Cardiff Records: Volume 4. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1903.
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Council Minutes, 1740=1835.
Some crossing and overlapping of dates notwithstanding, the earliest known volume of Council Minutes etc., transcribed in the preceding chapter, represents roughly the business transacted down to the year 1740. The present chapter comprises the succeeding volume 6 (2), and the subsequent one, and then carries on the records of Council Meetings to 1835, the year of Municipal Reform. Here also, however, there is some overlapping in the original manuscripts; but the only practicable plan for the Archivist to work upon in preparing these documents for publication was to follow the order (or rather, disorder) in which the original entries were made.
The legal antiquary will be interested in the Table of Fees payable to the Town Clerk in the Town Court, about the year 1740, and the form in which the Town Clerk certified the fitness of aspirants to the freedom of the Borough, at the same period.
Under date 1729 occurs what is the earliest record known to me of the appointment of the Town Clerk, who on this occasion was Edward Herbert, gentleman, a kinsman of the Lord. He was appointed by deed under the hand and seal of Viscount Windsor, like other members of the municipal executive; a procedure which was followed until the Borough was "thrown open" in 1835.
Interesting also are the examples (of which only the few I give are necessary) of actions in the Town Court. This was the old Borough Court Leet, or Curia Domini Regis, having jurisdiction in actions for debt and trespass up to the amount of forty shillings. It was one of the old Courts of Record abolished by modern enactments. The Court met regularly every fortnight, but frequently opened and closed without having any business to transact.
The Freeman's Oath is differently worded when it is to be taken by (a) a tradesman or (b) a gentleman. The phraseology is quaint, and was evidently composed in ancient times. The Freeman is not to "encourage foreigners," by which was meant that he should not deal with non-burgesses who illegally attempted to trade within the Borough. The form for gentlemen is much shorter, and couched in general terms only. Then follow the Oaths of the Mayor, Justice, Aldermen, Steward (or Recorder), Town Clerk, Assistants (or Capital Burgesses), Common Attorneys, Serjeants-at-Mace, Constables, Clerk of the Cross (or Clerk of the Market), Bailiffs, and Aletaster.
The Aldermen are to see the King's peace duly kept, and to observe the articles comprised in the municipal Charters. The Assistants (afterwards called Capital Burgesses, and, later, Councillors) are to assist the Bailiffs and Aldermen. The Common Attorneys are to collect the Town dues payable as well to the Lord as to the Bailiffs. The Serjeants (as representing the executive) are to execute warrants, preserve the King's peace, and apprehend offenders. They are not to accept of any Alderman as bail or surety. The Constables are to execute all processes, in the absence of the Serjeants, search for rogues, and, with their "defensible weapons," attend the magistrates upon all occasions.
Entered in 1756 is a schedule of Fees for the Admission of Burgesses, as settled by the Bailiffs. One of the charges is a pound for a foreigner who marries a Freeman's daughter. This is one of the payments which Counsel in 1805 held to be probably illegal, as being in restraint of marriage. Four shillings is due to the Bailiffs for a "pottle" of wine.
At the close of the 18th century there was much demolition of old buildings in the town, including the Town Gates; and early in the 19th the Great and Little Heaths were enclosed—full particulars of which changes are recorded in the Minutes. In 1803 there was a great exchange of lands between the Corporation and the Marquess of Bute; at which time West Street was taken into the grounds of Cardiff Castle, and the houses were pulled down. The formation of the Glamorganshire Canal led to much improvement in the commercial status of Cardiff at about the same period.
With the opening of the 19th century we begin to meet with records of the public reception of important personages on their arrival at Cardiff, as well as with addresses presented to Royalty on behalf of the Corporation.
The latest Minutes for the year 1835 comprise formal thanks to the Bailiff and Senior Alderman who last held those offices previous to the radical changes in municipal government introduced by the Municipal Reform Act.