Nannau Manuscripts

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 222 NANN
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      latin english
  • Physical Description
      12.75 linear metres Physical characteristics are noted in the three catalogues alongside the description of the documents.

Scope and Content

Although the collection has been given the general title of Nannau Manuscripts, the collection includes papers not only relating to the original Nannau family, but also those of the Vaughans of Hengwrt and Dolmelynllyn, and the assembled papers regarding the Meillionydd lands in Lleyn and Ystumcolwyn in Montgomery.

A collection of 2972 items consisting of the papers of the Nanney family of Nannau, Dolgellau; the Vaughans of Hengwrt and Dolmelynllyn, co. Merioneth and those relating to the Meillionydd (co. Caernarfon) and Ystumcolwyn (co. Montgomery) estates which were added to the Nannau-Hengwrt possessions upon the marriage in 1765 of Sir Robert Howell Vaughan, the first baronet of Nannau, to Anne Williams the heiress of Ystumcolwyn. The Nannau-Hengwrt group consists of deeds relating to properties in Bodgadfan, Brithdir, Cefnllanfair, Cefnyrowen (Cymer Abbey lands), Cefnyronnen, Ceiswyn, Cerist, Corwen, Dinas Mawddwy, Dolgellau, Dolgledr, Doluwcheogryd, Dyffrydan, Ffestiniog, Garthgynfor, Garthmaelan, Harlech, Llanaber, Llandecwyn, Llanddwywe, Llanegryn, Llanelltud, Llanenddwyn, Llanfachreth (including Cymer Abbey lands), Llanfor, Llanfihangel, Llanuwchllyn, Llanycil, Llwyngronw Abad, Llwyngwril, Llystrefelyn, Maesllangedwis, Maentwrog, Mignaint, Nannau (including Cymer Abbey lands), Penaran, Penrhyndeudraeth, Prysor, Talybont, Talygarreg and Trawsfynydd (including Cymer Abbey lands), co. Merioneth; and Aberdaron and Llanfaelrhys, co. Caernarfon, 1420-1902; rentals, 1590, and 1701-1860; miscellanea, including papers relating to the shrievalty of Hugh Nanney, 1626-1627; record books of the Royal Merioneth Militia, 1796-1799; papers concerning negotiations between John Vaughan and prospectors for gold on farms belonging to the Nannau estate, 1895-1898; and correspondence. Also included is a group of documents relating to fisheries in various rivers, namely, Mawddach, Alaw and Llanelltud, 1578-1901.

Personalities represented in the deeds and papers include Gruffydd ap Hywel ap Dafydd ap Meurig Fychan ap Hywel Goch (alias Griffith Nanney I), Hugh Nanney Hen, Griffith Nanney II, Hugh Nanney II, Griffith Nanney III, Hugh Nanney III, Griffith Nanney IV, Hugh Nanney IV, Dr John Davies of Mallwyd, Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt (the antiquary), Howel Vaughan of Vaner, Robert Vaughan II of Hengwrt, William Vaughan of Nannau and Corsygedol, Sir Robert Howell Vaughan, first baronet of Nannau, Hengwrt and Rug, Sir Robert Williams Vaughan, 2nd baronet and John Vaughan of Dolmelynllyn and Nannau.

The Meillionydd papers relate to the estate of the Williams family, members of the Cochwillan branch of the Griffiths of Penrhyn who held Meillionydd in Lleyn for over a century and a quarter in the male line. In this group are deeds, settlements, wills and other documents affecting properties in Aberdaron, Abercin, Bangor, Beddgelert, Bodferin, Bodnithoedd, Bodrydd, Botandreg, Botwnnog, Bryncroes, Clynnog, Cricieth, Dinlle, Dinorwig, Dwygyfylchi, Gelli-wig, Isheli, Llanfaelrhys, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, Llangwnnadl, Llaniestyn, Llanllyfni, Llanystumdwy, Maenol Bangor, Meyllteyrn, Morfa, Nantgwnadl, Nefyn, Penllech, Penmorfa, Pennarth, Penyfed, Pwllheli, Rhiw, Rhwngdwyfor a Dwyfach, Trebrynbras, Trefaes, Trefan, Tremorfa, Tudweiliog, Ultradaron and Uwch-heli, co. Caernarvon; and Llangristiolus and Llanynghenedl, co. Anglesey, 1534-1779; estate accounts, 1715-1722. Members of the Williams family represented in the papers include, Arthur Williams, M.A., rector of Llanengan; Arthur Williams II, John Williams, Robert Williams, Owen Williams, Edward Williams, Arthur Williams III, Robert Williams II and Arthur Williams IV.

The Ystumcolwyn papers include family papers (wills, settlements, etc.) and deeds concerning properties in Blaenglesyrch, Broniarth, Bryncynfelyn, Castell, Cefn, Cefnllyfnog, Collfryn, Cwm, Cyffin, Garthgelynnen-fawr, Guilsfield, Llanfechan, Llansanffraid, Lledrod, Llwydiarth, Maesllymystyn, Main, Meifod, Nantymeichiad, Peniarth, Rhisgog, Stryd y Vyrnwy (alias Pontyscowryd), Trefnanneu, Trefnant Fawr, Trefnant Fechan, Trewern, Welshpool, Ystumcolwyn and Ystumgynon, co. Montgomery; Abergele, Betws, Denbigh, Llaneilian and St. George, co. Denbigh; and Abertanant, Oswestry and Stockton, co. Salop, 1428-1775. There are in addition groups of deeds and documents featuring the Kyghley family of Cichle near Beaumaris, Anglesey and the Griffith family of Penrhyn, Llandegai, co. Caernarvon, and referring to lands in Beaumaris and Holyhead, co. Anglesey; Bodfaeo, Dwygyfylchi, Gwyrythion (Tref Gwyr-rhyddion) and Llanbedr-y-cennin, co. Caernarvon; and Llaethfaen, co. Denbigh, 1443-1547; William Williams and Henry Williams of Cochwillan and concerning properties in Caernarfon, Conwy, Betws Garmon, Botanreg, Dinlle, Llanllechid and Llechan, co. Caernarfon; Bodlennyn, Llysfaen and Tywynnan, co. Denbigh; Burgedin, Guilsfield and Lledrod, co. Montgomery and Bryn, co. Salop, 1569-1617; papers relating to the tithes of Penmachno, 1597-1757; papers concerning the Penmachno charity founded by Roderick Lloyd of Bennarth in that parish; rentals of the Ystumcolwyn estate, 1717-1791. Members of the William(e)s family represented in the papers include Lumley Williams, John Williams (and Meriel his wife), Lumley Williams II, Lumley Williams III, Meriel Williams III (daughter of Lumley Williams III and wife of Arthur Williams III of Meillionydd) and Edward Williams.

There is also a group of additional manuscripts that were deposited in 1965 and 1966, which consist mainly of deeds and other documents relating to the parishes of Brithdir and Islaw'r-dref, Cae'rdeon and Bont-ddu, Corwen, Cymmer, Dolgellau, Garthgynfor, Gwyddelwern, Llanaber, Llandanwg, Llanegryn, Llanelltud, Llanfachreth, Llanfair, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, Llanfihangel-y-traethau, Llangelynnin, Llanuwchllyn, Llanymawddwy, Mallwyd, Pennal, Pentre, Tal-y-llyn, Trawsfynydd, Tywyn, co. Merioneth; Guilsfield, Llanfyllin, co. Montgomeryshire.

Administrative / Biographical History

Nannau, situated in Llanfachreth parish, Merionethshire, was for centuries the home of one of the most powerful families in the county. The 'sprouting root', according to the bards, was Ynyr Hen who flourished in 1200-1250. Before the age of Elizabeth I, the Nanney family had thrust their roots deep into the commote of Tal-y-bont by buying lands in the townships of Brithdir, Dyffryndan, Cefyrywen, Dolgleder, Garthgynfor and Garthmaelan. Gradually the family developed many branches.

The head of the house between 1580-1620 was Huw Nannau Hen, who was a very powerful personality. His enemies included the Llwyn family, the Lloyds of Rhiwaedog and the Owens of Hengwrt. These ill-wishers were also joined by his own blood-relations, the Cefndeuddwr branch of the Nanneys. Huw Nanney Hen pushed his son Griffith forward as Member of Parliament for Merioneth in 1593 against John Lewis Owen of Llwyn. As a result, Huw Nannau Hen was charged for cutting down thousands of trees at Penrhos between Mawddach and Afon-wen, and for making a great fortune out of the business. The Exchequer found him guilty and levied a fine of D1500. He did not pay, but went to prison and after many petitions to the supreme authorities, he was set free and the fine was brought down to D800.

The last Nanney to hold the estate was Colonel Hugh Nanney, M.P. for Merioneth (1695-1701). His heiress from his marriage to Catherine of Cors-y-gedol was Janet who married Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt in 1719. The son of Janet and Robert Vaughan, Hugh Vaughan almost completely destroyed his fortunes by his ill-regulated life and his inability to manage the estate. However, through the pluck and pertinacity of Hugh Vaughan's lawyer, John Lloyd, and the prudence of Elizabeth Baker, who supervised the household at Nannau, matters looked more hopeful at Vaughan's death in 1783. He was succeeded by his brother, Robert Howell Vaughan (1723-1792), who was created a baronet in 1791. Robert Howell Vaughan's marriage to Ann Williams in 1765 proved very important to the fortunes of the family. She was heiress of the Ystumcolwyn lands near Meifod, co. Montgomery, and granddaughter to Meriel Williams who had married the squire of Meillionydd in Lleyn. The implication of all this was that Sir Robert Howell Vaughan and his son Sir Robert Williames Vaughan (1768-1843) were quadruple possessors of Nannau, Hengwrt, Ystumcolwyn and Meillionydd. It is not surprising then that the second Sir Robert reared a new mansion at Nannau, became a Member of Parliament for Merioneth in 1792, and was re-elected thirteen times, remaining a member till 1836. In 1841, money was collected to found the 'Vaughan Scholarship' as a tribute to the length of his public service. On his death in 1843 Meurig Idris composed a long ode of eulogy.

The brother of Sir Robert Williames Vaughan, Edward Vaughan (d.1807) succeeded by will to the Rug estate in 1780. These Rug lands remained in the possession of the Vaughans of Nannau till the death of the third Sir Robert Vaughan (1803-1859). On his death, the property fell into the hands of the second son of Lord Newborough. According to the will of the third Sir Robert, who died without issue, Hengwrt went to his wife's sisters and Nannau to one of the sons of the first Lord Mostyn. This was made with the clear proviso that these were only interim arrangements for one life. The two estates, Hengwrt and Nannau were eventually in 1874 to come into the hands of John Vaughan (b.1829), a member of the Dolmelynllyn branch of the Hengwrt family. In politics John Vaughan was a thoroughbred conservative, and was an unsuccessful candidate against T. E. Ellis in the General Election of 1886. He died on 29 June 1900.

The Williams family, which held Meillionydd for over a century and a quarter, were members of the Cochwillan branch of the Griffiths of Penrhyn. Although they were an old family in Arllechwedd, they were new in Lleyn and long before their arrival much of the good land in the Lleyn peninsula had been appropriated. After a gradual acquisition of unproductive properties around the turn of 1600, a great boost was given to the Meillionydd fortune through the marriage in 1606 of Arthur Williams' eldest son, Simon, to Mary, daughter of Hugh Rowlands of Mellteyrn, nephew to Bishop Henry Rowlands of Bangor. This added to the little estate the richer 'Mellteyrn lands'. Unfortunately, Simon died before his father; and was succeeded as heir by the second Arthur Williams, who had many children. One of the younger sons of Arthur Williams, Edward, added considerably to the extent of the estate, and at his death left it to his son Arthur. He, the fourth Arthur Williams married Meriel Williames, the heiress of Ystumcolwyn, in 1703 and brought together two families and joined two estates.


Arranged according to estates, then divided into two groups, general papers and particular papers. Particular papers are arranged according to subject. All papers in the various groups are listed chronologically.

Access Information


Open to all users

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Major-General John Vaughan of Dolgellau and Melton Mowbray, February 1936. Additional manuscripts were deposited by Brig. C. H. V. Vaughan, July-August 1965 and February 1966.

Other Finding Aids

Three catalogues at item level Nannau Manuscripts, Volumes I and II and Nannau Additional Manuscripts.

Separated Material

A small group of estate and family records of the Nanney family of Nannau, the Vaughans of Hengwrt, Rhug and Nannau, and Owens of Garthangharad, Dolgellau, 1539-1909 is held at the National Library of Wales. Schedule (1949), 11pp. NLW Peniarth Manuscripts 327 and 332. See index of National Library of Wales Handlist of Manuscripts, volumes I, II, III and IV, under Nannau and Vaughan, and volume IV under Ystumcolwyn.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright conditions apply. Reprographics made at the discretion of the archivist.

Appraisal Information

The documents were arranged more or less haphazardly in bundles, in which the papers of all four estates were often found side by side. Eventually the papers of each estate were sorted out and divided into Nannau-Hengwrt, Meillionydd and Ystumcolwyn sections, with 'General Papers' at the outset of each, followed by 'Particular Papers'. An effort was made in arrangement to trace the devolution of particular messuages or groups of tenements, and sometimes to gather together papers dealing with clear-cut episodes in the family fortunes.


None expected

Related Material

Bangor Manuscripts 3613, 3616, 28509 and 28533 (Nannau), 2636, 2723-2724 and 3111-3133 (Meillionydd) Penrhyn Manuscripts 460 (Ystumcolwyn)


J. E. Griffith, Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families; with their Collateral Branches in Denbighshire, Merionethshire and other parts, (Horncastle, 1914), pp.200, 201 and 380. The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940, under the Auspices of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, (London, 1959). Nannau, North Wales, (Llanfachraeth, Merionethshire: [H. Vaughan, 196-?] (Dolgellau: Gwasg y Dydd). Cato, Miles K. W., 'Nannau and Early Portraiture in North Wales', Journal of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society, Volume XI, Part II, 1991, pp. 182-186. Jones, E. D., 'The Family of Nannau (Nanney) of Nannau', Journal of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society, Volume II, 1953-1956, pp. 5-15. Jones, E. D., 'Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt', Journal of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society, Volume I, 1949-1951, pp. 21-30. Access Points