THELWALL, Simon (by 1580-1663), of Plas y Ward, Llanynys, Denb.
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Family and Education
b. by 1580,1 1st s. of Edward Thelwall of Plas y Ward and 1st w. Dorothy, da. of John Griffith of Chichle, Beaumaris, Anglesey.2 m. (1) by c.1595, Jane, da. of Maurice Wynn† of Gwydir, Llanrwst, Caern. 3s. 1da.; (2) by 1624, Dorothy (d.1648), da. of John Wyn Owen Vaughan of Llwydiarth, Mont., wid. of Andrew Meredith of Glantanat, Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, Denb., 3s. 3da.3 suc. fa. 1610. bur. 23 Mar. 1663.4 sig. Sy[mon] Thelwal.
J.p. Merion. 1610-42, Denb. 1613-c.46, 1648-d.;5 sheriff, Denb. 1611-12;6 commr. subsidy, Denb. and Merion. 1621-2, 1624, Denb. 1625, 1628, 1641, Forced Loan, Denb. and Merion. 1626-7, knighthood fines, 1630-2, Exch. arrears, Wales 1632, subsidy arrears, Denb. 1636, Poll Tax, Denb. 1641, 1660, Irish Aid 1642, assessment 1642;7 freeman, Denbigh, Denb. 1634;8 commr. array, Denb. 1642-3;9 dep. lt., Denb. 1660-?d.10
The Thelwalls, from a Cheshire village of the same name, acquired Plas y Ward by marriage in about 1380. The first MP in the family was Simon Thelwall, a lawyer and justice of the Council in the Marches, returned to the Commons four times between 1553 and 1571. His son married a granddaughter of Sir William Griffith of Penrhyn, Caernarvonshire as his first wife, and the thrice-widowed heiress Katherine of Berain as his third. These two alliances linked him to the two most powerful families in the western half of Denbighshire, the Salusburys of Lleweni and the Wynns of Gwydir.11
Although Katherine of Berain died in 1591, she was doubtless responsible for the marriage between Simon Thelwall, her stepson, and one of her daughters by her third husband, Maurice Wynn† of Gwydir; the date is unknown, but the wedding had presumably taken place by 1595, as Thelwall’s heir would have been aged about 18 at his admission to Lincoln’s Inn in 1614.12 Thelwall was named as a trustee for the marriage settlement of his cousin Simon Thelwall of Branas, Merioneth in September 1601, and apparently attended the tumultuous Denbighshire election with his father a month later to support Sir John Salusbury† in his contest with Sir Richard Trevor†. He clearly took over direction of the family finances before his father’s death in 1610, as he handled the purchase of the Branas estate from his cousin in 1608-9.13
The identity of the Simon Thelwall returned for Denbighshire in 1614 cannot be established with absolute certainty, as the indenture does not survive. Thus it is just possible that the MP was a younger brother of Sir Eubule Thelwall*, who sat for Denbigh Boroughs in 1593, became a proctor in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1599 and registrar of Bangor diocese in 1617.14 However, the lawyer had no local estate, which made him an unlikely candidate for the shire seat in a contested election at which it was widely expected that ‘Mr. Salusbury will carry it away’. The latter, Henry Salusbury, heir of the 1601 MP, was (somewhat surprisingly) backed by his father’s erstwhile opponent Sir Richard Trevor, while Thelwall himself was supported by Trevor’s son-in-law Evan Lloyd of Bodidris, and doubtless persuaded his own extended family, his brother-in-law, Sir John Wynn† of Gwydir and his uncle William Salesbury* of Bachymbyd, to turn out for him.15
Thelwall probably sought election for social rather than political reasons, as he left no trace on his only Parliament. He is not known to have stood again, and as he was the first to sign the indenture at the next general election in December 1620, he may be assumed to have supported the return of his successor, Sir John Trevor II*. He subsequently signed the returns for Sir Eubule Thelwall in 1624 and 1626, but in the latter’s contest with Sir Thomas Myddelton II* in 1625 he apparently gave his relative only lukewarm support, journeying to London shortly before election day.16
Although head of one of the leading Denbighshire families for over half a century, Thelwall made relatively little impact on his locality. In May 1626 he told Owen Wynn that the Denbighshire gentry would refuse to pay the Privy Seal loans then being demanded by the Crown, but otherwise his political views are largely obscure.17 In his early years he helped his relative Sir John Wynn to secure a confirmation of Wynn’s title to some concealed lands and was appointed one of the trustees for Wynn’s settlements on his younger sons. Moreover, in 1615 Thelwall unsuccessfully attempted to promote a match between (Sir) Richard Wynn* and one of the daughters of Owen Vaughan of Llwydiarth, Montgomeryshire, and two years later he was briefly involved in Wynn’s dispute with Bishop Bayly of Bangor. However, relations between the two men cooled after the Caernarvonshire election of December 1620, at which Wynn suspected Thelwall had backed John Griffith III* against the Gwydir interest.18
In 1640 Thelwall secured the return of his eldest grandson and namesake to the Long Parliament for Denbigh Boroughs. The latter sided with Parliament during the Civil War, but Thelwall himself was named as a commissioner of array in 1642. His only surviving letter from this period suggests that he was a reluctant royalist. Moreover, while he entertained the royalist general Sir William Vaughan in the autumn of 1645, six months later his signature headed a petition exhorting William Salesbury*, governor of Denbigh, to surrender to the parliamentarian commander, Major-General Thomas Mytton†. Thelwall’s estates apparently escaped sequestration, and by February 1647 he was helping Mytton to examine royalist suspects.19 Reappointed to the commission of the peace shortly before the regicide, he remained on the bench throughout the Interregnum, and at the general election of 1656 he considered running against one of the official candidates, Colonel John Carter†.20
Thelwall remained in office after the Restoration, but was buried on 23 Mar. 1663. His final years were troubled by a dispute over the proposed settlement of the family estates after his death, and his will, which does not survive, was contested between his heir (presumably the executor), his younger children and several grandchildren; the former obtained a decision in his favour in 1666. Thelwall’s great-grandson married the daughter of William Wynn*, heiress to the Gwydir estate, and both estates ultimately passed to Sir Watkin Williams Wynn in 1719.21
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. Aged 21 by 1601, when he became a trustee of the estates of his relative Richard Thelwall of Branes, Merion.: Denb. RO, DD/WY/6470.
- 2. J.E. Griffith, Peds. Anglesey and Caern. Fams. 274.
- 3. Denb. RO, DD/WY/6502; DD/WY/6674, f. 34v; C2/Chas.I/P72/59.
- 4. Griffith, 274; C2/Jas.I/L5/14; Denb. RO, DD/WY/6502.
- 5. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 42-8, 64-80.
- 6. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 251.
- 7. C212/22/20-3; E179/220/188, 198, 179/221/203; C193/12/2; E178/5886, ff. 3, 7, 11; 178/5887, ff. 4, 8, 13; 178/7154, f. 233; NLW, Bettisfield 1672; SR, v. 68, 90, 107, 141, 157, 222.
- 8. J. Williams, Recs. Denbigh Lordship, 131.
- 9. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 10. NLW, Wynnstay 88/17.
- 11. Griffith, 137, 184-5, 274, 280-1; DWB.
- 12. Griffith, 223; LI Admiss. i. 164.