Samuel Thomas (1824 - 1895) and Ann Thomas nee Lewis (1825 - 1897)

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This photograph is of my great-great grandparents Samuel Thomas and his wife Ann. It is the oldest photograph I have to date and the most interesting. It is very rare to find anyone smiling in old photographs for one good reason - Victorian photographers only had very slow emulsions available, therefore with the often primitive lenses available would mean an exposure that would be measured in minutes rather than today's thousandths of a second. Often in studio portraiture the photographer would use a head clamp to ensure that the victim moved as little as possible during the exposure. Closer examination of these photographs reveals that you cannot see the eyes properly. This is due to the involuntary movements of the eyes not registering on the photographic emulsion. If a close photograph of a persons face was taken, the photographer would usually paint the eyes in afterwards.

At the time of my great grandmothers birth in 1860 SAMUEL was a master blacksmith in Aberelan which is adjacent to  Rhayader, Brecon and Radnor, Mid Wales. The actual residence at the time of Elizabeth's birth is given as Aberelan, Cwmtoyddwr. His wife ANN'S maiden name was LEWIS. Details of Samuel's and Ann's parents can be found by clicking the link.

The 1841 Census* shows Samuel living at Tycoch, a farm adjacent to Crawnant Fach, in Llanwrthwl, along with his parents and grandmother Lewis. (His mother's mother).
From the time of his marriage in 1845, he moved around quite considerably, possibly in accommodation tied to his employment, which ranged from labourer to blacksmith, and herdsman. This becomes clear by the various addresses his children were born. (see below)

* The theory in the 1841 Census was that every person up to and including the age of 15 should have their actual age recorded; those above 15 should have the age rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5 (i.e. 45 is
45, 39 is 35, 52 is 50 etc). As always, what was meant to happen did not always take place. I have seen forms where actual ages of people were put in every all case.

SAMUEL and ANNE were married at St Afan's Llanafan Fawr, Brecon on 24th June 1845. The details of the entry record that Samuel's father Nathaniel Thomas was a Labourer and Ann's father Rees Lewis was a Farmer. The witnesses were Edward Thomas and Thomas Lewis (the bride's brother)

The 1851 Census gives a good snapshot of the family at the time. They were living at Crawnant Bach, Llanwrthwl-upper Radnorshire at the time. Incidentally the 1851 census took place for the night of 30/31 March. From 1851 to the present day

Census Reference Name Relation Status Age Occupation County of Birth Parish of Birth Year of Birth
Cr/1851A    0255 Samuel Thomas Head Married 26 Labourer


Llanwrthwl 1825
Cr/1851A    0256 Ann Thomas Wife Married 25 Labourer's Wife Breconshire Llysdinam 1826
Cr/1851A    0257 Samuel Thomas Son   5   Radnorshire Nantmel 1846
Cr/1851A    0258 Thomas Thomas Son   2   Breconshire Llanwrthwl 1849
Cr/1851A    0259 Ann Thomas Daughter   6month   Breconshire Llanwrthwl 1850
Cr/1851A    0260 Charlot Mills Nursing Child   3   Radnorshire Rhayader 1848

Of the three children listed in the 1851 Census

The site of where Samuel Thomas was born in 1846. The farm was demolished many years ago

After the 1851 Census Samuel and Ann Thomas had four more sons and two daughters

a total of seven sons and three daughters.

The other points to note are as follows. The next two entries in the census registry were as follows

Census Reference Name Relation Status Age Occupation County of Birth Parish of Birth Year of Birth
Cr/1851A    0261 John Evans Head Married 47 Farmer of 34 acres, employing 1 man


Cwmdauddwr 1804
Cr/1851A    0262 Elizabeth Evans Wife Married 34 Farmer's Wife Breconshire Llanwrthwl 1817

and it begs the question was Samuel an employee of John Evans and did he live in a tied cottage? The evidence would point to this.

Secondly SAMUEL in the space of less than ten years went from being a farm labourer to a master blacksmith. Given the rural nature of the district this was quite an achievement.


Aber-Elan is the former home of Samuel and Anne Thomas, and it is where my great grandmother Elizabeth Hobbs (nee Thomas) was born. On the above photograph of Llanwrthwl-Upper is the family cottage on the front right. The river flowing by is the River Elan and the river flowing to the front of the picture is the River Claerwen. The area was flooded in 1904 to create the Caban Coch reservoir so that the growing towns of the English Midlands would have an adequate water supply. It is close to where today the Nantgwyllt Church stands. The photo was taken circa 1880

The family also appear on the 1861 Census for the Township of Dyffryn Elan in the Parish of Llansanfraid, Cwmddeudwr (ref /61/p8)

Name Relation Status Age Occupation County of Birth Parish of Birth
Samuel Thomas Head Married 36 Blacksmith


Jane Thomas Wife Married 35 Wife Breconshire Llanwrthwl
Ann Thomas   Daughter 10   Breconshire Llanwrthwl
Rice Thomas   Son 8   Breconshire Llanwrthwl
Evan Thomas   Son 5   Breconshire Llanwrthwl
Benjamin Thomas   Son 3   Breconshire Llanwrthwl
Elizabeth M Thomas   Daughter 11mnths   Radnorshire Cwmtoyddwr Aberelan

The only puzzling point on the Census is that Samuel's wife is put down as Jane instead of Ann

The Powys Digital History Project has an excellent section that is devoted to Rhayader prior to the twentieth century. It can be accessed by clicking on the link

The 1881 Census gives the family's address as Ludbrook Villa, Builth, Brecon, Wales

(Source FHL Film 1342312 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 5455 Folio 23 Page 24

Name Relation Status Age Occupation County of Birth Parish of Birth
Samuel Thomas Head Married 55 Railway Blacksmith


Ann Thomas Wife Married 54 Wife Breconshire Llysdinam
BenjaminThomas Son Unmarried 23 Railway guard - Unemployed Brecknock Llanwrthwl
CharlesThomas Son Unmarried 16 Railway Goods Clerk Brecknock Llysdinan
William Thomas Son Unmarried 14 Railway Weighing Clerk Brecknock Llysdinan
Charlot Mills Granddaughter   10 Scholar Brecknock Llanwrthwl

SAMUEL died 28th September 1895 at the age 71. The death certificate gives his age as 72 which means that he must have been born circa 1823 and not circa 1826 as indicated on the Census Returns of 1851 and 1881. The cause of death on the death certificate is given "Morpus Cardis Syncope" which is really the terminology used at the time for heart disease that could not be accurately diagnosed by the methods then employed. The certificate indicates that he died at his home address of Spring Gardens, Builth, Breconshire and that he was with his son WILLIAM THOMAS at the time. The death was registered two days later on the 30th. (Reference Counties of Brecon and Radnor No 491).

Spring Gardens, Builth, Brecon

His wife ANN died eighteen months later age 71 on 16th March 1897. Her death was the result of a massive stroke that left her speechless and with few faculties.

SAMUEL and ANN are buried in Builth. The gravestone reads

In Loving Memory of Samuel Thomas (Late of Builth) Born April 14, 1824. Died Sept 28, 1895.  

Also of Ann the beloved wife of the above Born Oct 20, 1825 Died March 10 1897

Not lost but gone before 

Forget them? No

We never will

We love them here

And we love them still

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This page was last updated on 23/10/07 12:27

I would like to acknowledge the help and assistance that has been provided by my Dad's cousins Ray and Dennis Hobbs With the information that they have passed on to me, we now have a far fuller picture of our ancestors. Without their commitment and enthusiasm this would not have been possible. Their help was, and still is, greatly appreciated