Further charters and patents: Introduction

Pages 1-4

Cardiff Records: Volume 3. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1901.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section



Further Charters and Patents.

The first chapter of our first volume furnishes a series of Municipal Charters granted by Kings and Lords to the Borough of Cardiff, and the concluding chapter of the same volume consists of a selection from the Patent Rolls. We have now to deal with three documents from the Charter Rolls not immediately relating to the Cardiff municipality, and with some further examples of Letters Patent. Most of these last will be found to possess a more general historical interest than the former series of Patents, while one is the Counterpart of a Cardiff Municipal Charter omitted from its proper place in Vol. I.

The Charter of 1205 is a confirmation by King John to Margam Abbey of lands and tenements which had theretofore been granted to that monastic house by various donors. These include the Earls Robert and William, with Anglo-Norman lords like De Humfraville and De Bonville, and Welshmen such as Morgan ap Cradoc. Premises in Cardiff are included in the confirmation.

After returning from London to Cardiff with my copy of this document, made from the ancient counterpart on the Rolls, I found it had already been printed in Mr. G. T. Clark's Cartae. On comparing my copy with the printed version in the Cartae, I found such important differences as make it probable that the officially printed Rot. Chart., from which Mr. Clark drew his version, followed some other manuscript than the counterpart on the Charter Rolls. In many instances it seemed to me that Mr. Clark's copy was more likely to be correct than mine, but in others his appeared to be wrong. The variations between my own version and that given in the Cartae are duly set out at the foot of the page. I have thought it best to print the Latin text of the ancient counterpart, but to denote the contractions by means of commas.

By the next Charter, of 1206, King John grants to the Bishop of Llandaff permission to hold a yearly fair and a weekly market at Llandaff—the fair from the Saturday to Tuesday of Whitsuntide, and the market every Sunday. Llandaff Fair was suppressed about the year 1880, owing to the rowdyism which prevailed there on Whitmondays. It had degenerated into a mere pleasure-fair, with the usual booths, tents, roundabouts and swing-boats.

The Charter of 1290 refers to a matter which at that time possessed great importance. The Lords of Glamorgan claimed to exercise regal rights within their palatinate—among others, that of administering the temporalities of the Bishopric of Llandaff, during the vacancy of the See. King Edward the First desired to curtail this privilege, which he regarded as prejudicial to the prerogatives of his Crown; but Earl Gilbert, on his part, was unwilling to plead in the Royal Courts. Matters were arranged by the Earl's conceding the right in question to the Crown, upon condition that he and his Countess should exercise it during their lifetime, as of the King's grant.

The Patent dated on the following day contains the grant above referred to, and rehearses the facts of the whole controversy, by way of record for future reference and guidance. It recites that King Henry the Third had, during the vacancy of the See of Llandaff, appointed a custodian and conferred benefices; that the Bishops had always held their temporalities of the King and the Canons sought the Royal licence to elect their Bishop, without reference to the Lord of Glamorgan. It adds that when the Earl enjoyed these privileges after the death of the late Bishop, he was usurping the King's right. It is a question how far this accommodation of the dispute may have been facilitated by the Earl's having espoused the King's daughter.

The next Patent I need call attention to is the one dated 14 July 1297, which calls upon Walter Hakelutel and Morgan ap Meredith to choose 900 Welshmen of Glamorgan to go with the King and fight his battles in "parts beyond the sea." On the same day the King appoints Richard Talbot custodian of the Castle and Vill of Cardiff, at a salary of £60 per annum.

In 1307 Edward the First directs Master Henry of Llancarvan to hand over the custody of Cardiff Castle to Ralph de Monthermer, Earl of Gloucester, who had received a grant of the custody of the infant Earl's lands in South Wales by way of payment for Ralph's demise of the Earldom of Athol to the King.

In the Letters Patent bearing date 6 February 1316, King Edward the Second appoints Hugh d'Audley and William de Montague captains of the men-at-arms enrolled to suppress the insurrection of Llewelyn ap Rhys (better known as Lewelin Bren), who was devastating Glamorgan. In the following September the King empowers three gentlemen to receive certain of the insurgent Cymry to his peace; and directs John Giffard de Brymmesfeld, Custodian of Glamorgan, as to the repairing and letting of some mills which had been destroyed by the Welshmen.

By another instrument of the same date the King orders that John Odyn, a burgess of Cardiff, who is imprisoned in the gaol of that town, shall be brought to trial as requested by the prisoner. The charge against him was that he had conveyed provisions to the army of Lewelin Bren.

On 7 February 1327 King Edward the Third confirms to certain Bristol mariners the gift of a forfeit ship in which Hugh le Despenser the younger, a rebel enemy, put into Cardiff.

On the 1st May following, Cardiff is made a staple town for wools, hides and wool-fells. On 16 September 1332, notification is given that the above provision is revoked so far as Cardiff is concerned, because it is not one of the King's towns. (It was the capital of a Lordship Marcher.)

Next come three documents of the class which bears the appetising designation of French Rolls. They are so called not because written in French (for they are in Latin), but because they relate to the King's French possessions. The first, dated in 1443, is a safeconduct, or passport, to Henry Michael, a Cardiff burgess, to go to France in the retinue of the Lieutenant of Guisnes Castle.

The next, of the year 1460, is a permit to John, son of John Derell, of Cardiff, merchant, to ship a certain quantity of Welsh wool from Weymouth, Pool or Wareham to any foreign port, in order to make money to ransom his father, who has been taken prisoner by the King's Breton enemies.

For the year 1461 we have a safe-conduct granted, on behalf of the said John Derell, to five merchants of Brittany, to trade between England and France notwithstanding the war, so that money may be gained for the relief of John Derell, père et fils.

The Bishop of Llandaff having forfeited to the Crown the temporalities of his See, the King appoints, in 1471, three of the Canons to administer those temporalities.

We now come to a twentieth Municipal Charter of Cardiff, which ought to have been placed in the First Volume, between Nos. XV. and XVI. The reason it was overlooked is that it is not recited, or even referred to, in any subsequent Charter of that series. It was granted by King Henry the Seventh, 19 February 1497, and recites and confirms the Charter of King Edward the Fourth in general terms, without conferring any new liberty or privilege. For the sake of uniformity, it is here printed in the extended Latin, with the English translation immediately following the text. Being a copy from the counterpart on the Patent Rolls, it bears a descriptive heading, in words which were probably endorsed on the original.

The few remaining documents in this chapter are counterparts of Crown Leases, and call for no dissertation.