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--- --------THE COUNTY GAOL.




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----------------------I SUBSCRIPTIONS…




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-.------------UNIVERSITY AND…




THE CARDIGANSHIRE ASSIZES. TO THE EDITOR OF THE ABERYSTWYTH OBSERVER. Sir,—Since I last had the pleasure of addressing yon on this subject I have learned with much satis- faction that the opposition to the raising Aberyst- wyth into the dignity of an assize town is not near so widespread in Cardiganshire as I had imagined it to be. With regard to Aberayron there seems to be no objection to the claims of your town provided the Quarter Sessions are continued to be held there and the wiseacres who formed themselves into a de- putation, and went to Cardigan to protest against the removal of the assixes, had, it appears, quite as much right to speak on behalf of the inhabitants of their town generally as the three tailors of Tooley- street had when they commenced their manifests in the name of the people of England." I should say that if the Aberayron people consulted their own in- terests they would side rather with Aberystwyth than Cardigan, for in the event of the former town succeeding in spite of Aberayron, the latter need not be much surprised if they lose the quarter ses- sions altogether. Then as regards Cardigan I un- dersUim' that, though repugnant to part with their ancient priviltge, not a few of the inhabitants begin to see that it would be far better to concede the pri- vilege of one assize to Aberystwyth than to blindly resist every innovation at the risk of losing all the privileges which they have so long enjoyed. As for Lampeter, I am utterly at a loss to understand on what ground, excepting that of its quasi central posi- tion, it can enter the field at all against its more formidable rival, Aberystwyth. In my former letter I dwelt on the subject of the population of the county as an argument in favour of the superior claims of Aberystwyth I now come to the second point—"The character of that popu- lation." In purely agricultural districts, such as Lampeter, few cases arise demanding the solemn investigations of judges of assize whilst on the other hand a po- pulation engaged in manufacturing, commercial, or mining pursuits, naturally give an amount of busi- ness proportionate to the extent in which they are thus engaged. It was on these grounds that assizes have been given to Manchester, Newcastle-on-1 yne, and other large towns, in preference to smaller places that were more central, and it is on these grounds that Cardigan must ultimately succumb to Aberystwyth. The former has no mining popula- tion whilst the latter is the port of embarkation for mineral produce in a tract of country which has been hitherto worked under disadvantages, but which, by the opening of railway accommodation, will doubtless be developed in an extraordinery de- gree If we wish to ascertain the activity of a peo- ple, we naturally look to the exports and imports from their various seaport towns and if I can show that in this respect also Aberystwyth has the prior claim over Cardigan, as to the energetic and enter- prising character of the population in the vicinity, so much the more reason why the judges o assize should periodically visit the immediate locality of the former to transact the civil and criminal business which naturally arises from that activity ot com- merce. d' In 1821 the population of Cardigan was estimated at 3120, and of Aberystwyth at ot>Jo. Now we shall see how the trade of each locality has been developed by the respective populations. Ihe gross amount ol customs duty received at the port of Aberystwyth in ] 8;j9 was 142/. in 186;) it had reached (!5:X.; in Car- digan in 1859 the duty received was 57 L, which, in 180.3, decreased" to .M. During the interval between 18/>!» and 1803 the declared real value of the total ex- ports," of produce from Aberystwyth was 1:;78< in Cardigan the return was Nil." In 1863 the num- ber of sailing vessels which entered Aberystwyth j trom the Rritish Colonies and foreign countries was in the proportion of 5 to 1 as compared with Cardi- gan. Indeed, in that year, not a single vessel entered Cardigan from any foreign port whatever, and not a single vessel cleared the port for the colonies or abroad. In Abprystwyth, on the contrary, thirteen sailing vessels so cleared. In the ten years from 1862 to 1803 the number of registered vessels be- longing to Aberystwyth had increased from 239 to 81, the tonnage also having increased from 15,218 to 3.J,2G8. In the same interval three steam vessels were registered as belonging to the port. In Cardi- gan, in the same interval, the number of sailing ves- sels had decreased from 226 vessels to 167 the ton- nage proportionately decreasing from 12 812 to 10,193. Again, in the same period, the tonnage of British and foreign vessels entered coastwise at Ab- erystwyth had increased from 18,859 tons to 23,310; whilst 111 Cardigan the increase was from 13,783 to 13,955. Including steamers, the tonnage of ships entered coastwise with cargoes only was, in 1863, as follows .-—Aberystwyth, 34,185 tons Cardigan, 13,955 tons. The number of vessels cleared coast- wise from Aberystwyth had increased in ten years (1852 to 1863) from 220 vessels to 383 the tonnage having also increased from 8747 tons to 22,124 tons. In Cardigan, in the same period, the number of such vessels had increased simply from 50 to 52 and the tonnage from 1519 to 1610 tons. To resume: the facts prove, whatever blue book we consult, that in material progress Aberystwyth has made rapid unmistakable strides, whilst Cardi- gan has scarcely been able to hold its own. The population of the borough of Aberystwyth alone has nearly" doubled" 1ll tllrty years, whilst in the Car- digan borough there are but 400 more inhabitants than there were in 1821. As to Lampeter, about whose claim so mucli fuss" is made, it has simply increased by the same number as Cardigan. In com- merce, the shipping of the two ports is the best, probably the only progress; and we find that whereas your town has increased its imports and exports some hundreds per cent. in order to meet the necessities of its increasing population, the town of Cardigan simp'y remains in statu quo ante. I leave these facts for the consideration of your readers. It matters not to me what deductions they draw therefrom, or what course of conduct they may pursue. They ought to be the best judges of their own interests. But to one who looks impar- tially at the matter it docs seem passing strange that the inhabitants of the northern and central divisions of Cardiganshire should be content to put up with the anomaly of a double assize at Cardigan, and for no other reason than that such has been the case for four hundred years. Sir, we live now in an age in which the legacies and bequests and institutions of our forefathers are made conformable to modern ideas and modern necessities. The migration of population and the development of industrial pur- suits have made prosperous towns in the ninteenth century of what were mere villages in the fourteenth; and such is the case with Aberystwyth. It has within it all the appliances fur the holding of Her Majesty's Courts of Assize, and it has also an acces- sibility from nearly the whole country, which no other town of its pretensions can boast. This subject of" accessibility" forms the third ar- gument in my contribitution. The railway com- munication which Aberystwyth possesses will be a means of lessening the costs of legal proceeding, should it become an assize town, and also save men of buÛness much inconvenience and loss of time, Instead of farmers, shopkeepers, and others kick- ing their heels" in a dull assize town. waiting for a case that is to come on the next day or the day after, these men. by means of a proper railway ac- commodation, can leave their homes in the morning, attend the trial, and probably get home again the same night. I do not say that all parts of the county can be so benefited by the existing railway arrangements, but assuredly the most important por- tions of the county will gain that advantage. By the aid of telegraphic communication an important witness could be sent for even during the progress of the trial, instead of the dread alternative of the case standing over till the next assizes. These are, I think, the principal reasons why Aberystwyth should dispute the supremacy with Cardigan. I am not prepared to say what portions of prisoners tried at the assises are apprehended in the various districts, but this I do know from statis- tical tables, that out of every hundred persons committed to prison in Cardiganshire, nearly two- thirds are natives of England, Ireland, Scotland, and foreign countries. These men are to be found haunting populous as well as non-populous neigh- bourhoods, and if a gaol suitable for the require- ments of the whole county is to be built, its erection must either be in the most densely crowded part of the shire, or else in a district easily accessible from all parts. One word before concluding. The Royal Com- mission of 1845, consisting of such men as Parke, Alderson, and Coleridge, reported that they felt almost insurmountable difficulty in remodelling the Welsh circuits. These are their own words :— This (the remodelling) cannot be accomplished without a considerable expense in the erection of new courts, the enlargement of gaols, and the pre- paration of additional lodgings for the judges and unless it should be thought proper to provide for these in the first instance at the general expense of the whole kingdom, they will throw a heavy burthen on the Principality." If your tradesmen are wise, they will ponder over the words I have quoted, and see whether such recommendations can be carried out as far as Aberystwyth is concerned. Let the lord-lieutenant, the members of Parliament, the justices, the corporation,. the town council, the commissioners, the piofessional men, the men of commerce, and all to whom the prosperity of Aber- ystwyth is dear, petition the Privy Council, and show that they are prepared to do all that was thought necessary in 1845, but which has become tenfold more imperative now, viz., the remodelling of the circuit, as far as Cardiganshire is concerned. In your petition to the Queen in Council do not forget to state that you have "a new court," suffi- cient for all the purposes of assize that" consider- able expense being about to be entered into in the erection of a new gaol," you are prepared to give a site for the establishment without any expense to the county that "accommodation" may be had in Aberystwyth not only for the judge, but for the bar, the witnesses, and all concerned in the administra- tion of justice, and that you can furnish these with- out falling upon "the general expense of the king- dom," and even without throwing any burden "on the Principality itself." In fact, prove that you have done all that Her Majesty's Commissioners thought necessary in 1845, and if in 1868 you do not" com- mand "success, you will have proved to the world that you have deserved it. Yours faithfully, LEX. The Temple, March 10th, 1868.


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