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a note by Alan Price

Greetings John

You have an item on 'Garnant' on your fascinating website. In it you refer to Garnant in the Amman Valley. (See Mysterious names from Wales.) I was born in the next village, Glanaman, so I found that quite interesting. You mentioned that it might have been remote - actually there was a railway line built through it by 1841.

It is not generally known but industrial South Wales stretched into the Carmarthenshire valleys. The Amman Valley became heavily industrialised in the mid/later 19th Century - it was a rich source of Anthracite coal and also had tin-plate factories. There are several more things that could be said. For example, 'Garnant' only became the name of the village in the 1880s when the previous community (Cwmamman) was split into two. As you noted, it is actually the name of a stream which is a tributary of the Amman river. I also came across 'Carw-nant' as a possible earlier version of Garnant - meaning 'deer stream'.

As far as I know, more or less everybody in the valley had familiar Welsh surnames - my relatives are all Jones, Davies, Williams, Thomas, etc. and you will find these names in the Hen Bethel graveyard from the 18th Century. One possibility about the surname 'Garnant' is that someone might have gone to America, accustomed to being called something like John Jones (Y) Garnant to distinguish him from all the other John Jones. When I was a child, my grandparents and people of their generation always tagged on a farm name, an occupation, or even a pub name to distinguish the plethora of Joneses, Davies, Williams and so on. Just a thought.

Regards from the north,

Alan Price 

 Data Wales, 2002
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