"LLANTRISSENT (LLAN-TRI- SAINT), a borough, market town, and parish, in the hundred of MISKIN, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 10 mileS (N. W. by W.) from Cardiff, and 169 (W.) from London, containing 2789 inhabitants.
This place, which derives its name from the dedication of its church to three different saints, is distinguished by few historical events of importance. At what time or by whom its castle was originally built, is not accurately known ; but it is enumerated among those for which Gilbert de Clare, commonly called " the Red," Lord of Glamorgan, did homage to Edward I., on his accession to the titles and estates of his family, after the death of his father, towards the end of the thirteenth century. Edward II., with his favourite the younger Spencer, was taken prisoner near this town, by the queen's forces, and conveyed to Hereford.
The town is romantically situated, on the road from Cowbridge to Merthyr-Tydvil, in a pass over a mountainous ridge, between two lofty hills, and is irregularly and indifferently built; but its whitewashed houses, with the dismantled tower of its castle, form a conspicuous and interesting feature in the scenery on approaching the mountains. The vicinity is indescribably beautiful and highly picturesque ; and the views embrace a tract of country abounding with features of romantic character and almost unrivalled magnificence. The prospect from the brow of the hill on which the town is built embraces the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan, from its eastern extremity to the influx of the river Ogmore into the Bristol channel : among the numerous interesting objects which this extensive tract of country exhibits are the rich woods about Hensol, Glanelay, and Lanharan; beyond which is discerned the Bristol channel, with the distant hills on the English coast, and in other directions the lofty mountains which bound it on various sides. To the north of the town the appearance of the country becomes more rugged, and assumes a wilder aspect, which is in some degree enlivened by the pleasing appearance of Castella, an ancient seat of the family of Traherne, now the property and residence of Major Smith, which forms a lively and cheerful object in a landscape of which the prevailing character is that of sombre magnificence. At the entrance to the town is a substantial stone mansion, called Llantrissent House, the seat of Richard Fowler Rickards, Esq.
The parish abounds with coal, which is worked to a very great extent for the supply of the great iron-works in the neighbouring districts, and for exportation. Ores of iron and lead have also been found in great quantities, and works have been established here for procuring those minerals ; but they have not been conducted with a sufficient degree of profit to remunerate the adventurers, and have consequently been discontinued. The principal of these was the Park mine, about a mile to the south of the town, the ore obtained in which was of the species called galena, or potters' ore, lying in a vein extending from east to west, and contained in a matrix of spar, in magnesian limestone resting upon coal. Some years ago an ancient colliery, not properly filled up, was accidentally discovered by R. F. Rickards, Esq., when a young man, who, by falling into it, was burnt to the bone on the fore part of the foot and leg it contained a large quantity of pyrites, which had ignited, and had been in a state of combustion for a very long period : it is still burning, and probably will continue to burn, so long as any inflammable matter may remain.
A rail-road has been constructed from the Dinas colliery, which communicates with the Cardiff and Merthyr canal at Newbridge.
The market, which is only for provisions, is on Friday : the corn market has been removed to Newbridge, five miles off. Great cattle fairs are held on February 13th, May 12th, August 12th, and October 29th.
It has not been precisely ascertained at what time the town received its first charter of incorporation : it has a charter dated the 20th of Edward III. The corporation consists of the constable of the castle, a portreeve, twelve aldermen, and an unlimited number of burgesses, assisted by a town-clerk, serjeant at mace, and other officers : the portreeve is annually elected from among the aldermen, who fill up vacancies in their number by a majority of their own body.
Llantrissent is one of eight contributory boroughs, namely, Cardiff, Llantrissent, Cowbridge, Aberavon, Kenvig, Neath, Swansea, and Loughor, which returned one member to parliament: the right of election was in the burgesses at large, at present about four hundred and twenty in number. By the late act for amending the representation of the people, the boroughs of Cardiff, Cowbridge, and Llantrissent have been constituted a separate district, returning one member; and the right of voting has been vested in the resident burgesses, ninety-eight in number, and in those within seven miles, in number one hundred and twelve, if duly qualified according to the provisions of the act; also in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the annual value of not less than ten pounds, provided he be capable of registering as the act directs : the present number of tenements of this value, within the limits of the borough, which extend about a mile from the town in every direction, comprising the whole of the town hamlet and parts of other hamlets, and are not altered by the late boundary act, is seventy-two, most of. which are occupied by burgesses. The freedom is inherited by all the children of a burgess, and is acquired by servitude of seven years' apprenticeship to a resident freeman, by marriage with a freeman's daughter, and by election of a jury of twelve burgesses upon paying double fees on admission. The corporation are empowered by their charter to hold a court of record for the recovery of debts, but it has been for many years discontinued. The petty sessions for the hundred of Miskin are held in this town every Friday. The town-hall and the market-place are of modern erection, and are neat buildings well adapted to their uses.
The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Llandaf, rated in the king's books at £26.14. 2., endowed with the vicarial tithes of the parishes of Aberdare, Lantwit Vairdre, Llanwonno, and Ystradyvodog, and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Gloucester. The church, dedicated to St. Dyvnog, St. Iddog, and St. Menw, is a spacious and ancient structure, in the Norman style of architecture, occupying the summit of the hill above the town. There are two chapels in this parish, one dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £200 private benefaction, £ 1000 royal bounty, and £ 1000 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of Mrs. Pritchard. The other, called Tal y garn, after being long suffered to fall gradually into decay, has been recently repaired through the instrumentality of Dr. Lisle, who has a summer residence at this place : the living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £1000 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Principal and Fellows of Jesus' College, Oxford. The Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, have each one place of worship in the town; the Independents have also additional places of worship at Cymmer and Crossvaen ; and the Methodists one at Velin Vawr within the parish.
A National school for the gratuitous instruction of children of both sexes is supported principally by the Marquis of Bute, who contributes fifty guineas per annum, and by subscription among the gentry resident in the neighbourhood. The school is well conducted under the auspices of the Marquis, at whose expense six boys, who are selected as teachers, and clothed with two suits in the year, are apprenticed, when at a proper age, with a premium of £10. Mr. Gibbon, of Newton House, in the parish of Llanblethian, bequeathed £4. 19. per annum, to be distributed among the poor of this parish, at the discretion of the vicar; and, under the will of Sir Leoline Jenkins, £20 is distributed in clothing, every fourth year, by the master of Cowbridge school, among the poor of this parish, of whom the vicar nominates such as he thinks the most deserving.
There are but small remains of the ancient castle, which originally consisted of two wards, and appears to have been a place of great strength : these consist principally of a portion of one of the towers, which, from its elevated situation, forms a very conspicuous and interesting feature in the scenery of the place. In 1829, in clearing away the rubbish which had accumulated about the foundations, the workmen discovered the dungeon which, according to Leland, had anciently formed the prison for the territories of Miskin and Glin Rhondda.
At a short distance from the town, to the right of the road leading to Llandaf, are some remains of an ancient religious house, said to have been a monastery dedicated to St. Cawrdav, son of Caradoc Vraichvras, regulus of Brecknock, about the end of the fifth, or the beginning of the sixth, century. Within the limits of the parish are several ancient camps, of which the most important is that called Caerau, or "the fortifications," supposed to have been constructed by the Danes. Castella, the ancient family mansion of the Trahernes, appears also from its name to have been built upon the site of some ancient fortification, which may probably have been an outpost to the castle of Llantrissent.
There are chalybeate springs in several parts of the parish.
Sir Leoline Jenkins, who, in the reign of Charles II., was eminently distinguished as a jurist, diplomatist, and statesman, was born in this parish, and was buried in the chapel of Jesus' College, Oxford, to which he had been so munificent a benefactor as to be in some degree regarded as its second founder : he endowed the grammar school at Cowbridge, and bequeathed the principal part of his estates to charitable uses.
The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor amounts to £ 1288. 15."