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William Chilton

William Chilton was born in 1830 at Nantyglo (Aberystruth parish), Monmouthshire. He was the son of Solomon Chilton of Wellington in Shropshire and his first wife, Mary Bevan (1799-1840). He had a sister, Mary (her married name was Bush). Mary Bush later came to live with William (at Lower Wernhir) after her divorce.

William became a mine agent in Nantyglo mines, just like his father Solomon. Solomon came from a mining area in Shropshire (near the Ironbridge mine), so it is possible that he took his trade from Shropshire to South Wales.

William married Mary Morris in Llangattock, Breconshire in late 1860 (the Oct-Dec registration quarter). Mary had been born in Llanelly, Monmouthshire, a neighbouring parish. They lived initially at Llwynon farm in Llangattock (pictured) - they were there at the time of the census -but moved away from there later in 1861. By this time (aged 29), William had taken up farming.

The farmstead is located on the south slope of Llangynidr mountain at the end of a narrow one-lane road and has a sweeping view of the beautiful Usk Valley. It must have been quite a change from working in the coal industry. Their first child, Mary, was born at Llangattock in late 1861. Thanks to Connie Street, Alan Dobert and Beth Rippenkroeger for the image.

 Their next port of call was back to Aberystruth (probably Nantyglo?). I’m not sure what brought the family back here, or what William’s occupation was at this point. I assume he either became a mine agent or carried on farming.

In 1871, we find the family at Penypark farm in Llantarnam parish, only a few miles from Glascoed, where William was farming. The information at the bottom of the page re them being witnesses at a wedding in Llantarnam would make it likely that they had been at Penypark from 1865 or earlier. I believe that the Rees family left Lower Wernhir around 1877/8 so assume that the Chiltons moved to farm at Wernhir at this point.

Nicola Bodgett (an ancestor of the Chilton family) gave me much of this information about the Chiltons for which I am extremely grateful. She provided the following additional information:

“They (William and Mary) moved after to Tyn y Coed farm but I am not sure where this is - possibly Gilwern. Their son Solomon became quite a character near Gilwern - he was known as a horse docter and charmer and several articles about him have survived. Canon D Parry Jones wrote a book called Charmers and Solomon is described in that. He could cure sick animals especially horses through charms and spells.

I know William and Mary Chilton’s sister Martha Chilton who was born in 1837 married a William Rees born 1820. They had 5 children - Jane 1856, Meredith 1861, Alfred 1863 and Mary 1864 and Annie 1867.”

I am also grateful to Bob Sanders of the Glamorgan Family History website and his source, Delphine Sawdon, for the use of the following excerpts from letters. The full text can be found here. They were letters from an Ann Evans to a Leah Steley (nee Bevan) who I believe was a close relative - possibly sister - of Mary Bevan (William’s mother). Leah was living in Australia at the time, having emigrated with her husband Abel in 1864. Ann Evans was Leah’s niece (and probably therefore William’s cousin).


Letter 1.                        Clydach, Abergavenny                         Dec. 4 1880

... You will see by William Chilton's letter that young Joseph Needham died of a Paralectict fit about six weeks ago. Willie Evans was aprentice to him to learn underground surveying. He lived in the house with him. It is a sad loss for Willie has he was very happy there. He liked Mrs J. Needham very much. I think he will now go to someone in Cwmbain ... She goes on to comment about how depressed the area of Clydach has become with industry moving out (though thriving elsewhere) ... this could explain some of William’s moving??... She continues ... I am sure you will be sorry to hear Mary Bush is separated from her husband. She is now staying with William Chilton. She talks of going out of this country but I don't think she could leave her children, Her eldest daughters are married. The young children make their home with their sister. W. Chilton is anxious to go to Australia. You can see by his letter he wants all particulars.

Letter 2                      Clydach, Abergavenny                          Aug 11. 1884

... there is a death in the family that is reported then ... “You will be surprised to hear Mrs Chilton has left Nantyglo and gone to her son in newport. She has got quite simple and not capable of looking after herself. The house has been sold and part of the furniture. Marthar Roberts bought the house. The land belongs to William Chilton and the cottages. How strange the Chapel people must see it without any of that family going there.”

If these snippets interest you, then please visit Bob’s letters site - it’s worth a look!

I could not find William on the 1891 census in England or Wales and had assumed that he must have died; but there is no obvious candidate either in the death registers, so it is just possible that he may have carried out his dream and left the country for Australia.

Marriage index details:

Names: William Chilton and Mary Morris.

Year of Registration:1860  Quarter of Registration:Oct-Nov-Dec

District:Crickhowell County:Breconshire, Monmouthshire

Volume:11b Page: 262

They were also... Witnesses at a wedding:

30 Sep 1865 Rees Maddock, 34, B, labr, Pen-y-Park: son of  David Maddock, farmer married Mary Mathews, X, 34, S, Pen-y-Park: daughter of John Mathews, deceased

Witnesses:- Wm Chilton;  Mary Chilton. By Banns.

It looks as though Rees Maddock was a labourer at their farm (Pen-y-Park) - I am not aware of any other relationship between this couple and our Chiltons. It is an indicator that they had probably moved to Pen-y-park by 1865.

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

Census records: 1871, 1881.