1902 Encyclopedia > Flint, Wales

Flint, Wales

FLINT a maritime county of North Wales, the smallest but one of the Welsh and English counties, has an area of 264 square miles, or 169,162 acres; and (excluding the detached hundred of Maelor, which is divided from Den-bighshire by the Dee, and bounded N, by Cheshire and S. and E. by Salop, lying 8 miles to the S.E. of the rest of the county) its boundaries are the estuary on the N., Cheshire on the N. and N.E., and Denbighshire with the Clwydian range to the S. and S.W. The greatest length of the county from S.E. to N.W. is 26 miles, and its breadth is from 10 to 12—Maelor being 9 miles by 5. The chief part of it is situate on the Coal-Measures and other members of the Carboniferous rocks group. A hilly tract of 50 miles breadth separates the Anglesey Coal-Measures from the Flintshire coal-field, which is again separated from that of Denbighshire to S.E. by the elevation of Mountain Lime-stone and Millstone Grit between Gresford and Hope. The latter runs continuously along the southern edge of the coal strata, followed, except in the extreme south, where we have the Wenlock rocks, by the Mountain Limestone. The extreme west aud east, as well as the detached hundred, of the county is on the New Red Sandstone. Symonds says,—" The coal measures may be traced along the shore from Flint to the Point of Air ; and the route from Flint to the west of Holywell crosses the Millstone Grit to the Mountain Limestone." The Wenlock rocks, of considerable altitude, forming the northern limb of the Berwen moun-tains, extend to within a mile of the shore of the Dee, near the western limit of the county, the margin still west being composed of the alluvial flat of Rhuddlan marsh and part of the vale of Clwyd, To the south the water-shed of the Berwens divides Flintshire and Denbighshire for some distance,—Moel Fammau, a member of the range common to both, rising to 1845 feet. This is high for Flintshire, though Buckley and Halkin mountains, with the rest of the hill system north and south, indicate a generally moun-tainous character. A narrow alluvial tract to the east lies parallel to that already mentioned in the extreme west, and both are connected by a fertile strip of reclaimed land on the south shore of the estuary. The hundred of Maelor is flat, fertile, and highly picturesque.

Flint has some lovely valleys, such as those of the Clwyd, partly in the county, and the Alyn, and dingles and ravines, such as the course of the Wepre brock from Ewloe Castle to the Dee. The chief rivers are the Dee, Clwyd, anrJ Alyn. The Dee, entering the county near Overton, divides Maelor from Denbighshire on the west, and, after passing Chester, bounds it also on the north. The Clwyd, rising in Denbighshire, enters Flintshire near Bodfary, and after a brief northward course, joins the Elwy near Rhuddlan, past which they flow in one channel into the Irish Sea near Rhyl. The Alyn, a Denbighshire tributary, enters Flint-shire near the base of Moel Fammau, winds between Cilcen and Mold,—with an underground course of half a mile, like fabled Alpheus, near Hesp-Alyn,-—and then bending south to Caergwyrle, re-enters Denbighshire to join the Dee. Of Flintshire lakes, unimportant compared with those of neigh-bouring counties, Llyn Helig near Whitford is the chief.
Sloping seaward, with a mild climate, a moderate eleva-tion and shelter, and sufficient irrigation, Flintshire is well adapted for agriculture. Three-fourths of its area is under cultivation, as follows:—

Tinder corn crops 31,740 acres, of which wheat and oats-
occupy each one-third, and barley one-fourth.
Under green crops 8,315 acres, of which potatoes occupy
Under grass under rotation 16,809 acres.
Under permanent pasture.. 66,509 acres.
Bare, fallow, &c 2,901 acres.
Total in cultivation ...126,274 acres.

Of green crops, turnips and swedes are the chief; man-golds are little grown. To every 100 acres of cultivated land the proportion of horses is 4-5, of cattle 42'4, of sheep 100-8, and of pig? IDS,—the cattle and pigs being about the same proportion as for Denbighshire, while the horses and sheep number only about one-half. Stock and dairy farming are keenly pursued by the Flintshire farmer, who crosses his native cattle with Herefords and Downs, his native sheep with Leicesters and Southdowns. Flintshire farms are of more than average size, and their occupiers are intelligent and progressive. In the thickly planted mining population they find a ready market for beef and mutton, as well as for cheese and butter.

With this important increment to their agricultural population, the census of 1871 gives Flintshire a popula-tion of 76,312, or an increase in ten years of above 6500. In 1801 the number was 39,469, so that the increase during the century has been nearly double. Flint is now one of the most densely peopled counties for its size, rank-ing the third in numbers of North Wales. Its collieries, of which there are 27 of note in the county, producing an annual average of 500,000 tons, begin at Llanasa, and run south-east through Whitford, Holywell, Flint, Halkin, Northop, Buckley, Mold, and Hawarden. Much of the yield is exported. Lead is raised in Halkin mountain, and in some nine or ten mines of note about Mold, Holywell, Prestatyn, and Talacre, near Llanasa, the average annual produce being about 1200 tons. The town of Holywell has been reckoned the headquarters of the " lead ore ticketings." In some cases it is smelted on the spot. Elsewhere it is sent to Bagilt, Flint, or Chester for that purpose. At Dyserth zinc is worked to a limited extent, and copper in Talargoch mine. Flintshire has also cala-mine mines; and in addition to frequent smelting works, large manufactories of oil, vitriol, potash, &c, employ the dwellers near the coast, while coarse clay-potteries, the products of which go by train and rail to Connah's Quay, occupy those around Buckley. Little ironstone is now raised, the seams being thin and the yield low; but an important source of industry is the large limestone quarries, eight in number, which produce a quantity of building stone, burnt lime, and small stone for chemical works about Halkin and elsewhere.

In 1873 the county was divided between 3510 owners, of whom 2048, or 58 per cent., possessed less than one acre, or much the same proportion as Denbighshire (see vol. vii. p. 77). The average size of properties was 40|- acres, the average value per acre ¿£2, 13s. 8Jd. More than one-third of the county is owned by 13 proprietors, viz., Lord Hanmer (Hanmer Hall), 7318 acres; Captain Conwy (Rhyl), 5526 ; Mostyn Trustees, 5460 ; Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, 6908; Sir Piers Mostyn (Talacre), 4186; Sir Hugh "Williams (Bodelwyddan), 4011 ; Lord Kenyon (Gredington), 4004 ; River Dee Company, 3679 ; Duke of Westminster (Halkin Castle), 3338; P. B. D. Cooke (Gwysaney), 3204; Earl of Denbigh (Downing), 2938; Edmund Peel (Overton), 2897 ; W. R. Hughes (St Asaph), 2119. The county petty sessional divisions are—Mold; Northop ; Hawarden and Broughton ; Caergwyrle ; Holy-well ; Caerwys; Rhyl, Prestatyn, and St Asaph; and Hanmer. Flint borough has its separate commission of the peace, the borough magistrates holding their petty sessions at the town-hall for the borough district. The whole county constitutes one lieutenancy, and there are no highway districts. The principal towns are Flint, Mold, St Asaph, Rhyl, Holywell.

Flint (said to be derived from a corruption of the docu-mentary term " Castellum apud Fluentum" into " Apud le Flynt") is the capital and sole corporate town of the county, a seaport and contributory borough, 173 miles from London, on the south of the Dee estuary, between the sea and the hills inland. It has some good houses, and has recovered its decadence of twenty years ago since the establishment of vast chemical works, which make it the seat of great alkali manufactures, by Messrs Muspratt Brothers, Huntley, and others. Its chief imports are sulphur and other chemicals ; its exports coal, soda, potash, copper, and various chemical products. The church is not remarkable; but there are good parochial schools and several nonconformist chapels. The footways of the town are nagged, and there are other street improvements. Until five years ago the county jail occupied (as at Haverford-west) an angle of the Edwardian Castle on the edge of the estuary; it was then removed to Mold—where, however, the new and costly jail has been closed by the New Prisons Act, and Flintshire prisoners are now sent to Chester Castle. The old Flint jail has been bought by the Messrs Muspratt, and turned to good use as a " working men's club." It was in Flint Castle that Percy betrayed Bichard II. to Bolingbroke in 1399. In 1643 it surrendered to the Roundheads, and four years later was dismantled. Its constable is still appointed by the crown, with duties limited since the Municipal Corporations Reforms Act to the care of the ruins,—a square court with towers at the angles abutting the sea, and a massive round tower with a draw-bridge. Flint was made a borough by Edward I., and chartered by Edward III. and Edward the Black Prince, as earl of Chester. Since the Beform Act it is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. It is the nomination place for the group of contributory boroughs, viz., Flint, Caergwyrle, Caerwys, Overton, Rhuddlan, which with St Asaph, Holywell, and Rhyl returns one member of parliament. In 1871 the population of Flint was 4269, as against 3296 in 1851.

Mold is a well-built town on the Alyn, in the south-east of Flintshire, the centre of a great coal and lead district, a terminus of the Chester and Holyhead branch railway, the assize town of the county, and the great locale of county business. Its restored church of the early 16th century is one of the finest in the diocese; and the Bailey Hill is the site of an ancient fortress stormed in 1144 and in 1322. The population of Mold was 4534 by the last census.

St Asaph, one of the four Welsh sees, and a cathedral town, lies near the confluence of the Elwy and Clwyd. Founded originally by Kentigern, bishop of Glasgow, and named after his successor Asa, or Asaph, it still possesses, outlasting the buffets and vicissitudes of ages, its plain yet massive cruciform church. The population in 1871 of that part of the town which is situated in the county of Flint was 1900.

At the same census the winter population of the flour-ishing watering-place of Rhyl is given as 4229 ; but its summer average is from 10,000 to 12,000,—railway and water facilities bidding fair to eclipse the ancient neigh-bouring borough of Rhuddlan, which was once of such importance that Edward I. held his parliament in it, and the Statutes of Bhuddlan were passed there. Population of Rhuddlan, 1233.

Holywell depends for its prosperity on its lead mines and lime-works, its copper, brass, and zinc, and its lead smelting. At the last census its population was 7961. It has a railway station on the Chester and Holyhead line, two miles from the town, and within a hundred yards of the Cistercian abbey of Basingwerk. Closer still is St Wini-fred's well, the exquisite late Perpendicular chapel above which has been restored. Other places of antiquarian in-terest are Caerwys, on the Mold and Denbigh railway-—_ with its streets at right angles and other indications of Boman occupation; Hope, or Hope Estyn, near Caergwyrle; and Overton, in the detached part of Flint. Bodfary re-tains the tradition of Boman occupation. There is a for-tified British post at Moel-y-Gaer, near Northop, and a road-way at Halkin, near Whitford.

The history and antiquities of Flintshire are of some im-portance. Maes-y-Garmon, a mile from Mold, is the scene of the bloodless victory of the Britons under Germanus and Lupus over the Picts and Scots in 430 A.D., remembered as the " Alleluia victory." Bangor Iscoed, " the great high choir in Maelor," preserves the site of the monastery sud-denly and totally destroyed with more than 2000 monks by Ethelfred of Northumberland in 607. Watt's Dyke and Offa'sDyke—supposed to have run, the formerfrom the coast near Basingwerk, past Halkin, Hope, and the Alyn gorge, towards Oswestry, and the latter from Prestatyn southward towards Mold, Minera, and across the Severn over the Long Mountain—perpetuate the names, one of a local hero, the other of a great Mercian ruler. At Cynsyllt, or Coleshill, is the scene of a second defeat of Henry II. by Owain Gwynedd about a mile from Flint, the first having been at Coed Ewloe, where a lone tower remains to recall the tale. Tumuli, maenhirs, and inscribed stones are frequent in Flintshire, the most remarkable of the last being the " Maen Achwynfan" of the 9th to 12th century near Pantasa, and the 14th-century cross in Newmarket church-yard. Most of the Flint castles are Edwardian, that at Caergwyrle bespeaking an earlier Roman and even British occupation.

Flintshire is well provided with public elementary schools, viz., 68 voluntary and 4 board schools, and Church of England Sunday-schools. It belongs to the diocese of St Asaph.

On the history of the county may he consulted Arehccologia Cambrensis, 3d series, vol. iii.; Thomas, History of the Diocese of St Asaph, 1874; Pennant's Tour in Wales ; Nicholas, Annals of Welsh Counties and County Families ; Notes on the History of the County Town of Flint, by Henry Taylor, town-clerk of Flint, 1875 ; Murray's Handbook of N. Wales, 1874. (J. DA.)

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