BULKELEY, Richard I (d.1621), of Beaumaris, Anglesey and Lewisham, Kent.

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



Family and Education

1st s. of Sir Richard Bulkeley of Beaumaris by his 1st w. and bro. of Thomas. educ. L. Inn 1558. m. (1) 1558, Catherine (d.1573), da. of Sir William Davenport of Bramhall, Cheshire, 1s. 1da.; (2) 1577, Mary, da. of William Burgh, 4th Baron Burgh of Gainsborough, 2s. 5da. suc. fa. 1572. Kntd. 1577.1

Offices Held

Constable, Beaumaris castle; ex officio mayor Beaumaris 1561-2, mayor 1562-3; j.p.q. Anglesey from c.1574; j.p. Caern. by 1591, Cheshire, rem. c.1587; gent. pens. 1568-c.81; v.-adm. N. Wales 1577; dep. lt. Anglesey 1587; member, council in marches of Wales by 1602; commr. for Scottish union 1604.2


Bulkeley, who sat for Anglesey in 1563 through the influence of his father, was educated in the household of Bishop Bonner. Little is recorded about him outside Anglesey during the early years of Elizabeth’s reign, but after his father’s death he became a courtier, entertaining the Queen at least once at Lewisham. He received his knighthood on the eve of his second marriage, to one of the Queen’s maids of honour. Bulkeley used his influence at court to strengthen his position in Wales, often at the expense of his neighbours. In Caernarvonshire, he consolidated the Arllechwedd settlements of his fifteenth-century ancestors and, by extending his sphere of influence in the Conway hinterland, curbed the territorial ambitions of the Wynns of Gwydir in that area. His litigiousness over land disputes in Anglesey was notorious, and the one important opposition faction in the island, led by the Woods of Thosmor and Lewis Owen of Brondeg, proved unable to withstand him. So powerful was he by 1580 that he took the leading part in the opposition of the Gwynedd gentry to the Earl of Leicester’s attempts to extend his rights in the forest of Snowdon into adjoining counties. Through his court position, Bulkeley managed to secure the revocation of a commission of inquiry dominated by Leicester’s agents. Naturally his quarrel with Leicester afforded Welsh opponents an opportunity to impugn his character. Owen Wood of Rhosmor accused him of oppressing the townspeople of Beaumaris, and claimed that he had been implicated in the Babington plot. Bulkeley, who detected Leicester’s influence behind these charges, was exonerated by the Privy Council, but some years later was censured in the Star Chamber for molesting Wood. These troubles, together with a quarrel with the Earl of Essex over the impost on sweet wines, may explain why his admission to the council in the marches, recommended by the Earl of Pembroke about 1590, was deferred until ten years later.3

Bulkeley’s lands in Cheshire, Caernarvonshire and Anglesey brought him £4,300 a year: the Anglesey estates alone were said to be worth £2,500. As customer of Beaumaris he enjoyed the prisage of all wine cargoes there. In Chester he was farmer of fuels and wines brought into the town. In 1691 he became a shareholder in the Virginia Company (of which his nephew Sir Edwin Sandys was treasurer), acquiring lands in the colony and undertaking to ‘plant’ a hundred persons.4

He is not mentioned in the known records of the House of Commons in 1563, and did not sit again until some 40 years later. He died 28 June 1621, disinheriting his spendthrift son for marrying a cottager’s daughter. The heir was his grandson Richard.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: H.G.O.


  • 1. Wards 7/15/53; Trans. Anglesey Antiq. Soc. 1933, p. 100; 1940, pp. 51, 53, 57; 1948, p. 83; Shaw, Knights, ii. 78.
  • 2. CPR, 1560-3, pp. 130, 347; Egerton 2345, f. 46; 2882, f. 20; Lansd. 53, f. 180; APC, viii. 137; Trans. Anglesey Antiq. Soc. 1940, p. 52; 1947, p. 33; Parl. Hist. v. 96.
  • 3. Trans. Anglesey Antiq. Soc. 1948, pp. 20-37; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 145; Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. 1940, pp. 87-8; St. Ch. 6/61/23; 6/6W/34; J. I. Jones, Stuart Exchequer, 7-8, 12; Harl. 1059, f. 129; HMC Hatfield, ii. 312; A. Llwyd, Anglesey, 148-56; Sidney State Pprs. ed. Collins, i. 276-9; T. Pennant, Tours in Wales, iii. 388, 390; APC, xvi. 23-4; xxi. 137; Lansd. 63, f. 95; 74, f. 50.
  • 4. Trans. Anglesey Antiq. Soc. 1933, p. 99; 1940, p. 52; 1948, pp. 113-14; E58/5; Cal. Wynn Pprs. 27.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 132; 1619-23, pp. 21, 22, 87-8, 115, 349; PCC 65 Dale.