Much linen, from flax plants, was imported from Ireland as woven fabric or yarn but some was grown in Montgomeryshire and Merionethshire. It was generally used for underwear, shirts, some aprons and presumably for some bed linen.
It was spun into thread and used as the warp in linsey-wolsey,
linen cloth lliain (llïain) Walters, 1815, 1828
linen cloth llieinwe Evans, 1852
linen lliain we Evans, 1812 (2) (E-W)
linen garment gwisg liain Walters, 1815, 1828
linen, coarse braslïan Pryse, 1866 (W-E)
The word gwe (the g dissapears when gwe is mutated) is Welsh for web; it was used as a suffix to a number of words for woven cloth. Webbing is a sort of woven cloth.
Only one reference to underwear has been found in the literature, and this by a Welshman (who had more reason to know what Welsh women wore under their bedgowns than an English visitor). Pritchard, in 1828, advised the women of Pembrokeshire and elsewhere in Wales ‘to throw off their flannel shifts, and wear linen ones’.
T. J. Llewelyn Prichard, The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shon Catti; (1828), p. 46
References to linen
Many genteel families manufacture their own cloth, linens, stockings, flannels etc, amongst others Mr Johnes of Hafod, Lloyd of Cilgwyn, Mr Griffiths Pen y Wenallt. The fullers and dyers of this country are in general skilful in their trades.
NLW 1760A, Notebook 26 [NLW: notebook 25], p. ??
Hemp, flax and woad …
Davies, Walter, General view of the Agriculture and Domestic Economy of South Wales …, Volume 1, pp. 532-536
1810 (about), Llanfaelries parish, Caernarvonshire
‘Here as well as in some of the neighbouring parishes are cultivated hemp and flax for domestic purposes. The seeds are of native growth and the plants are in course [sic] not pulled until these be gathered … The spinning, whether for sackcloth or household linen, is done at home; but for the weaving, recourse is had to the numerous looms scattered about the country in the cottages, where this manufacture is added to, or taken from the field labour of their occupants.’
Hall, Edmund Hyde, (1760s?-1824) A Description of Caernarvonshire (1809-1811). University College of North Wales, Bangor, Penrhyn add. ms. 2942; Jones, E Gwynne, (ed.), A Description of Caernarvonshire, Transaction of the Caernarfonshire Historical Society, (1952), p. 305