This class of
documents is of
special value to
the student of
local history, owing
to the light which it
throws upon the feudal
organisation, with its
elaborate system of
customs and services,
and upon the history
of agriculture and commerce. The Ministers'
Accounts are financial
statements sent up to the
Crown from the persons
appointed to manage estates which had come into
the King's hands on the
death of the Lord without
heir male, or under certain other circumstances.
With these papers I have included two (1542–3) which, though they
do not come under the description of Ministers' Accounts in the
technical sense, are accounts supplied by Bailiffs of the Lord of
Glamorgan at a time when the King himself was Lord of the same.
The Ministers' Accounts are written, in Latin, on rolls of parchment,
and are for the most part in fair preservation.
In the Account of 1263, supplied by Humphrey de Bohun, the
Port of Cardiff already furnishes a share of the revenue of the Town.
The Manor of Llantwit Major produced the considerable sum of
£24 18s. 5¼d. in annual rents of assize to the Lord of Glamorgan,
while only 59s. was derived from Cowbridge. Llantwit was in the
immediate possession of the Lord. In this and succeeding Accounts
the expression patria Walensium frequently occurs, and I have
translated it "tribe-land of the Welsh." The term has reference to
lands which were the hereditary tribal possessions of the various
clans, and the tenure of which was at this time still vested in the
chief, as representing the clan, subject only to the superior rights of
the Lord of Glamorgan. As the clans gradually disintegrated, their
ancient Celtic customs and community rights were suppressed or died
out, and were forgotten; but the process of their extinction was slow.
The Account of Geoffrey Payn, in the year 1301, is for Rumney
only; but that manor, though situate in the Lordship of Gwentllwg,
in the sister county of Monmouth, was for a long time a portion of
Glamorgan and Morganwg—or, at least, of the Honour of Gloucester,
as held by the earliest Lords of Cardiff—and, from its close proximity
to our Borough, is so intimately related to the Lordship of Cardiff
Castle, that its interesting records could not well be omitted from this
work. For an explanation of the Welsh rent called "Guest," or rather
gwest, or gwestfa, reference should be made to Dr. F. Seebohm's
"Tribal System in Wales," whereby it appears this was a food-rent
anciently paid by Welsh clansmen to their chiefs. It would seem
from this document to have been claimed by the Norman Lords.
Mention is made of " David le Graunt," presumably a member of the
ancient family which, though long extinct, has left its name to two
farms in the Parish of Roath, called Llwyn-y-Grant Uchaf and
In Bartholomew de Badelesmere's Account for the year 1315, note
the annual rent of assize paid in kind, viz., three pounds of cummin.
Rents of cummin, and also of pepper, were usual at this time, such
commodities being then highly valued. Here, also, we have mention of
the lord's mills at Cardiff, in which, by a common feudal custom, the
tenants were compelled to grind their corn at their own expense. One
of these mills still stood, in the first half of the 19th century, under
the west wall of Cardiff Castle, where may yet be seen a moat which
was formerly the mill-leat. Note also the fair at Cardiff on Saints
Peter and Paul's day (29 June), which is not named in the Charters.
Probably the fair on Saint John Baptist's day (24 June), was substituted
for it by the Charter of 1340. This Account makes mention of a yearly
rent paid to the Abbot of Neath for certain tenements in or near
that town. A similar entry appears in successive Accounts, right
down to 1550; and it appears that the payment was in respect of
burgages at Neath and Cardiff which had been the subject of an
exchange between the Abbot and Earl Gilbert de Clare, some time
before 1315. The two Bailiffs of Cardiff this year received one
shilling each. (They are not named in the Charters until 1340.)
Skilled labourers were paid at the rate of threepence a day,
and ordinary labourers a penny. The Account for Roath supplies
interesting particulars of the various kinds of agricultural labour
performed in the Lord's demesne by his villein tenants, these services
being the condition on which they held their tenements. At a later
date such customary services were commuted for money payments,
as may be seen by subsequent Accounts, and those tenements
eventually became the copyholds of the present day. The lamprey
fishery in the river Ely, in the Manor of Leckwith, is mentioned
in this document. I have included certain entries relating to
Llantrisant, Cardiff's sister borough; this year they refer to " the
war waged by the Welsh immediately after the Earl's death," in
which much damage was done to Llantrisant and Pentyrch by the
insurgent Cymry under Llewelyn Bren. The Earl's house at Radyr
had no tenant this year; but subsequently the Lord of the Manor
of Radyr held immediately under the Lord of Glamorgan, paying a
For the year 1316 we have three Accounts. The first, that of
Bartholomew de Badelesmere, is a long one. Under the head of
Farms, mention is made of the chensary (chense, or cense), a feudal
impost in the nature of a poll-tax. The ports of Aberthaw, Barry
and Ogmore, in the Manors of Llantwit and Ruthyn, produced a small
income from their tolls. In this and other Accounts entries occur of
sums received for meslin sold to the lord's servants. Meslin is a
mixture (mixtilium) of different sorts of grain.
Gwenllian de Turberville's Account, in 1316, refers to depredations committed by Llewelyn Bren's followers, who were wicked
enough to carry off the beans and hay from the Earl's manor of
John Giffard de Brymmesfeld's Account, for the same year,
records repairs to the tower of Cardiff Castle called Blaketour, the
Black Tower, at the main or High Street entrance to the Castle.
For 1331 we have a bundle of Subsidiary Documents to the
Ministers' Accounts. The first is the King's Writ, to John Giffard
de Brymesfeld, Custodian of Glamorgan, directing him to receive
and safely keep the sums of money which were to be collected by
way of penal fines from those Welshmen within the Lordship who
had supported Llewelyn Bren's revolt. The other documents are
Acquittances in the form of Indentures executed by Robert de
Prestebury, Lieutenant of the Custodian, and various Welshmen,
testifying to Prestebury's having received from those Welshmen
the sums paid by the natives of the different tribe-lands.
The Account of 1376, by Thomas Brown, Receiver of Glamorgan
and Constable of Cardiff Castle, is very faint in its earlier portion.
It supplies the names of the two Prevosts of Cardiff for that year,
as well as those of the Prevosts of Llantrisant, Roath, Leckwith
and Radyr, and that of the Bailiff of the County (comitatus) of
Cardiff, &c. This earlier portion consists of a statement of moneys
paid to the higher officials of the Lordship, in salaries and pensions.
Roger Kyngot, Constable of Neath Castle, was presumably a
relative of the Adam Kyngot who is named in the Municipal
Charter of 1331 (page 17, ante). The Gate-keeper of Cardiff
Castle received but twopence a day as his salary for that responsible
office; though the same amount was paid to each of the watchmen, as appears by other Accounts. This year occurs mention, for
the first time in these Accounts, of the thirty-five knight's fees and a
half, which rendered 6s. 8d. each to the Castle of Cardiff. In later
records this is headed "Castle Ward." The money was supposed to
be applied for the defence of the Castle; and in time of siege each of
these principal knight's fees, or manors, was represented in the
stronghold by the knight himself, who was bound to defend one
particular portion of the walls of Cardiff Castle and had a lodging
within the same.
Roger Panter's Account, 1393, relates to the possessions of
Tewkesbury Abbey, within the Lordship. This wealthy Benedictine
foundation had received large grants of lands from the early Lords of
Glamorgan—in particular the possessions known as the Manor of
Roath-Tewkesbury, carved out of the original Manor of Roath and
bestowed on this Abbey. The "Chapel of Roath" at a longsubsequent date became the parish church of Saint Margaret, on
the site of which the present church stands. The "oblations on
Saint Margaret's day" were the special offerings, in money and kind,
made in honour of the patron saint at the celebration of Mass on her
festival. The Manor of "Splot" is mentioned in this Account.
"Walschmenhull" would seem to be identical with Pen-y-lan. It
was perhaps the tribe-land of Cibwr, that is to say, the common
hereditary territory of the original Welsh people of this district.
"Nestelbon" is, of course, Llystalybont. "Lanvorda" (Llanforda)
is the long-forgotten name of an ancient chapel at Coed-y-gores.
Llanishen and Lisvaen were likewise at this date only chapels. As
they belonged to Tewkesbury, the Abbey repaired them and also the
chancels of Cardiff church (Saint Mary's), and Roath, as is minutely
set forth in the Account. The Abbey also paid the salaries of the
chaplains (curates) of Cardiff Castle and Saint Mary's church, and
Roath chapel, besides providing all things necessary for the performance of divine service in those churches and chapels—as wine
for Mass, and wax for the ceremonies of Candlemas Day.
Richard Crede's Account, 1401, is for Rumney only, which was
then a manor of the Earl of Stafford—the Lordship of Wenlock
(Gwentllwg) and the other estates lying east of the river Rhymny
having by this time been severed from the Lordship of Cardiff
Castle. "The Castle of Rumney" is here mentioned. It was
situate near the church, and probably on the site of the farmhouse
called Ty Mawr. The fishery of the river Rhymny is stated to
have been between Rumney Bridge and the Lord's millpond, and it
is probable that the manorial mill was situate where the present
water-mill stands. Under the head of Capitage we have interesting
examples of bond-tenants suing out their lord's license to dwell
outside the manor.
The Account of 1492 is interesting for its mention of placenames familiar in the ears of the Cardiffians of to-day; such as
Adamsdown, Portmanmoor, Whitmoor and Dobbinpits—though the
two latter, being unfortunately not perpetuated in the designation of
any modern thoroughfare, are fast fading from remembrance.
For the year 1493—by which time the King of England was
Lord of Glamorgan—we have a long and interesting Account, full
of curious information for the antiquary and historian. Allusion is
made to the damages caused to Cardiff by the rising under Owain
Glyndwr, the last champion of Welsh independence; to the pair of
gilded spurs payable by the Burgesses of Cardiff to the Lord, under
the Municipal Charter of 1331 (p. 17, ante); the hermit who kept
the chapel on Cardiff Bridge; the lands lately known as Cooper's
Fields (now a portion of the Castle Grounds); the private mill which
the Lord's Council ordered to be pulled down; the alms anciently
given by the Lords of Glamorgan to the nuns at Bristol, out of the
profits of Cardiff Midsummer Fair; the Grange of the Prior of
Cardiff; the hoop of corn paid weekly as wages to the Serjeants-atMace; the yearly sum claimed by the Burgesses as murage, but
disputed by the Lord; the meadow called Hayward's Plot, which
belonged to the Prevost by virtue of his office; the distraint made
on certain tenants who had not paid their ward-silver; and the
vicar's tithe from the agistment of cattle on the Moors. At Pentyrch
tenants paid a customary rent-service called Cymorth Glanmai,
probably field works, performed on May Day.
The account of 1530, by Matthew Cradok, gives a list of the
Judges of the Court of Great Sessions held at Cardiff in the spring,
at the head of which figure the Abbots of Neath and Margam.
There are also some curious particulars as to certain prisoners
hanged for felony.
Under the date 1538 appears a Ministers' Account of a new
kind, being a schedule drawn up by Sir Rice Maunxell, of the
possessions late of Margam Abbey, confiscated by King Henry VIII.
It recites a Lease made by the Abbot to Lewis ap Richard, of the
Grange near Cardiff, from which the modern Grangetown derives its
name. Allusion is also made to the granges of Roath and Cardiff,
wherein the Abbott collected his tithes in kind.
A highly interesting Account is that for the year 1542–3, furnished by the Bailiffs of Cardiff and the Prevost of Roath to the King
as Lord of Glamorgan and Morganwg. The accountants set forth the
various tenements in the two places, with the names of the holders,
the amounts of rent, and the situation of the premises. The document thus virtually forms a directory of Cardiff and Roath for the
middle of the sixteenth century, giving the names of the streets and
of the principal inhabitants, and information with respect to the
different chantries and their possessions. As will be seen from the
abstract appended to this translation of the Cardiff Account, there
were 269 burgage tenements in the town. Of these 105½ were held
by the Church, and only 75 by lay burgage tenants. There are some
particulars relating to Thomas Capper, who was burned for heresy
in the previous year—whether for denying Transubstantiation or the
Royal Supremacy does not appear. I am indebted to the kindness
of John Stuart Corbett, Esq., Solicitor to the Marquess of Bute, for
permission to copy and translate this interesting document.
Miles Mathew's Account, dated 1547, is annotated in the
margin by the King's Receiver General. The notes made by this
official are striking examples of the atrocious running-hand of the
period, and are perhaps the most difficult pieces of caligraphy I
have ever deciphered, though they are in English.
The Account of 1550 is the last furnished prior to the granting
of the Lordship of Cardiff Castle to Sir William Herbert, who at this
date was Constable of the Castle for the King.
Note.—Some of these Accounts are of great length, and refer to lands in other
parts of England and Wales. I have indicated, by means of stars and points,
omissions necessary to exclude extraneous matter and the needless repetition of
details in themselves unimportant. The same process of selection has been employed
with respect to other documents in these collections. Defects in the original records,
owing to decay of parchment or paper, are duly noted. English and Welsh words
employed by the Latin scribes are here exactly reproduced, within inverted commas.
The original spelling of patronymics and place-names is preserved throughout this