"Down in South Wales the whole of Monmouthshire has been swapping sides as well......part of Wales for a time then part of England for a couple of centuries and now it's in Wales again.....I bet the people there were pissed off with having to switch from leeks and Welsh rarebits to roast beef and Yorkshire pud then back to the other again. "
Monmouthshire is in Wales - but it's only been a part of Wales since the 1960s. Before that, it was a part of England. Most maps from before the Sixties show the English/Welsh border passing to the West of Monmouthshire. In fact, members of the EDP (English Democrats Party) are considering standing in the 2007 Welsh Assembly Elections on the Ticket "English Democrats - letting Monmouthshire decide" to see whether or not the people of Monmouthshire want to be in Wales or in England.
Here's the history -
Monmouthshire - England or Wales ?
Monmouth is an abbreviation of Monnow-mouth, Monnow originally deriving from the Welsh Myn-wy (myn - swift, wy - water), thus combining both English and Welsh elements. To understand Monmouthshire's position, you first need to understand how the idea of 'England' and 'Wales' was created.
When the Romans were finally driven out in 410 A.D., it wasn't long before the Angles, Saxons and Jutes turned up and settled around the eastern and southern coastal areas. The divided Celtic tribes were too busy fighting each other to notice what was going on, and before too long the Anglo-Saxons were in control of an area roughly corresponding to modern England. There were a number of small Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which later consolidated into just four; East Anglia, Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria.
Mercia, the midlands kingdom, was at first like the others, driving the Celts out of Shropshire and Herefordshire. But under its two great eighth-century leaders, Aethelbald and Offa, the emphasis changed. More concerned with getting the upper hand over their rival Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, they largely left the Celts to the West untroubled. By this time all these Celts were being called Welsh (from the Anglo-Saxon word wealh, meaning foreigner or slave), whilst they called themselves cymry, meaning comrades. Thus there were the North Welsh ('Cymry-land' or Cumberland), Mid-Welsh (Wales), West Welsh ('Cerniw-wealh' or Cornwall) and South Welsh (Brittany). The Welsh tribes in Wales, being Celtic, still spent most of their time fighting each other. They had cause; in around 760 King Offa began work on the famous Offa's Dyke, a huge ditch to mark the border with the Welsh. It is probable that this ditch was less a defensive device and more a 'here's the border and let's keep it that way' one, enabling Offa to concentrate his efforts against his Anglo-Saxon rivals.
Around this time much of the future west and central Monmouthshire was known as Gwent, and was a kingdom which enjoyed periods of independence between periods of being bossed around by the neighbouring kingdom of Glywysing (roughly Glamorganshire). The combined area, during the periods of unity, was known as Morgannwg. This state of affairs continued for some centuries, but came crashing to an end in 1066 with the Norman Invasion of England. The new king, William I, chose his most savage barons and set them up in the three Marcher counties of Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire, with a licence to get as much land as they could from the Welsh. Monmouthshire was an early victim, and was under full English control by 1074.
Over the next two centuries, the English slowly nibbled away at the Welsh kingdoms until finally, in 1282, they conquered Gwynedd. That year the Principality of Wales came under the control of Edward I. The Statute of Rhuddlan (1284) created the administrative areas that became the shires of Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, Flintshire, Merionethshire, Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire. Because Edward made his son the first Prince of Wales, this area was called 'the Principality' a name which in modern times has extended to the whole of Wales. The rest of what is now Wales (including Monmouthshire) remained 'uncountified' and in the hands of the Norman-English Marcher lords.
Time rolled on, and in 1485 the Tudors (a Welsh dynasty) came to the English throne. This at first did not affect Wales much - but England's most infamous king, Henry VIII, was to change all that. In 1536, primarily as a financial move, he passed the Act of Union. As part of the reorganisation of the country the Marcher lordships were formed into the counties of Brecknockshire, Denbighshire, Glamorganshire, Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Pembrokeshire and Monmouthshire, which along with the 'Principality' shires of Wales, were to be "incorporated, united and annexed to and with his Realm of England".
It was all nice and clear - for six years. Then in 1542 English Common Law was made applicable to the whole of Wales. This gave a statutory foundation to the Court of the Council of the Marches, and justice and administration for Wales were vested in the officers of a new court - the King's Great Session in Wales. Whereas the other twelve counties had their own court circuits, Monmouthshire came under the jurisdiction of the Courts of Chancery and Exchequer at Westminster. There were certain advantages in this. One of these was that Monmouthshire was allowed to send two Knights to Parliament like English counties, unlike Welsh counties which returned only one. In the reign of Charles II, Monmouthshire was included in the Oxford circuit, together with Oxford, Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford. The county became a popular one for rich Victorians to settle in during the Industrial Revolution. A 1937 map shows the Anglo-Welsh border passing clearly to the west of the county.
Monmouthshire's motto as a county was Usque Fidelis (Latin, faithful to both), emphasizing its border status. It carried on quite happily, until the disastrous 1974 c**k-up of local government, when it was renamed Gwent and formally transferred to Wales by a Labour government bent on placating the Welsh Nationalists. (A sneaky move, as being a predominantly English county this weakened the nationalist cause overall). In 1996 it was all change again as a second round of cockeyed misorganization followed. Gwent was replaced by five Unitary Authorities, one of which was half into old Glamorganshire, plus a few other border changes.
In 2000 another Labour government ran a referendum on Welsh devolution. In spite of millions being pumped into the Yes campaign (nothing for the No side, of course), it just scraped home by a fraction of a percent. The 'new' Monmouthshire voted 49-1 against.
The only way to settle the matter is to have a referendum for the people of Monmouthshire, to decide on whether they wish to be 'in Wales' or be 'in England'.
As the United Kingdom begins to dismantle then this will be a very important decision for the people of Monmouthshire.
English Democrats are considering standing in the 2007 Welsh Assembly Elections on the Ticket "English Democrats - letting Monmouthshire decide"
English Democrats to make stand in Monmouthshire
Next year (2007) will be the Third "Welsh Assembly" Elections (and indeed Scottish Parliament Elections)
Subject to National Council Approval, then the English Democrats will be putting up Candidates for
The Consituency of Monmouthshire - currently in Wales (although it was in England until the 1960's)
and also on the Party List for SE Wales - where Monmouthshire is currently located.
To qualify as a candidate you only need to be a UK Citizen.
Ideally we would like to select candidates who live in Monmouthshire, or Wales or close to Wales.
If you are interested in Standing for the English Democrats to
1 Make a point that Wales has elections and England does not - as we don't have an English Parliament.
2 Demand a referendum for the people of Monmouthshire to decide if they wish to be in Wales or England - obviously if Wales becomes independent, then the people of Monmouthshire may want to be English rather the Welsh - (Certainly I would !)
If you are interested please send an E-mail to our Party Chairman Robin Tilbrook - in the Subject Matter put "Welsh Assembly - Monouthshire" with you details.
(At this stage you do not have to be an English Democrats party member)