Cataloguing update- Richards Solicitors, Llangollen

January 11, 2023

In 2020 we announced the first stage of cataloguing the Richards papers, stored at Ruthin, had been complete with over 2700 records made available to consult in our search-room for the first time. We are now pleased to update our researchers with further progress on this cataloguing project and second phase is now complete. Over 5000 items are now available to order and view and the catalogue can be accessed online only on our website.

As the collection is vast and expected to comprise of over 9000 items we will be publishing the catalogue and releasing the records in stages rather than waiting for the entire collection to be complete. The most recent release includes a number of sections on various clients and the solicitors’ firm of Charles Richards and Sons attracted as clients the most influential and extensive landowners and industrialists in south east Denbighshire including the Edwards family and the Dickin/Ward families.

Dickin/Ward Family

Thomas Edward Ward was a prominent farmer and industrialist in the Cefn Mawr, Ruabon, Chirk and western Shropshire area. He was born c.1780 in Chirk and from 1805 until his death he lived at The Lodge, and farmed Chirk Green Farm. He was the lessee and developer of the nearby Black Park Colliery from 1805 which was then owned by the Chirk castle estate.  He owned Plas Kynaston brickworks at Cefn, Ruabon and laid a tramway from it to the canal at Rhos-y-waen. He leased wharves and warehouses along the Llangollen canal and later he himself established wharves for coal and limestone on canals at Newtown, Welshpool, Beeston, Bunbury; Marbury; Whitchurch; Ellesmere; Queens Head; Chain Bridge and Trefynant. He owned slate and limestone quarries and associated limeworks at Eglwyseg and Oernant, Llantysilio and coal, clayworks, brickworks and potteries in Cefn Mawr and Ruabon. His industrial interests included iron smelting at Edstatston and Wellington in Shropshire.

In 1842 Ward’s daughter and heiress Sarah married John Dickin, son of John Dickin of Moreton Hall, Weston Rhynn, a surgeon at Shrewsbury hospital whose extensive family came from the same district and are associated with various other properties in the area including Cefn y Wern, Chirk; New Hall, Ruabon, Plas Grono, Esclusham; and Loppington and Wem over the border in Shropshire. They had also invested in properties in the Llangollen area.  On Ward’s death in 1854 aged 71, Dickin resigned from his post at Shrewsbury took over the management of his father-in-law’s estate and businesses selling some in the early 1860s but managing and developing others. In about 1860 he retired to Llangollen at a large house called Ty’n Dwr which was built for him adjacent to an older property of the same name on land once belonging to the Pengwern Hall estate which he had purchased from the Mostyn estate in 1857 along with other properties. At one time he owned part of ‘the pleasure grounds’ at Plas Newydd after the death of the Ladies of Llangollen In 1858 he and his family were involved in the development of Llangollen’s newly formed Castle Street, Smithfield and Market Place.  He also purchased the Crogen iddon farm property, Pontfadog and possessed extensive property in amongst other places, Selattyn, Weston Rhynn, Wem, St Martins and Oswestry in Shropshire.  John Dickin died aged 88 on 8 March 1890, leaving his property to his only child George Lloyd Dickin who later sold the estate. It was subsequently purchased by the Youth Hostel association in 1903.  In the mid-19th century the records show that the family was one of the most active and preeminent agents in the economic development of the area.

Tyn Dwr Llangollen
Ty’n Dwr, home of John Dickin in latter stages of his life. Photograph available on People’s Collection Wales courtesy of Llangollen Museum

Edwards family

Other important clients of Richards and Sons were members of the Edwards family, brick and tile manufacturers of the parish of Ruabon. They acted for them in their personal affairs: their wills, family settlements, and property dealings, and as lawyers in company business. Documents relating to these matters can be found in the firm’s archives.  James Coster Edwards’s father, William, a clerk at Pickering’s works in Cefn Mawr, purchased coal works near his home in Trefynant, Ruabon, and James, born 1828 founded his company there in 1850 taking advantage of the clay also to be found on the property.  Previously he had operated a limeworks at Hunt’s Bridge.  The original factory made common bricks and later the Trefynant works between Acrefair and Trefor made sanitary ware and firebricks (as shown in a plan in the Richards archives- DD/R/3637). In 1873 he obtained the lease of ‘brick, earth and clay’ at Penybont (Newbridge) from then Chirk Castle estate and made roofing tiles, red facing-bricks and terracotta products there.   The architectural terracotta produced was world famous.  Buildings made from the bricks and terracotta include the Cardiff Bay Pierhead building and Victoria Law courts, Birmingham.  In 1883 he built a new factory at The Coppy, Rhosllanerchrugog to make glazed and enamelled bricks. An impression of the extent of his business around this time can be gauged by the fact that between 1891 and 1904 there have survived nearly 200 files of accounts and court papers created by Charles Richards and Sons in pursuit of the company’s customers who did not pay their bills.

James senior who was High Sherriff of Denbighshire in 1892, and other members of his family lived for many years at Trevor Hall and in 1891 purchased parts of The Trevor or Trevor Tower estate.  His sons James Coster Edwards jnr. of Bryn Howell and Edward Lloyd Edwards of Bryn Oerog and their families succeeded him in the business when he died in 1896.  James junior died in 1934.  Charles Richards and co. looked after the family’s personal and estate until the 1960s by which time all the brickworks and factories had closed.

Explore Your Archive Week- #NEWS

December 2, 2022

Today we can access news as it happens via social media platforms and 24 hour rolling news channels. The most common way to receive local news during the late 19th century was by newspaper. In this blog discover how one newspaper article can reveal so much more information with help from your local archive of course!

120 years ago on the 2nd of December 1882 the Denbighshire Free Press reports:

Carriage accident- On Thursday, whilst Mrs Ellis, Plas Newydd, was out driving, the horse by some means was frightened; the result being that the carriage was smashed to pieces, and Mrs Ellis greatly shaken and alarmed, though providentially she sustained no serious injuries.

A look at the census the previous year in 1881 confirms that Mary Gregson Ellis, a widow, lived at Plas Newydd, Mwrog Street in Ruthin with her two sons and daughter. The 1871 census confirms that Mary’s husband Richard lived at the property and his occupation was ‘Soda water Manufacturer’.

A search of the Llanfwrog burial register confirms that Mary’s husband Richard Gregson Ellis was buried on the 4th December 1879.

A report in The Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald on the 13th December 1879 confirms his death and burial and that he was the proprietor of R Ellis and Son Soda Water Manufacturers on Mwrog Street in Ruthin.

It also confirms that his father Robert Ellis founded the company some 50 years earlier; subsequently following Richard Ellis’s death his two sons took over the business as the 1881 census entry confirms.

This turn of the century Ordnance Survey map shows the proximity of Plas Newydd to the soda manufacturer.

Did you know we have free access to Find My Past and Ancestry in both of our branches?

Did you know that we have a map viewer available on our website? https://www.newa.wales/help/using-the-online-catalogue/using-the-map-viewer/

Details of our newspaper holdings can be found on our website https://www.newa.wales/subjects/newspapers2/