Glamorgan County Records.
ALL but two of these muniments
are in the custody of T. Mansel
Franklen, Esq., Clerk of the
Peace for the County of Glamorgan. The exceptions are
very short documents. The first
is an assessment of Ship Money,
about 1635, on the parishes in
the Hundred of Dinas Powys.
Each entry gives only the names
of the collectors and the sums
of money. I have extracted the
entries for Saint Fagan's, Leckwith, Penarth, Lavernock and
Cogan. This document is preserved in the Cardiff Museum.
The second is at the Record Office. It is a list of Popish
Recusants convicted in 1717, with a statement of their landed
property. The principal person therein named is George Mathew
junior, of Thurles in Ireland, esq., who was descended from Mathew
of Radyr and owned Llandaff Castle and Manor. He was ancestor
to the Mathew of Thomastown, Earls of Landaff.
The Files of Records of the Quarter Sessions of the Peace for
the County of Glamorgan commence 1727, and I have examined them
down to 1753, from about which date they are devoid of special
In 1727 occurs a very curious case in which Miles Evans of
Llandaff, gentleman, is charged with libelling the Bishop and certain
other ecclesiastical dignitaries of that see, by means of an abusive
set of verses, which is set out in full. It imitates the style of
"Hudibras," displays much rancour, and some wit.
For 1729 is given a specimen of the Certificates required under
the Test Act. Before a man could take any public appointment,
however insignificant, he had to produce a certificate that he had
"received the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, according to the
usage of the Church of England, immediately after Divine Service
and Sermon read and preached." The principal object of this
enactment was to exclude Catholics from positions of authority.
Some of the most interesting documents to be found among the
Quarter Sessions Files are the receipted bills of the Keepers of the
County Gaol. Thus, under the year 1731, will be found a note of
the Gaoler's "Expences in going with Joseph Avery to be executed."
Avery was a notorious pirate or smuggler, and was hanged in chains
at Oystermouth. The man who set up the gibbet had a difficulty
in getting paid, afterwards. The same accounts comprise curious
particulars respecting the transportation of felons. It appears they
were usually contracted to Bristol merchants, who made large profits
by selling them as slaves in the colonies.
Under the same year 1731 we give a copy of the much-used
Oath of Allegiance, whereby (in addition to the requirements of the
Test Act, above referred to), applicants for any public post had to
swear fidelity to the House of Hanover and the Protestant Succession, repudiate the Pope's spiritual authority, and abjure the Stuart
Dynasty. Along with this extensive declaration of beliefs and
disbeliefs, another Test Oath had to be sworn, in testimony of the
applicant's rejection of the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
In the nature of their contents the Quarter Sessions Files largely
resemble the Great Sessions Gaol Files; but the former include some
additional matters of interest, as, for instance, the stocks, the duckingstool, the prisoners' fetters, and the treatment of vagrants and
The ducking-stool, or cucking-stool, was new made in 1739, and
was probably erected on the east bank of the Taff, near the north
side of Canton bridge. It was a chair, fixed to a movable beam,
in which a woman was tied, and so ducked in the water several
times. This was the punishment awarded by the magistrates to
women whose virulent tongues or outrageous conduct rendered
them specially obnoxious to their neighbours. It will be seen that
the ducking-stool was employed in 1739 for "cucking" Elizabeth
A woman was flogged at Cardiff as late as 1753.
The Cardiff Quarter Sessions Order Books, from 1730 to 1770,
have some interesting entries about such matters as the registration
of Nonconformist places of worship, the whipping of misdemeanants,
the repair of bridges, &c.
The Cardiff Quarter Sessions Presentments, 1779 to 1810,
record the manifold public nuisances complained of and "presented"
by the Grand Jury. The Corporation itself was frequently presented
for permitting nuisances. As the same presentments in some cases
recur year after year, it does not seem that the offender was
necessarily "one penny the worse" for the formality. In 1810 a
hundred persons were presented for trading in Cardiff without
having taken up the freedom of the Borough. Eleven of them only
were fined, and it must have been soon after this that the restriction
of trade to freemen fell into disuetude.
The Cardiff District Order Books, containing the Minutes of the
County Road Commissioners for the latter half of the 18th century
and early years of the 19th, call for no very detailed notice in this
place. It appears that, in 1788, the Commissioners' attention was
called to the popular practice of fording the Taff at Llandaff, thereby
avoiding payment at the toll-gate. In the following year James
Harry was prosecuted for so doing, and suffered execution to be
levied upon his goods, taking advantage of the Insolvent Debtors'
Act. The County had to defray the expenses of the prosecution
in consequence. These books contain a great deal of curious
information with respect to the highways, canals, toll-bars &c.