Monday, March 26, 2012

Radnorshire Divided?

Is there any truth to the theory mentioned in a footnote to the article by A J Ellis entitled On the delimitation of the English and Welsh languages in the October 1882 issue of Y Cymmrodor? Could Radnorshire have been divided Ulster-style between the native Welsh and the descendants of a Cromwellian plantation?

Howel Lloyd, who mentions the idea (see above) was a Roman Catholic convert and a local historian with mainly Montgomeryshire interests. He was sufficiently well-regarded to make it into the pages of the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, his entry is here.

Now some of the more popular local surnames of English origin turn up in the county before the Civil War: Addis, Bufton, Harding, Mantle, Russell, Shipman, Wilcocks, Wilde. To this we have to add names that drifted into Radnorshire from the 16C plantations in Montgomeryshire (Cleaton, Hamer, Ingram, Jarman, Kinsey etc.), names that originated in the ethnic mix in and around Presteigne, and gentry names, essentially Norman, from Breconshire and Herefordshire (Baskerville, Gunter, Havard, Whitney)

This leaves us with a number of surnames which do indeed first appear in parishes in North Radnorshire during the second half of the Sixteenth Century - the Pitchfords, Bywaters, Palfreys, Wildings, Weales etc. Is there any evidence that these new families stood aloof from their Welsh neighbours? A way of spotting any such social divide would be to look at marriage records. If such a divide existed you wouldn't expect the newcomers to inter-marry in any great number with the Joneses, Davieses, Evanses and the rest. Such an aversion should be easily spotted in the lists of marriage bonds and copies of wills available on-line from the National Library of Wales.

A quick look at the marriage bonds shows that folk with English surnames were three to four times more likely to marry partners with Welsh surnames than partners with names of English origin. I suppose you'd have to do a lot more research to be certain but it doesn't look very likely that a Cromwellian plantation had any lasting identity in Radnorshire.

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