HAVERFORDWEST (Welsh Hwlfordd, the English name )eing perhaps a corruption of the Scandinavian Hafna-Fjord), he chief town of Pembrokeshire, S. Wales, a contributory parliamentary and municipal borough, and a county of itself with its own lord-lieutenant. Pop. (1901), 6007. It is picturesquely situated on the slopes overlooking the West Cleddau river, which is here crossed by two stone bridges. It has a station on the Great Western Railway on the east side of the river, and when viewed from this point the town presents an imposing appearance with its castle-keep and its many ancient buildings. The river is tidal and navigable for vessels of not more than 150 tons. Coal, cattle, butter and grain are exported, but the commercial importance of the place has greatly declined, as the many ruined warehouses near the river plainly testify. The old walls and fortifications have almost disappeared, but Haveriordwest is still rich in memorials of its past greatness. The huge castle-keep, which dominates the town, was probably built by Gilbert de Clare, early in the 12th century; formerly used as the county gaol, it now serves as the police-station. The large church of St Mary, at the top of the steep High Street, has fine clerestory windows, clustered columns and an elaborate carvedoak ceiling of the 15th century; it contains several interesting monuments of the 17th and 18th centuries, some of which commemorate'members of the family of Philipps of Picton Castle. At the N. corner of the adjacent churchyard stands an ancient building with a vaulted roof, once the record office, but now used as a fish-market. St Martin's, with a low tower and spire, close to the castle, is probably the oldest church in the town, but has been much modernized. Near St Thomas's church on the Green stands an old Moravian chapel which is closely associated with the great scholar and divine, Bishop John Gambold (1711-1771). In a meadow on the W. bank of the river are the considerable remains of the Augustinian Priory of St Mary and St Thomas, built by Robert de Hwlfordd, lord of Haverford, about the year . joo. On the E. bank are the suburbs of Cartlet and Prendergast, the latter of which contains the ancient parish church of St David and the ruins of a large mansion originally built by Maurice de Prendergast (12th century) and subsequently the seat of the Stepney family. A little to the S. of the town are the remains of Haroldstone, once the residence of the powerful Perrot family. The charities belonging to the town, which include John Perrot's bequest (1579)> yielding about 350 annually for the improvement of the town, and Tasker's charity school (1684), are very considerable.
Haverfordwest owes its origin to the advent of the Flemings, who were permitted by Henry I. to settle in the hundred of Roose, or Rhos, in the years 1106-1108, in mi, and again in 1156. English is exclusively spoken in the town and district, and its inhabitants exhibit their foreign extraction by their language, customs and appearance. Haverfordwest is, in fact, the capital of that English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, which has been nicknamed " Little England beyond Wales."
This new settlement of intruding foreigners had naturally to be protected against the infuriated natives, and the castle was accordingly built c. 1113 by Gilbert de Clare, first earl of Pembroke, who subsequently conferred the seignory of Haverford on his castellan, Richard Fitz-Tancred. On the death of Robert de Hwlfordd, the benefactor and perhaps founder of the priory of St Mary and St Thomas, in 1213, the lordship of the castle reverted to the Crown, and was purchased for 1000 marks from King John by William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, who gave various privileges to the town. Of the numerous charters the earliest known (through an allusion found in a document of Bishop Houghton of St Davids, c. 1370) is one from Henry II., who therein confirms all former rights granted by his grandfather, Henry I. John in 1207 gave certain rights to the town concerning the Port of Milford, while William Marshal II., earl of Pembroke, presented it with three charters, the earliest of which is dated 1219. An important charter of Edward V., as prince of Wales and lord of Haverford, enacted that the town should be incorporated under a mayor, two sheriffs and two bailiffs, duly chosen by the burgesses. In 1536, under Henry VIII., Haverfordwest was declared a town and county of itself and was further empowered to send a representative burgess to parliament.
The town long played a prominent part in South Welsh history. In 1220 Llewelyn ap lorwerth, prince of North Wales, during the absence of William Marshal II., earl of Pembroke, attacked and burnt the suburbs, but failed to reduce the castle by assault. Several of the Plantagenet kings visited the town, including Richard II., who stopped here some time on his return from Ireland in 1299, and is said to have performed here his last regal act the confirmation of the grant of a burgage to the Friars Preachers. Oliver Cromwell spent some days here on his way to Ireland, and his original warrant to the mayor and council for the demolition of the castle is still preserved in the council chamber. The prosperity and local importance of Haverfordwest continued unimpaired throughout the 17th and 1Sth centuries, and Richard Fenton, the historian of Pembrokeshire, describes it in 1810, as " the largest town in the county, if not in all Wales." With the rise of Milford, however, the shipping trade greatly declined, and Haverfordwest has now the appearance of a quiet country town.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)