Llanegwad (and most of that part of Carmarthenshire) is today a predominantly agricultural area. It was the same in 1851. Looking at the census of 1851 and contrasting it with the population today reveals just how much farming has changed. Today, thanks to mechanization, even though farms are larger than they were, the agricultural workforce does not extend far beyond each individual farmer, the farmer’s wife and some (by no means all) of the farmer’s family. In 1851, the majority of the area’s population worked on the land.
Here are some 1851 households in Llanegwad, picked at random; all they have in common is that they live next to each other. The contrast between their world and today’s could not be more marked.
Thomas Lewis and his wife, Phebe, live here with no children. He’s 35, born in the village, a farm laborer; she’s 30 and was born a mile or so away.
Daniel Thomas, aged 72, his wife Margaret, 77, and their 15 year old granddaughter, Margaret Williams, who acts as domestic servant. Daniel farms 14 acres – enough to support them then but it wouldn’t do so now. Daniel was a Llanegwad rarity – born outside the county in Cardiganshire.
William Lewis (Lewis is a common Welsh name), 62 years old, a farmer and never married, lives with his sister Mary, 61, and two servants – remarkable considering he has only 39 acres.
Elizabeth Griffiths is 63 and widowed. She farms 180 acres – a big farm then but today less than half of the larger one it has been absorbed into – with the help of her son, Richard, 36, and five daughters aged between 22 and 30. Richard isn’t married and neither are four of his five sisters; the exception is Elinor though there’s no sign of a husband. The farm also supports: 2 farm servants; 1 farm laborer; 1 errand boy; 1 dairy maid; 1 kitchen maid; and 1 house maid. All on the proceeds of 180 acres – staggering by today’s standards!