A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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NANGLE, in the county of Pembroke, South Wales.—See Angle.
NANNERCH, a parish, in the union of Holywell, chiefly in the Caerwys division of the hundred of Rhuddlan, county of Flint, and partly in the hundred of Ruthin, county of Denbigh, North Wales, 5 miles (S. by W.) from Holywell; containing 376 inhabitants. This parish, comprising about 2700 acres, is situated on the turnpike-road leading from Denbigh to Mold. Its surface is strikingly undulated, rising into bold and abrupt eminences in various parts; and the lands, which are principally arable, with a portion of meadow and pasture, are in a good state of cultivation: about 400 acres are common or waste. The soil is chiefly gravelly, and well adapted to the growth of corn. Some very extensive veins of rich iron-ore are found in the township of Penbedw, where are also lead-mines that have been worked for many years with considerable success. The surrounding country is boldly varied, displaying good mountain scenery. In the parish are some fine springs; one of them, called "Fynnon Sarah," near the new turnpike-road, is considered to be the source of the river Whieler, which, pursuing a western course, falls into the Clwyd near Pontrufydd.
The living is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £9. 8. 1½.; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph: the tithes have been commuted for a rentcharge of £324; there is a glebe-house, and the glebe consists of above eighteen acres, valued at £19. 8. per annum. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, a neat plain structure, contains a very handsome monument to the family of Mostyn, of Penbedw, and a mural monument to Watkin Williams, Esq., of the same place, who represented the Flintshire boroughs in forty successive years, and died November 30th, 1808, at the age of sixty-six. There are some places of worship for dissenters, and some Sunday schools. John Edwards, in 1734, bequeathed a rent-charge of £1. 6. to be annually distributed in bread among the poor; and the widow of a late rector, not long since, left a sum of £30 for the promotion of education here. Near the boundary of the parish is Moel Arthur, a very large British encampment, occupying the summit of a lofty eminence; and near it are the remains of Pen-y-Cloddiau, the most extensive British fortification in this part of the principality: they are both situated on the range of the Clwydian mountains, within the limits of Nannerch. Many rare and valuable fossils are found in the lead-mines.
NANT, with Prestatyn, a township, in the parish of Meliden, union of St. Asaph, hundred of Prestatyn, county of Flint, North Wales, 8 miles (N. N. E.) from St. Asaph; containing 404 inhabitants. It is situated on the coast of the Irish Sea; the beach is formed of firm sand, and there are about two fathoms of water half a mile from the shore.
NANTCWNLLE (NANT-CYNLLO), a parish, in the union of Trêgaron, partly in the Upper division of the hundred of Moythen, and partly in the Lower division of that of Penarth, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 8 miles (N.) from Lampeter; containing 774 inhabitants. This parish derives its name from a small brook that flows into the river Aëron, and from the dedication of its church to St. Cynllo, an eminent British saint, who flourished about the middle of the fifth century. The Aëron here forms a boundary between the hundreds of Moythen and Penarth; the vale along which it runs abounds with pleasingly varied scenery, and the views over the surrounding country combine many objects of interest. The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £3. 13. 4., endowed with £600 royal bounty and £600 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. David's. The tithes are divided between the impropriator and the vicar, the former of whom has two-thirds, and the latter one; they have been commuted for a rent-charge of £175. The church, dedicated to St. Cynllo, is a small plain edifice, consisting of a nave and chancel, and is not distinguished by any architectural details of importance. A place of worship is kept up by the Calvinistic Methodists, who also hold a Sunday school in the building. There are some remains of an ancient intrenchment, called "Pen-y-Gaer."
NANTDÛ (NANT-DÛ), a chapelry, in the Upper division of the parish of Cantrêv, hundred of Pencelly, union and county of Brecknock, South Wales, 10 miles (S. S. W.) from Brecknock; containing, with the hamlet of Hepstè, 111 inhabitants. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Tâf Vawr, or Greater Tâf, and at the southern extremity of the parish, through which passes the turnpike-road from Brecknock to Merthyr-Tydvil. Between this place and the northern part of the parish, where stands the mother church, extends part of a long chain of lofty barren mountains, including the Brecknockshire Beacons, one of which is the highest mountain in South Wales. The living of Nantdû is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £1000 royal bounty; net annual income, £60; patron, the Rector of Cantrêv parish.
NANTGLYN (NANT-GLYN), a parish, in the union of Ruthin, hundred of Isaled, county of Denbigh, North Wales, 4 miles (S. W.) from Denbigh; containing 391 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated on a branch of the river Clwyd, nearly in the centre of the county, extends almost seven miles in length, and four miles and a half in breadth, comprising an area of 5600 acres, of which 3460 are common or waste. The scenery is agreeably diversified, though not distinguished by any striking peculiarity of feature; the views are confined towards the south and west by lofty hills, but are not destitute of interest. Fairs are held on May 6th and October 27th. The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £4. 13. 4.; present net income, £222, with a glebehouse; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph: the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £180. The church, dedicated to St. James, is not marked by any architectural details of importance. There are places of worship for Calvinistic Methodists and Baptists, in each of which a Sunday school is also held. Some small benefactions arising from land and money, are distributed at Christmas among the poor: the principal of these are the rents of two large tenements, containing five dwellings, with gardens and about an acre of ground, purchased some time since with parish money, and yielding altogether £13. 7. 6. per annum; there is likewise a sum of £4. 3. 6., the produce of various accumulations and small rent-charges. Mr. David Samuel, who sailed with Captain Cook, as surgeon in the ship "Discovery," and was an eye-witness of his death, of which he wrote an interesting narrative, printed in the Biographia Britannica, was a native of this place; and the late Mrs. Jordan, the celebrated actress, was born at Plâs, a township in the parish.
NANTMEL (NANT-MAEL), a parish, in the union and hundred of Rhaiadr, county of Radnor, South Wales, 6 miles (E. S. E.) from Rhaiadr; containing 1345 inhabitants. This parish is pleasantly situated on the small river Dulas; and the turnpike-road from Rhaiadr to New Radnor passes through. It extends for about eight miles in length and five in breadth, and is computed to comprise about 20,000 acres, being nearly the largest parish in the county. It is divided into four townships or hamlets, namely, Coedglasen, Gwastedyn Vawr, Maes Gwyn, and Vainor; and is bounded by the parishes of Rhaiadr, Llanwrthwl, Cwm-Toyddwr, Llanyre, Llanvihangel-Helygen, Llanbadarn-Vawr, Llandewi-Ystradenny, Abbey Cwm Hîr, and St. Harmon. The surface is rather hilly, and the sides of the hills formerly exhibited large groves of oak, now almost entirely cut down, and the stumps removed for firing. It comprehends a large tract of good arable and pasture land, inclosed and cultivated, with two commons, on one of which, called Rhusfa, is a fine sheet of water, named Llyn Gwyn, or "white lake," one mile in circumference, and in some parts three fathoms deep, which abounds with carp and eels. On the west, the parish is separated from that of Llanwrthwl by the river Wye, which here also divides the counties of Radnor and Brecon; and the vale through which the river Dulas, and the road from New Radnor to Rhaiadr, pass, is on one side finely wooded and pleasingly picturesque. The soil is various, being partly composed of a strong white and blue clay. Llwynbarried, Dolldordlod the seat of the late celebrated James Watt, and another residence named Pen-y-Lanole, are in the parish; in which also is the manor of CantrêvMelienydd, now vested in the crown, but formerly the property of the Mortimers, Earls of March, who possessed it until the time of Henry VI., when Edmund, the last of the family, dying, it devolved on his brother-in-law Richard, Earl of Cambridge, upon whose attainder it reverted to the crown.
The living is a vicarage, rated in the king's books at £11. 17. 6., and having the living of Llanyre annexed; present net income, £350; patron, the Bishop of St. David's; impropriators, the Dean and Chapter of St. David's. The church, dedicated to St. Cynllo, and situated under a steep bank above the turnpike-road, was rebuilt in the year 1792, and is a neat edifice, consisting of a nave and chancel, with an embattled tower, which forms an interesting object from several points of view. A glebe-house, with fifteen acres of land, is attached to the benefice. There are places of worship for Baptists at Dolau, and for Independents at Cwrtgwyn; a day and Sunday school, in connexion with the Established Church; and two Sunday schools held by the Baptists, one of them in their meeting-house. A farm in the parish, called Penfynnon, is charged with the annual payment of £5, under the will of Hugh Philips, in 1712; a rent-charge of £2, on Coedglasen, was bequeathed by John Davis, in 1718; and Evan Hope, in 1812, granted by will a charge of £1 on the Tai Newydd estate; all which sums, amounting to £8, are distributed on the Friday before the 3rd of December, among the poor. Two of the largest carneddau in the county are here, one occupying the summit of Gwastedyn, and the other that of Camlo Hill.
NANTMOR, a hamlet, in the union of Festiniog, in that part of the parish of Bethgelart which is in the hundred of Ardudwy, county of Merioneth, in North Wales, 2 miles (N. E.) from Bethgelart; containing 332 inhabitants. This place forms one of those glens among the mountains at the foot of Snowdon which extend into Merionethshire; and a portion of it, called Dôlvriog, has been beautified within the present century, with extensive plantations, formed by W. M. Thackeray, Esq., M.D., of Chester, and now in a very flourishing state. Here are the remains of a chapel, designated Capel Nantmor.
NANT-Y-BAI, in the county of Carmarthen, South Wales.—See Rhandir Abbot.
Nantyr Isav and Uchav
NANTYR ISAV and UCHAV, in the county of Denbigh, North Wales.—See Lavar.
NARBERTH, a newly-created borough, a market-town, the head of a union, and a parish comprising the North and South divisions, in the hundred of Narberth, county of Pembroke, South Wales, 10 miles (E.) from Haverfordwest, 11 (N.) from Tenby, 14½ (N. E.) from Pembroke, and 254 (W.) from London; the parish containing 2620 inhabitants, of whom 1825 are in the North, and 795 in the South, division. This place, in ancient records "Arberth," and still called so by the Welsh, appears early to have been distinguished as the residence of some of the chieftains of the country; and mention occurs, in the more ancient periods of its history, of Pwyll Pendevig, of the royal house of Dyved, setting out from his palace of Narberth to hunt in the Vale of Cych. On the conquest of Pembrokeshire by Arnulph de Montgomery, in the reign of William Rufus, the place became the head of a considerable lordship, which was allotted by Arnulph to Stephen Perrot, who had accompanied him in his expedition into this part of the principality, and who, for the security of his territories, is said to have erected a fortress on the summit of a hill (still designated Camp Hill) between the village of Templeton, in the parish, and the present town. This spot was well adapted to the purposes of observation and defence, and was at that time covered with a thick forest: the remains of military works, which, according to the Welsh chronicles, were destroyed by Grufydd ab Rhŷs, may yet be traced.
Sir Andrew Perrot, grandson of the first knight, subsequently erected the castle, of which the remains form so prominent and picturesque a feature in the foreground of the town. For this purpose he selected a very eligible site, commanding the pass of the valley along which the high road through the county passes; and having completed the building, he garrisoned it with a party of Flemings, whom Henry I. had settled in this part of Wales, and for whom and his dependents, under the immediate protection of the castle, Sir Andrew built habitations, which formed the origin of the present town. Little is recorded of the history of the castle. In 1256 it was taken, and the fortifications destroyed, by Llewelyn ab Grufydd, Prince of North Wales; but it seems to have recovered from the injury received upon that occasion. The lordship and castle were generally the property of the crown, or of some distinguished member of the English peerage, till the reign of Henry VIII., who gave them to Sir Rhŷs ab Thomas, at which time the fortress was in a good state of repair, according to the testimony of Leland, who describes it as "a praty pile of old Sir Rees." The castle suffered material injury during the usurpation of Cromwell; but it appears, notwithstanding, to have remained in a habitable state till the year 1657, when it formed part of the immense possessions of the Barlows, of Slebech, who, in the 4th of James II., obtained permission to hold here a market and fair, and to receive the tolls and customs arising from them.
The town is pleasantly situated on an eminence above a narrow valley, two miles and a half eastward of the Eastern Cleddy river, and in the Northern division of the parish. It consists principally of three narrow streets diverging obliquely from the market-place, in the centre, and is partially paved: the houses are irregularly built, and of mean appearance. Narberth fails in realizing the expectations which the distant view of it excites. As seen from the adjacent heights, with its church, and the remains of its ancient castle mantled with ivy, it forms a prominent and highly interesting object; but on a nearer approach, its want of regularity in the order, and of beauty in the form, of its buildings, destroys the effect of its distant appearance. The surrounding scenery is richly varied and beautifully picturesque. The southern part of the parish produces abundance of excellent limestone, of which great quantities are burnt for the supply of the neighbourhood, and a considerable portion is quarried for building, some of which, from its being susceptible of a fine polish, is manufactured into mantel-pieces of great beauty. The town has lost much of its importance, and sustained a diminution of its inhabitants, owing to the diversion of the western road, which now runs four miles on the south of Narberth to Hobbs' Point near Her Majesty's dockyard. The Pembroke-Dock branch of the South Wales railway, if completed, will pass between this road and the town, and will probably tend to revive the trade. A new market-house, considered to be one of the most commodious in South Wales, has been built at the sole expense of the Baron de Rutzen, of Slebech Hall, the proprietor of the castle and lord of the manor, which he obtained by marriage with the heiress of the late Nathaniel Phillips, Esq. The market is on Thursday, and is abundantly supplied with provisions of every kind, at an extremely moderate price. Fairs are held on March 21st, May 13th, June 2nd and 29th, August 10th, September 23rd, October 26th, and December 11th: they are all noted cattle-fairs, and are much resorted to by graziers and drovers from England. Hats are manufactured to a limited extent; and the shoe trade is considerable. By the act of 1832, for "Amending the Representation of the People," Narberth was created a borough, contributory, with Fishguard, to that of Haverfordwest in the return of a member to parliament: the number of registered voters within the limits of the borough is forty-five. It is also a polling-place in the election of a knight for the shire. The pettysessions for the hundred are held here; and one of the county debt-courts established in 1847 is fixed in the town, with powers extending over the registration-district of Narberth. The former lock-up house here, has been superseded by a new building, erected, with a house for the superintending constable of the hundred, by the county in 1844.
The living is a rectory, with that of RobestonWathen, rated in the king's books at £25. 10. 10., and in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes of the benefice have been commuted for a rent-charge of £550; and there is a glebe of sixty acres, valued at £60 per annum. The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, and supposed to have been originally erected by Sir Andrew Perrot, the founder of the castle, has been lately rebuilt, partly by subscription, aided by a grant of £150 from the Incorporated Society for promoting the building and enlargement of churches and chapels; and partly by a rate upon the inhabitants, amounting to one-third of the whole expense. It is a very neat edifice, in the later style of English architecture, and, in consideration of the gift from the society, contains 150 free sittings, in addition to fifty which were previously unappropriated. Prior to 1829 both the church and parsonage-house were in a very dilapidated condition. A new rectoryhouse and commodious out-buildings have been erected, at a cost of £913, raised by a mortgage on the living, under Gilbert's Act. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Calvinistic Methodists. A free school for poor children was founded in 1832, by George Devonald, Esq., of Sodston House, who endowed it by deed enrolled in chancery, with a rent-charge of £30, issuing out of the farm of Rush Acre, consisting of eighty acres; directing that the children to be admitted should not be less than six, nor remain after attaining twelve, years of age; and vesting the future selection of the master and mistress in the incumbent and churchwardens, with the proprietor of Sodston House, for the time being. An annual subscription amounting to £40 is raised in aid of the endowment, and there are 110 boys regularly taught in a lower room on the National system, with 70 girls in an upper room. Of five Sunday schools, one is in connexion with the Church, two with the Independents, and one each with the Baptists and Wesleyans.
The poor-law union of which this town is the head, was formed January 6th, 1837, and comprises within its limits the following forty-eight parishes and townships; namely, Amroath, Begelly, Bletherston, Clarbeston, Coedcanlais, Crinow, Cronwere, St. Issel's, Jeffreston, Lampeter-Velvrey, Lawhaden, LlandewiVelvrey, Llandilo, part of Llandissilio, Llangolman, part of Llanvalteg, Llanycevn, Llŷs-y-Vrân, Loveston, Ludchurch, Martletwy, St. Mary's or Maenclochog, Mounton, Mynachlogdû, Mynwere, North and South Narberth, Newtown, New Mote, Reynoldston, Robeston-Wathen, Slebech, East Williamston, and Yerbeston, in the county of Pembroke; CastelDauyran, Egremont, Eglwys-Cummin, Eglwys-Vairy-Chyrig, Hênllan-Amgoed, Kifig, Llanboidy, part of Llandissilio, Llanglydwen, part of Llanvalteg, Marros, and Pendine, in the county of Carmarthen; and Killymaenllwyd and Llangan, in the counties of Pembroke and Carmarthen. It is under the superintendence of fifty guardians, and contains a population of 21,753. The union workhouse, capable of accommodating 150 paupers, stands on an elevated spot, midway between Narberth and Templeton, in the South division of the parish, and commands a most extensive view of the country from north-east to south-west. It cost £3700, including £240 paid to Lord Milford for three acres of land: of this amount £2200 were borrowed from the Exchequer Loan Commissioners, and £1000 from the Economic Life-Assurance Society; and five per cent. of the principal is to be paid annually, until the whole be redeemed.
The remains of the ancient castle, which appears to have been a structure of considerable size, consist principally of the grand gateway between two circular towers, partly clothed with ivy, and some small portions of the walls: though not remarkable for their extent, they possess a very pleasing and interesting character, and from their situation have a highly picturesque appearance. On the eastern verge of a wood, and within the limits of the parish, are vestiges of a fine old British intrenchment, nearly triangular in form, and comprising an area of about two acres and a half, with the longest side towards the river Cleddy; it is defended on all sides, except on the east, where is a natural ravine, by a lofty rampart of great breadth, and has only one entrance, at the south-eastern angle. About a mile to the south of the town is the ancient village of Templeton, so called from its having been the resort of the Knights Templars of Slebech, who were accustomed to pursue the diversion of hunting at this place. The cottages in the village have an appearance of great age; and the remains of numerous ruined buildings, together with the tradition that there was once a church or chapel of ease here, on the site of which is a building, subsequently used by a congregation of Unitarian dissenters, but now in ruins, afford evidence of its having been a place of more importance than it is at present. A large cattle-fair is held in the village on the 12th of November.
Grove, in the parish, is chiefly remarkable as having been the patrimonial inheritance of Colonel Poyer, who so gallantly assisted in defending Pembroke Castle during the parliamentary war, and who, together with Colonels Laugharne and Powell, was tried by Cromwell for high treason, and sentenced to suffer death. Cromwell being prevailed upon to spare the lives of two, three papers were folded up, on two of which was written "Life given by God," and the third, which was blank, having fallen by lot to Colonel Poyer, he was shot in Covent Garden, on the 25th of April, 1649. From this circumstance the family motto, "Sors est contra me," was taken. A field on the estate commands a most extensive prospect over the counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen, Glamorgan, and Pembroke, in Wales, and over those of Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset, in England.
NASH, an extra-parochial district, adjoining the parish of Llŷsworney, in the hundred of Cowbridge, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 2 miles (S. W. by W.) from Cowbridge; containing 10 inhabitants. This place, which is situated in the south-eastern part of the county, and within a short distance of the Bristol Channel, comprises about 300 acres of rich arable and pasture land, inclosed and in a good state of cultivation. The ancient seat of the Carnes, now the residence of a descendant of that family, is a spacious mansion, chiefly erected in the reign of Elizabeth; the grounds, which are tastefully disposed, comprehend some pleasingly diversified scenery, and the distant views are not destitute of interest. A chapel for the family was formerly regularly served; but divine service has not been performed in it within memory.
NASH, a parish, in the hundred of Castlemartin, union and county of Pembroke, South Wales, 2 miles (N. E.) from Pembroke; containing 128 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated in the southern part of the county, and near a small inlet from Milford Haven, comprises a moderate portion of land, in a good state of cultivation. Its scenery, though not distinguished by any striking peculiarity of feature, is generally pleasing; and the adjacent country affords some interesting objects, and some views which are not destitute of beauty. The great turnpike-road leading from Narberth to Pembroke passes through the southern part of the parish. The living is a rectory, with the living of Upton annexed, rated in the king's books at £6. 12. 8½.; present net income, £130, with a glebe-house; patron, the Rev. William P. Evans: the tithes of the benefice have been commuted for a rent-charge of £80; and there is a glebe of about twenty-seven acres, valued at £55 per annum. The church is a very ancient structure, remarkable for the rude simplicity of its architecture, and is said to have been erected by one of the earliest proprietors of Upton Castle. A Sunday school is held in the church.
Neath (Castell Nedd)
NEATH (CASTELL NEDD), a borough, market-town, and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Neath, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 35 miles (W. N. W.) from Cardiff, and 197 (W.) from London, on the road from Cardiff to Swansea; the parish containing, in the year 1841, 4970 inhabitants. This place, which is by all antiquaries allowed to be the Nidum of the Romans, derives its name from the river on which it is situated, and of which the Welsh name, Nidd, or Nedd, is pronounced nearly as the English word Neath. In the twelfth Iter of Antoninus it is mentioned, under the above appellation, as being situated on the road between Leucarum (Loughor) and Bovium, the latter station supposed to have been at or near the present village of Boverton, south of Cowbridge. Though repeated and minute researches have been made at various times, no military works have yet been discovered which mark out, with any precision, the exact site of the station at Neath. The churchyard, which is of considerable extent, and in the form of a parallelogram, with a small elevation at the western side, has with some degree of probability been considered the site of the original camp; and of late years, two Roman coins and a cameo are said to have been found in the garden adjoining the rectory-house, which is not more than twenty yards from the spot.
After the conquest of Glamorganshire by FitzHamon, Richard de Granville, one of his knights, obtained a grant of the honour and lordship of Neath, with the privilege of exercising jura regalia, and all the other rights of a lordship marcher. The castle, of which only a small portion is at present remaining, is said to have formed part of the possessions of Iestyn ab Gwrgan, by whom it is supposed to have been originally built; but it is certain that Richard de Granville, if not the founder, materially improved it: the church, in its immediate vicinity, is thought to have been originally a chapel for the accommodation of the garrison, and to have been subsequently enlarged, and appropriated to the use of the parishioners. The same Richard, in the reign of Henry I., with the concurrence of his wife Constance, gave their chapel belonging to the castle, with all its endowments, a considerable tract of waste land in the neighbourhood, and other property, to the abbot of the convent of Grey friars at Savigny, in France, for the erection and endowment of a similar monastery near the town of Neath. A magnificent abbey was consequently built in the neighbourhood, from designs by a celebrated architect from Palestine, named Lalys, who erected several churches and other public buildings in South Wales. The abbey, which was at first dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was subsequently occupied by brethren of the Cistercian order; but it does not appear to have been dependent upon any foreign religious establishment, or to have been regarded as an alien priory, as it continued to flourish till the time of the general dissolution, when its revenue was £150. 4. 9. per annum. During the protracted warfare between the lords marcher and the native chieftains, one of the latter, named Morgan ab Owain, burned the monastery, killing four of the servants and one of the monks, and committing great ravages on its lands. The ruins of this venerable pile, which afforded an asylum to the unfortunate Edward of Carnarvon, are among the most interesting specimens of ecclesiastical architecture in the principality, and are noticed in the article on Cadoxton, in which parish they are situated.
Soon after the accession of Stephen, Grufydd ab Rhŷs, having laid waste the Norman possessions in Cardiganshire, advanced into the territory of Glamorgan; and the Norman lords, rallying their forces in the neighbourhood of this town, are said to have been attacked here by the Welsh army, led on by the sons of Caradoc ab Iestyn, who were lords of the district between the rivers Tawe and Avon. A sanguinary conflict is said to have ensued, in which 3000 men are supposed to have fallen by the sword; the Normans were completely routed, and the few that survived the battle were compelled to seek an asylum in the castles of Gower. About a century after this event, the town, which had been burnt to the ground in 1185, was again taken, and the inhabitants were nearly exterminated by Morgan Gam and Llewelyn, in 1231. The custody of Neath Castle appears to have been an important office; Edward I. gave it to Walter de Hakelute in 1296, Edward II. to John de Everdon and Ingelram de Berenger, Edward III. to Hugh Hacluit in 1330, and Richard III. committed it to Richard Willoughby.
The town is situated on the eastern bank of the navigable river Neath, over which is a bridge, and in the Vale of Neath, a district abounding in rich and varied scenery. The vale expands to a considerable breadth at this place, and is open on both sides to the adjacent country; it is remarkable for the salubrity of its air, and is finely sheltered from the colder winds by the lofty hills with which it is surrounded, without being at all confined. Neath has undergone extensive improvement, and several of the streets have been considerably widened and well paved; the houses, which have been modernised, are in general respectable, and there are some of handsome appearance. A philosophical society, museum, library, and mechanics' institute are supported; and occasional concerts and balls take place at the Castle hotel, which affords excellent accommodation to the numerous visiters who are attracted to this place by the interesting scenery in the neighbourhood, and the beautiful cascades with which the upper part of the Vale of Neath abounds.
From its situation in the centre of a populous district containing extensive collieries, and copper, iron, tin, and chemical works, the town has been for some time increasing in importance as a place of commerce. The almost inexhaustible mines of coal being more than sufficient for the supply of the town and neighbourhood, and of the various works in the environs, great quantities are shipped off to the lower parts of Somersetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall, to Ireland, &c. It is computed that 100,000 tons are annually brought down the vale by the Neath canal alone, for exportation. At Neath Abbey, about a mile from the town, in Cadoxton parish, are some iron-works, established in 1792, and conducted on a very large scale; comprising two blast furnaces for the making of iron from the ore, an iron-foundry for casting the various parts of engine and mill work, and an enginefactory. Latterly, iron steam-boats have been constructed here. From these works many of the ironworks in the principality have been furnished with their powerful engines for blowing the furnaces used in the manufacture of iron, and for the rolling of that metal; copper-works have likewise been supplied with rolling-engines, and with the requisite machinery for the manufacture of copper. Many of the large pumping-engines now in operation in the mining districts of Cornwall were made in this establishment, which has also supplied the Anglo-Mexican and Real del Monte mining-companies with steam-engines for draining their mines. Engines for maritime uses, and locomotive-engines on rail and tram roads, have likewise been made to a very considerable extent. The number of persons employed in these works, and in the collieries and mines connected with them, averages about 400. The copper-works are situated to the south of Neath Abbey, on the western bank of the river; they are also in Cadoxton parish, and form two establishments, called the Crown and the MinesRoyal works, belonging respectively to the Crown and the Mines-Royal copper-companies. The tinworks are on the banks of the river and of the canal, about one mile and a half above the town; and on the eastern side of the river, a little below the town, are some extensive chemical works. There are no works actually within the parish of Neath.
The port is a creek to that of Swansea. The exports are coal, culm, copper, iron, iron-castings, spelter, fire-bricks, oak timber, bark, and wool; the imports are copper and iron ores, corn, flour, foreign timber, black-jack, and groceries and other articles of general consumption. The port, or out-port, is at Briton-Ferry, about two miles and a quarter below the bridge at Neath, reckoning by the course of the river: vessels of considerable burthen can sail up to the town, but the trade is generally carried on by means of barges communicating with Briton-Ferry harbour. The construction of a floating-harbour within the borough, on the left bank of the river, was once in contemplation, but the design was abandoned. The river and harbour were greatly improved some years ago at an expense of £3000, defrayed conjointly by the Neath canal company and the proprietors of the works in the neighbourhood; and the alterations then made were productive of considerable benefit. In 1843 an act was passed for the further improvement of the port. Steam communication is maintained with Bristol, &c. The Neath canal extends from Briton-Ferry to near the head of the vale, a distance of thirteen miles. At Aber-Dylas, about a mile and a half above the town, it is united by a stone aqueduct of eleven arches with the Swansea and Neath Junction canal, by means of which the mineral riches on either side of the vale may be conveyed to the port of Swansea. The latter canal is remarkable for being carried through a distance of nine miles without a lock. The great South Wales railway, also, will pass by Neath, crossing the river below the town; it will likewise pass near BritonFerry. The Vale of Neath railway, for which acts were obtained in 1846 and 1847, will run for the greater part of its distance parallel with the river and the Neath canal, terminating at Merthyr-Tydvil: its total length, including branches, will be above thirty miles; and it will form a junction, at Neath, with the South Wales line. A considerable station for the two lines was commenced here in 1849. The market, which is well supplied with corn and with provisions of every kind, is on Wednesday; fairs are held on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, on July 31st, and September 12th, and some additional fairs have been established by the new corporation. In 1835 an act was obtained for removing the market, and providing another market-place, which was accordingly opened in 1837.
Neath, being parcel of the great lordship of Glamorgan, was one of the places which obtained from Edward II. a new charter, conferring valuable immunities, granted through the influence of that monarch's favourite, the younger Hugh Spencer, among whose possessions this lordship was included. It is nevertheless regarded as a borough by prescription. Another charter, bestowed in the reign of James II., is addressed to the "Reeve, Aldermen, and Burgesses," and vests the government in a portreeve, twelve aldermen, and an indefinite number of burgesses. The members of the corporation when the act 5th and 6th of William IV., c. 76, for changing the constitution of boroughs, was passed, comprised a constable of the castle, a portreeve, twelve aldermen, eight capital burgesses, a recorder, two commonattornies, two serjeants-at-mace, a layer-keeper, two haywards, two ale-tasters, &c. Of these, the constable of the castle was appointed by the lord of the borough, and the recorder by the constable; the portreeve was chosen on the 9th of November every year by the constable, from three aldermen nominated by their own body on the 27th of September previous. The common-attornies, who acted as treasurers, were elected from among the freemen by the aldermen and capital burgesses, who also named four burgesses, two of them to be elected as serjeants-atmace by the constable of the castle. On a vacancy occurring among the body of aldermen, the remaining aldermen filled up the number.
By the act of William IV., the corporation is now styled the "Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses," and consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, together constituting the council of the borough, of which the municipal and parliamentary limits are the same. The council elect the mayor annually on November 9th, out of the aldermen or councillors; and the aldermen triennially from among the councillors, or persons qualified as such, one-half going out of office every three years, but being reeligible: the councillors are chosen annually on November 1st by and from among the enrolled burgesses, one-third going out of office annually. Aldermen and councillors must have a property qualification of £500, or be rated at £15 annual value. The burgesses consist of the occupiers of houses and shops who have been rated for three years to the relief of the poor. Two auditors and two assessors are elected annually on March 1st by and out of the burgesses; and the council appoint a town-clerk, treasurer, and other officers on November 9th.
The income of the borough, as returned to parliament by the commissioners for inquiring into the state of municipal corporations, was derived from the following sources; namely, £83. 8. 6., rents of houses and land; £60, annual dividends upon canal shares; £20, arising from market tolls; £3, consisting of small fees for the use of the standard corn measure; about £100, received by the portreeve as tolls and port dues; and £27, the property of the layer-keeper: the whole producing about £300 a year. This income, however, is stated in the return to be subject to a charge of £42 per annum, payable to a person during life, in consideration of his having given up a lease of premises required for the improvement of the town. Two alienations of real property appear to have been made by the corporation within the last half century; the first in 1801, when land was sold to Mrs. Miers for a sum of £1500, a considerable part of which was ultimately applied towards building the present town-hall; and the second in the year 1825, when a piece of land was disposed of to Mr. Whittington for £500, that amount being needed for the satisfaction of a debt owing to him for fitting up the edifice. It also appears that every burgess was formerly entitled to receive from the lord of the manor thirteen loads of coal annually, being one load every four weeks, upon payment of one shilling per load; but this privilege ceased to be enjoyed about fifty years since; and it is not now known in what right it was claimed.
Neath was one of eight contributory boroughs which returned a member to parliament. Of these, Swansea, Aberavon, Kenvig, Loughor, and Neath, were, by the act of 1832, for "Amending the representation of the People," constituted a separate district, with the privilege of returning a representative. The right of election was formerly in the burgesses at large, a hundred in number, of whom about twenty resided within the borough. It is now, by the act, vested in the old burgesses only, resident within seven miles of the town, if duly registered according to the provisions of the act; and in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the annual value of £10 or upwards, provided he be capable of registering as the act directs. The present number of tenements of this value, within the limits of the borough, which were altered by the Boundary Act, and are minutely described in the Appendix to this work, is about 180.
The corporation claim, but since 1798 have not exercised, the right of holding a court of pleas for the recovery of debts to any amount; and a court baron was held until 1816 by the constable of the castle, for debts under 40s. The Midsummer quartersessions for the county, and the petty-sessions for the hundred, take place at Neath; and one of the county debt-courts established in 1847 is fixed here, with jurisdiction over the Neath registration-district. It is also a polling-station in the election of knights for the shire. The town-hall is a neat and commodious edifice, in the Grecian style of architecture, with a handsome receding portico of the Ionic order; but, being out of the line of the principal thoroughfare, it is not seen to advantage. The upper part of the building contains a large council-chamber, with a jury-room and apartments for the petty-sessions and other business of the local magistracy: the lower part is appropriated to the use of the corn market.
The living is a rectory, with the living of Lantwit annexed, rated in the king's books at £16. 2. 3½.; present net income, £353, with a glebe-house; patrons, the Trustees of the late Marquess of Bute. The church, dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle, is a spacious and ancient structure, of which the nave was rebuilt about a century since; the interior is commodiously fitted up, and has a fine-toned organ, presented by the late Sir R. H. Mackworth, Bart. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, Baptists, the Society of Friends, Calvinistic Methodists, and Unitarians. Mr. John Davies, in 1719, bequeathed £200 to be laid out in the purchase of land for the erection and endowment of a free school; with which sum two tenements, called Bryndare and Ynyscoed, containing together about eighty-four acres, have been purchased; but the original intention of the testator has not yet been fully carried into effect. The interest of £500 received in lieu of the accumulated rent of these farms, and from sales of timber, together with the interest of £100 left by the late Mr. Gwyn, has, in the interim, been appropriated in aid of a National school for boys and girls, which is also partly supported by subscription and children's pence. The rental of the two farms, together with £100 left by William Cross, in 1785, and £30, its accumulated interest, is under the management of the rector, churchwardens, and overseers. Eight Sunday schools are held, two of which are in connexion with the Established Church.
There are various charitable bequests for distribution among the poor, principally in bread, among which are, £2 per annum left by Evan Leyson, in 1634; £1 by William Cross, in 1785; and £3. 16. paid out of the parish rates, as interest due upon a legacy bequeathed by John Davies. This legacy is supposed to have been appropriated to parochial uses, in the repairs of an almshouse in Water-street, left by John Gibbs, in 1670, as a habitation for four poor widows, but which has been so enlarged as to be now capable of accommodating twelve objects of the charity. Mr. Davies also assigned 10s. per annum for ringing the curfew bell. A bequest of £5 to the poor, by Mary Jones, in 1743, has been unproductive. The poor-law union of which this town is the head, was formed September 2nd, 1836, and comprises the following twenty-nine parishes and townships; namely, Aberavon, Higher and Lower Baglan, Blaen-Gwrach, Blaen-Honddan, Briton-Ferry, Clyne, Coed-Frank, Dyfryn-Clydach, Higher and Lower Dylas, Glyn-Corwg, Kîlybebill, Lantwitjuxta-Neath, Llanguicke, Higher and Lower Llansamlet, Margam, Upper and Lower Michaelstonsuper-Avon, Neath; Higher, Middle, and Lower Neath; Resolven, and Ynis-y-Mond, in the county of Glamorgan; and Upper and Lower Ystradgunlais, and Ystradvelltey, in the shire of Brecknock. It is under the superintendence of thirty-three guardians, and contains a population of 32,627.
Within the parish is Gnoll Castle, formerly the seat of Sir Herbert Mackworth, Bart., whose widow conveyed it by marriage to Capel Hanbury Leigh, Esq., of Pontypool Park, in Monmouthshire, from whom it was purchased by Henry J. Grant, Esq. To this gentleman, as proprietor of the estate, belong also the custody of Neath Castle, and the lordship of the borough. The mansion, which possesses the magnificence of a baronial residence, is a conspicuous object from all parts of the circumjacent country. It has been modernised: the principal front consists of a centre, with wings and two semicircular towers; and the grounds, which are extensive, are laid out with great taste. Of the ancient castle of Neath, in the lower part of the town, near the river, only some small portions are at present remaining; and of the walls that once encompassed the town there are no vestiges.
Neath-Genol, or Middle Neath (Nedd Genol or Ganol)
NEATH-GENOL, or MIDDLE NEATH (NEDD GENOL or GANOL), a township, in the parish of Cadoxton, union and hundred of Neath, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 10 miles (N. E.) from Neath; containing 262 inhabitants. This township is situated in the richly fertile Vale of Neath; the scenery is beautifully diversified, and from the higher grounds are some interesting views. The Neath canal terminates within its limits, and a short tramroad proceeds thence to the coal-pits in the neighbourhood: the roads from Brecknock and from Merthyr-Tydvil to Neath unite here, the line then proceeding along the vale between the canal and the right bank of the river. The Vale of Neath railway will also pass through the township. Aberpergwm, the ancient seat of the family of Williams, is a fine old mansion, situated in grounds tastefully disposed, and comprehending much pleasing scenery. Oliver Cromwell, who was in some degree related to the ancestor of the present proprietor, is said to have halted at this place on his way to Milford Haven (where he was going to embark for Ireland), and to have despatched messengers to acquaint the family with his arrival, and demand their good offices in forwarding his expedition, informing them at the same time of the degree of affinity which subsisted between them. Receiving no encouragement from the family, who were zealously attached to the royal cause, he fired a few shots over the mansion by way of intimidation, and departed without offering any further violence. This account, hitherto supported by tradition only, derives corroborative testimony from the discovery of some cannon balls, on turning up the ground near the house, in the year 1831. On a hill above the house are traces of the Via Julia Montana, or Roman road leading from Brecknock to Nidum (Neath). Near the side of this road was a stone with a Roman inscription, which Mr. Llwyd, in his communications for Bishop Gibson's edition of Camden, reads Marci Caritini filii Berici: it has been removed, and is now placed in a grotto within the grounds of Gnoll Castle, Neath. On the same eminence, and near the site of the stone, are two barrows encircled by intrenchments. In the township is also the seat of Nash Edwards Vaughan, Esq., a splendid mansion, situated in a beautifully picturesque portion of the vale, of which it commands an interesting view, and surrounded with thriving and luxuriant plantations. Among the various features of natural beauty by which the scenery of the vale is distinguished, are the frequent cascades formed by the collected waters, descending from the mountains, after excessive rains.
Neath (Nedd), Lower
NEATH (NEDD), LOWER, a township, in the parish of Cadoxton, union and hundred of Neath, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 3 miles (N. E.) from Neath; containing 254 inhabitants. It is situated in the Vale of Neath, which abounds with strikingly picturesque and richly varied scenery; and from the hills in this part of the vale descend numerous mountain streams, forming small cascades, that enliven the scene, and add beauty and variety to the landscape. The whole district is exceedingly rich in mineral treasure: ironstone and coal are found in great abundance and of excellent quality; and at Ynys-y-Gerwyn, in the township, some works have been established, on a moderate scale, for extracting the metal from the copper slag, which afford employment to a portion of the inhabitants. The Neath canal, which commences near Briton-Ferry, and extends for thirteen miles up the vale, crosses the river Neath near Lower Neath. The Vale of Neath railway, also, will pass by. At Ynys-y-Gerwyn is the ancient mansion of the Llewelyns, almost concealed by trees.
Neath (Nedd), Upper
NEATH (NEDD), UPPER, a township, in the parish of Cadoxton, union and hundred of Neath, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 12 miles (N. E.) from Neath; containing 906 inhabitants. This place is pleasantly situated in one of the finest portions of the Vale of Neath, and in the midst of an extensive district abounding with mineral wealth; the scenery, like that which prevails generally throughout this part of the county, abounds with variety and beauty. Within the limits of the township is the small but pleasant village of GlynNeath, a convenient resting-place between Neath and Merthyr-Tydvil, where is an inn and postinghouse for the accommodation of persons travelling on that line of road. About two miles higher up the vale is the little village of Pont-Neath-Vaughan, in Brecknockshire; so called from a bridge over the Lesser Neath, which river in this part separates the counties of Brecknock and Glamorgan. The Vale of Neath railway will pass by the township. At Glyn-Neath, a church and parsonage have been lately built. The vicinity contains both ironstone and coal, which are worked upon a very extensive scale, affording employment to many of the inhabitants: in the veins of coal are frequently discovered beautiful specimens of the British diamond, which are found at a great depth in the mines.
NERQUIS (NERCWYS), a chapelry, in the parish and hundred of Mold, union of Holywell, county of Flint, North Wales, 2½ miles (S.) from Mold; containing 482 inhabitants. It comprises 1899 acres, and is situated in a well-cultivated country, the population being for the most part agricultural: 495 acres are common or waste. There is an old mansion, erected in 1638, by a branch of the Wynne family. Some plantations have been made within the present century, by W. M. Thackeray, Esq., M. D. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £600 royal bounty; present net income, £92; patron, the Vicar of Mold: the tithes have been commuted for £258. 14. 7., of which £215. 4. 8½. are payable to Robert Knight, Esq., the impropriator, and £43. 9. 10½. to the perpetual curate. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, is a neat edifice with a handsome steeple, and a richly decorated niche in the interior, in which was anciently a figure of the Virgin. In effecting some alterations at the chapel, a short time ago, a coffin-lid entire and part of another, each ornamented with a cross fleuri, were discovered in a horizontal position, above a window on the north side of the building: the incisions have been much chiselled out. Lower down, imbedded in the same wall, was found the fragment of another slab of a smaller size, distinctly inscribed with an encircled cross of a plainer pattern. These stones appear to have belonged to a former edifice, but whether here or elsewhere, it would not be easy to conjecture, the inhabitants having no tradition throwing any light upon the subject. There was also found, behind a pew in the east wall, south of the altar, a recess about a foot square, at the bottom of which is the figure of a human face, roughly carved on a block of freestone. The Calvinistic Methodists have a place of worship at Nerquis. Divers benefactions have been made for the instruction of children, principally arising from a grant in 1664 by Griffith Roberts, of Holt, who also gave £3 per annum to the curate for six lectures. The schoolhouse was erected by Mrs. Hyde, of Nerquis Hall, who left £100, the interest to be applied to keep it in repair; and Mrs. Giffard afterwards built a house as a residence for the master. This school, though apparently not limited by the endowments, is in connexion with the Established Church; a Sunday school on Church principles is also held, and the Calvinistic Methodists have a Sunday school. About £4 per annum, derived from several donations, secured on the Shrewsbury and Wrexham turnpiketrust, are distributed among the poor on Good Friday and St. Thomas's day.
NEVERN, a parish, in the union of Cardigan, hundred of Kemmes, county of Pembroke, South Wales, 2 miles (E. N. E.) from Newport, and 8 (S. W. by W.) from Cardigan, the post-town; containing 1625 inhabitants. The name is derived from the river Nevern, so called from the Welsh Niver, "a number," on account of its being formed by the union of numerous rivulets that intersect the parish, and flow together in one considerable stream into St. George's Channel. Martin de Tours, a Norman knight, who, having attended William the Conqueror, was rewarded for his service by a grant of territory on the coast of Devonshire, embarked an expedition for the invasion of such parts of the principality as he might find most easily assailable, and landing his troops at Fishguard, made himself master of the lordship of Kemmes. For the protection of his newly acquired territory, which became one of the lordships marcher, he either erected a fortress at this place, or strengthened one previously built, which he made his residence, and which descended to his son William. The latter, however, having strengthened his interest by marrying the daughter of Rhŷs ab Grufydd, abandoned this seat of his father's, called Llanhyvor Castle, of which there are some remains on a hill above the church, for one that he had built on a more magnificent scale at Newport.
The parish is very large, extending from the foot of the Percelly mountains to the shore of Cardigan bay. It lies in a beautifully diversified and fertile district, and comprehends some of the most romantic scenery in the county of Pembroke, being intersected by a deep wooded dingle, along which flows the Nevern, whose banks are occasionally formed into rocks of fantastic character, while in the lower part, near Newport bay, stands the village: the prospects from the higher grounds are also pleasing and extensive. The road from Newport to Cardigan passes near Nevern, and the greater portion of the parish is inclosed and cultivated: the total area is 14,522a. 13p. The coast is generally bold, and in some parts precipitous, with a good depth of water close to the shore. There were formerly several ancient mansions, inhabited by some of the most opulent families in the county; but nearly all of them have been abandoned by their proprietors, and are at present in the occupation of tenants. Llwyngwair is an elegant mansion, pleasantly situated on the margin of the river Nevern, and within about a mile of its mouth. Among the other seats are Burry, Cwmgloyn, and HênllŷMoor - Mynwere ;s; the last was once the residence of the ancient lords of Kemmes, and of that distinguished antiquary and scholar, George Owen, lord of Kemmes, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £8, and in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor; present net income, £174, with a glebehouse: the impropriation belongs to Mrs. Atwood. The advowson, which was appendant to the lordship of Kemmes, was alienated by deed, bearing date 1347, to Bishop Hoton, who appropriated it to his new college of St. Mary at St. David's, from which, on the suppression of religious houses, it reverted to the crown. The church is said to have been originally founded in the sixth century, by St. Brynach, or Byrnach, to whom it is dedicated, and to have been rebuilt by some of the Norman lords of Kemmes: the present is an ancient and venerable structure, in the Norman style of architecture. In the churchyard, to the south of the porch, is an ancient British cross, elaborately wrought, and bearing two inscriptions: the shaft consists of a single stone, thirteen feet high, two feet four inches broad, and one foot seven inches thick; it is increased in height by a circular top, a separate piece of stone, marked with a cross, and is carved on all sides with ornaments and knots of various shapes. On the north side of the churchyard was another stone, six feet high, with the inscription "Vitatiani Emeriti," but this has been for some time removed. In the chapelry of Kîlgwyn, in the parish, is a chapel of ease, dedicated to St. Mary; and there are places of worship in the parish for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic Methodists. Nine Sunday schools are held, two of them in connexion with the Established Church. Mr. William Rogers, of Kensington, bequeathed £800 in the three per cents. to the poor, the dividends arising from which, amounting to £24 per annum, are annually distributed according to the will, in barley and beef, on the 21st of December. Near Pentre Evan, in the parish, are the remains of one of the largest cromlechs in the principality; the table-stone is eighteen feet in length and nine feet wide, and is supported on two or three coarse upright stones, varying from seven to eight feet high. It is considered not to be surpassed in size by any other Druidical monument in Wales, except the cromlech at Dyfryn, in the parish of St. Nicholas, Glamorganshire. Several other Druidical remains are yet to be seen in and near Nevern.
Nevin, or Nevyn
NEVIN, or NEVYN, a borough, market-town, and parish, in the union of Pwllheli, hundred of Dinllaen, county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 20 miles (S. W. by S.) from Carnarvon, and 270 (W. N. W.) from London, by Carnarvon; containing 1656 inhabitants. The origin of this place is not accurately known; but from some remains of strong intrenchments, evidently of Roman construction, near the harbour called "Porth yn Ilyn," or PorthDinllaen, about a mile from the present town, on a narrow headland jutting out into the sea, and which protects it from the violence of westerly winds, it is supposed to have been a port frequented by the Romans. Of its early history little is recorded previously to the final subjugation of Wales by Edward I., at which time it appears to have been a place of some importance, and to have been selected by that monarch, in the year 1284, for the celebration of a triumphant festival in honour of his entire conquest of the principality. Probably with a view to conciliate the affections of the Welsh, and to amuse or flatter their military spirit, Edward, upon this occasion, resolved to hold a round table, in compliment to their renowned hero Arthur, the supposed founder of that custom; with a grand tournament, which was attended not only by the English nobility, but also by some of the most distinguished knights from foreign countries, who took part in the proceedings, in which Edward himself acquired considerable distinction. The concourse of persons assembled upon the occasion is by all writers represented as very great; and traces of the circular earthwork within which the military feats took place, may still be seen on the road to Edern. In the reign of Edward III., Edward the Black Prince, in the twelfth year of his investiture with the principality of Wales, granted the place to Nigel de Lohareyn, in reward for his faithful services and gallant conduct on the field of Poictiers; and, by charter dated at Carnarvon, made the town a free borough, and bestowed upon the burgesses a guild mercatory, two annual fairs, and a market. He, in short, endowed it with all the privileges enjoyed by royal boroughs, together with the liberties and customs heretofore conferred upon Newborough, in the county of Anglesey.
Early in the present century, a scheme was projected for the improvement of the place and neighbourhood, by forming a line of road across the Traeth Mawr from Merionethshire to Porth-Dinllaen, in the parish of Edern, near the town; by building a new pier and constructing a harbour there; and by making the port a station for the packets to Ireland, in lieu of Holyhead. For this purpose an act was obtained in 1806, under the provisions of which a company was incorporated for carrying the plan into effect; but on a second application to parliament for further aid, after some progress had been made in the harbour-works, the undertaking was abandoned. The road, only, was completed. On the general introduction of railways, the subject of a harbour at Porth-Dinllaen was again canvassed; in 1837 the Irish Railway Commission authorized Mr. Vignoles to survey a line from Shrewsbury to the coast here, and it was proposed to form a harbour for the use of the Dublin steam-packets. The public and the government, however, eventually decided in favour of Holyhead harbour, and the Chester and Holyhead railway. In 1845 an act was passed for a railway from Bangor, by Carnarvon and Nevin, to PorthDinllaen; but after the expenditure of a considerable sum of money this design, also, was abandoned. One of the proprietors of the line laid out a large amount in harbour-works at Porth-Dinllaen.
The Town is situated on the shore of St. George's Channel, at the base of the Eivl mountains, and near the bay of Nevin, which is separated only by a small headland from the broad, sandy, and secure bay of Porth-Dinllaen. The houses are irregularly built and of mean appearance, and the streets neither paved nor lighted, but the inhabitants are abundantly supplied with good water from a large well in the centre of the town, the stream from which runs parallel with the greater part of the main street. The surrounding scenery is boldly varied, chiefly of mountainous character; and the coast in the neighbourhood is abrupt and rocky, and occasionally broken by creeks, with secure anchorage for boats and small craft during the fishing season: among these inlets may be noticed Towyn, Colman, Gwylan, and Ysgadan. Though good roads from Carnarvon and Trêmadoc have been made to the town, affording a facility of intercourse with those places, there is neither any manufacture carried on, nor any trade except what arises from the situation of the place upon the sea-shore, and this consists only in shipping eggs, poultry, and pigs, in exchange for coal, to Liverpool, with which a regular communication is kept up by means of steam-packets. The market is held weekly on Saturday, but is very ill attended. Fairs occur on April 11th, August 18th, and October 20th.
The goverment of the borough, by charter of Edward the Black Prince, which was confirmed by Richard II. in the sixth year of his reign, is vested in a mayor, deputy-mayor, two bailiffs, a recorder, serjeant-at-mace, and borough constable, with an indefinite number of burgesses; under the title of "The Mayor, Bailiffs, and Burgesses of the town and borough of Nevin." The mayor, who holds his office for life, and the bailiffs, who are chosen annually, chiefly for the purpose of superintending the collection and expenditure of the rents of the corporation, are appointed by the freemen at large; the recorder is chosen by the mayor. Previously to the year 1812 the burgesses possessed a right, sanctioned by time as well as by documentary evidence, to a common of 250 or 300 acres of poor land, which was of great value to inhabitants of limited means, as pasturage for sheep, and for the purpose of cutting turf. At that period, an act of parliament was passed for the inclosure of waste lands in the neighbourhood, under the provisions of which this tract was allotted to various parties, without reserving more than a very inconsiderable portion to the freemen; thus increasing the poor rates, and irritating the feelings of those who had so long held the property, and regarded it as in some degree a means of obtaining a livelihood. The evil, however, was inflicted more through the ill execution of the act, than in consequence of the measure itself; since ample power was conferred upon the commissioners appointed for carrying it into effect, to allot to the burgesses such lands as should be a perfect satisfaction for all their rights. The freedom is obtained only by gift of the corporation at large.
Nevin is one of the ancient contributory boroughs within the county, which, with Bangor recently added, return a member to parliament. The right of voting was formerly in the burgesses at large of the borough, in number about forty-five, but is now, by the act of 1832, for "Amending the Representation of the People," vested in the old resident burgesses only, if duly registered according to its provisions; and in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the annual value of £10 or upwards, provided he be capable of registering as the act directs. The number of tenements of this value, within the limits of the borough, which comprises about 900 acres, and is co-extensive with the parish, is about sixty. The borough has no separate jurisdiction; but a court leet is held at Michaelmas, at which the jury present nuisances, trespasses, &c.; and every fortnight, on Saturday, a civil court is held: the grand jury at Michaelmas consists of burgesses, thirteen in number, a foreman and twelve jurors, who are summoned by the serjeant-at-mace under the direction of the bailiffs.
The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of Charles Wynne Griffith Wynne, Esq., owner of the great tithes. The tithes have been commuted for £215. 4. 5., of which £190. 4. 5. are payable to the impropriator, and £25 to the incumbent, who also has some lands, purchased with £800 royal bounty, and let at £48. 10. per annum, and receives £16. 18. 10., the produce of £400 parliamentary grant: there is a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to St. Peter, was rebuilt in 1827, at a cost of about £370, defrayed by the landholders of the parish, and is a neat plain edifice. Here are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. A day school in connexion with the Church is supported partly by subscription; and seven Sunday schools are held, one of them conducted on Church principles.
A sequestered vale in the vicinity of the town is supposed to have been the retreat of Vortigern, who, after his expulsion from the throne of England, is said to have occupied a castle here, which, according to monkish writers, was destroyed by lightning, himself being killed on the occasion. Tradition still points out a small verdant mound as the site of this residence; and near it is a tumulus, covered with turf, called Bedd Gwrtheyrn, or "Vortigern's grave," in which, on being opened some time since, was found a stone coffin containing the bones of a tall man, thought to have been the remains of that unfortunate king. This vale, which is termed Nant Gwrtheyrn, is embosomed in lofty mountains, whose rugged declivities inclose it on every side, except towards the sea; and across the bwlch or hollow by which it is approached from the interior of the mountains, extends a large rampart of loose stones: Dr. Johnson was once a visiter here with Mrs. Thrale, who was born and had property in the neighbourhood, and it is (erroneously) said that this vale gave him the idea of the "happy valley," in "Rasselas." Near Cevn-Amwlch, an ancient seat to the south of the town, are the remains of a large cromlech, designated by the common people Coeten Arthur. Between the coast in this part of the county and the English border there appears to have been a chain of military posts, originating near the town, and passing near Trêmadoc into the shire of Merioneth, continued thence by Bala, entering the county of Denbigh above Pistyll Rhaiadr, and proceeding to Old Port near Oswestry. Within two miles is Madryn, a beautiful mansion. Brynodol, a good house, four miles from the town, pleasantly situated on a gentle eminence, as seen from the sea, commands an extensive view of a large tract of level country, bounded on one side by a chain of mountains, in the foreground of which Bodvan and Carn Madryn are conspicuous, and beyond them the whole range of the lofty mountains of Snowdon.
NEWBOROUGH, a parish, and formerly a borough, in the poor-law union of Carnarvon, hundred of Menai, county of Anglesey, in North Wales, 4 miles (N. W. by W.) from Carnarvon; containing 895 inhabitants. This place, which derives its present name from its having been constituted a free borough by Edward I., was at one time called Rhôs Vair, from a small church, dedicated to St. Mary, that stood at the head of the manor; or, according to Mr. Rowlands, more properly Rhôs Hîr, from its situation in an extensive marshy plain on the eastern side of the Malldraeth sands, and near a long dorsal ridge covered with heath, which extends from this parish to Mynydd Llwydiarth. Though at present a very inconsiderable place, it was anciently of great importance, and is said to have been for many years the residence of the Princes of North Wales, who appear to have had a palace here, where, or at Aberfraw, on the opposite side of the Malldraeth sands, they occasionally fixed their seat of government, as the exigencies of that turbulent period might require. At the time of the final conquest of Wales by Edward I., the place seems to have been the chief town in the island, as well as the seat of justice for the whole comot of Menai, and was annexed by that monarch to the royalties of the Prince of Wales. The latter incorporated the burgesses, and granted them a guild mercatory and other privileges, which were afterwards confirmed by a charter of the 17th of Edward II., by a parliament held in the 1st of Edward III., and by charters of Richard II. in the 2nd year of his reign, of Henry V. when Prince of Wales, Henry IV. in the 2nd of his reign, and Henry VI. in his 4th year. In the time of Henry VII., upon a misrepresentation made to that sovereign, the assizes and other county business were removed from Beaumaris, where they had previously been held for more than 250 years, to Newborough, which thus became the county town.
In the 15th of Henry VIII. the burgesses obtained a new charter, in which all the privileges conferred by former ones were recited and confirmed, but which was surrendered in the following year; and in the 27th of this reign, Newborough, as the county town, in conjunction with its contributory boroughs, returned a member to parliament; a privilege it continued to exercise till the 2nd of Edward VI., when, having greatly declined from its former importance, it was exempted on its own petition from contributing to the expense of supporting a member, and the franchise was confined exclusively to Beaumaris. In the 2nd and 3rd of Edward's reign, the assizes, sessions, and general county business, were removed from this town, which had been found incommodious for the purpose, and restored to Beaumaris, after having been held at Newborough for forty-five years. Notwithstanding these enactments, the burgesses of Newborough still claimed the privilege of sharing in the election of a member for Beaumaris; but the claim was strenuously resisted by the freemen of the latter place, and the case was brought to issue in the House of Commons, in 1709, when the right was declared to be in the mayor, bailiffs, and capital burgesses of Beaumaris alone. Similar efforts to recover the franchise were made in 1722 and 1724, but with the same result.
The Town, which has now dwindled into an insignificant and obscure village, is situated near the southern extremity of the island, bordering on the extensive sea marshes of Malldraeth, and near the mouth of the small river Braint, which falls into the Menai strait near Abermenai ferry. The inhabitants are partly employed in the manufacture of matting, nets, ropes, and cordage, which are made of the rushes that grow in profusion upon the marsh; a few are likewise engaged in fishing. The Chester and Holyhead railway passes within two miles and a half of the town. The market, which was held weekly, has been discontinued for many years; fairs take place on May 11th, June 29th, August 16th, September 25th, and November 11th. The corporation continued to exercise the powers conferred upon them by their charters, until the year 1814, when, through some misunderstanding, the mayor and recorder resigned their offices, and the body was voluntarily dissolved. The government was vested in a mayor and recorder, appointed by the freemen, the former for a year, and the latter during pleasure; and in two bailiffs, one of whom was chosen by the mayor, who, upon his election, named another to serve with him. It was the practice to admit to the freedom any respectable inhabitant proposed by a burgess. Prior to the passing of an act of parliament, 55 George III., "for inclosing lands in the parishes of Llangeidwen and Newborough," the inhabitants extensively exercised a right of common over a large tract of land lying towards the sea, upon which horses, cows, and sheep were allowed to graze, and from which many thousand loads of turf for fuel were annually procured. Since the enactment of that measure, these privileges have ceased; for, although a certain portion of the land was allotted to the burgesses, it was shortly seized, to pay the expenses of the act, as it was alleged; nor was the quantity assigned of equal value with the advantages of which the poor were deprived. The rushes, also, above-mentioned, which were obtained in large quantities for the manufacture of matting, must now be purchased; and on the whole, to use the language of the commissioners for inquiring into municipal corporations, in 1833, "the state of the poor, since the loss of their right of common, is on all hands stated to be one of severe deprivation."
The parish includes the small remains of that of Llanddwyn, formerly a very extensive district, situated to the west of Newborough, on the shore of St. George's Channel, and of which the whole has been destroyed by the encroachments of the sea, or buried under the sands that, during the prevalence of strong westerly gales, are drifted over considerable portions of the parish of Newborough. Of the ancient church of Llanddwyn only a small eastern portion, with the east window, is now to be seen. It was situated on a flat near the sea-shore, and was a fine structure, said to have been originally founded by Dwynwen, the tutelar saint of lovers, to whom it was dedicated, about the year 465. The fund arising from the offerings to the shrine of St. Dwynwen, by her numerous votaries, was very great: and in process of time the church became an abbey for monks of the Benedictine order, who derived a large revenue from the resort of strangers, who came to inquire into their future destiny, which was predicted by the leaping of fish, and the appearance of the water of a well, still called Fynnon Vair, or "St. Mary's well." In the time of Henry IV. its income was greater than that of any other religious house in North Wales, and in the survey of Henry VIII. it was the richest prebend in all the principality. At present not a vestige exists of this noble abbey, and even the place where it stood is scarcely with certainty known. The last rector of the parish of Llanddwyn was Richard Kyffyn, afterwards Dean of Bangor, who, according to Mr. Pennant, in conjunction with Sir Rhŷs ab Thomas and other Welsh chieftains, concerted a plan for placing on the throne the Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., with whom, at that time in Brittany, they carried on a correspondence by means of fishing-vessels from this place. Numbers of vessels were formerly lost on the rocks on this part of the coast; but the evil has been materially lessened by the erection of two beacons on the most prominent rocks, and the construction of a breakwater at no great distance, which have been found highly beneficial to vessels navigating St. George's Channel. These important improvements were made by the trustees of the harbour of Carnarvon. Near Llanddwyn was the ferry of Abermenai, now deserted.
The living of Newborough is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £9. 10., and in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor; present net income, £214. The church, dedicated to St. Peter, stands on an eminence in a bleak and exposed situation. It is one of the most interesting churches in this part of the county; the style is principally decorated English, and portions of the choir present an example unequalled in Anglesey for purity of design, and excellence of material. The whole building forms a single aisle, consisting of a nave and choir with a screen at the junction. It is very nearly one hundred feet long externally, and forty-three feet wide, though not of greater elevation than twentyfour feet to the point of the highest gable. A relic of a previous church is still preserved, in the font; this is probably of the twelfth century, but it has been defaced by later workmen, and has received successive coats of whitewash. The windows of the choir are exquisite specimens, on a small scale, of the decorated style. A piscina occurs in the southern wall close to the altar; on the northern wall is a crossed stone, and in the southern wall of the choir the priest's door, low in elevation, and of beautiful detail. The church was originally erected, it is said, under the invocation of St. Anno or Amo, a Welsh saint whose date is uncertain. There are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists; and two Sunday schools, one belonging to the Calvinists and the other to the Wesleyans, are conducted by gratuitous teachers. The parish claims to participate in a benefaction of £3 per annum by Ellen Owen, in the parish of Llangeinwen, for apprenticing a poor boy; but it has shared in the gift only once, when there was no applicant in that place. Two other small bequests have been rendered void under the statute of Mortmain. In the parish is an upright stone with a mutilated Latin inscription, supposed to have been erected in commemoration of some warrior; it is six feet high, and, from the form of the letters, may probably be referred to some date anterior to the ninth century. John Morgan, a blind musician, and the most celebrated of the latest performers on the ancient instrument called the crwth, was a native of the place. Newborough gives the title of baron in the peerage of Ireland to the family of Wynn.