To date the earliest date recorded is a document in Latin held in the Peniarth Papers collection at the National Library of Wales [ref: DA33].

It states that in:


Ieuan ap Gruffudd ap John was granted status of “Free Tennant of the King” [Henry VIII]. Martin Robson-Riley at the NLW has uncovered a case in the Court of Chancery between 1556 and 1558 relating to “Cumorthyn and land in the township of Ffestiniog”.

Martin explains “The case was between William ap Ieuan alias William Jevans ‘a pore prentice in the city of London’ and his bother John.  The actual papers should be held in the United Kingdom’s National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) at Kew, but presumably William won the case against his brother John, which would account for the Exemplification (i.e a copy) of the original Bargain and Sale, dated 6 August 1608

(Peniarth Estate DA136), and also the lease that same year on 6 November between William, now referred to as “William Evans of Slaugham, Sussex, clerk”, and a Evan Lloyd of Penmachno (Peniarth Estate DA138). 

The fact that this Cwmorthin would seem to have been in the possession of William ap Ieuan ap Gruff’ ap John (alias William Jevans otherwise William Evans of Slaugham) in 1608, makes it unlikely to be the same property that was mortgaged by Phivion ap John ap William in 1595.

Then in:


it was transferred from Ieuan ap Gruffudd ap John to his son William ap Ieuan ap Gruffudd ap John and his heirs. Power of attorney was also granted to Ieuan’s other son Richard ap Ieuan ap John.


However in the Caerynwch collection held at the NLW a letter dated December 7th 1838 from William Ormsby-Gore of Porkington (now Brogyntyn) to a W P Richards of London gives a conflicting picture. Ormsby-Gore in describing the messuage4 of Cwmmorthin Ucha, writes of examining the deeds of the land held by him under the Brogyntyn Estate indicating a slightly different pattern. 1

He lists that in:


Elizabeth I granted three letters patent to the Robert Dudley 1st Earl of Leicester dated 11th July 1577, 22nd July 1577 and 31st July 1578.

On his death in


the land was passed on to the Earl of Warwick who then conveyed them to Lady Ann, Countess of Warwick. In:


she sold the estate on to Lord St.John of [….]. He then sold the lands to Leonard Baker of The [Arches?]


An “indenture and counterpart for the mortgage” dated the 2nd September the 37th year of her reign [Elizabeth I – 1595] between Phivion ap John ap William of Penyveth in Caernarvonshire and William Maurice of Clennenau. It has been suggested that as the counterpart is also present with the deeds the mortgage was never repaid giving the Clennenau Estate control of the land.

Sir William MAURICE of Clenennau, Caernarvonshire, was born in April 1542, the eldest of eight known children of Maurice ap Ellis and Ellen Puleston. He was the first of his line to adopt the surname MAURICE, though his pedigree is complete for three previous generations and he is descended from a long line of men who held public office in Northern Wales.

William was married three times; firstly to Margaret Wyn Lacon, heiress of the Porkington estate in Shropshire; secondly to Ellin, widow of John Lewis, following Margaret's death in 1571 or 1572; thirdly to Jane, widow of Sir Thomas Johnes in 1605. William had nine children by Margaret, the first when he was just 18; and one other child by his second wife Ellin. William became Sheriff of Caernarvonshire in 1593 and of Beaumaris in 1601. He was a tireless debater in the reign of James I and favoured the United Kingdom. He received his knighthood on 23 July 1603. While he had little formal education, he read widely in theology, law and politics. He was a staunch Anglican and Royalist. He is said by some sources to have been a close friend of James I, though this is denied by the Dictionary of Welsh Biography. His death in August 1622 is recorded on a tombstone in Penmorfa church.                           Further searches are needed to cover the 17th century.

1710 – 1799

The Henry Rumsey Williams (1) papers 1942073 / 188 add further confusion with the lands being mentioned with reference to a Richard Owen Esq and his wife Elizabeth in 1710, the Rt Hon Richard Lord Bulkeley and Lady Jane Bulkeley, in 1741 an Edward Williams and Lady Jane, in 1767 Jane Williams - eldest daughter of Edward and Lady Jane - and of a sale in 1799 to Williams Wynne of Peniarth.

Rent books of the Brogyntyn Estate catalogue the following ownership:


At this point in time both Cwmorthin Ucha and Cwmorthin Issa are under the control of the Brogyntyn Estate with the former rented to William Pritchard at a sum of £8 per annum.

Cwmorthin Issa was rented by Robert Humphreys for the slightly lesser sum of £6 per annum. In:


tenure of Cwmorthin Issa passed to Anne Humphreys who continued until 1766.


William Pritchard still held the lease on Cwmorthin Ucha until 1766 but by


the lease on Cwmorthin Ucha had passed to a John Williams, paying an annual rent of £12 which increased to £13 4s in 1794.

Cwmorthin Issa was rented to Cadwallader Owen for the annual sum of £10 which increased to £18 in 1774 which included the rental of Tanygrisiau Farm. By 1788 Cadwallader Owen was paying £26 annually for both farms.

1782 - 19th June,

A Writ of George III to the Sheriff of Merioneth recites that William Wynne of Pennarth, County of  Merioneth was outlawed in London.

The sheriff must seize all property belonging to him: a capital messuage called Peniarth Issa and three other houses, Ty yn y Llwyn, Glanmachlas and Bryn Tudor and a water corn grist mill called Peniarth Mill with 400 acres adjoining in the parish of Llanegryn, County of  Merioneth and a free fishery in Aberglaslyn river in the parishes of Llanfrothen and Beddgelert, and lands in which he has a life interest - Tanygrisia in the parish of Ffestiniog and another farm called Cwm hirthin Issa in the parish of Ffestiniog and lands called Cefn Gell fron, Plas Captain, Hafod wen, Tyn y Fronvent, Pen y Bont, High gate, Cae Glas, Dol hardd, Cae Gwair yr allt wen, Gors, Dol y moch and Penern, Bodfydde in the parish of Trawsfynydd and a water corn mill, Felin Newydd, in the parish of Trawsfynydd and lands called Gwylan and Llynteg in parish of Maentwrog and a house called Doled in the parish of Llanfachreth, County of Merioneth



Records show that Williams still held tenure of Cwmorthin Ucha at the same rate.


Poole solicitors - Sureties: John Jones, Cwmorthin Uchaf, parish of Ffestiniog, farmer, £40.

Taken before Richard Hughes, for the said John Jones, to prefer a bill of indictment against William Jones late of the parish of Llanfihangel y Traethau for obtaining the sum of £10 by false pretences, to appear at the next G.Quarter Sessions


Tithe maps indicate the ownership thus: William Ormsby-Gore held the Cwmorthin Uchaf parcel with John Jones farming 733acres

The Cwmorthin Isaf parcel was owned by John Lloyd Esq with Griffith Richards farming 240acres.


On the 25th July the Cwm-Orthin Slate Company bought the freehold of the Cwmorthin Isaf estate which included part of Tanygrisiau village.

The farm continued to be occupied until buried by waste tips of Cwmorthin slate mine.


1861 – 1948

To be researched



The catalogue pages from the auction of the Cwmorthin Uchaf package by the Brogyntyn Estate in 1948 are shown on the next pages.

The current agent for the estate – Peter Jenkins of Brecon – outlined the purchase and subsequent transfers to me in a recent 2009 conversation

“My great Uncle Sydney (Capt Matthews) bought all the lots in the Ffestiniog area in that brochure, but subsequently sold a chunk to MANWEB for the Stwlan Hydro Scheme. He also acquired the mineral rights on Park and Croesor Estates, Clough Williams Ellis buying the surface. This amounted to 9000 acres, but Clough Williams Ellis has bought back the mineral rights on all but the land around Croesor Quarry, and ICI stored their explosives in that quarry for years.

“Captain Matthews' daughters are Pauline and Gwynneth. The latter died last year, but Pauline is in excellent fettle. Tim, as you know is my son, and Pauline and Gwynneth (both unmarried) are first cousins of my mother, which makes Tim, Pauline's first cousin twice removed!

“He was given the land by the sisters before he went to Australia because he was thought to be the best person to deal with all the problems such as the Reservoirs Act of 1971.

“Tim has the freehold of 870 acres or thereabouts around and above to the right of Cwmorthin. It is a lozenge shaped area on the Estate map with Cwmorthin Uchaf just within the boundary.”

Pant-y-Friog farm was not purchased.