Llansilin (Llan-Silin) - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
LLANSILIN (LLAN-SILIN), a parish, in the union of Oswestry, principally in the Cynlleth division of the hundred of Chirk, county of Denbigh, North Wales; extending also into the English county of Salop, in which it comprises the township of Sychdin, or Soughton; and containing 2083 inhabitants, of whom 1832 are in the county of Denbigh, which contains the village, 6 miles (W. S. W.) from Oswestry. This parish is from seven to eight miles in length, and from four to five in breadth, and is finely situated on the river Cynlleth: the lands are inclosed and in a high state of cultivation; the soil is fertile and productive. The surrounding scenery is richly varied, and the views over the adjacent country abound with variety. Glâsgoed, an ancient seat of the family of Kyffin, afterwards conveyed by marriage to Sir William Williams, Speaker of the House of Commons, and now the property of his descendant, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Bart., is an interesting feature in the scenery of the place. Plâs Newydd, formerly the seat of a branch of the Myddeltons of Chirk Castle; and Pen-y-Bont, at one period the property of the family of Maurice, are also within the parish. Here was likewise a residence of Owain Glyndwr's, called Sycharth, which was seated on an eminence, and surrounded by a park, containing fish-ponds, deer, &c., the beauties of which are described by his bard, Iolo Gôch, in a poem still extant. It was occupied by this chief before his removal to Glyn-Dyvrdwy, or the Valley of the Dee, between Llangollen and Corwen, where Sycharth has commonly, but erroneously, been supposed to have stood. The court of the manor of Cynlleth Owain was kept in the parlour of the mansion, until towards the close of the last century: at present there are scarcely any remains of the building. Above the house are the ruins of a keep, or castellet, surrounded with a high mound and deep ditch. The manufacture of flannel is carried on to a small extent: on the river Cynlleth is a fulling-mill, which prepares the flannel for the Montgomeryshire markets; and another small concern is chiefly employed in spinning yarn for the manufacturers at Oswestry. Fairs, chiefly for the sale of live stock, are annually held in the village on April 5th, July 10th, and September 21st.
The living is a vicarage, rated in the king's books at £8; present net income, £307, with a house; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph. The tithes of the Welsh portion of the parish, consisting of several townships, have been commuted for £655, of which a sum of £431. 2. 2. is payable to the Dean and Chapter of St. Asaph, with a glebe attached of nearly 5½ acres; £219 to the vicar, who has also two small glebes; and £5 to the parish-clerk. The church, dedicated to St. Giles, is a spacious and handsome structure, in the later style of English architecture, with a very neat tower, erected in 1831. At Rhydycroesan, on the confines of the parish, is a second church, consecrated in August 1838, and containing 300 sittings, of which 200 are free: the living is a perpetual curacy, in the Bishop's gift; income, £100. There are places of worship for dissenters; a day school in connexion with the Church, having an endowment of £4 per annum; another school belonging to no particular religious body; and five Sunday schools, one of which is conducted on Church principles.
Watkin Kyffin, in 1700, bequeathed £52, and Edward Maurice, in 1732, left £26, the interest of both sums for distribution weekly in bread to the poor. In 1740 Sir William Williams bequeathed to the parish the sum of £200, and the estates of the Williams family having come into the possession of the house of Wynnstay, on the union of the two families by marriage, it is supposed that a sum of £10, annually paid before Christmas by the agent of Sir W. W. Wynn, is the interest of this legacy, now become a charge on the estate. Among the other benefactors of the parish were Sir William Myddelton, who, in 1717, bequeathed £20; Mrs. Ann Myddelton, who left £42; Richard Williams and John Foulkes, who each left £20; and Mr. Price Maurice, £27: these are among the consolidated charities, which include other minor gifts, and, with the proceeds arising from some portions of land severally bequeathed by Edward ap Thomas in 1657, by Mrs. Rogers, and others, form a fund for distribution to the poor on St. Thomas's day.
William Maurice, a gentleman of landed property and good family, also a learned antiquary, and an industrious collector and transcriber of Welsh manuscripts, resided at Cevnybraich, in the parish, where he built a library, three stories high, adjoining to his house, in which he spent most of his time in the study of Welsh literature. He died between the years 1680 and 1690, and his valuable collection of Welsh manuscripts is preserved in the Wynnstay library. According to a note-book of Mr. Maurice's, now at Wynnstay, giving an account of the civil war in North Wales, it appears that part of the army of Charles I. marched from Montgomeryshire, in September 1645, through Llansilin, towards Chester, then besieged by the parliament; and we learn from the same narrative, that in the following month of February, "the Montgomeryshire forces began to fortifie Llansilin churche, for the straightninge and keeping-inn of Chirk Castle men, where Sir John Watts was governor" in the king's interest. An anecdote connected with the presence of the parliamentary forces in Llansilin, is still preserved among the inhabitants. Some soldiers, it is said, attacked the strongly-built farmhouse of Tymawr, where they anticipated no opposition, but the doors were shut against them, and they failed in making good their entrance; the place was defended for some time, and at length, by throwing out some hives of bees, the inmates compelled the assailants to retire. William Maurice's manuscript account of the civil war, above mentioned, is printed in the Archæologia Cambrensis for January 1846. Huw Morris, the poet, as he is emphatically called, because he excelled all others in the smooth and flowing awen, or song writing, was a native of the parish. He was born at Pont-yMeibion in the valley of Ceiriog, in 1622, and died in 1709, as appears from his tombstone in the churchyard, having lived in six reigns, exclusively of the period of the commonwealth. His songs, carols, and other pieces, some hundreds in number, and many of them adapted to the times, being collected, were published in two volumes, at Wrexham, in 1823.