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Elizabeth Williams (1836-1916)

Elizabeth was the daughter of Roger Williams and Ann (nee Morgan) of Beech Farm. She was born in approximately 1836 at Glascoed (presumably at Beech Farm).

She grew up as a farmer’s daughter on a working farm, so I guess she learned the meaning of hard work. In the summer of 1856 she became pregnant and was unmarried, which I would imagine would have caused a bit of a stir in her chapel-going family - the family were heavily involved with Mount Zion Baptist Chapel.

Her first daughter, Mary Ann Arnold, was born out of wedlock on 1st March 1857. The father was not named on the certificate. By 9th April the same year, Elizabeth was married, to the son of a neighbouring farmer, Richard Arnold of Maesmawr. Was he Elizabeth’s father, “making an honest woman of Elizabeth?” or was the father maybe a casual labourer, working on the farm at harvest time? Was Richard someone who had secretly fancied Elizabeth and took his opportunity to marry a pretty young thing six years his junior? Maybe there was another explanation. We’ll probably never know.

They moved away from Glascoed briefly, to the Raglan area in the early 1860s where Maria (1860) and Martha (1861) were born, but came back to Glascoed by the time of the birth of their fourth child, James in 1864.

Their other children were all born at Glascoed: Annie (1865), Sarah (1866), William (1869), Emily (1873), the twins, Elizabeth and Philip (1875), Thomas (1877) and the youngest Ellen (1880). Their births are all recorded in a family tree that Mary Ann Arnold kept in the front of a keepsake religious book that her Uncle William Williams had given her on the occasion of his emigration to New Zealand in 1869.

She latterly became involved again with the chapel. She was baptised as an adult believer at Mount Zion Baptist Chapel in on 22nd September 1872. She also subscribed to the enlargement of the chapel in September 1873, giving 2 shillings and sixpence, which gives an idea that she continued to be involved and also of the financial situation of the family at this time (there were 9 mouths to feed!).

Elizabeth and Richard lived in several places in Glascoed. The ones I know of are: a house described as “Near Beech Farm” in 1881 and Upper Twyn (the family was there at the time of the 1891 census to their deaths in 1916). A number of houses in Glascoed weren’t named on the censuses – particularly the earlier ones. In trying to re-trace the enumerator’s steps for 1871 and 1881, my best guess is that they were living at Spider Castle/ Castle Corrin, which I believe is the same house as the current Beech Tree Cottage. I could well be wrong though …

At the time of the 1891 census Elizabeth was recorded as visiting her daughter Maria (nee Arnold) and Maria’s husband, James Jones at 50 Lasgarn, Abersychan.

I was once told a story about Elizabeth Williams. This must have been while they were living at Upper Twyn.

I was told that Elizabeth had been baking bread and after kneading the dough, took it across the farmyard to the (bakehouse?) and dropped the dough. She picked it up pulled it back together again and carried on walking across the yard to bake it.

When the bread was cut open, it didn't look as expected ... some manure had found itself inside the dough in Sarah's dropping and re-folding of it in the yard ... a variation on the jam doughnut theme ...

Richard went blind at the turn of the century so their youngest daughter, Nellie stayed at home to look after her parents. She only got married after their deaths (to Reg Perrett).


Censuses of 1841185118611871188118911901 and 1911.

Daughter’s birth certificate Mary Ann Arnold (on the certificate was Mary Ann Williams - since father not named on certificate).

Monumental inscription at Mount Zion Baptist Chapel.