1770s

Descriptions of Welsh costumes, 1770s
For an explanation of recording conventions, see Chronological survey.

1774 (Pembrokeshire)
There is a particularity in the dress of the Pembrokeshire women, which, because it differs from the rest of the Welsh, I shall describe.
The women, even in the midst of summer, generally wear a heavy cloth gown with a hood hanging from it behind , and instead of a cap, a large hankerchief wrapt over their heads and tied under their chins. They have sometimes, though rarely, a small beaver hat with a very low crown.
On first seeing this fantastic head-dress I really imagined that there was an epidemical swelling or toothache in the country.
It is possible that this fashion might originate from Flanders, as Pembrokeshire was originally settled by Flemmings. In that low country, that head-dress might have been thought a necessary preservation against the damps and a national prejudice might have continued it in Wales for more than sixcenturies.
This custom is certainly peculiar to Pembrokeshire; for in the other parts of Wales, the women, as well as the men, wear large beaver hats, with broad quakering brims flapping over their shoulders.
Nay, even some of the better sort of people affect this covering; for I afterwards met, at Llandrindod wells, three old ladies of the neighbourhood, who supped with us under the shade of their beavered umbrellas. ….
Wyndham, Henry Penruddocke (1736-1819) A gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, in the months of June and July, 1774. London, 1775, (1st Edition); A new edition. To which is added, an account of a journey into Wales, by George Lord Lyttleton. London, T. Evans, 1781; (2nd edition) London, 1794 pp. 76-78.
The text in bold is from the 2nd edition of the 1774 and 1777 tours, (1781), p. 67-68
[Some of this was repeated in a posthumous edition of Daniel Defoe, A Tour through the island of Great Britain … originally begun by the celebrated Daniel Defoe, continued by the late Mr Richardson, and brought down to the present time by gentlemen of eminence in the literary world … 8th edition, 1778, p. 308 but not in earlier editions.]

1774 [St David’s, Pembrokeshire]
{Attended a service at St David’s Cathedral. She saw fashionable women side by side with an old woman wearing a kerchief over her head and a} ‘hat like a man’s and over her shoulder a square piece of flannel fastened before with a thorn.
Yorke, Mary, Wrest Park papers (Lucas), Bedfordshire County Record Office
Transcriptions of the letters at Gloucester record Office, D2240/box 22
Jones, Anthea, Letters from the Bishop’s wife during the Episcopal visitations of the diocese of St David’s, 1774-1778, Carmarthenshire Antiquary, XXXVIII, (2002), 14-35.

1775 Conwy
The women wear hats like men’s.
Rev Thomas Campbell, Clifford, J.L., ‘Dr Campbell’s Diary’ (Cambridge, 1947), p. 93

1776
A service at St David’s Cathedral
[The congregation] Fine folks dressed out from the English alias Pembroke side, inhabitants of St Davids who are Welsh, dreadful poor natives from the Northern Sea Coast (who are the poorest and wildest of this wild country picking up a miserable livelihood by milking the sheep and scraping some mosses of the sea stones to sell), add to these sailors from the bay and our own family who were really a different set of people from any I have named, all close together … I will only describe the dress of two women just before me to show how distinct (and yet how near united, in the Country) the two sets of people are. One of my ladies in powdered hair with feathers and no cap, the other just by her who it would be flattery to liken to the Witches in Macbeth; round her shoulders was cast a dirty square piece of flannel fastened before with a thorn, round her head a more dirty blue and white pocket handkerchief, over this a man’s hat that perhaps was once black, but now much of the colour of the face it shaded, namely a yellow brown, the whole complexion seemed made of tan leather, and whereas in Carmarthenshire the faces of the common people have a vacant grin and stare upon them, this face was too ugly to have any expression.
Yorke, Mary, Letter dated Haverfordwest 17.7.1776, Wrest Park papers (Lucas), Bedfordshire County Record Office
Jones, Anthea, Letters from the Bishop’s wife during the Episcopal visitations of the diocese of St David’s, 1774-1778, Carmarthenshire Antiquary, XXXVIII, (2002), p. 25 (from transcriptions of the letters at Gloucester record Office, D2240/box 22)

1776 Machynlleth
Here and in most other towns in Wales I observed a piece of [?] of the women which is very unseemly. They either wear no stockings or have them made without feet and show their dirty toes. Another part of their dress very unbecoming is their hat which is made of beaver and exactly resembles a man’s. [This is a repetition of a similar description of bare feet written just before he got to Llanidloes, where he said it was disgusting].
Anon, (A Liverpool merchant), Tour in the Summer 1776, through Wales, NLW MS2862A, f. 23v

1776 St Clears, Carmarthenshire
The poor people spin a good deal of wool, and weave it into flannel for their own wear, no linen is worn by them, flannel supplying the place. Query, to the physicians of the country — Is the rheumatism known here as much as in other countries where linen is worn? They make cloth also for their own wear. Weavers earn 1s. a day, and sometimes more.
Carmarthen
Among the poor there is a little spinning and weaving of flannel, for few of them wear linen; they all manage to buy some wool, spin and send it to the weavers, who earn 1s. or 1s. 3d. a day. Some spin hemp and flax for canvass sacking. Many in the mountains knit stockings, which are bought up at small fairs, and carried to Worcester, etc.
Young, Arthur, Tour of South Wales and South Midlands, (1776?) which edition?

1778 [Glamorganshire]
The people in Glamorgan, particularly the women, dress themselves in a stuff resembling in every respect Highland plaid.
Sulivan, Richard, Sir, Observations Made during a Tour through Parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1778. In a Series of Letters, (London, 1780), p. 107