The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

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

"DENBIGHSHIRE, a maritime county of North Wales, bounded on the N. by the Irish Sea, and on the S.E. by the English counties of Cheshire and Shropshire, from which circumstance it was considered in ancient times a march, or border county. In form it is very irregular: its greatest length from N.W. to S.E. is 41 miles, its greatest breadth 29 miles, and its area 386,052 statute acres. It is about 163 miles in circuit, 8 of which are coast. The population of Denbighshire, according to the census of 1861, is 100,778, having increased 8,195 since 1851, when it was 92,583, or at the rate of 10 per cent. in the ten years. The number of inhabited houses is 21,310, and of uninhabited, 644. At the time of the Roman invasion Denbighshire formed part of the territory of the Ordovices, and was the scene of the last struggle between Caractacus and the invaders. It was finally reduced under the dominion of the Romans, by Agricola, and was afterwards included in the division Britannia Secunda. When the Saxons had made themselves masters of England, Denbighshire, being a border county, was subject to frequent attacks. A portion of the eastern part of the county was appropriated by Offa, king of Mercia and was cut off from the main part by a dyke called "Offa's Dyke," which that king caused to be constructed as a defence against the incursions of the Welsh. In 828 Donbighshire was overran by Egbert: Its complete subjugation by the Saxons was, however, prevented by the incursions of the Danes; and the old inhabitants, assisted by the northern Britons, seem to have recovered the territory of which they had been deprived by Offa. The entire county was afterwards comprehended in Powysland, one of the subdivisions of Wales. Soon after the conquest of England by the Normans, Denbighshire was the scene of fresh hostilities: the inhabitants defended themselves bravely against the English, and under Owain Cyfeiliog defeated them near Ruabon in 1161. Owain celebrated his victory in a poem called Hirlas Owain, "The drinking-horn of Owain." In 1277, after the defeat of Llewellyn, the last prince of North Wales, Denbighshire fell into the power of Edward I. It was recovered by Llewellyn and his brother David; but after the death of the former and the execution of the latter, again fell into the hands of the English in 1282. Denbighshire was the scene of contest in the insurrection of Owain Glyndwr, in the wars of the Roses, and in the civil war between Charles I. and the Parliament. Holt Castle was seized for the Parliament by Sir William Broreton and Sir Thomas Myddleton in 1643, but was recaptured by the royalists. In 1645 Sir William Vaughan, commanding troops for the relief of Chester, then besieged by the parliamentarians, was attacked and defeated near Denbigh by General Mytton. The castles of Holt, Ruthin, and Denbigh were captured by the parliamentarians under General Mytton in 1646 In 1659 a premature attempt was made to restore the Stuarts by Sir Thomas Myddleton and Sir George Booth. The principal seats are Bryn-kinalt, Viscount Dungannon; Pool Park, Lord Bagot; Kinmel, Lord Dinorben; Wynnstay, Wynne, Bart.; Acton, Cunliffe, Bart.; Ruthin Castle, Hon. F. West; Llanerch, Mrs. Allenson; Dyffryn Aled, P. York, Esq.; Erddig, S. Yorke, Esq.; Gresford, Mrs. Egerton; Gwersylt, J. Williams, Esq.; Glanywern, J. Maddocks, Esq. Lady E. Butler, and Miss Ponsonby, more commonly known as the ladies of Llangollen, lived at Plas Newydd. The surface of Denbighshire is very uneven, having some level tracts towards the N. but its general aspect is rugged and barren, redeemed by several beautiful and fertile vales, amongst the more celebrated of which are the vales of Llangollen, Clwyd, Conway, and Llan Egwest or Vale Crucis. The prevailing rocks are the clay and grauwacke slates of the Silurian system. The surface is generally hilly, especially in the western part of the county, which is occupied by along dreary range of hills, called the Iliraethog hills, which runs from its north western extremity in a southerly direction between the vales of the Conway and the Clwyd. These hills are for the most part covered with heath or ling. The principal elevations of this range are Modwl Eithan (the highest point), 1,660 feet; Bronbanog, 1,572 feet; Moel Ucha, 1,234 feet; and Moel Fie Issa, 1,037 feet. Parts of two parallel ranges (the more westerly called the Clwydian) occupy the eastern side of the county, and are connected with the Hiraethog hills by a range which forms the northern boundary of the valley of the Dee. The principal eminences in the Clwydian range are Moel Faminau, 1,845 feet; Cyrn-y-Brain, 1,857 feet; and Moel Enlli, 1, 7 67 feet. In the chain connecting the eastern ranges with the Hiraethog hills, is Moel Morfyd, 1,767 feet; and Carnedd-y-Filiast, 2,127 feet, forms part of a group in the S.W.; Moel Ferns, 2,050 feet, and Cader Berwyn, 2,715 feet, are in the Berwyn range. On these hills large quantities of Highland cattle, sheep, and goats are pastured. The peat, which is found in abundance in the hilly district, affords excellent fuel, being so close-grained that when cut with a knife it exhibits a polished surface. The climate of Denbighshire is rigorous though salubrious, being ex posed to the northerly winds, except in the sheltered valleys, which produce wheat, beans, and peas in as great perfection as any parts of England. Denbighshire is watered by the Conway, the Clwyd, the Alwen, and the Dee, with their tributaries. The Conway drains the western slope of the Hiraethog hills. The Clwyd rises in the eastern side of the Hiraethog hills, and flows towards the N., past Ruthin, Denbigh, and St. Asaph, and enters the sea at Rhyl, draining the greater part of the country between the Hiraethog and the Clwydian hills. The Alwen rises on the eastern side of the Hiraethog hills, and flows south-west into the Dee on the borders of Merionethshire. The Alwen drains that part of the country between the Hiraethog and the Clwydian hills which is not drained by the Clwyd. The Dee runs for a mile or two along the borders of Denbighshire and Merionethshire, then enters Denbighshire, and flows in a circuitous course through the vale of Llangollen, and after separating Denbighshire from Shropshire, Flintshire, and Cheshire, enters Cheshire near Eaton Hall. The length of its course upon and within the border of Denbighshire is about 40 miles. Its principal Denbighshire tributaries are the Rhaiadr, the Alwen, the Ceiriog, and the Alen. The Tanat skirts the southern boundary of the county, and receives the Ywrch, Cwmshiw, and several other streams which have their sources in Denbighshire, and then falls into the Severn. There is in Denbighshire a navigable feeder of the Ellesmere canal, which separates from the Dee near Llandysilio, the canal crossing the valley of the Dee by the aqueduct of Pont-y-Cyssyllte, and the Ceiriog by another aqueduct bridge of 600 feet in length, supported by ten arches, after which it enters Shropshire. The principal roads are the parliamentary mail-coach road from London to Holyhead, which until recently was the most direct route for Ireland; the road from Chester to Holyhead, which enters the county between St. Asaph and Abergele; and several other roads diverging from Denbigh. Two important lines of railway traverse the county, the Chester and Holy head, and the Chester and Shrewsbury: the former follows the line of the coast to the bank of the Con way, where it crosses into Carnarvonshire; the latter enters the county to the N., near Wrexham, and proceeding southward for about 12 miles, quits it near Chirk. The county is divided into six cantrefs or hundreds, containing 50 parishes, besides parts of 14 others, and one extra parochial place. The chief towns are Ruthin, the county, assize, and sessions town; Wrexham, a sessions and market town; Llanrwst, a market town; Denbigh, a parliamentary, borough sessions, and market town; and Llangollen, a market town besides which there are about 300 villages and hamlets. Ruthin, Wrexham, and Llanrwst are heads of poor-law unions, and of a new County Court and superintendent registry districts. Ruabon is likewise a County Court district, and St. Asaph a superintendent registry. The county returns three members to parliament, two for the county, and one for the borough of Denbigh, with its contributory boroughs of Ruthin, Wrexham, and Molt. It is governed by a lord-lieutenant, assisted by 36 magistrates, and is included in the diocese of St. Asaph and in the province of Canterbury. It forms part of the N. military district and is included in the North Wales circuit. Flannels, woollen cloths, and stockings, are manufactured to a considerable extent at Glyn, Llanrwst, and other places; gloves and cotton at Denbigh, and paper at Chirk. The chief occupations of the people are agriculture, sheep and dairy farming, and mining. The chief minerals consist of lead, which is found at Minera; iron at Ruabon, Brymbo, and other places; coal at Wrexham, where the seam is from 8 to 15 feet thick; slate at Llangollen and Chirk; besides freestone, millstone, and limestone, which are quarried in various mountain districts. Salmon is taken in abundance in most of the rivers, and grouse on the moors.

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