In a political sense the Union of England and Wales in 1536 profoundly affected the position of the Welsh language. It was no accident that the Act of Union should have been the first statute to notice the existence of the language. The principal work of the Reformation Parliament was to give form and expression to the national sovereignty of England and logically the Act of Union which it passed took notice of the Welsh language only to decree that English was to be the language of government, law, and administration in Wales. Economically, too, Wales in the sixteenth century drew closer to England as landed estates were consolidated and expanded and the circulation of money, in an age of price inflation, became a more important factor affecting Welsh economic and social life. Trade with England in cattle, cloth and, to some extent, coal and minerals, favoured by political conditions and stimulated by economic needs, steadily increased. The whole economic trend of the Tudor and early Stuart period would seem to have presented an additional threat to the Welsh language. Social influences at work in Tudor Wales were likewise a potential danger to the language. The 'cult of gentryhood' was as powerful in Wales as it was in England; and it was very much an English cult. English manners were naturally copied and the ability to speak English was held to be as much a social qualification as an economic necessity for the gentry. 'We heare in Anglesey', wrote a gentleman of that island in the reign of James I to his nephew in London, 'good commendation of the gentleman you live with and by followinge and observinge of him you may gaine learning, knowledge and experience, for in England curtisie, humanite and civillite doth abound with generositie as far as uncivilitie doth exceed in Wales'.1 This was special pleading, because in this case the uncle did not particularly want his nephew back in Anglesey at that moment. But the sentiments expressed would, by and large, have been shared by most of the Welsh gentry. Education strengthened the social pressures against the native speech. In the grammar schools founded in Wales during the sixteenth century Welsh had no place or standing whatsoever. Indeed, many of the gentry sent their sons to schools in England and 1 University College of North Wales Library Penrhos MSS. 11, 19.