MATHEW, William (1531-87), of Radyr, Cardiff, Glam. and Drury Lane, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1531, 1st s. of (Sir) George Mathew of Radyr by Barbara, da. of Robert Brent of Cossington, Som. m. 1550, Margaret, da. of (Sir) George Herbert of Swansea and Cogan Pill, Glam., 1s. d.v.p. 7da. At least 2s. illegit. suc. fa 1558.

Offices Held

J.p. Glam., sheriff 1567-8, 1579-80, commr. piracy 1576.2


The Mathews of Radyr were a junior branch of an ancient Welsh family which had adopted the English form of surname and entered the service of the English Crown in the later middle ages. In addition to the capital messuage of Radyr Mathew owned lands leased from the Crown, from the bishop of Llandaff and from the Mansells of Margam, estates scattered over an area extending up to 15 miles west and north-west of Cardiff. Llandaff castle and its appurtenances he leased to a kinsman of the senior branch who married one of his daughters, and he fought a Chancery action to resist encroachments on this property. His inheritance placed him among the dozen leading landlords of the shire: at the musters of 1570 he was one of the ten Glamorganshire gentry charged with the provision of one light horseman. His status was further enhanced by his marriage connexions with the Herberts. It was to fill a vacancy caused by the death of his brother-in-law William Herbert II that Mathew was elected to Parliament on 7 Jan. 1577. He was named to the supply committee (25 Jan. 1581) but was unwise enough to support a measure saddling the shire with more than the fair share of the cost of rebuilding a bridge over the Taf at Cardiff which the county had claimed, since its collapse six years earlier, to be the town’s responsibility. Mathew’s fellow-gentry were naturally incensed at this move on the part of a man to whom they were paying 5s. a day, 1s. more than the going rate for Welsh county MPs, to represent their interests at Westminster. Next, in 1585, when there was famine in Cardiff, Mathew upset the county by speculating in grain. The next year he incurred, in his capacity of piracy commissioner, the more dangerous wrath of the 2nd Earl of Pembroke by citing his protégés, the borough officials of Cardiff, before the Privy Council on charges of collusion with pirates. Pembroke’s reaction was to charge Mathew with collusion in a murder. He evaded summons before the council in the marches of Wales (of which Pembroke had recently become president) on the plea of illness, and denounced to Burghley Pembroke’s whole administration of the land; but the Privy Council supported Pembroke and imprisoned Mathew, who died in the summer of 1587 before the matter came to trial. His only legitimate son having predeceased him, the estate passed successively to his brothers Henry and Edmund.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A.H.D.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. C142/123/79; Cardiff Recs. iii. 108-9; iv. 82-6; Clark, Limbus, 10-11; E. A. Lewis, Welsh Port Bks. 319; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 91, 142, 173-4, 213; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 599; APC, ix. 269; xii. 118.
  • 3. Clark, Limbus, 7-11; Cardiff Recs. iii. 83, 108-9; iv. 82; S. Wales and Mon. Rec. Soc. iii. 129; D’Ewes. 288; CJ, i. 120; OR (1878) app. xxxv; Morgannwg, iv. 38-46; Stradling Corresp. ed. Traherne, 78-83, 126, 259, 291-6; APC, xiv. 143, 203; xv. 88, 232; HMC Hatfield, iii. 214; SP12/148/8, 9; 200/24, 32, 43, 51; 204/7; 211/161.