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Muckleston Family History Group

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Steward of Talley
 

Talley is a small village lying in a narrow valley connecting the vales of Cothi and the Tywi in North East Carmarthenshire. It is remote and limited in its communications with the outside world. The village name derives from the two lakes nearby (Tay-y-llychau) shortened to Talley.

 

There was an Abbey at Talley, it was built exactly on the watershed so that the rain from the north roof ran via the lakes to the Cothi and that from the south roof through the Afon Ddu to the Tywi. The abbey at Talley is unique in Wales in being founded for the monastic order of the Premonstratensians, or White Canons. The cannons had a constitution and way of life based on Cistercian lines, even adopting the same white habit, but followed the Augustinian cannons in their undertaking of duties within the parish.

 

The order was well supported in England at the end of the 12th century, and Henry II's chief justiciar, Ranulf de Glanville, was prominent among its patrons. It may have been this man who influenced Rhys ap Gruffydd, the Lord Rhys, in his choice of the White Canons for the new house which he founded at Talley in the late 1180s, a time of peace and concord between the Welsh prince and the English crown. The downfall of Ranulf soon afterwards may in turn had some bearing on the fact that no other Premonstratensian houses were ever founded in Wales, and that Talley was only poorly endowed.

 

The princely descendants of the Lord Rhys continued to support the abbey, and his great grandson, Rhys Fychan, was buried there in 1271. The endowments made through the years to the abbey included grants of land both near to Talley and further afield in Ceredigion, Gwent and the Gower, and the rents from the estates brought in much-needed income. Nevertheless, the monastery was never wealthy. Indeed, soon after its foundation, the cannons were involved in an extensive lawsuit against the abbot of the Cistercian house of Whitland, who evidently regarded Talley as a dangerous rival.

 

It was in a quiet spot in the heart of the mountains, well fitted for monastic seclusion. Much of the monastic building has fallen and now only the abbey church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St John the Baptist, and part of the cloister remain.

 

The Muckleston connection with the Manor of Talley is confirmed in the following extract from Archaeologia Cambrensis 1894        

Muckleston Rd. Steward of Talley (OM) p 206

 

A Contribution to the History of Talley Abbey.

 

“Forasmuch as David Thomas hath taken pains in drawing up of this survey for his majesties service, we do think fit to award and order that the said David Thomas shall receive at the next Court Leet, or before, from every of his majesties tenants, the sum of eight pence and from every under tenant four pence; and if in any case any of the said tenants do refuse to obey (the above) order, we then refer him to be amerced by Richard Muckleston, Gentleman, Steward of this Lordship, at the next Court Leet to beholden for the same”

 

Clearly David Thomas received payment for carrying out a survey for the king from the tenants of the Manor, clearly anticipating some objection to this Richard Muckleston had the responsibility of dealing with anyone who refused to pay up.

 

Each Manor had a Steward, the role of the Steward was to act as the chief agent for the Lord, maintaining its records and presiding over its courts.

 

The above extract does not give a date when these events happened but it is very likely that the Richard Muckleston mentioned was the one who was living in Kily Owen, Carmarthenshire when he died in 1638 (see later will). He was born in Oswestry in 1580. He came to Carmarthen as a result of his marriage to Dame Elizabeth Aubrey due to the fact that his wife was heiress to the estates of Trebonne in the county. He inherited these estates on the basis that he would give at least 40 shillings to the poor of Oswestry and in his will he left £2 per annum (40 shillings) to be paid in bread.

 

The abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII and the structure mined by the villagers for stone to build much of the present village and the chapel next to the abbey. The abbey would therefore not have been in use at the time of the survey or Richard's stewardship. As the extract mentions a king not a queen requesting the survey we also have to assume it took place after 1603.

 

As with many village communities it was well populated in the Victorian period, as described by Lewis in 1844.

 

TALLEY, otherwise TÀL-Y-LLYCHAU, a parish, in the union of LLANDILO-VAWR, lower division of the hundred of CAYO, county of CARMARTHEN, SOUTH WALES, 7 1/2 miles (N.) from Llandilo-Vawr: containing 1068 inhabitants, of whom 418 are in the Lower, and 650 in the Upper, division. This place, of which the name, signifying "the head of the lakes," is derived from two large pools, near the church, of about fifty acres in extent, was originally of much greater importance than at present, and the seat of one of the most extensive and venerable ecclesiastical establishments in this part of the principality.

 

 

Cilycwm is possibly Kily Owen where the Steward Richard Muckleston lived. Pencader (seen on this map) is also mentioned in family documents. We do not know exactly where the estates of Trebonne were other than they were also in Carmarthenshire.