Along the Road:
The Welsh drovers had a habit of naming their gathering places after London place names. They seemed to have an affinity for the Capitol. Chequer's Knap, a hill near Great Kimble (SP829053) in Buckinghamshire, was called Piccadilly Hill in the 1800's, the name being subsequently changed in 1922 when the nearby country residence of the Prime Minister was given to the nation.
Piccadilly in London in 1585 was Llamus common land, over which the parishioners had grazing rights from Llamus Day, the 13th of August until Spring. Doubtless the Welsh stood their cattle there, claiming some ancient right before moving to Smithfield.
In 1612 the developer Robert Baker enclosed the land and paid an annual amount of thirty shillings in recompense for the parishioners' loss of rights over the land. He erected Piccadilly Hall which received lodgers, and in 1624 "Pikadilly Hall" is given in the overseers' accounts as the name of "divers houses and messuages".
By 1651 there were three inns in the area, being on the route of the A4, the main artery into the City from the Little London in the west, on Hillingdon Heath. The inns were the Sign of the Crown, the Feathers, and the Horns.
It's intriguing to wonder what the drovers "got up to" at their Little London quarters! Singing and smoking around the camp fire, gambling, fighting, story-telling, and eating and drinking of course. Cock fighting was commonplace back in the Principality. They may have had a weakness for "ladies of the night".
From medieval times, villages were largely an autonomous unit until the acts of enclosure in the 1700's.People of the parish had customary rights to their common land, which was handed down over the generations. The parish constable had the duty to keep the peace, and move on any travellers. Incomers were not welcome, and could only stay if they had a "settlement certificate" from the village of their birth; travellers who were soldiers, sailors, pregnant women, or disabled were given money to help them on their way. In 1688 it was estimated that there were no fewer than 60,000 families moving on the roads, and roaming the countryside.. For the Welsh to settle on common-land, all be it for short periods of the year, was "against the rules". However they had no doubt created a custom of settlement from the 1500's or earlier which was probably accepted by the parish authorities, providing they were not a burden on the local community. In Wales there were "Tai un nos"; dwellings which were built over night. It appears that the law of the land meant that if a dwelling was built between sunset and sunrise with a fire and chimney, a claim could be made to that piece of land. There must have been an uneasy relationship between the Welsh and the parish constable(s), who by the early 19th century were more concerned about removing "trampers" or "gypsies", from the heaths or other camping places, rather than paying them poor relief. The parish constable represented a system of self-government.
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