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PEMBROKESHIRE (Sir Benfro, Dyfed)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 83 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PEMBROKESHIRE (Sir Benfro, Dyfed), the most westerly county of South Wales, bounded N.E. by Cardigan, E.by Carmarthen, S. by the Bristol Channel and W. and N.W. by St Bride's Bay and Cardigan Bay of St George's Channel. Area 615 sq. m. The whole coast is extremely indented, extending over 140 M. in length. The principal inlets are Milford Haven, St Bride's Bay, Freshwater Bay, Fishguard Bay and Newport Bay. The chief promontories are Cemmaes, Dinas, Strumble, St David's, St Ann's and St Gowan's Heads. Five islands of moderate size lie off the coast, viz. Ramsey, Grassholm, Skomer and Skokholm in St Bride's Bay, and Caldy Island (Ynys Pyr) opposite Tenby; the last named having a population of about 70 persons. Rare birds, such as peregrine falcons, ravens and choughs are not uncommon, while guillemots, puffins and other sea-fowl breed in immense numbers on the Stack Rocks, on Ramsey Island and at various points of the coast. Seals are plentiful in the caves of St Bride's Bay and Cardigan Bay. The county is undulating, and large tracts are bare, but the valleys of the Cleddau, the Nevern, the Teifi and the Gwaun are well-wooded. The Preselley Mountains stretch from Fishguard to the border of Carmarthen, the principal heights being Preselley Top (1760 ft.) and Carn Englyn (1022 ft.). Treffgarn Rock in the Plumstone Mountains is popularly supposed to mark the northern limit of the ancient settlement of the Flemings. The principal rivers are the Teifi, forming the northern boundary of the county from Abercych to Cardigan Bay; the Nevern and the Gwaun, both falling into Cardigan Bay; and the Eastern and Western Cleddau, forming the Daugleddau after their junction below Haverfordwest. All these streams contain trout and salmon. There are no lakes, but the broad tidal estuaries of the Daugleddau and other rivers, which fall into Milford Haven and are locally called " pills," constitute a peculiar feature of south Pembrokeshire scenery. Geology.—Pembrokeshire is divisible into a northern portion occupied mainly by Ordovician and Silurian strata, which have been subjected to pressures from the north, the strike of the beds being south-west-north-east; and a southern portion, the westerly continuation of the South \Vales coalfield, with associated Lower Carboniferous, Old Red Sandstone and narrow belts of Silurian rocks, the whole having been considerably folded and faulted by pressure from the south, which has produced a general north-west-south-east strike. In the neighbourhood of St Davids are the Pre-Cambrian granitic rocks (Dimetian) and volcanic rocks (Pebedian). These are surrounded by belts of unconformable Cambrian strata (Lingula Flags, Tremadoc beds), followed by Ordovician (Arenig, Llandeilo and Bala beds) with associated igneous rocks. These comprise gabbros and diabases of Strumble Head, Fishguard, Llanwnda, Prescclly; diorites north-west of St Davids, bostonites and porphyrites about Abercastle and the basaltic laccolite of Pen Caer, besides various contemporaneous acid lavas and tuffs. The Ordovician and Silurian rocks extend southward to the neighbour-hood of Narberth and Haverfordwest, where Arenig, Llandeilo and Bala beds (Slade and Red Hill beds; Sholeshook and Robeston \Valthen Limestone) and Llandovery beds are recorded. The Coal Measures, highly inclined and anthracitic, stretch across from Carmarthen Bay to the shore of St Bride's Bay; they are bordered on the north and south-east by the Millstone Grits, Carboniferous Limestone series and Old Red Sandstone. On account of the foldingthe limestone appears again farther south at Pembroke, Caldy Island and St Gowan's Head; most of the remaining ground about Milford Haven being occupied by Old Red Sandstone with infolded strips of Silurian. A fairly large tract of blown-sand occurs in Freshwater Bay south of Milford Haven. Silver-bearing lead has been mined at Llanfyrnach. Climate and Industries.—The climate is everywhere mild, and in the sheltered valleys near the coast sub-tropical vegetation flourishes in the open air. In the south the rainfall is small, and the districts round Pembroke suffer from occasional droughts. The chief industry is agriculture, wherein stock-raising is preferred to the growing of cereals. Of cattle the long-horned, jet-black Castlemartin breed is everywhere conspicuous. South Pembroke has long been celebrated for its horses, which are bred in great numbers by the farmers. The deep-sea fisheries of Tenby and Milford are valuable; and fresh fish of good quality is exported by rail to the large towns. Oysters are found at Langwm and near Tenby; lobsters and crabs abound on the western coast. The South Wales coalfield extends into south Pembroke, and coal is worked at Saundersfoot, Begelly, Temple-ton, Kilgetty and other places. There are slate quarries at Glogue, Cilgerran and elsewhere; copper has been worked near St Davids, and lead at Llanfyrnach. Communications.—The South Wales branch of the Great Western railway enters Pembrokeshire from the east near Clynderwen Junction, whence the main line leads to Fishguard Harbour with its important Irish traffic. Other lines proceed to Neyland and Milford Haven by way of Haverfordwest, and a branch line from Clynderwen to Goodwick joins the main• line at Letterston. The Whitland-Cardigan branch traverses the north-east by way of Crymmych and Cilgerran. Another line running south-west from Whitland proceeds by way of Narberth and Tenby to Pembroke Dock. Population and Administration.—The area of Pembrokeshire is 395,151 acres with a population in 1891 of 89,138 and Igor of 88,732, showing a slight decrease. The municipal boroughs are Pembroke (pop. 15,853); Haverfordwest (6007); and Tenby (4400). The hamlet of Bridgend and a part of St Dogmell's parish are included within the municipal limits of Cardigan. Newport (Trefdraeth) (1222), the chief town of the barony of Kemes, or Cemmaes, still possesses a mayor and corporation under a charter granted in 1215 by Sir Nicholas Marteine, lord of Kemes, whose hereditary representative still nominates the mayor and aldermen, but its surviving municipal privileges are practically honorary. Milford Haven (5102), Narberth (1070) and Fishguard (2002) are urban districts. Other towns are St Davids (1710), St Dogmells (Llandudoch) (1286); and Cilgerran (1038). Pembrokeshire lies in the South Wales circuit, and assizes are held at Haverfordwest. Two members are returned to parliament; one for the county, and one for the united boroughs of Pembroke, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Fishguard, Narberth, Neyland, Milford and Wiston (Castell Gwys). Ecclesiastically, the county contains 153 parishes and lies wholly in the diocese of St Davids. History.—Pembrokeshire, anciently known to the Welsh as Dyfed, was originally comprised in the territory of the Dimetae, conquered by the Romans. During the 6th century St David, or Dewi Sant, moved the chief seat of South Welsh monastic and ecclesiastical life from Caerleon-on-Usk to his native place Menevia, which, known in consequence as Tyddewi, or St Davids, continued a centre of religious and educational activity until the Reformation, a period of r000 years. On the death of Rhodri Mawr in 877, Dyfed fell nominally under the sway of the princes of Deheubarth, or South Wales; but their hold was never very secure, nor were they able to protect the coast towns from the Scandinavian pirates. In 1o81 William the Conqueror penetrated west as far as St Davids, where he is said to have visited St David's shrine as a devout pilgrim. In 1092 Arnulf de Montgomeri, son of Roger, earl of Shrewsbury, did homage to the king for the Welsh lands of Dyfed. With the building of Pembroke Castle, of which Gerald de Windsor was appointed castellan, the Normans began to spread over southern Dyfed; whilst Martin de Tours, landing in Fishguard Bay and building the castle of Newport at Trefdraeth, won for himself the extensive lordship of Kemes (Cemmaes) between the river Teifi and the Preselley Mountains. The systematic planting of Flemish settlers in the hundred of Rhos, or Roose, in or about the years iro6, 1ro8 and 1111 with the approval of Henry I., and again in 1156 under Henry II., marks an all-important episode in the history of Pembrokeshire. The castles of Haverfordwest and Tenby were now erected to protect these aliens, and despite the fierce attacks of the Welsh princes their domain grew to be known as " Little England beyond Wales," a district whereof the language, customs and people still remain characteristic. In 1138 Gilbert de Clare, having previously obtained Henry I.'s permission to enjoy all lands he might win for himself in Wales, was created earl of Pembroke in Stephen's reign with the full powers of an earl palatine in Dyfed. The devolution of this earldom is dealt with in a separate article. In 1536, by the Act of Union (27 Henry VIII.), the king abolished all special jurisdiction in Pembrokeshire, which he placed on an equal footing with the remaining shires of Wales, while its borders were enlarged by the addition of Kemes, Dewisland and other outlying lordships. By the act of 1536 the county returned to parliament one knight for the shire and two burgesses; one for the Pembroke boroughs and one for the town and county of Haverfordwest, both of which since 1885 have been merged in the" Pembroke-and-Haverfordwest parliamentary division. The Reformation deprived the county of the presence of the bishops of St Davids, who on the partial dismantling of the old episcopal palace at St Davids removed their chief seat of residence to Abergwiliy, near Carmarthen. Meanwhile the manor of Lamphey was granted to the family of Devereux, earls of Essex, and other episcopal estates were alienated to court favourites, notably to Sir John Perrot of Haroldstone (1517-1592), afterwards lord-deputy of Ireland. During the Civil Wars the forces of the parliament, commanded by Colonel Laugharne and Captain Swanley, reduced the royal forts at Tenby, Milford and Haverfordwest. In February 1797 some French frigates appeared off Fishguard Bay and landed about 1400 Frenchmen at Llanwnda. The invaders soon capitulated to the local militia, practically without striking a blow. The loth century saw the establishment of the naval dockyard at Paterchurch and the building of docks and quays at Neyland and Milford. In 1906 extensive works for cross-traffic with Ireland were opened at Fishguard Harbour. Many of the old Pembrokeshire families, whose names appear prominent in the county annals, are extinct in the county itself. Amongst these may be mentioned Perrot of Haroldstone, Devereux of Lamphey, Barlow of Slebech, Barrett of Gilliswick, Wogan of Wiston, Elliot of Amroth and Owen of Henllys. Amongst ancient families still existing are Philipps of Lydstep and Amroth (descendants of the old Welsh lords of Cilsant); Philipps of Picton Castle (a branch of the same house in the female line); Lort of Stackpole Court, now represented by Earl Cawdor; Scourfield of Moate; Bowen of Llwyngwair; Edwardes, Lords Kensington, of St Brides; Meyrick of Bush; Lort-Philipps of Lawrenny; Colby of Ffynone; Stokes of Cuffern; Lloyd of Newport Castle (in which family is vested the hereditary lord-ship of the barony of Kemes) ; Saunders-Davies of Pentre; and Gower of Castle Malgwyn. Antiquities.—There are few remaining traces in the county of the Roman occupation of Dimetia, but in British encampments, tumuli, cromlechs and monumental stones Pembrokeshire is singularly rich. Of the cromlechs the best preserved are those at Longhouse, near Mathry; at Pentre Evan in the Nevern Valley; and at Llech-y-dribedd, near Moylgrove; whilst of the many stone circles and alignments, that known as Pare-y-Marw, or " The Field of the Dead," near Fishguard, is the least injured. Stones inscribed in Ogam characters are not uncommon, and good examples exist at Caldy Island, Bridell, St Dogmells and Cilgerran. There are good specimens of Celtic floriated churchyard crosses at Carew, Penally and Nevem. Interesting examples of medieval domestic architecture are the ruinsof the former episcopal mansions at Llawhaden, St Davids and Lamphey, the two latter of which were erected by Bishop Gower between the years 1328-1347. With the exception of the cathedral at St Davids and the principal churches of Haverfordwest and Tenby, the parish churches of Pembrokeshire are for the most part small, but many are ancient and possess fine monuments or other objects of interest, especially in " Little England beyond Wales." Amongst the more note-worthy are the churches at Stackpole Elidur, Carew, Burton, Gumfreston, Nevern, St Petrox and Rudbaxton, the last-named containing a fine Jacobean monument of the Hayward family. Pembrokeshire has long been famous for its castles, of which the finest examples are to be observed at Pembroke; Manorbier, built in the 12th century and interesting as the birthplace and home of Giraldus Cambrensis; Carew, exhibiting many interesting features both of Norman and Tudor architecture; and Picton, owned and inhabited by a branch of the Philipps family. Other castles are the keep of Haverfordwest and the ruined for-tresses at Narberth, Tenby, Newport, Wiston, Benton, Upton and Cilgerran. There are some remains of monastic houses at Tenby and Pembroke, but the most important religious communities were the priory of the Augustinian friars at Haverfordwest and the abbey of the Benedictines at St Dogmells. Of this latter house, which was founded by Martin de Tours, first lord of Kemes, at the close of the 11th century, and who owned the priories of Pill and Caldy, considerable ruins exist near the left bank of the Teifi about 1 m. below Cardigan. Of the ancient preceptory of the Knights of St John at Slebech scarcely a trace remains, but of the college of St Mary at St Davids founded by Bishop Houghton in 1377, the shell of the chapel survives in fair preservation. Pembrokeshire contains an unusually large number of county seats, particularly in the south, which includes Stackpole Court, the residence of Earl Cawdor, a fine mansion erected in the 18th century; Picton Castle; Slebech, once the seat of the Barlows; Orielton, formerly belonging to the Owens; and Ffynone, the residence of the Colby family. Customs, &'c.—The division of Pembrokeshire ever since the 12th century into well-defined Englishry and Welshry has produced two distinct sets of languages and customs within the county. Roughly speaking, the English division, the Anglia Transwalliana of Camden, occupies the south-eastern half and comprises the hundreds of Roose, Castlemartin, Narberth and Dungleddy. In the Welshry, which includes the hundreds of Dewisland and Cilgerran together with the old barony of Kemes, the language, customs, manners and folk-lore of the inhabitants are almost identical with those of Cardigan and Carmarthen. The old Celtic game of Knappan, a pastime partaking of the nature both of football and hockey, in which whole parishes and even hundreds were wont to take an active part, was prevalent in the barony of Kemes so late as the 16th century, as George Owen of Henllys, the historian and antiquary, records; and the playing of knappan lingered on after Owen's day. Amongst the settlers of the Englishry, who are of mingled Anglo-Saxon, Flemish, Welsh and perhaps Scandinavian descent, many interesting superstitions and customs survive. The English spoken by these dwellers in " Little England beyond Wales " contains many curious idioms and words and the pronunciation of some of the vowels is peculiar. Certain picturesque customs, many of them dating from pre-Reformation times, are still observed, notably in the neighbourhood of Tenby. Such are the sprinkling of persons with dewy evergreens on New Year's morning; the procession of the Cutty Wren on St Stephen's day, and the constructing of little huts at Lammastide by the farm boys and girls. As early as the opening years of the loth century, cripples and ophthalmic patients were in the habit of visiting the ancient hermitage at St Gowan's Head to bathe in its sacred well; and Richard Fenton, the county historian alludes (c. 18o8) to the many crutches left at St Gowan's chapel by grateful devotees. Belief in ghosts, fairies, witches, &c., is still prevalent in the more remote places, and the dress of the fishwives of Langwm near Haverfordwest is highly picturesque with its short skirt, scarlet shawl and buckled shoes.
End of Article: PEMBROKESHIRE (Sir Benfro, Dyfed)
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