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Estate Records: Hafod Uchtryd Estate

Acc. 1301

Ref: H

DATE: 1595-1997
SIZE: 7 series
MEDIUM: see item level description

The Hafod collection was found in two metal trunks in the basement of Leeds solicitors Rawson and Best. It was handed over to the current owners of the Hafod Estate, that is, the Forestry Commission, who deposited it in the Ceredigion Record Office, along with assorted records created by themselves in the intervening years. 

The original Messrs. Rawson and Best were the solicitors to John Waddingham, who bought the Estate in 1872. A large volume of papers accrued during Hafod's long history, with each successive owner adding new holdings to the Estate. This process of expansion brought with it documents passed down from former owners of these lands. It also generated new records in addition to correspondence and other paperwork associated with the administration of a large landed estate. Rawson and Best were the keepers of these papers, and they immediately set about ordering them. As solicitors, they were well qualified to do so and their design forms the basis of the collection’s present arrangement. 

Rawson and Best split the papers according to who was the owner at the time and labelled the resulting series with letters of the alphabet. Thus, all early documents up to and including Thomas Johnes’ time are designated A; Duke of Newcastle is B; Henry Hoghton, C; William Chambers, D; John Waddingham, E. Each series is further split into bundles, numbered A1, A2 etc. The whole is meticulously listed in a large schedule (H/D15/1), which was invaluable in recreating the original order of the collection, as many papers had become loose or misplaced. 

In addition to the original arrangement the copious paperwork and correspondence between John Waddingham, his solicitors and other parties has been designated as series F. It was already divided into bundles and no attempt was made to reorganize them; they were simply numbered F1 to F13 and their contents arranged and listed chronologically.

The last series is composed of records created in more modern times by the Forestry Commission; this has become series G.

Thus, each document in the collection has a number composed of three elements. Taking H/D15/1 as an example, H tells us that the document belongs to the Hafod collection; D is the series; 15 is the number of bundle, or file; 1 is the number of the individual item. This is a practical and workable arrangement, allowing easy location of the document in addition to conferring some information about its position in the collection.

The preliminary listing of series H/A to H/F of the collection was undertaken by Anna Skarzynska and Kate Hampson as part of voluntary work experience before commencing the Archives Administration course at University of Wales Aberystwyth; series H/G was similarly listed by Helen Rowe. These listings were used as the basis of the present catalogue which was completed by Anna Skarzynska and funded by a grant from CyMAL. 

The following brief history of the Hafod Estate should be an adequate introduction to the interrelationship between Hafod, its history and people, and the documents.

Early times until 1832

The lands which became the Hafod Estate originally belonged to the Cistercian monastery of Strata Florida. After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII (1536-1540) their holdings were divided and awarded to new tenants. Some of the Strata Florida lands were granted to the Herbert family, who came to Cardiganshire during the reign of Elizabeth I. One, Sir Richard Herbert of Pengelly and Cwmystwyth was High Sherriff of Cardigan from 22 November 1542.

A rent roll dated 1540 for the granges of Mevenith, Cwmystwyth and Hafod-wen (‘newe leases’) reveals that W[illia]m Herbert and Morgan Herbert were tenants of several properties formerly belonging to the Abbey of Strata Florida, including significantly:

Havodychdryd Doleygors Pantycrave Bwlch Gwalter parcell of Ty Loge [...] 4 parte of Pwll Piran parte of Pregnant and Blaenmerin and Alltgron

Havodychdryd or Hafod Uchtryd is the name of the house and demesne and the other properties closely correspond to what is later referred to as 'the Old Estate' (see below). 

The Herberts’ last heiress Jane married Thomas Johnes of Llanfair Clydogau in 1705. He in turn left the Estate to his cousin, Thomas Johnes of Dolaucothi (Carmarthenshire), the grandfather of Col. Thomas Johnes (b. 1748). 

The history of the Estate under the benevolent hand of Col. Johnes need not be rehearsed here beyond some basic facts, being the subject of several books, most notably Peacocks in Paradise by Elizabeth Inglis-Jones. More (not always reliable) information can be found in Francis Jones’ Historic Cardiganshire Homes and Their Families. 

Col. Johnes married twice; his first wife Maria Burgh died young and he then married his cousin Jane Johnes. He succeeded to the Cardiganshire estates upon the death of his father in 1783 and set about turning Hafod into the idyllic landscaped paradise it became. 

He also extended Hafod beyond the lands he had inherited. In document H/D15/1 the 'Old Estate' is listed as follows:
Hafod Mansion and Demesne; Pwlpiran; Dol-y-Gors; Blaenmyherin; Nant Rhys; Dyliw; Bwlch Gwalter and Gwern-y-Pedyl; Rhosfair, Llewn-y-Gwyddel and Cae-Mawr.

Later, the same document lists Johnes' additions: 

Tyloge and Gwern-y-Pedyll; Caermeirch; Rhos Tyddin; Lledwenne, Prignant, Cefn-yr-Esgir, Gwar-yr-Alt and Nant-y-cae; Tycoch; Botcol and Dolchennog; Penyprompen [sic] & c.; Tygwyn, Dolwen & c.; Tyn y Clittie; Advowson of Eglwys Newydd.

Johnes was interested in new farming methods and set up an experimental farm on the Estate; this farm is variously known as New Farm or Gelmast. 

The Johnes' beloved only daughter Mariamne suffered from a spinal deformity and became increasingly disabled by her condition. This did not stop her many intellectual pursuits (she was a capable naturalist, among other things) and she was held in high regard by the various learned visitors to the Hafod. The Estate entered a golden age, but it was not to last.

A series of calamities befell the family and the Estate in the early 1800s. The mansion burnt down in 1807. A costly programme of rebuilding and improvement was completed. In 1811 Mariamne died, leaving her parents bereft. Then, financial difficulties brought on by Thomas's relentless expenditure forced a sale of the reversion of Hafod to stave off bankruptcy. Thomas Johnes died in 1816 and Jane left Cardiganshire for Devon, where she died in 1833.

Only three documents in the collection are pre-1700 but there are a number of documents from the 18th and early 19th century detailing the Estate’s fortunes during that period. These are mostly contained within series A.

1833-1846 (the Duke of Newcastle)

The Most Noble Henry Pelham Fiennes Clinton Pelham Duke of Newcastle signed a contract for the purchase of the Hafod Estate in 1833 (H/A16/18) but the actual conveyance took place on 10 January 1835 (H/A17/2). According to Francis Jones' account, the Duke was 'much hated' but he effected improvements and reclaimed much waste land during his tenure. Like Johnes before him, he added to Hafod's holdings. The following properties and rights acquired by him are listed in H/D15/1:

Common rights over Cyrne; Rhos Prignant otherwise Rhos-y-gell otherwise Rhosarw; Tymawr Issa or Rhosfair House; Tynyffordd and Sarnfedw; Rhosyrhiw, Pontrhydygroes and Pontrhydygroes Mill; Nantsyddion; cottage at Rhosfair; Pantyffynnon; Rights claimed by the Crown in portions of the Hafod Estate.

The Duke eventually sold the Estate to Henry Hoghton in 1846.

Papers documenting the Estate's conveyance to the Duke are in series A; those recording his administration of Hafod are in series B.

1846-1857 (Henry Hoghton)

Henry Hoghton bought the Estate in 1846. His tenure was fairly short and comparatively uneventful, although he did instigate a rebuilding and extension of the mansion. He also acquired the mineral rights to parts of the Estate which had previously been reserved to Lord Lisburne. Other than that, he added Penglog and Cae'r Lluest as well as a plantation and 'other small properties', as H/D15/1 tells us. 

Hafod was again put up for sale in 1855 and the conveyance to William Chambers took place in 1857.

Henry Hoghton's purchase of the Estate is in series B; his later activities as owner are documented in series C.

1857-1871 (William Chambers)

William Chambers is dismissed by both Elizabeth Inglis-Jones and Francis Jones as a property speculator and they have little else to say about him. Certainly by the time of sale to the next owner the Estate was heavily mortgaged and the Dowager Baroness Margaret Willoughby de Broke the de facto owner. In addition, a large part of the Estate (referred to in the collection as the Devil’s Bridge Estate and covering the Devil’s Bridge Hotel and surrounding lands including Rhos y Tyddyn) was sold in 1866. The buyer was John Barton Balcombe, a man of business also responsible for building the Queen’s Hotel in Aberystwyth (the present County Hall). 

William Chambers granted a number of mining leases to various individuals and companies (see file H/D5), but the lead mines on the Estate were not rich. 

Moreover, Chambers is largely responsible for creation of the village of Devil’s Bridge by granting many residential leases in the area (see files H/D6 to H/D8). Under the terms of most of these the tenant was to erect a dwelling house on the allotted building plot; a separate lease was prepared for what was termed ‘accommodation land’, in effect an adjoining piece of land of one acre or so to be used by the tenant to grow food or keep livestock on. In return for the building work and annual rent the tenant got a lease for 60 years and three lives (usually of his children or those of close relatives). 

According to H/D15/1, Chambers’ additions to the Hafod holdings consisted of Penybont, Pencwm and ‘various parcels of Land on the outskirts of the Estate’.

Chambers eventually went bankrupt and the Estate was put up for sale in 1871 and conveyed to John Waddingham in 1872.

Chambers’ purchase of Hafod is in file H/C3; series H/D documents his period of ownership.

1872–1890 (John Waddingham)

According to Jones, the Waddinghams were of Lincolnshire farming stock and John made his fortune as a merchant and cloth manufacturer in Leeds and by shrewd investments in the growing railway industry. He retained a relationship with Leeds; he owned warehouses there and employed Messrs. Rawson and Best of Leeds as his solicitors even after he removed to Guiting Grange in Gloucestershire. He subsequently bought the Hafod Estate in 1872 from the bankrupt Chambers, or rather from Lady de Broke who was the latter’s principal creditor. 

Waddingham extended the Estate considerably; H/D15/1 lists Smeltings, the old chapel at Ysbytty Ystwyth, Tymawr and Tynrhyd, and ‘lands within Manor of Llanfihangel-y-Croyddin claimed by the Crown’. The largest single addition was the Devil’s Bridge Estate, which had been sold to Balcombe in 1866. After Balcombe encountered serious financial difficulties (probably self-inflicted; he was held in very low regard by those who had business dealings with him) Waddingham purchased the estate in 1876 from Messrs. Hardistry and Rhodes, who were apparently Balcombe’s creditors or possibly receivers (see file H/E1).

In 1881 Waddingham installed a new manager, one W. Williams, at the Devil’s Bridge Hotel. Waddingham’s hands-on approach to running the Estate is illustrated by the multitude of letters he exchanged daily with Williams and with other parties or individuals (see series H/F).

Inevitably, during Waddingham’s time at the helm various disputes with neighbours, tenants, or even the Crown had to be settled in court, and one such dispute, the Attorney General v. Waddingham case, went on for many years. It is well documented; indeed, papers relating to it form a significant part of the collection. The lawsuit concerned alleged encroachments by Waddingham on Crown land in the Manor of Creuddyn, with the eventual outcome in Waddingham’s favour (see file H/E8 and series H/F). 

John Waddingham died in 1890. His Welsh estates went to his son Thomas James Waddingham, while his other son John inherited Guiting Grange. Documents relating to his time as owner are contained mostly in series H/E and H/F.

1890-1940 (Thomas James Waddingham)

Thomas James Waddingham adopted Wales and the Hafod as his home. He learnt Welsh, sat as a JP and was involved in local affairs for the rest of his life. He leased the Myherin Forest area of the Estate to the Forestry Commission in 1929. After he and the Estate ran out of money, he lived in Aberystwyth from 1932 to his death in 1938, aged 98. 

There are but few documents in the collection relating to his ownership; they are contained in file H/E12. The Forestry Commission lease and a Deed of Variation of said lease are items H/G6/3 and H/G6/91 respectively.

Later history (1940 onwards)

Between 1940 and 1946 Hafod changed hands three times and was owned in turn by W. G. Tarrant, T. E. Davies and J. J. Rennie. The mansion was declared vacant in 1946. By 1958 the house was derelict and it was demolished that year.

In 1973 R. Holder bought the freehold of Myherin Forest (under lease to the Forestry Commission). His ownership of that area of the Estate and his dealings with the Forestry Commission and other parties are documented in series H/G; see the introduction to that series for more information.
ARCHIVIST NOTE: This introduction to the collection was compiled by the cataloguer (Anna Skarzynska) using the collection itself and the following sources:

Crosswood IV.1: a rent roll for the granges of Mevenith, Cwmystwyth and Hafod-wen (dated 1540). This document is part of the Crosswood collection in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.
Bonner, D. E., ‘Hanes Hafod Uchtryd’, in Cymru no. 39 (1910), pp. 157-163
Davies, E. J., ‘Hafod Ychtryd’, in TCAS 1 pt. 1, pp. 51-54 and pt. 2 pp. 20-23
Davies, J., ‘Herberts of Hafod’, in Old Wales vol. 2, pp 147-151 and 218
Inglis-Jones, Elizabeth, Peacocks in Paradise, Gomer 1990
Jones, Francis, Historic Cardiganshire Homes and Their Families, Brawdy Books 2004
PRO Lists and Indexes vol. IX: Sheriffs for England and Wales from the earliest times to AD 1831

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