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Festivals and social structure in early modern Wales.

In this article I shall try to unite two themes which have engaged the attention of social historians in recent years: the social organization of groups and the nature of festivals. In some respects these topics attract different styles of analysis. On the one hand, the study of social organization attracts an empirical approach concerned with concrete aspects of social relations; on the other, the topic of festivals is more the concern of these historians who seek to show an internal conceptual coherence in popular culture. In the following pages I intend to bring these two areas of social life into intelligible relationship with a single analysis by showing how the festivals of early modern Wales "say" something about the ideas embodied in the social relations between groups. In this way I hope to show, for example, that one cannot fully appreciate the treatment of poverty in early modern Wales without also understanding the significance of the revel and the maypole -- unlikely as this may seem. More precisely, I hope to demonstrate that the recurrent festivals of the gwylmabsant (wake) and bedwen haf (maypole) maybe understood as festive expressions of social relations which illuminate the nature of the underlying -- and changing -- social structure. In this respect these festivals may be interpreted as symbolic representations of social organization; and the nature of the relationship between representation and reality is an interesting and difficult problem.


The term gwylmabsant (plural, gwylmabsantau), sometimes, more colloquially, mabsant, may be translated as "the patron saint's festival", and referred to the annual parish revel which was held, in theory at least, on a patronal feast-day. Similar festivals were widely celebrated in early modem Europe, but Wales is of some interest as one of the few Protestant areas which had "resisted the reform of popular culture until after 1650" and where "people cheerfully continued to celebrate saints' days".(1) The tendency has been to describe the mabsant as a "survival": a preReformation festival in origin which gradually lost its religious character, becoming increasingly disorderly in the process, until it W2S finally discontinued in the early nineteenth century, largely through the efforts of the Nonconformist reformers.(2) This apparently plausible sequence has never been documented, and my own survey of the available evidence has led me to provide a different account of the development of the mabsant. I shall first describe the mabsant as it was celebrated in its eighteenth-century heyday, then consider the development of the festival, and finally discuss the interpretative problems posed by its chronology.

"Wakes", wrote an early nineteenth-century topographer, "are celebrated throughout Wales with divers festivities and form the principal amusements of the people".(3) The many notices in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sources certainly show that the festival had a central place in the social life of the period, although detailed descriptions are rare and the ways in which wakes were celebrated have to be reconstructed from a variety of sources. One of the few sustained descriptions was made, perhaps inevitably, by an English observer who happened to make an excursion to the newly discovered sulphur wells at Llandrindod during the wakes season in 1714. Arriving at one Radnorshire parish, the tourist found himself in the middle of a merry, noisy throng, unable to understand the language of the revellers. The parish churchyard, though large, was "filled with people of almost all ages and qualities". Games of fives and tennis were in progress against the church walls and nearby, fiddlers played for groups of dancers. In effect, past and present generations of the parish were all gathered in the churchyard, a situation which the tourist found "whimsically odd". The following day he was conducted to another wake where several hundred revellers ("almost as many people as I thought were in the whole county") were all in their best clothes and very clean ("not a natural Welsh quality"). Games and dancing were gain the main amusements of the revelers,who refreshed themselves with cider and mutton in specially constructed rustic bowers. The enjoyment of the revellers, especially the dancers, gave the tourist a strong sense of the "happiness and simplicity of the ancient Britons", leading him to exclaim: "Long may they continue their innocent customs, manners and recreations!"(4)

Wakes might be celebrated at any time during the year, but they were usually held in-the summer. Details of about one hundred wakes noted at the end of the seventeenth century show that few occurred in early summer, during the critical hayharvest, and most were concentrated, as in England, during the long corn-harvest in August and September, especially around Michaelmas, when food was plentiful and more money was in circulation. (Table.) Many wakes had a fixed date, but sometimes they were movable feasts held according to the timing of the harvest. "They hold their feast in the second week of the harvest, the time for plums", runs one note, and other wakes in north Wales were staggered from the first to the eighth week of the harvest.(5)
  WAKES IN WALES c.1700(*)

Jan.   2   July     8
Feb.   1   Aug.    15
Mar.   9   Sept.   28
Apr.   4   Oct.    10
May    5   Nov.    10
June   6   Dec.     3

Total = 101

(*) Source: Parochialia: Being a Summary of Answers to "Parochial
Queries in
Order to a Geographical Dictionary, etc., of Wales" issued by
Edward Lhwyd,
ed. R. H. Morris, 3 pts (Archaeologia Cambrensis Suppl., London,

Most parish revels seem to have been quite modest in scale, generally beginning on a Sunday and continuing for one or two more days, although a few lasted for as long as a week. Sometimes wake and fair (including hiring-fairs on Anglesey) coincided and parishioners were able to amuse and enrich themselves at the same time.(6) However, the pattern noted at Llanbedr, Brecor.shire, in 1807 was probably characteristic of most wakes. The wake began on Sunday evening when friends and neighbours paraded in their best clothes. Monday morning was reserved for "rural and athletic sports" and afterwards the revellers retired to sit and dine at long tables set out in the churchyard before spending the evening dancing and drinking.(7)

Food had an important place in the wake. Several wake began with "belly-fairs" at which food was sold; Llandaff's patronal day, for example, was famous for the sale of a special blue cheese. Some wakes were known as "pudding-feasts" (gwyl y pwdin) since meat puddings and sausages were the order of the day, although by 1800 the "white puddings" (loden gwynion) which had given their name to the feast at Caergwrle, Flintshire, had given way to "modern delicacies". The sheer pleasure of feasting often marked the wake, as parishioners tucked into such specialities as "white-pot" and "bonny clobby", the seasonal nuts and fruits, as well as gingerbread, pastries and other treats supplied by pedlars and cake-sellers.(8)

Wakes were also the occasion for prodigious drinking. At Hawarden, Flintshire, it was estimated that a single tavern might have takings of 100[pounds] during the wake, although there were six or seven other ale-houses in the parish. In some areas the most dissolute drinker was elected mayor at the end of the wake and carried in procession bewigged and holding his emblem of office -- an ale-pot.(9)

Wakes, especially great wakes, required considerable organization, and innkeepers were probably prominent in arranging the entertainments, soliciting prizes for the games and preparing the food and drink. The churchyard was generally the focus of the mabsant, rendered (as one observer put it) "a kind of circus for every sport and exercise", and sometimes the church itself was invaded for feasting or for games, as in Cardiganshire, where wrestling matches took place in some upland chapels.(10) Dancing was the great attraction of the revel, and harpers and fiddlers were indispensable for accompanying the jigs, reels and country dances. A wake without music was almost unthinkable. The unfortunate parishioners bereft of musicians at their mabsant, who were forced to dance to improvised humming and whistling, were unmercifully satirized in a poem which was remembered by their neighbours long after the event.(11) The whole repertoire of eighteenth-century amusements was to be found at the mabsant: cock-fighting, bull-baiting, horse-racing, interludes, dancing contests, games of skill and strength like throwing the bar or lifting the stone, as well as humorous races and competitions. Besides, each mabsant had a touch of individuality. It might be an emblem, a special dish, a procession or a burlesque election.(12)

Ideally, the mabsant was an occasion for neighbourly hospitality. A Glamorgan parson reported that his parishioners kept their revel "with great preparac[i]on of all manner of good cheer to Entertaine their friends and poor neighbours yt allwayes are expected & seldom missed".(13) However, the reality of the mabsant was often closer to the "revel-rout": "a great concourse of disorderly people, brawling, drinking, singing, dancing, & c.".(14) Despite the great sociability of the mabsant, the festival was not necessarily a neighbourly and harmonius affair. Disputes, slanders and fights, followed by litigation, marked the mabsant, as the opportunity was taken to settle old scores and new quarrels were begun. On the Welsh border it was the custom at the wake to settle by fighting all the quarrels of the past year, and these evening kettles, which were eagerly anticipated, were remembered long after the mabsant itself had been discontinued.(15)

The most violent confrontations at the mabsant took place between members of different parishes. Just as there as parochial individuality, so there was inter-parochial competition and rivalry. Bloody games of football and hockey (or "bandy") took place between different parishes and were the cause of "lasting and serious quarrels" between them. (16) In north Wales there were scenes of "barbarity and disgrace" as each mabsant was visited by the youths of surrounding parishes, who would engage in furious battles, fighting with clubs, sticks and stones. An aghast witness recalled having seen "females enter the list in defence of their brothers: and even in the middle of rivers, scuffle and contend with robust men".(17) There can be no doubt about the ferocity of these encounters, and several wakes were discontinued following "accidental!" murders.(18)

According to a Vale of Clwyd parson, wakes:

gave an individuality to parochial life and fostered parish patriotism, but,

on the other hand, they often generated antagonisms between parish and

parish, which lasted longer than the wakes . . . parish became opposed to

parish, and whenever the young men belonging to different parishes met

they fought savagely, from no personal animosity, but from a mistaken

notion that it was a duty incumbent upon them to settle in this way old

parochial misunderstandings; or battles were fought because some feud of

remote, unknown origin existed between one parish and another.(19)

The fights of the wakes were flesh-and-blood conflicts, but underlying the antagonisms of the revellers there were, as I hope to show, oppositions of a deeper, structural nature.


Whatever the analytical usefulness of the term "popular culture", the idea that the mabsant was part of a particular way of life that might be either followed or rejected would, I think, have been intelligible to the eighteenth-century revellers.

There was, however, little pressure for the reform of popular culture from the clergy and gentry. Indeed their presence at parish revels was often remarked upon, and they presented the prizes and called the dances. In the Vale of Glamorgan, an area well stocked with resident gentry, the paternalistic value of pa..ronizing revels and other festivities was well understood. As Iolo Morganwg put it, "the festivities and gaieties of the annual revel under the controul of proper regulations imposed by the dominant families of the neighbourhood [was] not unfriendly to the cause of the next degrees upwards in the scale of civilisation".(20) Occasionally a strong-willed parson tried to forbid the mabsant in his parish, but the clergy's authority was not always great and, besides, many enjoyed the festival. The dilemma of the parson who liked the sociability of the wake but found the start of festivities on the Sabbath objectionable was nicely resolved by the vicar of Llanfair, near Harlech, who offered his parishioners five shillings if they would alter their wake from a Sunday to the following Monday.(21)

The confrontation between alternative ways of life was most clearly expressed by the public opposition of the eighteenth century evangelicals to the mabsant and the withdrawal of "religious society" members from the revels. Howel Harris, the pre-eminent Welsh field-preacher, deliberately sought out wakes in order to confront revellers "who would not attend preaching elsewhere". At a revel on the Welsh border in 1739 he addressed a crowd of nearly two thousand and was moved to rebuke the parson end two magistrates who were present, "asking how they could give account of their stewardship, while they countenanced pride, swearing, and drunkenness". Small wonder that Harris was apprehended at a Radnorshire revel in the following year and bailed to appear at the next quarter sessions. Howel Harris's courage won the admiration of the English Methodists. When George Whitefield, at a crucial point in his own religious development, intervened in a wake at Basingstoke it was, as he said, because he had "resolved to follow the example of Howel Harris in Wales". Charles Wesley visited Glamorgan in 1741 and preached against revels, some of which he found were "honoured with the presence of the gentry and Clergy, far and near".(22) Thus the greet field-preachers established a precedent which became a kind of rite of passage for their followers. Up and down Wales for the remainder of the century a host of lesser exhorters opposed the revellers and sometimes suffered for this.(23)

As "religious societies" were consolidated into chapels, field preaching declined. New chapel members were received from the "world" (as it was termed) and were enjoined under the rules of discipline not to attend gwylmabsantau and ocher "gatherings for foolish pleasure".(24) It is extraordinarily difficult to assess the impact of the religious revival upon the mabsant. The conventions of denominational history and ministerial biography tend to exaggerate bath the wildness of unreformed Wales and the success of the reformers. Methodist folklore attributed to the reformers some sensational and scarcely credible successes in putting down wakes and other Sunday gatherings. A single thunderbolt of a sermon by John Elias, for example, was said to have ended all Sunday fairs in Flintshire in the 1820s. Undoubtedly there were dramatic interventions at wakes, but apposition to the mabsant often took a more prosaic form. The diary of a Montgomeryshire preacher, for example, reveals how he used his office as high constable to prosecute at the quarter sessions the players of an "indecent" interlude performed at a wake.(25) It is not easy to draw a precise correlation between the growth of Nonconformity and the decline of the wake. The lively presence of "survivals" shows that the Nonconformists had not suppressed the mabsant by the early decades of the nineteenth century, as is sometimes supposed. It might be expected that in areas, such as Gower, where Nonconformity was weak, the wake would have survived, but even in Methodist strongholds like Anglesey there were some notable gwylmabsantau (26)

Wakes might be affected by many factors, including inclement weather, the demands of the harvest, poor organization and the fickleness of revellers.(27) The reformers were only too willing to detect in the fluctuating fortunes of individual gwylmabsantau the wholesale decline of the-festival. It was not until the 1830s and 1840s that the mabsant generally and rather suddenly disappeared throughout Wales, and few were to be found later then 1850.(28)

There was a curious finality about the end of the mabsant. In some places the ending of the wake seems to have been announced. The last wake at Newmarket, Flintshire, in 1836 was marked by a mock newspaper obituary which reported that "Madam Gwylmabsant", alias "Gwylmabsatan", had been buried after long lingering with the hope that she would not be resurrected!(29) In some localities during the 1830s and 1840s the day of the mabsant was appropriated by churches and chapels for special meetings. In Cardiganshire, for example, a riotous football match ("The Black Ball" or Y Bel Ddu) played between adjoining parishes at a wake held on Old New Year's Day was supplanted in 1833 by a scriptural competition between neighbouring Sunday schools.(30) In cases such as these the day of the wake had been symbolically captured and its meaning reversed. However not all groups which took possession of the old wake-day were religious. Friendly societies adopted the day of the mabsant for their annual processions and meetings.(31) The end of the wakes created a space into which several groups of different definition moved.

By the mid-Victorian period the festival had entered middleclass mythology as a symbol of the values of a departed village community whose harmonious relationships had been destroyed by social changes. In 1884, for example, John Howells of the Vale of Glamorgan recalled out of the "gathering mists of fifty years" those "parish festivals that were healthy, spontaneous, and full of [a] heartfelt sense of enjoyment, when all classes had opportunities to meet fraternally their neighbours and friends". He described the music, the games and, above all, the dancing of the old mabsant, which had kept the "Glamorgan agricultural peasant from degenerating into the lout and clod-hopper". The scene he remembered was "invigorating, joyous and lively in the extreme", but now, he reflects, the mabsant was beyond resuscitation -- "dead as that deadest of all things, a doornail".(32)

Howells, and other writers of the same period, attributed the disappearance of the mabsant to the supposed increasing disorder of the festival and the consequent withdrawal of the patronage

of the gentry and wealthier farmers and their moderating influence. It is probable that, as in England, there was such a movement of social distancing, and yet there is very little evidence for the direct suppression of the mabsant.(33) The mabsant may have been under pressure in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, but in an undoubtedly complex social situation it seems that it was not so much suppressed by the gentry or Noncomformists as abandoned by the revellers; what had once been significant was no longer so, and the significance of the mabsant for those who celebrated the festival-is the subject of the following pages.


Contemporaries who reflected on the eighteenth-century gwylmabsant sought to explain its presence in terms of the past. The word mabsant, literally "saint's son", was puzzling, and scholars displayed considerable etymological ingenuity in speculating on the origins of the festival. Antiquaries may have failed to give a "rational account" of the mabsant, as one literatus complained (while characteristically offering his own far-fetched derivation), but it was generally agreed that the gwylmabsant was a corruption of an ancient religious festival, although its exact age was a matter of dispute. "I wish I could trace the primaeval ceremonies" of the wake, wrote Thomas Pennant, who wondered if vestiges of druidical customs might be detested in the festival. Henry Rowlands, the acknowledged expert on the druids, considered, however, that the origin of the mabsant lay in the primitive church, with the ancient commemoration of martyrs described by Gildas, rather than in the later errors of popery. Others detected old Catholic practices in the mabsant; it was even suggested that the word mabsant itself meant "monk". The Welsh has abandoned the vigil (wake) on the eve of the saint's feast day but retained the festival day which was now celebrated (as Pennant drily observed) for the most unsaintly ends.(34)

Despite the speculations of these eighteenth-century antiquaries, it is in fact extremely difficult to find early references to the mabsant and, indeed, any secure evidence about the nature of the pre-Reformation festival. The term gwylmabsant does not occur earlier than the fifteenth century, and then in contexts which are not always easy to interpret.(35) The statute of the Caerwys Eisteddfod (1526), which had graded the bards and musicians, permitted them to attend gwylmabsantau and no doubt ratified an existing practice. But it is striking that although the medieval bards had frequently addressed the saints, their poems contain very few references to the gwylmabsant, and these tend to suggest the private feasts of patrons rather than communal festivals.(36) The precise nature and significance of the pre-Reformation mabsant remain unclear, but it appears to have been neither a particularly ancient nor an important festival.

It has been suggested, however, that Sunday sports and games were particularly popular in early modern Wales.(37) Football, "knappen" and "bandy" (kinds of hockey), and other ball games, including tennis and bowling, were much played, and there were special places where youth groups "assembled upon the Sondaies after dinner to make mercy and to playe".(38) The Council in the Marches had the power to enforce the penal statutes against unlawful games, and the policy of the Council was reflected in episodic multiple prosecutions at the Court of Great Sessions. In 1617, for example, Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, chief justice of the Chester circuit and a member of the Council, charged jurors and constables at the Great Sessions for the counties of northeast Wales to make presentments of profaners of the sabbath, especially Sunday bowlers, and alehouse-keepers "that keepe not good order". There were numerous prosecutions at the Welsh assize courts of those who permitted unlawful games, especially Sunday bowling, but it is striking that the context of these offences was invariably the alehouse and not the parish revel.(39) Churchales and parish revels never became an issue in Wales as they did in south-west England in the first half of the seventeenth century.(40) Although there were several campaigns against unlicensed and disorderly ale-houses and unlawful games in late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century Wales, it is quite clear from the surviving records of the Welsh Court of Great Sessions (which are more complete than their English assize counterparts) that the Welsh judges never ordered the suppression of parishales and wakes.(41)

Scattered references suggest that in fact gwylmabsantau were not widely held in Elizabethan and Stuart Wales. In south-east Wales a Star Chamber case concerned "an assault upon a week's day and parish feast at the town of Caerau", near Cardiff.(42) The remaining references are restricted to the north-eastern Welsh counties adjoining Cheshire and Shropshire; an area with a complicated history of interaction between English and Welsh. The Sunday wakes and fairs of the market-towns of north-east Wales attracted the attention of the authorities. In 1616 the Flintshire judges were petitioned to redress "a great disorder and profanation of the Lordes holy Sabbath" at the assize town of Hawarden, where a Sunday fair was regularly herd. Disorders at other town wakes and fairs were brought to the notice of ,he assizes in the 1630s. These town wakes seem to have been large-scale affairs attracting revellers from the surrounding countryside as well as itinerant pedlars, bards and musicians. At Gwersyllt, Denbighshire, one Sunday in July 1633, four thousand people assembled for morris dancing, drumming, fiddling "and other idle sports". A little earlier there had been an affray at Holt during "a great assemblie of many strangers in the town for a wakes" and for horse-races at Farndon on the other side of the Dee.(43)

The available evidence suggests that during this period wakes were characteristically a feature of town life and should be understood in terms of the complex of fairs and markets in the relations between town and country. Parish-based wakes and ales seem to have been unimportant and have left little trace in the historical record. It is only after the Commonwealth that references to festivals and fairs in the Welsh countryside become numerous. This, it must be emphasized, is not simply a question of the revival of wakes with the Restoration or a reflection of the better survival of records. Disorders at town wakes and sports continued to attract the attention of the authorities, but a new element had entered the situation. For the first time Country assemblies resembling the annual parochial mabsant were presented at the courts. In the 1670s "new unlawful fairs" at five villages "where none time out of mind hath been kept till now of late" were brought to the notice of the Denbighshire quarter sessions. In the same decade Sunday fairs with music and dancing were presented at the Pembrokeshire assizes. The wake was spreading from the town to the countryside and in the eighteenth century would have a special saliency in social life.(44)

When considering the chronology of the gwylmabsant it becomes increasingly apparent that, despite the continuity of name, the changing nature of the festival actually reveals a history of discontinuities. The attempt to trace the development of the mabsant as an institution only disguises the true problem: that the festival (like other customs) cannot be approached as a phenomenon sui generis.(45) Although one form of the festival may be said to lead to another, the development is unintelligible unless related to other areas of social life. From this point of view, the history of the mabsant is as much a sequence of "different" festivals as it is the history of the "same" festival. Whatever the antecedents of the gwylmabsant, I shall argue that the annual parochial revel was m essential respects a new phenomenon that has to be understood in relation to the changed significance of the parochial group. I shall maintain that the mabsant was a response to a new social situation and that its presence after the Restoration has to be interpreted less in terms of continuity from an earlier period then in relation to new facts of social organization, of which the festival was itself a symbolic representation.


By the end of the seventeenth century the mabsant had become well established as an annual parish festival, although the period of innovation had by no means ended at the turn of the century. Some festivals had yet to find a permanent date and others emerged only during the first decades of the eighteenth century.

This volatile situation was encountered by the antiquary Browne Willis during his surveys of the Welsh dioceses in the 1720s.(46) Willis had enlisted the aid of correspondents, mainly clergymen, to discover ancient church indications from the dates of "traditional" parish feasts, but they complained about the difficulty of the task. A Radnorshire parson found that there was "no sure Rule" to discover "the Dedications by the Wakes", as they sometimes changed from one date to another. moreover, as thE chapter registrar at Llanclaff explained, many wakes were first held well within living memory: "in some parishes there are noe Wakes or Feasts att all but what have been begun 10 or 15 Years agoe when this Neighbourhood tooke very much to publishing Wakes or Revels [] was done by ye Common Cryer of 3 or 4 Markett Towns-in ye County".(47) Sometimes the event which first prompted a perish to hold a mabsant is recorded. Revealingly, the parishioners of St Andrews Major, Glamorgan, celebrated their first revel in 1714 on the day they finished building the loft over the church-house.(48)

The geographical distribution of gwylmabsantau was uneven. In the west wakes were not widely found in south Pembrokeshire. A correspondent fancied that "when ye Flemings settled [there] . . . festival days . . . were wholly neglected by them". In Gower, another supposed Fleming colony, some parishes had established wake dates, other feasts were in temporary abeyance, another wake had come into existence as "a sort of a mabsant put up about 7 or 8 years ago". In the south, the absence of wakes in parts of Monmouthshire was attributed to the smallness of the parishes and the poverty of their inhabitants.(49) Occasionally small parishes might combine to hold a joint mabsant, but this was arranged in such a way as to respect the individuality of each parish. Thus the parishioners of Pile and Kenfig in Giamorgan combined for a wake -- in the morning they would "advert and feast" themselves at Kenfig, but after dinner they adjourned to Pile and spent the rest of the day there.(50) In the north the pattern was more stable, but wakes were not to be discovered in every parish and new festivals were reported from some localities.(51)

There appears to have been a period of proliferation of parish wakes after the Restoration,followed by some adjustment, from which emerged the settled pattern characteristic of the greater part of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The calendars in the almanacs of the period are full of saints' days "to help people remember when to hold their gwylmabsant". Each parish established its wake date and there was a tendency to stagger neighbouring festivals so that they did not fall on the same day, the smaller parishes adjusting their festival dates so that they were not overshadowed by the greater wakes.(52)

Although the mabsant was not necessarily held on a patron saint's day, wakes were often known by specific names which recalled the parish patrons. In Monmouthshire, for example, Bedwas's feast was called "dygwyl Barwg" (Barwg's feast-day), Bedwellty's feast was "dygwyl Sannan", "dygwyl Tudur" was celebrated at Myruthislwyn, and so on.(53) Some Lleyn parishes, in west Caernarfonshire, marked the actual vigil of a patronal feastday with a candle-burning festival, but the wakes were generally deferred until the summer and formed a cycle of their own.(54) Expedience might dictate the actual date of the gwylmabsant, but in Wales the association between patron saint and wake remained strong and reminders of the saints were ubiquitous.

Three special Sundays in the summer, collectively called "Relic Sundays" (Suliau'r Creiriau), were reserved for revels in north west Wales where special attention was paid to the shrines and relics of patron saints.(55) On these occasions the revellers would, after making an offering, seek the protection of a saint or try to prognosticate the future. In Anglesey young men and women would divine their future using the holy wells of Sts Cybi and Dwynwen at Holyhead and Llanddwyn. The ritual at Holyhead was suppressed by a parson in the mid-eighteenth century (although the day remained a notable occasion for "intrigues of love"), but at Llanddwyn it continued to flourish.(56) The Relic Sundays at Clynnog Fawr, Caernarfonshire, and Llaneilian, Anglesey, were notable for their tumultuous popularity. "Measures . . . [] Violence" had apparently failed to deter the drinking and dancing at Clynnog when offerings were made at St Beuno's shrine; so great were the offerings that a church-rate had never been levied there.(57) As late as 1830 Llaneilian wake was "crowdedly attended" by revellers who, according to the curate, would prognosticate their future in a "singular and ridiculous manner". Having deposited an offering in St Eilian's coffer (a large iron-bound chest dated 1668), the revellers proceeded to Eilian's chapel, next to the parish church, where they would attempt to climb into and turn around in a small wooden box fastened to the wall of the shrine. Failure to accomplish this feat was "esteemed an omen of disaster or death", but success foretold prosperity until the next wake.(58)

The box at Llaneilian was actually a pre-Reformation reliquary, suspended upside-down, its original purpose forgotten and its contents destroyed.(59) As this empty reliquary bore witness, most if not all of the famous relics of the medieval church had disappeared by the eighteenth century. Nevertheless there were still to be found-in the Welsh countryside saints' graves, relics and images which might have come straight out of the Middle Ages. The petrified horns of St David's oxen were kept in Llanddewibrefi's church, Cardiganshire; St Degan's tunic could be seen at a farmhouse in Llanwnda parish, Pembrokeshire, where innumerable stories about the saint were told; nearby the brainpan of St Teilo was used as a cup by devotees of his ho y well at Llandeilo.(60) These relics were, to say the least, of obscure provenance, but they coexisted with several pre-Reformation images of undoubted authenticity (and intriguing histories) which may have been reinstated in their churches in the eighteenth century. The most remarkable of these medieval survivors was the remnant of the equestrian statue of the warrior-saint Derfel Gadarn. Derfel's image had been brought from Wales and burnt at Smithlield in 1536, but his horse, as well as his lance (Almost certainly a postmedieval embellishment) survived at Llandderfel, Merioneth. There they were found in the church beside the communion-rails at a decanal visitation in 1730. The astonished dean ordered that the statue should be removed from the chancel and decapitated. Needless to say, Derfel's horse retained its head and seems to have been taken out of the church annually about Easter, when "the common people used to resort from all parts . . . in order to have a ride on Derfel's horse".(61)

These relics were rather exceptional, but most parishes claimed some special connection which their patron saint, who had protected them in the past and who was commemorated in the folklore and topography of the parish. The folklore of the saints clustered around place-names, emphasizing the singularity of the parish and its privileged link with its patron. Rocks, caves, springs and other natural features dedicated to the saints abounded.(62) In particular, extravagant and competing claims were made for the virtues of holy wells. Many were of ancient origin, but in the eighteenth century a reinvigorated well-cults emerged with elaborate rituals for obtaining the cures, prognostication, blessings and cursings sought from the saints.(63) Reminders of the saints were inescapable in a strangely archaic way, and contemporaries marvelled how "Supestition and Religion, Truth and Errour" were very oddly mixed in Wales.(64)


The consuming interest of the Welsh in the traditions and festivals of their saints is difficult to parallel elsewhere in early modern Protestant Europe, and raises sharply the problem of the nature of these "survivals". Some of the traditions current in the eighteenth century had certainly existed in the sixteenth, but their presence two hundred years after the Reformation clearly requires explanation. The convenient label "survivals" would, however, be an inappropriate designation of a tradition which was not passive (or even decomposing) but, rather, active and developing. The Reformation had been accomplished relatively easily in Wales and the more general cultus of the late medieval church -- with its extra-parochial dimension -- had been shed, especially the devotion to Mary and the rood and the associated tradition of pilgrimage.(65) The surviving traditions of the saints, often combined with new elements, became increasingly localized and were steadily structured along parochial lines. The medieval inheritance in eighteenth-century Wales was not simply the residue of a shattered system, but a resource used to differentiate one parish from others. In this sense the religious idiom of the saints was significant not in itself but rather for the secular relationship of differentiation which it was able to express.

The emphasis on differentiation led to an extraordinary richness of local tradition, secular as well as religious, which was complemented by an emphasis on peculiarities, on distinguishing

quirks and on opprobrious nicknames which were freely applied to other parishes, especially at the time of the gwylmabsant.(66) All served to differentiate parishes one from another in a kind of competitive snobbery, as each parish tried to be as good as if not better than its neighbours. Yet if the parishes were concerned with differentiation, it might a so be said that the differences resembled each other. The festivals, the traditions of the saints, the holy wells, the nicknames, and so on, were all variations on the same themes. As Levi-Strauss tells us (apropos off French peasant costume), "the combination of general conformity . . . with the particularism of the parish results in culture being treated rather like themes and variations in music".(67) So the parish mabsant was Janus-like, facing in two directions. In its particularism it faced inwards towards its members; in its generality it faced outwards towards other groups of the same nature. This duality of the mabsant -- its internal and external aspects -- cannot be better illustrated than by taking Llantwit Major (Llanilltud Fawr), Glamorgan, as an instance of a parish dedicated to the principle of differentiation.

The parishioners of Llantwit Major had a keen sense of their own solidarity, calling themselves "prompt one-and-all-boys", although they were derided by their neighbours as "Llantwit-one-a-wanting". They felt superior to their neighbours, apparently claiming to be of Flemish descent, and named local buildings in such a way as to recall their supposed original home.(68) They cultivated a dialect which became proverbial for broken English and was contemptuously referred to as "Saesneg Llanilltud" (Llantwit's English) by their Welsh-speaking neighbours. "Three things I cannot relish," ran a local saying: "a peevish woman, a parson without wit and Llantwit's broken English". Throughout the eighteenth century there are conflicting reports about their speech; sometimes it is referred to as English, and sometimes Welsh. It seems that they were bilingual, using English amongst themselves and Welsh to outsiders.(69)

Llantwit's gwylmabsant was a singular affair which dramatically represented the parish's relationship with the outside world. The revel was called in their dialect "Anwyl Day" ("Dear Day" or "Beloved Day") and is first referred to at the end of the seventeenth century:

The Saint is Illtud. His feast is held 6th [Nov.sup.r]. Then they have revels,

dancing, horse racing, etc., and they build a Hut which they call John o'

Neal's Castle. This John o' Neal is habited like the fool in our Welsh

Anterlutes. The King and Queen and Pancake [sic], etc., besiege him,

and so rout him.(70)

Unfortunately this brief notice is the only contemporary account of the festival. "May games" at Llantwit Major are mentioned in the eighteenth century, but retrospective nineteenth-century descriptions, apparently independently written, have to he relied on for the main features of the ceremony.(71) According to these sources, the mabsant was held on 3 May each year and re-enacted the victory gained by the inhabitants of Llantwit over a band of Irish pirates who, it was said, had once exacted an annual tribute from the town. On the day of the revel the parishioners gathered in a valley on one side of a stream which runs into the sea. On the opposite bank one man sailed John O'Neal, representing the leader of the band, pitched a tent. The parishioners (ranked for the day into king and queen, ministers, officers, menservants and maidservants), then moved to the edge of the brook and taunted O'Neal, challenging him to leave his tent and fight with them. The calls were made repeatedly until "out pops the squalid figure and unshaved face of the mock Captain", who, after "flinging a wild and hasty glance at his adversaries", set fire to his tent and fled. Alternatively, O'Neal was stabbed and beheaded while attempting to extinguish a fire which his opponents had secretly lit in his tent, and there were then several other ceremonies "illustrative of the manner in which the fallen oppressor's army was defeated and annihilated". A triumphal procession was formed and led into the town by the "king" and "queen", O'Neal's head was displayed, and at this "sign they had obtained their liberty" the amusements of the revel began.

The interpretation of the appearance of John O'Neal at Llantwit Major's mabsant as the memory of an Irish pirate is a nineteenth-century rationalization of the custom. Elsewhere in Glamorgan in the eighteenth century, according to contemporary sources, John O'Neal appears as Sion y Nel, the character who (with Maid Marian and others) acted the skimmington against husband-beaters and played the rather frightening fool in the morris dance.(72) Sion y Nel was Misrule, a symbol of reversal and disorder, and the danger on the boundary. At Llantwit's Anwyl Day the parishioners in their internal unity and without aid successfully overcame external aggression. John O'Neal represented the disorder of the outside world and was vanquished by the community. The message of the mabsant was clearly relational: opposition from abroad results in unity at home.

Llantwit's Anwyl Day was not unique, for the dramatic representation of internal and external relations was present at other gwylmabsantau. At Mwnt, Cardiganshire, the parishioners assembled on Bloody Sunday (Sul Coch y Mwnt) and re-enacted a battle with intruders.(73) Most commonly, however, the conflict between the parish and the outside world was expressed at the mythological level, in the stories of the saints whose defeat of various monsters and other antagonists was commemorated in the folklore and place-names of the parish.

Despite the popular devotion shown to the saints, a curious ambivalence towards them can be glimpsed sometimes. Occasionally saints were both honoured and abused on their festival days and the tension between parish and patron saint might be dramatically expressed. At Darowen mabsant, Montgomeryshire, in the early nineteenth century the custom of "beating Tudur" (curo Tudur) was observed. An unfortunate boy was selected to play the part of St Tudur and, carrying a pole or branch on his shoulders, was pursued and beaten through the parish. This was followed by "great carousing and sports throughout the day". Formerly, it was said, an elaborate effigy of the saint was made and carried about the parish followed by the parishioners in procession "who pursued the image, beating it with clubs in a tumultuous manner as in anger".(74) Similarly, at Defynnog, near Brecon, St Cynog was subjected to a mock chairing. A stranger or unpopular parishioner was hired (for the consideration of a suit of clothes or money) to take the part of the saint at the mabsant and was carried in a chair through the village and then "thrown into the river amidst the jeers and laughter of the people". But when the parishioners were asked about the custom they could give no account of the "questionable honours paid to Cynog . . . save a reverential wish to keep alive the memory of tire saint".(75)

It is difficult to understand the extraordinary ritualized expulsion of saints from their parishes unless interpreted as the awareness and attempted resolution of a contradiction between internal and external values. The ambivalence towards the saints arose, perhaps, from the recognition that they were not only a symbol of distinctiveness but also represented a shared external relation.(76)


So far in my discussion I have shown that the gwylmabsant, as an annual parish festival, enjoyed a distinct chronology from the second half of the seventeenth century to the early part of the nineteenth. I've tried to isolate, through analysis, a number of significant features of the festival. I have argued that the exclusivity of the mabsant expressed the particularism of the parish but was part of a shared system of differentiation in which parishes appeared different but equal. What then was the nature of the social group -- the parish -- to which the mabsant pertained?

In certain respects the parish may be formally described as a permanent group which endured beyond the lifetime of any individual member. It occupied a defined territory and its members might have collective rights in certain resources such as common lands, charities, and so on. Through its elected officers a parish had an internal organization and maintained its external relations.

Yet it is important not to misrepresent the corporate nature and solidarity of the parish. I am not suggesting, of course, that the parish was a harmonious and socially undifferentiated group. Nevertheless, there is relativity in social grouping, and while a parish may have been internally divided it might also form a relatively united group vis-a-vis other parishes when collective interests were at stake. The occasions for parochial solidarity were largely defined by the late Tudor and Stuart local government reforms, the process of the "secularization of the parish", which increasingly rendered the parish a local unit of collective liability and responsibility and which allowed it to be viewed from the outside as an undifferentiated body.(77) The solidarity expressed by the mabsant was not so much internally defined by a village community as externally defined by the conflicts inherent in inter-parochial relationships.

It is important to appreciate that in Wales the parish became a significant unit of local administration, displacing lordship and township, only after the Act of Union of 1536.(78) As parochial autonomy grew, a competitive element was introduced into interparochial relations which was reflected in disputes over a whole range of matters -- particularly the maintenance of roads and bridges, but including, most importantly, controversies over the relief of paupers.

The effects of Poor Law legislation after the Restoration, especially the Act of Parish Settlements (1662), were all the more profound in Wales, where formal provision for the relief of the poor was rudimentary. In 1663 the justices of the peace were obliged by the Court of Great Sessions to put into execution the new laws concerning the poor. By 1681 the Denbighshire grand jury complained that the poor had "now become the great nusance of our county" and made a presentment of justices who had neglected to settle problems of relief. For the first time many parishes appointed overseers of the poor, abandoned Sunday collections for the poor and began (with some delay in northwest Wales) to levy rates. After 1662 no parish could evade responsibility for the relief of its own settled paupers or afford not to seek the removal of paupers whose settlement lay elsewhere.(79) By the mid-eighteenth century perish vestry-books can on occasion reveal something approaching a siege mentality, with resolutions refusing to allow strangers to settle in the parish, condemning collections for "foreigners", and obliging migrant workers to carry "passports" noting their place of legal settlement.(80)

Thus it is possible to visualize the parishes of eighteenth-century Wales as existing in a state of latent hostility which was actually expressed and maintained by disputes in the whole field of parochial administration, but above all by the removal of paupers from one parish to another. The Act of Parish Settlements not only defined membership of a parish, but also provided the grounds for disputes between parishes. Parish membership was no longer a matter of internal significance. In a very interesting way, settlement defined those who belonged to a particular parish, and those who did not belong might find themselves literally pushed across parish boundaries. Settlement legislation rendered the parish socially significant in a decisive way by opposing parish against parish. It is consistent, therefore, that the movement of parochial differentiation at the symbolic level, especially in festival, which I have traced, coincided with the system of parochial differentiation at the level of social organization which the Act of Settlements established. Gwylmabsantau appear after the Restoration with the introduction of the Act of Settlements and disappear in the early nineteenth century when the legislation was repealed.


I have argued that the festive culture of the mabsant and related traditions were the expression, not of the isolation of parishes, but rather of the competitive and antagonistic nature of the relationships between them. Following my thesis that festivals were symbolic representations of social relations, we would expert that the hostile relationship between parishes would also have been ritualized. This was indeed the case.

The relationship of opposition between parishes and its expression in negative exchange was present in the custom known as the "summer birch" (bedwen haf) or "summer pole" (pawl haf).(81) The summer pole was an elaborately decorated birch-tree erected in Welsh parishes at midsummer on St John's Eve (23 June), and during the festival parochial gangs armed with clubs and guns roamed the countryside and sometimes met in violent confrontations. As with the wake, the social significance of the maypole cannot be fully appreciated without first examining the chronology and changing distribution of the festival.

The summer birch was sometimes referred to as a maypole, and it is probable that it was a borrowing of the English custom, but transmuted in the process to serve different symbolic ends.(82) Maypoles were popular in the Marches, and the earliest Welsh references to the custom are from those counties bordering England. A late Elizabethan Star Chamber case concerns the profaning of the Sabbath and the erection of a maypole at Wrexham. A "summer pole" at Llandinam, Montgomeryshire, is referred to in 1610; a permanent maypole, mentioned in 1623, stood near an ale-house at Rhosllannerchrugog, Ruabon. In July 1641 another Denbighshire maypole, at Ruthin, was attacked by a drunken yeoman with a halbert who declared that "he had received no favours from it".(83)

The evidence is not as full as one would like, but it seems that at this period the maypole was largely restricted to those parts of north-east Wales where town wakes were also prominent. After the middle of the seventeenth century the maypole has a wider distribution and significance. Before the end of the century it was found in other parts of north Wales and also in Pembrokeshire, and in the eighteenth century was mentioned by writers throughout Wales.(84) It is from the widely separated counties of Glamorgan and Denbighshire that we have the best accounts of the custom.

In July 1686 thirteen townsmen were presented at the quarter sessions and later indicted at the assizes for unlawful assembly and breaches of the peace connected with the erection of a birch at Holt, Denbighshire. According to the indictment, on 23 May they had assembled at the Common Wood with four horses, removed a maypole from the neighbouring parish of Gresford and re-erected it at Holt. Dangerous fires had been lit, the watch assaulted, and great multitudes too many to name had assembled every night for a fortnight "to keepe their birch from being stolen away by ye people of ye town of Farndon".(85)

The theft and defence of the birch was the central feature of the custom. A contemporary observer explained that, although it was customary to have games of various sorts around the birch, "the chief aim, and on which the fame of the village depended, was, to preserve it from being stolen away; as parties from other places were continually on the watch for an opportunity; who, if successful, had their feats recorded in songs on the occasion".(86) Both a song and a contemporary account of the theft of a birch have survived from eighteenth-century Glamorgan.

A long dialect poem written about 1740 describes the raising of the summer birch in the parish of Wenvoe. The squire had sent his carpenter ("of the best in Wales") to trim and dress the birch until it was round, and it was adorned with carvings painted every colour. The young women of the parish then decorated the pole with garlands and a proud gilded weather-cock was placed at the very top. Many ribbons were attached to his tail and beneath a banner fluttered in the wind. "Come quickly", says the poet, "you can see dancers". The maids were dressed in their finest clothes, but men renowned for their strength kept guard over the birch to prevent it from being stolen.(87)

A vivid account of the theft of the birch in the Vale of Glamorgan has been left by a disapproving schoolmaster. In June 1768, he writes, "that frolicksome theft, the may pole of Landaff was set up in St. Fagans very costly, with much vain pomp and rejoycing and watching it with guns, being threatned by St. Nicholas's folks". The next evening about fifty of St Nicholas's folks and their neighbours entered St Fagans armed with clubs. "But before they had near reached their painted wooden god" the men of St Fagans and their allies "stroke at them" with guns and clubs and made them retreat. They "abused some of them very pitiful!" and ran after them with "great huzzas". That night continual guard was kept and the diarist listened to the "shooting of guns here and there". The following day there were rumours that further attempts would be made to steal the birch. The parish recruited reinforcements, "set spies abroad every where", and watch was kept all that night "with continual shootings". St Fagans retained its birch, but following the assaults warrants were served on some parishioners "for their abusing frolick".(88)

The birch was guarded for four days and nights. It was considered "a great disgrace for ages to the parish that lost its birch, whilst on the other hand, the parish that had succeeded in stealing a decked bough and preserving its own, was held up in great esteem". A parish that had lost its birch could not raise another until it had succeeded in stealing one from a neighbouring parish.(89)

Festivals are multivalent: they can combine several different meanings. The sexual aspect of the maypole has been apparent to historians and foLklorists,(90) but any adequate interpretation of the summer birch must take into account the distinctive way the festival was structured as an antagonistic relationship between groups. The significance of the bedwen haf lay not simply in the way it focused the unity of parishioners, but, more importantly, in the hostile relationship between groups which it expressed and dramatized. The theft and counter-theft of the birch was an exact form of reciprocity which allowed parishes to re-present themselves in a system of alternating superiority and inferiority. Thus festivals were not simply a reflection of the social situation; rather, festivals and social organization existed in a complementary relationship, for what was not possible at the level of social organization could he realized at the level of festival.


What was the nature of the social solidarity expressed in the mabsant? Characteristically, "traditional" festivals have been interpreted in Durkheimian fashion, in terms of their contribution to social integration. Because of the obvious sociability of the wake, it might be argued that it was essentially an integrating festival, contributing to harmonious relationships within the parish; but equally, festivals were just as likely to be sources of conflict, exacerbating the tensions already present in village life

and providing an opportunity for new quarrels, fights, slanders and aggressive assertions of relative status. Nevertheless a sense of solidarity was clearly present in the mabsant, but it was not, I think, to be found at the level of individual relationships. My argument has been that in order to understand the parish festival, emphasis should be placed not on the internal aspects of social relationships within parishes, thereby viewing the parish as an isolated or self-contained group and the mabsant as an expression of "community", but rather on the external relationships between parishes: solidarity at home, the parish patriotism of the mabsant, was the consequence of opposition from abroad.

Here, I think, the parish wake may be usefully contrasted with those festivals, especially carnivals, where the internal ordering or reordering of social relationships within a group was a prominent feature of the occasion.(91) In the mabsant, the characteristically carnivalesque elements of reversal and disguise which helped dramatize and redefine relationships were conspicuously absent. This absence is all the more striking given the general festive associations of rough music and the prominence of disguise, ridings and rituals of reversal in nineteenth-century Wales.(92) It is revealing that when Misrule (in the guise of Sion y Nel) did apparently make an appearance at a parish festival he was expelled by the parishioners.

The mabsant, then, was concerned with the differentiation between groups rather than with the structuring or restructuring of relationships within them. The apparent archaism of the mabsant and the associated traditions of the saints were not the result of the isolation of the parish but, on the contrary, reveal the intensity of relations between parishes. I have argued that the mabsant and associated customs which emphasized parochial differentiation were a response to the secularization of the parish, especially to the specific social situation created by the Parochial Settlemen+.s Act which enhanced parish autonomy but also brought parshes into conflict. The chronology in Wales is quite clear: wakes appear after the Restoration with the introduction of the Parish Settlements Act and disappear after an eighteenth-century heyday with the end of the Old Poor Law. As the autonomy of the parish was broken, so the symbolic markers of differentiation were no longer significant and were discarded and sometimes reused by groups of different definition.

I began this article by arguing that festivals can be understood as symbolic representations of social structure, and I hope I have been able to substantiate this claim. Festivals were not part of a free-floating popular culture, but were firmly grounded in the experience of social relations. My focus has been on Wales, but given the common experience of the development of the civil parish it is important (so far as the published evidence will allow) to look briefly at the contrasts and correspondences between the chronology of English and Welsh wakes.

England had a longer tradition of parish-based feasts and church-ales, but the chronology and distribution of these and other festivals are by no means fully understood.(93) It seems probable, however, that many parish wakes and ales (which are often indistinguishable) were late medieval innovations which particularly flourished in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.(94) The geographical distribution of feasts and ales was uneven and shifting. Church-ales seem not to have been celebrated in the northern English counties, and in some areas of the south and west feasts and ales were in decline by the late sixteenth century.(95) Recent accounts of these festivals, while acknowledging they may have been occasions for conflict, have emphasized their positive communal role as expressions of neighbourly hospitality and concern for the relief of the poor. Accordingly, as Keith Thomas puts it, "these festivals symbolise the importance attached to harmony and agreement".(96) Ideal and actual behaviour may not always have corresponded, but Felicity Heal has an interesting corroborative analysis of wakes and ales as a form of reciprocated popular hospitality which was extended not only to neighbours but also to outsiders and even strangers.(97) The association between church-ales and the voluntary relief of the poor is of great interest, and it seems probable, at least in part, that church-ales declined with the introduction of compulsory rating.(98)

The Puritan attack on festivals in the first half of the seventeenth century was more successful in same areas than in others. It may be, as David Underdown has argued, that the resulting regional patterning of festivals on the eve of the Civil War was the contrasting cultural response of different types of communities.(99) The hiatus of the Civil War and Commonwealth seems to have marked a profound change in the character of festive culture; some elements already present in festivals (particularly the incipient parochialism) become more strongly defined after the Restoration, others disappeared. Church-ales, inextricably linked with the voluntary relief of the poor, vanished completely. Wakes, by contrast, enjoyed a more-or-less general revival in the second half of the seventeenth century; or, to put it more strongly, a new type of festival developed. Festivals after the Restoration were more concerned with the expression of parish solidarities and the local elaboration of difference than with the reciprocation of hospitality. Regional variations in the popularity of parish feasts, which had existed before the mid-seventeenth century, were obliterated with the wholesale revival of the wake, which was generalized to areas which had either abandoned parish feasts before the Civil War or had never celebrated them.(100) Historians of the period have emphasized the vigorous nature of these new wakes, which had much the same character and chronology as the Welsh mabsant: they appear in the second half of the seventeenth century (or even later), and after flourishing in the eighteenth century they either expired in the ear y nineteenth with the declining significance of the parish, or became incorporated into the new leisure requirements of industrial locales.(101)

The festive cultures of England and Wales after the Restoration were broadly similar. The more compressed chronology of the Welsh mabsant helps us to see more clearly than is otherwise possible changes which seem also to have occurred in the nature of English festive culture. Much has been made of the regional character of popular culture -- and a writer on Welsh history is acutely aware of cultural difference -- but it is the resemblances rather than the differences between the festive culture of post-Restoration England and Wales which are significant, and this correspondence was grounded in the shared experience of the secularization of the parish, particularly the intensive parochialism generated by the Old Poor Law.

(1) P. Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (London, 1978), pp. 218-9. (2) T. M. Owen, The Customs and Traditions of Wales (Cardiff, 1991), pp. 90-1. See also, more generally, P. Morgan, The Eighteenth Century Renaissance (Llandybie, 1981), ch. 1. (3) J. Evans, A Topographical and Historical Description of the Counties of North Wales (London, 1812), p. 220. (4) [Anon.], A Journey to Llandrindod Wells . . . by a Countryman (London, 1746), pp. 56-66. (5) Parochialia: Being a Summary of Answers to "Parochial Queries in Order to a Geographical Dictionary, etc., of Wales" issued by Edward Lhwyd, ed. R. H. Morris, 3 pts (Archaeologia Cambrensis Suppl, London, 1909-11). Compare the seasonal pattern of wakes in England shown by Edward Thompson and Robert Malcolmson: E. P. Thompson, "The Patricians and the Plebs", in his Customs in Common (London, 1991), pp. 51-2; R. W. Malcolmson, Popular Recreations in English Society, 1700-1850 (Cambridge, 1973), p. 18. (6) J. Fisher, "The Welsh Calendar", Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion (1894-5), pp. 136-8; A. Llwyd, A History of the Island of Mona, or Anglesey (Ruthin, 1833), p. 350; see also n. 28 below. (7) National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth (hereafter N.L.W.), MS. 784A, p. 166. (8) Owen, Customs and Traditions of Wales, p. 94; M. Moggridge, "On the Customs of Defynog", Archaeologia Cambrensis, new ser., iv (1853), p. 325; Bodleian Library, Oxford, Willis M3. 36, fos. 131-2; R. Williams, A History of the Parish of Llanbrynmair (London, 1889), p. 150; The Archbishop of Wales [A. G. Edwards], Memories (London, 1927), p.21; N.L.W., MS. 15425E, fo. [55.sup.r]; J. Davies, A History of West Gower, 4 vols. (Swansea, 1877-94), ii, p. 7, iii, p. 62. (9) "A Parishioner" [R. Willett], A Memoir of Hawarden Parish, Flintshire (Chester, 1822), p. 75; T. G. Jones, "A History of the Parish of Llansantffraid-yn-Mechain", Collections Hist. and Archaeol. relating to Montgomeryshire and its Borders, iv (1871), p. 135; T. W. Hancock, "Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant: Its Parochial History and Antiquities", ibid., vi (1873), p. 323; J. Fewtree, "Parochial History of Llanymynech", ibid., xii (1879), p. 379; Fisher, "Welsh Calendar", p. 132. (10) B. H. Malkin, The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales (London, 1804), p. 269; S. R. Meyrick, The History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan (London, 1808), p. clxi. (11) D. R. Saer, "Traditional Dance in Wales during the Eighteenth Century", Dawns: The Welsh Folk Dance Soc. Jl (1983-4), pp. 5-24; N.L.W., MS. 1171B, fo. [1.sup.r]; J. Howells, "The Glamorgan Revel", Red Dragon, v (1884), pp. 138-9. (12) E. Owen, "Churchyard Games in Wales", Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist, ii (1896), pp. 155-6; T. G. Jones, Welsh Folklore and Folk-Custom (London, 1930), pp. 161-2; G. J. Williams, "Glamorgan Customs in the Eighteenth Century", Gwerin, i (1957), pp. 101-2. A humorous "hot hasty-pudding"-eating contest at Holyhead wake is illustrated by Edward Pugh, Cambria depicta: A Tour through North Wales, Illustrated with Picturesque Views (London, 1816), pl. facing p. 53. Ons ceremonies and processions at the gwylmabsant, see pp. 95-6, 100-2 below. (13) Parochialia, ed. Morris, iii, p. 14. (14) John Walters, An English-Welsh Dictionary (London, 1794), s.v. "revel-rout". (15) E. M. Leather, The Folk-Lore of Herefordshire (Hereford, 1912), p. 156; M. E. Hartland and E. B. Thomas, "Breconshire Village Folklore", Folk-Lore, xxiv (1913), p. 513. Examples of actions for defamation include: Evan v. Thomas, N.L.W., LL/CC/G/670 ("whore" and "rogue" at a public revel in a churchyard); Herbert v. Butler, N.L.W., LL/CC/G/1292. (16) Bandy: [C. Redwood], The Vale of Glamorgan (London, 1839), pp. 73-9; N.L.W., MS. 6608E, pp. 56-7. Football: G. N. Evans, Religion and Politics in Mid-Eighteenth Century Anglesey (Cardiff, 1953), pp. 58-9; B. Dew Roberts, Mr. Bulkeley and the Pirate: A Welsh Diarist of the Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 1936), pp. 35-7; for the "Black Ball" festival, see p. 88 below. (17) Pugh, Cambria depicta, pp. 439-40, describing "outrages" in the 1780s which by 1816 had "dwindled away" into occasional battles between individuals. (18) At Mallwyd (Merioneth) and Llanwrin (Montgomeryshire): Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 41, fos. [309.sup.r], [312.sup.v]; Evans, Religion and Politics in Mid-Eighteenth Century Anglesey, p. 61. (19) E. Owen, Old Stone Crosses of the Vale of Clwyd and Neighbouring Parishes (London, 1886), pp. 65-6. (20) Glamorgan Record Office, Cardiff, Fonmon Papers, xxxiv, p. 31. (21) I. George, "Rhai o Lawysgrifau Ellis Wynne a William Wynn" [Some of the Manuscripts of Ellis Wynne and William Wynn], Jl Welsh Bibliographical Soc., iv (1932-6), p. 191, citing N.L.W., MS. 7235, diary entry by William Wynn for 1 Aug. 1750. Cf. the regular payments for prizes (including the "gwylmabsant hat") given for "turning" or "moving" the mabsant of Llanuwchllyn, Merioneth, recorded in the parish vestry-book: R. W. Jones, Bywyd Cymdeithasol Cymru yn y Ddeunawfed Ganrif [Welsh Social Life in the Eighteenth Century] (London, 1931),p. 117. (22) A Brief Account of the Life of Howell Harris, Esq.; Extracted from Papers Written by Himself, ed. B. T. [i.e., B. La Trobed (Trefeca, 1791), pp. 35-6, 46; R. Philip, The Life and Times of the Reverend George Whitefield, M.A., 4th edn (London, n.d.), pp. 108-9; The Journal of the Rev. Charles Wesley, M.A., ed. T. Jackson, 2 vols. (London, 1849), i, pp. 295, 299-300 (27 Aug., 14, 15 Sept. 1741). (23) Cf. Weekly History, 28 Aug., 6 Nov. 1742; I. Thomas, Rhad Ras [Free Grace] (Swansea, 1810; repr., ed. J. Dyfnallt Owen, Cardiff, 1949), pp. 71-4. (24) The History, Constitution, Rules of Discipline, and Confession of Faith, of the Calvinistic Methodists, or the Presbyterians of Wales. Adopted at the Associations of Aberystwyth and Bala, in the Year 1823 (Caernarfon, 1900), rule vi, p. 23. (25) E. Morgan, A Memoir of the Rev. John Elias (Liverpool, 1844; repr. Edinburgh, 1973), pp. 86-90; J. Herbert, Cofiant am y Parch. Richard Newell [Memoir of the Revd Richard Newell] (Llanidloes, [c.1855]), pp. 34-6. (26) For Gower, see Davies, History of West Gower, passim, and W. Williams, A Memoir of the Life and Labours of the Rev. Wm. Griffiths, Burry Green, Gower (London, 1863), pp. 79-80. The dates of over thirty wakes are noted in Llwyd, History of the Island of Mona, passim. See also the discussion of "Relic Sundays", pp. 95-6 below. The wakes at Trefdraeth and Bodedern still survived as hiring-fairs at the end of the nineteenth century: Royal Commission on Labour: The Agricultural Labourer, 5 vols. in 4, Parliamentary Papers, 1893-4 (C. 6894), xxxv-xxxviii, ii, p. 129. (27) Cf. Evans, Religion and Politics in Mid-Eighteenth Century Anglesey, pp. 58-9; Williams, "Glamorgan Customs in the Eighteenth Century", pp. 100-1. (28) S. Baring-Gould and J. Fisher, The Lives of the British Saints, 4 vols. (London, 1907-13), i, p. 65. W. H. Howse states that most wakes continued up to the 1840s "and rather later"; Elias Owen says that the mobsant of Efenechtyd, Denbighshire, ended a few years after 1832, and "in other parts of Wales the celebration of the wakes has likewise disappeared within the last thirty or forty years"; according to Marie Trevelyan, gwylmabsantau were kept up "so late as the years 1840 to 1850": W. H. Howse, Radnorshire (Hereford, 1949), p. 140; Owen, Old Stone Crosses, p. 65; M. Trevelyan, Folk-Lore and Folk-Stories of Wales (London, 1909), p. 257. (29) Cronicl yr Oes, 1 Nov. 1836. I owe this reference to Rosemary Jones. (30) J. Ballinger, Gleanings from a Printer's File (Aberystwyth, 1928), pp. 53-4, 62-4; D. R. and Z. S. Cledlyn Davies, Hanes Plwyf Llanwenog [A History of Llanwenog Parish] (Aberystwyth, 1939), pp. 40, 107. Cf. E. Morgan, Ministerial Record . . . of the Rev. D. Jones, Rector of Llangan, Glarnorganshire (London 1841), pp. 34-6; T. M. Owen, What Happened to Welsh Folk Customs' (Katharine Briggs Lecture, iv, London, 1985), pp. [7]-[8]. (31) Rules of a Friendly Society . . . Called the Brotherly Society . . . Devynnock . . . Established . . . 1837 (Brecon, 1838), pp. 16 and 15 (separate Welsh and English pagination); Trevelyan, Folk-lore and Polk-Stories of Wales, p. 27. (32) Howells, "Glamorgan Revel", pp. 130-9.

(33) According to Peter Roberts, by 1815 wakes in Denbighshire were "mostly confined to the lower order": P. Roberts, The Cambrian Popular Antiquities (London, 1815), p. 128. At the same time, however, "the first people" of Holybead still gave the prizes for the competitions at the wakes there: Pugh, Cambria depicta, pp. 52-4. (34) John Davies's dictionary had suggested that, by synecdoche, mabsant referred to the whole parish, regarded collectively as a "son" to their patron saint: J. Davies, Antiquae linguae Britannicae (London, 1632, S.T.C 6347), s.v. "Mab-Sant". L. Morrui, "Molrman Miscellany", Gentleman's Mag., original ser., lxi (1791), p. 14; T. Pennant, The History of the Parishes of Whiteford and Holywell (London, 1796), p. 227; H. Rowlands, Mona antiqua restaurata (Dublin, 1723), pp. 189-90; S. T[homas], Hanesy Byd a'r Arnseroedd [History of the World and the Times] (London, 1721), pp. 129-30. (35) R. J. Thomas and G. -A. Bevan (eds.), Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru: A Dictionary of the Welsh Language, u (Cardiff, 1968-87), s.v. "gwylmabsant". The apparent authenticity of the Aberpergwm Chronicle, a late eighteenth-century concoction, was no doubt helped by spurious references to the reform of gwylmabsantau in the twelfth century: Brut y Tywysogion [Chronicle of the Princes], ed. A. Owen (Cambrian Archaeol. Assoc., London, 1863), pp. 52-3, 118-19. (36) G. Thomas, Eisteddfadau Caerwys: The Caerwys Eisteddfadau (Cardiff, 1968), pp. 68-9. For late medieval poetic references to geylanabsantau, see L'cravre poetique de Gutun Owain, ed. E. Bachellery, 2 vols. in 1 (Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des hautes etudes: section des sciences historiques et philologiques, ccxcvii, Paris, 1950-1), ii, pp. 335-7; Gwaith Lewis Slyn Cothi: The Poetical Works of Lewis Glyn Cothi, ed. J. Jones and W. Davies (Oxford, 1837), pp. 314-16, 329-31; D. R. Thomas, "Llandrmio in the [] Century: Two Poems by Gutto'r Glyn, c. 1430-1470", Collections Hist. and Archaeol relating to Montgornery shire and its Borders, xxxiii (1904), pp. 147-54; C. W. Lewis, "The Literary Tradition of Morganawg down to the Middle of the Sixteenth Century", in T. B. Pugh (ed.), The Middle Ages (Glamorgan County Hist., iii, Cardiff, 1971), p. 511. A few patronal days are probably listed in a unique bardic itinerary of c. 1600: Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language, 2 vols. (London, 1898-1410), i, pp. 993-4. (37) C. Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (London, 1964), p. 183; C. Hill, "Puritans and the `Dark Corners of the Land' ", Trans. Roy. Hist. Soc., 5th ser., xiii (1963), pp. 97-8. (38) The Description of Pembrokeshire [by] George Dwen of Henilys, ed. D. Miles (Llandysul, 1994), pp. 208-19; G. Dyfnallt Owen, Elizabethan Wales: The Social Scene (Cardiff, 1962), pp. 54-7. On playing-places, see N.L.W., Great Sessions 414/2169 and 4/15/2/24 (Denbighshire, 1574 and 1609). (39) P. Williams, The Council in the Marches of Wales under Elizabeth I (Cardiff, 1958), pp. 38-9, 53; C Skeel, "Social and Economic Conditions in Wales and the Marches in the Early Sixteenth Century, as Illustrated by Harl. MS. 4220", Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion (1916-17), pp. 136-7; N.L.W., Great Sessions 4/16/4/52 dorse and 54 (Denbighshire, Spring 1617); R. Eilenley, A Calendar of the Register of the Queen's Majesty's Council in the Dominion and Principality of Wales and the Marches of the Same, [1535] 1569-1591 (Cymmrodorion Rec. Ser., viii, London, 1916), pp. 102-3, 145. (40) T. G. Barnes, "County Politics and a Puritan Cause Celebre: Somerset Churchales, 1633", Trans. Roy. Hist. Soc., 5th ser., ix (1959), pp. 103-22; Hill, Somety and Puritanism, pp. 183-5. (41) Multiple prosecutions for keeping unlicensed alehouses and permitting unlawful games occurred in Wales in 1563, 1590, 1593, 1601, 1616 and 1640: N.L.W., Great Sessions 7/1-10. It may be noted that while the records of Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions are almost complete from 1541 to 1660, they contain only one presentment of a "public wakes" (held at Llangwnadl in 1653 with the selling of ale and tobacco): Caernarfonshire Records (Caernarfon, 1968), p. 17 and pl. facing p. 14. On assize records in Wales, see G Parry, A Guide to the Records of Great Sessions in Wales (Aberystwyth, 1995). (42) I. ab O. Edwards, A Catalogue of Star Chamber Proceedings relating to Wales (Cardiff, 1929), p. 82. (43) N.L.W., Great Sessions 4/977/1/97 (Flintshire, 1616), 4/20/2/50 and 4/20/4/21 (Denbighshire, 1632, 1633). Other references to wakes in north Wales include: Bangor-on-Dee wake (the Sunday following the fair at Wrexham held on St Daniel's Day), Cilcain-wake (St Michael's Day in October), Gemaes wake (2 October): N.L.W.,Great Sessions 4/4/6/12 (Denbighshire, 1632), 4/134/2/68 and 4/149/1/25 (Montgomeryshire, 1590, 1632). A satire on Llangollen by Edward Maelor, "a poet and a crowther", who "being there at their wakes time or gwyl = mabsant, had not see much as his dinner", is found in Jesus College, Oxford, MS. D.S8, p. 34 (the manuscript is now kept in the Bbdleian Library). (44) Town wakes: N.L.W., Great Sessions 4/27/1/53 and 4/3415/60 (Denbighshire, 1667, 1691). For the new fairs, see N.L.W., MSS. Chirk B 33b/5, 34c/11, 38a/3 and 38b/16 (Denbighshire Quarter Sessions); Great Sessions 4/795/1/24 (Pembrokeshire, 1674). (45) Cf S. Hall, "Popular Culture and the State", in T. Bennett, C. Mercer and J. Woollacott (eds.), Popular Culture and Social Relations (Milton Keynes, 1986), p. 23. (46) On Browne Willis, see J. G. Jerkins, The Dragon of Whaddon (Oxford, 1953). (47) Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 37, fo. [136.sup.r]; Willis MES. 36, fo. [55.sup.r]. (48) The Diary of William Thomas of Michaelston-super-Ely, near St Fagans, Glamorgan, 1762-1795, ed. R. T. W. Denning (Pubus South Wales Rec. Soc., xi, Cardiff, 1995), p. 117 (1-2 Oct. 1764). The ground floor of the church-house was used as a poorhouse, while the upper floor was a meeting-room: Malkin, Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales, pp. 63-4. (49) Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 37, fo. [117.sup.r]; Willis MS. 72, fo. [165.sup.r]; Willis MS. 361 fo. [286.sup.r]. (50) Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 36, fo. [168.sup.r]. Kenfig was a decayed borough and, according to an ancient inhabitant, had kept a wake before the Civil War. (51) For example, new wakes were reported from Machynlleth and Penegoes, Montgomeryshire: Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 41, fo. 309s. (52) T. Jones, Newyddion Mawr oddiwrthy Ser, neu Almanac am . . . 1695 [Important News from the Stars, or Almanac for . . . 1695] (Shrewsbury, 1694), p. 10; for an example of staggering neighbouring festivals "which must not interfere", see Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 42, fo. [195.sup.r]. The dates of wakes were of course affected by the calendar reform of 1752. A Baptist minister noted that there was controversy as to whether gwylmabsantau should be held Old or New Style. He proposed that while markets and fairs should be held at the most convenient time, wakes should be held according to the new calendar: J. Thomas, Undeb mewn Owlad [Unity in a Country] Shrewsbury, 1753), pp. 19-23. Evidence for the continuing importance of Old Style dates, especially for fairs, should be noted: Fisher, "Welsh Calendar", pp. 105-6, 137-8, and cf. R. Poole, "`Give Us Our Eleven nays!': Calendar Reform in Eighteenth-Century England", Past and Present, no. 149 (Nov. 1995), pp. 127-9. (53) Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 36, fo. [77.sup.r]. (54) Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 41, fos. [335.sup.v]-[336.sup.r]. (55) Bodleian Lib., Jesus College MS. C.115, p. 123. (56) L. Morris, "A Short Account of Holyhead Church", Cambrian Register, iii (1818), p. 217; North Wales Gazette, 3 Aug. 1809; W. Cathrall, The History of Plorth Wales (Manchester, 1828), p. 39; Baring-Gould and Fisher, Lives of the British Saints, ii, pp. 389-90; H. Ramage, Portraits of an Island: eighteenth Century Anglesey (Studies in Anglesey Hist., vii, Llangefai, 1987), p. 79. (57) Bodleian Lib., Willis MS. 41, fo. [324.sup.v;] B. Willis, A Survey of the Cathedral Church of Bangor (London, 1721), pp. 299-305. (58) Evans, Topographical and Historical Description of the Counties of North Wales, p. 220; Baring-Gould and Fisher, Lives of the British Saints, ii, pp. 438-9; S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales, 2 vols. (London, 1833), ii, s.n. "elan Aelian". (59) Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Anglesey (London, 1937), p. 61. (60) Baring-Sould and Fisher, Lives of the British Saints, i, pp. 318-19; R. Fenton, A Historical Tour through Pernbrokeshire (London, 18fl), pp. 20-1; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, County of Pembroke (London, 19", p. 157. (61) Baring-Gould, A Book of North Wales (London, 1903), p. 199; G. M. Griffiths, "A Report on the Deanery of Penllyn and Edeirnion Fresented by the Reverend John Wynne in 1730", Merioneth Miscellany, ed. E. D. Jones (Merioneth Hist. and Rec. Soc Extra Pubns, 1st ser., no. 3, Dolgellau, 1955), p. 24; D. R. Thomas A History of the Diocese of St. Asaph (London, 1874), pp. 697-9; W. Gareth Evans, "Derfel Gadarn -- A Celebrated Victim of the Reformation", FI Merioneth Hist. and Rec. Soc., (1990-3), pp. 137-51. (62) On the folklore of the saints, see generally E. R. Henken, Traditions of the Welsh Saints (Cambridge, 1987); E. R. Henken, The Welsh Saints: A Study in Patterned Lives (Cambridge, 1991) (63) See F. Jones, The Holy Wells of Wales (Cardiff, 1954), esp. pp. 104-5, 173 (Ffynnon Degla), 119-23 (Ffynnon Eilian) and 74-5, f51 (Ffynnon Gybi). (64) E. Saunders, A View of the State of Religion in the Diocese of St. Davia's (London, 1721; repr. Cardiff, 1949), p. 16. (65) On the late medieval church, see G. Hartwell Jones, Celtic Britain and the Pilgrim Movement (Y Cymmrodor, xxiii, London, 1912); G. Williams, The Welsh Church from Conquest to Reformation (Cardiff, 1956); G. Williams, "Poets and Pilgrims in Fifteent-hand Sixteenth-Century Wales", Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion (1991), pp. 69-98.

(66) J. Rhys, Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1891), ii, pp. 93, 105-6. On parish nicknames, see, for example, D. T. Alexander, Glamorgan Reminiscences (Carmarthen, 1915), p. 21; "Rhuddenfab" [L. Jones], Hand-Book to Ruthin and Neighbourhood (Ruthin, 1896), p. 60. (67) C. Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, trans. S. Wolfram (London, 1966), p. 90; C. Levi-Strauss, Totemism, trans. R. Needham (London, 1964), p. 77. (68) [Redwood], Vale of Glamorgan, pp. 109-20; L. V. Kelly (ed.), Llantwit Major (Cowbridge, 1976), pp. 29-30, 46. (69) "Cadrawd" [T. C. Evans], "The Folklore of Glamorgan", in E. Vincent Evans (ed.), Transactions of the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Aberdare, 1885 (Cardiff, 1887), p. 206; B. Ll. James, "The Welsh Language in the Vale of Glamorgan", Morgannwg, xvi (1972), pp. 22-6; Malkin, Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales, p. 622. (70) Tours in Wales (1804-1813) by Richard Fenton, ed. J. Fisher (Cambrian Archaeol. Assoc., London, 1917), pp. 347-8. I cannot explain the presence of the pancake. (71) N.L.W., MS. 21413E, item 9; [Redwood], Vale of Glamorgan, pp. 115-20; M. Rhys, "Unpublished Traditions of Glamorganshire", Cambrian Jl, ii (1855), pp. 115-16; Trevelyan, Folk-Lore and Folk-stories of Wales, pp. 26-7; M. R. Spencer, Annals of South Glamorgan (Carmarthen, 1913), pp. 120-2. (72) Williams, "Glamorgan Customs in the Eighteenth Century", p. 106; G. J. Williams, "Wiliam Robert o'r Ydwal" [William Robert of Redwall], Llen Cymru, iii (1954), pp. 50-2. From the latter source we learn that although John O'Neal sported the "cat's tuft" or fox-tail of the fool he was not a "foolish man", but a "wise companion" who could make folk tremble. The origin of the name "John O'Neal"/ "Sion y Nel" is tantalizingly obscure. (73) "Cardigan Meeting. -- Report", Archaeologia Cambrensis, 3rd ser., v (1859), p. 328; the day "frequently ended in quarrels and bloodshed": S. R. Meyrick, The History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan (London, 1810), p. 171. (74) T. O. Morgan, "The History of the Parish of Darowen", Collections Hist. and Archaeol. relating to Montgomeryshire and its Borders, iii (1870), pp. 182-3; C. A., "A Darowen Custom", Bye-Gones relating to Wales and the Border Counties, 2nd. ser., iii (1893-4), p. 284. (75) Moggridge, "On the Customs of Defynog", pp. 325-6; Baring-Gould and Fisher, Lives of the British Saints, ii, pp. 26-71. (76) Cf. Louis Dumont on the conflict between internal and external values represented by the legend and festivals of St Martha: L. Dumont, La Tarasque (Paris, 1951); L. Dumont, Homo hierarchicus, trans. M. Sainsbury (London, 1970), p. 302 n. 61a. At Tarascon, St Martha (representing external values) defeats the monstrous Tarasque (representing internal "village" values). In the ritualized expulsions of the mabsant the reverse is the case, as external values (the saint) are defeated by internal values (the parish). Cf. also the tension between "wholeness" and "differentiation" in the celebration of Gorpus Christi: M. James, "Ritual, Drama and Social Body in the Late Medieval English Town", Past and Present, no. 98 (Feb. 1983), pp. 3-29. (77) Hill, Society and Puritanism, ch. 12. Cf. S. F. Moore, Law as Process (London, 1978), ch. 3. (78) M. Richards, Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units (Cardiff, 1969), p. ix; W. Ogwen William, Calendar of the Caernarvonshire Quarter Sessions Records, i, 1541-1558 (Caernarvonshire Hist. Soc., Caernarfon, 1956), p. lxv. (79) N.L.W., Great Sessions 4/25/4/30 and 4/13/5/5 dorse (Denbighshire, 1663 and 1683); A. H. Dodd, "The Old Poor Law in North Wales", Archaeologia Cambrensis, 7th ser., vii (1926), pp. 11-32; B. Bowen Thomas, "The Old Poor Law in Ardudwy Uwch-Artro", Bull. Board Celtic Studies, vii (1934), pp. 153-91; G. D. Owen, "The Poor Law System in Carmarthenshire during the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries", Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion (1941), pp. 71-86; R. M. J. Grant, On the Parish: An Illustrated Source Book on the Care of the Poor under the Old Poor Law, based on Documents from the County of Glamorgan (Cardiff, 1988). (80) For example, Llanfihangel Bachellaeth, Caernarfonshire, in 1766 (N.L.W., MS. Broom Hall 1275). See also N.L.W., Parochial Records, Llanuwchllyn Vestry-Book, Merioneth, pp. 133 (1729), 206 (1740), 229 (1743); J. Williams-Davies, "Two Eighteenth Century Work Permits from Merioneth", Jl Merioneth Hist. and Rec. Soc., x (1985-9), pp. 364-6. (81) For a discussion of the significance of the birch and its use in calendar customs, see T. M. Owen, Welsh Polk Customs (Llandysul, 1987), ch. 3. (82) As Owen points out, there is an early reference to the maypole in a mid-fourteenth-century poem by Gruffydd ab Adda ap Dafydd which describes the felling of a birch-tree for transport to Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire: ibid, p. 101. The poet draws a contrast between the pleasant associations of the wood where the tree grew, and the hated (English) town where the birch now stands "a bare pole by the pillory": text and translation in H. I. Bell, "Translations from the Cywyddwyr", Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion (1940), pp. 226-9. However, by c.1600 a poet can say, "Holy St John the Baptist's Eve, there will be merry watchdog of a birch": Canu Rhydd Cynnar [Early Free-Kletre Poetry], ed. T. H. Parry-Williams (Cardiff, 1932), p. 353. (83) Edwards, Star Chamber Proceedings relating to Wales, p. 67; N.L.W., Great Sessions 4/142/1A (unnumbered) (Montgomeryshire, 1611), 4/17/5/32 and 4/23/5/8-15 (Denbighshire, 1623 and 1641). (84) G. H. Jenkins, Literature, Religion and Society in Wales, 1600-1700 (Cardiff, 1978),p. 88; Owen, Welsh Folk Customs, p. 110; Parochialia, ed. Morris, ii, p. 82; D. Huws, "Some Welsh Dancers in 1699", Dawns: The Welsh Folk Dance Soc. Jl (1986-7), p. 20. (85) N.L.W., MS. Chirk B 42c/3 (Denbighshire Quarter Sessions), Great Sessions 4/3314/16, 38. (86) W. Owen[-Pughe], A Dictionary of the Welsh Language, 2 vols. (London, 1803), i, s.v. "bedwen". (87) Williams, "Wiliam Robert o'r Ydwal", pp. 47-50. (88) Diary of William Thomas of Michaelston-super-Ely, ed. Denning, p. 206 (28 June 1768); Williams, "Glamorgan Customs in the Eighteenth Century", p. 105. (89) Ibid., pp. 105-6; Rhys, "Unpublished Traditions of Glamorganshire", pp. 68-9. 90 Hill, Society and Puritanism, p. 184 and n. 3 (91) On the characteristics of carnival, see especially Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe, ch. 7; M. D. Bristol, Carnival and Theater (New York, 1985); E. Le Roy Ladurie, Carnival: A People's Uprising at Romans, 1579-80, trans. M. Feeney (London, 1980). Peter Burke notes the absence of carnivals in northern Europe and suggests that other festivals might share its characteristics' and that all festivals have something in common. Up to a point this is, of course, true: there is a common emphasis on eating, drinking, merriment and recreation. But here I am trying to draw a distinction between internal and external aspects of social relations and their different expression in festival. (92) D. Williams, The Rebecca Riots (Cardiff, 1955); D. J. V. Jones, Before Rebecca (London, 1973), ch. 4; R. A. N. Jones, "Popular Culture, Policing, and the `Disappearance' of the ceffyl pren in Cardigan, c. 1837-1850", Ceredigion, xi (1988/9-92), pp. 19-39. (93) Cf. M. Ingram, Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640 (Cambridge, 1987), p. 101; R. Hutton, The Rise and Fall of Merry England (Cambridge, 1994), ch. 7. (94) Hutton, Rise and FaR of Merry England, ch. 2, esp. pp. 59-62; J. M. Bennett, "Conviviality and Charity in Medieval and Early Modern England", Past and Present, no. 134 (Feb. 1992), pp. 34-5. (95) D. Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England, 1603-1660 (Oxford, 1985), pp. 49-50; Hutton, Rise and Fall of Merry England, chs. 3 and 4, esp. pp. 87-8, 99-100, 119, 139; Ingram, Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, pp. 101-2; P. Clark, The English Alehouse: A Social History, 1200-1830 (London, 1983), pp. 151-3. (96) K. V. Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (London, 1971), pp. 526-7. For contemporary views about the social solidarity promoted by ales and feasts, cf Hill, Society and Puritanism, p. 186. (97) F. Heal, Hospitality in Early Modern England (Oxford, 1990), pp. 358-63. (98) Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion, pp. 52-3; Bennett, "Conviviality and Charity in Medieval and Early Modern England", p. 44; Ingram, Church Courts, Sex and Marriage, p. 1101; Hutton, Rise and Fall of Merry England, ch. 5, esp. pp. 161-2. (99) Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion, chs. 3 and 4; cf. Ingram, Church Courts, Sex and Marriage, pp. 101-2, and Hutton, Rise and Far of Merry England, ch. 5, esp. pp. 161-2. (100) Malcolmson, Popular Recreations in English Society, chs. 2 and 6, esp. pp. 83-4; Heal, Hospitality in Early Modern England, pp. 363-5; Hutton, Rise and Fall of Merry England, pp. 243-4. Edward Thompson emphasizes the vigour of the eighteenth-century wakes: Thompson, "Patricians and the Plebs", pp. 50-5. (101) On wakes in the nineteenth century, see H. Cunningham; leisure in the Industrial Revolution, c.1780-c.1880 (London, 1980), pp. 60-7; J. R. Walton and R. Poole, "The Lancashire Wakes in the Nineteenth Century", in R. D. Storch (ed.), Popular Culture and Custom in Nineteenth-Century England (London, 1982), pp. 100-24; J. M. Golby and A. W. Purdue, The Civilisation of the Crowd (London, 1984), pp. 81-3.
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