Selections from The Diary of Thomas Jenkins of Llandeilo
1826 – 1870
(Edited by D. C. Jenkins, Dragon Books, Bala, North Wales,1986)


The Diary begins with a ghost story …
Highlights from the early years
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death


The editor's foreword to the published Diary of Thomas Jenkins of Llandeilo begins with an intriguing overview of his life and his many accomplishments:

The only known portait of Thomas Jenkins, aged 33

"Thomas Jenkins was born at Tycroes, in the parish of Llanedy, Carmarthenshire in May 1813. His grandfather had been curate of Llandeilo-fawr and vicar of Meidrim and Brechfa. His father also was a man of learning but his financial disasters perhaps caused his son to take up a practical occupation – cabinet making. In 1826, puzzled, startled and quite frightened by a supernatural event, Thomas started keeping a diary in which he wrote until a few months before his death. Thomas' family moved to Carmarthen and later back to Llandeilo where Thomas' father had been born.
.... Llandeilo was changing from its medieval shape and a wide road had been driven through its great churchyard, eventually to connect with the new bridge Thomas would help design and build. The Industrial Revolution sparked Thomas' ingenuity and he was determined to miss nothing. He travelled to Bristol to see the Clifton suspension bridge under construction and the steamship Great Britain being built. He walked to Pembroke Dock to see the warships and dockyard. He visited foundries and mines and was fascinated at Queenstown watching the ships carrying the new telegraph cable, which would span the Atlantic. The world was his mind's playground and he revelled in recording tonnages, widths, heights, capacities, temperatures and volumes.
.... In 1843, excited by the growth of science, he founded the Llandeilo Mechanics' Mutual Instructing Institution that met in his house. In his lifetime he built boats, made violins and taught himself how to play one. He recorded the crafting of over 250 coffins with details of their construction, cost and "contents" – names, dates of demise and often the method by which the dearly departed had departed. Each casket was prepared and polished to perfection; Thomas would make all the necessary arrangements, and accompany the deceased on their final journey attending each interment. He fitted a man with an artificial leg, and his love of astronomy found him calculating and installing sundials for the local gentry.
.... During his work on the new stone bridge, he built pile-drivers and pumps from his own design and invented a machine for testing the very stones that would be used.
.... Thomas collected fossils, conducted chemical and electrical experiments and he was a scientific cave explorer. A keen watcher of the skies, he knew the constellations and both Halley's and Rosa's comets are followed in his diary. He made two wax figures which, clothed in Welsh costume, were displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. He erected public lighting, brought gas and water to the town and was prominent in the lead and zinc mines. Thomas inspected breweries as far away as Birmingham before laying out the South Wales Brewery at Llandeilo. All this in addition to cabinet-making, building, census enumerating and bringing up a family of twelve children!
.... But, it was his love life and the way he travelled which was amazing. He married twice – both of the young ladies had been his servants, and children often arrived during intriguing times – but it was his ardent courtship of Sarah Davies of Aberdauddwr which was the love story of his life. Thomas would undoubtedly have married her, but she died in his arms only 21 years old. He tended her grave even years later – a nineteen-mile uphill pilgrimage.
.... Thomas Jenkins walked! He records a trip on foot from Llandeilo to Carmarthen as taking only two and a half hours and he'd often walk that each day to and from work! Once he carried his daughter on his back at night all the way from Llanelli! Only later in life did he construct a "homomotive carriage with three wheels" and use this heavy iron tricycle for even carrying passengers. He also had premonitions and notes in his diary a death he had dreamt of and an accident, which could have ended in tragedy. He became a Constable of the Leet Court and often acted as a referee or assessor in disputes or valuations of estates.
....His diary was written in two hard-covered exercise books. The first, which takes us to the end of 1854 is written with interest and care and contains most of his sightseeing trips. The second concerned itself more with his mounting family and business commitments. All are absolutely fascinating with names of local people, events and places being recorded for posterity and our enjoyment. The diary ends in December 1870 and the following October Thomas Jenkins died; secure in the knowledge that his family would have the £200 life insurance policy whose payments he had faithfully recorded. Thomas was buried in the upper parish churchyard of the town that he had served so faithfully."

(The Diary of Thomas Jenkins of Llandeilo; edited by D. C. Jenkins; Dragon Books; Bala, North Wales; 1986.)

Llandeilo, only seven miles north of Ammanford, is a distinctly different town with a mucher older history, but the wanderings of Thomas Jenkins so often took him to the Amman Valley and the village of Cross Inn, as Ammanford was then called, that his diary can happily be included here. Thomas Jenkins may have spent most of his life in Llandeilo, but he was originally from Tycroes, which is part of today's Ammanford conurbation, giving us an extra reason to include him.

The following selections from over forty years of diary entries were made by genealogist Ellyn Francis for publication in 'Carmarthenshire Life' and later included in her website ( These diary entries were extracted from a book now sadly out of print and hard to obtain even through local libraries. The italicised comments in brackets are explanatory notes supplied by the editor of the diaries, D. C. Jenkins. There is a separate article on Thomas Jenkins in the 'People' section of this website by Carmarthen-born journalists Byron Rogers, which is as amusing as it is informative.

The Diary begins with a ghost story …
Highlights from the early years
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death

The Diary begins with a ghost story …

In a remote part of West Wales, in 1826, a thirteen-year-old boy wrote -

"Brynymaen, Cardiganshire: I was induced to commence this diary of the principal events of my life owing to an unaccountable circumstance which happened to me and which I shall relate simply as it happened. I am not prone to superstition although living in, I should think, the most superstitious part of the country. I was always taught by my parents to disbelieve all the stories of ghosts and goblins that are so prevalent a source of terror in many a secluded locality to this day.
.... It was one fine moonlight night in the month of September this year. Having been rambling about the neighbourhood I returned home at 12 o'clock. All had retired to bed. Having lit a candle and placed it in an iron candlestick I went into my room and fastened the door, then placed the candlestick, together with an apple (which I intended eating on going to bed) on a bench which was occasionally used for holding cheese. Sitting on the side of the bed to take off my shoes I could see the light of the candle flashing on the wall. I looked around and to my great surprise there was the candle and candlestick vibrating back and fore with the apple under one edge of it. It then struck me that there must be someone in the room, which I then searched very carefully but unsuccessfully. Feeling my feet cold and having stockings on I went into bed but could not sleep for some time racking my brain as to how the apple could have got under the candlestick. I again felt my feet so warm that I took my stockings off and laid them on the bed. Getting up next morning and making the most diligent search possible the stockings were nowhere to be found, and they were never discovered afterwards."

The Diary begins with a ghost story …
Highlights from the early years
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death

Highlights from the early years
1829 16 years old
Nov 4 Finished reaping the corn
Nov 7 do. binding do. ("do." means ditto)
Nov 13 do. carrying do. Paid to labourers £7.14.1
1831 18 years old
Jan 25 Stuck a knife into my right cheek in cutting up a fat sheep I had killed.
1833 20 years old
Nov 29 Agreed with Ann Evans, Cefncoed, as servant at £2.10.0 (She later became his first wife.)
Dec 24 Went to Carmarthen. Arrived at 8:30 p.m. Fireworks in every street.
Dec 25 Went to bed at 4 a.m., too much noise about the streets to go sooner. Dined at the 'Creselly Arms'.
1835 22 years old
Apl 12 The 'George the Third' convict ship was wrecked off the coast of Australia. There were on board at the time 294 persons of whom 134 perished and of these 128 were convicts.
May 14 The convict ship 'Neva' bound from Cork to Sydney was lost in Bass Straits, 224 persons chiefly female convicts perished.
July 7 Went to Margaret Evans' bidding, gave 2/- (The social custom of bidding helped young people get married on borrowed money. The bride's family solicited pre-wedding repayable donations, and then the happy couple were bound to do the same when their benefactors got engaged.)
July 28 Got up at 3 a.m. to earth potatoes. Worked until 7a.m. The weather was very hot.
Aug 1 Found 1 oz. coffee on the pavement in King Street.
Aug 5 Halley's Comet was first seen at Rome after an absence of 76 years.
Aug 11 Fine day – Left (from Carmarthen) for Llandeilo 8 a.m. (on foot) passed through part of six parishes viz: St. Peter's, Abergwili, Llanegwad, Llangathen, Llandyfeisant and Llandeilo. The harvest in a very forward state, wheat carried in several places, barley and oats cut and some in stacks. Arrived at Llandeilo 10:30 a.m. (Carmarthen to Llandeilo is 15 miles, which he walked in 2 ½ hours!)
Aug 12 Went to the Fair, several shows. Saw a Giantess, a Hottentot woman, a flaxen-haired negro, 2 serpents, crocodile, alligator, porcupine, lemon-crested cockatoo, sand sloth, jackal, Muscovey cat, American sea-serpent, boa constrictor, etc. Saw a woman raise 300 lbs by her hair.
Aug 17 Went to Llandeilo with a cart for mahogany and clock etc. Left Carmarthen at 4 a.m. Returned at 6 p.m.
Aug 31 Got severe cold last night.
Sept 1 Much worse, took 1/2 oz salts and senna.
Sept 2 Very bad headache, took 4 gr. Calomel.
Sept 3 Took 14 gr. Jalap this morning.
Sept 4 Much better.
Oct. 10 9 p.m. Halley's comet is now visible about 2 degrees north of the most northward star of the pointers – constellation ursa major.
Oct 20 Went to Thomas Jones' wedding and to the bidding in the evening. Gave 2/6.
Nov 17 Made picture frame 4 ft 7 ins by 3 ft 9 ins sight moulding 6 by 5.
1836 23 years old
Jany 5 Made a coffin for a still-born child of Daniel Jones, Cwm-y-nant. Went at 9:30 to Llanllwch to bury it
June 17 3L – x ae (Mysterious secret code means that that Ann Evans, his servant was three months – 'lives' – pregnant.)
June 22 Made a coffin for Daniel Jones, Cwm-y-nant's wife. Elm 33 ft
June 24 Closed the coffin at 4 p.m. and attended the funeral to Llanllwch.
Dec 6 Total received for work this year – £15.7.1/2. Paid £13.14.91/2
1837 24 years old
Jany 30 Found a silver sixpence opposite the Town Jail.
Feb 4 Sold a violin to William Jones, Tailor, for a silver watch.
May 18 Saw a tapeworm with Mr. Williams, Druggist, which measured 27 ft.
June 11 Went to see Carreg Cennen Castle together with two of Mr. Williams the Druggist's young men. Got a candle and lantern at the farm to see the cave which is under the castle and it is about 195 ft long and has a fine spring of clean water near the further extremity. Returned by Mr. Lawford's house. Went to see his collection of stuffed birds.
June 30 Took a cart to Llandeilo with the mahogany for J. Williams, the Druggist's new shop.
Aug 7 Mary (his illegitimate daughter born last October) was vaccinated. (It seems by his diary entries that Mary was 'put out to nurse' and her mother, Ann, remained as a servant elsewhere.)
Sep 8 A poor woman, from near Llandybie, killed by a cart in Bridge Street.
Dec 22 Left Carmarthen at 4 ½ p.m. Walked to Llandeilo. Very dark night, the road wet after last night's rain.
Dec 30 Made 260 picture frames this year.
1839 26 years old
June 26 Went to Golden Grove to work.
July 7 Having now some prospect of being able to maintain a wife, and having determined that that the wife should be Ann, I got the banns published this morning in Betws Lleucu Church for the first time. Paid 1/-
July 20 Walked from Cwmamman to Capel Betws, 36 miles. Heavy rain all the way.
July 21 Banns published the third time. Slept at Capel Betws.
July 23 Walked to Llandeilo.
Aug 20 Married to Ann at 8 a.m. by the Revd. John Lewis at Betws Lleucu Church. Paid 5/-
Sep 9 Arrived at Swansea 8 a.m. Went to bathe in the sea. Left Swansea at 3 p.m. with David Davies. Walked through Llangyfelach, Cross Inn and Llandybie. Home at 12 midnight. (At the end of December, Thomas Jenkins rents a house in Llandeilo from Mr. Caleb Jones for 3/- a week and on the last day of 1839, Ann and Thomas actually sleep in their "own" house together. However, they were forced to move in February on the day Thomas found a sixpence outside the 'Cawdor Arms'. They rented three rooms from Mr. Jones, Saddler, on the day that Queen Victoria married to Prince Albert. Thomas catches the influenza and Ann is recorded as being "three lives" on February 16th.)

The Diary begins with a ghost story …
Highlights from the early years
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
1840 27 years old
Mar 8 Went to Carreg Cennen Castle with Ann. At 1 p.m. as Mr. Williams, Surgeon of Glancennen's wife and daughter were returning from church in a phaeton, the horse took fright in Bridge Street and ran with them over the parapet of the bridge. Mrs. Williams died on the spot. Miss Williams died about 1 ½ hours at The Crown and the boy who was driving them was taken up senseless. The horse was killed on the spot and the phaeton dashed to pieces. The height of the fall is about 35 ft. (This bridge was about 250 feet further down the hill from the present one but was extremely narrow with no room for a pedestrian to pass a carriage.)
June 5 Took a cart to Carmarthen for mahogany and returned to Llandeilo in the evening. Heavy rain all the way.
June 6 George was born at 8:15 p.m. being 20 weeks and 1 day or 142 clear days.
Aug 27 Went to Golden Grove to work.
Aug 28 Had 60 ft. of birds eye maple veneer from Bristol.
Oct 25 Sat up with Mr. Jones, Saddler. He is dying. (They are now renting 3 rooms from him at £9 a year)
Oct 26 Mr. Jones died at 4 ½ p.m.
Oct 27 Made an oak coffin for him
Oct 28 Attended the funeral to Hermon this evening. Heavy rain.
1841 28 years old
Mar 9 Went to see Paxton's Tower. It is a triangle of 36 ft. with a small round tower at each angle, with 119 steps to the top. (Built by Sir William Paxton, M.P. in 1807 as a way of being remembered and as almost a shrine to Lord Nelson who dined there. A stained glass window of Nelson was taken from the tower and is at the Carmarthen Museum.)
Apr 1 Made Mr. Caleb Jones' coffin covered with velvet 5 yds.
Apr 4 Peter and self went to see Cilrychen Cave which was discovered Dec 13, 1823. Took a seat in the Methodist Chapel.
Apr 6 Attended Mr. Caleb Jones' funeral at 4 p.m. The Oddfellows of the Ap Tewder Lodge attended to the number of 70, dressed in black sashes and hat-bands.
Apr 24 Went at 6 p.m. together with David Davies, Peter Jenkins and John the Mason to Cilrychen Cave. I took a pistol and Peter brought his clarinet.Spent 3 ½ hours inside. The total length including all the branches is 301 yds. We returned at 12 night.
May 1 Went at 6 p.m. together with Dd. Davies, Peter Jenkins, Philip Griffiths and Wm. Williams 'Rose and Crown' to see the Llygad Llwchwr Cave. The entrance is about 10 ft above where the river leaves the rock. We entered at 8 p.m., the entrance is narrow and rather dangerous. After proceeding 51 ft. I tied the end of a ball of twine to a stalactite pillar, there being so many windings and passages. We then proceeded to a stalactite pillar 5 ft. long from the floor to the roof and 3 ft. in circumference. Each having a candle we passed through several narrow passages 'til we came to the river. The cave here is about 30ft. from the water to the roof, the river is about 15 ft. wide. Not being able to proceed further we returned after having gone through all the different passages that I could find. We came out at 1 a.m. The distance from the entrance to the water is 567 ft. Arrived home at 3 a.m.
June 7 This day a census of the population of the United Kingdom was taken. I enumerated the Rhosmaen and New Inn districts containing 55 inhabited houses, 8 uninhabitable and 2 building. 106 males, 124 females. The population of Llandeilo amounted to 1345 – 132 more females than males. Received £1.1.0.
July 21 Left, together with Dd. Davies, at 12 p.m. through Llangyfelach to Swansea where we arrived at 8 p.m.
July 22 Slept at Wm. Jones, Strand. Left at 9 a.m. in the 'County of Pembroke' steamer. Got very sick. Saw St. Donat's castle, the Steep and Flat Holms and light ship. Anchored in King's road at 6 p.m. Got to Bristol at 8 p.m.
July 23 Slept at Dd. Rees's, Ballast master, Coronation Place, Back Street. Got up at 6 a.m.
July 24 Slept at ditto. Left Bristol at 9 a.m. and walked through Brislington to Keynsham – too late for train. Walked on through Saisford. Got to Bath at 2 p.m. Went to Norfolk Crescent, from there to Stanhope Street, by Walcot churchyard to the Circus then to Catherine Place, St. Vincent's Crescent, Queen's Square, Queen's Parade through Milson Street, Bond Street, by the Infirmary through the Arcade. From there to the railway station. Got to Bristol in 20 minutes – 12 miles.
July 25 Slept at ditto. Went in the morning to Clifton and St. Vincent's rocks to see the piers for the new suspension bridge. The roadway is to be 230 ft. above high-water mark. The piers are 70 ft. high. There is now an iron bar 3 inches diameter and 800 ft. long stretched across with a basket sliding by ropes along it. The distance between the piers is 630 ft. Estimated cost when complete £57,000. In returning we went to see the iron steamship 'Great Britain' now building, the total length of which is 325 ft., width 51 ft., depth of hold 33 ft. Burden 3,600 tons, 1,000 horsepower. There are to be 360 beds for passengers and 6 masts. (In July 1970 the 'Great Britain', first screw-propelled, iron-hulled Atlantic liner, returned in triumph to her home port of Bristol, having been towed on a pontoon from the Falkiand Islands where she had lain beached for many years.) Went to St. Mary's Redcliffe church at 5 p.m. where the old sexton showed us a tower where there is a fine peal of ten bells. Saw the rib of an animal 6 ft. 10ins. long, said to have belonged to the Dun Cow killed by Guy, Earl of Warwick. It appears to me more likely the rib of a whale than any other animal. Went to St. Peter's church to hear the service at 6 p.m.
July 26 Went to Bedminster with Mr. Buxton. Fine view of Bristol and Clifton. Reckoned 21 churches. Bought some mahogany, hair-seating, plate-glass and turning tools.
July 27 Went to see the Cathedral church. Left at 1 p.m. in the 'County of Pembroke' steamer. Passed Cook's Folly, a tower about 1 mile below the suspension bridge, built by a person of the name of Cook to preserve his son from his fate predicted by an astrologer at his birth, but it availed him not. Hence it was. called Cook's Folly. Passed the 'Phoenix steamer with her engines disabled. Attempted to take her passengers on board but found the sea too rough. She was obliged to put back to Bristol before the wind. Stayed on deck until I got thoroughly wetted with the spray. Went below and got very ill. Wind ahead, washing the decks.
July 28 Arrived at Swansea at 12.30 this morning and slept at W. Jones's. Left at 11.30 a.m. Walked through Llangyfelach to Wm. Owen's where we took tea. Got to Llandeilo at 8 p.m.
1842 29 years old
Feb 4 Thomas Peter was killed at 8 o'clock this evening by Dd. Rees' wagon crushing him between the wheel and the wall near the Market House. He died instantly.
Feb 5 Made a coffin for him of elm £1
Feb 7 Attended the funeral at 3 p.m.
June 3 Went to Maerdy to clean and oil-polish a dining table for the Misses Peel.
Dec 7 Went with Mr. Thomas, T.M. in his gig to Cross Inn. Walked from there to The Raven Inn to value shop fittings. Finished at 9 p.m. When I left the night very dark and foggy. Met 5 drunken fellows on the Black Mountain who were very insulting. Got home at 11 p.m.
Dec 25 Sarah was born at 11 minutes past 6 p.m.
1843 30 years old
Feb 18 Very stormy with hard frost, the wind un-roofed part of my workshop.
Aprl 17 Mr. Price's body was found in the river near Dryslwyn, having been drowned in crossing on horseback opposite his house, Llwyn Mendy, the 4th of April.
July 9 A detachment of the 4th Light Dragoons arrived here having been sent for owing to people breaking down the turnpike gates in the neighbourhood under the name of Rebeccaites. (These troops were quartered at the Cawdor Arms Hotel and were later replaced by the 41st, a foot regiment, who used the old vicarage as a barracks. For nearly two years during the Rebecca Riots, Llandeilo became a military post.)
July 10 Father came here in a phaeton with Mr. H. Williams and returned in the evening. (Very cryptic comment filled with secrets – Thomas' father was noted as a champion of the oppressed and Hugh Williams of Carmarthen was a leader of the Rebecca Riots. These increased in strength in the next five weeks and the Walk Gatehouse at Llandeilo was destroyed.)
Aug 6 Ann bought a gold ring of Christian Moser for 7/6d and the old one which was broken.
Aug 9 The Walk Gate and house was taken down to the ground by the Rebeccaites with soldiers billeted at The White Hart and Walk on both sides, so much for soldier vigilance.
Aug 19 Went to Carreg Cennen Cave, from there to the cave at Palebryna on the hillside about ½ mile higher up than Llygad Llwchwr. Went in about 300 ft. together with B. Morgan and E.J.Griffiths. Found it very low and dirty excepting one place where it was very spacious. From there to Llygad Llwchwr Cave, borrowed kettle and cups at Cwrt-bryn-y-beirdd, made a fire and took tea before going in. Spent about 4 hours inside. Having taken a pistol with me, the report it made rivalled the loudest thunder. Got home at dusk.
Aug 29 Went, together with B. Morgan, Wm. Griffiths, Dd. Davies and Phillip Griffiths to Cilrychen Cave. From there to the cave at Pant-y-llyn where, 30 years ago, from 14 to 24 human skeletons were found in quarrying for limestone. It now extends only 30 ft having been quarried off.
Aug 30 Ann (his wife) walked to Carmarthen having received a letter from my step-mother that father was expected to die. (This is the only time he mentions his step-mother.)
Aug 31 Father breathed his last at Pensarn 3 o'clock a.m. in his 69th year. Walked to Carmarthen this evening.
Sep 3 Sunday. Left Carmarthen with poor father's remains, together with Hugh Williams and bearers in two boats. Arrived in St. Ishmael at 5 ½ p.m., father having expressed a wish to be buried there. (He had written a poem 'The Sailor's Grave' about Hugh Williams' brother who wanted to be buried near the sea. 31 years later, Hugh would be buried alongside his brother and his dear friend, Thomas Jenkins' Senior.)
Sep 12 Went to Llygad Llwchwr Cave with B. Morgan, E.J. and W. Griffiths, Wm. Jones and Wm. Davies. Having taken a rope ladder with us we entered at 9 a.m. and having crossed the river inside we discovered two branches where no human being had been before. In one there is a plank of stalactite extending from the roof to the floor, which, when struck with a hammer, emits as a fine and loud a noise as one of the largest bells in Llandeilo steeple, from which we christened it the Bell Cavern. Came out at 3 p.m. and took tea near the entrance. Arrived home at 7 p.m. highly gratified with our day's discovery.
Sep 27 Made a pump for the intended Llandeilo new bridge, 7 ft long, 5 " bore and 12" stroke.
Sep 30 Made a working model of a hydraulic servo pump and presented it to the Mechanic's Mutual Instructing Institution.
Oct 9 Made a coffin for Daniel Walter Lewis, a child 11 days old, his mother, Ellen Thomas, having been confined at Dd. Harris, the Bookbinder's.
Dec 25 Went to Carreg Cennen Castle today with Peter Jenkins and David the Cooper. Found 3 Roman coins in the earth beneath the rock on the south side of the castle.
1844 31 years old
Mar 27 Thomas Davies, Draper, Manchester House, died of disease of the heart in leaving the Methodist Chapel. He dropped on the street and died instantly, aged 30 at 9 p.m.
Mar 28 Made his coffin, oak, covered black, wood and labour £1.7.0
Mar 30 Attended his funeral to Taliaris Church.
Apl 4 Went to Mr. Lawford's, Carreg Cennen, to get some looking-glasses silvered.
Apl 19 Stayed up last night making a coffin for Ed. James' little girl.
Apl 25 Set a sun-dial in the churchyard. Wood for post and labour 18/-
Apl 26 Went to Edwinsford to compare the dial there with the one I had set up and found it 4 ½ " after.
Apl 27 To Golden Grove. Found the dial there 5" before Edwinsford dial lat. 52 deg. 6 mins. Golden Grove 51 deg. 32 mins
July 18 Left with Joseph Williams at 4 a.m. Breakfast at Aunt Price, Carmarthen. Walked through St. Clears, Llanddowror and got to Tenby at 9 p.m. 30 miles. Took tea at the 'Ring O'Bells' pd. –/8d.
July 19 Slept at the 'Three Mariners'. Horrid. Had no soap to wash with. Paid for bed – 4/d (He continues his holiday by walking to Pembroke, Milford Haven, Cardigan, New Quay, up to Aberystwyth to see the Devil's Bridge.)
July 26 Went with the guide to see the bridge, which is one arch of 29ft. span and 120 ft. above the stream of the Munach. It extends from rock to rock over the old bridge, which is attributed to His Satanic Majesty, but in reality built by the monks of Strata Florida 750 years ago. (He continues on foot to Strata Florida and then to Lampeter returning home the next day.)
Sept 3 Made three coffins for S. Stephen, the Smith's children. Two having died on Sunday and one today of scarlet fever. Aged 9, 6 and 3 years. Wood and labour £1.8.0
Sept 9 Made a coracle that may be taken to pieces and made up again for Llygad Llwchwr Cave. Cost 10/6d
Sept 10 Went together with B. Morgan, Dd. Lewis, John Thomas, Walter Jones, Puddicomb and Owen Jones to Llygad Llwchwr. Entered the cavern at 8:30 a.m. and after turning to the left at right angles to the main branch and getting down over the rock by the rope-ladder over the stream, we made up the coracle and proceeded down the stream over very deep pools through several magnificent caverns where man never dared to go. Came out to daylight at 1:30 p.m.
Oct 21 Illumination and fireworks in honour of Lord Dynevor having been married 50 years.
Nov 8 Suffered great pain from a bit of cast-iron getting into my eye in turning a pair of sugar-mill rollers for Mr. Gravell. Walter Jones attended and applied leeches to allay the inflammation, the first time I ever had them applied – they did a vast deal of good.
Dec 2 Laid down 4" of oak planking on 12" square bearing beams for the south abutment of the new bridge.
Dec 3 The foundation stone was laid this evening at 3:15 p.m. 4 lbs of beef and 1 pint of ale and ½ oz of tobacco given to each workman to the number of 40.
Dec 25 George (Thomas Jenkins' son) went with Edward Price to the park and returned shivering.
Dec 26 At 12 noon my poor boy went to bed very ill with scarlet fever.
Dec 27 George worse, sent for Walter Jones, Surgeon.
Dec 28 Worse. Red pustules began to appear.
Dec 29 Still worse. Sent for Dr. Prothero who ordered his head to be shaved and bathed with cold salt water and leeches applied to his temples. Continued bathing his heading from 2 p.m. til ------
Dec 30 6 a.m. Inflamation reduced. Swallowing difficult. Continued bathing his throat with hot flannels 'til 5 p.m. I went to bed at 8 p.m.
Dec 31 Got up at 2 a.m. Due to me this day £123.7.5. I owe £121.11.11 ½. Balance in my favour £1.15.5 ½
1845 32 years old
Jany 3 It pleased God for some wise end to relieve my dear boy from his suffering at 11 ½ p.m. I shall never see his like again. God grant that I may become resigned.
Jany 4 Peter made his coffin of inch oak, covered with grey cloth
Jany 7 The remains of my dear boy were laid in earth at 4 p.m. near Uncle Thomas Lott's grave in the upper churchyard. Aged 4 years and 6 months yesterday. (Thomas Lott was the chemist and druggist of Llandeilo 1776 – 1816.) Sarah was taken ill in scarlet fever last Saturday the 4th. (Sarah recovers 11 days later.)
Aug 29 Went at 6 a.m. up to see the Beacons and Llyn-y-fan. Spent the day on the mountain. The lake is full of fish and said to be 260 yards deep.
Aug 30 Left Blaen-sawdde on foot at 6 a.m. Home at 10 a.m.
The Diary begins with a ghost story …
Highlights from the early years
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
1846 33 years old
Feby 8 Went with David Davies to Middleton Hall to see the gardens. Took tea at the gardener's.
Feby 20 Drew the elliptic line for the new bridge, full size, Span 145 ft, Raise 38 ft.
Mar 15 Went with B. Morgan to see Tregib House and gardens. Thence to hear the Revd. D. Griffiths at the Unitarian Chapel. From there to Llygad Llwchwr and from there to Glynhir. Saw a snake in the wood near the waterfall. Tallest waterfall in Carmarthenshire. Took tea at Cross Inn and returned to Llandeilo through Llandybie.
Sept 1 A cricket began chirping in the kitchen, being the first I have heard in the same house as myself.
Sep 2 Dreamt that the chain of the crane broke and came down with a rattling noise and, starting from sleep, Ann asked me what was the matter, when I told. This evening the chain did break and ran over the pulley with the same noise as I heard in my dream. Three or four of us had a narrow escape.
Oct 10 The remains of John Cleaver's little boy were thrown up by the flood near Llanarthney, after having been in the river two months.
Oct 22 Very high flood. Part of the centre carried off. There were five men on it at the time and they were precipitated with the falling timbers into the flood. Two were taken out immediately one got up by a rope over the parapet of the old bridge, and two were carried by the river on some of the timbers to Cilsan where they got out much exhausted.
Nov 11 The old bridge having been damaged by the late flood and cracked through, went with William Williams to Cilgwyn where we purchased 1,000ft. beech timber for making a coffer-dam around the damaged pier.
Dec 16 Made a coffin for a still-born male child of Edmund Parry, Watchmaker and Sarah, Morgan Pendry's servant. Buried him on the hill above the well in the lower churchyard.
1847 34 years old
Dec 31 Made a coffin for George Hughes' little girl, aged 14 weeks. Miss Sarah Davies came to see us last night from Aberdauddwr. (Very significant entry as future events will prove to be extremely interesting.)
1848 35 years old
Jany 1 Morning fine, frost evening, rain and thaw. Ann was put to bed at 3 p.m. attended by Dr. Rees and gave birth to a boy at 9 ½ p.m.
Jany 2 Sunday. Went at Ann's request to Doulaugleision, she having promised Mrs. Davies that I should dine there today, Sarah having been sent there yesterday. Returned at 4 p.m. Soon after I returned my poor Ann was attacked with severe pains in the right leg. Sent for Drs. Prothero and Rees to attend her, at 10 p.m. pain less severe.
Jany 3 Ann very ill.
Jany 4 Same.
Jany 5 Worse.
Jany 6 After a night of intense suffering my dear Ann left me at 10 ½ a.m. alone in the world.
Jany 8 I was taken very ill with the influenza.
Jany 9 Worse.
Jany 10 No better. Little James very unwell. I was obliged to nurse him all day, he would go to no one else. The remains of my dear girl were laid in the same grave as our little George. I was not resigned to his death 'til now I've lost his dear mother. I was too ill to follow her to her last resting place
Jany 11 No better. Put the poor baby out to wet-nurse at Rhosmaen with Jane at 2/6d per week.
Jany 12 A little better, but exhausted in body and mind. Obliged to nurse poor James every day, he will not leave me for a moment.
Jany 14: Today, thank God, I am able to commence work again.
Jany 21 Sarah brought home from Dolau very unwell.
Jany 22 She was very ill last night but better today, and I trust that I feel grateful to the Almighty. Paid Dd. Gwilliam burial fees 5/-, to nurse for attending Ann 14/-, Surgeons' bill £3.2.2 Burial £4.1.2
Jany 27 Sent set of tea-things to Miss S. Davies which Ann had exchanged for some which she had bought. The centering was lowered from under the arch of the new bridge today.
Jany 30 Sunday. 9 p.m. The centre was carried off by the flood and thrown down in a mass. Went to Rhosmaen to see my poor motherless baby
Feb 3 I was taken very ill in the pleurisy. Took a Drover's powder.
Feb 4 Very bad. Applied a mustard poultice.
Feb 5 Better.
Feb 6 Had a very bad night
Feb 7 Better. Made a coffin for Mary Morgan aged 6 years and 7 months. Mar 16: I have been foolish enough today to lose 2 hours seeing a fox let before the hounds at Gurrey-fach gate and followed them to the old mill in the park. It was the first foxhunt I ever went to see and I am pretty sure it will be the last. Paid Hester Davies for 22 weeks service £0.16.6
Apr 19 Suffered from toothache for the first time in my life
June 15 The electric fluid [i.e., lightening] struck an oak near Llandyfeisant Church and split it to the roots, driving the bark off all around
June 29 Mother-in-law left, gave her some of poor Ann's clothes
July 14 Went to Llygad Llwchwr Cave together with the Revd. John Lewis, Messrs. D. Lewis, R. W. Lewis, H. Bundy and J. Roberts. Left coracle inside. Entered 10 a.m. Out 4 p.m. Thermometer in shade outside 68 deg. Water 49 deg. Quantity of water discharged per minute 450 ft – 28,325 lbs – 12 tons 11 cwts. 12 lb – 45 hogsheads. Holywell discharges 84 hogsheads per minute.
Nov 12 Sunday. Dreamed last night that I was called to Dynevor to make a coffin for a female, and having made it I thought it was too small, and at 2 p.m. today I was desired by Dr. Prothero to go over and measure the remains of Mrs. Catherine Powell, aged 56, who died suddenly at 1 p.m.
Nov 13 Stayed up last night and commenced making a shell at 12 ½ a.m. Took it to Dynevor at 5 a.m. Attended the inquest. Verdict – Died by the visitation of God. Agreed with Jane Thomas to stay another year. (Later, Thomas has an illegitimate child with Jane, his servant.)
1849 36 years old
Jany 1 Fine frost. Went to Aberdauddwr at 7 a.m. Spent a very happy day, one of the happiest I have had for a long time in the charming society of Miss S Davies.
Jany 10 Sent a letter to Sarah Davies.
Jany 26 Received an answer from S.D.
Jany 27 Sent letter S.D.
Jany 31 Received letter S.D. Kind.
Feby 1 Do. (shorthand for ditto) cx
Feby 17 Received letter S.D.
Feby 20 Returned answer.
Mar 26 Sent letter S.D.
Apl 5 Received an answer.
Apl 6 Good Friday. Hired a horse and a gig at the 'Castle' and went with B. Morgan by Llanwrda to Caio. From there over the hills to Maes-yr-haidd to see Henry Harris the Astrologer of Cwrt-y-cadno. He is in a decline, can't live many weeks. Went by Bronnant and Dolaucothi to the old Roman mines at Ogof-caio, then to Aberdauddwr (where Sarah Davies lives) where we had tea and enjoyed the evening very much
Apl 9 Sent letter S.D. Went together with T.T. Williams and B. Morgan by Cennen Tower to Trichrug to collect fossils. (This tower, north of Carreg Cennen Castle, was blown up in the 1960's to make a milk stand. Just a little rubble remains.) Very cold day.
Apl 29 Made a machine for grinding chocolate. Sent letter SD.
May 2 Received letter SD. Took Peter to paint Edwinsford bridge. Walked on from there over the hills to Aberdauddwr.
May 3 Slept at do. Left at 9 a.m. SD came to send me some distance. Heard the cuckoo, first time this year.
May 14 Sent letter and books to SD. (Letters continue back and forth
Aug 4 Received letter from SD. Her brother died in America, aged 27
Aug 8 Had one of my teeth extracted being the first symptom of old age. (The almost daily love letters continue….)
Dec 21 Made a homomotive carriage with three wheels.
1850 37 years old
Jan 29 Sent letter to SD. Fitted up a mahogany seat and front to water-closet at Tregib £3.16.0
Mar 23 Left in 'car' at 6 p.m. for Carmarthen. Storm of snow and hail in my face all the way. (Cryptic reference to Jane Thomas follows this entry
Apl 24 Arrived at Aberdauddwr at 9 p.m. Found Miss Davies very unwell. Returned to Pumpsaint.
Apl 25 Slept at do. Left at 9 a.m. and walked to see Miss Davies. Heavy rain without ceasing all day. Left at 7 p.m. and returned to Pumpsaint
Apl 26 Called up at 12 last night, ran to Aberdauddwr, Miss D expecting she should die. Sat up by her side. Sent for Dr. Prothero at 2 a.m. Spent a sad day expecting his arrival from 8 a.m. 'til 7 p.m. when he came.
Apl 27 Left Aberdauddwr at 5 a.m. in car.
May 1 Left at 5 a.m. with Dr. Prothero in dog cart. Got to Aberdauddwr by 8 a.m. Found Miss D. still very ill. Home at 12 noon.
May 2 Accompanied Mr. R.W. Lewis to Cennen Tower where Mr. T.T. Williams joined us. Went along the Black Mountain range by Llwchwr lakes to the lately discovered cavern near the lime quarries. Found fine specimens of various coloured ochres in the junction of lime and millstone grit.
May 5 Miss SD's brother came for Dr. Prothero.
May 25 Received letter from SD. Left at 7 p.m. in velocipede. Got to Pumpsaint at 11 p.m.
May 26 Sunday. Slept at and took breakfast at Pumpsaint. Walked to Aberdauddwr at 9 a.m. Carried Miss D. down stairs.
May 27 Slept at do. Took Miss D in my arms to the garden. She has not been out before for the past 5 weeks.
May 28 Slept at do. Left at 6. Took breakfast at Llanwrda. Home at 10 a.m. Roads very wet. At 4 p.m. Lewis Davies came to Dr. Prothero, she having commenced throwing up blood at 9 a.m.
May 29 Dr. Prothero went up. Lewis came for medicine. Went to lecture on Phreno-mesmerism by Davey and Jackson.
June 3 Received letter and sent answer SD.
June 5 Went with Dr. Prothero for Miss Davies at Aberdauddwr. She and her mother returned with us in his carriage.
June 7 Sat up 'til 4 a.m. Miss Davies could get no sleep. She spent a very anxious night, not having slept the two previous nights.
June 10 Took SD in phaeton 3 miles on Carmarthen Road.
June 21 Sent 100 postage stamps to Evan Jones, Cardiff in payment for the 'Gymraes' for Miss Davies.
June 24 Took Miss Davies over Cilsan Bridge in phaeton.
July 13 Jane went to Froodvale. Returned on the 16th.
Aug 13 Miss Mary Davies left. Drove her and SD in phaeton to near half-way Llansawel.
Sept 4 Took SD and Ann Evans in phaeton to see Golden Grove gardens
Sept 23 Went in homomotive carriage to Llangadog in 55 minutes.
Oct 9 Made four collecting boxes for Llandeilo Church 1/6d each.
Oct 10 5 a.m. Cleaned and planted flowers on Ann's grave.
Nov 30 Made 12 vesta lamp pillars for the church. Set them up and lit the lamps this evening at 10 o'clock.
Dec 7 Jane Thomas left. (Jane must have gotten pregnant by Thomas a month before, as her baby was born 3 Aug 1851 and on 22 Jan 1852, Thomas Jenkins had to pay Jane's expenses of 12/6d and was ordered to pay 1/6d per week.)
The Diary begins with a ghost story …
Highlights from the early years
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
1851 38 years old
Jany 2 Miss Davies' father came and left on the 3rd.
Feb 25 Made 2 wax figures for William Lewis, Llandyfan (who owned a woollen factory there) from models of his son and daughter dressed in Welsh costume of his manufacture to send to the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. Cost of making, exclusive of clothes £4.2.0 Packing box and carriage to London £2.4.5 Received for the whole £6.16.0
Mar 24 Took Sarah Davies to the 'Coach and Horses'. Mr. Gwynne Hughes and his Lady arrived at Tregib. Illumination and fireworks.
Mar 26 Distributed 50 enumeration schedules. Sarah Davies and her mother returned.
Mar 31 Enumerated 41 inhabited houses, 1 uninhabited, 74 males and 80 females.
Apl 4 Up all night casting brass, being the second night without rest.
Apl 6 Took Miss Davies and her brother for an airing in a phaeton.
Apl 10 J. Thomas returned.
Apl 16 Sarah Davies attained her 21st. year at 6 this morning. (But does she live much longer.)
May 5 7 p.m. Sarah Davies after suffering from cough and difficulty in breathing became perfectly free from pain. I was supporting her in nearly a sitting posture, she said 'Now I am dying, Call Mother.' I desired for her brother, who was in the room, to call his mother from the next room. She then said 'Mother, I am dying. Don't vex yourselves after me Mother, if you do you displease me. Blessed be the Lord for taking me. I am going to a place of bliss. I now see Heaven open before me, together with my Saviour and the God I worshipped from my youth. A description of what I see is not given me to reveal to you if it were in my power but some things are given me to reveal for your good. Never more doubt the existence of a future state. Oh! Where are those who doubt? I wish they were here now.'
...... Speaking to me, she said 'You see God revealed in this creation, in the beautiful flowers, in hill and valley, in all around you. If not enough, all is clearly laid before me and I have authority to tell you never have the slightest doubt again.' She then told her mother and brother never to forget my kindness to her 'but the Lord will reward him and his children when my body is reduced to dust. Much that I tell you I speak not of myself, but I have authority to tell you. You may think from many things do, or may, hear me say that I am deranged but I am not indeed.' She then advised us respecting our future conduct in life, and desired me not to forget her mother, and saying she wished her father had been present to see her dying.
...... She then said 'The sun is setting and it is getting dark, but it will soon be light again,' offering up a short prayer and singing several scraps of hymns, desired that she should be buried at Bethel, Cwmpedol, in the brook near which chapel she had been baptised when 12 years of age.
...... Said what was to be done with her clothes, books, letters etc, requested that I should make her coffin and design for headstone, and that the little flowers she was so fond of in life should be planted on her grave. All of which I promised to do. She then took us each by the hand commencing with her mother, telling me that I was the best friend she had on earth, and that I and her brother Evan were to have a lock of her hair to keep, and then desired each of us to kiss her, and not to give way to sorrow when she was gone. She asked Ellen, my servant, if she had seen anyone die so happily before, and said 'You may all die thus if you do as I have told you.' She did not forget the children but kissed each, desiring them to be good to their father. 'I have now told you all, do not forget, so I shall lay myself down to die,' stretching her arms over the bed-clothes and playing her fingers, she continued with her eyes closed for about 5 minutes when, opening them she said 'I am not to die now, I shall yet see my father.' I told her we had not sent for him, and asked if we should do so. She said yes, but it did not matter when, that the Almighty had promised she should see him 'and perhaps I shall see Evan too.' (I then sent for her father to Gelli, and her brother from Swansea. She said 'I shall live as long as I now wish. Do you know what inspiration is? I said I knew the meaning of the word. 'Well' said she 'I am now inspired, I could tell you anything. I see all your faults past and present, every one of you. I can now see myself clearly. Where is Dr. Prothero? I could tell him something of my disorder that may be of benefit to him. I shall now recount my own faults.'
......Speaking to me she said 'I ought to have married you two years ago, I ought indeed, but I am following your poor Ann to the grave so I should have been no comfort to you. But what is this world with all its pleasures, its beautiful flowers, with man lord of creation, his quarrels and his wars spoiling the face of the earth. If he saw what I now do how different would he act. My past life is laid out as a map, it is as one day, but it is getting dark again, I have sinned.' I said, 'No, you cannot sin now.' She said 'Yes, I have indeed, by saying that I should be talked of in ages yet to come (a remark she made when she said she was inspired) but it will get still lighter yet. Here you see me receive the reward of my transgressions. This is my hell. There is no more pain for me but what I suffer here and that won't be long. I am only now beginning to live.'
......It was about 9 o'clock. She seemed to enjoy intense pleasure, saying that she was perfectly free from any pain, she was clapping her hands and breast, and singing praises to her Redeemer, and thanking and blessing us again for our kindness to her, desiring us to thank the Revd. J. W. Pugh and Dr. Prothero for their kindness to her. Soon after, the cough came on again.
May 6 She spent a sleepless night. Her father came about 8 and her brother Evan about 11 a.m. At 6 p.m. after suffering much in the course of the day she desired us to kiss her again and wishing us goodbye said she had no further wish to live, and desired me to place her in an easy position to die. Shortly afterwards she asked me how long I thought she had to live, that she was anxious to go. I said about ½ an hour or ¾. She said 'Thank the Lord', and at 7 p.m. she breathed her last.
May 7 Made her coffin, oak, covered with grey cloth and padded. Placed an account of her death in a stone jar in the coffin.
May 10: Saturday. Left at 1 p.m. following her remains to Aberdauddwr. (It is a journey of 19 miles mostly uphill.) Mr. T.T. Williams, her mother and cousin in a car following the hearse, her father and brother in another car etc.
May 11 Stayed at Aberdauddwr.
May 12 Went in the morning to see the grave, and attended the funeral at 10 a.m. At 12 strewed flowers on her grave.
July 17 Walked through Llanfair, Llanddewi-brefi to Foelallt, then over the mountains and Craig Twrch to Aberdauddwr. (Such devotion to visit Sarah's grave.)
Aug 3 -------- was born 1 day before time. (Illegitimate child born to Thomas Jenkins by Jane Thomas, his former servant.)
Aug 4 Went to Swansea. Bought a grindstone 6/10 ¾ d.
Oct 12 Left at 5 a.m. Walked to Llandyfan and went together with Wm. Lewis (who owned the woollen mill there) in his car to Neath, and left for London by the South Wales Railway at 1 p.m. Arrived in London at 10 ½ p.m.
Oct 13 Slept at a house near Paddington Station. Went to see the Exhibition and Polytechnic.
Oct 16 Exhibition, Zoological Gardens, Regents Park.
Oct 17 Left at 7 a.m. together with Wm. Lewis and Wm. Waugh. Got to Bristol at 5 p.m.
Oct 18 Left Bristol by steamer to Cardiff. By rail to Swansea. Walked from there to Llandyfan. Spent £3.10.3.
Nov 15 Little Thomas and self very poorly with scarlet fever. Ann Thomas came to service. (She became his second wife.)
1852 39 years old
Jany 22 J. T. at Llangadog. Pd. Expenses 12/6d. Ordered to pay 1/6d a week. (This partially scribbled entry in the diary refers to the illegitimate child of Jane's and it appears that Thomas was ordered probably by the parish to pay maintenance.)
Apl 1 Sent lot of dwarf box to plant round Sarah Davies' grave. Very ill with sore throat and James in the measles.
Apr 6 Got some fresh earth taken to Bethel. Set dwarf box and flowers on Sarah Davies' grave. Returned at 8 p.m.
Apl 18 Thomas in the measles.
Apl 21 Made a direct-acting steam engine for driving lathe and saws.
July 5 Went to Carreg Cennen Castle with the children and Ann.
Sept 17 South Wales railway opened from Swansea to Carmarthen
Sept 30 Sold 7 looking-glasses to Lady Dynevor for 10/-
Oct 17 Went in the morning to Cwmpedol to see Sarah's grave.
Nov 13 Agreed with Ann Thomas for £4.0.0.
Dec 1 Removed and fitted up prisoners' box in Shire Hall £0.5.0
1853 40 years old
Jany 1 Heavy rain all day, not having had 2 days in succession for the last three months without rain.
Feb 5 Attended funeral at Bethel, where we buried Mr. Timothy Davies on the right-hand side of his daughter Sarah. Went at dusk to Baylie, Cellan, the mountains covered with snow to a depth of 10 inches.
May 16 Sent for to see James Thomas, late of Half Moon's coffin, it having been made by David Thomas, Carpenter. Found it in a sad, leaky state. Got it secured and lowered through the window and taken to the lower floor. James Thomas was 28 years of age. The coffin measured 27" by 19" deep. Charged wood and labour £2.12.0
May 17 Made a waterproof tray 5 inches deep to fit on the bottom of the coffin which made it perfectly secure. Attended the funeral at 4 p.m. and Lewis Davies' funeral at 5 p.m.
June 21 Made an oak coffin and shell for Mrs. Mary Gwynne Hughes of Tregib. She would have attained her 23rd year next September.
Aug 15 Sent a box of fossils to the Revd. Dd. Griffiths.
Aug 23 Saw a splendid comet at 9 p.m. in the NW by W in a line with the N. Pole and pointers.
Sept 8 Found that the wife Rachel Pritchard had died at 2 a.m. The first use made of the new parlour was to place her remains in. She died of consumption aged 22.
Sept 11 Took Ann, Sarah, James and Thomas by omnibus to Cross Inn (Ammanford), thence by excursion train to Llanelli. Paid 14/-
Dec 1 Took a £25 share in the Llandeilo and Cross Inn railway.
1854 41 years old
Feby 3 Got a marriage licence of the Revd. J. Griffiths. Paid £2.2.0. Bought wedding ring of E. Parry, paid 8/0.
Feby 5 Walked with Ann to Llanarthney and returned in the evening.
Feby 6 Walked to Llanarthney and got married to Ann Thomas by the Revd. Mr. Harris. Paid 7/6d. Returned together in the evening.
Mar 23 3 lives. (This cryptic entry means that Ann is three months pregnant.)
July 21 Louisa was born at 11 ½ a.m.
Sept 9 Louisa was vaccinated.
Oct 26 Louisa was baptised at Llandeilo Church by the Revd. Evans, Curate.
1855 42 years old
Feby 24 By omnibus to Carmarthen. Ann, Mary and Louisa returned to Llandeilo by omnibus. (Very rare visit by his daughter Mary to her father's house. She seems to have been 'boarded out' with someone in Carmarthen almost since her birth.)
June 12 Made an elm coffin for Thomas May Burgess, who terminated his existence about 9 a.m. by hanging himself in his father's workshop at the age of 26 years.
June 27 Made a coffin and shell for Jno. Andrew Hammet Kirkwood aged 14 months, son of Townsend Kirkwood Esq. of Carreg Cennen, furniture and all complete, covered with grey cloth £2.2.0. Engraving plate 3/6d. Grave walled and burial fees £1.6.0….£3.11.6. Headstone 12/-
July 16 Went to see the 'Queen of the West' an American vessel of 2,200 tons that was stranded a few months ago at Cefn-sidan.
Aug 14 Went together with Ann, James and Thomas by omnibus to Cross Inn, by rail to Llanelli and Swansea, then by omnibus to the Mumbles.
Aug 23 Edward Price, Thomas Jones and self went at 6 p.m. to Llygad Llwchwr to see if the coracle, left there by me some years ago, was in a fit state to make use of. Found it completely decayed. Returned home 1 a.m. (In the 'Guide to Llandeilo' written in 1883 by the Revd. Lewis Price, the coracle is mentioned: "in the interior of this wonderful cave there is a large pool which, some years ago, afforded much amusement to gentlemen residing in the neighbourhood, who undertook the difficult task of constructing a coracle suitable for wading it, and which was left there for the amusement of others, until it got unfit for any longer use.")
Sept 23 Slept at Aberdauddwr. Went to Gelli and Bethel, Cwmpedol to see Miss Davies' grave. The box I set around it grows well.
Oct 8 Took the bearing and level of the zinc lode in Trallwm quarry. The floor of the quarry is 48 ft 5 ins above low-water in Gurrey-fach brook. The lode runs within a few feet of the railway between the quarry and Rhosmaen and crosses Rhosmaen Street at an acute angle near the house I now live in and passes under the lower house in Bank Buildings.
Dec 11 I was appointed Constable of Leet Court.
Dec 20 Ann taken ill at 2 a.m. Margaret born at 6.05 a.m. attended by Mr. Rees, Surgeon.
1856 43 years old
Mar 22 To Carreg Cennen to appraise goods seized by the Board of Excise for drainage amounting to £220.11.10 ½ including expenses.
May 2 Made a coffin for Edward Albert Griffith Bedwell died at the 'Cawdor Arms' aged 10 months.
July 28 Crickets came.
The Diary begins with a ghost story …
Highlights from the early years
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death
1857 44 years old
Jany 9 Took 5 shares in the Llandeilo Lead, Zinc and Copper Mining and Smelting Company.
Jany 15 Put up tables at the Shire Hall sufficient to dine 156 persons, in readiness for the Public Breakfast which is to take place on opening the Llandeilo extension railway.
Mar 27 My proposal for insuring my life for £200 having been accepted, I paid my first yearly premium to Christmas 1857 £7.5.10
July 16 Ann confined. Attended by Dr. Prothero. George William was born at 15 minutes before 2 p.m. (Thomas Jenkins now takes a trip to Ireland.)
July 30 Arrived at Queenstown at 8 ½ a.m., Cork at 10 ½ a.m. By rail from Cork to Passage, and by steamer to see the 'Niagara' and 'Agamemnon' steamers opposite Queenstown, they having on board the Atlantic telegraph wire ready to lay down between Ireland and America. The American ship 'Niagara' is the largest vessel now afloat.
1858 45 years old
Mar 15 Eclipse of the sun.
Aug 4 Made an artificial leg for Wm. Thomas, Allt, Llanfynydd £1.0.0
Aug 21 To Golden Grove, received orders for ottoman seat and cushions of Lord and Lady Emlyn.
Sept 29 Made elm coffin for Herbert Ambrose, aged 29, complete £1.12.0 The face and head of the body covered with lice and they continued alive until the day he was buried.
Oct 15 Distilled lot of amalgam. Recovered 6 lbs mercury and 16 lbs block tin at 1/3 1/2d
Nov 29 Attended meeting at the 'Kings Head' (now listed as being one of the most haunted pubs in the British Isles!) to arrange for the reception of Lord Dynevor and family to Dynevor Castle. Subscribed 10/-
Dec 1 To Carmarthen to procure the Militia Band and £6.12.0 fireworks.
Dec 3 Made 30 torches. Labour and materials 15/9d.
Dec 6 Lord Dynevor and family arrived at 6 p.m. Town illuminated. Made 20 fireballs 8/6d. Erected arch at park entrance.
Dec 7 Dynevor Castle took fire at 8 p.m. (from one of his fireballs?) Assisted at extinguishing do.
Dec 10 Divided 5 tons 13 cwt. 0 qtrs. Coal among 56 poor, bought with the surplus money collected towards the Dynevor rejoicing.
1859 46 years old
Jany 3 Made inventory and valuation of the effects of the late George Wood – £67 and Bonds £600. (Thomas is now doing a great deal of legal work.)
Jany 7 Attended Quarter Sessions on Petty Jury. Tried 2 cases.
Jany 8 Received invitation to supper at the 'Cawdor Arms' from Lord Dynevor as one having been instrumental in extinguishing the fire at Dynevor on the 7th of last month.
Jany 16 Fire at Rhyd-y-ffynnon last night, the man having accidentally set the straw on fire. 2 cows burnt to death and the whole of the cow-house, barn, stable, cart-house and pig-sty with their contents and one mow of oats. (What follows is a bizarre string of fires throughout the area. There is an 'epidemic of arson' and a firebug must be loose! Fires reported in the next four days at: Maes-Evan's cow-house, Aberglasney's barn, Maes-Evan's barn, and Tynewydd which is hit twice again in the next three weeks.)
May 5 Went to Aberdauddwr and to Bethel to trim box around Sarah Davies' grave. (His sweetheart has been dead for eight years now and it is 19 miles uphill on foot all the way north.)
Sept 4 Went by train to Llandybie at 7 p.m. Took Louisa with me. The train delayed at Llanelli, had to walk home (to Llandeilo) and carry Louisa on my back the whole distance. Arrived at 12 night.
Sept 5 Marked out the ground for reservoir at Penlan-fawr 200ft by 121ft.
1860 47 years old
Feb 10 Went by rail to Pontardulais. Walked to Penlle'r-gaer, Mr. Dillwyn Llewelyn for Lord Emlyn to see the armoury and rifle ground. Walked to Swansea, thence by train to Llanelli. (Dillwyn Llewelyn was the son of Lewis Weston Dillwyn, F.R.S. of Swansea China 'fame'. The father has 'acquired' the Penlle'r-gaer Estate by marrying the heiress, Mary Llewelyn.)
Mar 17 Finished rifle-stands for 64 rifles including varnishing and numbering for the Llandeilo Volunteer Rifle Corps. £7.14.0 or 2/5d per rifle.
Apl 26 Appraised Captn. W. Griffiths' furniture under distress for rent.
June 23 Made 21ft 1in cushions in crimson moreen for Llangathen communion. James and self carried them to Llangathen Church at 11 p.m.
July 14 Made coffin for a still born child, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Evans, 'White Horse' 5/-
Aug 2 Made sundial post and fixed the dial in Llandeilo churchyard.
Aug 4 Made and erected a lobby, with spring folding doors in Llandeilo Church.
Sept 3 Left at 4 a.m. in phaeton. Carmarthen at 6 ½ a.m. Left by 2nd class train 7.02 a.m. New Milford at 8:36 a.m. Went to see the 'Great Eastern' steamship, the largest ship afloat, 24,000 tons burden. Then to see the Channel Fleet lying off Milford. Went on board the 'Centurion' 81 gun ship and the 'Royal Albert' 121 guns.
Oct 10 Entered Wm. Williams in small debts court under 'Bill of Exchange Act for £10.17.6. Paid into court 10/2d the first legal proceedings I ever took against anyone. Made a coffin for Elizabeth Lewis, aged 9 days, daughter of John Lewis, Mason.
Nov 5 Walked yesterday and slept at Aberdauddwr. Walked to Dolaucothi to see John Johnes Esq. respecting some furniture required by him. (George Borrow in his travels through Wales, stopped at Dolaucothi to envy Mr. Johnes his idyllic existence in 'the most pleasing a locality I had ever seen'. Twenty years later, Carmarthenshire was shocked when Johnes was murdered by his butler and Johnes' daughter narrowly escaped.)
Nov 6 Made oak communion table and chairs for Caledfwlch new church. £8.10.0.
1861 48 years old
Apl 8 Enumerated 34 inhabited houses, 2 uninhabited. 60 males and 63 females. Allowance for do. 20/- and 4 miles at 6d…….£1.2.0.
Apl 13: I was appointed Parish Constable for the parish of Llandeilo-fawr. May 28: Went in 'Castle' phaeton with J. Samuel to Gwynfe House to fit up water-closet.
June 30 Slept at the 'Farmers Arms'. Dined and took tea with Mr. Oliver and walked home by Cross Inn (Ammanford). Saw the comet, the first night it has been visible here owing to the cloudy state of the atmosphere: It presents a most beautiful appearance situated north and about 18 deg from ursa major. It does not set through the night.
Aug 5 By train to Swansea. Went to the Mumbles and back in time to see a balloon partially inflated, but they failed to get sufficient pressure of gas to complete the inflation. The comet still visible to the naked eye.
Aug 9 Made 2 deals, stained communion chairs for Llangathen Church 25/d each.
Sept 2 Joseph Williams returned from America. Bought a cheese from him weighing 150 lbs for 6d per lb which was made by Mrs. Anthony Morris in America. Cut up and sold it at 10d.
Sept 20 Charles was born at 12 night.
Jany 6 To Llanelli with dining room glass for Lord Dynevor and to see it safe on the South Wales line.
Feby 14 Dd. James of Ynysau, near Pumpsaint, died on a chair at the 'Castle Inn', he having only come in 15 minutes previous to his death.
Sept 3 Went to Llanelli to see the Horticultural Show. Rosa's comet is now visible and was at its nearest point to the earth on the 30th last month.
Nov 29 Water first turned into the main pipes of the Llandeilo waterworks.
Dec 6 To Pant-y-ffynnon to see work at 'Dynevor Arms' done by Thomas Evans, Carpenter, for Mr. Howells, Cross Inn.
Dec 8 Appointed Referee by the Court in the case of Howells vs. Evans. (Howells eventually won.)
1863 50 years old
Mar 2 Commenced fitting up tables at the Shire Hall for a dinner to be given to the poor in commemoration of the Prince of Wales' marriage.
Mar 10 Finished up laying out tables in the Hall and Dynevor School to the Poor and tea for the schoolchildren in commemoration of the Prince of Wales' marriage to the Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Let off worth of £15.16.0 of fireworks on the 'Castle' field 8 p.m.
Mar 31 Slept at Aberddauddwr. Attended Mrs. Davies' funeral to Bethel, Cwmpedol. She was buried in the same grave as her daughter Sarah Davies (his former sweetheart) There were 400 persons at the funeral
May 8 Made an oak, covered, coffin for Catherine Price, who destroyed herself by cutting her throat with a fowl-carving knife, and cutting off about 32 inch length of her windpipe and gullet, at the age of 77 years. She was the widow of the late Revd. Daniel Prytherch Price who died May 1, 1845.
Aug 20 Tendered for building Llandyfan Chapel £8.
Sept 21 Having been very ill for some days past from the effects of cold and indigestion, Dr. Prothero prescribed ¾ grain of morphia. T.J. Davies made up prescription but by mistake put in 3 grains, which I took. Luckily, in an hour after I vomited the whole back, retained my consciousness, but spent a terrible night.
Oct 28 Made oak, polished coffin for Edward Peter, aged 3 years and 7 months who met with an accident on Friday last by running with a stick in his mouth against another child £0.15.0.
Nov 26 Arthur Decimus born at 9:10 p.m.
Dec 26 Made new gates, according to my own plan, approved for lower entrance to upper churchyard. £4.0.0.
1864 51 years old
Apl 23 Attended as Juror at inquest held at the 'Castle' inn on the remains of Owen Hopkin, aged 7 years, son of Sarah Hopkin of the 'Angel' who was burnt to death this evening by lighting a fire in the pig-sty with common Lucifer matches. Suggested to the Coroner that it would tend to reduce the chance of such accidents if Bryant and May's safety matches only were patronised, which matches can only be ignited on the box.
May 30 Went with Mr. B. Morgan, Pen-y-banc, to see turnip cutter to Golden Grove and, in returning along the railway by Pentre-cwm we saw Thomas Davies have his leg broken by tipping a load of gravel. We had to rake the gravel off him with our hands. Sent for a doctor and got him carried on a door to the house. I cut his trousers, stocking and shoe open and placed the foot in its right position and applied a wet cloth to the fracture to keep it from swelling 'til the doctor came.
June 7 Made plan for proposed school chapel to be built at Gorslas near Crosshands, Mynydd Mawr. Agreed for plan and estimate £1.10.0. July 26: My estimate was accepted for building school chapel at Gorslas £353.0.0.
Aug 2 Mary James of Trallwm gave into my possession her bed and bedding she being incapable of managing her affairs.
Aug 10 I was appointed Clerk of the Works, Llandeilo Gas Co. Ltd.
Aug 24 Made a pillow of Cat's-tail typha grass cones from the old river in Dynevor Park as an experiment, having entertained the notion for many years past that it would be equal to down.
1865 52 years old
Jany 4 Lighted the first gas-light at the 'Rose and Crown' next at Mr. James, Draper.
Jany 8 James Thomas, Attorney, died at 5:15 p.m. aged 71. Completed laying out body by 7 p.m. Left the room in charge of nurse and servants Returned at 8 p.m. and found that the clothes surrounding the body had taken fire accidentally and burnt the legs and part of both hands. Had I not, before I left, removed the bed-hangings the chance was that the whole house would have been burnt down.
Jany 9 Sat up in charge of the house 'til 4 a.m. Soldered up zinc coffin.
Mar 18 Fitted up billiard table at the 'Cawdor Arms'.
Apl 28 To Gorslas to lay the foundation stone of the school chapel.
Apl 14 Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, murdered at Ford's Theatre, Washington at 11 p.m. and died at 7:22 the following morning.
1866 53 years old
Feby 16 11 p.m. Fire at Medical Hall, occasioned from pot of spermaceti ointment on hob setting soot in chimney on fire. Water from hoses thrown down the flue.
July 2 Attended inquest on the body of Thomas Evans who was found yesterday morning in the river about 100 yds above the bridge. Inquest held at 'Railway Tavern' at 8 a.m. Verdict – Accidentally drowned while bathing (being at the time in a drunken state, although he was a good swimmer.)
1867 54 years old
June 11 To Swansea for mahogany for counters, having contracted to fit up Bank room for the National Provincial Bank of England.
1868 55 years old
Feby 13 Viscount Emlyn attained his majority. Seven bonfires, firing of cannon, fireworks etc.
Oct 30 10:30 while at supper felt shock of earthquake.
Oct 31 Found on enquiry that others in town had been much frightened, having felt it more severely, and it was more or less felt all over the district. At Glanbrydan the pheasants and fowls were screaming. Accident to downtrain owing to engine wheel breaking near Glanrhyd Station. The engine overturned. Third Class smashed to pieces. I was on the spot 10 minutes after the accident and a more complete wreck of carriages and I never saw. There were about 15 injured, 6 were carried to Glanrhyd farm with fractured ribs and limbs and not one life lost so far.
1869 56 years old
Mar 11 Mr. T. Hughes, Druggist's house took fire. I was called up at 4:40 a.m., there at 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. the whole of the premises burnt out. Saved most of the stock and furniture. If we had not sufficient water and pressure, the other houses right and left would have burnt. Everyone worked with a will. The fire-engine was telegraphed from Carmarthen but when it arrived there was nothing for it to do. The cellars were saved by my preventing the men from opening the trapdoors, which had been attempted twice. I got down through the shop floor together with Wm. Samuel to the gas-meter and set that safe.
Mar 29 Made plan and elevation of stone bridge, proposed to be erected over the river Amman near the church. Span 50 ft
May 20 To Cefn-y-parc to see the barn, stables and cow-houses that were burnt down three weeks ago. The fire was caused by the servant-girl taking matches to the barn to get a light to search for hens' eggs.
Dec 20 -23 Old window at Llandeilo Church, south aisle, and replacing memorial window of the late Dr. Prothero.
1870 57 years old
Feby 3 Assisted with Mr. James, Draper, Mr. G. Hughes, Ironmonger and Mr. Jno. Bowen 'Castle' on the occasion of the marriage of Mr. Ellis to Miss Lizzie Gulston.
Mar 10 Alfred C. H. Jones Esq. of Pantglas attained his majority. Horsenoses and illumination and fireworks.
Apl 1 John Davies, aged 25, crushed at Llandeilo Station between the luggage trucks and platform. Died in 2 ¾ hours afterwards.
Apl 2 Made oak coffin, black and gold, complete for John Davies.
Aug 1 Terrific thunderstorm. The electric fluid [lightening] struck the east chimney at Bellevue House, followed angle on outside to end window, broke glass and loosened all the iron cross-bars, then down rainpipe, crossed yard to sink-trap in drain and loosened same, throwing up the drain brickwork
Oct 21 With Mrs. Evans 'White Hart' to Mr. N. Davies' office, she having been deserted by her husband since 1853, wishing to obtain protection for her property. Cost 9/6d. Certificate of marriage 2/6d and 6d to David Gwilliam for searching the register.
Dec 5 Made valuation for probate of the effects of Jane James, Gin Shop, together with Thomas Evans. Total evaluation £78.15.0.
  (Last entry in Thomas' diary, and in the following October of 1871 he died and was buried in the upper parish churchyard of the town in which he had so faithfully served. Thomas Jenkins' grave is beside that of the rest of his family and he lies surrounded by so many of his friends and associates all laid to rest in hundreds of caskets that he hand crafted. One wonders if he had already made his.)

The Diary begins with a ghost story …
Highlights from the early years
Caves, Castles, Rebecca Riots, Leeches and Scarlet Fever
Crickets, Premonitions, Birth, Death and Romance
Death-bed Scene, Mistresses and Coffins
Fireworks, Arson, Accidents, and Death

Date this page last updated: October 1, 2010