Perrots Arrival in Wales

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There is some disagreement about dates among contemporary scholars.

"It was, however, in Pembrokeshire that the (Perrot) family flourished so extensively and so vigorously from a period soon after the Norman invasion till the reign of Elizabeth. By marriages considerable estates were successively acquired; in which judicious practice they were followed by others of the same class,—such, especially, as the Wogans. These two great houses of the Perrots and Wogans, partly owing to the isolated position of the county, and partly to the policy of keeping up their influence, so frequently intermarried between themselves and the other leading families of the county, that there are few, if any, gentlemen of ancient lineage remaining in Pembrokeshire who are not more or less connected with either or both families. - Barnwell P Notes p 4 "

In his 1988 doctoral thesis Roger Turvey contended that Sir John Perrot invented the first five generations of his line by skilful expropriation and adaptation of Cymric sources.

"It would seem that Sir John Perrot's desire to establish an impressive pedigree knew no bounds, as he promoted a link with two royal Welsh rulers. In fact, the Perrot link with the princely houses of Deheubarth and Gwynedd bears all the hallmarks of sixteenth century invention and self-esteem.
It was also an attempt to justify the family's right to their substantial Welsh landholdings."

(If this was the case it seems ironic that at the same time Sir John was said to be encouraging others to believe his own paternity was regally different to that of the rest of his line in order to gain preferment in the court of Elizabeth as her half-brother.)

The same thesis also boldly questioned the orthodox narrative that the Perrots arrived in Wales in the 12th century. Dr Turvey has not changed his views on this controversial subject and nearly 30 years later in Henry Perrot of Gawr-y-Coed he writes:

"Contrary to the historically accepted story the Perrots first appear in the county not in the 1120s but in 1290s post- conquest Wales. They were advenae esquires or new blood of English origin who established themselves as military tenants of the de Valence earls of Pembroke. Stephen Perrot (c1260-c1338) of Popton, Pembrokeshire was not the son of Peter but of Sir Ralph Perot V (c1236-1305) of Kent, who "served in the campaign in Wales under Henry III in 1257, attended the King in France in 1259, and was summoned for service in Wales in 1263."

Dr Turvey's robust challenge to accepted accounts seemed at odds with the the views of two eminent contemporaries Francis Jones and Peter Bartrum on the "general accuracy" of genealogies before 1560. Bartrum continued to follow Barnwell and later authorities such as Prof. P.C.C.Evans in recognising the early generations as historical. The linkage of an abundance of supposedly fictional Perrots over 150 years to many undeniably existing people is clearly problematic for Turvey's thesis. The difficulty of accounting for the marriage of an invented William Perrot to the very real Margaret Herford is indeed acknowledged but even this single selected example is not convincingly dealt with.

Another major obstacle to the attempt at replacing Peter and all his 12th&13th century forebears with Stephen of Popton is the Haroldston Calendar itself. It was written between 1474 and 1501 and so predates Sir John's own additions. As the earliest extant genealogical chart it is difficult to believe that the named proband Peter is a Tudor forgery.

The Perrot lineage in Wales is often uncertain, inconsistent and difficult to date accurately before the 1290s. Identifying later forgeries is clearly important but modern historiography also takes full account of corroborating genealogies from early sources recording indigenous connections with the advenae.

Pedigrees such as those of George Owen (an implacable adversary of Sir John who would not have hesitated to exploit any doubts about his ancestry) and others in the 16th century, despite contradictions in chronology, preserve reliable bardic traditions which provide valuable evidence for the intermarriage of the Perrots with the princely families of Wales during the 12th century.

The weight of evidence from these early pedigrees, despite their inconsistencies, supports P.C.Bartrum's view that the Perrots arrived in the reign of Henry 1 (1100-35) and cannot be easily disregarded. q.v. Notes on Welsh Genealogical MS Bartrum. + Bartrum Project. The Haroldston Calendar was written between 1474 and 1501 and the Lewys Dwnn Visitation dates from 1588. These are the two earliest of nine Perrot genealogical charts in existence and it is highly unlikely they contain forgeries.
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"In view of evidence that has recently come to light it is now possible to describe the history of these manuscripts from their first compilation to the present day. The pedigree of the Protheroe MSS. (the originals from which the Golden Grove books were copied) can be traced with certainty to the late sixteenth century. Their font and origin is George Owen of Henllys, in Pembrokeshire, who wrote a large number of historical and genealogical manuscripts. Some of Owen's genealogies were originated by himself from public records, deeds, and other similar sources. Others he copied from the pedigree collections of Griffith Hiraethog, Lewis Dwnn, Thomas Jones of Fountain Gate, and other contemporary and near-contemporary genealogists. After his death in 1613, several of his manuscripts came to the hands of George William Griffith of Penybenglog and John Lloyd of Vairdre." An Approach to Welsh Genealogy by F Jones pp 309 ff

PEMBROKESHIRE ORIGINS (The Perrots & Their Circle)
Without exception, the three contemporary genealogies are accurate with respect to the main descent, beginning with Stephen Perrot who lived at the end of the thirteenth- century. However, this cannot be said of the first five generations mentioned in the respective texts. These lack corroborative evidence and the brief details accompanying the entries are scarcely believable.

The myth and legend which surround the family's supposed origins derives from Dwnn and the biography. Both concur in the belief that the first of the Pembrokeshire Perrots was called Stephen, and that he settled in the county during the reign of Henry I as part of the Flemish influx.

Apparently this Stephen married Eleanor, ‘Lady of Istingston', the daughter and sole heiress of Meirchion ap Rhys, who was fourth in descent from Hywel Dda, 'Kinge of South Wales, and the Lycurgus or Lawmaker of that Land‘. Stephen and Eleanor's son and heir was called Andrew; he was a knight and an important figure, if the genealogies ere to be believed. Andrew was supposed to have married Janet Mortimer, a daughter of Ralph Mortimer, earl of March, and Gwladys Ddu, the daughter of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (‘the Great‘) of Gwynedd. From this, it would seem that Sir John Perrot's desire to establish an impressive pedigree knew no bounds, as he promoted a link with two royal Welsh rulers. In fact, the Perrot link with the princely houses of Deheubarth and Gwynedd bears all the hallmarks of sixteenth century invention and self-esteem. It was also an attempt to justify the family's right to their substantial Welsh landholdings.

There is little doubt that this description of the family’s origins is absurd and has no foundation in fact. The Perrots did not initially settle at Eastington, though from the point of view of Sir John this may have seemed so after 200 years of occupation; rather did they first settle at nearby Popton. Moreover, there is no evidence to link the descendants of Hywel Dda with Eastington, which was occupied by a Welsh family surnamed Ystin and later by an English family called Hilton during the thirteenth century. Again, the marriage between Sir Andrew Perrot and Janet Mortimer is chronologically impossible, a fact noted by Barnwell, Perrot was certainly separated by a century or more from Janet. The absurdity is compounded by the further statement that Sir Andrew was supposed to have built the castle of Narberth, and that he was lord of the lordship of Narberth by virtue of a grant from Arnulph de Montgomery, the original Norman conqueror of Dyfed. There is no evidence whatsoever to link the family with Narberth; indeed, their acquisitions in the area had their roots in the late fifteenth century.

Although admitting the impossibility of Sir Andrew's marriage to Janet Mortimer, Barnwell generally accords the sixteenth-century genealogies far too much respect; his only concession was that Meirchion ap Rhys was sixth and not fourth in descent from Hywel Dda. The existence of Stephen and Andrew was of crucial importance to Sir John Perrot, and they were added by him to the top of the genealogical list in the family's Calendar. Neither of their wives‘ names were added nor the name of the male of the next generation, William, the supposed heir of Sir Andrew. According to the sixteenth-century genealogies, this William married Margaret, the daughter of Sir Walter Herford. This seems to present a problem if this early part of the genealogy is to be regarded as fiction, for Herford did in fact exist and was certainly living in the 1240s. He was also an important figure holding three knight's fees, in addition to part of the lordship of Wiston.

To add credibility to a union between a Perrot and a Herford female, amongst the quarterings of the coat of arms of Sir John Perrot's grand-daughter, Penelope, is Gules, three eagles displayed argent of Herford. However, the Herford family had died out by the sixteenth century, and so Sir John and his heirs may have been able to use the coat of arms with impunity. There is no evidence to suggest that the Perrots had used these arms earlier than the sixteenth century. On the other hand, the Perrots‘ right to bear the Herford arms may have been a result of the marriages between the ancestors of Sir John and the Wogans of Wiston at the end of the fifteenth century. For it seems that a Wogan had married the heiress of the Herford branch of the family in Pembrokeshire, and hence, according to Henry Owen, ‘The arms of the Herfords - three eagles displayed - remained in the arms of the barony of Wiston‘. The arms of Penelope Perrot included the Wogan coat of arms, argent on a chief sable, three martlets or. And yet, for all the significance of the Herford connection, real or imagined, the only omission from the family genealogy in the Calendar was William and his wife, Margaret Herford.

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conquest of wales
conquest of wales

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