was founded at the end of the 16th Century by Elizabeth Morgan, the
wife of William Morgan of Llantarnam. In her will she left provision
for "rooms and lodgings for ten poor widows of good name and
fame and of the age of threescore year or six-and-fifty at least."
The conditions were stringent, and give us insight into life at that
Here are the ordinances
and rules given by Elizabeth Morgan in her will, 1592:
I will that there shall be such Widows as shall be given to serve God
before all other Exercises and such as have lived in good name and fame
and so doth continue: No swearers; no Cursers; no Recusants; no Drunkards;
no Scolds; no Breakers of Hedges; or Annoyers of their Neighbours; but
Good and Godly Conversation, to the better example of others. They shall
be of the age threescore years, or of six and fifty at the least; before
they shall be admitted to dwell in the said House. And if any of them
shall fortune to marry, they shall depart the said House not to be admitted
will that they and every of them shall usually resort to the Parish
Church of Caerleon, especially on the Sabbath Day, Wednesdays, and Fridays
every week; at which days there is Service said in the same Church.
And if they, or any of them shall be absent from the said Church at
Service-time, not being hindered by Sickness; they so offending shall
pay two-pence at every time, which shall be put in the Poor-Mens box
in the said Parish Church.
nor any of them shall not lodge, nor suffer to be lodged or harboured
by day nor yet by night any manner of person, neither man nor woman
nor child, within any of their lodgings, but only themselves. Without
it be in some great extremity of Sickness, whereas of necessity some
ancient Woman keeper may watch with any of them for a night or two upon
great necessity. Or else not to lodge, harbour, keep or maintain, or
suffer to be lodged, harboured, kept or maintained, neither by day nor
yet by night any manner of person, although they be never so near of
their blood or kindred. Unless it be a girl of their kindred to attend
them under 13 years of age. But if any of them shall so do, she or they,
shall presently avoide out of her or their lodgings within 20 days next
after any of such offence committed; and never to be admitted to dwell
in any of the said Lodgings again. My meaning is, not but that they
may come the one into the other's Lodgings or their friends', to be
merry together when they shall think meet; lovingly as honest neighbours
use to do, at hours convenient, and so to depart in good order.
shall be no keepers (in sense of companions) of Sick persons in other
houses, which shall be sick of the Plague, or any infectious disease,
for fear of bringing infection among themselves.
shall not, whiles they have health and strength, live idly; nor suffer
such girls as are with them of their kindred to live in idleness; but
shall work and labour to their power and ability for their better maintenance
shall have care that neither they nor their maids, do break hedges or
inclosures, or do any annoyance unto any.
shall make no Ale to sell, nor sell any kind of Victual nor set up Ale
Stake nor shop in their house.
shall be lawful for them to set up an Alms-box at the door of their
house, to receive the Charitable Devotion of such as shall be disposed
to give aught for their Relief. But they shall not beg any Alms neither
at their door of their House, nor in the Street, nor in any other place.
Lastly. If any of them be found to have offended against any of these
Articles or if any of the said Widows do or shall know that any of them
have offended the Articles aforesaid; and do not show the same to such
persons as shall have authority to correct and amend it; they, so offending,
shall be put out of the same House and not to be admitted any more thereunto."
In their Report
the Charity Commissioners described the state of the Almshouses just
is a building, called the Almshouses, near the old bridge over the Usk,
containing four sets of rooms, in which some of the poor widows receiving
the stipend have, upon their petition, been usually allowed to reside
rent-free. Three of these sets are now inhabited by three of the widows,
the remaining one is occupied by another poor family; the freehold of
the building, which appears by the will not to have belonged to the
testatrix, is now vested in Capel Hanbury Leigh, esq., of Pontypool,
who retains the possession of a cellar underneath it."
The house was finally
sold in 1863 by Order of the Charity Commissioners, for the sum of £35.17s.9d.