Two Bridgend Solicitors : Randall and Stockwood

In 1952 our 75th accession, a deed of land in Cowbridge, was deposited by the firm of H.J. Randall, Solicitors of Bridgend and in 1961 our 75th accession came from Stockwood Solicitors, another firm practising in the town.

Thomas Stockwood is listed as a solicitor in the 1865 trade directory working from an office in the town hall, whilst the Randall family began practicing law in Bridgend when William Richard Randall opened for business in Nolton Street in the 1880s.

The papers of these firms (refs. DRA and DST) illustrate the variety of material that can come to us from solicitors’ offices.  Solicitors are involved in many of our most important life events, compiling and safeguarding our wills, handling divorces and overseeing house sales, so we expect to find legal documents such as copies of wills and deeds to properties and land included in their collections.

A selection of legal documents

A selection of legal documents

However, solicitors often played significant roles in their local communities, acting in a legal capacity for many official bodies, as well as agents for landed estates and manors and other local organisations in which they had a personal interest. Randall of Bridgend, for example, acted as land agents for the Earl of Dunraven and stewards of many local manors. Thomas Stockwood was clerk to the magistrates  and agent to the Dowager Countess of Dunraven.  He was also Honorary Secretary to the Rest in Porthcawl, and the collection includes a letter written to him from Florence Nightingale in 1871, where she comments on plans for a new building.

Florence Nightingale's letter

Florence Nightingale’s letter

Florence Nightingale's letter

Florence Nightingale’s letter

Both collections reflect the varied interests of the solicitors as well as their diverse clientele and include papers relating to collieries, local families, public utilities, agriculture, railways, the Glamorganshire Rifle Volunteers and poetry.

The importance of finding out what records were held by solicitors was recognised in the early days of the Record Office. In 1947 letters were sent by County Archivist, Madeleine Elsas, to local firms all over Glamorgan. The responses to the letters offer a fascinating glimpse of post war life for many solicitors.  Some in Swansea reported that most of their historic records had been ‘destroyed by enemy action or saturated with water following such action’. The war had other consequences with one firm in Pontypridd reporting that ‘most of our old files and documents relating to the last century and the early part of this century were either used as salvage during the late war, or destroyed in office reorganisation at the end of the war’.

However, the speculative letters from the Record Office did encourage many firms to search ‘out old boxes and bundles’ as one solicitor described it and resulted in the deposit of many rich and varied collections.

Records of the Riverside Ward Labour Party, Cardiff

The 75th Accession for 2012 comprises of the records of the Riverside branch of the Labour party. The Riverside electoral ward covers the inner suburbs of Cardiff on the western bank of the river Taff, and lies within the Cardiff West parliamentary constituency.

This accession includes the minutes of the monthly labour party meetings from 1975 – 1986, as well as other correspondence received by the branch, both at a local and national level, including, for example, details of the opening of a freightliner terminal at Swansea in 1969.

Hidden between the pages of one of the minute books is a detailed map of the riverside area.

 

Map of the Riverside Ward

Map of the Riverside Ward

 

Together these documents form a snapshot of how this local branch of the labour party functioned in the 1970’s and 80’s.

This accession had previously been deposited in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.  In 2012 it was transferred to Glamorgan Archives as the appropriate local place of deposit.

Glamorgan Archives holds the records of many local political parties and would welcome additions to these holdings.

Manorial Documents

The 75th accession in 2000 was a sale catalogue of lordships of manors to be sold at auction by order of the University of Wales (ref.: DX994/1).

On 6 July 2000, Phillips International auctioned 13 “lord of the manor” titles, each with the promise of a coat of arms but with no land, on behalf of the University of Wales. The titles and accompanying land were inherited from the Church of Wales following its disestablishment in 1914 when the university became trustee of the church’s estate. The proceeds went to the university itself, the four university colleges in Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea and to the National Library of Wales. The auction was the fourth and final to be held by the University since 1984 and thirty titles had previously been sold for an estimated £200,000.  (Ref: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/wales-will-let-you-lord-it-for-just-pounds-30000/152285.article)

One of the lordships for sale was the manor of Worlton in Glamorgan. Manorial lordships can be bought and sold, but a new lord is not automatically entitled to the documents relating to the manor, unless these have been specifically conveyed to him.  A search of the Manorial Documents Register (MDR) shows that records of the Manor of Worlton (also known as Dyffryn Golych and Tref Gloych, and situated in the parish of St. Lythan’s) are held by the National Library of Wales.

Sale catalogue of lordships of manors

Sale catalogue of lordships of manors

The MDR identifies the nature and location of manorial records and is maintained by the National Archives. You can search for records relating to Wales at:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/mdr/

It is not a register of title to manorial lordships and it does not collect information about the ownership or descent of manors but you can discover where manorial records are held. Records listed in the MDR include court rolls, surveys, maps, terriers, documents and all other documents relating to the boundaries, franchises, wastes, customs or courts of a manor. Title deeds are not included in the Register.

If you want to find out more about using Manorial Records for family history, community history, and house history there are two useful guides to get you started:

http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/projects/manorialrecords/using/local.htm

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/manorial-documents-register-lordships.htm

 

Chapel Records

Chapels have played a significant part in the recent history of Glamorgan.  Amongst our 75 75th accessions are the records of the Mid Glamorgan Mission of the Wesleyan Methodist Church (1998/75), and those of Seion Baptist Chapel, Cwmaman, Aberdare (2013/75).  These are just two of many chapel archives held with us.

Chapel records can include registers of baptisms, marriages and burials; membership records; annual reports; minutes of meetings; accounts; building plans; Sunday school records; photographs; records of chapel societies such as the Band of Hope… the list goes on and on.

Glamorgan Archives also holds the Mid Glamorgan Chapel Survey (ref.: MGCC/CS).  Compiled by the Planning Department of Mid Glamorgan County Council during the 1970s, the survey details every chapel in the Mid Glamorgan area at that time, and includes survey forms, front elevation drawings and plans of the buildings, brief histories and photographs of the chapel, along with additional notes and correspondence relating to the survey.

Bethania Baptist Chapel, Blaengarw

Bethania Baptist Chapel, Blaengarw

Many chapels across south Wales have closed in recent years as congregations dwindle.  Unfortunately, their records don’t always reach us here at Glamorgan Archives.  If you are involved in a local chapel – be it a thriving cause or one that is struggling – please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice and guidance on the preservation of your documentary heritage.