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Carmarthenshire snippets ...     [2]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Llandeilo

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For more online information about the parish of Llandeilo Fawr see Genuki, this parish page includes snippets from  'A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.

There is another extensive site dedicated to Llandeilo-fawr, based on the book   Llandilo, Present & Past.      


Catholics

Catholic Missionaries in the C16 were known as seminary priests, there appear to be no records of their activities in Carmarthenshire ,which was generally infertile ground, apart from the short ministrations of Morgan Clynnog who was trained at the English College in Rome. He returned to Wales in 1582 and c 1590 he is known to have worked in the Llandeilo area , and other parts of the Tywi valley. He was later at Margam and Cowbridge in Glamorgan, he  recruited a number of Welshmen from good families for training at Douai and Valladolid[Spain] and was active in missionary work until at least 1619.                       


Methodists

The Methodist Revivalists , treated very violently in North Wales, do not appear to have been always welcomed with open arms in Carmarthenshire either.  It is recorded that from time to time they were mobbed at Llandeilo, Llangyndeyrn and especially at Kidwelly and Llandovery. As late as 1770 Howel Harris wrote of Llandovery "I still call this the Devil's headquarters, as the Old Vicar did."

The Calvinistic Methodist Association meeting in Llandeilo in 1791 proceeded to excommunicate Peter Williams, one of its prominent and devoted members who had worked and suffered for Methodism for over 40 years.His expulsion was deeply resented by a number of Methodists, especially in the Vale of Glamorgan where  the well known Welsh  hymnists Thomas William and John Williams left Methodism and eventually became Independents worshipping at Bethesda 'r Fro, near Llantwit Major.

At Llandeilo in 1811 was held the historic "South Wales Association" which completed the final separation of the Calvinistic methodists from the mother Church by the formal ordination of 13 exhorters to the work of the Methodist ministry. The ordination of 21 preachers at Bala and Llandeilo as  Calvinistic Methodists lead , in 1823, to a new and vigorous Nonconformist denomination being  born in Wales.

In 1807 there appeared at Llandeilo Fawr the man who has been regarded  [inaccurately ?] by Wesleyanism as its pioneer, he was Edward Jones of Bathafarn[Ruthin].The mission there was instantly and remarkably successful.
Now Welsh Wesleyanism had found foothold throughout  CMN, notably at Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llangadog, Llandybie,Carmarthen, St Clears and Llansteffan where Wesleyan Methodist societies were formed.


Absentee landlords

The traveller, B H Malkin, was as much impressed by the number of country mansions he saw in north Cardiganshire as he was by those in the Llandeilo area. But with this difference, that many who owned the former did not live in them. He added that there were landlords in the districts referred to who, between them received 25,000 every year from rentals " without ever seeing the spot from whence they derived their wealth". This, he maintained, drained the resources of the countryside and thus impoverished the community.


Floods

T J Barber in his "Tour through South Wales and Monmouthshire" in 1803 gave a graphic account  of one of those floods that periodically affected the vale of Tywi, he observed "The morning that we left Llandeilo brought with it a scene of affliction to the neighbouring country; one of those deluging rains....fell with unparalleled violence during the night , when the vast accession of water , unable to discharge itself by the ordinary channels, swept away trees , fences, small buildings, cattle and poultry in its devious course. Several mills were destroyed , and many an industrious cottager , awakened by the flood eddying round his bed, saw himself at once dispossessed of the fruits of many years hard saving."

[Above based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks 4.5.2000 D] 


St Teilo's Church  OS Ref SN 629222

The last service in the old church at Llandeilo was on 20th Feb 1848. The rebuilt church, by  Sir G G Scott, opened in October 1850, the original C13 tower  and an old font survived the rebuilding . It is  double aisled like the old one, the rebuilding cost was 3723.13.10.The north aisle is now partitioned off as a hall, there are two C10 or C11 cross slabs.

[Partly based on Romilly's Visits to Wales 1827-1854.MGR Morris, 1998; and Churches of Carmarthenshire by Mike Salter 1994. Gareth Hicks 8.5.2000 D]


Timber !

Some of the best timber in the county stood on the Golden Grove Estate, the largest in West Wales. When John Vaughan took possession of the Estate in 1751 he disposed of a large quantity of mature and older trees  to an English timber merchant, Robert Chitty of Sussex.  This covered the sale of 6,620 trees , mainly oaks and elms, in the parishes of Llanfihangel Aberybythych, Llandeilo fawr and Llangathen for the sum of 10,300.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


The Well-cult in Carmarthenshire

Wells, springs and river pools have been closely associated with religious observances since time immemorial.Many which had been considered sacred in pagan days were rededicated later for Christian purposes, and often churches were built near them or chapels or canopies erected over them.

Major Francis Jones covers the subject in scholarly fashion in his "The Holy Wells of Wales" . One of the wells mentioned  is Ffynnon Gwyddfaen , now known as Ffynnon Llandyfaen, in Llandeilo.

The operations of Morgan Clynnog , mentioned above under Catholics, may account for a case brought to the Star Chamber in 1594-5 against one Morgan Jones, a local magistrate and squire of Tregib. The evidence in the case includes reference to the fact that orders had been given by the Council of Wales to a certain John Gwyn Williams to suppress pilgrimages and " idolatrous places", more especially the well of Ffynnon Gwyddfaen, Llandeilo. One day Williams arrested many people at the well and brought them before Mr Jones who dismissed the case which resulted in him being brought before the Star Chamber..
Major Francis Jones concludes ".....there is no doubt that this was a pilgrimage pure and simple, made under the excuse of healing......"

The further history of Ffynnon Gwyddfaen shows continued religious association, after the suppression of Sunday games and festivities there, the Methodist  preacher Peter Williams, preached on the spot in 1748. And between 1771 and 1787 the local Baptists immersed their converts in the well, "a circumstance [ wrote Francis Jones] which caused a great sensation at the time." In 1808 a chapel called Soar was built there.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. 10.5.2000 Gareth Hicks ]


Turnpikes and lime kilns

Some Carmarthenshire Turnpike Trusts sponsored their roads to gain better access  from the uplands to their lime kilns at Ludchurch, St Clears, Llanddarog, Llandeilo and Llandybie. Among these were the Llandeilo and Llandybie Trust, the Llandovery and Llangadog Trust whose road carried the lime traffic from the Black Mountain kilns and coal from the Amman Valley; and the Three Commotts Trust which controlled the road south of the Tywi between Llandeilo and Carmarthen.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


Quakers

In the ecclesiastical report sent to Archdeacon Tenison in 1710, it is stated that the Quakers had a meeting house in Llandeilo fawr, and a congregation containing six families.

They were visited in 1753 by a John Player, a well known Quaker, and he reported

"The morrow a meeting was appointed to be at Pen-place at the wido, Bowens..."

A meeting was held next day at Pen-y-banc, about 7 miles away, and that is where John Player went.

"The morrow set forward to Penybanc to the house of Thomas Price...where we had a meeting in the evening.........."

At a meeting of ten friends at Pen-y-banc  in 1757 this resolution was arrived at;

"As Friends are not satisfied to keep their Meeting at Penplace any further, this meeting appoints Jacob David, Lewis William, to look for a convenient place for a Meeting-house and agree for the same."

At a meeting at Pen-y-banc in 1758, William Reynolds and Thomas Price were appointed " to have the new meeting-house at Kaeglase near New Inn, Llandeilo to be recorded at the next Quarter Sessions". This house stand today about two miles outside Llandeilo on the way to Dalyllychau ; it is still known as the "Ty-cwrdd" although turned into a dwelling house many years ago.

[Based on The History of Llandybie by Gomer Roberts 1939[Translated by Ivor Griffiths]. Gareth 22 Sept 2000 D]


Education

An early school

The Rev. Nicholas Roberts was headmaster of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Carmarthen, he wrote certain letters at the time[1673-4] which contain interesting snippets of information about C17 schools in the county.

One letter mentions three "eminent personages who taught school in this county" , Jeremy Taylor; William Nicholson, Vicar of Llandeilo; and William Thomas, Vicar of Laugharne. The last two were ejected from their livings by the Puritans. Jeremy Taylor joined Nicholson in conducting a private school at Newton, Llandeilo, and William Thomas opened a similar school at Laugharne. All three became Bishops after the Restoration.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks ]


Carreg Cennen Castle

The dust jacket to the book Owain Glyn Dwr by R R Davies shows a photograph of Cerreg Cennen Castle in Llandeilo fawr parish  which was captured by this most famous figure in Welsh history in 1403 during his Revolt.

See an  introduction to the book with chapter headings  on Gareth's Help Page

[Gareth Hicks ]


Living conditions c 1775

Sir Thomas Gery Cullum visited Llandeilo in 1775 and this is part of what he recorded;

"The mud houses of these Parts are of the most wretched Construction. The Walls do not consist of Lath and Plaster..but are entirely of earth, and that not of straw wrought up with it, but with sometimes a layer of Straw; the chimnies scarcely rising above the roofs, and conical Wicker-work barely plaistered over. The walls are often seen in a state of Vegetation; the roofs universally thatched....Most of the cottages are destitute of Glass Windows, instead of which neat lattice work. Yet the inhabitants of these wretched huts are better Cloathed than the tenants of better Houses of England. Their Woollen Cloathes are not subject to hang in Tatters as the slight Stuffs and Linen of the English. And I think that upon the whole that the Poor of Wales are a happier set of People indeed very indistrious, but they are sober and content with a little. Beggars are to be met with but very rarely; I have been asked for a Halfpenny for Tobacco."

[Based on The History of Llandybie by Gomer Roberts 1939[Translated by Ivor Griffiths]. Gareth 26 Sept 2000 D  ]

Llangadog

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For more online information about the parish of Llangadog see Genuki, this parish page includes material from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.              


Sir John Williams [1840-1926]

He was born at Blaen Llynant, Gwynfe, educated at Normal College, Swansea , and University College, London. He became famous as a doctor in London , was one of the Royal Physicians and a professor at University College, London.

After his retirement he settled at Llansteffan, CMN. He had always been interested in collecting books and manuscripts and had set his heart on a National Library for Wales. He laboured enthusiastically to this end and when the NLW was opened in Aberystwyth in 1890 he was chosen as its president. he transferred his  most valuable collection of  about 25,000 books and about 1200 manuscripts,[the Llansteffan Collection] some quite rare,  to the NLW where they formed the basis of that institution. The NLW recieved its Royal Charter in 1907 and moved to the present purpose built buildings in 1916.

He is thus remembered as a real benefactor to his nation.

Based on Famous Welshmen Welsh Dept of Board of Education, 1944. Gareth Hicks ]


Turnpikes and lime kilns

Some Carmarthenshire Turnpike Trusts sponsored their roads to gain better access  from the uplands to their lime kilns at Ludchurch, St Clears, Llanddarog, Llandeilo and Llandybie. Among these were the Llandeilo and Llandybie Trust, the Llandovery and Llangadog Trust whose road [completed  by 1833] carried the lime traffic from the Black Mountain kilns and coal from the Amman Valley; and the Three Commotts Trust which controlled the road south of the Tywi between Llandeilo and Carmarthen.

Lime

Agriculturalists who lived in the more isolated districts in the county transported the lime to their homes in panniers on horses, while the lowland farmers conveyed it in their rough and narrow wheeled carts[these carts were presumed to cause more injury to road surfaces than other form of transport]. It was reasonably cheap, costing 3 shillings a load at the kiln , and as 3 to 10 loads were considered sufficient to every acre and were expected to produce 3 good crops, the farmers were lavish in its application to the soil. Lime laid on grass brought white clover and increased the quality of the hay, and it was also spread on meadow land as a deterrent to rushes and noxious weeds.

[Based on the Story of Carmarthenshire by A.G Pryse Jones 1972. Gareth Hicks 2.6.2000 D ]


Cattle drovers' route

In Archaeologia Cambrensis of 1869, "HLJ" indicated that a track over the mountain above Ystradgynlais and Cwmtwrch formed part of an ancient route by which cattle were driven from Glamorgan to the Tywi Vale. Perhaps this approximated to the direction taken by the existing road across the Black Mountain from Brynamman to Llangadog. Certainly, the numerous "pedol" [animal shoe] type names in the Brynamman area indicate a link with the droving trade. Hence Nant Pedol, Cwm Pedol, Blaen Pedol, Foel deg ar bedol, and Bryn Pedol, all occur on the hills to the north east of Brynamman. At Pontarllechau on the Brynamman-Llangadog road , the Tithe map indicates a track heading in an easterly direction past the Drovers Arms above Llanddeusant across the open mountain to Trecastle and Brecon via Pont-ar-Hydfer. It is generally thought in the Llanddeusant area that this was one of the principal drove routes along which cattle and sheep were driven from Glamorgan and the Gower Peninsula for sale at Brecon Fair.

[Based on The Welsh Cattle Drovers by Richard Colyer 1976. Gareth Hicks 24.5.2000 D/G]


Forenames--how popular ?

[By comparison to Helen's list in Margam] I have a very much smaller database of the first-named person in each household in the 1841 census living in Gwynfe, Llangadog, Carms. There are only 156 people, so the results are not very significant, and comparison can only be made for men, as there are very few women in the list.

The first 4 names are identical to Helen's list, and the proportion of names covered by the first 4 is almost exactly the same at 2/3rds. However there are some interesting differences. Not surprisingly names which are Welsh in origin are more common in Gwynfe than in Margam. There are no Richards or Benjamins in my list, although they are in Helen's top 10 - and Griffiths and Walters appear in mine but not in Helen's. The tiny sample of women (17) had 3 Gwenllians,a much higher proportion.

I also analysed the surnames. The vast majority were patronymic in form, and probably represent the first name distribution a century or so earlier. There's a wider distribution of names, and my own family names - Griffiths and Rees - are much more common than they are among first names. Details are below

FORENAMES no. SURNAMES no.

  • John 26 Jones 23
  • William 23 Williams 16
  • Thomas 22 Thomas 10
  • David 20 Davies 18
  • Morgan 15 Morgan(s) 7
  • Rees 9 Rees/Price 16
  • Lewis 5 Lewis 9
  • Evan 3 Evans 10
  • Griffith 2 Griffiths 13
  • Walter 2 Walter 2
  • Edward 1 Edwards 1
  • Michael 1 Michael 2
  • Henry 1 Harry/Harries 2
  • others 9
  • Surnames only
  • James 5
  • Howell 3
  • Richard 3
  • Aubrey 2
  • Hicks 2
  • Hopkins 2
  • Morris 2
  • Peregrin 2
  • Phillips 2
  • others 4

Women/ forenames

  • Elizabeth 6
  • Gwen 3
  • Mary 3
  • Jane 2
  • Margaret 2
  • Ann 1

Total 156

[Anna Brueton 21 Oct 2000 D]


The north/south divide as seen through a conversation on George Borrow's journey from Llangadog to Brynamman

This piece comes from a section of the book where the author describes his journey from Llangadog to Gutter Vawr[Brynamman]. After he's been walking 3/4 hours he relates ;

".........on my left to the east upon a bank was a small house on one side of which was a wheel turned round by a flush of water running in a little artificial canal; close by it were two small cascades, the waters of which and also those of the canal passed under the bridge in the direction of the west. Seeing a decent looking man engaged in sawing a piece of wood by the roadside I asked him in Welsh whether the house with  the wheel was a flour-mill.

"Nage" he said, " it is a pandy, fulling mill".

"Can you tell me the name of the river", said I, " which I have left about a mile behind me ? Is it the Sawdde ?"

"Nage", he said, "It is the Lleidach"

Then looking  at me with great curiosity he asked if I came from the north country.

"Yes, " said I, " I certainly come from there".

"I am glad to hear it", said he, " for I have long wished to see a man from the north country".

"Did you never see one before?" said I.

"Never in my life," he replied, "men from the north country seldom show themselves  in these parts."

"Well," said I, " I am not ashamed to say that I come from the north".

"Aint you? Well, I don't know that you have any particular reason to be ashamed, for it is rather your misfortune than your fault; but the idea of anyone coming from the north---ho, ho !"

"Perhaps in the north," said I," they laugh at a man from the south ".

" Laugh at a man from the south ! No, no, they can't do that ".

"Why not?" said I, "why shouldn't the north laugh at the south as well as the south at the north?"

"Why shouldn't it? why, you talk like a fool. How could the north laugh at the south as long as the south remains the south and the north the north ? Laugh at the south ! you talk like a fool David, and, if you go on in that way I shall be angry with you. However, I'll excuse you; you are from the north, and what can one expect from the north but nonsense ? Now tell me, do you of the north eat and drink like other people ? What do you live upon?"

................and so it went on a bit finally ending with;

"Where are you going tonight ?"

"To Gutter Vawr"

"Well, then, you had better not loiter, Gutter Vawr is a long way off over the mountain. It will be dark, I am afraid, long before you get to Gutter Fawr. Good evening David ! I am glad to have seen you, for I have long wished to see a man from the north country. Good evening ! you will find plenty of good ale at Gutter Vawr."

[From ' Wild Wales, Its people, Language and Scenery' by George Borrow, 1862. Gareth Hicks 1 June 2001 D/G]

Carmarthen town/parish

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For more online information about the parish of Carmarthen see Genuki 


Here are some historical facts about Carmarthen town [Caerfyrddin] ,which are otherwise not easily found in one place online, and  which I hope will  give the reader a "flavour" of the town's history.

The book to read for an in depth coverage of the county as a whole is " A History of Carmarthenshire "Vols 1 & 2 by Sir John E Lloyd 1939, see Gareth's Help Page for a listing of chapter headings.

For a very readable and informative book on Carmarthen town then " The Story of Carmarthen " by Malcolm and Edith Lodwick, 1953 is recommended.
See Gareth's Help Page   for details of its contents and illustrations.
Some historic facts from this book are included  below .


General description and timeline

The town , the county town of Carmarthenshire, is situated on the River Towy [Afon Tywi], about 10 miles from the sea and the lowest bridging point on that river, which position in the past helped to make it an important market town and port . It remains today a centre of communication and  the focal point for a very large part of the county.
The River Towy is 68 miles long and the longest river wholly in Wales.

The following notes are  in the  general format of a timeline of random events in Carmarthen's history;

The Roman fort called   Maridunum was built at Carmarthen c 75 and was their main control point for south west Wales. It later became an English medieval stronghold and a walled borough with many features of that age still surviving in 1610 as shown on John Speed's map/plan where he calls the place "Caermarden".
This shows that the  Norman castle , built c 1090,  had a commanding position over the bridge over the Towy, the priory was just outside the town walls which , with their gates, were nearly all still intact in 1610 although the town had spread outside them. In fact Speed's plan of the town's streets corresponds pretty well to today's town centre [pre modern development anyway ].
St Peter's Church, outside the town walls, is shown more prominently than St Mary's which was near the main gate of the castle.The streets named on Speed's plan are ; " Priory Stret, S.Peters Stret, Water Stret, Spilmans Stret, Kings Stret, High Stret, S. Maries Stret, Key Stret."

In 1188 Archbishop Baldwin  preached at Carmarthen., accompanied by Giraldus Cambrensis who described seeing the ruined walls of a Roman fort at Carmarthen.

In 1253, Henry III approved the election of William de Haverford as Prior of Carmarthen.

In 1312, the Prior of Carmarthen was appointed , "during pleasure", the Chamberlain of South Wales.

In 1327, Kermerdyn and Kaerdiff [later changed to Shrewsbury as Cardiff was not a King's town] are the only staples of merchants and merchandise in Wales.Merchants to stay in these staples for 40 days before departing with their goods.

In 1399, Richard II signed three letters at Carmarthen.

In 1451 there was held the Great Eisteddfod at Carmarthen under the patronage of Gruffydd ab Nicholas of Dinevor.

At the beginning of the C16 , Carmarthen had c 1000 inhabitants.

Before the C16, Carmarthen effectively comprised two distinct towns based on the castle and the priory . Old Carmarthen [mainly Welsh]which was ruled by the prior claimed wider privileges including its own markets and fairs, whilst New Carmarthen, [mainly English]with its charters and royal privileges, resented the existence of this independent jurisdiction outside its walls.The dissolution of the priory in 1539 should have resolved the bickering but it took a new charter in 1546 to remove Old Carmarthen from the hundred of Derllys and annex it  to the borough.That charter authorised the appointment of a mayor and 20 burgesses who were to elect a common council of 20 citizens; the mayor and 2 bailiffs were then to be appointed annually at Michaelmas.[27.3.2000 D]

In 1548, Carmarthen was described  in a record as " a fayre[fair]  Market Towne , having a fair haven and the ffarest [fairest] towne in all South Wales and of most  scevillyte [civility]". The place was undoubtedly the "centre of county social life".

1551, the year the earliest preserved Carmarthen manuscript dates from, , "Book of Orders of the Common Council".

In 1566, the town had 325 houses.

In 1569 fraternities were granted for the Tanners, Hamarmen, Tailors, Cordiners and Saddlers.

In 1574 the fraternities of Weavers and Tuckers was granted, and 1583 the Glovers.

In 1576 the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School was founded.

In 1583 a Fish Market was ordered to be erected.

In 1602, George Owen of Henllys, said that Carmarthen was the largest town in Wales, and in "fair and good in state".

In 1602 Kidwelly men entered Pensarn Common and were repulsed by Carmarthen men.

In 1604 the plague raged in the town, and again in 1611.

In 1604, the town became a county borough by charter of James I.

In 1633, Father Arthur, an Irishman, was hanged, drawn and quartered for " conspiring King's death or for cursing him".[20.4.2000 D]

In 1644, the "Towne of Carmarthen was fortified with a mudd wall round about it" and "gotten by sword by Pembrokeshire men".[20.4.2000 D]

In 1651 , fraternity of hatters and felt-makers granted. Another outbreak of the Great Plague.

In 1724 the first Freemasons Lodge established, meeting at "The Bunch of Grapes".

In 1729 it was ordered that "the pigg market be kept in Lower Water Street."

In 1735, Isaac Carter is recorded as a printer in Carmarthen, probably the earliest in a town which became well known for its printers.The most well known  printer perhaps being William Spurrell who published a Welsh-English dictionary in 1848 and The History of Carmarthen and Neighbourhood in 1860.

In 1739, one Edwards of Llandefeilog was hanged at Pensarn for pilfering. Elinor Williams, servant at Job's Well, hanged on Common below Royal Oak Gate for murdering her child. Two lads executed for stealing cider from E van Thomas of the Greyhound Inn, Carmarthen.[20.4.2000 D]

In 1750 , the town had 500 houses.

In 1755 Carmarthen Canal was commenced.

In 1763 John Wesley preached in Carmarthen.

In 1764 a new borough charter put an end to the prevailing "complete dislocation of   government " caused by political considerations.

In 1781, Evan Williams, inmate Carmarthen Workhouse,died aged 145 [Bailey's "Records of Longevity"].[20.4.2000 D]

In 1800, eighteen oil lamps ordered for lighting of town.

In 1801, the census population of the town was 5548. New Meat Market  Place opened in Backway.

In 1804 John Morris was executed at Pensarn for horse stealing.

In 1810 the Carmarthen Journal was first published and is therefore the oldest surviving newspaper in Wales.

In 1811 part of Castle fell burying several cottages, no loss of life.

In 1831 the population of the town was 9935, but it was no longer  "the largest town in Wales " having been overtaken by  Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea .

In 1832, Charter Day Riots, Star and Garter Inn attacked by mob, landlord defending himself woth powder and shot. Treadwheel erected in County Gaol.

In 1852, South Wales railway reaches Carmarthen.

In 1882 town first lit with gas.


A Market town and trades

Its position at the lowest bridging point of the River Towy made it a key east west route centre. It became the most important cattle and milk  products processing centre in south Wales.

The privilege of trading within the borough was jealously guarded by the burgesses, which is why so many trading companies were formed; in 1569 companies of tanners, cordwainers, hammer men, tailors and saddlers; in 1574, of tuckers ; in 1583 of glovers ; and in 1651 of hatters. Members  paid an annual subscription, in exchange for which  they were granted  an absolute monopoly in their particular trade. In 1633, Lewis Lloyd, a hatter, applied for burgess-ship and  since there was no hatter in the town, was admitted on payment of 3 and entering into a bond for 100 not to meddle in any other trade.In 1724 the shop of Enoch James was ordered to be closed down" he having refused to be sworn burgess of the town". In 1712, barbers and barber chirurgeons were incorporated into a company. These trade gilds disappeared after 1746 for political reasons, a commission of 1834 found no trace of their existence.[24.3.2000 D]

In the square by St Mary's, the modern Guildhall Square, Speed's plan of 1610 shows the pillory and the High Cross around which the fish and butter markets were held. A mill is shown to the west of St Mary's, later on other corn and fulling  [or pandy] mills  were built nearer to the river.

In 1748, one of the latter was replaced by an iron forge with bellows worked by water power.
Lead was smelted in another forge. The tinplate works  built nearby in the late C18 by John Morgan & Co , who also formed the "Carmarthen Furness Bank" in 1792 which issued its own coin , and tokens to pay the workmen . In fact Carmarthen's metal based industries were never very big and ceased operations during the C19 with the advent of coal for smelting and the migration of works and workers to the coalfield areas.

In the C14 , after the Flemings introduced the fulling mill into this country, Carmarthen became a place where wool from all over Wales was sent for exporting to cloth making centres in Flanders and was also the " staple " town  [Ordinanace of the Staple 1353] through which  all Welsh wool had to be sold to England. Welsh cloth found its way  to the great cloth fair of St Bartholomew in London. At this time many hand loom weavers lived in Carmarthen and surrounding area, and many a peasant home saw carding, spinning and weaving as part of the domestic scene.[30.3.2000 D]

A Port

Carmarthen had a thriving Bristol Channel trade from medieval times to the mid C19, Speed's town plan  of 1610 shows some ships lying at the quay below the castle.

The  fact that town is 10 miles from where the Towy finally reaches the sea was at one point an advantage until piracy was suppressed in the C17. But the same fact was also finally its undoing as a port .

In 1592, merchants of the town complained to the Privy Council that they had been despoiled by pirates of " 4 barkes laden with silks velvets, wine and oil to the value of 10,000".

Oak timber used to be shipped from here to the main English dockyards for the construction of battle ships or trading vessels, other exports included bark[mainly to Ireland], slate, bricks, lead, ore, grain, eggs and butter. And in the other direction came imports of foreign timber, pitch, tallow and resin, coal, culm, malt, salt and various manufactured goods. In the C17 and C18 coal was shipped from Carmarthen to London.

In 1792 , Carmarthen was a more important port than Cardiff,  with 57 vessels of total tonnage 2293 against Cardiff 's 22 vessels with total tonnage of 789.An old directory of 1794 gives a list of some ships belonging to Carmarthen port, these include ;
At "Pickle Herring Wharf" there were the Race Horse, John Sally, Neptune, Industry, Welcome, Lovely Cruiser, Union, Elizabeth.
At "The Back" [Bristol], there were ; Lark, Speedwell, Providence, Constant Trader, Ceres, Polly and Betsy, Emlyn, John and Mary, Mayflower.

In 1831, prior to the increase in individual ships' tonnage capacity which ruined Carmarthen's sea trade, 13 foreign and 426 coasting vessels came into  the port, and some 3000 was paid in customs duty.[25.3.2000 D]
The registered number of ships belonging to the port was 51, and 152 men were employed there.

[ Partly based on  The Story of Carmarthen " by Malcolm and Edith Lodwick, 1953 Gareth Hicks]


Carmarthen port and lead ore

From the Cawdor Collection Box Carmarthen Archives

The affairs of the Cawdor Estate in West Wales includes various trading accounts. In these accounts there is reflected a whole way of life; of mining for lead ore in the hinterland of South West Wales ; of moving it by land and water to the quay in Carmarthen; smelting it and shipping the lead finally produced in ships such as the Emlyn, Hero, Mayflower, Speedwell, John and Mary, and Constant Trader. In the  accounts for the year 1767 headed " Stock of Lead at Carmarthen" next to the names for the ships Constant Trader and Speedwell are the names Philips George & Co, and James George Esq.

Shipping in and out of Carmarthen has been recorded for centuries. In 1636 the Company of Mines Royal gave leases to various developers jointly to work the lead mines for precious metals in Carmarthen, Caernarvon and Flint[ the counties]. After the Civil War there was much activity in Carmarthen[shire] and  neighbouring Cardiganshire in mining for lead, copper etc.

[Based on "Accounting, Costing and Cost Estimation[Welsh Industry 1700-1830]" by Haydn Jones 1985, Gareth Hicks  14  June 2000 D]

Carmarthenshire snippets

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For more online information about the county of Carmarthenshire see Genuki, which includes snippets from  ' A History of Carmarthenshire' edited by Sir John Lloyd and published in 1935/9 by the London Carmarthenshire Society.       


Carmarthen and Llanboidy links to the US Presidency

John Adams [ 1735-1826], second President of the USA  and his eldest son John Quincy Adams[1767-1848], the sixth President, were descended from the Adams family of Penyback, Llanboidy.

The above John Adams was the grandson of David Adams of Penyback,  who in 1662 was ordained by the Bishop of St David's and emigrated to the USA in 1675.

David Adams was a student at the Queen Elizabeth Endowed Grammar School.

[Based on an article contributed by Rhydwyn Lewis to Dyfed FHS journal Vol 6/5 with permission of the Carmarthen Journal (1952)]                                                                                                                                        [Gareth Hicks 4.4.2000 D]       


Party time !

Background notes to the growth of Chartism in Wales.

Politics in Wales in the early C19 involved very few people with the right to vote and usually those that did were expected to support the local land owners' candidate. Candidates who stood against the latter would use all sorts of means to try and break the landed gentry's stranglehold on the political system.  

There follows a breakdown of one such candidate's expenses in the election of 1802 in Carmarthenshire taken from the Report of the Royal Commission on Land in Wales and Monmouthshire, 1896..

"....Expenses amounting to 15,690.4s.2d. This sum included payments to innkeepers for 11,070 breakfasts; 36,901 dinners;  684 suppers; 25, 275 gallons of ale; 11,086 bottles of spirits; 8,879 bottles of porter; 460 bottles of sherry ; 509 bottles of cider; and eighteen guineas for milk punch.  The charge for ribbons was 786, and the number of separate charges for horse hire was 4,521.

[Based on People, Protest and Politics in C19 Wales, by David Egan. Gareth Hicks 27.5.2000 D/G]

Poverty and the insecurity of life in rural Carmarthenshire, South Wales, 1780s-1830s; a paper by Gail Thomas on Genuki.  

Gareth Hicks (2012)

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