This is the Vicarage in 1912. The former Vicarage for St Martin's Church was somewhere near the top of the church car park
but fell into a state of disrepair after the Civil War. Carmarthen-born Welsh-speaker William Thomas (1613-1689) was the vicar of Laugharne
from 1639 until 1644 when he was famously ejected from the church at pistol point by the Cromwellian cavalry and deprived of his living.
He became a local teacher until 1670 when he was reinstated to the church following Charles ll's conversion to Catholicism on his deathbed.
Thomas became one of King James ll's chaplains and later the Bishop of St David's, and finally of Worcester.
A year before his death he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the incoming king, protestant William lll. In a letter to a friend, he wrote, 'If my heart do not deceive me, and God's grace do not fail me, I think I could suffer at the stake rather than take this oath.'
He died before King William took any action.
Thomas left two cottages to the people of Laugharne and they perhaps form the basis of the Vicarage in King St.
All subsequent vicars had independent means and either did not live in Laugharne or owned their own houses until Reverend J.N. Harrison 1808-1892
(a much-loved and respected Vicar of Laugharne for 58 years from 1834-1892) who converted the cottages into the house we see today.
Below is the rear of the building. Rev Harrison also set up a Church School in Laugharne, for fear that Board Schools would bring about a 'Godless education.' He was also a founding member of the Laugharne library and Reading Room.
Rev Jasper Nicholls Harrison, born in Hampshire, wrote a poem about a ship called The Gem
called The Night upon The Mast in 1868, which set sail on a voyage from Greenock to Southampton carrying a cargo of pig iron and machinery.
On board was Captain Taylor and his wife, the mate Daniel James, Henry Harveston, William and Patrick McBride.
The ship ran aground in a storm and was wrecked on the Middle Path, on Carmarthen Bar, near Laugharne Burrows at around midnight.
After leaving an iron pot with tar, naphtha, and turpentine burning as a distress signal on the companion, the crew tied themselves to the cross trees to ride out the storm, but by daylight the captain, his wife and two of the crew were drowned, their bodies horribly mangled by the pounding waves. The ship was spotted from the shore and the Ferryside Lifeboat The City of Manchester was launched. The Lifeboat crew found the two exhausted survivors clinging to the one remaining mast, the hull being under the water.
Daniel James, who survived along with Henry Harveston, wrote, 'On the 7th at 12pm, the weather was thick, the wind a heavy gale, we run on shore on Laugharne Sands, Caldy Island. At 8pm, on the 8th, the ship filled with water, a few minutes after striking. We got the boat ready for launching, but found the sea too heavy. All hands took to the rigging, and lashed themselves about the fore-mast-head. The Captain, William Taylor, and his wife, William McBride, and Patrick McBride, were all drowned in their lashings. Myself and Henry Harveston cut them adrift at 10am to obtain Mrs Taylor's shawl for a signal of distress.'
Here's an extract of the Reverend's poem:
Right heartily the villagers
Have lent a helping hand;
In half-an-hour they've dragged her o'er
A furlong of deep sand.
Two hours twelve pair of brawny arms
Have forced her through the wave,
As Britons only ply the oar,
Their brother man to save.
And now the watchers on the mast
Have cast away their grief,
Full well they know; life-boat's rig,
And see their own relief
With grateful hearts, but feeble strength,
Their rescuers' hands they clasp;
While one the shawl that saved their life
Still clutches in his grasp.
This miniature watercolour sketch from October 1836 of another wreck, the Sarah Ann Trehearne, has been attributed to Reverend Harrison, but could also have been painted by his son, William Henry Harrison (Painting owned by Carmarthenshire Museum).
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