The picture on the left is the original will of Thomas Rodda - we'll come to him in a minute.

John Harris was born in about 1809 in Camborne, perhaps the son of Francis and Ann Harris, (proven 2012).  He married in Crowan to Mary Rodda, and their first four children were all born in Crowan: William, Jane, Mary and John.

John, a coalminer, sailed from Hayle to South Wales in the 1840s, drifting up the Swansea Valley to find work.  Legend has it that he came up with Sir Vyvyan, the Cornish family who later became earls of Swansea.

The Harrises lived at Tyrcanol, Caemawr and recorded the births of their children in a family bible.  We don't have the original, but a copy went to the Hanney family and we're coming to that.


John Harris rose to become an overman and died in 1887, his wife two years previously.  They had had their golden wedding anniversary on Christmas Day 1881.  (They had married in a hurry on Christmas Day as the eldest child was about to be born.)  The surviving sons all wrote in a fair hand, but the daughters, I'm afraid, were almost certainly illiterate.  Rodda did not quibble when her name was spelt Rhoda after her husband's death.  She put down her mark as an X.  Also Lavinia got her name spelt as Levina and it didn't bother her as she just signed her will with her X.  The will was read out to her, to make sure she understood it.

There were seven surviving children: John, Thomas and Edward (twins), Jane Francis, Mary Taylor, Rodda Hynam and Lavinia Martin.  The eldest boy, a coalminer, being buried at Llangyfelach aged 25.

Also mentioned in the Harris family bible were Thomas Rodda died 17 January 1864, Richard Rodda died 27 November 1875 and Jane Reynolds died 2 March 1870.  It didn't take much to find that Richard and Jane were the children of Thomas, a miner who had also left Crowan parish, Cornwall and come to live in Morriston.  Sue Jones got me a copy of Thomas's will and you can see a few things from the original, above.  His friend Joseph Faull, a farmer wrote the will on lined paper and Thomas made a very shaky mark pressing so hard the nib divides into two.  Faull then folded the piece of paper and put it in his pocket - you can still see the fold plus the reverse image of the mark to the right of Rodda's name.

Thomas Rodda had four children:
Elizabeth, who married 1850 in Gwinear to William Blewett, copperminer at Leedstown, Cornwall and died after producing six children.
Mary, who married 1850 in Crowan to Alexander Lathlean, miner.  Died after producing three children.
Jane, who married 1860 in Swansea to William Reynolds from Penzance, coachman and gardener to a magistrate at Brynnewydd House, Sketty.  Died of TB age 35, leaving one child.
Richard, who married 1861 in Swansea to Elizabeth Jane Harvey from Crowan.  Died after his leg was amputated at Swansea Hospital, following an accident with a gun (poaching?) when he was sixteen.  He was 39 when he died, a merchant's clerk and copper ore weigher and his widow carried on the business of a grocer.  He left six children.
Rodda leaves his property in Wales to Richard and Jane, while his property in Cornwall is to go to his nine grandchildren, to be looked after by William Blewett.  The Reynolds son later became a carpenter in Penzance.  The eldest Lathlean son became a collier living in Vicarage Road, and his grandson Sidney was still living there in the 1980s.

There were two marriages which could be that of Thomas Rodda, in 1819, to Ann Stephens and in 1828, to Ann Stephens.  But there are no baptisms for Thomas which could link him up with Mary Rodda, wife of John Harris. (2012) Until we found the Rodda baptisms .

Here is a photograph of William Blewett with some of his family.  The photo was taken in Cornwall.