THE RECORDS OF THE BOROUGH OF NEWPORT IN PEMBROKESHIRE Charters The mediaeval town of Newport in the hundred of Cemais, standing at the mouth of the river Nevern on the north coast of Pembrokeshire, grew up around the Norman castle which the Martin family built there. Although tradition attri- butes the conquest of Cemais to the shadowy figure of Martin of Tours, history reveals that the district was conquered by his son Robert fitz Martin, who was al- ready in possession about 1115. Nanhyfer (Nevern) was first selected as the site of the Norman stronghold which was intended to dominate the conquered territory. In 1 191 the Lord Rhys, during his campaign against the Norman castles of South Wales, captured the castle of Nanhyfer which was held by his son-in-law William fitz Martin who had married Angharad, daughter of the Welsh prince. Rhys gave the castle to his son Gruffudd. Within three years, in the course of a family feud, Maelgwn and Hywel Sais, sons of the Lord Rhys, imprisoned their father in the castle of Nanhyfer which was then in their possession. In 1195 Hywel Sais de- stroyed the fortification when the reconquest of Cemais by the Normans appeared likely. That seems to have been the end of Nevern as the stronghold and caput of the invaders. From now onwards Newport (Trefdraeth) became the seat of the lords of Cemais. A new castle was built there; in 1215 Llywelyn the Great is reported to have captured it. Having settled upon a new site for his central stronghold, the lord of Cemais proceeded to establish a borough in the shadow of the castle and called it Newport. In Welsh the place was (and still is) called Trefdraeth from its situation near the traeth or shore which was called Traeth Edrywy. Like other Norman lords, he recognised the advantages of settling a compact community of burgesses in a newly conquered district and establishing an outpost of predominantly English settlers in the midst of his Welsh subjects. He realised, too, that a thriving urban commun- ity would be an added source of income so long as complete control of the town remained in his own hands. It will become apparent in the course of these notes that the lords of Cemais never relaxed their hold upon the government and finances of the little borough of Newport throughout the long period of its history. How soon after the erection of the castle the town began to develop is not known. The earliest known charter of Newport, which is undated but which may be attri- buted to circa 1241, is till extant in the Bronwydd Collection (N.L.W.), complete with the seal of Nicholas fitz Martin, lord of Cemais.1 This charter is a confirm- ation by Nicholas to his burgesses of Newport of all the liberties and customs which 1 It is printed from the transcript in the 'Register Book of Kernes' in Arch. Camb., Supplement (1862), 50-1, Fenton, Tour through Pembs., Appendix, No. 19. See also the plate in K. H. Lloyd, Lords of Kernes (Carmarthen, 1930). opp. p. 46, and the analysis in Ballard and Tait, British Borough Charters, 1216-1307, and P. G. Sudbury, The Medieval Boroughs of Pembs. (University of Wales M.A. thesis, 1947).