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Welsh Cattle Drovers in the Nineteenth Century.   3

Richard Colyer. National Library of Wales journal. 1975, Summer, Volume XIX/1

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

This is a complete extract of Part 3, the final part, of this article (Gareth Hicks May 2003)

See also Part 1 & Part 2


Part III.

IN the two previous articles of this series, attention was drawn to the basic 'mechanics' and economics of the Welsh cattle trade during the pre-railway years of the nineteenth century. The present contribution is concerned on the one hand with various aspects of the trade in the years proceeding the nineteenth century, and on the other with the legislation which, to a greater or lesser extent, limited and controlled the activities of the dealers and drovers involved in the conducting of the trade.

It is well known that the physical environment of much of Wales has always imposed severe limitations upon the evolution of farming systems. A comparative absence of good quality pasture together with a climate unsuited to the conservation of adequate

It is well known that the physical environment of much of Wales has always imposed severe limitations upon the evolution of farming systems. A comparative absence of good quality pasture together with a climate unsuited to the conservation of adequate forage for the winter maintenance of cattle has, until relatively recent years, prevented the development of large scale fat cattle production except on the lowland fringes. Moreover, soil type and elevation are such that in many parts of Wales the growing of cereal crops is extremely difficult. Historically, the small acreage of cereals grown on the individual farm, particularly in upland Wales, was to a large degree used for the subsistence of the family and perhaps for feeding the household pig which often represented the principal source of animal protein available to the family over the winter months. Only on the larger lowland farms was a surplus of cereal grains available for cattle fattening. It might also be argued that even if widespread cattle ften represented the principal source of animal protein available to the family over the winter months. Only on the larger lowland farms was a surplus of cereal grains available for cattle fattening. It might also be argued that even if widespread cattle fattening had been feasible, the thinly distributed population of Wales, many of whom lived at subsistence level, would not have created sufficient demand for meat and meat products. This would certainly have been the case in the period prior to the Industrial Revolution. In England, however, not only was the environment more amenable to corn growing, but also rich pastures were available in abundance for the conversion of lean animals into beef. Thus, there developed, over the centuries, the flourishing trial Revolution. In England, however, not only was the environment more amenable to corn growing, but also rich pastures were available in abundance for the conversion of lean animals into beef. Thus, there developed, over the centuries, the flourishing export trade in store cattle between Wales and the rich pasture-lands of the Midland and Southern counties which has been considered in Parts I and II of this series. Evidence for the significance of this export trade to the domestic economy of both export trade in store cattle between Wales and the rich pasture-lands of the Midland and Southern counties which has been considered in Parts I and II of this series. Evidence for the significance of this export trade to the domestic economy of both England and Wales is provided by the extensive illicit trading which took place during the Glyndwr rebellion when all transactions with Wales were prohibited. Even so, despite the preventative measures taken by the bailiffs, cattle from Wales were still brought into the Western hundreds of Cheshire. 1  The importance of cattle sales to the economy of Wales is apparent also from the frequent and evergrowing number of law suits relating to cattle from the fifteenth century onwards. In particular, among cases heard before the Court of Star Chamber in Wales, offences relating to the stealing of cattle feature prominently.  2, 3   In 1525, when the people of the lordship of Brecon petitioned the King concerning their extreme poverty, they complained that they, '... had but little sale or utterance of beasts or cattle, which is the chief.......................

....................... commodity in these parts' . 4  By the mid-seventeenth century, cattle sales had become the mainstay of the economy, as evidenced by the much-quoted letter written by Bishop John Williams of Bangor to Prince Rupert, in which the Bishop implored the Prince to permit the passage of the Welsh drovers into England, '... for they are the Spanish fleet of Wales which brings in what little gold and silver we have' . 5   At the same time Williams wrote to an anonymous official requesting that the bearer, one David Lloyd, 'a very substantial drover of these parts' be allowed to ply his trade and 'to move quietly through your parts'. 6  Following the seizure of nine hundred cattle from eighteen Welsh drovers in March 1645, the House of Commons ordered '... that Mr. Speaker shall have Power to grant Passes to such Persons as he shall think fit, that shall desire to trade for the Buying of cattle in Wales and to drive and bring them to London. 7 It is unlikely, in view of widespread Welsh support for the Royalist cause, that such an Order would have been made unless the cattle trade had been essential to the economy of Wales, and for that matter, the economy of England. 8

Undoubtedly there were sporadic movements of cattle from Wales into England since the very earliest times, and the possible existence of a regular traffic in cattle between the two countries during the pre-Norman period is particularly intriguing. Although Sir Cyril Fox noted the presence of several recognisable traffic gaps in the great Dyke constructed by the Mercian King Offa in c. 784, he tended to give a rather low assessment of their importance. 9  It is a fact, nevertheless, that at least one of these gaps, that on Spoad Hill on the Radnorshire-Herefordshire border, lies upon a drove road which was in use during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In addition to the gaps noted by Fox, there must almost certainly have been other openings in the Dyke, particularly in the vales and lowlands, which have become subsequently obscured by more recent agricultural practices. It is tempting, although perhaps a little dangerous, to suggest that where these openings coincide with an established drove track, the track is of considerable antiquity. The tenth century 'Ordinance concerning the Dunsaetae' was an agreement drawn up by the English Witan and the borderland tribe of the Dunsaetae in c. 926 and was concerned with border arrangements across the lower reaches of the River Wye. 10  The Ordinance sets out provisions for the control of cattle stealing, and also strongly indicates the existence of a legitimate cattle trade between the Dunsaetae and the English. In particular, the Ordinance refers to established cattle 'tracks' on both sides of the river bank, and reference is made to the consequences, '... if a track is being wrongly followed'. It is clear from the context that a track being 'wrongly followed' implied that the track was being used for the trafficking of stolen cattle. The converse would seem to suggest that the normal use of the tracks was for the legitimate movement of cattle across the river, which at this time delineated the border of the lands of the Dunsaetae. If this Ordinance, drawn up by King Athelstan and his advisers, was based either upon texts or oral traditions arising from the regulations for Offa's Dyke, there would be some justification for the assertion that a legitimate cattle trade was in existence from the late eighth ...................

.................... century. This apart, the earliest indication of the Welsh cattle trade relates to the granting, at Newent, of an annual fair and weekly market to the Norman Abbot of Cormeilles in 1253. In consequence, ' . . . the Welshmen who come from the parts of Wales to sell their cattle' deviated from their normal route in order to trade in Newent. 11,12  From the beginning of the fourteenth century frequent references occur to cattle being taken from Wales into England for a variety of purposes. In 1312, for instance, the Chamberlains of Carmarthen and North Wales were ordered to supply between them some nine hundred oxen for use in the King's household at Windsor, while several years later, in 1317, the Bishop of Winchester sent John de Radynges into North Wales to purchase cattle for the household of the Chancery. 13  Among the Minister's accounts of the Earldom of Chester, reference is made to oxen being purchased at Ruthin and Abergele in 1347-48, while the Earl of Chester's stock keeper accounted for seventy-five cattle from Rhys ap Iorwerth ap Ithel and Iowerth ap Madoc in 1356-57. 14  The export trade in cattle from Anglesey, which was to achieve such prominence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, appears to have been in existence in the early fifteenth century. Thus the Minister's accounts for 1407 refer to a sum of 34s. over three years '... for the passage of beasts at Porthaitho by divers persons'. 15  The presence of Welsh cattle drovers in the Midlands by the mid-fifteenth century is apparent from the accounts of John Broome of Baddesley Clinton, who purchased at Birmingham Fair in 1445, twelve oxen from Gruff Hope Wallace. 16  Later in the same century, Henry Tudor, on his long march to Bosworth Field was joined near Welshpool by William ap Griffiths of Penrhyn and Richard ap Howell of Mostyn, both of whom brought with them large herds of black cattle for the sustenance of the army. 17

In the diary of Dr. John Dee, the Elizabethan philosopher and mystic, there occur several interesting comments relating to cattle being driven from Wales. In 1596 Dee was appointed to the Wardenship of Manchester. On August l0th of that year '... Mr. Thomas Jones of Tregaron came to me at Manchester and rode towards Wales bak agayin the 13th day to mete the cattall coming.' By September 5th Dee had received '... seventeen head of cattall from my kinsfolk in Wales by the courteous Griffith David, nephew of Mr. Thomas Griffiths bought.' Thomas Griffiths was Dee's cousin from Lampeter, while his nephew Griffith David was clearly a drover. Not only did Dee receive beasts via his Welsh kinsmen, but he also sent his servant Roger Kay on several occasions to of Mr. Thomas Griffiths bought.' Thomas Griffiths was Dee's cousin from Lampeter, while his nephew Griffith David was clearly a drover. Not only did Dee receive beasts via his Welsh kinsmen, but he also sent his servant Roger Kay on several occasions to Vandyles (Llanidloes?) in order to procure cattle. 18

Notwithstanding the uncharitable criticisms levelled at them by eighteenth and nineteenth century observers, some of which are quoted in Part I of this series, the drovers played a vital part in the forging of an economic and cultural link between England and Wales which was beneficial to both countries. Besides their straightforward trading function the drovers had often been responsible for the execution of financial transactions and the conveyance of mail and other goods. This was particularly so in the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries ...................

.................... when communications between Wales and the remainder of Britain were extremely limited. On April 19th, 1585, Sir George Chaworth explained to the Countess of Rutland that '... I have done my best to procure you some money to be paid in London, but I could not do so as most of the drovers who were likely to have served you had already gone to London'. 19  Material preserved among the Wynn papers sheds interesting light upon this aspect of the droving saga. David Lloyd, a tenant of the Wynn estates, frequently combined his activities as a drover with the transmission of correspondence and money between various members of the Wynn family. Thus in 1624, Henry Wynn wrote to his father, Sir John, complaining of the small sum sent him in London by David Lloyd . 20 Almost forty years later, Lloyd was still actively involved in the cattle trade. Writing to Sir Richard Wynn in 1661, Robin Hughes explained that the 65 which Sir Richard had ordered the writer to send to London had been paid to, 'old David Lloyd, the drover', who was bound by his bill of exchange to pay this sum through Henry Maurice of the King's Head tavern in Fleet Street. 21  By 1671, however, Lloyd had disappeared from the scene Nevertheless, the Wynns continued to employ the services of drovers for the execution of financial transactions, the name of Thomas Hewes featuring frequently in this context . 22 Although by the mid-eighteenth century improved transport had reduced the importance of the drovers as a means of communication, William Bulkeley was still trusting to their services in order to forward money to his sons in the metropolis. In the midseventeen thirties, for example, he is recorded as having sent sums of 15 and 20 to his son by way of the drover Thomas Lewis of Trefeibion Meyrig, while in 1741 he employed the services of another drover, Hugh Lloyd, for the delivery of 60 to London . 23  In general the drovers avoided travelling during the winter months. In this respect, a letter received in 1637 by Richard Bulkeley from his cousin in Newborough is of interest: '... we pray you endeavour that our money (i.e. the Ship Money) be paid by November 1st yearly as we cannot return our money (to London) otherwise than by drovers.' More than a century later, the delivery of the North Wales taxes to London was to some extent determined by the seasonal activities of the drovers. In 1743, the Receiver General of Taxes for North Wales, one Mr. Bull, was threatened with prosecution by the Treasury for failing to send the tax to the capital. Bull, however, contended 'that he had very few opportunities of remitting the moneys but by the drovers, and desires indulgence from Candlemas to the beginning of May, in which time the drovers transact all their affairs ...' 24

The involvement of the drovers in the collection of the Denbighshire Ship Money is well known and well documented in the Domestic Series of the Calendar of State Papers. The collection and delivery of the Ship Money did not always proceed smoothly. Hugh Lloyd, Sheriff of Denbigh, was informed in 1636 that although the money had been delivered 'by sufficient men who are drovers of that county', it had not been paid in, owing to the presence of the plague in the City of London. Occasionally. it would seem. the drovers defaulted on their ...................

................ commission to safely deliver the Ship Money. Writing to Kenrick Endisbury in 1637, Richard Lloyd explained that '... My nephew Wynne, the new sheriff of co. Denbigh, having been entrusted with the collection of the Ship Money, entrusted a drover with the return of 400, in payment whereof the drover has disappointed him, whereby he is in danger of being committed before the Lords' . 24  The temptation to abscond with large suns of money must have been very great indeed. It is however, reasonable to assume that such cases of default were relatively rare, for had they been of more frequent occurrence, the authorities would 24  The temptation to abscond with large suns of money must have been very great indeed. It is however, reasonable to assume that such cases of default were relatively rare, for had they been of more frequent occurrence, the authorities would doubtless have had recourse to some alternative means of sending the money to the capital.

A great deal has been written about the contribution of the drovers to the cultural and social life of Wales. This is rightly so, especially before the nineteenth century when mobility was restricted and a relatively small proportion of the working population had the opportunity of travelling far beyond their home villages. The drovers enjoyed the advantages of extensive contact with English culture, social life, farming systems and financial matters. Indeed, they represented an essential communications link with England, whereby news of political, social and economic change reached the remote villages of Central and Western Wales. Thus, Edmund Hyde Hall's observation that 'the drovers are distinguished persons in the history of this country's economy' was by no means an overstatement. 26  Moreover, throughout many parts of Wales there remain a rich tradition of 'drovers tales'. If it is accepted that stories, sometimes apocryphal, of 'characters' became enshrined in folk memory, then the drovers must have been persons of considerable local importance. While the bulk of the drovers doubtless made little contribution to life outside their own communities, there are numerous examples to illustrate the profound influence of individuals upon the cultural, spiritual and financial life of Wales. One of the finest of seventeenth century Welsh poets, Edward Morus of Perthi Llwydion, regularly plied his trade as a drover between North Wales and Essex, where he was regarded by local farmers as being of unimpeachable character. 27  More than once did the drovers lend financial support to the publication of Welsh literature, both sacred and profane, as indicated by the following list of subscribers to various literary enterprises : 28

Drover Subscribers to Welsh Publications

Rhys Jones: Gorchestion Beirdd Cymru. (1773)

The Holy Bible (Carmarthen, 1779)

John Bunyan: Dull priodas mab y Brenin, (1758):

Timothy Thomas: Traethiad am y wisg-wen ddisglair. (1759):

Thomas Edwards: Gardd o gerddi. (1790):

Dafydd Jones, Blodeugerdd Cymru:

The establishment of an efficient system of banking in West Wales was made possible by the pioneering efforts of certain drovers, while others became deeply involved in the business life of the country. 29, 30 The cause of Nonconformity was also well served by several members of the droving fraternity. The Pembrokeshire drover, Benjamin Evans, became pastor of Llanuwchlyn in 1769, and among the many ministers of Yr Hen Gapel he was perhaps the best known and most loved . 31 Another drover William Jones of Trawsfynydd (1770-1837), having been converted by the preaching of William Romaine, began his preaching career in 1802. 32   The celebrated Dafydd Jones of Caeo (1711-77), the great hymnologist, achieved a mastery of the English language as a result of his activities as a drover. After his 'conversion' he put his fluency in English to good purpose by translating the hymns of Isaac Watts in addition to writing his own Welsh hymns. From time to time Jones' hymns reflect his earlier calling, as indicated by the imagery employed in the hymn below, which is concerned with the Day of Judgment:

'Fe ddeuant oll o'r Dwyrain,
 Gorllewin, Gogledd, De,
 A Seion yn Ddiatal
 Mae digon eto o le.'

[They all came from the East, West, North and South to unlimited Seion,
Nevertheless there is plenty of room for still more.]

Thus are the souls of men equated with the droves of cattle converging upon Jones' native village of Caeo. There is a picturesque local story in the Beulah / Llanwrtyd area relating to Jones' renunciation of his former attitudes and his embracing of the Christian way of life. Seemingly, Jones was returning from one of his droving enterprises when he was attracted by singing from the old chapel of Troed-rhiw-dalar, near Newbridge-on-Wye. On entering the chapel, it is said, he was so deeply moved by the e Christian way of life. Seemingly, Jones was returning from one of his droving enterprises when he was attracted by singing from the old chapel of Troed-rhiw-dalar, near Newbridge-on-Wye. On entering the chapel, it is said, he was so deeply moved by the eloquence of the preacher, that he was dramatically converted. However, although Jones may have received inspiration from the chapel choir, it seems more likely that his conversion took place in Brecon where he is known to have listened to the open air sermons of John Wesley. 33

While the nineteenth century drover was regarded with mistrust and suspicion by many of his contemporaries, it is nevertheless true that from among the ranks of the drovers arose many men of the highest integrity and cultural attainment, whose contribution to the economic and social life of their times was of the greatest importance.

Legislation concerning the cattle trade.

In Tudor and Elizabethan Britain travelling was both difficult and dangerous. Footpads lurked by the roadside, vagrancy was widespread and life was relatively cheap. Consequently, a long journey by a merchant, tradesman or any other citizen was not undertaken without a certain degree of trepidation. Prior to the passing of two statutes which carefully set out the conditions under which they could ply their trade, the Welsh drovers had been liable for arrest under the vagrancy laws. Hence the cryptic comment that 'Most of these that walk about be Welche-men'. 34  However, an attempt was made to reduce the extent of vagrancy by the statutes of 5 & 6 Ed. VI cap. 14, 21 and 39 Eliz. I cap. 12. It was necessary, under the terms of these statutes, for a drover or dealer to be a married householder of above 30 years of age, and not a hired servant. If he could fulfil these conditions, the drover was free to apply to the local Quarter Sessions for a licence, which if granted, cost him the sum of 12d. At the cost of a further 8d. the drover was bound to register the licence with the Clerk of the Peace who recorded the names and dwelling places of drovers, together with details of the type of licence granted. An Order in the Council of the Marches of Wales at Ludlow in 1617 drew attention to the fact that many drovers were disregarding the statutory requirement of a licence. The Lord President had apparently been informed of the numerous wrongs perpetrated by unlicensed drovers, most of whom were '... suspicious and base persons of evil name and of little or no worth ... who under cover of driving their droves ... not only receive cattle stolen by thieves, but themselves do steal by the way other men's cattle or sheep'. It was ordered, therefore, that drovers might only follow their calling if they were '... known to be honest men of good sufficiency according to the statutes.' Furthermore, any drover found without a licence was to be apprehended and brought before the Council. 35  Transgression generally resulted in a fine of 5 together with a prison sentence under a charge of vagrancy. Details of licences were frequently set down in Quarter Sessions Order Books, which accordingly represent a useful means of establishing the identity of drovers who may have been active in a particular area. In April 1709, it was ordered in the Shrewsbury Quarter Sessions, '. . . that all badgers and drovers appear at next sessions to take licences, and such as refuse be prosecuted ishing the identity of drovers who may have been active in a particular area. In April 1709, it was ordered in the Shrewsbury Quarter Sessions, '. . . that all badgers and drovers appear at next sessions to take licences, and such as refuse be prosecuted according to the law'. No doubt pressure was applied in some cases, for in July of the same year, the Order Book records that the justices instructed the high constable, '... to take care that all badgers, drovers, etc. be presented at the next Sessions'. 36  The Order Books contain numerous references to personnel involved in the droving trade. Thus, in 1719, Joseph Harryman of Much Wenlock was licensed to be a buyer and seller of cattle, while in 1765 and subsequently in 1770 '... Thomas Hinton of Whitchurch, butcher, was licensed by three of his Majesty's justices to be a common drover of cattle for one next year ensuing'. 37

Although the Order Book does not record the fact, it is highly likely that Hinton, being a butcher would have provided '... recogniscances not to sell any cattell by him brought within the distance of sixty miles where he bought the same'.

Such recogniscances were required by both graziers and butchers under 22 and 23 Chas II, cap 19 (1670) before droving licences were granted. It was believed that this measure would reduce local price inflation.

Substantial penalties were levied upon unlicensed drovers for engrossing, forestalling and regrating, while those in possession of licences were theoretically protected against charges concerned with forestalling. Essentially, the various ancient statutes relating to engrossing, forestalling and regrating, aimed to reduce the disrupting effect of these practices on the normal processes of supply and demand and thus of fair competition in local markets and fairs. Clearly, if cattle were sold on route for the fair, supply would be reduced, and thus the selling price inflated. Moreover, toll owners would suffer loss of revenue as a result of cattle not passing through the fair. 38  During the reign of Edward III, a series of statutes had emphasised the illegality of pre-fair trading, while under 3 & 4 Ed. VI, cap 18, 19 (1551-2) it was enacted that '... no person shall buy or commune and conclude to buy, any manner of oxen, steers, Runts, Kine, Heyfers and Calves, but only in the open fair or market, where the same shall happen to be bought or put to sale, and shall not sell the same again alive in that market or fair ... upon pain of the forfeiture of the double value of such cattle'. The second part of this statute was extended by 5 & 6 Ed. VI cap 14 (1552) which forbade speculative traders from re-selling cattle within five weeks of the initial purchase. The burgesses of Carmarthen condemned the 'fraudulent and illegal practices of drovers and jobbers' at a meeting in 1764, resolving that the stipulations of 3 and 4 Ed. VI be 'strictly put into execution', and that those drovers buying and re-selling cattle at the same fairs be suppressed. 39  The tolls from the fair held at Newport, Monmouthshire, had been granted to the town burgesses by Edward VI. In 1843, the burgesses petitioned the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, with the complaint that the annual toll had been severely reduced '... owing in great degree to the drovers of cattle selling their stock at home and elsewhere, where better prices may be obtained'. 40  While the statute of 5 & 6 Ed. VI cap 14 was repealed in 1772, the fmal repeal of the remaining offences of forestalling, regrating and engrossing was not effected until 1844. 41, 42  Even so, the authorities in some areas attempted to limit the extent of forestalling by means of local statutes and byelaws. Thus in 1852, the Portreeve of Usk issued a proclamation which declared that '... persons repeating the offence of forestalling the market after this notice will be punished with the utmost rigour'. 43

An interesting glimpse of the cattle trade in Tudor Wales is provided by two statutes enacted during the reign of Henry VIII. It appears that during the sixteenth century, cattle straying from droves had frequently been seized by local people and subsequently claimed as their own property. Under the terms of 26 Hen, VIII cap. 7 (1535-6), however, this practice was deemed illegal. Thus, if cattle straying from a drove into the possession of another party were claimed by their original owner, the person quently claimed as their own property. Under the terms of 26 Hen, VIII cap. 7 (1535-6), however, this practice was deemed illegal. Thus, if cattle straying from a drove into the possession of another party were claimed by their original owner, the person fmding the cattle was bound to return them within a year and a day. 44 Contravention of this statute rendered the offender liable to a fine of twice.......................

................... the value of the cattle concerned. By way of further reducing the incidence of cattle stealing, 34 & 35 Hen. VIII, cap. 26 (1542) stipulated that no person could buy or sell cattle in Wales '... unless he can bring forth sufficient and credible witness of the name of the person (and) what place he bought the same'. Infringement of this statute resulted in the offender being subject to an unspecified punishment as determined by the President of the Council. In spite of Ellis Wynne's reference to the drovers as 'the very worst kind of highwayman', and subsequently of the uncharitable comments of Twm o'r Nant, only one early reference to the conviction of a Welsh drover for stealing has been found. 45  Thus, in 1634, Humphrey Davies, a drover of Guilsfield, Montgomeryshire, was committed to gaol in Northampton for stealing two heifers, the property of Edward Taylor of Stretton-upon-Dunsmore in Warwickshire. 46 There are, however, frequent cases in Quarter Sessions and Great Sessions records, some of which were mentioned in Part I of the series, which would tend to support the view, widely held by contemporaries, that in spite of their valuable role in the economy of rural Wales, many of the nineteenth century drovers were not overburdened with scruples.

A reference in the Depositions by Commission out of the Exchequer of the 1730's suggests that on at least one occasion a mutually advantageous pact was forged between a member of the tax administration and a drover. One Robert Clayton, Receiver General of His Majesties Taxes for Hereford, was arraigned for his practice of lending tax money at the rate of 5 per cent to drovers for the purchase of cattle. Upon selling their cattle the drovers would then pay the sum (plus interest) owing to Clayton into of His Majesties Taxes for Hereford, was arraigned for his practice of lending tax money at the rate of 5 per cent to drovers for the purchase of cattle. Upon selling their cattle the drovers would then pay the sum (plus interest) owing to Clayton into the Bank of England before returning to Wales. The benefits of such an arrangement to the drovers were made clear by one David Williams who contended that the availability of cash permitted him to buy cattle at a cheaper rate than would have been possible had he been forced to obtain credit. 47

An interesting case, held before the Cardiganshire Great Sessions of 1793, illustrates the considerable pecuniary risks taken by persons advancing capital for the financing of the cattle trade. 48  This case was extremely complex. In essence, however, one Charles Jones of Llanddewibrefi, was attempting to recover debts of 1,300 from his stepfather, David Rowlands, drover, of the same parish. It had been necessary for Jones to provide his stepfather with this money for the purchase of cattle, '... otherwise he could not have gone on with the purchase for the bankers would never enable him to buy cattle'. 49  In his deposition, Jones stated that he had been forced to provide continual fmancial support for Rowlands in the forlorn hope that he might eventually recover the earlier loans. It also transpired during the course of the case that Rowlands, in addition to not repaying his debts, had also wilfully sold some of his stepson's cattle and appropriated the proceeds. This became clear following the evidence on one Edward Abel, drover, who appeared as a witness on behalf of Jones. Seemingly, Abel had been commissioned by Jones to conduct a drove of the latter's cattle to Steyning Fair in Sussex. Abel maintained that Rowlands, who was also present at Steyning, had been heard to................

..................offer one guinea to any person who might be prepared to assist him in removing a number of Jones' cattle from the drove. Assistance was apparently forthcoming, for the case records that Rowlands removed, and sold, twenty-seven of Jones' cattle on the evening before the fair.

A further example, involving a clear cut case of bankruptcy, is provided by the confrontation of Edward and Ellis Jones, drovers, with Thomas Owen, farmer, held at the Caernarvonshire Great Sessions of 1806. 50 The Joneses had managed to persuade Owen to give them, '... credit and countenance in the island of Anglesey by endorsing their drafts and joining them in some notes for cattle'. Having eventually purchased their cattle, the Joneses had failed to make profitable sales in England. Accordingly they had been unable to neet the demands of their creditors, who had turned to the unfortunate Owen for settlement of the brothers' outstanding debts.

Notwithstanding the cases quoted above and in Part I, evidence laid before the Committee on the Bank of England Charter would seem to suggest that many country bankers had sufficient confidence in the drovers to lend substantial sums of money upon little or no security. John Wilkins of the Old Bank at Brecon, for example, was prepared to advance large amounts of cash to drovers provided their promissory notes were underwritten by 'responsible persons'. Other banks, however, such as the 'Black Ox' of Llandovery, and Waters, Jones and Co. of Carmarthen had lent between 5,000 and 7,000 to drovers unable to offer any security.   51, 52

Severe limitations on the activities of the drovers were imposed by the statute of 3 Chas I cap. .22 (1627) and subsequently by 39 Chas. II cap. 7 (1676). The latter stipulated that '... noe Drover, Horsecourser, Waggoner, Butcher, Higler, or any of their servants shall travell or come into ... an Inne or lodgeing upon the Lord's Day or any part thereof ... upon pain that each and every such offender shall forfeit twenty shillings for every such offence'. No doubt this statute was frequently contravened. In 1817, for example, two Welsh drovers were convicted for '... profanation of the Sabbath in driving cattle through the village of Mordiford in Herefordshire'. It was hoped that '... such legal interference will tend to check a practice which has of late been too general and must have proved truly painful to the Christian observer'. 53 As late as 1886, the Anglesey dealer, John Evans, was deeply concerned about starting his journey to London on a Sunday. As he wrote to his wife, '... I could not tell (my children that I was going to London on the Sabbath Day, it would have grieved their hearts. It will do no good to tell your mother. It will only fret her to think how unfortunate you have been in being yoked to such an ungodly husband. 54

In the City of London, the markets of which were the final destination of many drovers of Welsh cattle, numerous ordinances and decrees strictly regulated the hours during which cattle could be moved through the streets. Thus, no cattle were permitted

In the City of London, the markets of which were the final destination of many drovers of Welsh cattle, numerous ordinances and decrees strictly regulated the hours during which cattle could be moved through the streets. Thus, no cattle were permitted to be driven to Smithfield Fair before midnight on a Sunday, while it was forbidden to drive animals within one mile of Smithfield before ......................

...................... 11 p.m. on market days. It was possible, however, after 1867, to drive cattle through the streets of London, provided the prior permission of the police commissioner had been obtained . 55 Such regulations applied both to local city drovers and to those persons bringing cattle from afar. Public concern with the barbaric ways with which the city drovers frequently treated their cattle prompted the Mayor's Court to issue an ordinance forbidding drovers from using '. . . any stick or other instrument the point of which shall be of greater length than one quarter of an inch . 56 Any drovers caught using sticks which had not been approved by the Clerk of the Court and marked accordingly, could be fined a sum not exceeding forty shillings. Edward Cook had perhaps contravened this regulation, for he is recorded in the Metropolitan Market Convictions Book as having been fined twenty-four shillings in 1875, '... for cruelly beating a calf in York Road', while in the same year one James Bailey received fourteen days hard labour '.. . for cruelly torturing a cow'. 57  The convictions Books do not record any cases of contravention of that part of the Intoxicating Liquor Act (35 and 36 Vict. cap 94, 1872) which allowed for a fine of forty shillings or one month's imprisonment for drovers who had been found guilty of driving cattle while under the influence of drink. 58  In 1870, however, Francis Flanaghan, an Irishman, received two calendar months in prison for '... being drunk, annoying and assaulting Louisa Martin'. Again, in 1875, one Humphrey ap Phillip spent five days in prison for drunkenness and using obscene language, while George Mussin paid a fine of five shillings '. . . for being drunk and incapable of taking care of himself in Offord Road, Islington'. Such examples tend to confirm the impression gained from literary sources, that the drovers ing obscene language, while George Mussin paid a fine of five shillings '. . . for being drunk and incapable of taking care of himself in Offord Road, Islington'. Such examples tend to confirm the impression gained from literary sources, that the drovers in general were not averse to over-indulgence.

It would be interesting to know how many Welsh drovers had read Vicar Prichard's Cannwyll y Cymry and to what extent they heeded his stern warnings of the potential dangers of alcohol.

Gochel feddwi wrth Borthmonna,
Gwin hel borthmon i gardotta;
Os y porthmon a fydd meddw,
F'ar holl stoc i brynu'r cwrw.   59

 

RICHARD COLYER

Aberystwyth

 

Notes;

1  H. J. Hewitt, Medieval Cheshire, A Social and Economic History of Cheshire in the reigns of the three Edwards, (Manchester, 1929), p. 84.

2  I. Edwards, Star Chamber Proceedings in Wales, (Cardiff, 1929), passim.

3  The annual tribute of 25,000 oxen imposed by Athelstan upon the Welsh suggests that cattle were also vital components of the rural economy of Wales during the tenth century. (C. Price, in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, (Cambridge, 1972), II, p. 318.

4  In H. Thomas, A History of Wales, 1485-1660, (Cardiff, 1972), p. 127.

5  A. H. Dodd, A History of Caernarvonshire, 1284-1900 (Denbigh, 1968), p. 92.

Calendar of Wynn Papers (National Library of Wales, 1926), p. 302.

7 C. Skeel, Trans. Royal Hist. Soc. IX, 1926, p. 140.

8 The Parliamentary army included at least one cattle drover among its officers. Captain Edward Taylor of Pickhill, Denbighshire, who was buried at Marchwiel in 1679, led a troop of horse. This stalwart was voted a reward of 200 by Parliament for personally capturing Sir John Owen, leader of the Royalist up rising in Bangor in 1648. N. Tucker, Denbighshire Officers in the Civil War (Denbigh, n.d.), pp. 131-22.

9 C. Fox, Offa's Dyke (1955 edn.), pp. 34-5, 112-3, 156-7.

10 1 am indebted to Mr. F. Noble for kindly drawing my attention to this Ordinance.

11  H. P. R. Finberg, 'An Early Reference to the Welsh Cattle Trade', in Agric. Hist. Rev., 2, 1954, pp. 12-14.

12 The settlement of Welsh estates upon the younger sons of Norman magnates may possibly have resulted in supplies of cattle from Wales being sent to the family estates in England.

13 Calendar of Close Rolls, Ed. II, 1309-13, p. 292.

14 Hewitt, op. cit., pp. 53-4.

15 H. R. Davies, The Conway and Menai Ferries, B.C.S. No. 8, p. 45.

16 C. Dyer, 'A Small Landowner in the fifteenth century', Midland History, 1(3), 1972, p. 7.

17 D. Williams, A History of Modern Wales (London, 1969), pp. 19-20.

18 J, O. Halliwell, ed., The Diary of Dr. John Dee (Camden Society 1842), passim.

19 H.M.C., Duke of Rutland MSS. Vol. I, p. 246.

20 Calendar of Wynn Papers, op. cit., p. 201.

21 ibid., p. 365.

22 ibid., p. 404.

23 G. Nesta Evans, Social Life in raid-Eighteenth Century Anglesey (Cardiff, 1935), P. 122-3.

24 Calendar of Treasury Books LVIII, 1743, p. 225.

25 J. E. Lloyd, Arch. Camb.. Ser 4, III, 1870, p. 47.

26 Edmund Hyde Hall, A Description of Caernarvonshire, 1809-11 (ed. E. Gwynne Jones, Caernarvon, 1952).

27 H. Ellis Hughes, Eminent Men of Denbighshire (Liverpool, 1946), p. iii.

28 I am indebted to Miss E. Rees of the National Library of Wales for providing me with the names of the subscribers on this list.

29 R. T. Jenkins, Y Ffordd Yng Nghymru (Wrexham, 1933), p. 75.

30 F. Green, 'Early Banks in West Wales' in Trans. His. Soc. West Wales, 1916, pp. 129-164.

31 P. G. Hughes, Wales and the Drovers (Denbigh, 1944) p. 32.

32 Dictionary of Welsh Biography (London, 1959), p. 524.

33 Personal Commnnication: Professor E. G. Bowen.

34 Tawney and Porter, Tudor Economic Documents (London, 1924), III p. 142.

35 Calendar of the Records of the Borough of Haverfordwest, 1539-1660, B.C.S. No. 24.

36 Salop Q.S. Order Book, April 1709.

37 Salop Q.S. Order Book, July 1770.

38 The considerable tolls demanded of drovers at local fairs were highly unpopular and only reluctantly paid. The burgesses of Dinas Mawddwy explained to the Lord of the Manor that the drovers had refused to pay toll at the Easter fair of 1843. They had drawn his attention to the fact '. . . in order that he may enforce payment thereof and uphold our ancient privileges'. (N.L.W. Schedule of Dinas Mawddwy Records 1940).

39 N.L.W., Dynevor Deeds and Documents, Parcel 4.

40 Monmouthshire R.O., Wand TM/B27. However, despite such complaints, 'pre-fair' trading was still widely practised and the tradition of dealers purchasing cattle directly from farmers persists in Wales to this day.

41 12 Geo. III, cap 71 (1792).

42  7-8 Vict., cap 24 (1844).

43 Monmouthshire R.O., D/156/32.

44 The necessity of impounding these animals may explain the widespread distribution of 'cae pound' and 'cae ffald' field names throughout Wales.

45 Ellis Wynne, Bardd Cwsg (Carmarthen, 1864), pp. 19, 102.

46 Northants R.O., I.L. 1961.

47 P.R.O. E134/8, Geo, II, Easter 8, quoted by O. Parry, B.B.C.S. 8, (1935-7).

48 N.L.W. G. E. Owen MSS. 7266-7.

49 Clearly Rowlands was a bad risk, for see Wilkins' evidence to bank of England Charter committee discussed below.

50 U.C.N.W., Porth yr Aur MS. 33281.

51 Report of the Committee on the Bank of England Charter, B.P.P. VI, 1831-2, pp. 115-8. Wilkins observed that Banks often lent cash to drovers on the understanding that the suns would be collected by their agents after the cattle sales at Barnet Fair.

52 In addition to fmancing local drovers, the Brecon Old Bank extended its facilities to drovers from the Midland counties. These people arrived at the bank with notes for denominations between 5 and 30 from local Midland banks which they changed for Brecon notes, these being 'well known' in Cardiganshire, Pembrokeshire and Glamorgan, where the Midland drovers purchased the bulk of their cattle. (R. O. Roberts, Brycheiniog, VII, 1961, p. 65).

53 Gloucester Journal, August 4th 1817.

54 N.L.W. Broadhead Evans MS. 102.

55  30 & 31 Vict. cap. 134. Numerous convictions for driving cattle during prohibited hours are recorded in Metropolitan Market Conviction Books, ( City of London R.O. MS. 407A).

56 City of London R.O. MS 39.

57 Miss Alice Bowen of Shrewsbury, who renumbers drovers of cattle being bought to Welshpool Market before the beginning of the present century, witnessed the cruelty of some of the drovers. 'These drovers carried a stout hazel stick with which they beat the animals mercilessly ... across the face and blood would ooze from their nostrils; also their language was unrepeatable.' Miss Bowen is perhaps referring to market drovers, for the long-distance Welsh drover, keen to preserve the condition of his charges, would have been unlikely to treat them in this bestial manner.

58 In mid-nineteenth century Pembroke, drovers wilfully misbehaving while in charge of cattle or permitting animals to cause damage as a result of their own negligence, were liable to a fine of forty shillings. (Carmarthen R.O. Cawdor MS. 260).

59 Rhys Prichard, Cannwyll y Cymry (Carmarthen, 1807), p. 149.


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