Cardiff Records: Volume 2. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1900.
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The favourable judgment which was passed upon the first volume of this work, not only by the unanimous voice of the literary press, but also by individual readers who were well qualified to pass an opinion upon its merits or demerits, has stimulated me to make every effort to preserve the good opinion of these kind critics. I have tried to win even greater appreciation for the present instalment of the "Cardiff Records," by including in it documents of more general interest than was practicable in the case of Vol. I. There can be little doubt that the fine series of Calendar Rolls and Gaol Files, extending from the reign of Henry the Eighth to that of George the Fourth, the Corporation Vouchers, 1789–1803, and the Records of the Custom House, ranging from the year 1686–1806, will interest every reader. The Gaol Files are replete with thrilling stories of great crimes, of religious persecution and of terrible penalties, while amusing details about petty offenders supply the humorous relief which is essential to every drama. The Vouchers are a striking example of the historical interest with which time often vests insignificant memoranda; and the narratives of adventure on sea and land, given to us in the matter-of-fact reports of the Customs officers, equal anything to be found in the pages of Marryat.
The chapter on the Manors has been compiled from various manuscript sources. Originally written by me at the request of the Royal Commissioners on Lands in Wales and Monmouthshire, and printed in the Appendix to their Report, it was afterwards so considerably amended and enlarged, as to be practically re-written. I have in this matter received so much valuable help from Mr. John Stuart Corbett, and been by him saved from so many antiquarian pitfalls, that I cannot sufficiently acknowledge my indebtedness to his wide knowledge and accurate judgment. To the same antiquary's skill and care the public are indebted for the treatise on the Lords of Cardiff, which forms the second chapter of this volume. It can hardly fail to be appreciated by every student of our local history.
The chapter on Manorial Records forms a useful sequel to the Ministers' Accounts and other feudal documents printed in Vol. I., while Town Clerk Wood's Memoranda furnish some unique information respecting the municipal constitution of Cardiff Borough. The great Sessions Miscellanea comprise some of the earliest existing papers of the Civil side of that Court. The South Wales Chantries Certificate of 1548 will be read with keen interest by those whose studies lie in the direction of Welsh ecclesiastical history, while all persons concerned in any way with the public life of the Borough will be pleased with the varied information afforded by the Corporation Miscellanea. So many of Cardiff's inhabitants are connected with the Docks, that the Earliest Record Book of the Cardiff Customs will not lack readers curious to see what manner of business was transacted in this Port in the days when the names of Quay Street, the "Cardiff Boat" and the "Ship on Launch" were less inappropriate than they are now that their locus in quo is about five hundred yards from the river and a mile from the shipping.
Thomas Morgan's Commonplace Book is a delightful repertoire of curious information upon the domestic life of a Welsh country gentleman of the olden time. The editing of this decayed old manuscript has been a most pleasing task, in spite of the difficulty which I experienced in ascertaining its compiler's place in the genealogical tree of the great Morgan family.
To turn now to the embellishments which accompany the present text: The illustrations have been arranged (as was the case with the previous volume) by Mr. John Ballinger, Librarian of the Cardiff Free Library, who has been at great pains to obtain a satisfactory series of seals of the Lords of Cardiff, and whose services have in various ways been placed at the disposal of the Records Committee. Mr. John Ward, F.S.A., has again given to the Committee the benefit of his knowledge and skill, in preparing the head and tail pieces. In this second volume they carry on the series of designs from mediæval tiles found at Cardiff. I have more than once been asked, by gentlemen familiar with the proprieties of heraldry—most exact of arts—why in some of these tiles the lions and other animal charges are turned "to the sinister," in other words, are looking the wrong way. It will therefore be well to explain here that the original designs were transferred to the tiles directly, from the front, thus necessarily assuming the position which is heraldically incorrect, or at least unusual. The initial letters to the chapters in this volume are by the artistic pen of Mr. J. A. Sant, architect, of Cardiff. They impart a welcome addition of "local colour" to a book which is essentially and entirely a production of Cardiff.
JOHN HOBSON MATTHEWS,
Cardiff, May 1st, 1900.