HERBERT, William I (by 1587-1645), of Grey Friars, Cardiff; later of Cardiff Castle, Glam.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. by 1587,1 1st s. of Richard Herbert of Swansea, Glam. and Jenet, da. of John ap David John-ychan of Gwernllwynchwith, Glam.2 m. Ann (d.1651/2), da. of one Hurst, ?1s. d.v.p.3 suc. fa. by 1616. d. 7/8 Oct. 1645.4 sig. W[illiam] Herbert.

Offices Held

Commr. subsidy, Glam. 1621, 1628;5 j.p. Glam. c.1623-d., Cardiff by d.;6 commr. Forced Loan, Glam. 1627,7 shipwreck 1630,8 survey, Ogmore, Llantrisant, Glam. 1631, Miskin, Neath Citra, 1638, Woebley and Landymor, Glam. 1638, 1639,9 ?execution of laws against export of Welsh butter 1635,10 sewers, Glam. 1639, ?subsidy, Glam. 1641,11 array by 1643, sequestration of delinquents (roy.) 1643.12

Mayor, Cardiff and constable, Cardiff castle 1632, 1635, 1637, 1638-9.13

Recvr., rents of the 4th earl of Pembroke (Sir Philip Herbert*) in S. Wales by d.14


It is extremely difficult to disentangle the careers of the various William Herberts who were contemporaries in early Stuart Glamorgan. The major confusion arises between this Member’s family and the Herberts of Cogan Pill, near Cardiff, a difficulty compounded by the fact that these two branches were linked intimately and even administered one another’s lands. Some success in differentiating between them has been achieved by comparing signatures in key documents, but this Member’s office-holding career remains partly conjectural.

Herbert was descended from Richard Herbert of Ewyas, the bastard son of the Yorkist 1st earl of Pembroke, a family which produced a number Glamorgan MPs under the Tudors.15 Herbert’s father settled on an estate owned by his wife near Swansea, a region where the Member’s uncle (Sir) William Herbert† had considerable estates. Herbert does not appear to have attended university or an inn of court,16 but he was resident in London by 1608, when he bought land and coal mines in Llansamlet parish near Swansea.17 Thereafter, his interests transferred from the west of the county to Cardiff, where he took over his uncle’s ‘sumptuous house’ at Grey Friars, immediately outside the town walls.18

It was probably shortly after this move that Herbert took charge of local affairs for his kinsman William, 3rd earl of Pembroke, whose mother resided at Cardiff castle.19 He also collected rents for his cousin, William Herbert of Cogan Pill.20 In 1619 the latter obtained a fifth share in the patent for exporting Welsh butter, one of Glamorganshire’s major commodities.21 His cousin at Grey Friars followed these developments closely, acting as intermediary for Bristol merchants who successfully bid to run the farm.22 Herbert’s involvement in the butter trade may account for his decision to seek election to Parliament in 1621, when it was rumoured that such patents would be questioned. He wrote to his Cogan Pill cousin describing how the dowager countess of Pembroke had nominated him to Cardiff’s corporation, and asked his cousin to thank the earl of Pembroke for his support.23 Despite his interest in the butter patent, Herbert failed to play any active part in its defence, although as a Welsh MP, he was eligible to attend the committee considering the bill for the free export of Welsh butter (10 March).24

Herbert continued to be a loyal Pembroke servant after the death of the dowager Countess in October 1621, advising his cousin to warn the earl of the need for protection from ‘those that care not for any of our name.’25 Probably in 1626, he expressed concern at news that Pembroke had been ‘questioned for some things in the Parliament House’.26 By the 1630s he was serving the 4th earl as constable of Cardiff castle, and he also became collector of the earl’s revenues in South Wales. However, on the basis of signatures, it was probably a namesake who served as Pembroke’s deputy vice admiral in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.27

Despite his close relationship with Pembroke, Herbert was almost certainly the ‘ungrateful kinsman’ who yielded Cardiff castle to the royalists in 1642.28 He handed over rents from Pembroke’s lands in South Wales to the king, as a result of which his own estates, valued at £1,200 p.a., were subsequently seized by Parliament.29 His final years were clouded by controversy over the estates of his relative William Herbert† of Cogan Pill, who had been killed at Edgehill; the king intervened to ensure that this Member secured the wardship.30 Herbert died at Grey Friars in 1645 and was buried at St. John’s, Cardiff. He bequeathed his Cardiff residence and the wardship of William Herbert of Cogan Pill to his wife, which caused her considerable trouble until her death in the early 1650s.31 Herbert’s estates then passed to the Member’s nephew, William Morgan of Pencrug, Monmouthshire, but eventually descended to the heir of Cogan Pill.32

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Lloyd Bowen / Simon Healy


  • 1. He must have been 21 when he purchased lands in 1608: C54/1939/32.
  • 2. G.T. Clark, Limbus Patrum Morganiae et Glamorganiae, 214, 288; Llyfr Raglan, 1600-1607 ed. J.A. Bradney, 202; NLW, Plymouth Deeds 466.
  • 3. Clark, 288; PROB 11/220, f. 53v; 6/27, f. 53v; NLW, Bute L3/16.
  • 4. C10/1/60, f. 6.
  • 5. C212/22/21; E115/367/70.
  • 6. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 294-301; E134/24Chas.I/East.1, f. 4.
  • 7. C193/12/2, f. 71; SP16/53/84.
  • 8. SP16/176/59.
  • 9. NLW, Bute M21/15; Penrice and Margam 1634, 1640, 4203; Cartae et Munimenta de Glam. ed. G.T. Clark, vi. 2178; Glam. RO, CL/Manorial, Box 3; Bushby III.2 (iii).
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 240.
  • 11. SR, v. 68, 91, 157.
  • 12. C181/5, f. 148; NLW, LL/MB/17, pp. 23, 47.
  • 13. NLW, Bute M14/19; Penrice and Margam 1640-1; Tredegar Park 137/224; Cardiff Recs. ed. J.H. Matthews, v. 489.
  • 14. E134/24Chas.I/East.1, f. 4.
  • 15. G. Williams, ‘The Herberts of Swansea and Sir John Herbert’, Glam. Historian, xii. 47-58; G. Williams, Glam. Co. Hist. iv. 162-3, 172-3.
  • 16. A William Herbert did matriculate from Christ Church, Oxf. in 1600 aged 17, but he has beenidentified with an author of that name: Oxford DNB sub William Herbert.
  • 17. C54/1939/32. For identification as ‘William Herbert of London’, see NLW, Plymouth Deeds 466.
  • 18. NLW, Bute M81/1; C10/1/60, f. 1; A Breviat of Glam. ed. W. Rees (S. Wales and Mon. Rec. Soc. iii), 120; RCHM Glam. iv. pt. 1, pp. 237-42.
  • 19. STAC 8/183/35-6.
  • 20. NLW, Bute L2/49, 53-4; L3/16.
  • 21. C66/2178; NLW, Bute D77/3; C2/Chas.I/H53/62.
  • 22. NLW, Bute L2/35-6; Recs. Relating to Soc. of Merchant Venturers of Bristol ed. P. McGrath (Bristol Rec. Soc. xvii), 123.
  • 23. NLW, Bute L3/84.
  • 24. CJ, i. 549a.
  • 25. NLW, Bute L2/50.
  • 26. NLW, Bute L3/16. He may have misheard news of the arrest of the earl of Arundel on 5 Mar. 1626.
  • 27. SP16/94/71; 16/254/36.
  • 28. J.R. Phillips, The Civil War in Wales, ii. 25; C.M. Thomas, ‘The First Civil War in Glam.’ (Univ. Swansea MA thesis, 1963), p. 65.
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1641-3, p. 500; CCAM, 435.
  • 30. PROB 10/639, unfol.; CSP Dom. 1641-3, pp. 467, 469-70, 500; 1644, pp. 10, 13.
  • 31. NLW, PROB Llandaff 1645/3; C10/1/60; 10/46/93, 95.
  • 32. PROB 6/27, f. 53v.