View Full Version : what were "Roamers" ?

03-03-2018, 4:44 PM
I am researching a young farm labourer (gwas) from Pencarreg Carmarthenshire. He was in a local tavern (Cwmanne Tavern) in 1811
At the bottom of his glass he found a shilling, so (presumably encouraged) he joined up and spent the next few years in Spain, arriving at Waterloo the day after the battle. Eventually he returned home, married and had ten children. He was in receipt of a pension. His name was John Davies, known as Jac Parcyrhos (Parcyrhos being the name of the Pencarreg farm where he lived on his return home.) His medal apparently bore the inscription "J Davies, 3rd Foot". The text telling his history is in Welsh. He was apparently leased a local farm in Llanwenog by a general he had served under in Spain. This would not have been General Nott who died on the Waterloo battlefield. The text says he was a “ROAMER” Can anyone suggest what a ROAMER might have been... The Welsh text actually uses the English word and not the Welsh equivalent. I presume it was some kind of observation unit. Diolch !

04-03-2018, 12:01 AM
The text says he was a “ROAMER” Can anyone suggest what a ROAMER might have been... The Welsh text actually uses the English word and not the Welsh equivalent. I presume it was some kind of observation unit.

I couldn't find any references on google search permutations but the definition of Roam/Roamer is 'To move about without purpose or plan; wander' so perhaps they were a type of guerilla unit which were successful in the Penninsula War - see here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_guerrilla_warfare.

Best I can suggest

Cheers, MTS

04-03-2018, 7:22 AM
In what context is the word "Roamer" used? ie Does it describe him before, during or after his military service?

If not to do with the military, perhaps it means he was a Romany - a gipsy.
(Back in the 1950's, when I was a little girl, there was a Romany camp near us. They came every year, to work on the farms. I used to love to visit their beautiful caravans, and - of course - their ponies. Very nice people, some not speaking English. I longed to join them. It is such a shame that gipsies now have a bad name.)


04-03-2018, 9:13 AM
Croeso cynnes i/a warm welcome to Brit-gen


Re. the mention of no other Pencarreg/Llanwenog soldier having fought in similar places intrigued to see on FindMyPast (transcription only) -

Evan Davies, Enlisted - 1809, Where - Deal, Place - Llanwenog, County - Cardiganshire**

Evan interchangeable with John.

**Pencarreg/Llanwenog and Cwmann right on the Cardiganshire/Carmarthenshire border.

04-03-2018, 9:14 AM
Thanks MTS I have actually contacted local academic historians who in theory know a bit about the Napoleonic wars - no joy. I think I shall have to track down 3rd Foot records. I hadn't seen your Wiki suggestion, the section on the Peninsular War is very interesting. One has to remember that John Davies would not have spoken much English, if any, to begin with. There was another pressganged chap from the same village area that I have found, but as his name was Ianto Shams (ie in the language of England John James) I haven't yet tried to track him down through the Pension records. Finding the right John Davies took me a couple of weeks. Anyway, diolch yn fawr.

04-03-2018, 9:29 AM
Diolch.... I am speechless (well, almost).. Llanwenog was the home village of "my" John Davies (Jac Parcyrhos) and is the next village to Cwmann (Plwyf Pencarreg). this is one paragraph, in translation, from "Hanes Plwyf Llanwenog" where I first found mention of Jac:-

"Jac worked as a farm-servant at Beilicoch, near Cwmann between 1800 and 1812. During those years, Britain was at war with France, on land and at sea, as Bonaparte ruled as an oppressive dictator on the Continent, and was looked upon as a roaring lion by all strata of society in this country. The government failed to get enough smart young men to enlist in the Army and Navy, and the Press Gang would often come around, enticing the boys to join up. The young men would be invited to the local taverns for treats, and a shilling would be placed in some occasional tankards. It was an understanding that whosoever found the money after consuming his beer, was bound to join the army immediately. One cold Winter’s evening in Cwmann Tavern in 1812/13, the son of the poor cottager on Ffosffald’s land found the piece of silver in his beer. Jac enlisted immediately with the section of the army known as ‘The Roamers’, and served faithfully with them for seven years. He was the only representative at that time from Llanwenog in the British Army, and a stanza was composed to the effect that the Parishioners were depending on Jac to save them from Bona:..."

I will have a look at Findmypast... (I belong) - might be the same chap, dates don't quite match, ALSO, I don't understand the term "Deal", does this mean a possible pressgang I wonder. Incidentally, when "my" John Davies came back he returned to live in Llanwenog.

04-03-2018, 9:33 AM
Thanks for the suggestion... he wasn't a Romany/Gypsy/Traveller. They are one of my local research interests. His surname shows no Romany links, and also he wouldn't have been employed as a "gwas", ie farm servant if he had been a gypsy... purely because he would have been off travelling after a couple of weeks. (FYI there was a gypsy camp site a mile or so away though !)

04-03-2018, 9:37 AM
Croeso/You're welcome.

I searched FMP using search key "llanwenog" only in the "Optional Keywords" field (2 hits)

Re. his medal is he the John Davies who received the Pyrenees medal "on appeal"?

Pob lwc/good luck

04-03-2018, 9:37 AM
Re context of Roamer... only during his military service on the peninsular as far as I know. THanks again.

04-03-2018, 9:39 AM
Re, "on appeal", yes - - probably one of many though. thanks

04-03-2018, 9:44 AM
Incidentally, John Davies medal has two bars Toulouse and Pyrenees.

04-03-2018, 12:43 PM
I asked about "on appeal" since it was the first time I had come across this term, having checked so many military records. Was this the Peninsula Medal that had to be applied for post 1847?
If the application was refused I wondered how the applicant proved entitlement.


04-03-2018, 1:35 PM
Don't know about appealing. Presume it was a standard obstacle and others would have known. I'll keep an eye out for an answer. Thanks. "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg" Yn wir ! (Keep hammering to break the stone. True)

04-03-2018, 2:03 PM
This is the General Order that appeared in the London Gazette, 1 June 1847 on "How to apply" and widely publicised in the newspapers.

The appeal procedure proving more elusive - tho' the papers make interesting reading until the medals began began to be distributed mid Jan 1849.
pob lwc

04-03-2018, 9:59 PM
Just had a look. In the list of battles mentioned in the London Gazette pages you gave were the two battles that John Davies got bars on his medal...
Pyrenees, 28th July to. 2d (sic) August 1813.
Toulouse, 10th April 1814...