Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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MUTTON , Sir PETER ( 1565 - 1637 ), judge and politician ;

d. at Llannerch , 14 Nov. 1637 ). The son of a modest landowner in the vale of Clwyd , whose family had been prominent in the borough of Rhuddlan for two centuries, Peter or Piers Mutton was one of the most eminent Welsh lawyers of the 17th cent. Educated at S. Alban Hall , Oxford , and Lincoln's Inn , he was called to the Bar in June 1594 ; throughout his career he took an important part in the affairs of his Inn , being elected reader for the autumn term, 1625 , and acting as keeper of its Black Book . As advocate, and later as judge , he kept up his connection with Wales ; appointed clerk of the Crown in Denbigh and Montgomery ( 1605 ), he became H.M. Attorney in Wales and the Marches before 1609 . On 5 June 1622 he was knighted at Whitehall on being designated chief justice of Anglesey . He was already a man of influence in North Wales ; his second marriage, to Ellen , sister of John Williams , bishop of Lincoln (q.v. on p. 1045) doubtless brought him into closer touch with national affairs. In addition to serving on the Council for Wales , Sir Peter was elected Member of Parliament for Denbighshire ( 1604 ) and Caernarvonshire ( 1624 ); no significant relic of his political career remains, except an oft-repeated story of a speech he made in the House which contained a memorable ‘bull.’ English was, in any case, probably his second language, for although his father's family came originally from Shropshire his mother was the daughter of the Welsh poet and man of letters , Gruffydd ap Ievan of Llannerch, Denbs. Sir Peter 's Welshness has given him a fortuitous fame as the author of one of the earliest surviving personal letters written in the Welsh language , in which he explains to his mother the considerations which have led to his precipitate marriage to a well-endowed orphan girl. The letter has some historical importance, since it is written in a period when the Welsh gentry were becoming anglicized. By the will of his uncle, Edward Griffith of Llannerch , who d. in 1601 , Mutton inherited most of that estate, including a valuable library. Through the marriage of his only daughter, Anne , to Robert Davies ( 1616 - 1666 ) , these properties passed into the hands of the family of Davies of Gwysaney , Flintshire ; the manuscripts and books were to form the nucleus of the great collection associated with the name of Robert Davies of Llannerch ( 1658 - 1710 ); see Davies-Cooke family, p. 162.


  • 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) , 103;
  • W. R. Williams , The history of the Great Sessions in Wales, 1542-1830 together with the lives of the Welsh judges, and annotated lists of the chamberlains and chancellors, attorney generals, and prothonotaries of the four circuits of Chester and Wales (Brecknock, 1899) , 93;
  • The History of the Parliamentary Representation of Wales (1895) , 66;
  • H. D. Emanuel , ‘The Gwysaney Manuscripts’ in The National Library of Wales Journal , vii, 326 ff.;
  • D. Jenkins , 'Llythyr Syr Peter Mutton' in The National Library of Wales Journal , v. 220-221;
  • Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series , 1603-1610 , 231, 353;
  • B.M. Harleian Manuscript at the British Museum 1971;
  • Gwysaney Manuscripts at N.L.W. and U.C.N.W. passim .


Gwilym Arthur Usher, M.A., (1915-78), Bangor

Published date: 1959