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Thomas Edwards, c.1815-1883.

Thomas Edwards was born in approx 1815 at Glascoed, the son of James Edwards and Ann Jones. His father James was born c. 1780 somewhere in Monmouthshire, according to the 1841 census. James was a shoemaker by trade. Ann was born c. 1781 at Glascoed. The couple had married on 25th February 1803 at Usk Parish Church and had at least three children: Leonard (Christened on 11 Mar 1804 at Usk), James (Chr 5th Apr 1808 at Usk), Thomas being the third.

The family lived at Pentwyn, Glascoed (there were two Pentwyns on the 1841 census) - their Pentwyn was the one near the Cwm farms and Twyn farms. It was almost certainly re-named Cherry Orchard by the time of the 1871 census, since this would fit in with the positioning of the houses on the census and we lose the duplicate Pentwyns by this date. Certainly, from 1871, the Edwards’ were living at Cherry Orchard, not Pentwyn. A logic for naming their house “Cherry Orchard” can be deduced from the sad events noted in the final paragraph on this page.

Thomas became an Agricultural labourer initially then a farmer of 14 acres by 1861. He did not have an occupation listed in 1871 or 1881.

He was one of the “Glascoed rioters”, a dispute where most of the villagers rose up against a couple of farmers/ cottagers who had started to enclose Glascoed common. It’s worth reading the whole story of the Glascoed riots here.

I’ve reproduced the places where Thomas’ individual words and actions were reported:

“Thos. Edwards … (and about 20 others) … were charged at the instance of James Meredith, with having, at the hamlet of Glascoed, assembled together with other persons, and unlawfully and riotously disturbed the public peace, to the terror and alarm of Her Majesty’s subjects, on the 11th day of February last.” …

 … “About 3 o’clock on the afternoon of the 11th February last, the whole of the defendants except Wm. Morgan, the elder of the Hill, came up to my ground, and I leaned on the fence and told them not to touch it. Thomas Edwards struck in the bank with a maddock, and said “go on.” Job Lewis struck in next, and then John Williams. John Williams cut the young quick off, with a hacker. They all then went to work. They pulled the fence down, - cut the trees down, and burnt them, - pulled up a hedge of gooseberry bushes, and burnt them, - and cut all the fences down around two pieces of land. They did not cut the fence down round the piece by the house. They cut the apple trees down on the piece I have had 20 years.”  …

 … “They all then stuck into it and pulled down the fences, cut down the trees and made a bon-fire with them, as before described. William Morgan’s wife brought two jars full of drink; the servant maid from William Morgan’s two jars full. Thomas Edwards a jar full.”  …

 … “John Jenkins, laborer, saw Thomas Edwards begin to pull down Meredith’s fence.”  …

 … “By Mr. Owen: My instructions were only to prevent a breach of the peace. I saw most of the persons charged, putting down Roberts’s fence. I heard Mr. James Jenkins tell Thos. Edwards to go on with his work. I saw bon-fires lit. I saw one of the defendants dig up a cherry tree at Meredith’s. Job Lewis came to some of them who were standing by the fire, and said “you lazy devils, why don’t you go to work.” Thomas Edwards asked me to go and prevent the women from shooting them, whilst they pulled the fences down. By Mr. Blount: I think Mr. Meredith was struck by accident.”  …

 … “Miss Roberts, who told him that her uncle and brother had gone to the common to prevent the fences being taken down, and that he was to go there to protect them. Was told by Thos. Edwards, one of the defendants, that Mrs Meredith had threatened to shoot the first man that came there. Saw no guns brought, nor anyone assaulted. Meredith was there the whole time; witness did not hear him say anything, nor see any one assault him.”  …

His wife, Maria, died tragically young, having fallen from a Cherry tree in 1862. Thomas was left to bring up their three young children (Ann, James and Leonard) and apparently never re-married. He died in 1883 and was buried in the Usk parish (not sure whether at Glascoed or Usk) on 29th April 1883.

See his “family tree” in the names database for further details.


Census: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881

Usk Parish Burial Register: 1883