THE LORDS OF RUTHYN
The lordship of Ruthin als Dyffryn Clwyd
Prior to 1282, Prince Dafydd ap Gruffudd held the cantref of Dyffryn Clwyd. It was given to Reginald de Grey by Edward I as the new lordship of ‘Ruthyn als (otherwise) Dyffryn Clwyd’, often shortened to Ruthin, which would continue in de Grey’s family until 1507.
The lordship consisted of Ruthin, town and liberties, and the commotes of Dogfeiling, Llannerch, and Colion. From its collection of medieval Ruthin court rolls, the National Archives have described the commotes. Dogfeiling embraced the parishes of Llanbedr, Llandyrnog, Llangwyfan, Llangynhafal, Llanhychan and Llanrhudd (from which Ruthin eventually separated), and the townships of Aberchwiler [in Bodfari, Flintshire], Maesmynan and Penbedw [in Nannerch, Flintshire], and Sbeddyd and Rhydonnen [in Llanynys], Llannerch commote contained the parishes of Llanfair Dyffryn-Clwyd and Llanelidan, Colion commote included the parishes of Derwen, Clocaenog, Efenechtyd, Llanfwrog, and in Llanynys, the townships of Bryncaredig, Penycoed, Cilygroeslwyd, Maesmancymro, Trefechan and chapelry of Gyffylliog (including Trefor and Treganol). (TNA Catalogue entry)
*The names of the lords of Ruthin als Dyffryn Clwyd are in maroon, preceded by their regnal dates and followed by their birth and death dates
Arms of the Grey de Wilton barony
1 (1282-1308) Reginald de Grey (c1240 –1308)* was a soldier-administrator who had been to the Vale of Clwyd before. He was justiciar of Chester and had studied Welsh laws and conditions. He took over Prince Dafydd’s castle works, founded the borough of Ruthin, and became the 1st Baron de Grey of Wilton in 1295. The property upon which Gray's Inn, London, sits was once held by Reginald de Grey.
2 (1308- 1323) John de Grey, 2nd Baron Grey de Wilton (1268–1323) succeeded his father. He was vice-justice of Chester from 1296 to 1297. He participated in the siege and capture of Caerlaverock Castle in July 1300. He was summoned to Parliament from 1309 to 1322. He was at the Battle of Bannockburn, where the English army took a heavy defeat. Edward II appointed him as Justice of North Wales in 1314/15 and Governor of Caernarfon Castle. He established the College of St, Peter in Ruthin in 1310.
3 (1324-1353) Roger de Grey, 1st Baron Grey de Ruthyn (c. 1298 – 1353) The younger son of John de Grey, who saw much service as a soldier, was summoned to parliament in 1324. An acrimonious split in the de Grey family in 1324 saw the lordship of Ruthin pass to this younger son and a new barony of Ruthin was created, which still survives, but is currently in abeyance.
Arms of the Grey de Ruthyn barony
4 (c. 1322 – 1388) Reginald Grey, 2nd Baron Grey de Ruthyn (1353–1388)
5 (1362–1440) Reginald Grey, 3rd Baron Grey de Ruthyn (1388–1440) was a powerful Marcher baron and enjoyed the favour both of Richard II and Henry IV. His chief military exploits were against the Welsh, during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr. He had a long-running legal property dispute with Glyndŵr, which led to Owain Glyndŵr’s rebellion.
Grey was captured by Glyndŵr's forces in an ambush near Ruthin in January 1402 and a ransom of 10,000 marks was asked for him. Grey was a member of the Council which governed England during the absence of Henry V in France in 1415; he later fought against the French in 1420 and 1421. He had been previously a Governor of Ireland. The magnificent half-timber courthouse on Ruthin’s Square was built by his lordship to renew confidence.
6 (1440–1490) Edmund Grey, 4th Baron Grey de Ruthyn, 1st Earl of Kent (1416–1490). Grey succeeded his grandfather and was knighted in October 1440. He attended the royal council between 1456 and 1458. Active militarily in the Wars of the Roses, he played a decisive role in the Battle of Northampton by switching his allegiance from the Lancastrian to the Yorkist cause. For this action he was rewarded by Edward IV with a grant of the manor of Ampthill. He was appointed Treasurer of England 1463- 1464 and Earl of Kent in 1465. He was chief justice of the county of Merioneth, North Wales and constable of Harlech. An ambitious and ruthless man, he provided the College of St Peter with it’s wonderful north-nave roof, but his religious policies caused the collapse of the church organisation. During his life, Ruthin Castle was a family home where some of his children were born.
7 (1454 – 1505) George Grey, 5th Baron Grey de Ruthyn, 2nd Earl of Kent (1490-1505) was the son of Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent. He was made a Knight of the Bath by King Richard III in 1483. He was a Justice of the Peace for Huntingdonshire from 1480, for Northamptonshire from 1480, for Bedfordshire from 1483, for Buckinghamshire from 1494 and for Kent from 1496.
Grey fought for Henry VII in 1487 and 1497 and died at Ampthill in December 1505. Earlier that year he had attended court on the visit of King Philip I of Castile (1504–1506) He was “mounted on a sorrelled horse, harness of Venice gold with a deep fringe half a yard in length. My Lord of Kent's Coat was one bar of Gold Cloth and another crimson Velvet with a demi-mache cut off by the elbow".
8 (1505–1507) Richard Grey, KG, 6th Baron Grey de Ruthyn, 3rd Earl of Kent (1478–1523). He was created a Knight of the Garter in 1505 and wound up heavily in debt, probably through gambling, and was forced to alienate most of his property. The lordship of Ruthin was sold to the crown in 1507.
The crown lost interest in Ruthin Castle, which fell into disrepair. The Acts of Union of 1535 and 1542 abolished the marcher lordships as political units and new counties, including Denbighshire, were created, Ruthin als Dyffryn Clwyd was absorbed into Denbighshire and effectively became a manor.
10 1509-1547 Henry VIII
11 1547-1553 Edward VI
12 1553-1558 Mary and Phillip II
13 1558-1563 Elizabeth I
14 (1563-1590) Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick KG (1530-1590), elder brother of the better-known Robert Dudley. Earl of Leicester and a favourite of Queen Elizabeth. A soldier and eventually a Privy Counsellor, he was awarded the lordship of Ruthin and the Order of the Garter, for his conduct while leading a military expedition to France in 1563. Increasing financial difficulties led to the sale of lordship properties.
15 (1590-1604) Ann, Countess of Warwick, (1548-1549) became one of the Queen’s closest friends. On her death Ruthin reverted to the crown.
16 1604-1625 James I
17 1625-1634 Charles I
18 (1634-1636) Sir Francis Crane (c.1579 – c.1636) bought the lordship in 1634. He was the founder of Mortlake Tapestry Works at Mortlake. Much property in the lordship including the castle had been bought in 1632 by Sir Thomas Myddelton (1586-1666) of Chirk Castle. Crane was also Clerk of the Parliaments, Chancellor of the Order of the Garter and secretary to Charles I while Prince of Wales.
The Royal Arms of
The Royal Arms of
Arms of Ambrose Dudley KG, Earl of Warwick
Arms of the Crane Family
19 (1639-1645) Sir Richard Crane, baronet, brother of Sir Francis Crane.
It is unclear what happened after Sir Richard’s death. It is likely that the lordship remained in the Crane family until 1677.
Sir Thomas Myddelton (1586-1666), knight of Chirk Castle bought Ruthin Castle in 1632. His son, Sir Thomas Myddelton, 1st baronet of Chirk Castle (1586-1663) was the heir to Sir Thomas Myddelton, Knight's Welsh estates,. He entered parliament in 1624 as MP for Weymouth, before changing to Denbighshire in 1625. He was also elected for the Long Parliament. He became a Parliamentary commander during the Civil War.
20 (1677-1684) Sir Thomas Myddelton, 2nd baronet (ca.1651–5 February 1684), eldest son of Sir Thomas Myddelton, 1st Baronet . (1624-1663). He succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father in 1663 and inherited Chirk Castle on the death of his grandfather in 1666. He bought the lordship of Ruthin in 1677, but his heir had to make a further payment to Crane’s descendants in 1702. In 1679, Myddelton was elected MP for Denbighshire and sat until 1681.
Arms of the Myddleton family of Chirk Castle
21 (1684-1716) Sir Richard Myddelton, (1655–1716), 3rd baronet was the fourth son of Sir Thomas Myddelton, 1st Baronet of Chirk Castle. Member of Parliament for Denbighshire 1685-1705. High Sheriff of Denbighshire for 1688.
22 (1716-1718) Sir William Myddelton (1694-1718), 4th baronet, died unmarried, when the baronetcy became extinct, and the Chirk Castle estate, with the lordships of Chirk, Chirklands and Ruthin passed to a cousin, Robert Myddelton.
23 (1718-1733) Robert Myddelton, (1678-1733), son of Richard Myddelton of Shrewsbury. Member of Parliament for Denbigh Boroughs 1722-1733.
24 (1733-1747) John Myddelton (1685–1747) of Chirk Castle was the younger son of Richard Myddelton of Shrewsbury and inherited his father's estates, including Chirk Castle, when his elder brother Robert died young and unmarried in 1733. Member of Parliament for Denbigh Boroughs 1733–1741 and Denbighshire 1741–1742.
25 (1747- 1795) Richard Myddelton of Chirk Castle (1726–1795) was the eldest son of John Myddelton, MP of Chirk Castle. He was a Member of Parliament for Denbigh Boroughs from 1747 to 1788 and Lord Lieutenant of Denbighshire from 1748 to his death. He rebuilt the White Lion, today the Castle Hotel, giving it a Georgian frontage and invested in land improvements at Ruthin including straightening and re-directing the River Clwyd through Ruthin park.
26 (1795-96) Richard Myddelton (c.1764–96), of Chirk Castle, Denbighshire was the only son of Richard Myddelton of Chirk Castle. He was a Member of Parliament for Denbigh Boroughs 1788 to 1796.
He died unmarried as a sitting MP in 1796.
(1796-1819) The Myddelton family failed in the male line and the Chirk Castle Estate was inherited by Richard Myddelton’s three daughters, Charlotte, Maria and Harriet. Following expensive litigation and an Act of Parliament, the estate was divided into three portions. Harriet got the Ruthin portion.
27 (1819-1848) Harriet Myddelton (pre-1788-1848) was the only child of her father’s second marriage. She was close to her half-sister, Maria whose husband, Frederick West became involved in running the Ruthin estate. Harriet did not marry and bequeathed the estate to Maria’s family on her death in 1848. Harriet’s decision to build a large house atop the medieval castle ruins led to a reborn Ruthin Castle, which became the centre of the combined Maria and Harriet portions of the former Chirk Castle Estate.
28 (1848-1862) Frederick Richard West (1799-1862) inherited the Ruthin estate from Harriet and the Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog estate from his mother. Through marriage he acquired the Cornwallis estate in Newlands, Hampshire. Member of Parliament for Denbigh Boroughs 1827-1830, East Grinstead 1830-1832 and Denbigh Boroughs 1847-1857. He decided to drive Market Street from the new station up to the Square. Together with his son, William Cornwallis-West, he developed existing sites in Ruthin and purchased others and embarked on a building programme which included cottages and public houses. The estate began to become encumbered with debts.
The manor ceased to function as a legal entity during the nineteenth century and the legal powers of Ruthin’s manorial courts were removed.
29. (1862-1868) Frederick Myddelton West (1830-68) Unmarried.
30 (1868-1917) William Cornwallis West later William Cornwallis Cornwallis-West (1835- 1917). Cornwallis-West was High Sheriff of Denbighshire in 1872, Lord-Lieutenant of Denbighshire from 1872 to 1917 and Member of Parliament for Denbighshire West, 1885- 1892. He and his wife became part of Edward, Prince of Wales’s social circle. Throughout his life, the estate became increasingly mortgaged and in 1913, a first sale of the Ruthin estate was held. He gifted part of the present Cae Ddol fields to the town of Ruthin
Arms of the West Family
31 (1917- 1920?) George Cornwallis-West (1874 -1951) was an officer of the Scots Guards. He was married, first to Jennie Jerome, mother of Winston Churchill, and second to the renowned actress Stella Campbell, who was also known on the stage as Mrs. Patrick Campbell. He was declared bankrupt soon after his father’s death in 1917. A second major sale of the Ruthin Castle sale was held in 1919 and the Ruthin, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog and Newlands Estates had all been sold by 1920, apart from Ruthin Castle, which was separately sold in 1923. At the 1919 sale, George gifted the recreation ground to the town. George Cornwallis West died by his own hand in 1951 having suffered for many years from Parkinson’s disease.
32 (1923-1964) Ruthin Castle Clinic bought the castle and some other property in 1923. In the 1963 sale, following the closure of the clinic, one of the lots was ‘the Honor, Manor or Lordship or Reputed Manor or Lordship of Ruthin’. This included 1829 acres on the Clwydian Hills, which were subject to covenants in favour of the National Trust made in 1939. This failed to sell at the sale.
33 (1964-1974) Broadlands Property Limited of Scarborough owned the titular manor of Ruthin. Broadlands is a large property company with interests in agricultural and sporting estates and bought from the Ruthin clinic in 1964 ‘All that the Honor, Manor or reputed Honor, Manor or Lordship of Ruthin’ in parishes which lay atop the Clwydian Range.
34 (1974-present) Denbighshire, Clwyd and Denbighshire County Councils. On 28th March 1974 in its last days, the former Denbighshire Council bought for £25,000 ‘all those parts of the honour, manor or lordship of Ruthin…in the parishes of Llangynhafal, Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd and Llanferres all subject to a covenant dated 1939 in favour of the National Trust.
This land now lies at the heart on the Moel Fammau Country Park and the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.