The Universal British Directory 1791
CAERLEON, or CARLEON, in Monmouthshire, is situated on the river Usk, is 20 miles from Monmouth, 14 from Chepstow, 3 from Newport, 26 from Bristol, and 148 from London. It was once the metropolis of all Wales, was called by the Romans Isca Silurum, and, for beauty and extent, next to London and York; was then the third city in Britain, having been an archbishop's see, from the establishment of Christianity in this island, by the conversion of king Lucius, A.D. 182, till about the year of Christ, 521, when the see was translated by St. David to Menevia, in Pembrokeshire, since called from him St. David's. In the time of the Romans, here lay the legion called Isca, to keep the Silures in awe, and it was then considered as the pricipal Roman station of the island. Here have often been found the remains of Roman antiquities and divers coins; and there is to be seen at this day the ruins of an amphitheatre, the form of which is oval, whose diameter is very large, bounded with an intrenchment of earth. Here the renowned king Arthur mostly kept his court, and here he instituted that celebrated order of knighthood, stiled, the Order of the Round Table. Here, in ancient times, and even after the Saxon Conquest, was an university, wherein philosophy, astronomy, and other sciences, were professed and studied. Its walls were built by the Romans with brick, and it is said were three miles in compass; it had three churches besides the university, and many elegant structures, besides baths. It is said to have extended heretofore to St. Julian's, and was a place of considerable strength in the reign of Henry the Second, for the valiant Lorwerth ab Owen ab Caradoc, Lord of Caerleon, defended it a long time against the king's forces, though he was at last overpowered by numbers and dispossessed of it, but with what justice is entirely out of the question.
In the Welch language it is called Caer-Lleon, ar Wysg. The name signifies the fortress of Lleon, upon Usk, being so named from Lleon, a very ancient British king, its founder, who was son to Brutus Darianlus, as the antient British historians inform us, and not from the Roman legion stationed there, as Camden and his followers fondly imagine. It was greatly improved and enlarged by Dunwallo Moel Mutius, the father of Belinus and Brennus, about 400 years before the commencement of the Christian aera, insomuch that be hath been considered as its founder ever since, and from his time it became for many centuries the seat of royal residence, and the distinguished burial-place of the British kings.
Caerleon at present is but an indifferent market-town, having a long wooden bridge over the Usk, with a weekly market on Thursday, which is in general well supplied. There is also a small market on Saturday for butchers meat. It has three fairs in the year, viz. May 1, July 21, and September 20; and also a cattle and pig-market the second Monday in every month.
There is an Anabaptist meeting house in this town. Also a free-school for 20 boys and 10 girls, who are cloathed and educated.
There is a considerable tin-work at this place, the property of John Butler, Esq. and an iron-forge, the property of David Tanner, Esq.
The post comes in from the Westward every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, and returns in the evening of the same day. The letters from all parts of England for this place, first go to Newport by the Milford mail-coach.
trading vessel, from this place to Bristol, sails every
Tuesday and returns every Friday. The fare for passengers
is 1s. and freights 4d. per cwt.
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The following are the principal inhabitants of Caerleon:
Blannin Nicholas, Esq. (F.)
Butler John, Esq. (F.)
Evans Evan, Gent (F.)
Nicholl William, Esq. (F.)
[Note: (F.) denotes a 'Freeholder' ie person possessing a vote.]
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Morgan Henry, Esq. (F.) Clerk of the Peace for Monmouthshire
Walters John, (F.) Attorney
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Alsop Thomas, Victualler (3 Mariners)
Baghot Wm. Hair-dresser & Victualler
Barton Samuel, Shoemaker
Charles Jn. Innkeeper, (Hanbury Arms)
Charles John, Mason
Charles Walter, Butcher & Victualler
Cull Mary, Victualler (Rose & Crown)
Coomer William, Farmer
Davies George, (F.) Timber-dealer
Davies George, Cooper
Davies Ann, Victualler (Old Bull)
Davies Herbert, Shoemaker
Davies George, Victualler (Old George)
Edwards, Samuel, Chandler
Edwards John, (F.) Maltster
Evans Evan, Nailor
Evans Rich. Victualler and Hoop-maker
Griffiths Ann, Sadler
Griffiths Walter, Tyler and Plaisterer
Gronow Mary, Victualler (White Hart)
Grove Ann, Victualler
Harris George, (F.) Farmer
Howell John, Officer of Excise
Hughes Roger, (F.) Linen-draper, &c.
Hughes William, Maltster and Farmer
Jenkins David, Grocer
Jenkins Edward, Grocer
Jones Reuben, (F.) Labourer
Lawrence Paul, Victualler (New Inn)
Lawrence Mary, Victualler
Lawrence Mary, Grocer
Lewis Walter, Glazier
Lewis Edward, Smith
Lewis William, Farmer and Hallier
Lewis William, Shoemaker
Martin William, Victualler, Shoe-maker, and Musician
Matthews Thomas, (F.) House Carpenter and Joiner
Meredith Howell, (F.) Linen-draper
Morgan James, (F.) Grocer
Morgan William, Victualler & Smith
Morgan Edward, Farmer
Morgan John, (F.) Grocer
Morgan Edward, Carpenter
Phillips David, (F.) Cooper
Paul Rowland, Mason
Price Mary, Grocer
Pritchard, Butler, & Pritchard, Maltsters and Dealers in Spirituous Liquors
Pritchard John, (F.) Shoemaker
Richards Richard, Farmer
Rees Richard, Maltster
Rogers Richard, Linen-draper, &c.
Rudhall Richard, Victualler (Bull)
Thomas Edward, Taylor
Thomas John, Mason
Townsend Edmund, Baker
Trafford Thomas, (F.) Grocer
Williams Charles, (F.) Tanner
Williams John, (F.) Currier and Leather-cutter
Williams Francis, Taylor
Williams Edward, Tinman
Williams Thomas, Shoemaker
Williams W. Currier and Leather-cutter
Watkins William, Hat-maker
Woods John, Gardener
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the neighbourhood of Caerleon are the following villages
and gentlemen's seats, viz. at Lantarnam, three miles
North-west, is the seat of Charles Fettiplace and Edward
Bluet, Esqrs. who are lords of the manor of Magna Porta.
- Two miles East, is Kemeys, the seat of Mrs. Lord, widow.
- Two miles South-east, is Lanwerne village, and the seat
of Robert Salisbury, Esq. a justice of the peace. - One
mile to the South-west is the old mansion of St. Julian's,
formerly a seat of some magnitude, but is now only a farm-house.
- Half a mile South-east is Christchurch, the village of
which joins Caerleon at the bridge.
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Is sixteen miles from Bristol, 141 from London, nineteen south-south-west of Monmouth, twelve from Cardiff, and sixteen from Chepstow; and is a pretty considerable town, with a good haven, and a market on Saturdays; fairs on Holy-Thursday, Whit-Thursday, Aug. 15, and Nov. 6.
This place arose from the ruins of Caerleon, and had a castle, which stands on the westernmost bank of the river Uske, a small distance north of the bridge and at the east of the town. It was apparently erected for the defence of the passage over the river, towards which it has three strong towers, but towards the town it has only a common wall, without any flanks or defences. It is in figure a right angled parallelogram, measuring about 46 yards by 32, the greatest length running from north to south or in a direction parallel to the course of the river. It was built with small rubble-stones, but coigned with square ones. It seems to have been nearly finished, and the windows, many of which are of what is called the Gothic sort, elegantly decorated. At present it is used for a farm-yard. Near it was a Roman military way, called Julia Strata; and they shew a ford here in a stream, called Nant-Hentham, where King Henry II found no small advantage by his freckled face; because he no sooner passed this ford; though by mere accident, but the Welch, who were very credulous of old prophecies, submitted, because their oracle, Merlin Sylvester, had foretold they should be conquered by a prince of that complexion; who should pass the ford.
is not far from this place, where is preserved a fair and
entire monument of a Roman soldier of the second legion,
which was found by the sexton, digging a grave, 90 years
ago, and is particularly described by Dr. Gibson, in his
additions to Camden.
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The directory was published in five volumes: Volume 1 deals mainly with the London area comprising the City of London, Westminster and Southwark. Volumes 2 to 4 cover the wider country. (Note this title although termed a "British" directory only covers England and Wales.) Volume 5 comprises an appendix and a collection of supplements containing omissions, alterations, amendments, etc received to late to be included in the main volumes but which was bound as is with the original work. The supplements relate to the London area.
In the PLAN of the WORK it states:
"… the present DIRECTORY is not confined to the mercantile and trading part of the Citizens and Inhabitants of the Metropolis alone, but comprehends every City, Town, and principal Village in England and Wales …"
It is interesting to note that Caerleon is described, and its occupants listed, in the main body of the work. Newport, however, only made it to the APPENDIX - with no listing of its inhabitants. This was before Newport's huge expansion in the 19th Century. In 1791 Newport, like Caerleon, still had a wooden bridge and ships loaded and unloaded by the river-side; the canal had not yet been constructed. In terms of population size Newport and Caerleon were very much the same. Caerleon, though, was obviously seen as a very special place … funny to think that Newport is now a city, while Caerleon has grown relatively little.