Flint Boroughs


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer


30 Jan. 1559JOHN HANMER
12 Oct. 1601JOHN PRICE III

Main Article

The small county of Flint contained five boroughs whose burgesses claimed to take part in elections for the borough Members. Of these, Flint, the shire town, and Rhuddlan were settlements established with royal charters, at the Edwardian conquest. Each was governed by the constable of its castle, who was also mayor ex officio, and by two annually elected bailiffs. A similar charter was granted by Edward the Black Prince, to Caergwrle (also known as Hope, after an English township within its boundaries). Caerwys, strongly Welsh and a former seat of the royal house of Gwynedd, and Overton, in the detached hundred of Maelor Saesneg, were both made free boroughs in the reign of Edward I.1

The boroughs election, presided over by the bailiffs, was held at Flint, to coincide with the county election. Surviving returns from the period give little indication of the participation of the contributory boroughs, though such phrases as ‘the greater part of the burgesses of the county’ and ‘the burgesses of Flint and other burgesses of the county’ sometimes appear. The number of voters seems to have varied between about a dozen and thirty. In 1588 and 1601 the borough and county elections were recorded on the same return.2

The size and decayed condition of the boroughs enabled the leading county families to intrude themselves into the borough representation, but another element in Flintshire politics, and one difficult to estimate, must also be taken into account. The Stanley earls of Derby had enjoyed great influence in the north-east corner Wales for many years. They owned much of southern Flintshire, including the lordships of Hope and Hawarden, and the two detached areas of the county, one of which, Maelor, contained the borough of Overton. Very little is known of the role which successive earls of Derby played in Flintshire. Only one of the Elizabethan MPs, Michael Doughty, a Lancashire man in Stanley service, appears to have been imposed on the electorate from outside the county. It is quite likely, however, that several of the local men elected to Parliament enjoyed Derby support.

With the exception of two MPs, Richard Lloyd (1584) and John Price III (1601), who remain unidentified, the remaining MPs were all local country gentlemen. John Hamer (1559, 1571) was heir to the Hanmer estates in Maelor Saesneg, and his cousin, Humphrey, who later moved to Nottinghamshire, was returned in 1572. John Conway’s family had lived at Bodrhyddan, near Rhuddlan, for many years. Their lukewarm attitude to the Anglican settlement was shared by many in the county, and William Parry, the government agent, was a relative. Edward Morgan II of Golden Grove, Llanasa, a student at the Inner Temple, was Conway’s son-in-law. Thomas Griffith’s family held a lease of the borough of Caerwys at the time of his return in 1593. John Edwards III, who sat in 1589, may have been a cousin of his namesake of Plas Newydd, near Chirk, the head of the house, who won the stormy Denbighshire county election for the same Parliament. He was probably in the service of Thomas Myddleton, the London merchant whose family became established at Chirk.3

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. H. Taylor, Historic Notices of Flint, 26, 30-32; CChR, ii. 209, 277, 372, 414; CPR, 1377-81, p. 233; Arch. Camb. (ser. 5), viii. 177.
  • 2. C219/26/157, 29/217, 30/138, 31/246, 33/274, 34/191.
  • 3. Flints Hist. Soc. Pubs. xiv. 22-24; Trans. Cymmrod. Soc. 1945, pp. 120-2.