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



Main Article

The castle, town and port of Beaumaris were founded after the suppression of a revolt in Anglesey in 1294. Edward I granted the borough a charter two years later and this was repeatedly confirmed and amplified throughout the middle ages and again in 1502, 1510 and 1547. The constable of the castle was ex officio mayor of the town and during the 1550s the constableship was held successively by the Earl of Warwick, later Duke of Northumberland, and the 3rd Earl of Bath, with the leading townsman Sir Richard Bulkeley serving as deputy. The burgesses elected two bailiffs each year to administer the town with the help of several lesser officers: the bailiffs were also advised by a number of aldermen, seemingly drawn from among their precursors in the office.2

The royal works at Beaumaris were never brought to completion and the town remained without walls until the 15th century. Maintenance proved costly and by 1500 the castle was in disrepair. The settlement of a third of the revenues of the principality of Wales on Catherine of Aragon on her marriage to Prince Arthur perhaps led the Spanish ambassador to persuade Henry VII to transfer the county administration from Beaumaris to Newborough rather than diminish Catherine’s income; the ambassador’s reputed part in this transaction is known only from the reference to it in the Act of 1549 mentioned below. During the 1530s the castle was put in order and this enabled the Bulkeleys to promote the restoration of Beaumaris as shire town. Nothing came of this until late in February 1549 when a petition in the form of a private bill was introduced in the Lords. As Bishop Bulkeley of Bangor had leave of absence from the Parliament of 1547 the expedition with which the bill passed the Lords cannot be attributed to him: the momentum probably derived from the presence there of Warwick, by then constable of the castle. In the Commons a proviso was added quitting the inhabitants of Newborough from contributing towards the wages of the Members ‘hereafter ... returned to any Parliament for the said town of Beaumaris and village of Newborough or either of them, any law, usage or custom to the contrary thereof notwithstanding’, and was agreed by the Lords on the eve of the prorogation. The Act (2 and 3 Edw. VI, no. 54) was certified in Chancery on 28 May 1549. The county court began to meet at Beaumaris before the end of the year. There was an attempt early in 1556 to restore the quarter sessions to Newborough but the Bulkeleys frustrated this.3

The elections were held in the council house at Beaumaris. Four indentures written in Latin are extant, none in good condition. The contracting parties differ on each occasion: in February 1553 they are the sheriff of Anglesey and Sir Richard Bulkeley as ‘deputy to the Duke of Northumberland, constable of the castle’ and some 18 named burgesses of the town; in September 1553 the bailiffs and about 15 burgesses, and late in 1554 Sir Richard Bulkeley ‘deputy constable of the ... castle’, the bailiffs, an alderman and seven named burgesses of Beaumaris and ‘many other burgesses from all the towns and boroughs’ in the island. Unless the formula used in 1555 was meaningless, Newborough presumably exerted its right in that year to take part in the elections and it could well have done so in every Parliament between 1553 and 1558. The sheriff included Beaumaris on the schedule for Anglesey in February 1553. All the Members lived in Beaumaris and their election was a stage in their municipal progression. All were kinsmen of Sir Richard Bulkeley or supporters of his interest. The first Member, Morris Gruffydd, was presumably helped at his election by his father as the returning officer and was brother-in-law to Owen ap Hugh, who had sat for Newborough in 1545. William Price, returned in 1558, was joined in the House by his cousin Rowland ap Meredydd as knight for the island.4

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. M. Beresford, New Towns in the Middle Ages, 534-5.
  • 3. The King’s Works, ii. 395-408; iii. 171-2; C. G. Ericson, ‘Parlt. as a legislative institution in the reigns of Edw. VI and Mary’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1973), 354; CJ, i. 9, 10; M. A. R. Graves, ‘The Tudor House of Lords 1547-58’ (Otago Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1974), 186, 274; C89/4/10.
  • 4. C219/20/172, 173, 21/215, 23/187, 24/227.