Caerleon Net
Charles Williams

In 1633 Thomas Williams lived in Castle Villa (now The Mynde). His wife gave birth to a son, Charles, who was christened in the village church. When Charles was a young man he fought a duel with his cousin, Edmund Morgan of Penrhos (just outside Caerleon). Charles killed Edmund in the fight and then fled to Turkey - duelling was at this time illegal. With the assistance of family contacts he became extremely wealthy as a fig merchant. His family and friends used their influence back in Britain to arrange for his return. Eventually Queen Anne granted him a pardon. And so, as a middle aged man he bought his amnesty and came 'home'. (See note at foot of page.)

It is not known if he ever returned to Caerleon (London became his new home) - but his legacies were to have far reaching consequences for generations and generations of residents of the village.

He died in 1720, aged 87, and was buried at Westminster Abbey. His will revealed that he had bequeathed seven thousand pounds to a Trust Fund for assisting Caerleon and its inhabitants. Three thousand pounds for improvements to be made to the church and roads leading to it, the rest was to be spent on education. In 1724 a school was built at a cost of 500 pounds, the remaining money (as instructed in the will) was invested in land. The profits and rents from this investment were to be used for running the school. Due to the good investments made, the fund has grown substantially. In the early years coal was discovered under lands purchased by the fund bringing in huge revenues. More recently land owned by the fund has been sold to the local authority for a new housing estate.

The first school took in 30 pupils, 20 boys and 10 girls (3 of the boys and one of the girls were from Ultra Pontem, just the other side of the River Usk, sometimes called 'Old Caerleon'). Through subsequent years numerous local children have benefitted.

This information has been obtained from "Charities Direct"

Williams's Schools Caerleon
Also Known As:
Caerleon Charity
Charity Registration Number:
Founded: 1878
Constitution: Trust
Aims: To assist the School Governors in discharging their obligations under various Education Acts in respect of their maintenance of the schools special benefits of any kind not normally provided by the LEA. In addition, exhibition grants and financial assistance are awarded to students and young people groups subject to the discretion of the Trustees.
Key Statistics
Total Income £0.12m
Admin Costs as% of Total expenditure 7.61%
Admin Costs as% of Total income 13%
Total Funds £3.17m
Total Investments £2.96m

(This data suggests an expenditure of approximately 205 000.)

During the year 2000 the fund helped throw some light on local history. Excavations on Lodge Hill, by UWCN in June and July 2000, were made possible by a grant from the Charles Williams Trust. The monument, despite its size; location adjacent to the Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon; and possible association with King Arthur, had not previously been subject to archaeological investigation. These excavations were visited by the "Time Team" and featured in their programme "The Real King Arthur".

There is a darker side to the Charles Williams 'story' which may partly account for the building of the Mynde walls.

There is more certainty about some parts of the "Charles Williams Story" than others. He did bequeath the money. He was buried at Westminster Abbey. But the duel and his flight from the country ?  See the article "Charles Williams of Caerleon - Legend or Truth?" from the Gwent Local History magazine that examines this story in detail - click here.

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