Llanwrtyd and district
The cattle drovers
  Can I see your droving licence ?  

Many drovers were also farmers or inn-keepers as well as dealers in livestock, and none could operate without a licence. Cattle marketOnly men who were householders, were aged over 30, and were married, could apply for a droving licence.
The drovers had to be carefully vetted because they had charge of large numbers of valuable animals, and the livelihood of many farmers and other people in Wales depended upon their skill and honesty.
During their regular journeys to England they were often entrusted with tasks like paying rents owed to landlords living in London, and other transactions not connected with the livestock trade. The drovers, however, were paid well for the demands of the job compared to other agricultural workers.
At the height of the trade in the 1840s and 1850s some of the top cattle dealers employed up to 20 drovers each.

Drawing by
Rob Davies
Drover herding cattle

A slow moving procession of men and animals crossing remote areas in the hills was always in danger of being attacked and robbed if large sums of money were being carried.
This led to the setting up of Welsh banks to provide money for buying the animals locally before the long journeys began, and for handling large amounts of cash from the sale of the livestock in England. One of these banks was called the Black Ox Bank because of its links with the drovers trade.
Because of their trading contacts in London and elsewhere in England the drovers were also able to bring news and gossip back to Wales at a time when communications were very poor.
This is the third of five pages on the drovers. There is more about them on the next page...

The 'roads' that were mountain tracks...


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