WILLIAMS, James (by 1514-82 or later), of Pant Hoel and Trelech-a'r-Bettws, Carm.
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Family and Education
b. by 1514, 1st s. of William ap John Thomas of Trelech by Margaret, da. of Hywel ap Jenkin. m. Elizabeth, da. of John Bowen of Pentre Ieuan, Pemb., at least 1s. suc. fa. by 1544. Kntd. 19 Oct. 1553.2
Steward, lordship of Narberth, Pemb. in 1535; commr. tenths of spiritualities, St. David’s diocese 1535, musters, Narberth 1539, Card. 1569, benevolence, Carm. 1544/45, relief 1549-50, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; j.p. Card. c.1543, 1555, q. 1558/59-61, Carm. 1543, 1558/59, 1562, 1572, q. 1573/74-82; sheriff, Carm. 1544-5, 1568-9, Pemb. 1555-6; burgess, Carmarthen, Carm. 1546.3
James Williams came from Trelech, near Carmarthen, but his wife’s family lived in north Pembrokeshire, close to Cardigan, and he was to be active in the three newly formed counties of southwest Wales. One of the town council of Carmarthen under the charter of 1546, and assessed there for subsidy in 1549 on goods worth £30, he was among the first justices appointed in both Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire and was twice sheriff of Carmarthenshire and once of Pembrokeshire. Some sidelights are cast on his career by his own and others’ resort to law. In 1543 or 1544, as a newly appointed justice, he complained to Chancellor Audley of the levy of forced loans in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. If Williams’s speedy appointment as sheriff owed anything to this episode, a complaint against him in this capacity of detaining the money paid by a debtor whom he had arrested, and a further one of refusing to quit a mill belonging to Dr. John Vaughan, suggest that his own conduct was not beyond reproach. The chancery suit brought against him under Edward VI by David Owen Philip for occupying Llanbedwy parsonage in Carmarthenshire in the name of Edmund Powell, an Oxfordshire man and probably the Member for Ludgershall, sounds like an echo of the forced loans affair, while his attachment in 1550 to appear before the Pembrokeshire great sessions for slandering Roger Barlow, brother of the former bishop of St. David’s, shows that he shared the local hostility to these intruders.4
Williams’s two elections for Cardiganshire are probably to be explained by his local connexions. The first took place during the shrievalty of Owen Gwyn (perhaps the Member for Marlborough) and was accompanied by the return of Edward ap Hywel for the Cardigan Boroughs; the second occurred when (Sir) Henry Jones I was sheriff and coincided with the election of John Gwyn for the Boroughs. As Jones had himself sat with Williams in the earlier Parliament, when he was knight for Carmarthenshire, he may have promoted Williams’s re-election in his capacity as sheriff, especially as both hailed from Carmarthenshire. Jones and Williams were also to be knighted on the same day, 19 Oct. 1553; the first was then sitting in Parliament while the second was not, but the tempting speculation that Williams had gone to London as the defeated candidate who would challenge the validity of John Price II’s (q.v.) return to that Parliament for Cardiganshire can scarcely be reconciled with Price’s re-election to its successor after Jones had become sheriff. Of Williams’s part in the proceedings of the Commons all that is known is that he was not among the Members who quitted the Parliament prematurely and without leave.
Williams’s continued activity in county administration under Mary and Elizabeth implies that he was conformable to their differing regimes. In 1575 he was described as resident in the commote of Elvet, Carmarthenshire, but in 1570 he had mustered with one demilance and two light horsemen in Cardiganshire. He probably died shortly after his last appearance on the commission of the peace in 1582.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: P. S. Edwards
- 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. J. Buckley, Gen. of Carm. Sheriffs, 8; C1/1081/43.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, viii, xiv, xxi; CPR, 1553, pp. 364, 419; 1560-3, p. 445; R. Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 69; C193/12/1; E179/220/96, 263/35; St.Ch.2/26/303; SP11/5/6.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, viii, xiv, xxi; C1/1081/43, 1146/15, 1281/43, 1313/48; 193/12; E179/264/1; St.Ch.2/26/303; NLW ms Wales 25/8; Augmentations (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 40, 166; Chancery (ibid. iii), 55, misreading Edward for Edmund Powell; W. Wales Hist. Recs. iii. 117-22.
- 5. J. Allen, Sheriffs Pemb. 9; Flenley, 74, 139.