WATKINS (AP GWATKYN, GWATKYN), Lewis (by 1511-47/48), of Llangorse, Brec. and Upton, 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 1511. m. by 1542, Elizabeth (or Isabella), da. of Sir Edmund Tame, 3s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Yeoman of the guard by 1532-40; serjeant-at-arms 13 July 1540-d.; receiver and bailiff, lordships of Cilsain, Carm., Angle, Burton, Carew and Upton, Pemb. 1 Mar. 1543-?d.; customer and butler, ports of Haverfordwest, Pembroke and Tenby, Pemb. 11 Dec. 1544-d.; bailiff, lordship of Rowse within the lordship of Haverfordwest 11 Dec. 1544-d.; escheator, Brec. Jan.-Nov. 1545.2


Returned to Parliament under the English form of his name, Lewis Watkins came from Llangorse, Breconshire, and was known in Wales as ‘ap Gwatkyn’ or ‘Gwatkyn’. A yeoman of the guard from at least 1532, Watkins was designated one of the yeoman ushers at the coronation of Anne Boleyn and one of the surveyors at the dresser to wait on the lord mayor of London, who was to sit on the Queen’s left. In July 1540 he was made a serjeant-at-arms, and it was in this capacity that he accompanied the King on the campaign of 1544, although the ten archers and ten billmen who followed him were recruited from his own tenants in Pembrokeshire. His association with that shire, begun by his leasing of land and tenements at Upton about 1541, was progressively strengthened by his appointment as receiver and bailiff of one lordship in Carmarthenshire and four in Pembrokeshire and as customer of the ports of Haverfordwest, Pembroke and Tenby, and bailiff of the lordship of Rowse.3

It was on 10 Jan. 1545 that Watkins was elected for Pembroke Boroughs to the Parliament which, first summoned to meet in that month, was postponed until the following November. During the interval he had the unique, if unenviable, distinction of being the only Member-elect to be convicted of murder. In August he and three others—a labourer of Llangorse named Richard ap Watkin, John Thomas ap Ieuan and Watkin ap Philip—slew Roger ap Watkin of Llangorse with an arrow. This was loosed by Watkin ap Philip, but the three others were also sentenced to death as accessories and only the intervention of the Privy Council on 2 Oct. stayed the execution of Watkins, while allowing Richard ap Watkin to go to his death. On the following day the Council noted that Watkins had been granted a pardon with full restitution of goods, and the pardon was enrolled on 12 Oct. Whether it had taken more than the customary financial consideration to save Watkins, and if so by whom it was wielded, remain unanswered questions, as is whether he took his seat in the House. If he did, it was as one not completely out of the wood, for six months later the Privy Council was notified that although the King had pardoned Lewis Watkins

of the murder of Roger ap Watkins ... the wife of the said Roger did not cease to prosecute the appeal; his Majesty’s pleasure was that by such good means as they [the council in the marches] could best devise they should see her pacified, and to stay the matter from proceeding to any further issue, so as the woman may be contented, and yet the law not seem to be impeached.4

Watkins made his will on 7 Dec. 1547, asking to be buried in the church at Nash, near Upton, Pembrokeshire. He left his serjeant’s mace to his eldest son William, who was a minor; the best part of his goods, and all his lands at Llangorse, Breconshire, he left to his wife and executrix. The stock at Llangorse numbered over 100 horses and cattle, and 400 sheep. The will was proved on 6 May 1548, but Watkins was dead by 28 Feb. when his office of serjeant-at-arms was granted to another. An inquisition taken belatedly at Brecon in 1562 showed that Watkins had held in that shire the capital messuage of Llangorse and 45 acres of land attached, with some three acres of meadow elsewhere, worth altogether 25s. a year.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; Pemb. Recs. (Cymmrod rec. ser. vii), iii. 184; PCC 6 Populwell.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, v, vi, xv, xviii, xx; Pemb. Recs. iii. 204-5; LC2/2/376.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, vi; Pemb. Recs. iii. 76, 184, 204.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xx; APC, i. 252-3, 411.
  • 5. PCC 6 Populwell; CPR, 1548-9, pp. 133, 224; C142/134/171 incorrectly gives the date of Watkins’s death as 20 Mar. 1546, the error occurring presumably because the i.p.m. was taken so long after his death.