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This report is taken from PN Review 183, Volume 35 Number 1, September - October 2008.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

Not long since, rugby players from Monmouthshire clubs could opt to represent England. Thus, W.G.D. (Derek) Morgan, born in Maesycwmmer and educated at Lewis School, Pengam, who played for Newbridge, won nine English caps in the 1960s and later became chairman of selectors for the Rugby Football Union. This blurring of boundaries began in the reign of Henry VIII. John Davies's History of Wales describes how the so-called 'Act of Union' (1536) designated the lordships that would compose the new counties of Wales, and how the eastern edges of the shires of Monmouth, Brecknock, Radnor, Montgomery, Denbigh and Flint for the first time created a border with England. However, when in 1543 a system of courts of justice was introduced as 'the Great Sessions of Wales', Monmouthshire, 'no less Welsh in language and sentiment than any of the other eastern counties', answered to the courts of Westminster, thus engendering the presumption that the county had been annexed by England. Abolition of the Great Sessions in 1830 removed the anomaly but, as we have seen, didn't quite dissipate the erroneous belief.

Under Local Government Reorganisation in 1974, with minor adjustments of the border, old Monmouthshire became Gwent (from the name of a post-Roman kingdom of south east Wales). Few minded the name change, notwithstanding a characteristic squib by Harri Webb, aping the demotic:

I'm a citizen of Mummersher,
I'm as English as the Queen,
And I 'ates them rotten Welshies
...


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