History of Aberystwyth



The electoral influence of Aberystwyth's burgesses was first manifested in the election which took place in 1601, when Aberystwyth and Cardigan elected different representatives for the one post. This was discussed in the house of Commons and a committee appointed to inquire into the election.
A similar thing happened in 1603[16]


Union of English and Scots Crowns

James VI King of Scotland inherits the throne of the England, and became also King James I of England.


Travellers Guides

Britannia, William Camden

From Tibv mouth the shore gently giveth back, and openeth for itself the passage of many riverets, among which in the upper part of this shire Stuccia, whereof Ptolomee maketh mention, is most memorable, whenas the name of it continueth after a sort whole at this day, being called in common speach Ystwith: at the head whereof are veines of lead, and at the mouth the towne Aber-y-stwith, the most populous and plentuous place of the whole shire, which that noble Gilbert de Clare also fensed with walles, and Walter Bec an Englishman defended a great while against the Welsh right manfully. Hard hereunto lieth Lhan Badern vaur, that is, The Church of Patern the Great, who being borne in little Britaine, as we read in his life, both governed the Church by feeding, and fed it by governing. Unto whose memorie the posterity consecrated heere as well a church, as also an Episcopall see. But the Bishoprick, as Roger Hoveden writeth, quite decayed many yeares since when the people had wickedly slaine their pastour. At the same mouth also the river Ridol dischargeth it self into the Irish sea. This river, descending out of Plinlimon, an exceeding steepe and high hill that encloseth the North part of this shire, and powreth out of his lap those most noble rivers Severn and Wy, whereof I have already often spoken. And not much above Y-stwith mouth the river Dev, that serveth in steed of a limite betweene this and Merionithshire, is lodged also within the sea.

English translation Philemon Holland, Dana F. Sutton, © University of Birmingham



Wilhelm Schickard devises a mechanical calculator that could add or subtract 6 digit numbers


Taking The Piss

So desperate was the need for potassium nitrate (aka saltpetre) for making gunpowder that when it was discovered that it could be made from urine King Charles I issued a proclamation that families had to collect the urine of their livestock and hand it over to 'Saltpeter men' who collected it daily. The powers of the 'Saltpeter men' were later extended to allow them to to dig up the urine soaked floors of all dove-houses, stables, cellars, etc. To facilitate this, it was illegal to cover the floors with anything other than 'mellow earth'.


Earth vs Sun

Galileo Galilei is placed under house arrest by the church for the belief that the earth revolves around the sun.


Tulip Mania

Rare varieties of tulips became status symbols in the Netherlands, and started to be traded for ever increasing prices. Prices climbed from 1634-1636 and rose exponentially in 1637 peaked in the autumn. At this point the 'bubble' burst leading to widespread ruin and an contributing to an economic depression.


Coining it

Local agricultural production was barely able to feed the local population and when new minors came into the area things became so desperate that, after a poor harvest, emergency provisions had to be brought up from Pembrokeshire.

Thomas Bushell, the lessee of the royal mines in Cardiganshire, petitioned the king for permission to set up a mint in Aberystwyth castle to save him having to send the local silver to London to be coined. Local silver was struck into half-crowns, shillings, half-shillings, groats, threepences, half-groats, pennies, and halfpennies. It was already the convention that coins produced with metals mined in Wales were to be stamped with the Prince of Wales's plume of feathers. On the Aberystwyth coins was also added the mint mark of an 'open book' which was was Bushell's private mark. Coins were minted from from 1638 till 1642 when, in September, the mint was moved to Shrewsbury. It only lasted for about 3 months in Shrewsbury before it was moved to Oxford. The 'plume' and 'open-book' marks can be found on coins dated 1643 and 1644 indicating that these marks were used for several years after the mint left Aberystwyth. These marks can also be found on coins that have the 'ox' mark of the Oxford mint.

Coin from Aberystwyth MintCoin from Aberystwyth Mint
3d coin showing Charles I minted at Aberystwyth
Coin from Aberystwyth Mint Coin from Aberystwyth Mint
Groat (4 pence) coin showing Charles I minted at Aberystwyth

Locally created money and ammunition, in the form of sliver coinage and lead smelted into musket shot was a great assistance to the Royalists in the Civil War. The mines and shipments from the mint where regularly attacked by Parliamentarians.



The first of Aberystwyth's burgesses (John Vaughn of Traescoed) to be elected to the House of Commons. [16]


June 27-28: Flood

Minters excavating a horizontal mine shaft above Talybont hit a store of water which swept though the village


October 26: Civil War

Civil War starts with the battle if Edgehill

Royalists Garrison

Aberystwyth Castle Garrisoned by Royalists

September: de-Mint

The mint is moved to Shrewsbury


November: Besieged

Castle besieged by Parliamentarians (Cardiganshire Men)


April: Castle taken over

Royalists yielded Castle to Parliamentarians.
Roger Whitley, was governor of the castle from 1644-1646.


Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal Completed

March 3: Castle to be demolished

It is resolved in the house of commons that "That the Castle of Aberystwyth [is to] be disgarisoned and demolished"

Local MP

John Vaughn of Traescoed (the first Aberystwyth burgesses to be elected to the House of Commons) takes a prominent part in taking Aberystwyth Castle with the Parliamentary forces[16]


June 8: New Governor

Captain Thomas Wogan granted a Commission to be Governor of Aberystwyth Castle

Furnace Mint



King Charles I tried for treason and beheaded

Castle Ruined

In 1649 the castle was ruined, (some believe it to have blown up by the Parliamentary forces with gunpowder intended to be used in the mines but there is little evidence to support this). There was no subsequent attempt to rebuild the castle and it has remained so ever since. Many houses in the town were also demolished.



For the only time in its history England becomes a republic



Tea introduced into Britain

Early 1650: 1st Impressions

Visitor described Aberystwyth as a miserable market town and its buildings as transformed into confused heaps of unnecessary rubbidge[18]

Chapel Washed Away

Around this time the chapel known as 'St Mary' which stood by the beach, in-front of 'Castle House' and was washed away by the sea.

An ancient church stood in front of the site of the Castle House, and was overwhelmed about the year 1650 by the sea. [22]


Britannia, Richard Blome, 1673, p268

Aberysthwy (sic) or Aberystwyth, so-called from the river Ystwyth, near adjoining; it is seated on a rising ground, and on the River Rydall, near its influx into the sea, once strengthened with a Wall and a castle now ruinated. The Towen is long and ill-built, is governed by a Maior, and other Sub-officers; hath a very great Market on Mondays for corn, wool, cheese and provisions, supplying several counties therewith; and is a place much resorted unto by reason of its fishing trade for herrings, codds, whitings and other fish, and would be more were its inhabitants industrious.


Joint Rule

After ousting the Catholic James II parliament invites William and Mary, the grandchildren of King Charles I, to come from Holland and succeed the throne. They arrive with an invasion force. William and Mary are Protestant and the conflict between Catholic and Protestant rule is to cause many problems in Britain's future.


Less All-Powerful

Before being allowed to take the throne, parliament demands that William and Mary accept the Bill or Rights which greatly reduced the power of the monarchy.


A Town Hall

The 1st town hall was built in the early 1690's (in use by 1693)[4] and stood on the site of the clock at the top of Greatdarkgate St.



Started around 1672 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz completes Staffelwalze (Stepped Reckoner) a mechanical calculator that could do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.


Deregulated Slaving

Parliament yield to pressure from merchants excluded from slaving by the Royal Charter of 1672 which had given a monopoly to the Royal Africa Company. Ending the monopoly increased the slave trade over four fold resulting in over 20,000 slaves being transported every year. By the end of the 17th century, England was the world leader in the trafficking of slaves.