DISSENT IN THE COUNTIES OF GLAMORGAN AND MONMOUTH In 1943 the Representative Body of the Church in Wales took the important step of depositing at the National Library the Records of the Church in Wales which had till then been preserved in the registries of the respective dioceses. The immense task of arranging and scheduling this vast collection of ecclesiastical archives is now approaching its completion, and it is abundantly clear that research workers in many fields will derive considerable assistance from consulting these archives. The history of Nonconformity in Wales is one of the subjects for the study of which the Church in Wales Records are of prime importance. Both the Consis- tory Court Act Books and the Visitation Queries and Answers contain much help- ful information on this topic. These present notes are based on a third class of documents relating to the same theme, viz., petitions made by Nonconformist groups to the bishop of their diocese, in accordance with certain Acts of Parliament, that their meeting-houses should be licensed and registered in the bishop's court. The petitions of which abstracts are printed below are those relating to the diocese of Llandaff, which, in the period with which we are concerned, contained Mon- mouthshire and the greater part of Glamorgan. 'Religious Toleration is a liberty allowed by the government of a country where a particular form of religion is established or recognized, to practise some other form of religion or no religion at all'.1 To twentieth-century minds, such a liberty is an elementary and most reasonable principle. But in seventeenth- century England and Wales, for example, such was by no means the case. Indeed the religious history of that century (as of the following century) was characterised by vicious bigotry on the one hand being gradually worn down and eventually /conquered by dogged steadfastness under persecution on the other hand.2 For example, the first Conventicle Act of 1664, reinforced by the second Conventicle Act of 1670, had made penal all meetings of more than five persons beyond a house- hold, if any, for worship other than that prescribed by the Liturgy. The Test Act of 1673 and other persecuting acts of Charles II's reign made the enjoyment of the rights of citizenship dependent upon receiving the Communion according to the rite of the Church of England. The passing of the Toleration Act in 1689 was a major factor in the expansion of Nonconformity, since it brought with it the repeal of many (though not all) of the oppressive measures previously in force against Dissenters in the practice of their faith. It granted them a limited freedom of worship, but did not extend to the Papists or the Socinians. In particular, it made it possible for groups of Dissenters to meet together without fear of punishment, subject to certain conditions 1 Chambers's Encyclopaedia sub 'Toleration, Religious'. 2 The story of Welsh Dissent in the seventeenth century is told by Dr. Thomas Richards in his series of works published by the National Eisteddfod Association. Mr. Emyr Gwynne Jones has made a special study of the plight of the Roman Catholics during the same century in his recent work Cymru a'r Hen Ffydd.