Haverford-West - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
HAVERFORD-WEST, a sea-port, borough, and market-town, a county of itself, and the head of a union, locally in the hundred of Rhôs, or Roose, county of Pembroke, South Wales, 10½ miles (N.) from Pembroke, and 250 miles (W. by N.) from London, through Gloucester and Monmouth; containing 5941 inhabitants. This town is called by the Welsh Hwlfordd, of which its present name is supposed to be a corruption, with the addition of a distinguishing syllable. It was originally built by the Flemings, who, driven from their native country by an inundation of the sea, which laid waste a great part of Flanders, obtained from Henry I. an asylum in England. They at first dispersed themselves in different counties in the principality, but soon became odious to the native population, and Henry at length removed them to the district of Roose, in this shire, where, at the same time, a strong castle was erected, and also one at Tenby, in another part of the county. How long they remained here is not known; but it is stated by Caradoc of Llancarvan, that after a few years they disappeared, and, according to the same historian, a second inundation, in 1113, drove another body to England, which was ultimately settled by Henry in this part of Wales, in order to serve in some degree as a check upon the movements of the native inhabitants, who were constantly endeavouring to recover the territories of which they had been dispossessed by the English. The Flemings, equally expert in husbandry and in war, maintained possession of the district that had been assigned to them, notwithstanding all the efforts of the Welsh; and their descendants, who are easily distinguished from those of the aboriginal inhabitants by their language and manners, still constitute a distinct class among the people of the principality. The district in which these strangers settled, and of which Haverfordwest became the metropolis, obtained, from the similarity that subsisted between the Flemings and the English both in manners and in language, the appellation of "Little England beyond Wales."
The town was fortified with a strong castle, erected on a commanding eminence above the Western Cleddau river, and was surrounded by an embattled wall, having four principal gates, three of which remained in nearly a perfect state till within a recent period, but were subsequently removed. The erection of the castle is by most writers attributed to Gilbert de Clare, first Earl of Pembroke, who appointed Richard Fitz-Tancred his castellan, upon whom he also conferred the lordship of Haverfordwest. Richard was succeeded in the lordship by his son Robert, called also Robert de Hwlfordd, who founded on the bank of the river, at a short distance from the town, a priory of Black canons, in which he afterwards passed the remainder of his days. The lordship, upon this, devolved to the crown, and was granted by King John to Walter Marshall, or Le Mareschal, from whose descendants it again reverted to the crown in the reign of Henry VII., since which time it has continued to form part of the royal demesnes.
In 1220, Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, taking advantage of the absence of the Earl of Pembroke, who had been appointed by Henry III. to the command of his forces in Ireland, laid waste the territories of that nobleman in Wales, and extended his ravages to this place, but was unable to make any impression on the castle. Richard II. honoured the town with his presence, and conferred upon it many valuable privileges: during his stay he confirmed a grant made by Robert Niger, of a burgage in Haverfordwest, to the Friars Preachers, which was the last public act of his reign. In the reign of Henry IV., the command of this fortress was entrusted to the Earl of Arundel, who valiantly defended it against the assaults of the French auxiliaries whom Charles VII. of France had sent over to the aid of Owain Glyndwr. These forces, immediately after landing at Milford, advanced to this place and laid siege to the castle, but they experienced so formidable a resistance from the garrison, and sustained so considerable a loss in their numbers, that, after setting fire to the town and suburbs, they were compelled to abandon their attempt to reduce it. During the civil war in the seventeenth century, the castle was garrisoned for the king by Sir John Stepney, but was never regularly besieged; the garrison, apprised of the rapid successes of the parliamentarians in the surrounding country, hastily withdrew, leaving behind them their ordnance and all their military stores and ammunition.
The Town, which may be regarded as the modern capital of Pembrokeshire, is finely situated at one of the inland extremities of Milford Haven, upon the declivities, and at the base, of very steep hills, round which the Western Cleddau flows. It consists of numerous streets, some of which are regularly built, and contain the town residences of many of the neighbouring gentry; others of the streets are steep. The inhabitants are partially supplied with water from Portfield, and the "Fountain Head" on the road to Milford: the water is brought from the Fountain Head by pipes into a public conduit; and also to private houses, on the payment of a small annual rate to the lessee of the corporation, by whom this plan for supplying the town was carried into effect about a century ago. Acts of parliament for improving the town were obtained in 1835 and 1836: the plan embraces the removal of certain obstructions in the line of a new street, to be formed in continuation of the High-street, to Cartlet bridge, on the other side of the river, a distance of a quarter of a mile; the erection of a new bridge across the Cleddau, and the improvement of the other approaches; lighting the town with gas, the supply of the upper part of it with water, and the construction of a common sewer: alterations that will materially contribute to the improvement of the town, and render it in every respect worthy of the distinguished rank which it holds among the chief towns of the principality. The views from the higher grounds are extensive, and along the summit of the castle hill is a public walk, overlooking the river and the ruins of the ancient priory, and commanding a prospect of the surrounding country.
A literary and scientific association was established in the spring of the year 1847, now consisting of about 150 members; a good library and readingroom are attached, and lectures are delivered during the winter season. Theatrical performances occasionally take place by itinerant companies, though no particular building is appropriated to that use; and meetings are held at the assembly-rooms, which, while possessing no exterior attractions, are considered as the best ball-rooms in South Wales. The Pembrokeshire races are held adjoining the town, annually, in the autumn. They were originally established about eighty years ago, but afterwards partially abandoned; in 1829 they were re-established. They are liberally supported, and in general well attended; the members for the county and the borough each give a plate of £50, and a £50 plate is also given by the tradesmen of the town, exclusively of sweepstakes, contingent on the amount of subscriptions. The Pembrokeshire Hunt, established in the year 1813, and which is supported by the principal gentry of the county, has its meetings at this town, where a pack of fox-hounds is kept. The hounds go out twice every week during the season; but in the second week in November, called the "Hunt Week," the members assemble in the town, and the hounds are out three days, namely, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, on the evenings of which days a ball is held at the assembly-rooms.
The Port is dependent on that of Milford, to which it is a creek, having a custom-house subordinate to the establishment there. From its central situation it attracts considerable trade, chiefly coastwise: the exports are principally oats and butter, with a small quantity of leather and bark; the imports are chiefly groceries, manufactured goods, and other miscellaneous articles, for the supply of the shops. Coal is brought by water from Newport in Monmouthshire, &c.; but the poorer inhabitants for the most part use culm, obtained from a distance of about three miles: the hard or stone coal, for malting, procured about five or six miles off, is here shipped to the southern coast of England, and even to London. A great number of native cattle is sent from the neighbouring district for sale to the English market. The river is navigable to the bridge for barges, to a lower part of the town for larger vessels, and to a place immediately below the town for ships of 250 tons' burthen. A steam-vessel plies to Pembroke-Dock, Milford, Tenby, and Bristol. The trade of the town consists chiefly in the supply of the inhabitants and the neighbourhood with various articles of home consumption, and its commercial intercourse is facilitated by its situation on the road from London to Milford. The great South Wales railway, if completed, will have a branch of more than five miles to Haverfordwest, the opening of which will tend much to the improvement of the district: an account of the line is given under the head of Glamorganshire.
The markets are held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, the last of which is for corn; and during the three winter months an additional market is held, every Thursday, for the sale of cattle. Fairs for the sale of horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs, are held annually on May 12th, June 12th, July 18th, August 9th, September 4th and 23rd, and October 18th. A very substantial market-house was erected by the corporation in 1825, at a cost of about £5000, of which part was expended in the purchase of four houses and gardens in Market-street, to form, with four pieces of waste land belonging to the corporation, a site for the building. It is a spacious quadrilateral edifice, conveniently fitted up, and containing covered shambles for eighty butchers, with ample accommodations for the sale of poultry, butter, vegetables, hardware, and various other articles. There is also a convenient market-place for the sale of fish. The town is abundantly supplied with provisions, and is especially famed for the quality of its mutton. In the year 1848 a substantial corn-market was built by the corporation, at a cost of about £2000. The annual meetings of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society are held here, in a new show-yard or cattlemarket, of two acres, at the top of Barn-street, surrounded by a high wall.
The town, which has received various privileges from Henry II., was subsequently honoured with charters from the crown in the 1st and 9th of Richard II., 2nd of Henry IV., 2nd of Henry V., 8th of Henry VIth, 5th of Edward IV., and 24th of Henry VIII.; and these grants, with others, perhaps, of which no record is extant, were confirmed by the statute 34th and 35th of Henry VIII., c. 26, s. 124, by which it was also enacted that the town should be a county of itself, as it had been constituted by Edward IV. Charters were afterwards granted in the 1st of Edward VI., 1st of Queen Mary, 2nd of Elizabeth, 2nd and 7th of James I., and 6th of William and Mary; but of these grants, that of William and Mary only included permission to hold three fairs annually, and a weekly market on Thursday, leaving the previous charters undisturbed. By the last charter of James I. it was enacted, amongst other important things, that the sites of the priory of Black canons and house of Friars Preachers, the hill called Prior's hill, the prior's marshes, and the friars' gardens, situated within the limits of the town, should for the future be esteemed part of the said town and county of the town of Haverfordwest. This charter was the governing one until the passing of the Municipal Corporations' Act. Under its provisions, the style of the corporation was, "the Mayor, Sheriffs, Bailiffs, and Burgesses of the county of the town of Haverfordwest," and the control was vested in the mayor, sheriff, two bailiffs, and twenty-four commoncouncilmen (who were justices of the peace, and of whom fifteen were at first styled aldermen), assisted by a town-clerk, chamber-reeve, two serjeants-atmace, and other officers. By an ancient grant of the crown, made while Pembrokeshire was a county palatine, Haverfordwest enjoys the privilege of having a lord-lieutenant of the town and county of the town, which is possessed by no other town in Great Britain.
By the act 5th and 6th of William IV., c. 76, the corporation is styled the "Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses," and consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, forming the council of the borough, which is not divided into wards, and of which the municipal and parliamentary boundaries are the same. The council elect the mayor annually on Nov. 9th, out of the aldermen or councillors; and the aldermen triennially out of the councillors, or persons qualified as such, one-half going out of office every three years, but being re-eligible: the councillors are chosen by and out of the enrolled burgesses, annually on Nov. 1st, one-third going out of office every year. Aldermen and councillors must possess a property qualification of £500, or be rated at £15 annual value. The burgesses consist of the occupiers of houses and shops rated for three years to the relief of the poor. Two auditors and two assessors are elected annually on March 1st, by and out of the burgesses; and the council appoint a sheriff, town-clerk, treasurer, and other officers annually on Nov. 9th. The members of the council are exempt from serving on juries within the borough, and the burgesses from serving on juries of the quarter-sessions for Pembrokeshire. The revenues of the corporation are derived from the rents of houses and lands, from tolls, standings in the market, &c., and produce about £1000 per annum; the corporation also possess part of Portfield, or Poorfield, a large meadow situated within the borough, and containing about 1000 acres of land, for the inclosure of which an act was passed in the parliamentary session of 1837-8.
Haverfordwest first received the elective franchise in the 27th of Henry VIII., when its superior importance caused it to be endowed with this privilege in lieu of its being conferred on the Merionethshire boroughs, and since that time it has continued to return one member to parliament. The right of election was formerly vested in freeholders of 40s. a year, inhabitants paying scot and lot, and the burgesses; but the act for "Amending the Representation of the People" vested it in freeholders in fee or fee tail of 40s. per annum, in the then existing freeholders for life or lives of 40s., in after-freeholders for life or lives of £10, in the old burgesses resident within seven miles, in male householders occupying premises of the annual value of £10, and in scot and lot inhabitants for their lives, provided they be capable of registering as the act demands. The towns of Fishguard and Narberth, and the villages of Prendergast and Uzmaston, are now entitled to share in the representation, the towns being made contributory boroughs, and the villages being comprised in the borough of Haverfordwest. The number of houses of the annual value of £10 within the limits of the borough, which are minutely described in the Appendix to this work, is 361. The sheriff of Haverfordwest is the returning officer.
Sessions for the town and county of the town are regularly held before a chairman and the magistrates of the town and county of the town. A county debtcourt was established here in 1847, and the assizes and quarter-sessions for the county of Pembroke are also held in the town, which by the late act was made one of the polling-places in county elections: a substantial shire-hall was built in the year 1836, at a cost of about £7000. The borough gaol and house of correction, a modern building situated on St. Thomas' Green, in the upper part of the town, was, by an act of parliament passed in 1822, devoted to a lunatic asylum, as well for Pembrokeshire as for Haverfordwest. By the same act the common gaol and house of correction for Pembrokeshire, to the purposes of which the remains of the ancient castle have been assigned, is appropriated for the reception of prisoners both for Pembrokeshire and Haverfordwest: the buildings are well calculated for the classification of prisoners, and comprise eight wards; two workrooms, one for males and one for females; eight dayrooms, and eight airing-yards, in one of which is a treadmill.
The town and county of the town comprise the whole of the parish of St. Mary; part of the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Martin, Prendergast, and Uzmaston; and the large extra-parochial area called Poorfield. In the parishes of St. Thomas and St. Martin are divisions respectively called the hamlets of St. Thomas and St. Martin, within the hundred of Rhôs. The living of St. Mary's is a vicarage, endowed with £20 per annum chargeable on the tithes of the parish of Tremaen, in the county of Cardigan, under the will of Mr. Laugharne (who represented the town in parliament for fourteen years), dated in 1714, for reading daily prayers; also with £200 private benefaction, £200 royal bounty, and £200 parliamentary grant. It is in the patronage of the Rev. Thomas Watts. The church, situated at the upper end of High-street, is a spacious and venerable structure, in the early style of English architecture, with a low tower, which was anciently surmounted by a spire of elegant proportions. The interior consists of a nave, chancel, and north aisle. The nave is lofty, and ceiled with panelled oak, richly ornamented with carving; it is lighted on each side by a range of clerestory windows, of various character, and is separated from the chancel by a pointed arch, supported by clustered columns, and from the north aisle by a series of similar arches of lower elevation, resting on clustered columns having capitals richly ornamented with sculpture. The east windows of the chancel are lofty, and highly enriched with tracery; and the windows of the north aisle, which are similarly embellished, are of good proportions and elegant design. In the chancel are some monuments of splendid character, to various members of the family inheriting the neighbouring seat of Picton Castle. This church was judiciously restored in the year 1844. The living of St. Thomas' is a rectory not in charge, in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £180, besides which, there is a glebe of fourteen acres, valued with appendages at £76. 3. per annum; also certain buildings, &c., estimated at £44. 7. per annum. The church is situated on the summit of a hill, and in the centre of an extensive cemetery, overlooking the ruins of the priory. According to some records preserved at St. David's, it appears to have been built in the year 1225; but these most probably refer to the ancient church of the priory, which was also dedicated to St. Thomas, for there is nothing in the style of architecture to corroborate that testimony. It is a plain building, with a square tower having a projecting battlement. The living of St. Martin's is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £1200 royal bounty, and £1200 parliamentary grant; net income, £80; patron and impropriator, James Griffiths, Esq. The church, supposed to be the most ancient in the town, is a venerable structure, displaying portions in the early style of English architecture, with a low tower surmounted by an elegant spire. It consists of a nave, chancel, and south aisle, but has suffered so extensively by the insertion of windows and other alterations, that little of its original character remains. The nave and chancel are long and lofty, and are separated by a fine old arch, which reaches to the roof; in the chancel, on the southern side, are some ancient stalls in recesses. There are places of worship in the town for Baptists, Independents, Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, Moravians, and Presbyterians.
The Free grammar-school was founded by Thomas Lloyd, of Kîl Kifith, Esq., who, by will dated November 22nd, 1612, endowed it with dwellinghouses, lands, and fee-farm rents, in the parishes of St. Mary, St. Thomas, and St. Martin, producing at present an income of £118, together with a dwellinghouse occupied by the master, valued at £25 per annum, and fields let at £16. To this endowment Mr. John Milward, of Haverfordwest, added a third part of certain houses and lands near Birmingham, giving the other two portions respectively to the master of the Birmingham free grammar school, for his own use, and the Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College, Oxford, for the foundation of a scholarship in that college for a boy from each of these schools alternately. The portion of the estate assigned to the school of this town, having been let by the corporation, who are trustees, upon a lease of ninety-nine years, produces only £18 per annum, and the other two portions, being injudiciously let on leases for twenty-one years, subject to large fines on renewal, produce only £8. 6. 8. per annum each; consequently, the scholarship is not sufficient to induce any young man from either of those schools to enter at that college. The mastership of the Haverfordwest school is in the gift of the mayor and corporation, who also nominate the boys to be educated in it; the present number of scholars is twenty-eight, nearly all of whom are on the foundation. The schoolroom, erected about 1761, adjoining the churchyard, and capable of accommodating about fifty boys, is in the parish of St. Thomas; in which, also, is Tasker's charity school, noticed hereafter. In the parish of St. Mary is a National school for boys, established in 1841, and held in the old poorhouse; it is supported partly by school-pence, but chiefly by subscriptions. St. Martin's parish contains a school of industry for girls, and an infants' school, the former entirely, and the latter partly, maintained by Mrs. Philipps, of Gloucester-place, Haverfordwest; also a "British" infants' school, supported by subscription, and managed by a committee of ladies. There are several Sunday schools in the town.
Sir John Perrot, in 1579, by deed gave certain houses, lands, and fee-farm rents, in the parish of Camrhôs, Pembrokeshire, and in the parishes of Haverfordwest, now producing £213 per annum, for the repair of the roads, walls, bridges, and quays; for the general improvement of the town; and supplying it with water. James Haward bequeathed an annuity of £22, payable out of an estate in the parish of Merton, in the county of Surrey, for the augmentation of Haverfordwest hospital; which annuity, as no such hospital has existed for many years in the town, is divided by the corporation among the poor. William Vawer, by deed in 1607, gave houses, lands, and fee-farm rents, in the parish of St. Mary, Haverfordwest, and in the city of Bristol, now producing £161. 14. per annum, towards the support of nine decayed burgesses of this town, each of whom receives 5s. per week, and a coat at Christmas, of the value of one guinea, which sum is also paid to the minister of St. Mary's, and for a dinner. Anne Laugharne bequeathed an annuity of £6, payable out of an estate at Boulston, near this place, for the relief of four aged women of honest fame in the parishes of St. Mary and St. Thomas. Mary Tasker, otherwise Howard, bequeathed, in 1684, certain farms and lands in the parish of Camrhôs, now producing £133. 14. per annum, for the erection of an almshouse, and for the education of poor children of both sexes in Rudbaxton, Steynton, and Haverfordwest. A boys' school is supported from this endowment; the master receives a salary of £54. 12. per annum, and there are fifty boys on the books, all of whom are clothed every year. Connected with the school is the almshouse, containing nine rooms, for as many poor women, who receive 5s. annually. Another almshouse, in St. Mary's parish, called the Lower almshouse, containing seven rooms, occupied by as many poor women, is kept in repair by the corporation. Richard Howell in 1697 bequeathed £400, the interest of which, £20, is distributed by the mayor and council on the first Wednesday in December, among the poor inhabitants, in sums of 5s. each, and also to the inmates of the almshouses. In 1723 Owen Phillips gave £40 to the corporation, the interest of which is annually given to a widow. In 1751 an unknown donor gave £100, the interest of which, from the three and a half per cents., is distributed by the vicar, in bread, among the debtors in the gaol, according to the will of the benefactor. The vicar has also the distribution of 35s. among the poor at Christmas, from a bequest of £50 by Martha Bowen, in 1749; and among the same are shared £5, arising from a bequest of £100, by William Fortune, in 1764; £10, a rent-charge, granted by William Wheeler; another of £1, by William Meyler; and another, in 1707, by Thomas Roch, of £3. 10. William Middleton, a merchant of London, gave £100 for apprenticing four poor children out of the town; and in addition to these several charities are numerous others, of which the greater part have been lost by failure of securities in their investment, or by other accidents. Of these may be noticed, £200 bequeathed by Rebecca Flaerton, in 1744, for the relief of aged widows, on the nomination of Robert Prust; £80, given in 1739, by Mary Llewelyn, for such charitable purpose as should be recommended by the same person; a bequest of £10, by Ann Bowen; an annual sum of £5, by Captain Parr, in 1811, to the poor of St. Thomas's parish; and various other donations, which appear to have been for a considerable time unavailable to the purposes for which they were given.
The poor-law union of which this town is the head, was formed Jan. 6th, 1837, and comprises the following sixty-three parishes; namely, St. Mary's, St. Thomas', St. Martin's, Ambleston, Boulston, Brawdy, St. Bride's, Camrhôs, Castle-Bigh, Dale, St. David's, St. Dogwell's, St. Edren's, St. Elvis', Fishguard, Freystrop, Granston, Harroldston, Haroldston St. Issels, Hasguard, Hayscastle, Henry'sMoat, Herbrandston, Hubberston, St. Ishmael's, Johnston, Jordanston, Lambston, Llangwm, St. Lawrence, Letterson, Llandeloy, Llanhowel, Llanllawer, Llanreithan, Llanrian, Llanstinan, LlanvairNant-y-Gove, Llanwnda, Llanychaer, Manerowen, Marlais, Mathrey, Morvil, Little Newcastle, St. Nicholas', Nolton, Pontvaen, Prendergast, Puncheston, Roch, West Robeston, Rudbaxton, Spittal, Steynton, Telbenny, Trevgarn, Uzmaston, East Walton, West Walton, Walwyn's-Castle, Whitchurch, and Wiston. It is under the superintendence of 67 guardians, and contains a population of 37,139.
The Priory of Black canons, founded, as before observed, by Robert de Hwlfordd, and situated in a meadow on the western bank of the river Cleddau, continued to flourish till the Dissolution, at which time its revenue was estimated at £135. 6. 1., and the site was granted to Roger and Thomas Barlow. The present remains, consisting chiefly of the skeleton of the church and some foundations of ancient buildings, afford indications of an establishment originally of considerable extent. The church was a spacious cruciform structure, apparently in the early style of English architecture, with a lofty central tower, supported on four noble arches, of which portions are still remaining. It appears to have been 160 feet in length from east to west, and 80 feet in breadth along the transepts, and was no less elegant than spacious, with windows composed of lancetshaped lights. The House of the Friars Preachers occupied the site on which the Black Horse Inn, in Bridge-street, was subsequently built. Its founder, and the exact time of its erection, are unknown, but it was in existence prior to the time of Richard II., in whose reign, as already noticed, the grant of a burgage for the enlargement of the house was confirmed. To this establishment Bishop Hoton left £10, and his successor, Bishop John Gilbert, bequeathed £100, with vestments, desiring also to be interred within its walls.
The Castle, from the discovery at various times of foundations of buildings and portions of ruined walls, appears to have occupied the whole of a rocky ridge on the northern declivity of the eminence on which the town is situated; and, from its commanding site, as well as from its extent and massive walls, forms a conspicuous and imposing object, towering above all the surrounding buildings, and overlooking the town. The remains consist principally of the keep, a spacious quadrangular pile, with lofty and massive walls, and which, from the elegance of its pointed windows and other architectural embellishments, especially on the eastern side facing the river, appears to have comprised the chapel and the state apartments, and conveys an idea of its original grandeur and magnificence. This portion of the remains has been converted into the county gaol, without in any degree detracting from its interest as a noble relic of ancient baronial splendour. In the suburb of Prendergast, on the opposite side of the river, are the remains of an ancient mansion, that was inhabited by a family of that name.
Skomar, an islet off the coast of Pembrokeshire, near the mouth of the Bristol Channel, forms part of the parish of St. Martin. It consists chiefly of limestone rock, and comprises an extent of about 700 acres, of which a considerable portion, let to a resident tenant, is in a state of cultivation; it is plentifully supplied with water, and abounds with rabbits. This islet, which forms the northern limit of St. Bride's bay, is separated by a strait about a mile and a half in breadth, called Broad Sound, from the islet of Shokham, which is about three miles from the main land, and about five miles west-by-south from the mouth of Milford Haven.