The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

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

"GLAMORGAN, a maritime county of South Wales, lying between N. lat. 61° 23' and 51° 48', and W. long. 3° 3' and 4° 18'. It is bounded on the N. by the counties of Brecknock and Caermarthen, E. by Monmouth and the river Severn, S. and S.W. by the Bristol Channel. Its greatest length from E. to W. is about 52 miles, and its greatest breadth 27 miles, with an area of 547,494 acres, being the third county in Wales for superficial extent, but the first in population. In 1861 the number of inhabitants was 317,752, against 231,849 in 1851, and 70,879 in 1801, having nearly quadrupled in the half century. In ancient times it formed part of the territory of the Silures, and was included in the Roman province of Britannia Secunda. The Roman road Via Julia traversed the county from E. to W., and led to several camps or stations, as, Boviues or Bomium, mentioned by Antoninus, which has been identified with Boverton, a village a few miles S. of Cowbridge; Nidum, situated on the river Nidus, also spoken of by Antoninus, and identified with Neath, on the river Nedd or Neath; Leucarum, identified with Loughor; and the camp at Caeran, a few miles W. of Cardiff. Two cross roads branched off from the Via Julia, one near Cardiff, the other at Neath, both leading to Caer Barma, now Barmium, near Brecon. After the departure of the Romans the county was governed by a chieftain named Morgan, a descendant of Caradoc-ap-Bran, the Caractacus of the Roman historians, from whom it took the designation of Morganwg or Gwlad Morgan, "the country of Morgan," hence its modern name Glamorgan. At this time its boundaries were much more extensive than at present, including the greater part of Monmouthshire and the territories lying between the Usk and the Neath, or perhaps the Tame; but as the Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Normans continually pressed upon the original inhabitants, the Welsh frontiers were gradually curtailed, and Glamorganshire assumed its present form when the boundaries of the Welsh counties were fixed by Henry VIII. The N. and N.E. parts of the county are extremely mountainous, though none of the summits reach a great elevation, the loftiest, Llangeinor, being 1,859 feet high; the others average from 500 to 1,000 feet; one, Margam Down, attaining an elevation of 1,099 feet, situated near the E. side of Swansea Bay. The declivities of these hills are in general barren or covered with wood, although here and there there are verdant spots depastured by flocks of sheep, and in the narrow valleys or deep glens which divide these ranges of hills, the land is extremely fertile, presenting the most charming and picturesque mountain scenery, with mountain streams, cascades, and thriving hamlets. The S. part of the county is generally level and very fertile, particularly the Vale of Glamorgan, which has a stiff, clayey soil, and produces fine crops of wheat and grain. This valley is in many parts from 10 to 18 miles in breadth, and has a climate so equable that myrtles, arbutus, and other tender shrubs, flourish in the open air, the snow generally melting as it falls. Glamorganshire belongs wholly to the basin of the Severn, and all its streams flow in a S. direction, the larger having their sources in the high lands of Caermarthenshire and Brecknockshire. The Taff or Taf, which is the largest river in the county, having a course of 40 miles, rises between the mountains Capellante and the Vau or Breconshire Beacon, and flowing S.S.E., passes Merthyr-Tydvil, Llandaff, and Cardiff, receiving the tributary streams of the Tâfe-Fechan or Little Taff, the Cynon, and the Rontha Vawr or Great Rontha. The Ely or Elwy may also be considered a tributary of the Taff, since they form the common estuary of Penarth Harbour. The Neath or Nedd rises in Brecknockshire, and flows S. and S.W. through the Vale of Neath into Swansea Bay, having an entire course of 23 miles. It is navigable for vessels of 200 tons up to Neath bridge, about 2 miles, but its mouth is impeded by a bar and several rocks. The Tawe also rises in Brecknockshire, and falls into Swansea Bay, having a course of 26 miles, and forming at its mouth the harbour of Swansea, called by the Welsh, Abertawe. The other rivers are-the Rumney; rising in the N.E. part of the county, and separating it from Monmouthshire; the Ddaw, which rises near Cowbridge, and falls into the sea near Breaksea Point, forming the little harbour of Aberthaw; the Ogmore, which rises in the hills near the centre of the county, and falls into the sea near Sker Point; the Avon rises on the N. side of the lofty mountain of Llangeinor, and falls into Swansea Bay, having been augmented by the waters of the Avon-Fechan or Little Avon, and by those of the Corrwg. The only other river of any importance is the Loughor, which, rising in Carmarthenshire, flows for about 13 miles along the border of Glamorganshire, and falling into the sea near the peninsula of Gower, forms the estuary called the Burry. The county is well supplied with canals. The Cardiff or Glamorganshire canal traverses the county from S. to N. along the valley of the Taff, commencing near Pennarth harbour, and crossing the river by an aqueduct near the junction of the Taff and Cynon. It follows the western bank of the river to the town of Merthyr-Tydvil, where it ends after an entire length of 25 miles. The Aberdare canal commences near Aberdare, and follows the valley of the Cynon for 6½ miles, keeping on the eastern side of that river till it joins the Glamorganshire canal near the aqueduct bridge over the Taff. The Neath canal has a length of about 14 miles, commencing near Abernant and following the valley of the Neath or Nedd; it terminates in that river about 2 miles below the town of Neath, throwing off a branch cut, which crosses the river to last the small canal called the Britten canal; this last runs nearly parallel to the coast from the river Neath to the harbour of Swansea. The Swansea canal commences in Swansea harbour, and follows the valley of the Tawe into Brecknockshire. There is also a short canal of 4 miles commencing at the village of Penclawdd, on the estuary of the Burry, and traversing a part of the coal-field of South Wales. Numerous short lines of railway connect these canals with the neighbouring mines, as, the Cardiff and Merthyr-Tydvil, the Duffryn, Llynvi, and Perth Cawl, the Bridgend, the Aberdylais, the Oystermouth, with others connecting the harbours of Aberavon with the collieries and iron works in the vicinity. Most of these lines of railway are only for goods' traffic, but some of them are in connection with the South Wales section of the Great Western railway, which enters the county near Cardiff, and traverses it for above 40 miles in a westerly direction to Swansea. From the trunk line two important passenger lines, called the Taff Vale and Neath Valley railways, branch off, traversing the rich mineral districts of the interior, and the Llynvi railway, which crosses the South Wales line at Pyle. The principal coach-road enters the county from the E. by Rumney bridge, near Cardiff, and following the direction of the Via Julia, leads through Cowbridge, Bridgend, Aberafon, and Neath, to Swansea, where it divides into two branches, one communicating with Loughor and another traversing the peninsula of Gower to Rossily Bay, where the City of Bristol was wrecked, and Worm's Head. A second line of road runs from Cardiff to Llandaff and Newbridge, where it separates into two branches, one leading to Merthyr-Tydvil and so into Brecknockshire, the other passing through Aberdare and Aberpergwm in the Vale of Neath, to Neath, which is 40 miles distant from Cardiff. The mineral wealth of the county is almost inexhaustible, comprising as it does the most part of the great South Wales coal basin, which is worked mostly by levels, and occurs in beds from 2 to 3 feet thick. The anthracite coal occurs chiefly near Llanelly, the blast coal to the E. of the coal-field, and the black-band ironstone at Cwm Avon and other places. The collieries, which employ about 10,000 hands, are chiefly in the vicinity of Treforest, Llanwnno, Kilybebyll, and Swansea; and the great iron works, which employ half as many more hands, at Aberavon, Aberdare, Cadoxton, Gelligaer, Llangonvyd, Merthyr-Tydvil, and Newbridge. Copper is also extensively worked at Swansea, Michaelston, Neath, and Taebach; tin at Aberavon, Cadoxton, Kilynebyll, and Treforest; zinc, lead, manganese, gypsum, and firestone, likewise occur in the carboniferous limestone rock, and are worked to a considerable extent. There are scarcely any manufactures in Glamorganshire except pottery, which is made at Swansea, Ewenny, and Nantgarw. The government of the county, which is included in the South Wales circuit and the Home military district, is entrusted to a lord-lieutenant and about 80 magistrates. It returns five members to parliament, viz: two for the county, one for Cardiff and its contributory boroughs, one for Swansea and its contributory boroughs, and one for Merthyr-Tydvil and Aberdare. It is divided into 10 hundreds-Caerphilly in the E., Cowbridge in the S., Dinas Powis and Kibbor in the S.E., Miskin in the middle, Newcastle and Ogmore in the S.W., Neath and Llangyfelach in the N.W., and Swansea in the W., comprising 125 parishes, with parts of three others, and seven market towns, viz: Cardiff, the county, assize, and election town, Bridgend, Cowbridge, Llantrissent, Merthyr-Tydvil, Neath, and Swansea. The whole of these, except Cowbridge and Llantrissent; are polling places, Poor-law Unions, registries, and new County Courts, and four of them, Cardiff, Neath, Swansea, and Cowbridge, are sessions towns; besides these there are above 267 villages and hamlets. The whole of the county is included within the dioceses of Llandaff and St. David's, and within the province of Canterbury. The see of Llandaff, which is said to be the oldest in England, is situated in the city of Llandaff, in this county, but the cathedral is now in a very ruinous condition, having been only partially restored, and the city has dwindled into insignificance. The principal seats are, Cardiff Castle, of the Marquis of Bute; Dunraven Castle, of the Earl of Dunraven; Briton Ferry, of the Earl of Jersey; Clasemont, of Morris, Bart.; Llantryddyd, of Aubrey, Bart.; Margam and Penrice, of Talbot; Merthyr Mawr, of Nichols; Ewenny, of Turberville; Baglan, of Llewelyn; Kilybebyll, of Lloyd; Aberpergwm, of Williams; and Cyfarthfa, of Crawshay; besides many others belonging to the landed gentry and wealthy mine owners. The remains of Roman antiquities and camps are numerous, especially in the vicinity of the ancient roads called the Via Julia, Sarn Hir, and Sarn Helen, which may still be traced, especially at Cardiff (Tibia Amnis), Bovertum (Bovium), Loughor (Leucarum), Neath (Nidas), and Caeran; also a British camp near Bridgend, the ogham stone at Kenfig, Druid circles at Gelligron, cromlechs at Dyffryn House, Drummen, Cefn Bryn, and Marcross; besides the Maen Via on Sarn Helen, and monastic ruins at Neath, Margam, and Ewenny. The remains of feudal castles are too numerous to specify, as at Cardiff and Boverton, belonging to the Fitz Hamons; Caerphilly with its leaning tower; Cogan, of the Herberts; Penmark, of the Umfravilles; St. Athan's, of the Berkrolles, &c.; but these will be described under the parishes where they are situated, most of them being along the S. coast and in the peninsula of Gower, which abounds with castles, camps, caves, &c., and which has to this day a race of Flemings who settled here in the reign of Henry I."


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