The Marendaz and Thomas Familes of Glamorgan

From an Article by A. Leslie Evans
Transactions of the Port Talbot Historical Society,
No.3 Vol.1 1967 pages 108-110


This transcript from a scanned copy of the article was sent to me by Perry Vincent on 29 Mar 1999.


[First few lines missing ...]

[... Emmanuel David Marendaz was a] farmer in the parish of Margam, paying only a peppercorn rent for his tenancy as a result of the benevolent patronage of his landlord-Thomas Mansel Talbot of Margam and Penrice Castle. Four successive generations of the Marendaz family enjoyed the same privilege, the last being Richard (Dicky) Marendaz of Cwrt Ucha or Upper Court Farm, sited near the Port Talbot General Station and demolished in 1913. Subsequently, Richard Marendaz, whom many older local people will remember left for Mathern, near Chepstow, thus ending his family's long association with our district. On his death in 1938, he was buried at Margam, being survived by his widow who still lives at Mathern, having attained the ripe old age of 96.

The progenitor of the family, David Emmanuel Marendaz, was evidently a person of some social standing, held in respect by local folk, for an entry made in the Margam Vestry Records in 1799 refers to him as Mr Marendaz. T. M. Talbot advanced him a sum of 400 under a bond of repayment issued at Penrice on January 1, 1799 (Margam MS. 10363), in which he is referred to as D. E. Marendaz, Gent. Subsequent Margam records (5672, 8743 and 10232) show that he farmed old Tonygroes Farm (formerly sited at Holy Cross Church) in the period 1803-1820 and that he also held Tydraw Farm in the latter year. His eldest son, also named David Emmanuel Marendaz, was born in Margam and after the demolition of Tonygroes Farm he settled at Tydraw. The large memorial to his family, on the left of the entrance to Holy Cross Church, records his death in 1867 at the age of 68. His widow, Catherine (nee Powell?), continued to farm Tydraw and was buried at Holy Cross on March 4, 1893, her age being 86. D. E. Marendaz, Jnr., had a younger brother, the Rev. Francis Marendaz (1802-1842), who served as curate at Cwmavon in 1830, in which year he gained an M.A. degree at Jesus College (Alumni Oxon.). After serving as minister at St. Alphege's, Greenwich, and St. Luke's, Berwick Street, St. James's, Westminster, he died on June 10, 1842. It seems likely that the John Loveluck Marendaz, a traveller for the Evan Evans' Brewery at Neath, who embezzled his employer's money in 1843, was a brother to Francis (Morgannwg, ix, 40, 57), and, if so, it would appear that David Emmanuel Marendaz, Snr., had married a member of the Loveluck family of Margam.

D. E. Marendaz, Jnr, of Tydraw, had a daughter, Catherine Ann, and a son named William Powell Marendaz, who first farmed Penhydd before settling at Cwrt Ucha, where he died in March, 1895, aged 65. W P. Marendaz and his wife Sarah (d. 1891, aged 65) issued the above-named Richard Marendaz, later of Mathern. Richard Marendaz had three sons: R ichard G. F. Marendaz, now of Hayes Gate Farm, Mathern; Capt. D.M. K. Marendaz, a well-known art collector and writer- now settled in South Africa but formerly of Norwich; and lastly Stewart Marendaz.

Recently Mr. G. A. Dart, Deputy City Librarian of Cardiff, kindly provided me with some details relating to the genealogical background of the internationally famous essayist and poet, Edward Thomas (1878-1917), and I was interested to learn that both of his parents had local forebears, one being a Marendaz. Although born in Lambeth, London, Edward Thomas was characteristically Welsh in upbringing and outlook, and his profound love for Wales, his parents' homeland, finds abundant expression in his works. A close friend of the poets W H. Davies and 'Gwili' (John Jenkins), he spent long periods tramping through Carmarthenshire and other parts of Wales, and in view of his ancestry it would be reasonable to suppose that he visited the Port Talbot area.

On his father's side, the poet was descended from a Thomas Thomas of Cwmavon, who appears to have married a lady named Eastaway, two of his children being named Henry Eastaway Thomas and Caroline Eastaway Thomas, whose marriage to a James Jones at Neath is recorded in the Monmouthshire Merlin, Nov. 1, 1845, The Eastaways were of Devonshire origin and Edward Thomas's early poems were issued under the pseudonym 'Edward Eastaway'. Henry Eastaway Thomas and his son Philip Henry Thomas lived in Tredegar but the latter moved to Lambeth, where his son, the poet, was born. Philip H. Thomas married Edward Thomas's mother, Mary Elizabeth Townsend of Newport in 1877 she being the daughter of Edward Thomas Townsend, also of Newport, who established the link with the Marendaz family by marrying Catherine Ann, daughter of David Emmanuel Marendaz, Jnr. E. T Townsend's father, Alderman William Townsend (1795-1877), was a Newport merchant who was a militant Liberal and friend of the Chartist, John Frost.

The circumstances under which David Emmanuel Marendaz, Snr, came to Margam had long excited my interest, and 1 have long pondered over the reason for the patronage extended to him by T. M. Talbot. The answer lies, it would appear, in strong, albeit confused, family traditions. These point to a dramatic experience at sea, involving Marendaz and Talbot when the latter was on one of his many cruises abroad. Marendaz is said to have saved Talbot's life, which would certainly provide an adequate reason for Talbot's benevolent attitude to him. Some years ago, the late Roderick Williams, the Bridgend historian, told me that Marendaz was the captain of Talbot's yacht, whilst Helen Thomas, wife of the poet, says in her book on Edward Thomas ('As it Was') that her husband's ancestor was a Spanish sea captain. She also refers to a beautiful gold signet ring which had belonged to him and which Edward Thomas had given to her. In a recent conversation with Mr. Richard G. F. Marendaz, 1 was informed that he had been told that his progenitor was Portuguese, and I think he is correct. His brother, Capt. D, M. K. Marendaz, writing in 'Apollo', vol. 39, 101, hints at the circumstances attending his ancestor's settlement in Margam in the following brief notice: "After an adventurous yachting cruise in the Mediterranean, Emmanuel Marendaz accompanied Talbot to England and lived with him at Margam Castle until 1797, afterwards settling at Margam and Porthcawl." It should be noted that he could not have lived in Margam Castle at that time, for it was built some thirty years later. The writer presumably meant Penrice Castle.

Catherine Ann Marendaz of Tydraw Farm was, no doubt, extremely proud of her seafaring grandfather whose courage was liberally rewarded by T. M. Talbot. She would have been equally proud of her grandsons, Edward Thomas. and his brother Sir Theodore Eastaway Thomas (1882-1951), former General Manager of the London Passenger Transport Board. She knew neither, however, having died in 1858, aged 33.