Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press


c. Mar. 1604JOHN LEWIS
28 Jan. 1624JAMES LEWIS
20 Apr. 1625JAMES LEWIS
c. Jan. 1626JAMES LEWIS
20 Feb. 1628JAMES LEWIS

Main Article

Cardiganshire, a ‘proto-county’ under royal control from the 1240s, was given formal status by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284.1 Its boundaries largely followed the native territory of Ceredigion, but it was somewhat enlarged by the Henrician Acts of Union. Most commentators concurred that it was sparsely populated and difficult to farm: with forbidding uplands in the north and east and open pasture to the south and west, the local economy was dominated by cattle farming. It had significant mineral and metallurgical reserves, however, and Richard Gough believed that the county’s wealth ‘lies in its mines and scarce shows itself above ground’.2

This sparse economy did not support a prosperous gentry class. Parliamentary representation under the early Stuarts, as in the Elizabethan era, was dominated by the Prices of Gogerddan, and families connected to them by marriage and kinship.3 The leading county magnate was Sir Richard Price, deputy lieutenant, custos rotulorum and county representative in four Elizabethan Parliaments. Barred from standing in 1604 as the serving sheriff, he returned his son-in-law, John Lewis of Abernantbychan. The normal pattern of representation was resumed in 1614 and 1621, when Price was elected. After Price’s death in 1623, the Gogerddan estate went to his grandson (Sir) Richard Price†, then under-age. In this situation there were few candidates outside the Price-Lewis axis who could step into the breach. As a result, in 1624 and for the remainder of the decade the county seat went to another of Price’s grandsons, James Lewis. It is unclear why the latter’s father, John Lewis, did not sit again.4

Cardiganshire’s Members had little known concern with advancing local business in Parliament, but it is likely that there was an interest in the 1621 initiative to prevent the importation of Irish cattle, which was seen as damaging to the local economy.5

Author: Lloyd Bowen


  • 1. J.G. Edwards, ‘The Early Hist. of the Cos. of Carm. and Card’, EHR, xxxi. 90-8.
  • 2. R. Gough, Addits. to Camden’s Brittania (1789), p. 526.
  • 3. W.O. Williams, Ceredigion, vi. 142.
  • 4. C219/38/316.
  • 5. L. Bowen, Pols. of the Principality, 68-9.