GRIFFITH, Nicholas (1572/3-aft. 1633), of Plas Mawr, Caernarvon, Caern.
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Family and Education
b. 1572/3, yr. [?2nd] s. of John Griffith I* of Plas Mawr and Llanidan, Anglesey and Margaret, wid. of Edward Griffith of Penrhyn, Caern., da. of Rhys Thomas of Coed Helen, nr. Caernarvon;1 bro. of William†. educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1589, aged 16; Barnard’s Inn; G. Inn 1594.2 ?unm. d. aft. 1633.
Griffith went to Oxford with his eldest brother William in 1589, and thereafter to London for a legal education, perhaps with an eye to a professional career, although he is not known to have been called to the bar. Unusually for a younger son, he inherited some property: shortly after entry to Gray’s Inn he sued over the title to two farms his father had passed to him near Caernarvon. His return for Caernarvon Boroughs in 1601 probably came about because his elder brother, who had sat as knight of the shire in the previous Parliament, was reluctant to accept a demotion to the borough seat. In 1604 he was supplanted by his father, upon whose death in 1609 Clement Edmondes was chosen, probably as a nominee of lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†).3
In 1614, with Salisbury dead, Griffith was returned for Caernarvon once again, doubtless on his brother’s interest. He probably had little impact on the House, and the ‘Mr. Griffith’ cited in the records is likely to have been John Griffith II, secretary to lord privy seal Northampton. Another namesake, John Griffith III, sat in the following Parliament in 1621, but on this occasion Nicholas Griffith is known to have made at least one speech, on 9 Mar., calling for the disgraced attorney-general, (Sir) Henry Yelverton*, to be questioned by the Commons over his role as a referee for the controversial patent for the licensing of inns. In the light of this speech, it seems likely that Griffith was also the man who backed Sir Edward Coke’s recommendation of 28 Feb. to join with the Lords in taking action against the inns patentee, (Sir) Giles Mompesson*.4
In 1624 the Caernarvon Boroughs seat went to Sir Peter Mutton, and the Griffiths never sat in Parliament again.5 It is almost impossible to trace the MP’s career outside the Commons: a man with his name serving as ‘groom of the bottles’ in the royal buttery attempted to make good a grant of the office of porter of Flint Castle in 1608, but Griffith’s educational background suggests that he is more likely to have found employment as an attorney than as a servant in the royal Household.6 Griffith answered a Chancery suit in conjunction with his brother at Aber, Caernarvonshire in 1633, but the details of his later life are obscure. No will or administration has been found and the date of his death is unknown.7
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. Dwnn, Vis. Wales ed. S.R. Meyrick, ii. 155; J.E. Griffith, Peds. Anglesey and Caern. Fams. 125.
- 2. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
- 3. REQ 2/213/51; CAERNARVON BOROUGHS.
- 4. CJ, i. 532a, 547b; CD 1621, v. 531; vi. 48.
- 5. NLW, 9059E/1172, 1176, 1189.
- 6. E112/149/38, cal. in Exch. Procs. Temp. Jas. I ed. T.I. Jeffreys Jones (Univ. Wales, Bd. of Celtic Studs., Hist. and Law ser. xv), 199; C66/1741/10.
- 7. C2/Chas.I/L20/66, f. 6.