Dinas-Mowddwy - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
DINAS-MOWDDWY, an incorporated markettown, in that part of the parish of Mallwyd which is in the hundred of Tàly-Bont and Mowddwy, in the union of Dôlgelley, county of Merioneth, North Wales, 10 miles (E. by S.) from Dôlgelley, and 202 (W. N. W.) from London; containing 289 inhabitants. This place is disreputably distinguished in the Welsh annals as having become, soon after the termination of the war between the houses of York and Lancaster, the resort of numerous felons and outlaws, from whom sprang a race of lawless banditti, principally divided into Gwylliaid y Dugoed, "the banditti of the Black Wood," and Gwylliaid Cochion Mowddwy, "the red-haired banditti of Mowddwy." These banditti for some time set the laws at defiance, and perpetrated the most frightful outrages, filling with terror the minds of the peaceful inhabitants of the district, who, rather than hazard their lives and property by proceeding along the regular roads to Shrewsbury and other places, were accustomed to pass over the mountains. In order, also, to protect themselves from being surprised in the night, they placed scythes in the chimneys of their houses, some of which singular defences were remaining so late as the close of the last century. To put an end to such acts of robbery and bloodshed, a commission was granted to John Wynn ab Meredydd, of Gwydir, Esq., and Lewis Owen, of Llwyn, near Dôlgelley, Esq., Vice-Chamberlain and Baron of the Exchequer of North Wales; who, by virtue of this authority, raised a body of strong men, and on Christmas eve made prisoners of about eighty of the depredators, upon whom they proceeded to hold trial, punishing them according to the extent of their crimes. Among the prisoners were two young men, whose mother urgently entreated Owen to spare one of them, which being denied, she vowed that revenge should be taken upon the baron by her remaining offspring. Accordingly, on his journey to the assizes at Montgomery, in 1555, he was waylaid among the thick woods of Dugoed-Mowddwy, by a band of desperadoes, who blocked up the road with several long trees which they had felled, and, after discharging a shower of arrows, rushed upon their victim, whom they assassinated, leaving his body covered with upwards of thirty wounds. The scene of this tragical event is now called Llidiart y Barwn, "the Baron's Gate." This act of atrocity against one of the king's justiciaries drew down upon the proscribed bandits that punishment which a long series of outrages demanded; vigorous measures were adopted for their extirpation; many of them, being apprehended, were tried and executed, and the rest obliged to abandon their haunts, so that security and tranquillity were at length restored throughout the district.
Bwlch Oerddrws, "the Cold Door Pass," which is gained from this town by ascending a steep hill on the road to Dôlgelley, is noted as having been one of the three places where the most powerful individuals of certain districts met, and entered into a compact for enforcing the strict dispensation of justice for all wrongs done prior and subsequently to the war brought on by the ambitious proceedings of Owain Glyndwr. By this compact, each individual who had been deprived of property was to have it restored to him without lawsuit, and various regulations for restoring the government of the country were resolved upon.
The TOWN is pleasantly situated on the shelf of a rock, called Craig-y-Dinas, near the margin of the small river Cerist, at its conflux with the Dovey, and on the road from Dôlgelley to Mallwyd, at the junction of three vales, each of which is inclosed by lofty mountains. It consists principally of one street of meanly built houses. There are some deserted lead-works on the road to Dôlgelley, in which a kind of blueish ochre is found; this the shepherds wet and pound in a mortar, and then form into balls, which they use in marking their sheep. A great quantity of flannel is made in the neighbourhood, chiefly in the houses of the inhabitants, but partly also in factories. The market is on Saturday, but it has almost fallen into disuse; fairs are held annually on the Friday before Palm-Sunday, on June 2nd, September 10th, October 22nd, and November 13th.
Dinas-Mowddwy was anciently a place of much greater importance than it is at present, and is said to have been a fortified city, and the residence of a chieftain. It still retains its corporate privileges, and is the capital of a lordship including the whole of the parishes of Mallwyd and Llanymowddwy (except the township of Caer Einion Vechan in the former), over which also the jurisdiction of the corporation extends. The corporation consists of a mayor, recorder, serjeant-at-mace, and a number of burgesses. Of these, the mayor is elected annually at a court styled the general sessions of the peace, by a majority of the jury, who must be burgesses, from three persons nominated by the lord of the manor or his steward; he is a justice of the peace, and possesses the power of trying criminals, but seldom exercises it, except in cases for which the punishment of the stocks, or confinement in the veg vawr, or "great fetter," is assigned, or in such cases as the duties of a magistrate ordinarily embrace. The recorder formerly determined all actions regarding property, not exceeding forty shillings; and still holds a court leet twice a year, in May and November. The burgesses, who are elected by a majority of the jury at the "general sessions of the peace," are about twenty in number; they are exempt from tolls at the fairs, and have a right of common or turbary as well as of pasture, though this privilege, which some suppose to be not confined to the burgesses, is really exercised indiscriminately and very freely by all the inhabitants, the mountains being extensive and grassy. The freedom is inherited by birth by the sons of freemen, on the decease of the father. The corporation are entitled to the exclusive right of licensing victuallers within the lordship; and although they have lost much of their ancient authority, they still retain its insignia, consisting principally of a mace, standard, measure, stocks, and the veg vawr, or "great fetter." The county magistrates exercise concurrent jurisdiction within the borough and lordship, and hold pettysessions once a month. There is a place of worship for Independents.