A Contribution to the Commercial History of Glamorgan, 1666-1735


Moelwyn I Williams, National Library of Wales journal, Summer, 1956, Vol IX/3 pp334-353

This is Part II of this article, extracted by Gareth Hicks onto the pages of GENUKI with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales.

There follows sections dealing with unusual terms in the Tables; some extracts from Tables; and Appendixes.

The first part of this article 1 dealt with the general history of the coasting trade of the Vale of Glamorgan and in it special reference was made to the trade that was formerly carried on between the old port of Aberthaw and the English ports of Minehead and Bristol. The tabulated data given previously accounted for the period extending from 1667 to 1683. This second instalment covers the years from 1693 to 1735, and although there are many serious gaps in the record of trade for that period, it is thought that the information contained in the additional tables is sufficient to indicate the general character of the cross-channel trade between Aberthaw and the opposite English coast during the first half of the eighteenth century.

The various cargoes carried into and out of Aberthaw throughout the period 1667 to 1735 included certain commodities which convey little or no meaning to us today. Similarly certain units of weight and measure are referred to which have long since passed out of common usage. It has been thought desirable, therefore, to give here a few brief explanatory notes on the more unusual and significant terms and items used in the tables appended below and in those given in the first part of this article.

Coop. A tumbril or cart enclosed with boards to carry dung, sand, grains, etc. ( A General Dictionary of Husbandry, Planting and Gardening, Vol. 1). The term also signifies a pen or enclosed space where lambs and poultry, etc., are shut up in order to be fed.

Durois. This is probably the plural form of Duroy (Duroys Durois) which was a coarse woollen fabric formerly manufactured in the West of England ( N.E.D.) which disappeared after the disappearance of the woollen trade (Wright: English Dialect Dict.). It is a noteworthy fact that during his tours in the Fen district, Defoe saw in one of the fairs '... several Booths ...fill'd as full with Serges, Du-roys, Shalloons, ...from ...Bristol and other Parts West ...' (Defoe: A Tour through the Island of Great Britain, 1738, Vol. I, p95).

Fardle. A bundle or little pack ( N.E.D.)--- see Pack.

Helmen-boards. These were probably elm-boards. There was a plentiful supply of timber of all kinds in the Vale of Glamorgan in the seventeenth century and some shipbuilding was carried on along the sea coast between Gileston and Aberthaw. . It is worth remembering, however, that the terms helm was used in the early eighteenth century to denote the 'wheat or rye-straw unbruised by thrashing or otherwise which is usually bound in bundles for thatching'. The thatch was then held together by wooden laths. ( Dictionarium Rusticum, 1726.) Whether the helmen-boards were used in Bristol in connection with shipbuilding or agriculture is not possible to establish.

Kelp or Kilp. Usually these terms are applied to the calcined ashes of seaweed which was a material used in the manufacture of coarse-glass bottles. Normally it required about twenty tons of seaweed to produce one ton of kelp. Large quantities of kelp were exported from the Vale to Bristol from the late seventeenth century. Sully, a few miles east of Aberthaw, once afforded 'sea oare [or seaweed] which is converted into kelp transported to Bristoll for ye use of Glass houses'. (Lhuyd's Parochialia.) It is of interest to note that in the early part of the nineteenth century kelp sent to Bristol from Minehead realised from £7 10s. 0d. to £10 0s. 0d. per ton, and there is no reason to believe that Welsh kelp fetched less.

Kipp. The hide of a young calf, lamb or cattle of small breed, used in the manufacture of leather, chiefly the uppers of shoes. Quantitatively the term meant 'a set or bundle of such hides containing a definite number, sometimes 50'. ( N.E.D.)

1. The National Library of Wales Journal, Vol IX, p188-215.

Lead. The shipment of small quantities of lead-ore from Aberthaw during the seventeenth and early eighteenth century gives weight to the relatively scanty evidence we have of the numerous small lead mining ventures that were undertaken from time to time along the northern outskirts of the Vale of Glamorgan. Until recent years it was possible to see the ruins of several lead works which once flourished in the district between Bridgend and Llantrisant. For instance a valuable lead mine was once worked at Tewgoed situated in the parish of Llangan about fifteen miles north of Aberthaw, and it was said that the lead work on the porch of Llanmaes House was a product of that mine.
Again, in 1664 there had been other small lead mining ventures around Llantrisant in the areas once known as Cae'r Mwyn, Park (which formed part of the present Higher or New Park and which stands about half a mile south of Llantrisant), and Green Close. The Cae'r Mwyn project is said to have employed about eighteen to twenty miners and labourers.

Mane. This term usually refers to the hair hanging down a horse's neck. This hair was used to pad the interior of coaches, etc., which were being built in large numbers in Bristol and elsewhere in the eighteenth century. The term, moreover, is sometimes applied to a person's long hair and in this connection it is interesting to note that, in 1733, 'fourteen pounds of smuggled human hair was seized at Aberthaw'. ( Cardiff Records, Vol. II, p. 381.) Was there then some degree of trading in human hair at this time in the Welsh countryside? In some of the central districts of France there were regular hair-harvests when Paris firms sent agents into those districts in the spring to purchase the beautiful tresses the country maidens had been cultivating for that purpose (Dodd's Curiosities of Industry). In England, Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) is said to have 'attended markets and visited farms in order to buy the hair of country girls. He then treated it with dye of his own and resold it to the wig-makers'. (Mantoux, P.: Industrial History of England, p. 226.) It is not without significance that in the eighteenth century when ladies' head-dresses were very artificial, elaborate and ponderous structures, 'the ladies of the Vale and other parts of Glamorgan often called in the aid of hairdressers from either Bristol or Bath whenever they wished to appear in dignity befitting their station in gatherings such as County Balls'. ( Cardiff Times, 30 June, 1894, p. 1.) However, in the absence of more positive evidence regarding the meaning of the term one mane, what has been suggested above must be treated with caution.

Pack. A 'pack of wool' weighed 17 stone and 2 pounds, or 240 pounds weight. ( Dictionarium Rusticum, 1726.)

Pewter. Is described as a grey alloy of tin and lead or (sometimes) other metals ( N.E.D.), harder than tin, used in the manufacture of mugs and pots ( Chambers' Encyc.). It is not without significance that in the white limestone of Sully, not far from Aberthaw, 'lead ore, calamine, manganese and copper were once discovered in small quantities.' (Bell, James: A New and Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1835, Pt. iv, p. 2777.) It is not clear, however, what a mane of Pewter signified.

Pil-corn. A kind of oat, in which the glumes or husks do not adhere to the grain, but leave it bare; also called pilled oats ( N.E.D.). Corn of an inferior sort grown on a small patch of ground. ( Cardiff Records, Vol. 5, p. 584.)

Pinions. Probably used in this context as meaning 'short refuse wool' (see N.E.D.).

Pocket. A pocket of wool was equivalent to half a sack. A sack of sheep's wool normally weighed 26 stone or 364 pounds. ( Dictionarium Rusticum, 1726.) The form pocked also appears in the original document, but for consistency this has been written below as pocket.

Raw-cloth. Cloth that is unfulled ( N.E.D.).

Rozen. This substance was used extensively in the eighteenth century for cuts in sheep during shearing time. Having regard to the large quantities of wool exported from the Vale, it is reasonable to assume that rozen was used by the farmers there during shearing time. It was also used in the preparation of shoe-makers' wax, and when it is borne in mind that there was once an extensive business in shoe-making in the parishes of Flemingston, Gileston, and St. Athan, the importation of rozen must also be considered in relation to the demands of local craftsmen.

Scothman. The item 'scoth-mans goods' makes sense only if read as Scotch-mans goods. The Scotchman here must have been one of the band of itinerant Scotsmen or pedlar-merchants who were familiar figures in the land until the nineteenth century. These pedlars carried in their packs a wide range of goods which included gloves, pins, combs, hooks, beads, etc. The above isolated entry possibly reveals what might have been a more frequent occurrence of Scotchmen journeying from the Vale to Bristol and back again bringing with them on their return journey a variety of Bristol wares which found their way to the homes of the cottagers of the Glamorgan hills and Vale, and other districts in South Wales.

Cf. 'Yn y man dyma ugain o ddiawliaid fel Scotsmyn a phaciau traws ar eu hyscwyddau, yn eu descyn o flaen yr Orsedd ddiobaith .....' ( Y Bardd Cwsg: Gweledigaeth Uffern, t. 123.)

Screed or Screet. A fragment cut, torn or broken from a main piece . . . of textile material ( N.E.D.).

Sope-ashes (Soap-ashes). In the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth century a common source of alkali for both the soap-making and glass-making industries of Bristol was obtained from plant ashes including kelp. The production of soap required the use of a caustic alkali which the soap makers prepared by boiling the plant-ash or wood-ash with lime. The ash used in this preliminary boiling process was the soap-ash and should not be confused with soapers-ash. The soap-ash reacted with the lime and left a precipitate of calcium carbonate. It was this spent residue that became known as soapers-ash, and was considered an excellent manure for corn and grass. (Powell, Arthur Cecil: 'Glass making in Bristol', in Trans. Bristol and Gloucester Arch. Soc., 1925, p. 211-257.)
It is reasonable to assume that the soap-ash exported from Aberthaw to Bristol was derived as a subsidiary product from the coal or wood-burning involved in the satisfaction of small local requirements. The burning of seaweed for the production of kelp was obviously designed for direct use in the Bristol factories or for manuring the land. However, the fact that ash was shipped from Aberthaw to Bristol is a further indication of how sensitive were the inhabitants of Glamorgan to the economic opportunities afforded them by the numerous manufactories at Bristol at a time when Glamorgan was still preponderantly agricultural.

Strike. A denomination of dry measure (not now officially recognised) usually equivalent to a bushel, but in some districts equal to half a bushel and in others to two or four bushels ( N.E.D.). A measure containing four bushels two of which make a quarter ( Dictionarium Rusticum).

Tallow. Animal fat which was extensively used in the soap making industries of Bristol.

Trenell [Treenail, trenail]. A cylindrical pin of hard wood used in fastening timbers together especially in ship building and other work where the materials are exposed to the action of water. ( N.E.D.)

Weed. Normally one would think of 'weed' in the present text as referring to seaweed. (See under Kelp.) But as the item is entered as a 'parcell of weed', it is more likely that the term signifies some garment or wearing apparel.

This next section of the article is similar to the Table extracted in Part I, and covers p337-351 and the years from 1693 to 1735. Only the entries for the years 1693,1694, & 1721 are extracted here to give a representative view of trading.


The destinations aremainly Mynehead, the cargoes for Bristoll are those dated;

  • 1693-October 29th
  • 1694-Jan 23, Mar 23,July 5
  • 1721-?, Jan 11, Jan 24, Feb 27, ?, Jul 16/20.



  • June 1-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-Thos. Andrews-William David-9 bags # of wool containing 3461 pds.
  • June 17-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-Thos. Andrews-William Hopkins-14 packs # and fardles # of stockins, one fardle of gloves, six caskes of butter
  • June 30-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-Wm. David-Arthur Spensar-17 packs one pocket # [of] wo[oll] containing 49[..] pounds
  • July 10-Blessing of Aberthaw-Arthur Spensar-[ ? ]-24 packs and pockets of Wooll containing 5976 lbs. ##
  • July 27-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-Thos. Andrews-William David-29 bags of wooll containing 8740 lbs.
  • Sept. 21-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-Arthur Spensar-William David-23 bags [and] 1pocket of wooll containing 6386 lbs.
  • Oct. 12-Blessing of Aberthaw-Arthur Sweet-Arthur Sweet-42 caskes of [butter] [ ? ] packs and fardles of stockins
  • Oct. 26-Blessing of Aberthaw-Arthur Sweet-Arthur Sweet-3 packs, 7 fardles of stockins; 1roll flannen; 3 stones of chees[e]; 19 caskes of butter
  • Oct. 29-William & Margrett of Aberthaw-Christopher Walter-John Spencer-400 strikes of sope-ashes; # 4 tuns of Kilp; # 17 caskes of butter; 20 pots &tubs of butter; 8 casks of chees[e], 30 strikes of oats; 5 bags of pilcorn
  • Nov. 8-Blessing of Aberthaw-George Nurcomb-Wm. David-20 bags of wooll containing 6474 pd
  • Nov. 28-Blessing of Aberthaw-Arthur ...- George Nurcomb-[...] 52 pd of wool in 20 bags [...]


  • Jan. 10-Blessing of Aberthaw-Arthur Spensar-Wm. David-19 bags of wooll containing 5363 pd.
  • Jan. 17-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-Arthur Spensar-Arthur Spensar-2000 wait of tallow; # eleven packs and fardles of stockins; ten firkins of butter; six baggs of oatmeal; two bags of chees[e] ; ten strikes of pilcorn #

#Refer to explanatory notes above,

## The word 'pounds' in the original sometimes appears as 'lbs.' in these pages.

  • Jan. 23-William and Margret of Aberthaw-Christopher Walter-John Spensar-300 strikes of wheat; 70 strikes of oats; 50 strikes of pease; 10 caskes of butter, 20 pots and tubs of butter; 1fardle & 2 hampers of Rabett skins; 1,000 of trenells # and barell staves; one Mane of pewter #
  • Feb. 28-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-Joseph Spenser-Arthur [Spensar]-19 baggs and one pocket of wooll containing 5704 p[ounds] wait
  • Mar. 23-William and Margaret of Aberthaw-John Spenser-Christopher Walter-300 strikes of wheat, 100 strikes of oats and barley; 14 hundred wait of Lead ore; # 3 ton of household stuffe; 3 hundred wait of Iron and Lead waiter; 7 bags of oatmeal; 4 firkins 6 pots and tubs of butter; 1flech of bacon; 1barell of oatmeal
  • Apr. 7-True-love of Aberthaw-Edward Rice-Wm. Spenser-550 strikes of wheat; 200 strikes of oats; 3 boxes of household goods
  • July 5-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-Arthur Spensar-Michael Wms.-28 bags and one pocket of wooll containing 8723 lbs.
  • July 5-Endeavour of Cardiffe-Arthur Mayo-Arthur Mayo-600 strikes of wheat. (Ship't at Aberthaw & Barry)
  • July 26-Four Sisters of Aberthaw-Christopher Spensar-Evan William-3 packs, seven fardles of stockins; 12 caskes of butter; 2 bags of oatmeal; 113 sheep and lambs
  • Sept. 6-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-George Jay-Arthur Spensar-57 bags and pockets of wooll containing 15,229 lbs; 22 sheep
  • Sept. 20-Four Sisters of Aberthaw-Christopher Spensar-Thomas [Spensar]-150 sheep
  • Oct. 3-Four Sisters of Aberthaw-Christopher Spensar-Thomas [Spensar]-10 fardles, one pack of stockins; 26 casks of butter; 4 bags of oatmeal; 1parcell of weed #
  • Oct. 22-Four Sisters of Aberthaw-Christopher Spensar-Lewis Morgan-40 bags of wooll containing 11,482 pd
  • Nov. 14-Four Sisters of Aberthaw-Thomas Spensar-ChristopherSpensar-11 fardles one pack of stockins; 10casks butter; 2 hundred wait of tallow; 180 sheep; 1bag of chees[e]
  • Dec. 5-Four Sisters of Aberthaw-Tho. Spensar-ChristopherSpensar-25 bags 2 pockets of wooll containing 8,013 pd., 50sheep
  • Dec. 13-Four Sisters of Aberthaw-Christopher Spensar-John Lyson-46 sheep


  • (?]-Ffonmon of Aberthaw-Arthr.Thomas-A. Lucas-150 Wchr. Bushells oats; 70 bushels barley; 3 dozen raw hides; 10 [calf] skins; [7] potts & Stands butter; 1box [wearing] app'rll
  • Jan. 11- Blessing of Aberthaw-John Holland-[ ?]-11 packs stockins; 10 stone cheese; 1 small piece raw cloath, 1 wallet gloves containing ten doz.
  • Jan. 24-Fonmon of Aberthaw-[Arthur] Thomas-Arthur Sweet-40 tan'd hides; 40 tan'd calves skins; 30 stands & potts butter; 200 Winchester bushels oats; 1old feather bed; 1chest of drawers
  • Jan. 26-Willing Minde of Aberthaw-Robert Holland-Robert Holland-25 firkins butter
  • Feb. 15-Blessing of Aberthaw-Robert Holland-Robert Holland-7 packs 3 fardles stockins; 12 firkins butter; 800 hoops; 200 pail staves more; 4 raw hides
  • Feb. 27-Beginning of Aberthaw-Richd Rook?-Richd Rook-2 barrells ale; 5 barrells eggs; 1baskett [bottled] ale; 3 old brass & Iron potts; 8 winchester bushells Grubt; 6 empty caskes; 4 bundle & p'clls. returned goods; one cask oysters; 1 raw hide
  • Apr. 5-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-John Holland-David Williams-10 packs 3 fardles stokins 10 firkins butter --- woollen cloathe & Durois #
  • Apr. 20-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-John Holland-Margret Mathew-3 packs [5 ] ., firkins butter
  • Apr. 25-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-John Holland-William David-12 doz. calves skins, 20 raw hides, 2 fardles stokins
  • Apr. 26-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-John Holland-Ed Bowen-6 baggs wooll qt. 1,928 lbs.
  • May 4-Betty of Aberthaw-John Holland-Margrett Mathew-7 packs 3 fardles stokins
  • May 11-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-John Holland-John Holland-3 packs 2 fardles stokins
  • May 25-Blessing of Aberthaw-John Holland-John Holland-1 pack stokins; 4 doz. Calves skins, 5 hides 2 kipps
  • ?-Fonmon of Aberthaw-Arthur Thomas-Arthur Sweet-600 Win, bushels of oats, 600 bushels ? 24 casks, stands potts butter, 9 bends [ ? ] half bends leather returned, one bag wearing apple one old brass pan
  • June 8-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-John Holland-John Holland-3 packs and 1fardle stockins (?)Wallet gloves containing 6 doz.
  • July 7-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-John Holland-John Holland-3 packs & fardles stockins, 8 pottsand stands butter
  • July 16-Fonmon of Aberthaw-[Arthur] Thomas-Wm. David-20 baggs wooll 6,080 lbs.
  • July 20- Fonmon of Aberthaw-Arthur Thomas-Arthur Thomas-16 firkins and stands butter, one pack [?] bends leather one box wearing apprll.
  • July 28-Elizabeth of Aberthaw-John Holland-John Ellis-9 baggs wooll qt. 3,095 lb.

Shipments of goods INTOAberthaw.


  • [?]-Two Sisters of [Ilf]racombe-Thos Brown-Thos Brown-620 bushells White Salt( Aberthaw from Ilfracombe)
  • Jan. 7-[?] of Haverford West-Langdon[---]-900 Winchester bushells Malt ( Aberthaw from Haverfordwest)
  • Feb. 27-Sarah & Elizabeth ofHaverfordwest-Henry Gwyn-Henry Gwyn-800 Win[chester] Bushells Malt; 50 dito Wheat; 20 dito pease; 4 barrells Ale; 7 casks herrings; 1bag Rabbitt skins; 4 cowhides; 4 p'clls. returned goods ( Aberthaw from Haverfordwest)
  • May 29-Blessing of Ilfracombe-Lawrell-Lawrell-1000 Winchester Bushells Malt, 3 Chaldrons Stone Coal ( Duty pd. Entry made at Cardiff) ( Aberthaw from Ilfracombe)
  • June 13-Endeavour of Haverfordwest-John Stokes-John Stokes-800 Winch Bushells Malt; 40o bushells Wh[eat] ; 1barrell Ale ( Aberthaw from Haverfordwest)


APPENDIX A; is only partiallyextracted;

An account of all ships inwards and outwards (at Aberthaw)for ye Quarter ending at Lady Day 1735

Date of Exportation-Ships name and place-Matrs name-Tuns(burthen)-No. of men-From whence and whither

  • June 26-Gileston of Aberthaw-Arthur Thomas-20-3-Bristoll
  • July 4-Mary of Aberthaw-George Robins-10-2-Bristoll
  • July 20-Mary of Aberthaw-George Robins-10-2-Minehead
  • July 23-Gileston of Aberthaw-Edward Thomas-20-3-Bristoll


Names of Ships Trading between Aberthaw and Minehead and Bristol, 1666-1735


The Arthur and Mary of Aberthaw.

The Mary of Aberthaw.

The Beginning of Aberthaw.

The Merchant of Aberthaw.

The Blessing of Aberthaw.

The Richard and Margret of Aberthaw.

The Elizabeth of Aberthaw.

The St. Donatts of Aberthaw.

The Endeavour of Aberthaw.

The Speedwell of Aberthaw.

The Fonmon of Aberthaw.

The Swift of Aberthaw.

The Four Sisters of Aberthaw.

The Truelove of Aberthaw.

The Gileston of Aberthaw.

The William of Aberthaw.

The Happy Return of Aberthaw.

The William and Margret of Aberthaw.

The Hunter of Aberthaw.

The Willing-minde of Aberthaw.

The John and Thomas of Aberthaw.





William Hopkins.

Robert Rice

Arthur Thomas.

Christopher Jones.

Joseph Spenser.






David Bowen.

David Howell.

Samuel Turner.

Edward Bowen.

Charles Matthew.

David William.

Richard Bowen.

Margrett Matthew.

Evan William.

John Bowman.

Lewis Morgan.

Michael Williams.

John David.

Anthony Powell.

Phillip Williams.

John Ellis.

William Spensar.

William Willott.


Masters and Merchants


Thos. Andrews..

Hugh Jones

Arthur Spensar

William Bevens..

Daniel Lucas.

. Christopher Spensar

Wm. David.

John Lyson.

John Spensar.

Robt. Fowler.

Thomas Matthew.

Richard Spensar.

Robt. Hawkes.

Arthur Mayo.

Arthur Sweet.

John Holland.

Edmund Nicholls.

Christopher Walter.

Robert Holland.

George Nurcomb.


George Jay.

Thomas Secomb.




Commodities imported at Aberthaw from Bristol and Minehead, 1666-1735



Hides and bends of leather.



Iron and Steel.


Chaiers (Chairs).


Spanish Wine.





Pich (Pitch).

Tobacco pip[e]s.


Rozen (Resin).



Sifes (sieves).




Commodities exported from Aberthaw to Minehead and Bristol, 1666-1735



Iron and lead waiter.

Skins, calf.

Ashes, sope.

Kelp (or Kilp).

Skins, doe.



Skins, tanned.



Sope (Soap)-ashes.



Staves, Coop.


[Lead waiter].

Staves, barrell.

Buck horns.























Yarne, worsted.



Miscellaneous Items:



Chest of drawers.


Raw Cloth.

Household goods.

Hides, leather.

Sarge (Serge).


Hides, tanned.


Old feather bed.

Hides, raw.


Pack of Scoth-mans goods.





Skins, rabbit.

Wearing apparell.