William Watkins

William Watkins 1723-1800

William Watkins, son of Philip, was born 1723 in Taf Fechan (the valley of the Taf River), Breconshire, Wales, and died October 20, 1800 in Wales. He married Mary. She was born 1732, and died July 29, 1825. Their stone is at Vaynor, leaning against the church foundation. It is badly weathered but could still be read in 1993: "William Watkins, Blaencallen late of Rhiw y chein, died Oct. 20, 1800 aged 77 yrs. Also Mary relict of the above William Watkins died Jan. 29, 1825 age 93." Relict means widow. Vaynor is located about a mile south of the home of William's son John Watkins.

Local historian, Norman Lowe, 6 Tai Canol, Llangorse, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7UR, sent the following information about Blaen Callen, the home where Phillip and William  Watkins lived:

The name of the house is spelled Blaen Cellan on an old map, which would mean  that it was regarded as being at the head of the Cellan valley.

Lowe has five old documents relating to Blaen Callen. The ruined house is still there. Interestingly, there is evidence of the use of the nearby spring as a "health spa" with walkways and a "bath", and the streambed had been covered with high-quality bricks, presumably to prevent the spring water from being contaminated with mud etc. The water is ferruginous (contains iron) and was reputedly good for the liver so people from the nearby coal field used to climb up to the farm to drink the water.

Brief details of Lowe's documents are:

1673 (in Latin): From John and Thomas Maddocks to Jenkin John one house one barn one garden with 10 acres arable land, 4 acres hay meadow, 10 acres pasture, 2 acres woodland, 4 acres furze.

1733: Previously Jenkin John to Isaac Williams to Mary Williams his widow, then to the use of the Evan & Mary Prichard & their son Richard for £40 for repair & building houses & walls. This document to William Watkins for £10pa

1756: Transfer of lease of Blaen Callan for £1 pa from William Watkins the elder to William Watkins the younger. Landlords Mary Williams, Evan Prichard ,Mary Prichard, and Richard Prichard.

1785: Refers to 1733 document and to a lost 1777 document in which Mary Watkins mortgages the leasehold of Blaen Callan to William Meredith for £100 to settle debts of late husband William Watkins - later borrows a further £40 on the same security. This document transfers the mortgage to Richard Watkin on payment of £150.

1789: Robert Curry leases Blaen Callan to William Watkins of Abercriban for 5 shillings and annual peppercorn rent. The property is described as ALL that messuage tenement and lands with the appurtenances formerly commonly called and known by the name of Tir Blaen Callan and Tir Brin Watkin and since by one general name of Tyr Blaen Callan situate lying and being in the parish of Llanthetty in the said County of Brecon on both sides the brook called Callan and nearing and abutting to the land formerly of William Thomas to the Common called Bryney Elyson to a place called Feene Forest Glyn Colloyn and to the other Waste Ground or Common called Ystrad Vane on all or most parts and sides thereof and late in the tenure and occupation of William Watkins deceased and now of Thomas Phillips and Phillip Thomas Phillips or one of them their or one of their undertenants or assigns

It seems there must have been three William Watkins - the elder, the younger (who seems to have gotten into debt) and our ancestor William Watkins who until 1789 resided at Abercriban, just a few miles down the valley. (The site of Abercriban is now under teh Pontsticill Reservoir.)

Children of William and Mary Watkins are:

i. Elizabeth Watkins, born July 2, 1756 in Wales; died July 15, 1756.

ii. Margaret Watkins, born August 1757 in Wales; died January 1758.

iii. Margaret Watkins, born 1760 in Breconshire, Wales; died February 2, 1765.

iv. Philip Watkins, born 1766 in Breconshire, Wales; died January 20, 1856.

v. Morgan Watkins, born 1769 in Breconshire, Wales; died 1797.

vi. William Watkins, born 1771 in Breconshire, Wales; died March 17, 1778.

vii. John Watkins, born February 1774 in Breconshire, Wales; died May 19, 1774.

+viii.  John Watkins, born 1775 in Wales; died May 5, 1840 in Llandetty, Breconshire, Wales of typhus.

ix. Elizabeth Watkins, born after 1775 in Breconshire, Wales.

x. Margaret Watkins, born after 1775 in Breconshire, Wales.

xi. William Watkins, born 1779 in Breconshire, Wales; died November 5, 1784.

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