Total Visits

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Monmouthshire - English or Welsh?

This is an extract from Roy Jenkins' autobiography (click to read the text)

The extract tells a significant tale about Monmouthshire's status but one of our members, the late Elwyn Jones of Abergavenny, told it in much more detail:-

History of Monmouthshire
Ambiguity over Welsh status

Monmouthshire's Welsh status was ambiguous until the relatively recently, with it often thought of as part of England. The entirety of Wales was made part of the Kingdom of England by the Statute of Rhuddlan, but did not adopt the same civil governance system, with the area of Monmouthshire being under the control of Marcher Lords.

The Laws in Wales Act 1535 integrated Wales directly into the English legal system, and divided it into several counties. Monmouthshire, as part of England, was created by this Act (which gave it two knights of the shire rather than one as in the other Welsh counties). However, the Laws in Wales Act 1542 specifically enumerates the Welsh counties as twelve in number, excluding Monmouthshire from the count.

Despite this integration of Wales into England, the word "England" was still taken to exclude Wales in many contexts. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 ensured that in legislation passed subsequently that Berwick-upon-Tweed and Wales into "England".

Despite this, Monmouthshire was often associated with Wales. The 1911 Encyclop√¶dia Britannica unambigiously described the county as part of England, but notes that 'whenever an act [...] is intended to apply to [Wales] alone, then Wales is always coupled with Monmouthshire'. Most Acts of Parliament included Monmouthshire as part of England, for example the Local Government Act 1933 listed both the administrative county of Monmouth and county borough of Newport as part of England, but in the rare event that an Act of Parliament was restricted to Wales, Monmouthshire was usually included. For example, the creation of the Welsh Office in 1964 explicitly included Monmouthshire. Another typical example was the division of England and Wales into registration areas in the 19th century — one of which, the "Welsh Division", was defined as including "Monmouthshire, South Wales and North Wales".

Being a part of the diocese of Llandaff, Monmouthshire was included in the area in which the Church of England was disestablished in 1920 to become the Church in Wales.

The question of Monmouthshire's status continued to be a matter of discussion, especially as Welsh nationalism and devolution climbed the political agenda in the 20th century. The Wales and Berwick Act was repealed in regard to Wales in 1967 under the Welsh Language Act 1967. The Interpretation Act 1978 provides that in legislation passed between 1967 and 1974, "a reference to England includes Berwick upon Tweed and Monmouthshire".

The issue was finally clarified in law by the Local Government Act 1972, which provided that in legislation after 1974 the definition of "Wales" would include the area of Monmouthshire.

The English Democrats Party have expressed an intention to stand in the 2007 Welsh Assembly Elections in Monmouthshire with a view to 'Letting Monmouthshire Decide' whether it wishes to be part of Wales or England.

The Murky Transfer from England to Wales

Monmouthshire did not exist before 1535, however Monmouth as a town did exist and was documented in the Domesday Book as being part of England.

The 1535 Act (During the Reign of Henry VIII) was made because of the lack of law and order in the Welsh border areas from Mold to Chepstow which were ruled by the “Marcher Lords” – basically this lad was a no-man’s land between Wales and England.

The Act created the counties of Monmouth, Brecknock, Radnor, Montgomery, and Denbigh and annexed the remaining border area to the counties of Shropshire, Gloucester and Hereford – hence the Welsh place names there - so it is therefore not surprising that the Welsh language was in use in the border country.

In that Act Section Three - notes four, five and six - and all of Section Four – especially note six - refer to everything in the county of Monmouthshire being done according to this ‘Realm of England’ and to the subjects and inhabitants of Monmouthshire to be ‘bound and obedient to the King, Justices, Council, laws, customs ordinances and statutes of this Realm of England, in like manner and form as all King’s subjects within every shire of this Realm of England’.

Sections five, six, seven and eight refer respectively to Brecknock, Radnor, Montgomery and Denhigh as parts of the country of Wales, however, Section 36 states that until three years after the end of that Parliament, the King shall have the power to ‘repeal, revoke and abrogate’ the whole, or any part of the Act.

Section two of the 1542 Act, states that Wales will comprise of 12 counties - the eight old counties of Glamorgan, Carmarthen, Pembroke, Cardigan, Flint, Caernarvon, Anglesey and Merioneth and four new ones - Radnor, Brecknock, Montgomery and Denbigh over and besides the county of Monmouth and the other parts of Wales annexed to Shropshire, Gloucester, and Hereford.

Section five of the Act states that sessions will be held in every of the shires of Wales and then names the 12 above with no mention of Monmouthshire The 1933 Local Government Act lists the English and Welsh counties and the county boroughs and places Monmouthshire in the English county list and Newport in the English borough list.

The pre 1974 Ordnance Survey maps also place Monmouthshire in England and correspondence with them will confirm this.

Correspondence with the Welsh Office will also confirm that Monmouthshire was a part of England prior to 1974.

Confusion over this matter has been caused over generations by misleading statements made and repeated by prominent statesmen and politicians for reasons known only to them, taking advantage of the fact that many residents of Monmouthshire were unable to read and write.

When the 1972 Local Government Act was being dealt with in committee, 3 MP.s with no political connections to Monmouthshire, Brynmor John (Pontypridd),George Thomas(Cardiff West), (later Speaker Thomas) and Gibson Watt (Hereford),on the 14 March 1972 constructed a paragraph that would achieve the transfer of Monmouthshire to Wales from England by stating “including the areas of Monmouthshire and Newport in the new counties of Wales.”ie. the 12 old counties would be replaced by 8 new counties,South Glamorgan.,Mid Glamorgan.,West Glamorgan. ,Dyfed, Powys,Gwynledd, Clwyd and Gwent. They omitted to reveal that Gwent was almost entirely the English county of Monmouthshire. The committee comprised of 36 MP.s,but no M.P.s from Monmouthshire,or Newport, were on that committee.

The effect of that sentence was revealed to Parliament four months later at 5 minutes to midnight, 20.July 1972.,by George Thomas, Gibson-Watt and Ray Gower (Barry). The”debate” was over in less than one minute including Gerald Kaufman (Manchester Ardwick) statement “Am I to take it that an Act of annexation of such magnitude is to be carried though a sparsely attended House of Commons on the nod at 5 minutes to midnight on the same basis as Europe has annexed England,I wish to voice my protest.” The Bill had the Third reading less than 18 hours later before going to the Lords and then receiving Royal Assent. There is no record of the 5 M.P.s representing Monmouthshire,and Newport,Messrs Kinnock,Foot,Abse,Hughes and Stradling-Thomas speaking one word for or against, if they were present. As the paragraph was prepared 4 months earlier and there is evidence that indicates they knew about the paragraph, they could have, during those months, informed us what was being proposed, held public meetings, consulted their constituents and held a referendum, but they did not, and have not given any explanation for their inaction. There is no trace in Hansard of any protest that they were not aware of that paragraph prior to 20 July 1972. That transfer to Wales was the most momentous thing that happened in Monmouthshire’s history going back 430 years, and the most important thing that the 5 MP.s presided over during their careers as MP.s. The fact that they spoke not one word, for or against, in Parliament and did not make us aware of what was about to happen, is an abuse of the trust that should exist between M.P.s and their constituents.

When Welsh devolution was proposed in the county, there was repeated visits from the Prime Minister,his deputy, senior members of all political parties, MP.s ,and Trade Union leaders, months of radio and television interviews, numerous articles in national and local newspapers. That was to transfer a few administrative powers from the UK to Wales, but when it was proposed to transfer an English county, with its population of 400,000 to Wales, there was not a whisper from the constituency MP.s or Parliament. What can be said to justify the actions of 4 MP.s, with no political connections to Monmouthshire and Newport, being allowed to override all democratic procedures by misleading statements in committee and in the commons, resulting in the transfer of Monmouthshire and Newport.

Northern Ireland, The Falklands,Channel Isles and Gibraltar have all been told they will not be transferred without a referendum.

The fact that the 1972 Act of Parliament was required to transfer Monmouthshire to Wales again confirms that it was an English county - if it was already in Wales no Act would have been required.

Elwin Jones
English Democrats
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
(Born an Englishman in Monmouthshire)


  1. Condolences to family and friends of Mr Jones, if he has recently died. What a sad loss to the English cause. More evidence of Anglophobe traitors in parliament.

    As with Scotland, centuries of grievance are being re visited on us.The more widespread these tales become the more difficult it is for them to be defended.

  2. The PrangWizard, of England18 January 2012 at 15:17

    I have been opposed to raising the status of Monmouthshire and whether or not it should be returned to England, UNTIL NOW. I am now convinced the case must be heard, and I believe it's proper place is in England.

    1. First of all good luck England, hope you get your own goverment as it is only fair, and as I have many english friends, but I hope you manage it without this thicko LOL bloke, did he get his information from the sunday sport or something, he seems like a poison arrow.
      Below is the truth about the Monmouthshire misunderstanding

      The Myth of Monmouthshire

      Historically, the name "Gwent" applied to the district enclosed by the Usk, the Wye, the River Monnow and the sea - exactly the area currently administered by Monmouthshire County Council. This formed the ancient Welsh kingdom of Gwent. As there was a great forest, Coed Gwent (Wentwood), separating the low country and the upper regions, the kingdom was divided into two cantrefi or hundreds, Gwent Iscoed (“Gwent below the Wood”) and Gwent Uwchcoed (“Gwent above the Wood”).

      Under Henry VIII’s Act of Union of 1536, the county of Monmouthshire was created by uniting both the hundreds of Gwent with the hundred of Gwynllwg (“Wentloog”) which included what is now Blaenau Gwent. Gwynllwg covered the area between the rivers Rhymni and Usk, which had until then been part of the old kingdom of Morgannwg (“Glamorgan”). This was the historic county of Monmouthshire until 1974.

      The 1536 Act of Union states that the whole "principality, dominion and country of Wales" is to be "incorporated, united and annexed" to England. As well as annexing all of Wales to England, the Act created the five new shires of Monmouthshire, Brecknock, Radnor, Montgomery and Denbighshire. Section 3 of the Act, which brought Monmouthshire into being, states explicitly that the shire is being formed out of lands "in the Country of Wales".

      Sections 126 and 127 provide for the division of nine Welsh shires into hundreds, Monmouthshire being named fourth.

      The only distinction between Monmouthshire and the other Welsh counties was that "for convenience sake" (i.e. travelling convenience for judges), Monmouthshire should come under the authority of the king's courts at Westminster.

      This in no way made Monmouthshire alone belong to England; the same measure allowed for the inclusion of Cheshire in the Welsh court system! Ecclesiastically, the county remained part of the diocese of Llandaff until 1921

      The use of the title Wales and Monmouthshire was always an illogical absurdity without any valid historical basis whatever. It gained currency due to the prejudices and shameless social climbing of English industrialists who tried to pass themselves off as “gentry” in Monmouthshire in the 19th century.
      Even Shakespeare recognised it as Welsh.

    2. I was born and bred in Newport as were my parents.All 4 grandparents lived there but 2 were English and 2 Welsh.I was never quite Welsh but never quite English.My mother always said that the border was the River Usk, and in her day this was the accepted view.Over the bridge was foreign territory.However she would say in her Welsh accent "I'm English".No wonder I have been confused for the past 70 years!

    3. read this Monmouthshire has always been Welsh.

  3. hi can anyone tell me who the first inhabitants of UK??

  4. Having been borne in Monmouthshire and now Australian,I feel that I am able to see this issue clearly without influence from extreme opinions.
    The present demography would suggest, irrespective of any past unrepresentative Acts of Parliament, that the new Monmouthshire Shire from the Usk to the Wye, is essentially English and the remaining area of the former Monmouthshire(modern Gwent)is essentially Welsh.
    It would be better to curtail the autocratic political decision making that has created this disfunctional separation and let the people decide.
    A separate simultaneous referendum in each area, would prove this point beyond all doubt.
    A single referendum would be a disenfranchisement of the rural east Monmouthshire in the same way that a single referendum covering the whole of England and Wales would always result in English dominance.

  5. what Counties are you referring to?, there are Three types of County, the Historical or "Real County", the Postal County and the Administrative County!

  6. Please see "" for clarification

  7. What a load of rubbish they have come last time and time again in elections. Monmouthshire is a strong part of Wales and always will be this fascination with trying to take a piece of Wales has cost the English Democrats big time. They won't get support in Wales because of this even though there are plenty in Wales that want to see a Independent England.. This has stopped them from supporting them in there goals we see this as more evidence that England is bitter and imperial! Parliament for England? Yes Taking a historic part of Wales with which you have been defeated over since founding has damaged your cause for a English Parliament we won't let it happen as the saying goes over our dead bodies!

  8. This is ridiculous. Until the 20th century Monmouthshire was Welsh speaking, and had been for thousands of years. It has never been a part of England, the confusion arose from an obscure legislation from the middle ages. The only people who want Sir Fynwy to be part of England are snobs and deluded.

    1. What a load of tosh, Monmouthshire is English and always will be.

  9. Both my parents and I were born in Monmouthshire and they're both English by name and blood. As far as they were concerned they were in England but I'm sure both sides of the Kosovo conflict think the land iss theirs.

  10. Anyone born in Monmouthshire is Welsh, like it or lump it they are Welsh.....get it ........Welsh . Long live Wales.

  11. Having spent much time in the industrial Welsh valleys and being called English by those inhabitants; nobody has researched the Monmouthshire Welsh/English subject more than I have. Wales has never been fully annexed to England. The Marcher Counties were the English counties of Worcester,Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Shropshire. They were annexed to Wales. The now Forest of Dean was once in the Kingdom of Gwent, originally formed between the Usk and Wye. South of Monmouth; Offa’s Dyke runs entirely through Gloucestershire. This has its historical origins in the navigational and salmon fishing rights on the lower river Wye for Wales. The Tudor Dynasty originated in Wales. There was an attempt to take Monmouthshire by stealth for England in the early/mid 1900s. It was as a result of the English industrial magnates buying up estates in the county. In collusion with a well-known Lord there; the Monmouthshire in England (myth) was added to the schools curriculum. Pupils were indoctrinated with fictitious material. That same Lord generated the ambiguity by insisting 'Monmouthshire' was added to England and Wales Acts of Parliament.
    I was born in Llaneuddogwy (Church of St Odoceus by Wye) now called Llandogo because the English couldn’t pronounce the original name.

  12. Now children, let's all play nicely together and stop this bickering over the geographic location of Monmouthshire. For those of us English immigrants who live in this fair county I'm happy for it to be Wales as long as we continue to get free prescriptions and hospital parking etc. Having said that I have to say that in my humble opinion, Monmouth to my family and I feels typically English but then what would I know, I've lived here for only three months having moved from Staffordshire

  13. It does make me smile, I make an invitation for any English Democrat to walk into any working mans club in Ebbw Vale, Tredegar, Abertillery and Pontypool and tell them they an English man, As these areas are historically part of Monmouthshire, And I can Tell you of the response you would get, not a good one, Perhaps places further east of Monmouthshire, but certainly in the west of the county, I can say for certain its Welsh, You will be saying Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders are English next, Oh dear!

  14. My cousin Ricard Simpson was born in Worcestershire and died fighting for his country in Holland at the very end of ww11,he belonged to the Monmouth regiment he died for his country and for all of us and anyone arguing over his nationality would say he was BRITISH so all of you who wonder about Monmouth should know that it is in Great Britain