Who were the Welsh Drovers?
The Welsh Master Drovers or "porthman"were an artisan class; men of substance who had from Elizabethan times an annual license to trade live-stock. To qualify for a license, the drover had to be 30 years of age, married and own a property. When applying for a license they were said to have described their trade as "Art and Mystery". They were trusted to trade their master's live-stock, and return with the proceeds of the sale, and carry letters and legal documents. They often collected and delivered rent payments for absentee Landlords in England. Sir Monoux Cope of Bramshill, Hampshire in 1750 rebuts the statements of David Jones, concerning the Kidwelly tithes, following receipt of a payment of £50 from Jones on his return from a Sussex fair.

In October 1810, a William Williams accused a Mary Shadwell aged twenty and others, of theft. He was employed by Griffith Griffiths and Robert Roberts of Caernarfonshire, in North Wales, and was returning from Maidstone in Kent. "I saw Mary Shadwell at a small distance from the Swan at Crayford. She said "Welchman will you let me ride?" I was riding one horse and leading another. I told her I did not care if she did. I went on to the Swan and she kept near me.
Bank Note I put up the horses and went into a box in the tap room, and she came in. I had some bread and cheese and a pint of beer. She said "Welchman will you let me drink with you." She sat in the box close to me and called for a pipe of tobacco. After I had drunk the beer I had a glass of rum, and been very much fatigued three days before, I fell asleep." Question: When you went into that public house in Crayford, describe what you lost. " I had £312 in my breeches pocket: they consisted of Canterbury and Dartford notes in brown paper".......... Verdict : Guilty. Punishment: Transportation for seven years.

It was not uncommon for travellers to join up with drovers, because they knew the routes and the signs to look out for. A witness at the Old Bailey in 1680 stated; "I was from Lancashire on horse-back and overtook a drover with beasts, and had diet and lodging with him in my journey, until I came to London."   Ashridge Timeline

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