On the north-west bank of Cwmtillery Lake are the remains of a substantial post-Medieval, stone farmhouse, standing on a large platform cut into the hill and aligned west to east. This site was identified by Lord Raglan and Cllr W. F. Deasy as the remains of Ty Nest Llewellyn or Nest John Rosser, i.e. Nest the daughter of John Rosser. Llewellyn was her married name [Bradney 1906, 478]. Nest was one of the pioneers of Blaenau Gwent Baptist Church and her house was used as a place of worship through a period of religious persecution during the 1660s and 1670s [Jones 1779, 97].
She has been described as “a brave and powerful dissenting woman” and, though she was called before judges more than once, she maintained her witness and continued to host the Baptist cause in Blaenau Gwent [Thomas 1960, 4].
Baptists and Independents in the valley had originally met together, but the Baptists were persuaded to separate and both congregations found their own places of worship. The Baptists met “at the House of Nest John Rosser; higher up in the Valley of Tilery”, while the Independents met at “the House of John ap John, a very holy Man” at Gelli’r Grug [Jones 1779, 98].
Nest was probably the sister of William John Rosser, of whom Edmund Jones gives a short biography:
“he was a very kind charitable Man; helping the poor about him, with Milk and Oatmeal, and being a Weaver would make Cloaths for the poor; having a small Estate of his own, to enable him to do good. It was also said of him, that, in the market he would give cans of Ale to one and another of his acquaintance, who, he thought, were poor and unable to pay; drinking but little himself. In a word;
He carefully abstained from sin, and did every good in his power to all about him: He lived near the upper end of the Valley of Tilery: I think he was never Married, nor had any Children. I heard a firm old Church-woman say, who was acquainted with him; ‘If any of the Round-heads ever went to Heaven (that was her Word) William John Rosser went thither.’ A good character from an adversary is a sure sign of great excellence.” [ibid. 114-15].
Nest and William’s father, John Rosser, described as a “yeoman”, is mentioned in a document of 1650 in connection with Clyn Mawr Farm [Gwent Record Office].
- Bradney, J. 1906. A History of Monmouthshire: The Hundred of Abergavenny, Vol. I, Pt 2b (9 vols; repr. Academy Books, 1992).
- Deasy, W. F. N.D. Unpublished notes on Cwmtillery (Abertillery Museum).
- Gwent Record Office D.397.631.
- Jones, David. 1839. Hanes y Bedyddwyr
- Jones, Edmund. 1779. A Geographical, Historical and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth,(1779), 60-61.
- Thomas, Clifford J. 1960. History of the Blaenau Gwent Baptist Church, Abertillery, 1660-1960 (Abertillery: South Wales Gazette).