Thomas Myddelton 1586-1666

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Sir Thomas MYDDELTON 1586-1666

Biographical Note

Born in London, son of Sir Thomas Myddelton d.1631, a wealthy merchant and Lord Mayor in 1597-8. Matriculated at Queen's College, Oxford 1605, but did not graduate; he was admitted at Gray's Inn in 1607. His father settled the family estate of Chirk Castle, Denbighshire on him in 1612, and he was knighted in 1617; he was an MP in the 1620s and again in 1640, and during the Civil War he was a general in the parliamentary forces in Wales. He continued to be involved in government and local administrative affairs during the 1650s but at the end of the decade he allied himself with the royalist cause, and helped lead a Welsh insurrection. Although this was defeated, he was therefore well placed to be favourably regarded after the Restoration, and his last years were spent in repairing and extending his Welsh estates.


The library at Chirk Castle was developed over succeeding generations of the Myddelton family, beginning with Sir Thomas. His father, the first Sir Thomas, is known to have owned some books, and was a major sponsor of Welsh language religious publishing. ODNB notes of this Thomas that "apart from his large family his main passions were his garden and his library", and during the 1640s and 50s he is known to have acquired many books, partly through the agency of Benjamin Cupper who was employed as his librarian or book agent. These included titles in theology, philosophy, politics and gardening. The library was mostly destroyed in 1659 after the unsuccessful insurrection but during the 1660s books were bought again, including a batch of books from the library of a local clergyman, Robert Lloyd, purchased for £15. The library descended through successive members of the family, several of whom were active in developing it further (Sir Richard Myddelton, 3rd bart, Robert Myddelton, John Myddelton).

The inscription "Tho: Myddelton", with an acquisition date of 1661, in a copy of J. Rushworth, Historical collections, 1659, Chirk Castle

Characteristic Markings

There are numerous books at Chirk today with the inscriptions or bookplates of Sir Thomas's descendants Robert Myddelton and John Myddelton, and also ones with inscriptions "Tho: Myddelton". This may be Sir Thomas, or one of the first two Myddelton baronets who succeeded him there, both named Thomas; the example shown here, dated 1661, was certainly acquired during his lifetime.