History – Religious Persecution

Throughout the reigns of Elizabeth I and James II Catholics were persecuted by law for practising their faith. In 1598 it was reported that Cardiff Goal was crowded with Catholics.

The Norman Lords were staunch Catholics and when the religious persecution was at its height there was not a week went by that one Tuberville or another was not in prison for practising his religion. Priest Holes were built into the homes of the better off Catholics. Number.3 Sunnyside, Treoes has a priest hole behind the fireplace, which could be accessed from the attic.

Priests would live with families, as did Morgan Clynnog, a missionary priest who lived with the Turberville’s in Penlline (D.J Francis).  Sometimes these priests would escape capture by pretending to be servants. Not so lucky was John Lloyd a seminary priest found to be in Penlline Castle on the 4th November in the thirtieth year of the reign of King Charles II. He was executed with Father Phillip Evans, found at Sker House, as traitors, on 22nd July 1679. The mode of execution described as follows:

“First they were dragged on hurdles to the gallows. Then they were hanged for a few moments. Before they were dead they were cut down, disembowelled alive, and dismembered”.

  Portrait of Oliver Cromwell
Portrait of Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell set out to destroy the old religious system and replace it by converting the Welsh people to Puritanism. The Anglican clergy were ejected. More than 278 clergymen were removed from their living.

One of the most unfortunate was Edward Gamage of Treoes, the Rector of Llanharry – he was the person who suffered most in Llanharry. As he was finishing harvesting his fields, his Glebe land, glebe corn and rectory were seized by the Puritans. He was turned out of his home and everything was taken from him.  He retired to Treoes with a small pittance of his own, until the Restoration, upon which he was able to return to his living in Llanharry.  Alas, he enjoyed it for but a little while, in ill health he was forced to return to Treoes, where he died in 1671.

In 1658 the death of Oliver Cromwell led to the Restoration of the Monarchy, ending 11 years of republicanism and the return of our clergy to their livings.


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