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Maurice de Londres granted the Manor of Pembrey to Sir John Butler of Dunraven in 1128.[1] Maurice de Londres was the son of William de Londres, who was a knight to Robert Fitzhamon, a Norman baron from Gloucestershire.

The Norman word for butler is Le Boteler, or Boteler. The family surname was later anglicized to Butler.[2]

In 1361, documents confirm that John Butler held the Manor of Pembrey—there then followed six generations of (John) Butlers’, succeeding each other to the Pembrey and Dunraven estates.

In 1530, Ann Butler, heiress of estates at Pembrey and Dunraven, married Sir Richard Vaughan, who became Sheriff of Bredwardine in Herefordshire (originally Breconshire) in 1530, and who was believed to be a descendent of the illustrious Moreiddig Warwyn, Lord of Brycheiniog. They had a son Walter. Sir Richard Vaughan built the present Pembrey Court as a wedding gift for Sir Walter in about 1530.

1560 - 70 Sir Walter Vaughan, (1500-84), moved to Court when the house was rebuilt. His sons were Thomas and Charles. Thomas succeeded to the Bredwardine, Dunraven and Pembrey estates upon the death of Sir Walter, in 1578. At that time the estates had a yearly value of £1,500, and to them Thomas later added the Fallersdon estate in Wiltshire. Walter Vaughan had a younger brother named Rowland Vaughan who married Margaret Ann Mansel, of Muddlescombe, Carmarthenshire, Wales. They had a son named Rowland  Vaughan Jr. whose daughter, Joyce married a James Dalton who is listed as an estate agent to the later Lord Ashburnham.

1566 - 1570 Thomas Vaughan, was High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire., but lived mainly in Wiltshire. During his time he bought Caldicott Farm on Pembrey marsh to increase the estate.

During the Civil War period, (1641 - 1651) Court was the property of Sir George Vaughan, he was a royalist and was punished as such. Although it has never been confirmed that Cromwell even visited Court – local rumour persists

In 1651 the Parliamentary party also confiscated the Pembrey estate, which was only returned when the monarchy was restored.

After Sir George died, and so his younger brother, the Reverend Frederick Vaughan, succeeded to the family estates Frederick Vaughan’s only son, Sir Walter Vaughan, married Alice Bond of Wiltshire, in 1653. They lived, in turn, on both estates and had two children, Bridget and Walter. The male line of the Vaughans of Pembrey ended when Sir Walter’s son died in his first year. in 1665 Alice married William Ball, a London lawyer of Grey’s Inn, who became High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1682.

William Ball died in 1701, leaving Bridget Vaughan as the sole heiress of Pembrey Court. Bridget, sole heiress of Pembrey and last of the Vaughans, married John Ashburnham of Ashburnham, Sussex, in Westminster Abbey on the 14 July 1687, when the Manor of Pembrey became the Lordship of Ashburnham, they lived at the Sussex seat, with occasional visits to the Welsh estates, John Ashburnham died at Bloomsbury on 21st January 1709 aged 44, Bridget died at Ashburnham House, aged 59 on 12th May 1719.The family never lived here.

In 1701 Court was let to the Mansel family. Rawleigh Mansel, of Llangunnor Parish. He was High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1679 and, according to The Red Dragon periodical (1886), he went to live at Court Farm:

“thoroughly repairing that old mansion for the purpose, and lived there for three or four years, and died there on 27 November 1702 in his 73rd year”

His grandson, Rawleigh Dawkin Mansel, who was High Sheriff in 1730, then lived as tenant at Court Farm.[1]

During the tenancy of Rawleigh Dawkin Mansel the house was divided into two separate living sections and accommodated two separate families. Walls were added or removed, several doors and windows were blocked and new ones opened, additional stairs were fitted and at least two attic rooms were added. During this period David Thomas (1738/39-1788) was born at Court Farm. [2]

Rawleigh Dawkin Mansel was High Sheriff for Carmarthenshire in 1730 and died ‘under the agonizing pains of the Gout’ in his 44th year in 1749. Thereafter, Court Farm was home to several Ashburnham agents, stewards and other estate officials. [2]

On Kitchen’s map of 1701 Court Farm is clearly marked as: ‘Court, Mansel, Esq.’

From the mid-eighteenth century, Court Farm, was the home of estate stewards (Daltons’) and tenant farmers. In 1831 Court had been divided into two dwellings: two families of Thomas’s resided.

David Thomas was born at Court Farm during the tenancy of the Mansels, when the house was divided into two. He was a gifted, but unqualified, bone setterfrom an illustrious family practising bone setting, and is buried in St Illtud's Church, Pembrey.

In 1831, a surveyor, made a “Survey and Valuation of the Manor of Pembrey and Estate” on behalf of the Ashburham estate. It records, Court Farm comprised 194 acres plus 12 acres (49,000 m2) of marshland. The tenant was recorded as John Thomas (later succeeded by his son Hugh) paid a yearly rent of £88.10s. John Thomas occupied a part of the Mansion, whilst a Mr. T.E. Biederman occupied the other part. The survey  reported as follows [4]:

"One portion of the Old Court House is occupied by Mr. Biederman. The other portion comprises a very good large kitchen, small cellar, old Entrance Hall, a parlour not inhabitable but now undergoing repairs and filling up, and a new staircase has been lately made to lead to two new formed bedrooms. At the back of the House is a range of offices comprising (besides some held by Mr. Biederman) a dairy and a cheese loft. A newly erected cowhouse and stable with slated roof, and enclosed yard. Adjoining the House is a good barn with cowhouse; coach-house at the end, hereafter described, and held by Mr. Biederman; a stock yard with cowhouse, and another barn, slated, and a lean-to carthouse, thatched, at the back…"

The sale of the Estate came about when the 6th Earl, Thomas Earl of Ashburnham who in 1922 was in his 67 year, and had no children to continue the line of the Ashburnhams after his death, obviously decided to sell his estate before his death. He died without issue on 12th May 1924 when the title became extinct, and long connection of Pembrey with the Ashburnham's came to an end.

A tenant farmer named Thomas and his family resided there until 1948 when Court Farm was sold to the Bonnell family. William Bonnell semi-resided there until 1961. By 1966 The family ceased to live there, though continuing to farm the land, but Court was listed for its historic and architectural interest. This fine house, abandoned, soon started to decay.

In the 80’s the first attempt to save and restore Court farm ended with-out success. In 2001 Cadw Sir Gaerffyrdin Cyf (Carmarthenshire Historic Buildings Trust) took an interest in the building and in 2006 a Friends group was formed to further the cause.

The 29th January 2010 was probably the most important day in the long history of the fight to save Court Farm. The owners (Mr John Davies and Dr. Anna Davies,) handed over the keys of Court to the trustees of Cadw Sir Gaerfyrddin Cyf, for a nominal sum.

1  Roberts, E., & Pertwee, H., A., “St. Illtyd’s Church, Pembrey”, published 1898

2 Nicholson, J., A., Pembrey and Burry Port, published by Llanelli Borough Council

3 Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

4 Jones, Francis, “Pembrey Court: An Old Carmarthenshire Manor House, A Tale of Continuity”,
   The Carmarthenshire Antiquary