Chapter 4: HUW Nanney and Beyond

Between the days of Hywel Sele in the 1400’s and the age of Elizabeth at the end of the 1500’s, the Nanneys bought up parcels of land and thrust their roots deep. The head of the Nannau clan in 1580-1620 was HUW, “a very powerful personality, of whom the bards outdid each other in extravagant eulogies, no fewer than eleven of them bewailing his death in 1623.”

Merionethshire Wales Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Merionethshire Wales
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

However he was on bad terms with some parts of the parish because he “pushed forward his son Griffith in 1593 as Member of Parliament for Merioneth against John Lewis Owen of Llwyn.” (Politics again.)

The story is that these two families had continual feuds. In 1603 HUW became so outraged at his neighbor that he stormed the church in Dolgellau and ripped out the Owens family pew, a powerful insult. Along with this charge, his enemies initiated a lawsuit with the accusation that HUW Nanney had made a substantial fortune because he cut down thousands of oak trees at Penrhos. The court found him guilty, and Nanney went to prison rather than pay a fine of L1500. He was released when he petitioned and paid for a reduced fine of L800. He rebuilt Nannau in 1612 with that fortune.

HUW’s grandchildren by son Griffith Nanney expanded the family home and abroad. His oldest son was named Huw(1588) and was called “the younger” since his grandfather had such a prominent legacy. Huw the younger married Anne Vaughan who was his grandmother’s great niece from the Corsygedol side of the family.

Huw the younger became the High Sheriff of Merionethshire (county) in 1627. His son Griffith would continue the Nanney name, and indeed have a son named Huw in 1642.

Huw the younger’s brother, William (1600), I don’t know anything about. But his sister Catherine, born in 1594, married Robert Vaughan from the Hengwrt side of the family. This aristocratic gentleman was a genealogist, a historian of Wales, and amassed a great collection of treasured documents, one of which was the earliest copy of the Canterbury Tales. (now in a museum)

Back Story: Our Brackett Town neighbor reminded me about the works of Welsh monk Nenius who lived in the mountains of the Powys district in 830 AD. Chapter 1 of this Nanney Saga blog mentions that he wrote Historia  Brittonum which listed Arthur’s battles. Nennius suggested that one of them was located at “the city of the Legion,” and there is a possibility he was talking about Caerleon because it had a large population living close to the fortress walls. Perhaps Camelot? Wade Nanney told me that the monk’s “works were basically lost for many centuries until they were brought to light by Sir Robert Vaughan the Antiquary in the early 1600’s.” Son-in-law to our Griffith Nanney (son of HUW).

The second son of Griffth Nanney, his third child, was Captain John Nanney (1596) and he is credited with carrying the family name to Albermarle Sound and thereby to Brackett Town, NC.

Wade reminded me that his family had never opposed whoever occupied the throne in London. And they suffered the consequences. The original Nannau manor house fell victim in cousin Owain’s rebellion against Henry IV. The third Nannau house was destroyed by Cromwell’s army. (Politics of course)

The Eve of the Battle of Edge Hill 1642 Artist Charles Landseer/courtesy of Wikimedia Public Domain

The Eve of the Battle of Edge Hill 1642
Artist Charles Landseer/courtesy of Wikimedia Public Domain

In 1642 the English Parliament deposed King Charles I, and the English Civil Wars began. Charles believed in the “divine right of kings” allowing him to rule by his own conscience. The rest of the government took issue with that idea. The Royalists garnered local support in much of Wales. However, in 1643 Montgomery Castle, near Nannau, surrendered to Parliamentary troops who were later ordered to flatten it. The town of Montgomery had already been sacked and burned in 1402 by cousin Owain Glyndwr. Even after defeat, the Royalists kept a presence in North Wales, but could never gather a significant fighting force before the end of the civil war.

(Get ready, another Charles) Centuries later, Charles Nanney, a B-17 Pilot during WWII, became interested in family history. He had a degree in textile engineering from NC State, and after the war was a highly esteemed Baptist pastor. Wade said, “Charles used to tell us that  they signed the death warrant for King Charles on our table at Nannau.”

In 1645 the Parliamentary army came through to exact retribution. Capt. John Nanney refused to cooperate and was captured in battle on December 29, 1645. Nannau was destroyed. As soon as he got loose, Captain John came to America and settled in eastern Virginia in 1646.

Cousin Robert Nanney, Jr. had already made his way to Boston, MA in 1635.

It was left to Colonel Huw Nanney’s family to rebuild the family seat. And they did in 1693.

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