My 4 x great grandfather, Richard Morgan, was baptised on 2 December 1792 in Llantrisant, Glamorgan. The ninth of twelve children born to James Morgan and Hannah David, Richard established himself as an ostler tending the coaching horses that travelled through Glamorgan, transporting people and goods from Ireland to London, and vice-versa.
At the relatively advanced age of 43, Richard married Margaret Jones in St James’ Church, Pyle. Born in 1811 to John and Mary, Margaret hailed from Pyle, a rural village that contained the main highway in Glamorgan.
During my research, I wondered what persuaded Richard to travel twenty miles west to settle in Pyle. Then, I hit upon a theory. As an ostler, he moved there to work at Pyle Coaching Inn, the main Inn on the main highway. Then, while researching the births of Richard and Margaret’s children, I discovered that Richard was listed as a horse keeper at Pyle Coaching Inn, and living in nearby Cefn Cribwr, or Tythegston Higher as it was also called. It’s lovely when your theories are confirmed in that fashion.
Mail deliveries had become available to the public in 1635 and the introduction of national mail coaches in 1785 further increased the traffic travelling along the highways. The ongoing war with France meant that the gentry could no longer take the ‘grand tour’ of Europe and so they looked around for alternatives, their eyes and minds soon focusing on Wales with its romantic landscapes and medieval ruins. All of this led to the building of Pyle Coaching Inn during the 1780s by Thomas Mansel Talbot of Margam.
Thomas Mansel Talbot took a private apartment at the Inn and he would stay there while indulging in his passion for hunting and fishing. He had built the Inn in the fashionable Georgian style with three floors and rooms of various sizes. The largest room was five metres by four and a half metres, and the building contained forty beds and twelve double-bedded rooms. Moreover, the Inn also boasted a spacious dining room and stables for eight coaching horses.
Many 18th and 19th century antiquarians who travelled through South Wales would visit the buried medieval town at nearby Kenfig and invariably they would stay at the Inn. Also, it is rumoured that Admiral Lord Nelson resided there on one occasion.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel did stay at the Inn in 1849 – 50 to oversee the construction of the South Wales leg of the Great Western Railway. Another distinguished guest was Josiah Wedgwood and it is said that he gained inspiration for some of his pottery from the colour of the rocks and pebbles on the beach at Pink Bay.
Richard and Margaret produced five children: Catherine, Thomas, Mary Ann, Richard and my direct ancestor, Hannah. With secure employment in a job that he clearly loved and in the green pastures and open spaces of Cefn Cribwr, life must have been good. Then, in the late 1840s, the railways arrived.
The railways took passenger and commercial trade away from the horse carriages and Richard lost his job at Pyle Coaching Inn. However, the family adapted. Richard became a colt breaker then a horse keeper. With his love and knowledge of horses, he worked with the animals for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, Margaret established her own ‘Inn’ boarding navigators who had travelled from their homes in Ireland to help construct the railways.
Richard died in 1865 after a life well lived. By this time his children had married. After Richard’s death, Margaret moved to Mountain Ash to live with her son-in-law, John Davies, and help raise his children. Sadly, Margaret’s daughter, Mary Ann, had died and John was a widower.
I cannot leave this branch of my family without mentioning Margaret’s mother, Mary Jones. Born in 1765 in Carmarthen, she’d moved east with her husband, John, to work on the land. Mary lived with Richard and Margaret in later life. She had a strong constitution, which only failed on 19 January 1864 when she was ninety-nine years of age.