Cardiff Records: Volume 1. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1898.
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On Thursday 15 February 1894, by appointment of the Mayor and Corporation of the County Borough of Cardiff, I commenced the work of examining, arranging and transcribing the Public Records of the Municipality; and the Corporation having, at an early stage of my researches, decided to publish the most interesting portion of their records, I was further entrusted with the duty of editing the same. The present volumes contain the published outcome of my labours; and, in laying them before the public, it is necessary to submit a statement of the system I have followed in preparing the Records for publication.
The historical manuscripts which bear upon the history of the town of Cardiff and its immediate neighbourhood are some of them in the custody of the Town Clerk, Joseph Larke Wheatley, Esq., in the strong-room of his office at the Town Hall; others are among the national collections preserved at the Record Office and the British Museum, in London; others are in private hands, being kept in the muniment-rooms of county families. The great majority of the documents are written either in Latin or English, but a few are in Norman-French and Welsh. Those which are written in any language but English, I have translated, and in no such case is the original printed in these volumes, with the exception of the Municipal Charters. Where documents have been printed in other languages than English, in authoritative publications like the Rolls Series, but no translations of the same have hitherto appeared, I have made translations and included them in this collection. This is almost the only case in which printed books have been drawn upon for material. In every instance my translations have been prepared with special care to secure accuracy, with which aim I have kept strictly to the phraseology of the originals, often at the sacrifice of literary elegance. The Latin of the Charters has been expanded, for no useful purpose seemed to be served by a reproduction of their highly technical abbreviations and contractions. In transcribing old English records, however, I have thought it best to retain all their peculiarities of spelling. Some regret will perhaps be felt by specialists, that the documents have not in every case been published in the original languages. It will be seen, however, that such originals would have had to be accompanied by translations, if this work was to be rendered acceptable and serviceable to the general public, and that this would have extended the present publication to a bulk involving a very great expenditure of the ratepayers' money. A similar answer must be given to any persons who may wish that this work had embraced every document relating to Cardiff which possesses any historical or antiquarian interest. It is true that there exists, at the Town Hall and elsewhere, a mass of unpublished matter, of greater or lesser degrees of importance, the printing whereof would make another set of volumes of even greater bulk than the present series. But it was felt that a line had better be drawn at those records which possess serious historical value or special literary interest, or which might be taken as representative of their respective classes.
Prolixity and irrelevance have been guarded against as much as possible. Thus, where a long document contains only a brief reference to Cardiff, the capital title and sectional heading only are here given above the local reference, which is immediately followed by the conclusion and signatures &c. of the original.
It has not been thought advisable to exclude references to some places but little remote from the environs of Cardiff, especially when such references bear directly upon the history of the Lordship of Glamorgan and Morganwg, of which Cardiff was the administrative capital and seat of government. Although the original Borough of Cardiff is the focus upon which the material in these pages centres, the same extends more or less to the district comprising all the following parishes outside the town:—Caerau, Canton, Cogan, Ely, Lavernock, Leckwith, Lisvane, Llandaff, Llandough, Llanedern, Llanishen, Penarth, Pentyrch, Radyr, Roath, Rumney, Saint Fagan's and Whitchurch.
The correct spelling of place-names in my own text has been a subject of serious concern. It was difficult to decide how far the same should be influenced by the requirements of the Welsh language, and how far it was necessary to yield to the progress of anglicisation. My personal view was that the present was an opportune occasion for a moderate measure of reform, to be exemplified in such spellings as "Llandaf," "Eley," and "Llandoch." In the end, however, more prudent counsels prevailed, and it was decided that the common modern forms should be adhered to. The time has not yet come for us to save ourselves the trouble of tacking on a quite superfluous f to the ancient name of our cathedral city.
Immersed in the successful pursuit of wealth, in aspect modern, utilitarian and matter-of-fact, glorying in her prodigious recent growth and prosperity, Cardiff has yet remembered that she is no new creation, but that she has a history reaching back to remote antiquity and inscribed upon some of the most venerable scrolls that have escaped the ravages of Time. These records it has been my delightful duty to study and transcribe, at the behest of the Corporation, for the benefit, in the first place, of the present and future burgesses, and, in the second place, of all whom work or pleasure invites into the fair fields of our local history.
In these pages the municipal politician may mark the gradual rise and progress of the Borough's liberties, and the construction of the machinery of her government. Here the man of business can follow the slow expansion of Cardiff's commerce, while the historian will note the almost imperceptible effacement of old race hatreds and feudal inequalities. The antiquary is enabled to walk, in imagination, the narrow, cobbled streets of the mediaeval town, and see the burgesses rush to arms at the sound of the markethouse bell, as some fresh faction-fight breaks out in High Street. The student of religions will here trace the eternal struggle between authority and individualism in matters of belief; and even that most captious of critics, the "general reader," may unearth many a gem of old-world humour—all the more irresistible from its unconsciousness—and more than one story which is none the less interesting for being true.
JOHN HOBSON MATTHEWS.
Cardiff, October, 1898.