Name Change of Elizabeth John to Elizabeth Portrey of Ynys Cedwyn House

Many thanks again to Stuart Davies! I think that there was an attempt to cover up the fact that the well known Elizabeth Portrey of Ynys Cedwyn House was illegitimate. and it succeeded for two hundred and fifty years. The fact that Christopher Portrey was a Squire means that there might have been a scandal if the truth came out. He seemed to have treated Gwenllian as an afterthought in a Codicil, because she was not in the class of the Gentry. Elizabeth Portrey was a member of the Gentry because she was the daughter of a Squire (or Armiger). The facts about John Morgan seemed to have been well known and no one seemed to mind.

Sent: 03/04/2017 13:32:43 GMT Daylight Time
Subj: Re: Name Change of Elizabeth John to Elizabeth Portrey of Ynys Cedwyn House

The codicil related only to Gwenllian John and a small sum. Elizabeth John received a larger sum directly under the will proper.

It should also be pointed out that Elizabeth is listed in her baptism entry as being a ‘fila adulterat’ of Gwenllian John. She is the only person that I have noticed in the baptism records who is listed as an adulterine child.

Elizabeth’s son, John Morgan, who is buried with his wife in the same tomb as Elizabeth [the granite top to the grave is contemporary with his
burial rather than his parents] is listed as fathering four children with four different women, one of whom is his wife. No comment whatsoever is made about the legitimacy of any of the children.

It would appear to me that somebody or other, at the time, was decidely not impressed by the actions of Gwenllian and her un-named paramour.

Stuart Davies

Sent: Monday, April 3, 2017 9:44 AM
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Subject: Name Change of Elizabeth John to Elizabeth Portrey of Ynys Cedwyn House

This occurred between December 1752 and 9th April 1753, the dates of a Codicil of a will of Christopher Portrey 2nd of Ynys Cedwyn House and the date of a prosecution which I found in National Library of Wales, Crime and Punishment. In the Codicil she was referred to as Elizabeth John, and in the prosecution she was Elizabeth Portrey, spinster (i.e. unmarried woman) of Ystradgynlais. So the new owner of Ynys Cedwyn House, Richard Awbrey, (formerly Gough) may have arranged for the name to be changed in a local court, or as part of an undiscovered agreement with Christopher Portrey 2nd. If so, there might be extant documents as yet undiscovered. However a name can be changed without reference to any legal procedure. If Elizabeth were not the daughter of Christopher Portrey II, the name change would never have been allowed, because Portrey was the name of a Squire (esquire after his name), a member of the Gentry descended from the Princes of Wales and Richard Duke of Normandy via Isabella de Clare, wife of Sir Reginald Aubrey. If Elizabeth John had been an unrelated and illegitimate daughter of an unrelated servant, Gwenllian John, she would never have been allowed to adopt the name Portrey in those days of strict class distinction. In fact, Gwenllian John was the common law wife of Christopher Portrey. The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. Stuart Davies discovered that Elizabeth John was baptized as the illegitimate daughter of Gwenllian John. Nothing else is known about Gwenllian John except for the prosecution I discovered at the NLW Crime and Punishment archives. There appear to be no extant baptismal or burial records for Gwenllian John. They may have been lost, because records are fragmentary, or they may have been stolen or destroyed.

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