by  • June 18, 2013 • Cardigan, Ceredigion, Modern, Office, Period, Post-Medieval, Shop, Site Type • 13 Comments


    In 1741 Joseph Millingchamp died – a former comptroller of Customs at Cardigan who had resided here with his family. In April 1744 a notorious smuggler named William Owen, who was well-known to the Cardigan Customs Officers, brought a cargo to Cardigan. The revenue cruiser was sent out, which he and his men quickly managed to repulse, and he continued unloaded his illegal wares. His ship, moored on the Teifi, was then ambushed on 4th April 1744 by the Collector of Customs with the aid of twenty other men, including four Spanish prisoners of war, two convicts, a tide-officer and ‘…supernumery catch poles and informers…‘ Owen and his crew killed four of the men – two Spaniards and two Welshmen one of whom was the Customs officer – and wounded a convict. Four days later Owen sailed off for the Isle of Man. The coroner’s inquest found that James Phillips, the Customs officer, had been murdered by Owen. In the case of the other Welshman killed, one John Hughes, saddler, a verdict was returned of murder by person or persons unknown. This was also the verdict on the death of one of the Spaniards named Domingo de Zioneto whilst the other Spaniard named Alfonso Pintado ‘…got over the side of a ship and grappled there in order to save his life from the said William Owen but fell in the river and was drowned…‘ (NLW, Great Sessions 4/893/1). William Owen was hanged in 1747.

    In 1748 Cardigan was described as:

    “…a considerable Corn Country and they clear out at the Custom-House of Cardigan yearly to be shipped off of Wheat, Barley, Malt, Oats and Oatmeal about 50,000 bushels…”

    In 1751 Morgan Popkins was the Officer of the Customs at Cardigan. In July 1772 William Lewis was a Cardigan Excise Officer. On 10th October 1777 Thomas Jones was a Collector of Excise for Cardigan and a burgess of the town. In 1782 John Jones was an Excise Officer in Cardigan. In 1783 Richard Rowland was an Excise Officer in Cardigan.

    In 1803-27 Rees Price was the Surveyor of Customs here. On 25th December 1807 Isaac Mathias, Officer of the Customs, died aged 46. The building was rebuilt at about that time, the architect was probably David Evans, though his son, Daniel Evans, may have been engaged here. In 1809 Daniel Davies was an Excise Officer for Cardigan. In September 1809 Mrs. Price, wife of Rees Price, surveyor of customs, died.

    In 1807-45 Thomas Lloyd was a Customs Officer here. In February 1814 Thomas Lloyd of Custom House married Miss Mary Evans of Cardigan. On 16th November 1820 James Lloyd, son of customs officer Thomas Lloyd & Mary Lloyd, was baptised at St. Mary’s Church. On 23rd October 1821 Rice Gwynn, son of Custom House Officer Daniel Gwynn & Mary Anne Mathias Gwynn, was baptised at St. Mary’s Church. On 15th April 1823 Emma Lloyd, daughter of Customs Officer Thomas & Mary Lloyd, was baptised at St. Mary’s Church. On 20th September 1824 William Gwynne, son of Customs Officer Daniel Gwynne & Mary Anne Mathias Gwynne, was baptised at St. Mary’s Church. The Port Records for Cardigan, originally kept here, survive from 1824 onwards and can now be seen at the Pembrokeshire Record Office.

    On 6th April 1825 Jane Lloyd, daughter of Customs Surveyor Thomas Lloyd & Mary Lloyd, was baptised at St. Mary’s Church, but must have died in infancy. On 20th June 1827 Jane Lloyd, daughter of Controller of Customs Thomas Lloyd & Mary Lloyd, was baptised at St. Mary’s Church. In December 1827 Rees Price died aged 60, having been Surveyor of Customs here for 24 years. In 1830-35 David Powell Lucas of Stepside was the Collector of Customs, and Thomas Lloyd was the Comptroller and landed surveyor. In July 1832 the sale particulars for Castle Green (Cardigan Castle) included the Custom House, which was leased to the Customs Officers. The building is marked on John Wood’s 1834 map of Cardigan.

    In 1835 customs officer Thomas Lloyd became a member of Cardigan Borough Council. On 11th August 1836 Excise Officer Hugh McFaarlen was granted a license to marry Rachel Morris. From 1839-41 Thomas Lloyd, Customs Officer, was a burgess of the town. In April 1841 Customs Officer Daniel Gwynn Mathias died. On 30th September 1841 Captain William Woolley Lloyd, son of Customs Officer Thomas Lloyd, married Elizabeth Davies, daughter of Rev. Daniel Davies of Pendre. In 1841 Richard Woodrough was the excise officer. In 1844 David Powell Lucas was the Collector of Customs, Thomas Lloyd was the Controller, and Isaac Mathias and James Lloyd were the tide waiters. In November 1845 Thomas Lloyd retired and Mr. Thomas became Collector of customs. On 11th June 1846 Emma Lloyd, daughter of former Controller of Customs Thomas Lloyd, married Thomas Amlot, widower of St. Mary Street. On 5th May 1849 Thomas Lloyd, former controller of customs, died aged 69. His will referred to his sons William Woolley Lloyd and James Lloyd, and to his daughter, Jane.

    Notice from Custom House published 10/02/1873 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Notice from Custom House published 10/02/1873 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    In 1845-52 Henry Thomas was the Collector In 1852 George Williams was the controller, James Lloyd was the tide waiter and Daniel Thomas was the broker. On 9th May 1851 Mary Margaretta Lloyd, daughter of acting Controller of Customs James Lloyd & Mary Lloyd of Custom House, was baptised at St. Mary’s Church. In 1860 David Morgan, the Customs Officer, joined the newly-formed Cardigan Company of Rifle Volunteers. In 1862 Lewis Evans was the Collector of Customs. In 1867-68 Edward L. Penfold was the Customs Officer. In 1868 David Morgan was the tide waiter and surveyor. Henry Jones worked here in 1869-71. In 1871 John Joshua Head was the collector, Henry Jones the deputy receiver and John Williams and Thomas Evans the tide waiters at the Customs Office. In 1873 John Morgan was the receiver of wreck at the Cardigan Custom House. In 1875 John Morgan was the Superintendent and John Hugh was the acting Examining Officer here. John Morgan was still the Collector of Customs in 1876-84. In 1883 John Morgan was the secretary of the local branch of the lifeboat service. His son, Algernon Sidney Morgan, 28, of Pomona Cottages, St. Dogmaels, died on 28th January 1883.

    In 1884 John Morgan was the Customs Officer, with William Griffiths working as the second officer. On May 8th 1889 Frederick Layzall, Custom House Officer, was buried at St. Dogmaels, having died aged 46. In 1891 the Customs Office was run by Thomas Lewis, superintendent, and Daniel Cronin, 2nd Officer. In 1891-1900 Thomas Lewis was the superintendent of the Customs House. On 10th July 1908 former Customs Officer, David Morgan, died aged 82. In 1914 the Customs House was run by Benjamin Bevan. By 22nd May 1914 No. 1 Pendre had become the Customs Office and the office here closed.

    In August 1919 the former Custom House was advertised for sale. On November 29th 1921 the Coalition Liberals moved to their new venue at the Old Custom House, opened by Captain Ernest Evans, M. P.. ‘The Liberal Club’ was still here in 1922. In 1938-49 David Rees was based at No. 44.

    On 9th September 1977 No. 44 was advertised for sale. In 1986-89 No. 44 was ‘Custom House Fabrics’. In 1993 No. 44 was ‘Castle Music’. In June 1994 No. 44 was advertised for sale with 2 bedrooms. On 16th November 1995 Custom House became an art shop and gallery, run by Karina Servini, and remained so in 1995-2013. Sympathetic replacement windows were installed to the east in April 2003.

    Custom House in May 2013 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Custom House in May 2013 (c) Glen K Johnson


    The property was described by CADW in 1992:

    …Early C19 former Custom House (now shops) in coursed blue lias stone with slate roof. Single storey façade of 3 bays originally all with tall recessed arched openings, both arches with cut stone voussoirs, but right bay has larger later C19 shopfront replacing original opening.

    Left arch has fixed C20 small-paned glazing and rendered top lunette, while centre has double doors with overlight and rendered lunette, the doors 6-panel with top glazing.

    Shopfront to right has pilasters each side with triglyphs over in fascia, and top cornice. Big double panelled doors set back to left, overlight with flattened arched head, and panelled reveals. Shopwindow of 3 big plate glass lights, top lights above thin transom.

    South east rear wing with roof hipped at angle, C20 roughcast cladding. East end wall of Custom House has C20 plate glass window below large late C19 tripartite sash…”

    Additional note: Recessed ceilings resemble those at Castle Green (ca.1808) and a doorcase resembles those from the same building (1827), suggesting that the architect was the same – probably David Evans, or else his son, Daniel Evans.


    NLW, Great Sessions 4/893/1

    Plans of Harbours, Lewis Morris 1748

    Parish Registers of St. Mary’s, Cardigan

    Pembrokeshire Record Office: Port of Cardigan Shipping Registers

    NLW Minor Deposit 490-9B

    Cambrian Journal 16/09/1809; 05/03/1814

    Pigot’s Directory 1830; 1835; 1844

    Map of Cardigan, J Wood 1834

    Hope Chapel Records

    Slater’s Directory 1850; 1852; 1868

    Hunt’s Directory 1850

    A History of Cilgerran, John Roland Phillips 1867

    Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1867; 1876; 1883; 1893-98; 1900; 1908; 1911-12; 1914; 1916; 1919; 1921-22; 1924; 1926; 1935; 1938; 1940; 1944-49; 1951-53; 1956; 1966; 1971-72; 1999; 2004; 2008

    Post Office Directory 1871

    Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1875; 1884; 1891; 1895; 1914 

    Burial Register – St. Dogmaels 1885-1952

    Census Returns 1891

    Walks & Wanderings in County Cardigan, E Horsfall Turner 1902

    Telephone Directory – South Wales District 1940

    Post Office Telephone Directory 1950, 1953; 1955

    Ceredigion Vol. VII No. I 1972

    Cardigan Civic Festival Programme 1986

    Cardigan Civic Week Programme 1989

    The Gateway to Wales, W J Lewis 1990

    A History of the Cardigan Lifeboats, Donald Davies 1990

    Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest – Cardigan, CADW 1992

    The 1993 Guide to Cardigan

    Leaflet – Custom House 1996

    Register of Electors – Cardigan 1998

    The Official Cardigan Guide 1998

    The Phone Book 2003.

    © Glen K Johnson 19/06/2013


    13 Responses to CUSTOM HOUSE, No. 44 ST. MARY STREET

    1. Rob Rose
      June 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Great site.

      I am a direct descendant of Thomas Lloyd (Comptroller of Customs)

      Also, directly related to the Mathias family, maltsters.

      • glen
        June 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm

        Thanks Rob. I’d be interested to learn more about the Mathias family – I’ll be adding more properties all the time, so you may see more of your ancestors cropping up soon!



    2. July 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Glen – yes, terrific site. Like Rob I come from the Mathias maltster line but I’m also a direct descendant of the David Morgan above. He’s been a bit a brick wall as I lost track of him after he was sacked for drunkenness on Bristol dockside – he had already been demoted from his previous posting as Comptroller in Carrickfergus after staff wages weren’t paid! The above suggests he lived on until 1908 (my great-grandfather described him as deceased on his 1891 marriage certificate) – I’d be very interested to know what that snippet comes from – can you give me any pointers? I’d be happy to fill in any gaps for you about the Morgans and Mathiases. Very grateful if you can help, many thanks,

      • glen
        July 17, 2013 at 7:06 am

        Hi Rob. The information, I believe, came from the ‘Births, Marriages & Deaths’ column in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser’ newspaper the week after David Morgan’s death. I didn’t know the rest of the above information, so thanks for that, and any additional information would always be greatly appreciated.



        • Rob Liddle
          July 28, 2013 at 6:55 pm

          Thanks very much – I now have his death certificate after all this time!

          I’m very eager to see further updates to the website – the three generations of John Mathiases I am descended from all resided in a property in St Mary’s Cardigan called the White Hart Inn (according to their wills – although “formerly the White Hart” in 1833). I still haven’t pinned this property down – I wonder if appears on the 1834 map?
          Thanks again

          • glen
            July 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

            The ‘White Hart’ has now been demolished – it was No. 11 St. Mary Street and stood opposite Carrier’s Lane. I should get round to loading a file on it in time, but I believe the Mathias family held it from the 18th Century. It is on the 1834 map.



    3. Rob Liddle
      July 28, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      OK, thanks. One last question if you don’t mind – where can one see a copy of the 1834 map?

    4. Sue Watson
      February 23, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Hi Glen

      Great site came across it by accident. I am a direct decendant of Isaac Matthias Officer of Customs born abt 1761,his son Daniel Gwenne Matthias was also Officer of customs also his son Isaac Rice Matthias .Isaac Rice Matthias ended up working at cardiff docks as a Officer of Customs he died of Cholera in 1854 which was rife in Cardiff then
      I have many church records if you are interested concerning the Matthias family.

      I don`t think there is any conection with my Matthias( two T`s ) family & the Mathias malster line please let me know if you know any different I haven`t found a connection yet.


      • glen
        February 27, 2015 at 8:15 pm

        Hi Sue – Many thanks for your comments – I always enjoy hearing from people who are descended from old local characters and families. I haven’t found a connection between the two Mathias lines either. I’d certainly be interested in knowing more about the family’s Cardigan period. Kind Regards, Glen

        • Sue
          February 28, 2015 at 5:07 pm

          I have this which might be of interest, it is concerning William Owen the smuggler who you have mentioned above.
          Daniel Gwynne Matthias my 3rd times Gt Grandfather is mentioned in this manuscript autobiography of the smuggler William Owen .I would be very interested to know how Daniel Gwynne Matthias was involved in this as I know from my family records he was Officer of Customs.This information appears on his son`s Baptism record which dates back to 1819 .I have no more information before this date just Daniel Gwynne Matthias`s Baptism & Marriage church records.

          Glyn Parry, ‘Autobiography of a smuggler’, in National Library of Wales Journal, 24, pp. 84-92 At Sotheby’s, 22-23 July 1982, lot 139, the National Library purchased a remarkable manuscript autobiography (NLW MS. 21834B) of William Owen the ‘noted smuggler’ who was hanged for murder at Carmarthen on 2 May 1747. The volume measures 200mm. by 125mm. and is bound in vellum. The text fills 161 of the volume’s 176 pages (approximately 18,000 words). Originally the autobiography was either written by Owen himself or dictated by him whilst he awaited his execution at Carmarthen gaol to the Rev. John Davies (probably the John Davies who was rector of Cardigan, 1743-63) who has attested that he attended on Owen during his confinement. This ms. is a copy in the hand of Daniel G. Matthias whose name is inscribed inside the front cover along with the date, January 1811. Despite extensive research Matthias continues to elude me. He may be related to Sir Henry Matthias of Fern Hill, Pembrokeshire, who was the Prothonotary of the Carmarthen circuit from 1783 until the Court of Great Sessions was abolished in 1830. This would certainly explain how Matthias got hold of the original ms. in the first place.

          Any more information on Daniel Gwynne Mattias would be gratefully received.


          • glen
            March 19, 2015 at 12:08 pm

            Many thanks for this Sue. If I find anything on Daniel Gwynne Mathias I shall certainly post it to the page. Regards, Glen

    5. Sue Watson
      March 8, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      Hi Glen

      My four times Gt Grandfather Isaac Matthias was the Surveyor of Customs In Cardigan he was buried 27th Dec 1807at St Mary`s Church Cardigan but have failed to find his date of death until I read your site & noticed you have his date of death as 25th December 1807 aged 46.

      Could you tell me where that information might be found so i can look into it.

      Also I think Isaac Matthias might of died of Yellow Fever.I found a clipping from The Staffordshire Advertiser dated 23rd January 1808 this is how it was worded :It is much to our concern that a dreadful distemper ( Supposed to be a species of Yellow Fever ) rages in & about the town of Cardigan South Wales.Whole families have been cut off & many houses bereaved of their tenants.Among the recent deaths are Mrs Davies wife of Mr H Davies Shopkeeper.Mr George Davies of the White Hart Inn.Mr Isaac Matthias one of the Custom House Officers.Mrs Ferrier wife of John Ferrier Esq of the Cardigan Militia.Mr Rowland Watkins many years a respectable Innkeeper at Eglwyswrw near Cardigan.Griffith Edwards many years a noted performer on the Violin in Cardigan.Mrs Jones wife of David Jones a respectable farmer at Ffynnon – Criphill near Cardigan.



      • Rob Rose
        March 12, 2016 at 7:31 pm

        Hi Sue

        The info re death of Isaac Mathias comes from his gravestone. I am descended from the Mathias’s of Cardigan, several of whom were connected to the White Hart Inn. Also, by marriage connected to the Lloyd family who were Customs Officers – all buried in St Mary’s Churchyard.


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