Catalogue description Lordship of Ruthin (Denbighshire): Court and Constables' Records

Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.

Date range

Details of WALE 15
Reference: WALE 15
Title: Lordship of Ruthin (Denbighshire): Court and Constables' Records

This series is composed almost entirely of papers relating to proceedings in the lordship court and courts leet, courts baron and views of frankpledge of Ruthin and Dyffryn-Clwyd from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century.

The papers in this series, bundled in 26 boxes, embrace constables' presentments at courts leet and their lists (twice yearly) of freeholders and inhabitant householders of the lordship; documents relating to cases heard in the lordship court at Ruthin, principally in cases of debt recovery and trespass; and two miscellaneous boxes which jumble material (much of it undated) from the preceding sections. The two parchment rolls (both published) predating 1700 are a register of lordship tenants in 1324 and a particular (descriptive survey) of the lordship in 1634 when sold by the Crown to Sir Francis Crane.

WALE 15/8-13 represents an extraction of freeholders, inhabitants and tithingmen lists from the leet records for the years 1742 to 1797. There is a separate file of freeholders from 1747 to 1754, not complete, which is continued in NLW to 1774. The year 1765 is missing.

The documents are in Latin to 1732, the one exception (WALE 15/19/4) being a rather earlier mariage seeltement of 1635.

Date: 1324-1808

WALE 15 consists of 26 boxes, each of which is numbered and contains bundles of papers numbered individually as appears in the series list. There are 312 bundles varying in volume, but documents within the bundles carry no numbers. The bundle numbers are placed on the labels originally attached to them, which carry a description of the contents. Note that this description is not always accurate, and that the dates which accompany it have been revised, where appropriate, in the series list.

Separated material:

Records of the Lordship from 1808-1849 which had remained in private custody and which contain some earlier records missing from WALE 15 were deposited in the National Library of Wales in 1920.

The court rolls of the Marcher lordship of Ruthin and Dyffryn, Clwyd from 1294 to 1654 are in SC 2

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin

Lordship of Ruthin, 1282-

Physical description: 26 bundles and rolls
Custodial history: These records were found in the loft of Ruthin Town Hall in 1854, and were offered to the Public Record Office for safe-keeping. However, it later emerged that contemporary continuations of these records were kept in the lord's custody in the Ruthin Castle estate office. They were initially taken to Ruthin Castle but F Myddleton West, lord of Ruthin, had no objection to their migration. They were at first refused custody by the Public Record Office but accepted, for conservation purposes, in 1859-1860.
Publication note:

For a history of Marcher Lordships, see: R R Davies, Lordship and Society in the March of Wales, 1282-1400 (Oxford 1978) T B Pugh, The Marcher Lordships of South Wales 1415-1536 (Cardiff 1963) W Rees, An Historical Atlas of Wales (Cardiff 1953). The Court Rolls of the lordship of Ruthin or Dyffryn-clwydd in the reign of King Edward the first preserved in the Public Record Office (R A Roberts ed, Cymmrodorion Record Series no 2 London 1893 was edited by the author of a survey of The Public Records relating to Wales' in Y Cymmrodor, vol 10 (London, 1890), which refers to the discovery of the Ruthin documents and assesses their importance (on pp 167-168). Melville Richards, in Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions vol 14 (1965) pp 197-208, includes a map of this lordship opposite p 198. A third version of the map appears in Melville Richards' Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units (Cardiff, 1969) p 265. For the forty shilling subdivision of debt in WALE 15/14-23 see J S Beckman, The forty shilling jurisdictional limit in medieval English personal actions, Legal History Studies 1972 (D Jenkins ed: University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1975) pp 110-117.

Administrative / biographical background:

The lordship of Ruthin was created in 1282 by Edward I, who granted it to Reginald de Grey. It stayed in the Grey family until 1507, when it was sold to Henry VII. It was granted to Ambrose Dudley, earl of Warwick, in 1564, but reverted to the crown by escheat in 1603. In 1634 it was bought by Sir Francis Crane and afterwards passed to the Myddleton family of Chirk in 1677. Subsequently it passed, through a co-heiress, to the (Cornwallis) West family.

The Lord of Ruthin continued to exercise his jurisdiction in debt until the 1820s: this lordship court, held before the steward, was popular in the eighteenth century because of the lowness of costs, but it failed after 1825 following the decision by King's Bench, in Williams v Bagot, against the court's practice of process by attachment.

The lordship court leet was convened at Ruthin twice a year, the Easter leet meeting in April or May and the Michaelmas leet in September or October.

Extent and ownership of the lordship of Ruthin :

The lordship consisted of Ruthin, town and liberties, and the commotes of Dolfeiling (usually rendered 'Dogvoilin' in eighteenth century documents), Llannerch, and Coleion (usually 'Collion' in WALE 15). Dolfeiling embraced the parishes of Llanbedr (Issa), Llandyrnog, Llangwyfan, Llangynhafal, Llanhychan and Llanrhudd, and townships of Aberchwiler [in Bodfari, Flintshire], Maesmynan, Penbedw [in Nannerch, Flintshire], Sbeddyd and Rhydonnen, Llannerch commote embraced the parishes of Llanfair Dyffryn-Clwyd and Llanelidan, including Faenol, Euarth, Garthgynan, Derwen Llannerch, Nantclwyd and Garthyneuadd townships. Coelion commote included the parishes of Derwen (Dyfanner and Ysgeifiog), Clocaenog, Efenechtid, Llanfwrog (including Bodangharad), and the townships of Llanynys, Bryncaredig, Penycoed, Cilygroeslwyd, Maesmancymro, Trefechan and chapelry of Gyffylliog (including Trefor and Treganol).

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research