Flintshire


"Ordnance Survey Drawings - Flintshire (OSD 341)" by Giles, John C. - Draughtsman - Via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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History

Before the Norman and Edwardian conquests Wales was ruled by its own Princes, and the country was divided into areas known as Cantrevs and Commotes. One of the chief aims of Edward I was to annex Wales to England; and as William the Conqueror had demolished the great Earldoms in England and given smaller and scattered portions of land to his barons, lest they should become too powerful, so Edward I also saw that, before he could effectively govern the country, the three Welsh principalities of Gwynedd, Powys, and Deheubarth must be divided into areas similar to English shires and brought directly under his own administration. Accordingly, in March, 1284, he held a Parliament at Rhuddlan, when the important Statute of Wales was passed. This Statute provided that the Principality of Wales should be divided into six counties: Flintshire, Carnarvonshire, Anglesey, Merionethshire, Cardiganshire, and Carmarthenshire. The area of the county of Flint, when first made a shire, was much smaller than it is now; it consisted of little more than the modern commotes of Coleshill, Prestatyn, and Rhuddlan practically the old division of Tegeingl.

The English word shire has long been used to denote a large division of the country shorn off, or separated by boundaries from the rest of the land. It is a share, to use another related form of the Early English word, of a previous wider area. The Welsh word "Sir" is derived from the word "shire." "Swydd" is also used, and it is correct to write either "Swydd Flint" or "Sir Flint" for Flintshire. When the Normans came, they introduced the word "county" (Comte), a name given to a district ruled over by a Count (Comte). This word thus came to be applied to the shire, and nowadays the words "County" and "Shire" are almost identical in meaning in ordinary conversation and literature.

Some of the Welsh counties took their names from an important town in the district, such as Carnarvon and Pembroke, while others, like Merioneth, are called after some ancient division that forms the nucleus of the shire. Flintshire belongs to the former, for it adopted the name of a fort and a town which played an important part in its history.

Several derivations of the word Flint have been suggested. But before the end of the thirteenth century there is no record of the word, although reference is made in Domesday Book to Croesati and Coleshill, two places on either side of the town. There was a ford across the Dee at low tide, where the ruins of Flint castle now stand, and, as it was important to secure this passage, Edward I built a castle, or fortified the one already in existence, known as Castrum apud fluentum, i.e. the Castle by the river. Gradually, no doubt, houses were built under the shadow of the castle, and there are records alluding to the town in the reign of Edward I as apud le Flynt, and later the word Flint was used. Some authorities, how- ever, have suggested that it is merely the ordinary English word flint " (silex). In the Calendar of Welsh Rolls (1277) it is called Le Chaylon from a French word meaning rock.

The Welsh name for Flintshire in the thirteenth century was Tegeingl. This is derived from the name of the inhabitants of these parts before the advent of the Romans the Deceangi. The word "Deceangi," which was found stamped on several Roman pigs of lead dis- covered in the district, gradually changed into Tegeingl. When the Mercians conquered Tegeingl, they called it Englefield, which is interpreted by some to mean "the land of the English." It is far more probable, however, that they borrowed Eingl, part of the old Celtic word Tegeingl, and added to it the suffix field to form Englefield.

(SOURCE: Edwards, John. Flintshire. Cambridge: University Press, 1914.)

Queries and Surnames

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