World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Statute of Rhuddlan

Documents relevant to personal
and legislative unions of the
countries of the United Kingdom
Treaty of Windsor 1175
Treaty of York 1237
Treaty of Perth 1266
Treaty of Montgomery 1267
Treaty of Aberconwy 1277
Statute of Rhuddlan 1284
Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton 1328
Treaty of Berwick 1357
Poynings' Law 1495
Laws in Wales Acts 1535–42
Crown of Ireland Act 1542
Treaty of Edinburgh 1560
Union of the Crowns 1603
Union of England and Scotland Act 1603
Act of Settlement 1701
Act of Security 1704
Alien Act 1705
Treaty of Union 1706
Acts of Union 1707
Personal Union of 1714 1714
Wales and Berwick Act 1746
Irish Constitution 1782
Acts of Union 1800
Government of Ireland Act 1920
Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921
Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927
N. Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972
Northern Ireland Assembly 1973
N. Ireland Constitution Act 1973
Northern Ireland Act 1998
Government of Wales Act 1998
Scotland Act 1998
Government of Wales Act 2006
Scotland Act 2012
Edinburgh Agreement 2012

The Statute of Rhuddlan (Welsh: Statud Rhuddlan, Welsh pronunciation: , approximately ), also known as the Statutes of Wales (Latin: Statuta Vallie) or as the Statute of Wales (Statutum Vallie or Statutum Valliae), provided the constitutional basis for the government of the Principality of North Wales from 1284 until 1536. The statute was enacted on 3 March 1284[1] and promulgated on 19 March at Rhuddlan Castle in North Wales,[2] after careful consideration of the position by Edward I.


  • Background 1
  • New counties 2
  • Law in Wales under the Statute 3
  • References 4


The status of the Prince of Gwynedd had been recognised by the English crown as Prince of Wales in 1267, holding his lands with the king of England as his feudal overlord. Thus the English interpreted the title of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Lord of Aberffraw, which was briefly held after his death by his successor Dafydd ap Gruffudd. This meant that when Llywelyn rebelled, the English interpreted it as an act of treason. Accordingly, his lands escheated to the king of England, and Edward I took possession of the Principality of Wales by military conquest from 1282 to 1283. By this means the principality became "united and annexed" to the crown of England.[3]

Following his conquest Edward I erected four new marcher lordships in northeast Wales, Chirk, Bromfield and Yale, Dyffryn Clwyd and Denbigh; and one in South Wales, Cantref Bychan.[4] He restored the principality of Powys Wenwynwyn to Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn who had suffered at the hands of Llewelyn, and he and his successor Owen de la Pole held it as a marcher lordship. Rhys ap Maredudd of Dryslwyn would have been in a similar position in Cantref Mawr, having adhered to the king during Llewelyn's rebellion, but he forfeited his lands by rebelling in 1287. A few other minor Welsh nobles submitted in time to retain their lands, but became little more than gentry.[5]

The English crown already had a means of governing South Wales in the honours of Carmarthen and Cardigan, which went back to 1240. These became counties under the government of the Justiciar of South Wales (or of West Wales), who was based in Carmarthen. The changes of the period made little difference in the substantial swathe of land from Pembrokeshire through South Wales to the Welsh Borders which was already in the hands of the marcher lords.[6] Nor did they alter the administration of the royal lordships of Montgomery and Builth, which retained their existing institutions.[7]

New counties

The Statute of Rhuddlan was issued from Rhuddlan Castle in North Wales, one of the "iron ring" of fortresses built by Edward I, to control his newly conquered lands.[8] It provided the constitutional basis for the government of what was called "The Land of Wales" or "the kings lands of Snowdon and his other lands in Wales", but subsequently called the "Principality of North Wales".[9] The Statute divided the principality into the counties of Anglesey, Merionethshire, Caernarfonshire, and Flintshire, which were created out of the remnants of the Kingdom of Gwynedd in North Wales.[10] Flintshire was created out of the lordships of Tegeingl, Hopedale, and Maelor Saesneg. It was administered with the Palatinate of Cheshire by the Justiciar of Chester.[11]

The other three counties were overseen by a Justiciar of North Wales and a provincial exchequer at Caernarfon, run by the Chamberlain of North Wales, who accounted for the revenues he collected to the Exchequer at Westminster. Under them were royal officials such as sheriffs, coroners, and bailiffs to collect taxes and administer justice.[12][13] The king had ordered an inquiry into what rents and other dues the princes had been entitled to, and these were enforced by the new officials. At the local level, commotes became hundreds, but their customs, boundaries and offices remained largely unchanged.

Law in Wales under the Statute

The Statute introduced the English common law system to Wales,[14] but the law administered was not precisely the same as in England. The criminal law was much the same, with felonies such as murder, larceny and robbery prosecuted before the justiciar, as in England. The English writs and forms of action, such as novel disseisin, debt and dower, operated, but with oversight from Caernarfon, rather than the distant Westminster. However, the Welsh practice of settling disputes by arbitration was retained. The procedure for debt was in advance of that in England, in that a default judgment could be obtained. In land law, the Welsh practice of partible inheritance continued, but in accordance with English practice:

  • Daughters could inherit their father's lands if there was no son.
  • Widows were entitled to dower in a third of their late husband's lands.
  • Bastards were excluded from inheriting.[15]


  1. ^ Francis Jones (1969). The Princes and Principality of Wales. University of Wales Press. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  2. ^ G. W. S. Barrow (1956). Feudal Britain: the completion of the medieval kingdoms, 1066-1314. E. Arnold. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Davies, R. R. (2000), The Age of Conquest: Wales 1063–1415, Oxford: Oxford University Press,  
  4. ^ Davies, Age of Conquest, p. 363.
  5. ^ Davies, Age of Conquest, p. 361.
  6. ^ Davies, R. R. (1987), Conquest, Coexistence and Change: Wales 1063–1415, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ch. 14,  .
  7. ^ Davies, Age of Conquest, pp. 357, 364.
  8. ^ Davies, Age of Conquest, pp. 357–60.
  9. ^ Davies, Age of Conquest, p. 356.
  10. ^ J. Graham Jones (January 1990). The history of Wales: a pocket guide. University of Wales Press. p. 32.  
  11. ^ Davies, Age of Conquest, p. 364.
  12. ^ Brian L. Blakeley; Jacquelin Collins (1 January 1993). Documents in British History: Early times to 1714. McGraw-Hill. p. 74.  
  13. ^ Davies, Age of Conquest, pp. 364–5.
  14. ^ Hilaire Barnett (2004). (5th edition)Constitutional and Administrative Law. Cavendish Publishing. p. 59. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Davies, Age of Conquest, pp. 367–70.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.