Quaker Meeting House

The Quaker’s meeting house, known as Ty Cwrdd, was built near a stream at Treferig on the Common. 

The original members were John ab Evan or Bevan (1636-1729) and his wife Barbara Awbrey (1637-1710) of Capel Llanilltern who resided at Treferig Isaf.

John was the grandson of John ab Evan who made his will in 1640 and left 5s towards the reparation of the Cathedral Church of Llandaff and 5s to the Parish Church of Llantrisant. 

The family had acquired Treferig Isaf sometime before 1570. His father was a freeholder in the manor of Glynrhondda and although John as the eldest son inherited the whole property he decided to divide his patrimony with his three brothers who had been left unprovided.

They both attended Llantrisant Parish Church from 1665 onwards but in 1662 the Puritan incumbent Henry Williams who was in place during the Commonwealth had been ejected in 1662 and the change to a more Anglican service may have already began to influence John.

Perhaps he had heard some of the Quaker missionaries either at Cardiff, or on their way to Swansea or he had met Quaker groups in Merthyr Tydfil. About 1668 he underwent a religious experience which convinced him that the Quaker faith offered him the kind of worship he sought. For about a year his wife differed from him in her religious views, but the public excommunication of her husband in Llantrisant Church so overwhelmed her that she too began to investigate the new faith and was herself converted.

After his wife's conversion, a number of John Bevan's relatives and servants also seemed to have accepted Quaker principles. In 1682 he was given the ground for the Meeting House and built it with members including Thomas Howells David, Howell Thomas, Lewis Richard, Merrick David, Watkin Thomas and John Richard. 

An alleged conspiracy in 1683 was said to have involved Sir Rowland Gwynne, owner of the asset of Miskin estate, a strong “antiy successionist” and supporter of William of Orange, Vavasour Powell and his followers in Breconshire and the Quakers of the Glamorgan uplands.

Anti-popery was strong in the area due to the fear engendered by the power of the Maquess of Worcester whose family were the protectors of local Catholics. There was also a strong Whig opposition to the succession of the King’s Catholic brother James and there were wild plots abound to create a Presbyterian Republic. Gwynne and others fled to Holland while the Quaker leadership settled in Pennsylvania. 

The family sailed for America with over 20 followers and bought land to create a Welsh Settlement in Pennsylvania. They decided that it would be particularly advantageous for their children to be brought up in an atmosphere of true brotherly love. John Bevan became a Judge of the Common Pleas and a Member of the Assembly at Pennsylvania. 

In 1704, with Queen Anne on the throne, John and his wife, along with young daughter Barbara, returned to Wales and the remainder of the family stayed in America. In November 1705, the daughter died, followed by her mother five years later aged 73.

In 1707 the Tref y Rhyg and Monmouthshire quarterly meetings were united, two each year held at Treferig and two at Pontypool. John Bevan, then in his late 80s, was imprisoned briefly in Cardiff for refusing to pay his tithes. He died in 1724. He had outlived all of his children in America and left Treferig to his eldest grandson, John Bevan, who returned to keep the Quaker cause alive in the parish although it was in decline. He died in 1767.

Following Bevan’s death the movement went into decline and the small cemetery adjacent to the house was later bequeathed to the Society of Friends. The building was in a state of ruin by the early 20th century and few remnants now exist.

With thanks to J. Barry Davies