History – Landed Gentry and Rural Life

This was the era when the landed gentry rose to the zenith of their power – so most of the land of the Border Vale was concentrated in few hands. Parcels of lands that had previously been owned by small landowners were being swallowed up by the Gentry. St Mary hill had succumbed to the Aubreys of Llantrithyd.  The yeomen of Treoes, however hung on tenaciously to their small fragmented properties (David Francis).

Most of the villagers of Treoes would still have been small landowners and labourers or servants to the aristocracy and major landowners, but there would have been a choice of work – there would most certainly have been Landowners, property landlords, farmers, millers, a shopkeeper, a brewer and a publican, whilst others might have been railwaymen or woollen mill workers. They would have called upon the services of blacksmiths, masons, carpenters, shoemakers, coopers, dressmakers, tailors and thatchers from time to time. There were four Inns named in the 1841 census, The Maltsters Arms (103 on the Tithe map) which was situated where The Malt House currently stands and whose landlord was Jeremiah Powell, The Boat Inn (85 on the tithe map) which was situated in the general area of Ty-yn -y-Garn and whose landlady was Hannah Owen, The New Inn whose landlord was John Lewis and The Farmers Arms whose landlord was Thomas Harris. Hannah Owen died in 1843

  Depiction of the Rebecca Riots
Depiction of the Rebecca Riots

From 1839 to 1843 rural areas in other parts of Wales were in the grip of the Rebecca riots, which came about by the divisiveness of society, with the poor having to support the Church by tithes, pay rent to landowners and tolls to use the roads. The relationship between the workers and their employers in the Vale was generally not discordant.

This was clearly due to the variety of work available because of the close proximity of industry, giving the labourers in the Vale significantly more bargaining power than other rural communities.


In 1847, questions had been raised in Westminster as to why the Welsh people were prone to lawlessness. According to some, one possible reason was the continued use of the Welsh language, so a report was commissioned on the role of Welsh in Education. The report was published and became known as The Treachery of the Blue Books.  “Blue” from the colour of the cover of the reports and “Treachery” from an ancient Arthurian myth about the Saxon invasion of Britain. The report contained passages in which it was considered the commissioners had exceeded their brief. Certain passages contained disparaging remarks about the morals of the Welsh people.   The report of David Williams Assistant, reads, for Parish of Llanganna: 

On 1st March I visited the above parish. I found it to contain only an Independent Sunday school held at a small village called Treoes. The rate of wages was 12s per week and the population wholly agricultural. I noticed three small villages, St. Mary Hill, Treoes and Llangan. Each is distant from the other by about a mile. The lines connecting them would form a triangle. Not one of them contained a day school. The Curate informed me that the people in general were very ignorant, but quiet and inoffensive, and easily managed”.

The report found that the provision for education in Wales was poor and advised that this would only improve with the introduction of English. The speaking of Welsh in Schools was not made unlawful but it was not recognised or supported by Government.

In 1849, LLangan is described  (British History on line) abridged as:

”A Parish in the union of Bridgend and Cowbridge, hundred of Ogmore, South Wales -3 1/2 miles (NW by W) from Cowbridge containing 238 inhabitants, comprising 1175 acres. Its surface is flat and its northern boundary subject to inundation: The soil is fertile, and in some parts argillaceous, intermingled with fragments of limestone .With the exception of 56 acres, the parish consists of rich arable and pasture land. The limestone and lead-ore found in it, has been worked to a considerable extent, and the mine of Tewgoed now exhausted. The Court Leet of the Manor is held by Lord Dunraven and Capt. Sir George Tyler RN alternately.

The living is a discharged rectory, rated in the King’s books at £12.16.01/2p – the present net income is £244.00.00. The glebe (farm) contains about 60 acres of good land and the tythes have been commuted for a rent charge of £152.10.00. There is a place of worships for Independents with a Sunday school held in it, at Treoes a village situated in the western end of the parish.

A Sum of £3.15.00d is distributed at Whitsuntide amongst such poor as receive no parochial relief, being the produce of the following charities namely: a bequest of £10.00.00d by Florence Rees in 1781, and two others of £15.00.00d and £5.00 .00d by Margaret David and an unknown donor respectively, which sums were expended in repairs of the church, the interest however continuing to be paid from the parish rates, the moiety of the rent of a cottage and two pasture fields, in St Mary Hill Parish yielding £4.00.00d per annum, bequeathed by Edward Thomas in 1778, and lastly the interest of £10.00.00d bequeathed by Lewis Thomas in 1797. It appears also that Mrs Mary Powell gave £100.00.00d, the proceeds of which are applied to the same purpose”. 

In 1851There were no significant changes in the villagers’ employment. Jeremiah Powell was still the Landlord of the Maltsters Arms, Martha John was a publican and also occupied 102a on the tithe map, which is the site of the Star Inn, although the name is not specified in the 1851 census. There was also a Blacksmith and Publican named Willian Sant in the Parish.


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