Pigot & Co Directory South Wales 1844


This General Description of South Wales --- including population statistics for Brecknockshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan, Pembrokeshire, and Radnorshire, with Monmouthshire excluded --- was extracted  by Gareth Hicks with the kind permission of the publishers from the CD of the same title as the main heading. (Archive CD Books)


THIS section of the Principality is bounded on the east by the counties of Monmouth, Hereford, and Salop; on the north by Montgomeryshire; and part of the river Dyvi, separating it from Merionethshire. It forms the most central of the three grand western promontories of South Britain; being separated from those of Devon and Cornwall, on the south-east, by the Bristol Channel ; and from the promontory of Lleyn, in Carnarvonshire, on the north-west, by that part of St. George's Channel called Cardigan Bay. In shape it is somewhat triangular, similar to that of North Wales ; having the land-mere on the east for its base, the sea-coasts of the two channels for its sides, and St. David's head, on the west, for its apex. The length of the land boundary, from the mouth of the Romney, near Cardiff, to the Kerry hills, on the confines of Montgomeryshire, and from thence to the sea, at the mouth of the Dyvi, is estimated at about one hundred and twenty miles; and its marine boundary from thence to St. David's-head, tracing the zig-zag windings of the coast, is about three hundred and fifty miles. Its area has been estimated at 3,860 square miles, or 2,470,400 acres; while other surveys have computed it as comprising 4,235 square miles, or 2,710,400 statute acres.


The territory now included under the division ' South Wales,' though with some difference in its boundaries, &c. was anciently denominated Gwent and Dyved---subdivided into Upper and Lower Gwent, Morganwg, Esyllwg, and Seisyllwg or Garth Madryn, The Roman generals having subdued a large proportion of the population of England, first of all directed their forces to the conquest of the Britons, who inhabited South Wales ; but the celebrated Caractacus effectually defied these invaders for nine years before he was finally subdued. South Wales was subsequently invaded by the Saxons, the Normans and others, with various success; but the greatest settlement was made by the Normans ; the country was also a prey to its own intestine divisions for several ages, till the whole Principality came under the dominion of England. Near Cardigan, in the year 1136, the Welch, under the command of the Earl of Chester, obtained a complete victory over the English, who were so panic struck as to allow themselves to be taken prisoners by the women. Near Llandilo-fawr, a small town on the Towy river, was fought the last battle between the forces of Edward I and of Llewelyn, Prince of Wales, which proving decisive against the latter, put a final period to the independency of Wales. In the ancient castle of Cardiff after a cruel confinement of many years, inflicted by his brother Henry I, died Robert, the deposed Duke of Normandy, eldest son of William the Conqueror. At Milford Haven, the Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII, landed on his enterprise against Richard III. In the year 1535 Henry VIII passed an act relative to the counties of Wales generally, and the marches between England and Wales---the particulars of which are given in the account of North Wales.


The county of Brecknock is one of the most mountainous of Wales, and the Vann or Brecknock Beacon, is one of the loftiest mountains. The land declines towards the banks of the Wye, where it is tolerably fertile, as it is also in the valleys which are watered by innumerable rills. Although mountainous, provisions are exceedingly good and plentiful all over the county, and from its hills large droves of black cattle are annually sent to all the fairs of the neighbouring counties. Cardiganshire is in high estimation for the growth of barley, of which much is sent to the adjacent counties for seed. The northern and eastern parts of this county are mountainous and barren, yet afford pasture for numerous sheep; in the narrow vales large herds of black cattle are grazed, and much butter and cheese produced. Some of the mountains of Cardigan contain lead and other minerals, but coal and other fuel are scarce. The general surface of Carmarthenshire is hilly; and in the north and east parts the hills rise into mountains. The vales are for the most part narrow---that of Towy is the principal of the level tracks; it abounds in picturesque beauties, which, from the celebrated Grongar Hill, and the site of Dynevor Castle, afford the richest prospects. Barley and oats are the chief crops of this county; its rivers abound with fish; the breed of cattle is here excellent; and butter is made in considerable quantities for exportation. At one period the county was well wooded, but great waste has been made of the timber. Coal and limestone are plentiful in many parts ; and there are mines of lead and iron. The north part of Glamorganshire is very mountainous, barren, and thinly inhabited, its surface serving chiefly for the feeding of cattle and sheep. Various rivers have their rise in this portion, which run south through vales gradually expanding, so as to form a middle district, fit for cultivation, and well clothed with wood, at length terminating in the great level or vale of Glamorgan, a fertile track of corn and pasture land, extending along the sea coast for eight or ten miles inland, and well furnished with mineral treasures of coal, lead, iron and limestone. The soil of Pembrokeshire varies considerably, including the extremes of good and bad, with all the intermediate gradations; its surface is in general hilly, but not mountainous, and rendered fruitful by its numerous streams. The north-east portion is the mountainous track, affording good pasturage to flocks of sheep. This part of the county also abounds in coal, and its coasts with iron-stone. The soil of the northern and western parts of Radnorshire is but indifferent, abounding in rocks and mountains, which are traversed by many sheep. The South and easts parts are more level, and being under some degree of cultivation, produce good corn. The woods and hills throughout this county are celebrated for game. Thus it will be seen that the mineral treasures of South Wales are various and important, and its agricultural produce by no means inconsiderable. In manufactures, perhaps, it does not take an eminent station; the principal seat of the flannel trade is Carmarthen ; and glove making, currying, tanning, and malting, are carried on in several other towns. The CLIMATE of this portion of the Principality is exceedingly various: on some parts of the coast great humidity prevails ; and on the mountains the air is piercing, the valleys being warm and genial. The climate of South Wales, may, upon the whole, be reckoned salubrious.


The navigable rivers of South Wales are not numerous: of these the most important is Milford Haven, composed of two rivers called the Cleddau---one of which rises near Fishguard, and runs to Haverfordwest, where it becomes navigable; the other rises in the Pencelli mountains, and, for some space, is the boundary of the counties of Carmarthen and Pembroke. The other rivers are the Dyvi, which rises in Merionethshire ; the Taaff (Little and Great), springing out of the most elevated mountains in this district; the Elai, a tributary stream to the harbour of Penarth ; the celebrated Wye, which rises in Radnorshire ; and the Usk, in Brecknockshire. Over the river Taaff, , not far from Llantrissaint, is the celebrated stone bridge, called' Pont-y-tr-Pridd,' of a single arch, one hundred and forty feet in the span, and thirty-four high it was planned and executed by the untaught genius of a common mason of the name of Edwards, a native of the county of Glamorgan. There are many other smaller rivers, streams and lakes in this part of Wales, of minor importance to commerce, but highly beneficial to husbandry, and imparting beauty to the scenery through which they glide.---The CANALS of South Wales are owing entirely to its productive mines of coal and iron; and within a period of about thirty years, upwards of one hundred and twenty miles of this kind of navigation have been completed. They consist of the Kidwelly and Cremlin canals; the Monmouth, the Brecon and Abergavenny, the Swansea and Neath, the Aberdare, and the Penclawdd and Llanelly---all of great commercial use. The Taaff Vale RAILWAY passes between Cardiff and Merthyr Tydvil, by way of Llandaff, Pentyrch, Taaff's Well, Newbridge Navigation House and Twedyrhiw. There are various rail or train roads connected with the different mines and works in South Wales, but they are not adapted to the accomodation of passengers as the Taaff Vale line is.


The division of South Wales comprehends the counties of BRECON (or Brecknock), CARDIGAN, CARMARTHEN, GLAMORGAN, PEMBROKE, and RADNOR. BRECON is divided into six hundreds, containing fifty-nine parishes, one county town, and four market towns. Cardigan comprises five hundreds, containing seventy-seven parishes, one county town, and four market towns. Carmarthen contains eight hundreds, having eighty-seven parishes, one county town, and six market towns. Glamorgan includes ten hundreds, containing one hundred and eight parishes, one county town, and eight market towns. Pembroke extends over seven hundreds, containing forty-five parishes, one city (St. David's), one county town, and nine market towns. Radnor comprises six hundreds, containing fifty­two parishes, one county town, and four market towns. The whole are included in the province of Canterbury. The counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen, Glamorgan, and Pembroke, are in the diocess of St. David; Brecon in that of Llandaff; and Radnor, partly in Hereford diocess and partly in St. David's. South Wales is represented by seventeen members, in the imperial parliament; which are thus distributed.---The counties (With the exception of Carmarthen and Glamorgan, which send two), return one member each ; and the boroughs of BRECON, CARDIGAN, CARMARTHEN, CARDIFF, SWANSEA, MERTHYR TYDVIL, PEMBROKE, HAVERFORDWEST, and RADNOR one each. The several places sharing in the election of representatives for the boroughs will be found named in the descriptive account of each town.


The annual value of Real Property, as assessed in South Wales, in 1815, amounted to £1,219,381., and in 1841, to £1,531,424: at the last named period the value of land was £1,131,780.














Increase from 1831 to 1841