CATHERN (GADARN, GATHARNE), Thomas (by 1519-65 or later), of Prendergast, Pemb.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1519, 1st s. of Henry Cathern of Prendergast by Ellen, da. of William ap John ap Thomas. m. Jane, da. of (Sir) John Wogan of Wiston, Pemb., 4da. suc. fa. by 1540.1

Offices Held

Sewer of the chamber by 1544-7 or later; commr. benevolence, Pemb. 1544/45, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, piracy 1565; escheator 1552-3, 1562-3; j.p. 1555-64, Haverfordwest 1559-64; custos rot. Pemb. by 1558/59.2


The Cathern family was Welsh, its genealogy extending back three generations to Ieuan Cadarn; by the mid 16th century ‘Cadarn’ (‘strong’) had become anglicized to Cathern or Catharne and had largely stabilized as the family surname. Thomas Cathern’s father had been clerk of the courts of Haverfordwest and local receiver for the earls of Northumberland, and had purchased the family home at Prendergast in 1537.3

Cathern first appears in the records in 1539-40, when he was summoned before the court of augmentations for being a year and a half in arrear with the rent of the parsonage of St. Ishmaels. Then in 1540 he was sued in Chancery by one John Curteys, a London mercer, for money owing by his father from the time of the purchase of Prendergast. At about the same time (1538-44) Cathern was again in Chancery, this time as plaintiff, in a case involving money owed to his father, but in a suit of the time of Edward VI in the court of requests he was called on to answer for another of his father’s debts: the plaintiffs were Thomas Phaer and his wife Agnes, administrators of the goods of Thomas Revell of Haverfordwest, who had lent Henry Cathern £40 towards the purchase of crown lands but had not been repaid.4

Cathern’s marriage to Jane Wogan linked the family at Prendergast with the influential house of Wiston: he was to witness his father-in-law’s will in 1557. It was undoubtedly to this alliance that he owed both his introduction at court and his position in the shire. He was a staunch Catholic and an opponent of (Sir) John Perrot, whose harbouring of heretics at Haroldston he denounced to the authorities, thus earning Perrot a spell in the Fleet. In the summer of 1558 Perrot appears to have turned the tables by imprisoning Cathern in his house; for this he was again put in the Fleet and afterwards bound over in £200.5

Cathern sat in only one Parliament, the last of Mary’s reign, when he was returned by his kinsman Arnold Butler. Perrot’s renewed antagonism towards Cathern raises the possibility that Cathern had defeated him at this election. At the opening of Elizabeth’s reign Cathern was custos of Pembrokeshire but by 1561 he had lost this office to Perrot. He was, however, retained on the commission of the peace and was also a justice in the county borough of Haverfordwest, where he was lessee of the rectory: a town ordinance of 1557 prohibiting any ‘foreigner’ from becoming a burgess had excepted the houses of Haroldston and Prendergast from this provision. It was in December 1565 that Cathern was last named to a commission, for an inquisition in Pembrokeshire, and as nothing more has come to light about him it must be inferred that he either died not long afterwards or was excluded from local administration by reason of his Catholicism.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Dwnn, Vis. Wales, i. 108, 135; C1/969/72-76.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xix; LC2/2/63v; E179/223/419; CPR, 1553, p. 418; 1563-6, pp. 30, 31; APC, vii. 285; SP11/5/6.
  • 3. C1/618/11, 969/72-76.
  • 4. Augmentations (Univ. Wales bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 167; C1/969/19, 72-76; Req. 2/5/374.
  • 5. PCC 45 Wrastley; Arch. Camb. (ser. 5), xiv. 308; APC, vi. 270, 333-4, 354-5, 386, 390.
  • 6. Cal. Haverfordwest Recs. (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xxiv), 23; Augmentations, 483; LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1563-6, p. 364.