City Dulas, The Mystery Unravelled
by Sue Beesley
A number of you will remember that in the June/July edition I posed a query raised by a reader of the Anglesey Informer, asking if there was anybody who could shed any light on how City Dulas had acquired its City status?
The question prompted a number of responses, but by far the most comprehensive reply I have received comes from Professor Hywel Wyn Owen, President of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland:
City Dulas is documented as Citty Dulas in 1763 and 1797, City Dulas in 1811, 1827 and 1838.
I have no doubt readers of the Anglesey Informer would be able to provide other examples from other local and county records.
It certainly is a perplexing name and may well have been a facetious or a derogatory name as an alternative for Dulas Village 1748 which was associated with the mills on the river Dulas.
It has also been regarded as a contrast to Llys Dulas (Thistulas 1291-2, Lisdulas 1352, Llysdulas 1463) once the manor house or court of the rulers of Twrcelyn commote.
One suggestion is that it was the name of a ship which was then taken as a tavern name, and then as the hamlet's name.
Another explanation, demonstrating more imagination than
anything else, revolves around a fictitiously disreputable woman who ran the local inn and who was called, so it was maintained, Cidi Dulas.
However, I know of several other City names in Wales which also lack any urban status. In Llandysilio (or Fourcrosses), Montgomeryshire, in 1842 various parts of the village were called The Street, The City, Cae Hen and Cae Du.
There is a City to the north of Penllyn near Bridgend, and in Minera (Denbighshire) and Llanwyddelan (Montgomeryshire).
In England, too, in Yorkshire, Berkshire and
Buckinghamshire, for example, City occurs as an ironic name for a small settlement or a row of houses or even a cottage.
One refinement of that argument, since it appears here in Anglesey with the English name City, is that City was a description commonly attributed to parts of a hamlet which housed workers, in some cases migrant workers, whose lifestyle was perceived to have more in keeping with riotous city life.
In that sense, City Dulas was certainly a derogatory name.
When, or why, the name was resurrected remains a mystery to me.
Enquiries some ten years ago with prominent county and community councillors, and with Anglesey Planning Department, have only revealed that a member of the Community Council had informally drawn the Highways Department's attention to the existence of the name on some maps in the past.
That information was allegedly converted into a decision to erect a road sign showing City Dulas.
However, I would be interested to learn exactly how it came about.
Readers may wish to find out more on Anglesey place-names in Hywel Wyn Owen and Richard Morgan, Dictionary of the Place-Names of Wales (Gomer Press, 2007 and already being reprinted).
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