Pontypool, Monmouthshire and ... Wales?


I visited the Commomwealth War Cemetery in Ramle, Israel, yesterday, and by chance I noticed this gravestone of F.R. Jones who was just one of the millions who died in the dreadful World War I.
I was momentarily taken aback to see that Pontypool is stated to be in England and not in Wales. I then remembered that Pontypool is in the historical county of Sir Fynwy (Monmouthshire), and that for some obscure reason there was once a doubt as to whether this county was a part of Wales or England. The Imperial War Graves Commission (as it was called at the time) evidently sided with England for this purpose.
I was wondering if there is, or was, any cultural, ethnic (with all my reservations about the use of this term), or historical reason why Sir Fynwy would actually be considered a part of England? Or was it all down to politics?
This is not to detract from the real sadness I felt when seeing the thousands of gravestones here. May the world know peace …

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Wikipedia has the following:
The historic county of Monmouthshire was formed from the Welsh Marches by the Laws in Wales Act 1535. The Laws in Wales Act 1542 enumerated the counties of Wales and omitted Monmouthshire, implying that the county was no longer to be treated as part of Wales. Though for all purposes Wales had become part of the Kingdom of England, and the difference had little practical effect, it did begin a centuries-long dispute as to Monmouthshire’s status as a Welsh or as an English county, a debate only finally brought to an end in 1972.

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As a Monmothian myself, I get used to answering this question!

The Laws in Wales Act 1542 counted the Welsh counties as twelve, leaving out Monmouthshire as the 13th. Instead, Monmouthshire was made directly responsible to the courts of Westminster rather than falling under the Court of Great Sessions in Wales. It was this arrangement that was the origin of the belief that the county had been annexed by England rather than remaining part of Wales, and why for quite some time afterwards, laws were often related to “Wales and Monmouthshire” - although Monmouthshire was still part of Wales other than where acts of parliament were concerned.

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When I was at school in Monmouth there was a schoolboy myth that for one of the World Wars - WWI, I think - war on Germany had been declared by “England, Wales, and Monmouthshire”, but that the Armistice had been signed only by “England and Wales”, and that therefore “we” were still at war with Germany.
All complete Passport-to-Pimlico nonsense, of course, but repeated in due earnest, and with unrealistic, Commando comics schoolboy relish for the idea of being technically at war with someone.

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Yes, I heard that frequently too! I didn’t know you went to school in Monmouth! Was that at Monmouth School? Would it be indelicate to ask what years?

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It was - the ysgol preswyl, I’m afraid. 1979-1986.

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Interesting - I dare say we might have a few friends and acquaintances in common then. I rowed with a lot of the boat club boys 1982-1985. We’ll have to compare notes when you’re next in Caernarfon! :wink:

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I also come from Monmouthshire. When people ask me the England question I always say that you can’t seriously think of Ebbw Vale or Tredegar as English .

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