Elinor Hughes married William Williams of Pentre Mawr, Capel Garmon, my great, great grandparents. Here we read about her grandparents William and Elinor Hughes and other family members. William and Elinor lived at Bron Yr Haul, better known as Hafod in Elizabeth West's book, Hovel In The Hills. Read also about Thomas Charles o'r Bala's visit to Elinor. 



Ellen Hughes married William Williams and lived in Pentre Mawr, Capel Garmon. She is pictured below with her husband and family.  

Seated front; William and Ellen Williams and daughter Jane Middle,   behind   William;   sons Henry, John and   Morris   Standing back; Ellen, William, Margaret, Gwen (also known as Winifred), Mary, Robert, Alice, and Elizabeth. 

Their daughter Ellen Williams, baptised on the 16th November 1850, married Edward Davies pictured below. They are  my great grandparents.

They had four children, William Edward, Margaret, Ellen Maud and my grandfather, Idwal Glyn Davies.  

Full details of Eliinor and William Williams' family can be found on the WILLIAMS, PENTRE MAWR, CAPEL GARMON link.


Morris was a carpenter and draper in Capel Garmon and was born in Llanrwst in 1794. His wife Gwen was born in 1797. They were my great, great, great grandparents. He is also recorded as Maurice on certain documents.

Married By Banns

Maurice Hughes of this Parish, Bachelor and Gwen Jones of this Parish, Spinster, were married in this Chapel by Banns, with consent of their parents.

Twenty Ninth day of April in the year 1820 by    Rev. W. Annwyl Roberts, Minister, in the presence of John Hughes and William Hughes, Capel Garmon in the Parish of Llanrwst. 

The couple had three known children

John, baptised 23rd December 1821 who died on the 28th January 1822, aged 6 weeks.

Another John was baptised 1st February 1824.

John was living with his parents aged 27 in 1851 at Ty'n Y Capel.

Ten years later in 1861, he had married Ann 40, and was working as a wooler, draper, grocer and joiner and living at Shop Llan with children  Evan 9, Jane 8, Hannah 6, Ann 4, Gwen 2 and Margaret 1. Hannah Davies 17, was a house servant.

1871 saw him living at Foelas House, a grocer and draper,aged 47, wife Ann was 51, Hannah 16, Gwen 13 and Margaret 11.

In 1881 John resided at Board School, Capel Garmon, and worked as a grocer and draper. He was then a widower, living with his daughter Hannah 25, and grandson Maurice aged 3.

John 59, was a grocer and Postmaster, living at the Post Office, Capel Garmon in 1891. Daughter Hannah 36 kept house for him and grandson Morris 16 was also living there.

Daughter Margaret Hughes 30, was living her cousin Alice 30 in 1891
Alice Williams (30) and her brother Henry Williams (19), children of William and Ellen Williams had moved to 230 County Road, Walton-On-The Hill, Liverpool, after the death of William and the takeover of the farm at Pentre Mawr by Robert Williams.  Margaret father, John Hughes was the brother of Alice's mother Ellen.
Living with Alice and Henry was Alice's niece Margaret Davies (11), the daughter of Edward and Ellen Davies from Llanrwst. Margaret was listed as a Scholar and was therefore attending a school in Liverpool. Edward Davies was living in America at this time but, as far as was known, was still alive.
Also living with them was Ellen Jones, a servant from Llanrwst. Henry Williams was working as a Warehouseman. It is understood that he later succeeded in business and went to live in Southport, Lancs.
'Maggie' wasn't on the 1901 census for Alice and Henry Williams who had moved from 230 County Road, Walton, to live at 270 Anfield Road, only a few streets away from Liverpool Football Club. She would have been 21 by then and finished her education in Liverpool. 

Elinor, baptised 28th August 1825, was my great, great grandmother.

In 1841, 'Morris' was a joiner aged 45, wife Gwen 40, John 15 and Elinor 15 lived at Ty'n Y Capel.

In 1851, Maurice and Gwen still lived at Ty'n Y Capel, Capel Garmon. Their 27 year old son John lived with them. He worked as a joiner.

Gwen died in January 1856 and Morris in December 1857.

Er Cof am Gwen,
Annwyl Wraig Morris Hughes, Shop, a derbynodd y bywyd trangoedig hwn 12fed dydd o Ionawr 1856;


Morris's parents were William and Elinor Hughes.

The elderly couple lived at Bron Haul, Nebo, Garth Garmon in 1841, when William was 85 and wife Elinor was 90. This house was featured in Elizabeth West's memoire, 'Hovel In The Hills'.

Elinor was born in 1750 and died on the 28th March 1846. Widowed William aged 95, was living with Maurice and his family in 1851.

Thomas Charles o'r Bala.

The religious revival which began in the 1730's had, for the following 50 years, little impact in North Wales. By 1780, the Methodist movement had spread widely in the southern counties, but very little in North Wales. Thomas made Bala the centre for North Wales and Methodism soon swept into the heart of Snowdonia which kept groups of villages in fever heat for weeks. 

Elinor Hughes was once visited at Bron Yr Haul by Thomas Charles. The custom was to entertain visiting ministers to the best of one's ability.

When Thomas finished his call, he moved on to a neighbouring farm, where the farmer's wife commented about his visit to Elinor;

"Cawsoch ddim llawer o fwyd yn y lle 'na!". He replied, "Mi ges i llaeth a rwdin, ond 'roedd y bwyd ysbrydol yn llawer gwell na ges i yma!"

"You didn't get much food in that place!" He replied " I had milk and swedes, but the spiritual food I received there was much better than I had here!" 

Thomas Charles a Methodist cleric, was born on the  14 October. 1755, son of Rees Charles, farmer, and his wife Jael, daughter of David Bowen of Pibwr Lwyd, sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1763.  From Llanddowror village school he went (1769) to Carmarthen Academy and thence (1775) to Jesus College, Oxford (B.A. 1779). Ordained in 1778, he held various curacies in Somerset till 1783. But during a Long Vacation visit to a friend he had fallen in love with Sally Jones, daughter of a Bala shopkeeper and married her 20 August 1783. As she would not leave Bala and her business [which in fact became Charles's financial mainstay], he sought curacies in the neighbouring region - at Llangynog, Montgomeryshire., Llandegla and Bryneglwys, Denbighshire, and Llan-ym-mawddwy, Merioneth.

He had early been shocked by the prevalent ignorance of the Scriptures among his people. He trained group after group of travelling teachers, who remained for six or nine months at a time in a locality, teaching reading and the principles of religion; they were paid £10 a year out of funds collected ad hoc by the Methodist societies in North Wales. Later on, Charles decided that such schools should meet weekly, on Sundays. By his organizing ability, his diligent visiting, and his energy in providing reading matter for the schools, who placed the Welsh Sunday schools on a solid foundation.

Thomas Charles died on the 5th October 1814, and was buried in the churchyard of Llanycil, then the parish church of Bala. His widow survived him by a mere three weeks, dying on 24 Oct. They left two sons, Thomas Rice Charles and David James Charles, who practised at Bala as a physician.


by Elizabeth West.

Bron Yr Haul was the home of William and Elinor Hughes, but was called Hafod in the book.

The following extracts have been reproduced here to try and create the atmosphere of the time when William and Elinor Hughes lived there in 1841 and in previous years.

Extracts and photos reproduced here with the kind permission of Elizabeth West and the publisher, Mr John Idris Jones, of John Jones Publications Ltd., Ruthin.

Book ISBN; 1-871083-31-1 

The Good Life? She was a typist. He was a mechanic. One day Elizabeth and Alan West did what many people spend a lifetime dreaming of doing - they took to the hills. 'Hovel In The Hills' is the story of the first nine years (1965 to 1974) of their new life in a semi-derelict farmhouse overlooking Snowdonia. It is an engaging and salutary tale that speaks of the pleasure and dilemmas of opting out of the 'rat-race'. John Idris Jones. 

Elizabeth West wrote; "Between the high, wild moorland of Hiraethog and the lush green lowlands of the Conway Valley, lies a scrubby rock-strewn wilderness clothed in bracken, gorse and ancient hawthorns - this is where the Hafod stands.

"Hafod is an odd little cottage. It comprises two square stone 'boxes', one slightly smaller than, and adjoining the other. The two boxes are in alignment at the front, so the larger one sticks out three feet beyond the other at the back. The walls are about two and a half feet thick. A stone lean-to built onto the back of the larger side was the original dairy, and stone outhouses adjoin the cottage at either end.

"We learned from the deeds that the original holding was of 23 acres, so at this altitude, with its poor starved fields. it must always have been a subsistence farm. It would have been hard, frustrating work to try to gain a living out of this land.

"Hafod was probably always occupied by disgruntled tenants who were only waiting for an opportunity to get out into something better. They must have known hardship, poverty and possibly starvation.

"I wonder how many generations of despondent women have gazed from the kitchen window over the bleak moorland scene, thinking enviously of their sisters enjoying a softer climate and easier living in the valley?

"The age of Hafod is a mystery. According to local legend, the place was originally a squatter's holding. In the days before the enclosures, when common land was shared amongst the common people, a man could stake claim on a piece of land by erecting an overnight home. If smoke came out of the chimney by morning, the house and land was his.

"A slate floor found in the garden suggests a different layout of a previous house; an old doorway in ther gable end has been filled in. Sometimes, the weather conditions here depress us. Often in winter, we endure several continuous weeks of rain, when thick grey clouds hide the mountains and nothing is visible from the windows except swirling mist and wet foliage.

"When it's so dark in the cottage we need the light on all day.

"All that is forgotten during the enchanting summer months, when doors and windows are open from dawn to dusk as the scents of blossom fill the air, and the garden is delirious with birdsong.

"One January, when there was a lull in the snow that had been falling steadily for two days, I decided that I would like to walk to Llanrwst to do some minor and unimportant shopping.

"The sun was shining weakly from a pale blue sky, and the landscape was a dazzle of white, as I crunched happily along our track. But three hours later when I was on my way back from Llanrwst with a laden rucksack, conditions had changed. Snow was falling heavily as I passed through the village and things had worsened considerably as I started up our track.

"The first half mile between the walls was slow going. The road was rapidly filling in, and sometimes I had to scramble on to the wall to by-pass a drift several feet deep. When I got to the highest part of the track where the walls had fallen, I realized that I could be in real trouble.

"A full blizzard was now blowing and the fine snow was driving straight into my face. I could not see the track.

"Odd boulders and odd hawthorn came into view, but as I stumbled on, I had no definite way of telling if I was still on track or not. Nothing lay ahead but a vast white lumpy wilderness and a wall of driving snow. It would be possible to actually pass the gate of Hafod by a few yards and not see it. A few feet strayed in the 

wrong direction could take me off at an angle to perish somewhere in the uninhabited wilderness of the moor. There was absolutely no shelter here from the savage force of the snow.

"I was now on the most exposed part of the track and for a few minutes I had to stand still because there was a complete 'white-out'. Although I was wearing a close fitting hood, the snow was hurtling at my face with such stinging force that I could not look up at all. I peered ahead but could see nothing.

"I had climbed too far up the slope and was about to pass Hafod below me to the left, when I could just about make out the collection of little roofs huddling beneath a thick cover of snow. I scrambled, fell and tottered down to the cottage. Against the front door was a 3 foot drift, half of which came into the kitchen as I lurched in.

"Outside the storm could do its worst now. We had provisions in the house enough to withstand a twelve weeks' seige. I was safe.

"No one lives upon the high moor now, and a strange, wistful melancholy hangs about the abandoned homesteads. This land of Hiraethog is well named." 


The following information relates to those people recorded on the censuses who lived at Bron Haul every ten years from 1841 to 1901 inclusive.

My great, great, great, great grandparents lived at Bron Haul, Nebo, Garth Garmon in 1841, when William Hughes was 85 and his wife Elinor was 90. Elinor died on the 28th March 1846. Widowed William aged 95, was living with his son Maurice and his family at Ty'n Y Capel, Capel Garmon, in 1851.

Labourer Pedr Lloyd 36 from Merioneth lived at Bron'r Haul, as it was recorded, in 1851, with his wife Margaret 41, Alice 5 and Anne 2, all three born in Denbighshire.

Carpenter John Jones 40 of Pentrefoelas and his wife Margaret 36, children David 11 and Hannah 1, all born in Llanrwst were resident in 1861.

1871 saw labourer Griffith Williams 58 and his family occupying Bron Haul. Griffith, wife Margaret 46 and son Edward 20, who was a butcher, were born in Llanrug, Caernarfonshire, son William 14 a shepherd and daughter Mary 11 are recorded as being born in Denbighshire and son David 8, in Llanrwst.

Another change of occupancy by 1881 showed William Evans 27, a general labourer from Llanrwst, his wife Ellen 23 of Ysbytty, children David William 3, Thomas 2 and Robert 9 months living there.

An elderly family had moved there by 1891. Pierce Pritchard 65, single and living on his own means was head of household which included his brother Thomas Pierce 67, sister Jane Pierce 70, both single. Margaret Jones 16 was their general servant. All were Llanrwst born.

The last available census of 1901 shows another change. Widowed farmer John Jones 80 from Pentrefoelas was head of household which consisted of his Scottish servant Diana Jones 35, herself a widow. It is uncertain whether this is the same Jonh Jones who lived here in 1840. The occupations are different,

Returning to Elizabeth West's question;  "I wonder how many generations of despondent women have gazed from the kitchen window over the bleak moorland scene, thinking enviously of their sisters enjoying a softer climate and easier living in the valley?", the above named may well have been some of them. 


Bryn Haul
Cambridge Touring Theatre

Photos courtesy of Chris and Linda Kilfoyle

The Cambridge Touring Theatre
are working on a play on the life of Elizabeth West at 'Hafod'.
Photos supplied to them for information,
including a view from the front door.

October 2010.