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


18 Apr. 1543THOMAS EYNNS vice ap Rhys ap Philip, deceased
1553 (Oct.)JOHN PRICE II
1554 (Apr.)JOHN PRICE II

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Cardiganshire was enlarged and consolidated at the Union. Thomas Phaer described it as ‘very bare ... and mountainous, all along the coast no trade of merchandise but all full of rocks and dangers’. The few roads were unmetalled and travellers were vexed by bandits who the president of the council in the marches thought had the support of the local gentry. At the Dissolution the abbey of Strata Florida with its estates was acquired by the 3rd Lord Ferrers of Chartley, chamberlain of South Wales, and the property of the rest of the monastic houses mostly passed to others from outside the county. Less than a dozen families living in the shire had sufficient income to qualify for the local bench and as a result Cardiganshire was governed largely by men with homes and lands in the adjoining counties of Carmarthen and Pembroke. This situation is reflected in the choice of knights to sit in Parliament. Only David ap Llewellyn Lloyd, Morgan ap Rhys ap Philip and John Price were natives of Cardiganshire, whereas William Devereux, Sir Henry Jones and James Williams had land there. Jones and Price were kinsmen and their two families more or less shared the representation of the county between them from the 1550s until the 17th century. Thomas Eynns, who replaced ap Rhys ap Philip in 1543, was a stranger to the area and presumably owed his Membership to his post as secretary to Prince Edward. If David ap Llewellyn Lloyd is identifiable with the man in the service of the principality of South Wales in the 1520s, he too may have had official support in 1545, perhaps from Lord Ferrers as chamberlain: Ferrers’s own son William sat in the next Parliament. In 1558 Sir Henry Jones seems also to have been returned for Old Sarum but presumably he chose to sit for the shire.2

Indentures survive for the by-election in 1543 and the elections in 1545, 1547, September 1553, March 1554 and 1555; the first two and the fifth are written in English, the rest in Latin, but none is in good condition. In 1543 the contracting parties are the sheriff of Cardiganshire and a number of freeholders, headed by Sir Thomas Jones, who since he was the knight for Pembrokeshire in the Parliament then in session had presumably been the bearer of the writ for the by-election. It seems to have been customary to name about 30 of the electors, but in the autumn of 1553 when the attorney-general was to prosecute the sheriff in the Exchequer for returning an absentee over 100 are named. The indenture for 1545 resembles some of those for Devon and Radnorshire in also furnishing the name of the Member for the Boroughs. Until December 1553 when the Act for the county court to alternate between Aberystwyth and Cardigan (1 Mary st. 2, no.23) came into force, Cardigan is supposed to have been the only meeting place for the court, but the elections to the Parliaments of Edward VI’s reign were held at Aberystwyth and the one to the first of Mary’s at ‘Talesart’, probably Tal Ystrad otherwise called Talsarn, a manor belonging to the principality of South Wales and equidistant from the two towns. The first election following the Act was held at Cardigan. In September 1553 Price’s election was alleged to have been held without due notice and to have been declared late in the morning.3

An Act of 1543 (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.11) regulated cotton production in Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. Jnl. Card. Antiq. Soc. vi. 137-48.
  • 3. C219/18B/117, 18C/167, 19/144, 20/184v, 21/219, 24/229, 282/12; E159/333.