Selections from Archivists' Reports

Cardiff Records: Volume 5. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1905.

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'Selections from Archivists' Reports', Cardiff Records: Volume 5, (Cardiff, 1905), pp. 262-280. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

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. "Selections from Archivists' Reports", Cardiff Records: Volume 5, (Cardiff, 1905). 262-280. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,

In this section


Selections from Archivist's Reports. (fn. 1)

The City of Llandaff.

AFTER a careful examination of the new edition of the Liber Landavensis, (fn. 2) I am of opinion that there have never been any boundaries of the City of Llandaff, as distinct from the Parish of Llandaff. No mention of any such boundaries is to be met with in the variously-dated records contained in that book; and it is incredible that this would be the case, had such boundaries ever existed.

One of the earliest documents in Lib. Landav. recites how Meuric, King of Morganwg, granted to the Church of Teilo (i.e., to this diocese) his country-seat of Llandaff—"podum suum de Lann tam"—and the territory thereof, "with these boundaries: From Henriu gunua to riu finion, and from gungleis to the sea, the whole within the taf and the elei, with the fish," &c. Then follows a grant of various lands within the whole "parish" (i.e., diocese) of Llandaff. The record goes on to relate that "After these things the king rose, and perambulated the whole territory," &c., with the accompaniment of a certain solemn ceremonial intended to define for all time the precise limits of the "territory" thus granted to the See of Llandaff. The area of this "territory," as above defined, appears to have been practically identical with the old ecclesiastical Parish of Llandaff.

In later ages, the various Papal Bulls set forth in Lib. Landav., in defining and confirming the possessions of the See of Llandaff, invariably speak of the "Territory" (meaning the Parish) and the "Parish" (meaning the Diocese) of Llandaff—"Landaviam cum territorio suo, et parochia scilicet Cantrebachan," &c.—naming distant localities within the Diocese; but none of these records define the limits of the actual Town or City of Llandaff.

This is not because the episcopal City was not then a place of importance; for others of the documents duly mention that Llandaff contained, by the grant of the Welsh Princes, a market, a mint, Episcopal Courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction, and even the privileges of a maritime Port. In view of the importance of Llandaff at that time, as evidenced by these public institutions, it is very significant that no boundaries should have been assigned to the City proper; and this in fact points strongly to the conclusion that the City was the whole "territory" granted to Saint Teilo by King Meuric— i.e., the Parish of Llandaff, as it existed prior to the 1875 extension of the Borough.

At a later date the immediate possessions of the Bishop of Llandaff assumed the character of a feudal Manor of Llandaff, with an episcopal mansion at Llandaff Castle, a stronghold of the Edwardian period. The "territory," moreover, extended further east than the Taff, since it included a piece of pasture land on the left bank of the river, at Cardiff.

The only sort of boundary which the Town of Llandaff could have had would have been walls. But walls were military defences erected to safeguard municipalities, such as the Burgh of Cardiff. They were probably not considered necessary for the defence of a cathedral and its adjuncts, regarded by all Christendom as sacred. Such a sacred place was Llandaff, in the eyes of the people of the Middle Ages—a cathedral church surrounded by buildings of an ecclesiastical character, which to attack would have been sacrilege.

I therefore conclude that the City of Llandaff is nothing more nor less than the "territorium" granted to the Bishop by ancient Welsh Princes, and that this area is co-terminous with the old Parish of Llandaff.

J. H. M.

The claim of Cardiff to be the Capital of Wales.

It has been remarked that there is no capital of Wales, and in a certain sense this is true. The capitals of England, Scotland, Ireland, France and other countries, are the towns which from ancient times have been the seats of the executive and administrative power in the State; and such are London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris &c. Each of the above countries either is, or anciently was, governed by its own Sovereign, or by its own Parliament, or by both together; and the capital town was that in which the Sovereign had his Court, or the Parliament its house of assembly. In this political sense, Wales has no capital, and cannot be said to have ever had one. Only for brief periods, and at very long intervals, was Wales ruled by one Prince of her own; and even then they were not always of the same dynasty, nor did they reside at one and the same hereditary seat of government.

Those acquainted with public opinion in the Principality are well aware, however, that for some years past there has existed among Welshmen a growing desire to see their national aspirations crowned by the creation of a metropolis for Wales; nor can it be doubted that the present trend of our political ideas favours the importance of subordinate national capitals. The difficulty begins when the question is asked: Which town has the best claim to be considered, or made, the capital of Wales? It may be assumed at the outset, that the choice practically lies between Aberystwyth, Swansea and Cardiff; and, inasmuch as the claim of Aberystwyth rests mainly on her being situate close to the border-line of North and South Wales, the claims of Swansea and Cardiff are the only ones which need be considered here.

Glamorgan has long been acknowledged as the premier county of the Principality, a recognition conceded to this shire by virtue of its greater population, wealth and political importance. In 1891 Glamorgan contained nearly half of the inhabitants of Wales, and its trade is immeasurably greater than that of all the other Welsh counties together. If we except Monmouthshire, Glamorgan was the first province of Cambria which was permanently annexed to the English Crown; and to this day it contains the remains of a greater number of feudal military castles than any similar division of Great Britain. The larger portion of Glamorgan formed a territory which was successively held by the greatest barons of the realm, such as De Clare, Despenser, Beauchamp, Neville, and Jasper Tudor. From the latter's death in the year 1497, until 1551, it was in the hands of the Kings of England as Lords of Glamorgan and Morganwg, and was then granted to Sir William Herbert, uncle of Edward VI., afterwards created Earl of Pembroke. The Herberts of this line held nearly the whole of the same territory, as the Lordship of Cardiff Castle and its dependencies, down to 1733; and the major part of the last-named Lordship is now in the hands of the Most Noble the Marquess of Bute, Earl of Dumfries, Baron Cardiff of Cardiff Castle, &c., as descendant of Sir William Herbert in a female line.

It must be understood, however, that Swansea formed no part of the Honour or Lordship of Glamorgan and Morganwg, being a town within the Territory of Gower, the outlying western portion of the present County of Glamorgan, and so belonging to the Lord of Gower, who is His Grace the Duke of Beaufort, the representative of another line of the great Herbert clan. Gower was not anciently part of Glamorgan, and to this day is not within the diocese of Llandaff, but in that of Saint David's, like Carmarthenshire.

One consideration which weighs against Swansea's claim, is that she is situate in a territory which is not Welsh, but English. Gower is peopled by an almost purely Teutonic and English-speaking race, akin to the inhabitants of the portion of Pembrokeshire known as "Little England beyond Wales." The population of English Pembrokeshire and Gower are commonly supposed to be the descendents of Flemings settled in those regions by the Norman conquerors of South Wales, but it is more probable they are mainly immigrants from the opposite coasts of Somersetshire and Devonshire. At all events they are not Welsh, and Welshmen could hardly be satisfied to receive as their metropolis a town which has no direct associations with the Celtic British race, but which, on the contrary, is portion of a Teutonic colony.

The claim of Cardiff to be the chief town of Wales rests upon her actual position as the capital of the most important county in the Principality. Cardiff has been the capital of Glamorgan as long as this shire has been in existence. Even before the creation of the Welsh counties by Henry VIII. she was the administrative capital of the ancient province and palatine lordship of Glamorgan, and as such had her Sheriff's Court of the Comitatus, her Exchequer and her Chancery, in which Courts trial was held of all actions, both civil and criminal, before the officers of the Lord, subject only in rare cases to the over-ruling of the King's Courts at Westminster.

In respect of commerce, Cardiff was from ancient times the chief port of South Wales, if not, indeed, of all Wales. Evidence of her mediæval importance in this regard may be seen even in such a work as Malory's version of the "Gestes of King Arthur," printed by Caxton, where the Knights of the Round Table are represented as taking ship at Cardiff, on leaving Britain. That Cardiff was in early times a Staple town is shewn by the fact that Edward III. ordered the Staple of wool to be moved from Cardiff to Carmarthen, on the ground that Cardiff, as head of the Lordship of Glamorgan and Morganwg, was not a "King's town." (Printed Calendar of Patent Rolls, Rolls Series.) (fn. 3) From ancient muniments preserved at the Cardiff Custom House, reciting documents which probably remain among the national archives, it appears that Cardiff was originally the Head Port on the coast of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, from the mouth of the Wye westward to Wormshead (the Mumbles), and that the other havens on this coast were only Creeks in the Port of Cardiff. Further, that on 31 December 1685 a Royal Commission expressly declared Chepstow, Penarth, Newport, Barry, Sully and Aberthaw to be within the Head Port of Cardiff, and raised Swansea, from being only a Creek, to the rank of a Member of the Port of Cardiff. The same Commission supplies striking proof of the superior commercial status of Cardiff over Swansea, by finding that the quay of Cardiff belonged to the Town of Cardiff, but that the quay of Swansea belonged to the Duke of Beaufort. (Cardiff Custom House Order Book, 8 July 1714, citing Commission of Easter Term, 2 Jac. II.) (fn. 4)

Among the Phillips MSS. recently purchased by the Free Library Committee of the Cardiff Corporation there is preserved a Latin paper roll of the early 17th century (No. 26464) headed: "The Great Baronies of Wales, with their members, and the Manors subject to them." The portion relating to South Wales commences with Glamorgan, which is described as a Lordship consisting of "The Castle and Town of Cardiff, chief of the Barony," and the castles and towns of Cowbridge, Neath, Llantrisant, Kenfig and Aberavon, which last are said to be "All borough towns and members of the Lordship of Glamorgan." Then follows a list of seventy manors and towns, over the major portion of Glamorgan, from Roath to Neath, some of which are "All several Manors and parcel and members of Glamorgan and the Lordship of Cardiff," while the rest are "Several Manors held of the Castle of Cardiff as chief of Glamorgan."

Speed, writing his "Description of Britain," also early in the 17th century, calls Cardiff "the fairest town of all South Wales," and, "the chief town of all South Wales."

There are in existence three early Guides and Directories of Cardiff, but they are exceedingly scarce. The first was printed 1796 and speaks of Cardiff as "The county town of Glamorgan." The second, dated 1813, adds "This town has been for ages the residence of princes, the seat of government and judicature." The third, of 1829, says "Cardiff, the county town of Glamorgan, is considered the fairest town in all South Wales."

All available records, in fact, point to Cardiff as the chief town of the most important county in the Principality, from ancient times to the present—a position which gives her a strong claim to be the capital of Wales.

One other consideration deserves to be borne in mind, namely, that Cardiff is closely connected with Llandaff, the ecclesiastical metropolis of South Wales, and the cathedral city of the premier episcopal see in the British Isles (in point of history). According to the earliest extant Welsh chronicles and triads, the Christian Faith was first preached to the Britons A.D. 170, by Saint Ffagan and his two companions, missionaries sent from Rome (fn. 5) by Pope Saint Eleutherius, (fn. 6) at the request of "King" Lleurwg, or Lucius. (fn. 7) Lleurwg appears to have been the native chieftain (tributary regulus under the Romans) of that portion of Britain whereof Caerleon was the seat of government; and which, though forming part of the ancient Siluria, was known in early mediæval times as Morganwg. It was not until the latter half of the fifth century that bishoprics in Britain became dioceses with definite territorial boundaries and fixed sees or cathedræ. In this more modern sense Saint Dyfrig was the first Bishop of Llandaff, and Saint Teilo (who died 512) the second; but, if the most venerable Welsh traditions are to be credited, (and in this respect they are not contradicted by the known facts of history), Saint Ffagan was a bishop of the archaic type, having the episcopal oversight over the native Britons of Morganwg—just as the Bishop of Caerleon presided over the Christians of Roman or semi-Roman origin within the same or perhaps a wider area. Four extremely ancient churches uniquely dedicated in the names of Saint Ffagan and his three companions are found within a small radius from Llandaff; and that this district was, from the age of the first apostles of Britain, the chief episcopal province of Wales, there is no good reason to doubt. Therefore the Welsh are justified in regarding Llandaff as the most ancient bishopric in Britain, and the town of Cardiff claims the honour of a close connection with the venerable city. The old parishes of Saint Mary and Saint John, Cardiff, immediately adjoin the parish of Llandaff; and the marvellous growth of the giant seaport is such that Cardiff is rapidly absorbing Llandaff. At the time of writing these memoranda (January 1897), the two are connected by a chain of dwelling-houses, and their full union is only a question of a couple of years. (fn. 8) That is to say, in a very short time Cardiff, the greatest commercial town in Wales, will be one with Llandaff, the most ancient cathedral city. Here is surely a material argument in favour of Cardiff's aspiration to be the Welsh metropolis.

But in her appeal to history and antiquity, Cardiff may point to her continuous existence from times yet more remote. The learned head of Jesus College, Oxford, Principal John Rhŷs, M.A., (who is the first holder of the Chair of Celtic in that University, and admittedly the highest authority on remote British history and Welsh linguistics) agrees with other historians in identifying the Ratostabios of Ptolemy's Itinerary with the Roman Castle of Cardiff, and in equating its name with the British Rhath-Taf, "the fort on the Taff." (See Principal Rhŷs' correspondence hereon with the present writer, published in the Western Mail of October 1894.) The historical and topographical evidence for this view is so cogent, that it is not disputed by any writer, though it would be out of place to swell these memoranda with the archæological details upon which the view is founded. Cardiff, then, under an older name, was the all but prehistoric capital of Siluria, the home of that indomitable race of pre-Aryan warriors which offered such obstinate resistance to the Roman arms. That Cardiff under the Emperors was an important Roman station on the Via Julia, its rectangular castrum guarding the ford across the Taff, has long been verified as a historical fact, and attested by actual Roman remains. We have it, then, that Cardiff is not only inseparably linked with the most ancient British cathedral city, but that she herself has been a town of importance for a couple of thousand years. This antiquity invests Cardiff with a mantle of historic dignity which, like her commercial distinction, marks her as the unquestionable premier of all the towns in Wales. If other Welsh towns cannot challenge Cardiff's superiority in the matter of population, prosperity and commercial enterprise, so neither can they impugn the title-deeds which declare her to be their senior in age and historical renown. Cardiff the ancient has seen the birth of all her rivals, and the decay of not a few; Cardiff the modern, vigorous still and rejuvenescent, outstrips them all in the march of progress. No other town but Cardiff is a possible capital of Wales.

John Hobson Matthews.

Cardiff. 4 September 1900.

Dear Sir,

In reply to your interesting letter of yesterday's date, it is as impossible to assign a date to the inclusion of the Flat Holm within the parish of Saint Mary, Cardiff, as to name the precise period when that parish was originally formed. This was probably done shortly before the Norman Conquest of Glamorgan, and there is no reason to doubt that the Flat Holm was included from the first. According to the Perambulation of 1373, Bristol at that time claimed no portion of the island as being within her jurisdiction. The Marquess of Bute holds the soil of the Flat Holm by the same title as the rest of his Lordship of Cardiff Castle and its dependencies. The Particulars, dated 10 April 1550, for the Crown Grant of this Lordship to Sir William Herbert, Lord Bute's predecessor in title, include "the farm and profit of the conies of fflate holmes" under the heading "Town of Cardiff." (Cardiff Records, Vol. I., p. 461.) There can be no doubt that the Flat Holm anciently, and from time immemorial, was a portion of the Lordship of Glamorgan, of which Cardiff was the capital. In 1492 the Minister of the then Lord, Jasper, Duke of Bedford, accounted, under the heading "Farm and issues of the burgages" (of Cardiff Burgh). for "10s. farm of the rabbit-warren of the fflatholmes." (Cardiff Records, Vol. I., p. 175). The right of taking "conies on the Flat Holm" was a hereditament which long remained in the hands of the Lord himself, as part of his demesne of Cardiff Castle.

In 1814, when Rothley & Co. were tenants of the Flat Holm, the island was rated as part of the parish of Saint Mary, Cardiff, according to the earliest extant Rate Book. It is a matter of local tradition that the Vicar of Saint Mary's in times past visited the island in person and collected his tithe there.

The Act 2 & 3 W. IV., cap. 64, schedule M, names the Flat Holmes as an isolated part in the Bristol Channel belonging to the county of Glamorgan, and declares that the island is to be annexed to Glamorganshire for Parliamentary purposes.

The Schedule to the Cardiff Improvement Act 1875 has these words :—" Cardiff South Ward. The district bounded on the North by the West Ward and comprising the Great Western Railway and the portion of the borough lying South of same including the island of the Flat Holmes. The boundary of this ward is coloured red on the borough plan."

The first extract from William of Worcester's Itinerary, which you kindly send me, evidently refers to the Flat Holm, though I do not understand the allusion to the Towey. The figures 100, in reference to the population, are perhaps a mistake for 10. The distance from Lavernock Point (low-water mark) to about the centre of Flat Holm Island, is 2 miles and 5 furlongs.

The Flat Holm has been from time immemorial accounted part of the Borough of Cardiff. The occasion of its becoming so would be vainly sought for among extant records, but the early history of the island serves to explain the matter to some extent. Long before the Norman conquest of Glamorgan, the Flat Holm was a favorite resort of such noted luminaries of the British Church as Saint Cadoc and Saint Illtyd. It was there that Saint Cadoc of Llancarfan used to pass the season of Lent with his monastic brethren. (Camb. Brit. SS., pp. 45, 336.) The venerable religious traditions which clustered round the Holms were doubtless the reason why the Flat Holm was included in in the parish of Saint Mary, the spiritualities and temporalities whereof the Norman Lords of Glamorgan obtained for their favourite Abbey of Tewkesbury. Two of the murderers of Saint Thomas a Beckett were buried on the Holms, and the full dedication of Saint Mary's church in Norman times was "Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Thomas the Martyr."

All these facts are insignificant in themselves, but taken together they show the long and intimate connection of the Flat Holm with the Borough of Cardiff. (fn. 9)

The Corporation's Right to Levy Harbour Dues.

In the time when the Marcher Lordship of Glamorgan and Morganwg (including the Vill of Cardiff) was under the unrestricted dominion of the Norman Fitz-Hamo's successors in title, the payments made in respect of merchandise shipped or landed at Cardiff was a source of income to the Lord, and to him alone. In 1316, when the Lordship was in the King's wardship, owing to the minority of the Lord, the official Custodian accounted to the Crown "for 7s. 2d. of the tolls of the sea landing-place"; and, among the "Issues of the Vill," he accounted for "2s. 5d. received of the toll of timber sold in the port of Kaerdif," for the preceding year. As a matter of course, it was then the Lord who bore the entire expense of maintaining the navigation and the quay, near the mouth of the river Taff.

In 1340 the Lord granted to the free Norman and English burghers of Cardiff (probably for a heavy money payment) a Charter of public privileges, among which was freedom from the liability to pay tolls in general, within the Liberties; and in particular freedom from quayage, i.e., from the toll which had theretofore been payable to the Lord for every vessel of a burgess lading or unlading within the Burgh of Cardiff. This Charter goes on to grant that no merchandise coming to or passing through the Town, whether by land or water, shall be sold at or removed from Cardiff, until it has been shewn, first to the Constable of the Castle, and then to the Prevosts of the Town. The Constable and the Prevosts were alike officers of the Lord; but the Prevosts were more especially set over and connected with the freemen of the Town, and their position gradually, in the course of subsequent centuries, developed into that of the two annually-elected Bailiffs—the senior Bailiff, since the Municipal Reform of 1835, having become the Mayor. It must therefore be understood these two "demonstrations" of the merchandise, to the Constable and Prevosts respectively, meant that the goods in question paid toll first to the Lord, and then to the Burgesses. In this Charter, then, we have the first mention of the Burgesses' right to take toll of goods shipped or unshipped within the Borough of Cardiff.

Eighteen years later, in 1358, we find the Lord of Glamorgan again granting to the free burghers of his vill of Cardiff a cartulary confirmation of the franchises of 1340. These two Charters are peculiarly valuable in that they define the geographical limits of the Burgesses' Liberties, which are therein stated to extend from a place near Llystalybont to the broad stream in the sea, and from Longcross to the cross near the Dominican Convent. As regards the river and marine boundary of these liberties on the west and south, there is little difficulty in identifying them to-day. The foundations of the Dominican Convent lie close to the east bank of the Taff, a little above Cardiff Bridge, between the river and the Castle; the "broad stream" can only mean the confluence of the rivers Taff and Ely, well out in Cardiff Bay; and a line drawn from Longcross to the Severn shore runs along the ancient and present eastern confines of the Parish of Saint John Baptist, and so includes within the Liberties the greater part of the modern Docks constructed by the Marquess of Bute or the Cardiff Railway Company. Indeed, from time immemorial it has been assumed, and never disputed, that the outer boundary of the adjacent parishes of Saint John Baptist and Saint Mary encloses the original area of the Borough Liberties as laid down by this Charter. Within this area must be reckoned a considerable extent of land and foreshore on the western side of the Taff, included in both parishes.

In 1581 and 1600 the foregoing Charters were confirmed by Queen Elizabeth. In 1608 they were ratified by King James I., and by King James II. on 21 February 1687/8.

In 1349 the "Tolls of the Town and of the seas" at Cardiff were stated to be worth yearly 100s. (Ministers' Accounts.)

The earliest specific mention of a quay at Cardiff that has hitherto been met with occurs in a Minister's Account of 1550, which states that William Bonar was the tenant of a burgage "in le key de Cardiff," and that Morgan Mathew held a burgage at "le key." It is probable that this quay was the one situate at the bottom of Quay Street until the diversion of the Taff in 1845.

In 1551 Edward VI. granted to Sir William Herbert a large territory in the Counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth, including Cardiff, Roath, Leckwith and Griffithmore; but it is not apparent how the vague and general wording of this grant can have conferred on Sir William Herbert a title to the exercise of manorial lordship rights within the Liberties of Cardiff Borough—except, perhaps, the appointment of officers elected by the Burgesses, and the exaction of the fee-farm rent. The Letters Patent, it is true, contain a long string of common-form words, such as "all and singular waters, mills, pastures, fisheries, moors, marshes, wastes, tolls, rights, jurisdictions, franchises, profits and hereditaments in Roath, Leckwith, Cibwr, Cardiff," &c., but neither the Letters, nor even the Particulars for the same, contain any allusion to wreck, nor any express mention of the tolls of the quay or harbour.

The question then, is, did Sir William Herbert, Lord Bute's predecessor in title, receive from the Crown, by the Letters Patent of 1551, a grant of toll to be paid to him by vessels entering the Port of Cardiff? There appears to be no evidence that Herbert did receive such a grant of toll; and there is nothing to show that any of his successors did so, until the time of the first Marquess of Bute, whom an Act of Parliament allowed to receive Dock dues.

In the 17th century it was found that masters of vessels, on coming into a port, frequently landed their cargoes at some secluded spot within the haven, and so evaded the harbour dues. To prevent this the legislature provided that in each port there should be set apart one exclusive landing-place for landing and shipping goods, and that it should be penal to take on board or put ashore cargo at any other spot. Under this enactment, Exchequer Commissioners visited the Port of Cardiff in 1686, and assigned "All that open place called the Common Quay of the Town of Cardiff, and of right belonging to the said Town," and did "utterly prohibit and debar all other places within the said Port of Cardiff from being used for the lading and unlading of merchandise." It will be understood that, from the circumstances which gave rise to the above provision of the legislature, the gist of the new regulations was that the proper toll should be paid by vessels to the authority to whom such payment was due— being in this case the Town of Cardiff, as appears by the wording of the above document. (fn. 10)

It is almost certain that the annual quit-rent of £5. 13s. 7½d. paid immemorially by the Burgesses of Cardiff to the Lord of the Castle, is payable out of the tolls of the Town, and that it was originally demanded and allowed as the consideration for the Burgesses' receipt of the tolls. It is easy to trace the identity of this annual payment with the hundred shillings which in 1349 was stated to be the yearly value of the " Tolls of the Town and of the seas." (fn. 11) In view of this payment by the Burgesses to the Lord of Cardiff Castle, there can be no doubt that the Corporation are the authority entitled to the tolls of Cardiff Borough, by sea as well as by land.

In 1759 the Town Council passed a Resolution whereby, after rehearsing that the quay was in such bad repair that the quay dues had for several years been neglected to be raised, they directed that the Common Attorneys should repair the quay out of the Corporation funds; also that proper officers should be appointed to raise "the duties anciently due" and to preserve the navigation of the river. (fn. 12)

A Resolution passed by the Council in 1762, after reciting that "the Town of Cardiff hath been time immemorial an antient Port Town, having had a proper antient Quay . . . . in consideration whereof divers antient fees and dues have from time to time been immemorially paid as quayage and received by the Water Bailiff for the time being to the use of the Bailiffs, Aldermen and Burgesses," and that the Corporation had repaired the quay: Ordered that the Bailiffs should appoint a Water Bailiff to collect the "dues and duties arising from the said quayage according to the ancient customs of the said Town, as also to preserve the said quay and navigation of the said river according to the laws and statutes made for the preservation of Navigable Rivers." (fn. 13)

There is no reason to doubt that the preambles to the above two Resolutions are correct in reciting that the Burgesses' right to collect the quay dues and to appoint an officer for the regulation of the navigation in the river is an ancient and immemorial right; and there is evidence that, from that time to the present, those dues have been collected and those duties fulfilled by the Corporation.

The Corporation's claim to port dues was recognised by the Glamorganshire Canal Act of 1790, which extended that right over the prospected Canal Basin. (fn. 14)

Lord Bute's Act of 1830 empowered him to lay down buoys at the mouth of the river Taff, to point out the channel leading to his ship canal; but the Corporation had been accustomed to maintain buoys in the Taff estuary since 1817 at least—as may be seen from entries in the Common Attorneys' Accounts. (fn. 15)

The fact that, down to the Municipal Reform of 1835, the Water Bailiff was appointed by the Constable of the Castle is a strong argument in favour of the antiquity of the Water Bailiff's office. It must be borne in mind that the Constable of the Castle was anciently the chief governor of the Borough and was, in fact, styled the Mayor of the Town. There is a record of the names of the Water Bailiffs back to 1800.

It may be seen from a Resolution of the Council of 5 September 1859, (fn. 16) that the Corporation then claimed to be entitled to dues from vessels entering the Ely harbour; but there is nothing to show the subsequent history of this claim.

The Cardiff Corporation Act of 1884 (sec. 86) empowers the Corporation to borrow money on their harbour rates and tonnage dues.

In replying to a letter of the Town Clerk on 4 May 1887 the Board of Trade wrote that no grant which they might make of the Grangetown foreshore to Lord Windsor could affect any rights possessed by the Corporation of levying tolls on vessels entering the Port of Cardiff.

The following ancient dues are annually accounted for, by the Collector of Customs for the time being of the Port of Cardiff, to the Town Clerk:—

Every vessel above 60 tons 5s. 0d.
" " below " " 2s. 6d.
Slates per 1000 3d.
(An additional charge of 20 %, i.e., 3s. per 10,000 slates)
Every millstone 3s. 4d.

The above dues are payable both at the Canal mouth and in the Bute Docks, but are not collected at Penarth nor Barry. The moneys so collected are paid into the Borough Fund. The above charge on slates and millstones is in addition to the 2s. 6d. and 5s. dues on vessels entering the port.

It is highly probable that the "Town Dues," as they are called, were anciently levied on many other classes of goods, including timber, and that the practice of demanding such other dues has fallen into disuse through the want of written tariffs and through the frequent changes in the personnel of the Customs officials—outgoing officers neglecting to inform their successors of the dues which had been customarily levied.

The Corporation's right to harbour dues is secured by Charter as follows:—

It is granted by the Lord Hugh Le Despenser 1340, confirmed by

The Lord Edward Le Despenser 1358, confirmed by

The Lord Thomas Le Despenser 1397, confirmed by

The Lady Isabel, Countess of Worcester, 1423, confirmed by

The Lord Richard Neville 1451, confirmed by

Queen Elizabeth 1581 and 1600, confirmed by

King James I. 1608, confirmed by

King James II. 1687/8.

To sum up, the right of the Corporation to levy toll upon vessels entering their Port appears to be based upon

1. Ancient grant from the Lord of Glamorgan of the tolls of the Burgh of Cardiff, evidenced by the Charter of 1340, confirmed by subsequent Seignioral and Royal Charters, and evidenced also by the quit-rent paid annually by the Corporation to the Lord out of the tolls.

2. Prescription; the Corporation having manifestly been accustomed to receive such toll and to perform the corresponding duties from ancient times.

J. H. M.

21 January 1898.

Town Lands.

The Chairman of the Records Committee has been asked "whether any freehold lands originally belonged to the Burgesses of Cardiff, and if so, to whom they were sold, and what amount such sale realised?"


Many freehold lands, outside as well as inside the Town, originally belonged to the Burgesses of Cardiff. At this moment the Corporation possess such freeholds. At various times within the last hundred years or more, lands have been sold and exchanged to and with private persons, or have been dealt with in the way of urban improvement. I assume, however, that the question refers to properties holden by the Burgesses in fee from ancient times, under grants from former Lords of Cardiff.

The most important of the freehold lands of the Burgesses was the Health—the large tract of land extending from the Town northwards to Llanishen. It was divided into two portions, the Great Heath and the Little Heath, or in Welsh Mynydd Bach and Waun Ddyfal (fn. 17) respectively—the latter lying towards Roath, east of the former.

There is plenty of documentary evidence that the Heath was the freehold of the Burgesses, who in the 17th and 18th centuries were in receipt of rents from their tenants of various portions of that land.

In 1803, by Order of the Town Council, a sufficient part of the Corporation lands on the Great Heath were to be sold to pay £750 (money lent and interest) to the Marquis of Bute. In the same year it was ordered that the Corporation lands on both Heaths be sold by auction, and the proceeds invested in Government securities. Accordingly in that year 14a. 1r. 12p. of "Land on the Great Heath" was contracted to be sold to Colonel James Capper, who in turn contracted to exchange the same with Lord Bute.

In 1810 John Wood, esq., junior, purchased "the remainder of the Heath Lands" at £12 per acre—but the Race Ground was reserved. In the following year Mr. Wood and Mr. Henry Hollier each purchased one half of the Race Ground at £6 per acre, subject to certain restrictions for preserving the Races. Mr. Hollier's portion measured 134a. 2r. 14p., and the consideration money amounted to £1,600, but it was never paid. Mr. Hollier had possession, however, on 10 June 1811.

This portion was afterwards recovered by an action for ejectment at the Great Sessions; as were also a house and lands called Merry Hill, being about 48 acres, formerly agreed to be sold Colonel Capper, and about 15 acres more on the same Heath. These were all, in 1820, ordered to be sold to defray the Corporation's debts.

In 1822 the Merry Hill property was sold to Lord Bute for £1,000, who in the following year bought Colonel Capper's part for £12 per acre.

In 1835, 49a. or 16p. of land on the Little Heath, held by Lord Bute at £91 a year, was sold to Charles Crofts Williams for £1,845, with reservation of minerals.

In 1849 Wyndham William Lewis, esq., purchased of the Corporation a house, garden and land on the Great Heath, containing 17a. or. 30p., another piece of land comprising 16a. 3r. 15p., let at £73 per annum; and another of 116a. 3r. 15p., held by Lord Bute at £52. 11s. 7d. The price paid by Mr. Lewis was £3,100.

In 1803 the Corporation sold to the Town Clerk, Mr. John Wood, "A cottage and two small fields called Cae Pwdr and Cut-throat," with two more parcels of 30 acres and 12 acres on the Little Heath, for £198. The property is stated in the Town Book to have been sold to him in fee, as a favour, for his efforts to procure the Inclosure Act. On this land now stands Woodville, Cathays.

In 1835 all the Corporation's property at Spring Gardens and the Spital, Crockherbtown, consisting of sundry houses and gardens, was sold for £1,188. 2s. 6d. to Alderman Edward Priest Richards, who next year resigned his aldermancy and was appointed Town Clerk.

In the same year the Corporation sold also to Mr. E. P. Richards, for £160, a cottage and coal-yard on the Canal, formerly part of the Town Wall.

In 1834 two parts of the Town Wall, known as the Cock's Tower, which were tenanted by Charles Crofts Williams at £1. 17s. 6d. per annum, were ordered to be sold; and in the following year the premises were leased to him for 999 years at £1. 7s. 0d. per annum, which rent was two years in arrear in 1843. In the latter year Miss Wood's name occurs as the lessee, at 5s. rent, which was "not to be received at present."

In 1835 the Corporation sold to E. P. Richards, for £40, two houses and gardens in Barry Lane.

In 1834 the Corporation sold to Thomas Revel Guest, for £25, a freehold piece of ground in Little Troy, close to the site of the present Free Library. (In 1875 Sir Ivor B. Guest and others resold it to the Corporation.)

In 1835 the Corporation sold to E. P. Richards, for £13. 2s. 6d., a brewhouse and piece of land between the same and the Boring Mill, which he had held at a yearly rent of 10s. 6d.

In 1834 the Corporation sold to Lord Bute, for £130, six cottages and gardens, and a piece of land, at Blackweir, whereof he had been tenant at £7 a year; and also two other cottages there, concerning which no particulars are obtainable.

In 1835 the Corporation sold to E. P. Richards, for £375, a house, stable, cottage, coach-house and garden at Crockherbtown, in the occupation of Mrs. Vaughan. (fn. 18)

30 May 1901.

J. H. M.

Ton-yr-Ywen Farm


  • 1. A few emendations have been made in this text.
  • 2. The Text of the Book of Llan Dav, reproduced from the Gwysaney Manuscript, by J. Gwenogvryn Evans, &c. Oxford. 1893.
  • 3. Vide ante, Vol. III, p. 19.
  • 4. Vide ante, Vol. II., pp. 375, 376, 377.
  • 5. "Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales." Gee. Denbigh. 1870. pp. 452a, 505a., b., 569. "lolo MSS." Foulkes. Liverpool. 1888. pp. 40, 100, 115, 135. "CambroBritish Saints." Rees. Llandovery. 1853. p. 278. Book of Llandaff. Evans and Rhys. Oxford. 1893. pp. 26, 68, 289.
  • 6. Called in Welsh Elidyr and Elidr.
  • 7. Llaneurwg (in English, St. Mellon's), near Cardiff, takes its Welsh name from Saint Lucius, the kingly "light-bearer;" and its English name from Saint Melo (a native of Cardiff,) the first Bishop of Rouen and the proto-missionary of Britain. These things show Cardiff to have been the centre of early British Christianity.
  • 8. The material junction of Cardiff with Llandaff is now (1904) complete.—J. H. M.
  • 9. The above letter was prepared by the Archivist in reply to one addressed to the Town Clerk by a gentleman at Bristol.
  • 10. Vide ante, Vol. II., p. 376.
  • 11. Vide ante, p. 191 et seq.
  • 12. Vide ante, Vol. IV., p. 272.
  • 13. Vide ante, Vol. IV., p. 276.
  • 14. See an instance of their collection by the Water Bailiff in 1789, ante, Vol. II., p. 343.
  • 15. Vide ante, Vol. II., p. 344.
  • 16. Vide ante, Vol. IV., p. 445.
  • 17. The Great Heath is called in Welsh the Little Heath. Y Waun Ddyfal means "the waste mead."
  • 18. A record of these sales will in most cases be found on reference to the Extracts from Council Minutes in this and the last preceding Volume.