When Laugharne Corporation was created way back in 1290 it must have seemed like Christmas for the ordinary people of the place. They were now free men, they could elect their own leader – hundreds of years before this happened in the rest of Britain – and they shared in the use and ownership of the Corporation’s lands and properties.

Such was the quality of the Charter that set up these provisions that the Corporation has survived throughout history right up to the present day. I am proud to be a present-day member – a burgess – of the Corporation and to be the son of a former elected leader – a Portreeve – of the Corporation.

G Bryan, October 2010

Laugharne receives its Charter

Archaeological evidence suggests the history of Laugharne goes back well before the period of Roman occupation from 43 to around 420. But one of the things that makes Laugharne so different from any other place with an ancient castle is that it received a Charter, a kind of legal proclamation, that changed its status from being merely a village into being a township.

So what you may ask? Well, the significance of this is that it made a truly huge improvement to the quality of life of the inhabitants and that this difference was so great it has seen the Corporation (that arose from the grant of the Charter) survive continuously throughout history from 1290 right up to the present day.

Benefits of the Charter
The Charter was granted to Laugharne by one Sir Guy de Brian, a descendant of one of the Norman nobleman to arrive in Britain during the Norman Conquest in 1066. His Charter to the township of Laugharne meant that, unlike most of the rest of Britain, the men of Laugharne were now free men, that is they were not born into servitude to any Lord of the manor.

On reaching the age of 21, they swore (and still do) to serve the Corporation and the Crown, but they elected their own leader, known as the Portreeve, they chose their own committee to decide on the management of the Corporation (called the jury) and, even better, as members (burgesses) of the Corporation they inherited shares in the land of the Corporation to farm and produce their own food as older burgesses passed away.

As an ordinary person, being born in Laugharne in the 13th Century must have been like winning the lottery in comparison with other places.