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Archifdy Ceredigion Archives
ABM: Records of the Borough of Aberystwyth

Accession: 14,82,101,109,115,126,363,418,442,446,783,908,969,

Ref: ABM

Reference: [GB 0212] ABM
Title: Records of the Borough of Aberystwyth
Dates: 1779-2001
Level: Fonds
Extent: 343 boxes (6.183 m3)
Creator: Aberystwyth Borough

Administrative History: The administrative area covered by Aberystwyth Borough Council was originally centred on the castle stronghold built as a stronghold by English king Edward I in approximately 1277 as Llanbadarn Fawr (not to be confused with the nearby monastic settlement of the same name), and only started being referred to as Aberystwyth during the Glyndw^r rebellion. For the first hundred years or so of its existence, it enjoyed relative peace and by 1300 was a well-established town. In 1382, it was attacked and ravaged by Welsh forces, becoming an important Welsh stronghold, and the place Owain Glyndw^r sealed his agreement with Charles of France.

‘It was from 1277 to 1282 an important royal stronghold and the centre for the administration of northern Ceredigion. Thereafter the administration … tended to be merged with that of the county of Cardigan as a whole … But Llanbadarn remained for some years an important centre of governance’. (Jones, 1977, p.25)

‘In the later middle ages the town fulfilled the functions of a modest market town with a little coastal trading and some fishing.’ (Jones, 1977, p.26) ‘The fourteenth century was a period of peace and prosperity. The harbour flourished … and many Welsh men contributed as burgesses and officers of the borough.’ (Jones, 1977, p.42) Under the peaceful conditions, the garrison was reduced and the castle allowed to deteriorate.

In the mid-eighteenth century new government offices appeared, most notably the appointment of a Chamberlain or Treasurer, and officers of the town government began to be known as ‘the Corporation’. ‘By 1833, when the Municipal Corporations commissioners reported, Aberystwyth had a Mayor, a Coroner, a Chamberlain, a Town Clerk, two Sergeants at Mace, a Bellman, and two Scavengers’ which were ‘late developments for which there appeared to be no constitutional or legal justification.’ (Jones, 1977, p.97) The Mayor and the Court Leet were taking powers into their hands which were never granted in the original charter.

By the 1830s the names of non-aristocratic men started to appear on the lists of Mayor and Coroner: ‘all professional men, agents, businessmen; that is to say, men of the middle-class … The real significance lay in the fact that the men exercising what little power was available to them were now based in the town and composed almost exclusively of commercial and professional men.’ (Ibid.)

However, ‘in economic affairs their powers were minimal’ (Jones, 1977, p.98), and. ‘it was an entirely closed system’ (Jones, 1977, p.99). For example, between 1823-1833 only 3 individuals filled the office of mayor, in rotation.

This system was ‘forcibly reformed’ in 1835 by the central government under the Municipal Corporations Act (1835), and ‘by this legislation all the privileges, customs and rights which had maintained and old corporation in being were swept away and the town was given a new constitution and form of government.; (Jones, 1977, p.101) This new system was much more democratic, with increased elections and rotations of councillors, and with voting open to each male of 21 who owned or rented property. ‘Men were qualified for election who possessed estates or property worth £500.’ (Ibid.)

Also in 1835, under the Aberystwyth Local Improvement Act 36 Improvement Commissioners with powers ‘to cleanse, pave, light the town and provide it with water’ (Jones, 1977, p.102) were elected. In 1868, however, after coming under pressure regarding the state of health and sanitation, the Corporation of Aberystwyth abolished the Improvement Commissioners and their powers were transferred to a newly organised Town Council. In 1872, a secret ballot was introduced to council elections.

‘Until 1920 the Aberystwyth Borough Council was the only authority in the county to erect council houses’ (Lewis, 1980, p.27), but in the interwar years house building boomed. Old buildings were also converted into council dwellings.

‘In 1938 the Town Council decided to extend the borough boundaries and planned to promote what was called the Aberystwyth Corporation Bill in Parliament.’ (Lewis, 1980, p.28) However, a poll of the electors was held and the townspeople were strongly against it.

In the 1960s a reorganisation of local government was considered, a ‘proposed three-county merger’(Ibid.), which was rejected. For fourteen years boundaries and administrative centres were discussed without reaching a decision, finally ending in the creation of the county of Dyfed in 1974, ‘consisting of the old counties of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire’. (Lewis, 1980, p.29) Aberystwyth Borough Council became Dyfed County Council, losing its housing and public health powers and its ‘valuable old Corporate estate with its buildings, staff and equipment’ (Ibid.), with most of these powers taken on by Ceredigion District Council as part of a two-tiered local authority. Its equivalent today is Aberystwyth Town Council.

Archival History: Mostly donated in1974 on the opening of Ceredigion Archives and the changeover from Aberystwyth Borough Council to Dyfed County Council. Some individual accruals since. Mostly consists of records between 1920-1960.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: The main body of the collection was acquired from;
Acc 14, 82, 101; W Pryce Jones, Dir. of Technical Services, Ceredigion District Council.
Acc 109, 115, 126; J. Kendal Harris; Chief Executive, Ceredigion District Council, Town Hall, Aberystwyth.
Small acrualls since then have been individually accessioned and these are recorded in the individual catalogue entries.

Scope and Content: Harbour records (1885-1979), health records (1886-1972), highways records (1835-1976), publicity records (1930-1969), secretary’s records (1779-1979), cemetery records (1860-2001), and treasurer’s records (1874-1979).

Accruals: Small accruals are expected.

System of Arrangement: Items were numbered in acquisition order on first being accessioned, then an attempt was made to group them by department. Finally catalogued by department in 2012.

Conditions Governing Access: No restrictions.

Conditions Governing Reproduction: Some documents are of a fragile nature and may be unsuitable for copying, final decision rests with the Archivist.

Finding Aids: Other than this catalogue, no finding aids are available.

Related Units of Description: Early records of the Borough can be found at the National Library of Wales under the reference GB 0210 ABEUGH.

Publication Note: 
Lewis, W.J. (1980) Born on a Perilous Rock The Cambrian News (Aberystwyth) Ltd: Aberystwyth, Dyfed pp. 17-29. 
Jones, Ieuan Gwynedd, ed., (1977) Aberystwyth 1277-1977 Gomer Press: Llanduysul, Dyfed pp. 14-45, 96-113.

Rules or Conventions: ISAD(G) 2nd Edition, and NCA rules for the construction of personal, place, and corporate names (1997).

Date of Description: 2012 June 07.


ABM/HA: Harbour Records
     ABM/HA/1: Harbour Records.
     ABM/HA/2: Harbourmaster’s Records.
ABM/HE: Health Records
     ABM/HE/1: Health Reports.
     ABM/HE/2: Other.
ABM/HI: Highways Records
     ABM/HI/1: Reports.
     ABM/HI/2: Requests for Repairs.
     ABM/HI/3: Tenders.     
     ABM/HI/4: Miscellaneous Files.
     ABM/HI/5: Maps and Plans.
ABM/PE: Publicity Records 
     ABM/PE/1: Publicity Materials.
     ABM/PE/2: Financial Records.
     ABM/PE/3: Requests for Town Guides.
     ABM/PE/4: Standing Orders.
     ABM/PE/5: Press Cuttings.
ABM/SE: Secretary’s Records
     ABM/SE/1: Council Minutes.
     ABM/SE/2: Committee Minutes.
     ABM/SE/3: Records of Councillors and Council Officers.
     ABM/SE/4: Legal Documents.
     ABM/SE/5: Correspondence.
     ABM/SE/6: Other.
ABM/SE/CE: Cemetery Records
     ABM/SE/CE/1: Aberystwtyh Parish Burial Ground Registers.
     ABM/SE/CE/2: Aberystwyth Cemetery Burial Registers.
     ABM/SE/CE/3: Registers of Public Graves.
     ABM/SE/CE/4: Wartime Service Burial Register.
     ABM/SE/CE/5: Registers of Grave Spaces.
     ABM/SE/CE/6: Registers of Purchased Graves.
     ABM/SE/CE/7: Burial Right Grant Register.
     ABM/SE/CE/8: Grave Space Grant Books.
     ABM/SE/CE/9: Burial Certificates.
     ABM/SE/CE/10: Grave Deeds.
     ABM/SE/CE/11: Monuments Plans and Correspondence.
     ABM/SE/CE/12: Headstones Schedule.
     ABM/SE/CE/13: Burial Notifications.
     ABM/SE/CE/14: Civilian Deaths Due to War Operations.
     ABM/SE/CE/15: Aberystwyth Cemetery Records.
     ABM/SE/CE/16: St Mary’s Parish Burial Register.
     ABM/SE/CE/17: Burial Board Cash Book.
     ABM/SE/CE/18: Burial Ledger.
     ABM/SE/CE/19: Cemetery Plans and Correspondence.
ABM/TR: Treasurer’s Records
     ABM/TR/1: Abstracts of Accounts.
     ABM/TR/2: General Ledgers.
     ABM/TR/3: Rate Books and Water Rate Charges.
     ABM/TR/4: Valuation Lists.
     ABM/TR/5: Rating Records.
     ABM/TR/6: Salaries and Wages.
     ABM/TR/7: Mortgages.
     ABM/TR/8: Rent.

Index Entries:


Aberystwyth (Wales : Borough) (Created 1834; abolished 1882 | Aberystwyth | town council | corporation)

Aberystwyth (Wales) | Borough Council (1894-1974 | Aberystwyth | local government)

Aberystwyth (Wales) | Rural Sanitary Authority (active 1887 | Aberystwyth (Wales) | water supply and drainage)

Corporate names

Aberystwyth (Wales : Borough) (Created 1834; abolished 1882 | Aberystwyth | town council | corporation)

Aberystwyth (Wales) | Borough Council (1894-1974 | Aberystwyth | local government)

Aberystwyth (Wales) | Rural Sanitary Authority (active 1887 | Aberystwyth (Wales) | water supply and drainage)

Aberystwyth and Aberdovey Steam Packet Company (1893-1979 | Aberystwyth (Wales); Aberdyfi (Wales) | shipping | company)


Aberystwyth (Wales) (SN 5881) | Cardiganshire | Wales

Llanbadarn Fawr (Ceredigion, Wales) parish (SN 6080 ) | Cardiganshire | Wales

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