GWYN, John (d. aft.1577), of Moel Ifor, nr. Llanrhystyd, Card.
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Family and Education
1st s. of Rhys Gwyn ap Gruffydd of Moel Ifor by Lleuku, da. of Huw ap Gruffydd of Llanddewi Aberarth. m., 2s.1
Commr. concealed lands, Wales by Mar. 1561; Exchequer surveyor, N. Wales 21 Apr. 1562; ragler, Card. 30 July 1562-13 Feb. 1574; sheriff, Card. 1564-5, Merion. 1571-2.2
This Member must be distinguished from the John Gwynn LLD who belonged to the house of Wyn of Gwydir, Caernarvonshire, and sat for Caernarvonshire in the Parliament of 1572. He was a local man, described in the genealogy as Jenkin ap Rhys Gwyn, and in the documents of the period both as Jenkin Gwyn (as in the Crown Office list of Members of 1554) and as John Gwyn (as in the election returns of 1553 and 1563); and in the Exchequer case referred to below the two forms of the christian name are used interchangeably.3
The Gwyn family was of old stock, tracing itself back to a daughter of the Lord Rhys of Ceredigion. John Gwyn’s father, Rhys Gwyn, was almost certainly the Rhys Gwyn who appears in the subsidy returns for Cardigan town and who was bailiff of Cardigan, 1545-6, and mayor in 1551. Thus while the family’s landed property was north of the county town, John Gwyn was evidently a burgess of Cardigan, and not of a contributory borough.4
Gwyn is first recognised in a Chancery dispute during the reign of Edward VI, which shows him to be then engaged in the same sort of work which he followed for the rest of his life, namely that of land agent and rent collector. By March 1561 he had been appointed a royal commissioner for the reviving of decays and for discovering concealed lands, and this was soon followed by his surveyorship of North Wales. He was now in a position to buy himself land on favourable terms, which he did in Cardiganshire and Breconshire. Still, his most lucrative office was that of ragler (i.e. constable) of Cardiganshire, at a rent of £6 13s.4d. p.a. The office had previously been enjoyed by the inhabitants of the county on a lease from Philip and Mary; but the rents had not been paid, a fact which Gwyn had brought to light. His industry in exposing non-payment of rent by others was not, however, matched by any desire on his part to pay the rent due once he had obtained the office. A special Exchequer investigation of 1575-7 found that in an attempt to ‘disinherit the Queen’s Majesty the tenants compounded with the said Gwyn for the sum of £400, and so neither rent [was] payed by him nor them’. A new man was appointed to the office, William Herle, who, in an attempt to obtain his rights and profits, started an action in the Exchequer in which Gwyn, under the name of Jenkin ap Rhys Gwyn, was one of the defendants. At about this time he was corresponding with John Salesbury of Rûg, mentioning ‘your friendly undertaking for me at my need’. Gwyn lived at Moel Ifor, reputedly the site of the Llanrhystyd castle of the old Welsh chronicles, where he had built himself a mansion during the year he was sheriff of Cardiganshire. The date of his death is unknown.5
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: P. S. Edwards
- 1. Dwnn, Vis. Wales, i. 38.
- 2. CPR, 1560-3, pp. 266, 299; 1572-5, p. 269; Augmentations, ed. Lewis and Davies (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 235, 238; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (same ser. iv), 86-7.
- 3. Mont. Colls. iii. 128, 130, 137, 147; OR ; Hastings mss; E178/3330.
- 4. Dwnn, loc. cit.; E179/219/80; SC6/Hen. VIII, 5591 m. 2; NLW Wales mss 18/11 m. 4d.
- 5. C1/1257/50; Augmentations, 204, 206-7, 219, 238; Exchequer, 86; CPR, 1560-3, pp. 266, 299; E159/368, East. 11; E178/3330; W. J. Smith, Cal. Salusbury Corresp. 135-6; J. R. Phillips, Sheriffs of Card. 5.