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Philip Lewis, 1815

Phillip Lewis was the son of Phillip and Mary Lewis. He was baptised at Monkswood on 3rd Dec 1815. He had at least one sibling, Caroline, who was 4 years his elder. The family was living at Glascoed at the time of Phillip’s baptism. Phillip senior, was a stonemason.

We first see him on the 1841 census, where he was living as the main householder at “Twyn Mary Samuel” in between Pergoed and Ponty cuckoo on the return (I believe that this was Sunny Bank Cottage). His occupation was listed as “Agricultural labourer”. His sister Caroline, now married to James Meredith, was living there too along with her new family (this included a son, James Meredith, aged 5).

He married Hannah Williams on 5th October 1842 at Usk Parish Church. Hannah, who hailed from Trelech Grange, was the daughter of William Williams, a labourer and his wife Ann. She did not appear on the 1841 census, but by the time of the marriage, had moved into Glascoed.

The couple were living at “Upper House” in 1851 - Phillip was working as a labourer. They were at Bush Cottage by now, which was in the same general area as Upper House - it may well be that this “Upper House” was actually “Bush Cottage” - see the “Bush Cottage” page for the reasoning on this. He was there listed as a farmer of six acres.

Phillip and Hannah did not have any children (as far as I can tell). Hannah’s niece, Berthir/Bethia Parker, was staying with them on the night of the 1861 census.

Around this time, we see Phillip and Hannah appearing in court giving evidence for the prosecution relating to the “Glascoed Riots”. Phillip confirmed that they lived about 180 yards from the Meredith’s house and that the bonfires of the rioters were burning till after midnight. He was afraid that the fire might spread to some of his buildings. His wife, Hannah, was so afraid that her “heart shook in her body”. She was not afraid that the rioters would hurt her, but was worried about going out, in case she was hit by a stray shot. Phillip, as the brother of Caroline Meredith (one of the central characters in the riots - and one of those who enclosed parts of the common) would have had an interest in the case. I also wonder whether he may have been one of those who had also enclosed (according to James Meredith, “other people have enclosed as well as myself”).

There is an interesting note in this story that also gives us information about Phillip. The article describes how “acquired the house (Sunny Bank Cottage) and land from my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law was convicted. He gave them to me two or three years before he was convicted. When I first had the property it was all bushes, two pieces were not enclosed except by bushes, one piece was part of the waste.” The brother in law was almost certainly Phillip. In 1841, he was the head of the household. By 1851 James Meredith had the house.

I don’t yet know what Phillip was convicted for, although from this article, it appears that this must have happened in the 1840s. The Monmouthshire Merlin, however, has Phillip as having been convicted for assaulting a William Griffiths in Feb 1838 and sent to jail for a short period, for want of sureties. William Griffiths appears to have been a bit of a shady character himself, since a week after Phillip was sent to Usk House of Correction, William Griffiths was at the same jail himself having been given a month’s hard labour for “stealing a quantity of underwood” and the following year Mr. Griffiths was given another month’s hard labour charged with (the wonderful phrase) “being a rogue and a vagabond”. In Phillip’s defence, maybe William “had it coming to him”?!

They went through a difficult period in their marriage in the 1860s, actually separating for a period, as we can see from a couple of Usk Observer articles  in November 1864 and February 1865. It was reported that “the parties seem to have lived on very unhappy terms for some time”. Phillip’s legal representative tried to show that Phillip was “more sinned against than sinning”, although it was Phillip who was bound over to keep the peace for six months, after saying that he would “split her head with a loaf” and Hannah complained that she was in fear of her life. Phillip appeared in Court again in April 1865, after having used threats against one Joseph Goodenough, (of Ty Coch, Glascoed). He accused Mr Goodenough of having had an affair, it appears with Hannah. The facts are not established in court about this, but it appears a likely scenario. Joseph and Hannah were of the same age and locality. Joseph, appears to have had some standing in the community, since he was appointed as a parish overseer in 1863.

Phillip was most likely friendly with John and Sarah Pitt. He was the informant on John’s Death certificate, and was present at the death. He signed the certificate with a cross, so evidently was illiterate.

In 1866 Philip was accused by his wife of being more than friendly with Sarah Pitt - it resulted in a court appearance between Hannah and Sarah, as reported by the Usk Observer. He was also accused of “neglecting to support his wife” in this period, also reported by the Usk Observer.

Philip Lewis took his nephew, James Meredith to court for stealing his axe in 1869, although after James explained that he “merely took axe from one place, to cut a stick, and left it in another place, in consequence of forgetfulness. —The case was dismissed, and the prosecutor expressed his regret that the accused had been taken into custody.” James was the son of Phillip’s sister Caroline and her husband James Meredith, Sr.

By 1871 things appeared to have settled down, with Phillip and Hannah living back together again at Bush Cottage (Phillip being a labourer once again). They were still living together at Bush Cottage in 1881, which is the last time they appeared on the census. Hannah died in November 1885 and was buried at Monkswood Parish Church on 25th November 1885. Phillip died 5 years later and was buried at Monkswood on 22nd November 1890.


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