1826 Evan Pugh was born in Dolgellau or Llanfachreth, Merioneth. In all the censuses except 1881 he lists his birthplace as Dolgellau, but in 1881 has put Llanfachreth a village 3 miles N.E. of Dolgellau. I assume that Llanfachreth is his correct place of birth, and Dolgellau was put as it was easier to give enumerators.
Aled Pugh raised the possibility that there was another brother of Evan (b1826) called Rees Pugh. Certainly the two families seem very close, but detailed research leads me to expect that this Rees' father was another Rees not a Richard, in which case they are not brothers. The marriage certificate of this Rees Pugh shows his father to be another Rees Pugh, and as we know Evan's father was Richard from his marriage certificate.
1841 Census Evan Pugh living as a male servant,aged 14, at Upper Smithfield in Dolgellau Town. At the house of a surgeon called Wynne
Upper Smithfield in 1908 and in 2008
1851 census Evan Pugh is living with his parents Richard and Ann Pugh and William Pugh 3 (Grandson of Richard Pugh) at Crogennant, Llangelynin. Evan is just listed as "labourers son". This also raises the question as to who exactly young William actually was. William's mother was in fact Evan's sister, Jane Pugh, who married an Edward Evans of Dinas, Mallwyd (9 miles east of Dolgellau) in May 1849. She is a "servant maid" so one assumes that her child William must have been brought up by Richard & Ann Pugh, her parents, until sometime after her marriage. On her marriage certificate her father is given as Richard Pugh Labourer. Therefore Jane was Evan's sister
One would assume that Evan moved to the slate quarries around Corris between 1851 and 1853, and that is how he met his wife.
1853 Evan married Jane Thomas on 6 August 1853 at Talyllyn Church, Merioneth. Jane Thomas had been born in Tal y Llyn. Evan Pugh age 26 a miner (probably at the Cwmodyn Quarry) from Craig y fachddu, son of Richard Pugh, labourer marries Jane Thomas age 20 from Tan y Ewan, daughter of Rhys Thomas, a parish clerk. (marriage certificate). One of the witnesses was a Morris Pugh, the other Hugh Williams. Morris Pugh was presumably a relative, but not a brother.
Craigyfachddu (Dark Rock) stands high above Corris but cannot be seen from the road as it is surrounded by tall trees. It consisted of six houses, four facing north and the other two facing south. They are very near 'Ty'r Injan', (the Engine House), of the old Cwmodyn Slate Quarry. The two southerly facing houses were generally occupied by officials of the quarry and it is therefore probable that Evan Pugh lived in one of the other four houses. The houses still stand, although long empty and gutted. The slate walls and slate roofs are in good condition; one can easily identify the various rooms and where the stairs leading to the bedrooms were positioned. It is even possible to see the patterns of the wallpaper, preserved by absorption onto the plaster, recording the artistic taste - or otherwise - of the last occupants.
Evan and Jane were to have eight children, three sons and five daughters. Their first three children - Hugh 1854, Mary Ann 1855 and Elizabeth 1857 - were born at Tynyberth. There is some confusion regarding whether this is David Thomas's Tynyberth or refers to houses that had by now been built in Upper Corris not far from the old Tynyberth farmhouse but on the other side of the road. The doubt arises because David Thomas died in August 1855 at Fron Yw in Dolgellau (also ‘Fron Yew’ and ‘Bronyw’) and had therefore moved from Tynyberth to Fron Yw sometime between 1851 and 1855. This may have occurred in 1853, enabling his niece Jane and her new husband Evan Pugh to live at Tynyberth.
1854 Son Hugh Pugh, their first child was born at Tynyberth.
1856 Daughter Margaret A Pugh born at Tynyberth.
1857 Following David Thomas's death in 1855 aged 76, Jane’s parents Rees Thomas and Elizabeth moved from Tan'r Ewan in Talyllyn to Fron Yw. It was there, on 20th December 1857, that her mother Elizabeth died aged 60.
1858 Daughter Elizabeth Pugh born at Tynyberth.
Hillsborough Cottages, Corris
Hillsborough Cottages, Corris
1860 daughter Jane Pugh was born. They were now living in Hillsborough', which is a row of houses in Upper Corris not far from Tynyberth and named after the builder Mr. Hills. Hugh Williams, one of the witnesses to the marriage of Evan and Jane, also lived at Hillsborough in the 1851 census. He died, aged just 35, in January 1857. His grave in Talyllyn shares the same plot as Rees Thomas, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Mary. It may also be that Hugh, Evan and Jane's first-born, was named after this Hugh Williams. It would appear that there was a very close connection between Hugh Williams and the Thomas family.
1861 son Evan or Rees Pugh was born. This is certainly Rees Pugh, as we know him. Given the age of the child in the census, 2 months, I assume that either his name had not been finalised or that it was "Evan Rees". Rees was born on 3rd January 1861 according to the family bible, when they were still at Hillsborough' in Corris. The 1861 census gives Evan and Jane's children as Hugh, Mary Ann, Elizabeth, Jane and "Evan" aged 2 months . However, on the 29th May 1861 at Dolgellau "Evan" was baptised "Rhys Pugh"! Evan and Jane must have changed their minds between April and May and had decided to name their second son after Jane's father, Rees Thomas. Like his grandfather, Rees Pugh was baptised - and indeed in his case buried - as Rhys but was usually referred to as Rees during his lifetime. By the time of Rees's baptism it would appear that Evan and Jane were living in Dolgellau, possibly in Pandyrodyn. It may be that the grandfather, Rees Thomas, had something to do with the change of name from Evan to Rees. His birth does not seem to be officially reorded as I cannot get a birth certificate. The only 2 Pugh births registered for Dolgellau district in Jan to Mar 1861 are Ellis Pugh 11b 414 and Hugh Pugh 11b 415
1861 census living at Hillsborough', Corris with wife Jane and 5 children. Listed as slate quarrier. All the children are shown as born in Talyllyn: - Hugh Pugh 7, Margaret A Pugh 5, Elizabeth Pugh 3, Jane Pugh 1, Evan Pugh 2 Mo,
1863 son Evan Pugh born Dolgellau in July 1863 and baptised at Dolgellau, Evan Morris Pugh. Presumably because of their concern regarding the 'false' declaration for the 1861 Census neither Rees nor Evan's birth was officially registered, so no birth certificates can be found.
1865 Catherine Pugh born in Dolgellau. Evan and Jane's seventh child was born in May 1865 at Pandyrodyn, Dolgellau, and named Sarah Catherine. Soon after this Evan and Jane moved to Cwm y Glo near Llanrug, six miles from Caernarfon.
1869 Margaret Pugh born in at Cwm y Glo, Llanrug on 29th July 1869, a month after the major explosion there recounted below.
1869. However their stay there only lasted a few years, before they moved back to Dolgellau. It could have been that they saw, and were horrified by, the major explosion there at this time During the afternoon of Wednesday, June 30, 1869 - an extremely hot day - two carts laden with nitro-glycerine set out from Caernarfon. Each cart carried a ton of explosives destined for the Glynrhonwy slate quarries of Llanberis. Canisters containing the liquid explosive had been carefully packed into boxes containing sawdust and loaded onto the carts. The boxes themselves were then covered in straw to ensure no movement could take place during the journey. At around 5.50pm, soon after the carts had passed the railway station goods shed outside Cwm-y-Glo, now the site of Gwynedd Council's storage yard, the cargo exploded with what was probably the loudest man-made explosion ever heard until then.
This terrible explosion resulted in the deaths of both the carters, as well as three others. Eight other people were seriously injured, one of whom died six weeks later as a result of his injuries. No trace of the carters, horses or carts remained at the site and two deep craters approximately ten feet deep were left behind. Human and animal remains, as well as parts of the carts, were spread far and wide - with some of the debris being found in the neighbouring village of Brynrefail. The human remains were collected and taken to the nearby Craig y Don Tavern to await the inquest that was held the following day. The injuries sustained by the victims were consistent with their having been thrown against walls or other solid surfaces, resulting in wounds to the head and body. Many suffered broken bones and one person's arm needed to be amputated.
Damage to surrounding buildings in the village of Cwm-y-Glo was extensive, including those high on the hill above the main street, many having roofs blown off and entire window frames blown in. Scarcely a house in the village escaped without damage. Many people came to the spot to gaze at the carnage as news of the disaster spread to other centres of population.
The inquest into the events of that fateful day was held in the vestry of the Calvinistic Methodist Chapel in Cwm-y-Glo, which was later rebuilt in 1904. The jury agreed from the evidence that the carters were not drunk, although they had stopped at the Blue Bell Public House in the village high street, and the verdict was that the events were the result of an accident, the reasons for which were unknown (nitro-glycerine was a relatively new material and its properties were not fully known.)
1870 his father in law, Rees Thomas died. 26 October 1870 at Fron Yw aged 77. In his will he left the freehold property to his daughters, Catherine and Mary, during their lifetime and then to his grandson Rees Pugh. He also stipulated that should one of the daughters get married then the one remaining single could continue to live at Fron Yw if she so wished for an annual payment to her sister of £3. He left his Cambrian Railway share to Rees Pugh. The executor of the will was Rees Thomas's son-in-law Evan Roberts, the husband of Sarah Thomas. He was a Welsh Presbyterian minister and at the time they lived in 10 Western Road in Handsworth near Birmingham.
1871 census living at Pandyisaf, 1 mile east of Dolgellau, so the family had by now returned to Dolgellau. Pandyisaf is is a most attractive house on the banks of the River Wnion and is just downstream of the lower end of the Torrent Walk at Dolgellau. At present it is the home of the owner of the nearby holiday caravan site. Listed as a quarryman, age 45, born Dolgellau, with his wife Jane Pugh 37 born, Llanelltyd. Merionethshire and all the children born in Llanelltyd, except Evan and Catherine born in Dolgellau. and Margaret born 1869 in Llanrug.
( Llanelltyd, 1 mile N.W. of Dolgellau. and 8 from Barmouth. It is situated under Cader Idris, at the confluence of the rivers Maw and Wnion, surrounded by scenery the most beautiful of any to be found in Wales.). It is odd that they have the a difference between Talyllyn in the 1861 census and Llaneltyd in 1871. I can only assume that it is because they were living near Dolgellau. in 1871 and that the census enumerator though that was what they meant.
Hugh Pugh 17, Mary Anne Pugh 15, Elizabeth Pugh 13, Jane Pugh 11, Rees Pugh 9, Evan Pugh 7 born Dolgellau, Catherine Pugh 5, Margaret Pugh 2 born Llanrug,
1881 census they had moved back Hillsborough, Upper Corris. Listed as age 53, a Slate Quarrier. All are given as born there except Evan Pughe himself (the head of household) who was born in Llanfachreth and Margaret born in Llanrug, Caernarfon.
With his wife Jane, age 48 and born Tal y Llyn, are their children Hugh 27 (Slate Quarrier), Elizabeth 23, Rees 20 (Slate Quarrier), Evan 18 (Slate Quarrier), Sarah C 15, Margaret 12, Sulfanws, grandson, 8 months, (curiously the grandson has surname "Pughe" as do the rest. All the children are listed as unmarried). A bit of digging reveals Silvanus Pritchard Pugh, registration: Jul-Aug-Sep, 1880 in Dolgellau. District (Volume: 11b Page: 403). It turns out that Sulfanws was Elizabeth’s eight month old illegitimate son.
It is not known where Jane was that day but 24 year old Mary Ann was staying with William Pugh and his sister Margaret in Hammersmith, London, preparing for the birth of her illegitimate child. Twenty-five year old William’s occupation is given as ‘dairyman’ and both he and his 19 year old sister Margaret were born in Tynycornel, which is near Pandyisaf, Dolgellau, where Evan and Jane lived in 1871. The 1871 census for Tynycornel lists Rees Pugh and wife Margaret living with their children William, 15, Margaret, 9, and Ellinor, 6. Is Rees the brother of Evan? I don't think he can be, as I have traced him back to be the son of Rees & Catherine Pugh of Dolgellau - both the census information and his marriage certificate show these to be his parents. "Our" Evan Pugh has a father "Richard" not "Rees" on his marriage certificate.
[Mary Ann gave birth to a son whom she named William. It is worth mentioning that three years later Mary Ann had a second illegitimate son John Evans Pugh. Tragically, he died in 1907 aged 23 due to a coalmine accident in Treorchy, South Wales. He was brought home to be buried in his grandfather Evan Pugh’s grave in Talyllyn churchyard. The 1901 census records Sulfanws and William as also being coalminers, staying in a boarding house in Cwmpark, Rhondda. It is probable that by 1907 John Evans Pugh had joined them to work in the coal industry of South Wales. Mary Ann did eventually marry and had a daughter Susanna Jane.]
Peniarth Arms 2008
1881 the Pugh family moved yet again, this time to Peniarth Arms in Llanfihangel-y-Pennant. Peniarth Arms was a small inn serving the village and environs of Llanfihangel-y-Pennant. It also provided accommodation; a frequent and illustrious guest at the Peniarth Arms was Lord Roberts who had won the Victoria Cross at the Siege of Delhi during the Indian Mutiny and was largely responsible for the eventual defeat of the Boers in the South African War.
Family heirloom cushion cover of Lord Roberts
1885 Evan Pugh died 22 October 1885 (death cert) at Peniarth Arms Llanfihangel y Pennant and is buried with his wife Jane in the churchyard in Tal-y-llyn. Died of Chronic Bronchitis and his profession is "inn keeper". No doubt the years of quarrying had led to the Chronic Bronchitis. He was aged 58. Incidentally, in the death certificate of his daughter Elizabeth in 1932 she is recorded as being the ‘Daughter of Evan Pugh (deceased) Slate Quarry Manager’.
There are two inscriptions on Evan’s grave at Talyllyn: "He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more. Job VII, 10"
The other is an 'englyn' by the poet Berw and is included in his book of collected poems published in 1886, a year after Evan Pugh's death, which in English is:-
‘Evan Pugh, without fear of pain - nor blighted hope, Today is in exultation; Praises he gives, in the Temple of the Lamb, For his Peace - Sacrifice free from pain.’
Evan Pugh's grave at Tal-y-llyn
complete abstract of census returns for Evan Pugh b1826
family index page