EDWARDS, John II (c.1562-1625), of Plas Newydd, Chirk, Denb.
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Family and Education
b. c.1562, 5th s. of John Edwards of Plas Newydd by Anne, da. of Robert Puttenham of Hants. m. (1) Dorothy, da. of Sir Richard Sherborne† of Stonyhurst, Lancs. by Maud, da. of Richard Bold of Bold, Lancs., 1s.; (2) Jane, da. of Roger Puleston of Emral, Flints., wid. of Randal Broughton.1
Long settled in Denbighshire, the Edwards family secured lands and tithes at the dissolution of Valle Crucis abbey, and leases in the lordship of Chirk held from Sir William Stanley and the Crown. They had, however, remained loyal to Rome until Edwards’s father, who built the family seat at Plas Newydd, publicly renounced the Pope at the execution in Wrexham of the first Welsh Catholic martyr in 1584.
In 1588 Edwards was put forward as a candidate for the county election in opposition to William Almer of Pant Iocyn, who had already represented Denbighshire in 1572. Almer had the support of the Salusburys of Lleweni and the Thelwalls of Plas-y-ward, and so looked set to win the contest, but Edwards had the backing of all the Catholic sympathisers in the county and also of those country gentlemen who were at feud with Almer, including the sheriff that year, Owen Brereton of Borras. Edwards could also count on the support of his nephew Roger Puleston II of Emral, who wielded considerable influence in Wrexham where the election was to be held. Edwards himself had apparently been preparing for the struggle for some years, even imposing electoral loyalty as a formal condition of a lease. Despite the numerical superiority of the opposing faction, the sheriff and Puleston connived to declare Edwards elected. Almer challenged the return in Star Chamber, but Parliament was dissolved before a verdict could be reached. Whether Edwards took his seat is not known. If he did, he would have been eligible as knight of the shire to attend the subsidy committee on 11 Feb. 1589.2
Edwards was involved in much litigation concerning his estates. In 1594 he was brought before Star Chamber for resisting enclosures in the lordship of Chirk, defying its customs and causing riots. Five years later he was again in a Star Chamber case over his leases of former lands of Valle Crucis. Although he may have outwardly conformed in religion he was never put on the commission of the peace under Elizabeth; in the next reign he became an avowed recusant. He was convicted for recusancy on the eve of the Gunpowder Plot, and lost two-thirds of his lands for declining the new oath of allegiance. In 1619 he was imprisoned in the Marshalsea for resisting a search for recusants in his house. He was still engaged in lawsuits when he died in London in 1625.3
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. J. Y. W. Lloyd, Powys Fadog, iv. 64-5; Chetham Soc. xxxi. 191; Star Chamber, ed. Edwards (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. i), 68; EHR, xlvi. 213 n.
- 2. DWB, 182-3; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. iv), 172-3; Augmentations, ed. Lewis and Davies (same ser. xiii), 306; Neale, Commons, 113-18; EHR, xlvi. 214; lix. 355-6; D’Ewes, 431.
- 3. Star Chamber, 58, 60, 68; Exchequer, 152, 162, 172-3; Exchequer, ed. T. I. J. Jones (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xv), 193-4; Chetham Soc. xxxi. 191.