James Family Archives

 

      *  Research

      *  Preservation

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Welcome to the James Family Archives Ancient History and Archeological Data Base.

 

This section of the Archives is devoted to the history of the James family prior to the arrival in Pennsylvania (“Pre-Arrival”) of David James (circa 1660-1739) and Margaret Jane Mortimer in October 1682.  Specifically, we are looking at the paternal lineage of David James of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes in Radnorshire, Wales prior to his migration with William Penn to the English Colony in Pennsylvania originally known as the Welsh Tract.  According to our research, the James family lived in the vicinity of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes in the Welsh county of Radnorshire for at least four generations prior to their migration to North America.  Before that, the paternal lineage of the James family can be traced to an area 80 miles north to the Welsh county of Denbighshire which in Medieval times was part of Flintshire and located within the contref, or “principality”, of Tegeingl in the former Welsh Kingdom of Gwynedd.  Here our family is traced to the Estate "Plas Einion" in the Parish of "Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd" situated in the "Vale of Clwyd" about one mile south of the town of Ruthin from where the former lords of this region governed.  Ultimately, the James family’s direct paternal lineage can be traced to Edwin ap Gronwy, Brenin of Tegeingl and one of the kings of the original fifteen noble tribes of northern Wales.

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We begin our journey back in time with a review of the historic record of David James (circa 1660-1739) of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes in Radnorshire, Wales who arrived in Upland (“Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”) on October 28, 1682.

 

 

 

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In 1874, Isabella Batchelder James, the wife of Thomas Potts James (1803-1882), chronicled the earliest known history of David James (circa 1660-1739) in her book, "Memorial of Thomas Potts, Junior, Who Settled in Pennsylvania: With an Historic-Genealogical Account of His Descendants to the Eighth Generation." On pages 251-252, 285-288, and, 392-393 Isabella documented the arrival of David James from Radnorshire, Wales, the family’s early history in Pennsylvania and the genealogy of David’s youngest son Evan James (1715-1794).  In her work, Isabella also made reference to page 750 of Joseph Besse’s 1753 book entitled, “A Collection of the Sufferings of the People Called Quakers, for the Testimony of a Good Conscience From the Time of Their Being First Distinguished by That Name in the Year 1650 to the Time of the Act Commonly Called the Act of Toleration Granted to Protestant Dissenters in the First Year of the Reign of King William the Third and Queen Mary in the Year 1689" chronicling the persecution and imprisonment of the James family in Wales in 1663 because of their membership in the Religious Society of Friends.  Probably the most significant document preserved by Isabella in her 1874 work was the Certificate of Removal, or “Certificate of Good Standing” issued to David James in 1683 by his Quaker peers in Radnorshire following his arrival in Pennsylvania in 1682:

RADNORSHIRE att our Men’s Meeting the 20th day of the

                                                                                                                                            5th month anno Domini 1683.

 

  Whereas we understand ye our dear friend David James, and his wife Margaret, with his daughter May who have for several years past inhabited amongst us both in the parish of Llandegley and Glascum both in the county of Radnor, having now arrived in the 8th mon. 1682 into the Province of Pennsylvania, seeing he doth require a certificate from us his friends & former acquaintance we doe therefore certifie unto all whom it may concern that he hath been a man walking harmless and of good behaviour, loving to friends & having good report amongst his neighbours & soe left a good savour behind with us - And his dear wife Margaret hath owned the same truth these several years & hath walked orderly and in love among friends, & we do further certifie that our friend D. James did not transport himself & family into ye place aforesaid for any debt or debts to any person or persons, neither for any wrongful act or deed by him his wife or child done or committed against any person or persons whatsoever & to this testimony we put our names as followeth -

 

OWEN HUMPHREY                     JOHN LLOYD                            REES AP REES

JOHN JARMIN                              EDWARD MOORE                   ROGER HUGHES

DANIEL LEWIS                              RICHARD COOK                     JOHN ROBERTS

NATHAN WOODLIFF                  DAVID GRIFFITH                   JOHN WATSON.

DAVID MEREDITH                      EDWARD JARMAN

 

     A true copy from the Records Haverford Monthly of Friends, Vol. I. Page 308.

                                                                                                       JOHN M. GEORGE, Recorder.

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The 1683 document above was issued to David James by the Men’s Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Radnorshire, Wales and reports the geographic origin of David prior to his arrival in Pennsylvania who, “for several years past inhabited amongst us both in the parish of Llandegley and Glascum both in the county of Radnor..”  The parishes of Llandegley and Glascwm communities that boarder each other in what is known today as the county of “Powys.”  This particular reference to “both in the parish of Llandegley and Glascum” refers to a very specific geographic region lying on the boarder of both parishes where the James family resided for at least four generations prior to their migration to North America.  Our next step back is to revisit the James family’s first documented return to Wales since their arrival in 1682.

In 1890 Mary Isabella James de Gozzaldi (1852-1935) led the James family on its first documented return to Wales since the family’s arrival in North America in 1682.  An experienced traveler and devout family historian, Mary led a team of family members on an expedition back to Radnorshire.  Her journey, which has come to be known as the Gozzaldi Expedition of 1890 took along with it the most advanced and sophisticated technology of the day and captured images of pre-twentieth century rural Wales including the prisons or “Gaols” where the James family of Radnorshire was incarcerated because of membership in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).  Among the locations photographed by Mary were the villages of Walton, Old Radnor, New Radnor, Penybont near Llandegley, Llandrindod Wells and Welshpool.  Mary was also able to capture images of the gaols (prisons) in both New Radnor and Welshpool where the Quakers were incarcerated and persecuted before these structures were destroyed in the 20th Century.    The collection of photographic images taken during Mary’s expedition are now kept at the Brinkler Library of the Cambridge Historical Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts and can be examined along with recent photos of the same locations at: Gozzaldi Expedition of 1890!

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“Dear Mr. James,

 

I cannot add anything to what you already know about David James, evidently you have seen C.H. Browning, The Welsh Settlement in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia 1912), and the article by Frank Noble in The Transactions of the Radnorshire Society (1959) which mentions David James `mariner’ of Glascwm as one of the fourteen Radnorshire subscribers to the purchase of Welsh Tract 1681.  Noble also mentions James’ wife Margaret and daughter Mary.

 

The parish registers of Glascwm do not survive from before 1679.  The later registers are at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Dyfed.

 

I do have records relating to David James of Glascwm in the period 1637-1680 in a bundle of deeds formerly belonging to Radnor County Council.  I enclose a table summarizing the details given by the deeds, from the information given by Noble it is difficult to identify him with your David James, but for what it is worth I give it.  I can find no mention of James or any close relatives after 1680.  The family owned property in Glascwm including a mill, Melin Busnant, which James sold in 1679.

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(1)m..

1637

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James David

of Glascwm, Gent.

occurs 1637

d. before 1661

David James

of Glascwm, Gent.

occurs 1637-1680

Katherine

Occurs

1661-1680

unnamed

eldest son

died before 1661

(1)m..

1661

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John James

1679-1680

John Prosser

of Llanfihangel

Nantmelan, Gent.

occurs 1661

Elizabeth ferch Thomas

unnamed daughter

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Thomas James

of Glascwm

occurs 1637-1661

Mary ferch Thomas

occurs 1637

m..1637

James ?

Rees Thomas

of Glascwm

occurs 1637

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On February 27, 1986, Steven B. James of Pittsburg, Kansas made contact with Archivist R. Morgan of Powys County Library in Llandrindod Wells, Wales.  At the request of Steven, Archivest R. Morgan performed a search of the earliest known records concerning the James family of Llandegley and Glascwm parishes within the former county of Radnor. Mr. Morgan was able to identify three sources containing the history of David James and the James family of Radnorshire including “The Welsh Settlement in Pennsylvania” published in 1912 and written by C.H. Browning; “The Transaction of the Radnorshire Society” published in 1959 and written by Frank Noble; and, a “...bundle of deeds formerly belonging to the Radnor County Council.”  It is important to note that Radnorshire was incorporated into Powys County in 1974 and that is why today you will not find reference to a separate Radnor County or “shire.”  Below is the letter penned by Archivist R. Morgan to Steven James in February of 1986:

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In 2009 the National Library of Wales uploaded over 400,000 pages of documentation concerning the history of Wales onto the Internet to a web site entitled, “Welsh Journals Online.”  This massive database provided researchers with access to an online selection of 19th, 20th, and 21st century Welsh and Wales-related journals held at the National Library and partner institutions covering a wide range of subject areas of historical and genealogical significance including the “bundle of deeds formerly belonging to the Radnor County Council” described by Archivist R. Morgan of Powys County Library in his letter to Steven James in February of 1986.  This bundle of deeds formerly belonging to the Radnor County Council were consolidated into a record entitled “R/D/GNX Deeds From the Practice of Messrs. Green and Nixson of (Prestigne and Knighton).” Green and Nixson were Welsh lawyers who maintained offices located in Radnorshire in the 17th Century.  Their practice specialized in documenting real estate and land transactions including those of the James family from the early 1630’s through 1679.  An important feature of 17th Century documents concerning transactions of land was the recording of important family information such as marital and genealogical data.  For instance, the marriage of a son or daughter was often the consideration for the transfer of an interest in land.  Similarly, the duration of an interest in land was often determined by the lifetimes of multiple living generations, including the lifetime of a father and a son.

Within the Deeds From the Practice of Messrs. Green and Nixson can be found excerpts from seventeen different transactions containing direct references to the James family of Glascwm, Radnorshire or their lands. These records begin with a “marriage settlement” dated August 28, 1606 in the marriage of Walter George Harries of Glascwm to Katherine Evan, daughter of Evan Price of Glascwm identified as Record No. “R/D/GNX/168.”  In this marriage settlement George Prichard Cradock of Llangome Parish and his associates agree to the transfer of a home formerly owned by Howell David Cadogan and a farm formerly owned by Jevani ap Llewelin Vongam to the newly wed couple.  The significance of this otherwise innocuous deed is that it makes reference to “the land of James ap David” within the parish of Glascwm.  Thus, in 1606 we see the oldest reference to landholdings by the James family contained within these deeds and the first appearance of “James ap David” or “James David” as he is also known.  Within the other sixteen records can be found the identities of the sons of James ap David, his grandchildren and the women his sons married including David James, the uncle of David James who migrated to Pennsylvania in 1682; and, Thomas James, the father of David James, the Pennsylvania immigrant.  A more detailed analysis of these records was performed by Larry P. James of Sacramento, California in November of 2011, entitled “The James Family of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes of Radnorshire, Wales (1582-1713)” which revealed the following refined family tree:

 

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(2)m

1679

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James ap David

of Glascwm, Gent.

occurs 1606-1637

d. before 1661

David James

of Glascwm, Gent.

occurs 1637-1680

Elizabeth ferch

Thomas

occurs 1637

unamed

eldest son

died before 1661

(1)m.

1637

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Evan James

of Glascwm, Gent.

occurs 1671

Katherine

Occurs

1679-1680

John James

of Glascwm

occurs 1679-1713

Thomas James

of Glascwm, Gent

occurs 1637-1662

Mary ferch

Thomas

occurs 1637

m..

1637

David James

of Glascwm

occurs 1662

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     “ 14 February 1583 26 Eliz.  David ap Rees ap Jevan Athro of Llandegley, Co. Rad., sick; soul to God; body to Llandegley ch., to poor men’s box 12d; to cath. Ch. St Davids 4d; to son Jevan ap David tenement called Tir David ap Rs ap Jevn Here in a place called Y Soith in Llandegley, wh I purchased on cond. Of redemption of sd David ap Rs ap Jevn Here; to John ap Dd my youngest son 1 pcl arable & meadow called Rosse yr Heole in Llanvihangell Kevenllis wh I purchased of Howell ap Rs ap Howell on cond. Of redemption; to sd Jevan ap Dd 2 steeers 3 yrs old at May next, 1 black 1 brown; to son Lewes 1 pyed black cow & 2 sheep; to John ap David 4 wild mares & 1 yrling colt, 1 black cow, 10 sheep; to Catheringe vz Morgan spinster 2 kine, 1 heifer, 1 cow calf in custody of David ap Gllm & 10 sheep, 1 red yrling bullock; to Katherine vz David my eldest dau. 1 mare white & 2 kine, 1 black 1 plewed redd; to Katherin vz Lluis my woire 1 black cow; to Lewis ap M’dithe my owir 1 brown cow; to James Greffethe my owir 4 sheep; to Ellen vz Lluis spinster 1 yrling heifer, 2 sheep; to Meredith ap Greffith my woir 1 black yrling heifer; t dau. Katherin 2 ewes; to son James ap David £4 on my exors; if he dies before payment to be divided between Jevan ap Dd, Lluis ap Dd, John ap Dd my sons; to Rs ap John my cosen 1 wheather; rest of goods to Greffeth ap David my edest son (exor); overseers:  tutors etc:  James ap Jevn ap Greffethe, Lluis Dd ap Lluis, M’edd ap John & John ap Jevan Phillipp; Witn:  Phellipp ap Jevn ap Jevn, Howell ap Rees ap Howell & Rs Joh; Debts due on testator:  to Jevan ap John by bond £6 13s 4d, Howell Phellipp 4s; Jevan ap Griffiths 33s 4d; David ap Jevn Here 6s 8d, Meredith ap John £3, Ph’e ap Jevn ap Jevn 4s 4d; Inventory:  11 kine each 13s 4d; 4 oxen each 20s; 1 heifer 10s; 2 yrling heifers each 5s; 2 steers each 7s; 40 yrling sheep or hoggs each 2s; 3 wild mares each 13s 4d; 2 yrling colts each 5s; 1 horse 20s; hshldstuff…; corn in barn & fields 40s.  Proved:  28 April 1584.”

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Jevan Athro

A.K.A.

Ieuan yr Athro Hen

ap Gruffud

 

Rees ap Jevan

 

David ap Rees

of Llandegley, Gent.

occurs 1583

dies 1584

 

Griffith ap David

of Llandegley

occurs 1583

 

Katherine verch David

occurs 1583

 

Jevan ap David

of Llandegley

occurs 1583

 

Lewis ap David

of Llandegley

occurs 1583

 

John ap David

of Llandegley

occurs 1583

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James Griffith

occurs 1583

 

Meredith ap Griffith

occurs 1583

 

Lewis ap Meredith

occurs 1583

 

Katherin verch Lewis

occurs 1583

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?

 

Rees ap John

occurs 1583

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James ap David

of Llandegley

occurs 1583

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“Bettws Mill” of Glascwm Parish in Llandrindod Wells, Powys County, Wales; also known as, “Melin y Busnant”, “Melin Busnant”, “Melin Bussnant”, “Melin Bisnant” and “Busnant Mill.”  This mill was originally a water powered corn-grist mill constructed, owned and operated by James ap David and his sons David James and Thomas James, gentlemen and yeomen of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes in Radnorshire from prior to 1637 through 1679.  The mill was sold November 1, 1679 to Samuell Smyth of Kington Parish in the neighboring County of Hereford.  Records of these transactions can be found in the Deeds from the Practice of Messrs. Green & Nixson, record Nos. R/D/GNX/186-187 and “R/D/GNX/188.   As reported in Radnorshire Mills by D. Stedman Davies in Volume 10 of Radnorshire Society Transactions in 1940 at Page 53, “Bettws Mill on the river Edw, though only a quarter mile from Bettws Church, is actually in Glascwm parish.  It is not in use now.  It was also known as ‘Melin Bisnant.’”  Today, this James family relic and Welsh national landmark is owned and operated as a bed & breakfast by Mr. & Mrs. Tim Hockridge, friends of the James Family Archives.

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In 2011 the Last Will and Testament of David ap Rees ap Jevan Athro was uncovered from “Radnorshire Wills” abstracted by E.J.L. Cole.  This record was published in 1983 by Radnorshire Society Transactions in Volume 53 at pages 70-71. Within the text of the document we are shown the ancestry of James ap David of Llandegley, Radnorshire.  He is identified as the son of David ap Rees ap Jevan Athro and the direct paternal descendant of “Jevan Athro,” a man who is identified in the genealogies of Welsh nobility as “Ieuan yr Athro Hen ap Gruffud” (John the Great Teacher, son of the Strong Lord).  This last will and testament, dated 1583, marks the earliest appearance of James ap David in the known historic record of Radnorshire.  Many relatives are mentioned in this document that identifies the genesis of the James, Davies, Lewis, John and Meredith families of Llandegley Parish in Radnorshire.  The clan’s ancient historic lands are referred to as the “The Soith” a reference to the ancient kingdom of South Wales, also known as “Deheubarth.”  This area was once claimed as the exclusive hunting grounds of Roger Mortimer, the Earl of March and described by E.J.L. Cole in his 1946 essay entitled The Castles of Maelienydd, as Coed Swydd, the hill on which the Pales Meeting House stands, about 1½ miles to the north of Llandegley.”  From the Last Will and Testament of David ap Rees ap Jevan Athro we are able to extract a more expanded family tree of our family’s progenitor James ap David:

Ieuan yr Athro Hen ap Gruffydd, Lord of Plas Einion in Denbighshire, Wales (circa 1330)

Gruffydd ap David Dinllais,

Lord of Plas Einion in Denbighshire, Wales (circa 1300)

David Dinllais ap David,

Lord of Plas Einion in Denbighshire, Wales (circa 1270)

David ap Madog,

Lord of Plas Einion in Denbighshire, Wales (circa 1230)

Madog ap Rhirid,

Of Tegeingl, Flintshire,

Wales (circa 1200)

Rhirid ap Howel,

Of Tegeingl, Flintshire,

Wales (circa 1170)

Howel ap Llywarch,

Of Tegeingl, Flintshire,

Wales (circa 1130)

Llywarch ap Rhirid,

Of Tegeingl, Flintshire,

Wales (circa 1100)

Rhirid ap Owain,

Of Tegeingl, Flintshire,

Wales (circa 1070)

Owain ap Edwyn,

Prince of Tegeingl, Flintshire, Wales (circa 1050-1103)

Edwyn ap Goronwy,

Prince of Tegeingl, Flintshire, Wales (circa 1020)

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Goronwy ap Owain

Prince of Tegeingl, Flintshire, Wales (circa 987)

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Owain ab Hywel “Dda”,

King of South Wales (Deheubarth) and Powys (circa 900)

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Hywel “Dda” ap Kadell,

(Howell the Good), King of South Wales (Deheubarth), Powys and Gwynedd (circa 880)

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Kadell ap Rhodri Mawr,

King of South Wales (Deheubarth)

(circa 854)

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Rhodri Mawr ap Merfyn,

(Roderick the Great), King of Gwynedd and Powys, Prince and First King of Wales (circa 825)

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Merfyn “Frych” ap Gwriad,

King of Gwynedd and Powys

(circa 784)

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Gwriad ab Elidir,

King of the Isle of Man

(circa 770)

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In 2019 two important books were uncovered documenting the noble Welsh lineage of Ieuan yr Athro Hen ap Gruffud (John the Great Teacher, son of the Strong Lord).  These records traced Ieuan’s lineage back seventeen generations to Gwriad ab Eldir, King of the Isle of Man who lived around the year 770 during the 8th Century. These books included "Miscellanea Genealogica Et Heraldica, Volume 2, Second Series" (seen below) published by Hamilton, Adams, and Company in London in 1888 where at page 365 we are shown the paternal ancestry of Goronwy ap Owen, Prince of Tegeingl ascending up six generations to Gwriad ab Elidir, King of the Isle of Man.  The second of these is "Archaeologia Cambrensis, The Journal of the Cambrian Archaeological Association, Vol. VIII. 4th Series" (seen below) published in 1877 by J. Parker of London where at pages 32-33 we are shown the paternal ancestry of Ieuan yr Athro Hen ab Gruffud, Lord of Plas Einion ascending up eleven generations to Gronwy ap Owain, Prince of Tegeingl (Flintshire), Wales.  With these resources now available to us we can document and trace our ancestor David James' paternal ancestry back 22 generations to Gwriad ab Elidir, King of the Isle of Man who is believed to have been born around the year 755 AD during the 8th Century.  This was the time during which the seafaring Vikings from Scandinavia began raiding the coasts of Europe and the Mediterranean.  It was also the time during which Charlemagne was crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor of Europe by Pope Leo II.

Merfyn Frych
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Merfyn “Frych” (The Freckled) ap Gwriad,

King of Gwynedd and Powys (circa 784)

Merfyn “Frych” ap Gwriad

Coat of Arms

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Goronwy ap Owain

Prince of Tegeingl, Flintshire, Wales

(circa 987)

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Goronwy ap Owain

Coat of Arms

According to a will dated February 14, 1572 and witnessed by "David ap Rees ap Jevan Athro" of Llandegley Parish in Radnorshire County, Wales - the father of the progenitor of our James family (James ap David) - financial assistance in the form of monetary stipends called "prebends" and Church tithes were assembled for the purpose of educating a Church administrator called a "Prebendary" at Christ College in Brecon, Wales sometime prior to 1567. The Church administrator, or, "honorary canon" at Christ College in Brecon who received the benefit of this financial support was a gentleman by the name of Thomas Huet. And although Mr. Huet was not from Llandegley Parish himself, he was responsible for collaborating with Richard Davies and William Salesbury in the very first translation into the Welsh language of the New Testament in 1567.  The Salesbury translation of the New Testament represented the first access of God's Word the Bible to Welsh people at large and allowed them to read the Bible in their own native language and develop a much more intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. These amazing historical facts were documented by the Penybont and District Local History Group near Llandegley Parish in Powys, Wales on February 6, 2017 at their first meeting conducted at The Thomas Shop where 55 avid historians gathered for a discussion concerning the history of Llandegley School and Reverend Garaint Hughes. David ap Rees ap Jevan Athro would go on in his own last will and testament dated February 14, 1583 to bequeath further financial resources to several other educators known as "tutors" as neither private nor public schools had yet come into existence.

Plas Einion

Plas Einion in the Parish of Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, Denbighshire County, Wales situated in the "Vale of Clwyd" about one mile south of the town of Ruthin - home to Lord Ieuan yr Athro Hen ap Gruffydd during the 14th Century.

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On March 27, 1625 King Charles I (1600–1649) ascended the thrown and became monarch over the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. After his succession, Charles quarreled with the Parliament of England, which sought to curb his royal prerogative. Charles believed in the divine right of kings and was determined to govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, in particular the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch.  Shortly after ascending to the thrown, Charles I compelled the James family, represented by James ap David of Glascwm and the landed gentry of the counties in Wales to contribute money in the form of a “loan” to the king.  In every case the amount each was “invited” to pay was £10.  A total of £570 was collected from the landed gentry of Radnorshire. King Charles I ruled over the three kingdoms including occupied Wales until his execution in 1649. In 1835 a record of the loan made to King Charles I was presented to the Court of Exchequer. This report was published in 1965 in Radnorshire Society Transactions.  Note that £10 in 1630 was equal to approximately £1,200 in 2017 or $1,500. This sum in 1625 represented a little more than four months wages for a tradesman, or the value of one horse.  There is no record of this “loan” ever being repaid to the James family as the period prior to and following King Charles I execution was marked by the tumultuous English Civil War of 1641-1652, a series of armed conflicts between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") over the manner of England's governance.  This period was also marked by the rise of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), the outspoken Parliamentarian Puritan who came to rule the three kingdoms as Lord Protector until his death in 1658.