Guest contribution: The Iron Forge at Llancillo: Its Owners and Operators by Philip Vaughan
1600s – 1800s
We are indebted to Philip Vaughan for his research on the working of Llancillo Forge and its place in the regional economy of south Wales during the Industrial Revolution, with a focus on the part played by his forebear Thomas Vaughan.
The Ewyas Lacy Study Group
The Iron Forge at Llancillo: Its Owners and Operators
by Philip Vaughan
In this article we bring together the scant documentation on the charcoal iron forge in the parish of Llancillo and the family records of Thomas Vaughan, whose iron industry career from the age of 24 began with a spell of fourteen years, 1755 to 1769, at Llancillo Forge. For over two centuries the owners of the Forge were the Scudamores of Kentchurch Court. However, for a large part of that time its actual operation was in the hands of the Foley family (prominent ironmasters in South Wales and the Midlands during much of the 17th and 18th centuries).
Thomas Vaughan 1731-1822 spent the whole of his long life in the iron industry, successively in Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and Glamorgan, as did many of his family; and their paths crossed those of the Scudamore and Foley families in several locations. Thomas was the writer’s great-great-great-great-grandfather in the direct male line.
We shall set down what is known about the Forge, its early years, its owners and its operators – including the Thomas Vaughan interlude; and we shall tell how it was bypassed by both canal and tramroad developments, before it morphed into a mere local memory.
As far as possible, this article is based on prime sources rather than secondary ones, and fanciful speculation is generally avoided. Rather than following strict chronological order, we present the story through successive themes, in which the timelines may slightly overlap:
Llancillo Charcoal Iron Forge ~ The Scudamores and Llancillo
~ The Foleys and After ~Thomas Vaughan ‘of Llancillo’ ~ Late Echoes of the Forge.
We conclude the text with Notes and Sources.
Llancillo Charcoal Iron Forge
The site of Llancillo Forge at SO 375 252 is a stone’s throw from the River Monnow, on its Herefordshire bank. Today, almost nothing of the charcoal iron forge remains at this tranquil, isolated spot except for an enigmatic ruined stone building (perhaps a dwelling for forge workers) on a low mound containing slag and clinker. These features, together with documentary clues including historic maps, confirm its industrial past – but also establish that it was not a large operation.
In this context, the term forge means a works where pig-iron, made in a blast furnace, was subjected to great heat and then hammered by hydraulic hammers into wrought iron in the form of bar-iron. The process was two-fold: firstly, in the finery the pigs were converted into blocks, called anconies, and secondly, in the chafery the blocks were drawn into bars or other shapes if required.
Before the ironmasters learned how to use coke and coal, the fuel for the forges was charcoal. Therefore, a plentiful supply of local timber – as in the environs of Llancillo – was very important for profitable operation. An adequate running stream or river was also needed to deliver the water-power that drove the furnace bellows and the tilt-hammers: at Llancillo, the water was channelled from the Monnow to the waterwheel (or wheels) by way of a leat, traces of which can still be seen.
Some explanation of the operational hierarchy of a forge in the 17th to 19th centuries may be useful here. The normal structure looked like this:
(a) The proprietor – a landowner who might lease the site or exploit it himself; at Llancillo, for the years under review, this was the Scudamore family.
(b) The operator – a person or persons who contracted to operate the works and/or develop the site; at Llancillo, for part of the period we are studying, this was the Foley partnership.
(c) The manager (often called clerk or agent ) – the on-site man responsible inter alia for hiring and firing workmen, sourcing charcoal or timber, arranging inward and outward carriage of materials and keeping management accounts. This person often had family accommodation on the spot: for instance, Pontrilas Forge SO 400 264 had a clerk’s house while the larger Monmouth – also known as Osbaston – Forge SO 503 137 had a grander mansion house. In the 1755-69 years the agent’s role at Llancillo was probably played by Thomas Vaughan, whom we shall meet later.
(d) The workers, such as finers and hammermen (artisans who might carry their skills from forge to forge), unskilled men such as labourers, and independent suppliers like colliers who made and delivered the charcoal for the furnace and carriers, with their packhorses or wagons. As will be seen, some of the Llancillo workforce can be identified by name.
For even a relatively small ironworks like Llancillo, the machinery required seems to have been surprisingly sophisticated. It must have been a source of amazement to its rustic neighbours in the farming community of south-west Herefordshire. We may gain some idea of its mechanical complexity from a water-damaged record of the mid-17th century (it bears no precise date) that was transcribed – with difficulty – as follows:
A true and perfect Note and Scedule of the Materialls instruments and implements which remayne within the Ironworke or Forge of Lancillo or belong thereunto, viz. [? one] hamer beame & hamer wheele ~ [? Six] iron hoops upon the said beame ~ Two iron gudgings in the ends of the said beame ~ One droome beame ~ One cheape sill ~ One popett & one doge ~ One rabbett ~ Two leggs ~ Two plumer blocks ~ Two fynery chymneys two finery wheels & two troughes thereto belonging ~ One chafery ~ One chafery chymney with 1 barr of iron in the chimney & 1 chafery trough ~ One chafery wheele ~ One shaft with two iron whoops upon it ~Two gudgings in the ends of the said shaft ~ One payre of bellows.
The writer of this true and perfect Note is unknown, but it may be supposed that he was one Richard Kemble. This man was noted in 1643 as Clerk to Llancillo Forge as well as the linked furnace SO 492 234 at St Weonards HEF. He may have been one of the local Kemble family, of which the most eminent member was Saint John Kemble, a renowned Catholic priest (born at Rhydicar Farm in St Weonards) who was executed in 1679.
The Scudamores and Llancillo
It’s time to introduce the Scudamores. Although we do not know when Llancillo Forge was erected, we do have evidence that for over two centuries it belonged to the estate of the Scudamores of Kentchurch, a family which had held the lordship of the manors of Rowlestone HEF since 1306 and Llancillo since 1402. A record of 1425 shows that one John Dansey sold the manor of Lanselyow to Thomas Scudamore. The two manors descended in the family until they were both sold in 1922 to pay the death duties at Kentchurch.
Before they became of Kentchurch Court, the Scudamores’ base was a long-gone mansion at Rowlestone. Later they moved downstream to Corras SO 420 249, on the Monnow’s Herefordshire bank, before finally settling at Kentchurch SO 423 258. Another major branch of this family had their seat at Holme Lacy SO 554 348.
Here, for clarification, we note some Scudamore ‘strays’, not ‘of Kentchurch’ but actual residents and/or parishioners of Llancillo. Their records, all designated …of Llancillo, comprise wills and memorials in the churchyard or the church, as follows:
22.10.1653, buried in churchyard: Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Scudamore, gent.
1720, buried in churchyard: Thomas Scudamore.
We shall not attempt to re-create a genealogical tree of the Llancillo Scudamores, interesting though that might be. None of their wills referred to any Forge, as of course that belonged to the Kentchurch Court family. In all records of Llancillo that follow, the Scudamores of Kentchurch Court were identified as the Forge’s proprietors. We shall now relate their involvement with the Forge from the 17th century onwards, before Paul Foley became the operator, and then after 1731 when the Foley Partnership had left the scene.
The earliest surviving Scudamore link to the Forge at Llancillo comes in 1637, when Thomas and Amy Cavendish gave John Scudamore a three-year lease. A document of 1625 shows that John Scudamore was Amy’s son from her first marriage to another John Scudamore, before she wed Mr Cavendish. The Forge lease refers to weirs, watercourses, ponds, dams, houses and buildings: clearly it was already in a complete and operable state. Whether or not it had actually been working before 1637 has not yet come to light. The lease turned into a gift to John from his mother, Mrs Cavendish: in 1656 a document granting the lease of properties, including the Forge, to other parties names John as the lessor:
Lease for six months of the two lp's or man's of Kenchurch and Cawros [Corras], the capital mansion house called Kenchurch ...,1656, April 7. (Creation) 1. John Scudemore the elder of Kenchurch, Herefordshire, esq.; 2. Andrew Lloyd of Aston, esq., William Cook of Heighnam, in the city of Gloucester, esq., Richard Scudemore of Kenchurch aforesaid, gent., Robert Atkins of Lincolns Inne, London, esq., and Thomas Lloyd of Whittington, esq. Lease for six months of the two lp's or man's of Kenchurch and Cawros, the capital mansion house called Kenchurch Court, the park, barn, etc., thereto belonging, m's, lands, etc., in t's Kenchurch, Gawron and Garway, a mill in Kenchurch, lp's or man's Llansillo otherwise Llancilloe and Rowleston otherwise Rollston, the iron mill or forge in t. Llancilloe, m's and lands in p's Rowleston and Cluddocke, Herefordshire, and Grismont, Monmouthshire, and in t. Longtowne, Herefordshire, m's and lands in the said man's Llancilloe and Rowleston, lp or man. Howton, and Howtons Court, and m's and lands in t. Howton, Herefordshire, lp's or man's Llanhyddocke and Gwarnegenny otherwise Warngenny, Herefordshire, m's, lands, etc., in t. Grismont, Monmouthshire, and in t's and p's Kilpecke, Garwaye, Llanhydocke and Gwarngenye, Herefordshire and co. Mon., lp or man's Llangua, Monmouthshire, and m's and lands therein, and rents, etc., in Herefordshire and co. Mon.
The first of Llancillo’s forge-workers whose name we know was employed by either the Scudamores or some interim operator (before the Foley era). He was Giles Griffits (sic) of Llancillo. In 1663 the inventory of his will describes him as Hammerman. The inventory, typical of wills in the area, lists mainly wearing-apparel and instruments of husbandry; there is no sign of tools of trade. At the time of his death he was farming, albeit in a modest way, yet he was identified as hammerman, not farmer or yeoman; Giles’s job had been a skilled one, and he was proud of it. (We shall identify some more Forge employees later.)
We next find, by a record of 1670, that John Scudamore gave a 21-year lease of Lansyllo Forge and Pontrilas Forge to an operator called William Hall. We shall see this name recur in connection with Monmouth Forge in 1671, and with a re-leasing of Llancillo Forge in 1672.
Before we continue the account of the Forge’s operation under new ironmasters, we shall take a short detour to Monmouth, which has already figured en passant in this article. There were Scudamores at Monmouth Forge from the 17th into the 18th century. We take up this link with a document of 1671 that introduces one George Scudamore, of Treworgan House SO 512 195 in Llangarron HEF, a descendant of the Holme Lacy family. In 1671 he and William Hall were co-defendants in a Chancery Court case brought by Anne Hall, widow, re the Iron mill or forge, Monmouth. (Also, in 1672-3 this George Scudamore leased a property in Rockfield MON from Richard Vaughan of Ruthlin Mill SO 464 190; Richard was probably kin to ‘Thomas Vaughan of Llancillo’ of the 1750s.)
In 1678 a lease created by Sir John Pye, Charles Milborne and George Milborne gave tenancy of a forge called Monmouth forge, with associated property, to George and Milborne Scudamore. A will of 1689 confirms that the Monmouth Iron Worke and Forge was in George Scudamore’s possession, but in 1703 he granted that forge lease to the Foley Partnership. A new name, Henry Scudamore, emerges at Monmouth in 1714; we do not know his exact relationship to George, perhaps son or brother. Henry raised a mortgage on Monmouth Forge House and garden, and two forges for melting iron called Monmouth Forges. A record of 1737 shows Monmouth Forge back in the hands of a later George Scudamore, but by 1746 the owner was the Duke of Beaufort.
A lease drawn up in 1763 saw Monmouth Forge pass to the hands of ironmasters Richard Reynolds, John Partridge Sr. and John Partridge Jr. In 1784 the forges, house and land were leased by the Duke to a larger group that comprised Richard Scudamore, James Harford, William Weaver, Philip Crocker, Truman Harford, all of Bristol, merchants, John Partridge and Thomas Prichard of Ross HEF, ironmasters, Richard Reynolds of Ketley SAL, ironmaster and John Partridge Jr. of Monmouth Forges, ironmaster. Some of these entrepreneurs will figure again on later pages. Another Scudamore connection is hidden here. The lessor, the 5th Duke of Beaufort 1744-1803, was a grandson of Henry, 3rd Duke, who had married Frances, only daughter and heir of James Scudamore of Holme Lacy, 3rd Viscount Scudamore, in 1729.
The Foleys and After
We return now to the story of Llancillo Forge. After John Scudamore’s grant of the 21-year lease for Llancillo to William Hall in 1670, William and his brother Henry Hall assigned the remainder of the lease to the renowned ironmaster Paul Foley. Their agreement, of 1672, seems no longer to exist, but it is re-iterated in a document of 1687 as follows:
Counterpart of Assignment by HENRY HALL and WILLIAM HALL to THOMAS MORGAN of Tintorn [Tintern MON] and NATHANIEL MORGAN of St Waynards [St Weonards] of a Lease dated 1 Nov.,1672 by John Scudamore of Kentchurch [and Richard, Ambrose and Martin Scudamore] to Paul Foley of Stokes Court [his new mansion at Stoke Edith HEF] of a Forge and Ironwork….called Lansillows Forge, with all outhouses, workmens houses, storehouses &c. belonging and the soyle and ground whereon they Stood, also a messuage or farm called Lansillows Farm with a meadow called Baylea for a term of 19 years.
The inventory is similar to the mid-17th century record previously quoted. The modest stock of equipment suggests an operation engaging perhaps only three or four workmen. It is interesting to see that when R R Angerstein, a spy for the Swedish iron producers, came to Monmouth Forge in 1754, on his visit around some of this country’s iron-making sites, he noted that nine men were working in the finery there and four in the chafery. We have no similar details for Llancillo Forge, but it is reasonable to suppose that its workforce was smaller, perhaps little more than a handful of men.
Paul Foley 1645-99, who took over the Llancillo lease in 1672, was an eminent member of the dynasty of Foleys who were leaders in the iron industry of the Midlands and South Wales in the 17th and 18th centuries. He was active too in politics, as an MP for Herefordshire and then as Speaker of the House of Commons. (Later, we shall enlarge on Foley’s connection from 1674 with Whitecroft Forge SO 619 062, on the Cannop Brook GLS in the Forest of Dean, and the Foley Partnership’s leasing of Monmouth Forge in 1703. In the 1750s Monmouth Forge was to become the home of Joseph Vaughan 1697-1781 and his family; the Thomas Vaughan who turns up in Llancillo in 1755 was Joseph’s second son. The story of Thomas is related in due course in this account.)
It may be useful to step back here and place the Llancillo ironworks in the context of other industrial activity in the area. That actual ownership of the Forge still lay with the Scudamores is evident from documents of 1701, 1750, 1754 and 1778. However, operating the Forge and producing the iron called for experience and skills beyond those of the gentry of Kentchurch Court – and it was this that brought Paul Foley on the scene.
Under Foley, Llancillo was part of a thriving iron-making complex that centred on St Weonards, where the Old Furnace made pig iron and supplied it for further working to the forges at Llancillo, Pontrilas and Peterchurch SO 342 389. Monmouth Forge also on occasion supplied pigs to Llancillo; and in 1725 Llancillo received pig iron from the Forest of Dean and Llanelly SO 235 140 (formerly in Breconshire, now Monmouthshire). Most of Llancillo’s bar-iron (and that from Monmouth Forge) was sent via the Foleys’ Monmouth Storehouse to their agency at Bewdley WOR, and from there it was sold to customers in Birmingham and Staffordshire.
After Foley took up the Llancillo lease in 1672, he made improvements to the Forge and the leat and holding-ponds by which its water power could be more efficiently controlled. The Forge’s output was significant: in the year 1677-8, for instance, it produced 150 tons (compared with 50 tons at Peterchurch). In 1717 it produced 130 tons. In the years 1725-31 Llancillo’s output varied between 62, 120, 76 and 33 tons (compared with about 200 tons from Monmouth Forge).
A new Foley Partnership was confirmed as operators of Llancillo in 1723. By a document of that date Llancillo Forge (with St Weonards Furnace, also Monmouth and other forges) came into the joint management of Thomas Foley I, Thomas Foley II, John Wheeler and William Rea of Monmouth. Thomas I 1670-1737 was the eldest son of Paul Foley, and like him served as MP for Hereford; Thomas II 1695-1749, son of Thomas I, also became MP for Hereford.
From the Foley Papers we can draw a few details of Llancillo’s forge-workers after Paul Foley’s arrival in 1672. The Accounts for 1677 name the Forge manager – Charles Walvin, paid £30 a year, with Nathaniel Morgan as his assistant at £23 a year. We may identify this Morgan as the St Weonards man named in the 1672 lease above, and he is found again in a document of 1702. This records that John Scudamore and Anne Scudamore, widow, granted him the residue of a seven-year lease on the Forge. The will of 1712 of one Nathaniell Morgan probably refers to the same man. He is there designated of Llancillo, but his bequest to his wife Hannah and son Nathaniel was of a property in Llangua SO 393 258. (Although most of Llangua parish was in Monmouthshire, some of its fields and water-meadows actually lay in Herefordshire; the boundary struck north across the Monnow at a point just metres away from the Forge.) Morgan’s will terms him yeoman, so perhaps before his death he had moved on from forge management to farming nearby.
Three more workers are named in 1729-30: William Russel, paid for producing anconies, John Maybury, paid for drawing them out, and Thomas Powell, stocktaker, living at the Forge. Payments were also made to four colliers and 14 carriers.
As no valid data survives after 1731, we do not know just when the Foleys withdrew from the Llancillo operation. However, it seems that all of their iron-making activities, in the Midlands as well as the shires of Gloucester, Monmouth and Hereford, were being wound down after the 1730s, as and when various leases fell in. (Peterchurch Forge may have still existed in 1736; Pontrilas Forge had stopped working before 1695; St Weonards Furnace closed in 1731, although its forge continued till the 1790s, perhaps under other management.) It is possible that Llancillo Forge was moth-balled for some years, even decades, after the 1730s. We come again to firmer ground with the interlude of Thomas Vaughan, 1755 to 1769, as will be more fully related later.
A couple more forge-workers have been identified. In 1766 we find a marriage record of one William Maybery, forgeman, of Grosmont MON. He must have worked at Llancillo, as there was no other forge in the area (Pontrilas and Peterchurch had both ceased operation by that date)..
Even if Maybery continued to live in Grosmont, his journey to work would not have been difficult. We can see from maps of the 19th century that there was a farm-track running north from Pentwyn Farm SO 379 250 in Llangua parish, crossing the Monnow at SO 378 252 a short way downstream from Llancillo Forge. The track passed over a bridge of sorts; probably this was a simple timber structure sufficient for pedestrians and occasional farm wagons. The modern 1-inch OS map shows a Ford at this place.
The last employee identified was William Tyler, whose marriage was registered in 1790. He was described as of Llancillo, forgeman, although this marriage too was at Grosmont, his wife’s parish. We have checked registers, records and wills in Grosmont, Llangua and relevant Herefordshire parishes, for signs of other forge-workers living on either side of the Monnow; but the search for more such workmen has drawn blank.
The paucity of evidence of local workers is puzzling, yet certainly iron was produced. While the Foley Accounts are not continuous, they indicate, as shown above, that Llancillo manufactured many tons of iron in 1677-78, 1700, 1707-08, 1721-23, 1725-27 and 1729-30. Perhaps the apparent lack of workers was because production was very intermittent, or the employees had no wills, marriages or property leases to be passed down to us (apart from the few mentioned above), or even that, in such records as survive, these men were identified simply as labourers, not as skilled artisans. Llancillo Forge itself did figure in records such as marriage settlements and leases, but this may simply reflect that it was a property deemed to be of value, actual or potential, yet not necessarily an active concern at all times. Its working after 1731 seems not to have been continuous. Although we do find a reference of 1745, naming Mr Richard Smith as tenant of John Scudamore for Upper Farm and Forge in Llancillo, we cannot tell if this was the Forge in operation or simply the address of a property. Perhaps the Forge was standing patiently idle in the decades after 1731, returning to life only with the arrival of Thomas Vaughan in 1755.
It is interesting here to offer a new dimension to the story of industry in the Marches. An ambitious project was mooted in 1751 to make the Monnow into a navigable waterway. At this date, in order to transport their output to market via Monmouth, Llancillo Forge and other producers of any kind were obliged to use carriers with wagons, packhorses and mules. The route, along primitive tracks and byways, was often impassable for many weeks, and this was a major disadvantage for any commercial or industrial venture. The era of turnpike roads was yet to reach Herefordshire.
Thus when William Pytt, a local man with some surveying experience, came up with his plan for a Monnow River Navigation, it was generally welcomed by proprietors on both the Welsh and the English banks. Pytt proposed to improve the river, controlling its depth and flow by a series of locks. He claimed that river trade would then be able to pass freely down to Monmouth (connecting via the Wye to the Severn Estuary and Bristol). The Navigation’s northern end was to be at Corras Ford SO 419 251, between Kentchurch and Grosmont.
This link would clearly have made a critical difference to Llancillo’s access to Monmouth and beyond, even though the northern end of the Navigation would have been a few miles short of the Forge. Had the project ever left the drawing-board, the ironworks might have lived on and flourished.
Most of the riparian landowners saw the benefits and welcomed the Navigation plan. The petition sent in September 1751 to the Duke of Beaufort, seeking his support, was signed by eight gentlemen. John Scudamore was not among the signatories, perhaps because he wished not to cross the Duke of Beaufort, who appears to have ignored Pytt’s plans or at least to have refrained from encouraging them; the Duke was of course the chief landowner on the Monnow’s western banks. Support appears to have been insufficient to generate further action, and when William Pytt died in 1752, the project slipped into oblivion.
The Forge may or may not have been active in the days when the Navigation was under lively consideration. However, Lansillo Forge is clearly featured on Taylor’s Map of Herefordshire in 1754. And as we shall now be exploring, it is probable that from 1755 to 1769 Thomas Vaughan had employment there.
Thomas Vaughan ‘of Llancillo’
Thomas Vaughan came to south-west Herefordshire in 1755, when he was 25 years old. He remained there for fourteen years, in which time he and his wife had no fewer than four sons and four daughters. What was the history of this Thomas and what brought him north across the Monnow?
He was born in the parish of Newland GLS, on the English bank of the River Wye, on April 7th 1731, the second son of Joseph Vaughan 1697-1788 and his wife Elizabeth. Newland parish register’s entry for their marriage in 1724 records Joseph as of Whitecroft, while his wife was of Bream. Both these places were extra-parochial hamlets in the Forest of Dean, some five miles east of Newland, that had no parish registers of their own.
Mention of Whitecroft recalls an early connection with the Foleys; the forge here came into the hands of Paul Foley in 1674. After Paul’s death, the Foley ironmasters went on in 1703 to take up the lease on Monmouth Forge, as noted earlier. Fifty years on, in the 1750s, Joseph Vaughan and his family made their home at Monmouth. As well as ‘Thomas of Llancillo’, Joseph had three other sons, William, Joseph and John, and two daughters, who all grew up in the shadow of Monmouth Forge. We drew earlier on Angerstein’s 1754 report on the workforce there. He does not name the workmen, but they probably included Joseph, then 57 years old, and some or all of his sons (including a 23-year-old Thomas, soon to be married). It is significant that not only the father, Joseph, but all four sons, and some later generations too, continued to be engaged in the iron and tinplate industries; it is not too much to say that this family had ‘iron in the blood’.
The eldest brother of ‘our’ Thomas was William Vaughan, whom we find in 1780-96 as manager at Caerphilly Furnace GLA. We know little else of him, but his son Philip 1757-1824 became the proprietor of Carmarthen Iron Foundry and later operator of established tinworks at Kidwelly CMN and Redbrook on the Wye.
Joseph Vaughan 1736-96 was three years younger than Thomas. He was agent (manager) at Melingriffith Tinplate Works, near Cardiff, from 1770 till his death. Thomas’s youngest brother was John Vaughan 1738-1806, who rose through the iron industry to end as agent at Machen Forges MON. For most of the brothers’ working lives, at Monmouth Forge, Caerphilly, Melingriffith and Machen, their employers were the well-known Bristol merchants who traded and exported iron and tinplate as Harford, Partridge & Co.
Thomas Vaughan and his new wife came to the Llancillo area in 1755, when the proprietor of the Forge was, of course, John Scudamore 1727-1796. (This gentleman, known as Colonel Scudamore, was himself about to marry, in 1756.) Thomas’s bride was Ann, the daughter of Joseph Vaughan, of the Tump Farm, Rockfield; thus Thomas had a father-in-law as well as a father called Joseph. Perhaps they were related, but no proven link is to be found. The Rockfield Joseph was a yeoman, previously of Twyford in the parish of Callow HEF.
The family’s first child, Elizabeth, was christened at St Michael’s, Ewyas Harold, on 27 October 1755. She was buried only three days later; perhaps it was a premature birth – her parents had married barely five months before. Thomas and Ann next had two sons, born at Ewyas Harold: Thomas in 1756 and Joseph in 1758. The trail then shifts to the next parish, Rowlestone. Here, according to Thomas’s Memorandums, three more children were born: John in 1761, James in 1762 and Elizabeth (the second to be so named) in 1764.
Finally, Llancillo became the place of residence; Thomas recorded it as the birthplace of Anne in 1766 and Mary in 1768 (or perhaps 1769 – the writing is unclear). St Peter’s at Llancillo, within a few hundred metres of the Forge and close to the farmyard of Llancillo Court SO 361 251, is the likely place for their christenings, but no record of that has been found. Nothing to be seen in this church or churchyard has links to any Vaughans.
St Peter’s is now de-consecrated; since 2007 it has been in the care of The Friends of Friendless Churches. The building still contains a roughly-hewn wooden chest of ‘dug-out’ type with iron hasps, which once housed the church records. (In 1935, the chest showed signs of having been used for storing coal, when the Woolhope Club visited the church!)
On the subject of chests, we must recall here a memento of Thomas’s Llancillo years, in the form of the large oak chest (still in the Vaughan family) embellished with the date 1762 and the initials T, A, V. The initials are of course those of Thomas and Ann Vaughan; the date might mark a milestone event, the seventh anniversary of their marriage. Could this chest be the handiwork of a works carpenter during some quiet time at the Forge?
The ‘elephant in the room’ must still be conclusively dealt with: did Thomas Vaughan actually perform a job at Llancillo Forge? The pro’s and con’s are as follows:
(a) Between October 1755 and June 1768 Thomas and his wife had eight children born and/or christened in the Ewyas Harold/Rowlestone/Llancillo area.
(b) While we have no evidence of his employment at the Forge, there is also no sign of his engaging in any other work, such as farming, in this or nearby parishes. There are surviving records like leases of land naming numerous people in the area, but none for Thomas. It may be that this kind of documentation has been lost – or that Thomas was simply a sub-tenant with no property of his own. It is also possible that he enjoyed occupation of a house that went with the job (as did his brothers Joseph and John elsewhere). Such a dwelling might well have been Llancillo Court SO 368 254, the large farmhouse in walking-distance of the Forge; in the 1755-1769 period this must certainly have been part of the Scudamore holdings (as it was still in the 1841 tithe records and after).
(c) His employment at the Forge is fully consistent with his early years at Monmouth, with the careers of his father and his brothers, and with the whole of his own later industry career.
(d) It is true that his Memorandums fail to mention any job at Llancillo; but in fact the journal entries start only in 1781, when Llancillo was twenty years in the past. The ‘family record’ page that briefly lists his birth, marriage and children was written retrospectively.
(e) Having pointed out the early Scudamore connection with Monmouth Forge, Thomas’s childhood home, we can interpret his engagement at Llancillo Forge in 1755 as a natural step in the Vaughans’ long-standing acquaintance with the Scudamore families (albeit not as equals in social status). As prudent proprietors, the Scudamores would entrust their Forge preferably to a man whose background was wholly familiar to them.
(f) Skilled staff were hard to find, and Thomas fitted the bill. His writings (notably the Memorandums) bespeak a ‘business brain’ and broad experience of the iron industry. Whatever exact role he played – worker, foreman, clerk or manager – the owners over at Kentchurch Court would have found him well qualified.
It is possible that Thomas’s Llancillo interlude was based on two seven-year contracts; this form of fixed-term engagement was practised elsewhere. As to why he left Llancillo, we can only speculate. Was it simple ambition, or had the Scudamores lost interest in exploiting this old charcoal works, or had it simply become unprofitable? Unfortunately it has not been possible to find proof of any commercial activity at the Forge after the last of the Foley Accounts in 1731, until, as already noted, we catch sight of the forgeman Maybery in 1766 and William Tyler, of Llancillo, forgeman, in 1798.
The Llancillo stage in Thomas’s life came to an end in 1769 or shortly after. He and Ann packed the family chest and took their children (now four sons and three daughters) off to pastures new. Apart from some parish register entries, they left no trace behind except their first-born child Elizabeth, in Ewyas Harold churchyard. The Herefordshire-born sons who moved on with the family all went into iron and tinplate careers, as we now tell briefly.
The eldest was Thomas 1756-1814, who worked at Lydney GLS and other forges before he emigrated in 1789 to become a settler in Kentucky USA. Joseph 1758-92 rose to be John Hanbury’s manager at Pontypool MON. John 1761-1841, after apprenticeship to James Getley, ironmaster of Bristol, went on to be manager at Machen Forges for Harford, Partridge & Co. James 1762-91 became a seaman on the Baltic Merchant (trading to Russia) and later became compter clerk at the Harford, Partridge company headquarters in Bristol.
After Llancillo, Thomas Vaughan’s next appointment was back in Monmouthshire, at Tintern ironworks on the River Wye; here three more children were born. His career continued with stages at forges in Caerleon MON, Llanelly BRE and Pentyrch GLA. He outlived all his sons except John Vaughan of Machen, and after a retirement of almost twenty years, he died at 91 years of age and was buried at Whitchurch GLA in 1822.
Late Echoes of the Forge
We find no trace of others leasing the works after the Foleys, but it clearly remained a Scudamore property. One proof of this is the following record of 2.1.1789:
1. John Scudamore of Kentchurch Court, Esq. and Sarah, his wife, and John Scudamore the younger of the same, esq. (eldest son and heir apparent);
The document recites the marriage settlement, dated 1756, of  above – viz:
...the lordships or manors of Kentchurch with Llanhithog and Cowross [Corras], the capital messuage called Kentchurch Court, messuages in the townships of Kentchurch, Cowross and Garway in the said manors, a water corn grist mill in Kentchurch, the manor of Howton, the capital messuage called Howtons Court, messuages in the township of Howton, parish of Kenderchurch, the manors of Llancilloe and Rollstone [Rowlestone], the iron work called Llancilloes Forge in Llancilloe, the manor of Gwerngenny [Kilpeck], messuages in the said manor and the messuage of Howtons Court is to the use of John Scudamore the younger, his heirs and assigns for ever; the rest to the use of  (until redemption of a mortgage of £10,000); thereafter to the uses of the 1756 settlement.
Llancillo Forge was possibly already moribund well before the end of the century. While some buildings remained in situ, their actual or potential value was no longer significant. In documentation of a 1781 court case, Scudamore versus Woodhouse, there is an extensive list of Scudamore property holdings; it includes two corn mills, but the Forge is not mentioned at all. The Land Tax record for 1781 lists a Mr Powell, proprietor, assessed for the Old Forge; arguably, this designates a dwelling, rather than a forge in operation. We have already noted the Forge’s inclusion in a Scudamore marriage settlement in 1789, but it does not seem of any special importance there, being merely one item in a list of properties.
In 1793 Thomas Dadford Jr. set out his plan for a ‘Brecon & Abergavenny Canal’. As drawn, two buildings, clearly marked Llansilio Forge, are right on the canal route. One of these buildings appears to straddle a branch of the Monnow, here serving as a leat; and this would have been the location of a waterwheel. But once again there is no indication that the Forge was then active or not. Dadford’s canal through Llancillo and on to Hereford never came to fruition. The section of the canal from Brecon that did open (in 1805) terminated at Govilon SO 270 136, just south of Abergavenny. (It was later extended thence to join the Monmouthshire Canal and so continued south to Newport Docks.)
When John Scudamore was assessed for the 1798 Land Tax on various properties in Llancillo, the properties did not include the Forge. Although a certain Mr Lutley Barneby of Llancillo Forge figures in the Canal Minute Book of 1807, this appears to be a red herring; Barneby had asked the Canal Company about access to the wharf at Govilon – but his interest was in transporting quantities of timber, rather than materials in or out of the Forge.
One sad, final reference sets the dates of the last functioning years of the Forge at some time before 1810. In Duncumb’s Herefordshire, a single sentence simply says: An iron forge was worked here during several centuries, but has lately been destroyed. His remark, penned before1812, must be taken as accurate. Today, the Forge itself, its waterwheel, machinery and most of its buildings have quite vanished, possibly taken (with or without permission) as usable scrap, or removed during the laying of railways very close to the site.
A major change in the locality came with the eruption of a Herefordshire version of railway mania. Would-be investors in a new railway called a meeting in March 1811 with Sir Hungerford Hoskyns Bt in the chair. The principal objective of the project was to enable Welsh coal to be brought to Hereford more cheaply. The forty-four subscribers who had already committed their support, to a total of about £25,000, included two Herefordshire MPs, Thomas Foley and Richard Philip Scudamore of Kentchurch.
The project came one step nearer with the building of the Grosmont Railway (actually a horse-drawn tramroad), although Hereford city was, for the present, to remain over the horizon. What was constructed, starting in 1812 and completed by 1819, was a line running for just six miles along the south side of the Monnow, mostly on a low embankment now taken over by the modern A465. The Llanvihangel Rail Road Company had already, by 1812, laid rails between Abergavenny MON and Llanfihangel Crucorney MON; Grosmont Railway brought this route eastwards to a termination near Monmouth Cap SO 395 265.
The tramroad was completed to Hereford about 1827, when the old bridge was replaced by the present Llangua Bridge. As planned in 1811, the Grosmont route was firstly to follow the Monmouthshire side, then turning north-east over the Monnow (very close to Llancillo Forge) and continuing eastward on the northern bank. The draughtsman of 1811 marked three rectangular buildings near the riverbank with the name Llancillo Forge. Had this route been laid, it would have enabled Llancillo to have its own halt or loading point.
In the event, the rails were laid entirely on the south bank of the Monnow; perhaps because of opposition by Llancillo landowners – one of whom, for a small area of land that comprised just the site of the Forge itself, was John Lucy Scudamore. But no Scudamore was among the shareholders of Grosmont Railway Co. when it launched the tramroad with an issue of 104 shares of £100. However, in 1846 Scudamore contracted with the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway Co. to take over the obsolete tramroad and some adjacent land. The turnpike road which ran alongside the tramroad, which also had been owned by the Grosmont company, was bought by J L Scudamore in 1860.
Even after Llancillo ironworks were no longer operating, their existence was to echo in some sources. A list of Principal Iron Manufactories, compiled in 1809, included Lansilio on Monnow, Charcoal forge; and as noted above, the Forge appeared on the 1811 plan of the Grosmont Railway. The surveyor for the 1841 Tithe Map (drawn in 1839), set the word Forge in a small enclosure numbered 203 containing one building. Next to it is the L-shaped area 210 that has three separate and slightly smaller buildings; the Apportionment listed these as Old Forge Ruins and Fold, with J L Scudamore given as owner and occupier. In the area 202, which adjoins 210, we find another building, listed as High House, owned by Scudamore, occupied by John Morgan; to judge by its location, right on the Forge site, this may have originally been part of the Forge complex.
Census returns tell us of the slow decline of inhabited dwellings at the site. In the 1841 return the address Forge covers three households, totalling 11 people, with each head of household being an ‘ag. lab.’ The picture is similar, three households, in 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901. The 1911 census offers not three but only two Old Forge addresses. These dwellings probably fell out of use thereafter; but even if uninhabited, they were still on the record. When the Llancillo Estate came up for auction in 1928, Llancillo Court House and farm was included as Lot 34. The accompanying plan places the site of the Forge and some adjoining fields outside the estate. However, the plan does include a Right of Way that runs from the farm south to the Forge and continues thence to a bridge across the Monnow; and it also, rightly or wrongly, shows four buildings at the Forge site!
Writing in 1978, John van Laun found just one single ruined building, built on a slag tip, located fifty metres west of the Forge site. In 2012 the local authority approved the erection of a large rectangular shed on the site for agricultural purposes, and this is all that the present-day ‘Google’ map satellite now presents to our view. The landscape has returned to the peaceful setting of pasture, woodland and river-bank that Llancillo’s parishioners would have known before that first unknown entrepreneur ever laid the foundations of his charcoal iron forge on this spot.
Notes and Sources
The references following place-names (e.g. SO 123 321) are those of the Ordnance Survey National Grid; they are given the first time that a new place is named in the text.
Abbreviations used in the Notes are:
ELSG = Ewyas Lacy Study Group
Counties are designated by their historic names or by the Chapman Codes:
BRE Breconshire; CMN Carmarthenshire; GLA Glamorgan; GLS Gloucestershire;
 We are greatly indebted to Dr John van Laun FSA, for his seminal work on Llancillo and other local ironworks:‘17th Century Iron Making in South West Herefordshire’, in the Journal of the Historical Metallurgical Society, Vol 13/2,1979. His article on this website [click here] is an abridged version of the JHMS text.
 Present-day photos show a large roofless stone ruin, probably of pre-Victorian age, possibly erected as the dwelling of one or more forge workers.
 ‘Water-mills of the Monnow & Trothy’, S D Coates and D G Tucker, 1978, has plans of the forges at Pontrilas [in 1666] and at Monmouth [dated 1849, but there was a similar dwelling on this site in the 18th century].
 The site was actually at Osbaston on the R. Monnow in the parish of St Mary’s, Monmouth. Contemporary documents all name it Monmouth Forge [or Forges].
 JHMS, op. cit.
 The website www.skidmorefamilyhistory.com is a very reliable and thoroughly researched source for all things Scudamore, in its many branches. The site states ‘The manor of Llancillo was acquired by Thomas Skydmore of Rowlstone, Herefordshire by purchase on 12 June 1424. It passed to the Scudamores of Kentchurch by inheritance and was held by them until 1922 when it was sold to pay the death duties on the estate of Edward Scudamore Lucas-Scudamore of Kentchurch Court’.
 NLW, File 1876, Aston Hall Estate Records: ‘Corras was a home of the Scudamores before they built Kentchurch Court in the 14th century’. It remained part of the Kentchurch estate. In 1745 Corras was occupied by one James Vaughan, as recorded in TNA, C 101/1431, Scudamore v. Westfaling, Kentchurch Manor Rents. At £90 per annum, Corras was the highest rental in the manor, the next highest being paid by ‘Mr Green, for the Mansion House and demesne’- £80.
 RCHM, ‘An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 1, South west’ and www.skidmorefamilyhistory.com. The website gives the same burial date for Thomas as for his wife Elizabeth – possibly an error. The details regarding church, chancel, churchyard are also recorded in ‘History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford, Vol. 2’, J Duncumb.
 NLW, BR/1660/92.
 NLW, BR/1690/43.
 www.skidmorefamilyhistory.com. suggests this should be 1659; RCHM, op. cit., has burial date 1695
 NLW, BR/1728/46.
 ELSG, KCP, AL40/887, (May 24 1625): The agreement between Thomas Cavendish of Chatsworth, co. Derby, esq. and Amy, his wife, and ‘John Scudamore of Kaynechurche, co. Hereford, esq., son of the said Amy’ concerns Herefordshire properties including Llancillo; but it does not mention the Forge.
 NLW, File No. 1876
 These abbreviations may be translated: lp’s = lordships; man’s = manors; m’s = messuages; t’s = townships; p’s = parishes.
 NLW, BR/1663/81: Will and Inventory of Giles Griffits, 1663.
 HARC, E12/VI/DBc/3.
 TNA, C 8/328/93.
 NLW, Tredegar 3/4894.
 NLW, File 601: Release of a messuage, a forge called Monmouth forge, parcels of land called the Forge homes, the Forge meadows, Holliwell close and the Byfield, parish of Monmouth. Counterpart.
 HARC, AW28/18/13, 1689: Milburne Scudamore of Treworgan, gent. leaves property to trustees John Vaughan of Ross, gent. and Walter Evans of Llangattock MON esq. The property includes an ‘Iron Worke and Forge’ and about 40 acres, in Monmouth, in possession of [his brother] George Scudamore.
 HARC, DEc/11 of 2.3.1703 is a draft agreement, but no final copy of this lease is to be found.
 NLW, Badminton 2, 8440, 1784: mortgage of 25.1.1714.
 NLW, File 121: 29.9.1737,  George Scudamore of Monmouth, esq.  John Powell of Southampton's Buildings, London, gent. Copy of a lease for one year of Treworgan and ‘that iron works known by the name of Monmouth forge’.
 Coates & Tucker, op. cit., p 45.
 Thomas Vaughan wrote out a copy of this lease ‘for 21 years’ in the opening pages of his Memorandums. For more on TVM, see Note 50.
 NLW, Badminton 2, 8440.
 TNA, D1677/Ghe/72.
 Coates & Tucker, op. cit., quotes text from R R Angerstein's illustrated travel diary, 1753-1755.
 Although rare, single-handed working is not unknown. ‘Iron Making in the Olden Times, H.G. Nicholls, 1866’ records that: ‘The father of the late Mr. James Cockshut of Pontypool found, some years ago, an old man working by himself at a bloomary forge in a remote part of Yorkshire. Being himself well acquainted with every branch of the iron trade and works, he stayed with the man long enough to investigate and comprehend his mode of working, and saw him work, with his own hands, a piece of iron from the ore to the bar’.
 Van Laun, op. cit., is the basis for most of this paragraph. Van Laun’s article in JHMS includes a plan of the Old Furnace, based on the Tithe Map.
 Fifty years later, Thomas Vaughan appears as the manager of the Llanelly Forge, in the service of John Hanbury III 1744-84; Elizabeth, the daughter born at Rowlestone in 1764, lies buried in Llanelly churchyard.
 HARC, E12/VI/DGc/1DGc/1.
 William Rea left the partnership around 1725 after committing it to disastrous losses in the purchase of timber from Holme Lacy. HARC, E12/VI/DGd/39: One of the three gentlemen to whom Rea assigned his shares was Martin Vaughan gent., St Weonards, of whom there is no other surviving record.
 HARC, E12/VI/DCc/6 and Van Laun, op. cit.
 Bristol Archives, 31963/53: ‘Residue of 7-year lease of 19.1.1702 between John Studamore [sic] of Kentchurch, Lancille, Herefords., esq., and Anne Studamore of same, widow, and Nathaniel Morgan of forge in p. of Lancille, assigned to Wm. Reece of Monmouth, gent.’
 NLW, BR/1712/54: Nathaniell [sic] Morgan, Yeoman, Will and Inventory, 1712.
 Grosmont PReg: 23.2.1766, ‘William Maybery, forgeman, of this parish’, married Mary Jones.
 Grosmont PReg: 10.6.1790, ‘William Tyler of Lancillow’ married Mary Symonds ‘of this parish’; both were able to sign their own names.
 TNA, C 101/1431: an account of tenants and rents, in the file of Scudamore v Westfaling case in Chancery.
 HARC, F35/RC/IV/PP/6 comprises details of the route, with correspondence. I am indebted to Joan Fleming-Yates for discovering these papers and interpreting the project in her book ‘The River Running By’.
 One of the petitioners was William Vaughan, of Ruthlin Paper Mill in Rockfield; his relationship to Thomas Vaughan, who came to Llancillo in 1755, has not been discovered.
 This and other details are drawn from TVM, Thomas Vaughan’s journal, Private Memorandums begining 3d Augt 1779; this tattered MS is now at Glamorgan Archives. Despite the cover date, the entries start only in 1781. Some key family events are listed [in the way often found in a family Bible] on a loose sheet. The final entry in Thomas’s own hand was on 17.6. 1817; he was then 86 years old. A few later entries are in other hands.
 Newland PReg, 29.7.1724.
 British History Online [www.british-history.ac.uk], Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 4, 1672-1675.
 Rockfield PReg, 8.5.1755.
 Not listed in TVM, presumably because of her early death. Her ten siblings are all noted.
 TVM notes birth of Thomas 7.10.1756, and Joseph 29.6.1758. HARC, MX153, Ewyas Harold PReg has christening of Thomas on 24.10.1756. An IGI transcript gives Joseph’s christening there on 30.6.1758.
 TVM is not legible for John’s birth-year; other evidence puts it at 1761 [if not 1760]. TVM says James was born 2.12.1762, and Elizabeth 12.8.1764. Rowlestone, St Peter’s, register for 1750-1765 [HARC, MX139] survives, but fails to record the christenings of these children.
 TVM notes the birth of these two daughters, but their christenings are unknown. [Although Llancillo PReg survives, it is largely illegible, and no Bishop’s Transcript is to be found.]
 British History Online has a photograph of the chest, describing it as 13th century.
 TVM records the births of William, Frances and Sarah at Abbey Tintern. Chapel Hill [the actual name of the parish] has entries for a double christening, 18.8.1772, for William and Frances, but has no record for Sarah.
 HARC, M26/18/43-44, 1781: Scudamore v Woodhouse.
 Llancillo Land Tax does not mention this property, or Mr Powell, earlier or later.
 HARC, AL/40/10078.
 HARC, Q/REL/2/5/1-39.
 TNA, Rail 812/4, Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal Co. Minutes, 26.9.1807. Mr Barneby [1764-1838] was a scion of a noted landed family, Barneby of Brockhampton HEF. He seems to have had no other link to Llancillo, and his previous involvement in an estate transaction in Carmarthenshire suggests he was a speculator in woodland properties. [The 1841 Tithe Assessment has a John Barneby as owner, but not occupier, of the Pool Farm, Llancillo – probably a relation of Lutley Barneby.]
 Duncumb, op. cit. Although it was published in 18l2, Duncumb had been compiling this work over several previous years.
 HARC, A95/40/7.
 HARC, Q/RW/T6a-T9b, Records of the Abergavenny to Hereford Railway/Tramway (Hereford Railway Company).
 ‘Beauties of England & Wales Vol. 11’, Brayley, E W & Britton, J, 1809’; see under ‘Monmouthshire’.
 We have failed to find any other reference to a property of this name; perhaps the house was renamed.
 HARC, M5/21/40: Auction Sale particulars, 1928. The accompanying plan is largely copied from the 1920 edition of the OS County Series map, Herefordshire, 1:2500.