The Tithe Agreement of 1842 tells us quite a lot about the state of the settlement at that time. Moreover, by creating an obligation on tenants to pay an annual rent charge in cash it may well have given rise to the disputes between landowners and residents mentioned by K G Jones.
Tithe agreements had to be negotiated throughout England and Wales as a result of the Act for the Commutation of Tithes passed in 1836. Since the Middle Ages tithes had been paid in kind by parishioners for the support of their parish church and its clergy. In some places local agreements had been reached to commute payment in kind to rent but at the time of the Commutation Act most parishes still operated a system of tithes. Under the terms of the Act the tithe owner in each parish was expected to agree a system of cash rents with the landowners, and where agreement could not be reached Tithe Commissioners would set the rents.
For more information on the history of tithes and the administration of the 1836 Act go to the National Archives website and then click on the “Tithe records” hyperlink near the foot of the page.
In the parish of Llanwenarth the tithe owner was the rector, Rev George William Gabb. The front page of the agreement, dated 23 November 1842, is reproduced on the left. It states that after several adjournments a deal was concluded on 5 April 1838 between the rector and the landowners. A total of £460 in rent would be paid per annum by the parish as a whole. The obligations of individual landowners were listed in a schedule that accompanied the agreement.
The schedule, otherwise known as the tithe apportionment, consisted of a map of the parish showing each piece of land, together with a list giving for each piece of land the name of the landowner, the name of its occupier, a description of the land and premises, its state of cultivation (usually grass, arable, or woodland), its area, and the agreed rent charge. Area sizes are listed in acres, roods, and perches, the rent charge in pounds, shillings, and pence.
Copies of the agreement and the schedule can be seen in the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth and at the Gwent Record Office in Cwmbran, Monmouthshire.
The section of the schedule map that shows Y Graig is reproduced on the left. Looking at the list of land holdings we find that several tenants at that time occupied areas of about half an acre to an acre or so. Mary Williams, for example, occupied 1 acre, 2 roods, 14 perches, with a garden and an orchard as well as her house. Her rent was 4s 3d per annum. John Pritchard had a house and garden, holding just over an acre and owing a rent of 4s 5d. Eleanor Price had a house and garden, holding just under half an acre and owing a rent of 1s 4d. The owner of all these holdings was Rev R N P Davies.
Mary Williams lived in house PRN 5835 at OS 258163, John Pritchard in house PRN 5825 at OS 261160, and Eleanor Price in house PRN 5839 (the house bearing the date 1746) at OS 257161. Schedule entries for all three of these properties can be seen in the photograph on the left.
House PRN 5819, mentioned earlier as incorporating a bakery, was both owned and occupied by John Lloyd. His house and garden covered just under an acre, with a rent of 3s 3d, and he also owned a small adjacent plot described as arable land. Although the house is mentioned in the schedule there is no reference to the bakery, suggesting that the bakery may have been constructed some time after 1842.
The schedule contains strong evidence that the community had started to decline by 1842. John Edwards had a house, garden, and orchard in the central part of the settlement, but he was also the tenant of several plots near the western end that now contain the ruins of houses (PRN 5849, 5850, 5851, and 5855). In the schedule these plots are described as grass or arable (see photograph on the left). There is no mention of houses on them. It is just possible that these houses were built after 1842, but more likely that they were built earlier and had already been abandoned by that date.