Isaac and Priscilla Thomas: their story.

Written and researched by Maureen Browning & Sandra Hayes (nee Heycock)

Isaac Thomas was born in1851, the son of David and Choice Thomas (nee Morris), and started his working life as a collier. He married Priscilla Rees on 25th May 1876 and by 1881 they were living in 4, Treharne Row, Pontyrhyl with one child, David, who would later be joined by five siblings, all girls – May, Alice, Ada, Mary and Lucy. By 1881 they were living at 15, Nanthir Rd., Blaengarw and ten years later they were back in Pontyrhyl in Braich y cymmer Cottages, Beech Rd. Where the Census shows that Isaac was now an Overman at the Braich y Cymmer colliery. Whilst holding this position he was held in such esteem that his fellow workers presented him with an oil painting of himself and a family bible.

He later became the proprietor of that same colliery and on his retirement he was presented with a  gold watch and a similar gift was given to his wife, Priscilla. In 1909 he had a further presentation of a gold mounted walking stick from the ‘Friends in Need Lodge’.  Ever the astute businessman he became the owner of quite a few houses in the Garw Valley. After his retirement he and his wife moved to Porthcawl with two of their unmarried daughters.

Priscilla, his wife, was born on July 23rd, 1849 in Bryncoch, Brynmenyn and was the daughter of William and Margaret Rees. Her father was a shoemaker and she was the sixth of seven children. In the 1861 census she was described as a ‘factory worker’ but by 1871 was a housemaid  to George Nicholl, at ‘Hour House’ in Llantwit Major. We believe that it while she was there that she is said to have been knocked down by one of Queen Victoria’s carriages and her daughter, Ada, later recalled that she was  compensated by being given a pair of blankets as compensation!

Priscilla and Isaac celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1926, the Press announcement recording the event included the words, “Isaac was the descendant of Daffydd Morris the Methodist Divine  and was a keen agriculturalist “ Isaac died on the 26th November, 1938 aged 87, but Priscilla had preceded him ten years earlier, passing away on 4th February, 1928.

Their daughter, Ada, our grandmother, had been born during their time at Beech Rd. Pontyrhyl. She worked at first as what was then known as a ‘pupil teacher’ but she could also be seen taking the fares for Isaac’s pony and trap service which ran between Blaengarw and Pontycymmer, and woe betide anyone who tried to dodge paying the fare.

By her 20’s, however she was working nursing in the County Asylum in Parc Gwyllt Hospital near Bridgend. She married Christopher Heycock at Bethel Calvinistic Chapel in Porthcawl. Ada and Christopher lived when first married in Dulais House, 178, Victoria St Pontycymmer, where their only child Wynston,  was born in January,1906. When Wynston was six they moved to Ballarat House  in Nanthir Rd., Blaengarw which Isaac, Ada’s father had had built for them. Christopher was a master painter and decorator and we have traced his ancestry back as far as 1635 to a village called Hopton Wafers in Shropshire. He qualified as a Rugby Union referee and also attempted to start up a Weslyan Methodist cause in Blaengarw, but as the Calvinistic Methodist denomination was thriving in the valley his efforts failed and, probably disillusioned, he stopped attending any place of worship. Christopher Heycock died in 1948 but Ada lived on until 1968, insisting before she died that she was the oldest Blaengarw resident at that time who had been born in the Garw Valley.

Written and researched by Maureen Browning & Sandra Hayes (nee Heycock)

3 comments Add yours
  1. Enjoyed reading the story about your family. There must have been a lot of work involved but it was worth the effort you put into it .

  2. Enjoyed reading the story about your family. A great deal of effort must have gone into the research.

  3. If Ada was your grand mother we are belonging ,as David her brother was my grand father he was Manager of the Wyndham colliery and he married Mary Jones, they had eight children and one is my mother Ivy who is still alive at 105yrs.

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