Introduction

Earliest indications show that the unusual Jerman name has been present in mid-Wales, in the old county of Montgomeryshire, since at least the sixteenth century. Coming possibly as weavers or farmers from lowland Europe, they settled in an area between Llanidloes and Trefseglwys, perhaps firstly around an area now known as Y Fan - the Van - in the shadow of the eponymous hill.   The ancient Parish Church of St Michael, Trefeglwys, shown above, would have been an important reference point for them from the start, even if some were always non-conformist.

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            Penclyn Farm is rather hidden, notched into the landscape, looking North to Van Hill.         Photo by G. Jones, 2002           

The Jermans were careful farmers and settled in relatively low-lying, fertile territory, suitable for cattle sometimes as well as sheep, also affording cultivation of necessary pasture.  Some of the more ambitious and prosperous family units would acquire their own lands and farms; others were tenants on the various ancient Arwystli estates.   A dynasty of yeoman farming stock began, imbued heavily with the swirling currents of religious non-conformism also taking root in mid-Wales from these times - for example, Jermans were early local members of the Society of Friends (Quakers).   A patchwork of larger and smaller farms developed north of Llanidloes, nearly all woven together by inheritance and astute marriage to other local dynasties into what became almost total colonisation of the area.   Indeed, Richard Mills, petty constable, presented "John Ashton of Cusulvia (Geseilfa) for Inclosing 1 acre or thereabouts upon Jermans Hill - [fined 2/6]”.  This hill, not so-named today, would have between somewhere between Llarwyglyn and Trefeglwys.


Relatively few Jermans found their way into the industrial employment the burgeoning flannel industry of Llanidloes offered - although a Thomas Jerman's family did feature in the Chartist rebellion of 1839.   In any case, there was supplemental employment if necessary for Jerman men in the Van Mine.

Jermans did, of course, eventually move from the area, at particular points, and a few feature in the first religious migrations to Pennsylvania in the seventeenth century.  More locally, outposts were established around Machynlleth and in the next-door county of Radnorshire. They also feature heavily in the broader Welsh diaspora - moving by choice or force of economic circumstance to South Wales and its growing industries, and in now greater numbers with everyone else from Liverpool to the United States.

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                                   In the Trannon valley, photograph by G.Jones, Feb. 2009

Click below to hear "Pantyfedwen" - a "modern" Welsh hymn but firmly within the (mixed) choral tradition.  This has become one of the most popular hymns in Wales today, played at weddings and funerals alike.  It celebrates the miracle of Christ and has as its refrain:

"The Hallelujah is in my soul 

And to You, Jesus, I give praise."


Site banner: the picture heading all pages shows a general view towards the farm and homestead at Maes-y-Blawd, in between Y Fan and Trefeglwys: in the middle of Jerman country.

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