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Anti-popery on the Welsh Marches in the Seventeenth Century

  • Philip Jenkins

South Wales and the border counties played a crucial part in the events known as the ‘Popish plot’. The alleged catholic conspiracy laid particular emphasis on the roles allotted to Welsh magnates like Worcester and Powis, with their neighbours and dependants, and invasion plans were said to hinge on strategic centres like Chepstow castle and Milford Haven. Men from this area were active in the’plot’, whether as informers - notably Bedloe - or as parliamentary opponents of the duke of York; Welsh Jesuits were supposedly involved in the main conspiracies and murders, and Border protestants like Bishop Croft were among their main targets. John Arnold of Monmouthshire even aspired to the position in the whig leadership held by Shaftesbury, and the tory Ailesbury regarded the worst villains of the whole ‘plot’ as Arnold himself and his Herefordshire kinsman John Dutton Colt. It was also in this area that the ‘plot’ was at its most violent, and Professor Kenyon's study of the Popish plot rightly refers to ‘this battle area on the frontier of Wale’. ‘The main damage suffered outside London’ by the Jesuits was the loss of the south Wales district headquarters at the Cwm, when this was raided in 1678 by Croft, Arnold, and another ultra-protestant named Charles Price: ‘ the south Wales mission was the only one completely eliminated’. In 1679 a Jesuit wrote from north Wales that’ the college of South Wales was totally rooted up. We of the north have fared a little better, thus far; but God knows how long it is to last, for we live in constant fears and perils, only three of us now remaining’.

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1 M. M. C. O'Keeffe, ‘The popish plot in south Wales and the Marches’ (M.A. thesis, University College, Galway, 1969): I am most grateful to Mrs O'Keeffe for permission to consult this valuable study. The’ plot’ has also been studied in its Welsh context by the Rev. J. H. Canning in several articles in St Peter's Magazine, Cardiff (1923–7); by Davies, Canon E. T., ‘The popish plot in Monmouthshire’, Journal of the Historical Society of the Church in Wales, xxv (1976), 3245; and see Thomas Bruce, earl of Ailesbury, Memoirs (2 vols., Roxburghe club, London, 1890), 1, 146.

2 Kenyon, J. P., The popish plot (London, 1974, Pelican, edn), pp. 238–9, 244–7; Foley, H., Records of the English province of the Society of Jesus (7 vols, London, 1877–1883), v, 868931; and iv, 462–7 for Cwm.

3 Foley, Records, v, 869.

4 Ibid, v, 901. Those executed were Evans and Lloyd at Cardiff, David Lewis at Usk, Kemble at Hereford, and Mahoney at Ruthin. The’ hunted’ were John Archer, Ignatius Price, and Charles Prichard, the last of whom was allegedly involved in the murder of Godfrey.

5 Aveling, J. H., The handle and the axe (London, 1976), ch. 5; Miller, J., Popery and politics (Cambridge, 1973); Bossy, J., The English catholic community 1570–1850 (London, 1975), pp. 97100, 404–7. For the relatively slight disturbance which the ‘plot’ caused to Durham and Lancashire, see Kenyon, Popish plot, p. 238.

6 ‘Bishop Compton's census’, William Salt library, Stafford, MS 33.

7 Commons Journals, ix, 466–71, para. 26 (this source will hereafter be abbreviated to CJ).

8 Ibid.; Lords’ Journals, xii, 449–52; Smith, W. J. ed., Herbert correspondence (Cardiff, 1963), pp. 219–21; Foley, Records, iv, 441–7.

9 Miller, Popery and politics, p. 36; CJ, ix, 466–71; Foley, Records, iv, 462–3.

10 CJ, ix, 466–71.

11 CJ, ix, 466–71; Dictionary of Welsh biography (hereafter, DWB) ‘David Lewis’, ‘David Baker’; National library of Wales (hereafter, NLW), Additional MS 11420E; Salvin, P. and Cressy, S., Life of Father Augustine Baker (London, 1933 edn). For Hereford, Wake, J., The Brudenells of Deene (London, 1954), p. 136; Beales, A. C. F., Education under penalty (London, 1963), pp. 198, 202.

12 CJ, ix, 466–71; Historical MSS Commission, House of Lords MSS eleventh report, appendix, part 11, pp. 229–30. Bradney, J. A., History of Monmouthshire (London, 1904–32, 4 vols), 11, parts 12.

13 CJ, ix, 466–71, paras. 9–15.

14 Ibid.; HMC eleventh report, pp. 207–9, and see below, p. 284.

15 Henning, B. D. (ed.), Parliamentary diary of Sir Edward Dering 1670–3 (Yale, 1940), p. 70.

16 Foley, Records, 1v, 442–4, 469–75; Bayly, T., Worcester's apothegms, or witty sayings of the...late marquis of Worcester (London, 1650), pp. 4, 21, 8891.

17 Roland, Mathias, Whitsun riot (London, 1963), pp. 86–7; Bossy, Catholic community, pp. 98–9, referring to Foley, Records, iv, 472. However, the idea that refugees to the hills would spread the faith remained (literally) a pious hope. John, Lord Hanmer, Memorials of the parish and family of Hanmer in Flintshire (London, 1877), pp. 90–5. Converts included the Carnes of Glamorgan (see p. 290 below) and some Hanmers.

18 CJ, 1x, 466–71; Foley, Records, 1v, 446; Beales, Education 202.

19 Fell, J., Life of the Rev. Henry Hammond (London, 1806 edn), pp. 199200; J. W. Packer, The transformation of Anglicanism (Manchester, 1969), 84; DWB ‘Henry Turberville’; H. Turberville, Abridgement of Christian doctrine (Douai, 1661, 2nd edn); Thomas, W., Turberville in his ‘Manual of controversies’ examined and refuted (London, 1692).

20 Discussed in my Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, ‘A social and political history of the Glamorgan gentry, c. 1650–1770’ (1978), pp. 133–141, which relies on the National Library of Wales collections of Tredegar, Kemys-Tynte, and Penrice and Margam; together with CSPD.

21 O'Keeffe, ‘Popish Plot’, p. 66.

22 Jenkins, ‘Glamorgan gentry’, pp. 133–49, which studies the careers of high royalist gentry like the Stradlings, Kemys's or Judge Jenkins.

23 Discussed in my forthcoming article, ‘ Puritanism in Wales before the Civil War.’

24 Discussed in two forthcoming articles, ‘Welsh anglicans and the interregnum’ (Journal of the Historical Society of the Church in Wales) and ‘The Welsh roundheads after 1660’ (HJ).

25 Kenyon, Popish plot, p. 244.

26 A frequent theme in CSPD from the early 1670s; A. Browning, Thomas Osborne, earl ofDanby (Glasgow, 1944–57, 3 vols.), 111, for the usual assessment of Welsh ‘moderates’ as Court M.P.s in this decade.

27 Ibid. pp. 179–80; NLW Penrice and Margam MSS, L 123; CJ, 1x, pp. 466–71; M. G. Jones, ‘Two accounts of the Welsh Trust’, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, 1x (1939), 71–6; and The charity school movement (London, 1964, new edn), pp. 266–89, 388.

28 DWB, ‘William Thomas’, 'stephen Hughes’; A. H. Dodd, A history of Caernarvonshire 1284–1900 (Denbigh, 1968), p. 173.

29 Owen, C., Some account ofthe life and writings... of Mr James Owen (London, 1709), p. 29; NLW Additional MSS 17103–5 D, fo. C 850–861; Historical MSS Commission: Egmont MSS, n, introduction, and pp. 41–8; Jenkins, G. H., Literature, religion and society in Wales 1660–1730 (Cardiff, 1978), P. 194.

30 NLW Additional MS 1461C, fo. 158; CJ, ix, pp. 466–71; Abstract of several examinations taken upon oath in the counties of Monmouth and Hereford... (London, 1680). For changes in the composition of the Bench, see J. R. S. Phillips, Justices of the peace in Wales and Monmouthshire 1541–1689 (Cardiff, 1975). For Milborne, see above, p. 5. Other notoriously catholic J.P.s included Charles Proger, and possibly Thomas Herbert.

31 Rogers, N., Secret memoirs of Monmouthshire (London, 1708), pp. 87 119; NLW Badminton MSS 11049–54; CSPD, 1678, p. 25; 1679–80, p. 74.

32 CJ, 1x, 466–71; Glamorgan record office, D/DE 700; Stafford'sMemoires (London, 1681); The Pope's downfall at Abergavermy (London, 167g);K. H. D. Haley,’ Shaftesbury's worthy men’, Bulletin ofthe Institute ofHistorical Research, XLIII (1970), 86–105; CSPD, 1680–1, p. 381; 1682, pp. 221,275–7, 318; 1683 Jan.-June), p. 262; Historical MSS Commission Ormonde MSS, n.s., v1, 148; NLW Penrice and Margam MSS, 3658, 9018/4. Other Glamorgan ‘moderates’ who pursued a similar course to Sir Edward Mansell included Humphrey Wyndham, Sir Rowland Gwynne, and Richard Seys.

33 Sprat, T., True account and declaration of the horrid conspiracy… (London, 1685, 2nd edn), pp. 22–3; Bodleian Willis MS, 36, fo. 107; c. Chenevix-Trench, The western rising (London, 1969), pp. 47,85–6, 134,1 79–80, 202;Banks, T. C. (ed.), The ancient usage of arms by Sir William Dugdale, knight (London, 1811), pp. 171–2.

34 J. Tyrrell, General history of England (London, 1700–4, 3 vols. in 5), 1, dedication to Pembroke; NLW Penrice and Margam MS, A 56; Trial of Henry Barm Delamere for treason, January 14th 1685/6 (London, 1686), pp. 6, 18–9. Tyrrell's sister married Philip Hoby of Neath, the ‘moderate’ son of a presbyterian member in the Long Parliament.

35 G. R. Abernathy, ‘The English Presbyterians and the Stuart Restoration’Transactions of the American philosophical society, LV (1965).

36 Kenyon, Popish plot, pp. 1–36.

37 Aubrey's brief lives, ed. O. L. Dick (London, 1972, Penguin edn), p. 455; O. G. S. Croft, The house of Croft castle (Hereford, 1949), pp. 89–98.

38 O'Keeffe, ‘Popish plot’, p. 23, for John Scudamore as a lapsed catholic. Mathias, Riot, pp. 14–35, 120–6; Historical MSSCommission: Portland MSS; fourteenth report, app., part II, 1–21; T. L. Lewis (ed.), Letters of Lady Brilliana Harley (London, 1853, Camden Society), pp. xv-xvii.

39 J. Toland, Life of Milton (London, 1699), dedication; M. A. Faraday (ed.), Herefordshire militia assessments of 1663 (Camden fourth series, vol. x, 1972), pp. 171–9; D. Underdown, Pride's purge (Oxford, 1971) p. 314; J. Duncumb, Collection towards the history and antiquities of Herefordshire (Hereford, 1804), pp. 111–2. G. E. Aylmer, ‘Who ruled Herefordshire from 1645 to 1661?’, Transactions of the Woolhope club, XL (1972), 373–87, a reference I owe to Dr John Morrill.

40 Phillips, Justices; T. A. Birrell (ed.), The history of the English persecution of catholics and the Presbyterian plot, by John Warner (Catholic record society, vols XLVII-XLVIII (1953)), p. 299.

41 CJ, ix, 466–71; Mathias, Riot, pp. 32–3; A. H. Dodd,’ Wales's parliamentary apprenticeship’, Transactions of the Cymmrodorion Society 1942, p. 63.

42 Warner, History, p. 219; Foley, Records, v, 902.

43 A. H. Dodd, Studies in Stuart Wales (Cardiff, 1971), p. 169; NLW Brogyntyn MSS, 1955 v; Calendar of Compounding, pp. 162, 3175; Sprat, Horrid conspiracy, pp. 22–3.

44 Jones, E. G., Cymma'r henffydd (Cardiff, 1951), pp. 18, 74–92; CJ, ix, 466–71; Foley, Records, v, 917–32.

45 Stafford's Memoires; F. H. Pugh, ‘Glamorgan recusants’, South Wales and Monmouthshire record society, 111 (1954), pp. 49–67.

46 Historical MSS Commission; Delisle and Dudley MSS, vii, 429–30; NLW Kemys-Tynte MS 17 (1676) and Penrice and Margam MS, L 221; Additional MS 11017Horwitz, E. H. (ed.), Parliamentary diary of Narcissus Luttrell 1691–3 (Oxford, 1972), p. 468.

47 Glamorgan Record Office, D/DF/L7; Warner, History, p. 307; Cardiff Central Library, deeds, 462. There was a catholic family of Gibbs in Bristol at this time: W. Barrett, History of Bristol (Bristol, 1789), p. 651.

48 Bodleian MS Walker C 4, fo. 72; Foley, Records, Iv, 438–9.

49 Dodd, Caernarvonshire, pp. 168–9; DWB, ‘Myles Davies’.

50 Jenkins, ‘Puritanism’; DWB, ‘Wroth’, ‘Christopher Price’.

51 The trial of John Giles (London, 1681). The alleged assassin was Thomas Herbert, a close friend of Worcester, and said to be a crypto-papist Justice: see above, note 30.

52 Davies, ‘Popish plot’, pp. 41–2; Foley, Records, v, 912.

53 Bossy, Catholic community, pp. 150–68.

54 Foley, Records, iv, 439; Pope's downfall.

55 Midsummer night's dream, act III, scene 11.

56 Toland, J., Miscellaneous works (2 vols, London, 1747), 1, biographical introduction; E. P. Shirley, Hanley and the house of Lechmere (London, 1883); W. Beaumont (ed.), Jacobite trials at Manchester 1694 (Chetham society, Manchester, 1853), p. xvii.

57 Hughes, E., The north-east 1700–50 (Oxford, 1969), pp. 268–9.

58 Horwitz (ed.), Luttrell diary, p. 191; S. W. Baskerville ‘The management of the tory interest in Lancashire and Cheshire 1714–47’ (D.Phil thesis, Oxford, 1976), pp. 13–5, 20–5; Bodleian MS, Carte, 228, fo. 237. We can also find recognizable figures from other great catholic gentry, like the Cambridgeshire Huddlestons; and William Huddleston was a catholic priest who apostasized in 1729 — interestingly, in Manchester - and later wrote the tract Irresistible evidence against popery (1731). In the 1750s, there was a certain William Arnold, who renounced Catholicism and attributed jesuit plots to the Mostyns and Bedingfields; but I do not know if he was related to the earlier priest-hunter. Archibald Bower's affidavit against papist accusations (London, 1756); Letter to Mr A------d concerning his motives for renouncing the popish… religion (London, 1758).

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