MOSTYN, John (c.1603-1675), of Westminster Abbey and Buckden, Hunts.; later of the Inner Temple, London, Llys Maesmynan, Bodfari, Denb. and Tregarnedd, Anglesey

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



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 5 Feb. 1644
1644 (Oxf. Parl.)

Family and Education

b. c.1603,1 2nd s. of Sir Roger Mostyn* of Mostyn Hall, Flints. and Gloddaith, Caern. and Mary, da. of Sir John Wynn†, 1st bt. of Gwydir, Llanrwst, Caern. educ. privately at Gwydir and Mostyn (William Holmes), Queen’s, Camb. 1619, L. Inn 1622; I. Temple 1637.2 unm. d. 26 Dec. 1675.3 sig. Jo[hn] Mostyn.

Offices Held

Sec. to John Williams, bp. of Lincoln, 1621-37.4

Clerk of writs, Ct. of Wards 1637-44,5 Chancery 1661-d.6

Commr. subsidy, Flints. 1641, loyal and indigent officers 1662.7


The Mostyn children were brought up at Mostyn and Gwydir with William*, Ellis and Henry Wynn*, the youngest of their uncles. While Sir Thomas Mostyn† was rarely on good terms with his son Sir Roger, he doted upon John, praising his infant grandson as ‘my servingman and best in my house, saving that he is of the humour that other servingmen be and giveth me warning every day that he will go to London to seek service’. In his will, which pointedly ignored Sir Roger and the rest of his children, Sir Thomas bequeathed John his ‘best chain of gold’.8 Several of Sir Roger’s younger children were sent to school at Hawarden, Flintshire in 1614, but John was probably tutored privately with his eldest brother Thomas.9

It was presumably Sir John Wynn who obtained Mostyn a place in the household of his relative and former protégé John Williams, dean of Westminster, shortly before the latter was appointed lord keeper and bishop of Lincoln in 1621. By the end of the year, Mostyn’s uncle Owen Wynn noted that ‘we are all bound for his [Williams’s] love to Jack Mostyn and my brother William [Wynn] who[m] he doth advise and direct as though they were his own children’.10 It was undoubtedly Williams who secured Mostyn a reversion as a clerk in the Court of Wards in 1622; he probably also arranged for Mostyn’s admission to Lincoln’s Inn in the same year at the nomination of William Noye*, the autumn reader. Mostyn can have spent little time at his studies: in April 1623 he went to Portsmouth to see his uncle (Sir) Richard Wynn* take ship for Spain, and he spent the rest of the summer in constant attendance upon Williams.11

In December 1623, when the failure of the Spanish Match led to the calling of a fresh Parliament, Sir Roger Mostyn received letters ‘from both my sons Thomas and John, and both tended to one end, for a place in Parliament for this shire’. While the Flintshire gentry had already settled upon their candidates, Sir Roger put John forward for the knighthood of the shire of Anglesey, where he had just granted his son a reversionary interest in the family’s rarely visited estate of 660 acres.12 Sir Roger resolved to ‘rest wholly upon my cousin Richard Bulkeley’s* power’, writing a lukewarm letter of nomination, with the proviso that ‘if it may not be had without any contesting with any country gentleman, I hold it not worth the having’. Fortunately, the bearer of the letter, Mostyn’s uncle Owen Wynn, included his nephew in his ambitious plans to ‘carry the day wholly in North Wales’. Having secured Bulkeley’s support, Wynn’s vigorous canvassing of the gentry apparently intimidated two local candidates, Sir Sackville Trevor* and Rowland Whyte, into withdrawing before the day of the election.13

Mostyn left little trace on the records of the Parliament, though if the allegations of miscarriages of justice which were being levelled at lord keeper Williams had resulted in impeachment proceedings he would undoubtedly have been expected to help in his master’s defence.14 As ‘Mr. Mustian’, he was named to two committees, both on 24 March. The first, for the bill against the exaction of unauthorized fees by customs officials, was perhaps of interest to his father, who had questioned dues on his coal exports in 1622, but Mostyn apparently failed to attend any of the six committee meetings.15 The second, for the bill against the conversion of arable land to pasture, was of significance to his constituents, whose mixed economy was converting to cattle grazing.16 As a Welsh MP, he also attended one session of the committee for the estate bill relating to the estates of the Edwards family of Chirk, Denbighshire, and though not named to the committee for the bill for the manor of Beaminster Second, Dorset, he may have been the ‘Mr. Mustian’ who attended no less than four of its meetings.17

Mostyn was not actively involved in the debates on the Spanish Match, which his master strongly supported, but his family’s papers contain a copy of the duke of Buckingham’s ‘Relation’ of the breakdown of diplomatic negotiations, delivered on 24 Feb. 1624. Mostyn probably obtained a copy from Williams, who had made the official report of Buckingham’s speech to the Lords on 27 Feb., and his text included additional letters concerning the Match from the 1st earl of Bristol (Sir John Digby*), which took a much more negative view of Buckingham’s actions than the duke’s own explanation.18 While Mostyn’s early views on foreign policy clearly reflected those of his master, subsequent correspondence suggests that he regarded the French Match and the war against Spain with an enthusiasm which was probably influenced by the anti-Spanish views of his uncle Sir Richard Wynn.19

Mostyn returned to Wales in the summer of 1624, when Owen Wynn advised ‘that it is expected that Jack Mostyn should in person at Beaumaris give the gentlemen of that country thanks [for his election] this assizes and remit the mise [wages for his service as MP] ... else another time we shall be shaken off, when the like occasion is offered’.20 Sir Roger refused to let his son attend, ‘in respect that they chose him when they had none other to supply the place’, but Wynn, who knew this was not true, thanked Mostyn’s supporters himself.21 Despite Wynn’s efforts, Mostyn’s absence may have offended some of the Anglesey gentry, and when a new Parliament was summoned after the death of King James in the spring of 1625, neither letters of recommendation from the lord keeper nor some rather half-hearted lobbying from Sir Roger Mostyn could persuade them to alter their initial decision to return Sir Sackville Trevor.22

Mostyn sacrificed all hope of personal advancement by remaining in Williams’s service after the latter’s dismissal from the keepership at the end of October 1625.23 In June 1637 he was one of those arraigned before Star Chamber with his master on charges of subornation of perjury. While Williams was fined £10,000, suspended from his benefices and imprisoned in the Tower, Mostyn was absolved from any blame, though Archbishop Laud gave him a stern lecture on misplaced loyalty for having failed to speak out against the suspicious activities of several of Williams’s other servants.24 Fortunately for Mostyn, the clerkship in the Court of Wards to which he held a reversion now fell vacant. He was admitted to the Inner Temple, probably at the behest of his uncle Henry Wynn, a longstanding member of the Inn, and rented chambers; he doubtless also kept an eye on his nephew Roger Mostyn when the latter arrived as a student shortly thereafter.25

Mostyn was returned to both the Short and Long Parliaments for Flintshire; he left little trace on the records of either Parliament, and was licensed to return to Wales on 10 Nov. 1642, where his father’s recent death had left him the senior surviving member of the family.26 He probably joined his nephew, who was raising a regiment for the king; they surrendered together at Flint castle in the summer of 1646. Having attended the Oxford Parliament, he was disabled from sitting at Westminster, and he also lost his clerkship.27 He never regained possession of his chamber at the Inner Temple, which was sequestrated and given to Roger Hill†, but retained his Welsh estates under the terms of the Anglesey articles of surrender, and built himself a house at Maesmynan, Anglesey.28 Mostyn’s clerkship (now transferred to Chancery) was revived at the Restoration, but he left its execution to his kinsman Henry Wynn. He retired from public life, and should not be confused with his nephew, John Mostyn of Weppra, Flintshire, to whom he granted a life interest in one of his properties at his death.29 In his will of 2 Dec. 1674, Mostyn left bequests to many relatives, which annoyed his nephew Sir Roger, who, though he held a reversion to most of Mostyn’s estates, expected more by way of bequest.30 Mostyn died on 26 Dec. 1675, and was buried at Bodfari on the last day of the year.31

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Assuming he was aged 16 at entry to university.
  • 2. NLW, 9053E/482; Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.; IT Admiss.
  • 3. Cal. Wynn Pprs., no. 2736.
  • 4. NLW, 9057E/960; State Trials ed. T.B. Howell, iii. 798; S.R. Gardiner, Hist. Eng. viii. 251-4.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1636-7, pp. 76-7; 1660-1, p. 245; CJ, iii. 391b.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 498; 1673-5, pp. 329-30.
  • 7. SR, v. 68, 385.
  • 8. NLW, 9053E/368; 9056E/820; Flints. RO, D/M/3734.
  • 9. UCNW, Mostyn 6478, unfol. (3 ff. from back), which mentions Thomas Mostyn, but not John.
  • 10. NLW, 9057E/960-1, 988.
  • 11. C66/2259/10; LI Admiss.; NLW, 466E/1105; 9058E/1079, 1139.
  • 12. UCNW, Mostyn 727, 5484.
  • 13. NLW, 9059E/1172, 1186.
  • 14. Ibid. 1198; C. Russell, PEP, 160, 166; R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 175-6.
  • 15. CJ, i. 747b; Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/OE818.
  • 16. CJ, i. 748b; L. Roberts, The Merchants Mappe of Commerce (1638/9), pp. 219-20; Ag. Hist. Eng. and Wales ed. H.P.R. Finberg, iv. 129-30.
  • 17. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 201, 204.
  • 18. R. Ruigh, Parl. of 1624, pp. 138-42, 163-6; UCNW, Mostyn 9083; CJ, iii. 220-32; Russell, 158-9; Lockyer, 160-61.
  • 19. NLW, 9060E/1267, 1324, 1336, 1373.
  • 20. NLW, 9059E/1242. Mostyn’s constituents were legally liable for wages of 4s. a day.
  • 21. NLW, 9060E/1276.
  • 22. Ibid. 1324, reprinted in Procs. 1625, p. 684.
  • 23. NLW, 9060E/1376, 9061E/1382.
  • 24. SP16/361/96; Gardiner, viii. 254; State Trials, iii. 798.
  • 25. CSP Dom. 1637, pp. 76-7; SP23/103, p. 617; IT Admiss. (admission of Roger Mostyn).
  • 26. CJ, ii. 843a; UCNW, Mostyn 728.
  • 27. HMC Portland, i. 389; CJ, iii. 389b, 391b, 453b, 470a.
  • 28. CJ, iv. 515b; SP19/95/238; SP23/103, pp. 607, 613-17; CITR, ii. 320; Lord Mostyn and T.A. Glenn, Mostyns of Mostyn, 196; UCNW, Penrhos VII/551
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 498; 1673-5, pp. 329-30; PROB 11/350, f. 319.
  • 30. PROB 11/350, ff. 317v-19; UCNW, Mostyn 728; Cal. Wynn Pprs. no. 2736.
  • 31. Mostyn and Glenn, Mostyns, 196; Cal. Wynn Pprs. no. 2736.