A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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A TOPOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARYOF WALES.
Abbey Cwm Hîr
ABBEY CWM HÎR, a parish, in the union of Rhaiadr, comprising the hamlet of Cevnpawl in the hundred of Kevenlleece, and the hamlet of Gollon in the hundred of Knighton, county of Radnor, South Wales, 5 miles (N. E.) from Rhaiadr; containing 589 inhabitants. It derives its name, which signifies "the abbey in the long dingle," from the erection of a Cistercian monastery in this sequestered narrow vale. The abbey, which was dedicated to St. Mary, was founded in 1148, by Cadwallon ab Madoc, and was originally designed for sixty brethren of the Cistercian order, but never completed upon so extensive a scale. It occupied a secluded situation in a romantic valley, deeply embosomed among lofty hills and abrupt precipices, once covered with forests of oak, but now almost denuded, affording only pasturage for mountain sheep, and exhibiting some stunted trees, the roots of which have penetrated between the interstices of the slate rock which composes the substratum of these hills. In the year 1231, a friar of this house having occasioned the defeat of the garrison of Montgomery by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, by conveying to it false intelligence of the position of the latter, King Henry III., on approaching with the English army, set fire to the grange of the monastery, in revenge for the friar's treachery, and was proceeding to burn the abbey itself, when it was saved from destruction by the payment of three hundred marks by the abbot. It suffered considerable injury, in 1401, from the furious resentment of Owain Glyndwr; and the society, at the Dissolution, consisted only of three monks, the revenue being estimated at £28. 17. 4. In the 37th of Hen. VIII., the site was granted to Walter Henley and John Williams; it afterwards passed into the family of Fowler, and subsequently became the property of Thomas Wilson, Esq., who, with materials from the abbey ruins, built a small but elegant house in the Elizabethan style of architecture: the estate has been since purchased by Francis Philips, Esq., the present proprietor, who has much improved the neighbourhood.
The venerable ruins, which some years ago were rendered more conspicuous by clearing the ground, consist principally of portions of the four walls of the unfinished abbey church, inclosing a space two hundred and thirty-eight feet in length, and sixtyfour in breadth, and varying in height from four to twelve feet above the ground. The pedestals, with part of the shafts, of a range of twelve clustered pillars, of peculiar elegance, still decorate the walls; and within the area was a range of massive pillars on each side, separating the nave from the aisles: the bases of three of these are yet remaining, from which it appears that they were nearly square, with flutings for a cluster of three shafts at each angle of the pillar, with a single lateral shaft between the angles. At the east end are the remains of two doorways, which appear to have been deeply recessed, and of great beauty, with clustered shafts; and on the north-east side of this extensive building are vestiges of a similar arrangement. The ground about the ruin contains fragments of richly carved freestone, of which the ornamental parts of the building were constructed, and in many of these the details are as perfect as when first sculptured: a gravestone was lately found among the ruins, bearing an ancient inscription in rude characters, recording that a person of the name of Mabli was there buried.
The parish is bounded on the south and southwest by the parish of Nantmel, on the east and northeast by that of Llanbister, on the south-east by Llandewy, on the north-east by Llanano, and on the west by St. Harmon's. It is intersected by the road from Kington to Aberystwith. The area is 7000 acres, of which part is common or waste: the land is chiefly in pasture, and the scenery, which is diversified with portions of oak timber and plantations of fir, is picturesque and beautiful. The two hamlets of which the parish consists, and which unitedly maintain their poor, constituted, till within a recent period, the upper division of the parish of Llanbister, to which the church of Cwm Hîr was a chapel of ease; they were disunited by agreement, the inhabitants giving up their claim to occupy certain pews in the church of Llanbister, on being exonerated from contributing to its repairs. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £800 royal bounty; net income, £61; patron, Mr. Philips. The tithes have been commuted for a rentcharge of £235. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a plain edifice of moderate dimensions, containing 120 sittings: it has a small belfry at the west end, under which a gallery was erected in 1830, at the expense of Mr. Wilson, who also presented an organ; in the chancel are two mural tablets, to the memory of Sir Hans Fowler and another member of the same family. There is a place of worship for Baptists at Bwlch-y-Sarnay, in which a Sunday school is also held; and a day and Sunday school in connexion with the Church, established in 1842, is chiefly supported by Francis Aspinall Philips, Esq., son and heir of the proprietor of Abbey Hall. A tenement called the Vron, in the parish of Llanbister, is charged with the annual payment of ten shillings to the poor of this parish.
ABENBURY-VAWR, a township, in the parish and union of Wrexham, hundred of Bromfield, county of Denbigh, North Wales, 3 miles (N. N. W.) from Wrexham; containing 181 inhabitants. This township supports its own poor, according to an arrangement made in March, 1830.
ABENBURY-VECHAN, a township, in the parish and union of Wrexham, hundred of Maelor, county of Flint, North Wales, 3½ miles (n. n. w.) from Wrexham; containing 124 inhabitants. On the river Clywedog, which is here crossed by a bridge, are some iron foundries. This township is assessed separately for the support of its poor, and is the only one of the parish in the county of Flint, all the others being in that of Denbigh. The impropriate tithes of Abenbury-Vawr and AbenburyVechan have been commuted for a rent-charge of £200. 13. 9.: the vicar of Wrexham receives a rentcharge of 14s.
Aber, or Aber-Gwyngregyn
ABER, or ABER-GWYNGREGYN, a parish, in the union of Bangor and Beaumaris, hundred of Llêchwedd Uchâv, county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 6 miles (e. n. e.) from Bangor; containing 556 inhabitants. This was anciently a residence of the native princes of North Wales. Llewelyn the Great erected a strong castle here, and when King John, with a numerous army, attempted the subjugation of North Wales, the prince ordered all his men of Denbigh to retire within the fastnesses among the mountains of Snowdon, and from this place despatched his princess, who was the daughter of that monarch, to Conway, the head-quarters of the English forces, to intercede with her father, from whom she obtained for Llewelyn a treaty of peace, but upon very unfavourable terms. In this castle Llewelyn, in the reign of Henry III., entertained William de Breos, son of Reginald, a potent baron of the same period, whom he had inveigled into his power under pretence of celebrating the festival of Easter, and whom, after a sumptuous banquet, he hanged upon one of the adjacent hills, called from that circumstance Wern Grogedig, for the supposed corruption of his wife's fidelity, during William's previous confinement in the castle as a prisoner of war. Davydd ab Llewelyn died at Aber, about 1246, and was buried in the abbey of Conway.
In the reign of Edward I., Llewelyn ab Grufydd, the last of the British princes, made this his principal residence, while struggling against the power of that monarch for the independence of his country. The situation of Aber was highly favourable to the prosecution of his desultory mode of warfare, as, in case of emergency, he could either retire into his strongholds in the mountains, or take shipping in the fine bay which is at no great distance from the village. It was at this place he received the summons of Edward I. to surrender his principality to the English crown, and entered into a treaty with the king to hold this mountainous district, together with Mona, or the Isle of Anglesey, in vassalage; and hence, after having broken that treaty, he led his forces, in a final effort for the recovery of his dominions, in which he was slain near Builth. His brother Davydd, together with his wife, two sons, and seven daughters, are said to have been taken in a morass near the mountain of Bere, in this parish, and delivered captives to the English monarch, then at Rhuddlan.
The village is small, but is very pleasantly situated near the Lavan sands, at the extremity of a fine vale or glen, watered by the river Gwyngregyn, which here falls into Beaumaris bay; and on the road from London to Holyhead, through Chester. It overlooks the beautiful and extensive bay of Beaumaris, and commands a view of the elevated portions of Anglesey, covered with well-grown oaks, and of the wide expanse of waters between that bay and Great Orme's Head, comprehending in the distance the island of Priestholme. This island is called in Welsh "Ynys Seiriol," from its having been the residence of St. Seiriol, who in the sixth century erected his cell upon it, a part of which is still remaining. The glen extends for a mile and a half between its environing mountains, and on one side is bounded by a majestic rock, called Maes-y-Gaer, thinly overspread in one part, and richly covered in the other, with trees of stately growth. At its extremity is a mountain of concave form in front, from the centre of which a magnificent cataract descends, forming two successive falls; the upper is broken into several torrents by projecting masses of rock, and the lower precipitates itself in one broad sheet from an elevation of more than sixty feet. The Lavan sands, above referred to, formed, it is said, a habitable hundred until the sixth century, when the sea suddenly overspread them: tradition reports that one Helig Voel ab Glanog, a chieftain of that period, had great possessions extending far into the bay; and that the sands were formerly called Traeth Wylofain, or "place of weeping," from the shrieking and lamentation consequent upon so calamitous an occurrence. Situated near the termination of the Menai straits, and having a station on the Holyhead railway, Aber possesses every facility of commercial intercourse; but no trade or manufacture is carried on in the parish. The ferry to Beaumaris is four miles and a half across, of which four miles are fine sands, that may be walked over at low water; passengers cross this ferry to Beaumaris, but, since the construction of the suspension bridge at Bangor, which was opened to the public in 1826, few carriages have been conveyed over it.
The living is a rectory, rated in the king's books at £14. 7. 3½.; net income, £382, with a glebe-house; patron, Sir R. Bulkeley Williams Bulkeley, Bart. The church, dedicated to St. Bodvan, is a spacious structure with a good square tower, having been greatly improved by the late Viscount Warren Bulkeley in 1811: the interior, which is neatly fitted up, consists of a nave and chancel of equal length, the latter lighted with a series of low windows, differing in their style, and probably inserted at various times. There are places of worship for dissenters. The Very Rev. John Jones, Dean of Bangor, in 1719 gave £100, by deed, to the rector and churchwardens, to be laid out in the purchase of land, and the produce to be appropriated to teaching ten poor children of this parish to read Welsh. A building has been erected for a national school, which is partly supported by the above benefaction; and there are two Sunday schools, one of them belonging to the Calvinistic Methodists, and the other to the Wesleyans. The parish has also several small donations and bequests, chiefly vested in the 3½ per cents., and amounting to £6. 2. per annum, which are periodically distributed among the poor in money and bread: these were principally the gifts of Sergeant Owen of Twickenham, and Robert and Catherine George. There are some curious British antiquities in the vicinity of Aber; the Roman road from Segontium to Conovium passed here, and it has even been conjectured that a Roman station was fixed at this place.
Aberaeron, or Aberayron (Aberaeron)
ABERAERON, or ABERAYRON (ABERAERON), a sea-port, and rising watering-place, partly in the parish of Hênvynyw, but principally in that of Llandewy-Aberarth, lower division of the hundred of Ilar, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 16 miles (S. W. by S.) from Aberystwith, and 23 (E. N. E.) from Cardigan; containing 534 inhabitants. The village is agreeably situated on the road from Cardigan to Aberystwith, at the lower extremity of the Vale of Aëron, the sides of which are in this part abrupt, and clothed with wood; and on the shore of Cardigan bay, at the influx of the river Aëron. This river here separates the parishes of Hênvynyw and Llandewy-Aberarth, and, with some springs in the neighbourhood, affords the inhabitants an ample supply of water; it is noted for trout and salmon, and there are several corn-mills on its banks. Aberaëron is indebted for its origin to the late Rev. Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne, of Ty-Glyn, who, in 1807, obtained an act of parliament, under the authority of which he built two piers at the mouth of the river Aëron, with convenient wharfs, cranes, and storehouses, at an expense of about £6000. The pier on the west was one hundred yards in length, and the other ninety, and both were built of stone; but, from the very exposed situation of the place, they were insufficient to afford adequate protection to vessels from the violence of north-westerly winds. To remove this inconvenience, it was necessary for the present proprietor, Colonel Gwynne, to extend the western pier about one hundred yards, inclining in a northern direction; which has been effected. The scenery of the Vale of Aëron is particularly beautiful, and, together with the marine atmosphere of the village, its retired situation, and improving condition, may render this, at no distant period, a place of very considerable resort during summer. Upwards of thirty new leases were granted some years ago, pursuant to which a number of houses have been built: a post-office, and an excellent posting-house and hotel, have also been established, the latter affording to families an equal degree of comfort and privacy to any inns in the principality. In 1835 an act was obtained for making and maintaining a road from New-Quay to this place.
The port is a member of that of Aberystwith, and is in a thriving state. There are from thirty to forty sloops belonging to it, of from seventeen to one hundred tons' burthen, which are navigated by about 120 seamen: they are chiefly employed in the importation of coal and culm, and two of them trade regularly with Bristol. The principal articles of importation, in addition, are grocery and timber; and of exportation, butter and oats: there is also a lucrative herring fishery, in which about thirty boats, with seven men to each, are engaged. Near the entrance into the harbour is a bar, which is dry at low water. The merchants' stores are open weekly, on Wednesday, for the reception of corn; and markets for provisions, &c., are now held every Wednesday and Saturday, under the auspices of Colonel Gwynne, proprietor of the manor: a fair for hiring servants takes place on Nov. 13th. All the quarter-sessions of the county are held here, and there are petty-sessions once a month, for the whole of the Aberaëron poor-law union: one of the county debt-courts established in 1847 is also fixed here, with jurisdiction over the union; and courts leet for the manor are held in May and October. There are places of worship for dissenters, and several schools. The poor-law union of which this place is the head, comprehends the fourteen parishes and townships of Ciliau-Aëron, Cydplwyv, Dihewyd, Hênvynyw, Kilkennin, Llanarth, Llanbadarn-Trêveglwys, Llandewy-Aberarth, Llandysilio-Gogo, Llanerchaeron, Llanina, Llanllwchairn, Llansantfraid with Llanon, and Llanvihangel-Ystrad. It is under the superintendence of sixteen guardians, and contains a population of upwards of 12,874.
Mynach-dy, the property and residence of Col. Gwynne, situated at a short distance from the village, is supposed, from its name, which signifies "monastery," to have been anciently a small ecclesiastical establishment: in the grounds are some tumuli, called Hên Gastell, of obscure origin. On the sea-shore, near the village, is a circular encampment, designated Castell Cadwgan, and supposed to have been constructed by Cadwgan ab Bleddyn, about 1148.
ABERAVON (ABER-AVON), a rising port, a borough, and parish, in the union and hundred of Neath, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 5½ miles (S. by E.) from Neath, and 196 (W.) from London; containing, in 1848, about 2500 inhabitants. This place, which derives its name from its situation at the mouth of the river Avon, is of considerable antiquity, and was formerly invested with various privileges. In the division of the county, on its subjugation by Fitz-Hamon, the Norman adventurer, Aberavon formed part of the territories conferred by that chieftain upon Caradoc, son of Iestyn ab Gwrgan the dethroned prince, who made it the place of his residence, and is supposed to have erected the ancient castle, the foundations of which are still discernible in a field adjoining the churchyard. This castle, though of no great extent, was commodiously situated for defending the pass of the river, and was sufficiently formidable to become an object of importance in the various wars which at that time disturbed the peace of the principality. Caradoc was succeeded in his lordship by his son Morgan, who is regarded by some writers as the founder of the stately abbey of Margam, in the vicinity, of which there are still some remains. About the year 1150, Madoc ab Meredydd, Prince of Powys, making an irruption into the county of Glamorgan, at the head of a powerful army, laid waste the territories of Morgan ab Caradoc ab Iestyn, and took and demolished the castle of Aberavon. Upon this occasion, Morgan, unable to resist the force which was opposed to him, fled with his followers, and, taking sanctuary in the churches and monasteries, placed himself under the protection of William, Earl of Gloucester and Lord of Glamorgan. In 1349, Thomas, son of Sir John de Avon, Knt., having succeeded to the lordship of Avon, granted to the abbey of Margam a charter confirming all former grants, and to the inhabitants of the borough the free exercise of all the privileges which they had previously enjoyed. At the commencement of the seventeenth century, the town suffered severely from an inundation of the sea, which did great injury to the sea-walls; and in the corporation records of the town of Swansea, is an entry of twenty shillings, paid by the portreeve, aldermen, and burgesses of that place to the inhabitants of Aberavon, in aid of the necessary repairs of the walls. During the usurpation of Cromwell, the portreeve, being apprised of the approach of the protector's emissaries, contrived to secure the charter and other documents relating to the borough, by concealing them in a rough piece of oak, in which he had formed a cavity for that purpose, and on which, upon the arrival of the officers, he was found chopping sticks, as upon a common block. By this artifice the papers were secured, and the piece of oak, upon which the marks of the hatchet are still visible, is now preserved as the corporation chest. The castle is said to have been dismantled by Cromwell's orders.
The town is situated on the road from Swansea to Cardiff, and near the line of the South Wales railway, at a short distance from the eastern shore of Swansea bay, under a lofty ridge of hills. It is sheltered from the north winds; but, from its proximity to a marsh, it is exposed to damps, and the inhabitants are consequently liable to ague and other complaints. The land in the vicinity is subject to the frequent inundations of the river Avon, which flows on the eastern side of the town. The most alarming and destructive of these occurred on July 25th, 1768, when the water flowed into the church and every house in the town, in most places to the height of five feet. Entire fields of corn were laid waste by the flood, which swept away Aberavon bridge and others, and a great quantity of hay, trees, &c.; and, on its subsiding, the town was left covered with mud and slime, which wholly destroyed the provisions in it, so that the poorer inhabitants were reduced to great distress, almost perishing from want and hunger, until seasonably relieved by the bountiful humanity of Thomas Mansel Talbot, Esq. A handsome and substantial stone bridge of one arch was afterwards erected over the Avon by the celebrated self-taught architect, William Edwards.
Aberavon is a creek to the port of Swansea, and forms the outlet of an important mineral and manufacturing district, in which large iron, tin, and copper works have been established. Previously to the year 1836, the course of the Avon from the town to the sea was circuitous and shallow, and the harbour afforded very limited accommodation, but a great improvement was then effected under the superintendence of Mr. H. K. Palmer, C.E., and the trade of the place has since much increased. The new works consisted chiefly in the formation of a straight channel from the town to the sea, cut through marshy land, and measuring twenty feet wide, by ten feet deep, into which the mountain torrents were directed. This trench soon became sufficiently large to admit the whole body of the river, which is now turned into the new track, and access thus afforded to a commodious harbour. The channel is about a mile long, free from shoal, and now at least 100 feet wide; the sea-lock of the docks is forty-five feet wide, and vessels of large burthen are able to come up at spring tides. The port is often called Port-Talbot, after the Talbot family, of Margam. In November 1847, a steam communication was established between Aberavon and Bristol, on a most efficient scale; and in the following year, an act was passed for establishing a market and a fair here; so that the town bids fair to become a place of some importance.
The borough, which is such by prescription, is governed by an indefinite number of burgesses; all general matters being transacted at monthly courts, and extraordinary business at assemblies, called Halls, specially called for the purpose, and to which the burgesses are summoned. The style of the corporation is "The Portreeve, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the town and borough of Avon." The immediate direction of affairs is entrusted to a constable of the castle, a portreeve, two aldermen, a recorder, a common-attorney, two serjeants-at-mace, four haywards, a pound-keeper, and two ale-tasters; all of whom are appointed according to custom only, although the town received a charter from Edward le Despenser, in the 47th of Edward III., 1372, which document is yet in the possession of the officers. The constable of the castle is chosen by the lord of the borough. The portreeve and aldermen are elected at a court leet held before the existing portreeve, on the first Monday after Michaelmas-day, when the burgesses elect three of the resident burgesses to be returned, as portreeve and aldermen, to the constable of the castle, by whom it is decided which of the three shall be portreeve. The recorder is appointed annually by the portreeve; and the commonattorney, serjeants-at-mace, haywards, pound-keeper, and ale-tasters are chosen by the jury at the first monthly court held after the election of the portreeve. The portreeve presides at the monthly courts, and, with the aldermen, grants licenses for public-houses. The common-attorney collects the rents and superintends the property of the corporation; and of the haywards, two have the office of distraining all cattle found trespassing on the common lands, and two have some duties connected with the pasture lands of the principal burgesses; but the emoluments of these and all the other officers are of little consideration.
This was one of the boroughs contributory to Cardiff in sending a member to parliament; but, by the Reform Act, the towns of Swansea, Loughor, Neath, Aberavon, and Kenvig, have been constituted one borough, with the privilege of returning a representative. The limits of the borough are minutely described in the Appendix. The right of election is vested by the Reform Act in the former resident burgesses, and in every male person of full age, occupying any house or other premises, either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, of the clear yearly value of not less than ten pounds, provided he be capable of registering his name as the act demands. The portreeve of Swansea is the returning officer.
The freedom is inherited by all the sons of burgesses, on their coming of age, and may be acquired by purchase, though the burgesses recognise no other claim than that of birth: on one occasion the sum of £200 was accepted for it by the burgesses at large. The burgesses have the privilege of turning their cattle on the uninclosed lands belonging to the borough, which are of great extent, including several hundreds of acres. There are also ninety-nine customary acres of inclosed ground, which by an old ordinance are divided equally among the thirty-three oldest burgesses, who hold the property for their lives, and on whose death their widows, if any, continue to receive the benefit. In addition to this property, there is a small quantity of hay land assigned to the portreeve and other officers; and from other sources, the corporation, as a body, receive an income of about £40. A town-hall was begun in the year 1826, and upwards of £300 expended upon its erection, but it is still unfinished, owing to the want of adequate funds. The parish comprises 1500 acres by computation; the soil between the town and the sea is clay and sand, tolerably well adapted for tillage, and the land in the vicinity of the town is chiefly pasture of good quality.
The living is a discharged vicarage, endowed with the great tithes, with the living of Baglan annexed, rated conjointly in the king's books at £9. 4. 9½.; patron, the Rev. David Rees: the tithes of the two places have been commuted for a rent-charge of £190. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, was rebuilt about eighty years since, and is appropriately fitted up. There are several places of worship for dissenters. A school-house has been erected for the instruction of children in the principles of the Established Church; and there are seven Sunday schools, one of them connected with the Church, two with the Calvinistic Methodists, two with the Independents, one with the Wesleyans, and one with the Particular Baptists. Previously to 1786, a gift of £10 for the use of the poor was made by the Rev. Leyson Thomas; it was lent on the security of a house now in ruins, and nothing has been received from the charity for the last twenty or thirty years. Some interesting relics have been found on the sea-shore, consisting of stags' antlers, a large brass coin of Commodus, foundations of buildings, an ancient sea-wall, footmarks of deer and oxen, and old fences in a state of carbonization; all of them below the line of high water. In December, 1839, an inscribed Roman stone was discovered in one of the high sand-hills on the western bank of the new cut at Port-Talbot: the inscription is impcflav (mcl) maximino invicto avgvs. In March, 1840, a brass spear-head, about nine inches long, was discovered at the harbour, about twentyfive feet below high-water mark.
ABERBAIDON (ABER-BAIDEN), a hamlet, in the parish of Llanelly, hundred of Crickhowel, county of Brecknock, South Wales, 3½ miles (W. by N.) from Abergavenny; containing 5707 inhabitants. This place derives its name from being situated at the junction of a small river, called the Baiden, with the Usk. It is also intersected by the river Clydach, which passes along a deep valley to its confluence with the Usk, and in its course forms several cascades, the most remarkable of which was called Pwll-y-Cwn, or "The Dog's Pool," now converted to manufacturing purposes. The Brecknock canal is carried over this river by means of an embanked aqueduct, eighty-four feet above the bed of the river, and communicates with different tramroads, formed in connexion with some lime and coal works in the hamlet. These works, together with the Clydach iron-works, afford employment to a large portion of the inhabitants, and their produce is distributed, by means of the canal, throughout the adjacent district. On the south side of a hill, at the base of which flows the Clydach, are the remains of an ancient British fortress, called the Gaer.
ABERDARE (ABERDÂR), a parish, in the union of Merthyr-Tydvil, upper division of the hundred of Miskin, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 4 miles (S. W. by W.) from Merthyr-Tydvil, which is the post-town, and 24 (N. W. by N.) from Cardiff, on the road to Neath, over Hîrwaun common; containing, in 1841, 6471 inhabitants, of whom 1322 were in the village. This parish is celebrated as having been the scene of a sanguinary battle in the reign of William Rufus, which is said to have taken place on Hîrwaun common, about two miles north of the village, between the forces of Rhŷs ab Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales, and those of Iestyn ab Gwrgan, aided by a body of Norman adventurers under the command of Robert Fitz-Hamon. The Norman leader, after having gained a signal victory over Rhŷs, who was slain in the contest, turned his arms against Iestyn, and dispossessed him of his territories, the most valuable of which he reserved to himself, and partitioned the remainder among the knights who had attended him in the expedition. A further notice of this battle is given under the head of Penderin, which parish includes part of Hîrwaun common.
The village or town is situated on the banks of the river Dâr, near its confluence with the Cynon, in the delightful mountain-vale of Cynon. This vale is remarkable for its scenery, being equally characterised by features of beauty and of grandeur. Its majestic groves of oak and fir, alternating with fruitful corn-fields and luxuriant meadows, are finely contrasted with precipitous and barren rocks, and enlivened by the bold sweep of the river, which in some of its windings appears to be hemmed in on every side by lofty and sterile mountains. The parish is situated near the northern extremity of the county, in which direction it is bounded by Brecknockshire; it has the parish of Llanwonno on the south, that of Merthyr-Tydvil on the east, and the parish of Ystraddyvodog on the west. There are several beautiful mansions, contributing in no small degree, together with their respective gardens and grounds, to the imposing effect produced by the delightful scenery of the locality. Among these the principal are, Duffryn, at the distance of four miles south of the village; Aberamman, at the distance of two miles from the village in the same direction; Gadlys; and Abernant. Aberamman, the seat of the late Anthony Bacon, Esq., of Benham, in the county of Berks, was for centuries the residence of the family of Matthews. Duffryn was the birthplace and the residence of Ieuan ddu ab Davydd ab Owain, an eminent poet, who flourished about the middle of the fifteenth century, and was a munificent patron of the bards: the estate came to his descendants, who, by the usual transition of names, were called Jones; it was purchased from them by William Bruce, Esq., in the year 1748, and is now the property of his grandson, J. B. Bruce Pryce, Esq., of St. Nicholas, near Cardiff.
The parish abounds with coal and iron-ore, the working of which, though it has materially defaced the beauty of the neighbourhood, which was previously distinguished as a place of enviable retirement, has added vastly to its wealth and the number of its inhabitants. About fifteen or twenty years ago, there appear to have been iron-works at Llwydcoed, Abernant, and Gadlys, the last not in operation, but the two others producing some thousands of tons of iron annually. The works at Gadlys were afterwards recommenced, and early in the year 1847 there were eight blast furnaces in operation in the parish, six of them belonging to Messrs. Thompson & Co., who have other works at Merthyr-Tydvil. In the spring of that year, Mr. Crawshay Bailey commenced some large iron-works at Aberamman; so that Aberdare now ranks as one of the most important seats of the iron trade, with a prospect of ultimately becoming a second Merthyr. According to a statement published in 1847, the parish contains the following principal hamlets, namely, Cwmbach, with a population at that time of 2700 persons, employed in collieries; Aberamman, with a population of 1200, but expected, on the completion of Mr. Bailey's four furnaces, then in course of erection, and on the opening of his mines of iron and coal, and Mr. Powell's large colliery, to contain above 5000; Hoel-y-felin, containing 1200 persons; and Llwydcoed, containing about 960. These two lastnamed places are situated near each other, and the inhabitants are of a miscellaneous character, but principally miners, colliers, firemen, and labourers attached to the Aberdare works and Gadlys works. The Aberdare canal, which is seven miles in length, communicates with the Glamorganshire canal, and, by means of a tramroad, with the extensive works at Hîrwaun, in the county of Brecknock, affording a facility of conveyance by which part of the produce of this mineral district is sent to the port of Cardiff, where it is shipped to various parts of the kingdom. The canal commences within three quarters of a mile of the village; and a tramroad, two miles in length, extends from it to the works at Llwydcoed and Abernant. The Aberdare railway, opened in August, 1846, proceeds nearly parallel with the canal, to Navigation, where it joins the Tâf-Vale railway from Merthyr to Cardiff. Immense quantities of mineral produce are conveyed by it for shipment. It will be connected with the proposed Vale of Neath railway by a short branch from that line; and a railway communication will thus be established with Merthyr, Hîrwaun, Neath, &c.
Aberdare is included within the borough of MerthyrTydvil, to which, by the act 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, passed for "amending the representation of the people in England and Wales," the privilege of returning one member to parliament was granted. The right of election is vested in every male person of full age occupying, as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the clear yearly value of ten pounds, if duly registered as the act directs. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £600 royal bounty, and £1800 parliamentary grant. The patronage formerly belonged to the Vicar of Llantrissent, who receives the vicarial tithes of this parish; but under an agreement made between the late Marquess of Bute and the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester, in whose gift the vicarage of Llantrissent is vested, the patronage of Aberdare was transferred to his lordship on his further endowing the incumbency. The net income, previously to the augmentation, was £108; it is now about £260, with a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a small ancient building without a tower or steeple, remarkable only for its rustic simplicity of character, which is in perfect harmony with the surrounding scenery. Here are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Calvinistic Methodists, English and Welsh Wesleyan Methodists, and Unitarians. A National school, capable of accommodating one hundred boys and fifty girls, was built by subscription, on ground given for that purpose by the late Marquess of Bute, and is supported by subscriptions and donations. At Hîrwaun are two schools supported by the workmen employed by Mr. Crawshay in the adjoining county; and Sunday schools, also, are gratuitously conducted in different parts. Four houses in the parish, belonging to the poor, were built in 1724, by Mrs. Elinor Matthews, and endowed by her with a rent-charge of £5 on the farm of Pen Caradoc, in Llanwonno. In the parish are remains of two ancient blomeries, by some writers attributed to the Romans, and by others, with greater probability, to the Britons, before the use of blast furnaces was known: vestiges, also, of a circular British encampment may be distinctly traced. Edward Evan, for many years minister of an Independent congregation in the neighbourhood, an eminent poet and philosopher, to whose efforts for the preservation of the bardic institutions the principality is greatly indebted, was a native of the parish; he died in 1798, on the day appointed for a meeting of the bards of Glamorgan, which he was to have attended. The inhabitants complain, as a singular hardship, that, although the Hîrwaun furnaces of Mr. Crawshay contribute largely to the poor's rate of the parish of Penderin, in the county of Brecknock, in which they are situated, the burthen of the removals and accidents of a large portion of the workmen falls upon the parish of Aberdare, just within the limits of which their cottages are situated.
ABERDARON (ABER-DARON), a parish, in the union of Pwllheli, hundred of Commitmaen, Lleyn division of the county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 13 miles (W. S. W.) from Pwllheli; containing 1350 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated on the extreme point of the peninsula of Lleyn, the Promontorium Langanum of Ptolemy, derives its name from the small river Daron, which here falls into the sea, off Bardsey Race. In 1115, Grufydd ab Rhŷs, Prince of South Wales, took sanctuary in the church of Aberdaron, from the treachery of Grufydd ab Cynan, sovereign of North Wales, who intended to deliver him into the hands of the English monarch, Henry I. Grufydd ab Cynan commanded the fugitive prince to be dragged from his asylum by force; but his soldiers were unable to execute his orders, from the strenuous resistance opposed to them by the clergy of the neighbourhood, who successfully exerted themselves in defence of the privileges of the Church. The young prince escaped with his partisans by night, and set forward on his journey to the deep forest of Strath Towy, in South Wales, where, having collected the adherents of his family, he commenced hostilities against the Norman and Flemish settlers. Aberdaron was anciently much resorted to by devotees, as a place of embarkation for Bardsey Island, on their pilgrimage to the celebrated monastery established there; and on the summit of the promontory are some slight remains of the ancient Capel Vair, or Chapel of Our Lady, erected for the use of the mariners, who, previously to entering upon the dangerous navigation of the sound, were accustomed to invoke the protection of its tutelar saint. At a small distance from it, and near the shore, are the remains of another chapel, called Capel Anhaelog, which, like the former, was suffered, after the dissolution of Bardsey monastery, to fall into decay.
The parish, which is intersected by the road leading from Pwllheli to the extremity of Lleyn, is bounded on the north by the parish of Llangwnadal, on the north-east by that of Brncroes, on the east by the parishes of Llanvaelrhŷs and Rhiw, and on the south and west by the sea. It comprises by admeasurement 6794 acres, of which about one fourth is arable, and the remainder pasture; the soil is generally of good quality, resting upon clay, and the chief produce is wheat, barley, oats, and potatoes. The surface is tolerably level, varied by a few hills and mountains, and enlivened by the windings of the rivers Daron, Leos, and Afon Saint: the coast scenery is on the grandest scale. Among the gentlemen's seats are Badwrdda, Carreg, and Methlem. A stratum of excellent limestone has been discovered, which, from the scarcity of limestone in this part of the country, promises to be of great benefit to the farmers as a valuable source of manure. Lead-ore has also been found in small quantities, and several attempts have been made to find copper, but these have not proved successful: manganese and slates have been raised, but the works are at present at a stand. There are three mills, in each of which five men are employed, and a factory and a fulling-mill, each giving occupation to three hands. The village is small, chiefly inhabited by fishermen, and, by its isolated situation and the want of good roads, precluded from much intercourse. On market days during the summer, there is facility of communication with Pwllheli, from which place the inhabitants are supplied with necessaries; they also trade by sea with Liverpool, to which port vessels sail regularly every week with pigs, poultry, and eggs, and from which they return laden with coal for the supply of the neighbourhood. A fair is held annually on the 26th of June.
The living is a discharged vicarage, with the perpetual curacy of Llanvaelrhŷs annexed, rated in the king's books at £3. 9. 4½., endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty; patron, the Bishop of Bangor. The total net income of the joint living is £120. There is also a sinecure rectory, rated at £10. 9. 4½., and in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge, who usually present a fellow of that college. The lay impropriator's tithes in Aberdaron have been commuted for a rent-charge of £242, the rectorial tithes for £194, the vicarial for £73, and the tithes of the parish-clerk for £10. The old church, dedicated to St. Hyrwyn, a saint of the island of Bardsey, was formerly collegiate, and had the privilege of sanctuary. It consists of two aisles of equal dimensions, each being sixty-nine feet long inside; and, though now disused as a place of worship, appears to have been an elegant and highly finished building. The northern aisle is the older portion, though itself not entirely of the same date; it is entered by a circular-headed doorway in the western wall, of the Romanesque style, above which is a bell-turret with a square head. Probably, this aisle formed part of the original church, and on an enlargement of the whole edifice being made, by the addition of a southern aisle, the altar was transferred to the latter, which became the more important part of the building. The southern aisle is separated from the northern one by five arches, on octagonal piers of good elevation; it has a large and handsome east window of the later English style, and a screen of plain work separating the chancel portion from the nave. In lieu of this edifice, a new church was lately erected, situated about half a mile in a northern direction, from the old one. It was consecrated on the 28th of September, 1841, and is a plain building, sixty-six feet long, and thirty-four broad, with two turrets at the western end; the edifice contains 600 sittings, of which 340 are free, and was erected at a cost of £1300. There are several places of worship for dissenters.
A day school has been established here, for this parish and the parish of LlanvaelrhŶs; it is partly supported by the parents of the children, and partly by an endowment of £4. 11. a year, being half the rent of a dwelling, out-buildings, and nearly 7 acres of land, in the parish of Llaniestyn, purchased with a bequest of £80 left by Robert Evans in 1784, together with subscriptions subsequently raised. Formerly a school was held, agreeably with the endowment, in the four parishes of Aberdaron, Llanvaelrhŷs, Rhiw, and Br&ncroes, for a year in each, in rotation; but an arrangement has been made by which one school has become permanent at Aberdaron, and another at Br&;ncroes, the endowment being shared between the two masters. There are also five Sunday schools in the parish, one of them in connexion with the Church, two with the Calvinistic Methodists, one with the Wesleyans, and one with the Baptists. A poor man of the parish is entitled to support in the almshouse at Bangor, under the will of the founder, Bishop Rowlands. In 1704 Catherine Bodwarda devised a house, out-buildings, and about twelve acres of land, now let at £9 per annum, for apprenticing poor children, and from this charity one or two are annually so put out, with premiums varying from £4 to 12. About £3. 6., arising from the gifts of unknown donors, are distributed in small sums among the poor at Easter; and twelve bottles of port wine are received annually by the churchwardens for the use of the sacrament, from Mr. Wynne, this also being the gift of an unknown benefactor. Magdalen Parry, in 1781, bequeathed £30 to the poor, but this sum is for the present unproductive. An inclosure of waste lands was made in the parish, under an act of parliament, in 1807.
The courts for the manor of Bardsey were formerly held at a house in this parish, which still bears the name of "Court," and on an eminence near it, called Brynn y Crogbren, or the "Gallows' Hill," criminals were probably executed; another house in the neighbourhood is styled Secar, signifying the "Exchequer." On the side of a hill called Mynydd Moelvie, or Mynydd yr Ystum, are the ruins of an ancient chapel, named Capel Odo; and in the vicinity is a tumulus, called Bedd Odo, or "Odo's grave," which, according to tradition, covers the remains of a giant of that name. Below the cliff occupied by the ruins of Capel Vair is the cave of Ogo Vair, in which is a well, formerly much frequented by devotees, who superstitiously believed that, by carrying a mouthful of the water up a circuitous and dangerous path to the summit of the hill, whatever wish they might entertain would be accomplished. At Aberdaron was born, in 1778, Richard Robert Jones, whose poverty and extraordinary skill in the acquisition of languages attracted the sympathies of the late Mr. Roscoe, by whom a subscription was opened for his benefit. He is said to have learned thirteen different languages, without the aid of a master. His death took place at St. Asaph in 1845.
ABERDOVEY (ABER-DYVI), a sea-port and bathing-place, in the parish of Towyn, union of Machynlleth, hundred of Estimanor, county of Merioneth, North Wales, 4 miles (S. S. E.) from Towyn: the population is returned with the parish. This place is pleasantly situated on the northern side of the mouth of the river Dovey, which here empties itself into Cardigan bay, and from which it derives its name. It stands on the road from Machynlleth to Towyn, and is rapidly rising into estimation as a bathing-place: the beach is highly favourable for bathing, being composed of hard firm sand; and several respectable houses, and a commodious hotel, have been erected of late years, for the accommodation of visiters. In the year 1827, a new line of road was opened from Pennal, which, proceeding along the northern bank of the Dovey, among scenery beautifully picturesque, and embracing a fine view of the opposite coast of Cardiganshire, and the estuary of the river, passes through Aberdovey, and is continued along the shore to Towyn. For nearly the whole of its extent from Pennal to Aberdovey, it is cut through the solid rock, which, in many places, exhibits its naked side, of different elevations, forming a pleasing contrast to the wooded declivity of the hill, which, from the base to the summit, is thickly clothed with trees and shrubs of various kinds, presenting, in conjunction with the broad estuary of the river, and the vernal blossoms of the mountain heath, a scene of picturesque beauty. The ride from Aberdovey to Towyn, along the sands, at low water, is extremely delightful. The road from Pennal to Machynlleth has also been much improved, thereby increasing the facility of access to this rising place, which, for these and other advantages, is greatly indebted to the exertions of A. Corbett, Esq., of Ynysymaengwŷn, in the parish. A chapel has been erected, which is in the gift of the Vicar of Towyn; and there are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, with Sunday schools attached. Petty-sessions for the hundred are held here, alternately with Pennal, once in two months.
The port, which is a member of that of Aberystwith, possesses a considerable coasting-trade: the imports are coal, culm, grocery, limestone, bricks, timber, &c., and the exports, timber poles for the collieries, bark, lead-ore, and slates. The harbour is excellent, but there is a bar on the north side of the entrance to it, which is said to have assumed its present position in consequence of the wind blowing so frequently from the south: two buoys, the outer black and the inner red, were fixed upon this bar by the Corporation of the Trinity House, in March 1831. The river, which is here crossed by a ferry to the opposite shore of Cardiganshire, is navigable up to Derwenlâs, within two miles of Machynlleth. There are extensive slate-quarries in the neighbourhood, and mines of lead and copper, but the latter are only worked in proportion to the demand. In making the new road, a considerable number of early English coins was found; and a vase of the Tuscan shape, capable of holding about two quarts, was picked up on the sands opposite to the port, in 1824: it is composed of burnt clay, and is nearly covered with an incrustation of oyster and other marine shells. The district called Cantrev Gwaelod, or the Lowland Hundred, traditionally reported to have been inundated by the sea, as commemorated in some of the Welsh poems, is said to have been situated between this place and Harlech: it was a tract of great fertility and beauty, containing sixteen fortified towns and cities, subject to a petty prince, called Gwyddno Goronhîr; and is stated to have been swallowed up about the year 500. Ieuan Dyvi, a celebrated bard, who flourished about the close of the fifteenth century, was a native of Aberdovey.
Aberedw, or Aberedow (Aberedwy)
ABEREDW, or ABEREDOW (ABEREDWY), a parish, in the union of Builth, hundred of Colwyn, county of Radnor, South Wales, 5 miles (S. E.) from Builth; containing 345 inhabitants. It derives its name from being situated at the mouth of the river Edwy, which, after flowing through the parish, empties itself into the Wye, the latter river here forming the line of boundary between the counties of Radnor and Brecknock: the Edwy is a small stream, famous for its trout and eels. Within the short distance of a quarter of a mile from this place, are various objects of great interest and attraction. The churchyard is bounded in one direction by a steep precipice, whose base is washed by the river Edwy, which from this point winds along a narrow defile of rocks, on one side rising to a height of nearly 300 feet, and romantically varied by alternate stratifications of naked rock and green sward, partially concealed by hanging woods. On the other side of the defile the rocks, though their elevation is less, have a still more striking character. Here a boldly projecting rock threatens with immediate destruction the traveller passing beneath it; there a perpendicular wall of solid rock, extending 100 feet in height, presents its bold, unbroken front, richly mantled with mosses, ivy, and other parasitical plants, and in the clefts of which the larger birds build their nests. Among these rocks a rude cave, about six feet square, called Llewelyn's Cave, is said to have been occasionally used as an asylum by that brave, but unfortunate, prince, Llewelyn ab Grufydd, the last royal defender of Welsh liberty and independence, against the overpowering army of Edward I.
A short distance north-westward from the church, and at the head of this beautiful and romantic dingle, Llewelyn had a castle, the ruins of which may yet be seen on the banks of the Wye, consisting of the fragment of a tower, or bastion, and part of a wall. During the defensive war which he waged against the English monarch, the Welsh prince summoned his adherents to a private conference at this castle; but of the disastrous result of this movement a variety of accounts have been given, some of which cannot be reconciled with the localities of the district. Mr. Jones, the historian of Brecknockshire, who took great pains to reconcile the conflicting statements, says, that having marched to Aberedw, he was there surprised by a superior force of the enemy from Herefordshire, under the command of Edmund Mortimer and John Giffard, to whom intelligence of his arrival had been communicated. Thus unexpectedly attacked, Llewelyn fled with his men towards Builth, taking the precaution of ordering the shoes of his horse to be reversed, there being snow on the ground; which stratagem, however, was made known to the enemy by a blacksmith at Aberedw. Having arrived at the bridge over the Wye, he crossed it, and issued orders for its immediate demolition, before his pursuers arrived. Thus checked in their progress, the English returned to a ford, eight miles lower down on the river, which was known to some of the party; and there effected a passage. Meanwhile, Llewelyn had proceeded to Builth, from which, failing in his attempts to procure aid from the garrison, he advanced westward, up the Vale of Irvon, on the south side, for about three miles, where he crossed the river, a little above Llanynis church, by a bridge called Pont y Coed, or "the bridge of the wood." He then stationed the few troops who had accompanied him, in an advantageous position on the north side of the river, with a view to defend the bridge. The English, on coming up, made an attempt to obtain possession of it, but failing, they discovered a ford at a short distance, which a detachment of their troops secretly crossed; then coming behind the Welsh unawares, they attacked them in the rear, and routed them. Llewelyn himself was slain in a small dell, since called Cwm Llewelyn, or "Llewelyn's dingle," about 200 yards from the scene of action, by one Adam de Francton, or de Frampton, who plunged his spear into his body without knowing the rank of his victim, and immediately joined his party in pursuit of the fleeing foe. Returning after the engagement, probably in search of plunder, de Francton discovered that he had slain the Welsh prince, whose head he immediately cut off, and sent to the king of England. The body was dragged a short distance, to a place at which the road from Builth, two miles distant, branches off in two directions, one leading to Llanavan-Vawr, and the other to Llangammarch, where it was interred, the spot being still called Cevn y bedd, or Cevn bedd Llewelyn, "the ridge of Llewelyn's grave." About 300 yards to the east of the castle of Aberedw, on the summit of an eminence, is a large tumulus, directly above the river Edwy, on the side of which is the awful precipice before described, so beautifully mantled, and forming an object so truly picturesque from every point of view but this, where it cannot be observed without indescribable sensations of awe.
The parish is situated on a cross-road leading up to the Radnor and Builth road, and is bounded on the east by the parishes of Rulen and Llanbadarn-yGarreg, on the south by Llandilo-Graban, on the west by the river Wye, and on the north by Llanvaredd. It comprises nearly 1000 acres, a considerable portion of which is arable and pasture land, well cultivated; other portions are thickly set with oak timber: the surface in some places is rocky and uneven, but the soil is in general favourable to the production of grain. Good stone is quarried for building. The petty-sessions for the hundred are occasionally held here. The living is a rectory, with that of Llanvaredd annexed, rated in the king's books at £12. 13. 4.; net income, £355; patron, the Bishop of St. David's. The tithes of Aberedw have been commuted for a rent-charge of £249. 18., and the glebe comprises one acre. The church, dedicated to St. Cewydd, is a plain building in the later style of English architecture, consisting of a nave and chancel separated by an oak screen, with a square tower at the west end, which, if not rebuilt, appears to have undergone thorough repair, in the time of the Tudors. Lewis Lloyd, in 1633, bequeathed a certain rentcharge, of which £4. 6. 8. per annum are appropriated to this parish, and received by the minister, who distributes £4 among such of the poor as receive the smallest parochial aid, and retains 6s. 8d. for preaching a sermon, according to the will of the donor. A bequest of £20 by Elizabeth Price, in 1742, for the benefit of the poor, proved unproductive. Thomas Jones, a landscape painter of distinguished repute, best known by his two pieces of the "Campi Phlegræi," was born at Pen Carreg, in the vicinity of this place, where, having succeeded to the family estate, he resided until his death, in 1803.
ABEREIRCH (ABER-ERCH), a parish, in the union of Pwllheli, partly in the hundred of Dinllaen, and partly in the hundred of Eivionedd, county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 1½ mile (E. N. E.) from Pwllheli; containing 1613 inhabitants. This parish, extending six miles in length, and about four in breadth, is pleasantly situated on the sea-shore, near the mouth of the river Eirch, from which it received its name; and on the road from Tremadoc to Pwllheli. It is bounded on the north by the parish of Denio, on the east by Llanarmon, and on the south and west by the sea; and comprises by computation about 6000 acres, consisting chiefly of good arable and pasture land: the soil is light, and suited to the growth of oats and barley, which constitute the chief produce. The lands are destitute of wood, with the exception of two or three extensive plantations in the upper part of the parish. The most considerable mansion is Hendrev. The village, which is small, is very pleasantly situated in the midst of agreeable and picturesque scenery, ornamented with several well-built and genteel houses.
The living is a vicarage, with that of Penrhôs annexed, rated in the king's books at £6, endowed with £600 royal bounty, and £600 parliamentary grant; present net income, £96; patron, the Bishop of Bangor, who is lord of the manor. The tithes of Abereirch have been commuted for £435 payable to Lord Newborough, and £76 to the vicar. The church, dedicated to St. Cawrdav, is an ancient and spacious building, in the later style of English architecture, twenty-six yards in length, and thirteen in breadth, consisting of a nave, north aisle, and chancel. The two eastern windows, which are enriched with elegant tracery, have been ornamented with stained glass. A very ancient monument in the church, consisting of a figure in armour, has not been much noticed by any writer: it is situated at the north side of the altar, forming the bottom of a pew, and without any inscription attached; but there is an intimation in the MSS. of the celebrated Robert Vaughan, now in the library of Sir Robert Vaughan of Nannau, in Merionethshire, that the tomb of Thomas de Pyveliston or Puleston is at Abereirch. Here are several places of worship for dissenters, and seven Sunday schools, one of which is held in the church. Two tenements, and three acres of land, were bequeathed for the use of the poor, by the Rev. Mr. Conway, incumbent in 1724, now producing £3. 10. per annum, which, with £4 arising from other charitable donations and bequests, are annually distributed on St. Thomas' day.
ABERFRAW (ABER-FRAW), a parish, and formerly a market-town, in the union of Anglesey, hundred of Malltraeth, county of Anglesey, North Wales, 9 miles (S. W.) from Llangevni; containing 1336 inhabitants. This place, which derives its name from its situation at the mouth of the small river Fraw, was distinguished at a very early period as the principal residence of the ancient princes of North Wales, by one of whom, Caswallon Law Hîr, a palace was built, about the middle of the fifth century. Caswallon's successors having removed the seat of government to Caer Seiont, now Carnarvon, it was re-established at Aberfraw, in the year 870, by Roderic the Great, after his defeat of Burrhed, the Mercian prince, who had invaded his dominions. Roderic fixed his supreme court of judicature at this place, which, until the death of Llewelyn, in 1282, continued to be the ordinary residence of the Welsh sovereigns. During that period, one of the three copies of the celebrated code of laws compiled, about the year 940, under the auspices of Hywel Dda, was deposited here. In 966, the palace was destroyed by the Irish, in one of their descents upon Anglesey, but it was subsequently rebuilt; and, soon after the commencement of the twelfth century, during the sovereignty of Grufydd ab Cynan, afforded an asylum to Grufydd, son of Rhŷs ab Tewdwr, late prince of South Wales. The Welsh sovereign, shortly afterwards paying a visit to Henry I., at London, was prevailed upon to promise that, on his return, he would deliver up the fugitive to the English monarch; but the young prince, fearing this treachery, withdrew from the palace with his brother Hywel; upon which, Grufydd ab Cynan, determined to perform his promise to Henry, having discovered the place of his retreat, despatched a body of horsemen to arrest him. In this attempt, however, they did not succeed; for the young prince, being timely apprised of their design, again had recourse to flight, and, although closely pursued, effected his escape.
Aberfraw, which has since that period dwindled into a mere village, is pleasantly situated on the shore of Carnarvon bay, about six miles from the great road to Holyhead. The parish is bounded on the north by that of Llangwyvan, on the east by that of Llangadwaladr, and on the south and west by the sea; comprising between 5000 and 6000 acres, of which about two-thirds are arable, and the remainder pasture, with about 300 acres of common and waste. The river Fraw has its source in a fine lake just above the village, and, after flowing through the parish, falls into the sea, forming at its mouth a small harbour capable of receiving vessels of forty tons' burthen, which at a very moderate expense might be rendered highly commodious, having anciently been an excellent haven. Not far from the village, on the north-east, runs the Chester and Holyhead railway. The soil of the parish is sandy, and well adapted to the production of grain, of which great quantities, especially of oats and barley, raised here and in the surrounding country, are annually shipped from this small port, which is considered a creek to the port of Beaumaris. Many black-cattle, sheep, and pigs, are also bred in the parish, the population of which is divided between the occupations of agriculture and fishing. Lord Dinorben is lord of the manor, and Owen Fuller Meyrick, Esq., the chief landed proprietor. The market was held on Thursday: fairs for the sale of agricultural produce are appointed to be held on the 7th of March, the Tuesday after Palm-Sunday, the Wednesday after TrinitySunday, on August 15th, October 23rd, and December 11th.
The living is a rectory, rated in the king's books at £20. 15. 10.; present net income, £888, with a glebe-house: it is in the patronage of the Crown. The church, dedicated to St. Beuno, is an ancient structure, 20 yards in length and 12 in breadth, containing 800 sittings. It consists of two spacious parallel aisles, separated by piers and arches, and has been lately repaired, new-roofed, and in various respects altered; so that some of its original features are now scarcely to be conjectured. In the western wall of the south aisle is a richly ornamented circularheaded doorway, forming the earliest portion of the building, and which must once have been the chief entrance: this doorway was totally concealed in the walls of the church, until the rector detected its existenceduring the late repairs, and had it most judiciously uncovered. In the tything of Tyndryval anciently stood a chapel designated Capel Mair, or "St. Mary's chapel." There are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. A ruined chapel, called Eglwys y Beili, was rebuilt for a school, in 1729, by Sir Arthur Owen, Bart., who endowed it with £4 a year for the instruction of six poor children; there are now thirty boys and fifteen girls in the school, and the master receives £22 per annum, raised by subscription, besides the endowment. In the parish are also three Sunday schools, attended by about 220 persons of both sexes. John Pugh Gwillym, in 1633, bequeathed an annuity of £2 for the use of the poor, which being unpaid for some years, accumulated to £53. 6. 8.; this sum was increased by other charity money to £73, and then invested in the Shrewsbury and Holyhead turnpike trust. The interest, £3. 13., together with £13. 6. 8. the rent of a meadow of above five acres, bequeathed in 1642, by John Thomas, a former rector of the parish, is regularly distributed among the poor. Some other benefactions, amounting to nearly £60, have been lost, having been intrusted to parties who subsequently became insolvent.
At present there are no remains of the ancient palace, nor of any of the buildings connected with it, although a faint tradition is preserved by the inhabitants of ancient foundations and walls having been long ago visible in the field north of the church. In the parish are frequently found the amulets called Gleiniau Nadroedd, or "snake gems," supposed to have been made by the Romans, and bartered with the ancient Britons for the produce of their country: they are composed of glass, of a rich blue colour, some streaked, and others plain, and are now superstitiously used by the vulgar as charms for certain disorders, and in assisting children to cut their teeth. The Eisteddvodau, or triennial assemblies of the bards of this district, were held at Aberfraw, so long as it continued to be a royal residence. According to Mr. Rowlands, the historian of Anglesey, this is the birthplace of Walter, afterwards named Steward, or Stuart, who, going into Scotland, there founded the powerful family of Stuart, which afterwards enjoyed the sovereignty both of England and Scotland.