Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for GLAMORGAN

GLAMORGAN, a maritime county of South Wales; bounded on the S and SW, by the Bristol channel; on the W, by the river Loughor, which divides it from Carmarthen; on the N, by Carmarthen and Brecon; on the E, by the river Rumney, which divides it from Monmouth. Its greatest length, from W to E, is 52 miles; its greatest breadth, from N to S, is 27 miles; its mean breadth is about 13½ miles; its coastline is about 64 miles; its circumference is about 140 miles; and its area is 547, 494 acres. A tract along the coast, called the Vale of Glamorgan, from 8 to 10 miles broad, is a fine plain, very fertile, and popularly known as the "garden of South Wales." The tracts inward from this rise and tumulate in much diversity of contour; and the tracts on the N and the NE consist chiefly of craggy and almost inaccessible mountains, partly extending in chains, and partly cut into groups, or even isolated heights, by the deep courses of streams. Mynydd Llangeinor, at the head of the Ogmore, has an altitude of 1,859 feet, and is reputed to be the highest ground; but Craig-y-Llyn, at the head of the Rhondda, appears to be higher. The surface, as a whole, is eminently picturesque; abounds in wild valleys and flashing streams; and combines, in large degree, the characteristics of Merioneth with those of rich low country. The coast has a sinuous, almost semicircular sweep from end to end; terminates, on the W, in the peninsula of Gower; rises, over a fine sandy beach, into limestone rocks, sometimes soaring into cliffs 300 feet high, and often pierced with deep and lofty caverns; yet has few bays or inlets, and these of no great depth. The chief streams, besides the Loughor and the Rumney, are the Taf, the Cynon, the Rhondda, the Rhondda-Vechan, the Ely, the Ogmore, the Avon, the Neath, and the Taw. Rocks of carboniferous limestone and shale, of new red sandstone and keuper marl, and of upper has sand, clay, and marlstone, occupy considerable tracts along most of the coast; and rocks of the coal measures, with mountain limestone and old red sandstone, occupy nearly all the rest of the county. The boundary between the latter rocks and the former is a line drawn across the Gower peninsula, from Whitford Burrows to Oystermouth, by the shore of Swansea bay; and a waving line drawn eastward from Margam, on that bay, by Llantrissant and Caerphilly, to the Rumney. The coal, throughout most of the coal basin, is bituminous; but in the upper parts of the vales of Neath and Taw, is anthracite. A very thick " fault" exists near Swansea, traverses the coal-field, and raises the strata on one side as high as 240 feet; and there are many other " faults." Coal and iron ore, in much of the E side of the basin, but not in the W side, are obtained, to a considerable extent, by driving levels into the hill sides. The number of collieries, within the county, in 1860, was 181; and the output of coals, in South Wales, partly in Carmarthen, Pembroke, and Brecon, but chiefly in Glamorgan, in 1859, was 10, 000, 350 tons. Ironstone occurs in the Vale of Neath, and abounds in the regions around Aberdare and Merthyr Tydvil. Lead is found near Llantrissant, Cowbridge, and some other places. Calamine abounds at Maenllwyd; manganese occurs on the N side of Gower, and at Newton; and veins of copper, as also other useful minerals, exist.

The soil, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is rich deep loam, improved in fertility by substratum of limestone or by application of lime; the soil, in the central tracts, ranges from poor detritus on the hills to rich alluvium in the valley bottoms; and the soil in the northern and nortli-eastern tracts varies from black peat on the heights, through brown gravelly earth in the drier situations, to a brown fertile loam in the valleys. About 100, 000 acres are waste. The best tracts are so well plied with tillage as to be deficient in wood. The Vale of Glamorgan yields, on the average, 25 bushels of wheat per acre, from 30 to 35 of barley, 35 of oats, and 6 tons of potatoes. Beans, pease, turnips, mangel-wurzel, clover, and other crops also are grown. The farms, both arable and dairy, are of all sizes, and mostly on lease. The farm buildings and the cottages are of stone, and generally whitewashed. The native cattle and sheep are useful breeds. The climate, on the seaboard and in the lower valleys, is so mild that myrtles, magnohas, and other delicate plants thrive in the open air. A vast amount of manufacture is carried on, in connexion with mines and metals; and a considerable amount also, in other departments. Mining and ironworks, within the coal basin, employ from 30, 000 to 32, 000 hands; tin and copper ores, brought from Cornwall, are smelted at Swansea, Neath, Treforest, Aberavon, and other places; coarse pottery is made at Swansea, Nantgarw, and Ewenny; marble and flags, to a large amount, are cut, polished, and exported; and woollen mills at Merthyr-Tydvil, Caerphilly, and other places, employ about 400 hands. The South Wales railway goes along all the coast; and railways, in connexion with it, go to the principal ports and up all the principal valleys. The Cardiff, the Aberdare, the Swansea, and the Penclawdd canals, together with branches from them, give extensive inland navigation, and have such routes and connexions as to co-operate with the railways. There are not less than about 1, 300 miles of good roads. Much of the provincialism in the character of the population has, since about the year 1840, been dissipated by the formation of the railways, the action of commerce, and the intermixture of immigrants from English counties; insomuch that, throughout the Vale of Glamorgan, the English language is now almost universally spoken.

The county contains 125 parishes, parts of 3 others, and 4 extra-parochial places; and is divided into the hundreds of Swansea or Gower, Llangafelach, Neath, Miskin, Caerphilly, Kibbor, Dinas-Powis, Cowbridge, Ogmore, and Newcastle. The registration county gives off the parish of Loughor to Carmarthen, and the hamlets of Llanvedw and Rhydgwern to Monmouth; takes in the parishes of Vainor, Penderyn, Ystradvelltey, and Ystradgunlais from Brecon, and the parishes of St. Mellons and Rumney from Monmouth; measures 606, 780 acres; and is divided into the districts of Swansea, Neath, Bridgend, Cardiff, and Merthyr-Tydvil. The boroughs in the county are Swansea, Neath, Loughor, Kenfigg, Cardiff, Cowbridge, Llantrissant, Merthyr-Tydvil, and Aberavon; and these are the only towns containing more than 2, 000 inhabitants; but another important place is the city of Llandaff; and there are upwards of 200 small towns, villages, and hamlets. The principal seats are Cardiff Castle, Dunraven Castle, Briton-Ferry, Clasemont, Llantryddyd, Margam, Penrice, Wenvoe, Baglan, Bewper, Aberpergwm, Coetrechen, Cefn-Mably, Cyfarthfa, Dyffryn, Ewenny, Fonmon, Gnoll, Llandough, Merthyr-Mawr, Kilybebyll, Hensol, Stonthall, Penlline, Rheola, Singleton, and Woodlands. Real property, in 1815, £334, 192; in 1843, £617, 397; in 1851, £850, 440; in 1860, £1, 302, 877, -of which £7, 328 were in quarries, £185, 680 in mines, £163, 560 in iron-works, £40 in fisheries, £25, 604 in canals, £106, 368 in railways, and £5, 706 in gas-works.

The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, and about 80 magistrates. It is in the South Wales circuit, and in the Home military district; and it forms parts of the dioceses of Llandaff and St. Davids. The Lent assizes are held at Swansea, and the summer assizes at Cardiff. A county house of correction is at Swansea, and a county j ail at Cardiff. The police force, in 1862, comprised 44 men, at a cost of £3, 081 for Swansea; 46 men, at a cost of £3, 442 for Cardiff; 4 men, at a cost of £298 for Neath; and 139 men, at a cost of £9, 246 for the rest of the county. The crimes committed, in that year, were 60 in Swansea, 113 in Cardiff, 28 in Neath, and 452 in the rest of the county; the persons apprehended were 60 in Swansea, 133 in Cardiff, 28 in Neath, and 296 in the rest of the county; the depredators and suspected persons at large were 687 in Swansea, 1, 048 in Cardiff, 105 in Neath, and 3, 515 in the rest of the county; and the houses of bad character were 236 in Swansea, 257 in Cardiff, 22 in Neath, and 452 in the rest of the county. Four members are sent to parliament by the boroughs, and two by the rest of the county. The place of election for the county is Bridgend; there are five polling places; and the county constituency in 1868 was 6, 759. Pop. in 1801, 70, 879; in 1821, 102, 073; in 1841, 171, 188; in 1861, 317, 752. Inhabited houses, 59, 254; uninhabited, 3, 727; building, 735.

The territory now forming Glamorgan, together with the southern and eastern parts of Brecon, was once an independent principality; and bore the name of Gwlad-Morgan or Morganwg, taken either from an ancient prince called Morgan, or from the word Mor-Cant, signifying "sea-border." It was separated from the principality of South Wales, which comprised the counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke, Cardigan, Radnor, and the rest of Brecon; and it formed main part of the region afterwards designated Gwent and Siluria, -both of which names signify "the fair land." The Romans included it in their Britannia Prima; and, down to their withdrawal from it about 440, they permitted its native princes or reguli to hold a kind of nominal authority. These continued afterwards to maintain rule; and, though much disturbed, both by dissensions with the neighbouring princes of South Wales, and by invasions of the Saxons and the Danes, did not lose their princely power till the times of the Normans. Robert Fitzhamon, a Norman knight of princely birth, co-operating with a native traitor, and taking advantage of intestine disturbance, seized the territory by force of arms in 1091; and, assuming the lordship of it to himself, assigned some of its estates to his principal followers, and some to the relatives and friends of the deposed native princes. At Fitzhamon's death in 1107, the lordship passed by marriage with his heiress to Robert, Earl of Gloucester, natural son of Henry I.; and it afterwards went through various hands, among whom were the Earl of Warwick, known as the " king-maker, " and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III. The authority of the lordship ceased in the time of Henry VIII.; and the territory was then constituted a county, under the rule of the English laws.-Stone circles, cromlechs, or other Druidical remains exist at Gelligron, Dyffryn, Drummen, Cefn-Bryn, Marcross, and Kenfig. A British camp occurs near Bridgend. The Roman Julian way went from Cardiff to Loughor, and was joined by the Sarn-Helen way at Neath. Roman stations were at or near Cardiff, Caerau, Boverton, Neath, and Loughor. Ancient castles, or remains of them, are at Cardiff, Boverton, Caerphilly, St. Donats, Neath, Swansea, Morlais, Llantrissant, St. Fagans, Talavan, Powis, Penmark, Fonmon, Cogan, Wrinchstone, St. Athans, Marcross, Coity, Bewper, Llanbliddian, Penlline-Ogmore, Castell-Coch, Sully, Penrice, Pennarth, Llandymore, Oxwich, and Oystermouth. Abbey ruins are at Neath and Margam; a priory, at Ewenny; and interesting old churches, at Llandaff, Llantrissant, Cardiff, Llantwit-Major, and Eglwys-Brewis. The county gives the title of Earl to the Duke of Beaufort.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a maritime county of South Wales"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Glamorgan AncC
Place: Glamorgan

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