Miscellanea: Introduction

Cardiff Records: Volume 4. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1903.

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'Miscellanea: Introduction', in Cardiff Records: Volume 4, (Cardiff, 1903) pp. 99-105. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cardiff-records/vol4/pp99-105 [accessed 2 March 2024]

In this section


A Bundle of Miscellanea.

THIS is the only title it has been found practicable to give to a collection of various kinds of documents, divided into small groups according to their nature.

No. I. of the first group is an extract from a Rental of circa 1540 relating to the possessions of the Cistercian Abbeys of Neath and Margam. It sets out the payments periodically due from Neath Abbey, and the annual value of the lands of Margam Abbey, within the Cardiff district.

Rental No. II., dated in 1547, is a statement of the King's rents in the parish of Roath &c., portion of his Royal Lordship of Glamorgan. It is drawn up from information supplied to the late Queen's Auditor, whose notes, atrociously written, appear in the margin. The document is a curious mixture of bad Latin and worse English, with Welsh names so misspelt as to be almost unrecognisable. The list of tenants comprises freeholders and copyholders, and it is evident that the Bailiff had great difficulty in collecting the small quit-rents.

Thirdly we have an extract from a Survey of 1570, relating to Cardiff Borough. It was taken from the original in the munimentroom of Cardiff Castle, and incorporated in a Brief for Counsel, about the year 1860. It is here copied from the said Brief.

The fourth document consists of a couple of extracts from a Survey of Glynrhondda, in 1666, lent by Colonel Turbervill of Ewenny. The reason for its publication is its clear explanation of the otherwise obscure terms "towl or chense," "advowry" and "mises," which so frequently occur in our manorial records.

We next have, under date Michaelmas 1686, a schedule of the King's chief rents in the town and liberties of Cardiff. The original is in bad condition and the writing illegible in places, especially towards the end. It has, however, been judged worthy of inclusion in this collection, principally on account of its mention of important townsfolk and their places of residence.

The Assessment is long, and will perhaps seem of little interest to the casual reader. But here again we have a document of great value; it is a complete list of the responsible inhabitants of Cardiff in the year 1703.

To come to the second group: Bishop Kitchin's Report on the churches and cures of the Diocese of Llandaff is addressed to the Privy Council and contains some interesting information as to the parishes and their incumbents. This document is copied from the Harleian Manuscripts at the British Museum, the catalogue whereof assigns it to the year 1603. This is obviously a mistake, as Anthony Kitchin died in 1563. From internal evidence I infer that 1558 is approximately the date of the Report.

Next is printed a document of circa 1580, from the Additional Manuscripts at the British Museum, being a statement as to chantry lands in connection with Llandaff cathedral.

I give a note of a document in the Cardiff Free Library, John Penry's Exhortation, addressed to the "governors and people of her Majesty's country of Wales." This Puritan sermon, composed in the year 1588, almost entitles its author to the designation of "the Welsh John Knox."

"A breviate with Notes" is the title of a manuscript in the Cardiff Free Library, among the collection of MSS. purchased by the Corporation in 1895 at Cheltenham, portion of the celebrated library of the late Sir Thomas Phillips, baronet. This book contains a brief survey of the principal manors in Glamorgan, and also some genealogical notes on the leading families of the county. It was written in the year 1596 by Rice Lewis, for the private use of the gentlemen attending upon the second Earl of Pembroke, and is dedicated to Thomas Morgan of Ruperra, esquire, Steward of his Lordship's household. It supplies some items of information which I have not met with elsewhere, relative to the manors. It mentions the fair held at Cardiff in the Autumn, and says it was kept on "Lady Day in Harvest." This, however, is the popular name usually given to the feast of the Assumption (15 August), whereas the fair was on 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. Rice Lewis is a devoted adherent to the Earl of Pembroke; he considers him to be the greatest lord that ever held lands in Glamorgan since Iestyn ap Gwrgan, and wishes his noble master possessed as great privileges as any of his predecessors. He is wrong, though, in stating that the Earl owned all the lands which any Lord of Glamorgan ever had, even if he means only in the Lordship itself. I am inclined to question his authority for naming Llanedern as a manor, and still more for making it include Cefn Mabli. He is correct in placing Cardiff Castle in the Manor of Roath, though probably not in including the Friars in Roath-Tewkesbury.

Rice Lewis gives the descent of the second Earl of Pembroke, in a female line, from Iestyn ap Gwrgan, the last native Prince of Glamorgan, through the renowned Sir David Gam.

He speaks of Roath as a chapelry, though it had been a separate parish for nearly a century; erroneously placing it, moreover, ¾ of a mile (instead of a mile and a quarter) from Cardiff.

On the whole it is clear that the "breuiat" must be studied with caution, as the quaint and interesting production of an ingenious young gentleman, enthusiastically loyal to his noble patron, but not too particular about accuracy.

Some old title-deeds of the Cardiff Corporation next engage our attention. The first of these, dated 1 October 1600, is a conveyance by John Wastell, of Cardiff, gentleman, to his brother, Nicholas Wastell, of a burgage or house and garden in the parish of Saint Mary, Cardiff—apparently situate between the Town Wall and the Hayes, north of the Cock Tower—and of an acre of land in Southrew, or Sowdrey; together with the fourth part of one acre belonging to the aforesaid messuage. The grant is in fee simple, but the premises are to be holden of the chief lord of that fee, by the services therefor previously due and of right accustomed. The Wastells, an old family of Cardiff burgesses, were bakers for generations, and were often members of the Corporation.

In the second deed, of 22 July 1606, we have a conveyance made by Elizabeth Hengod, widow, and John Hengod, cordwainer, both of Cardiff, to John Collyns, of the same town, cordwainer, of a messuage and bakehouse, curtilage and garden situate in Saint John Street (now called Church Street), Cardiff. These premises occupied the site now covered by the shop of Messrs. Boyle & Co., bootmakers, at the north-east corner of Church Street, next to Mr. Nell's brewhouse; they afterwards became the parish almshouse, as will be seen by the subsequent conveyance of the premises.

Under date 7 November 1616, we have a grant by Mary Henburie, widow, to Nicholas Wastell, gentleman, both of Cardiff, of a burgage or dwellinghouse, curtilage and garden in Saint Mary Street; and also a piece of marshland near the West Moors of Cardiff, with the fishing-place there called Annie Butcher's Heng; all which premises descended to the said Mary Henburie from Rhys Wastell, her deceased father. The premises in Saint Mary Street were by Nicholas Wastell devised to the use of the poor of Cardiff for ever. (See Vol. III., p. 125.)

The next deed, dated 7 March 1717, made by John Collines to James Gale, both Aldermen of Cardiff, is a conveyance of the premises comprised in the abovementioned deed of 22 July 1606. The description of the property is slightly different in this document; which terms it a dwellinghouse, bakehouse and curtilage called the Armoury House, in St. John Street, near the church. This deed also conveys a garden lying behind the Hayes, near the Town Wall—perhaps the premises comprised in the grant of 1 October 1600. The document records a feoffment of this property by livery of seisin executed upon the lands and tenements, which were afterwards given by Alderman Gale for the benefit of the poor.

Lastly I print particulars of a Bargain and Sale by Christopher Wells, of Cardiff, cordwainer, dated 4 June 1670, which grants to Cradock Wells, esquire, Senior Bailiff of Cardiff, the remainder (nearly the whole) of a 99 years' lease of an eight-windowed shop called the Shambles under the Town Hall, together with two gardens in Waste Lane (the north end of Working Street), and two waste plots near the East Gate and North Gate respectively—the said premises having theretofore been leased to the said Christopher Wells by the Corporation. It is interesting to note that the lease by the Corporation was executed by the Bailiffs and the Common Attorneys. Reference is made to waste ground outside the North Gate, whereon the townsfolk lay their refuse.

The year 1620 is approximately the date to which we must assign "The Case against the Paying of Impost for Wines." The question of customs dues was then very much to the fore. This document was written, doubtless by a lawyer, with the object of supporting resistance to the payment of a tax on wine in Wales. The writer begins by remarking that the "Statute for the ordinance for Wales" lays no such impost on the Principality. Queen Elizabeth, he says, gave the impost to certain of her favourites; but when those noblemen attempted to enforce payment thereof upon Welsh merchants, they were unsuccessful: He is of opinion that the mises paid by the Welsh are in consideration of their ancient customs, which include exemption from impost. It appears, from the concluding paragraph of the document, that some Presentment was in preparation, which was to comprise a declaration of Wales' exemption from the obnoxious tax.

"The Great Baronies of Wales" is a tabulated statement in Latin, apparently drawn up circa 1630, of the chief lordships of the Principality, and of their dependent manors. The arms of each great barony are depicted, and the whole manuscript is a fine piece of penmanship. It is preserved in the Cardiff Free Library, being a portion of the Corporation's purchase from the Phillips collection. I have extracted the section which concerns the Lordship of Cardiff Castle and its dependencies. The document is very deficient in particulars of the lordships in Monmouthshire.

From Fonmon Castle comes a series of historical gleanings relative to the Civil War of the seventeenth century, collected for the most part from rare contemporary news-sheets and broadsides. The particulars include such points of local interest as the names of the successive Governors of Cardiff Castle, under King and Parliament respectively; King Charles the First's visit to Cardiff in the summer of 1645; a copy of the Royal Commission appointing Sir Richard Bassett as Governor of Cardiff; Colonel Carne's transference of his adherence from the Parliament to the King, whereby Cardiff was for a time restored to Charles' interest; the defeat of the Cardiff Royalists in 1645; full details of the disastrous battle of Saint Fagan's; and finally the military execution of Captain Berkeley and two other captured Royalists at Cardiff.

The next item in this chapter is a rare broadside, bound up with miscellaneous manuscript and printed matter relating to Wales, portion of the Phillips collection at the Cardiff Free Library. It possesses a melancholy interest, as a relic of sectarian animosity, being a sort of counterblast to an account which the Catholics had published of the recent death of the two priests hanged, drawn and quartered at Cardiff on 22 July 1679. The object of the broadside appears to have been the counteracting of any impression favourable to Popery, which might have been made either by the executions themselves or by the Catholic report of them. If violence of language could effect the author's purpose, it must have been successful.

Mr. Llewellyn's document of 1688 is a curiosity of byegone politics. It is a Mandate from the Mayor and Bailiffs of Cardiff, summoning the Portreeve and Corporation of Neath to the Guildhall of Cardiff, there to take part in the electing of a Burgess to sit in the first Parliament of William and Mary. The Mandate appears to be issued under the authority of a Council composed of the members of the last Parliament of King Charles II.; this re-assembled Council it was who empowered the Prince of Orange to assume the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland. The Neath Corporation reply that they are submissive and humbly obedient to his Highness the Prince of Orange, that they have met at the Guildhall of Neath (not at Cardiff) and have made choice of Thomas Mansell of Margam, esquire, for the seat.

From the British Museum Additional MSS. we have some of Browne Willis' notes on Llandaff Cathedral, copied by Cole in 1752. The necessary editorial explanations are given with the text, but the antiquary's attention may be specially called to the description of the ancient pontifical finger-ring of the Bishops of Llandaff, which in 1769 was in Horace Walpole's possession at Strawberry Hill.

To Mr. Oliver H. Jones of Fonmon Castle I am indebted for permission to copy the amusing Rules of the Sociable Society of Ladies, 1755. The locus in quo does not clearly appear, but it was somewhere not far from Cardiff. This document is followed by notes of a few curious papers in the Cardiff Museum, which are worth preserving in print.

Roath Mill.