Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

John Watson

 It is very sad to post of the passing of History Society stalwart John Watson. John was always an extremely enthusiastic member at meetings and showed a genuine interest in all our activities. Our collective sympathies are extended to Pam and the rest of John's family.

The funeral service will be held at St David's Church at 11:30 on Friday, 8th July. It will be followed by cremation at Llwydcoed crematorium and the wake will be at Resolven Rugby Club. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Elephant in the Room

It was hoped that since the meeting would include readings of a new history of the village by Alun J Morgan, then a better turnout would be anticipated. In fact, apart from the committee only one other person attended the  reading. There was a mystery why the meeting had not appeared on Resolven District News, however, the stark reality is that we cannot carry on in this fashion. There will be an Annual Meeting as usual in September and hopefully old and new members will return in order to plan a future. Otherwise our prospects look very bleak. 

Have a good summer.

Trefor Jones.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Resolven Miners

 The Society has recently received this fascinating photograph of a group of miners in the first decade of the 20th century. many thanks to Mr John lewis. His message is inserted below. 

Dear Trefor Jones


I attach a scanned copy of an interesting old photograph that was passed down to me by my parents who were both born in Resolven. The photo shows a group of miners, including my grandfather William John Lewis (1879-1948) who is pictured sitting in the centre of the front row. My paternal grandparents lived at 88 John Street, Resolven. I believe the photo was taken some time in the decade of the 1910s. The surrounding mount is embossed with the name of the well-known local photographer J.T.Davies (Trevor Davies) ( grandfather of Glyn Taxi Davies Ed. )  and his address at 4 Cory Street, Resolven.


I hope this old photo will be suitable for displaying on your weblog for the Resolven History Society. It would be interesting to know if anyone else has a copy in their family collection or can identify one of their ancestors in the photo.


Kind regards


John Lewis

Friday, April 22, 2022

Last meeting of the lecture season

 On May 9th , the final meeting of the problematic 2021 -22 season will be held. Many thanks to everyone who has helped keep the ship afloat. As we crank out of first gear , we will conclude with a reading of a section of a fascinating new book on Resolven by former resident Alun Morgan. We will then take  a break until the normal Annual Meeting in September which will be our 40th year in existence. Hopefully, with greater support from our past membership the Society can be restored to its former glory. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

April , Not such a cruel month.


A Report  on the April Meeting of Resolven History Society

T.S. Elliot in “The Wasteland”, remarked perceptively that “ April  was the cruellest month”, and it was with trepidation that the Committee called an end to their self-imposed  Covid -19  inspired hiatus in January, in order to save what was left of the usual lecture season. Luckily, John Richards of Skewen who has spoken to the Society on several occasions , gave an inspired talk on the derivation of surnames which reminded the small audience why the study of history in all its guises is so important.

Mr Richards began his talk by stating that having second names would have been important from the very beginning in order to differentiate between individuals within a tribe. In essence sur names fell into four groups , which are as true today as then.

The first group concerned patronyms, literally referring to the name of the father. The Anglo Saxons would add “son” to a name as in Harold Godwinson of Battle of Hastings fame. The Scandinavians  added “sen “ (or “dottir” for daughter Ed. ), the Irish added “O’” as in O’Neil, the Scots Mac and the Welsh “ap” which is readily seen in the modern surnames Price, Prosser or Protheroe for example. The Norman “fitz” was used sometimes to denote illegitimacy and the silent apostrophe could well account for Welsh surnames such as Williams, Jones and Evans. Sometimes this did not refer to the father but to the owner or landlord, and explains why people from the West Indies have surnames referring back to the slave trade (Ed).

The second group refers to a trade or occupation. A string of names could follow from production to a commercial activity. A Herdman, would lead to Farmer, Butcher , Horner, Skinner, Tanner, Leatherhead, Lorimer etc. People were tied to the land and the houses gave rise to another set of surnames  Thatcher, Carpenter , Plumber,  Black (smith), Wright etc.

The third group refers to location or the derivation of a family. English, Welsh/Walsh and Ireland are all common surnames, as are names such as David Essex and George Washington. Forests trees were commonly applied to surnames such as Arden , Dean , Woodley , Bush and Crabtree. The names Street and Way refer to ancient roads and river featureds  such as Beck , Brook , Burn , Widlake and Ford are also fond widely.

The last group referred to nick names. Nick refer or the Anglo Saxon “eke”, which denotes  also or added. They would be needed in much the same way as second names are added to differentiate between people with the same name. Family characteristics such as Bull, Lamb or Fox or physical attributes such as  Armstrong ,Whitehead , Hand,  Foot  or Head. Hair colour gives us names such as Grey, Brown, Blonde, Russell, Blake and Morris (from Moorish which covered anyone with a dark complexion).

The meeting concluded with a wide ranging discussion on local names and the profuse use of nick names in Resolven some of them extremely comical.

Trefor Jones, thanked Mr Richards for a marvellous talk.

The Society will conclude the meetings for this year with a reading of former Resolven resident Alun Morgan’s new History of Resolven. The book is a revelation and I would appeal to anyone with an interest in their community to attend on the second Monday of May in the Church Hall at 7:00.


Thursday, March 24, 2022

April Meeting : A new start ?


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Members Night that was and wasn't?


A Report on the Members’ Night of Resolfen History Society held on Monday 13th December in the Church Hall

When the history of the pandemic is written, the changing of a geographical location to describe a mutated virus for a Greek letter will certainly feature highly in the geopolitics of the situation. It will come as no surprise to anyone, that the meeting had to be postponed at the last minute owing to unwelcome appearance of the omicron variant which along with television appearances by both the Prime and First Ministers, put paid to any chance of getting a crowd. Nevertheless the Committee miraculously had its first full attendance in a very long time, and it was decided that our Christmas meeting would be transmogrified into a St David’s Night in March, when the content programmed for the Christmas event would be used. This did not stop the Committee members having a prolonged meeting, in which festive food and mulled wine was consumed, though this must be stressed was an extension of their normal duties not a party, as you will of course concur.

The Society will now take a short break until March ,when everyone in Resolfen and beyond is invited to attend the revamped Members’ evening, though tea and Welsh-cakes will be on offer, not the mulled wine  which would probably have gone cold in its vacuum flask. There will then be two other meetings to finish this rather strange year, and normal service will be resumed in September when the Society will begin its 40th Anniversary year.

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.