1638, Robert and Margaret Bulkeley claim that their step-father is plotting against them

Robert and Margaret Buckley. SP 16/378 f. 19 (1638)

To the Kinges most excellent majestie

The humble peticion of Robert and Margarett Buckley your majesties loyall subjectes and destressed children of Sir Richard Buckley late of Bewmorris knight deceased.

Most humbly sheweth that your said poore subjectes (the legitimate sonne and daughter of the said Sir Richard and Dame Ann his wife since intermarried with Thomas Cheadle late servant unto the said Sir Richard) have been by malycious practise of the said Cheadle reported in their native countrey and elswhere to be none of the children of the said Sir Richard and workeing on the weakenes of the said Dame Anne your said subjectes mother [gaind?] her to denie your said subjectes for her children or the children of their said father, and to colour the practise the said Cheadle bound your said subjectes (being then infantes) to mechanick trades by contrary names, and the said Cheadle divers tymes after threatned to punish and imprison your said subjectes if at any tyme they challenged or called themselves by their right names of Buckley.

That your said subject Robert about two yeares since repayred to Bewmorris in Wales to his said mothers house to tender his duety and intreate meanes of livelyhood, of which the said Cheadle haveing notice gave commaund that no enterteynement or lodgeing should be given him and prosecuteing his former threates imprisoned your said subject vowing in prison to deteyne him untill he had or should disclayme and renounce his name and birth right.

That your said subjectes older brother hath 2000 pounds a yeare and childlesse, the said Dame Anne his mother 1000 pounds per annum and no other sonne but your petitioner and his said elder brother.

Now forasmuch as your majesties said subjectes can by sufficient witnes prove themselves legitimate as aforesaid and for that they have a long tyme endured and still are like to suffer misery and oppression by the inhumane practise of the said Cheadle unles your majestie be pleased to take the cause of the oppressed fatherles into protection

May it therefore please your sacred majestie to give power to the most reverend father in God the Lord Archbishopp of Canterbury his grace the right honourable the Lord Keeper the Lord Privy Seale and Sir Francis Windebanke to call before them or any 2 of them the said Cheadle and Dame Anne and such witnesses as your subjectes shall produce to be heard and examined touching the premisses and to determine or otherwise certify the same to your sacred majestie that order may be directed by your majestie for your said subjectes releife.

And as in dutie bound they shall pray for your majesties long and prosperous raigne.

[paratext:] Att the court att Whitehall 3o January 1637. / His majestie is pleased to referr the consideracion of the peticion to the Lord Archbishopp of Canterbury his grace, the Lord Keeper, the Lord Privy Seale and Master Secretary Windebanke or any three of them to the intent they upon examinacion of the truth of the premisses settle such course for the petitioners releife as to their wisedomes shalbe found most agreeable to equity and good conscience, otherwise to certifie their opinions unto his majestie concerneing the same / Edward Powell / According to his most gracious majesties reference within written wee appoint Friday the thirteenth of Aprill next for the heareing of this busines att the counsaile board in the afternoone and doe hereby will and require the parties within mencioned or any els whome it may concerne to attend accordingly. Provided that tymely notice be given and a true coppy of this peticion and reference delivered to them / January 23 1637 / William Cantuariensis Thomas Coventrye [cs?] Henry [Manchester] / Francis Windebanke

Report by Mary Wiggins

In their petition Robert and Margaret, children of the late Sir Richard Bulkeley, reported that their mother, Dame Ann, had married their father’s former servant, Thomas Cheadle. Cheadle alleged they were not Sir Richard’s descendants, bound them to mechanic trades under different names and threatened to punish them if they claimed legitimacy. When Robert went to Beaumaris two years previously, Cheadle refused to receive him and imprisoned him until he renounced his birth right. Their childless elder brother received £2,000 a year, and Dame Ann £1,000. Robert and Margaret sought the King’s protection and asked that he empower an investigation of their case, to determine what relief they should receive.

The Bulkeley family

The Bulkeley family had a very chequered and complicated history with several members being disinherited at various times, and arguments happening between different branches of the family. This, combined with the feud with Cheadle (or Chedle), makes it complicated to follow all the strands of conflict during this period.

The Bulkeley family of Baron Hill, Beaumaris in Anglesey, migrated from their ancient home in Cheshire and settled in North Wales before 1450. They acquired land in Caernarfonshire and Anglesey and grew to become one of the most powerful and influential political dynasties in the area.[1] However, they were eventually overtaken by debt in the 18th century and their Cheshire estates were sold by an Act of Parliament in 1756.[2]

The original Baron Hill mansion was built by Sir Richard Bulkeley (the 4th knight) in 1618. He was married to Ann, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilsford of Ilding, Kent, and they had two sons and two daughters. He was baptised at Cheadle in 1580/1 and the date of his death varies widely in different sources but must have been before 1634 and we know he was buried at Penmon Priory and has a monument there.[3]  The buildings at Penmon were owned by the Bulkeleys with most of the land being enclosed and turned into a deer park and the prior’s lodging converted into a larger house. The priory church is still in use today.[4]   Some details about this family suggest that their second son, Robert, may have been illegitimate,[5] as Thomas Cheadle alleged during their later dispute.

Richard Bulkeley, Sir Richard’s eldest son, had a life full of bitter disputes with his close relatives. His grandfather disinherited a son in favour of the children of a second marriage and then, in turn, he disinherited Sir Richard, the eldest of these children in favour of his grandson, Richard. After this, just before his death in 1621, he revoked his wife’s trust of his Anglesey leasehold lands – this deed was not sealed but it still started a quarrel between Ann Bulkeley, Richard’s mother, and his grandmother. The will was contested bitterly with a final agreement only reached a decade later. Richard was only 15 when his grandfather died and was used by his mother as a tool in the inheritance dispute. He was estranged from her however following her marriage to Thomas Cheadle. He was taken ill at Caernarvon and died on 5 March 1640 and was buried at Beaumaris. His estates then passed to his uncle Thomas.[6]

Thomas Cheadle’s father, Richard, was brought from Cheshire by Sir Richard Bulkeley, the 3rd knight, to act as his agent and rent collector and Thomas subsequently worked for Sir Richard, the 4th knight, as his ‘lawful attorney’. Thomas had a chequered history, including being granted a pardon for piracy on the high seas in 1624/5. There was evidence that Thomas and Ann were having an affair while Sir Richard was alive and they were subsequently accused of poisoning him following his death. In 1634 Ann and Thomas were tried for his murder at Beaumaris Court House and were both acquitted. Thomas was accused of bribing both the coroner and the Bishop of Bangor and appears to have admitted this accusation.[7] Beaumaris Courthouse was built in 1614 and has only been slightly modified since that date. Until 1971, it was the oldest building in the UK holding Assize courts and was used regularly as a Magistrate’s Court until December 1996.[8]

Robert and Margaret’s petition to the King a couple of years after the court case, highlighted the feud between the Bulkeleys and the Cheadles. Following receipt of the petition the King directed an investigation of their claims. What happened further is unknown.[9]

The Earl of Dorset chose Thomas Cheadle as the deputy constable of Beaumaris castle; apparently this was a controversial choice, the role was effectively that of the mayor and he was subsequently the sheriff of the town in 1642. Cheadle took it upon himself to fortify the site of the Castle of Aberlleiniog at the outbreak of the Civil War. This was not a popular move as local people saw this as a political rather than a defensive move. He was at first loyal to the King but after the King’s defeat at Chester in 1646, he corresponded with General Mytton, the Parliamentary leader, and arms were landed in the area. It is unlikely that there were any shots fired in anger as Beaumaris Castle was given up without a struggle.

Thomas Bulkeley, the heir to the estate after his nephew Richard’s death, improved the family’s standing and was an active royalist, receiving an Irish peerage during the Civil War.[10]  His son, another Richard, was a Royalist colonel in the Civil War who was killed in a duel with Richard Cheadle (Thomas Cheadle’s son) on Lavan Sands on 19 February 1650.[11] (Some accounts state the duel was between Thomas Cheadle and Bulkeley.[12]) This shows that the feud between the two families ran very deep and continued for many years. Richard (or Thomas) Cheadle was executed at Conway after the killing of Richard Bulkeley.

It is interesting that the Cheadles had that surname as they originated from Cheadle in Cheshire and the Bulkeleys had estates in Cheadle. Might they have been given this name as they worked for the Bulkeleys in both Cheshire and Wales?


[1] ‘Bulkeleys of Baron Hill’, Penmon, http://penmon.org/page10.htm.

[2] ‘Cheadle’, Craig Thornber, A Scrap Book of Cheshire, https://www.thornber.net/cheshire/htmlfiles/bulkeley.html.

[3] ibid

[4] ‘Penmon Priory’, Castles of Wales, http://castlewales.com/penmon.html.

[5] Thornber, ‘Cheadle’, A Scrapbook of Cheshire.

[6] ‘BULKELEY, Richard (1606-1640), of Beaumaris and Baron Hill, Llanfaes, Anglesey’ in Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris (eds.), The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629 (2010), http://www.histparl.ac.uk/volume/1604-1629/member/bulkeley-richard-1606-1640.

[7] ‘Bulkeley, Richard’ The History of Parliament; ‘34 Castle Street, Beaumaris, Anglesey’, North West Wales Dendrochronolgy Project, http://discoveringoldwelshhouses.co.uk/library/Hhistory/ang%20016_HH_3_34Castle-Street.pdf; ‘Bulkeley, Richard (1533 -1621)’, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885 -1900, Volume 07, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bulkeley,_Richard_(1533-1621)_(DNB00).

[8] ‘Beaumaris Courthouse’, Casgliad y Werin Cymru/People’s Collection Wales, https://peoplescollection.wales/items/10302.

[9] ‘34 Castle Street, Beaumaris, Anglesey’, North West Wales Dendrochronology Project

[10] ‘Bulkeley Richard’ The History of Parliament.

[11] ‘Bulkeley Richard (d. 1650)’, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885 -1900, Volume 07, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bulkeley,_Richard_(d.1650)_(DNB00).

[12] Thornber, ‘Cheadle’, A Scrap Book of Cheshire, Angharad Llwyd, A History of the Island of Mona (1833), p. 136, https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=DMY_AAAAcAAJ&hl=en_GB&pg=GBS.PA136.


This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reign of Charles I and the Civil Wars’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.