Survey of Llystalybont, 1563: Introduction

Pages 295-297

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

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Survey of Llystalybont, 1653.

THE Addenda to Vol. II. of the present work comprise a note relative to the Manor of Llystalybont, shewing the importance of this lordship in mediæval times and suggesting that Llystalybont may have been, at a still earlier period, the mansion and court of the princes of Glamorgan. Whatever may be thought of this suggestion, the great antiquity of the thatched farmhouse by the canal is beyond question. It is, therefore, with pleasure that I place before the reader the following manorial Survey of Llystalybont, taken, as many such surveys were, during the temporary triumph of republicanism in this country, at a time when feudalism was receiving its death-blow. For this interesting addition to our Records the Corporation and the public are indebted to Mr. John Stuart Corbett, who, in the year 1895, copied the document from the original in the Record Room of Cardiff Castle (K. Box 83.) Mr. Corbett writes:—"It is, on the whole, in fair condition; but portions have been torn out, or eaten away by mice, and other portions are much stained and defaced."

One is struck by the great extent of the Manor of Llystalybont; for, although it is probable that some outlying lands were accounted parcel thereof simply because they belonged to the lord, it is clear that the lands named in this Survey were truly and originally part of the manor, and subject to the customs of the same. The Welsh placenames are sadly corrupted, but are included, under their right spellings, in the topographical schedule which I hope to print in the last volume of this series.

The Manor of Llystalybont extended into the parishes of Cardiff (Saint John's), Llandaff, Whitchurch, Roath, Llanishen and Lisvane. In Sowdrey, the old southern suburb of Cardiff (Saint Mary's parish), were some tenements reputed parcel of Llystalybont, but probably only for the reason mentioned above. They are not referred to in the Survey.

The presentments of the Jury may be epitomised thus:—The Steward may hold a Court Leet in Spring and Autumn, and a Court Baron every three weeks. Tenants are admitted by the rod, and hold by Copy of Court Roll, with homage, fealty, suit and service.

The Tenants and their families have the first refusal of tenements falling vacant. A heriot is payable upon every surrender. None can be admitted to tenancy until the Homage has made presentment that he has "right copy" and good title.

The Lord receives waifs, estrays, goods of felons, deodands, treasure trove, escheats, fines, forfeitures, amercements and perquisites of Court. He also has a "relief" of double rent on the death of or alienation or exchange by a Free Tenant. He further takes an "avowry" of four pence by way of estreat, from every under-tenant dwelling in a Tenant's house. He receives suit of mill from the Copyholders, and claims the like from his other Tenants; but the Jury are uncertain as to the legality of the latter demand.

The Steward, assisted by two Affeerors, may fine and amerce offenders, from 3d. up to 39s. 11d. He also has jurisdiction in plea of lands touching copyhold and actions of debt and trespass, up to the same amount. The fees payable to the Steward, Recorder and Bailiff are set out in the Survey.

The Lord makes and maintains a pound. The Pound Keeper receives a penny per head of cattle impounded from a Tenant, and fourpence from a stranger.

A Tenant may require the holding of a special Court for receiving surrenders and granting admission of Tenants, but he must pay to the Steward 6s. 8d. for the privilege.

The Bailiff may be elected by the Lord or by the Tenants; but whichever party makes the election, must account for the moneys received from the Tenants. The Bailiff may nominate two of the Tenants to act as Under Bailiffs.

Edmund Lewis, gentleman, chosen by the Tenants, is now (1653) Bailiff. The Free Tenants are Sir Charles Kemys, knight and baronet; William Lewis of the Van, esquire; Thomas Lewis of Llanishen, esquire; and George Williams of Llanishen, yeoman; but the Jury do not know what lands they hold, what rents they pay, nor what services they render.

Then follows the list of Copyholders and Tenants by Grant, comprising 31 names, and a presentment of the tenements, rents and services of each.

Notwithstanding the above statement as to the Free Tenants, the Jury present particulars as to the holdings of Sir Charles Kemys and Mr. George Williams. The yearly payments in kind to be made by the various Tenants consist of two fat capons, or several chickens, or a crannock of coal to Cardiff Castle. The heriots payable are "of the best," i.e., of the best beast. Suits are to the Court and to the mill. Services are so many days' ploughing with oxen, or work in harvest. These customary incidents of tenure vary with the tenement, and in many cases have already been commuted for money payments. Often they are expressed under the general description of "suit and services accustomed," "all other services and duties formerly accustomed and discharged," "all rates and contributions," etc. Sometimes a Tenant has "special licence to let and set."

For the history of the Manor of Llystalybont the reader is referred to Vol. II., p. 18.