Encouragement by Agricultural Societies

Many Agricultural Societies were established in Wales to foster good agricultural practices.

Meetings of the Breconshire Agricultural Society

The Breconshire Society was unusual in offering prizes for fabrics, spinning and dying. They also sponsored the training of spinners.

10th September 1755 (sixth meeting) It was agreed that a premium of £4 shall be given to the person who will produce before the 29th September 1756, the best piece of cloth of a drab colour manufactured within this county from raw wool, the growth thereof measuring 21 yards long and one yard wide – £2 for the second best, and £1 for the third best. (p. 66)

The very great quantities of wool which are annually sold out of this county, would, if manufactured at home, furnish employment for all our working hands and would greatly enrich the county at large (p. 69)

The establishment of a market of yarn, monthly or quarterly. {more on benefits of encouraging the clothing industry in the county} {Suggestion that Linen Manufacture be encouraged} (p. 70)

Spinning of wool is an employ only calculated for the lower sort of people whereas … the delicacy of the finest lady cannot be disgusted with the spinning of flax. {also beneficial if farmers grow flax} List of prizes to encourage the above proposals. (p. 71)

12th January 1757. More prizes offered for the best piece of woollen cloth and the best dressed and dyed cloth. Payments for equipment for weaving (including a Diaper Loom [from Dublin, see p. 88] ), bleaching, and a building for carrying out this work, and for a spinning teacher. (p. 79)

9th February 1757. Add to the above, that dyer should produce blue or green cloth. {Following this are many decisions about prizes for good cloth, good dying and spinning, and preparation of a manufactory for weaving etc; and that the society will give flax and hemp seed to farmers (under certain conditions); lending spinning wheels to girls; and payments for transport and salary of a man to teach flax dressing from Scotland. (p. 80)

It has been represented to the Society that children instructed in the two spinning schools supported by this society are very negligent in attending; and go about idling and begging. An advertisement be posted up … importing that the act of Parliament against vagrants and beggars shall be strictly executed.  (p. 94)

10th December 1760. Prizes for the best pieces of dyed blue cloth out of a blue vat erected in this county. Preference will be given to cloth dyed in the wool. The prizes etc funded by membership fees of a few guineas per person. (pp. 111 and 115 )

The society seems to have become more of a social club than an Agricultural Society. Generally, there appears to be less concern about encouraging flax and hemp growing and processing, and more on soil improvement.

Payne, Henry Thomas, transcriptions of the minutes of the Breconshire Agricultural Society, NLW MINOR DEPOSITS 186A


Cardiganshire Agricultural Society

Class V

Bounties to industrious cottagers and Labourers in Husbandry

I To cottagers … who shall manufacture the greatest quantity and best in quality of cloth and flannel spun by them and their children under 14 years of age … before Michaelmas, £1 10s  [and three runners up]

II as above, for knitting stockings

Adjudication for 1798

Margaret James of Bettws, for having manufactured 66 yards of flannel and cloth sold for £11 11s [at an average of 3s 6d per yard] (prize: £1 1s)

Elinor Evans, for 217 yards coarse flannel sold for £17 17s 6d [at an average of 1s 6d per yard] (Prize: £1)

Mary John 78 ¼ yards flannel sold for £9 6s 6d [at an average of 2s 4d per yard] (Prize 15s)


Ann Williams, Bettws, 58 pair stockings, sold for £6 6s 5d [an average of just over 2s per pair] (prize £1 10s)

Ann David, Pentrehaven, Llangunllo, 63 pair stockings, sold for £5 6s 8d [an average of just over 1s 6d per pair] (prize £1)

Mary Jenkins, Brithdir, Penbryn 40 pair, sold at £4 12s 2s [an average of 1s 6d per pair] (prize 15s)

Margaret Lloyd, Bettws, 55 pair, sold for £4 7s 6d [an average of just over 1s per pair] (prize 10s)

The rules and premiums of the Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture and Industry, in the county of Cardigan, for the year 1799 (Carmarthen : 1799) pp. 11, 16