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PEMBROKESHIRE

Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868] by Colin Hinson ©2018

"PEMBROKESHIRE, a maritime county, forming the extreme W. of South Wales, is bounded on the N.E. by the river Teifi and Cardiganshire, on the E. by Carmarthenshire, on the S. by the Bristol Channel, on the W. by St. George's Channel, and on the N. by Cardigan Bay. It lies between 51° 36' and 52° 7' N. latitude, and 4° 30' and 5° 20' W. longitude. The length from Strumble Head on the N. coast to St. Gowan's Head on the S. is about 30 miles; while in breadth, from St. Anne's Head to Amroth, the distance is about 25 miles; and its area comprises 401,691 statute acres. It is about 145 miles in circuit, 100 of which are coast. The population of Pembrokeshire, according to the census of 1861 is 96,093, having increased 1,953 since the census of 1851, when it was 94,140. The number of inhabited houses was 18,832, and of uninhabited 1,172. At the time of the Roman invasion, Pembrokeshire formed part of the territory of the Demetæ, or Dyfed, and was called Pen-fro, or Corner-land, by the Welsh. It was included by the Romans in the division Britannica Secunda. It was subject to ravages by the Danes at the close of the 10th century, who have left several traces of their occupation of this part of South Wales in the numerous Danish raths and trenches along the whole of the coastline. Pembrokeshire was subdued by the Normans under Martin de Tours in 1069, and again in the reign of Henry I., according to the famous Welsh historian, Giraldus Cambrensis, by Arnulf de Montgomery, who built the first castle of Pembroke of stakes and turf. On the same authority we also learn that a colony of Flemings were invited over by Henry I., who, "being fond of giving to others what he bad no right to bestow," settled them in the peninsula of land W. of Pembroke, now known as the hundred of Castlemartin; their descendants still retain much of their nationality, and this district is hence still termed "Little England beyond Wales." This county afterwards came into the hands of Strongbow, and was subsequently possessed by the Glares, Marshalls, Valences, Hastings, and Herberts. Richard II. landed at Milford on his return from Ireland in 1399; and Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., disembarked at Dale, near the entrance to Milford Haven, in 1485, and marched thence towards Shrewsbury. Pembrokeshire, during the Great Rebellion, was the scene of many hotly contested struggles between the Royalist and Parliamentarian forces in various parts of the shire. The surface is generally undulating; and from Cardigan Bay in the N., to the Bristol Channel in the S., is a constant succession of small hills and valleys, running from E. to W., and presenting exactly the appearance of lofty waves suddenly solidified. The climate is mild, and almost tropical in the S.; but in the northern parts cold and moist. Storms of lightning and thunder very rarely break over the county; but as they approach from the Atlantic, they divide into two portions, one of which goes up the Bristol, and the other the Irish Channel. The S.W. winds blow with such violence here during the greater portion of the year, that no trees can stand the violence of the blast, and consequently there is an almost total absence of timber, except in sheltered situations; and the want of it gives a naked, barren appearance to many parts where the soil is extremely good. The soils are various, principally a dark grey loam, improved by lime and shell sand. In the S. district the Old Red sandstone and limestone formations form a soil, producing excellent crops; the rocky country from St. David's to Fishguard is well adapted for growing barley; but the quality of land in the coal district, near Landshipping, and the slatey ridges of the Precelly mountains is very inferior. The method of farming has been much improved of late years through the influence of the late Earl Cawdor and other opulent landholders, who have established farmers' clubs and agricultural societies. The chief breed of cattle is the black Castlemartins, called from the hundred of that name, which fatten fast, and yield great quantities of milk. The old Castlemartin breed, which was of an iron-grey colour, has now almost totally disappeared. Several English landlords have of late years introduced large quantities of Hereford and Alderney stock on their farms; but the Castlemartin blacks are universally adhered to by the native farmers. Pigs are bred in large quantities; but generally of a very ugly native type, with long ears covering the eyes, and long thin legs. Many of the old farm buildings and cottages are built entirely of mud; and in some instances the hedge of the field forms the back wall of a farmhouse. Pembrokeshire being surrounded on three sides by the sea, and intersected by the great estuary of Milford Haven, has few rivers of any size or length. The river Teifi, which forms the N.E. boundary, runs into the Irish Channel, between Cardigan Head and Cardigan Island; the mouth is blocked by a dangerous barony The Cleddau, or Cleddy, has two branches, of which the eastern rises in the Precelly mountains; while the western, having its source in the north-western part of the shire, runs past Haverfordwest, from whence it is navigable for small coal sloops and the like, and after forming a junction with the stream of the E. Cleddau, about 5 miles below Haverfordwest, falls into Milford Haven, a little way above Pembroke Dock or Pater. The other rivers are the Nevern, in the N., which empties itself into the bay of Newport; the Gwain, at Fishguard; and the Solva, flowing into St. Bride's Bay, where it forms a small port. The stratified rocks to the N. of Haverfordwest are composed of shales, slates, and grit; while in the vicinity of Pembroke the older rocks are surmounted by the Silurian slates, Old Red sandstone, and carboniferous limestone and coal measures. The whole of the northern surface is traversed by veins of trap, which shows itself in masses at St. David's Head, Ramsay Island, and elsewhere. The carboniferous limestone dips below the millstone grit, and the coal district runs from E. to W., across the centre of the county, gradually narrowing as it approaches St. Bride's Bay. The coal is anthracite, or culm, as it is called by the natives, which being mixed with slime from the sea shore, is made up into oblong balls, and when placed in a wet state on the fire emits no smoke, but a bluish vapour. The southern coast, exposed to the full force of the Atlantic storms-there being no land whatever between this part and America-presents a truly wild and inhospitable appearance: the carboniferous limestone forming precipitous cliffs from 200 to 300 feet high. They are almost everywhere abrupt and full of fractures and contortions. There are frequent funnel-shaped cavities and fissures, to which the sea has access. Of these, the most remarkable is Bosherton Mere, near St. Gowan's Head, the most southern point of Pembrokeshire. The only hills of any size or importance are the Precelly Mountains, separating Pembrokeshire from Cardiganshire, which are of Lower Silurian slate, and extend about 10 miles in length, from near Fishguard to the borders of Carmarthenshire. Their highest summit, Cwm Cerwyn, attains an elevation of 1,751 feet above the sea; while the highest point in the S., Bolton Beacon, is 327 feet. This shire is divided into 7 hundreds -Castlemartin, Dewisland, Dungleddy, Kemess, Cilgerran, Narberth, and Roose, containing 143 parishes, besides parts of 5 others, and 4 extra parochial places, one city-St. David's-and 175 villages. There are 7 market towns-viz: Haverfordwest, the county, assizes and sessions town, Pembroke, Narberth, Milford, Tenby, Fishguard, and Newport, of which the first three are heads of Poor-law Unions, and of new County Court and superintendent registry districts. The county returns three members to Parliament: one for the shire, one for Haverfordwest, St. David's, Fishguard, and Narberth, and one for Pembroke, Tenby, Milford, and Wiston. It is governed by a lord-lieutenant, high-sheriff, and sixty-five magistrates, is in the South Wales circuit, and home military district, and constitutes the archdeaconry of St. David's, in that diocese, in the province of Canterbury. There are no manufactures of any particular importance in the county. Two-thirds of the population are employed in agricultural pursuits, the rest in the coal mines, or limestone and slate quarries. Of the ancient Roman roads, the Via Julia came by Carmarthen to Ambleston, or Castle Flemish, and St. David's; and here the Sarn Helen from the N. joined it. The principal common roads are the coach road from London to Pembroke; the road from Carmarthen to Haverfordwest, St. David's, Fishguard, and Newport; the road from Pembroke to Tenby, and from Tenby northwards through Narberth. There is a tramway from the coal mines at Kingsmoor to the sea at Saundersfoot. The South Wales railway enters the county near Whitland, and runs past Haverfordwest to Neyland, or Milford Haven, its terminus. A narrow gauge line runs from Pembroke Dock, or Pater, through Pembroke to Tenby, and another line is being made from Tenby to join the South Wales line at Whitland. Pembrokeshire abounds in interesting specimens of antiquity, in the shape of ruined castles, camps, and cromlechs. There are remains of British and other camps at Rudbaxton, Summerton, Castle Coning, Poyntz, Gawnfawr, and Castell Hafod; of cromlechs and Druidical stones at Llanstinnan, Trefine, Treslanog, Trehowel, Llechydrybed, and Pentre Evan; of the abbey at St. Dogmaels, the preceptory at Slebech, and the priory at Pill; of episcopal palaces at Llamphey, or Llanfydd, and Llanheidan; of old castles at Pembroke, Eastington, Carew, Manorbier, Cilgerran, Narberth, Haverfordwest, Amroth, Roche, Newport, Tenby, Wiston, Benton, and Llanhyfer. St. Dubritius was born at Fishguard; Asser, the friend of Alfred at St. David's; Giraldus de Barri, better known as Giraldus Cambrensis, the famous historian and preacher of the Crusades, at Manorbier; and the scene of part of Shakespeare's Cymbeline is laid in "a mountainous country near Milford Haven." The chief seats are Stackpole, Earl Cawdor; Dale Castle, Lloyd Philipps; Picton, Rev. J. H. A. Philipps; Orielton, M. A. Saurin, Esq.; Williamston, J. H. Scourfield, Esq., M.P.; Slebech, Baron do Rutzen; Brownslade, Mirehouse, Esq.; Boulston, R. T. Acland, Esq.; Cresselly; Lady C. Allen; Lawrenny, G. Lort Phillipps, M.P., and many others."

 

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018