The charter of 1479, incorporated the town of a mayor, sheriff, two bailiffs and burgesses and in 1545, Henry VIII gave Haverfordwest county status. From the time of James I the Mayor of Haverfordwest has carried the title of Admiral of the Port of Haverfordwest.
The Mayor, who was appointed annually, was also a magistrate, coroner, escheater, clerk of the market, a deputy lieutenant and admiral of the port. The sheriff, bailiffs, sword-bearer and sergeants at mace had to attend upon him whenever necessary.
He had a salary of £30.00 and the rights of public fishery within the borough. He was given six shillings and eight pence at Christmas out of public funds to buy a kechyn, a sort of brawn and he was also allowed 200 apples from every cargo coming into the town’s Quay from the Forest of Dean.
As Admiral of the Port, the Mayor travels in a water-borne procession to the White Stone at the town’s riverside boundary to exercise his rights of fishery.
The town’s prominence as a principal west Wales port seriously declined with the advent of the railway in 1853, which signalled the end of the century’s old river trade.
THE COMMON SEAL
The Common Seal of the Borough of the Town and County of Haverfordwest is first known to appear in Letters Patent dated 31st March 1315, granting water rights in Dew Street to Walter Drinulle, chaplain. The obverse of the seal bears the legend ‘Sigillum Commune De Haverfordia’ (the Common Seal of Haverford) surrounding a one-masted galley with its sails furled and yard lowered, representing the maritime association of the town. On the forecastle a man stands in front of a banner blowing a horn. In the stern, before another banner a trumpeter appears.
On the reverse side is a fortified gatehouse upon the central tower of which stands a sentinel blowing a trumpet. From the side towers banners fly in opposite directions. On the right-hand of the tower is an eagle and on the left, a lion, while at the base is a wyvern. The legend on the surround reads ‘O Lector Salve Coeli Pateant Tibi Valve’ (O reader hail: may the gates of Heaven stand open for thee).
Armorial Bearings were granted to the borough in 1966 and were based on the devices shown on the Common Seal. The upper part of the shield is green and bears a castle flanked by ostrich feathers in silver. The castle indicates that it is a castled town and the feather refers to the grant of a charter to the town by Edward, Prince of Wales in 1479. The lower part has a background of blue and white waves, representing the tidal waters of the River Cleddau and in the foreground is a one-masted galley in full sail with banners and pennant flying, again indicating maritime association.
The crest consists of a tower upon which stands a sentinel sounding a bugle horn and wearing a jacket of white and green, the colours worn by the Prince of Wales’ Welsh troops fighting in the French campaigns. The supporters are on either side of the shield, on the left the red dragon of Wales with its raised wings emblazoned with the arms of the sea of St David. On the right is the black lion with gold collar and chain derived from the Arms of Philipps of Picton, a family closely associated with the town. The motto is taken from the Seal.
The Mayor of Haverfordwest is a splendid figure in sable trimmed scarlet robes with a magnificent gold badge and chain. These were presented to the borough in 1887 to commemorate the Jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria by George Leader Owen of Withybush and his wife.
The mayoral chain consists of a series of links of the letter ‘H’ signifying Haverfordwest, which hold together small rectangles on which are engraved the names of those who have held the office of Mayor since 1887. The enamelled shields bear the arms of monarchs who granted the borough its charters. In the centre is a medallion bearing a portrait of Queen Victoria from which the badge hangs.
The badge consists of a round Celtic shield with crossed mace and faces, an enamelled medallion and four roundels. The medallion bears the fortified gatehouse that appears on the reverse of the Common Seal around which is inscribed the words ‘ Borough of Haverfordwest’. Beneath this is a ribbon scribed ‘Cymru Am Byth’ (Wales Forever).
The roundel above the medallion bears a Tudor rose, recalling that Henry Tudor marched through Haverfordwest on his way from Dale to Bosworth.
Since the abolition of mayors by the Local Government Acts of 1972, Haverfordwest has a Town Mayor who presides at meetings of the council and whose duties are otherwise largely ceremonial.