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Welsh Cattle Drovers in the Nineteenth Century - 2

Richard Colyer National Library of Wales journal. 1974, Summer. Volume XVIII/3

Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales

This is a complete extract of Part 2 of this article (Gareth Hicks April 2003) - apart from some Tables/Figures which have been excluded.

See also   Part 1 & Part 3


Part 2

OUR present knowledge of most aspects of the 19th century cattle trade between Wales and England is based largely upon local tradition which, although highly reliable in many cases, is hardly a substitute for authenticated manuscript material. Unfortunately, however, the diaries, account books and other manuscripts which have survived are few and far between. Indeed, after a careful search of libraries and Records Offices throughout Wales, only some half dozen nineteenth century cattle drovers' account books have come to light, of which only one set of accounts are sufficiently detailed to provide a comprehensive record of transactions over a period of time. The other material, while providing information concerning the routes taken by the drovers, casts little light upon the financial aspects of the cattle trade. In the absence of an abundance of documentary evidence, it is virtually impossible to determine the extent to which the cattle trade was carried out by capitalist entrepreneurs with a large business turnover as opposed to small time operators, such as failed farmers and their workers. It is known, however, that many farmers were extensively involved in the trade at times of the year when the labour requirement of their farms was low, and when they could leave the holding in the charge of family members or farm servants. It is perhaps reasonable to assume that these small 'seasonal' dealers with severely limited capital resources and lack of expertise in the fine art of buying cattle, would have had relatively little influence upon the volume of the trade, and would have presented little serious competition to such men as David Jonathan of Dihewyd whose accounts are mentioned in Part 1 of this series and are also used extensively in the present paper. 1

Some indication of the widespread activities and movements of the drovers in the Midland and South Eastern regions of England may be gauged from Figure I, in which the principal routes recorded in the accounts of four dealer / drovers are shown.   2, 3, 4, 5.

Figure I is, of ourse, by no means exhaustive, there being various other important routes from the Principality, some of which are mentioned by K. J. Bonser in his interesting, if somewhat restricted account of the trade. 6  It would be extraordinarily difficult to produce a completely comprehensive map of the movements of the Welsh drovers through England. Apart from the problems of identifying drove roads today, the extent of the activities of the drovers was such that a small army of research workers would be required to carry out the field work necessary to accurately plot the routes in detail. However, given that the recourses( sic), the time and the enthusiasm for such field work were available, many of the existing gaps in current knowledge could be filled, by relating field evidence to clues provided by manuscript and cartographic material. The Welsh Road, so admirably described and mapped by Mr. John Drew some years ago, 7  is a typical example of an existing....................


Figure I

Drovers'Route Map

There is a legend with this diagram to illustrate which drover went where but which is too obscure to directly copy.
An alternative narrative description is;


.............. country road possessing all the characteristics of an old drover's route; the wide grass verges, the abundance of local tales concerning the drovers, and the numerous 'Welsh' place and field names readily identify the original purpose of the lane. The Welsh road runs from Brownhills, through the rich grazing pastures of the Midlands, to Southam and thence via Culworth and Sulgrave to Buckingham.

The Welsh road, which is mentioned as such in the Enclosure Award for Helmdon of 1758 and also the Greatworth Tithe Commissioner's Map,   8   is particularly rich in place names, the nature of which directly link the road with the cattle droving trade. Thus we find a Welshman's Hill near Castle Bromwich, and a Welsh Meadow some three miles south east of Halesowen,  9  while Welsh Road Farm, Welsh Road Bridge, Welsh Road Meadow and Welsh Road Gorse lie between Offchurch and Priors Hardick. The Welsh Road is traversed, near Culworth, by the Banbury Lane 10 which can still be traced back into Gloucestershire and no doubt connected with the ancient route from the Aust passage across the Severn. It is not possible to determine when the Welsh road became established as a drove route. It is however, recorded among the Constable's accounts in the Parish Records of Helmdon in 1687, that a sum of money was. given, '... to a poor Welshman who fell sick on his journey driving beasts to London,'   11  while almost two hundred and fifty years earlier, John Broome of Baddesley Clinton purchased 'twelve oxen off Gruff Hope Wallace' 12 f rom a drove en route from Birmingham to the Midland grazing pastures, and which might reasonably have been expected to pass down the Welsh Road.

Local tradition contends that the drovers passing down the Welsh Road frequently watered their cattle at a pond outside the village of Priors Hardwick known locally as 'Cowpool'. Superficially there is nothing particularly unusual about this name. However, a pond or water-filled hollow in this locality is almost invariably termed a 'pit' and thus an isolated occurrence of the word 'pool' would seem to indicate a non-local derivation of this term. The similarity in pronunciation between the Welsh 'pwll' and the English 'pool' suggests that the name 'cowpool' may have arisen as a result of a corruption of the Welsh name given to the pond during the droving era. Other place names provide useful indications of the possible existence of drover's routes. Of and the English 'pool' suggests that the name 'cowpool' may have arisen as a result of a corruption of the Welsh name given to the pond during the droving era. Other place names provide useful indications of the possible existence of drover's routes. Of particular interest is the widespread occurrence of villages and hamlets with a 'London' element in their names. For example, there is a 'London End' in the villages of Priors Hardwick and Upper Boddington, both of which lay alongside the Welsh Road, while 'Little London' villages and farms are widely distributed throughout the southern part of England. Several examples, from the first edition 6 inch Ordanance Survey Maps, are given below:

It is certainly not coincidental that these 'London' names occur almost invariably in localities known to have been frequented by the Welsh drovers. A subsequent....................

................... article will show that the distribution of 'Little London', 'Llundain fach' and 'Llundain fechan', in Wales is directly related to the presence nearby of an established drovers' route. 13  It is possible, and indeed likely, that the 'London' villages in England were so named by the drovers after the metropolis to which they were frequent visitors. The 'Little London' distribution in Gloucestershire, together with the comments of travellers like Cobbett who describes how he, 'met between Cricklade and Cirencester in separate droves about 2000 Welsh cattle on their way to the fairs in Sussex',   14 suggests regular cattle movements through this county. It is highly likely that the cattle met by Cobbett were following Ermine Street, to Liddington where they would join the ancient Ridgeway and travel peacefully to Sussex, untroubled by toll-gates and well supplied with wayside grazing. Another route to the Ridgeway involved following the 'Welsh Way', a lane which leaves the Gloucester-Cirencester road before Duntisbourne and passes through Barnsley and Ready Token to Fairford and Lechlade, eventually joining the Ridgeway near Wantage. Apart from its name, positive evidence linking this road with the Welsh cattle trade is provided by the accounts of the Rev. Charles Coxwell of Barnsley. On October 28th 1782, Coxwell received 1. 7.  0, '... for the use of 3 acres one night for 50 head of Welsh cattle', while on November 6th of the same year he recorded a payment of 12/-, 'for a small drove of Welsh cattle'. 15  Other tracks in the south-west Midlands known to have been regularly used by the drovers, include the 'Grene Way' near Woodstock, 16  and the 'Grene Lane,' Northleach, while at Stratford-upon-Avon, a seventeenth century proposal for an act of Parliament to obtain bridge tolls specifically mentions Welsh sheep. 17  Droves of cattle 18  and sheep moving through Gloucestershire and Berkshire were generally en route for the great fairs of Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, of which Blackwater, Farnham, Steyning, Stockbridge, Wendover, Alresford, Shoreham, Selsey, Horsebridge and Pevensey were among the more important. 19  The fairs of Blackwater (November 8th) and Farnham (November l0th) were reached by way of the 'Welsh Ride' which traversed the heath north of Farnborough, while a 'Welsh Drove' ran from Blackwater in a north-westerly direction for Newbury. 20  'The Drove Road' from Guildford, through Albury and Ewehurst and thence to Horsham was taken by cattle moving across the Hog's Back to Horsham fair. 21  Both manuscript and printed sources bear witness to the operations of the drovers in the south-eastern and home counties. The probate inventories of seventeenth and early eighteenth century Essex contain abundant references to Welsh cattle as do eighteenth and nineteenth century farm accounts of that area. 22  In 1776, for example, an Essex farmer recorded purchasing Welsh 'runts' from Evan Jones in Epping fair, 23  while the names of Evan Thomas, Cadwalladr, William Williams and Griffith Williams feature in the toll returns for Brentwood Fair of 1780. 24 Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Welshmen still attended the November Fair at Hertford, and Barnet Fair continued to maintain its centuries-old tradition of being a gathering place for the Welsh drovers. 25  Other drovers, such as Roderick Roderick of Porthyrhyd (c. 1838) penetrated deep into.................

...................the heart of Kent, 26  while Marshall had seen many Pembrokeshire cattle on the roads around Maidstone in October, '... some going to the upland districts, other to the marshes'. 27

The fmely written accounts of the Jonathan family of Dihewyd in Cardiganshire provide a good example of the wide ranging activities of a single family of dealers, who sold cattle at fairs throughout the midland and south-eastern counties of England. The accounts, which cover the period 1839-1880, are written in the hands of David and Thomas Jonathan. 28 The growth in the scale of the business, which primarily involved the buying and selling of 3-4 year old black cattle, is shown in Figure II (not extracted). 29 The figure reveals that, in spite of annual fluctuations, there was a steady increase in both the numbers of purchases and the cash expenditure until the late 1870's. Subsequently there was a steep decline in business activity, related perhaps to a combination of the severe depression which was now beginning to affect livestock farmers, together with increasing pressure of competition from Irish imports. In addition to buying and selling on their own account, it is clear from various entries in o a combination of the severe depression which was now beginning to affect livestock farmers, together with increasing pressure of competition from Irish imports. In addition to buying and selling on their own account, it is clear from various entries in the notebooks and from several letters among the material, that the Jonathans acted from time to time as buyers on commission. Thus a letter to David Jonathan from William Grey of Leatherhead, requested the former to advise him as to the cost of buying Welsh cattle and delivering them to Leatherhead. The Jonathans adopted this practice regularly after the mid 1860's, presumably on account of the saving in fair tolls and charges which arose from direct selling on a 'contract' basis. The Rev. J. E. Evans noted that commission buying was practised during the first decade of the century. 30 The Anglesey dealer, John Evans, active in the eighteen eighties, not only purchased cattle on commission, but also acted as salesman for a prominent local farmer, one William Williams. He received for his services 150 per year together with a rent-free house, summer grass and winter keep for two cows, ten quarters of oats and three tons of hay for the upkeep of his horse. The conditions of the contract drawn up by Williams stipulated that, '... all cattle going from my farm in Anglesey to England for sale go up with Mr. Evans and only expenses charged upon them '. 31

During the period prior to 1850, the Jonathans' purchases were assembled at various points in Cardiganshire and driven across Wales into England, having previously been shod. Indeed, even after the Jonathans had begun to exploit the Shrewsbury railhead in the late 1850's, the animals were still shod before commencing the 80 mile journey to Shrewsbury. Thus, throughout the early 1860's entries such as 'Paid John for shoeing 192 beast; 9 12 0', 'Paid David Tregaron for shoeing 44 beast; 3 4 0', 'shoeing 100 beast; 5' and 'throwing 64 beasts; 3 8 0', occur regularly. It would seem that shoeing of 'trucked' cattle was undertaken primarily to alleviate any loss of condition which might result from the driving of cattle from fair to fair upon disembarking in England. The original assembly points for the droves depended upon the area of the country in which the cattle were purchased. Animals bought in South Cardiganshire, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire converged on Tregaron whence they were driven across the................

....................mountains to enter England via Herefordshire. Cattle from north Cardiganshire were usually gathered in Llanbadarn, and eventually driven northwards to Shrewsbury. The details of these routes will be included in a subsequent article.

Figure II  in the form of a graph with axes 'Cattle Numbers Purchased/Cash Outlay' is not extracted, heading ' Scale of the Business'

In order to get his cattle safely to England, David Jonathan employed several drovers, in addition to his brother Thomas who acted as salesman. By the late 1840's David Rees was employed as head drover, assisted by John and Timothy Lloyd, Charles Jones and Evan Evans, while in the 1860's the names of Thomas Lewis, Robert Richards, Timothy Evans, John Evans and John Williams regularly feature in the accounts. The tavern expenses of these individuals were usually met by the dealers and formed a significant element in the total costs which had to be set against the dealer's margin. A typical account of expenses incurred by David Rees and Charles Jones in taking a drove from Tregaron to Essex in 1840 is set out below:


Account to David

 

Account to Charles

 

 

s d

 

s d 

Abergwesyn tavern

1 0

 

1 0

Newbridge      '' 

1 0

 

1 0

Bontfriog (?)   '' 

1 5

 

0 6

Eardisland       '' 

5 0

 

.

Westinton House

0 7 

 

0 7

Bontwillt tavern 

0 4 

 

2 6

Broadway (bread)

0 6 

Stanton Inn 

0 4 1/2

Birmingham Wells 

0 8 1/2

Moreton-in-Marsh

5 6

William Wells 

3 0

Birmingham Wells

0 8 1 2

Elstow 

0 9

Wellingborough

2 0

Walton 

1 0

William Wells 

5 0

Ongar

3 0

Elstow

0 9

Chelmsford 

1 0

Ongar

2 6

2 0

Chelmsford

2 6

 

-----------

 

-----------

 

1- 1-3 1/2

 

1-17-1 (?)

Add

3-11-8 1/2

 

2 -5-0  +

 

-----------

 

-----------

                              Settle

4-13-0

                            Settle

3-12-1 (?)


The sums appended to the total expenses refer to the wages of the drovers, which at this time were paid on the basis of approximately 2/- per day, supplemented by a lump sum to provide for the needs of the drover on the return journey to Wales. Thus among the accounts of Roderick Roderick are recorded such entries as, '... been in work at Narberth Fair for 24 days, 2  8  0 and return 6/-, or '... John Edwards has been 14 days at 2/- per day and return 1 14 0'. The dealer himself incurred substantial expenses both at the assembly points in Wales, and also on his travels around the English fairs. It was often convenient to assemble droves of both cattle and pigs at Llanbadarn Fawr outside Aberystwyth, and according to their accounts the Johnathons frequently exploited the good offices of the Black Lion Inn on such occasions. This hostelry, under the proprietorship ......................

...................... of one Evan Killin, clearly provided a variety of useful services for the dealers, as evidenced by the following bill from 1851:


 

 

    s       d

May 13th 

To 2 meals 1/4, ale 10d; oats 6d 

-    2       8

 

Hay 

-   14      0

 

Vetch peas

-   12      0

Nov 25th 

Cash lent to Thos. Jonathan 

6    0       0

 

Oats for lean pig

-     2      0

 

Cash lent to David Jonathan

5    0      0

 

Sold 2 pigs to       ''

3   12     0

 

Expenses on 2 pigs

-     9      7

Dec. 29th 

Expenses on 2 pigs 

1     0     5

 

Cash lent  

-    11     6

 

Expenses, E. Evans 6 meals 4/-, ale 1/10

-     5    10

 

 

----------------

 

 

18  10    0

 

Less Cash from Thos.

 6     2    6

 

 

-----------------

 

Total

12    8    0 (?)


The personal expenditure incurred by the dealers in travelling to the English fairs tended to increase in parallel with the expansion of trading activities in the 1850's. By this time they frequently travelled around the midland and south eastern counties by rail, and entries like '... my expense and train fare from Chelmsford to London and back to Romford, 1 3 6' (1856) and '. . . my train from Welford to Harborough and back to Welford, 7/6' (1863) feature from time to time. The first suggestion of the railway being used for long distance transportation of cattle occurs in 1856, when the railway was extended from Nuneaton to Shrewsbury. The creation of a railhead at Shrewsbury was soon followed by a change in the direction taken by the Jonathans' cattle across Wales. Instead of crossing the mountains into Herefordshire, the route, by the late fifties, involved heading directly for Shrewsbury via Welshpool. By 1863 the railway had reached Machynlleth, extending to Aberystwyth in the following year. 32  As a result, in the years after 1865 cattle travelled directly to Shrewsbury from mid-Wales, and, as a subsequent article will reveal, overall droving costs were significantly reduced.

The geographical distribution of the fairs and markets attended by the Jonathans for the purchase of their cattle is shown in Figure III, while the percentage of purchases from different centres over the period covered by the accounts is set out in Table I.


TABLE I 

         PERCENTAGE OF PURCHASES FROM DIFFERENT CENTRES  

CENTRE

TOTAL
PURCHASES

% of TOTAL.
PURCHASES
IN PERIOD
1839/46

% of TOTAL.
PURCHASES
IN PERIOD
1849/62

% of TOTAL.
PURCHASES
IN PERIOD
1863/69

% of TOTAL.
PURCHASES
IN PERIOD
1876/82

N. EMLYN

2681

7  

3  

40

50

LLEDROD

387

22

12

41

25

TREGARON

138

l00 

-

-

-

ABERYSTWYTH

1134

3

47

43

PENCARREG

416

28

16

48

8

ABERGWILI 

559

20

55

20

5

HAVERFORDWEST

2551

10

12

33

45

NARBERTH

579

22

-

40

38

MAENCLOCHOG 

129

25

-

56

19

LLANDALIS

501

19

55

13

12

CARDIGAN 

543

-

-

-

100

CARMARTHEN 

521

-

-

92

8

LLANBRYNMAIR

320

10

86

-

4

TALSARN

416

16

73

6

5

MACHYNLLETH 

2220

-

40

 45

15

DINAS MAWDDWY

763

-

85

15

-

ABERAERON AND  'ABOUT COUNTY'

3072

-

28

45

27

DOLGELLAU 

452

-

80 

17

CAPELCYNON

425

-

46

28

26

LLANBADARN

713

-

23

67

17

EGLWYSWRW

456

-

-

-

 l00

LLANIDLOES 

81 

-

56    

44   

-

LLANARTH 

630 

-

14 

34

52

PONTRHYDFENDIGAID

358

-

49

51

-

LLANRHYSTYD 

189 

-

100

-

-

WELSHPOOL

134

-

18

82

-

RHAYADER 

36

-

72

28

-

LAMPETER 

406

-

14

63

23

CILGERRAN

1056

-

5

35

60

HENFEDDAU 

515

-

15

45

40

LLANYBYDDER

273

-

-

86

14


Table II -  has not been extracted. It shows'Cattle Purchases from Different fairs at Different Periods of the Year' by % in each quarter. The Fairs or Centres are the same ones as in Table I with the same Total Purchases figures for each one.


Figure III -  has not been extracted. It is a (difficult to read) geographic diagram showing the 'Distribution of Fairs Attended by the Jonathans' - appear to be the same places shown in Table 1 above.


During the first period purchases were almost exclusively from South Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire with only the occasional visit to Montgomeryshire. However, as the scale of the business increased in the late forties so did the 'catchment area' for cattle expanded, the Jonathans and their buyer / drovers travelling as far afield as Dolgellau and Welshpool. Although a large number of cattle were still being purchased in the southern fairs, particularly those of Newcastle Emlyn, Abergwili and Haverfordwest, the dominant feature of this second period was the growth in importance of Aberystwyth and Machynlleth as centres of purchase. It is during this period also that purchases from Aberaeron and 'about the county' are first recorded. It appears that 'about the county' refers to purchases made directly from farmers and from the smaller local fairs of North Cardiganshire. The third and fourth periods witnessed further expansion in the volume of purchases from Newcastle Emlyn, Haverfordwest, Narberth and.....................

...................... Aberaeron, together with the other southern fairs of Henfeddau and Cilgerran. The continuing importance of Aberystwyth and Machynlleth was doubtless related to the existence by this time, of railway facilities at these two centres. In Table II (not extracted) the accounts are presented on the basis of the proportion of total purchases from different fairs at various periods of the year. In general there were relatively few purchases during the first quarter of the year, any s. In Table II (not extracted) the accounts are presented on the basis of the proportion of total purchases from different fairs at various periods of the year. In general there were relatively few purchases during the first quarter of the year, any acquisitions during this period almost invariably being made in March. The low level of purchases at this time was related to the requirement for store cattle by the English graziers and fatteners, which in the late winter months was almost non-existent. acquisitions during this period almost invariably being made in March. The low level of purchases at this time was related to the requirement for store cattle by the English graziers and fatteners, which in the late winter months was almost non-existent. Cattle required for straw and turnip feeding would have been purchased during the Autumn, while demand for animals....................


Figure IV  -  has not been extracted. It is a geographic diagram of the principal sales centres in England visited by the Jonathans. (see text below)


Figure V - has not been extracted. It is a bar chart showing 'Percentage of Sales 1832-39' at various Fairs in England. The largest by far being Northampton followed by Market Harboro with  Leicester, Rugby and Lutterworth the next largest in that order.


..................to stock the fattening pastures tended to grow only when Spring grass became available. Moreover, the long distance driving of cattle at this time of the year presented very real problems, particularly with regard to obtaining forage

..................to stock the fattening pastures tended to grow only when Spring grass became available. Moreover, the long distance driving of cattle at this time of the year presented very real problems, particularly with regard to obtaining forage en route. Roadside grazing would be of little value during the winter months, in consequence of which it would have been necessary to purchase substantial quantities of hay at a time of the year when supplies were beginning to ebb. Thus would the expenses of the drove be increased and the profit margin narrowed. It is significant that where substantial numbers of cattle were procured during this period, they were purchased from farms within close proximity to the dealers' home farm. It is likely, therefore, that the Jonathans bought cattle relatively cheaply during the late winter months as food was beginning to get scarce, holding them on the home farm until they were eventually sold on the bouyant spring market. Almost one third of the total purchases were made between April and June at a time when the English grazing pastures were coming into full production and the demand for store cattle was increasing. At this time the Jonathans and their drovers scoured the country between Haverfordwest and Dinas Mawddwy to make their purchases. Over the three months from July to September, however, there was a significant decline in the number of cattle purchases, related once again to a deterioration in the demand for store animals over the summer months when fields would normally be fully stocked. It was not until the later part of September .............................

......................... and thence into October and November that purchases increased once more in anticipation of the demand for cattle both from the yard feeders of the home counties, and from graziers wishing to clear their pastures of surplus summer grass. The types of cattle required in the Autumn by these two classes of purchaser were rather different. Thus the yard feeder was looking for a store animal which would fatten on roots, hay and straw over the winter months, while the grazier favoured the lighter upland 'runts' which were renowned for their ability to process coarse late summer grass. It is interesting to note that the dealers bought comparatively few cattle at the autumn fairs of Newcastle Emlyn, Haverfordwest and the Aberaeron area, all of which were important sources of supply throughout the earlier periods of the year. This may reflect seasonal changes in the supply of cattle to these markets, or alternatively the unsuitability of local cattle types to the purposes of the Jonathans' clients.

While a substantial proportion of their cattle were sold in the south eastern counties, particularly during the autumn months, the Jonathans disposed of the large majority of their animals at the fairs of Northamptonshire, southern Leicestershire and eastern Warwickshire. The distribution of the principle sale centres is given in Figure IV, while Figure V sets out the mean percentage of sales at different centres over the period 1856-1869, for which full records are available. The histogram does not relate to total sales, for in many cases the name of the purchaser rather than the locality appears in the accounts. Nonetheless, the importance of the principal markets and fairs of Northampton, Leicester and Market Harborough is clearly emphasised. The account books suggest that the dealers usually attended at these centres in the first instance, only moving to the smaller fairs when demand, and thus prices, were particularly favourable. Furthermore close inspection of the entries for individual years reveals that there was no consistent increase or decrease in sales at any centre over the period covered by the accounts. The village of Spratton, first mentioned in the 1840's, features frequently in the account books, and appears to have been used as a collecting point for droves of cattle destined for the various Midland markets. As Figure IV shows, this village, by virtue of its close proximity to the major market centres, was ideally suited to this purpose. The importance of Spratton increased further in the mid 1860's when the dealers took over 149 acres of grazing land at a rental of 450 per annum. 33  The possession of this land provided them with an opportunity to hold cattle during low price periods and to await the advent of more profitable markets, without being forced to buy expensive grass keeping. Furthermore it enabled them to avoid the trouble and expense of attending the smaller market centres by providing a 'fall-back' area for cattle which remained unsold after the principal markets. In this context it is apparent that the dealers' visits to the smaller fairs of Hallaton, Rothwell and Boughton Green became less frequent after the acquisition of the Spratton land.


Table III

This shows ' Percentages of Sales in Midland Markets and Fairs per Month' (over 12 months) in the period 1856-69. The only figures extracted here are the total sales for each centre which follow the place name.


The table above, which sets out the monthly distribution of cattle disposals in the various midland outlets, emphasises the great importance of spring sales in this region. Indeed, more than two-thirds of the Jonathans' sales in the midland grazing region were made between April and June. Subsequently the volume of sales declined throughout the summer months, increasing again in October, and thereby reflecting demand for beasts for Autumn depasturing. A large proportion of the cattle sold in the midlands at the latter end of the year were disposed of in the fairs of Rugby and Market Harborough, towns which lay deep in the heart of the traditional 'fattening pasture' country where farmers were particularly careful to ensure that their fields were grazed bare before the coming of the winter frosts. 34  It is interesting to compare Table III with Figure VI upon which are plotted the monthly movements of cattle through various toll gates in Wales and England. While it may not be strictly accurate to assume that Figure VI relates directly to cattle movements to and from local fairs, it does indicate a consistent pattern in which peak numbers of animals on the road occur in the Spring and Autumn months.

The components of the cost structure of the cattle trade are perhaps best discussed with reference to the inventories of expenses listed in the account books of several dealer / drovers who were active during the pre-railway period. The three inventories set out below are taken from the Jonathan accounts of 1839 and from ....................

.................. the papers of Roderick Roderick of Porthyrhyd, a dealer whose trading accounts cover the period 1838-39.


Figure VI - has not been extracted. It is a graph styled 'Monthly Cattle Movements' (axes are Numbers/Months)


                          October 1839 - Jonathan Accounts

 

s. d.

 

s. d.

Cwmdulas House 

5 0

Southam tavern

18-0

Abergwesyn Tavern 

15-0

Warwick gate

2 6

Boy drive the beast 

2 0

Windmill tavern

18-0

Newbridge Tavern 

0 6 

Windmill gate

2 0

Llandrindod grass 

13-6

Daventry grass

14-6

Smith, tavern 

0 6

Daventry tavern

3 7

Smith, grass 

17-0 

Daventry gate 

5 0

Maesyfed gate

1 6

Northampton tavern

18-0

Pay John for shoeing

1-1-0

Northampton gate 

2 6

Kington gate 

3 0

Wellingboro' gate

2 6

Kington grass 

18-0

Wellingboro' gate 

2 6

Half-the-road gate 

3 0

Wellingboro' tavern

13-6

Llanllern gate

2 6

William Wells tavern

8 6

Westinton grass

1-0-0

? gate

2 6

Westinton grass 

5 9

Elstow tavern

1-19-0

Westinton gate

3 0

Elstow tavern

1-10-6

Bromyard gate 

3 6

Man mind beasts

1 6

Bontwillt gate

2 3

Egin tavern

16-6

Bontwillt tavern 

17-3

Egin gate

1 6

Worcester gate

5 0

Hertford tavern

2 6

Worcester tavern 

0 6 

Hertford gate

2 6

Worcester 

2 6

Stansted tavern

13-3

Wilbercastle tavern

18-0

Ongar grass

1-2-0

Wilbercastle gate 

2 9

Ongar tavern

5 0

Stratford grass 

14-6

Chelmsford 

1-0- 0

Stratford tavern 

3 0

Other expenses at fair and return 
home

2-0-4
2-0-4

Stratford gate 

2 6

 

 

Warwick tavern 

18-3

 

-----------

 

 

 

24 11 5

                           EXPENSES -SEPTEMBER 10th 1838

                              (Roderick Roderick NLW 11706A)

 

s d

 

s d

Lampeter gate 

0 4

Ledbury gate

4 2

Cwmann gate

0 10

Beer

1 0

Beer at Porthyrhyd

2 0

Allowance at Folly

0 9

Llanfair-ar-y-bryn gate

5 5

Cash to D. Williams 

2 6

Shoes and nails

2 0

Cash to D. Davies

0 9

Grass at Talgarth 

11-6

Hollybush gate

2 10

Beer and lodgings

1 6

Bridge gate

2 10

Allowance 

1 0

Tewkesbury gate 

2 10

Beer

2 0

Doddington gate

2 10

Grass at Pugh's 

16-0

Shoes and nails

1 0

Beer and lodgings

1 6

Lent at Croydon

2 9

Allowance

0 9 

Expence paid

4 0

Keep for mare

4 6

Grass at Staplehurst

4 3

Rhydspence gate

2 9

Staplehurst gate

2 10

Willersley gate

2 9

Cranbrook gate

2 10

Hadmore gate 

2 11

Cranbrook grass

8  9

Grass 

16-0

Beer and lodgings

2  6

Beer and lodgings 

2 9

Hire man 

2  9

Shoe the mare 

1 0

Beer for man

0 6

Brockhall gate

2 11

Fair and field 

1 4

Shoes and nails

2 0

Fair gate

0 7

Grass at Hereford 

16-0

Grass at Sandway

3 0

Beer and lodgings 

2 9

Beer and lodging

0 10

Hereford gate  

2 11

Gate

0 7 1/2

Tarrington gate 

4 2

 

 

 

 

 

-----------

 

 

 

8-10-10 1/2

                  EXPENSES FROM HEREFORD TO S.E. ENGLAND 

                            (1838 Roderick Roderick NLW 11706A) 

 

s d 

 

s d

Hereford gate

3 8 

Allowance (?) 

0 9

Hereford grass

17-6

Grass at Moreton

13-6

Beer and lodgings

2 6

Beer and lodgings

2 9

Gate 

3 8

Moreton gate

4 0

Shoeing horse

2 0

Beer at Rollwright

0 9

0 9

Grass

17-9

Tarrington gate

5 0

Beer and lodgings

2 9

? gate 

4 10

Adderbury gate

3 9

Grass at Ledbury

17-6 

Beer at 'Barleymow'

0 9

Beer and lodgings 

2 9

Croughton gate

3 8

0 6 

Beer at Buckingham

1 9

Nails and shoes 

3 0

Beer at Singlebury (?)

0 9

Beer at 'Duke' 

0 9

Grass at Leighton Buzzard

6 8

Hollybush gate 

3 10

Beer and lodgings 

1 11

Bridge gate 

3 9

Paid Evan Williams

1-12-0

Tewkesbury gate

3 9

Grass at Hitchin

12-0

Grass at Tewkesbury

11 8

Beer at Hitchin

1 6

Beer and lodgings 

2 9

Cash to David

5 0

Doddington gate 

3 9

 

---------

 

 

 

14-4-8


John Smith, the farmer in George Sturt's classic, 'A Farmer's Life', who often met the Welsh drovers en route for the fairs of Blackwater and Farnham, contended that '... they'd lose a day goin' round sooner'n they'd pass a gate' 35   Similarly, ........

............. the Hereford Journal of 1859 refers to 'the great abhorrence of the Radnorshire men for a tollgate'. Notwithstanding, it is clear from the references to gate charges in the Jonathan and Roderick material that these dealers, both of whom were in a sizeable way of business, were taking their cattle to the English fairs by way of the turnpike roads. In the majority of cases, the turnpike road represented the most direct means of communication between central England and the western and central counties of Wales. However, it was necessary to offset the advantages to be gained from the efficient and relatively rapid movement along the turnpike roads against the overhead costs represented by tollgate charges. Analysis of the Jonathan accounts shows that between Tregaron / Worcester, Aberystwyth / Shrewsbury and Northampton, toll charges amounted to rather more than one shilling per beast, in the eighteen forties and early fifties. This figure represented approximately 8 per cent of the total overhead costs at this time, reducing to 5 per cent during the late fifties and early sixties when the Shrewsbury railhead was being exploited. No doubt the use of the turnpike roads by comparison with the tortuous and often treacherous tracks across open mountain reduced the time taken to reach the English fairs. Accordingly it might be argued that drovers using the turnpikes were able to arrive in good time at the fairs of the Midlands and thus to secure more favourable prices for their beasts, than their fellows who preferred to follow the less direct routes via the drove and drifts ways. Moreover, clod cattle travelling at a steady two miles per hour along a well maintained turnpike road would almost certainly have lost less body condition than animals fellows who preferred to follow the less direct routes via the drove and drifts ways. Moreover, clod cattle travelling at a steady two miles per hour along a well maintained turnpike road would almost certainly have lost less body condition than animals driven across the rocky upland tracks where grazing was sparse and where the severe inclines would have been likely to impose considerable stresses. Defoe emphasised the importance and 'great value' of road improvement in Wales by which, '... the fat cattle will drive lighter and come to market with less toil'. 36  On the other hand, a petition to Parliament by the Sussex agriculturalists in 1710, objected strongly to road improvement, 'because the stones will cripple them (the cattle), before they come to market'. 37  This petition of complaint, however, was perhaps motivated more by concern for the cost of road improvement than by any real anxiety for the wellbeing of driven cattle. However, despite the above comments, the absence of any manuscript material relating to drovers who completely avoided the turnpike roads renders it impossible, in the final analysis, to determine whether the efficiency of turnpike transit was sufficient to justify the overhead costs incurred.

In addition to gate charges, expenditure upon grazing is revealed by the inventories as being a major element in the total overhead costs. The fact that a drove generally moved at a speed rarely exceeding two miles per hour, meant that daily maintenance could be readily obtained by wayside grazing, and thus the disbursements recorded for grass keeping may be assumed to refer to the expense of providing forage for cattle overnight. The magnitude of the expenditure upon grazing at each centre, together with the distance between centres (averaging 12 - 14 miles) lends support to this assumption. Moreover, in the Roderick inventories, tavern expenses for 'beer and lodgings' regularly occur alongside the outlay on ...........

............grass. Several miscellaneous expenses recorded in the inventories shed further interesting light on the conducting of the cattle trade. References to cattle shoeing occur in both the Jonathan and Roderick material. In the former inventory,

............grass. Several miscellaneous expenses recorded in the inventories shed further interesting light on the conducting of the cattle trade. References to cattle shoeing occur in both the Jonathan and Roderick material. In the former inventory, the payment of 1. 1. 0. to 'John for shoeing' refers to the initial shoeing of the whole drove, while the small sums expended upon 'shoes and nails' by Roderick Roderick relate to the necessity of re-shoeing 'casualties' at various points along the route. Other entries such as 'Hire man', 'Boy drive the beasts', and 'man drive the beast' indicate that from time to time manpower in addition to the regular force of drovers was hired. This would often be necessary where the drove was to be taken across open mountains. Thus the function of the boy hired by the Jonathans at Abergwesyn would be to assist the regular drovers in taking cattle across the open mountain via the Cefn Cardis to Beulah and thence to Newbridge. The 'man mind the beast' and the 'hired man' in the inventories were both employed at points of disposal, and it is possible that these men were taken on to ensure the overnight safety of the drove.

The inventory below illustrates the magnitude of 'local costs' once the drove had arrived in the area of sale. This inventory, which is in fact an expense account charged by David Roderick to his brother Roderick, is concerned with the expenses of a small drove of cattle at the fairs of North Kent.


OCTOBER 27TH 1838 RODERICK RODERICK 

                   (NLW 11706A)

 

s d

Grass at Croydon

9 0

Beer and Lodgings 

1 8

Expenses 

1 0

Croydon gate

2 8

Beer allowance

0 4

Grass at Duntongreen

1 9

Beer and lodgings

2 3

Seal gate

1 6

Seal expenses

1 0

Seal grass 

5 0

Becr and lodgings 

2 2

Mereworth gate

0 2

Oats at Mereworth

0 6

Aylesford gate

1 2

Beer allowance

0 4

Grass at Maidstone

11-8

Maidstone gate 

1 2

Yalding gate 

0 2

Beer and lodgings

3 6

Beer allowance

0 4

Grass 

8 2

Toll 

0 4

Beer and lodgings 

1 7

Shod the mare

0 6

Toll 

0 8

Fair Field 

1 8

Beer at Sandway

1 0

Beer at Kings Field 

1 6

Maidstone Gate 

0 4

(Beer) allowance 

0 4

 

-------

 

4-0-6

Cash to Roderick

  -  4  0

 

4-4-6


This account once again emphasises the scale of grazing costs. Thus over half the total recorded expenses arose from the provision of keep for the cattle while selling was in progress. With the exception of some eight shillings the remainder of the total overhead costs comprised beer and lodgings for the personnel concerned with the drove.

Contemporaneous with the Roderick papers are the accounts of David Davies, a dealer active in the Dolgellau area. 38  The fragments of the Davies accounts in the Merionethshire Records Office are of particular interest in that they provide evidence of a dealer travelling to areas of the eastern counties normally associated with the Scottish, rather than the Welsh cattle trade.


                                          DAVID DAVIES (1838)

                                          (Merioneth R.O. D/T 66) 

 

s  d

 

s d  

Stamford Grass

1-1-0

Sawston gate

2 6

Bed 

0 8 

Sawston grass

9 0

Eating and ale 

3 6 

Sawston bed

0 9

Wansford Gate

2 0

Eating and ale

4 4

Stiltion (?) grass

10-0

Langley, grazing

6 0

Bed, eating and ale

3 6

Evans crus (?)

4 0

Gate

2 0

Coulhill eating and ale

2 0

Hilpatrick (?) 

12-8 

Toll  

3 5

Bcd 

0 8

Eating and ale

2 6

Bread and cheese 

0 9 

Bed

2 6

Eating and ale 

3 0

Cattle feed

0 5

St. Ives gate

2 2 

Eating and ale

1 6

Grass 

15-4

Harlow 

0 8

Eating

0 8

Oil

0 6

Eating, ale and bed 

3 4

Gate

0 9

Evans 

1 0

Shoes for bullock

0 9

Shoeing horse 

1 2

Epping, feed 

0 5

Eating 

2 9

Hay

3 0

Bed 

0 8

Eating and ale

2 0

St. Ives grass 

11- 9

Bed and stable

1 3

St. Ives gate 

2 2

Black horse

0 4

St. Ives gate 

2 3

High Ongar

3 1

Eating, ale

1 0

 Paid 0ld Tom

1-3-0

Cambridge gate & toll

3 2

 

 

 

 

 

---------

 

 

 

9-1-10

 

 

 

-----------


The components of the inventory are once again broadly similar to those listed in the Jonathan and Roderick accounts, including payments for wages, re-shoeing, overnight accommodation, grass and ale.

It is interesting to compare these mid-nineteenth century inventories with two similar inventories from the late eighteenth century. The first of these relates to the cash expenditure incurred by a Merionethshire drover, John Williams, in taking a drove of 113 cattle from Bala to Eastern Essex. 39


                                                  JOHN WILLIAMS ACCOUNT

                                           (J. Merion. Hist. & Rec. Soc. 2  1953-56)

 

     s    d

The expense of the whole drove from Bala to Billerkey (Billericay)

26 - 10 - 0

Thcir expenses till Brentwood fair 

7 - 4 - 0

Beds for five of us at the two fairs

-   8   0

The whole expense of Owen Richard

- 19   6

For a standing place for the two fairs

- 10   0

The expense of the cattle from Brentwood fair till Epping fair was over 

7 - 0 - 0

The expense of myself, the mare, and cattle from Epping till Coldhill fair was over 

-15  0

For hands to keep the cattle together at Epping and Coldhill

-  6  0

For myself and the mare upon the road from Coldhill to London

-  2  6

For hay and oats at London for the mare; 3 days and 3 nights

-  5  3

My own expenses there for meat and drink

-  4  0

My own expenses coming home from London with the mare

- 16 - 0

My own expenses for meat and drink from Brentwood till Epping Fair

1 - 16 - 0

For my bed after Brentwood Fair at London and elsewhere

- 10  6

Paid for a shoe for the black horse at Brentwood

-  0  6

Paid out in treating the several buyers, in the whole the sum of  

- 10  0

 

---------

 

41- 17 - 3


Although it does not itemise the expenses involved in driving the herd from North Wales to Essex, the account further illustrates the substantial cost of merely maintaining a large drove of cattle at the English fairs until all the animals were sold. The entry 'Beds for five of us at the two fairs' suggests that in addition to Williams and Owen Richard, three other drovers were employed. As there is no reference in the account to 'casual' wage payments as in the Jonathan and Roderick material, it would seem that these people were regular drovers. Why then is no payment for wages included, as, for example, in the David Davies papers and many of the Jonathan inventories? The explanation is a simple one. Williams himself was a hired servant of a Mr. Garnons, and the inventory represents a personal expense account which he presented to his employer on his return to Wales. Upon receipt of the account Garnons would reimburse Williams' expenses and pay his wage while the junior drovers would collect their wages directly from Garnons on their return. During the course of his business John Williams spent a period of time in London. It is possible, that like so many drovers, he visited the city in order to deposit cash in one of the merchant banks either on behalf of his employer or on behalf of other Merioneth gentlemen. Among the accounts of a Trawsfynydd dealer operating in 1822, there appear entries such as 'left with Sir John Perrun, Bankers of London on account of Dolgellau Bank l00', which illustrate this point. 40  The hazards and potential dangers of highway travel in the nineteenth centnry prompted many dealers and drovers like the Jonathans to leave the proceeds under lock and key in the care of an obliging and no doubt trustworthy landlord. This 40  The hazards and potential dangers of highway travel in the nineteenth centnry prompted many dealers and drovers like the Jonathans to leave the proceeds under lock and key in the care of an obliging and no doubt trustworthy landlord. This may partially explain the frequent occurrence of 'Lock and Key' Inns along established drove routes in southern Wales, many of which may have been named after the 'Lock and Key' at Smithfield, the venue of so many Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire drovers.

The second late eighteenth century inventory has been transcribed from the accounts of an English dealer, one John Jackson of Easington in Northamptonshire. 41  These accounts, deposited in the Bodleian Library, refer to purchases of cattle in Northamptonshire and subsequent sales at the fairs of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire in 1796-99. As with the Williams inventory discussed above, this 41  These accounts, deposited in the Bodleian Library, refer to purchases of cattle in Northamptonshire and subsequent sales at the fairs of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire in 1796-99. As with the Williams inventory discussed above, this account refers not to the expenses of the dealer himself, but to those of his chief drover, Richard Weston.


Not Extracted - JACKSON ACCOUNTS (1799) (Bod Lib. MSS. Ridley Alll c. 14)


Here, once again, are the familiar droving expenses of accommodation, food and forage. Significantly, however, tollgate charges do not appear, suggesting that Weston was able to drive his cattle from South Northamptonshire along a route which avoided the expense of using the turnpike road. The payments for the services of a chambermaid are interesting in that they show Weston to have been a substantial 'master drover' with the privilege of passing the night in a tavern. In a similar fashion to the Williams inventory, this account reveals that although Weston covered the expenses of his junior drover ('the man') he did not pay out this man's wages which would have been met directly by Jackson. A first sight the considerable expenditure upon hay at a time when abundant supplies of wayside grazing might reasonably have been expected is rather surprising. The winter of 1798-9, however, was particularly severe and had resulted in a deficiency of fodder in the spring months. 42


Figure VII - not extracted, styled 'Price Movements' in graph form, axes Prices/Years 1840-80.

Figure VIII - not extracted, styled 'Monthly Price Variation' in graph form, axes /months of the year.


During the pre-railway period, then, the bulk of the overhead costs to be set against the dealer's margin comprised those of wages, forage, tolls, accommodation and personal maintenance. The change in the pattern of overhead costs resulting from the advent of rail travel will be discussed in a future article.

How profitable was the Welsh cattle trade? The paucity of adequate manuscript material once again bedevils any detailed statistical discussion of this aspect of the trade. With the exception of the Jonathan papers, only two manuscript sources have been found which permit a glimpse of the overall profitability at a given point in time. The Jonathan material, although frustratingly incomplete in parts, is at least sufficiently detailed to allow the calculation of net profitability over a series of several years.

The annual purchase and sale prices of Welsh 'runts', as revealed by the Jonathan papers are plotted in Fig. VII. Over the period as a whole there was an upward.......

............ trend in prices, subject to considerable fluctuations between years according to the supply and demand situation. It is important to approach the interpretation of Fig. VII. with some caution, for the annual prices plotted represent the mean of purchases and sales in the Spring and Autumn months. In Fig. VIII, however, the monthly pattern of purchase prices has been plotted over three periods for which the accounts are particularly detailed. Between these three periods, the trend in price an of purchases and sales in the Spring and Autumn months. In Fig. VIII, however, the monthly pattern of purchase prices has been plotted over three periods for which the accounts are particularly detailed. Between these three periods, the trend in price movements is surprisingly consistent.

The upward movement in purchase prices between April and May reflects the demand for store cattle by dealers hoping to sell to graziers for the production of beef from summer grass. The absence of any advance in prices during this period between the years 1863 and 1869 may be related to the persistent run of dry seasons characteristic of the mid and late sixties. It is likely that during such years, graziers were hesitant to invest in large numbers of cattle in anticipation of enforced sales of half-fat stock later in the season when supplies of forage were exhausted. Thus did the fall in prices continue unrelieved until the Autumn recovery. With the coming of Autumn, farmers and graziers would be seeking cattle for autumn depasturing and for fattening over the winter months on roots and oilcake. Accordingly, in spite of the large numbers of cattle at the great Autumn fairs, competitive buying by dealers in an attempt to meet the requirements of their customers would tend to advance prices. The Jonathan accounts reveal a sharp increase in price during August and September, followed by a decline throughout the remainder of the Autumn. The late Autumn price decline reflects a seasonal increase in the supply of cattle to the markets and fairs of Wales, in an attempt on the part of the farmers, to avoid the heavy cost of overwintering such beasts. The fact that dealers were selling cattle on to entirely different production systems during the Spring and Autumn months, suggests that their demand for Welsh store cattle of differing types, sizes and ages, varied according to the time of the year. Thus, graziers would require a better quality beast for summer feeding than for autumn grazing. They insisted upon a large animal capable of fattening entirely upon tore cattle of differing types, sizes and ages, varied according to the time of the year. Thus, graziers would require a better quality beast for summer feeding than for autumn grazing. They insisted upon a large animal capable of fattening entirely upon grass (or supplemented, perhaps, with a little oilcake) and of leaving the fattening pastures before the Autumn decline in fatstock prices. Conversely, the Essex yard feeders, whose prime objective in fattening cattle was to obtain manure for cereal production, would often fatten a rather inferior animal, provided it could be purchased cheaply.

The achievement of an adequate margin to offset overhead expenses was a fundamental factor affecting the profitability of a given drove. Unfortunately, the Jonathan accounts are not sufficiently accurate to enable a profit and loss account for each season to be set down and thus trends in profitability established. Frequently details of cattle purchases are entered without reference to sales, while the mixing together of different lots of cattle before sale makes it particularly difficult to follow through complete transactions. Nevertheless, some assessment of the net profitability of the business for individual years may be obtained, as indicated in the table below:


These two sections have not been extracted as of little interest to genealogists;

1. Jonathan Accounts - Profitability of Sample Transactions (years 1840, 1846, 1849, 1856, 1858)

2. Monthly Profit and Loss Account (Jonathan Accounts) 1862-65


Neither the margin between purchase and sale price nor the recorded expenses show any consistent trend within a given year. Both fluctuations in the margin (about a mean of 0. 94) and the recorded expenses (about a mean of (0. 49) resulted in a wide

Neither the margin between purchase and sale price nor the recorded expenses show any consistent trend within a given year. Both fluctuations in the margin (about a mean of 0. 94) and the recorded expenses (about a mean of (0. 49) resulted in a wide spectrum of profitabilities around the average of 0. 51 per head. Thus transactions over the four year period returned to the dealer a maximum gain of 1. 89 to a loss of 0. 59 per beast. The wide variation in the dealer's margin may be largely ascribed to variations in demand. Hence there was a tendency for the margin to be relatively high during the spring and early autumn months when graziers were anxious to purchase cattle. It is rather more difficult, however, to explain the variability in average to variations in demand. Hence there was a tendency for the margin to be relatively high during the spring and early autumn months when graziers were anxious to purchase cattle. It is rather more difficult, however, to explain the variability in average recorded expenses from a maximum of 0. 86 to a minimum of 0. 21. However, assuming that costs of accommodation, wages, toll, and by this tine, rail charges, did not vary with season, it would seem that expenses varied according to seasonal changes in the availability and cost of forage.

The other dealers' account books are of limited value as a means of indicating the profitability of the cattle trade. The Trawsfynydd account book, however, does record details of two transactions effected in March and April of 1822. The dealer's margin on 37 cattle sold in March was 17. 3. 6 (0. 46) per head), against which were charged overhead costs as below:


                Charges - March 1822

 

s. d.

Charges at Penmorfa 

4  0

Charges at Maentwrog

1 0

Paid Blacksmith

1-8-6

Paid postage of letters 

6 6

My charges up 

1-6-0

At Lutterworth 

2-16-0

Paid by W. Lewis 

6-3-4

By John Newbut (?)

7-15-6 

At Lubenham 

1-14- 6

Gate to Harborough

1 8

Me 

3 6

My charges at Harborough 

2 0

Old William's wages 

2-2-6

John (?) wages 

2-16- 0

My charges home 

1- 4-6

                               (0.75 per head)

27-18-0

Thus having met his overhead costs, the dealer was faced with a loss of 10. 14. 6 (0. 29 per head). By April, his fortunes had changed. Having secured a margin of 67- 14. 6 (1. 01) to set against expenses of 39. 0. 0 (see below), his eventual net profit was 28. 14. 0 (0. 43 per head).


Not extracted - the further Charges figures referred to in the above text.


The profit and loss incurred in these transactions falls well within the range of the figures calculated from the Jonathan papers. A similar range of variation in profit margins occurs in the accounts of John Jackson of Easington which in the following case cover the spring months of 1796:


Not extracted - Trading Accounts of John Jackson 1796


It is interesting to compare the prices paid and received by Jackson, with the purchase and sale prices recorded in the Jonathan accounts. The substantially higher prices in the seventeen nineties may be explained by a combination of wartime inflation

It is interesting to compare the prices paid and received by Jackson, with the purchase and sale prices recorded in the Jonathan accounts. The substantially higher prices in the seventeen nineties may be explained by a combination of wartime inflation and the fact that Jackson was dealing in the highly sought-after Devon, Shorthorn and Longhorn cattle types, all of which realised greater prices than the Jonathans' Welsh 'runts'.

David Jonathan, senior member of the Jonathan family, began his trading activities with extremely limited capital resources. The dramatic expansion of the business throughout the forties and fifties was financed by capital generated out of profit. This in itself would suggest that the business was sufficiently profitable to provide for the needs of Jonathan and his family and also to lend financial support to the developing business. Indeed, some measure of his success may be grasped from the fact that at the time of his death in the mid eighties, Jonathan was the owner of a small estate and the occupier of three substantial farms. 43  Richard Jarrett, drover for the Trawsfynydd dealer whose accounts are discussed above, himself became a dealer in the 1830's, having accumulated a capital sum of 13. Jarrett, who operated in the Corwen area in partnership with his cousin 43  Richard Jarrett, drover for the Trawsfynydd dealer whose accounts are discussed above, himself became a dealer in the 1830's, having accumulated a capital sum of 13. Jarrett, who operated in the Corwen area in partnership with his cousin Richard Roberts, eventually retired in 1860 and purchased the considerable mansion of Plas-y-Faeder in Corwen. 44  It is, of course, dangerous to rely too heavily upon the accounts of one dealer in forming an assessment of the profitability (or otherwise) of the nineteenth century Welsh cattle trade. David Jonathan, having eventually established his business, was in a position to take capital from profit and thus to increase business turn over and generate further profit. There were, however, many smaller dealers, who, according to the comments of contemporaries and to Great and Quarter Sessions material operated either upon credit or borrowed capital. Although these people unfortunately left few records of their trading activities, the legal cases would tend to the conclusion that a man whose business was based upon credit was highly susceptible to a al operated either upon credit or borrowed capital. Although these people unfortunately left few records of their trading activities, the legal cases would tend to the conclusion that a man whose business was based upon credit was highly susceptible to a series of 'bad deals'. Thus a run of dry summers and hence reduced demand for store stock, combined perhaps with high mortality occasioned by an outbreak of cattle plague, might easily result in severe financial loss. A capitalist dealer of the Jonathan class would be in a position to weather such a storm of adversity by virtue of his capital reserves. On the other hand, the smaller dealer, continually pressurized by his creditors, would fmd extreme difficulty in withstanding the financial stresses resulting from a series of unprofitable years. Taking the mean profit of 0. 51 per head calculated from the Jonathan accounts, a mid nineteenth century dealer would require to sell some six hundred beasts to earn a reasonable income of 300. To maintain this average profitability would necessitate keen buying, selling on a rising market and the avoidance of mortality. While an outbreak of cattle plague or pleuro-pneumonia would decimate his drove, a dry summer in the English midlands might readily reverse his verage profitability would necessitate keen buying, selling on a rising market and the avoidance of mortality. While an outbreak of cattle plague or pleuro-pneumonia would decimate his drove, a dry summer in the English midlands might readily reverse his profit of 0. 51 per head to a loss of a similar magnitude. The experiences of Richard Roberts, a tanner from Bala who also dealt in cattle throughout the sixties and seventies, underline the speculative nature of the trade. Thus Roberts' financial ............

................. returns varied over the years from an annual loss of 800 to a profit of 700. Varying market conditions were largely responsible for this financial fluctuation. 45  Edmund Hyde Hall drew attention to the risk involved in the pursuance of the trade. Mentioning a dealer who purchased cattle to the value of 1,200 in 1809, he pointed out 'that a capital so great and so frequently turned ought to afford great profits, but the instability of the markets occasions but too frequently a repetition of loss.'   46  Hyde Hall's summary lays emphasis upon the condition of the market which was undoubtedly the principal factor affecting the profitability of the trade. If, however, he had attempted to summarise the other salient factors involved, he would perhaps have mentioned also the importance of 'keen' buying, and the minimisation of overhead costs.

 

RICHARD COLYER

Aberystwyth

 

Notes;

1 N.L.W. MSS 9600-9614. 

2 lbid. 

3 N.L.W. MS. 11706A.

4 Personal communication; A Stratford, Chesham. 

5 Merioneth R.O. D/T 66.

6  K. J. Bonser `The Drovers' London 1970 passim.

7 John H. Drew. Trans. Birmingham Archaeological Soc. Vol. 82, p. 738-43.

8 I am indebted to Mr. E. G. Parry of Brackley for this reference.

9  V.C.H. (Worcs.) III p. 120.

10 For a description of the Banbury Lane see C. Markham: Journal Northants. Nat. Hist. Soc 4 + Field Club XVIII p. 120.

11 I am indebted to Mr. E. G. Parry of Brackley for this reference.

12 Midland History 1 (3) 1972, p. 7.    

13 See also Part I of this series.

14 Rural Rides 1830 Vol. p. 16.

15 MSS in Gloucester R.O. I am indebted to Mr. D. Verey of Barnsley for drawing my attention to this reference.

16 J. Baird. Unpublished B.A. thesis, University of Birmingham 1966.

17 V.C.H. (Warwicks) II p. 240.

18 The numerous 'Welshmen's Ponds' in Berkshire, particularly around Stratfield Mortimer provide further evidence of drove movements. I am indebted for this information to Mr. F. Underhill of Didcot.

19 For reference to these fairs see: P. C. Hughes 'Porthmana ym Morgannwg' (Trans. Cymm. 1946) pp. 250-270. Anon: Horsham, its history and antiquities 1838; John Byng: A Tour of Sussex, 1738, p. 42.

20 George Sturt 'A Farmer's Life; Johnathon Cape 1927 p. 17.

21 O. M. Heath--- Walks around Albury, Surrey 1950.

22 F. W. Steer--- Farm and cottage inventories of mid-Essex (1635-1749) Chichester 1969 pp. 56, 130, 271.

23 Essex R.O. D/BDE/A8.

24 Essex R.O. D/T3E. 8.

25 William Addison: English Fairs and Markets. Batsford 1953.

26 N.L.W. MS. 11706A.

27 Marshall: Rural Economy of the Southern Counties I p. 321. Among the University College of North Wales MSS, is a letter written by a drover from as far east as Canterbury (Bangor MSS 9881).

28 These accounts now form N.L.W. MSS 9600-9614. They were originally deposited by Mr. J. Llefellys Davies who has written of them in 'Aberystwyth Studies' Vol. 13 1934 p. 85-104.

29 For an account of the wide variety of cattle in 19th centnry Wales see: Colyer R. J.: Some Welsh cattle breeds in 19th century Wales (Ag. His. Rev. In press 1973).

30 J. Evans 'Letters written through South Wales' London 1804.

31 N.L.W. Broadhead Evans MSS 32 & 33.

32 M. Harris Unpublished B.A. thesis. University of Wales 1953.

33 The land was rented from Charles Markham. The rental was reduced to 370 after 1880 as a result of the prevailing depression.

34 For a discussion of the grazing tradition in the Midlands. See Colyer, R. J. 'Some aspects of cattle production in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire during tbe 19th century'. Journal of Northants Records Society V (1) 1973 pp. 45-55.

35 George Sturt: op. cit. p. 19.

36 D. Defoe: A Tour through England and Wales II London p. 127.

37 Quoted by S and B Webb: The Story of the King's Highway, London, 1913 pp. 68-9.

38 Merioneth R.O. D/T 66.

39 Transcribed by K. Williams Jones in Journ. Merion. Hist. & Rec. Soc. 2 1953-6 p. 311.

40 N.L.W. 17927A.

41 Bodleian Library Ridley MSS A III c. 13.

42 Young Annals XXXIII p. 136 quoted by E. L. Jones 'Seasons and Prices'.

43 J. Llefelys Davies. op. cit. p. 101.

44 N.L.W. 6733.

45 Personal Communication Mr. W. Roberts, Bala.

46 E. Hyde Hall. A Description of Caernarvonshire 1809-11 (Caern. His. Soc. Records Set. No. 2) p. 90, 127


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