HYGONS, Gruffydd (by 1496-1559), of New Carmarthen.
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Family and Education
b. by 1496, s. of Hugh Hygons of Carmarthen. m. by 1543, Sage, da. of Lewis ap Thomas, s.p.1
Bailiff, Carmarthen 1517-18, 1519-20, mayor 1522-3, 1531-2, 1551-2, dep. mayor 1534-5, alderman by 1555-d.; beadle, Laugharne, Carm. 1543-6; commr. benevolence, Carm. 1544/45, relief 1550; escheator 1545-6, 1553-4; sheriff 1550-1, 1557-8; j.p. 1555.2
Gruffydd Hygons belonged to an old family of Carmarthen. His grandfather, John Hygons, and his father had both served as mayor of the borough, and he was himself to do so three times as well as being deputy during the mayoralty of Sir Walter Devereux, afterwards 1st Viscount Hereford. In his later years Hygons was also active in shire administration. His prosperity in middle life may be gauged from his subsidy assessment of 1544 in St. Mary’s Street on lands worth £50 a year and goods valued at £80. Two years after this he and his wife took a 21-year lease of lands and houses in St. Mary’s Street, King’s Street and elsewhere in Old and New Carmarthen, with a grain mill there and properties at Llangain, Llanstephan and St. Clears, all at a rent of £22 a year; at the same time they acquired holdings in the commotes of Cathinog and Widigade.3
It was property disputes which twice brought Hygons into the courts. In 1543 a neighbour, Rhys Gwyn, accused him and his wife, with others, of having forcibly occupied land in Old Carmarthen formerly belonging to the priory there and since acquired by Gwyn. The episode had occurred in February, but at the time that Gwyn lodged his complaint in the court of augmentations Hygons was at Westminster, and Gwyn asked for him to be ‘[ad]monished by a messenger’ to appear in answer: it does not transpire whether he did so, or with what result. In 1550-1 it was a mill and watercourse in Carmarthen which were at issue between him and the Countess of Bridgwater. Of the circumstances of Hygons’s election to the first Marian Parliament nothing is known, and of his part in its proceedings only that he was not among those who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism. His receipt of a general pardon at Mary’s accession is unlikely to have been of political or religious significance: it was during her reign that he was made a justice of the peace and served his second term as sheriff.4
In his will of 29 Mar. 1559 Hygons asked to be buried in ‘my chapel’ in Carmarthen parish church. He left the house in which he lived in St. Mary’s Street to (Sir) Thomas Jones and his wife, two parks to Richard Jones and his wife Elizabeth, a tenement by St. Barbara’s chapel to John Parry, and his ‘great house’ to his nephew John Vaughan; his share in the shire hall he bequeathed to the mayor and corporation. Inexplicably, he was no longer married to his wife Sage, who was described as ‘now wife to Mr. William Morris Gwyn’, but she was to have his ‘lower mill’ and various other items. The will was not proved, but within two weeks of Hygons’s death on the following 8 Apr. administration was granted to Sage Hygons alias Gwyn and her new husband; it was to be followed on 8 Sept. 1565 by a fresh administration to the same pair and to Catherine Hygons, widow. The marital confusion also led to the taking of two inquisitions post mortem; the first found Hygons’s heir to be Sage, who was aged 30, the second named his aunt Marion Hygons.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: P. S. Edwards
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. J. Buckley, Sheriffs, Carm. 16; C142/122/17; E315/230/127v.
- 2. C. Spurrell, Carmarthen, 173; J. E. Lloyd, Carm. ii. 467; C219/24/234; SC6/Hen. VIII, 5589, m. IV, 5590, m. IV; E179/220/96, 264/1; CPR, 1549-51, p. 344; 1553, p. 364.
- 3. Principality of Wales: S. Wales (Univ. of Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies Hist. and Law ser.) i, 345, 352, 353; Spurrell, 173; Buckley, 16; E179/220/96, 264/1; 315/230/127v; SC6/Hen. VIII, 5591, m. 4v.
- 4. E321/10/71; CPR, 1553-4, p. 431.
- 5. PCC 8 Chaynay; C142/122/17, 18.