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RHUTHUN LOCAL HISTORY BROADSHEET                                                                                         Issue No 25 March 1991



It could be argued that the story of Denbigh and Ruthin and of those outstanding neighbours, the Salisburys and the Thelwalls, reached its most interesting phase in the seven­teenth century, and particularly during the Civil Wars.

In 1641, the shire representative in the Long Parliament was Simon Thelwall, grandson of his illustrious namesake of Plas-y-Ward. At Westminster he took no part in debate but did serve on a committee concerned with supposed popish machinations in Montgomeryshire. He was in tune with the general policy of the House of Commons - a policy equally favoured by a Salisbury correspondent of Llewenni. According to A.H. Dodd, Simon Thelwall guaranteed £500 'ready money' to meet Parliament's needs and was soon afterwards nominated as a deputy lieutenant for raising forces.

When war came, North Wales as a whole was regarded as Royalist territory. Norman Tucker observes: "The loyal baronet of Llewenni represented the shire of Denbigh in the Short Parliament, but Sir Thomas Salisbury stood down at the next election rather than compete with his opulent uncle, Sir Thomas Myddelton of Chirk Castle, who used his wealth and his influence on behalf of the Parliament as soon as he was elected." Simon Thelwall of Plas y Ward followed suit, - he having represented the Borough, - and later obtained a commission as colonel of horse.

Sir Thomas Salisbury was a "man of simple faith, who could not serve the Lord unless he served the Lord's anointed." He was an Oxford scholar with a great love of poetry and regarded the campaign as a crusade to uphold the divine right of kings. On 29th October, 1642, the king went to Oxford and Sir Thomas received the degree of D.C.L.

Sir Thomas was chosen as commanding officer for a regi­ment of volunteers for the king. One Robert Evans, referring to Sir Thomas, said that his fellow-country-men were 1,200 "poor Welsh vermin, the offscouring of the nation." Even so, Sir Thomas was ultimately engaged in battle when the "rabble" distinguished itself at Brentford [12th November, 1642] before returning to Wales. Sir Thomas died the next year.

In 1643, Simon Thelwall, M.P., and by then a colonel of horse, joined Thomas Myddelton in Montgomeryshire. He had earlier taken out a parliamentary commission as major, but had only been able to use it as a liaison officer and parliamentary recruiting agent in Pembrokeshire. Such offi­cers had of course more than military significance; the Roundheads also sought to "plant the gospel among the Welshmen." Welsh Puritans, including Sir John Trevor and Simon Thelwall, arranged with Myddelton to send Morgan Llwyd and Ambrose Mostyn to Wrexham.

It will already be obvious that the Civil War was dividing families into rival camps. Simon Thelwall of Plas y Ward was indeed a Parliamentarian, whereas his kinsmen of Bathafarn served the King. Simon, who was 41 when war broke out, had decided to follow the lead of Thomas Myddelton. It has been suggested that the arrival of English and Irish forces caused him to "cut for his life", but his long dispatch to Parliament, with his detailed and lucid summary, suggests that he was sent south officially to report on the condition of affairs in what was a very troubled region.

His report to the speaker begins: "Since I departed at Wrexham from my major-general, Sir Thomas Myddelton being foreclosed towards Wem by Lord Byron's forces, and towards Nantwich by the Irish, and having knowledge both passages be laid for me, it pleased God, I repaired about ten days before Christmas, through some difficulties, to the good town of Pembroke which I found environed almost on every side with adverse garrisons." In due course he returned to Denbighshire, where he played an important part, more prominent it would seem as an administrator than as a soldier

It has been pointed out that the appearance of rough troopers in Denbighshire, particularly in the then aristocratic Vale of Clwyd, must have come as a rude shock to many residents, "particularly those who hoped for better treatment from members of the same cause." Matters grew so serious that on 12th December, 1644, the inhabitants and freeholders submitted a petition to Lord Byron, who was staying at Plas y Ward. The house again made history the next year when, we read: "26th October, 1645; Sir William Vaughan, leading Royalists came to Chirk. His ordnance guard marched to Llanynys, Mr Thelwall's house.”

It should not, however, be thought that Plas y Ward was the 'headquar­ters' of the Thelwall family in those days. Professor A.H. Dodd observed: "The Thelwalls of Plas y Ward, al­lies of Llewenni, sank with them into the background, eclipsed in public affairs by the younger branch of their own house which had settled at Bathafarn and Plas Coch and branched out into East Denbighshire, but owed its wealth and influence to success at law and offices at court."

In Denbigh, when war broke out, the castle was in the hands of gallant old William Salesbury, "the King's most doughty warrior." He was known as 'Hen Hosannau Gleision' as he always wore blue homespun stockings. He was not a Llewenni Salisbury but belonged to the Rhug and Bachymbyd branch of the fam­ily. Fate dealt him a cruel blow when his heir, Captain Owen Salesbury, took up arms for parliament. William never forgave his son Owen and they remained unreconciled when death parted them.

Colonel William Salesbury had foreseen the coming of open warfare and had spent more than £4,000 of his own money, - an enormous sum in those days - on strengthening and repairing the castle's defences. When the King came to Denbigh on that September evening in 1645, Salesbury met and welcomed him at the entrance. Later, Charles I was to say that no prince had ever been subjected to such plain speaking. However, he formed a deep affection for the veteran soldier and, with his own execution looming near, bequeathed to Salesbury a crimson cap and a leather belt.

On 8th May, 1646, a petition, to become known as the "Bumpkins' Petition", was sent to the castle begging the Governor "to avoid spilling Christian blood and ruining many, poor and rich, by the continuance of the seige." It was evidently sponsored by the Member for Denbigh, Simon Thelwall. Salesbury's reply was addressed to "Cosin Thelwall and the rest of the subscribers." Salesbury justified his stand by virtue of his loyalty to the King.

It is claimed that the summer of 1646 was the hottest of the century. The population of Denbigh had been increased by many hundreds of refugees who had fled there from towns which had already fallen before the Parliamentary forces. 1,700 people are said to have been confined within the mile-long perimeter of the old town walls. The water in the castle well had dried up and the well in the Goblin Tower showed signs of following suit. Plague had broken out and burial of the dead on Caledfryn Hill, where the soil is only a few inches deep, was impossible.

The situation was grave indeed and William Salesbury entrusted a message to one of the loyal Thelwalls – Eubule - who managed to get through the enemy's lines and ride to the King in Newcastle. The King's reply sanctioned capitu­lation and warmly thanked Sales-bury for his loyal service. It is said that Governor Salesbury climbed to the top of the Goblin Tower and flung the key of the castle down to the Parliamentary General, Mytton, and shouted: "Chwi bia'r byd, gwnewch domen ohono!" ['Yours is the world, make a dunghill of it']

The Denbigh articles of capitula­tion were signed 14th October, 1646. It is interesting to note that Mytton's commissioners included the Round­head colonel, Simon Thelwall, whereas Salesbury's commissioners included the loyalist John Thelwall, Esq., late colonel. Those who compounded under the Denbigh ar­ticles for delinquency in arms in­cluded this same John Thelwall, of Plas Coch, to the sum of £117.

On 9th May, 1648, Parliamentarians meeting at Wrexham decided to put the county "in a posture of defence". The sum of £6,000 was to be collected monthly in the six counties of North Wales and mutual help was promised. Persons ready to volunteer for service in Denbigh county were to send their names to Lieutenant colonel George Twisleton, governor of Denbigh, Sir Thomas Myddelton, the High Sheriff, or Simon Thelwall the Elder, of Plas y Ward, Member of Parliament and colonel of horse. Likewise in Flintshire, names would be accepted by the High Sheriff, Colonel Thomas Ravenscroft, Colonel John Aldersey, Cap­tain Luke Lloyd and John Salisbury of Bachegraig - another Salisbury property near Llewenni.  

In that year of 1648, the Duke of Hamilton threatened an invasion from Scotland. This brought Cromwell hastening from Pembroke the moment that castle capitulated. Parlia­ment appointed a commission of five to cope with the situation locally. They were: Thomas Myddelton, the father, Thomas Myddelton, his son, Thomas Mytton, Colonel Si­mon Thelwall and the famous John Jones, Maes y Garnedd, known as the regicide because he was one of the signatories of the death warrant of Charles I. His turn was to come and the Restoration heralded his execution.

Note: THELWALL PORTRAITS - Mr Gerald Thelwall, a descendant of the Llanbedr branch, has the seven 17th century family portraits that formerly were at Bathafam Hall. Another portrait, hitherto un­known locally, of Edward Thelwall [1711-1764), a barrister, has appeared at a Christie's sale (1st March, 1991). This was Mr G. Thelwall's great, great, great grandfather. The catalogue entry is "Follower of WilliamHogarth. Portrait of Edward Thelwall, half-length, wearing a grey coat, a red waistcoat and embroidered with gold, a white cravat, holding a black tricorn hat. In a painted oval, relining bears inscription 'Edward Thel­wall, Esq. I of Llanbedr, in the County of Denbigh. Marrd. 1754 Ann, Second Daur. of Lloyd Foulk of Bryn Llwarth of the Sd. Co. “30 x 25 I ins." Mr Thelwall put in a bid which, unfortunately, was not quite successful. The picture was, however, purchased by the National Library of Wales.


by Peter Randall

With the advent of the 1991 census this coming April, it is interesting to note that the Reverend William Parry, M.A., Vicar of the Church of S.S. Cynfarch and Mary, Llanfair D.C. from 1776 until 1804, recorded the results of the very first national census of 1801 in his register of Baptisms and Burials, 1782-1812, as follows:
"Number of Houses and Inhabitants in this Parish by actual Survey in March, 1801
- 204 inhabited houses
2 uninhabited
513 males incl. 21 manikins. 
536 Females.
1,049 inhabitants."

The inclusion of "21 manikins" raises a point of interest. Were they children, youths or the dictionary definition of a "Manikin" - a little man or dwarf ?
In contrast, the 1981 census of the population of the Parish was 987 persons, a reduction of 62 on the 1801 figure. The parish had a far larger number of houses in 1981, indicating a greater size in families in 1801.

In addition to being Vicar of Llanfair D.C., the Reverend Parry was made Warden of Ruthin in 1784 and Rector of Llanfwrog in 1795. He was also Head Master of Ruthin School from July, 1768 until he resigned early in 1785. In all, a very busy cleric !!

Noticeable changes have occurred with regard to the use of the Welsh language, too. In 1981, 545 persons, or 57.2% of the population of the parish, could speak Welsh, but in the first half of the 19th century, the position must have been somewhat different. The Reverend James Jones was Vicar of the parish from 1809 until 1848 [he too had served at Ruthin School from 1801-9, as Second Master] and amongst his records is the following entry -
"Church Services at Llanfair D.C. - Use of English: Henry William Massendir, D.D., Lord Bishop of Bangor at a Visitation held by him at Ruthin, October 6th, 1821, ordered that the Service in this Church should in future be partly in English as follows - an English sermon on the first Sunday in each of the four Quarters of the year and an English Sermon and the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper to be administered in English on Good Friday and on Holy Thursday.
This was done in consequence of an application made to the Bishop by the principal Inhabitants of this Parish through the Vicar praying that some portion of the Service might be in English.
James Jones, Vicar."


The earliest portion of the house which stands today is traditionally attributed to Inigo Jones [1573-1652], Surveyor to the Crown [Charles I]. Indeed, two rooms are known as the Inigo Jones rooms. Unfortunately, it is a matter of pure speculation as to how this intriguing association originated. 

A cursory examination of Inigo's career offers few clues, but local traditions suggest a possibility. It is said that the Gwydir Chapel in Llanrwst Parish Church and that the Llanrwst bridge over the Conway were designed by Inigo, at the same time. If Inigo did indeed undertake these commissions, it is known that the Gwydir Chapel was built in 1634 by Sir Richard Wyn and at this time Eubule Thelwall was in residence at Nantclwyd.

There are at least two possible ways whereby Eubule and Inigo might have established contact. Firstly, the Thelwalls of Bathafarn as Royal Office holders moved freely within the Court of St. James, as would Inigo Jones who also held court appointments. Secondly, at about the same time as Eubule Thelwall of Nantclwyd's marriage [1625], his brother, John, married his first wife, Elizabeth Wyn of Gwydir.

Again, it is a matter of conjecture as to how the original name "Pont-y-Gof" originated. Literally translated, it is "The Blacksmith's Bridge" - presumably the predecessor of the present bridge on the fringe of the grounds and which carries the A494 over the Clwyd onto Corwen.

The earliest documentary reference to a family associated with this house, or more likely, its predecessor, is to Peter Ellis, who sold "Pont-y-Gof" to Simon Parry. More is not known of Peter Ellis.

Simon Parry [died 7th July, 1627] of Gray's Inn, Barrister at law, was the son of Thomas Parry Wynn of Tref Rhuddin. Thomas' daughter Elizabeth, wife of Richard Langford of Trefalun, had twenty children before dying at the age of 78! Simon's brother was Gabriel Parry, D.D., Head Master of Ruthin School in 1607, who married Mary, daughter of Edward Pryse of Llwynn Ynn [RBS NO: 24] thereby founding a new branch of the family.

Simon married Jane, daughter of John Thelwall "of Llanrhudd", and they had one son, Thomas, whose son William Parry married Martha, daughter of Simon Thelwall of Bathafarn, a judge of the ecclesiastical Court of Arches. There was no male heir on this side of the family and their only daughter Mary in 1625 married Eubule Thelwall of Bathafarn and Plas Coch. It was at about this time that the Thelwalls of Bathafarn were at the zenith of their power.

Eubule had entered Gray's Inn on 10th August, 1635 and was sworn a burgess of Ruthin on 21st October, 1659. On 14th May, 1670, he was described as Vice Chamberlain of the County Palatine of Chester, and Steward of the Lordship of Ruthin, an office he held until the Lordship was sold to Sir Thomas Myddelton in 1677. Though eminent in his profession and in the public service, Eubule was said not to have been an ambitious man, but preferred his private life. Eubule died at the age of 74 on 4th February, 1694/5 and his widow died at the age of only 59 on 6th January, 1696/7. There is a memorial at Llanelidan Church.

Eubule and Mary's son and heir. Thomas. became a burgess of Ruthin on 29th October, 1686, served as alderman for 1686/7, and was appointed High Sheriff for Denbighshire in 1702. He married by licence on 2nd November, 1685, Susan the daughter of Sir Roger Puleston of Emral and there were at least six children. Of these, Martha [bapt: 2nd September, 1693] eventually became heiress of Nantclwyd and married Andrew Kenrick of Chester, "Merchant of London", and of Woore Manor in Shropshire, ancestor of the Kendricks of Nantclwyd and Mertyn.

One of the earliest illustrations of Nantclwyd Hall is a water­colour by John Ingleby, bound in a special edition of Pen­nant's "Journey to Snowdon" of 1794 [at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth]. It is captioned "Seat of Major Kenrick". Moses Griffiths, the other and perhaps better-known Pennant illustrator, also produced a water colour, the original of which may also be seen at the National Library.

Andrew and his wife Martha had three sons and five daughters, of whom Richard, the eldest, was the heir. A monument in Llanelidan Church commemorates Richard, who died in 1802, and his wife Elizabeth who died in 1776 at the age of only 42. Their son Richard married Ermine, the daughter and co-heir of Sir Thomas Kyffin of Maenan Abbey. Thus, Richard was described as "of Nantclwyd, Plas Cerniogau, Ucheldref, Maenan Abbey and Belmont". Richard died in 1825 at the age of 55 when the family sold the Nantclwyd, Ucheldref and Cerniogau estates.

It is not entirely clear whether Richard Christopher Naylor 'inherited' the estate, or whether he purchased it at the 1825 sale. Richard and his brother John were merchant bankers at Liverpool, were great-nephews of Thomas Leyland and nephews of Richard Bullin, founders of the firm "Leyland and Bullin". Naylor commissioned F.K. Coiling in 1857 to extend the hall.

A little later, Naylor made over the estate to his nephew, Tom Naylor-Leyland who employed David Walker of Liver­pool virtually to double the house in 1875-6. At about this time, the first game of lawn tennis as we now know it was played on the croquet lawn at Nantclwyd.

Col. Tom Naylor-Leyland died in August, 1886, and was succeeded by the first Baronet, Herbert who died in May, 1899. The family has had long associations with Southport, owning agricultural land and part of the town, and Sir Herbert served the Southport Division as M.P. for a short time.

Sir Herbert's eldest son, Sir Albert Edward Herbert, a godson of King Edward VII, succeeded at the age of 9 years of age, served in the diplomatic service from 1913 to 1921, and as a Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff of Denbigh­shire. Sir Edward's wife, daughter of the Baron and Baroness de Belabre, died in 1945, and there were three sons and a daughter.

Sir Edward died in September, 1952. He was succeeded by his son Sir Vivyan who had served in the Grenadier Guards and in 1944 had suffered a severe throat wound while on active service in Italy. Sir Vivyan was described in his obituary in the Daily Telegraph as one whose tastes be­longed more to the Regency age rather than to the 20th century. Yet his impact on the Nantclwyd estate was notable, if not popular, for his modern approach to farming and estate management based, no doubt, upon his training at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester.

He transformed not only the estate, but also the house and grounds. His intention had been to build a new house on a different part of the estate but was persuaded not to do so by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. Instead, many of the Victorian additions were demolished but, of course, the 17th century wing was retained.

The changes to the grounds were spectacular, including new ornamental buildings, two heated swimming pools, a clock tower, two gazebos, a new entrance and drive-way along the line of the former railway, and a new bridge over the spe­cially widened River Clwyd. To mark the birth of a daughter, Sir Vivyan erected a fine stone obelisk and in the Queen's Jubilee year of 1977, he planted a wood of appropriate shape. Some splendid bronze statuary was purchased at the 1963 sale at Scarisbrick Hall, Lancashire, [Col. Tom Naylor-Leyland had married Mary Ann Scarisbrick] and incorpo­rated into the landscape.
Sir Vivyan died in September, 1987 and was succeeded as the 4th Baronet by his son Sir Phillip Vivyan.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Powys Fadog, Vols: III, VI; National Library of Wales Journal, Vol.V, N0:3 ; Richard Newcome, "A Memoir of Gabriel Goodman" , 1825; D.R. Thomas, "History of the Diocese of St. Asaph" pp.92, 336 [1913]; Dictionary of National Biography; Burke' s "Peerage and Baronetage" ; Hubbard, "Buildings of Wales -Clwyd', Penguin, 1986.

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