LEWIS, James (c.1602-1668), of Abernantbychan (Plâs Glynarthen), Penbryn, Card.; later of Coedmor, Llangoedmor, Card.

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. c.1602,1 1st s. of (Sir) John Lewis* (d.1655/6) and Bridget, da. of Sir Richard Price* of Gogerddan, Card.2 educ. Jesus, Oxf. 1617, aged 15.3 m. (1) Mary (div. by 1637), da. and h. of Lewis Lloyd of Abermâd, Llanilar, Card. 1s. d.v.p., 1da.;4 (2) settlement 13 Oct. 1641, Mary, da. of John Wogan* of Wiston, Pemb., wid. of David Lloyd of Cilciffeth, Llanychaer, Pemb., 4s.5 suc. fa. 1655/6. d. 1668.6 sig. James Lewes.

Offices Held

J.p. Card. 1627-d., Pemb. 1647-60;7 commr. knighthood fines, Card. 1631,8 collector, St Paul’s Cathedral repair 1634-5;9 sheriff, Card. 1635-6, 1646-7, Pemb. 1641-2;10 commr. exacted fees, principality of S. Wales 1637,11 collector, recusants’ money, Card. 1638, 1641, assessment, Card. 1641, 1642,12 Card. and Pemb. 1647-at least 1660, Card. 1650, Pemb. 1652,13 array (roy.), Pemb. 1642,14 assessment militia, Card., Pemb. 1648,15 Card. 1659, 1660,16 sequestration, S. Wales 1649,17 scandalous ministers, S. Wales 1654.18

Col. (parl.) 1645.19


This Member should not be confused with two namesakes, of Llanbadarn Fawr and Cwmowen, both of whom were also magistrates.20 Rather, he was the eldest son of John Lewis, the leading gentleman in Cardiganshire after the demise of his father-in-law, Sir Richard Price. Lack of evidence makes it difficult to understand why James Lewis and not his father secured the Cardiganshire parliamentary seat between 1624 and the Short Parliament of 1640, but quite possibly he acted as the latter’s proxy in Parliament. The family’s dominance of the county place in the 1620s certainly did not reflect an appetite for activity within the Commons. James Lewis seems to have been appointed to two committees in the 1620s. The first was for the bill to naturalize Sir Robert Anstruther, Sir George Abercromy, and John Cragge (10 Apr. 1624) - although it is possible that this was Robert Lewis, Member for Reigate - and the second concerned the bill allowing liberty to marry at any time of year (6 May 1626).21 His interest in these measures is unknown.

In 1632, when he was summoned to compound for his failure to appear to be knighted at the Coronation, Lewis correctly maintained that he ‘hath no estate saving what Sir John Lewei his father pleases to confer upon him for the time, and which he may at his pleasure abridge’.22 He was, however, active with his father in Cardiganshire land transactions, for in 1633 they jointly purchased the manors and boroughs of Cardigan and Aberystwyth. In the same year he was the sole purchaser from a London syndicate of a lease of the lordship of Iscoed Ishirwern, which included lucrative fishing rights along the Teifi and the weir at Cilgerran.23 Earlier in the decade he had joined with Walter Lloyd of Llanfair to purchase from the 3rd earl of Essex an interest in the Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire lands of the former dissolved monastery of Whitland. Shortly afterwards the two men prosecuted some tenants in Exchequer, claiming that their rents were being withheld.24 Lewis was later plaintiff in a similar Exchequer case over withheld dues from lands purchased from Essex along with John Price* of Breconshire.25

Having married the heiress of Lewis Lloyd of Abermâd, near Aberystwyth, Lewis had interests in upland lead mining thereabouts. Along with John Vaughan* of Trawsgoed, he also owned a share in some lead mines near Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn and Llanafan, which produced over 100 tons of lead ore annually. In 1635-6 both men had to defend themselves in the Exchequer from charges that they had encroached onto the Crown mines in Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn.26 In 1637 Lewis, in the process of divorcing Mary Lloyd, sold off a large part of his lands in this region to Vaughan. The evidence on this matter is scanty, but along with his father, Lewis entered into a bond in September 1637 which gave Mary a lump sum of £535 in return for her interest in the Abermâd estate and the manor of Aberystwyth.27

In 1641 Lewis remarried, taking as his second wife a widow from his grandmother’s family, the Wogans of Wiston, in Pembrokeshire. She brought him property in Pembrokeshire, which explains why he served as sheriff of that county at the outbreak of civil war. Accused of supporting the king, he was captured by the parliamentary general Rowland Laugharne†, from whom, after a brief period of confinement in Pembroke, he took a commission as a parliamentary colonel.28 In 1645 he was recommended as one of the few men in Cardiganshire on whom Parliament could rely, and following the royalist defeat he acquired a plethora of local appointments.29 At the Restoration he was described by one tract writer as a man of an ‘inoffensive, facile constitution’, who was ‘seldom out of public office, though somewhat averse to undertake any’. This might equally well have been said about his public life in the 1620s as the 1640s. The tract concluded that Lewis was ‘loved more for doing no wrong than for doing any good, his body being a lazy instrument for so good a mind’.30

Although his family’s estates were still in the hands of his father, Lewis drew up in 1650 a settlement on the marriage of John, his eldest son by his first wife. John was to inherit the Abernantbychan estates, worth £600 p.a., but his subsequent death without issue meant that this estate passed to his widow as a jointure for half a century, obliging the family to concentrate on its Coedmor properties, valued at £700 p.a. Following the death of his father in 1655/6, Lewis ran into financial difficulties. In 1663 his lands were extended to cover a long-standing debt, and around this time he also sold off the Abermâd properties, which he had obtained from his first marriage. He died in 1668 leaving no will, while his eldest son passed away a year later.31 The Member’s grandchild John Lewis sat for Cardiganshire and Cardigan Boroughs several times between 1685 and 1701.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Lloyd Bowen


  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to university.
  • 2. Dwnn, Vis. Wales ed. S.R. Meyrick, i. 40; W. Wales Hist. Recs. i. 13; NLW, Noyadd Trefawr 438.
  • 3. Al. Ox.
  • 4. NLW, Peniarth Estate NA70; NLW, B/1644/37; D. Huws, ‘The Lewes Fam. of Abernantbychan’, Ceredigion, vi. 158.
  • 5. NLW, Bronwydd II/2898; Huws, ped. opp. p. 164.
  • 6. Huws, 159.
  • 7. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 194-99, 218-19.
  • 8. E178/5938, f. 5.
  • 9. GL, ms 25475/1, f. 43; SP16/298/38.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1637, p. 288; SP19/126/106; E199/79/2; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 242.
  • 11. C181/5, f. 16.
  • 12. Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, ii. 826; iv. 163; LJ, iv. 386a.
  • 13. A and O. i. 978, 980, 1096, 1098; ii. 46-7, 313-14, 482, 680, 1085, 1087, 1382, 1384.
  • 14. SP19/126/106.
  • 15. A. and O. ii. 1248; Bodl., Tanner 57, f. 65.
  • 16. A. and O. ii. 1335.
  • 17. Ibid. 15.
  • 18. Ibid. 977.
  • 19. SP19/126/106.
  • 20. E112/145/54; 178/4999; JPs in Wales and Monm. 191-6.
  • 21. CJ, i. 761a, 856a.
  • 22. E178/5938.
  • 23. NLW, Ty Llwydd 301, 325; Bristol RO, 13458/1.
  • 24. Longleat House, Devereux ms (IHR microfilm) iv. f. 100; E112/271/25; 134/8Chas.I/Mich.28.
  • 25. E112/271/14.
  • 26. E112/271/22; 134/12Chas.I/Mich.38.
  • 27. NLW, Peniarth Estate NA70.
  • 28. SP19/126/106.
  • 29. Bodl., Tanner 57, f. 65; HMC, 6th Rep. 44b, 45a; LJ, vii. 160a, 168b.
  • 30. Huws, 158.
  • 31. Ibid. 155-9.