Manorial records: Introduction

Pages 56-59

Cardiff Records: Volume 2. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1900.

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Manorial Records.

MANORIAL Records are those which, appertaining to the government of a manor or lordship, are or have been in the legal custody of the Lord or his Steward. They are to be sought among the private muniments of the landed gentry, or in the offices of their stewards or estate agents; but the gradual effacement of feudal incidents in land tenure has resulted in the dispersion and destruction of a vast number of these precious archives, invaluable as they are to the student of local history.

The documents which compose the present Chapter are a miscellaneous collection which I have with much difficulty gathered from various sources. Arranging them in chronological order, I begin with a Minister's Account of the Lordship of Leckwith, dated 1456. It will be seen that this differs from the Ministers' Accounts transcribed in the preceding Volume, solely in that the Accounts in Vol. I. are made to the Crown, while this one is made to the Lord. Instead of being sent to London, therefore, and of being ultimately included among the national archives at the Record Office, this Account must have been originally filed at Cardiff Castle, with the other records in the Lord's Chancery of Glamorgan. I am indebted, for permission to copy it, to Mr. R. W. Llewellyn, of Baglan Cottage; who was also so kind as to lend me four other documents used in this Chapter. The Leckwith Account is made by Patrick Crispy, no doubt identical with the Patrick Cryspe mentioned in the great Lordship Account of 1492 as a former occupier of land near the "Dawbyngepytts" (Vol. I., p. 183). I have here, and henceforward, given "Reeve" as the translation of the Latin Prepositus, rendered "Prevost" in the preceding Volume. I have retained the literal sense of Messor, translating it "Reaper," though that official was probably what would now be termed a farm bailiff.

The next document is a Manorial Survey—one of a class of records which were put forward at certain intervals by the jury of tenants assembled in the Court Baron of the Lord of the Manor, mainly for the purpose of renewing and perpetuating an authoritative declaration of the customs and boundaries of the lordship. This one is dated 7 September 1666, and was given at Cardiff Guildhall.

Article 1 defines the bounds of the Liberties of Cardiff, as laid down in the Charter of 1340, and describes the constitution and powers of the Town Court. It states that the Lord is Constable of the Castle and has the nomination of a Deputy Constable. This is important, because, not very long after the date of this Survey, the Lord of Cardiff Castle appointed a Constable, who in turn appointed a Deputy to himself. The Article further says that the Lord has the nomination of the Town Clerk, the swearing and appointing of the Bailiffs and Serjeants, and the swearing of the Aldermen. Inferior "ministerials" of the Corporation are sworn and appointed by the Bailiffs. Every Burgess owes suit of court to the Lord's Court Leet, or Curia Regis, holden four times a year in the town (the old Borough Quarter Sessions).

To the second Article the Jurors return a presentment in which they were directed to declare what were the privileges and liberties of (a) the Corporate Town of Cardiff, and (b) of the Lord of the Manor and Borough of Cardiff. They reply that they know nothing of the latter, but are well acquainted with the former, which they proceed to specify.

The information which this document affords relative to the property of individual burgesses within the town renders it an interesting sequel to the very similar record of 1542, among the Ministers' Accounts, ante. It is the only document I have met with which gives adequate particulars of the Manor of Spittal, for which we have here a separate Survey.

The Jurors conclude Article 6 with a pathetic appeal to Lord Pembroke to protect them against the usurpations of Squire Lewis of the Van, who had enclosed sixty acres of the Burgesses' common land on the Great Heath.

To the 13th Article they say that the inhabitants of Cardiff still usually grind their corn in the Lord's mill, but they cannot tell whether this was obligatory or no. They imply that it was not; and indeed all such feudal incidents had been abolished by Statute at the beginning of Charles the Second's reign.

The Survey shows that the Earl of Pembroke took escheats of felons' goods, and had the royalty of fishing in the Taff from Blackweir to the river's mouth.

This document was, at the middle of the 19th century, in the custody of Mr. Thomas Dalton, Solicitor, of Cardiff, Clerk of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan. It was accidentally destroyed about the year 1860; but a copy of it (printed rather inaccurately) appeared in the Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, February 1862. The present version was copied from that last mentioned, and was afterwards corrected by an old copy kindly lent to the Corporation by Oliver H. Jones, Esq., of Fonmon Castle.

The Miscyn Rent Roll of 1666, and that of Clun and Pentyrch for circa 1670, are interesting from their enumeration of heriots, and of rents paid in kind—mostly capons, sometimes distinguished as "fatt capons."

The next record is a Survey of the Manor of Roath Keynsham, dated 25 May 1702, derived from the same source as the Cardiff Survey of 1666. John Morgan of Tredegar, esquire, is presented as the Lord. The boundaries are laid down with minuteness, though the Welsh place-names are mutilated until, in some cases, they are almost unrecognisable. Among the many curious items in this Survey is the entry concerning the tenement of Mrs. Alice William, adjoining Gwaun Treoda (Whitchurch Common), the annual chief-rent payable for which was "a red rose on every Midsummer Eve."