Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for MONTGOMERYSHIRE, or MoNTGOMERY

MONTGOMERYSHIRE, or MoNTGOMERY, an inland county of Wales; bounded, on the N, by Merioneth and Denbighshire; on the E, by Salop; on the S, by Radnorshire; on the SW, by Cardiganshire; on the W, by Cardiganshire and Merioneth. Its outline is somewhat irregular, with variety of indentations and projections; but may be described as pentagonal, with the sides facing the N, the E, the ESE, the SW, and the WNW. Its boundary lines are mostly artificial. Its greatest length, from NE to SW, is 37 miles; its greatest breadth is 29 miles; its mean breadth is about 21 miles; its circuit is about 135 miles; and its area is 483,323 acres. The surface, in most of the E, to the mean breadth of about 5 miles, is a mixture of rich vale and pleasant hill, luxuriant, warm, and low; but the surface, all elsewhere, is prevailingly mountainous, moorish, bleak, and wild. The Berwyn mountains range along the NW boundary, and have a culminating altitude of 2,104 feet; the Breiddin hills, with Moel-y-Golfa particularly conspicuous, form a striking group in the E; the Llandinam hills, with culminating altitude of 1,898 feet are in the S; a great tableau, with average altitude of about 1,000 feet, is in the centre; and the magnificent Plinlimmon, with altitude of 2,463 feet, is on the SW boundary. Many of the heights, though less picturesque than those of some other Welsh counties, are more valuable, not a few of them being clothed with verdure to the summits. Comparatively low grounds also hang on the skirts of many of them; while numerous vales intersect them in all directions; and these, taken with the rich tracts in the E, form a much larger proportion of fertile land than might be expected to exist in so prevailingly upland a region.

A line of water-shed, dividing the basin of the Dovey from the basins of the Severn and the Wye, runs from N to S, and separates about one-fifth of the county on the W from about four-fifths on the E. The streams in the W portion, therefore, are all affluents of the Dovey; while those of the E are chiefly the Severn and its W affluents, on to the influx of the Vyrnwy. The Wye rises under Plinlimmon, near the SW border, and has a run of only about 10 miles within the county. The Severn rises very near the source of the Wye, a little to the N; courses around and along the S, the SE, and the E, seldom further than 3½ miles from the boundary; and receives, from within the county, the tributaries of the Clywedog, the Tarannon, the Rhiw, and the Vyrnwy; the last of which has the important affluents of the Banw, the Bechan, the Einion, the Brogan, the Cain, and the Tanat. Most of the streams are very fine, for at once their scenery, their water, and their fish. About a dozen small lakes, chiefly Beguelin, Glaslyn, Llyngwyddior, Llyn-Hîr, and Llyn-yr-Afange, add to the variety. Minera1 springs are at Llanfair and Meifod. Silurian rocks form, with slight exceptions, the entire county; the lower Silurian throughout the NE and SW thirds, and the upper Silurian throughout the central third. Slate is worked at Llangynnog, Llanidloes, and other places; millstones are quarried in the Breidden hills; limestone is worked at Llanymynech and Porthywaen: a little coal is found near Coedwae; lead ore, with silver in it, occurs at Llanbrynmair, Craigy-y-Mwyn, Esgairhîr, Pennant, Tallifi, Isgar-Gallid, and Dymfyngum; copper-ore was found by the Romans at Llanymynech; and zinc-ore occurs at Llangynnog and Llanfyllin.

About one-eighth of the area is arable land, about onethird is pasture, and about one half is common or waste. The soils in the vales are chiefly argillaceous, becoming more and more loamy and rich in the course of their descent; and those in the uplands consist chiefly of the detritus of schistose rocks. Agriculture, considering the natural disadvantageousness of the region, is in a very advanced condition. Clean farming, particularly in the E, is highly appreciated; and oats, barley, rye, wheat, pease, vetches, turnips, clover, and hemp are grown. Yet the farm-houses, in other parts than the E, are aggregately far from good,-many of them timbered; and the cottages are very poor. The native cattle, a small brindled short-legged breed, deep in the car case, are kepton the inferior farms; and the Devonshire and Herefordshire breeds abound on the best lands. Two kinds of sheep are fed on the hills; the one a small native breed, from 8 to 10 lbs. the quarter; the other the Kerry Hill breed, hornless, fine-woolled, and about 12 lbs. the quarter. The small merlyn ponies abound on the hills; and a good breed of horses is reared in the vales. Cattle, butter, and cheese are exported in considerable quantities; a little cider is made; and oak-plantations, to supply an exportation of oak for ship-building, are maintained. Flannel and woollen cloth are the chief manufactures; and, at the census of 1861, the flannel employed 290 males and 218 females,-the woollen cloth, 843 males and 703 females. One railway, coming in from Oswestry, goes along all the E and the SE, past Welshpool, Montgomery, and Newtown, to Llanidloes; two fork from the preceding at Llanidloes, to go toward respectively Builth and Lampeter; another deflects from the first at Llanymynech, and goes westward to Llanfyllin; another, in course of formation in 1867, deflects at the same point in an opposite direction, and passes through a small portion of the NE border, to form direct communication toward Shrewsbury; another deflects from the first at Welshpool, and goes east-north-eastward into junction with the last towards Shrewsbury; two others, in course of formation in 1867, deflect from the first at Montgomery, and go respectively north-eastward towards Shrewsbury and south-eastward towards BishopsCastle; another deflects from the first at Newtown, and goes westward, past Carno, Llanbrynmair, and Machynlleth, toward Aberystwith; and a short branch deflects from the same point as the last, and goes eastward to Kerry. The Montgomeryshire canal gives a communication of 24 miles along the valley of the Severn, from Newtown to Llanymynech; sends off a branch of 3 miles to Guilsfield; and communicates, by a branch from Llanymynech, with the Ellesmere canal.

The county contains 48 parishes, parts of 9 other parishes, and 1 extra-parochial tract; and is divided into the boroughs of Llanidloes and Welshpool, and the hundreds of Cawrse, Deythur, Llanfyllin, Llanidloes, Machynlleth, Mathrafel, Montgomery, Newtown, and Pool. The act of 1844, for consolidating detached parts of counties, annexed to Montgomeryshire the township of Carreghova, previonsly belonging to Denbighshire. The registration county gives off one township to Merioneth, and one parish and part of two others to Salop; takes in one township from Cardiganshire, three parishes and part of another from Denbighshire, two parishes from Merioneth, and one parish and parts of two others from Salop; comprises 568,121 acres; and is divided into the districts of Montgomery, Newtown, Llanfyllin, and Machynlleth. The assize towns are Welshpool for Lent, and Newtown for Summer; the sessions and election town is Montgomery; the market-towns are Welshpool, Newtown, Montgomery, Llanfair, Llanfyllin, Llanidloes, and Machynlleth; the only towns with each above 2,000 inhabitants are Welshpool, Newtown, and Llanidloes; and there are upwards of 300 small towns, villages, and hamlets. The chief seats are Lymore Park, Nantcribba, Bodfach, Gregynog, Aberfechan, Aberiarth, Llwydiarth Broadway, Bryngwyn, Dolforwyn, Dolgnog, Garth, Garthmill, Glanhafren, Greenhill, Leighton, Mathavarn, Mellington, Newtown House, Rhiwport, Trelydan, and Vaynor. The county is governed by a lord lieutenant, a sheriff, 7 deputy lieutenants, and about 40 magistrates; and is in the home military district, the North Wales judicial circuit, and the dioceses of St. Asaph, Bangor, and Hereford. The police force, in 1864, comprised 29 men, and was maintained at an annual cost of £2,392. The crimes committed in 1864, were 116; the persons apprehended, 1 29; the known depredators or suspected persons at large, 372; the houses of bad character, 67. One member is sent to parliament by a group of six boroughs within the county, and 1 by the rest of the county. Electors of the latter in 1833,2,523; in 1865,3,339,-of whom 1,860 were freeholders, and 1,284 were occupying tenants. Real property in 1815, £207,286; in 1843, £341,086; in 1860, £350,962,-of which £1,847 were in quarries, £3,262 in mines, £20 in fisheries, £2,913 in railways, and £489 in gas-works. Pop. in 1801,48,184; in 1821, 60,245; in 1841,69,607; in 1861,66,919. Inhabited houses, 13,501; uninhabited, 413; building, 81. Pop. of the registration county, in 1851,77,142; in 1861, 76,923. Inhabited houses, 15,608; uninhabited, 509; building, 100.

The territory now forming Montgomeryshire was par of the country of the ancient Ordovices; was included by the Romans in their Britania Secunda; became part of the Welsh kingdom of Powys or Mathraval; was the scene of sanguinary struggles between the princes of that kingdom and the Saxon princes of Mercia; was overrun by the famous Saxon king Offa, who built the dyke of his name along its E border, and included the eastern. belt in his kingdom of Mercia; took afterwards the name of Sîr Tre-Faldwyn, signifying Baldwin's Towns-shire, from the same Baldwin, lord of the marches, who built a castle at Montgomery; was constituted a county, directly under the English crown, by Henry VIII.; and made considerable figure in the civil war of Charles I. Ancient British camps, cairns, and tumuli, are numerous. Druidical stones are at Newydd-Fynyddedd. The Sarn Hîr Roman way traversed the county by Meifod and Mathraval; and vicinial or diverging ways went from their Caer-Sws station on the Sarn Hîr way near Newtown. Another Roman station was at Meifod; and Roman camps are at Cefn-Caer, Castell-Caereinion, and Moelddelwyn. Old castles, or remains of them, are at Montgomery, Dolforwyn, and Powys; and Owen Glendower's old parliament house is in Machynlleth. Several of the oldest existing churches are curious structures, with ancient wooden upper stories to the towers, and with wood-covered spires.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "an inland county of Wales"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Montgomeryshire AncC
Place: Montgomeryshire

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