History associated with the Vawer family

William Vawer, Bristol and the Merchant Venturers

David Vawer and Jean Woodward

William Vawer, Mayor of Bristol, and Merchant Venturer, was the 15th generation, down the direct male line, from Cadivor ap Dynawal, but his coat of arms comes directly from that of Dinawal and Cadivor (Cydifor), particularly the latter's new shield.

William gave the following as his pedigree when he applied for a coat- of-arms in 1591, when he was living at Birdcombe Court, Wraxall, near Nailsea.

For Hereford, read Haverfordwest (Hwlfford).

This is a compressed version of his pedigree - which is given in much more detail in Sandra Oman's Gedcom file.

William was born in what is now Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire. At the time this was an inland port of major significance founded by Henry 1.

William's father, Jenkin, was a Shearman, i.e. a finisher and merchanter of woollen cloth (West Wales Historical Records: The Annual Magazine of the Historical Society of West Wales Published and by Printed by W. Spurrell and son, 1923 Item notes: v.9 1919). Raw fleece is "Teased" initially to spread it out, remove dirt and lumps, before "Carding". Carding further cleans and disentangles the wool making it ready for the spinning process. At the carding stage, different fibres may be blended, and colours mixed. This is a major stage in woollen cloth manufacture. After carding the wool can be spun ready for weaving.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Jenkin arranged for his son to become apprenticed to a Cardmaker in Bristol. Bristol was a major and extremely important port too, and moving between Haverfordwest and Bristol would have been routine in the 16th Century and it is no surprise that William left home to serve his apprenticeship there.

Once he had served his time he would become a respected craftsman, and begin to make a good living. How much cardmaking he did we do not know, but it seems however that he used the status to diversify somewhat, and took an interest in Bristol politics. How much the standing of his ancestry had to do with this we do not know, but he became an Alderman, was sheriff of Bristol with Ralph Hurt in 1587, and in 1602 the Mayor of Bristol, and he obviously moved in some high circles.

The trade through Bristol Docks was controlled by the Society of Merchant Venturers. William became a member of this organisation, hence the suffix "Merchant" to his name. His contribution to the work of the Society was significant, his name cropping up in a number of documents. Significant correspondence includes that between William and Sir Robert Cecil, Marquis (later Earl) of Salisbury and a Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth 1 concerning shipping of troops and horses to Ireland, and shipping of correspondence for the Lord Deputy of Ireland and the Lord President of Munster in 1601 during the Nine Years War (1594-1603)

William also became a trader, importing wine amongst other goods.

Jenkin, his father, was quite active in Haverfordwest having hands in a number of property deals, which are on record at the record office there, as was William' s brother, Thomas. Further details are in our historical file on Vawers in Haverfordwest. William is also recorded in association with a number of property deals in his home town. William obviously kept close to his roots in Haverfordwest, and set up the " Vawer's Charity". This charity still exists today. Some of these property deals were directly related to his charity. Jean Woodward has visited Haverfordwest Record Office and documented most if not all of these, and transcripts are available for interested people using the Contact Us page.

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