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FOURTH SERIES.No. XXXII.
THE MANORIAL PARTICULARS OF THE
COUNTY OF GLAMORGAN.
The county of Glamorgan was constituted by an Act of 27 Henry VIII, and, by that Act, was composed of the lordship of Glamorgan, which lay between the Rhymny and the Crumlyn brook; and the lordships of Čilvae and Gower, which extended it westward to the Llwchwr river. The words of the statute recognise the old distinction between the shire fee, sometimes called "the County", or the “Body of the County", and the Members, and enact “That the lordships, townes, parishes, commotes, hundredes, and cantredes of Gower, Kilvey, Bishopstowne, Landaffe, Sighnith Supra, Singnith Subtus, Miskin, Ogmore, Glesnothney, Tallagam, Ruchien, Tallavan, Lanblethian, Lantwide, Tieriall, Avan, Neth, Landway, and the Cleyes, in the said country of Wales, etc., etc., shall stand and be guildable for ever, etc., united, annexed, and joyned to and with the countie of Glamorgan, as a member, part, or parcel of the same”. (27 Henry VIII, cap. 26.) Here the county to which the enumerated lordships are to be annexed is the old shire fee or body, and the lordships, etc., are the members. Of these, Senghenydd, Miscin, Glyn Rhondda, Ruthyn, Talavan, Llanblethian, Tir y Iarll, Avan, and Neath, were member-lordships. Ogmore, as held by the powerful lords of Cidwelly, and latterly by the Dukes
4ru SER., VOL. VIII.
of Lancaster and the crown, occupied a peculiar position from the rank of its tenants. Llandaff, as held by the Bishop, was excluded from the old shire. Llantwit was named either as the seat of an ancient religious community, or because Boverton, a part of it, was the lord's demesne. Why Talygarn, a private manor or submanor, is mentioned, is not known. The others, Bishopston, Llandewy, and the Clays, belonged to Cilvae and Gower.
Although the Normans created many manors, and, it may be, a certain number of parishes, yet as they preserved, under one name or another, most of the Welsh boundaries and subdivisions, it will be proper to commence by stating what these were according to Caradoc of Llancarvan or his editors.
1. Cantred GRONETH, which included the commots of—(a) Rwng Nedd, that is between or about Neath, and Avan. (b) Tir y Hundred, probably Tir y Iarll in
Y Glyn Corrwg. (c) Maenor Glyn Ogwr. Maenor or Maenawr is the Norman “manor". At present Groneth is the name of the western of the deaneries into which the Glamorgan part of the see of Llandaff is divided.
II. Cantred PENNYTHEN included the commots of(a) Miscin. (b) Glyn Rhondda. (c) Maenor Talavan. (d) Maenor Ruthyn.
III. Cantred BRENHINOL. The kingly or royal cantred, which included the commots of—(a) Cibwr. (b) Senghenydd Uchaiach, or above or north of the Caiach. (c) Senghenydd Iscaiach, or below that stream. So far all is plain; but the above three cantreds only include the northern parts or members, and leave the southern part or body of the shire unnoticed. This is intended to be included in what follows, but is mixed up with Monmouthshire.
iv. Cantred GWENTLHWG or Gwentloog, said to contain the commots of Y Rheordh Ganol and Eithafdylgion, and to include Llandaff and Cardiff, Cowbridge, Llantwit, and Caerphilly; and to be traversed by the rivers Ley (Ely), Taff
, Tawy, Neth, Avan, and Lhychur.
This, however, is obviously an utter confusion. Gwentloog is the name of the marshy level between the Usk and the Rhymny, and never, so far as is known, extended west of the latter river. Caerphilly is probably not the great fortress of that name, which was not then built, and is in Senghenydd, but Caerpile, or Castrum Bulæum, now Cwrt y Bela, near Newport. The general conclusion is that the southern part of Glamorgan was not divided into cantreds or commots, which, if true, is singular. Possibly the solution is to be found in the probability that in the framing of the lordship the Norman shire represented the dominion directly governed by the Welsh prince, and the members those of his subordinate chiefs.
West of the Crumlyn was, v, Cantred EGINOC, which extended into Caermarthenshire, and only one commot of which, that of Gwyr or Gower, lay east of Llwchwr. The Liber Landavensis (p. 512) mentions the seven cantreds of Glamorgan, but of these, one is in Caermarthen, and three in Monmouth, and three only, Gwyr, Gorfynydd, and Penychen, are really in Glamorgan. Whence the Welsh derived the cantred is unknown. The corresponding English hundred was certainly of Teutonic origin.
The parish was an early and general division in Wales ; but on the hills, as in England, its area was often very great indeed. Aberdare, for example, Llanwonno, and Llantwit Vardre, were chapelries of Llantrissant; and Merthyr, Gelligaer, and Eglwysilan, were also very extensive. The parishes in the vales and more fertile parts were smaller. They were all in Norman occupation, and several of them bear names derived from their Norman lords, as Sully, Barry, and Bonvileston; and others, as St. George's, have churches dedicated to saints strange to the country. How this came about is unknown. Had there been earlier Welsh names it is scarcely likely they would have been so completely lost. Possibly such parishes, most of which are conterminous with a Norman manor and private estate,
were carved out of a larger Welsh parish. The subject is a curious one, and has not been investigated.
Fitz-Hamon's conquest became at once a marcherlordship, after the precedent of Powysland, and concurrently with what was being established in Brecknock under Bernard Newmarch. The position of a lord marcher was a peculiar one, and the rights and powers which he exercised were far more extensive than those appertaining to the same nobles within their English honours and baronies. Thus Fitz-Hamon, who was lord of the honour of Gloucester as well as of the lordship of Glamorgan, held the former as any other English barony was held, and exercised within it no rights of sovereignty. The laws of the land were administered in the king's name and by the king's judges. It was the king's peace that each man was bound to keep, and the king's writ was of supreme authority. In the lordship the state of things was wholly different. The king's writ did not run. Legal proceedings were conducted in the lord's name, and it was the lord's peace that the vassals were bound to keep. The lord appointed his vice-comes or sheriff'; held a “comitatus” or court of parliament of his own, and on the part of his homagers and tenants; and for suits or causes arising within the lordship there was no lawful appeal to any exterior court. The lord seems not only to have exercised rights of wardship and “maritagium” over his tenants “in capite”, as he did in a barony or honour, but to have levied scutages and reliefs ; to have commuted these and other feudal incidents for money; and to have been the lord of the whole lordship, the lands within which were held mediately or immediately of him ; and in the latter case were commonly held by military tenure, usually that of castle-guard. The lord was, both in theory and in practice, a sovereign; and
, the only sovereign, under ordinary circumstances, known to his tenants. As late as 1268 there occurs a convention between Llewelyn Prince of Wales, and Gilbert Earl of Gloucester, concerning certain breaches of the
peace, in which they settle their differences as between equal and equal. Also the curious contest between Richard Syward and his chief lord, Richard Earl of Gloucester (32 Henry III), shows the privileges claimed by the Earl, the ambulatory character of the court ("quoddam parliamentum”), and the absolute prohibition of appeal to the crown: “Ipse Comes habuit talem libertatem in terra sua de Glamorgan quod nullus de hominibus suis nec alios debent de aliquo placito placitare alibi quam infra libertatem suam de Glammorgan. (Cott. MS. Vitell., cx, p. 172b.) The power of a lord marcher grew out of the necessities of his position, in the face of a dangerous foe who, in bardic words, “ slept not, for the light of vengeance was upon his eyes”. Such powers were, however, very inconsistent with the good government of the kingdom; and as Wales became settled, and the crown gathered strength, the marcherprivileges were encroached upon and curtailed, though it was not till the reign of Edward I that they were seriously limited, and not until that of Henry VIII that they were finally extinguished.
The position of a lord marcher and his relation to the crown have not been defined by either legal or constitutional writers, or by those who have treated of titles of honour. Their powers do not appear to have been ever either formally granted, or even officially recognised, nor, at least for a century or more from the Conquest, to have been the subject of a regular charter or of statutory limitations. Probably neither party desired a formal definition. The sovereign would naturally be unwilling to give a regular sanction to powers so unusual, and so liable to be abused ; nor would the lords be willing to accept any recognition short of the powers they actually enjoyed and exercised. When De Braose pleaded in Parliament for the privileges in Gower, he cited a charter by John to his ancestor ; but the appositeness of this was contested on the ground that it gave no specific privileges, but only confirined generally those already in existence. De Braose, who