Welsh Journals

Search over 450 titles and 1.2 million pages

"OLD BRECKNOCK (MIPS." A Column of Antiquarian Chit-Chat relating to the County of Brecknock. NOTES, QUEEIES, AND REPLIES, on Subjects inter¬ esting to Breconshire, must be addressed to EDITOE, Bbeoon County Times, Brecon. Real names and addresses must be given in confidence, and MSS. must be written legibly, on one side of the paper only. NOVEMBER 19th, 1886. ' ROTES. THE AWBREY FAMILY. " And this," he said, " was Hugh's at Agincourt: " " And that was old Sir Ralph's at Ascalon : " "A good knight he ! we keep a chronicle " " With all about him "—which he brought, and I Dived in a hoard of tales that dealt with knights, Half-legend, half-bistoric, Counts and Kings Who laid about them at their wills and died. Upon the conquest of Brecknockshire by the Normans, Bernard Newmarch rewarded his folio w- ers and secured his own possession of the Lordship of Brecknock by bestowing its fair lands upon the fifteen knights who accompanied him, the manors of Slwch and Abercynrig falling to the share of Sir Reginald Awbrey. He was the ancestor of the various branches of the family of that name, who have been closely associated with the history of the county, a history in which they played an impor¬ tant part, rising in the sixteenth century in the person of Dr. William Awbrey to considerable eminence and great wealth. Eleven times the name of Awbrey occurs on the roU of High Sheriffs of the county, beginning with Dr. Awbrey in 1545, and ending with Mr R. Gough Awbrey, of Yniscedwin, in 1800. Dr. Awbrey was member for the borough in 1557, but on the accession of Elizabeth in 1558, he was probably appointed to some office, which disqualified him from representing the town in Parliament, as we find Rowland Vaughan, of Porthamal, was elected that year in his stead. Eive members of the Awbrey family received the distinction of knighthood, and in the Glamorganshire branch a baronetcy was created, which honour became extinct in the third generation. The Awbreys married into the leading families of Brecknockshire, and they formed alliances not only with the houses of Norman origin, like themselves, such as the Walbeoffes, Havards, Gunters, Skulls, and Burchills, but with the Vaughans, Gwyns, Herberts, Games', Lewis' of Van, and others of Welsh descent. As far as is known there is now no male descen¬ dant bearing the name, but the direct representatives (through the female line) of Sir Reginald Awbrey are Mr Gough, of Yniscedwin, who inherited that estate through his ancestress, Catherine Awbrey, of Yniscedwin (she married the Rev. R. Portrey, their daughter Catherine married Mr Gough, whose grandson, the Rev. Fleming Gough, was father of the present owner), and Mr Howel Jones-Williams, of Coity Mawr, who bears the Awbrey crest and coat of arms by right of his descent from that family. To return to the founder of the family. Sir Reginald Awbrey married Isabel, daughter of Richard de Clare, Earl of Briony, and fourth in descent from them was Thomas Awbrey Goch, constable and ranger of the forest of Brecon, whose grandson, John Awbrey, sold Slwch to the ancestor of a family of the name of Thomas, whose descen¬ dants remained there for upwards of four hundred years. It was probably during their residence at Slwch, which is within the borough, that the Awbreys built the chapel bearing their name in the church of the Monastery of the Dominican Friars (the chancel of the church is now used as the chapel of Christ's College, and with the Awbrey Chapel is all that has been restored of the fine old church of the Brotherhood of Preaching Friars). Here they were buried, and a tombstone still remains bearing the outline of a man in armour, in profile, his sword by his side, a ruff round his neck, his hands in a supplicating attitude, beside him a female with the palms of her hands meeting each other, the fingers pointing upwards. The inscription is nearly defaced ; the following words onlv remain : " Obiit x die Martis, Anno Domini, 159—." On a shield the arms of Awbrey, impaling Rhys Goch, so possibly to the memory of John or Jenkin Awbrev, brother to Dr. Awbrey, and his wife. It is said that the Awbrey tombstone in the Havard or Vicar's Chapel at the Priory Church was removed hence for safety during a disturbance, possibly at the Dissolu¬ tion of the Monasteries. Though neither inscription or date are now to be seen, it formerly bore the following, with the date 1312: "Walter le fiz Water Awbrey git ici Jesus de sa alme eit merci, Amen. Pater Noster." It then proceeded to give the name of the wife backwards, writing from the right hand to the left, beginning at the bottom and reversing the letters ; the words were : •' Christina sa femme gist ici, Jesus de sa alme en merci, Ave Maria. Pater Noster." This slab is now level with the floor, and bears on its surface the sculptured recumbent figures of the said Walter Awbrey and Christina his wife, with their hands raised in prayer ; at the head is a crucifix with angels swing¬ ing censers on each side, at their feet lie two dogs. This Walter Awbrey was brother to John, who sold Slwch, he lived at Abercynrig, which hence forward became their principal residence ; and the house, after the lapse of centuries, still bears traces of ancient grandeur. It was sold the beginning of the 17th century by Sir William Awbrey, of Tre- domen, to John Jeffreys, a mercer, who, having made a vast fortune by his trade in Brecon, bought this estate ; his descendant and heiress, Dorothy, marrying Thomas Flower, ancestor of the present Viscount Ashbrook, brought it into that family, in which it continued until it was purchased by Mr John Lloyd, of Dinas, whose grandson, Col. Lloyd, of Dinas, is the present proprietor. One branch of the family settled at Palleg, in Ystradgunlais, from whom descend the Awbreys and Goughs, of Ynis¬ cedwin, and the Jones-Williams', of Coity Mawr ; another at Llanelieu, which came into their possession through the marriage of a younger son of Abercynrig to Anne, daughter and heiress of William Vaughan, of Llanelieu, who died 1645 ; but the most distinguished member of the house was a descendant of the Awbreys of Cantreff, William Awbrey, D.C.L., Master of the Court of Requests to Queen Elizabeth, of whom more later. One of his sons, Sir Thomas Awbrey, marrying the daughter of Anthony Mansel, migrated to Llan- tryddid, in Glamorgansh're, whose nephew, Richard, having married a Wiltshire heiress, settled in that county, and his eldest son, John Awbrey, was the weU-known and amusing author of the History of Surrey, and other works. G.E.F.M. (To be continued).