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The Thelwalls of Plas y Ward and

Catrin of Berain

In the Tudor period, a significant number of the inhabitants of Denbigh and outfit contributed to the life and work of the monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. They also were part of the abort and progress of the City of London and of the University of Oxford. One of the earliest was Sir John Salisbury (1506-1578) who has knighted by Henry VIII, He was a member of the first Parliament, Receiver of North WaIes, ChancelIor and chamberlain of Denbighshire. He was a very rich man; he built a mansion on the fertile and to the east of Denbigh: Lleweni. His assets there were admired my the well-born daughter of the farm Berain, on the shoulder of the Vale of Clwyd, between LIansannan and Llannefydd. In the early 1560s, Catrin of Berain was married to John Salusbury, son of Sir John. She was a daughter of Sir Roland Velville of Beaumaris, who was an illegitimate son of Henry Tudor, King Henry VII. So, Catrin was a cousin of Queen EIizabeth. Catrin’s second son John spent most of his time from 1594 to 1601 in London, as a trainee lawyer at the Middle Temple and part of :he Court entourage (”squire of the body”) of Elizabeth. He came out against the Essex Rebellion and was knighted in June 1601 by Elizabeth. In that year he pubIished a book “Love’s Martyr” which contains contributions from four prominent theatre-writers on the theme of “the Phoenix and the Turtle”. One of these was William Shakespeare, which has given rise to the proposal that there was a friendship between the two men. Catrin’s first husband died. She then married Richard Clough of Denbigh, one of the richest men in Britain. He was a partner to Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of The Royal Exchange (Stock Market). Richard was a merchant, based in Antwerp, and a financier. The Queen gave Catrin two wedding presents, a fine embroidered stomacher and a pair of satin slippers. Back in Denbigh, Richard built two fine houses, Plas Clough, Denbigh, and Bachegraig, between Denbigh and Tremeirchion. However, Richard died in Hamburg, some three years after his marriage. Catrin returned, carrying her late husband’s heart and right hand in a silver casket, to be buried in Denbigh. Catrin then married, for the third time, Maurice Wynn of Gwydir, Llanrwst. A few years later, after she was widowed for the third time, she accepted a proposal of marriage from a much younger man, Edward TheIwalI of PIas y Ward, Ruthin. Here she died. She was buried at Llannefydd Church on September 1st, 1591, alongside her first husband. The name of the house derives from the family of Walter Ward who Iived there in the mid-fourteenth century. Edward Thelwall (d. 1610) was the eIdest son of the distinguished Simon Thelwall (1526-1586) who represented Denbighshire in a number of Parliaments. He was high sheriff of the county in
1572 and judge at the Court of the Marches in 1582. He wrote lengthily on the law and was one of the barons and justices of the seven shires (Chester and the six shires of Gwynedd), appointed by Queen Elizabeth. He died in 1586 and is buried in Ruthin. From the same family comes EubuIe Thelwall (1562-1630) who became principal of Jesus College, Oxford, and is buried in the college chapel. This is part of this college’s long association with Wales. Edward Lord Herbert stayed in Plas y Ward. He writes, “After l had attained the age of  nine… parents thought fit to send me some place where l might learn the Welsh tongue, as believing it necessary to enable me to treat with those of my friends and tenants who understood no other language, whereupon I was recommended to Mr Edward Thellwall, of Place y Ward in Denbyshire: this gentleman I must remember with honour, as having himself acquired the exact knowledge of Greek, Latin, French, ItaIian and Spanish, and all other learning, having for that purpose neither gone beyond seas, nor so much as had the benefit of any universities... I did as little profit in learning the Welsh, or any other of those languages that worthy gentleman understood, as having a tertian ague for the most part of nine months, which was all the time I staid in his house”.   The family of Thelwalls is perhaps the oldest in North Wales of EngIish extraction connected with the parishes of Ruthin and LIanrhydd, and with the Goodmans. Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648) was a widely- published scholar and author in the fields of theology and philosophy. He was brother to George Herbert, the poet. His contact with the Vale of Clwyd and Edward Thelwell may well have contributed to the quality of his writings.
JOHN IDRIS JONES explores the Tudor connections of one of Ruthin’s early homes