Vol 1 No 5: The Manor of Roath


Project Newsletter Vol.1.No.1.(p.3) made a fleeting reference to the manor or manors of Roath.  This Project Newsletter seeks to outline the main features of the manor and in so doing resurrect from comparative obscurity a very important phase of Roath’s history.


It is important to remember that there is no “ideal” manor, there being several types. Indeed, there were very many varieties and sizes; some were called sub-manors, a designation which sometimes has very dubious, even spurious connotations.  In England it is widely accepted that the manors established by the Norman conquerors represented a continuity of landed estate inaugurated by the Romans and consolidated by the Anglo-Saxons.  In Wales it is believed that many a maerdref became a model for manors that were subsequently established, with arable land, meadow, wood, waste and a village of bondmen centred around the prince’s holdings and llys (see Project Newsletter Vol 1.No.1.(p 5). It should be emphasised however, that for geographical and topographical reasons Welsh manors did not always conform to the English pattern.

To all intents and purposes we can take it that the manor was essentially a Norman institution just as the ‘new’ castles and boroughs were.  The manor was primarily a lord’s landed estate providing not only the site for the lord’s hall, manor house and home farm but also holdings let to tenants.  Economically its ‘raison d‘etre’ was to secure for the lord an income from his land from two  particular sources;

(a) The produce grown on the home farm (also known as the demesne or reserve).

(b) From rent paid by tenants.

The main social characteristic of the manor was the dependent status of its tenants. These were usually unfree or semi-free.  For instance, they were compelled to remain on the manorial holding to ensure that the lord’s land would always be occupied, thus rendering rent and services.

It was the villeins who formed the most numerous class on most manors;  they were the core of the whole system supplying the lord with his permanent labour force. The villein ploughed for the lord on his demesne; he worked for him a number of days per week at many different jobs such as weeding, hedging, ditching and mending roads; at harvest time he rendered boon-work, i.e. a day’s work performed on special occasions.  Hauling timber, firewood and especially building materials were also tasks performed by this group.

The villein as a serf or bondman suffered from many handicaps.  He could not permanently leave the manor without the lord’s permission; he was also compelled to take his corn to the lord’s mill and pay a toll for having it ground.  He was also faced with other payments to the lord in kind.


The antecedents of capitalism therefore (if one defines the term as the economic exploitation of one group by another) is not purely and simply a concomitant of the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth century; its roots go much further back, to the feudalistic organisation of society of which manorialism was one of its most conspicuous manifestations.

A villein was not a slave however; he held several strips of land in the open fields and had a claim on pasture, wood and waste.  Perhaps most importantly he also had rights against the lord which he could plead in the manorial court.  Known as the custom of the manor, such rights were based on well-established custom.  That is why villeins are broadly synonymous with customary tenants or customars.  Finally, if he was able to or if the lord consented, the villein could purchase his freedom.

Cottagers or cottars like villeins were serfs but of inferior status.  The cottager possessed a cottage together with the croft for which he generally paid rent.  He held only a few strips but he gave correspondingly fewer services to the lord.  Such a group did the rough work on the manor and tended sheep, swine and bees.

Of superior status were the freemen who held the majority of the strips in the open fields.  The freeman was not entirely free.  For instance he was obliged to give the lord boon-work but he was spared the much more burdensome week-work.  The freeman was however free to leave or sell his land.  It is widely accepted that there was a greater proportion of freemen in Wales compared with England.  Arguably, this was only to be expected.  Freemen had always been numerous in pre-Norman society and in order to encourage the Anglo-French to came to Welsh settlements, the lord had to grant the best of them their freedom.

Norman manors in Wales were situated predominantly in the south and west and mainly in the fertile lowland parts of the lordship, the most easily colonised and where trade and agriculture offered prospects of success. (See the distribution of the manors and the heavy concentration in lowland areas on the map on page 129 of William Rees: South Wales and the March 1285 – 1415; Oxford, 1924).  This part of the lordship became the region of foreign settlement, the Englishry.  Here the open fields were cleared (or assarted) from the wooded waste for cultivation by the lord and his unfree tenants, including any Welsh unfree who lived in the vicinity.

In the remoter or less accessible areas of the Norman lordship it was invariably the case that the old Welsh customs persisted. This portion of the lordship has been given the name of Welshry, consisting of hilly terrain, unsuitable for arable tillage or the creation of an open field system.  It was occupied by the native Welsh who after Norman subjugation were permitted to carry on much of their old mode of life.  They lived in dispersed settlements and held land free of services although same areas were obliged to pay old and accustomed dues to the new lord.  Local affairs in the Welshry were conducted in separate Welsh courts and Welsh law was administered much as of old.

Finally, in passing, it can be mentioned that the manor was the medium through which nascent ‘local government’ came to be administered.  It acted as the local agency for the enforcement of criminal law.

Many court sessions were held to which juries were summoned, attendance at which was an additional obligation on the tenant.  There were two categories of court:

(a) Court Baron (a civil court held every three weeks. Only freeholders could hold suit of court.  Cases dealt largely with property).

(b) Court Leet (a twice-yearly criminal court, with a jury. All groups owed suit of court).

The income from courts and inquests were another source of revenue for the lord.



Before going on to describe the features of the manor of Roath and compare it with the general characteristics, it would be advantageous briefly to describe the range of records that were generated by or related to the manors, since what will follow will make frequent reference to such documents.

The main categories of manorial records are court rolls, extents, rentals, customals, surveys, ministers’ accounts and ‘inquisitiones post mortem’. Both collectively and individually, they provide a veritable mine of information regarding the administrative,  judicial, economic and social aspects of manorial life.  For Roath we shall concentrate on three kinds,- ministers’ accounts, ‘inquisitiones post mortem’ and manorial surveys for the simple reason that we possess more of them than the others.

Ministers’ Accounts.

These were financial statements sent up to the Crown from the persons appointed to manage estates (e.g. Custodians, prevosts etc.) which had come into the King’s hands on the death of the lord without heir male (i.e. escheatment) or under certain other circumstances.  The accounts take the form of sections or paragraphs often with marginal heads.  Money sums are in the body of the text and not, as in modern accounts, in columns; but at the end of each section the total of the moneys involved appears.

Inquisitiones Post Mortem (I.P.M. ‘s)

I.P.M.’s are returns made to the Crown, on the death of a landholder, of the nature extent and value of the deceased’s possessions based upon a judicial enquiry and certified by the oath of a local jury.

Manorial Surveys

A written statement showing the extent and valuation of the manor lands and tenancies, usually undertaken within a short time after a new lord inherited the manor.



Unlike the later ecclesiastical parish which was a single compact unit, the manor of Roath was fragmented, portion of it lying in widely dispersed areas of the Norman lordship.

It came to comprise an area later occupied by the parishes of Roath, St.John’s, St.Mary’s, Llanedeyrn, Llanishen, Lisvane and parts of Whitchurch and Rumney.  The manor, originally called the Manor of Roath was one of two in the immediate vicinity of the castle at Cardiff which the Normans maintained after the conquest of Glamorgan in the early 1090’s, Leckwith (Lequith) being the other.

The manor was later subdivided into three – Roath Dogfield (sometimes referred to merely as Roath), Roath Keynsham, and Roath Tewkesbury, the last two representing the portions of the original manor the Norman lord came to grant to the Augustinian Abbey of Keynsham (Bristol) and the Benedictine Abbey of Tewkesbury in the twelfth century and which were to remain in monastic hands until the Dissolution.

The boundaries of the three manors are however very difficult to delineate with precision. The sketch map of Appendix 1. does however attempt to assign boundaries as accurately as possible based as it is on John Stuart Corbett’s Map of the Manors and accompanying Notes.

Each of the manors and their principal place-names will be described later.  First, the main features of Roath Manor and the light they throw on manorial organisation.


Map of the Manors of Roath

The Manors of Roath



The main purpose of the manor was to provide the lord of Cardiff Castle and his retainers with supplies, the household of the castle numbering many hundreds.  It was principally a dairying manor. The Ministers’ Accounts are testimony to the considerable production of milk, butter and cheese that took place.  The large herd of milking cows that were kept, together with the number of milking buckets, brass vessels and wooden tubs further reflect the dairy bias of the manor.

In one of the Ministers’ Accounts for 1316  it is stated:

Issues of the Dairy. And for 76s.7d. received of 130 stone 4 pounds of cheese sold, as extra from the issues of the dairy for the same time; each stone of the weight of 14 pounds; price of each stone 7d. And for 10s.6d received of 18 stone of butter sold there of the same issue, for the same time.

Sum £4.7s.6d.

*    *     *    *    *    *

Custody of the dairy, to wit. In 1 new tin bought for the use of the dairy, 4d.

In 2 “bukkettis” bought for the milking of the cows, 5d. And in 2 ells of linen cloth bought for wrapping cheese in, 10d.  And in 3 moulds bought for making cheese, 6d.

In rennet bought for curdling cheese, 6½d. In 4 earthenware jars bought for curdling milk, 4d.  In 1 iron trippet bought for the same, 4d.

Sum 3s.3½d.

The Ministers’ Accounts are also of value for their itemisation of livestock kept on the manor.

Among the stock mentioned are the following: plough-oxen, cows, heifers, steers, calves and a bull.  There are no stated examples of sheep or horses in the documents reproduced by John Hobson Matthews in Cardiff Records Vol.l. but clearly their absence from the manor should not be assumed from this.  To illustrate such livestock on the manor we shall take an extract from an earlier account of 1315:

Store sold. He (Bartholomew de Badelesmere, Custodian) answers for 16s. of 2 beasts of the plough, delivered unto ……….. (Sir) Payn (Turbervill), the succeeding Custodian…And for £15.6s.8d. of 23 plough oxen, apprised and delivered unto the aforesaid Payn,….., by indenture; price of each 13s 4d. And for £7.10s. of 1 bull and 14 cows, apprised and delivered to the said Payn….. by indenture; price of each 10s.  And for 28s. of 4 heifers, apprised and delivered to the said Payn,….., by indenture etc….. price of each 7s. And for 13s.4d. for 4 beasts, apprised and delivered to the said Payn…..by indenture etc….. price of each 3s.4d.  And for 14s. of 7 calves, apprised and delivered to the said Payn….. by indenture etc.; price of each 3s.

Fish and flour were other commodities provided and corn and other crops were also grown.

The provision of fish is reflected in the number of tenants given fishing rights by the lord. In an I.P.M. for 1349 it is written:

Also there is a certain several fishery called the Blakepole, which is worth by the year 6s.8d…… Also there are 18 tenants who hold some small tenements and certain weirs on the seashore, for catching fishes in………

Fisheries are also described in a Ministers’ Accounts for 1492:

Farm of the fishery.  And for 6d. of the farm of one fishery there, lately in the tenure of John Jacson for 4d., and lying between the weir formerly in the tenure of Robert Wyldefyre on the east, and the “hedwere” on the west, and the weir called the Prests Were on the north, so demised unto John Millwarde this year.  And for 8d. of the farm of another fishery late in the tenure of the said Robert Wyldefyre, now demised unto William Gough this year.

Sum 14d.

It seems from William Rees in Cardiff: A History of the City, p.17 that Hedwere and Prest’s weir may have been in the vicinity of the River Rhymney and the coast.

Flour would no doubt have been produced at the lord’s corn mill on the Nant Llechau (now the Roath Brook).

The site is very close to the present Waterloo Gardens and a mill occupied it until 1897.


The different types of corn and crops grown on the manor is well illustrated by the following extract from Ministers’ Accounts of 1315:

Sale of Wheat. He (Bartholomew de Badlesmere, Custodian) answers for £13.10s. of 30 quarters of corn, by estimation in the grange of Roath, delivered unto Payn Turbervill, the succeeding Custodian, as appeareth by indenture; price of a quarter 9s.  And for £18.6s.8d. of 55 quarters of beans, by estimation in the grange,…. price of a quarter 6s.8d.  And for 100s. of 15 quarters of barley, by estimation in the grange…..price of a quarter 6s.8d.  And for £19.18s.3d. of 132 quarters, 6 bushels of oats, by estimation of sheaf,…..price of a quarter 3s.

Sum £56.14.11d.

There is no evidence of small scale rival industry from the manorial documents relating to Roath in the medieval period although William Rees writes that a fulling mill (to cleanse and thicken cloth) was built to meet the needs of the local cloth-makers, whilst accounts for 1314 merely read:

“For the fulling-mill he (the Custodian, i.e. Badelesmere) anwereth nothing, because it is not yet made.”

Again in 1314, an I.P.M. stated:

“there is a certain fulling mill begun, which is let to Richard Toukere (Richard the Tucker) and his son, by letter of the Earl (of Gloucester) to hold for the term of his life with a certain island which is called Annotesham., ”

The home farm or demesne lay about a mile from the castle on the site of the present Roath Court Funeral Home where stood the old manor house.  Adjacent to the manor house were farm buildings, namely the barton (farmyard kept in the lord’s own hands), the grange (barn) and wattled ox-houses.  Nearby was the lord’s corn mill.

The following table indicates the proportion of the home farm given over to arable (i.e. demesne), pasture and meadow. The first few examples have been extracted from the inquisitions, whilst that of 1376 is from a Ministers” Accounts of that year.



YEAR                   ARABLE/DEMESNE                              MEADOW            PASTURE

1296                                  271                                                   140                     114

1307                                  305                                                   102                      100

1314                                  288                                                   106                      132

1349                                  319                                                   116                     165

1376                                  358.5                                               121                      171

Source: J.H.Matthews ‘Cardiff Records” Vol.1.

The table reveals the predominance of arable acreage within the manor, which was centred on the lord’s demesne.  That much of the land was indeed of good quality and a profitable source of investment is reflected in the fifteenth century by the widespread leasing or farming out of demesne plots by the lord, which in turn were aggregated to form estates or tenements such as Adamsdown.




The manor was peopled by both free and unfree tenants.  The former were classed as freeholders, the latter principally as customary holders or customars although cottars and tenants who held land “at the will of the lord” are both mentioned.

The customary tenants occupied primitive farmsteads of wattle and daub and they shared collectively with the lord in the arable land which had been cleared from the surrounding waste.  The open fields were made up of numerous strips, reaching out as far as the River Rhymney and the sea-wall and west to the boundary of the town of Cardiff.

The holding of an unfree tenant comprised a dozen strips each of about one acre in extent, the tenant paying to the lord in return a small rent and doing part-time unpaid labour for the cultivation of the lord’s section of the manor i.e. the demesne.

Labour services of the customary tenants had long been fixed by custom, each serf working with a plough in Autumn for three days during the sowing of the wheat in Spring at the oat-sowing.  In addition, he worked five mornings during the year harrowing and three and a half days hoeing the corn during the growing season.  At harvest he did six days work reaping and hauling corn to the barton there to devote three further days to threshing the corn.  He also worked one and a half days in summer, raking, and one day hauling firewood to the manor house at Christmas.

The lord was always at liberty to dispense with traditional services on payment of money.

Autumn work was worth 2d. a day, haymaking 2d., hoeing ½d., threshing 1½d., harrowing 1½d.

The following examples from the Ministers’ Accounts of 1316 will serve to give a good idea of the routine manorial life:

Custody of the carts and wains, to wit.

He (John Giffard de Brymmesfeld Custodian) accounts in one pair of new wheels bought for a cart, 3s.4d.  In the binding of the same with old bands, and in 6 crooks and 30 big nails bought for the same and in renewing of 6 “strakis” for the same, together with iron bought for the same, 6s.8½d.  And in one pair of new hempen traces bought for a cart, 9d. And in one pair of new wheels bought for a wain, 5s……

*            *            *            *            *

Small necessaries to wit. In 2 men hired for 6 days to enclose with rods and pales about the court and “punfald” of the .. manor, 2s.  In remaking one gate of the sheepfold, weak and broken, by piecework 5s.  And in nails bought for the same door, 10d.  And in hooks and hinges and other necessaries bought for the same, 14d.  And in repairing and mending breaches of the wall between the sea and the demesne lands, at various times, by piecework, 41s. 6d.

*            *            *            *            *

Mending of houses to wit….. 1000 tiles bought for the roofing of the grange and cowhouse there, 5s.  In lime bought for the same 18d.  In stipend of 1 tiler about the same matter, by piecework, 2s 6d.  In the mending of the stone wall of the … grange, with lime and stones bought for the same, by piecework 2s.

Custody of Autumn Labour, to wit….. the hand hoeing of 13 acres and a half of wheat, for divers noxious herbs there growing…..

According to William Rees, “a greater share of the work than was usual on medieval manors was carried out by permanent servants” at Roath.  Such servants included a reaper, waggoner, carter, ploughman, drivers of plough-oxen, cowman and dairymaid and each received a stipend. A Ministers” Accounts” of 1315 shows this:

Stipend. In stipend of 1 carter, 3 carter’s men, 1 shepherd and one reaper, for the whole year, 31s.6d.;each one 4s.6d.  In stipend of 2 ploughmen for 10 weeks in the time of sowing corn and oats 20d; 10d.each.

Sum 33s.2d.


In addition to their wage, servants also received a ‘livery’ of corn daily for their maintenance.  Several references in the accounts are made to the granting of ‘meslin” or mixed corn (wheat, barley and oats).

A certain number of villeins were employed during the busy harvest season at a wage of 4d. a day, cutting, tossing, and hauling hay to the stackyard at Roath to provide winter feed for the animals.

The unfree tenants carried out their services under the direction of a reeve or foreman.  The latter arranged the work schedule.  He was assisted by a reaper and a reapreeve (“Ripereve”) in the supervising of the compulsory services and the recording of rents.



An I.P.M. of 1307 states that:

there are 51 freeholders who hold certain lands and tenements and render by the year 61s.6½d…. And there are 17 customars who hold 189 acres of arable land and…..7 acres of meadow; and they render by the year 3ls.6d.

As well as illustrating some of the special work these customars had to perform, e.g. “And each of those 17 customars will carry 1 bundle of firewood, against Christmas to the Castle of Keyrdif”, this record also shows the preponderance of freeholders on the manor.  This therefore appears to be in line with the assertion stated earlier that there was a greater proportion of freemen in Wales than in England.

In an I.P.M. of 1349, held following the death by the Black Death of Hugh le Despenser on 8th February 1349, it is written that:

“there are 22 freeholders who hold divers small tenements by ancient feoffment, rendering by the year 48s.9½d.”


The reference to ‘ancient feoffment meant that their rights were secure, being based on long tradition.  Presumably such rights were of pre-Norman origin.  The most likely explanation for the sharp decline in the number of freeholders since 1307 is the Black Death (1348).

In 1349, 19 customars are recorded, 12 of whom held 12 acres of land in bondage, the remainder holding 9 acres of land in bondage.

In an I.P.M. of 1314, 18 customars holding 216 acres of land, rendering by the year 27s.6¼d. are recorded.  An unspecified number of freeholders holding divers tenements and rendering 53s.4½d. is also stated.  This document is also interesting in that it records another breed of tenant who:

“hold certain tenements at the will of the lord and render by the year, at the feast of St.Michael, 9s.2d.”

The rents of freeholders and customars in an I.P.M. of 1296 are given as 45s.2½d. and 45s.8d. respectively.  The only reference to cottars on the manor appears in this document, their rents being 22d.



Project Newsletter Vol.1. No.1.p.9 has already dealt with some of the earliest (written) references to Roath.  With the increase in manorial documentation and as the Middle Ages proceeded, more and more place names are referred to.

In the I.P.M. of 1314, the island of Annotesham has already been referred to.  Where this was is uncertain although it may equate with “Yelonde” given in a later Ministers’ Accounts.

In a Ministers’ Accounts for 1393 we see that a close called Morewlese was demised to John H’ton and his wife for a term of 30 years from the 27th year of the term. £4.13s.4d. of a certain parcel of sheaves and hay by Splot and Pottesmor (later Portmanesmore) sold to a John Gosselyn that year; 50s.0d. for the tithes of the sheaves of Walschmenhull (the upland of Pen-y-lan and Cyncoed was known in medieval times as Welshman’s Hill and followed an early road from Roath to Llysfaen) with three closes by Roth and as far as the ‘Hethe‘, sold that year.

At Appendix 3 is a list of manorial place-names extracted from three Ministers’ Accounts relating to Roath of 1487, 1492 and 1542/3.  The latter is exceptionally detailed and J.H.Matthews goes as far as to say that this document ‘virtually forms a directory of Cardiff and Roath for the middle of the 16th. century’.

The majority of these strange-sounding, indeed haunting names have long disappeared.  Today these lands “are now merged in the open moor or are overlaid with serried rows of houses or business premises”.  A few are still with us, e.g. Adamsdown, Portmanmoor, Splott, whilst J.S.Corbett (on what Matthews described as an ‘annotated chart’), has attempted to give approximate positions to others.  These are Roath Moor, Pulkey, Great Holmead, Brundon Land, Splott, Linches (Lower Marsh), Gascoin, Portmanmoor, Adamsdown, Elrose, Island.  See map at Appendix 2.

By the late Middle Ages, ‘farming’ of the demesne was as extensive as in England leading eventually to the break-up of the manorial system (at least as an all-pervasive institutional system) and the open-field method of cultivation.  By the 17th century we have other records which show that the process had long been complete.

The following Roath place-names are given in the manorial surveys for Roath Keynsham of 1650 and 1703.


1650 SURVEY                                                                             1703 SURVEY

Roath Mill                                                                                  Cwrt Bach

Ystafell y Qwm (Stabell y Cwm)                                             Pengam

Llwyn y Grant                                                                            The Back (also Abbot ’s Land)

Tir y Capel                                                                                  Pedair Erw Twe

Wedel Uchaf                                                                             Goose Lease

Cefn Coed                                                                                  Pinfold (the pound)

Mynydd Bychan (Great Heath)

Mynydd Ddyfal (Little Heath)

Ty Gwyn (Pen-y-lan Farm)


At least some of the above have the ring of modernity about them although it should always be remembered that many of the place-names given at Appendix 2 would fall within the manor of Roath Dogfield and would not therefore be included in the above list.

It is to the areas covered by the respective manors of Roath that we finally and briefly turn.

Map of Roath with old placenames superimposed

Map of Roath with old place names superimposed




Roath Dogfield represented that part of the original manor of Roath after the other two parts had been apportioned principally to the abbeys of Keynsham and Tewkesbury.  It comprised lands in the parishes of Roath, Llanishen, Lisvane, St.John’s and St. Mary’s.  In area it was the largest of the three manors.  The principal manor house was Roath Court and it was always in the hands of the lords of Cardiff Castle.

Rice Merrick in 1578 stated that the name is derived from a piece of land known as Bedd-y-Ci-du (“the grave of the black dog’).  Though there was a field of this name to the north of Llanishen Church, the supposition is doubtful.  The early forms of Dogfield are Dogefel, Dogguel, Doggavel and Docgevel (all late twelfth century) whilst Dogwyldescroft is recorded in an I.P.M. of 1440.  It is more plausible to argue that the name derives from the personal name of one William Docgeuel whose gifts to Margam Abbey in Roath are recorded in the 12th century.

Among the place-names given by Matthews as being within Roath Dogfield are the following:

(a) Adamsdown.

(b) Brendon (Brendowne 1440).  A farm name on the Roath moors which disappeared c.1820.  It was situated east of the northern part of Moorland Road – a road marked “Brundonway”, an old Norse word.

(c) Holmeads, Little and Great.  Meadow land, north of the Brendon, between it and Pengam Farm.  It survived until c.1820 and occupied low lying ground in a marsh.

(d) Stockescroft is the earliest recorded name in the district (c.1200).  It appears in later records as Skottescroft which lay “in Estmore” on a tongue of land formed by a winding of the Rhymney river, just below where Roath Brook joins it.

(e) Estmore (c.1200) later known as Rothismore.

(f) Ty Mawr (or Llys Du).  This was situated behind Roath Church and was demolished in 1969.  In 1748 it was occupied by Sir George Howells.

The Court Baron for the Marquess of Bute’s manors of Roath Dogfield and Tewkesbury as well as Llystalybont was held until c.1850 at the Cross Keys Inn just outside the East Gate of Cardiff.  It then moved to the old Angel Inn and then to the Cardiff Arms (now the Angel Hotel) and was still being held there at the time when Matthews was writing (c.1900).



This manor took rise from a gift by William, Earl of Gloucester to Keynsham Abbey of which he was the founder.  It comprised land between the Rhymney river and the road running along Pen-y-lan towards the present reservoir, a portion lying south of Cefn Onn ridge on each side of the road from Thornhill to Cardiff, as well as several scattered pieces (see Map at Appendix 1.)  After the Dissolution theManor was purchased by Sir Edward Lewis of the Van.  It continued in the Lewis family until same time between 1674-80 when the manor was sold to William Morgan of Tredegar.  It was Lord Tredegar who was lord of the manor in 1900 when Matthews was writing.  Place-names relating to Roath Keynsham have been shown in Table 2 earlier.



This manor consisted of certain scattered lands granted to Tewkesbury Abbey which on the Dissolution or shortly after were acquired by Sir George Herbert whose grandson, Sir William Herbert, built Herbert House.  They remained in the possession of his descendants until the late eighteenth century when on the failure of male entail they passed into the possession of the Earl of Bute (1793) and therefore the lord of Cardiff Castle.

It is difficult to ascribe precise boundaries to this manor, as Corbett himself points out in his notes to his map of the manors. All that can safely be said is that they comprised land in the lordship and also the town of Cardiff.



  1. Manorial Records.

Two manorial surveys for the manor of Roath Keynsham 1650 and 1703 have been examined.  They are reproduced in Archaelogia  Cambrensis, Fourth Series, No.54. (April 1883) pp.109 – 127.

There are many other pre-1800 manorial and other records relating to Roath in the muniments of the Morgan family of Tredegar Park and Bute Collections in the N.L.W.  The Tredegar collection is catalogued in ten typescript volumes (copies of which are also held by the Gwent Record Office, Cwmbran and the Arts and Social Studies Library (Salisbury Collection), University College, Cardiff.  The Collection is arranged according to boxes, but the topographical card index in the Manuscript Reading Room of the N.L.W. give references to the pages in the catalogues which relate to Roath.

The Bute Collection is boxed largely according to manors.  The material relating to Roath is mainly in Box 83, described in pages 47-54 of the present schedule of the Bute Collection.

Same Ministers’ Accounts and Inquisitiones Post Mortem relating to Roath are held in the papers as is a Survey of Rothe Dogfield 1622 (N.L.W. 83/720) and a rental for Roath Dogfield (no. date), (N.L.W. 83/775).


  1. Records of the County Borough of Cardiff (ed. J.H.Matthews, 6 vols., Cardiff 1898 – 1911).

Much use has been made of this invaluable work and Matthews’ transcriptions of original source material.  See especially Volume l. (Cardiff 1898) for Ministers’ Accounts and Inquisitiones Post Mortem; Volume 2 (Cardiff 1900) for manorial history; Volume 5 (Cardiff 1905) for place-name histories. J.S.Corbett’s ‘Notes on Map of the Manors’ is also contained in Volume 5.


  1. Use has also been made of some of the private papers of John Stuart Corbett held by the Cardiff Central Library; in particular, M.S.4.412 which shows same manorial place-names that Corbett superimposed on an 1898 O.S. map, scale 6″ to the mile. This map is no doubt the ‘Annotated Chart’ which Matthews refers to in his Schedule of Cardiff Place-names (C.R.5). As well as indicating Roath manorial names, Corbett covers other areas of Cardiff and particularly Leckwith -Cogan.


  1. William Rees: Cardiff: A History of the City (Cardiff 1962; revised ed. 1969). A succinct account of the Manor of Roath is given on pages 15 – 18.

For a lucid description of the working of South Wales manors in a more general, political and economic context, see the same author’s South Wales and the March, 1285 – 1415 (Oxford 1924).


  1. Supplementary material for the manors of Roath can be found in the Transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, LVI, 1923, Chapter 1X, D.R.Patterson: Early Cardiff (Exeter 1926), E.L.Chappell Old Whitchurch (Cardiff 1953), Rice Merrick Morganiae ArchaiographiaA Book of the Antiquities of Glamorganshire (1578; see the edition by Brian Ll. James. Cardiff 1983) published by the South Wales Record Society.


  1. For general uses of manorial records see W.B.Stephens: Sources for English Local History (Manchester 1973; revised Cambridge 1981) in particular pp.72 – 76 and the sources quoted there. Of more local Significance is Matthew Griffiths: ‘Manor Court Records and the Historian: Penmark, Fonmon and Barry, 1570 – 1622’ in Morgannwg, 25, 1981 pp. 43 – 78.


Jeff Childs

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  1. Editorial footnotes:


In England, the Common Law method of transferring a fee, or freehold.  It was a symbolical placing of the transferee in possession of the estate by delivering it to him.  If it were a house, the transferor might hand him the key of the front door.  If it were land he would hand him, on the land itself, a sod, or a twig, saying, “I liver this to thee in the name of seisin of Whitacre, which is bounded by” (here he would name the boundaries of the estate), “to have and to hold to thee and thy heirs,” or for life, or as the case may be.

After a while it became customary to set out the boundaries, etc., in a deed on parchment, sealed with the seal of the parties, and then the feoffment was somewhat in this form, “I liver this (sod, twig, etc.) to thee in the name of all lands set out in this my deed,” at the same time handing over the deed. The deed was called a charter of feoffment.  The Statute of Frauds (Charles II) made some writing legally necessary on the sale of land; but livery of seisin or feoffment was still necessary as well.  To evade the necessity for feoffment the device was introduced of employing two deeds, (1) a lease to the transferee, and (2) a release to him of the reversion.

Neither lease nor release required feoffment.  By the Real Property Act, 1845, conveyance of freeholds were made lawful by deed of grant, which is the method in force to-day.


SEISIN or SEIZIN (Old Fr. seisine, from seisir, to seize).  Word of French origin, used in feudal times for taking possession of land.  A man was seised of an estate when he took possession thereof.  After a time it was applied to freehold land only, but is now obsolete.  Primer seisin was the name given to the right possessed by sovereigns of taking the revenue of an estate held by a tenant-in-chief for a certain time, generally a year, whenever the holder thereof died.  This was abolished in England in 1660.




To appraise or value



In present context, a bracket.



Transfer of a right or landholding, usually in the form of a lease.



(Old Eng. ‘eln’) A measure of length varying in different countries. Those mostly used in this country were the English ell. 3’ 9″ and the Flemish ell. 27″.  (Cf. Old Eng: “elnboga’, elbow.)


An agreement etc. in writing on a document cut through the middle in a jagged line.  The whole text was written twice, each party keeping a portion, the authenticity of which could be evidenced by matching the separated portions.



Strakes were the sections of the iron rims of cart wheels.



Pair of ropes, chain or leather straps by which the collar of a draught animal was connected to the splinter-bar or swingle-tree. Hence the saying: “to kick over the traces.”



The word occurs p.34 (4th line from bottom of page).  In J.H.M.‘s original translation in C.R.Vol.1.p.141 of the 1316 M.A. he renders it as “tripod”, but in his Errata he substitutes “trippet”” which I cannot find in the Oxford Dictionary.  Without knowing what the Latin word is, it is not possible to say for certain what is meant here. It is probably a ‘tripod” or ‘trivet’, a three-legged stand for holding a vessel.


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J.S.Corbett’s annotated map reproduced by kind permission of the Cardiff Central Library.


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