Court and country: Pembrokeshire elites in the

Household of Henry VIII


By Roger Turvey

It is recommended that in each county of the kingdom a certain number of the more sufficient men of good fame should be retained … and that such persons should be paid a reasonable salary, according to their condition in life … charged carefully and diligently to save the estate of the king and his people in their localities.1


Thus, did the Council advise the king, Henry IV, to ensure that he kept the throne he had recently seized from Richard II.  Having usurped his unpopular royal cousin in September 1399, Henry Bolingbroke, duke of Lancaster, was vulnerable and in need of a means to bind the propertied classes of the kingdom in a closer relationship with his newly acquired crown. By appointment, promotion and delegation the king increased the size and scope of his affinity by drawing into the ambit of his authority those men of wealth and power who dominated the localities. Henry IV’s success in extending the Crown’s influence beyond the confines of the Court can be measured by the fact that he not only kept his throne, he passed it on unchallenged to his son and heir, Henry V. It was a lesson not lost on his successors who continued the practice of recruiting local elites to the royal household. Among the most active in this regard was Henry VIII whose liberal patronage of local governors did much to build bridges between his Court and the counties. This was important because, as R.B Smith pointed out, Henry VIII ‘was far from omnipotent, and the real measure of his power was his ability to have his decisions executed at the level of the county and village’.2 The critical importance of the relationship between ‘Court’ and ‘country’ had long been recognised as an essential part of the Crown’s ability to govern the kingdom effectively. By the same token, membership of the royal household bolstered and enhanced the status and influence of these ‘local governors’ for whom it became, in the opinion of John Guy, ‘unthinkable … to distinguish between the Crown’s authority and their own’.3 This article seeks to examine the link between the Court and household of Henry VIII, and the leading gentry of early Tudor Pembrokeshire.

Rhys Robinson was the first to explore ‘the Welsh connection’, that link between Henry VIII’s household and men recruited to it from Wales.4 His pioneering research focused mainly on the 1520s and was based on the evidence culled from ‘a book in the Exchequer archives recording the names of Chamber knights, esquires, carvers, cupbearers, sewers and gentlemen ushers in separate lists for each of the English shires and for South Wales and North Wales’.5 From this ‘book in the Exchequer’, compiled in or around 1522 and comprising ‘seventy-four paper leaves in parchment covers’, Robinson identified thirty-nine Welshmen whom the Crown recruited to the household.6 However, other contemporary records have yielded the names of an additional five Welsh members of Henry VIII’s household, all of whom hailed from Pembrokeshire, which pushes the total number to forty-four.7 Fifteen of the forty-four were recruited from North Wales while the remaining twenty-nine came from South Wales, and of this latter group Pembrokeshire supplied eleven ‘men of good fame’.8 (see Appendix I).

The Court and the royal household were interdependent and thus indistinguishable. The Court was wherever the king could be found, it was where he lived and from where he ruled. As the king moved so did the Court, from palace to palace, mainly, though not exclusively, in and around London. The king’s household existed within the Court, the physical manifestation of which was the palace of choice at any given time. The structure and layout of Henry’s palaces varied but each of them afforded him the right to privacy and enabled him to maintain the divisions within the household. Broadly speaking, the royal household was divided into three departments: the Chamber, Privy Chamber and the household ‘below stairs’. The household below stairs was staffed by non-gentle servants who worked in areas such as the kitchen, laundry and garden. This service side of the royal household was the responsibility of the Lord Steward, whereas the household ‘above stairs’ was headed by the Lord Chamberlain. Needless to say, the Pembrokeshire elites were to be found in the household above stairs.

The Chamber consisted of the Great (or Guard) Chamber, the Presence Chamber and the Privy Chamber. The division between the three sub-Chambers was both real and physical with the king’s bodyguard having their own suite of rooms in one area of the palace but in close proximity to both the Presence and Privy Chambers. The Presence, or outer Chamber, consisted of a number of rooms and a large hall which contained the throne and canopy. It was where the king dined in state, received important visitors, entertained foreign ambassadors and met with his Council.9 This was the most public part of the Court and the one to which the ambitious could reasonably aspire to attend either by invitation or by appointment. Invitations to Court were occasional whereas those offered appointments joined a staff of hundreds in the Chamber. John Guy has estimated that in the period between Henry VIII’s accession in 1509 and 1540 the king recruited 493 chamber officials, of which 120 were knights and esquires.10

The Privy or secret Chamber was where the king spent much of his time in a suite of private apartments including his bedroom, dining room and day rooms. Admittance to this part of the household was strictly controlled and only those most favoured by the king found a place there. The exclusivity of the Privy Chamber can be gauged by the fact that it had a paid staff of some twenty-four servants: eighteen Gentlemen and six Grooms (including two Groom-Barbers).11 The most senior servant was the Groom of the Stool who saw to the king’s most intimate bodily functions. One of the longest serving Grooms of the Stool was Sir William Compton who occupied the post for fifteen years (1509-26) and of whom it is said ‘did enormously well out of the king’s service’.12 Indeed, among the many offices Compton accumulated through his royal service three were based in Pembrokeshire: in March 1514 he, along with another member of the king’s household, Sir Wistan Brown, was granted, in survivorship, the posts of steward, chancellor and surveyor of the lordship of Haverfordwest.13 The men who served in the Privy Chamber were among the most powerful and influential in the Court because they had daily access to the king who treated most of them as his friends. The pursuit of power, be it political, social or economic, or a combination of all three, is what drew men to the Court and household but the politics of access and intimacy had a dark side. Rivalry and jealousy sometimes led to blood-letting, as occurred in 1536 when Compton’s successor as Groom of the Stool, Sir Henry Norris, was executed for treason. Norris, along with his fellow ‘minions’, the group of half a dozen or so courtiers who made up Henry VIII’s immediate circle within the Privy Chamber, William Brereton, Sir Francis Weston, Sir Nicholas Carew and Sir George Boleyn, was the victim of faction fighting at Court in which Cromwell engineered the demise of his rivals by accusing them, among other crimes, of adultery with the queen, Anne Boleyn.14 Henry’s willingness to abandon Norris was especially marked as the two had formed a particularly close relationship over twenty years: in 1530 Norris won a total of sixteen angels (a gold coin worth 10s.) by winning four times against Henry at tennis, and at other times the king also lost to him at dice and bowls.15 Perhaps Henry was a particularly bad loser!

The Pembrokeshire eleven may have aspired to join this elite group but they only made it as far as the outer Chamber. Admittance to the household may have brought these men into contact with the king but this did not necessarily mean they formed a close relationship with him. It is highly unlikely that any of the Pembrokeshire elite were sufficiently well acquainted with the king to be invited to play tennis or bowls with their royal master. The roles assigned the Pembrokeshire eleven reveal much about their status and position within the household: as a yeoman of the guard, Maurice Wogan was based in the Great or Guard Chamber and was charged with ensuring the safety of the king’s person. As sewers, William Adams, John Eliot and John Philipps were responsible for the serving of meals and the seating of guests in the public dining room. As a quarter-waiter, John Wogan attended to the needs of the more important guests at the dining table, a task he discharged alongside his other duty as a gentleman usher, one of a number of men responsible for the doors to and from the Chamber. Wogan worked alongside another Pembrokeshire-based gentleman, Thomas Jones, who was entrusted with the task of controlling admittance to the Chamber. Besides his role as a gentleman usher of the Presence or outer Chamber, Jones was also listed in household records as a Groom of the Chamber, the duties of which varied but the traditional responsibilities associated with the office involved keeping the palace rooms in good order in terms of routine maintenance such as cleaning, lighting fires, the setting of clocks and other such mundane but necessary tasks. Grooms were also occasionally used as royal messengers both at home and abroad for which they could claim riding charges.16

The knights and esquires of the household, namely, Sir John Wogan, Sir James ab Owen, Thomas Philipps (later knighted) and Thomas Perrot, esquires, were altogether of a different class to their county compatriots being men of higher status and importance. The role of the knights and esquires of the household lay mainly in the enactment of the show of ceremonial ‘magnificence’ on state occasions and in ‘court entertainments (the principal shop window of monarchy)’.17 According to the writer of the Liber Niger Domus Regis Angliae these knights and esquires were ‘to be chosen of their possession, worship and wisdom, also to be of sundry shires, by whom it may be known[n] the disposition of the counties’.18 Clearly, men like Wogan, ab Owen, Philipps and Perrot, had another equally significant function to fulfil as conduits through which the Crown could keep abreast of news, events and developments in the localities. Tapping into their local knowledge, influence and connections, the Crown could bolster its authority in localities which were remote and, in some parts of Wales at any rate, lawless. Equally, it enabled the Crown to keep an eye on these men, to influence their behaviour and control their conduct in discharging their administrative, judicial and political duties in the localities in which they lived and claimed to rule.

Thus far, one might be forgiven for thinking that the Pembrokeshire members of Henry VIII’s household were domiciled in and around London and in regular attendance at Court, but this is not the case. These men did not form part of the king’s regular household staff, nearly five hundred strong, who served him on a daily basis; rather they were supernumeraries who attended Court sporadically, either summoned on specific occasions – the visits of foreign dignitaries – or else coming on their own initiative, such as attending Parliament (from 1542) or to present a petition either to a patron or the king. Admittance to the household, and occasional attendance at Court, brought such men into a direct relationship with the king while enabling them to reside mainly in their own localities. It has been estimated that in the decade between 1525 and 1535, the period for which we have extant records, the Crown recruited around 263 supernumeraries to its household, of which 182 were knights and esquires.19 The eleven members from Pembrokeshire were among this group of ‘local men the Crown attempted to make its own at minimum cost’.20 In the opinion of D.A.L. Morgan, ‘Their role as a group was to realize kingly style in its various manifestations, and to embody the king’s sense of his own role in the conduct of affairs’.21

Contemporaries understood that regular and near access to the king outside the public spaces signified political intimacy. The Pembrokeshire elite may have lacked this intimacy with the king but this apparent handicap did not detract from the benefits of household membership, even in a supernumerary capacity. Although the supernumeraries from Pembrokeshire did not enjoy the privilege of ‘bouge of court’, they did constitute, what Geoffrey Elton termed, ‘a reserve fund of servants’.22 Therefore, there was always the hope that a summons to attend Court might provide an opportunity either to meet the king in person or at least to come to his attention by name or deed. For example, in May 1519 John Wogan of ‘Balliston’ (Boulston) was summoned to attend the king at Windsor Castle where it was planned ‘to holde and keepe a solemn feast to the Honnour of God, and Sainte George and of the Noble Order of the Garter’.23 Wogan has left a vivid eye-witness account of the lavish banquet that was attended by the king and ‘fowerscore Bachelour Knights, and also a great number of Esquiers and Gentlemen’, four earls, ten barons and ‘twenty Knights of the Noble Order of the Garter’.24 From his lengthy description of this, and other ‘solemn feasts’, it seems that Wogan was a passive observer, one of Elton’s ‘reserve fund of servants’ perhaps, to the events that evening. The following, brief, description of the serving of the first course of the three-course ‘supper’ may indicate why Wogan, a mere gentleman, did not fully participate in the duties of service on that particular occasion:

Sir David Owen was Carver and carved to the Kinge, Frances Bryan was Cupbearer, and beare the Kinges cupp, Sir Edward Nevill was Sewar, and he sewed to the Kinge, and the Kinge was honorably served for none under the degree of a Knight bare a Dish that night to the Kings Board (table).25

Whatever the truth of his participation, Wogan seems to have made an impression on either the king or, more likely, his head of household, the Lord Chamberlain, Charles Somerset, earl of Worcester, for in March 1520 the Welshman was again summoned to serve in the king’s household when he, along with several hundred other royal servants, travelled with Henry VIII to France to meet with the French king, Francis I.26 Wogan was one of a select band of Welshmen who were present at the great diplomatic summit known as The Field of the Cloth of Gold which ran from 7-24 June 1520. Why Wogan, alone of the Pembrokeshire contingent of royal servants, should be summoned to serve in person on such an important diplomatic mission, is not known but it may have been due, in part, to the influence of the earl of Worcester, the man responsible for running the royal household and, more significantly, for organising the summit in France.

Henry VIII


Henry VIII arriving at The Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. A painting in the Royal Collection by an unknown artist (c.1545) at Hampton Court Palace.


In addition, it is worth noting that although Worcester had ‘no hereditary connections with Wales’, he had, in the opinion of his biographer, Jonathan Hughes, ‘established that country as the principal sphere of his political and economic influence’.27 Wogan’s experience suggests that the Pembrokeshire elite was rarely, if ever, summoned to serve as a group but rather as individuals, and that for supernumeraries the system of royal service was ad hoc.

Ad hoc or not, the advantages of household membership were many and varied. At its most intangible, service in the king’s household may be ‘seen as conferring honour on those who performed it and no doubt added greatly to a gentleman’s prestige and status in his own locality’.28 Given that as late as 1602 the antiquary and writer, George Owen of Henllys, estimated the number of gentry families in Pembrokeshire at forty-seven, the eleven members of Henry VIII’s household did indeed form an exclusive elite.29 At a more tangible level, the benefits of household membership manifested themselves in appointments to royal offices in Pembrokeshire and elsewhere in south-west Wales. It is noteworthy that following his service at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, John Wogan, described as a ‘gentleman usher, quarter wayter of the Chamber’, was appointed to the office of bailiff itinerant of the lordship of Haverfordwest in December 1520.30 Given that Wogan had been a member of the king’s household since at least 1513, he had to bide his time in securing local office though he and his cousin, and fellow member of the king’s household, William Wogan of Milton near Carew, were granted the lease of the islands of Skokholm, Middleholm, and Skomer, and of a watermill at Camrose in July 1512.31 This lease was renewed in May 1522 and extended for 21 years at an annual rent of £4 6s. 8d.32

In August 1524 Wogan, ‘gentleman usher of the Chamber’, joined his household colleague, James Jankyn, ‘yeoman usher’, as ‘ragler’ or constable of Cardiganshire.33 Five months later, in January 1525, Wogan was appointed to the post of bailiff of the lordship of Rhos, Pembrokeshire.34 That this appointment was made ‘in consideration of his services in England and abroad’, suggests that Wogan’s service in the household was not only acknowledged but valued.35 Taken in conjunction with the fact that he was one among a select group of royal servants named in the Eltham Ordinances of January 1526, drawn up by Henry VIII’s chief minister, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, as a blueprint for the reform of the king’s household, suggests that Wogan had firmly established himself at Court.36  It seem that Wogan had sufficiently impressed his royal employer to secure a permanent, salaried position in the household.37 Indeed, it appears that there was a waiting list of potential suitors for posts at Court. For example, in October 1510, Peter de Champaygne, esquire of the body, a supernumerary position, was granted an annuity of £20 from the customs of Southampton, ‘till he be promoted’, and a place of esquire for the body, with its fee of 50 marks a year (£26 13s. 8d.), became vacant.38

Wogan’s good fortune in acquiring these, admittedly modest rewards for his royal service, was matched by Thomas Philipps of Picton. A Carmarthenshire man by birth and upbringing, Philipps of Cilsant married Joan Dwnn, daughter and heiress of Henry Dwnn of Picton and thereafter, his life and career were firmly planted in Pembrokeshire. Philipps royal service began much earlier than his contemporaries, having been appointed an esquire of the body sometime during the reign of Henry VII.39 With the death of Henry VII in April 1509, Philipps transferred, with apparent ease, to the household of his successor. Within weeks of Henry VIII’s succession, Philipps was appointed, in May 1509, one of the stewards and receivers of the lordships of Llanstephan and Ystlwyf. Four months later, in September 1509, he was appointed  coroner and escheator of Pembrokeshire and of the lordship of Haverfordwest.  In the French war of 1513 he was captain of a retinue of a hundred men and, in October of that year, he was knighted.40 In October 1516, Philipps became sheriff of Pembrokeshire, ‘during the king’s pleasure’,which usually meant for life, and bailiff itinerant in the lordship of Haverfordwest.41 Uniquely, Sir Thomas Philipps was joined in the king’s household by his son and heir, John, who succeeded his father in most of his offices. In December 1520 the Patent Roll records the following grant

John Thomas ap Philip, sewer, and John Lloid, page, of the Chamber. To be stewards and receivers of the lordships of Llanstephan and Oisterlowe, S. Wales, during pleasure, with 100s. a year. Sir Th[omas] ap Philip and Maurice Lloyd, their fathers, having held the same offices.42

Thomas Jones was another who benefitted from his household connection.43 Like Philipps, Jones was an outsider who made Pembrokeshire his home, where he acquired land and pursued a lucrative career in the local administration. However, unlike Philipps, Jones came to dominate the administrative and political life of the county. As the nephew of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, arguably the most powerful man in south-west Wales and the possessor of Carew Castle, Jones was certainly well connected. This connection may explain how and why Jones was recruited to the king’s household, either in or a little before 1513, since a recommendation from his uncle, Sir Rhys, would have carried considerable weight. Having secured membership of the household, as a groom of the chamber, Jones was among those who took advantage of the opportunity to seek patronage, cultivate friendships and establish social connections. Royal service and social contacts had borne fruit by the mid-1520s when Jones was appointed to a succession of Crown offices in the principality of south Wales, among them bailiff itinerant of Cardigan in 1525, steward and receiver of the lordship of Llandovery, and constable of its castle in 1527.

Jones’s entrée into Pembrokeshire society came by way of marriage to Mary, the widow of a fellow member of the king’s household, Thomas Perrot of Haroldston.44 It is likely that Jones had first become acquainted with his future wife by virtue of his household membership, which highlights the opportunities available to those with an eye to social and economic advancement. Following his marriage, contracted sometime in late 1531 or early 1532, Jones relocated from Carmarthenshire to Pembrokeshire when he set up home at Haroldston. He soon began to accumulate offices in his adopted county and within a decade he had become, arguably, the most powerful man in Pembrokeshire. For example, in 1532 Jones was appointed steward of the lordships of Haverford and Laugharne, and by 1539, if not earlier, he had joined the town council of Haverfordwest, becoming one of its most prominent members.

Clearly, household membership provided opportunities for ambitious men to further their careers but the target for patronage did not necessarily focus on the king alone. It was as likely to include those around him, his favourites and, more especially, his ministers, men like Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. These were influential men who wielded great power and who had the ear of the king. Jones was certainly one of the Pembrokeshire elite who benefitted enormously from Cromwell’s patronage, enabling him to enrich himself and enhance his social standing and political power in south-west Wales. The disgrace and execution in 1531 of his cousin, Rhys ap Gruffudd, the grandson and heir of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, transformed Jones’s position because he became the main beneficiary of the re-distribution of the confiscated estates. The acquisition of land was followed by the accumulation of further offices: in 1540 Jones was the first to be pricked as sheriff of the newly created shire of Pembroke and was among the first to be nominated to the Commission of the Peace in 1543. Later that same year, Jones was appointed constable of Tenby and Narberth castles together with the offices of surveyor, steward and receiver of the lordships of Narberth and Coedrath. Jones was also the first to be appointed county feodary in early 1546, while his younger brother, Morgan, who had also settled in the county, was pricked as sheriff in 1547.

Following the enfranchisement of Wales in the Acts of Union, Jones became the first member of Parliament for Pembrokeshire in 1542 during which session he was knighted by Henry VIII. In 1543 Jones used his influence in Court circles to sponsor an act of Parliament that not only restored Haverfordwest’s ancient rights and privileges as a county borough independent of the authority of the shire (which had been taken away by the so-called first Act of Union in 1536), but also enfranchised the town with one Member of Parliament. Although the original return has been lost there is every reason to suspect that Jones was returned as Haverfordwest’s first ever representative in Parliament in the election of 1545. This might explain why John Wogan of Wiston was returned as member for the county in 1545, and not Jones, who would represent the county again in 1547.

Jones’s accumulation of offices and property dwarfed that of his household colleagues from Pembrokeshire. Certainly, William Adams, John Eliot and William Wogan do not seem to have benefitted from their household service to the same degree as Jones. As men of modest means and influence, they had to make do with lesser offices. For example, in 1524 Eliot is listed as porter of Tenby castle for which office he received the annual sum of 60s. 8d.45 Although William Adams does not appear on any known list of officeholders in the county, it is possible that his son and heir, John, succeeded him in the posts of bailiff of the castle and lordship of Carew, bailiff of the manor of Angle and bailiff and collector of rents of the manor of Burton.46 These offices were in the king’s gift and it is likely that, as in the case of the Philipps family, Henry VIII was content for the son to succeed the father.

Why these men were never entrusted with more significant authority in Pembrokeshire is not known but it was not due to a dearth of offices. Indeed, Pembrokeshire proved to be a happy hunting ground for those members of the king’s household who were rewarded with both office and land. For example, in August 1509 William Parr was appointed steward, chancellor and receiver of the county and lordship of Pembroke.47 He had served Henry VII as an esquire of the king’s body and was promoted by Henry VIII as knight of the king’s body. By virtue of his offices, for which he received an annual stipend of £26 13s. 4d., Parr, knighted in 1513, was the most powerful man in Pembrokeshire but it is unlikely that he ever set foot in the county.48 From a Court roll of 1526-27, it is clear that Parr had delegated the running of the county to a deputy, Rhys ap Gruffudd of Carew, who, in turn, had invested his authority in two deputies, namely, John Wogan of Wiston and William Owen of Henllys.49 Parr held the chief offices in the Pembrokeshire administration until 1533, serving in absentia for nearly twenty-five years. Other members of the household were similarly rewarded (for a full list see appendix II), men like Robert Acton, a page of the Privy Chamber, who was granted the reversion of the offices of constable and janitor of Haverfordwest castle in February 1526.50 Acton was intended to succeed his household colleague John Stephens, marshal of the King’s Hall.51 What these men, together with at least a half-dozen others, had in common, was that they were outsiders, mainly Englishmen, who had no prior connection with Pembrokeshire and who were unlikely ever to visit the county. The king exploited the county to reward his servants with sinecures, offices for which local deputies were appointed to carry out the duties of the absent post-holders. One can but wonder what the likes of William Adams, John Eliot and William Wogan thought of these outsiders, royal servants like themselves, but being more amply rewarded.

Another member of the king’s household who was generously rewarded with office in Pembrokeshire was Morris ap Harry (or Parry) of Cwrt Henry in Carmarthenshire.52 His membership of the royal household can be traced to as early as June 1509 when he is described as Yeoman of the Bottles.53 By 1514 he had been promoted to Yeoman of the King’s Mouth in the cellar, later becoming gentleman of the cellar in 1527 in which post he effectively ran the king’s wine cellar. Clearly, ap Harry was no supernumerary but an active servant employed on the king’s business within his master’s household. Ap Harry’s household promotions were matched by grants of office, for example, in October 1514 he was appointed constable of Tenby castle and keeper of the forest of Coedrath for life, for which he received an annual fee of £4 11s.54 This was followed in September 1527 by his appointment as constable of Cardigan castle. As a further sign of his standing in the household, in January 1532, ap Harry joined Thomas Jones of Haroldston on a commission to seize the lands, goods and other possessions of Rhys ap Gruffudd of Carew who had been executed for treason the previous month. Besides rewards in cash and office elsewhere in Wales and England, Pembrokeshire again provided him with a lucrative appointment when, in April 1532, he was confirmed as steward and receiver of the castle, lordship and manor of Narberth with an annual fee of £5 6s. 8d.55

Although ap Harry was busily engaged at Court, he did occasionally find time to visit Pembrokeshire to discharge his offices in person. He involved himself in county affairs in other ways, such as in 1529 when he purchased the wardship of a young John Perrot of Scotsborough for £30.56 It is possible that Perrot was brought to ap Harry’s manor at Stepney in Middlesex, where the Welshman could care for his ward whilst seeing to his household duties at the king’s Court. On a less reputable note, in c. 1530 ap Harry was accused by Richard Funche, yeoman, of abducting his wife, Alice, from Carew and taking her to his house at Stepney.57 That Alice, daughter and heir of John Jelyan, gentleman, later appeared alongside her supposed abductor as a defendant in the dock, might suggest that her kidnapping was not altogether unwelcome or unplanned.

Membership of the king’s household was by no means the only form of obligation by which individual Pembrokeshire gentlemen might be bound to the Crown. Other obligations included office-holding by royal appointment, military service, land tenure, grants and honours such as knighthood. For example, although William Perrot of Haroldston was among hundreds of guests invited to the festivities organised to celebrate the wedding of Prince Arthur and Katherine of Aragon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in November 1501, he was one of only eighty-four men to receive the honour of knighthood. This suggests that Perrot, together with fellow Pembrokeshire gentlemen, John Wogan of Wiston and James ab Owen of Pentre Ifan, was not unknown to Henry VII, but, unlike his two colleagues, he was never appointed to the royal household. Again, in September 1513, Sir William Perrot’s son and heir, Owen, was dubbed a knight by Henry VIII at the church in Tournai, France. This honour was conferred by the king for Perrot’s service in the war against the French but, like his father, he, too, was never admitted to the royal household.58

Power existed on many levels. At a local level the county and borough offered the best prospect of promotion, whilst at regional level, Welsh aspirants sought membership of the Council of Wales and the Marches. The highest level of power, of course, was at the centre, the Court and the royal household, membership of which brought those eager for power and influence into the orbit, though not necessarily the company, of the monarch. According to Rhys Robinson, ‘Membership of the royal household [was] particularly effective in encouraging loyalty to the Crown and support for royal government because it entailed taking a special oath of fidelity to the king’.59 The Pembrokeshire elite were certainly eager to offer their services to the king and to take that oath of fidelity. The benefits of household membership are plain to see, but it is clear that not all of the Pembrokeshire elite benefitted equally. Adams, Eliot and William Wogan did not secure the kind of offices and power that was enjoyed by their county compatriots. That they may have benefitted in other ways is entirely possible but the evidence, such as it is, does not permit an alternative conclusion. Some of the greatest beneficiaries of royal patronage in Pembrokeshire were those household retainers who had no discernible connection with the county. Thus far, thirteen members of Henry VIII’s household have been identified as recipients of offices in Pembrokeshire. Even Anne Boleyn had cause to be grateful for the fact that Pembrokeshire was a crown possession, when she was gifted the earldom and its constituent lordships by her husband, Henry VIII. The link between the household of Henry VIII and Pembrokeshire was a particularly strong one,with the county’s gentry accounting for a quarter of the total number of royal servants recruited from Wales. Given that Pembrokeshire was but one of thirteen counties in post-Union Wales, this is significant and impressive.


Appendix I

List of Pembrokeshire elites in Henry VIII’s household:


Sir John Wogan of Wiston

Sir James ab Owen of Pentre Ifan


Thomas Perrot (Peryet) of Haroldston

Esquire of the body

Sir Thomas Philipps of Picton


William Adams of Paterchurch

John Eliot (Elyott) of Earwere or Amroth

John Philipps of Picton [also served as Steward of the king’s chamber]

(sometimes referred to as John Thomas ap Phillip)

Gentlemen Ushers

William Wogan of Milton

John Wogan of Boulston [also served as quarter-waiter]

Thomas Jones (Johnys) of Haroldston and Abermarlais [also served as Groom of the chamber]

Yeoman of the guard

Maurice Wogan of Boulston and Banbury in Oxfordshire


Appendix II

Household servants rewarded with offices in Pembrokeshire

Robert Acton, esquire, of Elmley Lovett, Worcestershire (d. 1558)

Household Offices: Groom of the chamber, 1518; Page of the Privy Chamber 1526; Gentleman usher, 1528.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Constable and janitor of Haverfordwest Castle, 1526-52.

Sir Wistan Brown of Rookwood, Essex (d. 1535)

Household Offices: Esquire of the King’s Body, 1509

Pembrokeshire Offices: Steward, chancellor and receiver of the lordship of Haverfordwest, 1509-1517.

Sir William Compton of Compton, Warwickshire (d. 1528)

Household Offices: Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, Groom of the Stool, 1510-26.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Steward, chancellor and receiver of the lordship of Haverfordwest, 1514-15 (Jointly with Brown).

Sir Ralph Egerton of Ridley, Cheshire (d. 1528)

Household Offices: Marshal of the Prince’s Hall (Prince Arthur), 1501-2; Gentleman Usher of the Chamber, 1509; Knight of the King’s Body, 1523; Treasurer of the Princess’s Household (Mary), 1525.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Steward, chancellor and receiver of the lordship of Haverfordwest, 1525-28.

Morris ap Harry, esquire, of Cwrt Henry, Carmarthenshire (d. 1540)

Household Offices: Yeoman of the king’s bottles, 1509; Yeoman of the king’s mouth in his cellar, 1514; Gentleman of the cellar, 1527.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Constable of Tenby castle and keeper of the forest of Coedrath, 1514-40; Steward and receiver of the castle, lordship and manor of Narberth, 1532-40.

Robert Moffett

Household Offices: Groom of the chamber, 1541

Pembrokeshire Offices: Clerk of the peace in Pembrokeshire, 1541

David Morgan, esquire, of Loughor, Glamorgan (d. 1543)

Household Offices: Sewer of the chamber; Esquire of the household.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Bailiff of the lordships of Stackpole, April 1528

Peter Mutton, esquire, of Meliden, Flintshire (d. 1551)

Household Offices: Yeoman of the Guard; Yeoman usher of the chamber.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Constable of Pembroke Castle, March 1528

Sir William Parr of Horton, Northamptonshire (d. 1547)

Household Offices: Esquire of the King’s Body (Henry VII, c. 1507); Knight of the King’s Body (Henry VIII, (c. 1512); Chamberlain, household of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond 1525-36; Chamberlain, household of Queen Catherine Parr 1543-47.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Steward, chancellor and receiver of the lordship and county of Pembroke 1509-33.

Griffith Rede, esquire, of Carmarthen (d. 1509)

Household Offices: Esquire of the King’s Body (Henry VII), 1502

Pembrokeshire Offices: Steward, chancellor, receiver and approver of the lordship and county of Pembroke, the lordship of Haverfordwest and the lordship of Cemais, 1504-9; Coroner and escheator of the lordship and county of Pembroke and the lordship of Haverfordwest, 1504-9.

Griffith Rede, esquire, of Carmarthen (d. 1533)

Household Offices: Yeoman of the Guard, 1517; Gentleman usher of the chamber, 1528; Clerk ‘of the Check’, 1532.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Customer and Butler of  Pembroke, Haverfordwest and Tenby, 1528-33; Bailiff Itinerant of the Lordship of Haverfordwest, customer and Butler of Haverfordwest 1532.

John Stephens

Household Offices: Marshal of the King’s Hall, 1526.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Constable and janitor of Haverfordwest Castle, to 1526.

Sir William Thomas of Aberglasney, Carmarthenshire (d. 1542)

Household Offices: Groom of the chamber (Prince Arthur), 1499-1502; Groom of the chamber (Henry VIII), 1503.

Pembrokeshire Offices: Steward, chancellor and receiver of the lordship of Haverfordwest, 1528-42 (reversion of the office granted in 1521).



  1. Quoted in Parliamentary Papers, Volume 19: Reports from commissioners (16 Vols., vol. 6, London, 1839), 200; For a fuller discussion in context see, D. Biggs, ‘Henry IV and his Justices of the Peace: the Lancastrianization of Justice, 1399-1413’in Biggs, S. Michalove & A.C. Reeves (eds.), Traditions and Transformations in Late Medieval England (Brill, 2002), 59-79.
  2. B. Smith, Land and Politics in the England of Henry VIII: The West Riding of Yorkshire, 1530-46 (Oxford, 1970), 123.
  3. John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford, 1988), 164.
  4. R.B. Robinson, ‘Henry VIII’s Household in the fifteen-twenties: the Welsh Connection’, Historical Research, 68 (1995), 173-90.
  5. Ibid., 173.
  6. Ibid., 174, 190.
  7. The four additional Pembrokeshire men were John Wogan of Boulston, William Wogan of Milton, Sir Thomas Philipps and his son John Philipps, both of Picton.
  8. See note 1.
  9. For a comprehensive discussion of the royal Court and Household, see David Starkey et al., The English Court from the Wars of the Roses to the Civil War (London, 1987); D. Starkey ‘Intimacy and innovation: the rise of the Privy Chamber, 1485-1547’, in ibid., 73-74.
  10. Guy, Tudor England, 167 n. 58. Guy provisionally broke down the 493 officials into the following categories: 50 knights of the body, 70 esquires of the body, 69 gentlemen ushers, 65 yeomen ushers, 82 sewers of the chamber, 39 yeomen of the chamber, 68 grooms of the chamber and 50 pages of the chamber.
  11. Pam Wright, ‘A change in direction: the ramifications of a female household, 1558-1603’, in Starkey, The English Court, 148.
  12. W. Bernard, ‘Sir William Compton (1482-1528)’, O[xford] D[ictionary] of N[ational] B[iography], Online Edition.
  13. Owen (ed.), A C[alendar] of the P[ublic] R[ecords] R[elating] to P[embrokeshire] (3 vols., London, 1911-18), I, 55, 56. Brown, an esquire of the body, had originally been granted the posts of steward, chancellor and receiver of Haverfordwest in August 1509.
  14. W Ives, ‘Faction at the court of Henry VIII’, History, 57 (1972), 169-88; idem., Anne Boleyn (London, 1986). Chapter IV. See also, E.W. Ives, ‘William Brereton (c. 1487-1536)’; J. Hughes, ‘Sir Francis Weston (1511-1536)’, ODNB, Online Edition.
  15. W. Ives, ‘Sir Henry Norris (c. 1500-1536)’, ODNB, Online Edition.
  16. Although the king was most likely to employ Grooms from his Privy Chamber for such tasks as carrying personal messages, given their limited numbers there is no reason to discount the employment of the more numerous Grooms from the outer Chamber. See also, Glenn Richardson, ‘‘Most Highly to be Regarded’: The Privy Chamber of Henry VIII and the Anglo-French Relations, 1515-1520’, The Court Historian, 4 (1999), 119-40.
  17. Starkey, op. cit., 76.
  18. R. Myers, The Household of Edward IV: the Black Book and the Ordinance of 1478 (Manchester, 1959), 111.
  19. Guy, Tudor England, 168.
  20. Ibid., 167.
  21. A.L. Morgan, ‘The house of policy: the political role of the late Plantagenet household, 1422-1485’, in Starkey, The English Court, 34.
  22. R. Elton, The Tudor Revolution in Government (1953), 386, 387. ‘bouge of court’ was the provision of food and drink at the king’s expense.
  23. Anstis, The Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (2 vols., London, 1724), Appendix, xi.
  24. Ibid., xi-xii.
  25. Ibid., xv.
  26. J S Brewer (ed.), Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 3, 1519-1523 (London, 1867), 244.
  27. Hughes, ‘Charles Somerset [formerly Beaufort), first earl of Worcester (c. 1460-1526)’, ODNB, Online Edition.
  28. Robinson, cit., 185.
  29. Owen (ed.), The Description of Pembrokeshire by George Owen of Henllys (4 vols., London, 1892-1936), III, 352-59.
  30. Brewer, Letters and Papers, Volume 3, 1519-1523, 414. Wogan was appointed to succeed a recently deceased fellow household servant from Pembrokeshire, Sir Thomas Philipps of Picton.
  31. Owen, CPRRP, I, 32. William Wogan’s membership of the royal household was missed by Robinson.
  32. , 32, 34. In May 1544 the lease was renewed for a further 21 years to William alone. By this time William Wogan had evidently joined the household being referred to, in the Patent Roll, as a gentleman usher in the king’s chamber. It is likely that John Wogan was either seriously ill and/or had died, which strengthens the theory that he may be identified with the John Howgan of Somerset, ‘servant unto the king’s grace’, who made his will on 3 December 1543 and which was proved on 26 June 1545. The National Archives, Prob.11/30/470.
  33. Brewer, Letters and Papers, Volume 4, 1524-1530 (London, 1875), 274. Jankyn had originally been granted the office of rhaglaw or constable in November 1521 following the death of the incumbent, Sir Gruffudd ap Rhys of Dinefwr.
  34. Ibid., 459.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Robinson, cit., 184.
  37. Wogan was in receipt of a wage for his household service by 1521. Robinson, cit., 182.
  38. Brewer, Letters and Papers, Volume 1, 1509-1514, 345, 358.
  39. Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Online Edition, PHILIPPS family, of Picton, Pembrokeshire.
  40. A Shaw, The Knights of England (2 vols., London, 1906), II, 41.
  41. Owen, CPRRP, III, 60.
  42. Brewer, Letters and Papers, Volume 3, 1519-1523, 414. By 1532 John Philipps was acting as king’s attorney in the lordship of Haverford. Owen, CPRRP, I, 124.
  43. For Jones’s career, see R. Turvey, ‘Household, Court and Localities: Sir Thomas Jones and the Rise of ‘That Great Family of Jones of Abermarlais’, Welsh History Review, 22 (2004-5), 29-51; Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Online Edition, Sir Thomas Jones of Abermarlais (Forthcoming).
  44. It is interesting to note that Jones’s wife, Mary, was the daughter and heiress of James Berkeley an esquire of the body to King Henry VII. Her uncle, Maurice, Lord Berkeley, was also a member of the royal household serving both Henry VII and Henry VIII.
  45. Owen, CPRRP, III, 60; Brewer, Letters and Papers, Volume 4, 1524-1530, 428, 2433-34. Eliot had died by April 1529 when his son and heir, also named John, was made a ward of the king.
  46. Owen, CPRRP, III, 178, 182, 183.
  47. T. Bindoff (ed.), The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1509-1558 (3 vols., London, 1982), III, 60-2.
  48. Owen, CPRRP, III, 59-60.
  49. Ibid., 61. John Wogan esquire was the son and heir of Sir John, knight of the household. William Owen, gentleman, was the father of the Pembrokeshire antiquary George Owen.
  50. Owen, CPRRP, I, 32.
  51. Morris ap Harry (also described as ap Henry or Parry) is said by Michael Siddons to be a Pembrokeshire man from Paryston. However, Paryston has defied all attempts to locate and identify it. I am more inclined to accept Professor Ralph Griffiths’s identification of Morris as a Carmarthenshire man, the son of Henry ap Gwilym of Cwrt Henri in the Tywi valley. M.P. Siddons, The Development of Welsh Heraldry (3 vols., Aberystwyth, 1991-93), II, 432. R.A. Griffiths, Sir Rhys ap Thomas and his Family (Cardiff, 1993), 114.
  52. For details of his career, see R.A. Griffiths, The Principality of Wales in the Later Middle Ages: South Wales 1277-1536 (Cardiff, 1972), 225-26, 357.
  53. Owen, CPRRP, III, 59-61.
  54. Brewer, Letters and Papers, Volume 5, 1531-32, 457.
  55. Ibid., Volume 4, 1524-1530, 2433.
  56. A. Lewis (ed.), An Inventory of The Early Chancery Proceedings Concerning Wales (Cardiff, 1937), 63. The outcome of the case is not known.
  57. For details of the Perrot family, see R. Turvey, ‘The Perrot Family and their Circle in the later middle ages’ (University of Wales [Swansea] Ph.D. thesis, 1988).
  58. Robinson, cit., 188.