Denbigh Boroughs


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the burgesses of Denbigh, Ruthin, Holt and Chirk

Number of voters:

13-17 or more


c.14 Mar. 1604HUGH MYDDELTON , recorder of Ruthin
27 Dec. 1620HUGH MYDDELTON , recorder of Denbigh
21 Jan. 1624(SIR) HUGH MYDDELTON , bt., recorder
c.11 May 1625(SIR) HUGH MYDDELTON , bt., recorder
c.18 Jan. 1626(SIR) HUGH MYDDELTON , bt., recorder
13 Feb. 1628(SIR) HUGH MYDDELTON , bt., recorder

Main Article

The four contributory towns of the Denbigh Boroughs seat were all founded in the aftermath of the conquest of 1282 and prospered to varying degrees as centres of clothmaking and tanning. The boroughs gradually declined under the Tudors with the movement of the cloth industry into the countryside and the shift of the staple for Welsh cloth to Oswestry. By James’s accession Chirk and Holt had shrunk to insignificance; Denbigh and Ruthin retained small leather and cloth finishing industries, but were eclipsed by the unchartered town of Wrexham, which by the 1620s contained almost as many subsidymen as the four contributory boroughs combined.1

Under the 1536 Act of Union, all four of the ancient boroughs of Denbighshire were understood to contribute to both the election and the expenses of the single Member returned to Parliament. In practice, the elections, which alternated between Denbigh and Wrexham, seem to have been dominated by the Denbigh corporation. The surviving returns for 1620, 1624 and 1628 describe the attestors as ‘burgesses of the borough called the shire town’, and of the 28 individuals named in these indentures, 16 can be identified from subsidy rolls as residents of Denbigh, one was from the neighbouring parish of Henllan, and the others remain unidentified.2 Until 1588 the lordships of Denbigh and Chirk were held by Robert Dudley†, earl of Leicester, but thereafter electoral patronage reverted to local interests. The last two Elizabethan parliaments saw the election of the recorder of Denbigh, John Panton*, a London lawyer and servant of lord keeper Sir Thomas Egerton†. He only represented the borough in a notional sense in 1601, as he was returned a mere three days before the end of the parliamentary session, the original election having been abandoned following a brawl between rival candidates for the knighthood of the shire.3

The uproar in 1601 may have encouraged Panton to seek a seat elsewhere in 1604. His place was taken by another Londoner with local connections, Hugh Myddelton, whose brother Charles was governor of Denbigh castle. Myddelton was appointed to the Denbigh corporation under the 1597 charter and secured the recordership of Ruthin in February 1604, a post he may have obtained with the specific intention of enhancing his prospects, as he swiftly relinquished it to (Sir) Eubule Thelwall* after the election. His regular promotion of the interests of the Denbigh corporation apparently secured him the borough’s recordership after Panton’s death, and he was returned for the parliamentary seat at every subsequent election until his own death in 1631.4

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. I. Soulsby, Towns of Medieval Wales, 121-3, 144-7, 232-4, 269-71; D.H. Owen, ‘Denbigh’ and R.I. Jack, ‘Ruthin’, Bors. Medieval Wales ed. A. Griffiths, 165-88, 245-62; T.C. Mendenhall, Shrewsbury Drapers and Welsh Wool Trade, 1-14; E179/220/193-5, 198; 179/221/202-3.
  • 2. SR, iii. 568, 935-6; C219/37/349; 219/38/320; 219/41B/17; E179/220/193-5, 198; 179/221/202-3.
  • 3. STAC 5/T15/33.
  • 4. J. Williams, Recs. Denbigh Lordship, 76, 128; E315/310, ff. 22, 24; HUGH MYDDELTON.