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ENCLOSURES IN CARDIGANSHIRE, 1750-1850
That agricultural activity was not entirely static in Cardiganshire
between 1750 and 1850 is evident from the continued settlement of the
waste and common lands and the extension of the enclosed areas. A
tourist crossing the county from the south in 1805 described the Teifi
valley as "full of enclosures, hedge-rows, corn and grass fields, bounded
by a various outline of naked hills, which strikingly contrast with the
fertility below. Heath, fern, and turf or peat, with patches of cultivation
on the slopes and in the hollows of the hills, which last are dotted with
sheep and catde .1 The valley itself corresponded to the coastal
plain which formed the western part of the county, a plain consisting
of a patchwork of cultivation, arable and grass fields intersected by
hilly moorlands and small areas of woodland and bogland. The naked
hill country to the east consisted of large areas of unenclosed waste
heath, bogland, rough mountain pasture, common but few large
woodlands.
As early as the sixteenth century, John Leland had explained the
timber shortage in Cardiganshire, first by the reluctance of the idle Welsh
to replant, secondly, by the depredations of the Welsh goats, and
thirdly, by the wilful destruction of "the great woddis that thei
shuld not harborow theves".2 Even though timber was being used in
large quantities in the lead-smelting industry of north Cardiganshire
during the eighteenth century, there was sufficient left over to supply
other parts of the country. Ash, birch and oak were being sent to
ports such as Pwllheli in the north and bark was being supplied to
Dublin. By the end of the century, however, the chairman of the
Cardiganshire Quarter Sessions in answer to questions put to him by
the Commissioners of the Woods, Forests and Land Revenues said
that "the Quantity of large Oak Timber growing in Woods of the
county"3 had declined. This was explained by the lack of encourage-
ment to replant, secondly, by the improvement in the means of trans-
port which facilitated the clearing of forests, and thirdly, by the increase
in house building. More woodland was being converted to cultivation
"than of Land of a fit Soil newly planted with Oak" Indeed, the
forests of the county had been so neglected that in all probability they
were emptier of useful trees at the end of the century than at any time
in the past. Adam Murray, land agent of the Crosswood estate, wrote to
his landlord, Sir John Vaughan, to say that the woodland on the estate
had been "intirely neglected for want of proper training and fencing
in from Cattle and Sheep. There are many Valuable Coppices of Oak
in the Parishes of Lledrod, Gwnnws, Ysbyty, Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn,
Llanafan and Caron which if proper attention had been paid to them
would now have constituted a very great additional yearly revenue to
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