Duffryn, Aberdare: an Estate in Trust Hilary M. Thomas A recently discovered account book covering the years 1794 to 1799 provides new information on the management of the Duffryn estate and also reveals aspects of a wider world of investment, borrowing and money-lending. When the Reverend Thomas Bruce died in August 1790, his estate at Duffryn passed in trust to his six-year-old nephew, John Bruce Knight, eldest son of Margaret Bruce and her husband John Knight of Barnstaple (co. Devon), subject to the payment of an annual rent charge of £ 50 to Thomas Bruce's eldest sister Jane. The Llanblethian estate of the reverend gentleman was to be held in trust for the payment of legacies due to his sisters under the terms of their father's will and for the benefit of their younger children, the trustees being empowered to sell that estate if the testator's personal effects proved insufficient to pay funeral expenses, legacies and outstanding debts. The trustees appointed by the Reverend Thomas Bruce were Thomas Mansel Talbot of Margam and Thynne Howe Gwynne of Buckland (co. Brecon), but within a year of Bruce's death they renounced their duties in favour of John Knight, father of the young heir to Duffryn, and it is Knight's period of trusteeship which is documented in the account book. In the bald statements of income and expenditure recorded in the pages of this one slim booklet are glimpsed some of the stratagems employed by Knight as he tackled the problems and challenges of estate management. In the 1790s, the Duffryn estate provided but a meagre income for its owner. Farm rents, on a property of some 1,750 acres, totalled less than £ 170 a year (a sum boosted by £ 50 in 1798, with the acquisition of additional farms), the estate's mineral wealth had yet to be realised, and only the woodlands, carefully managed by the Reverend Thomas Bruce, offered a readily exploitable asset. In 1794-95, sales of cordwood to the Melin Griffith Company brought in £ 140. There were more valuable such sales in 1798-99, but in the intervening years, only insignificant sums for the sale of storm-damaged timber are recorded in the accounts. The management of such a fragile economy called for a considerable measure of administrative and financial ingenuity if young John Bruce Knight's inheritance was to be safeguarded. John Knight senior was to