Cardiff central Library Manuscript No. 3.166 Transcribed from the original by Dr Hugh Stradling, 1996"The Lords of St Donats stood at the head of the gentlemen of their county; and were more addicted to piety and literature than was usual among country gentlemen of their period" Col. G T Clarke Index Accession of Gilbert de Clare Account of the invention of a cross at St Donats A cross found in the trunk of a tree at St Donats, end of the 16th Century; and picture of the said cross taken. Advent of the Normans A letter by Rhys Meyrick of the Cottrel A letter by Sir Walter Raleigh A letter of the Cromwellian period relating to St Donats A Presumed relic from the ancient library of St Donats Archbishop Usher at St Donats - interested in some old Mss while staying at the castle Archbishop Usher seriously ill at St Donats Archbishop Usher plundered on his way from Cardiff to St Donats Archbishop Usher preaching before King Charles I at Cardiff Castle A Stradling of St Donats ruins one of the Bussetts of Beaupre Arms of the Stradlings A Tradition of Oliver Cromwell staying at St Donats Castle Barbara Gamage, heiress of Coity Castle and Estate, married at St Donats to Sir Robert Sydney Bird and artist employed at St Donats Cooks description of St Donats (1818) Dr Parr at the castle of St Donats Dr Lion Dafyd Rhys - his connection with the Stradlings of St Donats Extraordinary robbery at Daunstey, in the family of one of the Stradlings Further account of the Stradling Family Haweys, the holders of St Donats on the accession of Gilbert de Clare Haweys, in possession of large estates in the counties of Somerset and Devon Iestyn Humphrey on the Stradlings of St Donats Legend of St Donatus Letters to the Merthyr Guardian List of Vicars Loss of the FROLIC Llanweryd, the ancient name of St Donats Manors belonging to Sir John Stradling Bart. Memorials of the Stradlings in the nave of St Donats Church Mention made of the Stradlings in State Papers Notes on Bows and Arrows Old Glamorganshire breed of cattle Origin of the name St Donats Poetry relating to the Stradlings Public offices held by the Stradlings Recent owners and occupiers of the castle Roman coins found at St Donats Roman Villa, lately discovered at Llantwit Short Chronology of Events in the history of St Donats Sir Edward Stradling promoting a large scheme of public utility in London Sir Edward and others obtaining license to bring water into the City of London Sir Edward raises an army of 1055 men in Glamorgan on the side of King Charles I Sir Edward taken prisoner at Edgehill Sir Edward wounded at Newbury Sir Edward's widow marry Bussy Mansell of Briton Ferry Sir Edward attain the rank of Major General Sir Harry's letter to his wife from Rome Sir Harry who fell into the hands of the sea pirate 'Colyn Dolphyn' Sir John Stradling, the first of the indirect line Sir Thomas Stradling imprisoned in the Tower of London Sir Thomas Stradling, the last of the family Smuggling on the sea coast Song in praise of Glamorgan Splot Farm St Donats, visited by Mr Lethiculier in 1736 Stradling's pool Supernatural occurrences "The Beati Pacifi", dedicated to the Kinge James I The Castle The Chapel The Estate sold in 1862 The Old Black cattle of Glamorganshire The partition of the estate The present church described The Story of the conquest of Glamorgan by Fitzhammon The Stradling Family The Stradling Correspondence The Stradlings of Dauncey, Wilts The Stradlings who were members of Parliament for the county of Glamorgan The Stradlings who were members for the Boroughs Traditions in St Donats concerning the last of the Stradlings Tresilian Donats Watch Tower at St Donats Welsh St Donats Wrecking
PrefaceSt Donats. This seaside parish is situated in the hundred of Ogmore and is bounded on the east by Lantwit Major, on the north by Monknash, on the west by Marcross, while its southern side is washed by the waters of the Bristol Channel. It has an area of 881 acres, all enclosed and divided into nearly equal parts of arable and pasture. The population, in common with most of the agricultural parishes of Glamorgan, shows from 1831, a steady and continual decrease. In the census of that year, the numbers of inhabitants was found to be 151. In 1871 they had dwindled down to 140, while 1881 showed a further diminution of 2 and by 1891 they numbered only 126. The parish on the whole has a southern aspect, the land gradually sloping from the high ground at Wick to the cliffs at the sea. The village is long and straggling, commencing at the head of a narrow "cwm", a dale or dingle, and following its course here and there a cottage or farm house for half a mile along the winding road until the castle is reached and the road may be said to end. Another road from the east ends at the same spot, but there is no "thoroughfare" in the strict sense of the term through the village. The spot on which the castle stands, although considerably lower than the country immediately to the north, is of considerable strength, as will be discovered by an examination of it from either the south or the west. From either of these approaches its capabilities of defence become apparent. The narrow and rather shallow "cwm" which we are supposed to have been following from the north has at this point deepened, until it becomes a ravine with steep rocky banks. On the eastern side rises the castle overlooking the ancient church, which just find room for itself and its churchyard in the narrow valley, being barely seen until its gate is reached; while on the western side of the "cwm" rises the famous Watchtower - a striking building raised probably for the double purpose of defence and observation and which command an extensive view over land and sea. A quarter of a mile lower down, the "cwm" ends in the sea itself where the "sea wall" built by Sir Edward Stradling stretches itself across the mouth and prevents any encroachment from the sea. Castle and Watch Tower form striking landmarks as seen from the Bristol Channel; and present a romantic picture of the fortress of a feudal baron of the 14th century, existing intact as to outward resemblance into the 20th century. A spot so pleasantly situated and possessing so many natural advantages for the feeding of sheep and kine, and the growth of corn, must have tempted the earliest settlers - the first inhabitants of this island to make it a place of residence. History is silent as to who these may have been; but Roman coins (A) having been found here, gives colour to the supposition that a Roman Villa must have been erected here. It is known indeed that the Romans held possession of the Glamorgan coast and the remains of strong encampments are continually being discovered and found in considerable number in advantageous positions (B) along the channel side: but nothing is really known of the ownership of the soil of this parish until the period of Fitzhammon's conquest in Glamorganshire. Note A - "Five miles west of Cowbridge stands St Donats castle near which there are dug up several ancient coins among which were some of Aemolianus and Marcus which are very scarce. The castle is at present in the possession of the family of the Mansells and is a large and elegant building, which makes a noble appearance, though different parts of the structure are extremely antique". Description of E & W in 1769. Note B - See report on excavations near Lantwit Major in Transactions of the Cardiff Natural Society 1887. The Iolo manuscript tells us that the dispossessed Welsh Lord was Einion Fawr, son of Uthrod Gach, Lord of Llanweryd - as the place was then called - and that he bore for arms "Gules three cocks, or"; other books say "3 lions salient, or". It has been the misfortune of Glamorgan history that so much fiction has been made to pass current for truth, particularly with regard to the period of which we are now treating and in an especial degree to the lordship of St Donats, as to make it impossible to let even the little light there is, to shed on the past, without clearing away the rubbish of falsehood, which from the time of the Tudors has been studiously, laboriously and ingeniously thrown round the subject. Col. Clarke who has had better opportunities of sifting this story, and has bestowed more patient study upon it than any other writer, thus speaks upon the subject:- "The proceedings of Fitzhammon during and upon his conquest have been woven into a legendary tale, very neat and round, very circumstantial, but as deficient in evidence as if it had proceeded from the pen of Geoffrey of Monmouth himself. The story which in South Wales is an 'article of faith', explains the jealousy between Rhys and Lestyn -- and the partition of the country between the conqueror and his twelve principle followers, together with four or five Welshmen. By whom or when this story was concocted is not known. It was certainly accepted without challenge in the time of Elizabeth I and could scarcely have been circulated before the extinction of the Despencers early in the 15th century. Probably its author was some follower of the Stradlings of St Donats, a family somewhat given to literature, and whose fictitious pedigree it sets forth as true". This fictitious document, which is attributed by the earlier writers indifferently to Sir Edward Stradling and Sir Edward Mansell, is even quoted without question by Leland; and yet as far as the Lordship of St Donats and the so called Lordship of East Orchard are concerned, it is absolutely devoid of the truth. Neither Stradling nor Berkerolles came in with the conqueror of Glamorgan and this fact being borne in mind, we may return to the thread of the story of St Donats. Einion Fawr, then , had in 1091 to give up possessions, summarily of St Donats, in favour of Hawey, of Combe Hawey (C) in Somersetshire, one of the numerous knights who holding manors under Fitzhammon in the honour of Gloucester, accompanied their lord upon the expedition which ended in the conquest of Glamorganshire. There were far more than 'twelve' of these adventurers who obtained the reward of a 'manor' in Glamorganshire for their services in the successful foray. St Donats was held by the Haweys family until at least 1262, for in the 'extant' of the lordships of Glamorgan, taken in that year, upon the accession of Earl Gilbert de Clare - the holder of the fee of St Donats, value £10, is one of that name who also holds one fee in Marcross with £10, which the heir of Richard le Butler ought to hold. Note C - The parish of Combe in Somersetshire, and afterwards known as Combe Hawey, was part of the spoil alloted to Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux (half brother of William of Normandy), being one of the 439 manors given him. During William's first visit to Normandy, he was one of the two regents left in charge of the kingdom and his cruelty during his half-brother's absence to the vanquished race, raised such a storm that only William could quell. Later, his ambition grew and he aimed at the papacy, being minded to enter Italy by force, when William arrested him, clapped him in prison at Rouen and seized all his manors. Then it was the Hawey came in for a share of good things which the wind in its ill will of Odo, had blown down. In Glamorganshire Hawey received St Donats and with St Donats went the manors of Rogerston and Trewillun in Gwent. Notes Sir J.D.Harding, in "His Historical Account of the Castles of Glamorganshire", says that Lanmaes was allotted by Fitzhammon as a grange to St Donats. In the survey of 1320, St Donats is valued at XXLI. There were VJ(?) plough lands in the lordship. Each plough land in the lordship of Glamorganshire, pay'd in five years after the desceased of every lord 9s 10d. A survey of 1650 gives the manor of St Donats with many others in the country as one of those upon which was levied the impost of Chence or Towle. In the changes consequent upon the sudden and unexpected demise of Sir Thomas Stradling the estate was for a short time held - forcibly perhaps - by Mansell of Briton Ferry. Grose speaks of its being in his possession in 1740.
Welsh St Donats.The name of this village seems to have been imposed for the purpose of distinguishing it from St Donats by the seaside - which was from an early date occupied by a part of a Flemish colony, settled at Llantwit Major. The next 'extant' survey was taken in 1320 and by that time Hawey has given place to Stradling. How the exchange was affected it is impossible to say. The fictitious pedigree speaks of a marriage with a daughter of Hawey, early in the reign of Henry I (?means Edward I). So probably the manor was acquired by marriage of a Stradling with an heiress of the Haweys, one hundred and fifty years or more later than the time assigned in the pedigree. The Stradlings held possession of the Lordship in unbroken succession then from a little earlier than 1320, till the year 1738, or say for 425 years. When the last of the St Donats family, Sir Thomas Stradling died at Montpellier in France and the estates became the subject of prolonged litigation between the heirs at law of the desceased and Mr, afterwards Sir, John Tyrwhitt (under whose hand young Stradling had fallen) and now claimed the estates under an alleged agreement made between the parties that the survivor of either should inherit the estates of the other. The matter was eventually settled by arrangement between the parties which received the sanction of a special act of Parliament by which Mr Tyrwhitt received St Donats as his portion of the spoil. From the Tyrwhitt, the estate passed to the Tyrwhitt- Drake family, by whom in 1862 it was sold for £55,000 to Mr J.W. Nicholl Carne.
Origin of the nameThis question at once takes us into the ecclesiastical history of the place, and in tracing it we have to step back to perhaps the fourth or fifth century of the Christian era. At the time of the intrusion of the ruthless Norman, the place was known as Llanweryd - the parish then as now taking its name from the saint to whom its church was dedicated. Within itself, the name has a precious shred of history folded up; it tells us of some devoted missionary coming probably from beyond the sea - in all likelihood - to labour among the simple folk who then dwelt in the sequestered village. The Rev.J.M.Traherne, who as antiquary and historical student, was well read in all that related to the past of Glamorganshire, held St Donats, its church more especially as 'almost sacred ground', believing (so it was said) that on the spot where it stands, the gospel was probably first preached in Britain. Ever must we regret that Mr Traherne did not seriously undertake and accomplish the task of writing that to which he was thought he had devoted the energies of his life, viz - The History of Glamorgan. He certainly collected large stores of material for that end; and he possessed opportunities of access to original documents relating to the history of the county which will perhaps hardly again fall within reach of any other men of tastes similar to his own. But the opportunity was lost, and one may now look in vain for the evidence upon which he had founded his opinions. Therefore it must stand unsupported just for what it may be worth. Some antiquaries following Mr Traherne's dicta have thought it possible that in this spot one of the Apostles - St James - had himself preached. This however may be assumed with some confidence, that in 1091 there was a church of some antiquity in the deep narrow valley below where the castle now stands, and that it was dedicated to Werydd, or Gweryd. More than this is not known. The advent of the Norman Lord brought with it a change. He cared little for the saints of the welsh church; the building used for worship was small and mean, and when his taste and opulence demanded that a finer structure should be built, he, as was the wont of his fraternity, dedicated the new building to a saint of whom he believed himself to know more; in whose intercessory prayers he has more confidence, who had no national grudge against him as a supplanter of the ancient race; and to whom perhaps some especial powers of help were attributed, of which he stood particularly in need. The Haweys had considerable estates in Somersetshire and Devonshire, to which they and their dependants must have paid frequent visits, and had often to cross and recross the channel. For the new church therefore the patronage of St Donats was invoked, a saint who it was thought gave its direct protection to mariners, and whose pictured representation may still be seen in many a Norman seaman's and fisherman's cottage. In their fondness for finding a Welsh origin for everything found in Wales, some of our antiquaries have imagined Donat to be the British Dunawd, and abbot or head of the college or monastery of Bangor Iscoed in North Wales, who ended a long life (probably by martyrdom) in the early years of the seventh century. This supposition may be summarily dismissed for the Norman Lords when they made a change in dedication, as they did in several well authenticated instances, never changed from one Welsh saint to another, but invariably from the national saint to one of foreign extraction, yet in this case the saint had a nearer alliance to British origin than might be imagined. Let us see what legend says of him:- St Donatus, Bishop of Frisoli, who died A.D.874 was according to Tuscan tradition, a Scottish. or rather Irish pilgrim, who visited the tomb of the Apostles at Rome. On his way home he arrived at Frisoli, when the Bishop was dead, and people and clergy assembled in truly primitive conclave in the church to elect his successor. As Donatus, a man of small stature entered the cathedral, all the bells began to ring and every lamp and candle was lighted supernaturally. The people took this as a sign that the little stranger was to be the new Bishop and elected him by acclamation. But the little Bishop could perform other miracles than that of setting the bells to ring and the lamps to shine. One day, a boy returning from the church, home to his mother was carried off by a wolf. The mother rushed to the church and implored help of the Bishop, who prayed and presently the wolf brought back the boy and laid him down unhurt upon the altar steps! Sir John Stradling who aspired to be a poet and wrote a lengthy book of verse, which is dedicated to James I (1623) called "Beatifie Pacifici", takes occasion therein to speak of the saint Donat thus:- "A Bishop great and holy martyr old, I much esteem him, more than all know why, Of whom a little modicum I hold As have done divers of mine ancestry: Methinks he bids me mind that holy place, Where some of them received knightly grace" In the last line, he of course alludes to some of his ancestors having received the knighthood at the holy sepulchre. Later in the poem where Sir John has a vision of the heavenly host, he again fondly returns to the patron saint of his knightly fee:- "Among that noble martyr army one, Above the rest I wished to behold; Him looking well about I spi'd anon And pressing nearer to him I was bold To tender homage to him, for the slender fee Which under him I hold in Chivalrie" Notes. - In Aylesford church, diocese of Rochester is a monument with the inscription theron - "Hie Jacet Johannes Donat, generosus", and "Alicia uxor ejas. Ille obit A.D. 1455. illa obit", "St Donati ora pro nobis". This is noticed in Weaver's Ancient Monuments and there is this note thereto -" I never heard of such a saint saving at St Donat's castle in Glamorganshire, the fair habitation of the ancient and noble family of the Stradlings - 1631".
An enquiry having been made in regards to the above note in the Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian 1853, the following answer was elicited from Boviensis; "St Donatus is patron of shipwrecked mariners. He is portrayed with various emblems of wreck as accessories. On print shops of any of the towns on the French coast - Dunkirk, Calais, Bologne - his portrait may be found." The annals of Tewkesbury put St Donats day on the 17th August.
The Church of St Donats.The present church of St Donats may safely be assumed to be the third which have stood upon the same spot, for in date it cannot be earlier than the 14th century. There must as certainly been an earlier Norman church here, as that church succeeded a still earlier British structure. It consists of nave with tower at western end, with porch, chancel, mortuary chapel of the Stradling family, dedicated to St Mary, on the north side of the chancel separated therefrom by a solid wall in which is the door of entrance. The chancel arch is round headed, not large, but yet possessing dignity. Towards the nave the corners of the arch are rounded with slender shafts which at the spring of the arch have capitals slightly ornamented. Two steps lead into the chancel. The chancel is of large size in proportion to that of the church. The eastern window is of three lights pointed. On the south side are two light pointed windows, on which side also is a pointed door, generally called the Priest's door. The Sacrarium is raised. There is a large and somewhat unusual shaped piscina - octagonal, attached to the south wall, while on the east wall, north of the holy table, is a large bracket- much ornamented for sustaining an image, probably that of the virgin. The font is under the tower, and round and massive. It is decorated with two rows of small and plain shields, closely joined together. There is a holy water stoop on the left hand side of the north door, large octagonal and projecting, with the base richly ornamented. Opposite the north door is a doorway which led into the churchyard but is now walled up. Two three light, square headed windows break the wall on the south side of the nave; they are filled with plain glass into which shields bearing the Stradling arms are let in. This small portion of coloured glass is very old. The roof of the nave, chancel, and chapel are of open woodwork. Anciently there was a rood loft above chancel arch facing the nave. The stone brackets remain which gave it support, as do also the door and staircase which led up to it, and the small windows north and south by which it was lighted. Outside, the roofs are battlemented, and the tower which is square, is also battlemented with slender pinnacles at the corners. In the churchyard is an exceedingly fine cross, raised on a calvary of three steps. The tall slender shaft is sculptured at the top with a representation of the crucifixion; and happily it has escaped all damage at the hands of the puritans in the Cromwellian raid - when so many of the Glamorganshire crosses were either mutilated or destroyed. The cross at St Donats has received no other damage than that dealt it by the inevitable hand of "time". There remains now in connection with the church, but to describe the attached chapel of St Mary, which was built in 1573 as the burial place for the Stradlings which had gone before, and the resting place of successive generations of the same, closing with Sir T Stradling, the last of the name; who as we have already mentioned died at Montpellier in France. The chapel is entered from the church by a door on the north side of the chancel, and on the left hand side as you enter is a recess for holy water stoup, which appear shaped as if for metal work to fit completely into it. There is no ornamentation that would be given to it by the metal. The roof of the chapel is of open woodwork and the light is received from a three light window in the eastern end. The walls are covered with sculptured memorials of various dates and also with memorial pictures or panels on which are lengthy inscriptions - all of which will be described in order. But that which arrests the attention first of all is that large raised white marble tomb in the centre of the chapel on which are inscribed the names of the last two Stradlings of St Donats. This tomb is about four feet high, six feet and some inches long and more than three feet wide. On the one side is recorded the name of Edward Stradling. "who died the 3rd of October 1727, aged 27 years, to the unspeakable grief of his parents and all that knew him, being a most accomplished gentleman in all respects". On the other, that of Sir Thomas Stradling, the last of his name, who died 27th September 1738 - and was buried here on the 19th March following. On the west wall are three pictures in panels in excellent preservation, of large size, 3ft 6in high; perhaps by 2ft 8in wide. Their excellent condition was due as was told by the sextons wife, on our visit to the place in 1880, to their having been sent to London by Dr Carne to be restored. The restoration seemed to have been most judiciously performed. The 1st picture represents a knight in dark armour kneeling in prayer, book in hand; facing him is his lady, richly attired, also kneeling. Two sons kneel behind the knight, one daughter behind the lady. A shield of arms fully quartered suspended over each, and an inscription in small neat white lettering in centre of the picture (D) - to the memory of Sir Harry Stradling, who was taken prisoner by Colyn Dolphyn and ransomed at 2,200 marks, to pay which certain manors (specified) were sold. Other incidents in the knights life are also given. On the panel and below the picture is an inscription in black lettering as follows:- "Here lyeth Thomas Stradling Esquire, sonne to Sir Henry Stradling, knight, and Elizabeth his wife (the daughter of William Thomas of Raglan, in County of Monmouth, knight) who died at Cardiff, in the monastery of the preaching fryers, the 8th day of September, in the year of our lord 1480; whose bones after the dissolution of the said monastery, Thomas Stradling, knight, his nephew caused to be taken up and carried to St Donats, and buried in the chancel of the church there, by his son the 4th day of June in the year of our lord 1537, and afterwards Edward Stradlinge, knight, his nephew's sonne, the 5th of that name translated the said bones out of the chancel to the chapel there in the year of our lord 1573, after whose death his wyfe married with Sir Rees ap Thomas, knight of the garter, and died at Picton in the county of Pembroke, the 5th day of February, in the year of our lord 1533, and was buried at Carmarthen in the monastery of the Preaching Fryers with the said Sir Rees ap Thomas, her husband" (Editor - dates have been checked on the picture!) The second picture has a knight bare headed clad in a suit of white or shining armour elaborately decorated with his lady opposite to him. Both are kneeling and each have a book in hand. On a table in the background are placed the knight's helmet and plume. Shields of arms in the upper part of the picture. Five sons kneel behind the knight, four daughters behind the lady. The painter had thrown more character into the faces of this group than he has into that in the first picture. There is individuality enough in them for actual portraits. At the bottom of the picture is the following inscription in the same style of lettering as the first:- "Here lyeth Edward Stradlinge knight, the 4th of that name, sone to Thomas Stradlinge Esq. and Janet his wife, the daughter of Thomas Matthews of Radyr, in the countie of Glamorgan, Esq; who died in the castle of St Donats the 8th daie of Maie, in the year of our Lord 1535, and was buried in the chancel of the church there, whose bones were afterwards translated by his nephew, Edward Stradling knight, the 5th of that name into the chapel there, in the year of our Lord 1573. Also here lyeth Elizabeth his wyfe, daughter of Thomas Arundel of Lanheydrock in the county of Cornwall, knight, who died in child-bed at Merthyr Mawr the 20th day of February in the year of our Lord 1513. and was buried there, - whose bones Thomas Stradling knight her sonne, caused to be taken up and carried to St Donats and buried in the chancel of the church there with her husband, the 8th day of May in the year of our Lord 1536 and afterwards by Edward Stradlinge translated into the chapel there in the year of our Lord 1573." D- The inscription in white lettering is as follows:- "The undernamed Harri Stradling, knight, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and received the order of the sepulchre there as his father, Edward Stradling, knight, the ? of that name, and grandfather William Stradling, knight of the same order did, and died in the Isle of Cyprus, on his coming home, the last of August in the year of King Edward the 4th, and is buried in the city of Famagusta. This Sir Harri, sailed from his house in Somersetshire, to his house in Wales, was taken prisoner by a Briton Pirate named Colyn Dolphyn whose redemption charges stood him 2,200 marks, for the payment whereof he was driven to sell the castle and manor of Baseleq, in Monmouthshire and two manors in Oxfordshire. N.B. The 16th year of Edward IV would be 1477.
The third picture is that of a knight in dark costume with sword at his side, a bright helmet and plume being on a table in the background. His lady kneels opposite to him. There are no children. Above them are shields with arms quartered and upon a scroll the legend, - "Vertues sole praise consisteth in doing" (1590). These are careful portraits of Sir Edward Stradlinge then living. Beneath is an inscription in the same character as the proceeding:- "These pictures do represent Sir Edward Stradlinge, knight, the 5th of the name (son to Sir Thomas Stradling, knight, and Katherine his wife, daughter to Thomas Gamage of Coity, knight,) and the lady Agnes Stradling his wife, (daughter to Sir Edward Gage of Sussex, knight and Elizabeth , his wife, daughter to John Parker of Willington, in the county of Sussex, Esq.) which said Sir Edward now in his life time hath set forth these monuments of his ancestors deceased, and by God's grace meaneth hath he and his wife after their decease to keep them bodily company in this self same place. Anno Dom. 1590." Above the pictures is hung the iron helmet of a knight. This remarkable series of pictures are probably unique in monumental art. They were obviously executed by the same hand and as the date on the 3rd picture tells us, - "in the year 1590". Who was the artist? The older members of the Bird family in Cardiff used to say that the first of their family who came to Glamorganshire was the artist who had been engaged by Sir Edward Stradling to paint the pictures he wished placed in the mortuary chapel at St Donats. When that commission was executed, Mr Byrd (as the name was then spelt) liking the county, settled in Cardiff. The oldest mural monument in the chapel is on the south side of the east window. Its general design is elegant but the stone has crumbled away so much that the inscription has been obliterated. There were several shields of arms upon it, but the chargings are now all defaced. On the north wall is a Jacobean monument; knight and his lady kneeling in prayer at a desk sculptured in the style which prevailed at that period. The persons represented are Sir Edward Stradling - The subject of the third picture above mentioned - who died May 15th 1609, and the Lady Agnes his wife who died May 15th 1610. There is a long Latin inscription - part of which is written upon the end of the desk at which the pair are kneeling. On the south wall is a fair marble monument to the memory of William (?) Stradling and the Lady Elizabeth Hungerford his wife, of Farley, Hungerford, Somersetshire and some of their family. There is a long Latin inscription but only one date - namely 1683. Within the church there are a greater number of monuments of various dates than it might be supposed possible from a village community composed of the tenants and retainers of the powerful family of the Stradlings. In the nave there are the following memorials among others:- Richard Hyett, Steward to the last two Stradlings, - "behaved very well in his calling and died as he lived" 10th April 1749 aged 70. "If all men follow his example, Their resurrection will be ample". Catherine, his wife died in 1766. David Hyett his son died in 1769. "Dear wife pray weep for me no more, And do not shed a tear; For I am gone but just before Unto my saviour dear." Richard Hyett, Junior of St Donats died 1739 aged 25. "Mourn not for me my joy begins Bestow thy tears upon thy sins; Out of my grave I call to thee, Prepare to die and follow me." "We grieve not them, That thou to heaven art taken; But that thou hast Thy Friends so soon forsaken." Edward Hyett, Practising surgeon in St George's Hospital , London, son to Richard Hyett and Catherine Thomas his wife, died 1738 aged 24. "The memory and actions of the just Blooms o'er the grave and blossoms in the dust" Abraham Mathews of Bristol, died in March 1697/8 - aged 18. "Though Boreas blasts and Neptune's waves" etc. William Price, Steward etc. died 1691 Mary his wife, died 1720 Mary Savours their daughter and mother of the Revd Mr William Savours, vicar of this parish, died 1729 Robert Savours her son died 1732 There is also a monument to the Revd M Thomas, sometime vicar of St Donats and his wife. Mrs Thomas during her long widowhood occupied the castle and farm and died at St Donats. She was a woman of strong character and quite ruled the parish - everyone looking up to her as if she were owner of the estate. Her daughters were tenants at the castle at the time of its purchase by the late Dr Carne and were speedily turned out by him. A tablet in the porch records the death of Francis Stych, at the age of 108 who was buried in the churchyard Dec. 1st 1671. John Harry was buried May 24 1792 aged 110. John had been huntsman to two or three of the later Stradlings and was it was understood in receipt of a pension for such service at the time of his death. In the churchyard on the north side of the tower is an old incised monumental slab XIII or XIV century. Its design is a cross, decorated with an anchor shaped base. The churchyard itself is small, on its western boundary is a small babbling brook, beyond which the ground rises in a steep declivity, wood covered. Immediately eastward the ground rises yet more steeply, and from the height above the tower and battlement of the castle front down upon the spot. There is an entrance of ancient date from the churchyard by a door to a steep path or flight of steps up to the castle. The most striking feature in the churchyard is the elegant pillared cross before spoken of, around which cluster thickly the memorials of many past generations. On the western side is a massive tomb which cover the remains of Sackville Turner, Sarah his wife, and a lady relative who were cast away and drowned on the night of the 5th Sep. 1774. They were all young people. The Sackvilles were of a Herefordshire family and left two children under a year and a half old. Mrs J W Nicholl-Carne is buried at St Donats having died at the castle. A lofty stone pillar cross of antique design stands at the head of the grave. The living is a discharge vicarage rated at £3:14:4d in the kings books. Endowed with £200 Royal Bounty, net value in 1835 - £131. There is a newly erected vicarage - The patron in 1719 was Sir Edward Stradling - in 1831, the Tyrwhitt-Drake family - in 1881, J.W. Nicholl Carne esq.
List of Vicars.Hugh Adam was parson of St D. 1473 when he was one of the witnesses of a deed relating to the manor of Lamphey. Sir Thomas Chalke, parson of St Donats, 37 Hen.VIII charged viij1-- iiij1 to subsidy. John Cautlow "of the age of 57 years, was vicar of St D in June 1561. 'was only inducted vicar in michalmas last past." (State Papers) David, vicar of St Donats, appear in Golden Grove Book, p.50. He appears to be the son of one Richard, parson of Llanfihangel, who was grandson to a Jenkin Hoskins. William Savours 1738. It was he who buried the last Stradling at St Donats.
St Donats Castle.Col Clarke, who has brought the highest engineering skill, coupled with great and accurate archaeological knowledge to his task, has made it a labour of love to survey all, or nearly all, the ruined fortresses of Glamorgan and in the published results of his studies has quite re-edified these shattered remains of antiquity. In 1871, he published "Thirteen Views of St Donats with a description of the castle and a notice of the Stradling family". He speaks of it as "The only military building in the county always inhabited and preserved without material alteration; nevertheless the fortress is not celebrated in Welsh history. The name does not appear in the "Liber Laudavensis", nor the earlier traditionary records". Again, in a notice of the castle accompanied by plans in the Arch Cambrensis III series, vol XV. page 276 (of which it is presumed he is the writer) it is stated "It is difficult to say which predominates at St Donats, the antiquarian and archaeological value of the buildings or the extreme beauty and dignity of its appearance. Very few castles can compete with it in this respect; and taken in conjunction with its gardens and precincts, its romantic situation on the cliff of the Severn Sea, its proximity to Lantwit, the most mysterious place in South Wales, as well as its family history, it constitutes a whole upon the possession of which its possessor may justly be congratulated". Notwithstanding this high praise of its architectural beauty and that it is not undeserved, the fascination which it has exercised over the minds of almost every artist that views it, from the Royal Academians, Turner and Ward, down to the but locally known painter, Wilson, is a sufficient evidence. Still it must be confessed that its dignity is best preserved by viewing it at a distance. The approach to it, as well as its entrance gateway, is mean and awkward to a degree that reaches astonishment. It is only a visit to the place which can convince anyone who have only seen St Donats from the south or west, what an ungainly approach there is to such a wealth of magnificence. How an opulent family who gathered so many retainers around them in the feudal ages could bring themselves to submit to so much inconvenience as the straightened and crooked principal gateway must have caused them, raises one's highest wonder. As this great inconvenience was submitted to generation after generation, it must be evident that something must have compensated them for it. Perhaps there was some additional security gained but this is not noticed by Col Clarke. Notes:- St Donats castle. William de Worcester, who visited Glamorgan in 1479 and wrote an itinerary, makes no mention of St Donats castle. He speaks of Llanblethyan and Penchlyn and Ogmore, but St D is passed over. Leland, who passed through the country fifty years later says:- "From Colehow about a mile is St Donats Castle. It standeth on a meane hill a quarter of a mile from the Severn Sea. In the which space betwixt the castle and the Severn is a parke of red deere, more by north west. The parke and castle belong to Stradling, a gentleman of very fair landes in that country. Theirs from the severn shore to the mouth of the Alien and 3 miles."
But to return to Mr Clarke's survey of the castle:- "In its present form the castle" he says is a work of the XV century with additions of the XVI. It is protected on two sides by a steep natural bank and on the north and n-east, by an artificial dry moat. The south or seaward front is formed by the wall of some of the main buildings, the angle of the south-west being a square structure known as the Lady Anne's tower; at the foot of which there is a terrace below and beyond which a series of platforms occupied by the gardens descend to a small walled paddock protected by a breastwork from sea-rovers and from the sea itself. Opposite the castle, on the right and higher bank of the ravine, stands the celebrated watch tower - a detached work from the summit of which could be seen Dunster castle on the opposite side of the coast, and a wide sweep of the Bristol Channel: - a view of great importance to the Stradlings when English seas were infested with pirates of many nations, and as they once found to their cost, possessed of considerable audacity. No history or accurate survey of the castle exists. It can only be stated here that in plan it is nearer a square than a circle; about 150 feet in diameter. Enclosed towards the ravine by a sort of levelment wall, behind the low parapet of which is a terrace within which raises the proper wall of the castle. Where the ditch occurs its scarf is a high embattled wall, its counterscarf a low parapet. The entrance on the N.E. or level side, is across a bridge now permanent, through a gateway only portcullised into a small court. Connected with this outer house on the south side is a good fireplace, and other traces of early english work - the oldest remains observed. From the small court, the way leads through a second gateway, also only armed, into the main court of the place, which is wholly surrounded by buildings. On the left hand in the hall with porch and projecting oval behind it with drawing room, kitchen and offices and at either end a further suite of rooms. The bottom of the court is occupied by the great dining room and parlour, the later having a curious wreath of plaster-washed copper, as part of the decoration of its ceilings. At the south end of the drawing room is the main stair case leading to the saloon. On the right hand side of the court are other rooms of one line in depth, and also two floors. Between the hall and gateway are some more buildings, apparently an addition containing Lady Stradling's apartments. On the walls of one of the rooms were recently found a complete series of arms, quaterings and matches of the family, painted on the wall and concealed partly by panelling and partly by white wash. In the last century part of the buildings were allowed to fall into decay but the greater part has always retained a roof. Since the acquisition by Dr Carne(who claimed to be the next representative of the Stradlings) the castle has been put in repair and is now occupied. Given with the "plan" before spoken of which appeared in Arch. Camb. is a list of the rooms formerly existing within the walls of the castle of which traces still remain. In the centre of the court yard is the base of an old fountain which 300 years ago constantly played water. The supply was obtained from a strong spring above the village at a considerable elevation above the castle to which it was conveyed by leaden pipes. The older villagers about the middle of the present century used to speak of the pipes being cut through in digging in gardens which lay along their course. "The book of South Wales" again speaks of terraces leading from the castle to the shore below to which there was formerly a covered way to an extensive series of barracks for men and horses, surrounding an oblong nook of two acres on all sides except that to the sea, which often dashes over and injures the outer wall. We heard on local authority that these barracks were occupied during a visit paid by Queen Anne (?) to this castle. The Queen's room is still pointed out. Some idea of ancient Welsh hospitality may be formed from the following dimensions of fireplaces, which were used at St Donats; width of fireplace in back kitchen 17' 3" width of actual fireplace 7' 0 width of fireplace in great hall 9' 0 Height of mantel piece from ground 8' 0
The Watch Tower- of which every one who writes on St Donats must make mention, is said by Col Clarke to have been built by Sir Harrie Stradling; he who was captured by Colyn Dolphyn. If this is so, Col Clarke's remark that it was built to very little purpose is much to the point. But the fact is that tradition has many voices on this subject. One of these is positive that the tower was built in consequence of the capture of Sir Harri (who on the other hand is said to have made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem that year and to have died in Famagusta in Cyprus). While another tradition affirms that it was built to display lights that would draw vessels to the shore where they might be wrecked and become the prey of the Lord of the manor. Grose, who published a view of the tower in 1776 has the following notice of it - "This picturesque building stand in the park a small distance west of the castle ditch, it seems to have been erected soley for the purpose of a watch tower, for both size and form bespeak it unfit for defence. Tradition says the Lord of the castle and manor, constantly kept a sentinel on its top to look out and give notice to the garrison when he saw any ships in distress, not with the humane design of sending out assistance, but that they might be time enough to assist the right of their lord to the wreck and to seize the vessel with its cargo before it was demolished and carried off by country people; who have at all times been particularly infamous for the inhumane practice of plundering vessels, shipwrecked on the shore; sometimes even murdering such of the crew as have saved themselves by swimming ashore". The view engraved in Grose's Antiquities shews the tower in a rather perfect condition - and attached to the lower portion are some smaller buildings which have now quite disappeared. More on the Watch Tower.
The Stradling Family.The pretensions of the Stradling family to the honour of having accompanied Fitzhammon in the conquest of Glamorgan are entirely fictitious, - if the claim is to rest on their possession of the lordship of St Donats. There is an elaborate and most circumstantial pedigree put forth by the family, but there can be no doubt of its having been manufactured from the fulsome and laudatory songs and other traditions of the household bards of the family, and stamped as authentic by being put forward as true by the head of the house when a stir was made in the time of king Henry VIII as to welsh pedigrees. A family in possession of a considerable estate can always obtain from their dependants the sort of flattery most pleasing to them, and by the year 1490 the Stradlings really had had the manor for several generations suppressing any sinister tradition as to their recent origin having once existed, as no doubt there had, time enough had elapsed for it to be utterly forgotten, and the larger traditions of the older family of the Haweys to have been ascribed to the Stradlings. It is no uncommon thing in much later times, to find an intruding parvenu family quietly appropriating the traditions of the family it has dispossessed. The traditions indeed seem to go with the estate and as the rightful property and personal belongings of the owner for the time being! Who needs go far to seek fro an example in point now. But we must follow the pedigree. Monger, in tracing the descent of the family, merely presuming that the first L'Esterling who came to Glamorgan, was probably one of the chief of the Flemish refugees who set up their quarters at Llantwit in the reign of Henry I, and who got on by marriage, possibly by marrying the heiress of the Haweys. This culminating piece of success on the part of the Stradlings took place in the person of Sir Peter Stradling, knight, who married the daughter of Sir Thomas Hawey, knight, temp. Ed.I. From this marriage we may be content to receive the Stradling pedigree in evidence. Taliesin ab Olo in his notes to the poem of "The Doom of Colyn Dolphyn" gives the genealogy of the Stradlings as a quotation from a letter of the Revd G Gamage, Rector of St Athans, to Llewellyn ap Evan, dated Nov 23rd 1726. Mr Gamage admits taking his pedigree from the roll compiled by Sir Edward Stradling, who is supposed to have been one of the chief hands in polishing off the spurious pedigree. 1. Sir William Esterling, to whom was given the castle and manor of St Donats, married Howisia or Hawys' daughter and heiress of Sir John Talbot, by a daughter of Cynfyn ab Gwrystan, prince of Powys and by her had a son. 2. Sir John Esterling, knight, who married Matilda, or Mallt, daughter and heiress of Sir Robert Corbet, knight, who had issue. 3. Sir Morris Esterling, knight, who married Cecilia daughter and heiress of Sir Pigot le Say, knt, who had a son. 4. Sir Robert Stradling, knight, the first who wrote his name in this manner ( it is most kind of the genealogist to tell us this interesting fact, otherwise we would have said that none of the Esterlings had up to this time, or for a few generations later, written their names in any form - their contemporaries could not in a general way do so. But we must not be too incredulous for in the later generations the Stradlings were decidedly literary in their taste, and we ought perhaps charitably to reason the point from this literary tendency). Sir Robert then married Howisia, daughter of Sir Hugh Brin, knight, a chieftain of welsh blood by his mother's side, who was the lawful heiress from failure of the male issue to the castle and manor of St Donats. Through her the Stradlings acquired a rightful title by just heirship to their estate and were not a little proud of their circumstances. The Welsh air had made them forget their (supposed) Norman manners "ever since!" continues the genealogist, "they have successively continued to enrol their names as Welshmen, according to the rights of just heirship in high descent? - the son - 5. Sir Gilbert Stradling married a daughter of John Saint Owen, knight, whose son, 6. Sir William Stradling married Cecilia daughter of Sir Hugh Cornwallis, knight who had a son, 7. Sir John Stradling, who married Ann, daughter of Sir Hugh Maniford, knight, who had a son, 8. Sir Peter Stradling, knight. This good knight and true whoever his parents may have been, is the first whom we can in any way recognise as a person upon whom the light of history shines. As to his reputed ancestory, they are mythical to be treated as real personages. We will therefore renumber the branches of this genealogical tree:- 1. Sir Peter Stradling married Joanna, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Hawey, knight, and had with her besides the manor of St Donats, two manors in Somersetshire and one in Dorsetshire. 2. Sir Edward (1) Stradling, the first of that name, quartered the arms of Hawey with those of the Stradlings. He married Eleanor, daughter and heiress of Gilbert Strongbow, knight, of Caldicot castle, Monmouthshire. With her Sir Edward had two manors in Oxfordshire. (He did homage 1314 for Compton Hawey to the Abbot of Sherborne) 3. Sir Edward (2) Stradling (1344-69), second of the name, son of the foregoing, married Gwenllian, one of the sisters and heiress of Sir Lawrence Berkrolles, knight, of New Castle, St Athans, otherwise the castle of East Orchard. Their son was - 4. Sir William Stradling, knight, (1390) who married Isabell daughter and heiress of Sir John Burt, knight. It is melancholy to add that he received with her, albeit that she was an heiress, no fortune, for as the chronicler goes on to explain "the estates of that family were entailed on male issue". This is the first Stradling to whom the genealogist condescends to give a date to any of his actions. Sir William journeyed to Jerusalem we are told in the reign of Richard II and received knighthood according to the forms and order of the Holy Sepulchre; which enact took place "about" the year of Christ 1380. His son was - 5. Sir Edward (3) Stradling the third. He was a personage of considerable pretensions: he quartered the arms of St Burt in the right of his wife; then those of the Berkerolles (whose heir he became in 1412) and with them the arms of Turberville and Iestyn ab Gurgan. He married Jane daughter of Henry Beaufort, who became a cardinal. This lady was descended on the mother's side from the Arundel family. Sir Edward like his father and Grandfather made a journey to Jerusalem to receive knighthood. (Was this a cheap and easy way of being dubbed? It is singular that we hear nothing of any of these valiant knights using their prowess in the tented field) Sir John Stradling a brother of this Sir Edward married the daughter and heiress of one Dauncey, in Somersetshire (?Wiltshire) and had two sons from whom are numerous descendants. Sir Edward's son was, 6. Sir Harry Stradling, knight, who married Elizabeth daughter of Sir William Thomas of Raglan Castle and sister to Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. This Sir Harry journeyed, like his immediate ancestors, to Jerusalem, and was like them knighted there. This Sir Harry had the misfortune to die on the return journey as hath already been narrated - in the Island of Cyprus and is buried in the city of Famagusta. He it was who fell into the hands of Colyn Dolphyn and had to be ransomed at 2,200 marks of which more anon. He was the last of the family who visited Jerusalem and his son therefore appears as a plain squire. The Watch Tower. The building of this tower as well as the object for which it was built has been an object of much curious speculation. The Revd G Gamage - a connection of the Stradling family, writing in 1726 after a prolonged research in the then safely preserved St Donats Library for materials for family history, thus writes thereon. He is speaking of Sir Harry Stradling and of his capture by Colyn Dolphyn, "After this event, he caused to be erected the watch tower in the new park at St Donats in which arms were placed and men to watch at night for the sea thief Colyn Dolphyn, who too frequently cruised in the Severn Sea, on ship robbery intent. On one long winter's night, the watch tower being in full light, C.D. drew towards it, mistaking it for Dunraven place, and struck on the Nash lands until his ship went to pieces. But he and his men were taken, hanged, and buried under the hillocks that are to be seen on a spot on the brink of the sea, near the castle. For this however, Sir Harry Stradling it cannot well be divised why, was bitterly pursued at law by Henry III. ?(VI) Between Mr Gamage's statement and Col Clarkes's record there is a very considerable discrepancy and both cannot be correct. If Mr Gamage is right, then Sir Harry must have lived very much longer than one year from the capture. While if Col Clarke is right, then Sir Harry was not the builder of the watch tower - at least not for the purpose stated in the narrative. Further on in the note, however, Mr Gamage diverges from his first statement and assigns another reason for the building of the tower. Sir John Stradling who succeeded to the estates in 1609, is being spoken of as having in a great measure rebuilt the old tower, which has fallen into decay. And then he says - "This tower was originally erected by Sir Peter Stradling, the eighth of the name" - but in reality as we shall see, but the first of the St Donats Stradlings - "to give light to his galley at nights when the family returned from Cwm Hawey to St Donats - they occasionally reside in Somersetshire, but mostly at St Donats. A report has gone abroad that the principal motive for erecting and lighting this tower was to decoy vessels to the dangerous rocks that extend along the coast for some miles east and west of St Donats castle. But this kind-hearted and charitable family were far indeed from entertaining such intentions. It is however said that the light in the tower led some vessels astray that were ultimately lost on the bordering rocks, but so far were the Stradlings from plundering the cargoes of such vessels that they preserved and protected them to the utmost for the rightful owners offering also every succour to the crew. Finding notwithstanding, that such accidents resulted, the lights were therefore discontinued and the tower fell into dilapidation; but it continued to stand till the time of Elizabeth, when it was blown down by a tremendous storm, which likewise threw down many large old trees in the park; besides producing severe injuries in the country. When this tower became generally known, it served as a beneficial beacon for upwards of two hundred years to warn vessels off the dangerous Severn coast, so that for one ship lost through it at first, scores ultimately preserved, that would otherwise have inevitably been destroyed. This consideration induced Sir John Stradling to renew it, strictly forbidding however the use of any light. Thus restored it remains until the present." Return to the Family: 7. Thomas Stradling Esq. called Sir Thomas Stradling by the bards who sang in his time and did not know that the order of knighthood was not hereditary. The genealogist tells us this with great candour and in a state of happy ignorance as to the liberal adornment and enlargement which the family tree had received at the hands of these domestic minstrels. Thomas married a daughter of Thomas Matthews of Radyr, Esq, named Jennet by whom he had two sons and a daughter. He died before he was twenty-six years old and his widow afterwards married Sir Rhys ab Thomas. He was succeeded by, 8. Sir Edward (4) Stradling who married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Arundel, knight, Llanhydrock, County of Cornwall. There were several children, his eldest son was, 9. Sir Thomas Stradling who married Catherine, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Gamage of Coity Castle, knight, whose wife was Margaret, daughter of Sir John St John, knight of Bledso. Seven children issued from this marriage. The successor was, 10. Sir Edward (5) Stradling who married Agnes, second daughter of Sir Edward Gage of Sussex, knight. There was no issue of this marriage. Sir Edward left the estates to so remote a relative as the grandson by another descent of Thomas Stradling Esq. by which it would appear that no male descendent remained in 1609 of either Sir Thomas or his father Sir Edward Stradling. 11. Sir John Stradling, knighted by James I and subsequently created a Baronet by the same king. The title and dignity of baronet was introduced by James I (as a means of raising money) and Sir Edward was the fifth baronet created. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Gage of Firle, Sussex, a niece of Lady Edward Stradling (as we would now call the Lady) and who had a family of ten children, so if one lady of the Gage family did not provide an heir for St Donats, the other did. Sir John was a poet: his 'Beati Pacifici' was dedicated by permission to James I. He also wrote a song in praise of Glamorganshire. He died in 1644 and was succeeded by his eldest son. 12. Sir Edward (6) Stradling Bart. who married Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Mansell of Margam, Bart. In his time and person, the family fortunes and dignity seems to have reached their highest point. The troubles of the Civil War and all the loss and disaster incidental to being attached to the losing side brought down the fortunes of the family. He had nine children some of whom died in the lifetime of the father. He was succeeded by his eldest son, 13. Sir Edward (7) Stradling, knight, who married Catherine, daughter of Sir Hugh Perry, Alderman of London. After his death, which preceded that of his father, she married Bussy Mansell of Briton Ferry. He left three children, the eldest of whom succeeded on the death of his grandfather to the family honours and estates. 14. Sir Edward (8) Stradling, Bart, (son of Sir Edward, knight) married Elizabeth daughter of William Hungerford Esq. of Farley Castle, Somersetshire. Sir Edward had six children. He died September 5th 1685 and was succeeded by his second, but eldest surviving son, 15. Sir Edward (9) Stradling, Bart, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Mansell of Margam, Bart, and had two sons, I - Edward, born March 3rd 1699 - died October 26th 1726, and 2 - Thomas, born July 24th, 1710. He was succeeded by his second and only surviving son. 16. Sir Thomas Stradling, Bart, who died unmarried at Montpellier in France, September 27th 1738, and with him the Stradling family, that is as far as the possession of the St Donats estates are concerned, became extinct. A further account of the Stradling family. Mr Gamages notes are far more copious than the foregoing extracts from them would indicate; he is however sadly deficient in dates. Col. Clark in the account of the family which accompanies his "Thirteen Views", while stating little of the marriages and collateral descents, is rich in dates and other particulars relating to the lives of successive heads of the houses. An attempt will be made to combine the best features of the two sketches into one narrative. Commencing with Sir Peter Stradling, "the eighth in descent", of whom nothing more is said than that he obtained by his marriage with the heiress of the Haweys, the manors of Combe Hawey and Hawey in Somersetshire and one in Dorsetshire called Compton Hawey, in Welsh 'Caer Gorwy'. These matters have been touched upon when Sir Peter's name came before us in the genealogical succession, and may therefore now be dismissed. Perhaps it may be as well to state that Compton Hawey continued in the possession of the family until a little before 1572, having been sold it would seem by Sir Thomas Stradling. He who got into trouble with Queen Elizabeth's council about the cross discovered in the trunk of an old riven ash tree - perhaps in consequence of that trouble, while the two Somersetshire manors were disposed of to provide money during the political troubles of the Commonwealth period. Sir Lewis Dyre, knight, bought them in 1644. He was a dashing Cavalier and defended Sherborne Castle bravely but unsuccessfully against Fairfax in 1645. Sir Edward Stradling, the first of that name, increased the family estates by the additions of two manors in Oxfordshire and received with his wife. He did homage in 1314 to the abbotE of Sherborne for the manor of Compton. In 1328 he witnessed the concession of Merthyr Mawr by John Syward to Reginald Somerton. By a concession in 1341 to the abbot of Neath, of an acre of land and advowson of church, (what church!) - Sir Edward and Elena his wife and their issue, obtained a general participation in the spiritual good things of the abbey, and founded an obit after their death, annually for ever. In this deed Sir Edward is called "Dominus de Sancto Donato Anglicanus" - so that the family had not up to that time resided in the county, nor does their name appear in any of the earlier extant deeds. Georg, the second son of the marriage was probably the ancestor of the Stradlings of Kenfig. Sir Edward Stradling, the son, married Wellian, daughter of Sir Roger Berkerolles, by Katherine, daughter and co-heir of Sir Richard Turberville of Coity, and eventually heir of his father's brother. Sir Lawrence Berkerolles, by this match, the Stradlings inherited East Orchard and Merthyr Mawr. (!!!!) Sir Edward made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In 1344 he was M.P. for Somersetshire, jointly with Sir Henry Power, and the two were in receipt of an allowance from the county of £12 for thirty days attendance upon Parliament going , staying and returning. He was Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1367-69 in which later year he witnessed a deed relating to Norchard Berkerolles, Merthyr Mawr and Lamphey. Sir William Stradling his son made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem tempo Richard II. He married Julian, (Isobel?) daughter and heir of John St Barbe of South Brent, Somersetshire. His third son, William was the ancestor of the Stradlings of Ruthin in Glamorgan and of Dauncey in Wiltshire. The tragic ending of that family we shall notice as fully as materials will permit. E - The abbot is styled William de Sancto Donato so that he was probably a relative of the Stradlings. " Dominus de Sancto Donato Anglicanus". Nicholas thinks this description implies a preceding or contemporary Wallicanus Lord of St Donats, and Sancto Donato Wallicanus in the Lordship of Talafan, a parish to this day called Welsh St Donats in the vernacular. In 1390, Sir William had a release from Margaret Bawdewyn of her claims on the lands of Peter Bawdewyn of St Donats, which Sir William held by gift of John Winchester, Lord of Landow. In 1400, being senescal of Gower, he held inquisition into the heirship of Richard Scurlage. Sir Edward Stradling, next Lord, journeyed with his father to the Holy land. In the year 1412, the family received the great good fortune of the accession to the Berkerolles estates, mentioned in the notice of the marriage of the grandfather of the present Sir Edward with the daughter of the house of Berkerolles - for it was in this year that Sir Lawrence Berkerolles died. New Castle (East Orchard), St Athans fell without dispute to Sir Edward, but with regard to the claims made by him to a fourth part of the lands and hereditaments of Turbeville, the Lord of Coity, a lawsuit ensued in the king's bench, when that fourth part was adjudged to the Lord Gamage "because Sir Lawrence Berkerolles had not a male heir of his own body when he died". He married Jane, daughter of Henry Beaufort, afterwards Cardinal Beaufort, and with her received the manor of Halsway, county of Somersetshire. In 1402, Edward Stradling had half a burgage in Swansea from Alice Charles. In 1429 he granted the manor of Lamphey to Cardinal Beaufort and others, no doubt as trustees. In 1441, a recovery was suffered in the court of Ogmore for the manor of lamphey. Sir Edward, Jane his wife, Cardinal Beaufort & others being parties. In 1452, an inquisition records Sir Edward as seized of Halfway and Combe Hawey manors, and a burgage in Watchet. In 1480-81, Joan was seized of Compton Hawey, Combe Hawey and Halfway manors. Col Clark says Sir Edward died at Jerusalem. He appears to have had but one son born in wedlock, but there was a numerous family of illegitimate children begotten by him upon various women. These says Col Clark with the names of their mother, as is common in Welsh pedigrees, are recorded with such scrupulous accuracy, as shows that their characters not to have materially suffered! Many of these children founded families. Sir Harry, only legitimate son of the above, succeeded his father, 1476 (16.Ed.IV.) and is the one Stradling whose adventures are of a highly romantic cast; and the one also about whom the statement as to his carrier so greatly vary. He married a daughter of Sir William ap Thomas Herbert of Raglan Castle. Mr Gamage says:- "This Sir Harry returning once by sea to St Donats Castle from his house in Somersetshire, was taken prisoner by that notorious sea thief Colyn Dolphyn, a native of Brittany in France and for his release was obliged to pay 2,200 marks: to raise which sum he was compelled to sell two manors in Oxfordshire: the manor of Tre Gwilym in Basseleg, Monmouthshire and the manor of Sutton in Glamorganshire". Then follows the account of the watch tower already referred to and the capture in turn of the sea robber's crew with the doom that befell them and the consequences thereof to Sir Harry. Mr Clark places this event in the last year of Sir Harry's life into which it would be impossible to crowd so many events as Mr Gamage on what we may assume to be the best authority ascribes to him. Consequently there is likelihood of Col Clark's date of the event not being sufficiently early. Tradition certainly credits Sir Harry with having had the revenge upon the pirate and also with having to suffer for his extreme mode of retaliating. This is extant a deed of Hugh Adam, parson of St Donats, enfeoffing Harry Stradling and Elizabeth his wife of the manor of Lanfey, dates 18th October 1473. In the 16th year of Edward IV, he journeyed to the Holy Land and on his return was seized with mortal sickness in the Island of Cyprus where he died and is buried at Famagusta. His book of travels, says Mr Gamage, wrote in 1726, is to be seen to this day in the study of St Donats Castle: remarkable for an account of the events of the journey and the views he had of the countries, cities, towns, lands and the various places he journeyed through, together with the customs of the inhabitants of the nations; and particularly the condition of Jerusalem as he saw it. In addition to this it contained four superior poems to the Holy Sepulchre, one in Latin, another in French, another in Welsh and a fourth in Italian, a (??), with its books much reputed at St Donats: for in the principal schools of Italy were the sons of this family brought up in learning from very distant generations. This Sir Harry was the last of the family to visit the Holy Land, but it has been said in this house and in the neighbourhood from father to son, that many of them besides these recorded have visited the city of Jerusalem, but the books were not carefully attended to and consequently lost. Of all the writings of this Sir Harry, the only one extant is a letter to his wife which must be quoted. Sir Harry Stradlings letter to his wife from Rome. Right hertilyy belowyd wyfe. etc (get rest from Clark - Thirteen Views), The Stradlings of Dauncey, Wiltshire, and the tragedy which swept away all but one member of the family. Col Clark speaks of this tragedy as being well known but Sir R.C.Hoarse makes no mention of it in his voluminous 'History of Wilts'. DauntseyF is situated a few miles from Malmesbury in the county of Wiltshire. The manor was given to the convent of that place by K Ethelwolf. It is mentioned in Domesday where it is stated to have been held temp Edward the Confessor by 'Aldwardus qui non poterat ab ecclesia separari'. Property of this kind often descended to heirs and tenants and was scarcely less valuable than freehold. The family of De Dauteseseia held this estate, several were sheriffs of the county at various times. John Dauntesey who was sheriff 1st Henry IV appears to have been the last of his name who held Dauntsey. A marriage with the heiress carried the estates into the Stradling family. John Stradling who had the good fortune to win the lady's hand, was the second son of Sir William Stradling of St Donats, Glamorganshire and Combe Hawey, Somersetshire, and was probably born about 1380-90. His father was alive in 1400. Although the Stradlings must have held Dauntsey for close on one hundred years, they make no figure in the county records excepting the entry of the name of Sir Edward Stradling of Dauntsey as Sheriff of Wilts in the 31st Henry VI (1453). Anne Stradling, probably grand daughter of Sir Edward, became sole heiress of the family through an event which has best be told by Aubrey in his 'Beauties of Wilts':- "Anno - Here was a robbery committed at the manor house in the family of the Stradlings. He and all his servants except one plough boy (who hid himself) were murthered by which the whole estate came to Anne his sister, and that married afterwards to Sir John Danvers, a handsome gentleman who clapped up a match before she heard the news; he by good fortune lighted upon the messenger first. She lived at the time in Paternoster Row at London and had but an ordinary portion. This robbery was done on a Saturday night. The next day the neighbours wondered none of the family came to church. They went to see what was the matter and the parson of the parish very gravely went along with them, who by the bye was proved to be one of the company of robbers and was I think hanged for his paines". The plough boy is traditionally said to have crept into an oven and so escaped the plundering assassins. Sir John Danvers who married Anne Stradling was son of Richard Danvers Esq of Culworth, Northamptonshire and died 1514. The estate continued in the Danvers family until the Restoration when Sir John Danvers who had joined the Parliamentary party in the Civil War, and had taken active part in bringing about the king's execution; he was attainted for high treason and his estates were forfeited to the crown. F - The older form of the name is Dauncey, the modern is Dauntsey. Sir John Danvers who married Anne Stradling lies interred with his wife under an altar tomb in the chancel of Dauntsey Church. Graved upon the tomb is the following inscription: - "Here lyeth buried Sir John Danvers, knight, sometimes lord of this manor and patron of this church in the right of Dame Anne his wife: the which said Sir John Danvers the iii day of the month of January departed this life too transitorie, the year of our Lord God MCCCCC and xiiij. (1514)" "What vayleth yt. riches, or that possession, Gyftes of high nature; nobles in gentry; Daftness depuryd, on pregnant pollycy, Sith prowes, sith power have their professions; Fate is fatall on self succession. That world hath nothing that smellith not frealtie, Where most assurances is most unsuertie. Here lyeth Dame Anne, the lady of Dauntsey; To Sir Danvers spouse in conjunction, To Sir John Dauntsey by lyne discencion; Cosyn and heire, whose herytage highlie, Hastily be firmed in Christi his mancion." Sir John Stradling, brother to Sir Edward, 12th in descent (as the Stradlings wished it to be understood) married with the heir of Dauntsey in Wilts and had issue Sir Edmund who had issue John and Edmund, John had issue Anne - Lady Danvers of whom the Danvers, Hungerfords, Fynes, Levets and a great progenie of them are descended; and of the said Edmund cometh Carmysoyes in Cornwall. (?Carnsew) Back to St Donats Thomas Stradling Esq the son, enjoyed the possession of St Donats but for few years for he died at the castle on the 8th September 1480 when in his 26th year. He left three children, Edward, Harry and Jane. Edward succeeded his father. Harry's son eventually came into the estates and Jane married Sir William Griffiths of Caernarfonshire and took with her as waiting woman one Agnes, wife of David Rhys who went as gardener. The son of this pair after a somewhat adventurous childhood and youth became the learned Dr John Dafydd Rhys, who must presently have a biographical chapter to himself. Thomas Stradling's widow became the wife of Sir Rhys ab Thomas and is buried with her second husband at Caermathen. Sir Edward Stradling who succeeded to the estates when quite an infant, was knighted in Tourney Church under the royal banners of King Henry VIII on December 25th - 5th Henry VIII. He married Elizabeth Arundel of Llanhydrock, Cornwall and had four sons and two daughters of this marriage, besides nine or more illegitimate children. Of the four sons by his wife, Robert the second married the daughter of Watkin Lougher of Fythegstone; Edward the third son married the daughter and heiress of Robert Raglan of Llantwit Major; and John his fourth became a priest. Of the daughters, Jane married Alexander Popham of Somersetshire and from them descended several respectable families; and Catherine married Sir William Palmer of Sussex and had issue. G - See Cartae 1890 vol II p.276. In 1528, Jevan Thomas and others on the requisition of Sir Edward Stradling, granted to William, Sir Edwards son, certain lands in St BridesG, with remainder to Jenkyn Stradling, his brother James, John (a minor), Robert, Robert the elder, Edward, Henry, Blanche, Mary and Cecilia - all brothers and sisters, with remainder to the eight heirs of Sir Edward Stradling. These were all Sir Edward's natural children. Sir Edward died in 1535 and was succeeded by his eldest son. Sir Thomas Stradling who married Catherine Gamage of Coity and had issue two sons, Edward and David and five daughters, Elizabeth, Thomasin, Jane, Joice nad Gwenllian. He was Sheriff 1547-8: knighted 17th February 1549, Muster Master of the queen's army and Commissioner of the Marches; M.P. for East Grinstead 1558, Commissioner for the suppression of Heretics 1558. He was the builder of the Stradling Chapel at St Donats Church. He appeared in a deed by William Tyler relating to Sygynsland in 1534H, and Tyler is also a party in 1544 to a deed with William Stradling of Talygarn. He appeals to Sir John Daunce, knight, master to Henry VIII on the subject of the dependence of Merthyr Mawr Manor and Talyfan. His will dated December 19th 1566 was proved in London 1574. He died in 1573. The principal event in the life of Sir Thomas and one which however unpleasant the consequences were to himself at that time, secured the preservation of his name at some length in the national records was connected with an exceedingly simple matter which occurred at St Donats. A violent storm happened March 20th in the year 1559 which broke down, rather than uprooted, an old ash tree in the park. In the heart of this old tree, which was practically decayed, some curious markings were observed bearing considerable resemblance to a cross. Popery was at this time prescribed in England, the Stradlings had strong leanings towards that form of religion, if their descendants did not still profess it. At any rate they sympathised with and fraternised with papists long after the great reformation, and this invention of the cross was talked of far and near as if it were a special manifestation from heaven in favour of the party which held up the cross as a special symbol of their faith. Frude mentions this invention in a note in 'History of England' vol vii p.339. After the matter had been worked up by rumours into a kind of wonder and numerous engravings of the cross had been distributed among the disaffected, Cecil in April 1561, thought it important enough to be enquired into. The time was critical. At this time, Philip of Spain had demanded the release of Bishops imprisoned for refusing the oath of Supremacy and at the same time the leading reformers were alarmed and Protestant England with them, by reports that Elizabeth was about to be reunited to Rome. It was then that Cecil wrote that he thought it necessary to dull the popish expectations by punishing mass-mongers for the rebating of their humours. And Sir Thomas Stradling was accordingly selected to have his humours rebated. He was committed to the tower early in May 1561 but it was not until June 3rd that he was indicted and convicted at the Commission of Oyer held at Brentwood in Essex of the offence of having caused fair pictures to be made of the likeness of a cross which appeared in the grain of a tree blown down in his estate in Glamorganshire: he was upon this convicted, detained as a prisoner in the tower until about the close of the year 1563, when a pardon was granted him. It may be noted that Sir Thomas about this time disposed of his manor of Compton Hawey, Dorset, but whether there was any connection between that transaction and his liberation cannot now be determined.I The fame of this object of piety in nature's handiwork spread beyond the shores of England. In the 4th of the 'Lex Dialogi' of Harpsfield, published in 1566 in Paris is an account of this 'Invention of the cross at St Donats' of which Col Clark has given a translation in his book on St Donats from which the following extract is made: - This can be copied from Clark!! "In that part of our Isle--- --into a local act of piracy" H - See Cartae 1890 vol II p.308 I - He was liberated on giving a bond to ??il 1000 marks, should he fail to appear if called upon before the Privy Council. - Nicholas p.103 Sir Edward Stradling who succeeded Sir Thomas was born 13th June 1529. He was educated at Oxford but left the university without taking his degree, and after travelling about for sometime on the Continent, he spent some time at Rome. In 1575, two years after his father's death, he received the honour of knighthood. He was the first of the family who had distinctly literary tastes, being not only a great encourager of learning and of learned men, but having also contributed to literature himself. The tract on the 'Winning of the Lordship of Glamorgan, or Morganwy, out of the Welshman's hands', printed in Dr Powell's 'History of Cambria', 1584, is from his pen and though the principal statements made in it relating to the transactions are now known to be utterly untrue, or fabulous, they have been so long received as truth, and have been so often quoted that the tract possesses a distinct interest of its own, to which the quaintness of its style also contributes. The library at St Donats which had begun to be formed before his time, was enriched by him with many valuable Welsh manuscripts of which he was an enthusiastic collector. He is said to have eminently skilled in the language and antiquities of Wales; but here we may take some leave to doubt if his historical tract on the conquest of Glamorgan is a true specimen of his skill. Taking that as the sole evidence of his attainments, it may be said with some certainty that his invention, or his credulity or both went considerably beyond the bounds of his historical researches. The tales of the household bards for a generation or two, which had been fabricated to make Lord and Retainer merry over their cups in the great hall at St Donats, had perhaps been collected by some ingenious scribe and added to the manuscripts at St Donats library, from which with too much readiness and too implicit a credence, Sir Edward had compiled his romantic summary of the transactions. Let this however be said in his just praise, he was a man of large heart and liberal hand, and made unstinted use of his wealth in the furtherance of works of public utility, material and intellectually, some of which will be noticed presently. Of the whole of the Stradling family included within the XXIII descents dear to ardent genealogists, we know more of Sir Edward Stradling than of any other member. It is not that his life was a starry and eventful one, it was most calm and placid, and appears most prosaic as compared by politics - religious troubles of his father - or the romantic episode in that of Sir harry: It is not that the monument of his liberality are preserved, they are well nigh forgotten - from none of these is our somewhat intimate knowledge of the man and his doings obtained by us. If Sir Edward had been asked by what means he would be best known three hundred years after the era in which he lived, it is probable that he would never have hit upon the material which should preserve his name so well to posterity, for it arises from nothing more than the preservation of a number of letters, not written by him, but received by him from various correspondents. They number nearly 260 and were published in a small and handy volume by the Revd. J.M.Traherne in 1840, at which time they were the property of Charles George Young F.S.A. - so to this accidental circumstances we owe their preservation while every other record of Sir Edward's life and labours, including the library he took so much pains to preserve and enrich, appears to have perished, is a question upon which curiosity is not likely to be satisfied. Enough that these letters, which are evidently but a portion only of the correspondence of Sir Edward during the period which they cover, have been preserved, and we may here make use of them in giving a picture of his life. The first letter which has biographical bearing is that numbered LXXXII by Mr Traherne in the collection. Strange to say Mr Traherne has fallen into an error in his arrangement by a temporary forgetfulness that the year begin in 1575 and later on the 25th March, is not, as it now does, on the 1st January. Consequently the letter about to be quoted, although dated XI June 1575, is of an earlier date by seven months than that of the XXVIII of January 1575; as the subject matter therein sufficiently witnesses. Letter LXXXII - Traherne, page 96 Reading this at the end of the nineteenth century, what appears the most remarkable part of the proposition is that it should be made to a person of the standing of Sir Edward Stradling. He was now the owner of very considerable estates in Glamorgan covering several parishes, had only just received the honour of knighthood and yet here is the office of "High steward of all my lands in Wales" being tendered to him by his noble kinsman St John, as if it were some mark of signal favour. As far as we are acquainted with the possessions of St John in Wales, the bulk of the estate was comprised in that of Foumon, Penmark and Llancarfan with outlying portions in a few other parishes. The whole fell short in extent of the Stradling estates which they adjoined here and there notably in the borders of the inherited Berkerolles property. Rightly to estimate the honour connected with the post, one should understand what the position of High Steward was. Whether it was anything more than a kind of Locum Tenans of the proprietor, with the exercise of sporting privileges over the estates and the reception of the homage of the tenants, or whether there really were any active duties to be performed, one could hardly comprehend the state of society in 1575 being such that the tenants upon a large estate, superintended by a steward and bailiffs, could stand much in need of the advice and protection of an influential resident landowner. That it was so appears to have been considered necessary by all parties, and Sir Edward Stradling accepted the post, St John however interfered actively in the management of his estates himself, and that too without any previous consultation with the High Steward, for shortly after the appointment is made he writes this:- Letter LXXX - Traherne, page 94 Lord St John's anxiety to have some one of influence in the county to look after his interests is very marked in his letters to Sir Edward Stradling. One feels a little surprised at this coupled with wonder at what could be the services which a high steward of such an estate as that of Fonmon was expected or required to perform. Letter LXXXIV of the series throws some light on the subject and also upon the mode in which business was done in the sixteenth century. Letter LXXXIV - Traherne, page 99 Hawking was still in vogue in the time of Sir Edward, the stews at St Donats must have been well filled and the hawks kept and bred there of some repute. Mr Edward Wadham of Meere, Somersetshire has set his heart upon having one of them and writes thus. Letter CXLII - Traherne, page 172 And the St Donats minstrels were also in high repute. Letter CLXXXVIII - Traherne, page 239 Sir Edward Stradling's will. Sir Edward died in his 80th year, May 15th 1609. His will was proved in the prerogative court of Canterbury on the 19th of October following. He desired to be buried in the chapel of St Mary, built by his father adjoining the parish church of St Donats, betwixt his Great Grandfather and Grandmother on the north side and his father on the south side. To his loving cousin Sir John Stradling he gives his signet or ring of gold, which he used as seal withal and that of silver with his whole arms and crest: and his armour and all manner of double bases, single bases, muskets, calivers, pistols etc, pikes, steel saddles, jacks, bows and arrows and other provision and furniture touching and for wars: and all his library of books and writings: - "except fifty copies of Dr John David Rhy's Welsh Grammar and his Roman and ancient coins. He leaves £600 to the children of his cousin Lamrock Stradling to be taken and had in his own chest where his ready money doth remain. To this he gives his yeoman servants coat clothes of broad black cloth and the rest to have as well - boys as men, black clothes of frieze that shall be good. The women servants to have gowns of the same. His body to be carried within twenty-four hours after his decease without pomp or great preparation." No common dole to be dealt for him but £23 to be doled for him shortly after amongst the poor people within such parishes only where he has lands except Llangynor - where he was reared, twenty- six parishes in Glamorganshire are enumerated and five in Somersetshire. He gives to Sir John Stradling his interest in a bond for six thousand pounds from the late Earl of Pembroke and the Lord Lisle concerning my lady, his wife's jointure not doubting that but he will see himself and his heirs discharged of the trust put in me. To the poor prisoners in Cardiff gaol and the poor people of the almshouse there two bolls and six bushels of wheat. He recommends that his widow should continue to reside in the castle and gives to her and to Sir John Stradling the use of the stock, furniture, implements etc. The will contains many small bequests to various persons. He appoints his beloved wife Dame Agnes Stradling executrix and John Lord Lumley executor. His wife Agnes, daughter of Sir Edward Gage of Firle in Sussex was born in 1547, married in 1566 and was buried at St Donats February 1st 1624. In 1610 she erected a handsome monument in St Donats church to her husbands memory. One hundred pounds were devised by Sir Edward's will fro this purpose. (From Revd. J.M. Traherne's introduction to the 'Stradling Correspondence'.) The next letter which connects the High Stewardship with the estate affairs which we need quote is from J. Seynt John, who had by this time succeeded his father. Sir Edward Stradling was expected as High Sheriff to advise the tenants of the estate in all matters arising between them and their Lord and it seems that he had given advice to one of them which was not palatable to the Lord. It was given to a copyhold tenant whom the Lord was dealing with oppressively. The Seynt Johns had a natural gift for looking after their own interest and the lofty hand he adopts in this communication with his kinsman is worthy of note as a specimen of the manner of the times. Letter CVIII from Traherne page 131 Notes: "Bows and Arrows" - Nearly twenty years later than the date of Sir Edward's death, bows and arrows appear to have been considered as available weapons of war. In the catalogue of state papers in 1627, there is a communication given from the deputy Lieutenant of the county of Glamorganshire to the Lord of the council. It is dated from Lanmaes, September 10th, 1627. They report the levy of 100 men furnished with good broad cloth lined through with baise. Could not supply archers owing to the long disuse of archery, but rejoice to see that most noble weapon begin to come into esteem again. It is impossible not to suspect that these wworthy Glamorganshire gentlemen of indulging in a little irony at the expense of the Lords of the Council in the compliments they pay to the 'noble weapon'. It is Lord Lumley's copy of Dr John David Rhys's dictionary that is in the library of the British Museum. The copies of Sir John Stradling's Epigrams & Divine Poems were also his. D.J. There is no further reference to the matter of Corrock who it may be mentioned was one of an ancient family who lived near Cowbridge at a place in the parish of Penlline, still called by that name. The family has long been extinct. In what manor this property was situated of which Lord Seynt John made seizure does not appear. The name Corrocke recurs in the list of Copy hold tenants in the manor of Lanmaes 1640. The next letter in the series relates to the stewardship. From the allusions in it, it is evident that sir Edward is not in good health and that he had left St Donats for some time. Letter CIX from Traherne page 133 Sir Edward's answer not being according to his lovinge cosen's desires, he thus writes him: - Letter CX from Traherne page 134 The superscription does not name the place where Sir Edward was staying at - probably he was in London. Sir Edward's mother was a Gamage and in consequence of this relationship was supposed to have a voice in the disposal of the hand of his niece. Barbara Gamage, the only child and heiress of Sir Thomas Gamage of Coity. The 'Stradling Correspondence' has a curious letter from the father of one of Barbara's suitors, entreating the good offices of Sir Edward and Lady in his son's behalf. Letter CXXXVII from Traherne page 163 Young Mr Johns did not succeed in his "suete" despite the interest which was made for him by his father. Barbara, perhaps, was wilful and had a mind of her own, for on the 23rd of September 1584 she was married at St Donats Castle to Sir Robert Sydney, afterwards to become Earl of Leicester in the presence of Sir Edward Stradling, Henry Earl of Pembroke and doubtless a goodly assembly of county notables. In the midst of such magnificence she must have left Glamorganshire and with this scene, disappeared from our local history altogether; and her name and lineage has now altogether vanished except from the mouth of tradition. Earlier in order of date is a letter from Rhys Meyrick of Cotrell, he who wrote the quaint and valuable history of Glamorgan, which remained 250 years or more in manuscript and was then printed by Sir Thomas Phillips in a limited edition of twenty-five copies onlyJ. Mr Meyrick held the post of Clerk of the Peace for Glamorganshire and was a man of literary taste in that rather narrow circle which antiquarians tread, viz. local history and pedigree compiling. In the later branch of archaeological study, Meyrick's "Red Book of Cottrell" is still looked up to with profound respect by those who claim descent from old Glamorganshire families. His letter is a little stiff and formal, but that is only in accordance with the manner of the time; it was not proper to approach a person of a rank higher than your own, except by uttering the most painfully constructed compliments: - Letter CXXXIX from Traherne page 167 J - A reprint of this work "A book of Glamorganshire Antiquities" by Rhys Mehrick Esq 1578 was brought out in 1887. Edited by James Andrew Corbett Esq of Cardiff, printed in London. It is only bare justice to Mr Meyrick to say that his brief history of Glamorganshire is written in a much clearer style than that of the forgoing letter. Sir Edward was now and then asked by distinguished strangers visiting Glamorgan to expedite them on their way through the country. At a time when roads in the sense we now understand them were nearly unknown. There were recognised places where boats called in from whence they started for ports in the English coast. Also it would seem that vessels sailing up or down the channel could be stopped by signals at any point desired. Sir Humphrey Gilbert, uterine brother of Sir Walter Raleigh being at Margam, writes thus to his worthy kinsman at St Donats: - Letter CXXIX from Traherne page 155 Will this "stopping of the boat" in any way account for the use to which the watch tower might occasionally be put. Poor Sir Humphrey who was so particular about this boat from St Donats across the channel, was lost in 1583 in the "Squirell", a vessel of ten tons, having taken possession of Newfoundland in that year. Most interesting is this volume of letters as showing the manners of the time and the courtesies which a rural knight was expected to render to his neighbours far and near. More than request is there preserved from a knight or magistrate in a distant country, that Sir Edward would help the bearer of the letter in obtaining redress for some wrong committed by someone believed at the time to be residing near St Donats; a forsaken wife brings a letter from a Somersetshire knight to obtain help in finding a runaway husband; a sportsman a hundred miles off has lost a dog which he hears has got into the hands of the parson of Llangam. Invariably the solicitor promises that he will be ready to requite any goodly deed which Sir Edward may accomplish by performing a like service for him when occasion may serve. Occasionally we have the curtain raised for a moment in one of these letters and we have a glance at the inner life of the Herberts or the "Kernes" (Carnes). It is no more than as the opening and shutting of a door wherein a party are discussing their private affairs, but we have enough to know that people - comely people too - could quarrel bitterly over petty affairs even in the reign of "Good Queen Bess". It does not come within the scope of this history to quote many of the letters preserved in the Stradling Correspondence; The collection is a valuable monument of the family history and should be read as a whole with the history of St Donats; but there is one letter more for which a place must be found - the writer of this letter was Dr John Davis Rhys. No account of St Donats however brief would be worthy of the name, if the name of this remarkable man were excluded from it. There is a halo of romance about the name blended with the literary honours which encircle it. The Revd Mr Gamage, whose name has already been cited as an authority in matters relating to the Stradlings, has epitomised the family traditions; they can unfortunately hardly be called records - respecting Dr Rhys; and these shall not be quoted here. Note: Sir Walter Raleigh. A letter of Sir Walter is included in the Stradling Correspondence. It relates to the marriage of his relative Barbara Gamage and the part Sir Edward Stradling had in bringing about that important event. Collier, in a brief biographical notice of him in 'History of English Literature' says "In 1576, a new field was opened up to his daring spirit. It was a time when Britain began to take her first steps towards winning the ocean crown she now so proudly wears. Among the dauntless sailors who braved the blistering calms of the tropics and the icy breath of the frigid seas in search of new dominions, Raleigh was one of the foremost with his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert who perished at sea. In a later voyage he made to North America, Raleigh returned in two years, richer in nothing but hard won experience. Jane, daughter of Thomas Stradling Esq., married Sir William Griffiths of Carnarfonshire, in north Wales and it was in St Donats church they were married. Upon their return to N.Wales, Sir William took with him one named David Rhys to be his gardener and his wife, Jane Stradling, took also her handmaid with her. This David Rhys was brother to Richard ap Rhys, the bard of Merthyr Mawr, who was tutor to Iorwerth Vynglwyd, the bard of Craig y Eos in the parish of St Brides, and one of the domestic bards of St Donats Castle. This David Rhys and the handmaid of Jane Stradling, married, her name was Agnes or Annes. They had a son whose name was John David Rhys who was the author of the Latin and Welsh Grammar and of all the Welsh grammars that ever were written, so far this is said to be the best - and by far the best with regards to its instructions to Welsh bards. David ab Rhys died and soon after that, Sir William Griffiths and his lady Agnes, with her little son was obliged to return to St Donats. walking all the way from Anglesea to Glamorganshire. She and her husband had land allotted to them in Llangaethln in Anglesea but they were obliged to turn out of it on the death of Sir William Griffiths. The little boy. John David Rhys, was too young to walk, consequently his mother was obliged to carry him in her arms and on her back the greater part of the way. By the time she arrived at St Donats, she was extremely ill and died of that sickness. Sir Edward Stradling took the little boy to him to the castle and placed him under the same tutors as his own son Thomas. The two boys became reciprocally great friends, being unwilling to part with each other nor could they at any time be kept from each others company. After the domestic school of the castle, the two young men were sent to the College of Sienna in Italy, where they were brought up well in all the learning of the place and age. After their return home, Sir Thomas married, had a son named Edward and John David Rhys was appointed his tutor in the Castle. On a certain time as the young heir walked along the seashore bordering the castle, he inadvertently remained on a place that was higher than the rest until the influx of the tide surrounded him too deeply to walk through it. He screamed out and his voice was heard to the castle. Horsemen went to his immediate relief, but no horse could be prevailed on to take the water against the waves white with foam, whereupon casting off his upper clothes, John David Rhys went boldly into the water against all waves and brought the young heir uninjured to land. For this, if great his respect before in the family, a thousand times more was it now. In the course of time the young heir was sent to the same school in Italy that his father had attended before him, and J.D.R. accompanied him thither as his principal tutor. They remained there for some years and J.D.Rhys became so famous for his great knowledge that he graduated there Doctor of Medicine. But in the process of time he returned to Wales a Papist from education but now a monk, and because the monasteries had been utterly suppressed he purchased a small property at a place called Clun hir. on the margin of Cwmchurch at the foot of the mountain Baum Moch Demi called in English the Breconshire Beacons. At this place he studied and wrote his masterly grammar and Sir Edward Stradling whose life he had saved, supported him in money and every other requisite, showing him additionally unbounded respect. In his old age, and very old was he - he removed to Brecon town where he ended his days about four score years old in the time of James I. Thus according to all that I could understand from all records, letters and other commemorating authorities, oral and written, that I either saw or heard of in St Donats should we believe and that as long as the world shall continue, respecting the real history of that great man, the profound scholar Dr J.D.Rhys, and not give credence to the idle tales of the country, which relates that no one knew anything of his father, but that he wandered and begged about the country; and were taken into the castle where the parent died - although from that circumstance forward the account thus related of him generally corresponds with what I have already stated. It is highly probable that the tongue of envy was busy against him on account of the great respect shown to him by Sir Edward Stradling whose life he rescued from the vortex of the waves - this Sir Edward printed his grammar at his own expense. So far Mr Gamage, and it would be well for one's peace of mind were it possible to accept his neat circumstantial tale without question. However there are sketches of the life of this noteworthy and learned man by other hands, who had perhaps better materials. In the first place Rhys was the junior of Sir Edward by at least five years; therefore could not have been the playmate and college friend, and he who had saved the young heir from a watery grave. The St Donats traditions had evidently got rather mixed by the year 1726, and the whole account although it has an interest of its own, has not the slightest historical value. Not withstanding its being partly compiled from family records "then in the library of St Donats Castle". Nor is it easy to construct a thoroughly satisfactory account of the doctor's life from the records of other writers. He is mentioned in Wood's 'Athenae Oxiensis'; There is a painstaking biography of him in Parry's 'Cambrian Plutarch', and he has nearly a page and a half allotted to him in William's 'Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen'. Unfortunately none of these entirely agree with each other, so that neither account can be taken as a whole. However there are certain points upon which they all agree. He was born in 1534 - at the age of 18 he entered Christchurch College Oxford, remained at the university three years, upon which he left without taking a degree and went abroad in 1535. He settled for some time at Sienna, when he studied medicine and took a degree of Doctor of Medicine, or Physic. Subsequently he held a scholastic appointment at Pistoia where his mastery of the Italian language led him to write a treatise (in Latin) on the pronunciation of Italian, and one in Italian for the pronunciation of Latin. Both works were thought highly of by the Italian Literati of his day. It is thought that he remained in Italy until he was between forty and fifty years of age, when he returned to his native country and enjoying the friendship of Sir Edward Stradling he settled in Brecon and practised Physic. In the limited circle of a small Welsh town, his attainments, which would have been ranked as considerable in any society, were the subject of wonder and astonishments, feelings that unhappily were accompanied by those of envy and jealousy. This lack of appreciation to call it by no better name on the part of his countrymen was a source of annoyance to him and it was in the midst of the disquietude occasioned thereby that he wrote his Latin-Welsh grammar. This erudite work was published at the cost of Sir Edward Stradling and the edition consisted of 1250 copies. A lengthy dedication to Sir Edward is prefixed to the volume from which several interesting particulars respecting both Sir Edward and Dr Rhys may be gleaned. There is also a preface to this work written by the Revd. Humphrey Prichard, a prostestant clergyman, who makes the gratuitous statement that the work has been written with a view of helping the native clergy to make the scripture more intelligible to them and the people. This statement has puzzled later writers considerably, for it is known that Dr Rhys died as he had lived a papist and that it could hardly have been his intention to popularize the study of the Bible. The grammar appeared in 1592 and its publication probably took the doctor up to London. Upon his return he wrote the letter which has been preserved in this collection; the only one unfortuanately which is included in it from him. Letter CCXLVI from Traherne page 313. Two Latin Epigrams by Sir John Stradling, the nephew of Sir Edward, and who is mentioned in the letter, were prefixed to Dr Rhys's work; and the same writer in a volume of Epigrams published in 1609 again compliments Dr Rhys - and this is nearly all that is known of him. Williams says that he died unmarried, and places his death in 1609 - the year in which his patron Sir Edward also died. Parry and Treherne both give him a son, who during the father's lifetime became Vicar of Brecon and Mr Traherne (alone) states that his death took place in 1617. Return we now to Sir Edward Stradling. Dr Rhys in his dedication speaks of the large sums of money expended at St Donats on the sea wall - the greatest work there with which his name is connected and other structures. Thrice did he fill the office of High Sheriff of Glamorganshire; viz. in 1574 (the year after he succeeded to the estate), in 1583 and 1596. In 1608, John Stradling was High Sheriff even while his uncle was yet alive. Sir Edward died May 15th 1609 and was buried with much simplicity and privacy on the following day, according to his own request in the Stradling chapel. He was in his eightieth year. John Stradling, the nephew, appears to have resided at St Donats castle for many years before his uncle's death as was perhaps fitting for one who stood in the position of heir presumptive. That he must have held a position of some dignity in the county during his uncle's lifetime is evident by his being appointed High Sheriff in 1608, while yet his fortune depended upon the demise of Sir Edward. He was of a literary turn of mind and is known as the author of "De vita et Morte Contemna", published at Frankfurt 1597. "Epigrammatum Libri Quator" 1607, a collection of Latin epigram, elegies and epitaphs, which are chiefly addressed to or composed upon persons connected with the county of Glamorgan and which contain many personal allusions not to be met with elsewhere. The "Beati Pacifici", a sacred poem in English, dedicated to James I (who perused the work in manuscript and sanctioned its publication) is also his and was published in 1623. And a volume of "Divine Poems" in seven several classes appeared in 1625 and was dedicated to Charles I. He had a good reputation for great classical attainments being considered a prodigy of learning in his youth. His Latin writings may possibly be worthy of his fame but his English poems are very prosaic performances. He also wrote a poem in praise of Glamorgan which has not been published except in a newspaper of recent date. His first effort however appears to have been a translation of Justus Lepsius's "Two Bookes of Constuncie" - undertaken at the request of his uncle in 1594 and presented to him on his 65th birthday on the 13th of June of that year. The title page of the work has a Cymrie interest for the London publisher was a Welshman, we therefore transcribe it together with a portion of the epistle dedicatory:- "Two Bookes of Constancie" written in Latin by Justus Lipsius, containing principallie a comfortable conference in common calamities, and will serve for a singular consultation to all that are privately distressed or afflicted either in body or mind" Englished by John Stradling, Gentleman, - Printed at London by Richard Johnes at the sign of the Rose and Crowne, neare St Andrews Church in Holborne, 1595. The Epistle Dedicatory is "To the Right Worshipful Sir Edward Stradling, knight", and is rather lengthy. Towards the end the writer says, "To shew my ready disposition in gratifying you, to my powers I have reduced it into English. I fear me with more haste than good speed, not having spent full nine weeks thereabouts - as you very well know. Wherein I travelled with the more paines for bringing forth this untimely birth to the end it might receive his perfect consummation against this day of your birth, whereunto I had respect when I took the work in hand. And so I wish to yourself and to my good Lady your spouse, all happiness beseeching God long to preserve you both. From my chamber in your castle of St Donats, the xiij of June 1594. Your pure kinsman to command, John Stradling." We are giving a fuller description of this very interesting little book since it is not mentioned in Gwilym Lleyn's "Welsh Bibliography". The colophon at the end is a pink with half expanded buds, around which is an ornament scroll bearing part of the Stradling motto "Heb Dhyn, heb duin". John Stradling is distinguished by three circumstances in the annals of the family: (1) he was the first instance of the indirect line of succession to the estate: hitherto it had always passed from father to son; he succeeded his cousin; (2) He had very pronounced literary tastes; (3) he was the first Baronet. He was descended from Harry, second son of that Thomas Stradling who died in his 26th year and had not received knighthood. Harry Stradling having in a measure to shift for himself, sought out an heiress and found one in the daughter of a learned Bristol attorney named Jubb. A son named Francis was the issue of this marriage and was the father of this John. The Gages, a Sussex family, had in Lady Edward Stradling already become connected with St Donats, the tie now became closer by the marriage of John with Elizabeth Gage of Firle, the niece of the then Lady of St Donats. From this marriage there issued ten children. Whether the succession to St Donats was due to his cousin's partiality or that it came to him partly by heirship, all interviewing and nearer descendants of the male heirs, having died out, can not now be said, but it is evident that for many years he had stood very high in his cousin's esteem and had apartments for himself and family in the castle. He was knighted in 1608, the year of his first shrievality (being made sheriff), one year before his cousin's death, and in May 22nd 1611 was created Baronet, being the fifth gentleman whom James I had raised to that newly formed dignity. In 1620 he again filled the office of High Sheriff and in 1625 he was elected knight of the shire for Glamorganshire, and perhaps it was from the contest for that representation that the following old triplet had come down to us:- Tra maenyn troi mewn melin, Tra Llong yn cario lodin; Tra mor yn tawln ei donan i'r lan Fi jota ar rhem y Stradlin. Sir John was born in 1563. At sixteen he entered Brazenose College Oxford as commoner and in 1583 graduated as a member of Magdalen Hall, "being thus accounted a miracle for his forwardness in learning and pregnancy of parts". Subsequently he was elected fellow of All Souls College, after which he travelled on the continent and on his return entered one of the Inns of Court. During his residence in London he became acquainted with the celebrated "Camden", Sir John Harrington, Dr Thomas Leipon (Leyson) and other learned men and enjoyed the advantage of literary society. Sir John beautified and improved his estate at St Donats by making the new park and planting many trees bith in that and the old park, and rebuilt in a great measure the old watch tower, solely as a land mark for ships at sea, for the kindling a light there was, it is said, distinctly forbidden by him. Tradition has it that it he was he who originated the breed of Old Glamorgan Cattle which were so much favoured, and celebrated, up till the middle of the present century. He brought over from France a very celebrated bull, and sent it to his farm at Llanwyno, which resulted in once:- "Glamorgan breed of high esteem And long the farmer's pride" Sir John died September 11th 1637, leaving his wife Elizabeth and seven children. The Lady Elizabeth his widow held St Donats Castle as a dower house. These were troublous times approaching; her martial sons and grandsons threw themselves into the thick of the fray, and much of the Stradling blood that was shed during the civil war was in the cause of the king. Armed men were at this period marching to and fro and probably it was at this time that the barracks below the castle were erected. The ruins which still remain attest their size and importance. Naturally the fortunes of the family suffered in the disaster which attended the Royal Cause, and the estates were diminished in the manner taken to raise money, first to equip the troops and secondly for the payment of fines levied on the defeated party by the parliamentarians. Considering how actively the Stradlings were engaged on the side of royalty, one cannot but wonder that the castle itself was not dismantled. Its preservation is accounted for by tradition in the neighbourhood that Lady Elizabeth pacified the visitors by opening the gates at their approach and making them welcome to all that the castle afforded. There remains the tradition that Cromwell himself visited the castle, - it used to be said that he had one of soldiers hanged on a tree in the churchyard for a petty theft, but the tradition of his personal presence at the castle has been disproved. "Where there is smoke there is fire" - and where there is a long established tradition it is fair to infer there must have been some basis of fact for it to have rested upon. It may well be that in this case Cromwell himself has been identified in the popular mind with the commanding officer who led hither the troop of parliamentary soldiers who must assuredly did some time during the civil strife visit St Donats and had free quarters at the castle. In the archives at Margam, there is preserved a letter from the Lady Elizabeth we are speaking of, to the Lady Lebright, which throws much light upon domestic matters at the castle in 1645. St Donats 26 November 1645. "I have sent you six musketts and some matches. As for weathers (?) ---- all a great many fatt (?), but I cannot as yett get such a settlement as to sell any of them; butt I hope before the end of Christmas I shall, for God knoweth, - I shall be glad that they might serve you turn than any bodies in the world; but I do yeat (yet) buy both my mutton, beef and bread, corne and oats, which (in private to you Lady - only) doth almost undoe me considering my great family and resortt. I beg your Ladys' pardon that I can not now send you your musketts; for since the writing of my letter unto you, I understand that they went amongst others which I sent to Jack for Cardiff. They will be back heer on Saturday next and by God's leave I will send them unto you by Monday or Tuesday at the furthest." There is no record in the books we have been able to consult of the death of Lady Elizabeth. Col. Clark's summary of the Stradling deeds and family position for this period may be quoted here; "The Lords of St Donats stood at the head of the gentlemen of their country, and were more addicted to piety and literature than was usuall" among country gentlemen at that period. At the dissolution of monasteries, when the leading country gentlemen profited largely by ecclesiastical confiscations, the Stradlings retained their old faith and resisted the temting means of agraindisement. A century later when the Church of England had become established and venerable and stood in danger from the puritan onslaught, the Stradling instinct led them to take the losing side. The head of the family, his son, his grandson, five cadets of the house, bore arms in conspicuous position for their king, shared the dangers of Edgehill and Newbury and incurred the usual pecunary losses which fell on the vanquished party. They gained the respect of all men and the affection of the neighbours. Mr William Stradling in the letter which has several times been referred to in this account of the family, says "several of the family distinguished themselves fighting both by the sea and land and although descended on the female side from the blood royal of England, I cannot find that any of them have received any recompense from the crown. Sir Edward, son of the preceding Sir John was born in 1600 and educated at Jesus College, Oxford. He received knighthood at the hands of the king during his father's lifetime. He was a man of active business habits apparently, and must have spent much time in his early manhood in London where he was engaged in promoting large schemes of public utility. His name appears with some frequency in the state papers of the period. On 27 March 1630, he and Sir Kenelem Digby petitioned the king for a licence "for each of them to build a house with stables and coach houses in 'Old Witch Close', bought by Richard Holford, and lying on the east of Drury Lane, towards Lincoln's Inn". The licence was granted and the attorney gent was instructed to draw out the same. Here the house was shortly built and for some few years was occupied by the Stradlings. No one who explores the purlieus of Drury Lane and Wych Street today imagines for a moment that the neighbourhood was once a pleasant open, salubrious and aristocratic suburb of London. The wilderness of small streets which upto 1878 covered it has become a byeword for all that was filthy, wretched, and degraded. It has now in a measure been improved. When the work of demolishing these hideous rookery was about to begin, the Daily News has a gossiping article on the historical associations of the place, in which the writer speaking of the Old Wych Field said; "How it came into the possession of the Holfords and Drurys, at the sale and dispersion of the St Giles Hospital estates is not clear; but it is certain that in 1632 it was in the possession of Sir Edward Stradling and Sir Kenelem Digby, the former of whom had recently built upon his part a large fair mansion house with stables and outhouses. The playhouse known as the Cockpit Theatre had been built long before this, demolished in 1617 and rebuilt under the name of the Poenip. Quickly again follows the sale by Sir Edward Stradling of part of his land to one George Sage, and the leasing of the remainder for Five Hundred years to Dr Gifford". Short as the view which we here get of the Stradling family in London, it has an interest of its own, for it is about the only connection which we find of them with any specified spot in or near the metropolis. Sir Edward at this time a knight only, and but heir apparent to the estates, had perhaps some ambition to increase his fortune by some of the adventurous schemes then coming to the fore. He had married into a family who had some commercial enterprise in them, the Mansells, and there may have been some emulation on his part to increase his wealth by kindred means. We find that on 11th Feb 1631, Sir Edward Stradling and John Lyde, received licence by proclamation to bring water to London from any spring within 11/2 miles of Hoddlesden, under the rent of £4000 yearly. The matter apparently made little progress in nine years, for in the Calendar of State Papers under date Sep 6th 1639, we have the following; "Indentures between his majesty on the one part and Sir Edward Stradling, Sir Walter Roberts, Carew Raleigh and William Newn on the other part, whereby they undertake to bring to London and Westminster within five years next in an aqueduct of stone and brick from springs near Hoddesdon, so much water as shall be sufficient to raise £4000 per an and more which is to be paid to his majesty yearly at Michelmas and Lady day within one year after finishing the work. The £7000 raised by the lottery has been paid to these undertakers and the £5000 more is ready to be paid to them when the £7000 is expended and upon such security as the Lord Treasurer and Under Treasurer shall approve of. The residue of £25000 is to be paid for the same, with divers covenants, on each part for advancement of the work and perfecting same". From these means of increasing his wealth, his attention was called by the distraction of the political affairs of the times. Party feeling was becoming excited in a manner happily unknown in England since the Reformation, and questions which might have been solved in a more peaceful manner under less turbulent guidance were settling, and coming to a head. Between Royalists and Puritans a marked and widening division had taken place and the dispute between them was daily growing more and more acrimonious. In times such as these it was that Sir Edward Stradling, now a Baronet in succession to his father, was chosen by his country to represent it in Parliament. Col Clarke will say that the 'Stradlings stood at the head of the gentlemen of their county', and in this case as far as principles went, no fitter representative than Sir Edward could have been found for Glamorganshire was thoroughly on the side of the King. What action he took in the Parliament does not appear but as times wore on, and political passions took fire, and each party resorted to the arbitrament of the sword, Sir Edward sought his own people and in 1642 raised amongst them an army of 1055 men whom he armed, clothed and sustained at his own expense. These he led under a Colonels Commission in the field of Edgehill. On this day of disaster to the Royal arms October 23rd 1642, Sir Edward had the misfortune to be taken prisoner and was conveyed to Warwick Castle. There was preserved until late in this century at Cefu Mably, in the house of, and by the descendants of his friend and Companion in Arms, Sir Nicholas Kemeys, a portrait of Sir Edward taken whilst he was a prisoner at Warwick Castle. It was painted by Jansen, an artist of distinction in his day and as the picture in its accessories was designed as a momento of the circumstances of the sitter a description of it may be deduced worthy of record. Sir Edward is represented in a full dress of buff with gauntlets of the same. Over a steel cuirass is a black sash, as mourning for his father, with a gold hilted sword. On his right is a shield bearing argent and azure on a bend gules three cinque foils or crest a stag trippant with the motto, "Duw a Digon": - beneath 1643 Aetas Sue 43. On the left is the castle of Warwick with the red flag flying on the turret and the gallows below. On the bastion is Warwick Castle. It was presented by him to his friend Sir Nicholas and sent to Cefu Mably where it remained until in turn the representatives of the Kemeys's presented it to one of the representatives of the Stradlings viz Mr William Stradling, Chilton Priory, near Bridgewater from whose letter to the Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian of Dec 9th 1842 this paragraph is extracted. Sir Edward does not appear to have returned to St Donats (the castle as we have seen was a kind of dower house for his mother, the Lady Elizabeth Stradling at this time) and for some reason which is not quite obvious, he after being released from captivity at Warwick, repaired to Oxford where he remained until his death which took place in 1644. Meanwhile, he had the sorrow to see his eldest son, another Sir Edward, sink under the combined effects of wounds received at Newbury, and of exposure in the field, a sorrow which probably hastened his own death. He died (as did his son) in Oxford, but whereas the son's body was conveyed to St Donats for burial, the elder Sir Edward was buried in the chapel of Jesus College of which college his uncle, Dr Mansell, was principal. A massive silver bowl which Sir Edward had given to the college is still preserved as part of the college plate. It was during the period that Lady Elizabeth Stradling held sway at St Donats that the most stirring scenes known in the history of the castle were enacted in and around its walls. Would that these dumb walls could speak and reveal the story which has been committed to their mute keeping! At the very time when the Lady Elizabeth penned her note to the lady Lebright, she was entertaining under her roof a very distinguished man, who with his friends and attendants helped to swell the number of the already Sgreat family and resort" and who required for their sustenance and that of their horses, that additional "mutton and beef, bread, corn and oats" that should be provided to the Lady's household under ordinary circumstances. This person was no other than James Ussher D.D. Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland whose sojourn at St Donats is to many a mere matter of tradition, but shall here be set forth in the words of his biographer:- "The archbishop in 1645 was at Oxford and fearing that the Parliamentary forces would shortly besiege the city, was driven to seek shelter in some more secluded part of the country. At this time his son in law, Sir Timothy Tyrrel was governor of Cardiff Castle and thither therefore he repaired for security. Here he passed several months free from danger of war and diligently pursued his studies of divinity and of antiquities, for he had brought several chest of books with him and here much of the first part of his "Annals" was written. Whilst he was thus happy, as far as happiness could be obtained in such troubled times, in the society of his daughter and her husband, the final battle of Naseby was fought and the King had to seek refuge in Wales. For several days he was at Cardiff and Usher who was his Majesty's Chaplain preached before him in the Castle Chapel. The necessities of the king compelled him to withdraw the garrison from Cardiff Castle, and thus unprotected, the archbishop had to seek some other asylum. Perplexed as to what course to pursue, or whether to turn his steps, thinking now of France and again of Holland, an invitation arrived from the Lady Elizabeth Stradling making him welcome to her castle of St Donats. The invitation was accepted and preparations made for the journey. Seventeen miles only had to be covered between one castle and the other but the country was disturbed, the Welsh were in arms and it was further thought that this tumultuous body was animated by unfriendly feelings towards the English. These fears probably much exaggerated the disturbed condition of the country. A variety of counsels were offered as to the best mode of undertaking the journey, and some inhabitants of Cardiff volunteered to conduct the travellers by a safe way to St Donats." It seems strange now to read that they should have safety by choosing a route who carried them near the mountains of Glamorgan; we can follow the biographer in his statements, and wonder how any reasonable guide could think of taking the party to such inconvenience and so much out of the way, - unless by the hills or mountains we are to understand the little hill of "Rhiwian Cichion". Near the mountains however these travellers were surprised by a skirmishing party of Welsh Gurella Soldiers by whom they were seized and carried to the main body of the band. The prisoners were declared to be English and fit subjects for plunder. The archbishop and his daughter, also the other Ladies were dragged from their horses; the chest which they carried with them were immediately broken open and the books, manuscripts and the miscellaneous property contained in them quickly scattered among a thousand hands. The situation however was not an alarming one and so serious as it first looked. Deliverance was at hand, some gentlemen of the country who had put themselves at the head of this popular rising appeared on the scene and soundly rated the men for the barbarous usage to which the inoffensive travellers had been subjected. The horses and such other property as could be immediately recovered were instantly restored to them and an escort was provided under whose protection they safely reached the neighbouring house of Sit John Aubrey at Llantryddid. Here they were kindly received and entertained for the night. Very much is made out of this adventure by Usher's biographer but "those who played at bowls, must expect rubbers" and archbishops who travel through countries when law is suspended, and the people in arms, must not expect to find their pathway strewn with palm branches and the garments of an admiring and devoted populace. The party it seems too us met with what in the wars of the last thirty years would be considered gentle treatment, and although the good archbishop had for a short while to mourn the loss of many of his books and papers, they were all or nearly all recovered within three months. In truth the archbishop was in Royalist Wales and in the midst of friends and every means was taken to repair the ill effects of the hasty action of a troop of rough and ignorant skirmishers. So quickly had the news spread of the indignity which had unwittingly been offered to this distinguished man, that before the archbishop had risen from his couch at Llantryddid on the following morning, the neighbouring gentry and clergy flocked to the mansion of the Aubreys to pay their respects to him, to apologise for the rude treatment he had experienced, and to promise their best efforts in the recovery of what property was still missing. Towards this latter end, notices in the churches that "all who had any books or papers should bring them to their ministers or landlords" - and by such means the archbishop regained possession of them. It would seem as if the progress from Llantryddid to St Donats on the afternoon of the day succeeding this adventure resembled a triumphal procession, so strong was the accompanying escort of gentry and clergy and the Lady Elizabeth must have been in a flutter of surprise and elation at seeing so unexpected numerous a cavalcade enter the courtyard of her castle. Was the state of the larder equal to the strain this put upon it, we wonder? Will her words of welcome, hearty though they might be, blended with a little misgiving as to how the reputation of St Donats for its hospitality, could on the instant be maintained. History does not tell us, and we must be content to imagine that these unexpected guests has a plentiful helping after their ride of beef and beer if not of daintier food. At St Donats, the archbishop was able to prosecute his studies with even greater advantage than at Cardiff, for he had now access to the excellent library which had been collected by Sir Edward Stradling. Of the many curious manuscripts open to his inspection, none interested him more than some relating to the early history of Wales, and which were ancient, rare and curious. From these he made numerous extracts. Usher had now reached his sixty-sixth year and his health at St Donats gave way. He had not been at the castle many weeks before he was seized with a dangerous illness. Physicians were called in and his life was dispaired of. One characteristic in the disease was violent bleeding which exhausted the frame of the venerable sufferer. A friend who watched beside him at this time, has left a somewhat minute account of the scene in the sick chamber at what all thought would be the closing hours of his life. In the midst of his pain and his bleeding, he was still patient and resigned, offering up praises to God and exhorting all around him to lead holy and virtuous lives and not put off repentance till they felt the hands of death upon them. A member of Parliament, related by marriage to the St Donats family, came to visit him, "Sir" said the archbishop to him solemnly, "Sir, you see that I am very weak. I cannot expect to live many hours, you are returning to Parliament, I am going to God. I charge you to tell them from me that I know they are in the wrong and have dealt very injuriously by the king". Within a few hours of this conversation however a happy change took place in the condition of the patient, the progress of the disease was arrested, the flow of blood staunched itself, nature made an effort to regain her power, and the sick man lay for a good while in a trance. Out of this he awoke refreshed and by degrees his former health and strength were restored to him. In a letter written by him after leaving St Donats to Gerard Voss, he speaks of the "tumults and excesses in England, which drove him into Wales, where I suffered under a distressing disease for full eighteen weeks and was at length saved from the very jaws of the tomb by the great mercy of God". It was during his stay in Wales that his work "The Body of Divinity" was published in London, but without his knowledge or sanction. When his strength was sufficiently recovered, he began to think of seeking some fresh retreat. Oxford and London were still unsafe for him and the idea of crossing the sea and seeking refuge in a foreign land was again thought of. Upon this being rumoured in Glamorganshire, many of the neighbouring gentry, knowing that his ordinary means of support had been cut off, and suspecting too truly that his recent journeyings and sickness had exhausted his finances, generously sent him considerable sums and unknown to each other. These gifts were gratefully accepted for such was his need that without such help he could not have left St Donats. Dr Parr appears to have been all this while his constant companion and to have shared with him the hospitality of the Lady Stradling. It having been decided to go abroad, a vessel was procured and a passport obtained. Just at this point of their preparations, a squadron of ships under the command of one Malta Vice Admiral for the Parliament, anchored in the roadstead at Cardiff. Dr Parr was therefore sent off to Cardiff as the archbishop's emissary to obtain an interview with the vice-Admiral. He found him on shore and having shown him the pass, proffered the request that the archbishop should be suffered to depart by sea. Molta returned a rude and threatening answer, refused permission, and declared that if the opportunity presented itself, he would take the primate prisoner and send him to the Parliament. Dr Parr, also he threatened with like treatment. This plan had to be abandoned and the party were at a loss whither to go, when some many more weeks had passed in the quiet shelter of St Donats, a pressing invitation was received from the Countess Dowager of Peterborough, who felt a debt of gratitude to be owing by her to the primate, for the benefits she had received from him in converting her Lord and securing herself from Popery. After some consideration he accepted this generous proposal and having obtained passes fro the journey, took his leave of St Donats, thankful for the hospitality he had enjoyed there for nearly a year and for the great kindness which he had experienced throughout his illness. There are no dates given to these movements of the archbishop in Wales, but an approximate estimate of the various occurrences be made from the fact that he arrived at the London abode of the Countess of Peterborough in JuneH 1646. In the muniment rooms of the older county gentry of Glamorganshire, there must be many letters and other documents preserved, which possess historic value and might gracefully be added by their owners to the literature of the county. Such a document is the following letter which relates to St Donats at this period. The writer was William Herbert Esq, Coq au Pill, and member of Parliament for Cardiff, and he fell just one month later in the battle of Edgehill. He is addressing his uncle; "Worthy Sir: Last night at my return to St Donats, I found orders from his Majestie to my Collonell, commandynge him to march with all speed to the towne of Shrewsburie where he will meet us. Sir, I am so often pressinge on you for courtesies, ythat I am almost ashamed to press you any further, but I tryst in your goodness not to thinke mee impudent. I am destitude of an easie pacer to march in the head of my companie, wherefore I desire you to doe me the favour to let me have your little bay maryre which you bought of the Barron of Kendeston: make your owne price. I would not importune you for her but that shee was onlie for your summer ridinge which is nowe past, and you likewise well provided for winter horses; and take it on my creditt if these be anye fine nagge, that I can meet with on my journey. I will send her to you to supply the want of youre mayre next summer. If you please to add this to the rest of your favours. let her be delivered to this bearer; this with the rememberance of all my best wishes, and any wife's to yourself, and to my good Aunt - I shall ever rest. Your truly devoted nephew to serve you, William Herbert. St Donats this 20th September 1642. All the good companie here present their service to you and to my Aunt. W.H." Addressed to his much honoured uncle, William Herbert of the Friars, Esquire, those present. Of Sir Edward's brothers, several distinguished themselves in the king's service (and their names appear in the family tree). The only whose name requires to be specially mentioned is Sir Harry, a naval officer. He had been knighted for his fidelity by Charles I and had the command of one of the king's ships. After the Parliament had obtained possession of the navy, he gave up his ship and retired to Pembroke Castle, at that time in the hands of the Royalists. On the castle falling into the hands of the Parliamentarians, he sought refuge in Ireland. He died at Cork and is buried in the church of the Holy Trinity. Sir Edward Stradling Knight, the eldest son of the active Royalist, who was imprisoned at Warwick, received knighthood from king Charles I. Much of this young man's time must have been spent in London, and it is not surprising then to find that he married the daughter of a citizen - an Alderman of famous London town, one Sir Hugh Perry. Other Glamorganshire notables had about this period, or a little later, selected wives from daughters of London attracted perhaps as much by the weight of the dowry, as by the beauty of the bride. This Sir Edward married young, and has already been mentioned, died young, for his father survived him died before he had reached his 46th year. Sir Edward the knight aspired to glory and led a body of foot to the field of Newbury October 27th 1644I. He was wounded in the fight, but escaped being taken prisoner and sought refuge at Oxford where he died. His widow married into another Glamorganshire Royalist family; she became the wife of Bussy Mansell of Briton Ferry. There were three children of her marriage with Sir Edward Stradling, a son and two daughters. H - The Peterborough family succeeded in a round about way to the Dauntsey estate once owned by a branch of the Stradlings. It is rather perplexing that the genealogists put no dates to various births, marriages and deaths and except when they happen to be incidentally marked by some well known historic event, they can only be arrived at approximately. The son of Sir Edward the knight could not have been more than four years old at the time of his father's death and as his grandfather, Sir Edward the Baronet died a year or so after, his son was a long minority under which the estates might be nursed, and the fallen fortunes of the family somewhat retrieved. So much Stradling blood had been shed in the civil war and in the public service under the Stewart dynasty that stability of the house was shaken and the axe may be said to have been at the root of the tree so that in a generation or two it fell. Of the sons of Sir Edward the Baronet, younger brother of Sir Edward the knight, two must be noticed:- (a) John, the second son, entered the army and attained the rank of Major General. His earlier years were doubtless spent in active service, but when the civil troubles had ripened into active warfare, we find him in Glamorganshire, and the history of the last year of Major General Stradling's life is the history of the Royalist rising in Glamorgan, which ended at the battle of St Fagan's. His name will be found at the foot of most of the public documents put forth by the gentlemen of the county during the year 1647, either in justification of the steps that were being taken or the public authorisation of certain decisive measures. To enter upon these would be to extend the notice of his life in connection with St Donats to an undue length. In company with his name upon the documents spoken of, it is usual to find that of his brother Thomas, and of a Harry Stradling, whose relative to the main branch of the family is not so easily fixed. Of the Major General however it must suffice on the present occasion to say that at the fatal battle of St Fagans on the 18th May 1648, he was the second in command, and in the rout which the Royalists suffered, was taken prisoner. With other leaders of the defeated party, he was taken on board the "Admiral Crowther", then lying in Penarth Roads, and in a court martial speedily held, all were condemned to death. Three only were immediately executed. Major General Stradling was among the respited and was sent as a prisoner to Windsor Castle where he diedJ. Thomas Stradling, the third son of Sir Edward the Baronet, was also in the army. His signature is met with attached to several public documents put forth by the Royalist party in Glamorganshire, but there is no other trace of him in the active doings of the period. Supposing him to have been engaged in the battle of St fagans, he must have escaped with no great injury to his person. In the reign of Charles II, he was a captain in the guards. On retiring from active service, he established himself upon the family property at Merthyr Mawr, where he spent the closing years of his life and died. The date of death is not given. The accession of Sir Edward, son of Sir Edward the knight, to the family honour and estates on the death of his grandfather, at so early an age that it occasioned the longest minority met with in the line of the Stradlings of St Donats. How the estates were managed or who were the guardians of the minor, no writer upon this part of the family history has enlightened us. Perhaps it was owing to this minority following immediately upon the stirring events of the time of Charles I, that there comes a long blank in the history of both the castle and the family. Almost all that we know of this Sir Edward is that he took a wife out of the Cromwellian family of the Hungerfords of Farley Castle in Somersetshire and that six children were born to him. The children were weakly for most of them died young. William the eldest born being buried 19th August 1676: Hungerford, the third son died I - Note on Newbury Field. Sir Anthony Mansell was killed at one of the battles of Newbury. The first battle took place September 20th 1642. The second on October 27th 1644. The confusion in which genealogists are in, with regard to which battle Sir Edward was in, is highly amusing: were it not for the trouble it gives to reconcile their differences. William Stradling's accounts of the family mention that young Sir Edward died before his father, in which he follows Mr Gamage. This ought to be sufficient to prove we should say the question; that it must be that at the first battle of Newbury he was engaged and not as above stated. J - In the effort on behalf of the king which ended in the battle of St fagans, the Stradling family, (Sir Edward Stradling one writer says!) Sir N Kemeys of Cefn Mably and Col. Powell, raised each 1000 men and marched to join the forces of Major General Langhorn and Col. Poyer, which had been raised in the counties of Brecon, Carmarthen and Pembroke. Major General Stradling was confined a prisoner in the Norman Tower in Windsor Castle. In one of the chambers there, his arms are still to be seen carved on a stone tablet, surmounted by the name of Stradling. This was the work of the unfortuanate prisoner himself. Vide: Lady Elizabeth Fox's "History of Windsor Castle". at Cowbridge School 15th February 1682: and of the two sons who reached manhood, Thomas the youngest died at sea "in one of King Williams Ships". Sir Edward the father died September 5th 1685K,L. Sir Edward, who appears to have been the fourth Baronet, married Elizabeth daughter to Sir Edward Mansell of Margam, on 5th June 1694. There were two sons of this marriage. Edward born March 30th 1699 and Thomas, born July 24th 1710, in which year his father was High Sheriff of Glamorganshire. Sir Edward was elected Member for the Glamorgan shire Contributory boroughs in 1695 and sat until 1700 when he gave place to Thomas Mansell of Briton Ferry. He was again returned in 1710, re-elected in 1714, held the seat till 1722, when he resigned in favour of his son. All the genealogists who treat of the Stradling family except Mr J.M.Traherne and the Revd Mr Gamage, seem to be in a fog as to this part of it. Dr Nicholas in particular has managed to mix up three Edward Stradlings together. Sir Edward died April 5th 1735 and was succeeded by his second and only surviving son. His widow, the Lady Elizabeth died in February 1738. Of Edward Stradling esq., the son whose premature death at the age of 27, cut off half the hope of his house, a few words must be said of him. Tradition tells us that he was a wild youth. He was elected Member for Cardiff Contributory boroughs on his fathers resignation of that seat in 1722 and sat until his death in 1726. He died at St Donats on the 3rd October and was buried on the following day; the Stradlings it seems were in favour of hasty burials. There was a "Cywyd" written upon his death by Llewelyn ab Jevan of CoychurchM. Mr Gamage who wrote his notes upon the Stradling family in the month following that in which Mr Edward Stradling died, is studiously silent upon anything re this young man's carrier, whether good or bad. Sir Thomas Stradling, the fifth Baronet succeeded to the title and estates upon the death of his father, not on the death of his brother as stated by Clark and Nicholas, in 1735. His carrier was a short one; he was killed in a duel at Montpellier in France 27th September 1738 whither he had gone with a former college friend, Sir John de la Fountaine Tyrwhit. He was a wild youth and in the three years in which he held the estates had already begun to dissipate the property. Thus whither he lived or died he seemed fated to terminate the connection of the Stradlings with St Donats. Mr Williams Stradling states that his health had been impaired by his dissipated carrier and that he went to Montpellier for the benefit of his health. As to his death he merely mentions the fact but not a word as to the duelN. K - This Sir Edward Stradling of whom so little is recorded, has it would seem, been allowed in charity to pass unnoticed away. He appears to have been the ruin of the Bassetts of Beaupre. Richard Bassett of Beaupre became his surety for £21,000 and had to pay it. The Beaupre estates were at first mortgaged to pay this debt and eventually sold under the burden of it. L - In 1645, R Symonds, a servant in the train of Charles I was at Cardiff and in his diary has made an entry of the principal gentry in Glamorganshire. He set down Sir Edward Stradling Bart of St Donats Castle as having an income of £4000 a year. M - This is questioned in an offhanded way by Iolo Morganwy, but we have not succeeded in finding it although we were priviledged to examine several volumes of Manuscripts in the Iolo collection at Llanover. N - The body of Sir Thomas lay it seems in state at the "Three Cranes Inn" at Cardiff on its way to St Donats. It passed through Cowbridge at night and the funeral was accidentally seen by my Grandfather on his return late at night from Penllyne. Sir Thomas's will is mentioned by several writers on county topics; each writer fix a different month as to its date, viz. 4th March, April and May 1735. Now as his father did not die until the 5th April in that year, it is evident he could not have power to dispose of the property until after. Consequently the date in all likelihood is the 4th May. By this will he leaves the estates to the second son of Bussy Mansell of Briton Ferry, who with the estates was to take the name of Stradling. Immediately on the news of Sir Thomas's death becoming known in Glamorgan, Mr Mansell hastened to St Donats and took possession. and he retained his hold in the property as long as he lived. Mr William Stradling justly says that Sir Thomas had no power to dispose of trhe estates in this manner and had the right heir disputed the will, he would have gained possession, but he remained at home instead; who this right heir was, he did not say. In Mrs S C Hall's "Book of South Wales", there is an account of the Stradlings, singularly inaccurate and highly coloured, which would not be worth noticing but for the importance it derives from its claiming to be written by a person connected with St Donats. The fallacies it contains will be apparent to any one who will remember a few dates and apply them in a common sense way to the various circumstances narrated. Sir Thomas did not come into the estates until 1735 when he had nearly completed his 26th year, and when he must have left college five years at least (for a university course was not as long then as now) and that his mother died in 1738, when it is natural to suppose that he must have been at St Donats. Having said this "the local writer" may be allowed to give his own version of the matter. He says "the story of the division of the Stradling property is romantic but still true. The last of the Stradlings was at college with a young man of the name of Tyrwhitt and after completion of their college carrier, the two young men resolved to make the 'Grand Tour' together. Before starting (as was afterwards shown in evidence) they each wrote a letter to the other that if either of them should die whilst abroad, the survivor should inherit the deceased's property. After being absent some time from England, news came to St Donats that Stradling was dead, having been run through the body in a duel (it was said by his own friend Tyrwhitt) at Montpellier in France, on 27th day of September 1738. His body was brought to St Donats to be buried on the 19th March following. Several rumours were then afloat, that he had come to his end unfairly, and it was much doubted that it was his body that was sent over, and hid old nurse who sat up with the coffin when it was lying in state, secretly opened it and thrust her hand in to feel whether all the fingers were on the left hand, as she knew that Sir Thomas had, when a child, lost one of his fingers by its being bitten off by a donkey; and she declared to the father of the writer of this note that the two hands of the body sent over were perfect and therefore that the body was not that of Sir Thomas Stradling. Hence for many years there was an expectation of his making his appearance. After more than half a centuryO spent in litigation during which time Tyrwhitt himself died, the estates were settled by act of Parliament, the largest portion being sold to pay the lawyers, and the only part which was allotted to the heirs of the Tyrwhitts, the original claimant, was the castle and about £1200 a year out of the estate which at that time was the Chatsworth of the period. Various claimants got small portions, but the baronetage became vested in the issue of Jane, daughter of Sir Edward Stradling (the second baronet) and wife of Thomas Carne of Nash, and though still in obeyance will ultimately be claimed by her direct descendant Edward Carne, now a minor. Not one but many lawsuits were eventually fastened upon the St Donats estates. The administration of the will was granted to the Hon. Christopher Mansell and Bussy Mansell, the next of kin, and Bussey Mansell seems to have been allowed to hold undisturbed possession during his life. But when he died, a series of lawsuits sprang up and after some years litigation, the various parties compromised matters by an arrangement which was sanctioned by an act of Parliament. Col. Clark says that he had heard that the actual distribution was made by lot, which decided the partition as follows:- St Donats and Sully to Sir John le Fountain Tyrwhitt, Sheriff of Glamorgan 1760. Merthyr Mawr and Monknash between Hugh Bowen and his eldest son by his first wife - George Bowen of Eglwys Brewis. Mr George Bowen's part came to William Dawkin of Kilvrough (Gower). Penllyne, Llanpha and Combe Hawey (Somerset) to Louisa Barbara Mansell of Briton Ferry, daughter and heiress of lord Mansell, and wife of George Venables Vernon. Mr Vernon claimed under a will executed by Sir Thomas Stradling in favour of his first cousen Lord Mansell. St Athan was sold to pay the lawyers. O - The half a century spent in litigation dwindles down upon inquiry to seventeen years or less, for in the 28th year of the reign of George II and act of Parliament was obtained under which the division of the property was effected. At the breakup of the family, the Stradlings held the Castles of St Donats, Sully East Orchard and Penllyne. The Manors of St Donats, Sully, East Orchard, Nash, West Orchard, Castletown, Gilston, Coston, Penllyne, Llangan, Court Llanphey, Merthyr Mawr and Merthyr Mawr Parva. The Patronages of the Churches of Sully, St Athan, Llangan, Merthyr Mawr and Monknash. The Advowson of the vicarage and rectory of St Donats with the tithes there and in Marcross, St Brides and Monknash. There is not a word here of Combe Hawey, and though the estates are large, it is evident that a diminution has taken place since the death of Sir Edward Stradling in 1609 when they were scattered over 23 parishes. The old people in the vale had a tradition that when the Stradlings "were in their glory" they could ride from St Donats to Pentyrich mountain without going off their own land. Iestyn Humphrey says "The Stradlings by their marriages and purchases in the county were at one time perhaps the most opulent, and though the last Sir Thomas had begun to dissipate it before his death, the remaining part comprised a very large estate. There were several poets in the family but their works are now little known. We are indebted to Sir Edward Stradling for an account of the winning of the Lordship of Glamorgan which is in print and date 1572. He was accounted a good antiquary, but his account of the lordship is in many places contradictory and incorrect". In 1650, Sir Edward Stradling had a tenement of lands at Llanwyno, the name and holding occurs in a survey of the manor of Iniscin, taken in that year. It is called "Tir y Park Newyd". Cooke in his topographical description of Glamorgan, published 1818, says:- "St Donats Castle is situated within 300 yards of the shore. The castle is a large irregular pile bearing many marks of ancient magnificence and still in some degree inhabited, but most of the state apartments are in a very decayed condition. It is defended by a ditch and in some places by a triple wall. It had also a park well stocked with deer and gardens with terraces to the Severn. The castle is a large turreted edifice but built on a very inelegant plan. What has been added to the original structure at different periods forms an irregular whole, whose parts are dissimilar, unconnected and every way displeasing. The greatest curiosities here are in the principal court which is of polygonal shape, and disproportionately low and ornamented with a few small round recesses in the walls, having within them the busts of Roman Emperors and empresses which appear to have been formerly sumptuously painted and guilded. The state apartments are much ornamented and contain several specimens of heavy woodwork greatly in vogue during the reign of Elizabeth and James I. The view from its principal room in the tower is really magnificent, looking strait across the channel, which is nearly twenty miles broad to the hills of Somersetshire above Minehead. In the park are the ruins of a watchtower for the observance of distressed vessels in stormy weather for the purpose of securing their cargoes for the lord in the event of their being driven on shore."??????????????????? It is remarkable that though Combe Hawey, or Hay, was sold during the civil war, that Col Clark and others keep on speaking of it as if it pertained to Sir Thomas Stradling's estate and formed part of the spoil that was scrambled for at his death. So that all doubt may be set at rest on this point, we quote the following from a short but carefully compiled history of the parish of Combe Hawey:- In the reign of Edward I, the manor passed by marriage to Sir Peter Stradling. Brief notices of the several generations of the Stradlings --------------who is said was a great scholar and author of a Welsh grammar, which he wrote in his travels and was esteemed a capital performance. On his death at the close of the sixteenth century, it passed to Sir John Stradling, the representative of another branch of the family, who was made a baronet in 1611. In 1644 it became the property of Sir Lewis Dyve, knt.,a dashing Cavalier of whom Evelyn says with quiet irony, "he was indeed a valued and valiant gentleman, but was a little given to romance when he spoke of himself." He was the defender of Sherborne Castle, taken by Fairfax in 1645. Sir Lewis is buried at Combe hay and a brass in the church bears the following record respecting him, "Here lieth the body of Sir Lewis Dyve of Bromham in the county of Bedford knt, only son of Sir John Dyve of Bromham knt, by Dame Beatrice his wife, daughter of Charles Walcot in the county of Salop, esq, who was afterwards married to the Right Hon. John, Earl of Bristol, by whom he had issue the Right Hon. Gage, now Earl of Bristol. The said Sir Lewis Dyve took to wife Howard daughter of Sir John Strangeways of Melbury, Sampford in the county of Dorset knt, and by her had issue living at the time of his death three sons, Francis, Lewis and John and one daughter, Grace, who married Gen. Hussey of Marmhull in the county of Dorset, esq. He died April 17 Ano. Dom. 1669. Combe Hay was the daughter's portion and her husband's succession sold it to Thomas Bennet of Steeple Ashton, Wilts, whose daughter Mary brought by marriage to Robert Smith, a cloth manufacturer of Frome". Naturally, if traditions of the Stradlings are to be kept alive at St Donats at all, the last member of the family, from the untimely death which happened to him, the mystery which attended his dying in a foreign land and a total break-up of the family consequent upon his death, which became for ages a central figure in them. [this sentence makes no sense]. This proved to be the case: especially among the generations now passed away which could remember hearing its elders speak of their childish recollections of the events and circumstances which attended the death of Sir Thomas. The world natural and superstitional of St Donats was completely moved by this change and as late as 183 many were the tales which might be heard told by the lips of old people in the village. A gentleman visiting in the neighbourhood one bathing season, about that period, beguiled a portion of his leisure by chatting with the old cottagers at St Donats. Noting down what he heard, he communicated his gleanings to the 'Merthyr Guardian' newspaper which gave rise to a very interesting correspondence, in the columns of that paper between himself and a man of note, well qualified to deal with such a subject - no other than the Revd J M Traherne. The correspondence is worth preserving and shall be here reproduced. The correspondent who opens the subject is Mr John Bruce Bruce, afterwards known as J Bruce Pryse. Letter 1. St Donats Castle. Among the last village recollections of the old Stradlings, the following are still traditionary: As soon as the intelligence of the death of Sir Thomas in France was known in the place, Lord Bussey Mansell (as he was popularly called) came from Briton Ferry to St Donats, to take possession of the castle and estates as rightful heir in law. The late parish clerk remembered when a little boy seeing the great coach and four large horses going through the big gateway. He had not been long at St Donats when in walking down the ramparts towards the barracks he found that he had left his gloves behind, and returned to the castle to fetch them. Whilst there he saw the ghost of the old knight (the last baronet's father) standing by the fire, who was supposed to have told him that it was not his son's pleasure that he should inherit the estates. Immediately after this, Bussey Mansell returned to Briton Ferry and never came again to St Donats! The ancestor of Mr Tyrwhitt Drake shortly after this, established the deed of gift from his friend and fellow traveller, Sir Thomas. It seems that the worthy old vicar was not as satisfied as the 'old knight' that the estates should go out of the family, in which they had been for nearly 700 years: For the story is still credited that in his rage at the alienation he demolished a windmill and two water mills, which were never rebuilt. The foundation of these are still visible. The parish register of 1738 states that the body of Sir Thomas was brought from Montpellier and buried by the Revd Williams Savours, but it was long believed, and still is by many, that the body was seen by the old nurseP who failed to discover a certain mark, and was convinced that it was not the body of Sir Thomas Stradling, and that it was discovered that it was the corpse of a French soldier that had been sent over in stead. September 17th 1836. J.B.B. P - Honor Gray of Morriston was the old nurse, mother of blanch the wife of Evan Nicholas of Caerllyse, - Coychurch, and mother to Gwenllian, the wife of William Watkin of Velin Vaur, Llantrisant, afterwards of Ewenny Mill and Old Castle, Bridgend, who had only two sons and two daughters, viz. Evan Watkin, died in Jamaica, Nicholas Watkin of Parka Tregolwyn, Blanch wife of John Jenkins ('Jack and Maison') and Mary the wife of Gerge Watson, Old Castle, Brigend. Letter 2. "Old Stradlings". I observe in your paper certain village recollections still traditionary at St Donats. Far be it from me to disparage such notices for in the course of my topographical inquiries, I have more than once derived solid information from similar sources. But it behoves us to examine such statements with caution in order to insure that accuracy without which antiquarian lore is nothing worth. As the dates of the Parish Clerk's birth and death are not given, I have no means of testing how far back his recollections could extend. A revered relative of my own who lived to an advanced age, and who had she survived to the present, would have been in her 108th year, frequently told me that she remembered being taken by her mother to the "Three Cranes Inn" at Cardiff (situated near the "Corner House" in that town) where the body of Sir Thomas Stradling lay in state on its way to St Donats. I may be deemed uncharitable, but it does appear to me that the clerk recollected too much. To those who are acquainted with the cartography of St Donats Castle, the entrance of the "Coach and four Black Horses" will be a matter of doubt. The cumbrous vehicle might have passed through the portcullis gate, but the coachman must have been a clever fellow who could have turned the carriage in the narrow space in front of the inner gate. It seems however very improbable that the Hon Bussy Mansell should have travelled in his coach on such an occasion. In those days of impassable roads, gentlemen generally travelled on horseback. Not having my papers with me, I am unable to be precise on one or two points; viz, as to the period Bussy Mansell's accession to the title of Baron Mansell on the death of his brother Christopher, however it was long after 1738, Mr. Mansell took possession of St Donats not as heir at law to Sir Thomas Stradling whose mother was a Mansell, but I have before me an extract from the will of Sir Thomas Stradling bearing date April 4th 1735 by which he leaves the estates to the second son of his loving cousin Bussy Mansell, who is to take the name of Stradling, and £10,000 to the daughter of Bussy Mansell. Then follows other remainders. It was doubtless on this will Mr Mansell took possession. At his death he left one daughter only, who afterwards became Lady Vernon. The Mansell claim was evidently a strong one. A very long litigation ensued which was finally settled by a partition of the property under an act of parliament. The tradition of the ghost of the old knight (why not Baronet?) is new to me. It exercises a courtesy unusual in such cases. One would rather have expected the apparition of the son! The idle story of the corpse of Sir Thomas is hardly worth notice. The body was embalmed, or was it not? It cannot be supposed that on the former hypothesis the lid coffin should have been opened, and the cere-clothes stripped off to gratify the curiosity of the old woman. Again assuming the body had not been embalmed, decomposition must have taken place in the long interval that elapsed between the period of Sir Thomas's death at Montpellier and the funeral at St Donats was effectually to obliterate any mark. October 5th 1836. J.M.T. Letter 3. Having furnished you with the village taditions, the authenticity of some of which are doubted by a correspondent in your paper of the 8th, I must remind him and your other readers that they are not vouched for as canonical, but were merely sent to you as the Levis Armatura, the vitiles of 'Auld Lang Syne'. The coach and four black horses certainly made a deep impression on my friend the old clerk, and I would agree with your correspondent, J.M.T that it would have been a hard task to have turned them within the portcullis. But the old clerk may probably have meant the outer gate, within which a regiment of cavalry might be manoeuvred, or the Amsterdam Diligence turned with facility. Coaches were common enough in that part of Glamorgan and about Briton Ferry, also before the period alluded to. In the year 1712 when the widow of Thomas Lewis of Lanishen lived at Blue House (where she removed on the marriage of her eldest son to Miss Van of Llanwern) several coaches appeared at her mansion, to the great admiration of the country people. There was a Wyndham of Dunraven (whence the christian name of her late great grandson) : her daughter was Mrs Basset of Beaupre - their's might probably have been amongst the huge vehicles which astonished the natives of Kibbor. I will shortly give you another ghost story relating to the Stradlings. Shortly before the death of the last Baronet, an old lime burner pursuing his occupation near the sea wall, saw about the break of day, the whole generation of the Stradlings whom he had personally remembered, and a stranger among them standing close, close to him. When the news of Sir Thomas's death arrived, and how the estate had been disposed of. little doubt remained that the stranger was Sir John Tyrwhitt. This apparition is still firmly believed in by many worthy people, though probably not by J.M.T. or by your obedient servant. J.B.B. P.S. Your correspondent asks why Sir Edward is termed the 'old knight' and not 'Baronet'? Knight was the literal translation of my informer's word "Yr Hen Farching", by which name he is still known at St Donats. Letter 4. I crave permission to make a few remarks in answer to a communication signed J.B.B. I am quite aware that as long ago as the reign of Charles II, there was a coach at St Donats Castle, as is proved by an entry in the parish register of burials, but I cannot agree with J.B.B. that coaches were common enough about Briton Ferry or St Donats even before 1738. They may have been possessed by the Herberts of Swansea, the owners of Neath Abbey, the families of Evans of Neath, Mansell of Briton Ferry and Margam, Stradling, Leys, Wyndham, Jones of Fonmon (the huge carriage of whose amopl;e coach existed at Fontigary within my remembrance), Thomas of Wenvoe, Aubrey of Llantryddid, and perhaps at utmost some ten additional names which I have not time to enumerate. Indeed J.B.B. himself observes that the appearance of several coaches at Blue House excited the great admiration of the country people. Our squires of moderate income at that period and long after performed their journeys and visits on horseback; while the inconvenient luxury of a pillion accompanied the fair sex in their transit through the almost impassable roads. I thought it very improbable that Mr Mansell should proceed in a carriage on such an occasion, when he would naturally desire to use all expedition. I conceive that the journey from Briton Ferry to St Donats could scarcely have been effected in one day. Some years after this transaction, the family coach of Lord Mansell on its way usually halted at Ewenny to allow of time for dining and stayed over the night at Cowbridge. The distance from Briton Ferry to St Donats is considerably greater. Perhaps many of your readers may deem these topics frivolous, but they are curious as affording traces of the state of society at a remote period and as connected with the history of St Donats, a spot which I consider as almost sacred ground. Noone can view its mouldering towers, and its elegant but neglected church, without feelings of regret, that a family should have passed away who were eminent not only from ancient lineage, and extensive possessions, but conspicuous "Maret quam Mercuris" at a time when Glamorgan could boast few such characters. Your correspondent has found another ghost story, and as I am determined not to be outdone by him, I will mention the very opposite anecdote of the spectre of Lady Hoby seated on the coach which is said to haunt the precincts of Neath Abbey, her residence on earth. Whether any of my worthy friend J.J.Price's trains have come in contact with this airy vehicle has not been ascertained by your humble servant, J.M.T. Oct.17, 1836 That gentleman of high degree travelled on horseback is proved by an unpublished letter from the celebrated Harley, who visited Glamorganshire in 1708, in which he speaks of returning on horseback from Margam to his seat in Herefordshire, by way of Llantrisant, Cardiff, and Pontypool. With this letter the discussion ended in the press, though doubtless the two friends as neighbours, returned to it often times as they sat at each other's tables. While in the subject of the supernatural as connected with the Stradlings and St Donats Castle, it may be as well to complete it by a description of the "Lady Gwn Sivan", whose haunts are in the halls and passages of the ancient pile, and who has a special function to perform: the lady in her silk gown as, or had, many sisters in the old palaces and mansion houses of Glamorganshire. Mr Wirt Sikes shall tell the story for us as he does in his "British Goblins":- 'St Donats Castle is down on the south coast of Glamorgan in a primitive repair. It is owned and inhabited by a worthy gentleman whose ancestors for seven centuries sleep in the graveyard under the castle walls. Its favourite ghost,- for to confine this or any other Welsh castle to a single ghost would be disrespectful,- is that of Lady Stradling who was done away with by some of the family in the wicked old time when families did not always dwell in peace together. The ghost makes a practice of appearing when any mishap is about to befall a member of the household, the direct line of which is extinct, a fact not yet apprehended by the neighbouring peasantry. She wears high heeled shoes and a long trailing gown of the finest silk. In this guise doth she wander. The castle hounds refuse to rest, but with their howlings raise all the dogs of the village under the hill. A farmer (J.B.Pryce) writing in the 'Merthyr Guardian' on December 1849, says - " Mrs Blanche Lewis told me that her grandmother was on a visit to the Stradlings when they received a present of a pound of tea - the first which had appeared in Glamorganshire. There was considerable discussion as to how it should be dressed. It ended by their putting it in a saucepan and boiling it as a vegetable and very nauseous it was". Later Owners and Occupiers of the Castle Bussy Mansell, Lord Mansell as he afterwards became, held possession of the estates for his life, he died November 29th 1750. In 1755 an act of Parliament sanctioned this part of the property passing into the hands of Sir John Tyrwhitt. The local writers of the note in Mrs P.C.Hall's book is therefore wrong, notwithstanding the opportunities which he had of knowing better. Sit John the actual friend of the last of the Stradlings, and who is suspected of having with his own hand extinguished the line, was actually appointed High Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1760. He is described as of St Donats Castle though it is evident that his residence in the county could have been but nominal, the office being done by his deputy William Rees Esq. of St Mary Hill, who was the steward of the estate. Thomas Drake Tyrwhit Esq. of St Donats was sheriff in 1786 and appears to have filled the office in person: his undersheriff was Mr Watkin Morgan of Llandough. The male line of the Tyrwhits shortly failed and the property passed to the Tyrwhit-Drakes. In 1862 it was sold to J.W Nicholl Carne Esq. of Dimlands for £55,000. But with regard to the occupation of the castle after the death of Sir Thomas, not much is known. Whether Lord Mansell used it as occasional residence cannot be told. Whether Sir John Tyrwhit received it furnished or bare, is not known. It is enough that a sale took place there some time after 1739 and that the rich furniture of the castle was dispersed abroad. A handsome and massive curved oak bedstead found its way to one of the St Donats cottages and remained there till about the year 1850, when it was bought by Mr Carne of Dimlands. The extensive library seems to have been kept together, but by one of those strange changes which the vicissitudes of families brings about, was removed to Dublin, where by accident it was all destroyed by fire. Taliesin ab Olo mentions this in 1833 but he omits stating the date of this calamitous occurrence. With the destruction of this library, many manuscripts of unspeakable value to the elucidation of Glamorganshire history, must have perished and can never be replaced. A presumed relic of the St Donats library turned up at the sale of effects of Miss Thomas of Colvinstone (the last of the Thomases who lived for so long at the castle) in the shape of a small volume of which the following is a description of it; "Marguriton", a rich treasure consisting of problems and their resolves, in three parts:- Amorous Naturall Moral and Politique faithfully translated out of the french for the profit and deliught of the ingenious English of both sexes to serve as a useful helper in their discourse. London: printed 1639, published 1640. The book was of small size but had been sumptuously bound and upon the front cover was a monogram and crown of Charles I. It is upon its former royal ownership that its assumed connection with St Donats library id founded. The volume was purchased at the sale by David Davies, bookseller at Cowbridge and was afterwards sold by him to an English gentlewoman for 10/-. St Donats was visited by a Mr Lethicullier in 1736, who in that year made a tour of the county. His manuscript record of his observations was in 1782 in the possession of the then Bishop of Carlisle, who permitted a Mr Strange to inspect it previous to his travelling over the same ground. Mr Strange communicated a paper on his tour to the Archaeological Society of London, by whom it was printed as part of their transactions for the year. Mr Strange says:- "St Donats is particularly mentioned by Mr Lethicullier. I had much pleasure in seeing it on account of its good preservation and the fine command it has of the sea. The hanging gardens under it leading down to the sea are also to be much admired in point of situation, and musty have been very beautiful when they were kept in perfect order. The wall to the sea at the bottom of them is however in very good repair, as well as the park wall. I observed many busts of the Caesars, Cleopatra, etc. There are many ruins of early buildings to be seen both at Llantwit and St Donats," he says, "but could not hear at either place of a Roman coin having been discovered. Not withstanding the expected antiquity of these places" (Archaelogia vol VI, 1782) In a description of the same place published in 1760 it is said "Five miles south west of Cowbridge, near Nash Point, stands St Donats Castle. Several ancient coins have been dug up here among which are some of 'Aemilianus' and 'Marius', which are very scarce. The castle is a present in the possession of the family of the Mansells and it is a large elegant building which make a noble appearance, though different parts of the structure are extremely antique." From these quotations it may be seen how inaccurate contemporary writers may be as to ownership of property, as well as in other matters. The evidence of the list of Sheriffs is conclusive evidence as to the possession of St Donats by Sir John le Fountain Tyrwhit in 1760. Speedily following the abandonment of the castle as the residence of the proprietor, came its reoccupancy by persons of inferior condition. Tyrwhit was perhaps disappointed at the small share of the prey which fell to him, besides, he had a seat of his own in England. At any rate the castle was neglected, and in time roofs fell in for lack of repairs and only a portion of the once massive pile had the sparing attention bestowed on it which kept it habitable. The Revd R Warner who visited it on August 10th 1798, gives a description of the place as he found it on the occasion. After briefly describing the castle and making special mention of the Terra Cotta Medallions of Roman Emperors and Empresses on the walls of the courtyard, he proceeds thus:- "Our associates, the Thomases of Pwllywrack procured us a view of the inside of the castle through the favour of a clergyman, who is one of the inhabitants, for two or three families reside within the walls. There is little curiosity here except the ornaments of the state apartments which are fitted up with the heavy woodwork so much in vogue in Elizabeth's and James I times. We were however not the less indebted to the civility of the gentleman who conducted us through the building, and congratulated ourselves on the very different reception which we had received from a fellow pedestrian who visited St Donats amongst the other remarkable places in Glamorganshire six weeks ago." Then follows an amazing account of the fancied pursuit of this gentleman by the rag- tag and bob-tail of Llantwit under the impression that they were chasing a French or Irish spy! Who the clergyman might be who resided there is hard to say, but one of the parties who must have been an occupier of a part of the castle was Mr Matthew Donne the Elder, for he held the parks and other portions of the old demesne lands as a farm, and continued to reside there till 1825-6, when on the decease of John Franklen Esq. in November 1825, he took Llanfihangel Farm and removed there. The next occupiers were the Thomases. Mr Thomas was the incumbent of the parish and died at the castle, after which his widow and subsequently his two daughters, Cliffe (1848), who picked up much gossip for the adornment of his entertaining book of South Wales, found something to say of the Thomases, not quite accurate, but what he does say may be worth quoting in connection with the castle. "The arms of the Stradlings remain over the outer gate. The present possessor Mr Tyrwhit Drake lives in Buckinghamshire and the castle and adjoining farm are tenanted by the Misses Thomas. The mother of these ladies, an eccentric person died at the end of 1846, and was in the habit of letting a portion of the castle to sea bathers during the summer season, although we believe she was never visible. Tourists were not admitted for some years before her death". Neither of these statements has sufficient truth in them to be worthy of being set down in print. Mr Thomas had at one time accommodated a few friends rather as her guests in the castle than as lodgers. She was visible enough during summer time in Cowbridge market until age and infirmity kept her to the castle, and the castle was always open to tourists who came with an introduction to her. But she had been so pestered with the impertinence, curiosity and rudeness of tourists that the place was closed except on the conditions named. Mr Cliffe as he goes on shall supply the reason for this restriction. " The structure is nearly quadrangular and the state apartments which are in a dilapidated condition contain some fine examples of carving in wood by Grinling Gibbons and other artists of his age. A celebrated mantelpiece, carved by Gibbons has been nearly carried away piecemeal by curiosity hunters. Terraces lead to the shore below, to which there was formerly a covered way to an extensive series of barracks for men and horses surrounding an oblong nook of two acres on all sides except that to the seaside which often dashes over and injures the outer wall. We heard on local authority that these barracks were occupied during a visit paid by Queen Ann (?) to this castle. The Queen's room is still pointed out". With regard to Mrs Thomas, one word more should be said. Occupying the castle, and being in some respects the locum tenens of the property, her influence in the parish was considerable. Being a woman of strong mind, her will was law, and she played the part - as far as her power went - of a benevolent despot. On her death, the two daughters continued to reside at the castle, and keep on the farm until the estate was bought by Dr Nicholl Carne in 1862. From him they received very scant courtesy, appearing forgetful of the fact that their rank was quite as good as his own. With the ardour of the possessor of a new bauble, he packed them away as soon as the requirements of the law permitted him, and they retired to Colwinstone to a little property of their own, where in some few years both died. Several of their household effects it was said had formed part of the old furnishings of St Donats castle, and when these were sold a curious old book which had belonged to Charles I, which has already been referred to. (incomplete sentence) The utmost economy was shown by Sir Thomas T. Drake in the repairs bestowed upon the castle and it is due to the inherent excellence of the stones and mortar (made of blue lias, as the country people call it) that the walls stood the shock of so many storms uninjured. Mr William Stradling who visited the place in 1838 thus writes:- "The castle although the most perfect in South Wales, is in a most shamefully neglected state, A Mrs Thomas, the widow of a clergyman resides there. The family chapel is also in a most wretched condition, the windows closed with wood and most of the fine old glass broken, although it is so full of curious monuments as to induce my late worthy friend, Sir R.C.Hoare to send and artist twice to copy them. He several times visited what he termed 'this classic ground'. Dr Nicholl Carne has had a great deal done to the castle but it is still far from being in perfect order. He resided here from 1866 until his death which took place August 5th 1889Q. The old black cattle of Glamorgan. I (D.J.) can remember as a child being with my father one day at St Donats when he pointed out to me in the parke some fine black Glamorgan oxen of which he bid me take notice, as they were of particularly pure breed and that I would perhaps not see many more of them as the breed was then being supplanted by Herefords and other cattle of quicker growth. My father spoke with regret of the disappearance of the breed and I can remember looking at these large glossy jet black, sleek coated, and long horned animals with great curiosity as they stood gathered together near the stile into the park in the sunshine of a calm August afternoon. It was fitting that if the breed was fated to disappear, the last efforts to keep it pure and in existence, should be made at St Donats, for it is to the Stradling family that tradition attributed the introduction of the breed into the country. Some few years after my first recorded visit to St Donats namely in 1852, Mr Edward David of Radyr, an extensive land agent and practical agriculturist, in speaking after the annual dinner of the Glamorganshire Agriculture Show, made some remarks upon Glamorgan Cattle which it may be of interest to reproduce in this place. He said:- "He rejoiced to see so few of the black or Old Glamorganshire breed. He only observed two or three of that breed in the exhibition and he believed they belonged to a highly respectable individual whose feelings he did not wish to wound by commenting on them - but he must impress upon his brother farmers the necessity for getting rid of the breed altogether and changing them for Herefords, Durhams or some other improved breed which he was persuaded they would find more profitable and useful than the old native breed. Half a century ago, The Glamorgan Cattle were considered so excellent in quality that George III who was no bad judge of stock, preferred them to any other. He (Mr David) well remembered that some forty or fifty years ago, that monarch was in the habit of sending Mr Frost his farm bailiff annually into this county to purchase our oxen which he admitted could not be excelled in any part of the kingdom, but breeding cattle being neglected, they soon degenerated and became inferior" - Merthyr Guardian - October 2nd 1852. Q - West of the church is his grave with a handsome monument over it which he had erected over his first wife. It bears the following to his memory - "In memoriam, John Whittock Stradling Carne, D.C.L., Died at the castle of St Donats. A church revived, a castle restored, the surrounding wilderness made to blossom." In the same paper is a letter from a gentleman who had been present at the dinner and who demurred to the dicta laid down by Mr David. He writes:- "As an old breeder of Glamorgan Cattle, I hoped some champion would have got up and answered Mr David's denunciation of them in his speech at Cowbridge that day. It is now two hundred years since the breed of Glamorgan Cattle obtained that celebrity which they maintained till the Hereford and Durhams drove them from our pastures. The late Mr Price, then of Llandaff Court, told me that the high character of this breed originated in a celebrated French Bull which one of the Stradlings of St Donats Castle sent up to his farm of Park Newyd, Llanwyrno (since given to the Carne's of Nash) and that the cross between this bull and the handsome cows of that parish were the actual progenitors of the Glamorgan breed of Cattle. I can remember Llanwyrno for more than fifty years, and I can testify to the beauty and symmetry of the breed, as many will do who can remember the dairies of Hafod, Dduallt, Llan, Penrhin Cradoc, Gelliorgan and Mynachdy. On some of these farms may yet be found traces of their ancient celebrity and if to fill a pail be an object, I would back a cow from Llanwyrno even in these degenerate days against any other parish in the county." Bucolie. Who this writer may have been we do not know, some one from the eastern part of the county evidently, but the Glamorgan breed was much prized in the western districts also, and the Powells of Eglwys Nepind(?) in the parish of Margam, kept up the breed till as late as the year 1870. The Old Black Cattle of Glamorgan have now all disappeared, only on canvas, in some of our county mansions. Splot Farm. This farm which lies on high ground on the northern boundary of the parish has a curious story related of a well which lies some distance away from the buildings, in a field in the front of the house. They were badly off there for water and in the first half of this century, between 1820 and 1830, the farmer determined to dig a well. For no particular reason they selected the spot where the well is now open, which is rather a remarkable one. But stranger still is the fact that as soon as the surface had been cleared, they found that there was a deep and excellently walled well already there with a sufficiency of water at the bottom. Some rubbish had fallen in and on that being cleared out a large quantity of stags horns was found at the bottom of the original well. Great was the surprise of every one in the neighbourhood at the discovery for there was no tradition of any well having existed on the farm, nor was there anything in the appearance of the ground to guide those who selected the spot in fixing thereon, as a place where a well already existed. The stags horns were perhaps the proceeds of some old and secret foray upon the St Donats Deer Park and the unwelcome evidence of the theft had been disposed of hastily in this manner, but it must have been done some centuries ago. Splot has long been occupied by a family named Jones. In 1830-40, or thereabouts, there were several sons here, some of whom were brought up on the farm, but one was apprenticed to a draper. His apprenticeship over the young man went to London to improve himself, and everything was as promising for his future success in life as his friends could desire. All at once the news reached Splot that he had disappeared from his employers and that no trace of him could be found. His relatives hurried to London to see that every effort was made for his discovery, dead or alive, but not the smallest clue of his existence could be obtained. Rewards were offered without avail. In a years time his family mourned him as dead. Father and mother both sank in the course of a few years into the grave, mourning for their son who had so mysteriously disappeared. Still, it is to be supposed that the remaining brothers hoped that time would bring the lost one back to them. One Saturday, the elder brother riding to Cardiff market in 187?, saw at the door of a farmhouse in Bonvilston, a man poorly clad and asking for alms. Thirty years had passed since the lost brother had disappeared, but in the wanderer standing at the farmhouse door, the quick eye of the St Donats farmer recognised joyfully the long lost and much mourned brother. As we descend to the village from Splot, we may notice on the sunny slope of the side of the valley, the gardens formed by Dr Carne for the supply of the castle in fruit and vegetables; below is a well, the copious waters of which supplied a large pond. It was from this well the castle at one time derived its supply of water and the fountain in the inner court obtained its jet of water by natural gravitation. Probably this was the work of Sir Edward Stradling, who proposed increasing the water supply of London and Westminster in the reign of Charles I. Tresilian. This is a lonely house close on the shore at the mouth of one of those short and narrow valleys common in this part of the country. The name has a Cornish sound about it. The coast is rugged and the limestone cliffs rather high, and in their sides are many caves. From Dimhole to Tresilian (that is to the east) there are as many as twenty-nine of them, some of considerable dimensions. Immediately to the west of Tresilian round the point which descends much below high water, is the largest cave to be found in the neighbourhood. It is called by the country people 'St Reynold's Church', and is 85 yards long from mouth to end. At the western extremity there is a dark passage which was supposed to lead to St Donats Castle, a distance of about one mile. To test the accuracy of this Dr Carne when a young man, in the year 1834, explored this passage and found it an exceedingly shallow tunnel of about twenty yards long terminating in a chimney ten feet high; There was no outlet; nearly midway in the tunnel was a well of sweet fresh water. But the church has far more interesting associations than these. Just within the entrance and stretching right across there is a kind of lintel stone at a considerable height, perhaps forty feet:- between which and the roof of the cave there is an opening six or eight feet. This is called "Dwynwen's bow of Destiny" and hither come anxious lovers eager to try their chances of matrimony, or in other words destiny, by throwing a stone through this opening. Every failure means an additional year of probation in the state of single blessedness. Some say the stone should be thrown with the left hand - which of course increases the difficulty of gaining favourable augury very considerably. But why should it be called Dwynwen's Bow? The saintly legends of the ancient British Church are not remembered in these days, nor are the innovations of its saints a part of the national system of religion, even though the customs founded on one and the other remains as part of our folk lore. Therefore it might be well to see who Dwynwen really was. As she is essentially a British saint. it necessarily follows that she flourished in the fifth century. She was of royal descent, being one of the very numerous family of Brychan Brycheiniog. The church of Llandwynwen, in Anglesea was founded by her and appears to be the only church which bears her name. They commemorate her there on 25th January and her functions were rather important - she is the St Valentine of the British Church! And to her shrine, sighing, constant and disconsolate, lovers much resorted, bringing with them offerings to induce St Dwynwen to bestow upon them her good office and soften the hearts of the objects of their affections. The older Welsh bards have celebrated her good offices and called her the goddess or saint of love and affection, as the poets designates Venus. How many sighs must there not have ascended up to Dwynwen in the dripping cave of Tresilian from many, many generations of lovers. But was the dedication to St Dwynwen the first use of the kind to which the Bow was dedicated? May not the druids previously have had a hand in the matter? Such saintly appropriators are by no means unknown and the throwing through the 'Bow' of destiny may perhaps be a survival of a custom which existed long before Caesar put his foot upon the shores of Britain. From the cave being under so much happy and protection as that of St Dwynwen, it is possible that it came to be used in former ages as a favourite spot for marriages to be celebrated in. The Romish Church, although she declares marriage to be a sacrament, has not always insisted upon her members to have their marriages celebrated at her altars. The church porch was thought in feudal times to be quite good enough for the marriage of a tenant of the manor to be solemnised. The cave at Tresilian, has, it is to be presumed, as much sanctity in it as a church porch. And hence it may not be, though improbable, that custom has sanctioned the celebration of marriages at 'St Reynolds Church'. Tradition speaks of their being common during the last century (18th) and in particular it mentions that one of the Picton family then located at St Brides, came here with bride and bridal party to have the marriage ceremony performed. The cave is filled at very high water and it would be fatal catastrophe to ordinary people to be caught therein by the tide. It is on record that Dwynwen from her 'Bow' once took an unfortunate captive under her protection and rescued him. He was a young lad and Dwynwen in some mysterious manner known only to a saint helped him up into her 'Bow', where he remained until the deep and surging waters had subsided. Doubtless the tender hearted saintess had a special favour to bestow upon some maiden placed under her protection in thus rescuing the unfortunate and yet fortunate youth. Mr Sidney Brereton who wrote in 1736 mentions this incident. The dedication to St Reynolds must be quite a fanciful one, the saint himself being a mythical personage. Reynold is Reynard, the fox. It is supposed that foxes came down to the shore to seek refuge and found they were certain of their security in these numerous caves. This being the largest, is dedicated to Reynard. It need to be said that Reynard could find his way of escape from these must be affected by the tide by fortuitous passages in the strata. In A.D.1411 a large ship came on shore under Tresilian wood. No one understood the language of the crew. The Lord of the Manor took the ship. One of these foreign sailors, it was who taught the Welsh to knit stockings. A.D.1407 an immense fish was cast on the shore between St Donats and Llantwit. It died, became putrid and caused diseases. Quantities of wood and straw were collected and it was set on fire which spread the putrid air yet more and the disease with it. Many men and beasts died. Cattle mostly suffered. Sir Edward Stradling gave a great number of cows to the poor of the district which he had brought over from his estate in Somersetshire. The fish was 22 yards long and 3 or 4 yards high. [Iolo Mss.] Stradling's Pool. A pathway through the park leads down to the shore, to get to which you have to scramble over the sea wall. Observe the stones in the wall, some of them are said to be of two tons weight. With the scarcity of appliances they had for moving such heavy masses in those days of Elizabeth, no wonder it was regarded as 'Herculean'. Once over the wall and across the rough beach which lies at its base, and you come (if the tide is out) to a tolerably open space, formed by the higher and irregular formation of rock which waves of centuries have not sensibly demolished or altered in form. Into this lower space the tide comes in easily and forms a tolerably good bathing place which is known as Stradling's pool. Even the village of St Donats under the Drake regime went down in tone and wore a sadly dilapidated appearance. Farms and cottages were cheaply rented perhaps but they had not a flourishing look. Yet the place was in favour with many as a summer resort, partly for its picturesqueness and retirement, and also for the cheapness of apartments, and farm houses productions. In the summer of 1841, a Cowbridge gentleman who had the pen of a ready writer and a taste of satire amused himself by composing the following skit, which (unwittingly) was allowed a place in the columns of the Merthyr Guardian. Those who recollect the events of the time, as they read the names of the people supposed to be assembled at St Donats, will only see the amount of satire contained in the communication:- "St Donats. This watering place immortalised by Ap Iolo's poetic pen, may well be classed among the most delightful spots in Britain. The mouldering ruins of the feudal tower in the spacious park with the modest little church and scattered hamlet, seem to rival in beauty the baronial castle with its embattled walls pierced with many an eyelet, its large old gateway and beautiful hanging gardens, leading to the rude and rocky shore. The balmy softness of the air renders St Donats the Montpellier of Wales. Among the latest arrivals there we may name the Revd John Richards and Lady, Revd John Williams, Revd F. Taynton, Revd Thomas Morris of Cowbridge, Revd O. Jenkins, Revd Charles Williams of Oxford, Revd J. Powell and Lady, Misses M. Edmunds, J. Godfrey, M.Morgan, M.Ballard, Messrs D. Prichard, T. Ballard, Verity, Capt. Gibbes, etc." [Guardian August 21 1841] Hardly any one of these people were there, but the combination of names was a curious one, and the 'hitting', in some cases cruel. Not one of the parties thus held up to the public gaze, (and ridiculed) took the trouble to notice the reflection passed upon them except the Revd Thomas Morris. He was I believe a Baptist preacher at Cowbridge and in the next week's paper, thus directed even more attention to the paragraph than those not able to interpret it aright had bestowed on it, or than many whose names were included in it cared for:- "A paragraph abounding in Johnsonian sesquipedalian was inserted in your last issue. As my name is mentioned in the said paragraph in an unlicensed manner, I beg you will insert this my contradiction, that I was for the benefit of the waters at St Donats. My health, thanks to the Lord, is good and when it requires renovation, I do apply, in preference to any quack stuff, to the waters which circumstance might have induced the mercurial scribbler 'to put me down in the bill'. I beg you to insert this and venture to hope for the future you will not be hocussed by anyone, but that you will henceforth purge your valuable paper of any such injections - lest it become a drug" [Cowbridge August 24th 1841 - Thomas Morris] From its retired situation away from any thoroughfare, and seeing few fresh faces in the course of the year, except the limited number of people who came there for bathing, the inhabitants left very much to themselves. were perhaps the most superstitiously inclined of any in that part of 'Bro Morganwy'. Some events in the village in the year 1839-41 which were ascribed to supernatural agencies, became much talked of, and the benighted state of the people was the subject of some comment in the press. Similar influences in earlier times were believed to have been exercised in many of our villages; in fact the phenomenon which it was said had happened were quite according to received ideas if the mode in which troubled spirits should act. The only thing unusual about the manifestations in St Donats cottage was that they got talked about in centres where scepticism in such things had begun to assume itself. A friend from the neighbourhood has furnished us the following outline of these supernatural occurrences:- "In the first quarter of the present century (19th) there lived at St Donats a family named H_____. One of them whose name was John, lies in the churchyard in a double sense, with 110 years on his head stone. He bore the name of not having a strict regard for the truth and always affected a good deal of intimacy with ghosts, and with the devil. The latter he pretended he could 'raise' at any time. His niece, Nancy, was also much troubled by spirits of all sorts and the following incident in her life was often repeated by one who was present on the occasion. Nancy declared that a spirit had appeared to her in bed one night, and told her she would never have peace until she found out where some old metal was concealed in the house. She was ordered to seek for it and when found to place it in the hearth and he would come and take it away. She sought in a chimney and found it - a lot of old iron which she disposed of as instructed, and invited several of her neighbours to be present. Amongst them our friend who narrated the circumstances. There were eight persons present, four on each side of the fire. Nancy being seated in the middle and the old iron in front of her on the hearth. The night was dark and wet, suddenly she screamed, threw up her arms, stooped down and grasped the metal and fled out into the darkness, several of those present declaring she did nod not touch the ground, but glided out. No one had presence of mind to stop her or to follow her. In twenty minutes, she returned, wet to the skin and declared that the spirit had carried her to Ogmore, into which the metal was dropped and herself ducked. She brought back with her a handful of weeds, such as were not known to grow anywhere but at the mouth of the Ogmore". Whether this happened before or after the instance given in Mr Redwood's book, "The Vale of Glamorgan", or whether it is another version of the same event we cannot say, but the subject may be continued by extracting what he has to say about St Donats. The character from whose mouth he makes the narrative to proceed, introduces the subject by saying, "that the most remarkable case of the unrest spirits is where hoarders of money, or even those who have hidden any metal, were it only a piece of old iron, die while it is secreted. Never, it is said here, do these spirits rest until the hidden treasure be taken by a living hand and thrown down the stream or into deep ponds". Instances there are given of persons who had been troubled by spirits until they had consented to take the precious burden to the Lithian stream. One unlucky woman, for it is an all but invariable custom of spirits to select one of the gentler sex for a mission of this kind, lacked the presence of mind to fulfil strictly the instructions under which the task was to be carried out, and having thrown the metal up the stream, received a tremendous ducking in the river for her forgetfulness. "But", says the character whom Mr Redwood introduces to us, "the most remarkable instance of all is that of a woman at St Donats. She lived in a small cottage where she still continues (1840) on the side of the coom (cwm) with an old curmudgeon of a money hoarder and after his death, complained that the spirit would not allow her to rest. Her appearance indeed showed that there was something the matter, for although she had always been grisly enough, yet now she became so gaunt and old as not only to be a fright to the children, but to make even grown up people feel queer when they met her. This was at the time the folks hereabouts began to be Methodistical. So they proposed as the best thing for the haunted woman's relief, to have a prayer meeting at her house, and accordingly several serious persons met there to pray and sing. They found the woman gruff and strange to their devotions. Presently however they filled the cottage and sang and prayed at a great rate. In the midst of it, the woman cried out "there he is! there he is!". The people stared but could not see the spirit. They then desired her to ask in the Holy Name what he wanted. She did so, but they could hear no answer. The woman however now again asked, "Where is it?" and then went to the fire place and stretching her arms up the chimney, brought down what seemed to be a bag of money from a secret nook there. She turned round and crying out "Let me go! let me go!" slipped through them out of the house in a twinkling. There were some young men standing at the door who followed her at full speed directly. If was a fine moonlight night. They saw her mount before them the stile into the road without touching it, and whisk off out of sight. No trace of her was seen and the young men after starring at each other returned to the house and now joined the others with others with much unction at their devotions. By and bye, the woman also returned, somewhat tired and spattered with wet and sand, like one off a swift journey, and said that the old money hoarders spirit after having told her to take the bag of money from the nook where it been hidden in the chimney, carried her in a trice to the Ogmore river and held her in mid-air over it while she flung the bag down the stream. As soon as he had done so, he smiled, and took off his hat, with a bow, and then offered her his arm and escorted her home, with civility quite remarkable in the ghost of the morose old curmudgeon. This is vouched for by many respectable and serious people. Fifty years before the date of which we have been writing, stories of this kind would have been received as far as rumours could carry them with unquestioning credulity. The sceptical few could not be heard among the much believing many. But by the year 1841, the number of sceptics had been increased by the news of these supernatural visitations been carried to circles where they had not perhaps hitherto penetrated, and curiosity in a spirit of enquiry prompted some of those who heard the tale to pay a visit to the village of St Donats. In the Old Guardian of February 1841 appeared the following letter headed "Superstition in Glamorganshire":- "My brother and myself have for some time past been exploring the beauties of South Wales and at the same time making notes of any curious legends or stories we chanced to meet with. Leaving Swansea, we arrived at the bleak and barren coast of Dunraven in the immediate neighbourhood of which is the wretched village of Southerndown, a place which we then thought the ultima thule of South Wales. Little did we imagine that, in the fertile vale of Glamorgan, a place far more miserable with a population sunk in the depths of ignorance and superstition , could exist. One night sufficient of Southerndown. In the morning we took to the coast and after passing two beautiful specimens of architecture, the Nash lighthouses, we soon beheld several ruins, which in approaching we found were called St Donats. At first sight we thought no one lived in the shattered walls and crumbling remains of what had once been houses, but which now only serve to show that a village formerly stood on the soil now encumbered by ruins. We soon found out our conjecture was wrong and that a truly miserable race occupied one of these shattered fabrics. In one of these hovels, alike penetrable by the searching blast and the pelting storm, dwells and aged widow who dreading the mercies of the poor law union, endeavouring to obtain at the age of 80 a scanty subsistence by her own labour. This poor creature is the heroine (to use the language of romance) of my tale. Many years ago in the younger days of her husband, who was famed for his daring acts in plundering wrecks, and more than once had the reputation of robbing corpses of the shipwrecked, when cast on this rocky shore, many were the tales of horror related by the older inhabitants, who though willing to accuse, were doubtless sharers in the spoil. About ten years ago he died, since which period the poor widow declares she has not known what it is to have a night's rest, as either the spirit of her husband, or the evil one himself ( the likeness being remarkable ) is constantly present, assuming various forms but most frequently that of a drake (I mean a Mallard and not her landlord, Drake) the fear of which could be easily accounted for, who pursues, flies at, and attacks her the whole night. The neighbours have been called in, and affirm that they distinctly heard, though they did not see the spirit which the poor creature imagined she saw the whole time. To appease the demon, all the dissenting preachers in the neighbourhood (there is no clergyman living there) congregated in prayer, tobacco was burned, and a horseshoe, now visible, nailed to the door post, but all in vain. All this happened long before we arrived at the village, and on the first hearing of the story we both thought that the poor creature must be insane; but in conversing with her (in Welsh) we found her not only rational but intelligent and able to give a good account of the ancient grandeur of the place. We might not perhaps have been surprised at the poor woman's belief in its been her husband's spirit as her great age and her recollections of his deeds of old might cause her to imagine so, but to find not only the whole village but also their dissenting teachers implicitly believing that the poor man's spirit actually walked the earth, staggered us not a little, and led us to make some inquiries, why this village more than others we had met with, should be as deeply plunged in ignorance, want and superstition. Having spent much time in the enquiry, we found enough to convince us we had fathomed the mystery. We found that there was no resident clergyman in the parish; that the owner of the entire village is an absentee, spending the whole of his money drawn from the estate in another country; that there was not a single genteel family in the place, no school, none of the inhabitants understood English and consequently were shut out from the advantages of converse with their superiors; and that no charity of any kind was distributed there throughout the year. The above and many more answers left little doubt in our minds that they fully elucidated the cause of the existence in the belief in supernatural beings in the nineteenth century. On our return to Bristol, I paused some time before I thus troubled you, but thinking that the narration of the above facts may tend perhaps to ameliorate the condition of the poor inhabitants, I have been induced to address you; and here in behalf of my brother and myself beg to return our thanks for the kindness shown us by the old lady that resides in the large ruin called, I believe, the Castle. A Pedestrian Tourist. In the following week's "Guardian", March 13th, 1841, is a reply to the above, questioning some of the statements made:- "The old woman had had 3/- a week from the parish since her husband died and now gets 3/6, and besides has three gardens. It is true the old woman is a little superstitious, but is the only one in the village infected with it. At first some of the neighbours were called in but heard no noise and invariably left fully convinced it was all a mental delusion. Tobacco was burned and a horseshoe placed on the doorpost, but not for the purpose mentioned by your correspondent. The old woman smokes tobacco and the old man before he died put up the horseshoe to keep the door together----- defies the correspondent to prove that the deceased had been guilty of robbing a corpse and he himself died a member of a Christian church and is (he hopes) now in glory. Answers the charges Seriatim, and as to that of there not been a genteel family in the place believes it is generally admitted that the family of a venerable and much respected clergyman now deceased, comes under the designation of 'genteel', ------and this St Donats can produce. L.H. junr. Several other letters followed but did not add much freshness to the discussion. One of the correspondents hinted that the "Bristol Gentleman" would probably be found residing this side of the channel, and much nearer the scene they had helped to make notorious. The letter was suspected of being written by Mr Charles Redwood and betrays in itself a closer acquaintance with St Donats than would likely be gained by chance visitors, who might stay there only for a day or two. The friend who sent us the story of the secreted iron being recovered and taken away by the old woman under the influence of the ghost, has also contributed the following:- "It was said of the St Donats peasantry that they were all closely related to each other; that they always married each other and begat each other like Jews. Whether this continual intermarrying had anything to do with the fact I am about to mention I cannot say, but a fact it is, strange as it may appear in a physical and ethnological sense. There was a family at St Donats named R______, all the males of which had club feet. They were not born so but became so afterwards as they grew up. I knew a lot of them intimately. The strange thing about it was this - the females never had it, but their male offspring always had; while the offspring of the males were quite free from it. The females carried it with them where ever they went. One of them was married in Bristol and another in Llanbythery and their sons in each instance were clubfooted! Is it not a strange fact? They were a remarkably gentle race of persons. I have never heard nor read of such a peculiarity in any other family. Smuggling. A trade in contraband goods was carried on in a small way at this seaside village. One writer on the subject gives us a hint which is suggestive when he says "that the troubled woman dealt in kinds of spirits". In 1840-45, there stood on the high ground at the mouth of the cwm, a boathouse and by it a strong crank and windlass for hauling the boat up from the beach. We were told that the principle use to which this boat was put, was to go out at night and get a few kegs of spirits from a passing vessel. Many tales may be gleaned of the doings of these and earlier times. Wrecking. Lord and vassal in former days were equally implicated in wrecking. Even since the days when newspapers had become a power in the country, the 'vassalage' of the neighbourhood retained the habit of plundering vessels wrecked on the coast. A pedestrian tourist quite correctly reports the tales that were told of the deceased old veteran of St Donats, whose widow he interviewed. He is also correct when he says that those who blamed the man were ready to share in the plunder. The Wick people did not neglect their own interests on occasions of this kind, and it was a not uncommon occurrence in public house quarrels for tenants to be hurled at the heads of various persons that had had a hand in making off with plunder from such and such a wreck. More than one little fortune, it used to be said, had been laid on the foundation of a series of good wrecks. With regards to the repudiated charge of robbing corpses, it was commonly said that one man who found the corpse of a lady who had been wrecked in the FrolicR in the early morning after that awful March night, cut her fingers off with his knife as the easiest way to get the valuable rings looped upon them. Manors belonging once to Sir John Stradling. 1610 St Donats was given in the division to Sir William le Esterling Knt. the Lord is the patron of the church there. Monknash (Nash Major) was the Greenfields (Grenville's) and given by them to the Abbey of Neath and after the suppression purchased from Sir Richard Cromwell Knt. by Sir Thomas Stradling of St Donats Knt. Lamphe came to the Stradlings by the marriage of Sir Edward Stradling Knt. with the heiress of the Berkrolles. Lamphe is held by a knight service under the Duchy of Lancaster; and Merthyr Mawr by a knight service under Llanblethian. He had also a fourth part of Penllyne under Cardiff Castle. Merthyr Mawr was once the land of the Sewards and came to the Berkrolles by marrying an heiress of Seward; and from the Berkrolles to Stradling by the above marriage. Thomas (?) Lord Bishop of llandaff is patron of the church there. Llanmaes, St Fagans situated on both sides of the Ely, being ancient lands belonging to the Stradlings. Sully, given on the division to Sir Reynold Sully Knt. whose great grand daughter being an heiress married Sir Syson de Avan, and conveyed the said Lordship to that name (see De Sully). Again a daughter and heiress to Sir Thomas de Avan, Lord of Sully married one Blunt, an English knight, who exchanged her lands in Wales with the then Lord of Glamorgan for lands in England. It fell by escheat to the crown and was purchased from queen Mary by Sir Thomas Stradling Knt, (holder) de Rege. East Orchard was given in the division to Sir Roger Berkrolles Knt, where stood the chief dwelling house (see de Berkrolles). It is situated upon the river Thawe and came to the Stradlings by the aforesaid marriage. It is holden under Cardiff Castle. R - This unfortuanate steamer struck on the Nash Sands on the night of the 16th March 1831 on her voyage from Milford to Britol and it is thought must have instantly gone to pieces. Between 70 and 80 persons were on board, all of whom perished, at dead of night amidst storm and wind and maddening sea. It was said that on that dreadful night a poor shepherd who was attending to his ewes at a farm near the coast heard a shriek so piercing that it rose high above the howling storm and was thought to proceed from the porr passengers at the moment the vessel went to pieces. The pathetic lines on the loss of the Frolic appear at the end of the vol. Castleton and West Orchard are both in the parish of St Athan and holden by Knight service under the castle of Cardiff. The lord is the patron of the church there. Gileston is holden by Mr Giles from Sir John Stradling Knt, by lease for 1000 years at £5 per annum. Knight service under Castleton. The lessee is patron of the church there during the term. The above account of the manors is taken from a list of Glamorganshire pedigrees, the entries of which ranged from 1600 or thereabouts to 1771. The last writer being a freeman of Panttlywyd The manuscripts are known as the book of Pantllywyd and once in the possession of Sir Isaac Heard. Mention made of the Stradling Family in the State Papers. pp246-262. Not copied. Get from originals. Public Offices held by the Stradling Family and their successors at St Donats. High Sheriffs Year Under Sheriffs Sir Thomas Stradling, Knt. 1584 Edward Stradling, his brother Sir Edward Stradling, Knt. 1574 Leyshon Lewis Sir Edward Stradling, Knt. 1583 Lambrook Stradling of Cardiff (second term) Sir Edward Stradling, Knt. 1596 John Stradling, gent of Cardiff (third term) John Stradling 1608 William Stradling Sir John Stradling,Knt & Bart 1620 George Williams Edward Stradling Esq of Roath 1652 Lewis Williams Sir Edward Stradling, Bart of 1710 Robert Powell of Wilton St Donats Sir John de la Fountain Tyrwhit 1760 Office done by his deputy, of St Donats William Rees of St Mary Hill, his Steward. Charles Bowen Esq of Merthyr 1781 Thomas Thomas of Cardiff Mawr Mr Drake Tyrwhit Esq of St 1786 Watkin Morgan of Llandough. Donats Members of Parliament. for the County: Sir John Stradling, Knt.& Bart 1626 - 1628 Sir Edward Stradling, Knt.& Bart 1640 Bussy Mansel of Margam and St 1741 - 1744 Donats Hon. George Venables Vernon 1768 - 1770 for the Boroughs: Sir Edward Stradling Bart of St 1695 - 1700 Donats the same 1710 - 1714 the same 1714 - 1722 Edward Stradling Esq, eldest son 1722 - 1726 of above, his father having relinquished the seat in his favour. Bussy Mansel of Briton Ferry 1727 - 1734 The Arms of the Stradlings: Paly of six argent and azure on a bend gules, 3 cinque foils, or. Crest (34 Henry VIII) A stag rising, the dexter foreleg extended. The usual crest is a stag lodged argent, wreathed about the neck and attired or. Short Chronology of Events in the History of St Donats. 1091 - The Lordship acquired by De Hawey, a Somersetshire Knight who had followed Fitzhammon into Glamorgan and had assisted at the conquest. 1141 - Nicholas Breakspear - Pope Adrian IV confirmed the right of the Normans in the conquest of Glamorgan. This is said to have been done to requite the kindness which the Pope had received when as a poor priest he had wandered into Wales and had been hospitably entertained at St Donats for some months. 1250 - or about this time, a great earthquake occurred in Glamorganshire and Somersetshire which caused great damage. Large portions of the cliffs on the coast at St Donats fell and carried away acres of land. The castle also was injured and was repaired at great expense. There is no nearer date to this occurrence than that it happened in the time of the immediate predecessors of Sir Peter Stradling. That person is the fictitious John Stradling. (Transcriber - this is not true. John was the father of Peter but never owned St Donats. He was re- married to an heiress in Warwickshire, dying before her and without further issue. It is assumed his first wife died in Switzerland before he and his son Peter accompanied Edward I back from his crusade in 1274.) 1401 - Insects did immense injury to vegetation in Glamorganshire. Lime was scattered in the fields to destroy them. The ground bore astonishing crops after this top dressing and the practice was continued, and liming became established in Glamorgan from this time. 1407 - A fish 22 yards long and 3-4 yards high was cast on shore between St Donats and Llantwit. It came putrid and caused a pestilence upon which a fire was lighted around it and the fumes of this caused the pestilence to spread for a time yet more. 1411 - A large foreign ship wrecked under Tresilian Wood. The lord of the manor took the ship. One of the sailors saved from this ship taught the Welsh to knit stockings. 1419 - This summer there were 3 days of such intense heat that many men and beasts perished and birds died on the wing. 1455 - (about) Sometime during the reign of Henry VI the notorious pirate Colyn Dolphin caught Sir Harry Stradling and put him to ransom. Later, the pirate and his crew were wrecked at or near St Donats and the whole gang were hanged, for which act the king called Sir harry to account. 1477 - Sir Harry Stradling died at Famagusta in the island of Cyprus on his return from the a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This event took place on the XVI year of Edward IV. 1480 - Thomas Stradling Esq, Sir Harry's eldest son died at Cardiff and was buried in the Church of the Preaching Friars there. 1513 - February 20th, Elizabeth, wife of Edward Stradling died in childbed at Merthyr Mawr. 1535 - May 8th, Sir Edward husband of the above died. 1537 - June 4th, the bones of Thomas Stradling removed from the Church of the Preaching Friars at Cardiff and brought to St Donats where they were buried in the chancel. 1559 - March 20th, an ash tree blown down in St Donats park in which appeared a cross perfectly formed in the grain of the wood. Sir Thomas Stradling like a good catholic had a picture of this cross engraved, printed and distributed, in order that the world might see the miracle. 1561 - Sir Thomas Stradling indicted and convicted at the commission of Oyer held at Brentwood in Essex for distributing this precious picture. He was committed to the tower, during his Majesty's pleasure. 1563 - October 14th, a petition from Sir Thomas Stradling, a prisoner at the tower, praying for release. (N.B. The prayer of the petition seems to have been granted for Sir Thomas was released and in some measure restored to Royal Favour.) 1573 - The chapel of St Mary attached to St Donats Church completed this year; the bones of the several members of the Stradling family lying at St Donats were translated into it. 1584 - September 23rd, Barbara Gamage married at St Donats Castle to Robert Sydney, fifteen days after her father's death. 1609 - May 15th, Sir Edward Stradling died aged 80. He was the knight to whom the letters known as the "Stradling Correspondence" were addressed. 1611 - May 22nd, Sir John Stradling Knt, created a Baronet. Of this newly ordained title, Sir John was the fifth to be honoured. James I as is well known made this title an act of compulsory purchase by rich commoners. How much this baronetcy cost we cannot say. 1637 - September 11th, Sir John Stradling died. 1642 - October 23rd, Battle of Edgehill, at which the Stradlings and all the retainers they could muster were engaged. Sir Edward was taken prisoner and died in captivity, being buried at Oxford. 1644/45 - His eldest son preceded him. 1645-46 - Archbishop Ussher was sheltered by Elizabeth Stradling at St Donats Castle. 1682 - February 15th, Hungerford Stradling, 3rd son of Sir Edward Stradling died at Cowbridge School. 1685 - September 5th, Sir Edward Stradling, father of above died. 1735 - April 5th, Sir Edward Stradling, son of the last named died. 1738 - February, Lady Elizabeth widow of the last named died. Their eldest son Edward died 3rd October 1726. 1738 - September 27th, Sir Thomas Stradling, last of the line at St Donats died at Montpellier in France. 1739 - March 19th, Sir Thomas buried at St Donats. Appendix. Poetry relating to St Donats and the Stradlings. Song in praise of Glamorganshire By Sir John Stradling Along the coast of Severn Sea, This countrie justlie may be In Wales there is a place, named Inhabited by Welshmen bold The arcadie of Wales; Of Brittaines ancient race. So faire and fruitful are the plaines Glamorgan is the countie Soe riche the grassie vales. called, AS lande bothe goode and faire; Faire groves and lawnes adorne And plentie tarrieth in this most parte lande, Of this delightsumme place; And fills it everywhere. And in the woodes and hedgies sing It mostly spreadeth in the The tuneful winged race. south, A faire and pleasant plaine; And thus the fieldes whene And in the northern partes are leafie springe hills, Leades Flora blithe along; A long mountainous chaine. Sweete flowers of a thousande hues And full of grasse and richest Are strewed the grasse among. haie, And everie sorte of corne; Cowslippes thicke scattered And woodes abundant everie over the plaine where Among the growinge haie; The countie doeth adorne. Make all the countrie faire to see And in them store of Ashe and In goldin mantle gaie. Beeche And Okes of wonderouse size Around the feet of everie bush, And elmen rowes in hedges faire The prettie Primrose growes; That straite and loftie raise. And everiewhere in everie hedge, The fieldes are faire and The sweete smilled vilet fenced in blowes. with closures of white Thoene; And 'tis a common thing to see And everie other lovelie These hedges neatlie shorne. flower, That is beauteous to the eye; The livelie beastes that graize The joyfullspringe and summer along gladde, The green and gratious grounde; Plants heere abindantlie. Oxen and sheepe and horses too No better can be founde. High mountaines kepe the stormie northe, For everie thing that Brittaine From raging throw the lande, 'fordes, And make the frostie gale Is here in plentie grete; retreate, Of everie thinge that man can And bidde the whirlwinds wishe stande. To wear and drinke and ete. Fine rivers here abundante flowe, This lande the garden of all Faire brookes unnumbered too; Wales Like christiall vaines in Full rightlie called is; marble greene, And Brittaine hathe not anie They seeme unto the vue. wher, A better lande than this. And fishes numberless doe swimme Within the waters faire; And sweete and lightsome is the The gorgeous Saulmone and the skie, Troute, The air is cleere and pure; Unnumbered everie where. And seldome dothe a fogge or miste, And in the se along the coast, The shining sunne obscure. Ore fishes eare abounde; And in the aire flies everie The air for helth is farre birde, renounde, That is in Brittaine founde. And much it doethe availe; To sende a sicklie personne The white lined houses faire to heere, see, To ridd him of his aile. Are multuous everie where; And manie are the villidges, And off from Kentish moorie And verie nete and faire. landes, And oft from Londone towne; And castles stronge grete We see the sicke full wiselie numbers too, sent, And houses fine and grande; to faire Glamorgan downe. Are everie where within this shire, Where soone the goodnesse of Adorning all the lande. the aire, Restores him quite to helthe; Of statelie townes we manie And uwithe and long finde, contributeth too, Wher plentie alwaiss dwelles; To winne this greatest welthe. And certainlie this happie shire, And certainlie the cry of joie, Must other shires excelles. Doeth allwaies helthe befrende; And wher goode aire and plentie With frute the countie dothe dwelles, abounde, Mirthe allwaies will attende. That growe in orchardes faire; The aple of a thousand sortes, And in Glamorgan plentie The plum and eve the peare. dwelles, And keepeth crowded cowrte; The vineful grape heere planted And to her gates the wantsome is, may; In handsome gardin rowes; From everie where resorte. The cherrie and the damsins too, The whiten bredd and barlie In everie orcharde growes. ale, Here is in wondrous store; The Mellacotten and the figge, And fatted fleshe of sheepe and Likewise the Almonde plumme; kines, The walnutte too, and Golden No laude produceth more. Juinms, That does from Turkie come. And in Glamorgan hillie partes, Cole greatlie doeth abounde; And other sweete and daintie For goodnesse and for plentie frutes, too, That scarce elsewhere are Its equal never was founde. founde; In orchardes and in gardins With woode and iron, ledde and growe, salt, Throw faire Glamorgane's And lime abundantlie; grounde. And everie thinge that mankinde w queen, This laude doeth well supplie. And eve her subjects all; And graunte them helthe and The people heere are verie happinesse, kinde, And mercie at their call. And cortuous in excesse; And God Almightie doethe this tribe, With all his goode things blesse. He maketh fullnesse heere keepe home, And open all her stores; And maketh still contentment sitt, Bye all the village doores. The are to charitie much inclined, And verie merrie race; And all possesse a lovinge hearte, And eache a cheerfulle face. And highlie honoured are they heere, For stedfast loyaltie; And ssoner than they false will live, With truth they brave will die. And when the Walian armies goe, With English kinges to fite; Glamorgan hath the foremost place, And ledeth front and rite. And this was granted bye owre kinges, For all their trustie truthe; And throw they fite of all the beste, They shewe the greatest ruthe. Now have I sung with all my skille, Of which I little boste; And of all theme that merit song, This pleased me the most. And now God blesse Glamorganshire And all oure shires likewise; And grante all men alwaies be, Religious, good and wise. Also God blesse our gracious Copied from a manuscript in the possession of Mr William Roberts of Llancarfan (1839) which was a transcript of another in the possession of Mr Basset of Bonvilstone. Appendix 2 The loss of the "Frolic" Steamer. Aothor unknown O'er the dark sky see flashing meteors streaming, Through heaven's high arch the awful thunders roll! The forked lightning on the ocean gleaming, Brings error to the brave, appals the timid soul. I watched the sun at close of day retiring, It sank all wat'ry in the womb of night; Oan when I saw its last faint beams expiring, My mind prophetic gazed, I trembled at the sight. The winds arise, the storm is fearful raging, The horrors of that night what tongue can tell? Too true is verified my sad presaying To many a fated soul a sad, a gloomy knell! On that dire night one shriek, loud, shrill and dread Above the slashing surge and tempest's roar Is heard, tis past! And all that host lie dead 'Neath lands or caverned cliff, or by the rocky shore. Waves hiss, winds howl and anarchy stern reigns. Gloom, horror, disolution rules the sea; Happy the shepherd on his fruitful plains, Heart-rending pain to him, a sailor doomed to lie. The Frolic's gone, a name almost profane; Storm is no frolic, as we all have seen; As if in mockery it proved her bane And buried her within the ocean's wave of green.