CARMARTHENSHIRE-L Archives

Archiver > CARMARTHENSHIRE > 1999-11 > 0942646887


From: "Kay Holloway" <>
Subject: Thomas Jenkins Snr. 1774-1843
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 16:21:27 +1000


Hi Pauline

I am well aware that few persons are as fascinated by a particular family history as are the direct descendants, but at your invitation I shall share with you the information I have uncovered so far on the above - and on another occasion, what I know of his son by his first marriage, Thomas Jenkins Jnr. ( I am descended from a second marriage/relationship which bore three children.) Both father and son have quite interesting histories, as ascertained so far.

Thomas Jenkins Snr. was born in 1774, at Llandeilo, apparently the middle child of nine, to Rev. William Jenkins, Curate of Llandeilo Fawr and Vicar of Mydrim and Brechfa, and his wife, Letitia Williams, and christened on 10 November, 1774.

Thomas married Mary Lott (daughter of Thomas Lott, described on his tombstone in Abergwili churchyard as 'Gent of Carmarthen') and the union produced a daughter, Julia, born at Caevadoc, Llangyfelach parish, Glamorgan (1809 - 1834), and a son, Thomas, born at Tycroes, near Pontardulais, Llanedy parish, Carmarthenshire (1813 - 1871). The family was living at Brynymaen, Llanddewi-brefi parish, Cardiganshire, up to the time when Mary died, in 1828. Father and children shortly afterwards moved to Carmarthen, taking up residence in Penrhose Cottage. (Does this dwelling still exist?)

Thomas Snr. has been described variously as a Land Agent, Valuer and Surveyor, and ultimately an Attorney's Clerk employed, it appears, by his close friend and perhaps relative, Hugh Williams of Rebecca Riots fame. (I have read the book "The Rebecca Riots" by David Williams which contains many references to Hugh Williams and his exploits during the Riots - and with local womenfolk, it appears, as he earned the nickname of "Hugh Williams of the hundred bastards", according to a grandson! I was not just a little perturbed in the same book to see that one of his illegitimate children, an Eleanor Margaret Anne, born 16 November, 1847, and baptised 1 July, 1849, parish of St. Clear's, was born to a Mary Jenkins - see below.)

No proof of a marriage has yet been found, but Thomas eventually entered a relationship with one Mary Thomas (nee Kilner), and three children were born - Laura (1837), Ellen (1840), and James (1843), the latter being my greatgrandfather. The 1841 census shows Thomas "living in a house in Pensarn" with his daughters, aged 4 years and 1 year, and a "Mary Thomas, 35, Dressmaker". Clearly, despite two daughters, the parents were not married as of that date, and Thomas was to die in August, 1843, shortly after the birth of his son, so there was only a small window of opportunity for a marriage, but no record of such has been found. Thomas died at his residence at Pensarn.

Because of his close association with Hugh Williams, I was taken aback to see the birth entry referred to above, of a child to "Mary Jenkins" in 1847. In the absence of a marriage, she should still have been "Mary Thomas", although when she re-married in 1851, to a William Thomas, her name on the marriage certificate is shown as "Mary Jenkins". (I would very much like to know if this was "our" Mary Jenkins, or another of the same name in Carmarthenshire with very close connections to Hugh Williams!)

Thomas was obviously of some learning, although his education background is unknown. He was a poet, and by the time of his move to Penrhose Cottage the output of poetry was mounting. In many of his poems he describes his boyhood in Llandeilo:

"Scenes of delight! Where pass'd my happiest hours,
On Towy's banks - in sweet Dynevor's bowers ..."

A slim volume had been prepared for the Press in 1829. Most newspapers, particularly the "Cambrian", had a poetry column, and "T. Jenkins, Penrhose Cottage, Carmarthen" appeared under many of the entries.

One of his poems, written in 1831, was "Addresses to the Polish Nation from the Mountains of Wales" in support of that country's fight for freedom. Of this poem, the author wrote:

"This Address was carried to Warsaw, translated into the Polish language and sung ... in the streets to encourage the brave Poles to defend their country ... Mr. Marks, late of Carmarthen, wrote to say so."

*This Marks, grandson of Joe Marks, Cooper of Llandyfaelog, and uncle to the painter, Stacey Marks R.A., was in Warsaw when the city fell to the Russians. He escaped from Poland with his Polish wife, and on returning to Wales established a school in the Quaker Meeting House, Lammas Street, Carmarthen, before it was taken over by Evan Donard Evans, father of Alcwyn Evans. A daughter of Joe Marks had married a Mr. Needle (a master tailor!) and had issue. The Marks family also connected by marriage with the Parcells of South Pembrokeshire, and the Brocks of Bristol. (A Brock was first to settle in the Navigators group of islands in the South Seas. He married a native woman.)

A poem "The Orphan Girl's Tale" was the result of reading in a London paper of an orphan girl brought before the Magistrate for being found in a graveyard where her father was buried. He wrote condemning stag-hunting, the restriction of liberty, the treatment of paupers - even "The Picton Monument, A Poem" was "written on seeing (3 July, 1833) the dilapidated state of that pile ...".

In 1836, another volume was ready for the Press comprising "One hundred Pieces on a Variety of Subjects, Including Translations from the Welsh of the well-known Bard Daniel Dhu and others, and also from the French of Sundry Authors".

Life, however, was not just thundering at injustices. Idealism is not usually associated with business efficiency, and on two occasions the bailiff had called at Penrhose Cottage to distrain the furniture for rent. Both his beloved wife and only daughter had died. Many of Thomas' poems portray a weariness with life, the loss occasioned by those who had gone before, and the sense that all was wrong with the world:

"From dreary wilds and scenes of human woes
Where all is fickle as the gale that blows -"
and
"Not all the woes, of which I've had my share
On life's rough road ..."

All newspaper cuttings, pamphlets, leaflets and hand-written poems of Thomas Jenkins' works were donated to the National Library of Wales in 1974. The NLW described the gift as "... a collection of poetry by Thomas Jenkins, Senior, whose "Miscellaneous Poems" was published posthumously by his niece A.M. Waugh in 1845 ...".

At the time of the Rebecca Riots, Thomas is again on the side of the oppressed, and he accompanied Chartist, Hugh Williams, on some of his travels around the district. However, before the uprisings were finished he had suffered a stroke and was on his deathbed. On 3 September, 1843, the funeral party wended its way down the river Towy by boat to St. Ishmael's where, at his own request, Thomas was buried next to Lieutenant William Williams of the Brazilian Navy, brother to Hugh Williams, who himself was to rest in this spot later.

(Acknowledgement to Mr. D.C. Jenkins, of St. Austell, Cornwall, the poet's great-grandson, for much of the foregoing.)

Thomas Snr.'s son, James, was 8 years old when his mother, Mary, remarried in 1851. (She was shown on the marriage certificate as "Mary Jenkins" and with the address of "Under the Bank, near the Steam Mill" . I was relieved, as was another lister, to find this was not "a muddy hole" by the edge of the river!! - recently discussed on the List. Another thought had been under a branch of the Bank of England, perhaps! Good to have it clarified.)

New husband, William Thomas, coal merchant, appears to have been attracted by the gold discoveries in Ballarat, Victoria, and so brought his wife and step-son, James, out to Australia on the first run of the White Star vessel, the Ben Nevis, an emigrant packet-ship which was apparently especially commissioned to meet the needs of the goldrush, and which arrived in Melbourne on 3 January, 1853. Mary became ill towards the end of the voyage, and James was sent up to Ballarat to a family where he worked as a stable boy. It was a couple of months before his host family told him his mother had died, and that his step-father had returned to Wales. The scoundrel abandoned the child, then aged 10 years, in a strange country, to fend for himself! Upon returning to Wales, this wicked step-father informed James' sisters, Laura and Ellen, that both their mother and brother had died.

It was not until 1869 that James was able to re-surface by correspondence to his sisters and other family members back in Wales .....but, that is another interesting and very long story upon which I must restrain myself from expanding! Sadly, James was never to see Wales nor his sisters again. He died in 1919, having made a name for himself as one of the foremost trainers of thoroughbred horses in South Australia.

I would like to post a copy of the poem by Thomas Jenkins entitled "Verses to the Hollow Oak in Priory Street, Carmarthen" on another occasion. I think I have more than taken up enough space on this one.

Kind regards,
Kay (Oz)

*These details included on the off-chance that some lister may be researching the surnames of MARKS, EVANS, PARCELL or BROCK.

This thread: