Carmarthenshire - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
CARMARTHENSHIRE, a maritime county of South Wales, bounded on the west by Pembrokeshire, on the north by Cardiganshire, on the east by Brecknockshire, on the south-east by Glamorganshire, and on the south side by the broad estuary of Burry River, and Carmarthen bay in the Bristol Channel. It extends from 51° 30' to 52° 2' (N. Lat.), and from 3° 45' to 3° 58' (W. Lon.); and includes 974 square miles, or 623,360 acres. The number of houses inhabited is 23,449, uninhabited 1405, and in course of erection 224; and the population amounts to 106,326, of whom 50,676 are males, and 55,650 females. The annual value of real property assessed to the property and income tax, for the year ending April 1843, was as follows: lands, £315,761; houses, £37,721; tithes, £26,177; manors, £105; fines, £1016; mines, £9596; quarries, £256; tramways, £970; canals, £217; other property, £5136: total, £396,955.
The territory now forming the county of Carmarthen, at the period of the Roman invasion of Britain was, according to Ptolemy, included in the country of the Dimetæ, the Dyved of British writers; and contained one of their chief cities, called by the same author Maridunum, and by Antoninus Muridunum, which has been identified with the present Carmarthen. The subjugation of this district is ascribed to Julius Frontinus, about the year 70; and from that commander the name of the road which crossed it from east to west, called Julia Strata, or Via Julia Maritima, was derived: according to Sir R. C. Hoare, Bart., and others, it was also traversed by the Via Julia Montana or Superior. Besides the station of Maridunum, on the firstmentioned road, it contained another important one at Llanvair-ar-y-Bryn, or "St. Mary's church on the hill," near Llandovery.
When the Romans had withdrawn their forces from Britain, and the country became divided into numerous petty states, Carmarthenshire was for the most part included in the principality of Caredigion, or Cardigan, the history of which, for a long period, is involved in obscurity. About the middle of the ninth century it was annexed to the other dominions of Rhodri Mawr, or Roderic the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, who united the whole of Wales into one kingdom. On his death, in 876, he allotted to his son Cadell the territory of Caredigion, or South Wales, including, besides the present counties of Cardigan and Carmarthen, those of Brecknock, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Pembroke; and fixed the seat of government at Dynevor, in the vale of Tywi, where he had erected a palace, though the successors of Cadell removed it back to Carmarthen, where it continued, until the progress of the Anglo-Norman invaders compelled the native princes to return again to the former residence. Cadell, the year after he had entered upon his government, invaded the dominions of his brother Mervyn, and took forcible possession of the kingdom of Powys; but was, in his turn, invaded by his other brother, Anarawd, sovereign of North Wales, who committed dreadful ravages in the counties of Carmarthen, Cardigan, and Pembroke, burning the houses and destroying the corn.
On the death of Cadell, in 907, he was succeeded in his government of South Wales and Powys by his eldest son Hywel, who holds so distinguished a rank in Welsh history, by the name of Hywel Dda, or Hywel the Good, and who, in 940, on the decease of Idwal Voel, son of Anarawd, added the kingdom of Aberfraw to his other dominions, and became sovereign of all Wales. During the compilation of this monarch's celebrated code of laws, he held an extraordinary council in this county, at his hunting-seat of Whitland, in the vicinity of St. Clear's: the code continued in force throughout the principality until its subjugation by Edward I., and was retained, in some districts, until its union with England in the reign of Henry VIII. Hywel died, after a long and peaceful reign, in 948, leaving four sons, Owain, Rhûn, Roderic, and Edwin, who, relinquishing the kingdom of North Wales to Ievav and Iago, the sons of Idwal Voel, partitioned among them the principalities, or lordships, of South Wales and Powys. The government of Dynevor fell to Owain, who, though defeated with his brothers in a battle fought with the Princes of North Wales, in Cardiganshire, yet, in the year 950, when the latter were making a predatory incursion into Pembrokeshire, compelled them to retreat with such precipitation, that a great part of their army was drowned in the Teivy, which forms the northern boundary of Carmarthenshire. The contest thus begun, between the sons of Hywel and the Princes of North Wales, was long maintained by both parties, but at last terminated in favour of Ievav and Iago, who subjected the whole of Wales, and held the kingdom of Dynevor under their dominion for several years. Owain, being driven from his own government, seized, in 958, upon the district of Ewyas, in the Vale of Usk, forming part of the territories of Morgan Mawr, King of Glamorgan; but the quarrel to which this gave rise having been referred to the arbitration of Edgar, the Anglo-Saxon King of England, that monarch gave his award in favour of the King of Glamorgan, and forbade the encroachments of Owain. On a rupture between the two Princes of North Wales, Owain seems to have seized the opportunity to regain possession of his dominions, for, in 966, he met Edgar at Caerleon, in Monmouthshire, to arrange with him for the payment of the tribute which the laws of his father adjudged to be due to the King of England. Einon, son of Owain, with some of his father's troops, invaded Gower, and afterwards assisted in repelling an incursion of the Saxons under Alfred, Earl of Mercia, into Brecknockshire and Gwent. Upon his death, he was succeeded in the command of his father's troops by his youngest brother Meredydd, who, in 985, invaded North Wales, and having slain its prince, Cadwallon, in battle, shortly subjugated the whole of that kingdom. On the death of his father, Meredydd took possession of the government of South Wales also, to the exclusion of the sons of his elder brother, the eldest of whom, Edwin, having raised an army, and obtained considerable succours from the Saxons and Danes, entered Cardigan, and advanced through Pembrokeshire and along the coast of this county to Kidwelly, and into Gower; but a reconciliation being speedily effected between Edwin and his uncle, their united forces proceeded to ravage the territories of Ithel, Prince of Glamorgan, in which expedition they sustained a signal defeat. The frequent invasions of the Danes, and the hostilities of the neighbouring states, afforded exclusive employment in South Wales for the whole of Meredydd's forces; so that the people of North Wales, having the power of exercising their own choice, transferred the government to Idwal, son of Meirig, whom Meredydd, on being informed of this revolution, made an immediate attempt to dethrone, but without success.
Both these chieftains died soon after, Meredydd leaving issue only one daughter, wife of Llewelyn ab Sitsyllt, lord of Essyllt, in Powys, who at the time of his marriage was only fourteen years of age, and who was yet in his minority. Aedan, who had succeeded to the dominion of North Wales, after a contest in which he slew his rival, Conan ab Hywel, in battle, taking advantage of Llewelyn's youth, reduced the kingdom of South Wales, without much difficulty, in the year 1000; but in 1015, the young prince, being then of full age, and having assembled a sufficient number of forces, gave battle to Aedan, routed his army, and slew that prince himself. By this signal victory Llewelyn became not only master of the kingdom of Dynevor, or South Wales, but also of that of North Wales. In 1020, an adventurer from Scotland, calling himself Rhûn, and pretending to be the son of Meredydd, appeared in South Wales, and, having prevailed upon some of the most powerful chieftains to espouse his cause, found himself in a short time at the head of a sufficient force to take the field. Llewelyn, who was then in North Wales, hearing of these proceedings, hastened southward with his forces, and encountered Rhûn at Aberguilly, near Carmarthen, where the latter had already arrayed his army in order for battle: the conflict was long and pertinaciously maintained, but at last terminated in favour of Llewelyn, who pursued his advantage with so much vigour, that Rhûn was overtaken and slain. In the following year, Howel and Meredydd, sons of Edwin, accompanied by Eulaf, or Aulaf, and a large army of Irish and Scots, landed in South Wales, with a view to the conquest of that kingdom, and after pillaging the church of St. David's, in Pembrokeshire, advanced to Carmarthen, where they were met and routed by Llewelyn and his brother Conan: this engagement, however, proved fatal to Llewelyn himself, through the treachery of Madoc Min, Bishop of Bangor.
Llewelyn left one son, named Grufydd, who was in his minority: availing themselves of this circumstance, Iago, son of Idwal, took possession of the principality of North Wales, while the kingdom of Dynevor was usurped by Rhydderch, son of Iestyn, lord of Glamorgan; but the latter, in 1031, lost both the kingdom and his life in an engagement with Howel and Meredydd, who had again invaded South Wales with a powerful army of Irish and Scots. The sons of Conan ab Sitsyllt soon rose in arms against these princes, to avenge the murder of their uncle Llewelyn, and in this enterprise they slew Meredydd, but failed in their efforts to dethrone Howel. Grufydd, being now of age, asserted his claims to his father's dominions, and, the people flocking to his standard from all quarters, soon took the field against Iago, Prince of North Wales, whom he defeated and slew; then, marching southward, he compelled the states of South Wales also to acknowledge his sovereign authority, and defeated Howel in various attempts to recover his dominion there. The latter, undismayed by his ill fortune, still repeatedly took the field, aided by parties of Danes, who pillaged the country; but at last, being attacked unawares, he was defeated and slain by Grufydd. On the death of Howel, the sovereignty of South Wales was claimed by Rhydderch and Rhŷs, sons of Rhydderch ab Iestyn, who, with a powerful army raised in Glamorgan, fought an obstinate but indecisive battle with Grufydd, after which both parties withdrew their forces. Soon after this event, some partizans of Caradoc, son of Rhydderch ab Iestyn, came from Gwent and Glamorgan into this county, where, in alliance with some of Grufydd's discontented subjects, they attacked the possessions of that prince's friends, of whom they put several to death; but Grufydd, leading his forces southward, punished his rebellious nobles by laying waste their estates in Dyved, Ystrad-Tywi, or Carmarthenshire, and Gower, in Glamorganshire. In 1056, Grufydd's brother Rhŷs was defeated and slain in his invasion of Glamorgan and Gwent; and not long after, Grufydd himself experienced a similar catastrophe in a battle fought against Caradoc, son of Rhydderch ab Iestyn, aided by the Saxon chieftain, Harold, with a powerful body of forces. Harold gave the sovereignty of Dynevor to Meredydd ab Owain, thought to have been descended from Hywel Dda, who, in 1069, was defeated and slain on the border of Glamorgan, by Caradoc, who had engaged in his cause a considerable body of Norman forces from England. Caradoc died in the following year, and was succeeded in his government of South Wales by his son Rhydderch.
In 1072, Rhŷs ab Owain, the grandson of Hywel Dda, who had for some time remained in obscurity in the Isle of Man, suddenly appeared in South Wales, to assert his claim to the dominion of that principality; and having collected a considerable body of forces in this county and that of Brecknock, marched northward, and defeated the troops of Bleddyn ab Cynvyn, the reigning Prince of North Wales, who was himself treacherously slain during the action. Rhŷs then turned towards Dynevor, but gave Rhydderch a friendly meeting, in which terms were entered into so little satisfactory to Rhydderch's relatives, that the latter was soon after put to death by his cousin, Meirchion ab Rhydderch, and Rhŷs became sovereign of all Wales. In 1074, however, he was attacked by Goronw and Llewelyn, the sons of Bleddyn ab Cynvyn, aided by a force from Glamorgan, by whom he was twice defeated, and in the last engagement taken prisoner, and afterwards put to death. In 1077, Rhŷs ab Tewdwr, a descendant of Hywel Dda, who had been compelled to take refuge in Armorica, on the usurpation of the principality of Dynevor by the Princes of Glamorgan, came into South Wales, with the view of recovering to himself that sovereignty, now held by Iestyn ab Gwrgan, Prince of Glamorgan; and his pretensions being favoured by the hatred which prevailed against the latter, the native chieftains consented to his assumption of the sovereign authority. Rhŷs, in 1080, assisted to place Grufydd ab Conan on the throne of North Wales, and afterwards invaded the territories of Iestyn ab Gwrgan, in Glamorgan; but he had no sooner withdrawn his troops, than the latter retaliated by ravaging Ystrad-Tywi, or Carmarthenshire, and Brecknockshire, whence he carried away a large booty. In the same year William the Conqueror marched an army into South Wales, and, abstaining from all hostilities, received the feudal homage of the Welsh princes, and performed a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. David, in Pembrokeshire. In 1087, the sons of Bleddyn ab Cynvyn raised so formidable an insurrection in South Wales, that Rhŷs was compelled to retire to Ireland; but obtaining from his brother-in-law, the King of Dublin, a large body of Irish forces, he returned to South Wales, where he was joined by many of his friends, and gained a complete victory over his enemies. Having suppressed a rebellion in Dyved, Rhŷs had shortly afterwards to oppose Iestyn, Prince of Glamorgan, and his Norman auxiliaries, by whom he was totally defeated within the limits of the present county of Glamorgan. According to the Welsh Chronicles, he was immediately taken and beheaded by Iestyn; but Mr. Jones, in his History of Brecknockshire, thinks that he retired to Caer-Bannau, in that county, and was slain fighting against the Normans under Bernard Newmarch.
From this period the kingdom of Dynevor, in consequence of civil dissensions, fomented by the Norman monarchs of England, and the encroachments of the Norman barons, rapidly declined in power and extent, and was soon reduced within the boundaries of the present counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan. The defeat and death of Rhŷs and his eldest son left the government without a head, until the year 1092, when Cadwgan ab Bleddyn, Prince of Powys, a man of bold and enterprising spirit, assumed the sovereignty of South Wales, and carried on an almost uninterrupted series of contests, either with the Norman lords, or with the English monarch himself. William de Londres, one of the Norman knights who had assisted Robert Fitz-Hamon in the conquest of Glamorgan, led a powerful force, in 1094, into Kidwelly and Ystrad-Tywi, now included in this county, and at the former place built a castle to secure his conquests. Cadwgan, and Grufydd Prince of North Wales, were both compelled, at one time, by a formidable insurrection of the subjects of the latter, to withdraw to Ireland; but they returned the next year with a large body of Irish mercenaries, and re-established themselves in their respective governments. For some time Cadwgan continued upon amicable terms with Henry I., but at last became embroiled with that monarch, owing to the misconduct of his son, in forcibly carrying away to Powys, Nêst, the wife of Gerald de Windsor, governor of Pembroke Castle. Henry urged the nobles of Powys to avenge the insult, not only by the destruction of Owain himself, but also by attacking the possessions of his father Cadwgan; both of whom, finding the whole country in arms against them, fled to Ireland; but in the following year Cadwgan returned, and, having made his peace with Henry, was restored to his dominions. Owain also returned after a short interval, and, being unable to appease the king's displeasure, engaged in a desultory warfare with the lords marcher, which once more drew upon Cadwgan the resentment of Henry, who sent for him to London to answer for the conduct of his son, and there detained him a state prisoner. The king, however, once more restored to him his honours and possessions, which he enjoyed only for a short time, being assassinated, in 1110, by his nephew, Madoc ab Rhyrid.
On this event, Henry was enabled, by the divided and unsettled state of the whole country, to effect the conquest of the sovereignty of South Wales, which he held for several years, to the exclusion of various competitors. In 1113, Grufydd ab Rhŷs, eldest surviving son of Rhŷs ab Tewdwr, who, during his minority, had resided in Ireland, came to South Wales, where he was encouraged by Gerald de Windsor, who had espoused Grufydd's sister, to assert his claim to the principality; but Henry, being soon apprised of his designs, took prompt steps to frustrate them, and Grufydd was obliged to seek refuge at the court of Grufydd ab Conan, Prince of North Wales, where he was shortly joined by his brother Hywel, who had effected his escape from Montgomery Castle. Grufydd ab Conan, however, entertaining a design of delivering up these young princes into the hands of the King of England, they made their escape by sea to South Wales; and Grufydd ab Rhŷs, on reaching this county in safety, determined to prosecute his claims by open warfare. His cause was eagerly espoused by his countrymen, and he soon commenced active hostilities, at the head of a large body of warriors, by entering Gower, where he made an unsuccessful attack on Swansea; then, having ravaged the surrounding country, he returned into Ystrad-Tywi with great booty. He afterwards successively attacked the Norman castles of Llandovery and Carmarthen, but without success; and in 1114 he again marched towards Gower, capturing on the way the castle of Kidwelly from William de Londres. Giraldus Cambrensis, in his Itinerary, states that a few years after, Grufydd's wife Gwenllian, attended by her two sons, led in person a body of troops into the vicinity of this fortress, where she was defeated, made prisoner, and put to death, with several of her followers, by Maurice de Londres, grandson of William. Whether or not this happened, the reputation which Grufydd acquired by his expeditions greatly added to the number of his followers; and Henry, regarding this influence as important, encouraged his Norman and Flemish vassals, and such Welsh adventurers as had something to expect from his favour, to unite their forces against him. Grufydd, aware of the advantages derived by his enemies from the king's possessing so strong a fortress as Carmarthen Castle, in the heart of his little dominion, led his forces against it with great secrecy, and took it by surprise; he then marched into Cardiganshire, where he was frequently successful against the Norman lords, but experienced a severe loss in an incautious attack upon the castle of Aberystwith. The English sovereign, finding that Grufydd was completely master of the country, now engaged Owain ab Cadwgan and Llywarch ab Trahaern, by liberal promises, to lead their forces into South Wales to the assistance of his vassals. They accordingly entered the Vale of Tywi; but Gerald de Windsor, who had recovered his wife from the hands of Owain, and was now in arms in support of Henry's dominion, in revenge for the injury he had received from that profligate chieftain, fell upon him unawares, when attended only by a few forces, and slew him, after a short conflict. This event terminated the expedition; for Llywarch, seeing that the king's vassals, on whose co-operation he depended, were not to be trusted, withdrew his forces. Some other expeditions were undertaken, but with the like ill success; and, in 1121, Henry concluded a peace with Grufydd, ceding to him a large portion of the ancient kingdom of Dynevor. In 1130, however, the English monarch, on the complaints of the Norman lords, ordered Grufydd to be again attacked; but the latter, with his own troops and the assistance of Hywel ab Meredydd, a chieftain of Brecknock, acting wholly on the defensive, succeeded in driving the Norman and Flemish invaders from his territories, and then despatched an embassy to Henry, to ascertain from that sovereign the particulars of his offence, which information, however, was refused him.
On the accession of Stephen to the English throne, in 1135, he sent to Grufydd a peremptory summons to attend him without delay in London, to answer complaints which had been preferred against him; but the latter, instead of complying, having been joined by several native chieftains of both North and South Wales, overran the whole of Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire, repeatedly defeating the forces of the Norman lords with great slaughter. After this series of victories, which nearly proved fatal to the English settlers in South Wales, Grufydd held a grand festival at his palace in this county, to which he invited all the princes and nobles of Wales and the Marches, and which continued for forty days. Grufydd, after having revised the existing laws of his people, died in 1136, and was succeeded by his eldest son Rhŷs, the earlier part of whose reign seems not to have been marked by any important event. One of the first transactions recorded is an expedition of Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, against the Normans and Flemings in Cardiganshire and the contiguous counties, in which he is stated to have destroyed the castle and town of Carmarthen, of which the Norman lords had again obtained possession. A similar incursion was made a few years afterwards, in 1144, by Owain's sons; and Stephen was so fully employed in maintaining himself on the English throne, that he was unable to exercise any power in behalf of his vassals in this country, who, however, carried on hostilities independently of their sovereign. In 1145, we find the Earl of Clare in possession of Carmarthen, though the chief exertions of Rhŷs and his brothers, at this time, seem to have been directed against the attempts of these lords to reinstate themselves in their dominion over this part of Wales. In the same year, Rhŷs and his brother Cadell recovered possession of the castles of Carmarthen, Dynevor, and Llanstephan, all on the Tywi. The last-named fortress was immediately after beset by a large force of Normans, English, and Flemings, but was successfully defended by Meredydd, the brother of Rhŷs. Carmarthen was committed to the custody of Cadell, who repaired and strengthened the works, and made repeated incursions from it into the neighbouring territories of the Norman settlers, devastating more particularly the lands of Kidwelly and Gower. He afterwards joined his forces to those of his brother Meredydd, in an expedition with a powerful army into Cardiganshire, from which they returned laden with booty. Similar expeditions were afterwards undertaken; and Rhŷs, having nearly rebuilt and greatly strengthened his royal castle of Dynevor, began to concert a plan for the total expulsion of the foreign settlers from Wales, in which, however, he could obtain no co-operation from the other Welsh chieftains.
On the accession of Henry II. to the throne, Rhŷs refused to join in the general peace offered to that monarch by the Welsh; but, being summoned to the English court, an accommodation was speedily effected, by which Henry was to cede to Rhŷs the district of Cantrêv-Mawr, in which stood his castle of Dynevor, and some other lordships, at that time in his possession; and to deliver up to him several castles, which he was to hold as securities for the ratification of the treaty. For these the Welsh prince rendered homage, and then returned to his native country, leaving two of his sons at the English court, as hostages; but the conditions, on the part of the king, were but partially fulfilled. Gilbert, Earl of Clare, after recovering some of those estates in Cardiganshire which had been taken from him in the reign of Stephen, proceeded to attack the possessions of Rhŷs, in Carmarthenshire: the latter complained to the King of England, but receiving only evasive answers, he attacked and destroyed several of the castles of the English, and obtained forcible possession of the territories which, in violation of the agreement before-mentioned, had been withheld from him. While he was besieging the castle of Carmarthen, King Henry despatched against him a powerful army, under the command of the Earls of Bristol and Clare, augmented by the forces of the Prince of North Wales: Rhŷs withdrew his men to the mountains of Cevn Rhester; and the confederated army, finding no enemy to oppose, encamped for a short time in the Vale of Tywi, and then removed into North Wales.
Upon the return of Henry from Normandy, in 1163, being informed that Rhŷs had, during his absence, continued to molest his vassals, he led an army into South Wales, as far as Pencader, in this county, ten miles north of Carmarthen, where, before the commencement of hostilities, some of the chieftains of Brecknockshire interfering, matters were so arranged that Rhŷs, on condition of retaining certain districts, gave two of his nephews as hostages for his future submission. These the king delivered into the custody of the Earl of Gloucester, who inhumanly put them to death. On this act of treachery, the Welsh prince again flew to arms, and proceeded against the possessions of Gloucester, in Cardiganshire, and afterwards against those of other English proprietors, in Pembrokeshire. After this expedition, which proved completely successful, he was joined in his operations against the English by Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, and the chieftains of Powys: the confederacy was soon attacked by the English monarch, but the blow fell upon North Wales, whither Rhŷs led his troops to the common defence of their country. He afterwards again invaded Cardigan and Pembroke, and returned to his castle of Dynevor, loaded with spoil; but, for a long period subsequent to this expedition, he remained on the most friendly terms with the English monarch, whom he met at Cardiff, on his way to Ireland, in 1172, and again at Tàlacharn, now commonly called Laugharne, in this county, on the king's return from that country. Some time after, when Henry was about to leave England for France, he appointed Rhŷs chief justice of South Wales.
On the accession of Richard I. to the throne in 1189, Rhŷs once more became the enemy of English power, and having mustered his forces, laid siege to the castle of Carmarthen, which he took and demolished; he then proceeded towards the Marches, where he captured several castles, and returned to Dynevor in triumph. Upon this occasion he strengthened the castle of Kidwelly, rendering it handsomer than any of his other fortresses. Rhŷs died in 1196, being then styled Arglwydd, or lord, which title was transmitted to his descendants, he having lost his rank and authority as a sovereign by his forced submissions to the English monarch. He was succeeded in his territories and his lordship of South Wales by his son, Grufydd ab Rhŷs, who was attacked and made prisoner at his castle of Aberystwith, in Cardiganshire, by his brother Maelgwyn, aided by Gwenwynwyn, son of Owain Cyveilioc, Lord of Powys, but was released in the year following by the English lords into whose custody he had been given by Gwenwynwyn. In 1199, he succeeded in expelling his usurping brother from his domains in Cardiganshire; and on the death of his brother Meredydd, in 1201, he also seized upon his estates and his castle of Llandovery, the latter of which, on the death of Grufydd in the year following, fell into the possession of Maelgwyn, from whom it was taken, in 1204, by Rhŷs, son of Grufydd, who had succeeded to the territory of his father. Rhŷs afterwards took and fortified Llangadock Castle, in this county; but his uncle, assisted by his ally Gwenwynwyn, forced him to abandon his conquests, of which, however, he re-possessed himself on Maelgwyn's withdrawing his forces into Cardiganshire. About the year 1209, Rhŷs Vychan, or Rhŷs Grûg, brother to Maelgwyn, who had hitherto been on friendly terms with his nephews, Rhŷs and Owain ab Grufydd, turned his arms against them and took the castle of Llangadock; but they marched against that fortress with all their forces, destroyed its garrison, and razed it to the ground. Rhŷs Vychan, fearing also the power of Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, who had espoused the cause of the younger chieftains, departed for England, where he obtained a supply of troops from King John; and returning with these reinforcements, he invested and took the castle of Llandovery: Maelgwyn likewise, on making submission to the English monarch, was allowed a large body of English auxiliaries, with which he marched into Cardiganshire. After some refractory conduct on the part of the young lords, who had refused to do homage to the English king, they were received into favour: but the uncles soon after throwing off their allegiance, Rhŷs and Owain carried on a protracted warfare against them, and at last implored the assistance of King John in the recovery of their property, of nearly the whole of which their uncles had by degrees deprived them. That monarch ordered Viscount Foulke to demand of Rhŷs Vychan the castle of Llandovery, with the territory appertaining to it, for the use of young Rhŷs and his brother; but all accommodation of that kind being refused, the English commander, attended by the two brothers, with all the forces they could collect, marched towards Dynevor, and, being met on the way by Rhŷs Vychan, defeated him in battle with considerable loss. From the field of action he retreated towards Dynevor; and, having reinforced the garrison of that fortress, burned the town of LlandiloVawr to the ground, and retired to the most inaccessible parts of the neighbouring country. Foulke and the young lords assaulted the castle with such vigour, that the next day the garrison surrendered, on condition of being allowed to depart with their arms; and the remainder of the district submitted without resistance. Rhŷs Vychan removed his family to Aberystwith, in Cardiganshire, but was himself shortly after taken prisoner at Carmarthen, and committed to the king's prison there, but soon released on giving hostages. After Foulke's departure, Llandovery surrendered to Rhŷs ab Grufydd.
This young prince having been reconciled to his uncle Maelgwyn, their united forces invaded Pembrokeshire: both chieftains afterwards did homage to Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales; and Rhŷs attacked several of the English vassals, taking first the castle of Kidwelly, in this county, and afterwards advancing into Glamorganshire. The same year Llewelyn ab Iorwerth led a large army into South Wales against the English settlers; and in the course of the expedition, in which he was assisted by the forces of Rhŷs ab Grufydd, his brother Owain, and their two uncles, he took the castle of Carmarthen, which he razed to the ground, and afterwards those of Llanstephan, St. Clear's, Tàlacharn, or Laugharne, and Emlyn, in this county, besides others in Cardiganshire. Subsequently, young Rhŷs and his brother, in alliance with Llewelyn, attacked the territories of Llewelyn's son-in-law, Reginald de Breos, in Brecknockshire: Llewelyn placed a strong garrison in the castle of Carmarthen, and is also stated to have given Rhŷs Grufydd permission to do homage to the king of England for some of his lands. Rhŷs afterwards quarrelled with Llewelyn concerning the possession of his castle of Cardigan, but he was reconciled to him through the mediation of Henry III., and died in the course of the same year.
In the absence of William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, then engaged in Ireland on behalf of the English monarch, Llewelyn took several of that nobleman's castles in South Wales, the garrisons of which he put to the sword, and replaced with his own soldiers. The earl, on his return in 1223, retaliated upon the possessions and subjects of Llewelyn, taking the castles of Cardigan and Carmarthen. The Welsh prince, to oppose his progress, despatched into Carmarthenshire his son Grufydd, who, having arrived at Kidwelly, intended to take up his quarters there; but hearing of a conspiracy that had been formed by the inhabitants to betray him to the Earl of Pembroke, he set fire to the town, and marched towards Carmarthen, where the earl was then posted. The latter crossed the river Tywi to give him battle, and the obstinate engagement that ensued was terminated only by the darkness of the night, when both commanders withdrew their forces, neither of them having obtained any advantage: the earl kept his troops in Carmarthen, and Grufydd encamped for a few days at some distance on the opposite side of the river; but his provisions beginning to fail, he withdrew into North Wales; whilst the earl retired into Cardiganshire. Rhŷs, son of Rhŷs Vychan, having made his father prisoner in 1226, obtained from him, as the condition of his liberation, the castle of Llandovery. In 1233, Richard Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, in consequence of a quarrel with Henry III., in which he was aided by Owain ab Grufydd, Rhŷs Vychan, and Maelgwyn, son of Maelgwyn ab Rhŷs who had died in 1230, committed great devastations on the lands of many of the English settlers, and laid siege to Carmarthen, which successfully resisted his assaults for three months, when the arrival of succours by sea compelled the earl to abandon his enterprise.
About this time Rhŷs Vychan died at LlandiloVawr; and his death was followed soon after by that of his nephew, Owain ab Grufydd, whose possessions descended to his son Meredydd, while those of Rhŷs were shared between his sons Meredydd, and Rhŷs, also named Rhŷs Vychan in the Welsh annals. On the death of Davydd ab Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, King Henry sent Nicholas de Myles to Carmarthen, with a commission for Meredydd ab Rhŷs Vychan and Meredydd ab Owain, to assist in dispossessing Maelgwyn Vychan, son of Maelgwyn ab Rhŷs, of his territories, which the latter abandoned by retiring into North Wales. Rhŷs Vychan, in 1254, obtained the castle of Carreg Cennen, in this county, which his mother had placed in the hands of some of the English settlers; and having his territory of Builth, in Brecknockshire, taken from him by Llewelyn ab Grufydd, Prince of North Wales, who gave it to Rhŷs' brother Meredydd, he obtained from King Henry a powerful force to aid him in recovering that portion of his territories which was held by Meredydd. With these auxiliaries, commanded by Stephen Bacon, he came by sea to Carmarthen, and thence marched against Dynevor Castle. Prince Llewelyn, however, sent a large force to the relief of this fortress; and the Welsh leaders, Meredydd ab Owain and Meredydd ab Rhŷs, being thus reinforced, gave battle to the English army, which they totally routed, in one of the most sanguinary conflicts that ever occurred in the principality, with the loss of about 2000 men. Llewelyn's troops afterwards proceeded towards Pembrokeshire, destroying in their march the castle of Llanstephan, in which it is thought that the remains of the English army had taken refuge.
In 1258, the Welsh nobility held a convention, in which they solemnly bound themselves to maintain the common cause of their country against the attacks and encroachments of the English; but Meredydd ab Rhŷs soon passed over to the side of the English king, and, during a truce which existed about this period, was sent, in company with Patrick de Canton, the king's lieutenant, to Carmarthen, to negotiate a peace with Llewelyn, who, on his part, appointed commissioners to meet them at Emlyn, now called Newcastle-Emlyn, in this county, and among the number, sent his own brother Davydd. Patrick, learning on his journey that his own followers were more numerous than those of the Welsh deputies, attacked the latter unawares with great fury, and slew several of their men, while the chieftains themselves escaped with difficulty; Davydd, their leader, however, raised the surrounding country, and, overtaking the offenders, slew Patrick, with the greater number of his attendants.
Edward I., soon after his accession to the English throne, at the same time that he invaded North Wales in person, sent into South Wales a powerful army under the command of Payen de Chaworth, who laid waste the territories of several of the native chieftains, and took possession of the castle of Dynevor, which he had found in the hands of Rhŷs ab Meredydd, who at that time took part with the English. On his second and final invasion of North Wales, Edward again had a powerful force actively employed in the southern part of the principality, under the Earl of Gloucester and Sir Edward Mortimer: these noblemen encountered a body of Welsh forces at Llandilo-Vawr, where they completely defeated them. Edward, having accomplished the subjugation of Wales, provided for its future government by the laws contained in the celebrated Statute of Rhuddlan, the provisions of which did not interfere with the territories of the lords marcher, who exercised jura regalia, but erected the districts which had of late years belonged more immediately to the princes of the house of Dynevor, and were then in the possession of the crown, into the present counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan, which were placed under the same laws and regulations as English counties. For some years the country remained peaceable; but, during Edward's absence in France, Rhŷs ab Meredydd, whom that monarch had knighted for his services in aid of the subjugation of South Wales, revolted from his allegiance, took the castles of Llandovery and Dynevor, and burned several towns. Edward sent against him the Earl of Cornwall, who, advancing with his forces into this county, compelled Rhŷs to abandon the field, and then proceeded to attack his castles. On account, however, of the approach of winter, the Earl of Cornwall suspended his operations, and granted the enemy a truce; and as soon as Rhŷs found that the English commander had withdrawn his forces, he again took the field, and besieged the castle of Emlyn; but Robert de Tibetot, the justiciary of South Wales, suddenly raising a large force, with the intention of opposing him, he fled to Ireland. Three years afterwards Rhŷs returned into South Wales, and having collected a large body of partisans, fought a fierce and sanguinary battle with the justiciary, in which he was defeated with the loss of 4000 men; and was himself taken prisoner; he was shortly after executed as a traitor at York, and his possessions were bestowed on Tibetot in reward for his services. The only important manifestation of public opposition to the authority of the kings of England after this period, in which Carmarthenshire had any share, was at the time of the great revolt under Owain Glyndwr: the French landed 12,000 men in aid of that chieftain at Milford Haven, whence they marched towards the English border, by way of Carmarthen, which they took; but on the retreat of the French, the chief men of the county soon after abandoned the cause of Glyndwr, and renewed their allegiance to the English sovereign.
On the landing of the Earl of Richmond in Pembrokeshire, in August, 1485, to contest the possession of the English crown with Richard III., he was immediately joined from this county by Rhŷs ab Thomas, of Abermarlais, the most powerful subject in this part of the island, attended by a numerous body of his friends and adherents. Rhŷs led part of the earl's small army through Carmarthenshire into Brecknockshire, in which progress its ranks were swelled by great numbers favourable to the cause, collected by the light of the beacons. He was knighted on Bosworth Field, being the first who received that honour from Henry VII.; and, for his eminent services throughout this contest, Henry appointed him governor of all Wales, constable and lieutenant of Brecknockshire, chamberlain of South Wales in the counties of Cardigan and Carmarthen, and seneschal of the lordship of Builth, in Brecknockshire. Invested with these powers, Sir Rhŷs calmed the disorders which had arisen from the unsettled state of the supreme government, and fully restored obedience to the laws.
During the civil war of the seventeenth century, Richard Vaughan, the first Earl of Carberry, about the year 1644, enjoyed the rank of general over this county, together with the counties of Pembroke and Cardigan, by commission from Charles I.; but, although the forces under his command were far more numerous than those of the parliamentarian leaders sent against him, he offered no opposition to their progress, and the latter made themselves masters of the country. Vaughan was shortly after created Baron Emlyn, and Lord of Carmarthen, yet received not the least molestation from the parliament, and was in high favour with Cromwell. After the great battle of St. Fagan's, in Glamorganshire, this county was the scene of several skirmishes between Colonel Horton, the victorious parliamentarian commander in that engagement, and Colonel Poyer, one of his defeated adversaries. In later times, few events of importance have occurred in connexion with the county.
In the year 1843 the peace of the county, and of South Wales generally, was disturbed by that extraordinary outbreak called the Rebecca Insurrection, the rise and progress of which will always be considered as a curious chapter in the history of popular eruptions. The cause that provoked it appeared so insignificant, the guise and the mode of warfare adopted by the insurgents were so ludicrous and grotesque, and the success of the outbreak was so rapid and complete, that the feeling with which the movement was regarded in England was strangely compounded of incredulity, amusement, and apprehension. Some riotous proceedings had previously taken place, on a small scale, on the confines of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, where the abuses of the turnpike system had led to the first act of gatebreaking, in the year 1839; and in the early part of 1843, the attack on turnpike-gates was recommenced under peculiar circumstances in the same district, upon a trust called the Whitland Trust. The crusade now carried on was characterised by a more systematic and organized plan. The supposed head or chief, attired in a female dress, and styled Rebecca from a preposterous application of a passage in the book of Genesis, always made his marches and attacks by night, and his conduct of the proceedings manifested no small dexterity and address. His followers or "daughters," similarly disguised, and, like him, mounted on horseback, immediately on arriving at the gate, commenced the business of the night by word of command, and set about the destruction of gate, posts, and toll-house, with a spirit and perseverance which quickly accomplished the intended object. The work was no sooner effected than the assailants galloped off, firing their guns and blowing their horns as they had done on their arrival; their dispersion was as mysterious as their appearance, and the outward aspect of the country by day, even while the outrages were at their height, gave no sign of the extensive and compact organization that must have subsisted among the population. The outbreak in no long time pervaded the counties of Carmarthen and Pembroke, whence it gradually spread to Cardiganshire on one side, and to Radnorshire and Glamorganshire on the other; Brecknockshire alone, of all the counties in South Wales, enjoying full exemption from the disturbances. At the time of the outbreak, there were between 100 and 150 gates, including side-bars and chains, in the county of Carmarthen; of these not less than from seventy to eighty were destroyed, the toll-houses, as well as the gates and posts, being in many cases razed to the ground: in some trusts not a single gate was left standing. In Pembrokeshire, likewise, and in one of the divisions of Cardiganshire, the destruction was carried on in the same wholesale manner.
The success of the insurgents led them to put forth complaints of other grievances and burthens, much exaggerated; and on the 10th of June, one of the boldest steps ventured on by them was carried out. This was, the entry at mid-day into the town of Carmarthen, of a large body of persons, headed by a band; the leading mass consisting of some thousands on foot, including a great number of women, and men bearing inflammatory placards. These were followed by a man in disguise, to represent Rebecca, with others carrying brooms with which to sweep the foundations of the toll-houses and the union workhouse; and the rear was brought up by about 300 farmers on horseback. This formidable body paraded the town, passing by the hall, and hooting the magistrates; and then proceeded to the workhouse, which they attacked. In the midst of the tumult, however, the military arrived from Cardiff, and a disturbance which had so seriously menaced the peace of the town was happily put an end to, without bloodshed. As time advanced, the insurrection assumed a more malignant aspect. Much allowance had at first been made for the people, under the belief that their grievances were real; but now the farmers and peasantry were led by ill-disposed and designing men, who used the name and disguise of Rebecca for their own evil purposes. Threatening letters, the firing of property, and, in one case, even murder, were resorted to; and it became necessary for government to send a large number of troops into the disturbed districts: a body of the London police also arrived. Towards the end of the summer, the spirit of disturbance began to decline. The most obnoxious of the gates had been swept away, and on some of the trusts the trustees had announced their determination not to re-erect those which were most complained of as oppressive. The law, also, was being vindicated; and on the other hand, the hopes of the people were raised by the appointment in October of a government commission of inquiry, to examine into the operation of the turnpike-laws, and other alleged grievances. For many weeks the inquiry proceeded in different parts of the country, and the middle and lower classes gladly used the opportunity afforded of making known the evils, real or imaginary, of their condition. It appears that poverty and the hardness of the times contributed more to this singular commotion than did any specific burthen. The turnpike system, however, was the proximate and provoking cause; and the inquiry clearly proved that the turnpike-laws, as administered in Wales, did constitute a substantial ground of complaint. The admitted abuses of the system have now received a legislative cure, and it may be hoped that the lawless feats of Rebecca and her daughters will become matter of tradition, and never be again revived to disturb the peace of the principality. A concise account of the rising is given in the "Annual Register" for 1843, from which the foregoing particulars are abridged.
Carmarthenshire is in the diocese of St. David's, and province of Canterbury. It is almost wholly included in the archdeaconry of Carmarthen, which comprises the deaneries of Carmarthen, Kidwelly, Llandilo, and Llangadock, in Carmarthenshire, and that of Gower in the county of Glamorgan: four of its parishes are comprised in the archdeaconry of Cardigan. The total number of parishes is seventysix, of which fifteen are rectories, thirty-eight vicarages, and twenty-three perpetual curacies. For purposes of civil government it is divided into the hundreds of Cathinog, Cayo, Derllŷs, Elvet, and Pervet (each of which has Higher and Lower divisions), and the three comots, or hundreds, of Carnawllon, Iscennen, and Kidwelly, which form a separate liberty, distinct from the rest of the county, having its own bailiff, coroner, &c. It contains the boroughs, markettowns, and ports of Carmarthen and Llanelly; the incorporated market and sea-port towns of Kidwelly and Laugharne; the market-towns of Llandilo-Vawr, Llandovery, Llangadock, and Newcastle-Emlyn; the sea-port of Penbrey, and the small port of St. Clear's. One knight was formerly returned to parliament for the shire, which by the act for "Amending the Representation of the People," passed in 1832, now sends two. One representative, also, was and is returned for the borough of Carmarthen, to which that of Llanelly has been made contributory. The county member, prior to the passing of the act, was elected at Llandilo-Vawr, but the members are now elected at Carmarthen: the polling-places are Carmarthen, Llandilo-Vawr, and Llandovery. This county is in the South Wales circuit; the assizes are held at Carmarthen, and the quarter-sessions alternately at Carmarthen and Llandilo-Vawr: the county gaol and county house of correction are at Carmarthen. There are thirty-five acting magistrates for the county. It comprises the poor-law unions of Carmarthen, Llandilo-Vawr, Llandovery (except two parishes in Brecknockshire), and Llanelly (except the borough and parish of Loughor in Glamorganshire), five parishes in the union of Lampeter, four in that of Newcastle-Emlyn, and some in Narberth union.
Nearly the whole of the surface of Carmarthenshire is hilly, but it seldom attains a mountainous elevation: by far the greater portion is comprised in the slate tract of South Wales, which occupies all the northern part of the county, from Cwm-y-Dwr and the river Towy to its northern and western confines. Here a broken chain of hills, connected with the mountain of Plinlimmon, in Montgomeryshire, and forming for the most part one side of the Vale of Teivy, extends from Brecknockshire towards the sea. On the eastern side of Carmarthenshire commences the long chain called the Black Mountains, thence extending into Monmouthshire, and a conspicuous summit of which, called Y Van, or Ban Sir Gaer, "the Carmarthenshire Beacon," is the highest summit in the county, being 2,596 above the level of the sea. This striking and picturesque eminence is separated by a deep and narrow chasm from another of similar appearance, but rather superior elevation, in Brecknockshire; and the summits of both are usually noticed together as Bannau Sir Gaer, or the Carmarthenshire Beacons, to distinguish them from the hills near Brecknock, called Bannau Brecheiniog, or the Brecknockshire Beacons. They are included in the line of red-sandstone soils which extends in a direction generally from east to west across the whole of the southern part of the principality, and hence, suddenly contracting, passes south-westward in a tract a few miles broad, bounded on the north by the slate district, and on the south by limestone, to the innermost part of Carmarthen bay, and thence westby-north into Pembrokeshire. From this, beyond a narrow range of limestone, the rest of the county, forming its south-eastern extremity, is included in the great coal-field of South Wales, and contains Bettws mountain, being part of a chain which diverges from the Black Mountain, near the upper end of the Vale of Tawe, in Brecknockshire, and thence stretches along the banks of the Amman and Loughor nearly to the sea. The valleys, through which the rapid and sometimes impetuous streams descend from the more elevated districts, are distinguished for their picturesque beauties, more especially that of the Tywi, or Towy, one of the most extensive valleys in South Wales; but the smaller valleys are of more uniform appearance than those of Glamorgan and Cardigan. The mountainous tracts are for the most part bleak and dreary, except to the north of Llandilo-Vawr and Llandovery, where the scenery has the general character of that of Cardiganshire, upon which it borders. On the shores of the Burry estuary and the bay of Carmarthen, from Loughor to Kidwelly, are several extensive salt marshes; and Laugharne Marsh, on the northern side of the bay, comprises 2000 acres of excellent land, besides a large sandy tract.
The county contains several small lakes worthy of notice. Of these, Llyn Tegwyn, sometimes called Pwll-yr-Esgob, or the "Bishop's Pool," of a circular form, and about half a mile in diameter, is remarkably situated at its northern extremity, and on the highest summit of Mynydd Mawr, or the Great Mountain, a few miles westward of Llandebie. A lake of the most limpid water, in form nearly a parallelogram, and about a mile in length, is situated at the bottom of the almost perpendicular declivity of the upper part of the Carmarthenshire Beacon: its scenery is rendered awfully grand by the precipitous rocks which overhang it; while, so great is its elevation, the snow remains unmelted on its shores for several months in the year. There are also two small lakes at the foot of a lofty hill, near which stand the ruins of Talley Abbey.
The climate partakes of the great humidity that characterises the western parts of Wales, and which, though favourable to the production of grasses, prevents, in many situations, the perfect and seasonable ripening of corn; more particularly in the Vale of Towy, which opens south-westward to the accumulated vapours of the Atlantic, and up which are attracted dense clouds and mists, that are broken by the mountains towards the source of that river, and fall in frequent showers. The harvest commences in few places before the third week in August, except in the south-western part of the county, where it begins towards the close of July, or early in August. Except on the mountains in the eastern and northern parts, the air is in general extremely mild, and hoarfrost scarcely ever occurs in the Vale of Towy, save on the southern side, where, the sun being excluded, the frost, after having set in, commonly continues the whole day. The Vale of the Teivy, on the northern side of the county, is not subject to the same degree of humidity as that of the Towy, the range of mountains separating the two valleys intercepting the rains from the south, and causing them to be precipitated almost wholly on the southern side. The climate of the higher mountains is cold, wet, and tempestuous.
The soils are very various. In the slate and coal tracts, occupying so much of the surface, they are for the most part of an inferior quality; peat is here found in all the hollows, and sometimes upon the slopes of the mountains; while unfertile clay abounds near their surface in many other places. The soils resting on the slate, which is for the most part of a greyish colour, are poorer wherever the latter assumes a blue cast. The clay of the coal tract contains a considerable admixture of sand, and is therefore less stubborn and more easily brought under tillage than that of the slate. The red soils are in general of an excellent kind and depth for either tillage or pasture; and barley produced on this land, southward of the Vale of Towy, is in great request for seed on the soils of the slate tract. In general, the limestone soils are very shallow; but limestone forms the substratum of a portion of the rich tract of Laugharne Marsh. The soil of the valleys is for the most part of a light brown or red colour, and a very productive quality, which increases in their descent towards the sea, in proportion to the length of the course of the streams that traverse them: the banks of the Towy and the Tâf are more particularly distinguished for their exuberant fertility.
The general system of farming is injudicious, the ground being exhausted by a constant succession of corn-crops. Agricultural societies, however, for the encouragement of improved systems of culture, by the distribution of prizes, have been formed in different parts of the county; the Norfolk system has of late years been introduced on several extensive farms, and various superior modes of management adopted in other places. In the inclosed lands the proportions under grass and under tillage are about equal. Wheat is most extensively cultivated in the Vales of Towy, Llangendeirn, and Llandebie, in the neighbourhood of St. Clear's, and in Laugharne Marsh, which is, nevertheless, chiefly a dairy-farm. But the climate not being favourable to the growth of this grain, good samples are very scarce, and the quantity raised not nearly sufficient for the supply of the inhabitants of the county, who are therefore under the necessity of importing a great deal from Bristol. The produce in the Vales of Towy and Teivy, and in the other richer lowlands, is from twenty to twentyfive bushels per acre, but on the uplands only from ten to fifteen. Barley succeeds better, and produces good crops in bulk, but generally ill-coloured, and frequently thin-bodied, owing to almost incessant rains and damps: the best quality grows on the northern side of the hills separating the Vales of Towy and Teivy. The produce on the uplands averages about thirteen bushels per acre, though it is sometimes as low as nine, and sometimes as high as twenty. Oats are very extensively cultivated, more particularly on the uplands, and are the most profitable crop grown: the produce is generally small, but in the Vale of the Teivy is sometimes as much as fifty bushels per acre. Large quantities of oats, though of an inferior quality, are exported to Bristol and other markets, with some barley. On some of the hills separating the Vales of Towy and Teivy, oats and barley are sown together, and the produce, being kiln-dried and ground, is made into a kind of bread, called sipris: oaten bread is also frequently used among the hills. Peas are very little cultivated, and beans only in Laugharne Marsh. Buckwheat is occasionally grown; potatoes commonly. Turnips are sometimes grown, but they suffer greatly from being choked by the natural grasses produced by excess of moisture. Vetches are sown in some instances, as also are flax and hemp, more particularly in Laugharne Marsh.
The principal artificial grasses are trefoil, red and white clover, and rye-grass; lucern is cultivated in a few places. After a course of tillage, particularly in Laugharne Marsh, the land is sometimes left to recover its native sward without being sown with any kind of grass seed; but this practice is gradually falling into disuse. The beautiful Vale of Towy is the tract most distinguished for the excellence of its grass lands, more especially from Llangadock down to Carmarthen, and thence to the sea, in which latter extent they consist chiefly of drained marshes: next to this the banks of the Tâf are most noted. In those parts of the county which border on Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire, the pastures are frequently fogged; that is, they lie ungrazed from June until March, when the grass, owing to the mildness of the winter, has suffered no damage, and becomes of great value. Meadows conveniently situated have, in a few instances, been brought under a system of artificial irrigation. The chief produce of the dairy is butter and cheese: the former is sent in considerable quantities to Bristol and Merthyr-Tydvil, in casks containing about 100 pounds; while the cheese, which is made almost exclusively of skimmed milk, is chiefly consumed in the county. Lime is the most common manure in Carmarthenshire, and is frequently brought from a considerable distance. The practice of folding sheep is generally pursued on the upland farms. The agricultural implements are for the most part of a light and improved construction: the ploughing-teams generally consist of two horses with a driver. Wagons are sometimes seen in the more level parts of the county, but carts are every where in more common use: these are drawn by one horse in the shafts, and two abreast before him, which are usually driven in hand, and guided by a single rein fastened to the bridle of the near leader.
The kind of cattle to which most attention is paid, is the Herefordshire, lately introduced, and which has generally superseded the native black breed. On the mountains the native cattle are very small, and though in the vales and richer lands they attain middling size, they are every where ill-shaped, and unprofitable for the dairy. Besides these, Carmarthenshire contains black Pembrokeshire cattle, better known as the Castlemartin breed, which are chiefly found in the parts bordering on that county; also some of the brown Devonshire breed. The breed of sheep for which it is most distinguished is that of its mountains, which occupies more particularly the bleak and open tracts between the Teivy and the Towy. Little attention is in general bestowed on these sheep; some of them are horned, and for the most part they have white faces and legs: their wool is short and coarse, and is used in the manufacture of flannels, blankets, ordinary cloths, and felt hats. The general average weight of the wethers of this small, hardy, and intractable race is from eight to twelve pounds per quarter. Many South-Down sheep have been introduced. The horses are in general compact, bony, and of a middling size, and many for the saddle are handsome. The hogs are partly of the old slouch-eared kind, and partly of the same intermingled with the short-eared Chinese breed: great numbers are reared, and exported chiefly to Bristol.
The genial climate of the districts bordering on the coast is particularly favourable to horticulture. There are but few orchards. This county, which was formerly well wooded, is now the reverse: various plantations have, however, been made of late years by different gentlemen; and at Velindre, near Newcastle-Emlyn, are several extensive nurserygrounds for forest-trees.
About one-third of the county consists of wastes, many of which are not common, but have been appropriated in respective portions to the adjacent estates. One-half of them are supposed to be capable of improvement by cultivation, and are now being inclosed; but the other half, owing to superior elevation and other difficulties, can never receive such amelioration. They are depastured by the occupiers at large within the several manors to which they belong, subject only to the restriction that no one must turn upon them more than his farm will support during the winter. Numerous flocks of the small mountain sheep are kept upon most of the hills, together with a few inferior cattle and horses: but the highest elevations, during the winter, are occupied by no kind of stock. The greatest extent of these wilds is on the hills between the rivers Towy and Teivy: the rest lie to the south-east of the Vale of Towy, on the red-sandstone tract, on the limestone hills, and on the mountains of the coal tract: those on the Black Mountains, occupying parts of each of these three districts, on the eastern side of the county, are very extensive and elevated. A greater number of acres of waste land has, of late years, been inclosed (under the sanction of acts of parliament) in this county than in any other of South Wales. In the south-eastern parts of it coal is the principal fuel, being there obtained in great abundance: in the parts remote from the coal tract, peat and turf are frequently used.
The mineral productions are important, consisting chiefly of coal and iron. The south-eastern part of the county is included in the great coal and iron tract of South Wales, bounded on the north by a narrow range of limestone, which, running eastward from the border of Pembrokeshire, appears first in the parish of Pendine below Laugharne, and then dips under the inner part of the bay of Carmarthen, to Llanstephan, whence it takes a north-eastern direction through the parish of Llangendeirn, then by the lake on Mynydd Mawr, and the village of Llandebie, over the Black Mountain into Brecknockshire. The deepest part of the mineral basin of which this limestone range forms the northern rim, extends from the vicinity of Llanelly eastward nearly to Neath in Glamorganshire; and from this tract the strata of the whole formation rise to the surface in every direction. The beds of coal rising immediately to the north and south of Llanelly are of a bituminous quality, but those lying lower in the formation, and appearing on the surface, between four miles north of Llanelly and the limestone range, are of the kind called by the Welsh glo caled, and by the English, "stone-coal." The latter species neither soils the fingers, nor flames when ignited, being entirely devoid of bitumen: this coal is the sort chiefly burned in the county, for which purpose the culm or dust of it is mixed with clay and formed into balls, which, when ignited, emit a strong heat. Of the bituminous coking coal of the higher strata, large quantities are raised in the neighbourhood of Llanelly, of which part is consumed in the county, and the rest exported. The iron-ore accompanying the coal strata is worked near Llanelly, and very largely in the Gwendraeth and Amman vales. In the vicinity of Kidwelly, accompanying the limestone which forms the northern edge of the coal and iron tract, copper-ore is found in great abundance; it is worked upon a limited scale, and conveyed to Llanelly, where it is smelted. The only lead-mine is one belonging to Lord Cawdor, situated in the slate tract, at Rhandir-y-Mwyn, in the parish of Llanvair-ar-y-Bryn, about six miles above Llandovery, in the Vale of Towy; this mine employs about 200 persons.
The principal building-stones obtained are, anomalous ranges of freestone in the slate tract, one of which is worked at Cwm Cerrig Nadd, near Ystyfylan Carn, about three miles north-east of Carmarthen; the siliceous stone of the red-sandstone tract; the freestone of the coal measures; and semi-indurated shale, which, for want of better materials, is frequently used in the slate tract. Great quantities of argillaceous slates, of a good quality, are raised at Coed Gwili, two miles from Carmarthen: several other quarries are worked in the dingles north-west of the Towy; and micaceous schist forms part of the strata of the Carmarthenshire Beacons, and of the coal tract. Firestones, for ovens, are obtained in some parts of the red-sandstone and slate tracts. In the parish of Llangendeirn are several marble-quarries, in the range of limestone forming the northern border of the coal tract: this marble has a black ground variegated with white, bears a beautiful polish, and is wrought on the spot into chimney-pieces, &c., which are exported chiefly to Bristol; it is also used for tombstones in the surrounding country. Limestone for burning is obtained from some detached rocks about Llandilo and Dryslwyn, in the Vale of Towy; as well as in the continued line from the southern side of the Carmarthenshire Beacons, westward by Clogau Mawr, Carreg Cennen, Llandebie, Mynydd Mawr, Llangendeirn, &c., and under the head of Carmarthen bay, to Llanstephan Castle and Pendine. Fossil impressions of plants are common in the strata of sandstone, alum shale, &c., lying contiguous to the coal-beds.
The manufactures and commerce of Carmarthenshire are on the increase. The chief manufacturing district is that of Llanelly, where the great abundance and excellent quality of the coal have caused the establishment of copper-works and ironfoundries. More recently, iron-works have been established in the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys, of which Llanelly and Penbrey form the sea-ports, respectively. Some years ago there were iron and tin works at Carmarthen and Kidwelly, the former of which have been wholly abandoned at both places; and the tin-works at the latter are now conducted only on a very limited scale: the tin-works at Carmarthen are still extensive. Considerable quantities of woollen stockings are knitted by the women in the mountainous districts, and many of them brought for sale to the fairs: many hides and skins are tanned, dressed, and exported. The principal articles of export are, butter for the English border counties, Bristol, the great mineral tract of Glamorgan, &c.; considerable quantities of wool for the manufactures of the North; leather, for Bristol, &c.; coking and stone coal, and culm; iron in pigs, bars, bolts, and castings; tin-plates; copper, in plates or unmanufactured; lead; and marble. The chief imports are, shop-goods, for the most part from Bristol; copperore, from Cornwall, &c., to be smelted; and tin, from Cornwall, to be manufactured. The fishery off the coast was much neglected until of late years, fish being formerly scarce and dear even at Carmarthen: in 1846, however, the inhabitants of that town formed a joint-stock fishing-company for their own supply. The main bed of fish extends from Worms Head, in Gower, westward towards Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, and southward several leagues around Lundy Island: the species are basse, mullet, whitings, cod, turbot, bret, soles, maiden rays, and flatfish.
The chief rivers are the Tywi, or Towy; the Tâf, or Tave; the Llychwyr, or Loughor; the Teivy; and the Gwendraeth Vawr and Gwendraeth Vâch, or Greater and Lesser Gwendraeth. The largest of these, and one of the finest rivers in South Wales, is the Towy, which rises in the wildest part of Cardiganshire, between Strata-Florida and the border of Brecknockshire. After a southern course of about ten miles, it enters Carmarthenshire near Ystrad-Fin, and pursues the same direction along a romantic valley, for about eight miles further, to Llandovery. Approaching this place, the mountains recede on each side, leaving in the interval a rich and beautiful valley of considerable width, through which the Towy winds south-westward, gradually assuming a more majestic character. After a further course from Llandovery of about twenty-seven miles, it reaches the metropolis of the county, where it becomes navigable for vessels of 300 tons' burthen, and whence it winds southward a distance of eight miles through fertile marshes, and falls into the Bristol Channel in Carmarthen bay, near the village of Llanstephan: the influence of the tide extends upwards to about a mile above Carmarthen. The fish of the river are much esteemed, more particularly its salmon and sewin, the latter of which are found only in the rivers of South Wales that take a southern or western course. This river, running through the centre of the county, collects the great mass of its waters. Its chief tributaries from the north are, the Gwili or Guilly, which joins it at Aberguilly; and the Cothy, which rises at Cwm Cothy, near the border of Cardiganshire, and falls into the Towy above the mouth of the Gwili, after a course of about twenty-four miles: from the south it receives the waters of the Brân, near Llandovery; those of the Sawdde (which descends from the small lake at the foot of the northern steep of the Carmarthenshire Beacon), near Llangadock; and those of the Cennen to the south of Llandilo: besides innumerable smaller streams on both sides. The Tâf, or Tave, has its source in the Llanvyrnach mountains, in Pembrokeshire, and, having formed for a short distance the boundary beween that county and Carmarthenshire, enters the latter, and flows south-eastward to St. Clear's, where, on receiving the Cowyn, it becomes navigable. Thence it flows through a rich and level tract, by the town of Laugharne, emptying itself into the bay of Carmarthen by a small estuary, after a course of about twenty-four miles. This river is navigable to Laugharne for large ships, and to St. Clear's for vessels of one hundred tons' burthen. Besides inferior streamlets, it receives the small rivers Morlais and Cathgenni. The Loughor rises in a copious stream from a limestone rock called the Eye of Loughor, in the parish of Llandilo-Vawr, and near the western extremity of the Black Mountain. Not far from its source it forms a fine cascade, precipitating itself over a ledge of limestone rocks, eighteen feet in height; and afterwards, flowing southward, is joined from the north-east by the Amman, a stream considerably larger than itself. Still proceeding southward, and receiving the waters of various smaller streams, it soon becomes the boundary between this county and Glamorgan; and at last, after a course of about fourteen miles, enters the creek or estuary of Loughor, near the town of that name, in Glamorganshire. This noble estuary, however, being joined by an insignificant stream from Gower, bears the name of Burry River, and, sweeping westward round the south-eastern extremity of the county, joins the bay of Carmarthen a little below Llanelly, where its mouth is contracted by the north-western extremity of the county of Glamorgan. The creek is navigable for vessels of small burthen up to Loughor, and is distinguished for its fine salmon and sewin. The Teivy, which has its source in the mountains of Cardiganshire, becomes the northern boundary of Carmarthenshire at Kellan, and so continues for a distance of twenty-seven miles, until it is joined by the small stream of the Cuch, which, for some distance, separates the counties of Carmarthen and Pembroke. The scenery on the banks of this river, below Lampeter, is beautifully picturesque. Its salmon are of a particularly fine sort, and it is the most northern river in which the sewin is found. The Gwendraeth Vawr has its source in the lake on Mynydd Mawr, and thence flows towards the south-west: the Gwendraeth Vâch, taking a nearly parallel course, flows through the town of Kidwelly, and joins the Gwendraeth Vawr, a little below that town. Their united waters are discharged into the bay of Carmarthen through a small estuary opening westward, after a course of about six miles. The Lesser Gwendraeth is navigable for vessels of small burthen up to Kidwelly.
Various canals have been proposed in the mining parts of the county, but the only one constructed is the Kidwelly canal, projected about the year 1766, and at first about three miles long. It was originally called "Keymer's," and was private property, having been formed for the purpose of a ready communication between some coal-mines and the small harbour of Kidwelly. Some years ago, however, it was transferred to a company known as the "Kidwelly Canal Company," by whom it was extended a distance of two miles up the Vale of Gwendraeth; and a branch, three miles and a half in length, was constructed to communicate with Penbrey harbour. The canal now extends for fifteen miles.
The great South Wales railway, now in progress, will tend much to develop the resources of the county. It will enter from Glamorganshire by a long bridge over Burry River, a little below Loughor bridge, and taking the line of the coast, will pass by the town of Llanelly, and near Penbrey; then across the Gwendraeth Vawr, to Kidwelly. The railway, as at first sanctioned, was to run hence direct to Carmarthen; but a deviation was afterwards adopted, so that the line will now run first along the sea-shore to the mouth of the Towy, and then inland, on the eastern bank of the river, by Ferryside, to Carmarthen. Here the Towy is to be crossed by a bridge (through which vessels will be allowed to pass), below the old bridge; after which, the line will proceed in a west direction, by St. Clear's, to Whitland, where it will leave the county for Pembrokeshire. The Llanelly railway begins at the Llanelly new docks, and for the greater part runs parallel with the Loughor river, first on one side and then on the other, so that the line is partially in the county of Glamorgan. It runs by Llangennech, Bettws, and Llandebie, all in the county of Carmarthen; and terminates at the town of Llandilo-Vawr, in the same county. The total length, including branches to Cwmamman and other places, is 26½ miles. This line is on the narrow gauge, but there is power given in the South Wales railway company's act to change the gauge, if it should be found desirable.
Carmarthenshire is intersected in almost every direction by good turnpike-roads. The road from London to St. David's, by Oxford and Gloucester, runs the whole length of the county from east to west, entering from Trêcastle, in Brecknockshire, and passing through the towns of Llandovery, Carmarthen, and St. Clear's, into Pembrokeshire. That from London to Cardigan branches from this at Llandovery to Lampeter, in Cardiganshire; and from Trêcastle there is a branch into this county through Llangadock to Llandilo-Vawr. The road from London to Haverfordwest by Cardiff enters from Glamorganshire, and passes through Llanelly, Kidwelly, and Laugharne, into Pembrokeshire.
Among the most remarkable ancient BRITISH REMAINS is a large Druidical circle of upright stones, about twenty yards in diameter, in the parish of Llanboidy; it is called "Buarth Arthur," and sometimes "Meini Gwŷr," and the entrance to it is by an avenue of smaller stones of a similar description. Near this is a large cromlech, called Gwâl-yVilast, or Bwrdd Arthur, "Arthur's Table," formed by a rough flat stone, about ten feet in diameter and three feet thick, supported upon four others placed perpendicularly in the ground. Near Convilin-Elvet is another very large cromlech, now nearly destroyed, surrounded by upright stones, placed at irregular distances; and in its vicinity is a large tumulus, or barrow. Other tumuli occur in different places, more particularly in the parish of Llanvihangel-ar-Arth, near the banks of the Teivy: higher up the same valley is one called Y Castell, or "the Castle," in the adjoining parish of Llanllwny; another in the parish of Newchurch, or Eglwys Newydd; another, a very remarkable one, at Trelech-ar-Bettws, consisting of loose stones with a thin covering of earth; and several in the parish of Penboyr. In the parish of Convil-in-Elvet is a remarkable earthwork, consisting of an embankment about eighteen feet in height, and nearly a mile and a half in length, called the Line. In the same vicinity is a very large British encampment, of an oval form; and near this are two tumuli. Other encampments of similar origin may be traced on Grongar Hill, overlooking the Vale of the Towy, and near Golden Grove, in the same neighbourhood. Near Llanduvaen, in the vicinity of the Black Mountain, are some curious excavations, supposed to have been the sites of ancient British habitations; and south-eastward from Llangadock is a hill, forming the extremity of the Black Mountain range in this direction, called Tri Chrûg, or the "Three Hillocks," from three large heaps of stones raised upon its summit, which are conspicuous objects to a great distance around, and near which are the remains of a large circular encampment.
The Roman road styled the Via Julia Maritima entered Carmarthenshire at Loughor, and proceeded to the present town of Carmarthen, whence it is judged to have been continued by or near the village of Llanboidy to the station Ad Vicesimum, in Pembrokeshire; but no traces of it have been discovered in this county. The Via Julia Montana, the course of which rests only on conjecture, is thought by some to have entered from Brecknockshire at Tàl-y-Sarn, in the parish of Mothvey, and thence proceeded by Llangadock and Llandilo-Vawr, to Carmarthen, where it joined the Via Julia Maritima; others, however, among whom is Sir Richard Colt Hoare, are of opinion, that, from Rhŷd-y-Briw, in Brecknockshire, it reached the same point by Trêcastle and Llandovery. Several vicinal ways have been traced through parts of the county. One of these, called the Sarn Helen, entering from Lampeter in Cardiganshire, may be traced as far as the New Inn on the road towards Carmarthen, where all appearance of it is lost: this formed the communication between the station Loventium, in Cardiganshire, and that of Maridunum, at Carmarthen. Another, also called the Sarn Helen, led from the s.tation at Llanvairar-y-Bryn, to that of Loventium in Cardiganshire, and may be traced from the former place, passing near Llanycrwys church, to the valley of the small river Twrch; while a third, from Llanvair, takes a north-eastern course along the Vale of the Brân into Brecknockshire, through which it was continued to the station on the Ython, in Radnorshire. The remains of Roman occupation discovered at Cayo and Llanvair-ar-y-Bryn are very numerous, consisting of bricks, pottery, coins, lamps, &c. A great variety of Roman coins has been found, more particularly at Killymaenllwyd; in the parish of Llanboidy; in that of Cayo; and in that of Penboyr: some of these are among the most ancient that have been found in the island. Various other minor relics of that people are occasionally discovered within the county, more especially near Cayo, where two golden torques have been found; and Roman encampments may yet be seen on Grongar Hill, and in a field on the northern side of the town of Carmarthen, called the Bulrack; also one near the church of Penboyr. The Romans are thought to have worked a lead and gold mine at Gogovau, in Cayo.
At the period of the Reformation there were in the county, at Aberguilly, a considerable college of prebendaries, priests, &c.; at Alba-landa, or Whitland, called in Welsh Tŷ Gwyn ar Dâff ("the white house on the river Tâf"), a Cistercian abbey; at Carmarthen, an Augustine priory and a house of Grey friars; at Kidwelly, a Benedictine priory; and at Talley, a Premonstratensian abbey. Prior to that era there was also a small alien priory at St. Clear's. Remains exist of the abbeys of Talley, near LlandiloVawr, and Whitland, about five miles from St. Clear's; also of the priory of Carmarthen: in the parish of Llanllwny, near the church, are some remains of a priory, called by the inhabitants Yr hên Briordy; and upon the farm of Maes Nonny, or the "Nun's Field," in the same neighbourhood, are those of a nunnery. The most remarkable specimens of ecclesiastical architecture are to be seen in the churches of Carmarthen, Kidwelly, and Laugharne. There are remains of the castles of Carmarthen; Carreg Cennen, about four miles east of Llandilo-Vawr; Dynevor, near Llandilo-Vawr; Dryslwyn, on a singular detached eminence in the Vale of Towy; Kidwelly; Laugharne; Llandovery; Llanstephan, near the mouth of the Towy; and Newcastle-Emlyn. The remains of Kidwelly Castle are more perfect than those of any other similar edifice in the principality: Carmarthen and Dynevor Castles were the chief residences of the Princes of South Wales.
The modern seats are numerous; some of them are noble edifices, and many of them elegant. Among those more particularly worthy of notice are, Aberglâsney; Aberguilly, now the only residence belonging to the see of St. David's, and which, having been suffered to fall into decay, was almost entirely rebuilt by the late bishop; Abermarlais, Court Henry, Dôlcothy, Dôlhaidd; Dynevor Castle, the seat of Lord Dynevor, lineally descended from the celebrated Rhŷs ab Thomas, who was knighted by Henry VII.; Glanbrân, Glanrhŷdw, Glyn-hîr, Golden Grove, Iscoed, Kîlgwyn, Killymaenllwyd, Llanelly House, Llanstephan Place, Llŷs Newydd, Llwynbrân, Maes Gwyn, Middleton Hall, Rhŷd-y-gors, Stradey, Taliaris, Ystrad, &c. The farmhouses and offices, and the cottages, are in many instances of an inferior kind, the chief cause of which, in the slate district, is the want of proper materials for their construction; in that district, and in some places in the other parts of the county, the walls of the cottages are often built of mud, about five feet high, the roof being of thatch, and the chimney of wattle and dab, held together by bandages of hay-ropes. The fences in the slate and coal tracts frequently consist of dry stone walls; in these districts the holly is very common and flourishing. In this county, as in the counties of Pembroke and Cardigan, there is a remarkable intermixture of landed possessions, a small patch of land often lying isolated in the midst of an estate belonging to another individual: this was particularly the case with the estates of Sir Rhŷs ab Thomas, which, besides the demesnes attached to his castles and manors, were scattered all over this part of the country, in small and unconnected tenements. The manners of the people are considered to be, on the whole, less pleasing than in most parts of Wales: the difference is more especially remarked at the western extremity of the county, the rudeness of the inhabitants of which is attributed to their habitual jealousy and dislike of their neighbours of Pembrokeshire, who are descended from Anglo-Norman and Flemish colonists.
In different parts of the county are springs possessing medicinal properties, and noted in their respective vicinities for the cure of various disorders. Those of the greatest celebrity and most resorted to are chalybeate, and are situated in Middleton Hall Park, near the village of Llanarthney, about seven miles above Carmarthen, in the delightful Vale of Towy. Cayo parish contains two very strong sulphureous springs, of ancient fame, and a chalybeate spring; and near Convil-in-Elvet is a chalybeate water, called "the spring of Fos-Sana," which, from its name, is supposed to have been known to the Romans and called by them Fons Sana. Other mineral springs occur in the parish of Penboyr and some other places. In the parish of Llandeveyson, near Llandilo, is a spring that ebbs and flows twice every day, called Fynnon or Nant y Rheibio, "the bewitched well or brook."