Dictionary of Welsh Biography


A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z



PROGER ( PROGERS , PRODGER ) family,

claiming to be a branch of the Herberts — in Blome 's List of Gentry ( 1673 ) the surname ‘ Herbert ’ is attached to several of the persons named in this article. Its original seat was Wern-ddu in Llandeilo-bertholau, Mon. , but a younger branch is associated with Gwern-vale (in the 14th cent. , ‘ tir Gronw Foel ’), Crick-howell , Brecknock . The pedigree is given by Theophilus Jones , G. T. Clark , and Sir Joseph Bradney — they disagree in places, but as Theophilus Jones depended on H. T. Payne (q.v.) , who had a large collection of family documents and deeds, it seems safer to follow him where differences arise.

A. THE

We begin here with WILLIAM PROGER , sixth of his line, who was alive in 1483 . His sons were JOHN PROGER and Lewis Proger (for whom see B below); and John Proger 's son was WILLIAM PROGER , Member of Parliament for Monmouthshire in the 1588 Parliament. William had two sons, DAVID PROGER and Philip Proger (for whom see B); David 's grandson was that colonel CHARLES PROGER ‘ of the Guards ,’ who had to redeem his estate at £330 for siding with the king in the Civil Wars , and was probably (though not certainly) the ‘ Col. Progers ’ who took part in recapturing Monmouth for the king in 1644 ( J. R. Phillips , Civil War in Wales , ii, 217); he was at Court in 1673 . He should not be confused with the Charles Proger named under B below. His great-grandson WILLIAM PROGER , who sold Wern-ddu and d. c. 1780 , brings this line to a close — he left only a daughter, who became a nun .


B. THE

more interesting. Gwern-vale was occupied by several successive families. In 1530 the mansion and half the lands were bought by Meredydd ap Meredydd ap Morgan ; this Morgan was a son of Dafydd Gam (q.v.) . The Meredydds ran out in an heiress, Elizabeth , who (according to Theophilus Jones and Bradney ) m. LEWIS PROGER , second son of the William Proger named under A. Lewis was succeeded by his son EDWARD , whose son WROTH PROGER sold Gwern-vale ( 1668 ) to the Sir Henry Proger noticed below, who was the son of PHILIP PROGER , second son of William Proger , M.P. ( see under A ). Philip Proger was equerry to James I , and was granted a pension of £50 in 1625 . He had four sons, all fervent Royalists and all Roman Catholics . Their chronological order is variously given, but the present account follows Theophilus Jones :

1) Sir HENRY PROGER (d. 1686 ),

(who in 1668 bought Gwern-vale (as stated above) from Wroth Proger . He appears to have been the ‘ Lieut. Progers ’ who was in Raglan castle when Fairfax took it in 1646 ( Phillips , op. cit., ii, 323). He then fled to Spain , and was in Madrid among the entourage of Cottington and Hyde when they were ambassadors there. In 1650 , Cromwell sent an envoy named Ascham to Madrid . Ascham was murdered by some of the English Royalists , of whom Henry Proger was one; Proger took sanctuary in the Venetian embassy , and thence escaped to France . After the Restoration , he was knighted . He lived at times at Gwern-vale , but mostly in London , where he d.; his will was proved in 1686 . His son, CHARLES PROGER , a spendthrift, sold Gwern-vale to his uncle Edward (below).


(2) VALENTINE PROGER

— ‘ Capt. Valentine Progers ’ in the list of prisoners taken at Raglan . James Howell names him, too, as one of the murderers of Ascham , adding that he was ‘ in close prison .’ Nothing more is known of him.


(3) JAMES PROGER

— ‘ corp. Jas. Progers ’ in the Raglan list. He too went to Spain . A letter from Cottington to Edward Proger ( 1651 ) avers that James was doing very well in Spain , yet was ready to swear that there was no place like Wales . He did indeed return to Wales , and is last heard of as constable of Abergavenny castle in 1665 .


(4) EDWARD PROGER ( 1618 - 1714 ),

the most famous of the family — if indeed it were fame. Clark makes him the second of the brothers, but it seems better to follow Theophilus Jones and regard him as the youngest. Born in 1618 , he was page to Charles I , and groom of the chamber to the young prince Charles , afterwards Charles II , whose intimate friend he became — Charles called him ‘ Ned Proger ,’ and H. T. Payne possessed many letters from Charles to Proger , and letters written to Proger by magnates like prince Rupert , who evidently thought that Proger had much influence over Charles . He was with Charles in Scotland in 1650 , but the Scots banished him, as ‘ an evil instrument and bad counsellor ’ of Charles and of his father; he shared Charles 's exile in France , and a chance reference by Pepys shows that he was also in Spain at some time. After 1660 , the sun shone upon him; true, some of the ‘favours’ showered upon him were illusory (e.g., the ‘gift’ of extensive lands in Virginia , which he never actually got), but over and above his £500 salary as groom , he was keeper of Hampton Court (with an official residence), forester of Bushey Park , keeper of the royal palace at York , etc. Still, he was not of good repute, for it is fairly clear that his chief duty was to minister to the king's pleasures . The duke of Buckingham satirized him in verse; one serious man told Pepys that Proger was ‘ one of those who led the king astray ’; Andrew Marvell has a dig at him in lines 173-5 of his ‘ Last Instruction to a Painter .’ He was Member of Parliament for the county of Brecknock from 1662 till 1679 . His fortunes waned after Charles 's death, and he is found complaining to queen Anne that his salary had not been paid for years; but in 1702 he was granted a pension of £200 as ‘ the oldest servant of the Crown now alive .’ He d. 31 Dec. 1713 or 1 Jan. 1714 , from ‘ cutting four new teeth ’ at 96. Of his children, four daughters survived him; the eldest, Philippa , inherited his lands in Brecknock ; in 1717 she m. the not uninteresting cleric and writer Samuel Croxall (q.v. in D.N.B. ), who lived from time to time at Gwern-vale , and rebuilt the house.

Sources:

  • Theophilus Jones , History of the County of Brecknock (3rd ed.), iii, 134-6, iv, 273;
  • G. T. Clark , Limbus Patrum Morganiae et Glamorganiae , 1886 , 252-3;
  • Bradney , A History of Monmouthshire , ii, 197-200;
  • Clarendon , The history of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England begun in the year 1641 , Oxford, 1888 (ed. Macray ), v, 138-9, and consult index;
  • James Howell , Epistolae Ho-Elianae the familiar letters of James Howell , London, 1892 (ed. Jacobs ), ii, p. lxxxix;
  • Pepys , Diaries and letters of Philip Henry, M.A. of Broad Oak, Flintshire, A.D. 1631-1696 , London, 1882 (ed. Wheatley ) — eight references, consult index;
  • Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series , Record Publication , 1701 and 1702 ;
  • and the other references given above.

Author:

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

Published date: 1959