Penclyn 1771-

Penclyn Farm is one of the earliest farms associated with the Jermans in this area. It is located approximately 4km north west of Llanidloes, near to the Llanidloes to Staylittle road and lies almost in the shadow of the Bwlch-Gle-Dam constructed in the late 1960s to hold back the water of the Llyn Clywedog reservoir. The photograph below was taken from the south and shows the farm on the descent into the beginning of a river valley feeding Llyn Y Fan (Van Lake or Pool), becoming the Vale of Cerist, and then the ascent up Bryn Y Fan (Van Hill, alt. 482m).

Penclyn's owner was Sir Watkyn Williams Wynn, one of the largest landowners in Wales in the eighteenth century. It is said that he let the farm to one of his servants, named Jerman and the farm continued in Jerman occupancy for over 350 years. A bed belonging to this family was moved from Cwmdylluan to Tynwaen and it is said that the name of the craftsman and the year 1500 were carved on the wood of the bed.

On 26 April 1771, David Jerman married Jane Bennett  of Llanwnog and they had six children, one of whom, Thomas, farmed at Penclyn. He was the last of the family to farm here, as he moved to Van Farm in about 1847 when the Penclyn Lead Mining Company took the farm from him. The children of David Jerman and Jane Bennett were extremely prolific and much of the family tree so far discovered goes back to them, and David Jerman's parents, believed to be a Daniel Jerman and Mary.

(This account owes much to research undertaken by Jean Jenkins and Glenys Hookham of the Powys Family History Society)

Directly across this valley, slightly to the right just out of picture is Manledd Uchaf (Upper Manledd), also associated with the Jermans since earliest times. Penclyn is part of a nucleus of farms centred roughly on Cae Iago and in which area the Jermans tenanted farms for generations, regularly marrying into neighbouring families (including other Jermans) to protect land and assets. The intensive nature of Jerman occupancy in this area can be illustrated by the observation that, at some points in the nineteenth century, every farm within a rough 9km square area can demonstrate a Jerman connection. It is also possibly truer to say that the Jermans were strictly of the Van rather than Llanidloes.



Looking over to Van Hill: Photo by G. Jones, Aug. 2002

As well as its Jerman connection, I find Penclyn interesting in its own right as close to it is an eponymous fort of the ancient Britons, of whom there is a great deal of evidence elsewhere in this area.

Pen-y-clun Camp That the Britons of Arwystli deserved the high eulogium passed upon them by the old antiquary, may be gathered from the manner in which they resisted the advance of the Romans; the numerous remains scattered over the district, radiating from Caersws as their centre, bearing ample testimony to the nature of what ultimately proved to be a futile struggle maintained by them against the aggressors....The British post [accommodates] its form to the crest of a high isolated hill above Pen-clun farm. It is situated nearly three miles to the north-west of Llanidloes, on the right hand side of the old road leading to Machynlleth. The precipitous nature of the ground protects the entrenchment upon its northern and eastern sides, and that portion of the hill which faces the vale of the Cerist consists of a number of natural platforms ranging one above the other, and admirably adapted for the purposes of defence. Yet to make this part of the hill secure, a circular line of works, consisting of a fosse and agger, 140 yards in length, stretching from one slope to the other, has been constructed. Eighty yards to the north-west of this line another stronger rampart and fosse almost in the form of a horse shoe, forms the inner enclosure of the camp. The space thus enclosed is nearly level, sloping slightly to the west. On the latter side the hill slopes very gradually, and therefore required extra works; accordingly, at a distance of 40 yards from the last mentioned line is a similar strong agger and deep fosse, extending from the vicinity of the old Machynlleth road in a semicircular sweep across the hill to a point where the nature of the ground needs no artificial assistance to render the approach inaccessible. The entrance is on the western side, and is strongly protected. A good view of the work may be obtained from the old road at a short distance in its rear. Near the base of the hill stands a small farm, now called the Bit-fal..."

from "Ancient Arwystli: Its Earth Works and Other Ancient Remains" Montgomeryshire Collections, Volume 1, pages 209 - 232
Published 1868; transcript coutesy of

Earliest Occupants

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                                                               General view of farmland, 2008. Photo by G.Jones

At the present time, the first known Jerman inhabitants of Penclyn are David Jarman (perhaps 1742-1800) and Jane Bennett (perhaps 1744-1800). They are recorded as marrying in 1771. David Jarman's will is dated 29 October 1800 and was probated 8 September 1801. It describes him as being of Penclyn, and mentions:

son David Jerman (1774-1853). Married (1798) Catherine Thomas and farmed Cefn Penarth.

daughter Jane (1776-1857) Married Garner Jones (1798) and farmed Goitre.

daughter Martha (b 1778) Married (1804) David Owen.

son John (minor) (1789-1835).

brother Thomas (trustee, of Bedw, Llanidloes)

son Thomas (excecutor) : it is he who is likely to be resident with his family in 1841. Thomas was born in August 1781 and died on 11 May 1861. He married Ann Richards on 20 February 1804. There are thirteen children attributable to this couple.

1841 Census

The following family is recorded as resident at Penclyn:

Thomas Jarman 60 Farmer

Ann Jarman 55

Richard Jarman 20 - later married Abigail Brown

Edward Jarman 20 - later married and farmed Cefngoleugoed

Elizabeth Jarman 15 - later married Edward Humphries and farmed Penybank

Sarah Jarman 10

Hugh Jarman 13 - later married Sarah Jones, moved to Llandinam

Thomas Jarman 6 - He does not appear to be Thomas & Ann's son. There is an additional entry in the census record in the "Profession or Trade" heading but it is unclear. Thomas and Ann had another son, Thomas (1808-1875).

Daniel Jarman 15


The Van area was not solely agricultural. Interspersed between the farms are various mine-workings, particularly for lead, the biggest and best known being the Van Mine. At Penclyn, there was a separate mine, which had various associated resident families. 

Edward Hamer, the local historian, wrote in 1873, in his "Parochial Account of Llanidloes",

Lead ore was first discovered on this farm about the year 1845, by Mr Jarman, the resident farmer.  The secret was kept for some time, but was ultimately divulged by one of his sons while under the influence of drink.  Eventually Mr Lefeaux [a local mine "captain"] obtained a lease from Sir Watkin [the land-owner] and worked it with great success and profit for a number of years.  About two years before he abandoned it, £30,000 was offered for the property and refused."

While Thomas Jerman appears to have co-existed for some time as a farmer next door to the mine, by 1861, and at the advanced age of 80, he has moved to the urban splendour of Van village, where he appears to be living next door to his sons Thomas and Hugh. At Penclyn itself in 1861 are John and Jane Jones, he recorded as an agricultural labourer. Thomas Jarman was, therefore, the last Jerman to be associated with Penclyn. Why the farm was not maintained in Jerman hands is unknown; some family lore has it that the land was taken by the Penclyn Mine Company, but no evidence is as yet available to support this.

Old mine-workings in the vicinty of Penclyn Farm.  Photo by G.Jones 2008

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Thomas Jarman's will was proved on 30 January 1862 by his sons Daniel and Hugh, who were both living together in Van village. Eleven children are mentioned in this will - nine of them are given ten pounds each with the (unspecified) remainder of his estate being left to the said sons and executors Daniel and Hugh.

Thomas Jarman and Ann Richard's thirteen children provide many of today's Jerman descendants. Of note at the moment are:

- John Jarman (1810-1877) who married his 2nd Cousin, Sarah Jarman of nearby Cae Iago and farmed neighbouring Bidfalld (or "Pinfold").

- Thomas Jarman (1808-1875) who married twice, moved to Merthyr Tydfil, and provided the basis for some of today's Jerman descendants in South Wales.

- Jane Jerman (1812-1877) married Richard Jones, farmed Lleustwen, was as prolific as her parents and produced several of today's lines.

- Edward Jarman (1821-1891) married and farmed Cefngoleugoed.

Other marriages and the direction their children took await investigation.

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