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National Library of Wales
Cyfarthfa papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 CYFHFA

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Cyfarthfa Papers

Short Title: Cyfarthfa papers

Creation date(s): [1706]-1878

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.0463 cubic metres (29 boxes, 25 volumes)

Name of creator(s): Crawshay family


Administrative/Biographical history: From their beginning, the coal-fired ironworks of northern Glamorgan and Monmouthshire were big enterprises. The Cyfarthfa ironworks, northwest of Merthyr Tydfil was established in 1765 by Anthony Bacon and William Browning and Watkin George. Richard Crawshay (1739-1810) leased the works from Bacon's family in 1786. He had much knowledge and experience of the British iron business. In 1794, he became the works owner. By the end of 1780, Cyfarthfa was producing over 2,000 tonnes of bar iron annually. The railway boom helped profitability after 1820. By 1840 there were eleven blast furnaces, one hundred puddling furnaces and six rolling mills. The works developed a reputation for good quality naval cannon; Admiral Nelson visited the works in 1802. In 1803, 1500 people were employed at the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, and it was said that it was the biggest ironworks in the world. After 1810, following the death of his brother Richard, William Crawshay managed the works with his son William II, whose son, Robert Thomson Crawshay, took over in 1847. In addition to the Cyfarthfa Works, the Crawshay bought Hirwaun Ironworks (operated 1817-1850s) and the Forest Iron Company. On Robert's his death in 1879, the Cyfarthfa works was converted to a steel production plant by his son, William Thompson Crawshay. Cyfarthfa closed in 1921; dismantling commenced in 1928. The fanmily's main seat was Cyfarthfa Castle, but it also bought estates at Hilston Park, Monmouthshire, and Caversham Park.


Scope and content/abstract: Records relating mainly to the industrial concerns of the Crawshay family of Cyfarthfa, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, [1706]-1878, including leters and letter books of William Crawshay I and II and Robert Crawshay, 1806-1877; cash books, ledgers and bankers drafts, 1834-1888; deeds, [1706]-1885; wills, deeds and miscellaneous material, 1801-1838; balance sheets for ironworks, 1810-1867; will, valuation and probate for William Crawshay II, 1865-1869; shares and bills of exchange, 1870-1878; and Hilston Park estate papers, 1838-1862 and Caversham Park estate papers, 1826-1864. The archive represents the working papers of a major ironworking dynasty.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: Arranged into the following: letters; Cyfarthfa deeds; various subjects; the will of William Vaughan; balance papers; finance papers; and manuscripts.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales. The catalogue is available online.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by Captain Geoffrey Crawshay, 1958; donated by Sir William Crawshay, 1994.



Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds

Archivist's note: Compiled by Annette Strauch for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: NLW, Cyfarthfa Papers, vols. I & II, Davies, John, Hanes Cymru (London, 1990), Thomas, Iris Roderick, Cyfarthfa and the Crawshays (Merthyr Tydfil, 1999); Swansea History website (, viewed 17 January 2003.

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: January 2003

Account books | Wales | Merthyr Tydfil
Business records | Wales | Merthyr Tydfil
Crawshay family | Archives
Deeds | Wales | Merthyr Tydfil
Industrial Revolution | Wales | Merthyr Tydfil
Industries | Wales | Glamorgan
Iron industry and trade | Wales | Glamorgan
Iron industry and trade | Wales | Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil (Wales) | Economic conditions
Merthyr Tydfil (Wales) | History
Railway companies | India
Railway companies | United States
Railways | Wales
Transport | Wales

Personal names
Crawshay , Robert Thompson , 1817-1879
Crawshay , William
Crawshay , William , 1764–1834
Crawshay family , of Cyfarthfa

Corporate names

Cyfarthfa (Wales)
Dean, Forest of (England : Forest)
Merthyr Tydfil (Wales)

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