POWELL (AP HYWEL, AP HOWELL), John (by 1524-91/93), of Cardigan, Llangoedmor Pen-yr-Allt, Card.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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Family and Education

b. by 1524. m. at least 1s.1

Offices Held

Yeoman, household of Prince Edward by 1545-7; yeoman of the guard temp. Edw. VI-temp. Eliz.; commr. subsidy, Card. 1553, armour 1569, musters 1570, victuals 1574, tanneries 1574; j.p. 1555-d.; escheator 1563-4, 1567-8; sheriff 1568-9.2


Nothing has come to light about the parentage of John Powell, who is variously described as of Cardigan and its neighbour Llangoedmor, or of Pen-yr-Allt near Aberporth. He is less often met with under the Welsh patronymic ap Hywel than is Edward ap Hywel, who sat for Cardigan Boroughs a year before him and may have been his brother.3

Powell’s career as a royal servant can be traced from before the death of Henry VIII until after the accession of Elizabeth and in county administration from the middle of Mary’s reign until late in Elizabeth’s. It was while a yeoman of the guard under Edward VI that he was a suitor in the court of requests against Thomas ap Hywel, a student at Oxford and probably his kinsman, in a dispute over the parsonage of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire. Later in the reign he charged the burgesses of Cardigan with failing to use the mill at Cenarth which he had leased, with two neighbouring ones, in May 1550. Another suit, this time in Chancery, arose out of his lease of the parsonage of Llanbadarn Trefeglwys in Cardiganshire: he accused his factor John Gwyn of failing to account for two years’ receipts of the parsonage, amounting to some £30.4

Powell was nominated as sheriff in 1553 but not pricked, so that he was free to sit for the Cardiganshire Boroughs in the first Parliament of the following year. He did not sit again, although two years later he gained a place on the bench which he was to keep for more than forty. Its continuity, and his choice as sheriff in 1568, show that the change of regime gave him no difficulty; at Elizabeth’s accession he sued out a general pardon as of Llangoedmor and in 1575 he was certified as a resident in the commote of Troed-yr-Aur in which that parish lay. In a Star Chamber action he and his servant Thomas Walter claimed to have been wounded by about 40 assailants at Cilgerran, near his home, when the portreeve of Cilgerran, Thomas Revell, ‘departed smiling away’.5

Powell may have begun in trade at Cardigan and later become a landed proprietor. At the end of Henry VIII’s reign he had been assessed in the town on goods worth £10, but at his death he was said to have owned lands in Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire worth between £13 and £16 a year. He died between 1591 when he was last named to the bench and 1593 when the guardianship of his son John became the subject of a Star Chamber action brought by Richard Parry of Carmarthen, who claimed that the boy, his ward, had been abducted from his house. The boy must have been the offspring of a late marriage, of which no other trace has been found.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. St.Ch.5/P31/16.
  • 2. E179/69/48, 219/74; 321/27/64; LC2/2/54v; Req.2/14/111; Augmentations (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 44; CPR, 1558-60, p. 206; R. Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 60, 69, 109, 126, 138, 213.
  • 3. J. R. Phillips, Sheriffs, Card. 5; HMC Welsh, i(1), 128; CPR, 1558-60, p. 209.
  • 4. Req.2/14/111; CPR, 1553, p. 377; 1557-8, p. 106; 1572-5, p. 371; E321/27/64; Augmentations, 44, 243, 245; C1/1257/50.
  • 5. CPR, 1558-60, p. 209; HMC Welsh, i(1), 128; St.Ch.5/W82/5.
  • 6. St.Ch.5/P31/16; E179/263/37.