Denbigh Boroughs


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


1554 (Nov.)FULK LLOYD 2

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After the conquest of Wales the castle at Denbigh was rebuilt by Henry, 3rd Earl of Lincoln, on the orders of Edward I. The earl established the borough by charter in 1283, modifying its privileges seven years later: with each burgage went property in Lleweni. The lordship passed by marriage to Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, and after his fall it formed part, successively, of the earldoms of Winchester, March and Salisbury, coming to the crown in the mid 15th century. The medieval charters were confirmed in 1506, 1510 and 1551 when the town government was vested in two aldermen elected annually and sworn in before the steward of the manor: the aldermen were assisted by two bailiffs and other officers. By the 16th century the old town within the walls had been largely deserted in favour of a more convenient site beside the river Clwyd at the foot of the castle hill. Until the Dissolution there was a Carmelite friary on the outskirts of the town patronized by the Salusburys of Lleweni and Bishop Henry Standish (1518-35), who seems to have lived there rather than at St. Asaph: Standish’s successor Robert Wharton (1536-54) also lived at Denbigh. Although in a poor state of repair the castle housed the administration of the lordship and served as a meeting place for the county court in alternation with Wrexham, as well as a prison for the shire and bishopric.3

Of the other ‘ancient boroughs’ in the county Ruthin with charters dating from the 14th century belonged to the crown and was incorporated as the mayor and bailiffs in 1508. William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, held the recordership of the town and the constableship of its castle during the 1550s. John Salesbury was steward of the manor late in Mary’s reign and was succeeded in the office by Simon Thelwall. The borough of Holt overlooking the river Dee possessed a charter of 1411 and belonged to the crown. Chirk, higher up the Dee, had only a few houses and was in decline: its castle like that at Ruthin was under the constableship of Pembroke but unlike Ruthin and Holt in good repair.4

The elections were held at Denbigh in December 1544, September 1553 and January 1558 and may have been throughout the period. On two occasions at least they coincided with meetings of the county court to elect the knight of the shire. Indentures survive for all the Parliaments apart from those of 1547 and 1554. None of the indentures is the same. That for 1542 is written in English, the rest in Latin. One of the contracting parties is always the sheriff of Denbighshire but the description of the second varies: in 1542 the second party is the bailiffs of Denbigh and ‘the burgesses of the same’; in 1544 John Salusbury II alderman of Denbigh, the bailiffs and burgesses of Denbigh and other unnamed boroughs; early in 1553 20 named burgesses from Denbigh and Ruthin and in the autumn of the same year ‘the burgesses and many other persons of the aforesaid county’; in 1555 23 named electors, several of whom may have been resident at Holt, and in 1558 ten named ‘burgesses of the town of Denbigh’.5

With the exception of John Evans, clerk to the council in the marches, all the Members were related to the Salusburys of Lleweni and lived in the county. The first Member Richard Myddelton was probably already governor of Denbigh castle when returned and Robert Myddelton was his brother. Fulk Lloyd was a brother of the clerk of the works in the castle. The Myddelton brothers and Lloyd lived in or near Denbigh and George Salusbury, whose identity remains uncertain, was of Denbigh parentage. Simon Thelwall and John Salesbury were brothers-in-law with homes near Ruthin. It could be more than coincidence that on the two occasions that Thelwall was returned men from Ruthin probably took part in the elections. If the appearance of electors from outside Denbigh did influence the choice of Member their presence in 1544 suggests that a man from Erbistock on the border with the detached part of Flintshire was the George Salusbury returned then, although John Salesbury did not need their support when elected in 1558. Both Evans and Salesbury had previous parliamentary experience and the brothers-in-law Salesbury and Thelwall went on to sit for the shire.

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 3. M. Beresford, New Towns in the Middle Ages, 547-8; The King’s Works, i. 333-4; L. A. S. Butler, Denbigh Castle, Town Walls and Friary, Clwyd, 8, 11-14; EHR, lix. 351; Boroughs in Med. Wales, ed. Griffith, 165-87; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 102-3; Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, iii. 96-98.
  • 4. Beresford, 548-9; Boroughs in Med. Wales, 245-61; Trans. Denb. Hist. Soc. vii. 12; Arch. Camb. (ser. 6), vii. 13, 18, 23, 26-31.
  • 5. C219/18B/125, 126, 18C/176, 20/187, 21/230, 24/238, 25/148: Bull. Bd. Celtic Studies, xxvii. 429.