EDWARDS, Evan (c.1594-1670), of Dorset House, Fleet Street, London; later of Chester, Cheshire and Rhual, Mold, Flints.
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Family and Education
b. c.1594,1 1st s. of Thomas ap Edward of Rhual and Alice, da. of Lewis ap David of Abergele, Denb. m. 20 May 1620, Joan (d.1664), da. of Simon Thelwall of Lincoln’s Inn and Woodford, Essex, 4s. d.v.p. 1da. d. 3 Dec. 1670.2 sig. Evan Edwards.
Sec. to Richard Sackville, 3rd earl of Dorset, c.1612-24, to 4th earl of Dorset (Sir Edward Sackville*) 1624-31/2.3
Baron, Chester Exchequer 1625-45, 1660-?d.4
Comptroller of customs, Chester 1639-45, 1660-d.8
Recorded merely as ‘Evan Edwards esquire’ on the Camelford election return in 1628, this Member is impossible to identify for certain, as he had such a common name.9 However, the only plausible candidate at the time was a secretary to Edward Sackville, 4th earl of Dorset, whose steward, Edward Lyndsey, had sat for Camelford in the previous Parliament. This identification is supported by the fact that two of the committees to which Edwards was named concerned the bill to confirm tenures in the Crown lordship of Bromfield and Yale, Denbighshire (9 Apr., 13 June 1628), which lay only a few miles from the Welsh patrimony of Dorset’s secretary.10
Like many Flintshire gentry, Edwards claimed descent from the eleventh century lord of Tegeingl, Edwin ap Goronwy, but this can have provided scant comfort to a man whose rated his landed income at a mere £80 a year in 1646.11 Edwards joined the household of the 3rd earl of Dorset in about 1612; it has been suggested that he was recommended by William Edwards, a man presumed to have been his uncle, who received an annuity for services to the 2nd earl (Robert Sackville†) in 1609. However, this may be a misidentification, as Edwards’ uncle was a cleric who served as vicar of Mold in the 1630s. It seems more likely that the future MP was introduced to the 3rd earl by his neighbour Sir John Trevor I* of Plas Têg, Flintshire, whose family had been connected with the Sackvilles for over half a century.12 Having received a bequest of £100 at Dorset’s death in 1624, Edwards thereafter passed into the service of the 4th earl. In 1625 he was apparently nominated for a parliamentary seat at New Shoreham by Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, but was unsuccessful. His return for Camelford in 1628 is likely to have been achieved under Dorset’s aegis, although the identity of his sponsor in an area where his master had few links remains unclear.13
In 1620 Edwards married into a junior branch of the Thelwalls of Bathafarn Park, Denbighshire. He shared in the benefits which accrued to his wife’s family after the death of Sir Eubule Thelwall* in 1630, taking lodgings in Thelwall’s old chambers at Gray’s Inn and receiving a lease of the tithes of Llanyvydd, Denbighshire. In the same year he helped to arbitrate a dispute between his brother-in-law, Daniel Thelwall, and the latter’s uncle, Sir Bevis Thelwall, over the profits of the clerkship of the great wardrobe.14 By January 1633 Edwards had resigned from Dorset’s service and returned to Wales, where he took up the office of baron of the Chester Exchequer, which he had obtained in 1625. Despite the grandiose title, Edwards’s function was that of a chief clerk rather than a judge, although in 1637 he searched Chester’s only stationer for seditious literature after William Prynne† had been fêted in the city while on his way to imprisonment in Caernarvon Castle. During the 1630s Edwards’s income was sufficient to allow him to rebuild his house at Rhual, while in 1639 he secured a potentially lucrative grant of the comptrollership of customs at Chester and its outports. At the same time he also paid £700 for a property in Bridge Street, Chester, and joined John Eyton* in a lease of mining rights in Flintshire.15
Edwards served as a commissioner of array in Flintshire at the outbreak of the Civil War, seizing arms and searching the houses of parliamentarians, and when he sought a reversion of his post at Chester for his son in May 1644, he journeyed to Oxford to obtain the necessary letters patent. However, Sir Thomas Myddelton II’s* invasion of North Wales in the autumn of 1644 panicked him into making preparations to flee to Anglesey, while in the following spring he lost jewels worth £700 to a raid by Cheshire forces. The tightening of the blockade around Chester left Rhual unprotected, and it is no surprise that Edwards surrendered to the parliamentarian forces in November 1645, three months before the city fell.16
Edwards’s dismal prospects improved greatly with the return of his brother William as Recruiter MP for Chester in December 1645. His composition fine was fixed at the remarkably modest sum of £157, which Edwards paid off before his brother was secluded at Pride’s Purge.17 Although he hoped to retain some role in the customs service under the Rump, Edwards played no further part in local affairs until the 1660 general election, when he agreed to support his Presbyterian neighbour John Trevor† of Plas Têg for the Flintshire seat.18 Edwards regained his lucrative offices after the Restoration, and took pains to secure a reversion of the customs post for his only surviving son. However, after the latter’s death in 1664 he allowed the reversions of both his offices to be granted away before his own demise on 3 Dec. 1670.19 No will or administration has been found. Edwards was succeeded by his grandson Thomas, an outspoken dissenter, upon whose death in 1700 the Rhual estate passed to his sister and her husband Walter Griffith, a prominent Montgomeryshire Nonconformist.20
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. Stated to have been aged about 70 in 1664: CSP Dom, 1663-4, p. 584.
- 2. Cal. N. Wales Letters ed. B.E. Howells (Univ. Wales, Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xxiii), 25-9, 243 and ped. at end of vol.
- 3. Cal. N. Wales Letters, 24-5; PROB 11/143, f. 208.
- 4. C66/2360/7; CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 564; 1664-5, p. 73.
- 5. C181/4, f. 192v.
- 6. SP16/405.
- 7. C192/1, unfol.; Northants. RO, FH133.
- 8. Cal. N. Wales Letters, 27, 29; CTB, 1660-7, p. 6; 1669-72, p. 698.
- 9. C219/41B/140.
- 10. CJ, i. 880b, 913a. The other cttee. was for the Vanbrugh naturalization bill, ibid. 913a.
- 11. Dwnn, Vis. Wales. ed. S.R. Meyrick, ii. 322-3; Cal. N. Wales Letters, 28.
- 12. Cal. N. Wales Letters, 24-5; PROB 11/113, f. 184; Flints. RO, P40/1/3, ff. 27v, 54, 61v; SIR JOHN TREVOR I.
- 13. PROB 11/143, f. 208; Cal. N. Wales Letters, 218.
- 14. PROB 11/158, f. 310v; Cal. N. Wales Letters, 220-2; C2/Chas.I/T32/65.
- 15. CSP Dom. 1637, p. 492; Cal. N. Wales Letters, 26-7, 237.
- 16. Cal. N. Wales Letters, 228-30; Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 394; Brereton Letter Bks. ed. R.N. Dore (Trans. Lancs. and Cheshire rec. soc. cxxiii), 179-81, 314; N. Tucker, N. Wales in the Civil War, 68.
- 17. CCC, 1605; Cal. N. Wales Letters, 230-5; D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, 372.
- 18. Cal. N. Wales Letters, 239-40.
- 19. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 418; 1663-4, p. 564, 584; 1665-6, p. 422; CTB, 1660-7, p. 6; 1669-72, p. 698; Cal. N. Wales Letters, 29.
- 20. Cal. N. Wales Letters, 30-1.