Pembrokeshire

County

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
1542THOMAS JONES
1545JOHN WOGAN
1547(SIR) THOMAS JONES
1553 (Mar.)(not known)
1553 (Oct.)(SIR) JOHN WOGAN
1554 (Apr.)ARNOLD BUTLER
1554 (Nov.)ARNOLD BUTLER
1555?RICHARD CORNWALL 1
1558THOMAS CATHERN

Main Article

Pembrokeshire was a poor, sparsely populated county, largely dependent on farming and coastal trading. In the absence of much timber its inhabitants used sea-coal for fuel, shipping some as far afield as Bristol and Cork. After its settlement under the Norman kings, the county with an earl of its own had resisted the efforts of successive Welsh princes to reconquer it and had preserved its English character. On the death of Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford, in 1495 the earldom of Pembroke passed to the crown and its estates were held in turn by Prince Arthur and the future Henry VIII. In 1532 Henry VIII ennobled his mistress Anne Boleyn as Marchioness of Pembroke and she kept the estates until her death. At the Union the shire was consolidated and enlarged but in 1543 it lost the lordships of Laugharne and Llanstephan to Carmarthenshire. During the 1540s the crown erected a series of forts for the protection of Milford Haven.2

Elections were held in the castle at Haverfordwest. Indentures survive for all the Parliaments between 1542 and 1558 except for the second Parliament of Mary’s reign; all but one, that for the Parliament of 1558, are in Latin and all are in poor condition. The contracting parties are the sheriff of Pembrokeshire and a group of named ‘gentlemen and freeholders’, varying in number between 20 and 60 and headed in 1545 by Thomas Jones and ten years later by Sir John Wogan. Analysis of the knights for Pembrokeshire suggests that kinship with the sheriff was of paramount importance at the elections. The two leading families in the county, those of Perrot of Haroldston and of Wogan of Wiston, seem to have divided the representation between them, the Perrot interest being exercised during the minority of John Perrot by his stepfather and guardian, Thomas Jones. This division was probably achieved without ill will until Perrot fell out with Thomas Cathern; his complaint against Cathern to the Privy Council in February 1558 raises the possibility that the election in the previous month had been contested. Both Arnold Butler and Thomas Cathern were sons-in-law of Sir John Wogan, and Richard Cornwall—if he did sit for Pembrokeshire in 1555—was a nephew of Wogan. With the exception of Richard Cornwall from Shropshire, all the knights had experience in local administration and at court. Thomas Jones played a leading part in the enactment of the measure transferring the lordships in the south-east of the county to Carmarthenshire: he was perhaps also instrumental in procuring the Act of 1543 regulating cotton production in both counties (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.11).3

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Notes

  • 1. Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.