She then advised us respecting our future conduct in life, and desired me not to forget her mother, and saying she wished her father had been present to see her dying.

She then said 'The sun is setting and it is getting dark, but it will soon be light again,' offering up a short prayer and singing several scraps of hymns, desired that she should be buried at Bethel, Cwmpedol, in the brook near which chapel she had been baptised when 12 years of age.

Said what was to be done with her clothes, books, letters etc, requested that I should make her coffin and design for headstone, and that the little flowers she was so fond of in life should be planted on her grave. All of which I promised to do. She then took us each by the hand commencing with her mother, telling me that I was the best friend she had on earth, and that I and her brother Evan were to have a lock of her hair to keep, and then desired each of us to kiss her, and not to give way to sorrow when she was gone. She asked Ellen, my servant, if she had seen anyone die so happily before, and said 'You may all die thus if you do as I have told you.' She did not forget the children but kissed each, desiring them to be good to their father. 'I have now told you all, do not forget, so I shall lay myself down to die,' stretching her arms over the bed-clothes and playing her fingers, she continued with her eyes closed for about 5 minutes when, opening them she said 'I am not to die now, I shall yet see my father.' I told her we had not sent for him, and asked if we should do so. She said yes, but it did not matter when, that the Almighty had promised she should see him 'and perhaps I shall see Evan too.' (I then sent for her father to Gelli, and her brother from Swansea. She said 'I shall live as long as I now wish. Do you know what inspiration is? I said I knew the meaning of the word. 'Well' said she 'I am now inspired, I could tell you anything. I see all your faults past and present, every one of you. I can now see myself clearly. Where is Dr. Prothero? I could tell him something of my disorder that may be of benefit to him. I shall now recount my own faults.'

Speaking to me she said 'I ought to have married you two years ago, I ought indeed, but I am following your poor Ann to the grave so I should have been no comfort to you. But what is this world with all its pleasures, its beautiful flowers, with man lord of creation, his quarrels and his wars spoiling the face of the earth. If he saw what I now do how different would he act. My past life is laid out as a map, it is as one day, but it is getting dark again, I have sinned.' I said, 'No, you cannot sin now.' She said 'Yes, I have indeed, by saying that I should be talked of in ages yet to come (a remark she made when she said she was inspired) but it will get still lighter yet. Here you see me receive the reward of my transgressions. This is my hell. There is no more pain for me but what I suffer here and that won't be long. I am only now beginning to live.'

It was about 9 o'clock. She seemed to enjoy intense pleasure, saying that she was perfectly free from any pain, she was clapping her hands and breast, and singing praises to her Redeemer, and thanking and blessing us again for our kindness to her, desiring us to thank the Revd. J. W. Pugh and Dr. Prothero for their kindness to her. Soon after, the cough came on again. May 6 She spent a sleepless night. Her father came about 8 and her brother Evan about 11 a.m. At 6 p.m. after suffering much in the course of the day she desired us to kiss her again and wishing us goodbye said she had no further wish to live, and desired me to place her in an easy position to die. Shortly afterwards she asked me how long I thought she had to live, that she was anxious to go. I said about ½ an hour or ¾. She said 'Thank the Lord', and at 7 p.m. she breathed her last.

May 7
Made her coffin, oak, covered with grey cloth and padded. Placed an account of her death in a stone jar in the coffin.
May 10:
Saturday. Left at 1 p.m. following her remains to Aberdauddwr. (It is a journey of 19 miles mostly uphill) Mr. T.T. Williams, her mother and cousin in a car following the hearse, her father and brother in another car etc. May 11 Stayed at Aberdauddwr.
May 12
Went in the morning to see the grave, and attended the funeral at 10 a.m. At 12 strewed flowers on her grave. July 17: Walked through Llanfair, Llanddewi-brefi to Foelallt, then over the mountains and Craig Twrch to Aberdauddwr.(Such devotion to visit Sarah's grave.)
Aug 3
— — was born 1 day before time. (Illegitimate child born to Thomas Jenkins by Jane Thomas, his former servant.)
Aug 4
Went to Swansea. Bought a grindstone 6/10 ¾ d.
Oct 12
Left at 5 A.M. Walked to Llandyfan and went together with Wm. Lewis (who owned the woollen mill there) in his car to Neath, and left for London by the South Wales Railway at 1 p.m. Arrived in London at 10 ½ p.m.
Oct 13
Slept at a house near Paddington Station. Went to see the Exhibition and Polytechnic.
Oct 16
Exhibition, Zoological Gardens, Regents Park.
Oct 17
Left at 7 a.m. together with Wm. Lewis and Wm. Waugh. Got to Bristol at 5 p.m.
Oct 18
Left Bristol by steamer to Cardiff. By rail to Swansea. Walked from there to Llandyfan. Spent £3.10.3.
Nov 15
Little Thomas and self very poorly with scarlet fever. Ann Thomas came to service. (She became his second wife.)

1852 - 39 years old

Jany 22
J. T. at Llangadog. Pd. Expenses 12/6d. Ordered to pay 1/6d a week. (This partially scribbled entry in the diary refers to the illegitimate child of Jane's and it appears that Thomas was ordered probably by the parish to pay maintenance.)
Apl 1
Sent lot of dwarf box to plant round Sarah Davies' grave. Very ill with sore throat and James in the measles.
Apr 6
Got some fresh earth taken to Bethel. Set dwarf box and flowers on Sarah Davies' grave. Returned at 8 p.m.
Apl 18
Thomas in the measles.
Apl 21
Made a direct-acting steam engine for driving lathe and saws.
July 5
Went to Carreg Cennen Castle with the children and Ann.
Sept 17
South Wales railway opened from Swansea to Carmarthen
Sept 30
Sold 7 looking-glasses to Lady Dynevor for 10/-
Oct 17
Went in the morning to Cwmpedol to see Sarah's grave.
Nov 13
Agreed with Ann Thomas for £4.0.0.
Dec 1
Removed and fitted up prisoners' box in Shire Hall £0.5.0

1853 - 40 years old

Jany 1
Heavy rain all day, not having had 2 days in succession for the last three months without rain.
Feb 5
Attended funeral at Bethel, where we buried Mr. Timothy Davies on the right-hand side of his daughter Sarah. Went at dusk to Baylie, Cellan, the mountains covered with snow to a depth of 10".
May 16
Sent for to see James Thomas, late of Half Moon's coffin, it having been made by David Thomas, Carpenter. Found it in a sad, leaky state. Got it secured and lowered through the window and taken to the lower floor. James Thomas was 28 years of age. The coffin measured 27" by 19" deep. Charged wood and labour £2.12.0
May 17
Made a waterproof tray 5" deep to fit on the bottom of the coffin which made it perfectly secure. Attended the funeral at 4 p.m. and Lewis Davies' funeral at 5 p.m.
June 21
Made an oak coffin and shell for Mrs. Mary Gwynne Hughes of Tregib. She would have attained her 23rd year next September.
Aug 15
Sent a box of fossils to the Revd. Dd. Griffiths.
Aug 23
Saw a splendid comet at 9 p.m. in the NW by W in a line with the N. Pole and pointers.
Sept 8
Found that the wife Rachel Pritchard had died at 2 a.m. The first use made of the new parlour was to place her remains in. She died of consumption aged 22.
Sept 11
Took Ann, Sarah, James and Thomas by omnibus to Cross Inn (Ammanford), thence by excursion train to Llanelli. Paid 14/-
Dec 1
Took a £25 share in the Llandeilo and Cross Inn railway.

1854 - 41 years old

Feby 3
Got a marriage licence of the Revd. J. Griffiths. Paid £2.2.0. Bought wedding ring of E. Parry, paid 8/0.
Feby 5
Walked with Ann to Llanarthney and returned in the evening.
Feby 6
Walked to Llanarthney and got married to Ann Thomas by the Revd. Mr. Harris. Paid 7/6d. Returned together in the evening.
Mar 23
3 lives. (This cryptic entry means that Ann is three months pregnant.)
July 21
Louisa was born at 11 ½ a.m.
Sept 9
Louisa was vaccinated.
Oct 26
Louisa was baptised at Llandeilo Church by the Revd. Evans, Curate.

1855 - 42 years old

Feby 24
By omnibus to Carmarthen. Ann, Mary and Louisa returned to Llandeilo by omnibus. (Very rare visit by his daughter Mary to her father's house. She seems to have been 'boarded out' with someone in Carmarthen almost since her birth.)
June 12
Made an elm coffin for Thomas May Burgess, who terminated his existence about 9 a.m. by hanging himself in his father's workshop at the age of 26 years.
June 27
Made a coffin and shell for Jno. Andrew Hammet Kirkwood aged 14 months, son of Townsend Kirkwood Esq. of Carreg Cennen, furniture and all complete, covered with grey cloth £2.2.0. Engraving plate 3/6d. Grave walled and burial fees £1.6.0...£3.11.6. Headstone 12/-
July 16
Went to see the 'Queen of the West' an American vessel of 2,200 tons that was stranded a few months ago at Cefn-sidan.
Aug 14:
Went together with Ann, James and Thomas by omnibus to Cross Inn, by rail to Llanelli and Swansea, then by omnibus to the Mumbles.
Aug 23
Edward Price, Thomas Jones and self went at 6 p.m. to Llygad Llwchwr to see if the coracle, left there by me some years ago, was in a fit state to make use of. Found it completely decayed. Returned home 1 a.m. (In the 'Guide to Llandeilo' written in 1883 by the Revd. Lewis Price, the coracle is mentioned: "in the interior of this wonderful cave there is a large pool which, some years ago, afforded much amusement to gentlemen residing in the neighbourhood, who undertook the difficult task of constructing a coracle suitable for wading it, and which was left there for the amusement of others, until it got unfit for any longer use.")
Sept 23
Slept at Aberdauddwr. Went to Gelli and Bethel, Cwmpedol to see Miss Davies' grave. The box I set around it grows well.
Oct 8:
Took the bearing and level of the zinc lode in Trallwm quarry. The floor of the quarry is 48ft 5 ins above low-water in Gurrey-fach brook. The lode runs within a few feet of the railway between the quarry and Rhosmaen and crosses Rhosmaen Street at an acute angle near the house I now live in and passes under the lower house in Bank Buildings.
Dec 11
I was appointed Constable of Leet Court.
Dec 20
Ann taken ill at 2 a.m. Margaret born at 6.5 a.m. attended by Mr. Rees, Surgeon.

1856 - 43 years old

Mar 22
To Carreg Cennen to appraise goods seized by the Board of Excise for drainage amounting to £220.11.10 ½ including expenses.
May 2
Made a coffin for Edward Albert Griffith Bedwell died at the 'Cawdor Arms' aged 10 months.
July 28
Crickets came.