Cardiff Records: Volume 5. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1905.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Cardiff Council Minutes, 1893–1894.
Resolved That this Council deems it an imperative duty to direct a thorough and exhaustive investigation into the statements and representations of the South Wales Daily News on the subject of Cardiff Lands; and as a preliminary step desires the Town Clerk to have prepared with all convenient speed a precis of all charters, deeds and documents in the custody of the Corporation relating to Corporate Lands (excluding lands recently acquired for waterworks and improvement purposes), and of all references to Corporate lands or leases thereof in ancient books and records, as well as of all charters, deeds and documents the existence of which may be ascertained by references in other charters, deeds and documents, but which are not now in the possession or custody of the Corporation, and submit a print thereof to each member of this Council; and that a Special Committee be appointed for the purpose of ventilating, inquiring into and considering the whole subject and reporting to this Council thereon.
Names taken as follows:—For: The Mayor; Aldermen Jacobs, D. Jones, Sanders and T. Rees; Councillors Ramsdale, Riches, F.J. Beavan, W. Lewis, Thomas, N. Rees, Jenkins, Andrews, White, Munn, Comley, Morgan, Crossman, John and Good—20. Neutral: Alderman D. Lewis.
Resolved That the following gentlemen be appointed a Special Committee for the purpose of carrying out the above resolution: The Mayor; Aldermen Jacobs, D. Jones and Sanders; Councillors Vaughan, E. Beavan, Ramsdale, Shackell, Riches, F. J. Beavan, Tucker, W. Lewis, Thomas, Jenkins, White, Munn, Morgan and Waring.
Resolved unanimously That the Right Honourable John Crichton Stuart, Earl of Dumfries (the eldest son of the Most Honourable the Marquess of Bute, K.T.,) be respectfully and cordially invited to open the Roath Park on the 25th April 1894.
Records Committee, 1 December 1893. Resolved That the Town Clerk be instructed to prepare a list of all charters and ancient documents &c. in possession of the Corporation and submit same to the Sub-Committee mentioned in the following resolution.
Town Clerk read a letter dated 9 November 1893, from Mr. T. Carr, offering to copy ancient or indistinct documents at 9d. per hour, or 3d. per folio, and 1d. per folio fair copy; and also letters dated 7, 9 and 13 November, from Mr. J. Hobson Matthews, Solicitor (author of "A History of Saint Ives, Lelant, Towednack and Zennor"), offering his services to this Committee.
The Right Worshipful the Mayor, (Councillor Trounce) presented to the Corporation the Minute Book of the Town Commissioners of Cardiff, from 1815 to 1837, which he had obtained from a local gentleman.
Sir E. J. Reed, M.P., forwards the following note:—" The Secretaries of the Joint Naval and Military Committee (Colonel Vetch and Captain Prince Louis of Battenberg) are now engaged in drawing up their report on the defended ports of Great Britain and Ireland.
Dear Mr. Wheatley,—I beg to offer the Mayor and the rest of the Council my warm thanks for their very kind proposal as to the opening of Roath Park. It would gratify me very much that John should perform the ceremony. At such a distance of time, however, I feel that it would be too rash to try and bind myself by an absolute promise; and perhaps also it may occur to you that, for the opening of a Park, a day somewhat later—say at the end of May or early part of June, when vegetation is more advanced—might be more convenient. Unless there be some reason for April 25 which is unknown to me, there is plenty of time to think about this. Allow me to take this opportunity of expressing my best wishes for a happy Christmas and New Year for all at Cardiff. Believe me, Dear Mr. Wheatley, sincerely yours.
Letter from the High Sheriff of Glamorgan regarding the inadequate accommodation for Assize business at Cardiff and Swansea, and stating that, if good accommodation were provided at Cardiff, no doubt the Assizes would be held at Cardiff exclusively, unless Swansea took some action as well. (Referred to the Town Hall Committee.)
At 12.30 p m. General the Right Hon. Lord Roberts, G.C.B., G.C.S.I., V.C., attended the Council, and was admitted an Honorary Freeman of the County Borough of Cardiff, the Admission being witnessed by the Mayor and Town Clerk.
The Mayor presented Lord Roberts with the scrip containing the Freedom; and Colonel Sir Edward Hill, M.P., presented his Lordship, on behalf of the 2nd Glamorganshire Volunteer Artillery, with a gold casket therefor.
Resolved That an expert be engaged for the purpose of reading and carefully perusing every document, book &c. contained in the schedule submitted by the Town Clerk, and preparing a precis of all charters, deeds and documents in the custody of the Corporation relating to corporate lands (&c., as in the first resolution of Council) and carefully extracting all references which occur in such documents, books &c. in relation to the river Taff and the Corporation being the conservators thereof.
Resolved That Mr. John Hobson Matthews, Solicitor, of Church Street, Cardiff, be appointed for the purpose of carrying out the above resolution, at a salary of £4 per week; and that he proceed continuously until the completion of the work.
Resolved That the expert (Mr. Hobson Matthews) be instructed to obtain all possible information and to report to the Sub-Committee appointed by this Committee on the 1st December 1893, with regard to the rights of the Corporation in the foreshores of Cardiff.
Resolved That the new Park be opened on Wednesday 20 June next, the Earl of Dumfries' birthday. That the park be named Roath Park. That a gold key and an address be presented to the Earl, as the gift of the Parks Committee. That there be a public procession. That aquatic sports be held on the lake on the opening-day. That six memorial trees be planted.
Borough Engineer stated that Lord Bute's representatives had commenced excavating in the bed and foreshore on the eastern side of the river Taff, a little below the Penarth Road bridge, with the intention of erecting machinery for pumping water from the river into the timber-pond adjoining.
My dear Mr. Wheatley,—Pray offer to the Committee my sincere thanks for the kind thoughtfulness which has dictated their suggestion that June 20th, being John's birthday, should be the day upon which he is to perform the ceremony of opening Roath Park. As far as we are able to foresee, we shall be able, as we shall certainly be most happy, to be at Cardiff on that day. Believe me, Dear Mr. Wheatley, sincerely yours.
(a) The extent and history of the landed property of the Mayor, Aldermen and Capital Burgesses of the Borough of Cardiff; whether the Corporation have been deprived of the possession of any lands and tenements, and full particulars of any such deprivation.
(d) The nature and condition of the ancient archives in the possession of the Corporation; also whether any have been alienated from their possession, and the whereabouts of all such alienated archives.
The Town Clerk having provided me with a schedule of the Charters, municipal records and documents of title in his custody, and allowed me every facility for examining the same, I found them to be as follows:—
I have gone through the whole of the Minutes of Council from 1710 to 1880—i.e. for 170 years consecutively— and have extracted everything likely to be of use relating to the matters on which information was desired.
The maps and plans have been made use of to fix the precise situations of the Corporation's lands and tenements. (I have, moreover, improved my knowledge of these by personal examination of the ancient sites).
The rent-rolls, of course, have engaged a large share of my attention. Though few in number, they have been the tie-beams, so to speak, of the work of investigation, holding together and consolidating the separate results of my search among the various classes of records.
Out of these materials I am compiling an exhaustive list of all the lands and tenements which belong to the Mayor, Aldermen and Capital Burgesses of Cardiff, and of all those which have been in their possession at any time during the past 150 years; and in some particulars my information extends to a much remoter period. My list, though not yet complete, comprises 138 properties.
As a result of this method of dealing with the records, I am in a position to give a minute and consecutive account of most of the properties, shewing when and how they came into the possession of the Corporation, what has been done with them while they have been in their possession, and, where a property has been parted with by the Corporation, the date and other particulars of the alienation. In not a few cases I shall be able to show how the apathy of former officials, and the designs of interested parties, have brought about the loss of property.
When the information I have already acquired has been supplemented by a search at the Record Office and by the perusal of archives which have got into private hands, I shall be able to supply to you the fullest and most minute particulars of all the property which is, has been, and ought to be, in the possession of the Corporation.
With reference to the second subject of enquiry, namely the respective rights of the Corporation and Lord Bute in the Borough, its river and foreshore, I have collected a large quantity of useful information, and am in a position to show that the Borough of Cardiff, at least as first territorially defined, is subject to no manorial overlordship save such as may have vested in the Crown. I refrain from saying more on this head at present, as the subject requires a thorough examination in the light of the national archives. I will, however, just add that I can satisfactorily establish the claim of the Corporation to be the official Conservators of the river Taff, and to have been so from the earliest times in the Borough's history.
With regard to the old public charities of Cardiff, my information is not so ample as I could wish; though I have made a useful summary from the Minutes of Council, &c., of the Corporation's transactions from time to time in this respect. What there may be at the Record Office to throw light on the question I cannot say, but I imagine ample particulars must be obtainable. I gleaned a great deal of information there with reference to the charities of Saint Ives, when working upon the archives of that borough.
My final Report to you shall comprise all information as to the nature and condition of the ancient archives now in the Town Clerk's custody, as well as of the local records which I shall have been able to meet with at the Record Office and in the hands of private individuals. I shall have some suggestions to submit to you as to the preservation of the invaluable historical muniments of our Borough.
This brings me to the very weighty question of the alleged removal of ancient records from the custody of the Corporation. Now that I have gone through nearly all the Cardiff documents which were likely to throw any light upon these enquiries, I am able to state positively that the Corporation have been deprived of a large quantity of muniments, including probably some title-deeds, and certainly many important and highly interesting official records of various kinds, such as early minute and account books, and even Charters. I know that there should be at least four earlier Town Books than the one commencing 1711, which is the oldest in the Town Clerk's custody; and it is equally certain that the last Charter granted to the Town of Cardiff (that of King James II.) is missing.
Without having entered upon any investigation into the abstraction of the missing records, I have already received hints from more than one person as to the present whereabouts of some of them. There is every likelihood that a thorough enquiry will result in the tracing of the lost documents, in their being at least perused and copied by the Corporation, and in some cases of their restoration to their rightful custodian, the present Town Clerk. Such an enquiry, moreover, is necessary for the complete elucidation of the facts with regard to the Corporation's property and the other questions which form part of my researches.
I may add that, in addition to the muniments submitted to me by the Town Clerk, I have been able to draw upon a few very useful documents shewn to me by friends, and upon a mass of notes in my own private possession, collected from various historical sources.
It appears from the Minutes of Council that the Corporation has for a century past been agitated, at frequently recurring intervals, with a desire to sift and examine the questions which you have commissioned me to investigate. Time after time the Council has resolved that these matters (their landed property, the Lord's manorial claims, the Taff, the charities and the records) should be investigated by the Town Clerk and reported upon, with a view to vigorous action on behalf of the burgesses; and each time has the question been quietly shelved and forgotten. This inert policy has resulted in serious pecuniary loss to the Corporation, as when, in 1838, for want of the necessary information (which was quite available) to lay before their counsel, the Corporation allowed the late Lord Bute to be recognised by the High Court as "Lord of the Manor of Cardiff"—a manor which never existed save on paper and in the imaginations of apathetic burgesses on the one hand, and interested claimants on the other.
For one week I was occupied in preparing for the Town Clerk a Supplemental Brief to be used by Defendants' counsel in the action brought by the Marquess of Bute against the Corporation in respect of the diversion of the Taff; such supplementary brief being practically a treatise on the question of the alleged "Manor of Cardiff," in which I shewed that such a manor had no existence.
Property and Markets Committee, 2 May. An Extract from the proceedings of the Finance Committee held on the 25th April was read, referring to this Committee an account amounting to £5. 10s. 4d. from the Trustees of Lord Bute in respect of Town tolls, and suggesting that enquiry be made as to the purport of this annual charge.
Resolved That the matter be referred to the Records Committee, and that they be respectfully requested to direct the Expert (Mr. Matthews) to enquire into the matter, and to furnish all possible information in reference thereto to this Committee.
Resolved That the Town Clerk give notice to the Bute authorities regarding their action in sinking a well and diverting the course of the channel in the river Taff at Grangetown, and informing them that the Corporation object thereto, and require the Bute authorities to cease their interference with the river at once and restore the premises to their former condition.
Resolved That the Town Clerk give notice to the Bute authorities, requesting the removal of the railings brought down from the top of the embankment to the bed of the river Taff in two places in the Riverside Ward.
Town's Meeting resolved That this Town's Meeting of the citizens of Cardiff records its emphatic protest against the unjustifiable attempt, in the Bill now being promoted in Parliament by the Bute Docks Company, to obtain compulsory powers of levying tolls on all persons leaving Cardiff by water.
Resolved That the paragraph regarding sale of portions of foreshore be rescinded, and that the Town Clerk be desired to send a printed Report upon this matter to every member of the Corporation; and that a Special Meeting of the General Purposes Committee be held on the 25th instant to consider the same.
"That the acquisition of the foreshore by the Bute Authority in 1889, on the supposition that the Marquis of Bute was Lord of the Manor, should have been strenuously opposed by the Corporation at the time, and that even now immediate steps should be taken to recover the rights of the Town in the said foreshore; and that this Resolution be embodied in a petition to Parliament and the Borough Member.
Proposed by Councillor Thomas, seconded by Alderman Carey, by way of amendment to a previous motion, That in all future appointments of officials employed by the Corporation, where the salary does not exceed £200 per annum—all other things being equal —the appointments be confined to residents in the Town of Cardiff or within a radius of eight miles of the Town—the Waterworks Committee excepted.
It having within the last few days been asked in Finance Committee by what right the Marquess of Bute claims the annual payment of £5. 13s. 7½d. from the Cardiff Corporation, I have to lay before the Chairman and Members of the Records Committee of the Town Council a statement of the historical facts involved in the question.
In the first place I will remind the Committee that not only is this a very ancient payment, but that the question as to its obligatoriness has been raised by the Corporation several times within the last hundred years, as may be seen by the Minutes of Council. And inasmuch as those Minutes do not record anything beyond the referring of the matter to the Town Clerk for the time being for investigation, it is to be presumed that the difficulty was not found capable of solution in a sense favourable to the wishes of the Corporation.
This annual payment is, as I shall show, in the nature of a feefarm rent, or chief-rent, i.e. a payment made to the Lords of Glamorgan, from whom the Vill of Cardiff originally received her privileges, franchises and immunities.
The pair of gilded spurs to be rendered by the Burgesses to the Lord every Michaelmas, under our earliest extant Charter, that of 1338, seems to have been an ordinary rent of the land thereby granted for the erection of their "Booth Hall."
According to the Charter granted to Cardiff by Richard, Earl de Beauchamp, in 1421, the Bailiffs and Assistants of the Burgh were to take their oaths "to govern well and to collect and levy, before our Constable in our Exchequer of Cardiff, the moneys and customs thenc due to us sicut de antiquo consuevit, as was the custom from ancien times." On a comparison of this provision with my other references it is evident that we have here an allusion to the chief-rent, that i was derived from the tolls of the Town and was paid into the Lord's Exchequer by the Municipal authorities, and that it was of ancient date.
The Charter of James II. reserves to the Crown yearly such fee farms, rents &c. as were accustomed to be paid, and makes no mention of the Lord. It must be remembered that the Lordship of Glamorgan had before this date twice reverted to the Crown, and that the Lordship of Cardiff Castle and its dependencies was now held in capite of the Crown by the Earl of Pembroke.
The boundaries between the respective rights, privileges and authorities of the Crown and the Lords of Glamorgan had been from the earliest times very vague and indefinite; but it is certain that, on the grant of the Lordship by King Edward VI. to the Earl of Pembroke, the dignity of the new possession was curtailed of much of its ancient power. This diminution of the old feudal authority of the Lord was made plain and evident in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. by the pleadings and verdict in the celebrated Action brought by the Earl against one of the burgesses, when it was shewn that he (the Earl) was not Lord of the soil of the Borough of Cardiff, nor of a Manor of Cardiff. (fn. 1)
That verdict might have been expected to affect the Earl of Pembroke's position as the representative in title of the Norman Barons whose politic generosity first created the Municipality of Cardiff, and consequently to affect the immemorial payment of the chief-rent. However, in 1666, in an Inquisitio held at Cardiff on the Earl's decease, the Jurors declared as follows:—
"For the privileges and liberties held by this Towne Corporate they say that yesd Corporac'on of Cardiff have held and ought to hold the same in fee farm for ever according to their Charters and auntient
customs, paying therefore yearly to ye Lord & his L'dship's Auditor after Michaelmas ye som[m]e of Five pounds thirteen shillings and seven pence half-penny, for which the Baylifes of ye sd Towne for ye time being do every yeare respectively account."
It is not clear why the chief-rent, which in 1350 was stated at a hundred shillings, should in 1666 be £5. 13s. 7½d. as it still is. I imagine the sum was originally 34 marks, i.e. £5. 13s. 4d.; and that 34 marks, at the same date, was equal to 100 shillings of the money of that period. A mark is said to equal 3s. 4d. of our present coinage; but it must be remembered that a penny of early mediæval money was equivalent to about a shilling of these days. On the whole, then, the manifold fluctuations in the value of money, and the alteration of the coinage, are sufficient to account for the discrepancy.
We now come to the Charter of King James II., granted in 1687. This differs in a very remarkable manner from that of King James I., in providing an express reservation of the rights of the Earl of Pembroke. The clause runs thus:—
"Saving always and to the aforesaid Thomas Earl of Pembroke and also to the Lady Charlotte Herbert daughter and heir of Philip late Earl of Pembroke deceased their heirs and assigns reserved All such the like the same and similar rents rights powers customs and privileges whatsoever as and which the predecessors of the aforesaid Thomas Earl of Pembroke and the Lady Charlotte Herbert at any time have used and enjoyed within the Town aforesaid or the limits or precints thereof."
This clause is so liberal in its wording—reserving, as it does, to the Earl of Pembroke and his successors all rents &c. which his predecessors at any time had enjoyed—that it certainly discounts the effect of the silence of the first Jame's Charter in this respect; but it is doubtful whether this Charter was ever received by the Town.
The Lord's Rentals, as cited in Mr. Serjeant Talfourd's Brief in Williams v. Corporation of Cardiff, 1834, show that the same sum was paid in the years 1730, 1746, 1758, 1759, 1760 and 1799. And to revert to the Common Attorneys' Accounts, we have these further entries:—
No further record in relation to this Order appears, so that it is probable Lord Bute's Solicitor satisfied the Council of his right to levy the payment; and in 1835 we find the same payment again recorded:—
In 1837 the general question of the tolls was brought prominently forward by an Action at law, in which the Corporation was Defendant. David Evans, Constable, demanded toll of a waggon-load of grain brought into the town by Christopher Williams, and, on being refused, seized the toll in kind. Williams brought an Action of trespass against the Corporation, who prepared a case for the opinion of Counsel. In this case the Town Clerk submitted that the Corporation had a right to levy toll, the quid pro quo being their maintenance of an official weigher and of the Market-house and its appliances, and their immemorial payment of a fee-farm rent to the Lord for the right to levy tolls. Counsel advised that this Action should be settled, and that the right to tolls should be vindicated in a new Action, with the Corporation as Plaintiff. However, I do not find that this was done.
My opinion is that, as things stand, the annual chief-rent of £5. 13s. 7½d. is perfectly legal, and that the abundant evidence of its immemorial exaction by the Lord, and payment by the Burgesses, precludes the Corporation from successfully resisting the demand in any ordinary Action at law for customary rent due.
There is, however, a deeper question underlying this. It appears to me that the first payment of this rent to the Earl of Pembroke, after the Lordship had been granted to him by King Edward VI., was illegal. The chief-rent was an incident of the original feudal supremacy of the Lords of Glamorgan and Morganwg; but when once their anomalous jurisdiction had vested in the Sovereign, by the extinction of the ancient baronial house, such a rent-charge as this became the right of the Crown. For it to have been legally continued as a right of the new grantee of the Lordship, it should have been expressly given to him by the Crown. I have not yet seen the full Particulars of Edward the Sixth's grant—they are at the Record Office—but I do not believe they comprise a new grant of the chief-rent which had been anciently payable to the Lords out of the tolls of the Vill of Cardiff. If I am correct, it would perhaps be open to the Corporation to dispute the claim to this annual payment, on the ground solely that it had been demanded and rendered for the past three centuries under a mistake as to the facts—for no lapse of time is a bar to the rights of the Crown. No doubt also it would be an easy matter to induce the Crown to forego its claim to the payment. But to contest the matter with the Managers of the Bute Estate would be to embark upon legal proceedings of the most formidable kind.
In accordance with your instructions, I went to the London Record Office with the object of inspecting the Patent Roll of the Grant made by King Edward VI. to Sir William Herbert (afterwards Earl of Pembroke), Lord Bute's predecessor in title, on 7 May 1550.
On going through the Indices at the Search Room, I found that many grants of lands, revenues, offices and distinctions were made to Sir William Herbert about that time, as he was a person greatly in favour at the Court.
I went through the Patent Rolls of that period, but, to my surprise and disappointment, found no grant of lands at Cardiff, though I came across the Particulars for the same. The Particulars are a collection of documents setting forth in detail the precise properties which are to be granted, drawn up on behalf of, and signed by, the intending grantee. Mr. E. Salisbury, the courteous Official in charge of the Search Room, most kindly helped me in my search for the Patent, and expressed great surprise that it was apparently not to be found. He suggested that I should return the following day and examine a class of documents called Ministers' Accounts, among which it was just possible the grant might be, under another form. Meanwhile I carefully copied the Particulars for the grant, so far as they relate to possessions in and around Cardiff. On leaving the Record Office in the evening, I called on your Chairman at his hotel, and told him how I had fared. Mr. Thomas then handed me that day's South Wales Daily News, the leading article of which stated that the grant in question was really made by Letters Patent; but that, on search being made for the Counterpart at the Record Office, some years ago, it was then missing. This confirmed me in the belief that the document would not be found among the national archives.
Next day I sought for it in vain among the Ministers' Accounts of 1550, and then thought I would have one more look through the Patent Roll in which this grant ought to have been. I went therefore through the Roll again. It is some 20 yards in length and about a foot wide. At the very end of it was an immense blot or smear, as though the parchment had been daubed over with a house-painter's brush full of a dark brown pigment. On close examination, I could see writing under this smudge, and it proved to be the Patent I wanted. As the document is a long one, you will not be surprised that it took me the whole day to decipher and copy it; for, in addition to its ink bath, it is in the peculiarly difficult calligraphy of Edward the Sixth's time, and in very abbreviated Law Latin. I made a copy of so much of the grant as concerns the lands around Cardiff. It includes, beside these, possessions in other parts of Glamorgan, and in Breconshire, Monmouthshire, Radnorshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire, Staffordshire, Essex and Middlesex.
The language of this document is, if not ambiguous, provokingly oracular. Its framer did not foresee the legal questions which were so soon to arise; and therefore he did not, in such unmistakeable terms as we could wish, state "Cardiff is" or "Cardiff is not" a manor or part of a manor. But this very lack of distinctness is a point in favour of our position. Definite rights and powers must be granted by definite and precise wording. Our contention, in fact, is the contention of Morgan William, the Defendant in the great lawsuit of the Earl of Pembroke versus William, which lasted four years and was decided, in the reign of James I., adversely to the claims of the Lord over the Town. The Defendant in that Action pleaded that the Earl "hath not the said seigniory of Glamorgan and Morganwg granted unto him by the Letters Patent in the fourth year of Edward the Sixth, by any special or express words."
You have seen that these Letters Patent purport to grant certain demesnes, manors and other estates, but that they fail to specify which are manors. They grant a number of manorial rights (or rights usually associated with manors), but in general terms and without particularising which are the manors to which those rights are incident. They do not say either that Cardiff was, or was not, considered a manor or parcel of a manor. This apparently intentional vagueness may be disappointing to us, but it must be still more unsatisfactory to those persons on whom lies the burden of proving the existence of a Manor of Cardiff.
You also see that in the Particulars themselves, which are drawn up in careful detail, no such manor as a Manor of Cardiff is named, nor is it stated that Cardiff was any part of a manor. There are, it is true, certain rights or dues of a feudal nature, payable by the Town to the Lord of the Castle, such as the prisage of ale, and the farm of the tolls—in respect of which last an annual rent is paid to the Marquess of Bute—but a much greater number of such exactions would not be proof that the Town which paid them was any part of a manor. (fn. 2)
I should explain that the rents called Castle Ward were chiefrents payable by the tenants of certain manors in Glamorgan, to the Lord of Cardiff Castle as the representative of the ancient overlords of Glamorgan and Morganwg of whom such manors were originally holden. The theory was that the underlords were bound to defend Cardiff Castle, and to maintain in repair specified portions of the ramparts.
To sum up, my own view of these documents is that the Patent itself is far too vaguely worded to prove the existence of a Manor of Cardiff; and that the Particulars may be held to disprove it, from their failure to mention such a manor. Certainly neither document can avail those whose place it is to demonstrate the affirmative.
The Committee discussed the rights of the Corporation in the foreshore prior to the acquisition of portions thereof by Lord Windsor and Lord Bute, and the matter was left in the hands of the Chairman and Mr. Matthews to make inquiries and report further thereon to the next meeting.
Resolved That Mr. J. Hobson Matthews be requested to bring before this Committee such information, from the Brief he has prepared for Counsel upon the foreshore question, as will enable this Committee to form an opinion regarding the rights of the Corporation therein.
Resolved unanimously That while this (Parks) Committee disclaim any responsibility in the matter, they desire most respectfully to express their heartfelt sympathy and sincere condolence with the relatives of the late William Henry Blakemore, who was accidently drowned in Roath Park Lake on the 4th instant.
In accordance with your instructions I have examined and copied, at the London Record Office, such documents as I thought would throw light upon the question of the alleged Manor of Cardiff and the various issues which depend upon the solution of that question.
In an account of the year 1316 I discovered what will afford, I suppose, great satisfaction to some people in the Town. (fn. 3). It is a unique occurrence of the phrase "Manerium de Kaerdif"—Manor of Cardiff. Its value as a piece of evidence in favour of the manorial theory is, however, entirely negatived by the fact that it appears under the head not of Cardiff, but of Roath, shewing that it was applied to the Castle and its immediate dependencies, as an appendage of the Manor of Roath. The heading is 'ROATH,' immediately under which is the subordinate heading 'Manerium de Kaerdif.' The items of the account refer to Roath Manor and Cardiff Castle, and not to the Town, the latter being dealt with under a previous and separate heading.
Of a date early in the reign of Elizabeth I have a curious paper, headed "Articles objected against the Earl of Pembroke." It is neither dated nor signed, but is evidently a private communication sent from some gentleman in Glamorgan, to the Lord Treasurer, calling his attention to the fact that the Earl was wrongfully claiming high seignioral rights in this County—rights to which the writer was strongly of opinion the Earl had no real title. The value of this document lies in its being the earliest appearance of that long dispute about the relative rights of the Crown, the Burgesses and the Lord which, with short intervals, has continued right down to our own time. The communication was at least deemed of sufficient importance to be docketed and pigeon-holed among the State Papers.
In the year 1571 a certain Rice and others, servants of the Mansell family (by whom, probably, they were instigated), brought a suit against the Earl of Pembroke for trespass in connection with the Shire Hall of Cardiff. Here, evidently, was a test case for the purpose of trying those much-disputed seignioral rights. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the Judge's decision of the matter; but I have copied the pleadings, which are of great interest.
1601. This year died Henry, third Earl of Pembroke, and I have copied almost in full the Inquisition of his landed property. I was fortunate to find the very important particulars of his Glamorgan possessions, for the Inquisitions on the death of the first two Earls are not at the Record Office—unless they are among the uncalendared archives from Cardiff Castle, to which I shall refer later. The third Earl's Inquisition was calendared under Wiltshire, where some of his ancestral tenements lay. The Search-Room Official did not think it would comprise the lands in South Wales, though he said there would be no harm in looking. I therefore got this Inquisition, and was very pleased to find the Welsh lands fully set out in it. I consider this as valuable a find as any I have made. It lends no support to the theory of a Manor of Cardiff, still less to the Lord's exercise of manorial rights within the ancient liberties.
"The Earl of Pembroke versus Morgan William," lasted four years and was terminated in 1604. This was almost the first thing I looked for at the Record Office. The pleadings and documents therein are very lengthy; but I thought it necessary to copy the whole, in view of its importance. It seems to have been another test case for the settlement of the endless questions as to the Lord's rights in the Town. The Defendant was sued for damages for defamation of title. The victory was nicely divided between the contending parties, leaving the dispute with life enough to carry it through another couple of centuries. I hope you will set it at rest once and for all.
In 1607 I have the pleadings in a curious action for slander, brought by one branch of the Herbert family against another. I at first thought this referred to Glamorgan, but found its greatest interest lay in shewing that the Welsh language was at that time commonly spoken in the immediate vicinity of the city of Hereford.
Lastly, under date 1609, is a long bill sent to the Lord Treasurer by one Jordan, a Customs Officer at Cardiff, for expenses consequent on his being imprisoned by the Bailiffs of Cardiff for having seized to the King's use a cargo of hides which the Countess of Pembroke claimed as her escheat—another dispute arising out of the great question of the Lordship. The series of Ministers' Accounts and Inquisitions will be fairly complete when I have finished copying and translating those printed in Clark's "Cartae." Those referred to in this Report (with one exception) are, I think, not comprised in the "Cartae."
Apropos of Mr. Clark's admirable work, I ought to mention that I have found some inaccuracies in his copying of our Municipal Charters. In particular he has erred so far, and in such an important point, as to completely mistranslate the wording of the ancient liberties of the town, as defined in the Charter of 1430. The reason Mr. Clark's editor fell into that mistake evidently is, that he had preconceived the idea that the liberties must be within the walls, whereas, in fact, they extended far beyond them. He therefore translates in parte boreali ("towards the north") as if it were in porta boreali ("at the North Gate"), and so on with the three other gates. (fn. 4) In the fact that the burgesses' liberties extended beyond the walls lies the strength of our position against more than one line of legal attack.
On the whole, after reading the documents I have found in London, I feel more satisfied than ever in my own mind, not only of the comparatively insignificant fact that there is no such manor as a Manor of Cardiff, but of the more important one that the liberties of our Borough cannot rightly be affected by any claim on the part of the representatives in title of Sir William Herbert, the successful courtier of Edward and Elizabeth.
On enquiry at the Record Office I learned that the records of the old Chancery and Exchequer of Glamorgan, which were sent up from Cardiff some thirty years ago, are still uncalendared, though placed in some kind of order for searching. These documents must be a mine of wealth for anyone desiring information on the past history of the Town and Lordship, and would, probably, tell us more of what we want to know than any other records in existence. But their uncatalogued state would make the work one requiring more than an ordinary amount of patience.
Police-Constables Walter Canning and Edward Townsend are dismissed the Force, they having been committed for trial on a charge of stealing a belly of bacon, value 11s. 6d., from the shop of Mr. Guy, 43 Salisbury Road.
General Purposes Committee Resolved unanimously That this Meeting of the Town Council of Cardiff desire to express extreme sorrow at the untimely death of His Majesty the Czar of Russia, and to put on record their sympathy and condolence with the Russian Court and nation in their great and irreparable loss; and that a copy of this Resolution be forwarded to the Russian Consul at Cardiff.
New Councillors elected:—W. Evans, Central Ward; T. Morel, South Ward; H. White, Cathays Ward; E. Beavan, Park Ward; J. Munn, Adamsdown Ward; F. J. Beavan, Riverside Ward; George David, Roath Ward; J. Comley, Splott Ward.