Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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HOLBACHE ( HOLBECHE , etc.), DAVID ( fl. 1377-1423 ), lawyer, founder of Oswestry Grammar School .

Despite his (as yet unexplained) English surname, he was a Welshman ; according to the pedigrees in Harl. MS. 4181 ( Powys Fadog , iv, 93) and Pen. MS. 129 (by his fellow-countryman Gutun Owain , q.v.) , he was son of Ieuan Goch ap Dafydd Goch ap Iorwerth ap Cynwrig ap Heilyn (of Pentre-heilyn — see under Heylin , Rowland ) ap Trahaearn ab Iddon ; he had lands at Dudleston in Chirkland ; he was steward of the town and lordship of Oswestry , and (in 1409 ) deputy-steward of the lordship of Bromfield and Yale . He was a member, either for Shrewsbury or for Shropshire , of Parliaments between Feb. 1406 and Nov. 1417 . He suffered great losses in the Glyndŵr wars ; according to a petition of his in 1406-7 ( Rot. Parl. , iii, 600-1) he had lost 2,000 marks of rents of his lands in Wales , over and above about 2,000 marks through destruction of his property. Not unnaturally, he complained that he was ground between upper and nether millstones, for Owain Glyndŵr 's men had harried him, while Parliamentary legislation deprived him of the rights of Englishry . Accordingly, he induced Parliament ( Rot. Parl. , iii, 590; Cal. Pat. Rolls , 1405-8 , 245, 298) to petition the king not only to compensate him in part by granting him some lands forfeited by a Welsh ‘rebel,’ but also to grant him Englishry despite the fact that he was Welsh (‘ entier Galois ’) in respect of both his parents. Remembering these facts, it is difficult to accept Stow 's statement (in 1615 ) that Holbache afterwards interceded with Henry on Owain 's behalf. Yet we know that Holbache did intercede on behalf of another Welshman , Adam Usk (q.v.) , for Adam 's pardon ( 20 March 1411Cal. Pat. Rolls , 1408-13 , 283) states that it was granted on the petition of ‘ David Holbache , esquire .’ At some time between 1418 and 1421 (the original documents are lost), Holbache endowed a free grammar school at Oswestry , the first of its kind in (what was then) Wales ; the endowment was increased by his widow Gwenhwyfar . Holbache 's will was proved in 1423 ; he left a widow and a daughter. Leland ( Itinerary in Wales , ed. Toulmin Smith , 75) was mistaken when he suggested that David Holbache was the ‘David’ who founded the Inn of Court in Holborn called ‘ Thavies Inn .’


  • Bye–Gones, relating to Wales and the Border Counties , 1881 (consult index);
  • J. E. Lloyd , Owen Glendower / Owen Glyn Dwr (1931) , 139n;
  • L. S. Knight , Welsh independent grammar schools to 1600 their charters of foundation, deeds, statutes, customs, etc. (Newtown, 1926) ;
  • Bulkeley-Owen (q.v.), The founder and first trustees of Oswestry Grammar School (Oswestry, c.1903) (important documents);
  • and the other references given above.


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Corrections and additions:


Read ‘of Pentre Heilyn , in Ellesmere ’ and delete the reference to HEYLIN , ROWLAND .


Peter Clement Bartrum, Berkhamsted, Herts

Published date: 1959