Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIES-COOKE family, of Gwysaney, Flints. , successors of the DAVIES family, of Llannerch, Denbs. , and Gwysaney .

The family of Davies of Gwysaney is descended in direct line from Cynric Efell ( fl. 1200 ), the elder of the twin sons of Madog ap Maredudd (q.v.) , prince of Powys , who, on the death of his father, succeeded to the lordship of Eglwys Egle , a division of the lordship of Bromfield , a part of Ruabon , and of Ystrad Alun Uwch Gwysaney (later known as Moldsdale ). Cynric m. Golle , daughter and heiress of Griffith ap Howel , fifth in descent from Elstan Glodrydd (q.v.) .

The patronymic Davies was first assumed by JOHN AP , who m. Jane , widow of Richard Mostyn and daughter of Thomas Salisbury , of Leadbroke, Flints. They had three children — two sons, Robert and John , and a daughter, Catherine , who m. Edward Morgan of Golden Grove, Flints. ROBERT DAVIES (?- 1600 ), who succeeded to the family estate, obtained on 20 April 1581 from the College of Heralds a confirmation of the family arms, and also the crest borne by his descendants. He m. (1) Catherine , daughter of George Ravenscroft (see the article Ravenscroft ) of Bretton, Flints. , and (2) Elizabeth , widow of John Haynes. By his first wife he had three sons, of whom the second, THOMAS DAVIES , became a lieutenant-colonel for Charles I and constable of Hawarden castle , 1643 , was ‘ servant of King Henry ’ and had command of a regiment under Sir Charles Morgan , lord-general of king Christian V of Denmark ( 1646 - 1699 ), a portrait of whom, painted by Cornelius Jonson , hangs at Gwysaney . Many interesting letters written by him from the Continent are still preserved at Gwysaney , and transcripts of these and of other letters to him are in the National Library of Wales . He was buried at Mold , 7 March 1655 .

Robert Davies was succeeded by his eldest son, ROBERT DAVIES ( 1581 - 1633 ), who was b. at Chester , and chr. in S. John's church there on 29 July 1581 . He served the office of high sheriff for Flintshire , of which county he was a magistrate and D.L. In 1626 he transferred to Jesus College , Oxford , the right of nomination to the advowson of S. Winefred's , Holywell , of which he was lay rector and patron . He m. Anne , only daughter and heiress of John Haynes , receiver for queen Elizabeth of her revenues in Wales . Robert Davies d. 27 Jan. and was buried at Mold on 29 Jan. 1633 . Their only son,

ROBERT DAVIES ( 1616 - 1666 ), a gentleman and soldier ,

was b. at Gwysaney on 19 Feb. 1616 . When he was but 15 years of age, he m., at the parish church of Gresford, Denbs. , on 29 July 1631 , Anne , daughter and co-heiress (with Eleanor , wife of Kenrick Eyton of Eyton, Denbs. ) of Sir Peter Mutton (q.v.) . Robert Davies had just turned 17 years of age when his father d., whereupon he was placed under the joint guardianship of his father-in-law, and of his uncle, colonel Thomas Davies . A staunch Royalist , he was besieged in his house at Gwysaney , 12 April 1645 , by Sir William Brereton 's forces. The front door which he put up in 1640 still bears the mark of the siege. He was imprisoned in 1658 , in Chester castle whence he was released by an order signed by Cromwell , on 30 June , and which is still extant among the papers kept at Gwysaney . He was high sheriff for Flints. , in 1644-5-6 and 1660 , and his name appears among those deemed qualified to be made a Knight of the Royal Oak at the Restoration . He d. 4 Oct. 1666 and was buried at Mold . There were six sons and seven daughters of his marriage, of whom the oldest son, MUTTON DAVIES ( 1634 - 1684 ), soldier , inherited Llannerch Park from his mother, and there, in the reign of Charles II , made beautiful gardens after designs which he had seen during his travels as a soldier in France and the Low Countries . Unfortunately they were destroyed in the 18th cent. , but pictures of them still exist at Gwysaney . He, like his father, suffered for upholding the Royal cause , being imprisoned in Chester castle , whence he was released on parole for one month, as from 28 Jan. 1659 , by colonel Thomas Croxton , governor of the city . He m. Elizabeth , only daughter of Sir Thomas Wilbraham of Woodhay, Ches. , and was high sheriff for Flintshire in 1670 and M.P. for the county from 18 Nov. 1678 to 4 March 1681 . He d. 29 Oct. 1684 and was buried at Mold .

Mutton Davies was succeeded by his son, ROBERT DAVIES ( 1658 - 1710 ), antiquary and naturalist . A sound scholar , he was a keen collector of books and valuable manuscripts , many of which are now deposited in the N.L.W. Among them is the famous ‘ Book of Llan Dav ,’ which is fully described by E. D. Jones in N.L.W. Jnl. , iv, 123 et seq. Part of the collection was briefly described by John Cordy Jeaffreson in the Appendix (pp. 418-26) to the Sixth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts , Part i, 1877-8 , and in the Annual Report of the N.L.W. for 1946-7 . Robert Davies m. Letitia , daughter of Edward Vaughan (see the article Vaughan of Trawsgoed ) of Trawsgoed, Cards. , and grand-daughter of Sir John Vaughan (q.v.) , Chief Justice of Common Pleas . He d. 8 July 1710 , and was buried at Mold . His widow m. Peter Pennant of Bychton and Downing , Flints . The Llannerch and Gwysaney estates passed to his son, ROBERT DAVIES ( 1684 - 1728 ), b. 2 Sept. 1684 , high sheriff of Flintshire . He m. Anne , daughter of John Brockholes , of Claughton Hall, Lancs. Of this Robert Davies there are two portraits at Gwysaney . He d. 22 May 1728 , and was succeeded by his eldest son, ROBERT DAVIES ( 1710 - 1745 ), who m. Letitia , daughter of Broughton Whitehall of Broughton . Their son and heir, JOHN DAVIES ( 1737 - 1785 ), who d. unmarried, leased Llannerch Hall with its library for fifteen years from 13 Nov. 1778 to William Davies Shipley (q.v.) , dean of S. Asaph . A catalogue of the manuscripts in the Llannerch library , taken 21 June 1787 , by T . Jeffreys , together with an abstract of the aforementioned lease, was printed by Sir Thomas Phillipps (q.v.) at his Middle Hill press about 1840 . John Davies was buried at Mold , 27 March 1785 , being succeeded by his two surviving sisters and co-heirs, LETITIA and MARY . The former, who obtained Llannerch estate as her share of her brother's property, m. Daniel Leo , of Bath , and, dying without issue on 11 Dec. 1801 , aged 67 years, devised her possessions to her cousin, Anne Elizabeth , daughter and heiress of Peter Davies , and wife of the Rev. George Allanson . Mary , who succeeded to Gwysaney , m. Philip Puleston , of Hafod-y-wern, Denbs. (see the article on that family), chamberlain of North Wales , by whom she had an only daughter, FRANCES , who m. BRYAN COOKE of Owston, Yorks. , colonel of the 3rd West York Militia , and M.P. for the borough of Malton . Colonel Cooke d. 8 Nov. 1820 and was succeeded by PHILIP DAVIES of Owston and Gwysaney , high sheriff of Flintshire in 1824 .


  • Gwysaney family papers in N.L.W.;
  • W. Bryan Cooke , The Seize Quartiers of the Family of Bryan Cooke, esq. of Owston, Hafod-y-Wern, and Gwysaney, and of Frances his wife, daughter and heir of Philip Puleston, esq, of Hafod-y-Wern, by Mary his wife, sister, and coheir, of John Davies esq, of Gwysaney and Llanerch with notes and illustrations , London, 1857 (London, 1857 );
  • J. B. Burke , A Genealogical History of the House of Gwysaney , London, 1847 (London, 1857 );
  • P. B. Davies-Cooke , A Short History of Mold Parish Church , Mold, 1905 (Mold, 1905 );
  • The National Library of Wales Journal , iv, 123 et seq. , v, 220-1, vii, 326-42;
  • NLW MSS 1551, 1572, 1588, 1591, 1592, 1593, 1597;
  • T. A. Glenn , The family of Griffith of Garn and Plasnewydd in the County of Denbigh, as registered in the College of Arms from the beginning of the XIth Century , 1934 (London, 1934 ), 100 et seq .


Dr David Jenkins, C.B.E., M.A., D.Litt., (1912-2002), Penrhyn-coch, Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959