Carmarthen Town Council and County Borough of Carmarthen

Scope and Content

This collection includes council and committees minutes, letters books, finance books, rate books, reports of the surveyor and medical officer of health, education records (pupils’ attendances), quarter sessions, burial records, charities, etc

It also contains records created by bodies which the corporation inherited the duties, such as the Pavement and Lighting commissioners and Local Board of Health.

Administrative / Biographical History

During the Middle Ages, Carmarthen was divided into ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Carmarthen. The former was governed under the priory and has its own courts, fairs and markets whereas ‘New’ Carmarthen was under the authority of the castle. The reformation put an end to the division and by 1546 a new charter amalgamated ‘Old’ Carmarthen with ‘New’ Carmarthen. Known under the name of the ‘Mayor Burgesses and Commonalty of the Borough of Carmarthen’, it stipulated that a mayor and 20 burgesses were to be appointed and then they elected a common council of 20 citizens. A mayor and officers were elected at Michaelmas. The next charter of 1604 confirmed privileges and possessions but raised the town to the status of county borough. Following disputes regarding election of corporation officers, a new charter was granted in 1764: a common council of 20 members was elected by a mayor and 40 burgesses. This remained unchanged until the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, when the governing body was to be composed of one mayor, six aldermen and 18 councillors.

The County Borough of Carmarthen was abolished in 1974. Most of its responsibilities were transferred to Carmarthen District Council. The newly created Carmarthen Town Council consisting of a mayor and 18 councillors, deals with the town cemetery, maintenance of St Peter’s Civic hall, parks, allotments, etc. There are three committees (general purposes, finance and management) and a town clerk carries out administrative tasks.

The earliest surviving record of the corporation dates from 1568. Reading the report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the Municipal Corporations in England and Wales of 1834 shows a lack of interest in record-keeping by the officers in charge. Asked by the commissioners regarding the record-keeping of the charters granted to Carmarthen, the deputy recorder answered that ‘no one troubled himself about either of the charters, after the last was granted in 1764’. Furthermore, the report states that the records created by the chamberlains (officers in charge of the finances and collecting rents) were not kept in books but on single sheets of paper. The chamberlain explained that he had no access to the accounts of his late predecessor. This state of affairs explains why no records about the finance of the borough, except a few rentals, have survived.

Some items created by the council have simply strayed from local authority and found their way into private hands. In 1902, in his answer to the questionnaire sent by the committee to enquire as to existing arrangements for the collection and custody of local records, the town clerk answered that members of the unreformed council (pre 1835) helped themselves to records. It is most likely that the Carmarthen book of ordinances (1569 – 1606) was one of them: it was bought at a public auction at Sotheby’s in 1973. Some were fortunately collected and preserved by the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club.


The catalogue is divided into two sections: County Borough of Carmarthen and its successor, Carmarthen Town Council.

The County Borough of Carmarthen comprises mostly 18th and 20th century documents. It is arranged according to the various officers of the corporation (town clerk, treasurer, surveyor, medical officer of health, etc).

Following the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835, Carmarthen had its own police force. It has been decided that these documents will be included into the Dyfed Powys Police catalogue. The corporation also managed the burial ground (from 1853) and some charities (from 1843). As Carmarthen Town council is still responsible for these two functions, the records have been listed under the said council.

Access Information

Ar Agor / Open

Dim cyfyngiadau / No Restrictions

Acquisition Information

Adnau preifat / Private deposit


See Custodial History above.

Other Finding Aids

Mae copiau clawr caled o`r catalogau ar gael yn Archifau Sir Gaerfyrddin ac yn y Gofrestr Cenedlaethol Archifau. Polisi Archifau Sir Gaerfyrddin yw catalogio yn iaith y ddogfen / Hard copies of the catalogue are available at Carmarthenshire Archives and the National Register of Archives. It is the policy of Carmarthenshire Archives to catalogue in the language of the document.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Cyflwr da / Good condition

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Annette Strauch for Archifau Sir Gaerfyrddin / Carmarthenshire Archives. The following sources were used in the compilation of the description: Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Catalogue of Carmarthen Borough Records; Collis, Kim, The West Glamorgan Archive Service, A Guide to the Collections (Swansea, 1998); Lodwick, Joyce, Lodwick, Victor, The Story of Carmarthen (Carmarthen, 1994); Lloyd, Sir John E., A History of Carmarthenshire, vol. I ; vol. II (Cardiff, 1935, 1939); Prys-Jones, A.G., The Story of Carmarthenshire, vol.I (Landebie, 1959); R.A. Griffiths (ed.), Boroughs of Mediaeval Wales (Cardiff, 1978).

Appraisal Information

Mae'r holl gofnodiadau sy'n cydymffurfio â pholisi casglu Archifau Sir Gaerfyrddin wedi eu cadw / All records which meet the collection policy of the Carmarthenshire Archives have been retained

Custodial History

In 2013, it was decided to bring all records created by the borough scattered over several accessions into one single catalogue. The main accessions are as follows:

CRO (M): documents collected by Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society transferred in 1964 and 1973.

CRO (M) series B: documents collected by Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society transferred in 1969.

Acc. No 1612 – 1694 and Acc. 4277: Carmarthen borough records transferred by town clerk in 1960 and 1963. These documents were catalogued in 1964 under reference S/MB. Looking at the catalogue, it is possible to say that some documents were disposed of. Unfortunately, there is no detailed list of the records transferred.

Acc. 7024: plans registered deposited by the planning department in 1993.

Acc. 5654 and 5656: Carmarthen borough documents, deposited in 1980 (catalogued under CDX 179).

Acc. 5559, 5570, 5786, 5819, 6192, 6326, 6332, 6674, 6707, 6898 and 7007: Carmarthen borough records transferred in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1989 and 1992 (formerly catalogued under Carm. Boro.).

Acc. 6707: Carmarthen borough charter, 1764, deposited in 1989.

Acc. 6674: planning registers, deposited in 1989.

Acc. 8458: Carmarthen town council records deposited in 2011.


Disgwylir croniadau / Accruals are expected

Related Material

Report from Commissioners on Municipal Corporations, 1834 (DX 117/5).

Personal records of Mr Llewellyn, Carmarthen town councillor (1983) (DX 193).

Personal records of William Thomas, mayor of Carmarthen in 1910 (DX 234).

Records of Councillor W. Roy Nicholls, mayor of Carmarthen, 1973 – 1974 (DX 263).

Report of Belgian Refugees committee (DX 303).


Davies, John, ‘A tale of ragged record keeping in Carmarthenshire’ in Carmarthenshire Journal, xli, 2005.Davies, John, The Carmarthen Book of Ordinances 1569 – 1606.Lloyd, John E, A History of Carmarthenshire, Cardiff, 1935.Evans, Michael C. S., ‘Expenses incurred by the borough of Carmarthen, 1764 – 1775. In relation to the obtaining of a new charter’, Carmarthenshire Journal, iv, p. 26 – 31.Lodwick, Joyce and Victor, The Story of Carmarthen, Carmarthen, 1972.Prys-Jones, A. G., ‘The Story of Carmarthenshire’, 1972.Wager, David A., ‘Carmarthenshire Politics and the Reform Act of 1832’, Carmarthenshire Journal, vol. X, 1974.