MYTTON, Richard (1500/1-91), of Shrewsbury and Halston, Salop and Dinas Mawddwy, Merion.
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Family and Education
b. 1500/1, o.s. of William Mytton of Shrewsbury by Cecily, da. of Sir Henry Delves of Doddington, Cheshire. educ. I. Temple. m. (1) settlement 29 Sept. 1517, Anne, da. of Sir Edward Grey of Enville, Staffs., 9s. inc. Thomas Grey (7 d.v.p.); (?2) da. of Jenkin Piggott of Rhuddlan, Flints., 1s.; (2 or 3) Eleanor, da. of George Harborne, wid. of Richard Beeston of Shrewsbury, 1s. 2da. suc. fa. 16 July 1513.3
Alderman, Shrewsbury 1538, bailiff 1542-3, 1549-50, 1553-4, 1557-8, 1561-2, 1567-8; j.p. Salop 1543-54 or later, q. 1554; j.p.q. Merion. 1558/59; sheriff, Salop 1543-4, 1559-60, Merion. 1546-7, 1553-4; commr. relief, Shrewsbury and Merion. 1550; servant to earls of Arundel by 1547.4
The Myttons had long been one of Shrewsbury’s leading families and had also acquired the lordship of Mawddwy, a marcher lordship which included the manor of that name and the ancient borough of Dinas Mawddwy and which became part of the county of Merioneth in 1536; held of the lords Grey of Powis in socage, it was valued at only ten marks a year when William Mytton died in 1513 but this was no measure of the power its possession conferred on its holder. At his death William Mytton also possessed 200 houses in Habberley, Shrewsbury and elsewhere, including the family’s principal seat at Halston, near Oswestry. This mansion was the only property held by knight service, its lord being the 10th Earl of Arundel, whose ward the 12 year-old Richard Mytton thus doubtless became; however, his father had probably purchased the boy’s marriage, for in 1517 Cecily Mytton contracted him to his first wife, agreeing that he should settle lands worth £20 a year on her as a jointure, while Cecily herself was to receive £200 from Sir Edward Grey. His later service to the earls of Arundel suggests that Mytton may have been brought up by his noble guardian, although he is not mentioned in Arundel’s will. All that is known of Mytton’s life before 1529 is that he was a member of the Inner Temple, where he shared a chamber in 1525 but is not mentioned again after 1527. Nothing in his later career suggests that he acquired more knowledge of the law than was needed by a country gentleman.5
It may none the less have been to this spell at the Inner Temple that Mytton owed his entry to the House of Commons: in 1529 he was returned for Devizes, a borough with which he had no known personal tie. Like its neighbour Marlborough, Devizes was then held in jointure by Catherine of Aragon and the patronage of the two boroughs was evidently exercised by her vice-chamberlain Sir Edward Darrell, himself one of the knights of the shire in this Parliament. What, or who, commended Mytton to Darrell can only be guessed at, but it may have been a fellow-Templar, several of whom, notably John Baldwin and Nicholas Hare, sat in this Parliament. Both his patron Arundel and his uncle Adam Mytton may have taken a hand; so may his brother-in-law William Whorwood, who himself found a seat at Downton. Mytton’s parliamentary career was probably continuous under Henry VIII: evidence of his Membership is lacking only for the brief Parliament of 1536, when he may have sat again for Devizes, in accordance with the King’s request for the return of the previous Members. His knighthood of the shire in 1539 perhaps owed something to his uncle’s association with Cromwell (although Adam Mytton did not himself sit on this occasion), and he would have achieved that status again in 1542, this time for Merioneth, if Bishop Rowland Lee and Sir Nicholas Hare, of the council in the marches, had prevailed in their recommendation of him to John Wynn ap Meredydd: as it turned out, his kinsman Edward Stanley I took Merioneth and Mytton had to content himself with Shrewsbury. Elected its bailiff later in the same year, he helped the town to obtain its new charter; for this service he declined payment, while £7 2s. which he received for his parliamentary wages—approximately the amount he could have claimed for the first session alone at the standard rate—perhaps reflected the pluralism of his sheriffdom during its third and final one. His year as sheriff ending shortly before the summoning of the next Parliament, Mytton was well placed to be elected knight of the shire for the second time. In April 1554 he and his partner Nicholas Purcell were approached by the Vintners’ Company for their help in the unsuccessful attempt to repeal the Act of 1553 (7 Edw. VI, c.5) controlling the sale of wine.6
By that time Mytton had done well out of the Dissolution, taking leases of a number of ex-monastic properties in Shropshire. In 1545 he stood surety for a payment due from the 12th Earl of Arundel to the crown, whereas later the earl was to be instrumental in obtaining for him, with the help of the Duke of Somerset, leases of tithes in Shropshire and of St. Mary’s College, Shrewsbury. Mytton was involved in a number of Star Chamber cases, some over property and one over a disputed jurisdiction in a liberty, probably the Earl of Arundel’s; none of the decisions in these cases is extant. In May 1549 he had licence to purchase the manors of Osleston and Sandford, Shropshire, from Sir Robert Curzon.7
Mytton was appointed to raise troops in Merioneth for the French war of 1544, in which Arundel distinguished himself at the taking of Boulogne, but as he was sheriff Mytton probably did not serve overseas. In 1548 Shrewsbury paid him 23d. ‘at his departure with the armed men to the Earl of Arundel’, an operation which may have been connected either with a muster of troops in the county or with the despatch of reinforcements to the Scottish border. He was not elected to the Parliament of 1547. According to the alternation of his Membership between shire and borough it should have been Shrewsbury’s turn to elect him: why it did not do so is a matter for speculation. His being sheriff of Merioneth was no bar to his sitting for a borough in Shropshire, as his return to the Parliament of April 1554 was to show, and hardly more convincing is the suggestion that he was deterred by the religious conservatism which he seems to have shared with his master. If that had held him aloof in 1547 it would surely have done so again in March 1553, when he did re-enter the House; there is, moreover, no trace of any such withdrawal among Arundel’s other dependants.8
Besides casting doubt on his religious motivation, Mytton’s appearance in the Parliament of March 1553 implies that he was not greatly affected by his master’s dramatic changes of fortune. Mytton does not seem to have taken any significant part in the crisis of July 1553, but in the aftermath of Wyatt’s rebellion he was the central figure in an incident which brought him immediate prominence at the cost, it appears, of later prejudice. This was the capture of one of the rebel leaders, Lord Thomas Grey, near Oswestry in February 1554, and his delivery to London for eventual execution. A Shrewsbury chronicler noted that this exploit ‘fell out at length to the said Mr. Mytton’s great hindrance’, but without elaborating. That it involved him in much litigation is clear enough: between 1554 and 1562 he had to meet actions in Chancery, King’s bench and requests, all relating to the money and goods in Grey’s possession at his capture. The bulk of these, including £200 in cash and two jewelled rings, the plaintiff, Elizabeth Dannett, claimed by grant from the Queen, and among Mytton’s alternative lines of defence was one denying the Queen’s right to dispose of the goods of traitors and felons captured at Oswestry, ‘being a town of liberty of the right honourable Henry Earl of Arundel’, and asserting his own, as the earl’s officer there. The outcome is unknown.9
The ‘hindrance’ of the lawcourts may have been aggravated by denunciation outside them, especially when, after Mary’s death, the sole surviving Grey brother, Lord John, was restored to favour. Mytton certainly disappeared from public life, save at Shrewsbury, early in the new reign, although this could have been the price he paid for his religious conservatism and his continued dependence upon the dissident Arundel. More striking was the abrupt finish to his parliamentary career: after sitting in the first three Marian Parliaments, he was not to be seen in the House again. It was a strangely timed departure: with Arundel then so prominent at court and in Council, the presence in the Commons of so experienced a follower might have seemed indispensable.
Mytton sued out a pardon on the accession of Elizabeth, when he was described as a resident of Shrewsbury. He presumably devoted the rest of his long life to the management of the family estates; part of these he is known to have transferred in his lifetime, for in 1567 his son Edward disposed by will of Mawddwy. Mytton survived nearly all his sons and at least one grandson to die intestate on 26 Nov. 1591, aged 90 (not 99 as tradition and his monument would have it), and one of the last survivors of the Parliament of 1529. He was buried in St. Chad’s church, Shrewsbury, where a monument commemorated him. An anonymous Shrewsbury chronicler also recorded the passing of ‘the gentle Master Mytton’ and later celebrated the virtues of his last wife, who survived him, dying on 30 Jan. 1602 also at the age of 90.10