AMEREDITH, Griffith (c.1495-1557), of Exeter, Devon.
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Family and Education
Collector subsidy, Devon and Exeter 1545; member of the Twenty-Four, Exeter Sept. 1547-d., receiver 1554-5, sheriff 1555-6.3
Born in Radnor, the younger son of a family rich only in its ancestry and other memories, Griffith Ameredith left Wales to make his fortune and sought it first as a soldier in the service of Sir Francis Bryan. As a reward for his part in the Tournai campaign of 1513 Ameredith received in February 1514 the herbage and pannage of Radnor park, which he surrendered two years later in return for an annuity of five marks. Dissatisfied with the meagre yield of soldiering, Ameredith decided to become a tailor; this turned out better, and he entered the merchant taylors’ company, settled in Exeter (where on payment of £1 he became a freeman during 1527-8), married a Devonian and rose to be an alderman. He applied himself so diligently and made such a name that he grew rich, became a draper and left the manual work to employees. From about 1540 he began to buy property in and around Exeter and eventually owned enough to establish his family among the minor Devon gentry. In the process he forged a connexion with the Carew family, notably with Sir Peter Carew; in 1546 he bought the manor of Newnham from Carew, in 1552 and 1556 stood security for him, and in 1557 became mortgagee of his manor of Mamhead.4
The Carew connexion may have played some part in Ameredith’s election to the Parliament of 1547, but it was doubtless his combination of purposefulness, public spirit and Protestantism which chiefly commended him to the aldermen of Exeter. They were not disappointed, for no less a personage than Sir John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford, bore witness to the efforts made by Ameredith and his fellow-Member on behalf of the city, which resulted in the Act passed in the second session (2 and 3 Edw. VI, no. 49) enlarging its liberties; in January 1550 Bedford even asked them not to remain at Westminster during his absence but to return after he had dealt with the peace with France so that all three could press the city’s claims. In recognition of ‘his good service ... in Parliament’ the city gave Ameredith in 1549 the reversion of a lease. During the fourth session he was licensed on 16 Mar. 1552, the day after a bill empowering Exeter to take recognizances had been given its first (and only) reading, to return there for the assizes: it was probably then that he left with Cecil the city’s ‘blake’ roll which the Members for Exeter in the following Parliament had to ask to be returned. Ameredith’s bill for parliamentary expenses shows that he was back in Exeter on 21 Mar. 1552 and that including travelling he had been away exactly two months. Although he was not to sit in Parliament again he went on to hold civic office and to render varied service. Thus when in 1555, despite the advantage to be gained from the improvements to the river Exe initiated by Thomas Prestwood, his former colleague in the House, the government took the city to task for raising funds for the project by seizing plate and jewels from the parish churches, it was Ameredith who with Walter Staplehill represented the city before the Council and at litigation.5
In his will, dated 3 Jan. 1557 and proved on 10 Nov. 1558, Ameredith asked to be buried in St. Peter’s churchyard and provided for his wife, children and servants; he also left several pieces of land in south Devon worth 38s. to provide shrouds and coffins for prisoners executed at Exeter. He died on 5 Dec. 1557 and was buried two days later. John Hooker† eulogized him in the famous commonplace book.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. Exeter act bk. 2, ff. 106, 118; Hatfield 207.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Devon , ed. Colby, 158; Vis. Devon (Harl. Soc. vi), 6; Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 13; Exeter act bk. 2, ff. 106, 131.
- 3. E179/99/287; Exeter act bk. 2, f. 87v and box 28; R. Izacke, Exeter (1681), 127.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, i, ii, xxi; Exeter, Hooker’s commonplace bk. f. 352; Exeter Freemen (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. extra ser. i), 71; CPR, 1550-3, p. 399; APC, v. 375; Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. n.s. i. 12; E179/99/318; NRA 11978 (Devon RO, 484 M/T19/6).
- 5. HMC Exeter, 22, 32, 362-3; Exeter act bk. 2, ff. 106, 118; CJ, i. 4, 6-8, 20; APC, v. 128.
- 6. PCC 70 Noodes; Hooker’s commonplace bk. f. 352; Eliz. Govt. and Soc. ed. Bindoff, Hurstfield and Williams, 186.