Jeffrey L. Thomas
Dinah Davies was the daughter of David and Hannah Davies and was born in Aberystruth Parish, Brynmawr, Wales in 1833. Census returns from 1851 and 1861 indicate that her father was born in Llangeler in Carmarthenshire, while her mother was from the industrial town of Merthyr Tydfil in Glamorganshire. The first of David and Hannah's ten known children were, like Dinah, born in Aberystruth Parish, while their remaining children are listed as being born in Brynmawr. David Davies was an iron ore miner, and was likely among the thousands of his fellow countrymen who flocked to the Ebbw Vale in the early 19th century to take part in the region's booming industrial revolution.
The life of an early 19th-century iron worker in south Wales was a difficult one. We get some sense of what life was like for the typical worker from the essay below (author unknown) concerning the Round Towers complex built by ironmasters Joseph and Crawshay Bailey at Nantyglo.
"The major ironmasters represented a new class in Wales being English, Anglican and businessmen. Formerly the wealthy class in Wales was generally composed of absentee landlords of large estates living a long distance away from their workers and only seen during the hunting, shooting and fishing seasons. Although the ironmasters usually lived in a mansion close to the works, they were never really integrated into the life of the community and friction between master and worker was never far from the surface.
The period 1800-1900 was one of dramatic change in the whole of the South Wales coalfield area. In 1801 the population of the parish of Aberystruth, which includes Nantyglo, was just 805. By 1831 it had reached 5,992, the largest percentage rise in the whole of Britain. With such a dramatic increase in population and following new industrial developments it was inevitable that problems between ironmaster and workers, and often also problems between groups of workers, erupted into violence from time to time.
The working and living conditions of the workers were for much of the time appalling, with the level of wages rising and falling with the fluctuations in the price of iron. Row upon row of worker's houses were built as more employees were needed at the ironworks. The houses were without even the most basis sanitation. The houses were owned by the ironmaster, so if a worker was made redundant for any reason he also lost his home. Most workers therefore did not dare to rebel individually against the ironmaster.
The truck or company shop was another method of control over the workers, and an extra source of income for the ironmaster. Prices were often 20% higher than in local shops and during the frequent cash flow crisis at the works, goods from the company shop were given to the workers in lieu of wages. On payday the shopbooks and furnace books were checked and the balance, if any, was handed to the men. Debts under the system were almost unavoidable, so to maintain the family income lodgers were taken in, children were sent to work at the age of 7 or 8, or a small shop was opened in the house. In 1830, Monmouthshire magistrates were so worried that they petitioned the House of Commons demanding the abolition of company shops because the country's peace was threatened."
Because his children were born in the parish of Aberystruth, we can be fairly certain that David Davies worked at the Nantyglo ironworks, however he may have escaped some of the depredations described in the passage above because we know that by the mid to late 1830s he and his family had moved into a house on Glamorgan Street in central Brynmawr. As such, the family would have been free from the company store, and would have enjoyed greater stability their new lodgings. In fact, during this time Brynmawr grew and prospered specifically as a dormitory town for the workers at Nantyglo.
Below: a view of modern Brynmawr with the hills beyond.
Photograph copyright 2004 by Jeffrey L. Thomas.
Again, Sometime between 1835 and 1837, the Davies family moved to Glamorgan Street in Brynmawr. Our first glimpse Dinah and her family comes from the 1841 census of Brynmawr. The returns indicate that the David and his eldest son David were working as miners:
1841 Census, Glamorgan Street, Brynmawr, Llanelly, Breconshire
Name Age Occupation Born in Breconshire? David Davies 35 Miner No Hannah Davies 35 No David Davies 20 Miner No Mary Davies 15 No Eliza Davies 15 No Thomas Davies 12 No John Davies 10 No Dianah Davies 8 No Hannah Davies 6 No James Davies 4 Yes
Below: modern view of Glamorgan Street in Brynmawr.
Photograph copyright 2004 by Jeffrey L. Thomas.
In 1851 we again see the family of David and Hannah Davies living on Glamorgan Street. By this time David and Hannah's last two children (Sarah and Hoseah) had been born.
Follow this link to view the actual 1851 census.
1851 Census, Glamorgan Street, Brynmawr, Llanelly, Breconshire
Street - Place Name & Surname Relation Condition Age Sex Occupation Where Born Glamorgan Street David Davies Head M 53 M iron miner Llangeler, Carmarthenshire Hannah Davies Wife M 50 F Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire David Davies Son U 29 M iron miner Aberystruth, Monmouthshire Thomas Davies Son U 22 M iron miner Aberystruth, Monmouthshire John Davies Son U 20 M iron miner Aberystruth, Monmouthshire Dinah Davies Dau U 18 F Aberystruth, Monmouthshire Hannah Davies Dau U 16 F Aberystruth, Monmouthshire James Davies Son U 13 M haulier Llanelly, Breconshire Sarah Davies Dau U 9 F Llanelly, Breconshire Hosea Davies Son U 3 M Llanelly, Breconshire
The returns indicate that David and his oldest sons were all iron ore miners. Again, living in Brynmawr, and with most of the Davies children being born in Aberystruth parish, it is likely that the Davies family were employed by the iron works at nearby Nantyglo. Today, those works have been removed, however the iron works ruins at Clydach near Brynmawr can still be seen. Photograph copyright 2004 by Jeffrey L. Thomas.
By 1861 most of the children of David and Hannah Davies were grown and had started their own families. The census for that year indicates that David and Hannah had moved from Glamorgan Street into a house on nearby Worcester Street, as follows:
1861 Census, Worcester Street, Brynmawr, Llangattock, Breconshire
Street - Place Name & Surname Relation Condition Age Occupation Where Born Worcester Street David Davies Head M 62 Miner Llangeler, Carmarthenshire Hannah Davies Wife M 60 Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire Sarah Davies Dau U 18 Servant Brynmawr, Breconshire Hoseah Davies Son U 13 Collier Brynmawr, Breconshire Dinah Price Dau M 28 Aberystruth, Monmouthshire Thomas Price Grandson U 6 Brynmawr, Breconshire Mary Price Grandaughter U 4 Brynmawr, Breconshire David Price Granson U 9M Aberaman, Glamorganshire
Follow this link to view the actual 1861 census.
The returns show that at age 62 David Davies was still working as a miner, while son Hoseah was already working as a collier at age 13. At the time of the census, daughter Dinah Price was living with her mother and father in Brynmawr, along with her children Thomas, Mary and David. We will continue with Dinah's story shortly.
In 1865, David, Hannah, and their youngest son, Hosea, boarded the ship "City of Limerick" in Liverpool and set sail for America, landing in New York on 15 Nov 1865. They appear on page four of the City of Limerick's passenger lists, as follows:
David Davies, 61, Collier
Hannah Davies, 64?, Wife
Hosea Davies, 17, Collier
The 1870 census makes it clear that that David and Hannah were joining their daughter Elizabeth Thomas (and possibly other brothers and sisters) in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The census for that years shows us that Hannah and Hosea were living with the family of a Thomas and Anna Thomas in Scranton's 4th ward (Hyde Park), as follows:
1870 Census, 4th Ward, Scranton, Luzerne Co., Pa.
Name Age Occupation Place of Birth Thomas, Thomas 40 Laborer in Mines Wales Thomas, Anna 34 Keeping House Wales Thomas, Elizabeth 13 at home Wales Davis, Anna 71 Keeping House Wales Davis, Hosiah 23 Laborer in Mines Wales
Here we see that 71 year old Hannah is listed as "Anna," and that son Hosea was working as a laborer in the mines. Since there is no sign of David here or anywhere else in Scranton, and since the returns list Hannah as owning a modest amount of personal property, it is likely that David Davies died sometime between late 1865 and when the census was taken in 1870. In addition, given her name and age, it is possible that the Anna Thomas listed here was David and Hannah's daughter Hannah. If this is true, that means that David, Hannah, and at least three of their children (Elizabeth, Hannah and Hosea) all came to Scranton. There is no sign of either Hannah or Hosea in the 1880 census, although by this time Hannah would have been more than 80 years old. If David and Hannah Davies did die in Scranton, they were likely buried in the Washburn Street cemetery in Hyde Park, although I have yet to discover any details regarding their deaths or final resting places. The fate of Hosea Davies is less certain. Did he return to Wales? Was he killed in a mine accident in Scranton? More research is needed to answer these important questions.
In the mid-1850s Dinah Davies married Thomas Price of Brecon, and the family eventually moved to Aberdare in Glamorganshire, before settling permanently in the town of Clydach Vale in the same county. In the 1861 census we find that Thomas Price, along with his son James (born ca. 1858) were already living in Aberdare, where Thomas was working as a miner. We don't know why Dinah was in Brynmawr, while her husband was in Aberdare. Perhaps she just happened to be visiting her parents on the date that the census was taken, or perhaps she had temporarily returned home to help her aging parents. Thomas and Dinah Price were the parents of ten known children, as follows:
Thomas Price, born ca. 1855, appears only in the 1861 census and probably died as a child.
Mary Price, born ca. 1857, appears in the 1861 and 1871 census with her mother and father. She may be the Mary Rees, (wife of David Rees), who appears with James Price (below) in the 1881 census of Clydach. Although all the details fit, I have yet to prove definitively that this Mary Rees and Mary Price are the same individuals.
James Price, born ca. 1858, appears in the 1861 census of Aberdre living with his father, and the 1871 census living with his mother and father and brothers and sisters in Clydach Vale, Glamorganshire. He married Rachel Maria Johns in 1878, and appears with her and their baby daughter Rachel in the 1881 census on Llanfoist Street, Clydach. James was a coal miner and, he and his family are also found in Clydach in 1891 and 1901.
David John Price, born ca. 1860, married Rachel John and raised a family in Clydach, Glamorgan. He is last identified in the 1901 census.
Hannah Price, born ca. 1862, married Henry Pierce (Pearce) and raised a family in Clydach. She is present in the 1901 census. Henry was born in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, where his father, also Henry, was a Captain in the Militia. The Pierce family is found on "Shipbuilder's Row" in Aberystwyth in the 1871 census.
Gomer Price, born ca. 1865, married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Jones and raised a family in Clydach. He also appears in the 1901 census.
Hoseah Price, born ca. 1868, last appears in the 1891 census living with his mother in Clydach.
Elizabeth Price, born ca. 1871, married Oliver Phillips, raised a family in Clydach, and is present in the 1901 census.
Gwilym Price, born ca. 1874, married Mary (unknown) and raised a family in Clydach. He also appears in the 1901 census.
Thomas Price, born ca. 1878, is present only in the 1881 census and may also have died as a child.
The fact that there were two children named Thomas is likely an indication that Thomas I (born 1855) died sometime prior to the birth of Thomas II (1878), as it was common in those days to name a new child after an older, deceased sibling. Sometime shortly after the 1861 census, Dinah and her children left Brynmawr and rejoined Thomas Price in Aberaman/Aberdare. The reason for the family's departure from Brynmawr is perhaps explained by historian Hilda Jennings, who in her 1934 book on the history of Brynmawr notes, that:
"Difficulties with regard to the quality and cost of extraction of local ores, together with the gradual superseding of iron by steel, led to a decline in the iron trade which culminated in the closing down of the Clydach and Beaufort Iron Works in 1861, and the sale of the Nantyglo Iron Works by the Baileys in 1870, followed by the end of their activities shortly afterwards. The neighbouring works at Ebbw Vale and Blaenavon were converted into steel works."
"After the Clydach Iron Works were closed down in 1861, the distress of the population, congregated in the district almost entirely owing to the local demand for labour, was very great and was reflected in the increase of persons receiving Poor Law Relief between 1861 and 1871, and in the sudden decrease in population due to migration."
So it was that Dinah left her parents and her native Brynmawr to begin a new life with her husband and children in Aberaman, (parish of Aberdare), just below Merthyr Tydfil in Glamorgan. Aberaman is a community in the heart of the Rhondda mining district about 20 miles southwest Brynmawr. The family remained here until the late 1860s when they moved again, this time a few miles west to the mining community of Clydach Vale in the parish of Ystradyfodwg. The move began a long association with the Price family and Clydach, and in the decades that followed Dinah and her children lived on Church Street and others nearby. It is in Clydach where we find the family in the 1871 census, the first and last time we see Thomas Price with his family, as follows:
1871 Census, Clydach Vale, Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan
Name & Surname Relation Condition Age Occupation Where Born Thomas Price Head M 40 Collier Brecon Dinah Price Wife M 36 Collier's wife Brynmawr, Brecon Mary Price Dau U 15 Collier's dau Brynmawr, Brecon James Price Son U 13 Collier's son Aberaman, Glamorgan David J. Price Son U 11 Collier's son Aberaman, Glamorgan Hannah Price Dau U 9 Collier's dau Aberaman, Glamorgan Gomer Price Son U 6 Collier's son Aberaman, Glamorgan Hoseah Price Son U 3 Collier's son Aberaman, Glamorgan Elizabeth Price Dau U 6 weeks Collier's dau Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan
Below: a modern aerial view of Clydach Vale from the Gathering the Jewels web site.
Thomas Price died sometime between 1877 and 1881, as his wife Dinah is listed as a "Coalminer's Widow" by the 1881 census. We can arrive at this time frame for Thomas' death because of the fact that he had a son Thomas born circa 1878. Because of the many dangers faced by coal miners and the frequent accidents that claimed their lives, it is easy to theorize that Thomas Price died as the result of mining a accident, although I have yet to find evidence supporting this contention. In 1881 Dinah Price and her children were living at no. 8 Church Street in Clydach, as follows:
1881 Census, 8 Church Street, Clydach, Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan
Name & Surname Relation Condition Age Occupation Where Born Dinah Price Head W 46 Coalminer's Widow Brynmawr David J. Price Son U 20 Coalminer Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales Gomer Price Son U 15 Coalminer Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales Hosea Price Son U 12 Scholar Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales Elizabeth Price Dau U 10 Scholar Ystradyfodwg Gwillym Price Son U 7 Scholar Ystradyfodwg Thomas Price Son U 3 Scholar Ystradyfodwg Henry Pearce Lodger M 19 Coalminer Aberystwyth Hannah Pearce Lodger M 18 Coalminer's Wife Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales
Son Thomas, born circa 1878, completes the Price family, and the 1881 census also shows that sons David and Thomas followed in their father's footsteps and became coal miners. Henry and Hannah Pearce, listed as Lodgers were Dinah's daughter Hannah and her new son-in-law from Aberystwyth, who had married the previous year.
Below: Cambrian Colliery, Clydach Vale, c.1910, from the Welsh Coal Mines web site.
We get another glimpse Dinah and family 10 years later in the 1891 census. By this time Dinah had moved to no. 6 Church Street and was living with her unmarried children Hoseah, Gwilym and Elizabeth. Hoseah and Gwilym are listed as Coalminers, while Elizabeth is listed as a Dressmaker. Daughter Hannah Pearce and family remained at no. 8 Church Street, while sons David and Gomer Price were living nearby with their wives and families. One interesting additional detail from the 1891 census is the final column, which indicated which language was spoken by the individual, the answer being Welsh, English or Both. Dinah and all her children were listed as speaking Welsh (only). The 1891 return is as follows:
1891 Census, Number 6 Church Street, Clydach, Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan
Name & Surname Relation Condition Age Occupation Where Born Language Spoken Dinah Price Head W 58 Monmouth, Brynmawr Welsh Hoziah Price Son S 23 Coal Miner Glamorgan, Aberdare Welsh Elizabeth Price Dau S 20 Dress Maker Glamorgan, Ystradyfodwg Welsh Gwilym Price Son S 17 Coal Miner Glamorgan, Ystradyfodwg Welsh
We get one final look at Dinah Price 10 years later in the 1901 census. Although she was still living in Clydach, by this time she had moved in with her daughter Elizabeth, her husband Oliver Phillips and their children on Lanfoist Street, as follows:
1901 Census, Number 10 Lanfoist Street, Rhondda, Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan
Name & Surname Relation Condition Age Occupation Where Born Language Spoken Oliver Phillips Head M 32 Coal hewer below ground Glamorgan, Treherbert Both Elizabeth Phillips Wife M 30 Glamorgan, Ystradyfodwg Both Dinah M. Phillips Dau 8 Glamorgan, Ystradyfodwg Both Ellen M. Phillips Dau 5 Glamorgan, Ystradyfodwg Both Dinah Price m-in-lawSon Wid 68 Monmouth, Brynmawr Both
By 1901 the last of Dinahís children had married and started a family. In addition to Elizabeth (above), Gomer and Gwilym Price were living nearby, while daughter Hannah Pierce and her family were still living at no. 8 Church Street. The 1901 census also tells us that Dinah and most of her children living in Clydach had finally learned to speak English, although there is little doubt that their everyday language remained Welsh.
The 1901 census is the last time we see Dinah. What happened to her after 1901 remains a mystery, although by then she would have been in her late 60s. Dinah Davies Price had been born in Brynmawr and during her time there witnessed that communityís baptism of fire as it transformed into an industrial powerhouse. She married, and was the mother of ten children. She eventually moved to the Rhondda as her husband followed that regionís mining fortunes. Although her husband Thomas died only a few years after arriving in Clydach, Dinah, her children and grandchildren became fixtures in the community there for the next several decades. Perhaps her descendants still inhabit the region today. Either way I would be most grateful to make contact with any of her relatives.
Jeffrey L. Thomas
Revised June 2005
Genealogy Report: The Descendants of Thomas Price and Dinah Davies (Adobe pdf file)
The previous generation: David & Hannah Davies of Brynmawr
Essay on Dinah's sister Elizabeth Thomas of Brynmawr & Scranton, Pennsylvania
A photo essay of Brynmawr and surrounds.
Return to the main page at the Thomas Family Web Site
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