Church Monuments Society

Figure 1 Sir John Perrot Tablet 1 1

Sir John Perrot Memorial – Eglwys Gymyn, Carmarthenshire

Month: July 2019
Type: Board / Plaque / Tablet  
Era: 18th Century

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St Margaret
Eglwys Gymyn, Pendine, Carmarthenshire

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Eighteenth-century memorial to a figure of unusual power and influence in Tudor Britain and Ireland.

Above the chancel arch within the isolated, Grade 1 listed little church of St Margaret Marloes in the parish of Eglwys Gymyn, Carmarthenshire (Figure 1 below) is what appears at first glance to be an entirely unremarkable painted stone memorial tablet. The inscription, which is now somewhat difficult to read due to its elevated location and the dilapidated state of the paint, has fortunately been transcribed[1]

The Noble and Brave
of Carew- Castle,
descended from Guy de Brian,
was once Lord of this Manor of
Eglwys-cummin, or Common Church.
Of a high Spirit and hot Temper,
The confessed Forgery of a Popish Priest,
Caused his conviction of High Treason
On which HE died of Grief
In London Tower.

He patronised Robert Williams
Eldest Son of
Lewis Williams; Rector of Narberth,
By the Daughter and last surviving Child
of Robert Ferrar, first Protestant
BISHOP of S. David’s;
and Martyr; in Queen Mary’s Reign.

Robert, the grandson of the above
Robert Williams was Grandsire of
The Present Owner of this Manor.



It commemorates the life of the ‘noble and brave’ Sir John Perrot, a figure of unusual power and influence in Tudor Britain and Ireland.

Born near Haverfordwest in 1528, he inherited wealth and power – the Perrots had been accumulating both in west Wales for centuries – and gained more by ingratiating himself with the English court.  His own son described him as a ‘very cholericke’ man, who ‘could not brooke any crosses’.  He had already gathered many offices by the time he was sent to Ireland in 1571 as President of Munster to suppress a rebellion.  His methods were characteristically violent – he hanged over 800 of the rebels – but he resigned after two years, having failed in his mission.  Back in west Wales he contented himself with self-enrichment and self-glorification, rebuilding in grand style his two main homes, Carew Castle and Laugharne Castle.  He returned to Ireland as 1584 as Lord Deputy, with the task of crushing the Irish and colonising their land.  Again unsuccessful, he returned, was falsely accused of treason by his many enemies, and died in the Tower of London in 1592, possibly of poisoning.

Haverfordwest Museum has a late oil painting of Perrot, based on an earlier, contemporary portrait; Figure 2.  It shows Perrot as a well-bearded man in middle age, hand on hip, soft dark hat worn at an angle, a jewelled ornament across his chest.  This is no doubt the image, confident and dashing but considered and benevolent, that he would have wished to project to the world.

Another, less flattering but contemporary image of Perrot is a rather crudely carved stone ‘mask’ found in Laugharne Castle in the 1920s and now in Carmarthenshire Museum, Figure 3.  The rake of the hat’s brim and the staring eyes and eyebrows give him an arrogant, intimidating look, and suggest rather better than the self-serving painting Perrot’s ‘high spirit and hot temper’ – the memorial’s euphemism for pride and cruelty.

The present church probably dates to the thirteenth century. It was restored in Arts and Crafts style by William Weir at the instigation of the antiquarian G.G.T. Treherne in 1901-2. Treherne also wrote up the history of the church.[2] A commemorative Celtic cross to Treherne bearing a carving of the Crucifixion, which was undertaken by the firm of W. Clarke of Llandaff, stands in the graveyard; see Figure 4.

Perrot’s memorial is one of several memorials inside the church, including one to Treherne. The oldest and most precious relic is a fifth/sixth century Ogham stone inscribed, in Latin, ‘Avitoria filia Cunigni’. The church also holds a first edition copy of the Peter Williams Welsh Bible published in 1770.


Andrew Green in collaboration with Michael Statham


[2] Geo G. T. Treherne. Eglwys Cymmin. The story of an old Welsh church. W. Spurrell and Son, Carmarthen (1918).