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"KIDWELLY, or CYDWELI, an incorporated market town, and a parish, having a separate jurisdiction, locally in the hundred of Kidwelly, county of CARMARTHEN, SOUTH WALES, 9 miles (S. by E.) from Carmarthen, and 225 (W.) from London, containing 1681 inhabitants. . . This is a place of great antiquity . . . The town occupies a low and uninteresting situation on the banks of the Gwendraeth Vach, or Lesser Gwendraeth river, which divides it into two portions, called respectively the Old and the New Town, the former of which, situated on the Western side, is connected with the latter by a handsome bridge. . . The Old Town, which was formerly surrounded by walls, having three gates . . . now consists, with few exceptions, merely of hovels; and the New Town contains very few respectable dwelling houses, the majority being thatched cottages of very inferior appearance. The air is salubrious, and the place is considered very healthy; but the importance which it formerly derived from its position on a fine navigable river . . . has ceased with the obstruction of this navigation . . . The present remains of [Kidwelly Castle] occupy a bold rocky eminence on the western side of the Gwendraeth Vach, and are in a more perfect state of preservation than any other of a similar character in the principality." [From A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (S. Lewis, 1833).]


Lloyd, Thomas. Evan Andrews of Kidwelly (1803-1869): scholar, schoolmaster and playwright. Sir Gâr (1991), p. 227-38


An  index to the Kidwelly 1851 census is available for purchase from CMN FHS

Church History

See John Ball's site Welsh Churches and Chapels Collection for a photograph/data re The Priory Church of St Mary, Kidwelly

Some church and chapel data from The Religious census of 1851 : A Calendar of the returns relating to Wales, Vol 1, South Wales. Ed. by   I.G Jones, & D. Williams. UWP,   Cardiff, 1976. The names are those of the informants

  • Kidwelly Parish Church
    "Remarks: [MS torn] . . . Lords day in this Town is but very little regarded as a day for spiritual worship [pub] lick houses are allowed to be open, and frequented during Divine Service. Publick [hou]ses are very numerous in this place, and even the Town Clerk keeps a . . . publick house. Often times on the Lord's day we are not only hear cursing and . . . once swearing in our streets, but frequently we see most brutal fighting, and . . . [n]otice taken thereof by the authority of the Town. This is the cause why places [of wor]ship are so little frequented and religion so little appreciated and professed at Kidwelly."                       Thomas Griffiths, Vicar
  • Bethesda  WM              Erected in 1816               Two  returns, one subitted by Benjamin Williams, Tyisha, Pembrey and the other by Joseph Jones, Wesleyan Minister
  • Capel Newydd    CM                 Erected in 1830       David John, Elder, Shoemaker, Lady St, Kidwelly
  • Capel Sul    Ind      Erected in 1787, re-erected and enlarged 1831           "There are many attending this place of worship from the adjoining parishes of St Ismael and Llandevilog and Pembrey"        David Jones, Minister
  • Siloam   Baptist               Erected in 1821                  John Evans, Deacon, Cordwainer, Bridge St
  • Horeb     CM                  Erected in 1841            David Evans, Mynyth (sic) y Garreg


Parish entry from The Welsh Church Year Book, 1929 (Cd by (Archive CD Books)).

  • St Mary
  • &
  • St Teilo
  • Incumbent and Curates; D A Jones (H Ponsford)
  • Rural Deanery of  Kidwelly
  • Acreage 2,844 ; Population 3,475

Hughes, William Eric Vaughan. Saint Teilo's Church Mynydd-y-Garreg, 1893-1993: a story of a church, a village and its people. Kidwelly: Eric Hughes, 1993. 98p: ill, facsims, plan, ports; 22cm.

Jenkins, W.C. Hanes yr achos Annibynol yn Cydweli, yn nghyd ag anerchiad a draddodwyd i eglwysi Capel Sul a Sardis, Tachwedd 6ed, 1892: gydag ychwanegiad o hanes yr eglwysi oddi ar hyny hyd yn awr - Mehefin 1894. (Llanelli, 1894), 12p.

Tucker, J.E. John Davies of Kidwelly, 1627?-1693, translator from the French; with an annotated bibliography of his translations, The papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 44, 2d quarter, (1950) pp.119-152.

Williams, Glanmor. Kidwelly Priory. Sir Gar (1991), p. 189-204

Church Records

St. Mary, Kidwelly - photograph and basic information from Dyfed FHS

Parish registers: Christenings (1626-1809, 1813-1962), Marriages (1626-1971), Banns (1754-1809, 1823-71) and Burials (1626-1809, 1813-1947) are at the Carmarthenshire Record Office.

Copy ts index C 1813-1923   M 1628-1971   B 1813-1947  at NLW and Carm.RO

Bishops' Transcripts, covering the period (1672, 1677-8, 1681-4, 1686-7, 1690-1, 1693-6, 1699, 1705, 1715, 1717-21, 1724-5, 1727-33, 1735, 1737-59, 1761-80, 1782-1800, 1802-82, 1884-5) are at the National Library of Wales.

Church christenings (1813-1875 - from the BTs) and marriages (1627-1753, 1813-37) have been entered into the IGI.

Marriage index for this parish - see Dyfed Marriages, 1813-1837, Vol. 16 - Kidwelly Hundred (Dyfed Family History Society, c1989).

An index to Marriages (1740-1837) is included in the South And West Wales Genealogical Index CD-ROM - details under Genealogy on Carmarthenshire county page.

See Bap/Mar/Bur data on FreeReg

Nonconformist Chapels:

  • Siloam (Baptist, 1796), New ST/Castle Rd, Kidwelly town              Subscriptions (1900) NLW Ms 1479; and see Salem (St. Ishmaels's)         SN4079307046     Built 1821, rebuilt 1892/3       Still open 1998      Coflein                                On Dyfed FHS
  • Horeb (Calvinistic Methodist, 1841), Horeb Rd, Mynnydd-y-garreg                     SN42900859   Built 1841; rebuilt/modified 1863, 1873, 1877 & 1938   Coflein               Horeb Mynydd-y-Garreg CM chapel is still open in 2006
  • Horeb Sunday School, Horeb Rd, Kidwelly      (denomination?)         SN42860856         Built in the Late 20th c style,         Not still open 2000     Coflein  
  • Morfa (Calvinistic Methodist, 1742), Morfa Lane, Kidwelly town         SN4065106749      Built in 1830, rebuilt in 1907      Coflein              Morfa CM chapel, Heol-y-bont is still open in 2006
  • 1. Capel Sul (Independent, c1780), Bridge St, Kidwelly town             On Dyfed FHS             SN4069106812    Built in 1862 as Rumsey House, in 1924-6 it was converted into a chapel. The chapel is above the schoolroom.            Still open 2002      Coflein                            Shown as still open on the Union of Welsh Independents site (Dec 2006)
  • 2. Capel Sul Welsh Independent chapel, Ferry Rd, Kidwelly     Births and baptisms (1788-1918) and deeds (1794) Carmarthenshire R.O. Ms 6359; members (1932-56) and cash book (1867-86) Carmarthenshire R.O. Ms 6374          SN4054707284    Built 1787, rebuilt and enlarged in 1832.   Replaced by a new chapel c. 1926 (see above).     Demolished by 2000   Coflein
    Rees, Thomas & John Thomas. Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru (History of the Welsh Independent Churches), 4 volumes (published 1871+). Here is the entry from this book for this chapel (in Welsh ) - with translation by Gareth Hicks (Oct 2008)
  • Gwendraeth Independent chapel, Priory St, Kidwelly   (Apostolic church)              SN4137506979         Built 1869.     Still open 1997     Coflein  
  • Soar Independent chapel, Meinciau Rd, Mynyddygarreg, Kidwelly           SN43630833    1. Chapel built 1890    Still open 1998          2. Chapel with date plaques of 1869 and 1929 on the front elevation, no longer in use as a chapel in 2004. Coflein                          See Capeli (2005 list of chapels under threat)
  • Bethesda (Wesleyan Methodist, 1816), Castle St, Kidwelly town         Records with those of Ebenezer (Carmarthen)          SN4085907000  Built 1816; rebuilt/modified 1832 & 1895    Coflein
  • Trinity English Wesleyan Methodist, Bridge St, Kidwelly    SN4066006877   Built 1866   Still open 2000   Coflein                    On Dyfed FHS

Description and Travel

You can see pictures of Kidwelly which are provided by:

The Religious census of 1851 : A Calendar of the returns relating to Wales, Vol 1, South Wales., byJones, I.G. & Williams, D.   UWP,   Cardiff, 1976.  These statistics for this parish are extracted from this book which in turn got them from the 1851 census itself;

  • St Mary Within; Area 2637 acres; Population 640 males, 715 females, total 1355
  • St Mary Without; Area 2533 acres; Population 132 males, 16[161?] females, total 293

Places, villages, farms etc within Kidwelly  as shown on the online parish map from the CD of Historic Parishes of England and Wales: an Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata [computer file]. (Kain, R.J.P., Oliver, R.R.). (Extracted by Gareth Hicks)

  • Kidwelly Park (80); Allt-Cunedda; Bont; Brick Works; Bridge; GWR; Goetre; Llech Dwnny; Morfa Bach; Mynydd y Gareg; Nimpwll; Parc-gwyn; Parc y mynydd;  Pen-allt; Pentre; Quarry; Wenallt
  • St Mary in the Borough (81); Castle; Dinas Works; Garddau; Gareg; Gas Wks.; Gateway; Gwendraeth Valley Ry.; Kidwelly (town); Muddles-cwm; Mynydd y Gareg; Pen-lan-isaf; Quarry; Resr.; Rogerlay; Tin Plate Works; Wenallt

Kidwelly Castle - on Castle Wales

Kidwelly Castle - on Wikipedia

" Wendraeth, or Gwen-draeth, from gwen, white, and traeth, the sandy beach of the sea. There are two rivers of this name, Gwendraeth fawr, and Gwendraeth fychan, the great and the little Gwendraeth, of which Leland thus speaks;' Vendraeth Vawr and Vendraith Vehan risith both in Eskenning commote; the lesse an eight milys of from Kydwelli; the other about a ten, and hath but a little nesche of sand betwixt the places wher thei go into the se, about a mile beneth the towne of Kidwely.' Cydweli was probably so called from cyd, a junction, and wyl, a flow, or gushing out, being situated near the junction of the rivers Gwendraeth fawr and fychan....."
The Itinerary Through Wales and The Description of Wales by Giraldus Cambrensis (1188).
The text is that of Sir Richard Colt Hoare who published an English translation in 1806, chiefly from the texts of Camden and Wharton . This extract is from the foot-notes in the Everyman's Library edition, (ed. Ernest Rhys) 1908.


Pike, L.E. Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire: the official guide, Home Publishing Co (1958) 18 p.


Hunt, E.C. Directory and Topography for the Cities of Gloucester and Bristol: and the towns of Carmarthen, Kidwelly, Laugharne, Llanelly, and St. Clears [etc.]., London, B.W. Gardiner (1849) iv, 558 p.

Pigot & Co. South Wales Directory for 1830. Here are Extracts relating to Kidwelly

Pigot & Co. South Wales Directory for 1844. Here are Extracts relating to Kidwelly and Neighbourhood


John Williams, Shoemaker and Alderman of the Borough of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire - contributed by Gail Thomas

Carmarthenshire Families

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

  • Mansel deeds and documents 1582-1854   "The Mansel family came to Muddlescwm in the parish of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, when Anthony and Francis (d. 1628), two sons of Sir Edward Mansel, married Mary and Catherine, the co-heirs of Muddlescombe.................."
  • Thomas Parker Papers    "Papers relating to Thomas Parker and his estate in Kidwelly, 1761-1818..........."

O'Driscoll, Jean. Life and the Anthonys [of Kidwelly]. Dyfed FHS Journal, 6 (Dec 1997) p.68.

Randell, D F. Sailing with the Randell Family 1797-1910 . Dyfed FHS journal Vol 7/4 April 2001. "The Randell family of Kidwelly and later Pembrey over four generations from 1797 and until 1910 contributed much to the sailing lore of the Carmarthenshire coast...."  A related site is The Randells of Clovelly, Kidwelly and Pembrey

Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Kidwelly has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


Kidwelly Borough - April 1847, A Statement Relating to the former and present condition of the Borough and to the personal character and Mal-administration of the Judicial and Corporate authorities.
Contributed by Brian Randell. The Appendix contains what is described as "a list of the present members of the self-elective Corporate Council of Kidwelly with notice of their qualifications, habits and pursuits in life"

Kidwelly History - Jeff Mansel's site

Here is Jeff Mansell's  impressive  Kidwelly  site currently containing details of  Charters;  Mayors; Images of Castles, Churches and Streets; Lordship map; Ministers' Accounts ; Rentals; Surveys.

Brown, Roger Lee. A home and an income: aspects of the 19th century parish of Kidwelly. Carmarthenshire Antiquary 32 (1996), p. 66-70

Castle Street Museum (Kidwelly) Around Kidwelly, then and now. [Kidwelly]: Castle Street Museum, [1989] 46p: ill; 21cm.

Clark, G.T. A description and history of Kidwelly castle, Caermarthenshire, London,W.Pickering (1851) 32 p.

Evans, G., "Carmarthenshire Gleanings (Kidwelly)," Y Cymmrodor: The Magazine of the Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion, vol. 25, pp.92-125, 1915. [Has chapters on (i) Sanctuary Lands in Kidwelly, (ii) Survival of Medieval Customs in Kidwelly, and (iii) Llansaint, Ecclesia Omnium Sanctorum and Hawkin Church. In addition there are Appendices listing (A) Chief Rent Roll of Kidwelly, 1753, (B) Town Rent Roll (very late 18th century), (C) Mayors, Recorders, Chief Stewards, and Town Clerks of Kidwelly (1618-1914), together with a List of English Mariners who became Burgesses of Kidwelly in the Eighteenth Century.]

Hughes, W.E.V. Kidwelly, History, Legends and Folklore, Kidwelly, Eric Hughes (1999) 98 p. Here is an Index by Brian Randell.

Jones, D.D.. A History of Kidwelly, Carmarthen, W. Spurrell & Son, 1908. [Contains chapters on the commercial scene, and on local notables, as well as several on the early history of the town and the church.].[LDS GS 942.98/K1 H2j]

Kenyon, J.R. Kidwelly Castle, Cardiff, Cadw (1990) 40 p., ill., col. facsims., col. maps, plans (some col.); [ISBN: 0948329483 (pbk)]

Lloyd, Sir John E., (Ed.). A History of Carmarthenshire (2 vols.), Cardiff, London Carmarthenshire Society (1935, 1939). Extracts from this book can be accessed on some parish pages, see here for this parish.

Ludlow, N. D. The first Kidwelly tinplate works: an archaeological and technological history. Sir Gar (1991), p. 79-100

Morris, W.H. Walking The Boundary - Borough of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire Antiquary, vol. 3, no. 1, (1959) pp.111-113. [An account of the occasion in 1863 when the mayor, alderman and burgesses walked the boundary - giving a list of those involved.]

Morris, W. H. Kidwelly tinplate works: a history. Kidwelly: Kidwelly Heritage Trust, 1987. 34p: ill(some col), plans, ports; 30cm.

Nicholl, L.D. The Normans in Glamorgan, Gower & Kidweli, Cardiff, William Lewis (printers) (1936) xvii, 207 p.

Radford, Courtenay Arthur Ralegh. Kidwelly castle, Carmarthenshire. London: H. M. Stationery off., 1933. 16 p: front., pl., fold. plans; 22 cm.

Williams, D. The Borough of Kidwelly in the 19th Century, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, vol. 17, no. 3, (1955) pp.199-207. [A fascinating account.]

W.H. Kidwelly and its Environs. In The Red Dragon, Vol. 7, pp.141-148, Cardiff, D. Owen and Co., (1885). [General account of the history of Kidwelly.]

Around Kidwelly, Then and Now, Kidwelly, Castle Street Museum (1989). [A 48-page popular booklet, with a number of interesting little articles about Kidwelly's history]

Land and Property

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

  • Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Collection of Deeds    "Deeds, 1609-1873, mostly relating to lands in Carmarthenshire, including .........; records of the Commissioners of the Kidwelly and Llanelli Canal and Tramroad Act, 1813-1834; .............."
  • Muddlescombe Estate Records 1200-1696   "Deeds, with a very few papers, 1287-1696, relating to the Muddlescwm estate in Carmarthenshire, especially in the Kidwelly and Pembrey area, and in Cheriton and Llanrhidian in Glamorgan."

Documents at the National Library of Wales:

  • Papers of, and concerning, Thomas Parker (1761-c1818) and Louisa, his wife (died c1833), of Kidwelly, relating mainly to property in Kidwelly and to the Allihies copper mine in co. Cork, Ireland, 1698-1844.
  • Records from the office of W. Evans-George & Sons, solicitors, Newcastle Emlyn; mainly relating to the Brigstocke family of Kidwelly and Llechdynny, Carmarthenshire, and Blaenpant, Cardiganshire, 1496-1910.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SN408067 (Lat/Lon: 51.736296, -4.307010), Kidwelly which are provided by:

Merchant Marine

Morris, W.H. The Port of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire Antiquary, vol. 26, (1990) pp.13-18.

Names, Personal

Transcript and Index of Mayors 1618-1843, 1892-1920, Burgesses 1631-1843, Serjeants at Mace 1657-1834, Common Council & Aldermen 1618-1837 of Kidwelly, Carmarthen, Typescript, Merlin Indexing Companions (1994).


Kidwelly and Burry Port Railway - on the Railscot site

Kidwelly Signal Box - on the Signal Box site

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

  • Kidwelly Tinworks Photograph c 1900    "Kidwelly Tinworks, Carmarthenshire, was established in 1737. Production ceased there in 1941."  
  • Kidwelly Tinplate Works 1904-1947  "In 1737 what came to be known as the Lower Works at Kidwelly [Cedweli] was founded by Charles Gwynn. He built the tin works on an area of land known as Bank Broadford on the eastern bank of the River Gwendraeth Fach, 1 km north of the town of Kidwelly ........."

Evans, Muriel Bowen. An Industrial workforce - Kidwelly tin works 1881. The Carmarthenshire Antiquary XXII (1986) pp.51-58. [Contains lists of employees in 1871 and 1881]

Jones, J.F. Kidwelly Borough Police Force, Carmarthenshire Antiquary, vol. 4, no. 1 and 2, (1962) pp.152-159.

Morris, W.H. Kidwelly Inns and Publicans in 1836, The Carmarthen Antiquary, vol. 4, no. 1 and 2, (1962) pp.90.

Morris, W H. The Canals of the Gwendraeth Valley (part 1). The Carmarthenshire Antiquary. 1970, Vol vi

Public Records

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

  • Kidwelly Borough Council records 1893-[1970s]
  •  Kidwelly Town Council records 1886-1970    "Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, was a medieval borough. It was re-incorporated as a Borough Council in 1893; Kidwelly Town Council was created at the same time, with responsibility for housing, valuation and rates."

Held at Carmarthen Archives;

  • List of mayors, burgesses, sergeants-at-mace, common councillors & aldermen for Cydweli Borough, 1618-1920.

[Gareth Hicks:  22 Dec 2012]