GLAMORGAN POLITICS 1700-1750 by PETER D. G. THOMAS BEFORE the Industrial Revolution the political domina- tion of Wales lay entirely with the landowners. Their control over the Welsh constituencies was unchallenged, for Wales had never possessed the diversified social structure implied by the enfranchising legislation of Henry VIII. This had given two members of Parliament to most of the Welsh shires-one to serve for the county, where the English franchise of the forty-shilling freeholder was established, and one for the boroughs it contained. In Glamorgan the county electorate numbered well over a thousand, but nearly all the voters were tenants or dependants of the local magnates and squires. In the borough constituency the county town of Cardiff had been joined by no less than seven out-boroughs-Aberavon, Cowbridge, Kenfig, Llantrisant, Loughor, Neath and Swansea. The first five of these, however, were hardly more than glorified villages. Cardiff itself was a market town. Only Swansea and Neath, thriving as seaports and centres of industry, represented an urban economy. But, in any case, the prosperity or otherwise of the boroughs was irrelevant to the size of the electorate Swansea had only 64 burgesses in 1831, when the census showed a population of 13,256. Each borough was governed by a council or a court leet which deliberately restricted the Parlia- mentary franchise. Swansea in the eighteenth century had about 60 burgesses Neath had 31 in 1759, Aberavon 20 in 1780; the total number of voters in the constituency was probably under five hundred. The electorate was kept small as a matter of policy, because by the opening decades of the century all eight boroughs had come under the hold of four patrons, who exercised power as respective lords of the manor, and who preferred to