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Nefyn - Gazetteers

National Gazetteer (1868)

"NEFYN, (or Nevyn), a parish, market town, and borough, in the hundred of Dinlaen, county Carnarvon, 6 miles from Pwllheli, and 18 S. W. of Carnarvon. It is a small but improving town, situated among the hills on the coast, and under Mount Rivel. About a mile to the S. is the well-sheltered harbour of Porth, situated in a sandy bay, and conjectured to have been frequented by the Romans, on account of strong entrenchments in the vicinity still visible, and various Roman urns discovered in the adjoining parish of Llaniestin. Edward I. held a grand triumphal festival here in 1284, to celebrate the conquest of Wales. It was made a free borough by Edward the Black Prince, but never obtained any considerable degree of prosperity. It has no manufactures, and but little trade, the chief import being coal.

Some years ago a scheme was formed for improving this unfrequented part of Wales, by bringing the great road from London to Ireland through it, by a new line from Merionethshire across the Traeth-Mawr, and constituting this port a rendezvous for packets to Ireland instead of Holyhead. For this purpose an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1806 to erect a pier and other necessary works, but the government refusing to advance the money, as had been expected, the scheme was abandoned. During the railway mania its claims were again urged against those of Holyhead, and a line of broad-gauge railway was projected from Worcester in connection with the Great Western railway; but this was again given up. For a third time public attention has been again called to its capabilities as a port in connection with the projected railway from Barmouth to Porthmadoc, and thence to Pwllheli or Porthddinllaen.

The town, which formerly was a poor fishing village, has been considerably improved of late years, and has several good houses, though not one good inn. It is still irregular, straggling, and rather dirty. The surrounding country is uninviting, and there are no resident gentry, on which account civilisation is very backward, and the habits of the people are extremely primitive. It contributes to Carnarvon in returning one member to parliament. The tithes were commuted in 1840. The living is a perpetual curacy* in the archdeaconry of Merioneth and diocese of Bangor, value £110. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, or according to others to St. Peter, has a curious narrow tower. There are places of worship for the Wesleyans, Independents, Baptists, and Calvinistic Methodists, which last are the prevailing sect. There is a National school capable of accommodating about 120 children. Saturday is market day. Fairs are held on the 11th April, 18th August, and 20th October."

"PORTHDYNLLAEN, (or Porth-yn-lleyn), a village in the parish of Nefyn, hundred of Dinllaen, county Carnarvon, 2 miles W. of Nevin, and 19 S.W. of Carnarvon. It is a sub-port to Carnarvon, having a sheltered harbour in Carnarvon Bay. The Road has anchorage in 1 to 2 fathoms water, and inside Porthdynllaen Point 4 to 5 fathoms. It was proposed as a mail packet station for Ireland, but was rejected, the entrance being partially obstructed by the Carrig Chwislen rock in front."

[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

NEVIN, or NEVYN, a borough, market town, and parish, in the hundred of DINLLAEN, county of CARNARVON, NORTH WALES, 20 miles (S. W. by S.) from Carnarvon, and 270 (W. N. W.) from London, by Carnarvon, containing 1726 inhabitants. The origin of this place is not accurately known ; but from some remains of strong intrenchments, evidently of Roman construction, near the harbour called " Porth yn llyn," or " Porth Dinllaen," about a mile from the present town, on a narrow head-land jutting out into the sea, and which protects it from the violence of westerly winds, it is supposed to have been a port frequented by the Romans. Of its early history little is recorded previously to the final subjugation of Wales by Edward I., at which time it appears to have been a place of some importance, and to have been selected by that monarch, in the year 1284, for the celebration of a triumphant festival in honour of his entire conquest of the principality. Probably with a view to conciliate the affections of the Welsh, or to amuse or flatter their military spirit, Edward, upon this occasion, resolved to hold a round table, in compliment to their renowned hero Arthur, the supposed founder of that custom, and a grand tournament, which was attended not only by all the English nobility, but also by some of the most distinguished knights from foreign countries, who took part in the proceedings, in which Edward himself acquired great distinction. The concourse of persons assembled upon this occasion is by all writers represented as very great; and traces of the circular earthwork within which the military feats took place may still be seen on the road to Edern. In the reign of Edward III., Edward the Black Prince, in the twelfth year of his investiture with the principality of Wales, granted this place to Nigel de Lohareyn, in reward for his faithful services and gallant conduct on the field of Poictiers ; and by charter, dated at Carnarvon, made the town a free borough, granted to the burgesses a guild mercatory, and two annual fairs and a market, and endowed it with all the privileges enjoyed by royal boroughs, together with the liberties and customs heretofore granted to Newborough, in the county of Anglesey. Early in the present century, a scheme was projected for the improvement of this place and neighbourhood, by bringing a new line of road across the Traeth Mawr from Merionethshire to Porth-Dinllaen, close to the town, by building a pier and constructing a harbour here, and by making this port a station for the packets to Ireland, in lieu of Holyhead. For this purpose an act of parliament was obtained in 1806, under the provisions of which a company was incorporated for carrying the plan into effect ; but on a second application to parliament for further aid, after some progress had been made in, the work, the undertaking was abandoned.

The town is situated on the shore of St. George's channel, at the base of the Eivl mountains, and near the bay of Nevin, which is separated only by a small headland from the broad, sandy, and secure bay of Porth-Dinllaen: the houses are irregularly built and of mean appearance, the streets are neither paved nor lighted, and the inhabitants are but indifferently supplied with water. The surrounding scenery is boldly varied, but is chiefly of mountainous character : the coast in the neighbourhood of the town is abrupt and rocky, being occasionally broken by several small creeks affording secure anchorage for boats and small craft during the fishing season. Among these may be noticed Porth Towyn, Porth Colman, Porth Gwylan, and Porth Ysgadan. Though good roads from Carnarvon and Tremadoc have been made to the town, affording a facility of intercourse with those places, there is neither any manufacture carried on, nor any trade except what arises from the situation of the town upon the sea-shore, and which consists only in shipping eggs, poultry, and pigs, in exchange for coal, to Liverpool, with which place a regular communication is kept up. The market is held weekly on Saturday, but is very ill attended ; and fairs are held annually on April 11th, August 18th, and October 20th. The government of the borough, by charter of Edward the Black Prince, is vested in a mayor, two bailiffs, and a recorder : the mayor, who holds his office for life, and the bailiffs, who are chosen annually, are elected by the freemen at large ; and the recorder is appointed by the mayor. Nevin is one of the ancient contributory boroughs within the county, which, with Bangor, recently added, return one member to parliament : the right of voting was formerly in the burgesses at large, in number about forty-five, but is now, by the late act for amending the representation of the people, vested in the resident burgesses only, if duly qualified according to its provisions, and 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 ten pounds and upwards, 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 comprise about nine hundred acres within the parish, and have not been altered by the late Boundary Act, is seventeen. The freedom is obtained only by gift of the corporation at large. The borough has no separate jurisdiction, nor is any court held except for the election of the bailiffs, which takes place on the 29th of September.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Bangor, endowed with £ 800 royal bounty, and £400 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of C. G. Wynne, Esq. The church, dedicated to St. Peter, is a neat plain edifice, and was rebuilt in 1825, at the expense of the landholders of the parish. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. A sequestered vale in the vicinity of the town is supposed to have been the retreat of Vortigern, after his expulsion from the throne of England, who is said to have occupied a castle here, which, according to monkish writers, was destroyed by lightning, himself having been killed on the occasion. Tradition still points out a small verdant mound as the site of this residence ; and near it is a tumulus, now covered with turf, called Bedd Gwrtheyrn, or " Vortigern's grave," in which, on being opened some years since, was found a stone coffin containing the bones of a tall man, supposed to have been the remains of that unfortunate king. This vale, which from that circumstance is called Nant Gwrtheyrn, is embosomed in lofty mountains, by the rugged declivities of which it is enclosed on every side, except towards the sea; and across the bwlch or hollow by which it is approached from the interior of the mountains extends a large rampart of loose stones. Near Cevn Amwlch, an ancient seat to the south of the town, are the remains of a large cromlech, called by the common people Coeten Arthur. Between the coast at this place and the English border there appears to have been a chain of military posts, originating near the town, and passing near Tremadoc into the county of Merioneth, continued thence by Bala, entering the county of Denbigh above Pistyll Rhaiadr, and proceeding to Old Port near Oswestry. Brynodol, a good mansion, four miles from the town, pleasantly situated on a gentle eminence, as seen from the sea, commands an extensive view of a large tract of level country, bounded on one side by a chain of mountains, in the foreground of which Bodvean and Cam Madryn are conspicuous, and beyond them the whole range of the lofty mountains of Snowdon. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £269. 4.

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