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Rees Rees

Rees Rees (1855-1925)


Rees Rees (driving the cart in #1) was the most famous and respected Welsh drover/dealer in North Bucks.  James James, the young man next to him and also much respected, was the last.


Rees, born near Cynhordy on Talgarth Farm (#4), started buying horses and sheep from small Welsh farms, and organised his many relations to drive them to grazing land in Padbury, south-east of Buckingham, which was conveniently placed between Northampton, Aylesbury and Barnet. 


After a series of appalling winters in the 1870’s and ‘80’s, rents could not be paid and land in North Bucks became cheap.  In 1879, Rees Rees and his brother John bought Pilch Farm (SP 748318), north of Padbury, with its 200 acres of grazing land.  He would then drive sheep to Northampton and Aylesbury, horses to Barnet, always taking roundabout routes to avoid tolls1


When the horse trade dried up after railways replaced stage coaches, Rees turned to cattle, especially beasts unsold between Wales and Northampton.  (One wonders if he sold any of these to the yard-feeders of East Anglia, for their manure rather than their meat.)


Then followed the purchases of land at Middle Claydon, Rectory Farm at Adstock2 and finally the splendid Manor Farm, Padbury (#2). 


Rees never married, but had taken under his wing his seven-year-old step-nephew, James James.  (RR and JJ's mother were stepbrother and -sister.) They were cared for by a Welsh housekeeper, Margaret Jones, so Welsh was the language of the household.


Rees’s married sister Margaret Powell came down from Wales to manage another farm of his near Thornton3, and the Powells had twelve children, one of who married James James, her cousin.  The Jameses  spoke Welsh to each other, English to their children.  


Thus there are many people in North Bucks indirectly related to the Rees family…


Rees was a devout Christian man, a Primitive Methodist.  He was known for his integrity in business dealings.  His death was recorded in all the local papers, but he was buried at Cynghordy, near Talgarth Farm - which is still owned by the family.  The farm became an inn, then a cafe.  It looks unlived in now (2018).


James James died in 1943 aged 64.  He is buried in Padbury Churchyard (#3).


Postscript: the stallion in #1 was ‘Bonfire’.  He was a strong enough to cover five mares a day.  David Crook was at Manor Farm when Rees had to put him down.
Note the bowler hat: Welsh drovers seem to have regarded it as a badge of their trade.

My thanks to David Crook, Neil Rees, Mary Wade and Ken Harris for so much of this information.  Also to the late Bill Thatcher for the first picture.

(Added 2020: #5, RR's grave at Cynhordy Chapel.)


1 David Crook says he was prepared to drive his horses north to Beachampton before turning east & south to Barnet.

2 The landlady of the Folly Inn at Adstock is supposed to have been in love with Rees.  Or was it the other way round?  And is that the reason for the name of the pub?

3 Furzenfield, possibly.

Rees Rees image 1
Rees Rees, James James and Bonfire
Rees Rees image 2
Manor Farm, Padbury
Rees Rees image 3
James James' Grave
Rees Rees image 4
Rees Rees image 5
RR's Grave