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The Tudgay Family of Abersychan

Map of the Tudgee/Tudgey/Tudgay Country in Somerset/Wiltshire

William Tudgee

Our verifiable story begins with William Tudgee, born 1777 in Leigh upon Mendip, Somerset. He married Sarah George

At one point, I felt the prime candidate as William's father was a John Tudgee, who was reported, age 20, as the father of a bastard child in 1778 - "b Frampton esc Dore", in the Western Flying Post and Sherborne & Yeovil Mercury for 2nd November - Somerset Studies Library [web link to source].

William and Sarah, who lived at Leigh in Mendip, Somerset, had three sons and three daughters - Fanny, Jeremiah, John, Ann, Isaac and Elizabeth. The Abersychan family stems from Isaac Tudgee (born 20/08/1816, died 09/12/1889). Isaac married Elizabeth Smith (from Wells, born about 1820, died 11 or 13/02/1890), at the Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul Church, Bath, on 19th March 1838.

The marriage register describes father William as a Servant and Isaac as a Pork Butcher. Both Isaac and Elizabeth were living at 2, Orange Court (presumably in Bath). Elizabeth's father, Thomas Smith, was a Carpenter and a Charles Smith witnessed the marriage, together with Charlotte Rogers. William Marshall, Curate, performed the marriage.

The Victoria County History for Somerset describes how high unemployment in the 1830s and 1840s led the vicar of Frome to encourage many men to emigrate. Frome in 1831 had 557 men on the poor rate out of a population of 12,240 (given the large size of families at that time, those 557 men could have been the fathers of well over 2,500 children, with the mothers, this means 3,500 people dependent on the poor rate, over one-third of the population. Coal had been mined in Kilmersdon since, at least, the reign of Charles II (when Henry Aishman was a 'cole myner'); the last pit in Kilmersdon closed in 1973. The History also notes that the Tudway family (perhaps yet another spelling) were prosperous West Indies merchants who were the influential family in Wells by the late 18th Century.

Now, January 2010, my brother, Martin, and I feel quite confident that William was the son of James Tudgay, ca 1752-1812, probably of Marston Bigot, near Frome, Somerset and that he was the son of James Tudgay, ca 1728-1762, and his wife Mary Wheeler, 1730-1761, both also of Marston Bigot.  On Mary's side, we go back two generations to William Wheeler, b 1684, of Marston Bigot. This comes from two particular documents: 

A Removal Order of 26 Mar 1782 for James Tudgay, labourer, with Ann, his wife, and sons, William, age 4, and Jeremiah, aged two, from Marston Bigot to the overseers of the Poor in Nunney (the neighbouring Parish); 

James Tudgay being indentured as an apprentice to a William Wheeler of Nunney Somerset in 1762. Based on his age at death of 60, James would have been around 10 years old in 1762. The indenture names James's late father James Tudgay of Marston Bigot and James' uncle, William Wheeler, as his Master for the apprenticeship. It states our James's father was deceased by the date of the indenture of 7th January 1762. This seems conclusive evidence of the link from our James Tudgay to his parents James and Mary née Wheeler of Marston Bigot.

The move to South Wales

After their marriage, Isaac and Elizabeth lived successively in Frome, Mells, Wells and Kilminster; Wells being from where Elizabeth came. In about 1846, the family, now with three young sons, moved to the Talywain area of Abersychan in Monmouthshire, England [now Gwent, Wales]. There they remained, having at least seven more children, possibly nine.

When the sixth son, Charles, was born on 3rd September 1851, the Birth Register has Isaac as being an Ostler of Trevethin, Abersychan. At that time the Parish of Trevethin covered a very wide area, including Abersychan and Talywain. map of abersychan area

Charles Tudgay

Charles married Gwennie Jane Tanner at Pontnewynydd Church on 24th November 1872. Although not named in the Register, this is St. Lukes' Church. Both Isaac and Gwenny (as the Register gives her name) were residing in Pontnewynydd. Charles, his father Isaac and Gwennie's father, Isaac Tanner, were all Colliers. Charles signed his name but Gwenny made her mark. The witnesses were David Walker (who made his mark) and Mary Ann Jones. A David Walker later married Charles' sister Elizabeth; and a Mariah Jones had married his elder brother, James.

The Tanner family

Gwennie (born 1854, died 1930) was the daughter of Isaac Tanner and Mary, nee Davies. The Register entry for their wedding, on 23rd December 1853, at the Register Office in Pontypool, shows Isaac Tanner as being 24 years old and Mary as being 19. Isaac Tanner is given as a Collier. His father, also named Isaac Tanner, was a Farmer, and her father, William Davies, was a Collier. Both Isaac and Mary are given as living in Garndiffaith, and both made their mark on the Register. The witnesses were Charles and Ann Weaver.

Charles Tudgay again

To stay with Charles' generation, two of his brothers, James and William, together with James' son Joseph, and Jospeg Thomas, the husband of a sister Edith, were killed in the tragic Llanerch Colliery explosion of 6th February 1890. James and Joseph were buried in the Nodffa Baptist Churchyard, Abersychan (under a tall fir tree, in the bottom right-hand corner). William is buried with his parents, Isaac and Elizabeth, at St. Thomas' Parish Church, Abersychan. Thus, Elizabeth lost her husband, Isaac, on 9th December 1889, then two sons, a grandson and a son-in-law were killed less than two months later, so it seems she may have died of a broken heart on 12th February 1890.

Charles died in 1939. Between 1873 and 1896, he and Gwennie had nine children, who all married and all but the last, Harry, had children.

Frank Tudgay

Frank, the sixth child, was born in 1888. He left school, having passed his School Leaver's Certificate, at the age of 12, and started work as a Collier's boy down the pit. By 1913 he had moved to 1 Gwalia Place, Merthyr Tydfil, and was an electrician, or Wireman, on the tramway - the world's first, famous for its builder Richard Trevithick.

Frank married Ann Evans (born 1891, died 1968), from Railway Cottages, 36 Pisgah Road, Talywain, Abersychan, at Penygarn Baptist Tabernacle, Crane Street, Pontypool, on 6th September 1913. The witnesses were the groom's brother Arthur and his wife-to-be, Amy Wood, together with Ann's brother George, and Minnie Flora. Frank's father, Charles, was given as a Coal Miner (Hewer) and Ann's father, James Thomas Evans, was a Railway Platelayer.

Frank and Ann first lived in Merthyr, where their first child, Aileen, was born on 25th April 1918. They then moved back to Abersychan, where their home became 'Hillside', Church Road (Manor Road). There their son, Gordon, was born. Ann's niece, Ethel (born 1914 died 1993; daughter of Ellen and William Wilcox), joined the family and later took the name Tudgay.

Aileen Tudgay

Aileen Tudgay, my mother, married John Henry Stuart Taylor, on 20th July 1940. This page is compiled largely from her research, which included obtaining marriage certificates back to Isaac Tudgay. I have a sister and brother. We each have two children and I now have five grandchildren.

Gordon Tudgay married Iris Brain, and they had a son and two daughters. The son now has two children, one a boy, and so the Tudgay name remains alive in our line.

Some historic pictures of Abersychan can be found at

The following description comes from Kelly's Directory for 1901, accessed from, where more information can be found on the Churches, Shopkeepers, Councillors, etc. Curiously, there is very little mention of the coalmines or iron works.

Description of Abersychan in 1901 - including Varteg, Cwmavon, Garndiffaith, Golynos and Talywain

ABERSYCHAN was constituted a civil parish under of the "Local Government Act, 1894" (56 and 57 Vict. c. 73); it now contains Garndiffaith, Pontnewynydd, Talywain and the hamlets of Cefnycrib, Cwm Avon, Cwmffrwdoer, Cwmnantddu, Freehold land, Golynos, Pentrepiod, Snatchwood, Tranch and Varteg.
The village of Abersychan is at the confluence of the Sychan with the Tarfaen or Afon Lwyd. In 1844 it was formed into an an ecclesiastical parish from the civil parish of Trevethin ; it is 163 miles from London; 2 north-west from Pontypool, and has two railway stations, Abersychan on the Eastern Valleys branch of the Great Western railway and Talywain on the London and North Western branch of their line from Brynmawr to Pontypool.
It is in the Northern division of the county , petty sessional division, union and county court district of Pontypool, rural deanery of Blaenau Gwent, archdeaconry of Monmouth and diocese of Llandaff.
The "Local Government Act, 1858" (21 & 22 Vict. c. 98), adopted June 3 1864, included the whole of the parish except Pontypoo1, but under the provisions of the "Local Government Act, 1894," the parish is now governed by the Urban District Council, consisting of eighteen members.
The Abersychan Gas Company, formed in 1870, supplies gas from works near Abersychan railway station; water is obtained from works at Cwm Avon, the property of the Pontypool Gas and Water Co.
The civil parish contains portions of three ecclesiastical parishes viz. Abersychan, St Lukes and Trevethin. The church of St. Thomas, locally in the hamlet of Talywain, is a building in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and vestry, west porch and a western belfry containing one bell; there are 400 sittings. The register dates from the year 1835.
The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £300, with 1½ acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of the vicar of Trevethin, and held since 1877 by the Rev. William Rees Thomas MA. of Jesus.College, Oxford.
There is a Catholic chapel, built in 1863, and dedicated to St. Francis of Asisi, two Baptist chapels one Welsh and one English, and one English and one Welsh Congregational; there is also a Bible Christian chapel and Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan chapels.
Here is a Literary and Scientific Institution, founded 1864, in connection with the Society of Arts.
The 'G' Company of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion South Wales Borderers was formed here in 1891, and numbers 70 rank and file.
There is a police station here for the county constabulary, erected in 1885.
Abersychan House is the residence of Llewelyn Llewelyn Esq., JP, and Glansychan that of William Phillips James Esq., JP.
The soil is gravelly, subsoil, stone. The chief crops are wheat, oats and barley and some land in pasturage. The area is 10,129 acres, rateable value, £43,441, and the population in 1891 was 15,296. The population of the St. Thomas ecclesiastical parish in 1891 was 8,843.

An 1881 (?) map of Abersychan can be found at

©2001, 2002, 2010, 2017 - Brian Taylor BTech PhD CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.

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