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Union, Act of (Wales)

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A 20th‐cent. term applied to two Acts of Parliament (1536, 1542/3) in which Wales was declared ‘incorporated, united and annexed’ to the English realm. The 1536 Act laid down principles ‘for laws and justice to be administered in Wales in like form as it is in this realm’; the Act of 1542/3 contained further details. The 1536 Act created five shires (Monmouth, Brecon, Radnor, Denbigh, and Montgomery) in addition to the six of the old principality (Carmarthen, Cardigan, Anglesey, Caernarfon, Merioneth, and Flint) and existing counties palatine, Pembroke and Glamorgan. Equality at law was granted to the Welsh, and English law became official usage. Each Welsh county had one MP (prosperous Monmouth two), and each county town had one parliamentary burgess (except poor Harlech). The 1542/3 Act created the Court of Great Sessions, with twelve shires grouped in four circuits and Monmouth joining the Oxford circuit, an anomaly that created uncertainty as to whether Monmouthshire was or was not Welsh.

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