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TWO EIGHTEENTH CENTURY REGISTERS OF ST. MARY'S YSTRADFELLTE By F. L. LOVERDIGE ON 25th March 1754 Lord Hardwicke's Act for the better preventing of Clandestine Marriages' came into force. Previously any marriage celebrated by an Anglican priest was valid, even without licence or banns, though con- sidered undesirable. So here a register was duly provided in the prescribed form for marriages' Solemnized in the Parish of Ystradvelltau in the County of Brecon and Diocese of St. David's, William Griffith and Morgan Prees the Church Wardens of the parish of Ystradvelltey in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred fifty and three'. The first entry was on 7 May 1754. It continued till 1812 and is the oldest register now possessed by the church. It was kept throughout in English, though even a hundred years after 1754 it was written of the district, Few of the inhabitants can speak English.' (Clarke, S. Wales Itinerary, 1853). The register records 316 marriages in 59 years, an average of over five yearly but in fact varying from one to eleven, and showing no significant change in annual numbers through the period. The population of the parish was 669 in 1801. In 1901 it was 549, and tending to decrease in agricultural Ystradfellte faster than it increased in industrial Pontneddfechan. Only 94 of the men registered sign their own names. This is nearly 30 per cent, say one in three 228 are illiterate in that they only make a mark. For the women the corresponding figures are 29 and 287, showing that less than 10 per cent could write. This would seem to show that the schoolmaster, seen in the church by Byng on the 8th of August 1787, (Torrington Diaries), then at work with the children, in his hat, (who) seeing me uncover'd follow'd my godly example had not had a very wide impact. But more may have been able to read than could write. As to provenance, 223 men and 306 women are of this parish', while 93 men and 10 women come from elsewhere, nearly all from well within 15 miles away. Men come from Penderyn (22), Cadoxton (19), Ystradfodwg (14), Ystradgynlais and Defynnog 7 each, Merthyr Tydfil and Cantref 4 each, Abeardare and Glyncorrwg 3 each, Llandetty? two, Llansantffraed, Swansea, Neath, Wenvoe, Michaelston, Llanwenarth, Vaynor and Gellygaer one each. Six of the women come from Cadoxton, two from Ystradfodwg, one each from Merthyr Tydfil and Cantref. Presumably a majority of these ten remained in Ystradfellte, while most of the 306 would leave the parish. This list shows that population movement was very local. Unfortunately it is exceptional for any details other than the bare names and date to be given. In no case are double Christian names registered but they did not become common until the second half of the nineteenth century.