History

A comprehensive history of the Parish can be found in the book ‘BETTWS Y CRWYN’ – History, Geography Farming & People. This book was compiled by the residents of the parish, and published in 2007. There are a few copies still available from Alan Wilson.

Request for copies may be made via this website.

Introduction

Picture the profile of Shropshire as a face looking with some alarm westward; the nose Long Mountain, the mouth the Camlad valley, then Bettws y Crwyn adorns the point of the chin.The parish name is taken from the church. It is roughly circular, nearly five miles in diameter. Neighbours on the east are Llanfair Waterdine and Newcastle. The boundary to the north is the Kerry Ridgeway, in the west the Rhddwyr brook and in the south the Teme. Over these three is another country, the cause of the alarm, now pacified by Sunday opening.  The Upper Short Ditch across the Kerry Ridgeway dug before Offa’s Dyke, the Norman motte at the Moat beside the Teme and Castle Bryn Amlwyg above the Rhyddwyr brook overlooking the junction of Radnor and Montgomery were each created with considerable effort to have some deterrent effect on the Welsh. their legacy is to define the border.  They did the job politically, but failed to keep the language out; half the place names in Bettws are Welsh, not least St Mary’s.

The names are Welsh because, to all intents and purposes the area had been Welsh.

The Upper Clun valley was the ‘Welshry’ of the Lordship of Clun which never became part of England in a formal sense until the C16th. It was a semi-independent Marcher land. First given after conquest to one Picot le Say, who built Clun Castle,  then eventually owned by Fitzalans – who joined up with Howards. The present owner of the castle is the Duke of Norfolk – and one of his titles in Baron Clun! The boundary as we know it now was not formally decided until Henry VIII took control of all the marcher Lordships and put them into Counties. Even then Clun was officially in Wales (Montgomeryshire) until being removed by Act of House of Lords in the C16th and put in Shopshire.

As in most border areas the ‘English side’ is characterised my many Welsh names, while on  the ‘Welsh side’ English names are found.

The Castle

Castell Bryn  Amlwg, now known locally as Castle Cefn Vron in the parish of Bettws y Crwyn was built around the year 1200 on a west facing site on the Anchor Farm close to the border with Wales.  In the valley below are the streams that divide the counties of Shropshire, Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire. It is one of the places in Britain where, in two strides, a person can claim to have been in three counties.

The site of the castle is now grassy mounds, but it can still be seen what a huge fortress this must have been when it was built. The mounds clearly show that there was a large  keep and surrounding curtain walls.

In 1955 a seed merchant from Shrewsbury bought Anchor and Cefn Vron farms decided to take the law into his own hands and and bulldoze the remaining walls for stones so that he could construct a road to connect the two farms. A member of the public reported the destruction to the police.

The owner and his workforce were summoned to appear before the magistrates court in Clun  in 1955. The seed merchant instructed his work force to admit to all offences, and the prosecution, believing they had won the case were left with egg on their faces when the seed merchant took the stand and his solicitor told the court that as over twelve months had passed since the offences were committed his client had no case to answer. As a result the case was dismissed with costs to the defendant.

There was a small excavation in 1963, when a plan was made by the archaeologists. This is conjectural, based on cuttings and stones found.

Plan of Castle picture

The Cantlin Stone

The Cantlin Stone lies at the northmost edge of the parish at 1600 feet. The stone was used to mark the place where a pedlar died travelling along the Ridgeway in 1691. His death in January was probably from exposure. There was a dispute between Bettws and Kerry parishes over who should bury him. Bettws did but claimed the ground where he lay, presumably on the north side of the road.

The circumstances have been handed down verbally from generation to generation, and accounts and opinions differ. However, what is sure is the entry in the record on burial at Bettws Church: William Cantrell buried 17th January 1691, together with the first Ordnance Survey (1835) showing a strip of land enclosed by the border north of the Ridgeway and west of Upper Short Ditch with the Stone at its western corner. The inscription reads

WC DECSED HERE BURIED 1691 AT BETTUS

At some time it was moved to its present position, the field owned by William Botfield of The Hut.  His brother Beriah, the MP for Ludlow had a celtic cross cast in concrete and erected by the stone. Later the fence around the monument fell and the cross was broken (in 1970)

For the millenium the Parish Council obtained a grant and had a replica carved in York Stone.  The fragments of the Botfield Cross are in the Bettws churchyard lying on the unmarked slab of the pedlar’s grave.

Cantrell over time has turned into Cantlin. The name is said to be a compound of Can’t and Tell:  the indignant parish put to the expense of burying a stranger determined to give him a name?

The border now runs neatly along the north side of the Ridgeway, but it is possible that the kink at 189872 is a memory of the argument.

32 Responses to History

  1. Edna White says:

    can someone help me with Cadwalladers from the early 1700’s in Bettws y Crwyn pleas. My 3x great grandfather William was born there ca 1765 and died in 1842 in Newcastle/Tyne I would love to know his history

  2. David says:

    I have just finished reading with interest the book on Bettws. On p66 there is an account of Cow Hall and The Gwrid. It starts by mentioning Lewis Davies and stating that he was raised by his grandmother at the Gwrid. I understood from elderly relatives that he was raised by his grandmother Mary Davies but not at the Gwrid, rather at Blaenantdu (Blaennanty), Llanbadarn Fynydd. This is confirmed by the 1891 1nd 1901 census returns on which he appears at Blaenantdu as Albert L. Both his mother and father were Davies but from families without any apparent connection. His father Pryce emigrated to the USA and I understand that his mother Jane (Jinny) later married John Morgan from Fiddlers Green. It also interesting to note that Lewis lived to over 100 years of age.
    I have only fairly recently had time to start looking further into my family roots in the Bettws area and building my knowledge of the parish, having been familiar with Llanbadarn, Llanbister and the Cwm Gwyn area of Beguildy for many years. I have not yet marked the location of relevant farms etc. in Bettws on a map and noted the map references in the book for some farms, which will be useful. I would be grateful if anyone could tell me whether there is a map in existence showing the various properties, ideally in the 1700s and1800s. I would be surprised if there wasn’t, especially with the local interest in history apparent from the website!

    • quabbs says:

      Yes there are old maps. They were sent to the archives in Shrewsbury, and it is possible that there may be digitised versions at the Heritage Centre in Bishop’s Castle

  3. Phil Poole says:

    David,
    Brief history on the Hudson family if you are interested. William b1837 and Richard b1839 were the children of John and Jane (nee Gough) Hudson. John and Jane are thought to have had another 5 children. William and Rebecca lived in Bettws, Newcastle area until they were about 50 years then moved to Wentnor, before moving to Mainstone. I believe that they still have descendants farming in Mainstone. Rebecca was a member of the Gough family who lived at Argoed, with descendants still there into the 1900’s – I’m in contact with one descendant who now lives in Canada. A couple of items about William was that at various times he was a Labourer, Blacksmith and Farmer and very briefly sometime between 1871-1881 he was the publican at The Anchor Inn.

    Back to John and Jane. I have a possible ancestry for John, although there is a slight problem around 1770, that goes back to the marriage of George Hudson and Barbara Lloyd in Newtown in 1731. George and Barbara lived in Bettws as did their descendants.
    If you need detail on any of the above please let me know.

    Finally have you got a copy of the Parish book about Bettws? It is excellent and mentions the Hudson’s of Black Mountain and Cow Hall.. There may be details on the website on how to obtain a copy.

    Regards
    Phil

    • David says:

      Phil
      Thanks for all the information. I have ordered a copy of the Bettws history, having discovered it a few months ago. I was under the impression that my wife was getting it for me as a Christmas present but discovered it had been overlooked!

      From your earlier post, I had suspected that the Bettws Methodist Chapel monumental inscription transcript might be wrong so thank you for the confirming evidence.
      The Hudson family only really connects into my family tree with Ann who was a sibling so my interest is fairly restricted. Over the years, however, I have often found that family history mysteries begin to unravel when you explore branches of the family and find wills etc.

  4. Phil Poole says:

    David,
    I’m fairly sure there was a transcription error on the memorial headstone for George. Although it states he was 88 years, if you look at the death record it states he was 58. See below. and somewhere in my files I must have a copy of his death certificate, which written up as:
    1897 Richard Hudson died 25th September 1897 aged 58 years. Died at Hidmore, Llanvair Waterdine. Agricultural Labourer. Cause of death Carcinoma Stomach 1 year, ascites. Death informed by William Bowen, nephew.
    I’ve researched what happened to fis children with varying success, but have not researched Ann nor her siblings and parents, manly due to time and the name Davies. Almost as bad as my Mum’s maternal family name of Evans!!
    I’ll send you a separate note about his brother William and his wife Rebecca.
    Regards
    Phil
    First name(s)
    RICHARD
    Last name
    HUDSON
    Gender
    Male
    Birth day

    Birth month

    Birth year
    1839
    Age
    58
    Death quarter
    3
    Death year
    1897
    District
    KNIGHTON
    County
    Radnorshire
    Volume
    11B
    Page
    100

  5. quabbs says:

    Please do continue this discussion on the blog. It is absolutely fascinating – full of local names. There are undoubtedly local people to whom you are connected, and I shall try to draw some of them to the attention of your blog. It is an irony that local people may well not look at these pages, but only those telling them of forthcoming events. Cow Hall is owned by a niece of the Hudsons, who died some years ago.

  6. David says:

    Phil
    Thanks for the biography. I had found the census returns etc., My research was primarily to summarise what had happened to that generation of the Davies family.

    Another reason that I decided to have a brief look at the siblings of my 2xGt Grandfather James Davies, was a letter from an elderly relative who died some years ago, who had a detailed interest in the family history. The letter was only recently passed to me and contained a somewhat muddled section that appeared to be talking about James, her Grandfather. It reads

    ‘2 Maiden Aunts kept a shop about Newcastle (Anchor) another one was Mrs Bowen, her son, a good bit like Dad (cousins) lived at that little place across from the Farm at Burrington. His daughter Anne married and went to live at The Pooles that big place by Downton Church, lost track of her now. Another of Grandfather’s sisters was Mrs Crow. One of her daughters lived at the Culvert Cwm Gwyn when my mother was little’

    The summary I have written for Ann Davies (bp. 22.3.1807 Bettws) is as follows:

    ‘Ann married George Hudson in Bettws-y-Crwyn on 5th June 1827. He was from Bettws and Ann was at the time still living in Beguildy. As she had not reached the age of 21, it was ‘with consent of parents’, presumably Catherine, as her father had died two years previous. The witnesses were Margaret Davies and Richard Cadwallader. Margaret was her elder sister and only a month away from her own wedding. Richard Cadwallader was the parish clerk and witnessed virtually all Bettws marriages in that period but was also very likely to have been her Uncle.
    George Hudson was by occupation a Tailor and the 1841 census shows them living at Ireland Cottage, Cefncanolog, Bettws-y-Crwyn with seven children. By 1851 they had moved to Ladywell, Trebrodier, Bettws-y-Crwyn, with 6 children still with them, of which two had been born since the previous census. The youngest aged 5 had been born in Radnorshire, so they may have lived elsewhere in the mid 1840s. By 1861 they were back at Ireland Cottage with three children, including their eldest son William aged 36, also a Tailor. In 1871 they were living at the neighbouring property Lawn, together with Edward and Margaret Bowen and family. Margaret was their second to youngest child, married to Edward, an Agricultural Labourer. George’s business had expanded as aged 67 he was described as a Tailor and Grocer.
    Ann died on 26th November 1871 aged 64 and was buried at the Methodist Chapel, Bettws-y-Crwyn, with her youngest daughter Jane, who had died only a month previous. The 1881 census shows Edward and Margaret Bowen, together with their family and George Hudson aged 78, farming Cow Hall, Clewilsey, Llanfair Waterdine. George died in 1887 aged 84.’

    I noted in your biography that you say Ann was buried with her daughter Jane and son Richard. I am not sure about Richard, as his age is not consistent with that I have seen transcribed from the memorial. I would guess that he may have been a brother of George.

    I hope this is of interest. I am not used to ‘blogs’ such as this and am not sure this is really the best way of communicating this sort of family history information. I wonder if it might be better to somehow have an email contact.

  7. Phil Poole says:

    David,
    I think there is a very strong chance that the link is valid. Although there are some minor discrepancies (e.g. I think George & Ann had 9 children) I think there is enough to say we are “related”. Below are my notes from my biography on the Hudson family. I’ve more info if you are interested.

    George was the twin brother of my 3xgreat grandfather John, and died 2 years before his brother. Unlike many of his relatives George never appeared to be involved with agriculture, as on all the records where his occupation is recorded he is always stated to be a Tailor. Similar to many members of the Hudson family he lived in the Bettws-y-Crwyn area all his life.

    George married Ann Davies when he was aged 25, and they had nine children (three boys and six girls): Elizabeth (1828-?), William (1830-?), Mary (1832-?), Ann (1834-?), George (1836-?), Richard (1839-?), Ema (1840-?), Margaret (1842-?) and Jane (1845-1871). I have only been able to find baptism records for his first two children, suggesting that later children were baptised in Chapel ceremonies rather than Church of England. This assumption is given some credence by the fact that Richard and Ann were buried in at the Methodist Chapel, Bettws-y-Crwyn. It is interesting to note that many of his children had the same Christian names of those of his brother John, which has created some confusion in sorting out the correct records. This was particularly true for Richard, who was born in 1839, the same year as his namesake cousin!

    George and Ann lived in and around the Bettws-y-Crwyn area all of their married life. Ann died in 1871 aged 65 years and was buried in the Methodist Chapel graveyard at Bettws-y- Crwyn. She was buried in the same grave as her children Jane and Richard. Following Ann’s death George went to live with his daughter Margaret Bowen (nee Hudson). George died in 1887 aged 84 years.

  8. Anthony L says:

    I wonder if we have any ancestors left in the village? Our enquiries show a line from Mary Jones 1854 daughter of William Jones and Mary Rowe, and 1865 Alice Jones (sister of Mary) born in Bettws-y-Crwyn. They then seem to have headed off for Nottingham.

  9. Andrew Morris says:

    My Grandfather Pryce Meredith was born at Pound Gate Bettws-y-Crwyn in 1886

  10. I am tracing the history of the Cadwalladers from census from 1861 they are shown as being born in neighbouring properties as far as I aware we have only found one property although I have been told that in the area there were some cottages that are now just a pile of rubble in a field checked several maps without success I am hoping someone may be able to help me with the following.
    Area Badger Moor covers.
    anyone aware where the cottages may have stood.
    In anticipation
    Derek Cadwallader

    • quabbs says:

      When we moved to Shropshire and rebuilt the house where we now live, we had stone from Badger Moor. There is a house there now, but there may well have been others. I’ll see what I can find out

    • VALERIE AQUILINA says:

      Derek, I have just found my CADWALLADER family came from Bettwsy y crwyn. Thought they were closer to Craven Arms, haven’t a clue where Bettwsy is.
      They were a very large family & my mother was the last Cadwallader in her line.
      Regards
      Valerie

      • DEREK CADWALLADER says:

        Valerie there were many Cadwalladers in the area around the 16/1700 Would need your mothers first name approx. year of birth, have you looked at any of the sites available on line, also the bmd registrations who can be contacted on03001231837
        Best of luck
        Derek cadwallader

  11. John Gardiner says:

    Thanks Phil i’ll wait to hear from Valerie if she has no luck I will take your advice.
    Kind Regards
    John

  12. Phil Poole says:

    Hi John,

    If Valerie is unable to find anything my best advice is that you post the same message on the “message forum” Shropshire Family History website http://www.sfhs.org.uk/=

    You do not have to be a member of SFHS to use the forum.

    Best of luck
    Phil

  13. John Gardiner says:

    I am researching my family tree. My grandfather Thomas Gardiner was baptised in
    Bettws-y-Crwyn 12th Feb 1854. He died in Offas Lodge the Knighton Workhouse 1st Nov 1920 but I have no idea where he was buried. The record office have no record and tell me that it is possible his body was returned to his parish. How do I go about seeing the burial register for Bettws-y-Crwyn November 1920. Any help greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards John Gardiner

  14. Carol says:

    Hello, I too am tracing Goughs of Bettwys. It’s taken me a long while to discover that Bettwys is your village as I only had Bettwys, Shropshire to go by on the census returns! I’m looking for a John Gough who had a daughter Elizabeth in 1840, who went on to marry William Evans in the Church of St John the Evangelist in Newcastle in the parish of Clun in 1863. I confess to having virtually given up on this side of my family as the names and places have been difficult to trace! I still haven’t tracked down St John the Evangelist church. I didn’t realise that Mardu, Bettwys, Newcastle, Knighton and Presteigne are all within Clun parish so at least I’ve made some progress! I too would like a copy of the book and will make contact with the gentleman selling them.

    • Phil Poole says:

      Hello,

      Did you ever get anywhere with your research. My interest in my Gough ancestors has recently been rekindled by a distant Gough relative who lives in Alberta, Canada. Unfortunately your John & Elizabeth Gough appear to be not related to my branch (Rebecca Gough born 1839 at Argoed near Clun). I did find what appears to be your ancestors living in Llanfair Waterdine in 1841 and Newcastle in 1861, with John’s wife being Mary and lots of children.

      Hopefully that is of some help.
      Regards
      Phil

  15. Russell Robinson says:

    The History page says the book, BETTWS Y CRWYN – History, Geography Farming & People, can be requested from this website, but I can’t see how! Can someone tell me whether and how I can buy this book please?

    • quabbs says:

      Yes Russell, scroll down this page to a Quabbs reply to another query which will give you the telephone number of Alan Wilson. If that fails Sheila Davies, whose tel no is on the Parish Council Page, may also have some copies.

  16. Jan Pusey says:

    Hello,
    Can anyone tell me where a couple who were living at Nantyrhunnau farm , near The Anchor,in the late 1800’s would be likely to be buried? Would it be Bettws y Crewyn? I am researching my ancestors John and Margaret Powell.
    Any help would be great.
    Thank you Jan

    • Phil Poole says:

      Jan,
      Did you ever get a reply?Some of my ancestors lived in area of BYC, Black Mountain, etc and are buried at BYC St. Mary’s, BYC Methodist Chapel, Clun St. Georges, Clun Methodist & Newcastle-on-Clun. But I couldn’t find any John & Margaret Powell on the Shropshire Burial Index CD. Have you tried the following website to find their death certificates – may give a clue where they died, but not neccesrily wherre they are buried :

      http://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl

      My great.great grandfather Wiliam Hudson was the publican at The Anchor in the 1870’s.

      Best of luck
      Phil

  17. Mrs Bernie Hoult says:

    I am researching a family tree – can anyone tell me when the Rev Edward Ingham-Hoult was vicar of this church – sometime around the 1940’w – Bernie hoult – New Zealand

  18. Howard & Hazel Jones says:

    William Gough and his wife, Sarah Gwilt, had their children Margaret and William christened in the Bettws church in 1787 and 1791 respectively. After that, they moved to Mainstone where more children followed. Does anyone know of this family? We are descended from Margaret Gough who married Richard Marston in 1819. We live in Australia, whose foundation started with the arrival of the first convicts in Sydney in 1788, the time when the Goughs were at Bettws

    • Phil Poole says:

      Hello Howard & Hazel,

      Are you still researching the Gough family? My 2xgreat grandfather William Hudson married Rebecca Gough in 1862, with Rebecca being the daughter of William Gough and Letitia (nee Pritchard). William Hudson’s father John father married Jane Gough in 1825; with Jane being born in 1805, and I think she is the daughter of William & Sarah Gough. Could William & Sarah be the same ones as in your ancestry. The children I found are: Margaret (1787) and William (1792) born in Bettws; Richard (1793), Hannah (1798) and Elizabeth (1800) born in Mainstone, then Mary (1803) , Jane (1805) and Phoebe (1808) born in Clun. Do you have any other details on William & Sarah?
      Regards
      Phil

      • David says:

        I just read your note dated Sept 20 2015 and saw reference to your 2xgreat grandfather William Hudson. I have recently been looking at siblings of my 2xgreat grandfather James Davies and believe that his sister Ann married a George Hudson on 5th June 1827. Amongst their children was a William Hudson, who was shown on the 1861 census as a Tailor aged 30 living with his parents at Ireland Cottage Bettws. I just wondered in passing whether he might be the same William Hudson? Regards David

  19. quabbs says:

    Yes There are still copies available from Alan Wilson at 01686 670202. Price £7.50

    • johnHAYES says:

      Valerie & John Hayes ( nee Beddoes )
      my Great Granparents were from the farm called the lawn.
      We would very much like a copy of Alan Wilsons book can you put a copy back for for us we are coming to Bettws in the next three weeks to recerch more around the area .
      Many thanks for your wonderful website John &Valerie Hayes
      .

  20. Phil Poole says:

    The website mentions a book “BETTWS Y CRWYN’ – History, Geography Farming & People.”. Is it still available, and if so how much does it cost? I’ve traced my mother’s paternal family (Hudson) back to 1800 and possibly back to early 1700’s – many from Bettws-y-Crwyn and the surrounding hamlets, hence my interest in the book to help put some “flesh” on the family tree.

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