William Williams “Carw Coch” 1808-1872

Unitarian, Chartist Local Historian
Carw Coch
William Williams (Carw Coch) was born in ‘a cottage in the middle of the country’ between Rhiw-oleu and Aberpergwm, in the Vale of Neath; on the 6th March 1808.  His parents were Noah and Jean Williams, a couple widely respected  in their community.

Carw Coch did not receive as much as an hour of daily schooling throughout his life. He was one of the children of the night school and Sunday school and it is because of them, and his own personal efforts that he achieved what he did. When he was young, he moved from his birthplace to Tredegar and from there to Aberdare, settling in the area known as Tregibbwn(Tregibon) in Llwydcoed. There he married Margaret (daughter of Lewis John, Rees, Llwydcoed ‘a’) on May 5th 1832 and together they had 8   children. He was outlived by 3 of these, namely Margaret. {now a widow); John Griffiths, Pantglas Villa; Lewis Noah, Caecoed; and Noah who died on September 1st I898 aged 49 years old.

In 1837 he built the house called The Stag Inn, Harriet Street. He lived here with his wife until their deaths At about this time, or shortly after this, Chartism was widespread in this area and in the surrounding parishes, and the ‘Carw’ was a fervent and faithful champion of it, remaining faithful to the Chartists’ principles until his death. Throughout his lift, he endeavored tosupport everything that championed and blessed mankind. About 32 years ago, a handful of workers calling themselves ‘Rhvddymofawyr` Aberdar’ met in the Stag Inn to discuss topics of public interest; and if the author of these lines remembers correctly  on 10th May 1841, one of the first eisteddfodau. if not the very first,  was held at the Stag Inn. As a result of the work and huge effort on the part of Carw Coch, a literary society was formed by himself and Alaw Goch. EiddilCynon. Cynonwyson,and others under the name of `Cymreigyddion y Carw Coch’. Theseeisteddfodaubrought him and various others to the fore as poets and writers. In his day the Carw Coch did all he could support literature in the area.The same can be said of him regards to the philanthropic societies, besides being a writer and an expert Local historian; he was also an ardent and enlightened politician. There wasn’t one public issue, he it literary, national, social or religious, that the old Carw wasn’t likely to have a hand in.

His zealous, untiring and unyielding efforts for the freedom and general welfare of his fellow man remain alive and fresh today amongst the few left who remember him. He was a Unitarian in his religious beliefs, and in his tine he strove diligently to advance the cause in the Hen Dy Cwrdd, where he was a faithful, hard-working and respected member until the summons came to call him home.

The Red Stag, Trecynon
(Picture courtesy of RCTCBC)
On Thursday morning 26th September 1872, he died of a liver disease at his home in The Stag Inn, aged 64. His illness was very short, his career quickly brought to an end, and his tender spirit suddenly and unexpectedly released. He was an amiable and true friend, ready to do what he could to advance the morals, virtue and well being of mankind. In contentious subjects, he was never offensive, but would always strive to use fair, genial and peaceful buns of expression.
Mr W. Williams (Y Carw Coch)
By Alaw Goch
On the occasion of breaking his leg, May 1861
Behold, a stroke of bad luck for William – on the parting
Of his bones whilst in a hurry,
As for a fine servant – his leg, Oh why
Was such a faultless man blighted?

What hero is there more willing? – from his room
He plans the Eisteddfod:
It is a matter of woe to me, the subject of a frown that he is
On his bed with an injured member.

From the white spot on its forehead stupid is the foal, – the dragon of the age,
The worst of its kind – that’s the enemy,
It took fright, he threw the man –
Y Carw, just as if he were a spider.

His spirit, despite this, is contented, – this man’s abode
Is amazingly happy,
He attracts the grain, sets fire to the chaff,
In a poem of praise, pleasurable and sweet.

Y Carw, pooh, pooh, what respect – am I able
To let loose to greet you?
The man who was under his steed
Weaves a song as good as any swan.

The generation’s poets write songs concerning his leg, – Cynddelw
Composes a sad refrain in Triban verse form;
From the age of dear Ifor and all other poets,
And the gold of thousands from the minor choirs.

You age despite all these combining
As a result, and a great deal of moaning,
Despite complaining and blaming the world,
One has to co-exist with adversity,

To such a time it pertains
And God’s hand will heal man.
Carw Coch, whilst you exist on earth,
The best thing for you is truly good health;

It’s a rough life, I bear witness, to be,
Confined to this place, and furthermore to be unwell.
Oh, Carw, it was a bitter, sudden event
That the old bones were prised apart.

On the day of his funeral many gathered from near and far – poets, writers and ministers of the gospel from different denominations to pay their respects to their dear and esteemed friend. The service was led by the Rev. E. W. Lloyd. Cwmbach in the Hen Dy Cwrdd, who delivered a fitting sermon, based on I Peter ii, 17 ‘Respect everyone. Love your fellow man. ‘Fear God’.His remains were buried in the cemetery of St Fagan’s Church.
Our dear Carw is sleeping – in death.
Great is the anguish/mourning for him
He was
Afriend worth remembering.Our dear Carw is sleeping – in death,
Great is the mourning for him
He was
A friend worth remembering.

Our dear patriotic friend – possessed
A fine and cultured muse,
His hardworking lifestyle devoid of anger,
Ridding the world of violence.

Our famous friend – an emancipator through and through
He trod this earth with delicate footsteps,
A valiant man without (hidden infirmity}
A man of few words

Our lovable friend desired to free the world
From vile slavery
His faith and disposition always eager
That beat an open face