Who were the Welsh Drovers?
Sir John Wynn of Gwyder returned money to his sons in London by David Lloyd, a local drover as early as 1621, and this association lasted for more than forty years. In May 1661 Sir John Wynn's grandson, Sir Richard, returned £65 by "old David Lloyd the drover" who was to repay it to Wynn's London correspondent. Nor were officials slow to use drovers to transmit the Crown revenues which they had collected locally. In 1661 one of Sir John Wynn's younger sons, Maurice, who was Receiver General for North Wales, sent bills to the Barons of the Exchequer which were to be redeemed by Welsh drovers. The arrangement with the drovers was very much to their advantage, since many of them owned their own cattle, and they were as aware as the Estate Stewards of the danger of carrying large sums of money by road, and welcomed the opportunity to transmit safely the proceeds of London cattle sales back to Wales to finance the next drive. A drover called Miller paid Lord Fitzwilliam in London £50 which he had borrowed from a Smithfield salesman, so that he could receive that sum in the Soke of Peterborough from Fitzwilliam's Estate Steward. He would then purchase livestock locally with the £50 drive them upto London and with the proceeds of the sale, pay off the salesman allowing himself a profit. This symbiotic relationship permitted Fitzwilliam to receive a much needed return of £50 at the same time that it permitted the drover to move £50 safely to the country, and it was the security of the transaction which helped to persuade the Smithfield salesman to advance the money. Moreover, since the drovers usually received the money from the Estate Steward in advance of the local purchase, they were in effect being provided with interest free loans with which to finance their business. There were problems in using drovers to move money to the country. The method was cumbersome, and led to long delays, and the security of the loan was rarely sufficiently substantial to ease the anxiety of the Landowner. In view of this, the fact that Landowners instructed their stewards to persist with drovers for years at a time, shows how desperate they were. In 1659 Sir Owen Wynn was constrained to ask his son Richard to obtain six months grace from a creditor in London because there was " no safety in sending money by Chester or Shrewsbury in these times there being no drovers". Alternatives to drovers for returns were never easy to find, and finding them could prove impossible for months at a time.
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