Gazetteers - Aberffraw


National Gazetteer (1868)

"ABERFFRAW, a parish in the hundred of Malltraeth, in the county of Anglesey, North Wales, 16 miles S.W. of Beaumaris. It is a station on the Holyhead railway. Bangor is the post town. The village is situated on the bay of Carnarvon, and the port is subordinate to Beaumaris. The parish includes 9 tythings, and was formerly a market town. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Bangor, value £888, in the patronage of the Prince of Wales. The church is dedicated to St. Beuno; its tower was destroyed many years ago. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. Fairs are held on the 7th March, Tuesday after Palm Sunday, Wednesday after Trinity Sunday, the 15th August, the 23rd October, and the 11th December.

At a very remote period, Aberffraw was the principal residence of the princes of North Wales. A palace was erected, it is said, as early as the middle of the 5th century. In the year 870 the seat of government was re-established here after it had been removed to Carnarvon by Roderic the Great; and here it was fixed till the death of Llewellyn in 1282. One of the three copies of the laws of Hywel Dha was deposited here. Here too was held the Eistedvodd, or triennial assembly of the bards of the district. No traces of the ancient palace exist, but at the south-eastern extremity of the village there is an enclosure still called Gardd-y-Ldys, or the "palace garden." Snake Gems," which art large beads of blue glass, and are supposed to be of Roman manufacture, are sometimes found near this village, and are even at the present time used superstitiously as charms. "

"BODFEIRIG, a tything in the parish of Aberffraw, hundred of Maltraeth, in the county of Anglesey, North Wales, not far from Aberffraw."

"BODGEDRWYDD, a tything in the parish of Aberffraw, hundred of Maltraeth, in the county of Anglesey, North Wales, near Aberffraw."

"CEFNTREFFRAW, a tything in the parish of Aberffraw, in the county of Anglesey, North Wales."

"CNWC, a tything with Llawr-y-dref, in the parish of Aberffraw, in the county of Anglesey. It is situated near Aberffraw."

"DINDRYSAL, a tything in the parish of Aberffraw, in the county of Anglesey, near Aberfraw."

"GRYGOR, a tything in the parish of Aberffraw, county Anglesey, North Wales, 16 miles S.W. of Beaumaris. It is situated near the mouth of the river Ffraw, on Carnarvon Bay."

"LLAWR-Y-DREF, a tything in the parish of Aberffraw, county Anglesey, in the vicinity of the town of Aberffraw."

"PENRHYN, a tything in the parish of Aberffraw, county Anglesey, 16 miles S.W. of Beaumaris. It is situated on Carnarvon Bay, near the river Ffraw's mouth."

"TALYLLYN, a village in the parish of Aberffraw, hundred of Malltraeth, county Anglesey, 14 miles S.W. of Beaumaris. It is situated near the estuary of the Ffraw, which here falls into Carnarvon Bay."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales
Samuel Lewis, 1833

ABER-FRAW, (ABER FRAW) a parish, formally a market town, partly in the hundred of MENAI, but principally in that of MALLTRAETH, county of ANGLESEY, NORTH WALES, 13 miles (S. E. by S.) from Holyhead, containing 1367 inhabitants. This place, which derives its name from its situation at the mouth of the small river Fraw, was distinguished at a very early period as the principal residence of the ancient princes of North Wales, by one of whom, Caswallon Law Hir, a palace was built, about the middle of the fifth century. Caswallon's successors having removed the seat of government to Caer Seiont, now Carnarvon, it was re-established at Aberfraw, in the year 870, by Roderic the Great, after his defeat of Burrhed, the Mercian prince, who had invaded his dominions. Roderic fixed his supreme court of judicature at this place, which, until the death of Llewelyn, in 1282, continued to be the ordinary residence of the Welsh sovereigns. During that period, one of the three copies of the celebrated code of laws compiled, about the year 940, under the auspices of Hywel Dda, was deposited here. In 966, the palace was destroyed by the Irish, in one of their descents upon Anglesey, but was subsequently rebuilt; and soon, after the commencement of the twelfth century, during the sovereignty of Grufydd ab Cynan, it afforded an asylum to Grufydd, son of Rhys ab Tewdwr, late prince of South Wales. The Welsh sovereign, shortly after paying a visit to Henry I., at London, was prevailed upon to promise that, on his return, he would deliver up the fugitive to the English monarch; but the young prince, fearing this treachery, withdrew from the palace with his brother Hywel ; and Grufydd ab Cynan, determined to perform his promise to Henry, having discovered the place of his retreat, despatched a body of horsemen to arrest him, in which attempt however, they did not succeed; for the young prince, being timely apprised of their design, again had recourse to flight, and, although closely pursued, effected his escape.

Aberfraw has since this period dwindled into a mere village, and exhibits no remains of its former importance : it is pleasantly situated on the shore of St. George's channel, at the influx of the river Fraw, which has its source in two fine lakes just above the village, and, after flowing through the parish, falls into the sea, about three miles from one of the lakes, called Llyn Coron, forming at its mouth a small harbour, capable of receiving vessels of forty tons' burden, which, at a very moderate expense, might be rendered highly commodious, having anciently been an excellent haven. The parish comprises about six thousand two hundred acres of land, which with the exception of five hundred acres of common, are enclosed and in a good state of cultivation : the soil is sandy, and well adapted to the production of grain, of which great quantities, especially of oats and barley, raised in the parish and in the surrounding country, are annually shipped from this small port, which is considered a creek within the limits of the port of Beaumaris : the inhabitants are principally employed in agriculture and in fishing. The market, formerly held on Thursday, has been discontinued for several years : fairs are appointed to be held on the 7th of March, the Tuesday after Palm-Sunday, Wednesday after Trinity-Sunday, August 15th, October 23rd, and December 11th.

The living is a rectory, in the archdeaconry of Anglesey, and diocese of Bangor, rated in the king's books at £20.15.10., and in the patronage of the King, as Prince of Wales. The church, dedicated to St. Beuno, is an ancient and spacious structure, in the decorated style of English architecture, consisting of two spacious parallel aisles, separated by lofty pillars and finely pointed arches : the tower was demolished many years ago, but there is a handsome pointed arch, formerly leading into it from the church, still in a very perfect state of preservation. In the tything of Dindryval anciently stood a chapel, called Capel Mair, or " St. Mary's chapel." There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. A ruined church, called Eglwys y Beili, was rebuilt for a school, in 1729, by Sir Arthur Owen, Bart., who endowed it with £4 per annum for the instruction of six poor children in the Welsh language. A National school has been recently built, and is supported by subscription, in which about one hundred children of both sexes receive gratuitous instruction. Mr. John Pugh Gwilym, in 1633, bequeathed £53. 6. 8., and the Rev. John Thomas, in 1642, bequeathed a portion of land, to the poor; and various other sums by different benefactors, amounting nearly to £70, secured formerly on the turnpike trust of the county, were appropriated to the same purpose, but they are either lost, or, by misapplication, are not now available for the uses to which they were originally given.

At present there are no remains of the ancient palace, nor of any of the buildings connected with it, although some of the oldest inhabitants remember slight vestiges of it in the walls of a barn; and at the south-western extremity of the village there is an enclosure, called Gardd y Llys, or "the Palace Garden."

In this parish are frequently found the amulets called Gleiniau Nadroedd, or " snake gems," supposed to have been made by the Romans, and bartered with the ancient Britons for the produce of their country : they are composed of glass, and are of a rich blue colour, some streaked, and others plain; and are now superstitiously used by the vulgar as charms for certain disorders, and in assisting children to cut their teeth.

The Eisteddvodau, or triennial assemblies of the bards of this district, were held at Aberfraw, so long as it continued to be a royal residence. According to Mr. Rowlands, the historian of Anglesey, this is the birthplace of Walter, afterwards named Steward, or Stuart, who, going into Scotland, there founded the powerful family of that name, which afterwards enjoyed the sovereignty both of England and Scotland. The average annual assessment for the support of the poor amounts to £ 583. 19.

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