1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Monmouth

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MONMOUTH (Welsh Mynwy), a municipal and contributory parliamentary borough, and the county town of Monmouthshire, England, 18 m. S. of Hereford, on the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901), 5095. It is picturesquely situated at the confluence of the Wye and the Monnow, between the two rivers, and is almost surrounded by hills. Portions of the town walls remain, and there is a picturesque old gateway on the Monnow bridge; but there are only insignificant ruins of the castle, which was originally a Saxon fortress, and was twice taken by the Parliamentary forces during the Civil War. Besides the churches that of St Mary, completed in 1882 on an ancient site, and the chapel of St Thomas, a late Norman structure—the principal buildings are the town-hall, the Rolls Hall and the free grammar school, which was founded in 1614, and educates about 150 boys on the usual lines of a public school. A statue of Henry V., who was born in its castle, stands in the market-place. With Newport and Usk, Monmouth forms the Monmouth parliamentary district of boroughs, returning one member.

Monmouth (Monemnla) from the coincidence of position is supposed to be the Blaestium of Antoninus. Situated between the Severn and the Wye its strategic importance was early recognized by the Saxons, who fortified it against the Britons, while in later years it played a leading part in' Welsh border warfare. At the time of the Domesday Survey the castle was in the custody of William Fitz Baderon. Henry III. granted it, together with the lordship of the borough, to his son Edmund Crouchback, through whose descendants both borough and castle passed into the duchy of Lancaster. Since the 18th century the dukes of Beaufort have been lords of the borough. Monmouth was a borough by prescription as early as 1256, and was governed by a mayor in 1461, but was not incorporated until 1550 under the title of “Mayor, Bailiffs and Commonalty.” This charter was confirmed in 1558, 1606 and 1666, a recorder and town clerk being added to the constitution. In accordance with the act of 1535–1536 Monmouth as county town obtained the right of representation in parliament; the earliest returns existing are for 1553, since which date one member has been returned regularly. Wednesday and Saturday markets were confirmed to Monmouth in 1550, with the further proviso that no others were to be held within five miles of the borough. Friday is now the weekly market-day. At the same time an annual three-days' fair, which still exists, was granted on Whit-Tuesday and successive days. During the 16th and 17th centuries the manufacture of Monmouth caps was an important industry, fostered by legislation and mentioned by Fuller in his Worthies of England.

See Charles Heath, The Town of Monmouth (Monmouth, 1804).