RICE, Walter (c.1560-?1611), of Newton, Llandefaison, Carm.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1560, 1st s. of Griffith Rice of Auckland, co. Dur. and later Newton, by Elinor, da. of Sir Thomas Jones† of Abermarlais. m. Elizabeth, da. of (Sir) Edward Mansell† of Margam, Glam., 4s. 7da. suc. fa. 1584. Kntd. 23 July 1603.1
J.p. Carm. from c.1583, sheriff 1585-6.2
The West Wales family which eventually shortened its patronymic to the surname Rice rose in the fifteenth century through marriage to a descendant of the princes of South Wales and the acquisition, by lease from the Crown, of their ancient manor and castle of Dynevor, overlooking the Tywi. The climax of the family fortunes came when Rhys ap Thomas led Henry of Richmond’s Welsh followers to his aid at Bosworth, and was richly rewarded in lands and offices. He consolidated his position by marrying a daughter of the 2nd (Howard) Duke of Norfolk, and either he or his grandson built at Y Dre Newydd, in the precincts of Dynevor castle, the family seat which went by the name of Newton. But on the grandson’s attainder for treason in 1531, Newton and the other widespread estates reverted to the Crown, and most of them went to the neighbouring families of Devereux, Jones of Abermarlais and, later, Perrot. Griffith Rice, Walter’s father, was restored in blood by Edward VI’s first Parliament, and Queen Mary took him into her service and restored some of the forfeited lands still in her hands. But another attainder—this time for murder committed in County Durham, or according to other accounts at Boulogne—left him once more landless.3
Queen Elizabeth pardoned Griffith Rice in 1559, and in 1561 restored to him the Pembrokeshire lands and the old family seat at Newton, to which, two years later, she added some of his father’s Cardiganshire property. But it was in Carmarthenshire only that he was able to exercise something of the ancestral sway, and that only in competition with other rising houses. His son Walter, the 1584 Carmarthenshire MP, backed by his influential father-in-law Sir Edward Mansell, succeeded to this position, and also received some preferment at court, the nature of which has not been ascertained. ‘In consideration of his service’ he was given in 1594 a 41-year lease, without fine, of further crown lands in the counties of Carmarthen and Pembroke.4
As a knight of the shire for a Welsh county Rice could have attended the subsidy committee appointed 24 Feb. 1585.5
When suspicion fell on the Devereux connexion in south-west Wales after the Essex revolt, Rice, described as ‘an esquire of fair living both in counties Pembroke and Carmarthen’ was one of those named as being able to report on the position in that area. Rice is stated to have died in 1611, though the man of this name whose death was recorded in the archbishop’s prerogative court that year was of Salisbury, Wiltshire. The family remained influential in local and parliamentary politics during the three succeeding centuries, and ultimately rose to the peerage with the title Baron Dinevor.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Dwnn, Vis. Wales, i. 210-11; DWB, 847-8. Shaw, Knights, ii. 117 incorrectly describes Rice as of Lincs., perhaps through a misreading at some stage of Llandefaison for Lincoln. Walter Rice of Newton was certainly kntd. before the 1604 Parliament and no other man of this name has been traced.
- 2. Harl. 6993, f. 64.
- 3. RCAM Carm. 109-10; West Wales Hist. Rec. ii (1912), 118-19; DWB, 313, 840-1; Arch. Camb. (ser. 5), ix. 211-12; xi. 207-8; LJ, i. 312-13; CPR, 1548-9, p. 95; 1554-5, p. 28; 1557-8, pp. 310, 377.
- 4. CPR, 1558-60, pp. 113, 386; 1560-3, p. 488; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. iv), 84-5; Augmentations, ed. Lewis and Davies (same ser. xiii), 232, 237; Harl. 6993, f. 64; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 527.
- 5. Lansd. 43, anon. jnl. f. 171.
- 6. HMC Hatfield, xi. 93; DWB.