UK Genealogy Archives logo

Carmarthenshire, Wales

Historical Description

Carmarthenshire or Caermarthenshire, a maritime county of South Wales, bounded on the W by Pembrokeshire, on the N by Cardiganshire, on the E by Breconshire, on the SE by Glamorgan, on the S by Carmarthen Bay. It is the largest county in the Principality. Its length, north-eastward, is 53 miles; its greatest breadth, 33 miles; its circuit, about 165 miles; its area, 587,816 acres. A low tract, reclaimed from the sea, lies round Laugharne; another low tract lies along the Towy; a great congeries of hills and uplands fills most of the interior; a range of mountains, striking away to Plynlimmon in Cardiganshire, is in the north; and a loftier range, forming the main part of the Black Mountains or Forest Fawr, culminates in the Carmarthen Van or Beacon (2596 feet), the highest peak of which (2631 feet) is over the border in Breconshire. The chief rivers are the Towy, with the Gwili, the Cothi, the Bran, the Sawdde, and the Cennin; the Taf, with the Gynin and Cywyn; the Teifi, on the boundary with Cardigan; the Llwchwr, on the eastern boundary to the sea; the two Gwendraeths, and the Amman. The Towy has a course of about 50 miles in Carmarthenshire. Several lakes occur, of no great size, yet full of interest either to the angler or to the tourist. Lower Silurian rocks form the northern and the central districts; upper Silurian rocks form narrow belts in the SE; old red sandstone rocks form a considerable belt on the coast, from the western boundary to the east of the Towy, and thence east-north-eastward; and the rocks of the carboniferous series, rich in the coal measures, constituting part of the great coal-field of South Wales, form all the tracts on the SE, both sea-board and inland. Lead ore, copper ore, ironstone, slate, building-stone, fire-stone, and dark blue marble are worked, and there are numerous collieries.

The soils on the higher tracts over all the different kinds of rocks are, for the most part, rather poor, while those in the valleys, especially in the lower parts of those of the Towy and the Taf, are in general very fertile. About one-third of all the land is waste. Peat is the only fuel throughout much of the uplands, and crushed coal, mixed with clay, and formed into balls, is the chief fuel used in the other tracts. The enclosures are chiefly of stone. Oats are the chief grain crop, both for home use and for exportation. Butter and bacon are sent from dairy tracts to market. The cattle are chiefly a small or middle-sized native breed; but in some of the best parts of the valleys are large kinds from other counties. The sheep were formerly small, but have been much improved by crosses with the Southdowns.

A large export trade is carried on in coal, stone, and iron, and some manufactures exist in woollens and leather. The G.W.R. brings Carmarthenshire into communication with England and London, viâ Bristol, the Severn Tunnel, and Swansea. From Carmarthen a branch runs to Llandyssil, and another runs from Llanfalteg Junction to Cardigan. The L. & N.W.R. has a branch from Carmarthen to Llandilo, runs thence jointly with the G.W. to Llandovery, and thence connects with Shrewsbury and Crewe. The Manchester and Milford railway to Aberystwyth is brought into connection with the G.W. system at Pencader, and the Pembroke and Tenby railway connects with the G.W. system at Whitland. Short mineral lines run north from Kidwelly, Pembrey, and Llanelly.

The ancient county is divided for parliamentary purposes into two divisions; it also includes the Carmarthen district of boroughs, consisting of the contributory boroughs of Carmarthen and Llanelly. The administrative county includes the municipal boroughs of Carmarthen, Kidwelly, and Llandovery. It has one court of quarter sessions, and is divided into eight petty sessional divisions. The borough of Carmarthen has a separate commission of the peace and separate court of quarter sessions. The county contains eighty entire civil parishes and part of one other, and seventy-five entire ecclesiastical parishes and districts, and parts of seven others. It is included entirely in the diocese of St David's. The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a high sheriff, and a county council consisting of fifty-one councillors and seventeen aldermen. It is in the western military district, and the South Wales judicial circuit. The assizes are held at Carmarthen. Population (1801) 67,317, (1821) 90,239, (1841) 106,326, (1861) 111,796, (1881) 124,864, (1891) 130,566.

According to the census returns issued in 1893, the chief occupations of the people of the county were:—Professional, 1936 males and 943 females; domestic, 190 males and 7885 females; commercial, 2644 males and 28 females; agricultural, 9105 males and 1444 females; fishing, 106 males and 39 females; industrial, 21,688 males and 5556 females; and "unoccupied," including retired business men, pensioners, those living on their own means, and others not specified, 6880 males and 31,255 females; or a total in the county of 42,549 males and 47,150 females. The largest number of men employed in any one industry was, tin workers, 5612; coal miners, 3808; farmers, 36,63; agricultural labourers, 3211; and general labourers, 1516. The chief occupations of women are—domestic service, with a total of 6738; millinery and dressmaking, 2578; and tin-plate working, 1173. There were also in the county 111 blind persons, 28 deaf, 67 deaf and dumb, and 702 mentally deranged. There were 63,345 persons able to speak only the Welsh language, and 36,937 who could speak both Welsh and English.

The territory now forming Carmarthenshire belonged to the Demetæ or Dyfed; was included in the Roman Britannia Secunda; afterwards formed part of Ceredigion or Dynevor; made very stout resistance to the Normans; gave way to the forces of Edward I.; and was not entirely subdued by England till the commencement of the 16th century. Traces of the early inhabitants still remain in the shape of cromlechs, as at Dolwilynn near Llanboidy, inscribed stones, as the Eidon Stone at Golden Grove. Encampments, Roman stations, and Roman roads may also be traced. Ruins or remains of castles exist at Dynevor, Dryslwyn, Llandovery, Carreg-Cinnen, Carmarthen, Llanstephan, Laugharne, Kid-welly, and Newcastle-Emlyn, and remains of monasteries are at Talley.

The Eastern and Western parliamentary divisions of Carmarthenshire were formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and return one member each to the House of Commons. The population of the Eastern division was 49,003, and the Western 46,956. The Eastern division includes the following:—Llandeilo (part of)—Bettws, Llandilofawr, Llandebie, Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Llanfihangel Cilfargen, Llandefeisant, Llangathen; Llandovery—Cilycwm, Conwil Oayo, Llancrwys, Llandingat, Llanddausaint, Llanfairarybryn, Llangadock, Llansadwrn, Llanwrda, Mothvey, Talley; Llanelly—Kidwelly (St Mary—Without), Llanedy, Llanelly, Llangennech, Llanon, Pembrey. The Western division includes the following:—Carmarthen—Abergwili, Abernant, Conwil Elvet, Kidwelly (St Mary—Within), Llanarthney, Llanddarog, Llandefeilog, Llangain, Llangendeirne, Llangunnock, Llangunnor, Llanllawddog, Llanpumpsaint, Llanstephan, Merthyr, New Church, St Ishmael; Llanboidy —Castle Dyran, Cilymaenllwyd, Eglwys-fair, Egremont, Henllan Amgoed, Kiffig, Llanboidy, Llandissilio, Llanfallteg, Llangan, Llanginning, Llanglydwen, Llanwinio, Mydrim; Llandeilo (part of)—Llanegwad, Llanfynydd; Llandovery (part of)—Llansawell, Pencarreg; Llanfihangel-ar-Arth— Brechfa, Llanfihangel-ar-Arth, Llanfihangel-Rhos-y-Corn, Llanllwni, Llan-by-ddar; Newcastle-in-Emlyn—Cenarth, Cilrhedyn, Llangeler, Pemboir, Treleach-ar-Bettws; St Clears—Eglwys Cymmin, Laugharne (parish), Laugharne (township), Llandawke, Llandilo Abercowin, Lllandowror, Llanfihangel Abercowin, Llansadurnen, Marros, Pendine, St Clears; Carmarthen—municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Archives and Libraries

Carmarthenshire Archives Service,
Parc Myrddin,
Richmond Terrace,
Carmarthen,
SA31 1DS
Tel: 01267 228232
Fax: 01267 228237
e mail: Archives@Carmarthenshire.Gov.UK


Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

List of Registration Districts in Carmarthenshire from 1837 to 1974.


Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Carmarthenshire is available to browse.


Maps

Old map of Carmarthenshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Old map of Carmarthenshire circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)


Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers online:


Parishes & places

Abergorlech
Abergwili
Abernant
Above Sawthe
Alltygar
Berwick
Bettws
Bleyne
Brechfa
Brisken
Broadlaey
Brynamman or Upper Brynamman
Burry Port
Burry River
Bynes
Carmarthen
Carmarthen Bay
Carreg Cennen Castle
Castle Dyrran
Cathargoed, Cathilas, and Glynn
Cefnblaidd
Cenarth or Kenarth
Cil y Maenllwyd
Cilcarw
Cillay
Cilycwm or Kilycwm
Cloygin
Clynynnos
Coedgain
Comoyron
Conwil Gaio or Cynwyl Caio
Conwyl
Crachyty
Cricklas
Cross Hands
Cross Inn
Cwm Gwenffrwxl
Cwmamman
Cwmcawlwyd
Cwmcothy
Cwmcych
Cwmforgan
Cwmgwili
Cwmtwrch
Cwmysgifarowg
CydpFwydd
Cyffic
Cynnillfawr
Dafen
Derwydd
Dolbryn
Dryslwyn
Dyffryn Cidrich
Dynevor Castle or Newton
Edwinsford
Eglwys Cummin
Eglwys Fair a Churig
Eglwys Fair Glan Taf
Egremont
Egwad
Esgob Cnwckcreen
Eskercam, Eskerevan, and Eskergam
Eskernant
Fairfach or Ffairfach
Felin Foel
Ferryside
Forest
Gamant
Ganol
Glanamman
Glandwr
Glanrhyd
Glyn (Llanelly)
Glyn (Llannon)
Glyn (Llansawel)
Glynaman
Glynn (Llanfihangel-Aberbythych)
Glynn (Llangendeime)
Golden Grove
Gwastade
Gwempe
Gwendraeth, Fawr and Fach
Gwidre
Gwynfe
Hall (Llangadock)
Hall (St Ishmael)
Hengil
Hengoed
Henllan
Henllan Arngoed
Hernin
Hyreth
Iddole
Iscoed
Kidwelly
Kilrhedyn or Cilrhedyn
Lampeter
Laques
Laugharne
LIanllyan
Llan
Llanarthney
Llanblaenynis
Llanboidy
Llandawke
Llanddarog
Llanddausant
Llandebie or Llandybie
Llandefeilog
Llandilo Abercowin
Llandilo Bridge
Llandilo or Llandilo fawr
Llandingat
Llandissilio
Llandovery
Llandowror
Llandre
Llandyfeisant
Llanedy
Llanegwad
Llanelly
Llanfairarybryn
Llanfallteg
Llanfihangel Aberbythych
Llanfihangel Abercowin
Llanfihangel Cilfargen
Llanfihangel Rhos y Corn
Llanfihangel Uwch G wili
Llanfihangel-ar-Arth
Llanfynydd
Llangadock
Llangain
Llangan
Llangathen
Llangeler
Llangendeirne
Llangennech
Llanginning or Llangynnyn
Llanglydwen
Llangunnor
Llangynog
Llanllawddog
Llanllwch
Llanllwid
Llannon
Llanpumpsaint
Llansadurnen
Llansadwrn
Llansaint
Llansawel
Llanstephan
Llanwinio
Llanwrda
Llanybri
Llanybyther
Llanycrwys
Llechfraith and Llechgron
Llethergele
Llwynhendy
Llyn Tegwyn
Lower Manordilo
Maestroyddin
Maesycrygiau
Maesyfymion
Manorfabon
Marros
Merthyr
Middleton Hall
Molfre
Mountain
Myddfai or Mothvey
Myddfei
Mydrim
Myhathan
Mynachty
Nantgaredig
Nantymwyn
New Quay Road
Newcastle Emlyn, Newcastle in Emlyn, or Emlyn
Newchurch
Pantyffynnon
Pembrey
Pencader
Pencarreg
Pendine
Pentre Cwm
Pistill
Pont ar Cothy
Pontreselley
Pontyberem
Porthyryd
Pwll
Quarter Bach
Rhydyrgane
St Clare
St Ishmael
Taliaris
Talley or Tal y Llychau
Talley Road
Talog or Tallog
Talsam or Talysarn
Telych
The Bran
The Cennen
The Gwilly or Gwili
The Loughor
The Morlas
The Sawddwy or Sawthey
The Taf or Tave
Traethnelgan
Trecastell
Trecastle
Trechgwynnon
Tregam
Tregib
Tregynin
Upper Manordilo
Vabon
Velindre (Llandyssil)
Velindre (Llangadock)
Wen
Westfa
Whitland or Hen Dy Gwyn ar Daf
Ystrad
Map of Carmarthenshire