SALESBURY, Robert (1567-99), of Rûg, Corwen, Merion.; Bachymbyd, Llanynys, Denb. and Pool Park, Ruthin, Denb.

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. 20 June 1567, 1st s. of John Salesbury of Rûg by Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Salusbury educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1584; G. Inn 1586. m. Elinor, da. of Sir Henry Bagnall; 1s. 1da. illegit. suc. fa. 1580. Kntd. 1593.

Offices Held

J.p. Denb., dep. lt. by 1587; j.p. Merion, by 1591, dep. lt. from c.1592, custos rot. by c.1594.


Salesbury was only 13 when his father died in 1580. This second minority in successive generations dealt a further blow to the family fortunes. In accordance with the terms of his father’s will, Robert was brought up under the guardianship of Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick. Salesbury was elected for Denbighshire at the age of 19. He was connected through his guardian with the most powerful figure in Denbighshire, the Earl of Leicester, and through his mother, with the Salusburys of Lleweni, who were themselves under a cloud at this time on account of their implication in the Babington plot. At this stage in his career, therefore, Salesbury was firmly associated with the Dudley party in north Wales. When he came of age in 1588, however, Salesbury entered Merioneth politics and inherited his father’s feud with Ellis Price. Although both John Salesbury and Ellis Price were dead by 1588, the quarrel continued, and Salesbury’s election for the county can be seen as a revenge for his father’s defeat 18 years before. Even in 1592, Salesbury was still opposing the appointment of Cadwaladr Price of Rhiwlas as sheriff. However, by raking up these old scores, Salesbury aligned himself with the anti-Dudley faction in north Wales and alienated himself from his relatives in Lleweni. In both his Parliaments, Salesbury was appointed to the subsidy committee in his capacity as knight of the shire (22 Feb. 1587, 11 Feb. 1589).

By 1593, Salesbury was serving in Ireland under his father-in-law. Returning with a knighthood, his name was put forward in 1596 for membership of the council in the marches of Wales by Sir Richard Shuttleworth, chief justice of the Chester circuit. Shuttleworth described him as ‘well affected in religion, loyal and dutiful to her Majesty, wise, discreet and temperate in all his actions’, but he added significantly ‘I would wish ... to admonish him to hold an even and independent course in the causes of his country, and not to incline more to the one side nor the other’.

By this time, however, Salesbury was heavily in debt to his ‘cousin’ Thomas Myddelton, whose candidature he supported for the 1597 county election in Merioneth. In 1598 he sold £400 worth of his Merioneth lands, but the following year had to resort to Myddelton again and to lease more of his property. In the same month he fell sick in London, and was nursed in the house of his friend Gabriel Goodman, dean of Westminster, who took him back to Wales, where he died 14 July 1599, lamented by two Denbighshire bards. Like his father and grandfather before him, he left an heir under age, who was placed by his will under the guardianship of Lord Keeper Egerton. He remembered in his will an illegitimate daughter who was probably the child of his steward’s daughter, who was known to be his mistress. The executors were a second cousin, Edward Thelwall of Plas-y-ward, Denbighshire and an unidentified member of the Puleston family. They were offered further leases of Salesbury land provided they paid off the debts and allowed annuities to his two brothers; but they declined the charge, and administration of the estate, valued at over £1,000, was granted to the brother John, who had taken over responsibility for the debts to Myddelton when the executors declined to act. This Captain John Salesbury involved himself in the conspiracy of his patron Essex, but he escaped the block, and eventually succeeded to the estate on the death of his nephew in 1608, to die three years later, leaving as his heir the third brother William, who defended Denbigh for the King in the civil war.

Wards 20/173; Salusbury Corresp. ed. Smith (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiv), passim; CSP Ire.1592-6, pp. 200, 301, 321; pat. rolls 36 Eliz.; HMC Foljambe, 26; Lansd. 71, f. 197; C66/1421; J. Hurstfield, Queen’s Wards, 179; PCC 5 Darcy, 41 Wallop; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 237-9; EHR, lix. 353; D’Ewes, 409, 431; DWB, 900-1; HMC Hatfield, vi. 149; ix. 181; Eliz. Govt. and Soc. 270-1, 276 n; NLW, Chirk Castle mss 12540, 86, 100, 104, 115, 134, 158-9, 165, 173, 178, 212, 217, 235, 252, 257; HMC Welsh, ii(2), 484, 648; Bull. Bd. of Celtic Studies, xv. 293.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A.H.D.