• Wil Ifan and Aberdare

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Wil Ifan (Rev. William Evans, 1883-1968), who was the Archdruid of Wales from 1947 to 1950, published this article, probably in an Aberdare newspaper, around the time when the National Eisteddfod was held in Aberdare (1956). His extensive family connections with the town dated from at least 1851, when his maternal grandfather, Rees Davies, born in Trelech (Carmarthenshire) in 1827, was working there as a tailor with his younger brother Benjamin, and boarding in the household of a David Davies, whose wife Mary also came from Trelech. In 1852 he married Anna, the daughter of Ebenezer Evans of Cwmbach Mill, Llanwinio (Carmarthenshire), and while running a draper's and grocer's business at Red Lion Buildings, Cwmbach, the couple had nine daughters and one son. Their eldest daughter Mary, born in 1853, who was to become the mother of Wil Ifan and who is pictured in this article, is shown in the 1871 census working as an assistant in Thomas Pugh's draper's shop in Commercial Street, Aberdare. (Thomas Pugh's wife Phoebe, née Richards, came from Llanwinio.) In this article, and in one of his 'Here and There' pieces in the Western Mail on 15 December 1953, Wil Ifan recalls his mother's pride at working there and his own pleasure at finding that the shop still existed. Both articles also tell of her happy memories of singing in the choir led by the famous conductor Caradog (Griffith Rhys Jones) and her great disappointment at not being able to take part in the concert at the Crystal Palace in 1872 when his Côr Mawr won the prestigious Challenge Cup trophy. Mary returned to Cwmbach and in 1873 married the schoolmaster Daniel Evans, who later became the minister at Moriah (Blaenwaun), Zion chapel (Cwmavon) and Hawen and Bryngwenith in Cardiganshire. Her parents, however, left Cwmbach, along with several of her younger sisters, first for Loughor in Glamorganshire, and then, before 1891, for Aberdare, where they lived for several years at 83 Cemetery Road. Rees Davies, who is recalled affectionately in this article and also in many other writings by Wil Ifan, worked there as a tailor and draper. His wife died in 1897, and he lived on until 1916, spending his last years at 34 Broniestyn Terrace in the home of his youngest daughter Elizabeth and her husband John Jones: one of the very skilled seamstresses Wil Ifan refers to in this article, she won the prize for the best hand-made quilt in the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff in 1899. Many members of the family of her sister Anna lived in Aberdare, as did the many descendants of David Evans, the brother of Rees Davies's wife Anna, a clog maker who moved from Llanwinio to Aberdare with his wife Mary (née Picton) in the 1860s.

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