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12. THE MANOR OF Uwchmynydd,, RADNORSHIRE, IN 1618.
The Union of England and Wales by the Acts of 1536 and 1542, with its universal
application of English law, came at a critical stage in the history of land tenure in
Wales, and gave rise to many new economic and legal problems which exercised the
minds of surveyors and lawyers for generations. A writer of the time of Elizabeth
refers to the ambiguity and doubts caused by the statutes saying that thereby the
tenaunts are brought to a wonderfull uncertaynty so nothing more needefull than
the speedy explicatyn of the sayed last statute Both for the quyetnes of the Tenants
and the Queens proffett and of other Lordes there \1
The document printed below which relates to the manor of Uwchmynydd in the
hundred of Colwyn in the county of Radnor shows the prevalence of such ambiguity
and doubts in the early seventeenth century.2 This document was found in the collec-
tion of records deposited in October, 1943, by the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral
Church of Hereford for temporary custody at the National Library of Wales, and is
published by the kind permission of the Reverend Canon Moreton, the librarian. It
consists of the verdicte and presentment' of a number of the free tenants of the
manor whb were sworn as jurors for the Court Leet, Court Baron, and Court of Survey
held in October, 1618, before the chief steward. The questions or articles them-
selves are not given, and out of a total of over thirty-one questions dealing with the
manor, its customs and tenures, we have the answers to twelve. Like many of the
rentals, surveys, and inquisitions of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries,
this document bears witness to the prevalent changes, controversies, and confusion,
and to the opposition of the freeholders of Wales to the application of manorial theory.
There is much in the document that is of interest to the student of economic and
legal history. A significant feature is the use of Welsh terms and the frequent refer-
ences to the most common auncient usage and custome in Wales Explanations
of the terms are given at the end of the document and appear to be an addition in a
different hand, while the jurors support their references to the ancient custom
by actual quotations from the Welsh laws. One of these quotations which deals
with the chief rent called Gwestva alias Kyllyd is given in Latin,3 while the other
quotation which deals with ebediw' or heriot is given in Welsh4 and is apparently
taken from a booke or copie which one John Lewis, esquire, wrote with his owne
hand of the anciente lawes, customes and ordinances of Wales '.5 It is significant
too that reference is made to the time of King Athelstan who was a contemporary
of Hywel Dda and who was acknowledged by Hywel as his overlord.
This document, like many similar documents of the period, contains evidence of
the conflict between the Crown 'farmers and the free tenants. The forest of Colwyn
figured prominently in a number of suits in the Court of Exchequer during the reign
of Elizabeth.6 From the documents relating to these suits it appears that there was
much uncertainty as to the bounds of the forest, The Crown farmers were accused
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The National Library of Wales has created and published this digital version of the journal under a licence granted by the publisher. The material it contains may be used for all purposes while respecting the moral rights of the creators.