Selections from Archivist's Reports. (fn. 1)
The City of Llandaff.
AFTER a careful examination of the new edition of the
Liber Landavensis, (fn. 2) I am of opinion that there
have never been any boundaries of the City of
Llandaff, as distinct from the Parish of Llandaff.
No mention of any such boundaries is to be met with in the
variously-dated records contained in that book; and it is
incredible that this would be the case, had such boundaries ever
One of the earliest documents in Lib. Landav. recites how Meuric,
King of Morganwg, granted to the Church of Teilo (i.e., to this diocese)
his country-seat of Llandaff—"podum suum de Lann tam"—and the
territory thereof, "with these boundaries: From Henriu gunua to riu
finion, and from gungleis to the sea, the whole within the taf and the
elei, with the fish," &c. Then follows a grant of various lands within
the whole "parish" (i.e., diocese) of Llandaff. The record goes on to
relate that "After these things the king rose, and perambulated the
whole territory," &c., with the accompaniment of a certain solemn
ceremonial intended to define for all time the precise limits of the
"territory" thus granted to the See of Llandaff. The area of this
"territory," as above defined, appears to have been practically
identical with the old ecclesiastical Parish of Llandaff.
In later ages, the various Papal Bulls set forth in Lib. Landav.,
in defining and confirming the possessions of the See of Llandaff,
invariably speak of the "Territory" (meaning the Parish) and the
"Parish" (meaning the Diocese) of Llandaff—"Landaviam cum
territorio suo, et parochia scilicet Cantrebachan," &c.—naming distant
localities within the Diocese; but none of these records define the
limits of the actual Town or City of Llandaff.
This is not because the episcopal City was not then a place of
importance; for others of the documents duly mention that Llandaff
contained, by the grant of the Welsh Princes, a market, a mint,
Episcopal Courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction, and even the
privileges of a maritime Port. In view of the importance of Llandaff
at that time, as evidenced by these public institutions, it is very
significant that no boundaries should have been assigned to the City
proper; and this in fact points strongly to the conclusion that the City
was the whole "territory" granted to Saint Teilo by King Meuric—
i.e., the Parish of Llandaff, as it existed prior to the 1875 extension of
At a later date the immediate possessions of the Bishop of
Llandaff assumed the character of a feudal Manor of Llandaff, with
an episcopal mansion at Llandaff Castle, a stronghold of the
Edwardian period. The "territory," moreover, extended further east
than the Taff, since it included a piece of pasture land on the left bank
of the river, at Cardiff.
The only sort of boundary which the Town of Llandaff could
have had would have been walls. But walls were military defences
erected to safeguard municipalities, such as the Burgh of Cardiff. They
were probably not considered necessary for the defence of a cathedral
and its adjuncts, regarded by all Christendom as sacred. Such a
sacred place was Llandaff, in the eyes of the people of the Middle
Ages—a cathedral church surrounded by buildings of an ecclesiastical
character, which to attack would have been sacrilege.
I therefore conclude that the City of Llandaff is nothing more nor
less than the "territorium" granted to the Bishop by ancient Welsh
Princes, and that this area is co-terminous with the old Parish of
J. H. M.
The claim of Cardiff to be the Capital of Wales.
It has been remarked that there is no capital of Wales, and in a
certain sense this is true. The capitals of England, Scotland, Ireland,
France and other countries, are the towns which from ancient times
have been the seats of the executive and administrative power in the
State; and such are London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris &c. Each of
the above countries either is, or anciently was, governed by its own
Sovereign, or by its own Parliament, or by both together; and the
capital town was that in which the Sovereign had his Court, or the
Parliament its house of assembly. In this political sense, Wales has
no capital, and cannot be said to have ever had one. Only for brief
periods, and at very long intervals, was Wales ruled by one Prince of
her own; and even then they were not always of the same dynasty,
nor did they reside at one and the same hereditary seat of government.
Those acquainted with public opinion in the Principality are well
aware, however, that for some years past there has existed among
Welshmen a growing desire to see their national aspirations crowned
by the creation of a metropolis for Wales; nor can it be doubted that
the present trend of our political ideas favours the importance
of subordinate national capitals. The difficulty begins when the
question is asked: Which town has the best claim to be considered,
or made, the capital of Wales? It may be assumed at the outset, that
the choice practically lies between Aberystwyth, Swansea and Cardiff;
and, inasmuch as the claim of Aberystwyth rests mainly on her being
situate close to the border-line of North and South Wales, the claims
of Swansea and Cardiff are the only ones which need be considered
Glamorgan has long been acknowledged as the premier county of
the Principality, a recognition conceded to this shire by virtue of its
greater population, wealth and political importance. In 1891
Glamorgan contained nearly half of the inhabitants of Wales,
and its trade is immeasurably greater than that of all the other
Welsh counties together. If we except Monmouthshire, Glamorgan
was the first province of Cambria which was permanently annexed to
the English Crown; and to this day it contains the remains of a
greater number of feudal military castles than any similar division of
Great Britain. The larger portion of Glamorgan formed a territory
which was successively held by the greatest barons of the realm, such
as De Clare, Despenser, Beauchamp, Neville, and Jasper Tudor.
From the latter's death in the year 1497, until 1551, it was in the
hands of the Kings of England as Lords of Glamorgan and Morganwg,
and was then granted to Sir William Herbert, uncle of Edward VI.,
afterwards created Earl of Pembroke. The Herberts of this line held
nearly the whole of the same territory, as the Lordship of Cardiff
Castle and its dependencies, down to 1733; and the major part of the
last-named Lordship is now in the hands of the Most Noble the
Marquess of Bute, Earl of Dumfries, Baron Cardiff of Cardiff Castle,
&c., as descendant of Sir William Herbert in a female line.
It must be understood, however, that Swansea formed no part of
the Honour or Lordship of Glamorgan and Morganwg, being a town
within the Territory of Gower, the outlying western portion of the
present County of Glamorgan, and so belonging to the Lord of Gower,
who is His Grace the Duke of Beaufort, the representative of
another line of the great Herbert clan. Gower was not anciently part
of Glamorgan, and to this day is not within the diocese of Llandaff,
but in that of Saint David's, like Carmarthenshire.
One consideration which weighs against Swansea's claim, is that
she is situate in a territory which is not Welsh, but English. Gower is
peopled by an almost purely Teutonic and English-speaking race, akin
to the inhabitants of the portion of Pembrokeshire known as "Little
England beyond Wales." The population of English Pembrokeshire
and Gower are commonly supposed to be the descendents of Flemings
settled in those regions by the Norman conquerors of South Wales,
but it is more probable they are mainly immigrants from the opposite
coasts of Somersetshire and Devonshire. At all events they are not
Welsh, and Welshmen could hardly be satisfied to receive as their
metropolis a town which has no direct associations with the Celtic
British race, but which, on the contrary, is portion of a Teutonic
The claim of Cardiff to be the chief town of Wales rests upon
her actual position as the capital of the most important county in the
Principality. Cardiff has been the capital of Glamorgan as long as
this shire has been in existence. Even before the creation of the
Welsh counties by Henry VIII. she was the administrative capital of
the ancient province and palatine lordship of Glamorgan, and as such
had her Sheriff's Court of the Comitatus, her Exchequer and her
Chancery, in which Courts trial was held of all actions, both civil and
criminal, before the officers of the Lord, subject only in rare cases to
the over-ruling of the King's Courts at Westminster.
In respect of commerce, Cardiff was from ancient times the chief
port of South Wales, if not, indeed, of all Wales. Evidence of her
mediæval importance in this regard may be seen even in such a work as
Malory's version of the "Gestes of King Arthur," printed by Caxton,
where the Knights of the Round Table are represented as taking ship
at Cardiff, on leaving Britain. That Cardiff was in early times a
Staple town is shewn by the fact that Edward III. ordered the Staple
of wool to be moved from Cardiff to Carmarthen, on the ground that
Cardiff, as head of the Lordship of Glamorgan and Morganwg, was
not a "King's town." (Printed Calendar of Patent Rolls, Rolls
Series.) (fn. 3) From ancient muniments preserved at the Cardiff Custom
House, reciting documents which probably remain among the national
archives, it appears that Cardiff was originally the Head Port on the
coast of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, from the mouth of the Wye
westward to Wormshead (the Mumbles), and that the other havens on
this coast were only Creeks in the Port of Cardiff. Further, that
on 31 December 1685 a Royal Commission expressly declared
Chepstow, Penarth, Newport, Barry, Sully and Aberthaw to be within
the Head Port of Cardiff, and raised Swansea, from being only a
Creek, to the rank of a Member of the Port of Cardiff. The same
Commission supplies striking proof of the superior commercial status
of Cardiff over Swansea, by finding that the quay of Cardiff belonged
to the Town of Cardiff, but that the quay of Swansea belonged to
the Duke of Beaufort. (Cardiff Custom House Order Book, 8 July
1714, citing Commission of Easter Term, 2 Jac. II.) (fn. 4)
Among the Phillips MSS. recently purchased by the Free
Library Committee of the Cardiff Corporation there is preserved a
Latin paper roll of the early 17th century (No. 26464) headed: "The
Great Baronies of Wales, with their members, and the Manors subject
to them." The portion relating to South Wales commences with
Glamorgan, which is described as a Lordship consisting of "The
Castle and Town of Cardiff, chief of the Barony," and the castles and
towns of Cowbridge, Neath, Llantrisant, Kenfig and Aberavon, which
last are said to be "All borough towns and members of the Lordship
of Glamorgan." Then follows a list of seventy manors and towns,
over the major portion of Glamorgan, from Roath to Neath, some
of which are "All several Manors and parcel and members of Glamorgan and the Lordship of Cardiff," while the rest are "Several Manors
held of the Castle of Cardiff as chief of Glamorgan."
Speed, writing his "Description of Britain," also early in the 17th
century, calls Cardiff "the fairest town of all South Wales," and, "the
chief town of all South Wales."
There are in existence three early Guides and Directories of
Cardiff, but they are exceedingly scarce. The first was printed 1796
and speaks of Cardiff as "The county town of Glamorgan." The
second, dated 1813, adds "This town has been for ages the residence
of princes, the seat of government and judicature." The third, of 1829,
says "Cardiff, the county town of Glamorgan, is considered the fairest
town in all South Wales."
All available records, in fact, point to Cardiff as the chief town of
the most important county in the Principality, from ancient times to
the present—a position which gives her a strong claim to be the
capital of Wales.
One other consideration deserves to be borne in mind, namely,
that Cardiff is closely connected with Llandaff, the ecclesiastical
metropolis of South Wales, and the cathedral city of the premier
episcopal see in the British Isles (in point of history). According to
the earliest extant Welsh chronicles and triads, the Christian Faith
was first preached to the Britons A.D. 170, by Saint Ffagan and
his two companions, missionaries sent from Rome (fn. 5) by Pope Saint
Eleutherius, (fn. 6) at the request of "King" Lleurwg, or Lucius. (fn. 7) Lleurwg
appears to have been the native chieftain (tributary regulus under the
Romans) of that portion of Britain whereof Caerleon was the seat of
government; and which, though forming part of the ancient Siluria,
was known in early mediæval times as Morganwg. It was not until
the latter half of the fifth century that bishoprics in Britain became
dioceses with definite territorial boundaries and fixed sees or cathedræ.
In this more modern sense Saint Dyfrig was the first Bishop of
Llandaff, and Saint Teilo (who died 512) the second; but, if the most
venerable Welsh traditions are to be credited, (and in this respect they
are not contradicted by the known facts of history), Saint Ffagan was
a bishop of the archaic type, having the episcopal oversight over the
native Britons of Morganwg—just as the Bishop of Caerleon presided
over the Christians of Roman or semi-Roman origin within the same
or perhaps a wider area. Four extremely ancient churches uniquely
dedicated in the names of Saint Ffagan and his three companions are
found within a small radius from Llandaff; and that this district was,
from the age of the first apostles of Britain, the chief episcopal province
of Wales, there is no good reason to doubt. Therefore the Welsh are
justified in regarding Llandaff as the most ancient bishopric in Britain,
and the town of Cardiff claims the honour of a close connection with
the venerable city. The old parishes of Saint Mary and Saint John,
Cardiff, immediately adjoin the parish of Llandaff; and the marvellous
growth of the giant seaport is such that Cardiff is rapidly absorbing
Llandaff. At the time of writing these memoranda (January 1897),
the two are connected by a chain of dwelling-houses, and their full
union is only a question of a couple of years. (fn. 8) That is to say, in a
very short time Cardiff, the greatest commercial town in Wales, will
be one with Llandaff, the most ancient cathedral city. Here is surely
a material argument in favour of Cardiff's aspiration to be the Welsh
But in her appeal to history and antiquity, Cardiff may point to
her continuous existence from times yet more remote. The learned
head of Jesus College, Oxford, Principal John Rhŷs, M.A., (who is
the first holder of the Chair of Celtic in that University, and admittedly
the highest authority on remote British history and Welsh linguistics)
agrees with other historians in identifying the Ratostabios of Ptolemy's
Itinerary with the Roman Castle of Cardiff, and in equating its name
with the British Rhath-Taf, "the fort on the Taff." (See Principal
Rhŷs' correspondence hereon with the present writer, published in the
Western Mail of October 1894.) The historical and topographical
evidence for this view is so cogent, that it is not disputed by any
writer, though it would be out of place to swell these memoranda with
the archæological details upon which the view is founded. Cardiff,
then, under an older name, was the all but prehistoric capital of
Siluria, the home of that indomitable race of pre-Aryan warriors which
offered such obstinate resistance to the Roman arms. That Cardiff
under the Emperors was an important Roman station on the Via Julia,
its rectangular castrum guarding the ford across the Taff, has long
been verified as a historical fact, and attested by actual Roman remains.
We have it, then, that Cardiff is not only inseparably linked with the
most ancient British cathedral city, but that she herself has been a
town of importance for a couple of thousand years. This antiquity
invests Cardiff with a mantle of historic dignity which, like her
commercial distinction, marks her as the unquestionable premier of
all the towns in Wales. If other Welsh towns cannot challenge
Cardiff's superiority in the matter of population, prosperity and
commercial enterprise, so neither can they impugn the title-deeds
which declare her to be their senior in age and historical renown.
Cardiff the ancient has seen the birth of all her rivals, and the decay
of not a few; Cardiff the modern, vigorous still and rejuvenescent,
outstrips them all in the march of progress. No other town but
Cardiff is a possible capital of Wales.
John Hobson Matthews.
Cardiff. 4 September 1900.
In reply to your interesting letter of yesterday's date, it is as
impossible to assign a date to the inclusion of the Flat Holm within
the parish of Saint Mary, Cardiff, as to name the precise period when
that parish was originally formed. This was probably done shortly before
the Norman Conquest of Glamorgan, and there is no reason to doubt
that the Flat Holm was included from the first. According to the Perambulation of 1373, Bristol at that time claimed no portion of the island
as being within her jurisdiction. The Marquess of Bute holds the soil
of the Flat Holm by the same title as the rest of his Lordship of
Cardiff Castle and its dependencies. The Particulars, dated 10 April
1550, for the Crown Grant of this Lordship to Sir William Herbert,
Lord Bute's predecessor in title, include "the farm and profit of
the conies of fflate holmes" under the heading "Town of Cardiff."
(Cardiff Records, Vol. I., p. 461.) There can be no doubt that the Flat
Holm anciently, and from time immemorial, was a portion of the
Lordship of Glamorgan, of which Cardiff was the capital. In 1492
the Minister of the then Lord, Jasper, Duke of Bedford, accounted,
under the heading "Farm and issues of the burgages" (of Cardiff
Burgh). for "10s. farm of the rabbit-warren of the fflatholmes."
(Cardiff Records, Vol. I., p. 175). The right of taking "conies on the
Flat Holm" was a hereditament which long remained in the hands of
the Lord himself, as part of his demesne of Cardiff Castle.
In 1814, when Rothley & Co. were tenants of the Flat Holm,
the island was rated as part of the parish of Saint Mary, Cardiff,
according to the earliest extant Rate Book. It is a matter of local
tradition that the Vicar of Saint Mary's in times past visited the island
in person and collected his tithe there.
The Act 2 & 3 W. IV., cap. 64, schedule M, names the Flat
Holmes as an isolated part in the Bristol Channel belonging to the
county of Glamorgan, and declares that the island is to be annexed
to Glamorganshire for Parliamentary purposes.
The Schedule to the Cardiff Improvement Act 1875 has these
words :—" Cardiff South Ward. The district bounded on the North
by the West Ward and comprising the Great Western Railway and the
portion of the borough lying South of same including the island of
the Flat Holmes. The boundary of this ward is coloured red on the
The first extract from William of Worcester's Itinerary, which
you kindly send me, evidently refers to the Flat Holm, though I do
not understand the allusion to the Towey. The figures 100, in
reference to the population, are perhaps a mistake for 10. The distance
from Lavernock Point (low-water mark) to about the centre of Flat
Holm Island, is 2 miles and 5 furlongs.
The Flat Holm has been from time immemorial accounted part of
the Borough of Cardiff. The occasion of its becoming so would be
vainly sought for among extant records, but the early history of the
island serves to explain the matter to some extent. Long before the
Norman conquest of Glamorgan, the Flat Holm was a favorite resort
of such noted luminaries of the British Church as Saint Cadoc and
Saint Illtyd. It was there that Saint Cadoc of Llancarfan used to pass
the season of Lent with his monastic brethren. (Camb. Brit. SS.,
pp. 45, 336.) The venerable religious traditions which clustered
round the Holms were doubtless the reason why the Flat Holm was
included in in the parish of Saint Mary, the spiritualities and
temporalities whereof the Norman Lords of Glamorgan obtained for
their favourite Abbey of Tewkesbury. Two of the murderers of
Saint Thomas a Beckett were buried on the Holms, and the full dedication of Saint Mary's church in Norman times was "Saint Mary the
Virgin and Saint Thomas the Martyr."
All these facts are insignificant in themselves, but taken together
they show the long and intimate connection of the Flat Holm with the
Borough of Cardiff. (fn. 9)
The Corporation's Right to Levy Harbour Dues.
In the time when the Marcher Lordship of Glamorgan and
Morganwg (including the Vill of Cardiff) was under the unrestricted
dominion of the Norman Fitz-Hamo's successors in title, the
payments made in respect of merchandise shipped or landed at Cardiff
was a source of income to the Lord, and to him alone. In 1316,
when the Lordship was in the King's wardship, owing to the minority
of the Lord, the official Custodian accounted to the Crown "for 7s. 2d.
of the tolls of the sea landing-place"; and, among the "Issues of the
Vill," he accounted for "2s. 5d. received of the toll of timber sold in
the port of Kaerdif," for the preceding year. As a matter of course, it
was then the Lord who bore the entire expense of maintaining the
navigation and the quay, near the mouth of the river Taff.
In 1340 the Lord granted to the free Norman and English
burghers of Cardiff (probably for a heavy money payment) a Charter
of public privileges, among which was freedom from the liability to
pay tolls in general, within the Liberties; and in particular freedom
from quayage, i.e., from the toll which had theretofore been payable to
the Lord for every vessel of a burgess lading or unlading within the
Burgh of Cardiff. This Charter goes on to grant that no merchandise
coming to or passing through the Town, whether by land or water,
shall be sold at or removed from Cardiff, until it has been shewn, first
to the Constable of the Castle, and then to the Prevosts of the Town.
The Constable and the Prevosts were alike officers of the Lord; but
the Prevosts were more especially set over and connected with the
freemen of the Town, and their position gradually, in the course of
subsequent centuries, developed into that of the two annually-elected
Bailiffs—the senior Bailiff, since the Municipal Reform of 1835, having
become the Mayor. It must therefore be understood these two
"demonstrations" of the merchandise, to the Constable and Prevosts
respectively, meant that the goods in question paid toll first to the
Lord, and then to the Burgesses. In this Charter, then, we have the
first mention of the Burgesses' right to take toll of goods shipped or
unshipped within the Borough of Cardiff.
Eighteen years later, in 1358, we find the Lord of Glamorgan
again granting to the free burghers of his vill of Cardiff a cartulary
confirmation of the franchises of 1340. These two Charters are
peculiarly valuable in that they define the geographical limits of the
Burgesses' Liberties, which are therein stated to extend from a place
near Llystalybont to the broad stream in the sea, and from Longcross
to the cross near the Dominican Convent. As regards the river and
marine boundary of these liberties on the west and south, there is
little difficulty in identifying them to-day. The foundations of the
Dominican Convent lie close to the east bank of the Taff, a little
above Cardiff Bridge, between the river and the Castle; the "broad
stream" can only mean the confluence of the rivers Taff and Ely, well
out in Cardiff Bay; and a line drawn from Longcross to the Severn
shore runs along the ancient and present eastern confines of the
Parish of Saint John Baptist, and so includes within the Liberties the
greater part of the modern Docks constructed by the Marquess of
Bute or the Cardiff Railway Company. Indeed, from time immemorial it has been assumed, and never disputed, that the outer
boundary of the adjacent parishes of Saint John Baptist and Saint
Mary encloses the original area of the Borough Liberties as laid down
by this Charter. Within this area must be reckoned a considerable
extent of land and foreshore on the western side of the Taff, included
in both parishes.
In 1581 and 1600 the foregoing Charters were confirmed by
Queen Elizabeth. In 1608 they were ratified by King James I., and
by King James II. on 21 February 1687/8.
In 1349 the "Tolls of the Town and of the seas" at Cardiff were
stated to be worth yearly 100s. (Ministers' Accounts.)
The earliest specific mention of a quay at Cardiff that has hitherto
been met with occurs in a Minister's Account of 1550, which states
that William Bonar was the tenant of a burgage "in le key de Cardiff,"
and that Morgan Mathew held a burgage at "le key." It is probable
that this quay was the one situate at the bottom of Quay Street until
the diversion of the Taff in 1845.
In 1551 Edward VI. granted to Sir William Herbert a large
territory in the Counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth, including
Cardiff, Roath, Leckwith and Griffithmore; but it is not apparent how
the vague and general wording of this grant can have conferred on
Sir William Herbert a title to the exercise of manorial lordship rights
within the Liberties of Cardiff Borough—except, perhaps, the appointment of officers elected by the Burgesses, and the exaction of the
fee-farm rent. The Letters Patent, it is true, contain a long string of
common-form words, such as "all and singular waters, mills, pastures,
fisheries, moors, marshes, wastes, tolls, rights, jurisdictions, franchises,
profits and hereditaments in Roath, Leckwith, Cibwr, Cardiff," &c.,
but neither the Letters, nor even the Particulars for the same, contain
any allusion to wreck, nor any express mention of the tolls of the
quay or harbour.
The question then, is, did Sir William Herbert, Lord Bute's
predecessor in title, receive from the Crown, by the Letters Patent
of 1551, a grant of toll to be paid to him by vessels entering the Port
of Cardiff? There appears to be no evidence that Herbert did receive
such a grant of toll; and there is nothing to show that any of his
successors did so, until the time of the first Marquess of Bute, whom
an Act of Parliament allowed to receive Dock dues.
In the 17th century it was found that masters of vessels, on
coming into a port, frequently landed their cargoes at some secluded
spot within the haven, and so evaded the harbour dues. To prevent
this the legislature provided that in each port there should be set
apart one exclusive landing-place for landing and shipping goods, and
that it should be penal to take on board or put ashore cargo at any
other spot. Under this enactment, Exchequer Commissioners visited
the Port of Cardiff in 1686, and assigned "All that open place called
the Common Quay of the Town of Cardiff, and of right belonging to
the said Town," and did "utterly prohibit and debar all other places
within the said Port of Cardiff from being used for the lading and
unlading of merchandise." It will be understood that, from the
circumstances which gave rise to the above provision of the legislature, the gist of the new regulations was that the proper toll should
be paid by vessels to the authority to whom such payment was due—
being in this case the Town of Cardiff, as appears by the wording of
the above document. (fn. 10)
It is almost certain that the annual quit-rent of £5. 13s. 7½d. paid
immemorially by the Burgesses of Cardiff to the Lord of the Castle,
is payable out of the tolls of the Town, and that it was originally
demanded and allowed as the consideration for the Burgesses' receipt
of the tolls. It is easy to trace the identity of this annual payment
with the hundred shillings which in 1349 was stated to be the yearly
value of the " Tolls of the Town and of the seas." (fn. 11) In view of this
payment by the Burgesses to the Lord of Cardiff Castle, there can be
no doubt that the Corporation are the authority entitled to the tolls of
Cardiff Borough, by sea as well as by land.
In 1759 the Town Council passed a Resolution whereby, after
rehearsing that the quay was in such bad repair that the quay dues
had for several years been neglected to be raised, they directed that
the Common Attorneys should repair the quay out of the Corporation
funds; also that proper officers should be appointed to raise "the
duties anciently due" and to preserve the navigation of the river. (fn. 12)
A Resolution passed by the Council in 1762, after reciting that
"the Town of Cardiff hath been time immemorial an antient Port
Town, having had a proper antient Quay . . . . in consideration whereof divers antient fees and dues have from time to time been
immemorially paid as quayage and received by the Water Bailiff for
the time being to the use of the Bailiffs, Aldermen and Burgesses,"
and that the Corporation had repaired the quay: Ordered that the
Bailiffs should appoint a Water Bailiff to collect the "dues and duties
arising from the said quayage according to the ancient customs of the
said Town, as also to preserve the said quay and navigation of the
said river according to the laws and statutes made for the preservation of Navigable Rivers." (fn. 13)
There is no reason to doubt that the preambles to the above two
Resolutions are correct in reciting that the Burgesses' right to collect
the quay dues and to appoint an officer for the regulation of the
navigation in the river is an ancient and immemorial right; and there
is evidence that, from that time to the present, those dues have been
collected and those duties fulfilled by the Corporation.
The Corporation's claim to port dues was recognised by the
Glamorganshire Canal Act of 1790, which extended that right over
the prospected Canal Basin. (fn. 14)
Lord Bute's Act of 1830 empowered him to lay down buoys at
the mouth of the river Taff, to point out the channel leading to his ship
canal; but the Corporation had been accustomed to maintain buoys in
the Taff estuary since 1817 at least—as may be seen from entries in
the Common Attorneys' Accounts. (fn. 15)
The fact that, down to the Municipal Reform of 1835, the Water
Bailiff was appointed by the Constable of the Castle is a strong argument in favour of the antiquity of the Water Bailiff's office. It must
be borne in mind that the Constable of the Castle was anciently the
chief governor of the Borough and was, in fact, styled the Mayor of
the Town. There is a record of the names of the Water Bailiffs back
It may be seen from a Resolution of the Council of 5 September
1859, (fn. 16) that the Corporation then claimed to be entitled to dues from
vessels entering the Ely harbour; but there is nothing to show the
subsequent history of this claim.
The Cardiff Corporation Act of 1884 (sec. 86) empowers the
Corporation to borrow money on their harbour rates and tonnage
In replying to a letter of the Town Clerk on 4 May 1887 the
Board of Trade wrote that no grant which they might make of the
Grangetown foreshore to Lord Windsor could affect any rights
possessed by the Corporation of levying tolls on vessels entering the
Port of Cardiff.
The following ancient dues are annually accounted for, by the
Collector of Customs for the time being of the Port of Cardiff, to the
|Every vessel above 60 tons||—||5s.||0d.
|" " below " "||—||2s.||6d.
|Slates per 1000||—||—||3d.
|(An additional charge of 20 %, i.e., 3s. per 10,000 slates)||—||—||—
The above dues are payable both at the Canal mouth and in the Bute
Docks, but are not collected at Penarth nor Barry. The moneys so
collected are paid into the Borough Fund. The above charge on
slates and millstones is in addition to the 2s. 6d. and 5s. dues on
vessels entering the port.
It is highly probable that the "Town Dues," as they are called,
were anciently levied on many other classes of goods, including timber,
and that the practice of demanding such other dues has fallen into
disuse through the want of written tariffs and through the frequent
changes in the personnel of the Customs officials—outgoing officers
neglecting to inform their successors of the dues which had been
The Corporation's right to harbour dues is secured by Charter
It is granted by the Lord Hugh Le Despenser 1340, confirmed by
The Lord Edward Le Despenser 1358, confirmed by
The Lord Thomas Le Despenser 1397, confirmed by
The Lady Isabel, Countess of Worcester, 1423, confirmed by
The Lord Richard Neville 1451, confirmed by
Queen Elizabeth 1581 and 1600, confirmed by
King James I. 1608, confirmed by
King James II. 1687/8.
To sum up, the right of the Corporation to levy toll upon vessels
entering their Port appears to be based upon
1. Ancient grant from the Lord of Glamorgan of the tolls of the
Burgh of Cardiff, evidenced by the Charter of 1340, confirmed by
subsequent Seignioral and Royal Charters, and evidenced also by the
quit-rent paid annually by the Corporation to the Lord out of the tolls.
2. Prescription; the Corporation having manifestly been accustomed to receive such toll and to perform the corresponding duties
from ancient times.
J. H. M.
21 January 1898.
The Chairman of the Records Committee has been
asked "whether any freehold lands originally
belonged to the Burgesses of Cardiff, and if
so, to whom they were sold, and what amount
such sale realised?"
Many freehold lands, outside as well as inside the
Town, originally belonged to the Burgesses of
Cardiff. At this moment the Corporation possess
such freeholds. At various times within the last
hundred years or more, lands have been sold and
exchanged to and with private persons, or have been dealt with in
the way of urban improvement. I assume, however, that the
question refers to properties holden by the Burgesses in fee from
ancient times, under grants from former Lords of Cardiff.
The most important of the freehold lands of the Burgesses was
the Health—the large tract of land extending from the Town northwards to Llanishen. It was divided into two portions, the Great
Heath and the Little Heath, or in Welsh Mynydd Bach and Waun
Ddyfal (fn. 17) respectively—the latter lying towards Roath, east of the
There is plenty of documentary evidence that the Heath was the
freehold of the Burgesses, who in the 17th and 18th centuries were in
receipt of rents from their tenants of various portions of that land.
In 1803, by Order of the Town Council, a sufficient part of the
Corporation lands on the Great Heath were to be sold to pay £750
(money lent and interest) to the Marquis of Bute. In the same
year it was ordered that the Corporation lands on both Heaths be sold
by auction, and the proceeds invested in Government securities.
Accordingly in that year 14a. 1r. 12p. of "Land on the Great
Heath" was contracted to be sold to Colonel James Capper, who in
turn contracted to exchange the same with Lord Bute.
In 1810 John Wood, esq., junior, purchased "the remainder of
the Heath Lands" at £12 per acre—but the Race Ground was
reserved. In the following year Mr. Wood and Mr. Henry Hollier
each purchased one half of the Race Ground at £6 per acre, subject to
certain restrictions for preserving the Races. Mr. Hollier's portion
measured 134a. 2r. 14p., and the consideration money amounted to
£1,600, but it was never paid. Mr. Hollier had possession, however,
on 10 June 1811.
This portion was afterwards recovered by an action for ejectment
at the Great Sessions; as were also a house and lands called Merry
Hill, being about 48 acres, formerly agreed to be sold Colonel Capper,
and about 15 acres more on the same Heath. These were all, in
1820, ordered to be sold to defray the Corporation's debts.
In 1822 the Merry Hill property was sold to Lord Bute for
£1,000, who in the following year bought Colonel Capper's part for
£12 per acre.
In 1835, 49a. or 16p. of land on the Little Heath, held by Lord
Bute at £91 a year, was sold to Charles Crofts Williams for £1,845,
with reservation of minerals.
In 1849 Wyndham William Lewis, esq., purchased of the
Corporation a house, garden and land on the Great Heath, containing
17a. or. 30p., another piece of land comprising 16a. 3r. 15p., let at
£73 per annum; and another of 116a. 3r. 15p., held by Lord Bute at
£52. 11s. 7d. The price paid by Mr. Lewis was £3,100.
In 1803 the Corporation sold to the Town Clerk, Mr. John Wood,
"A cottage and two small fields called Cae Pwdr and Cut-throat,"
with two more parcels of 30 acres and 12 acres on the Little Heath,
for £198. The property is stated in the Town Book to have been
sold to him in fee, as a favour, for his efforts to procure the Inclosure
Act. On this land now stands Woodville, Cathays.
In 1835 all the Corporation's property at Spring Gardens and
the Spital, Crockherbtown, consisting of sundry houses and gardens,
was sold for £1,188. 2s. 6d. to Alderman Edward Priest Richards,
who next year resigned his aldermancy and was appointed Town
In the same year the Corporation sold also to Mr. E. P.
Richards, for £160, a cottage and coal-yard on the Canal, formerly
part of the Town Wall.
In 1834 two parts of the Town Wall, known as the Cock's
Tower, which were tenanted by Charles Crofts Williams at £1. 17s. 6d.
per annum, were ordered to be sold; and in the following year the
premises were leased to him for 999 years at £1. 7s. 0d. per annum,
which rent was two years in arrear in 1843. In the latter year Miss
Wood's name occurs as the lessee, at 5s. rent, which was "not to be
received at present."
In 1835 the Corporation sold to E. P. Richards, for £40, two
houses and gardens in Barry Lane.
In 1834 the Corporation sold to Thomas Revel Guest, for £25, a
freehold piece of ground in Little Troy, close to the site of the present
Free Library. (In 1875 Sir Ivor B. Guest and others resold it to the
In 1835 the Corporation sold to E. P. Richards, for £13. 2s. 6d.,
a brewhouse and piece of land between the same and the Boring Mill,
which he had held at a yearly rent of 10s. 6d.
In 1834 the Corporation sold to Lord Bute, for £130, six cottages
and gardens, and a piece of land, at Blackweir, whereof he had been
tenant at £7 a year; and also two other cottages there, concerning
which no particulars are obtainable.
In 1835 the Corporation sold to E. P. Richards, for £375, a
house, stable, cottage, coach-house and garden at Crockherbtown, in
the occupation of Mrs. Vaughan. (fn. 18)
30 May 1901.
J. H. M.