Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Should the Welsh Government Claim Oswestry?

Call For English Town To Become Scottish
By Sky News SkyNews - 2 hours 23 minutes ago

The Scottish Nationalist Party has fixed its sights on the English border town of Berwick upon Tweed as its next battleground with England.

Christine Grahame, MSP for southern Scotland, has "invited" the people of Berwick to "come back into the fold" and swap their allegiance from England to Scotland.
Historically, the town has been a battleground between England and Scotland for centuries.
It has changed hands between the two nations no less than 13 times and was last won by the English in 1482.
But in a poll, organised by local newspaper the Berwick Advertiser, 77% of all thosewho voted said they would like to be governed by Scotland once more.
Keith Hamblin, deputy editor, said: "I was surprised by the result. I am a Berwick man born and bred and I regard myself very much as English.
"I think, though, that people feel the quality of life is better in Scotland since devolution.
"Also, we are losing our borough council next year. It's being replaced by a new unitary authority, so all our administration wil be run 60 miles away further south.
"So people feel they're going to be left out even further on the frozen north."
The town already has Scottish loyalties when it comes to football.
Its team, Berwick Rangers FC, has played in the Scottish league for years.
Ms Grahame hopes the rest of the town will also become fans of the idea of being Scottish.

Many areas in the Marches, in Herefordshire and Shropshire, were Welsh speaking in the 18th Century and place-names give a clue to where these areas are. Oswestry was a Welsh town in the Middle Ages. So, this is put forward as a serious suggestion : invite the people of Oswestry to revert to Wales!


Rhydwyn said...

All the marcher lands should revert to Cymru.

There was a very interesting programme on Radio 4 about six or seven years ago in the series 'The Routes of English'. You may have listened in.

On this particular evening they focused on Shropshire. They pointed out that there are many people born and brought up in Shropshire today to whom Welsh is the first language. On market day in some places there is more Welsh spoken than English.

They also showed how Welsh words have been incorporated into modern Shropshire English. They gave an example of a primary school teacher from Wales who'd gone to teach in Shropshire. She'd given an essay for the children to do and throughout their work the word 'argie' and its plural form 'argies' kept cropping up. She was puzzled by this and naturally asked the children what these 'argies' were. The children replied saying, "You know miss, those things in the village that hold back the water". What had happened of course was the Welsh word 'argae' for 'dam' had become 'argie' in Shropshire English.

Possibly as our Assembly becomes more effective and people will be able to be see a different development in Wales compared to England people from the Marcher lands will want to join us. The world of education is certainly showing the way. Health care may also become a pointer.

Cymru Fawr am byth!


Normal Mouth said...

One assumes that by the same token, Monmouthshire could become part of England if the local population so desired?

alanindyfed said...

It could if it wasn't an integral part of Wales, and always was so,
except that English cartographers thought otherwise.

Normal Mouth said...

Historically, of course, that is factually wrong. Monmouthshire has long been treated differently from the rest of Wales. The County was not treated as part of the Principality of Wales that existed prior to annexation, for example.

But all of that ignores that fact that if local opinion determines national membership (as Christine Graham imples) the arrangement should cut both ways.

alanindyfed said...

May I suggest that it should be determined by the number of people in the County named Jones, Davies and Evans?

Normal Mouth said...

No, you may not.

alanindyfed said...

Aha, that's because you know that the great majority are Welsh!

alanindyfed said...

My grandfather was from
and my grandmother from

(work it out...)

TyElise said...

"What is now termed Glamorganshire formed anciently a part of the province of Siluria, supposed to have comprehended also the whole of Monmouthshire with portions of Hereford and Gloucester.The British name , which which the Romanwriters thus latinised, was Syllwg or Essyllwg". "The same territory was also occasionally called Gwent, the modern designation, Morganwg, Gwlad-Morgan or Glamorgan. The three names were used indiscriminately until the arrival of the Normans, when Morganwg became restricted to the tract which was bounded by the Usk on the east, and by the Nedd on the west".This was written in by T.E. Clarke in 1848 commenting on Glamorgan and its antiquities.

alanindyfed said...

Thanks. I hope that this settles the question.

Normal Mouth said...

Why on earth should that settle the question?

Wales has no claim to Owestry that is not mirrored by an English claim to Monmouthshire. You cannot identify an objective criteria that affirms the first and negates the second.

alanindyfed said...

Something tells me you are not happy to accept the fact that Monmouthshire (part of Gwent) is Welsh?

Normal Mouth said...

I think that any area should be allowed by popular will to affiliate with any other. If the people of Owestry wish to become part of Wales, they should be allowed to do so, If the people of Monmouthshire wish to become part of England they should be allowed to do so.

Do you agree?

alanindyfed said...

Ideally yes, in a true democracy. But it is not that simple and wider considerations are involved, for example if Aberystwyth or Llandudno wanted to be English and the rest of Wales did not. There are also administrative considerations as well as culture,language and history.

Normal Mouth said...

None of which establishes a criteria by which the Welsh can claim Oswestry but the English cannot claim Monmouthshire.

tyelise said...

I may be wrong and lazily haven't looked it up, but I was told years ago that Monmouthshire was included in the first draft of the Act of Union 1536 but it was an administrative slip of the plume that unwittingly left it out in the second draft.Anyway,in the case of the Marches we're allowing the people to come back into the fold, this does not apply in Monmouthshires case because the Welsh border contracted and they were always held within.

Anonymous said...

Monmouthshire was included in the Oxford circuit because the locals were so patriotically Welsh, powerful and Catholic that they couldn't be trusted in a Welsh circuit ... they had to be placed in an English circuit with other rich counties to keep them in check. That's the basis of the Monmouthshire is English is nonsense.

Herefordshire south of the Wye still had a few Welsh speakers well into the 19C. Shropshire west of Oswestry had idigenous Welsh speakers well into the 20C, maybe there still are some.

Of course Wales should claim back these traditional Welsh lands that ended up on the wrong side of the border because of civil service fiat.

If we took Normal Mouth's short-term view then the Costa del Crime would be voting to join Inglaterra

Anonymous said...

Aren't we all part of the UK?
England isn't claiming the Maelor.

Anonymous said...

Go back far enough and ALL Britons spoke Brythonic - the ancestor of Welsh. So howz about Wales claiming back all the Island? We'd need a new name though - perhaps Cymru Fawr for Welsh speakers and Great Britain for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Oswestry itself is heavily English as is Chester and both always have been. A few villages to the North West of Oswestry are Welsh and the difference between them and Oswestry is strikingly clear.

The Welsh in Oswestry during the middle ages were merely Sheppards bringing sheep to be sold at the markets a few times a week, they didn't actually live there.

Regarding the border I think it should be defined by Offa's dyke, but Wales would lose a lot more than it would gain...


Michael Fabbro said...

Clearly historical Monmouthshire is Welsh as the majority of the people are ethnically Welsh and this cannot be disputed. The questions is this, is it an historic Native Welsh county in England or in Wales? For example think of it as an Alsace-Lorraine. However, as an Ebbw Vale RFC supported God forbid I have to chant for guys in white at the Millennium Stadium, love England but... Trust me no one else is going to wear anything white here except a pair of clean underpants.

As to Anonymous above, "http://www.walesdirectory.co.uk/Walks/images/Offa_" is walk, not an international border.

Robert Collins said...

"It could if it wasn't an integral part of Wales, and always was so,..".
The problem is Alan, you're not dealing with reasonable people. N.Ireland is clearly an integral part of the island of Ireland, but the English keep hold of it.

Rhys McKenzie said...

@ Normal Mouth

Why you believe being included on a different circuit court to the rest of Wales after 1536 qualifies an area as a region of England simply baffles me. The character, linguistically and culturally, of Gwent has always been and still is Welsh. You seem to place great store by the fact that Gwent was not a part of the Principality. By that measure, half of Wales would be in England. The Principality of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth and Llywelyn at Gruffydd never included vast swathes of the south, while that which was put aside for the later English Princes did not include the March, and was therefore limited to the west of the country. As neither the Principality or the March persisted beyond 1536, however, that argument is wholly irrelevent to your other line of attack; Monmouthshire's inclusion on the Oxford circuit.

That said, I'd be happy to let you have a referendum in Gwent so long as we get one in Croesoswallt. While we're at it, why not Ergyng? Or even Caer?

Oh, and you can have Criminal Bay, too.

Innes said...

Incorrect on many accounts Anonomous, who said Oswestry is like Chester and that some of the villages north west are in Wales. The Welsh villages around Oswestry are to the Norh the south and the west. The old name before Oswestry was Croesoswllt, and i do belive before that it was called Cadairidris. Oswestry was originally Welsh, and is most certainlly not an English border town such as Shrewsbury or Chester

mattcymru said...

Yes reclaim Croesoswallt and get rid of the Maelor Saesneg.

Anonymous said...

I am from Oswestry. Here, there are three subgroups: English, Welsh and Other. The English tend to be proud of Oswestry being a part of England, and despise it whenever Oswestry is referred to as "Croesoswallt"; as for the Welsh and Other, they tend not to share an interest in secession to Wales (or at least not publicly anyway). I would not like to say what the grand majority would go for if a referendum was put to them because most are more worried about paying the bills at the moment.

(By the way, I am a supporter of the status quo.)

MonMouth said...

The confusion about whether Monmouthshire is English or Welsh has been aptly concluded in the above comments - it's Welsh, through and through, by law and culture. Always has been. Little more needs to be said about it.

A peeve of mine is that people in England erroneously tend to think that people from Monmouthshire don't identify as Welsh, pointing towards the county's lack of Welsh-speaking population, AND the fact they voted against complete Welsh devolution (49.36% for, 50.64% against) in 2011. But the reality is that that couldn't be further from the truth.

Monmouthshire has a STRONG Welsh feel to its culture, a vote against devolution and the introduction of a foreign language (English) in the last century hasn't changed that fact.

Anonymous said...

In Shakespeare's Henry V it is made clear that Henry was Welsh and proud of being so. The Welsh archers were principally responsible for the victory at Agincourt and true Welsh personalities such as Dafydd Gam who was knighted on the battlefield are given full credit. Since Shakespeare was writing several hundred years before Normal Mouth, he would have a better knowledge of the historical association one would assume! Why did Henry proclaim himself to be a proud Welshman? The answer is simple - he was born in Montmouth which was acknowledged to be in Wales!

Martin S said...

I would like the whole of Shropshire to be a part of Wales.

Anonymous said...

Oswestry should remain English, but the towns around Oswestry for example Gobowen and Selattyn have Welsh names, and over 15% of the Gobowen, Weston Rhyn and Selattyn wards classed themselves as Welsh or some combined Welsh identity in the 2011 census.

Tom's Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hal said...

Monmouthshire has NEVER been in England. No Act or Parliament has said that it is detachewd from Wales and added to England. It is true that some Acts list it among the English counties, but others list it among the Welsh counties. It was also given 2 counry MPs by the 16th-century Acts of Union; but Pembrokeshire got 2 borough MPs, so this proves nothing. It was also added to an English Assize circuit; but Cheshire was added to the Welsh one, so this again proves nothing. The important fact is stated in the first sentence of this comment.