Cowbridge Borough Records

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 214 BCOW
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 roll, 18 membranes, 498 papers, 174 volumes, 6 binders, 233 files, 54 bundles, 38 parchments, 35 folios, 3 seals, 1 manuscript, 35 booklets, 16 envelopes, 2 magazines, 4 plans, 1 item, 1 newspaper, 13 photographs, 1 box

Scope and Content

Clerks Department records including minutes and reports, letterbooks, charters and deeds, various files; Treasurer's Department records including rating and valuation records, ledgers, and housing and rent accounts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Cowbridge Municipal Borough originated as an Anglo-Norman walled borough in the thirteenth century located immediately west of a bridge carrying the medieval portway running from Cardiff towards Neath over the river Thaw or Ddawan. The borough developed in a linear fashion along the road and is actually referred to in a recital of its first known charter as Longa Villa, ‘long town’. The settlement was initially dominated by English settlers but gradually became more Welsh in character. Its location in a rich agricultural area on a major trading route ensured that it became and remained an important administrative and judicial site down to the late nineteenth century. After the formal re-arrangement of the county of Glamorgan 1536-42, Cowbridge obtained a court of Petty Sessions and regular visits of the Quarter Sessions. The borough itself was governed by a Court of Aldermen and mayor, a Court of Common Council (later Borough Council), a Court of Record, and a Court Leet (administering markets, bye-laws and orders). The Court of Common Council consisted of two bailiffs or portreeves - both of whom were justices of the peace, twelve aldermen and twelve capital burgesses with a town clerk. Other officers mentioned in later records included a treasurer, two sergeants at mace, clerks to the market and shambles, six constables, and town crier. Corporation income derived mainly from the tolls of markets and fairs, leasesof council land and rents of council property.

The first surviving charter was granted to the borough by Richard de Beauchamp, earl of Worcester, Lord Le Despenser and Abergavenny, in 1421 (Glamorgan Archives DCOW/CHARTER1) confirming and reciting an earlier charter granted by Thomas Le Despenser, lord of Glamorgan and Morgan, in 1397. This itself recites and confirms grants made by Thomas son and heir of Edward Le Despenser, lord of Glamorgan and Morgan, and his wife Elizabeth made in 1358 and Hugh Le Despenser in 1340. Richard de Beauchamp also confirmed the earliest known charter granted by Richard de Clare in 1254 giving the burgesses all the (unspecified) liberties and free customs held by Cardiff and Newport.

In 1886 the burgesses of Cowbridge obtained a charter of incorporation under the Municipal Corporations Act 1861. Cowbridge, however, remained a small town - important to the agricultural community and immediate area but increasingly marginalised by the shift of economic wealth and political power to urbanised and industrialised parts of Glamorgan. It lacked the resources to take on the growing range of duties imposed on local authorities. In 1974 most of its administrative functions were taken away and merged with that of other authorities to form the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council retaining only the limited powers of a town council. The borough council was displaced by the Vale of Glamorgan (unitary) Council in 1996.

Access Information

Public records

Items containing information on named individuals may be restricted in accordance with the Data Protection Act and GA policy.

Other Finding Aids

Detailed list available

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Good condition

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Richard Morgan for the Glamorgan Record Office, with reference to Lemuel John Hopkin-James, Old Cowbridge (Cardiff 1922), John Richards, The Cowbridge Story (Bridgend 1956), and Brian Ll James and David J Francis, Cowbridge and Llanblethian. Past and present (Barry and Cowbridge 1979)

Appraisal Information

All records which meet the collection policy of Glamorgan Archives have been retained.

Custodial History

[Items deposited 19 March 1976: BCOW/7/12, 14-21; BCOW/C/11/16-25; BCOW/13, 14; BCOW/T/9/13-19; BCOW/T/13-16; BCOW/T/18-24]


Accruals are not expected.

Related Material

Inspeximus chartergranted by Richard de Beauchamp 1421 (DCOW/CHARTER1); declarations of oaths by mayors of Cowbridge 1894-1926 (D210); minutes book of the Young Men's Institute 1896-1908 (DXRH/1); petition by Cowbridge Borough for renewal of borough charter 1681 (DXY); Borough of Cowbridge Food Control Committee 1917-1921 (DX666).