The Pugh's are an old family with a long Welsh pedigree going back to the Welsh prince Rhodri Mawr, King of Powys in 867. They retained their importance throughout the middle ages and the Pugh’s of Mathavarn (the farm of Mathavarn is to be found north east of Machynlleth) were one of Wales most prominent families for several centuries. It is believed that Henry Tudor’s army camped at Mathavarn en route to battle of Bosworth (1485) and that Dafyd Llwd ap Llewellyn (a Pugh ancestor) sent his son with Henry to fight in the battle. Later in 1644 the house was burnt down by Parliamentary soldiers as the then owner Rowland Pugh, (a former sheriff of both Montgomeryshire and Merionethshire), was a staunch Royalist. Later his grandson John Pugh, a barrister, represented the borough of Montgomery in Parliament from 1702 to 1727. The estate was sold in 1752.
Elizabeth Pugh (1808 – 74) & John Evans (1804 – 74)
Elizabeth (or Eliza, as she was known), daughter of Lewis of Aberystwyth and Elizabeth Griffiths, married John Evans in 1830 and became the matriarch of the subsequent Pugh-Evans family. At the time of their marriage, Eliza was reputedly given a dowry by her parents of 7000 gold sovereigns equal to her weight! John Evans is recorded in one account as being a local schoolmaster when he met and fell in love with Eliza, in another that he was secretary to his future father in law. Both events could be correct, of course. In any event, he apparently became a prosperous merchant who owned a shop in Bridge Street, Aberystwyth, and became town mayor in 1842 and 1844. Having married Eliza, he added his wife's surname to his own, the family thus becoming named Pugh Evans.
John and Eliza Pugh Evans had seven children. Elizabeth (1832-73) married the Rev. Howell Edwards, vicar of Carleon, Gwent, and they had eleven children. John (b.1834) married Ellen Fairclough and became rector of Efenechtyd, Ruthin. They had three children. Then came an infant, Lewis, who was born and died in 1835.
Another Lewis (1837–1908) inherited the Abermade estate from his bachelor uncle on condition that he changed his name from Pugh Evans to Pugh Pugh! More of him below. He was followed by Griffith Humphrey (1840–1902), more of him later also. Then came David Pugh Jones (1842-97), curate of Borth, subsequently rector of Trefonen, Salop, vicar of Carmarthen and rector of Lampeter Velfrey, and finally another daughter, Mary Margaret (b.1845).
In 1843 the family moved to Llanbadarn, when John Pugh Evans acquired the 220 acre Lovesgrove estate from the Powells of Nanteos. It seems that this purchase may have been provided by Eliza’s father as a belated wedding dowry, although it was legally signed over to John. When John died in 1874, the estate passed to their third son, Griffith Humphrey.
Lewis Pugh Pugh (1837 – 1908)
John & Eliza’s second son, the re-named Lewis Pugh Pugh, went to Winchester and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, graduating in 1859. He became a barrister at Lincolns Inn in 1862, was subsequently High Sheriff and Deputy Lieutenant for Cardiganshire, as well as the local MP from 1880 to 1885 and, after a distinguished career in India, became the leading figure at the Calcutta bar and Attorney General of Bengal. He had the house built in 1905 at Cymerau, up behind Glandyfi.
Lewis married Veronica Harriet Hills (1844-1931), a daughter of James Hills (1801-73), who had sailed to India as a young adventurer in 1821 and made his first fortune within seven years. James married Charlotte Marie Antoinette Savi (1813-50), the daughter of a doctor from Elba and his French wife. He became an indigo planter in Bengal, and they had ten children in all.
Apart from Veronica, they included Archibald (1832-96), an indigo planter like his father, James (1833-1919), who won the VC as a young lieutenant during the Indian Mutiny and later became a general and was knighted, John (1834-1902), also a general and knight, George (1835-1902), a colonel, Robert (1837-1909), an indigo broker, Elizabeth (1838-97), who married another knighted general, Charlotte (1840-1916), who married another colonel and VC recipient during the Indian Mutiny, and Charles (1847-1935), another indigo broker.
The youngest child was Emilia Savi (1849-1938), of whom more below. The Hills family doesn’t feature as an extension of the Pugh tribe, apart from the marriages of Veronica and Emilia. Nevertheless, it has to be said that it would feature admirably as the military wing of any family gathering!
Lewis and Veronica had five sons and five daughters. Their eldest son was Lewis Pugh Evans Pugh, born in 1865 in Calcutta, died back in Britain in 1940, who married Emily Adah Sophia Chaplin (1867-1953). They had one son and five daughters. Veronica Charlotte Pugh (1867-1968) married John Frederick (Jack) MacNair (1846-1908), and they had a daughter and two sons. Alice (1868-69) was followed by James Griffith (b.1870).
Then came Archibald John (1871-1923), who married Marion Fraser (Nina) Arundel (1881-1967) and had five sons and one daughter. Ellinor Evans (Nain) (1872-1949) married Ernest William Ormond (1863-1930), and they had three sons).
Another son was Major Herbert Owain Pugh (1874-1954), who married Edith Mary Smith (1879-1943), and they had a son and a daughter. Their son was Major-General Lewis Henry Owain Pugh (1907-81) (see more below). Then came Evelyn Anne (1875-1950), who married Thomas Byrne Sellar (1878-1924) and had two daughters and a son, Roland Anthony (1879-1946), who married Nina Easter Lilian (Paddy) Bowen (1895-1974) and had three daughters and a son, and finally Marjorie (1880-1936), who married Alexander Cox Patterson (1872-1948) and had two sons and two daughters.
Griffith Humphrey Pugh Evans (1840 – 1902)
Meanwhile, John and Elizabeth’s third son, Griffith, went to Lincoln College, Oxford, and also became a barrister and the Judge Advocate of Bengal, as well as a member of the Viceroy’s legislative council. He became a Knight Commander of the Indian Empire in 1896. He inherited Lovesgrove and built a mansion there in 1883. Sir Griffith was also a Deputy Lieutenant and JP for Cardiganshire, and retired to Lovesgrove from India when his health faded. In 1873, he married Emelia Savi (1849-1938), the youngest daughter of James Hills. Griffith and Emelia had three sons and four daughters.
Their eldest son, Griffith (1874-74), was followed by Alice Mary (1875-1955), who married Bernard Richard Townsend Greer (1854-1942) and had two sons and two daughters. Gladys (1877-1955) married Harry Arthur Clifton (d.1947) and had three daughters and two sons. Gruffydd (1879-1946) was followed by Lewis (1881-1962). More on him below.
Then came Betha Millicent (Betty) (1882-1954), James John Pugh (Jimjack) (1885-1954), who married Viola Murielle Robinson (1899-1983) and had two sons, and Gwyneth Veronica (1888-1951).
Griffith and Emelia’s second son, Brigadier Lewis Pugh Evans (1881-1962), inherited the Lovesgrove estate in turn. After serving in the Boer War as a lieutenant in the Black Watch, he served on the Western Front during WW1, initially as a company commander, then brigade major, during which time he was awarded the DSO. In 1917 he was appointed acting Lieutenant-Colonel with the Lincolnshire Regiment, and on 4th October was awarded the Victoria Cross for “conspicuous bravery and leadership” during the fighting at Reutel and Polygon Wood near Ypres. He was severely wounded twice during the battle, and was invalided home to England. In January 1918 he returned to France with the Black Watch, and was awarded a second DSO in April for action near Givenchy. He finished the war as a temporary Brigadier.
After the war, he married Margaret Dorothea Seagrave Vaughan-Pryce-Rice, who tragically died of flu in 1921. Lewis retired from the army in 1938, and subsequently held a number of local appointments, including again Deputy Lieutenant and JP for Cardiganshire. He died of a heart attack at Paddington Station in 1962 and is buried in the family plot at Llanbadarn, where he had been a churchwarden for many years.
Lewis Henry Owain Pugh (1907- 81)
Finally in the Pugh Evans branch of the family is another Lewis Pugh, grandson of Lewis Pugh Pugh of Bengal etc, and son of Major Herbert Pugh (see above). Lewis was another professional soldier, commissioned into the Royal Horse Artillery. After serving in Germany between the wars and on the North West Frontier of India, he answered an advertisement for men with knowledge of India to join the Special Branch Intelligence Department of the Bengal Police.
At the outbreak of WW2 he returned to the army, and by 1943 was Director of Country Sections with SOE’s Force 136, one of their most successful units, based in Calcutta and specialised in placing agents and trained saboteurs deep behind enemy lines inside Burma and Malaya.
On 9th March 1943 he led what came to be known as the Last Action of the Calcutta Light Horse. This regiment was raised in 1872 and formed part of the cavalry reserve of the British Indian Army. Inactive since the Boer War, their last action was against a German merchant ship transmitting Allied positions to U-boats from the Mormugao harbour in Portugal's neutral territory of Goa. The membership was largely made up of elderly businessmen and planters. The operation was kept covert, to prevent claims of contravening Portugal’s neutrality, and was not confessed until 1978, thirty-five years after it took place.
At the time Lewis Pugh was a Lieutenant Colonel, but he subsequently became a Major General with a CB, CBE and three DSOs. This wartime incident was published in 1978 as “Boarding Party – The Last Action of the Calcutta Light Horse”, and was subsequently portrayed in a 1980 war film, “Sea Wolves”, starring Gregory Peck as Pugh, and including a host of other well known names. As the film makers noted, during the first 11 days of March 1943, U-boats sank 12 Allied ships in the Indian Ocean. After the Light Horse raid on Goa, only one ship was lost in the remainder of the month.
The General retired to the family estate from the Army in 1961, lived in the house and developed its gardens until 1978, and died in 1981. A stained glass window in Eglwysfach church commemorates members of the Pugh family of Voelas and Cymerau. The property has now been converted into self-catering holiday accommodation.
Extracted from notes by Philip Pughe-Morgan