PULESTON, John (by 1492-1551), of Caernarvon, Caern. and Bersham, Denb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. by 1492, 1st s. of John Puleston of Hafod Y Wern and Bersham by 1st w. Ellen, da. of Robert Whitney of Whitney, Herefs. m. (1) by 1526, Gaynor, da. of Robert ap Meredydd ap Hwlcyn Llwyd of Glynllifon, Caern., 4s. inc. Robert 5da.; (2) Sioned, da. of Meredydd ap Ieuan ap Robert of Dolwyddelan and Gwydir, Caern., wid. of Edmund Gruffydd of Porthyr-Aur, Caern., 1s. 3da.; 1s. illegit. suc. fa. c.1523. Kntd. by 20 Dec. 1546.2

Offices Held

Sewer, the chamber by 1513; serjeant-at-arms 1513-d.; constable, Caernarvon castle 1523-d., ex officio mayor, Caernarvon 1523-d.; dep. sheriff, Merioneth bef. 1533; sheriff and escheator 5 May 1533-40; steward, lands of Bardsey abbey by 1535-d.; commr. tenths of spiritualities, diocese of Bangor 1535, coastal defence N. Wales 1539, musters, Merion. 1539, relief, Caern. 1550; v.-adm. N. Wales by 1539; j.p. Caern. 1540-d.; sheriff, Denb. 1542-3, Caern. 1543-4; ?chamberlain, N. Wales in 1547.3


The Pulestons of Caernarvon were an offshoot of the family of Bersham in Denbighshire, itself sprung from the main line at Emral, Flintshire; the name derived from Puleston or Pilston near Newport, Shropshire. John Puleston’s father and namesake had fought for Henry VII at Bosworth and served in the royal household: he was made constable of Caernarvon castle in 1506 and receiver of the lordship of Denbigh in 1519. John Puleston the younger saw service in Henry VIII’s first French war as a member of Viscount Lisle’s retinue, and it was on his return from France in November 1513 that he was made a serjeant-at-arms. Ten years later he succeeded his dead or dying father as constable of Caernarvon castle and ten years after that was made sheriff and escheator of the old county of Merioneth in the principality of North Wales.4

Puleston’s relations with Sir Richard Bulkeley, the joint chancellor and chamberlain of North Wales until his death in 1547, were far from happy. During a dispute in 1535 Bulkeley described Puleston and his son-in-law Edward Gruffydd of Penrhyn as his old adversaries, and both parties thought it expedient to write to Cromwell. Two years later Puleston and Bulkeley were at loggerheads again when Bulkeley sent his brother William Bulkeley I to put Cromwell’s nephew Gregory Williams in possession of the benefice of Llandwrog, of which Puleston and another were patrons but which Cromwell wanted for his nephew. The pair had sometimes to work together, as when in 1539 they were commissioned to inspect the coastal defences in the region; at the time Puleston was vice-admiral of North Wales. In 1538 he and a fellow serjeant-at-arms, John ap Richard, had leased the ex-priory at Conway with various lands and the rectory at Eglwys Rhos.5

Following the death of Edward Gruffydd in 1540, Puleston supported his daughter in her quarrel with her brother-in-law Rhys Gruffydd over the descent of the Penrhyn estates. Puleston maintained that Edward Gruffydd’s lands should descend to his three daughters, the eldest of whom was six, Rhys Gruffydd that he should inherit. In July 1542 Chancellor Audley and Sir William Paulet awarded lands to the value of £33 to Rhys Gruffydd and the rest to the daughters, but even that was not the end of the affair. In June 1544 Puleston purchased the wardship and marriage of his three grand-daughters; it was one of several such deals, including the wardships of William Lewis of Presaddfed, Anglesey, and of the daughters of Robert Salusbury of Llanrwst, Denbighshire.6

In 1539 Puleston was fearful that the new order in Wales would diminish his authority, but at the Union he emerged as one of the chief figures in the region: he was among the first justices for Caernarvonshire, was sheriff of that county and Denbighshire, and was knighted. He also sat in the first three Parliaments to which Wales sent Members, in 1542 for Caernarvon Boroughs, where his constableship made him supreme, and in 1545 and 1547 for the shire. In 1545 the sheriff who returned him was his brother-in-law and ally John Wynn ap Meredydd, who was to replace him as knight of the shire on his death during the prorogation between the third and fourth sessions of the Parliament of 1547. In that Parliament Puleston’s son Robert sat for the Boroughs.7

Puleston made his will on 14 Jan. 1551, leaving his lands in Denbighshire to Robert Puleston and those in Caernarvonshire mainly to a younger son. His bequests of cattle and other livestock show that he must have farmed on a considerable scale, while silver articles and featherbeds witness to a comfortable home in Caernarvon. He was also well befriended, his executors including Paulet, then Earl of Wiltshire, (Sir) John Salusbury II, and John Wynn ap Meredydd. The will was proved in the following month.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Griffith, Peds., 275; DWB (Puleston fam.); E. Breese, Kalendars of Gwynedd, 127; Cal. Caern. Q. Sess. Recs. ed. Williams, 33; LP Hen. VIII, iv.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, i, viii, xiii, xiv; Breese, 70, 126-7; P. R. Roberts, ‘The Acts of Union and the Tudor settlement of Wales’ (Camb. Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1966), 40, 172; Cal. Caern. Q. Sess. Recs. 31, 38-39, 53, 55-56, 60-61; HCA 13/3, f. 182; CPR, 1553, p. 363.
  • 4. Breese, 126-7; LP Hen. VIII, i, iv; NLW ms Wales 20/3, m. 22.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, viii, ix, xi, xiv.
  • 6. Req. 2/6/210; LP Hen. VIII, xv, xvii, xix; Wards 7/4/1, 3, 100/4, 8; 9/131/169.
  • 7. Cal. Caern. Q. Sess. Recs. 33(5); CPR, 1547-8, p. 307.
  • 8. PCC 7 Bucke.