‘a most exact critic in British antiquities’ (Wood), and was described by Dr. John Davies (Preface to Davies's Dictionary) as ‘de ecclesia linguaque Brit. vir plurimum meritus;’ he also appears to have had some ambition to rank as a poet (cf. Addit. MS. 14872, f. 348). He had a taste for science, as is proved by his botanical work, while he is said to have constructed an automatic mill (Dr. Davies's Dictionary, s.v. ‘Breuan’).
[Wood, in his Athenæ Oxonienses, ed. Bliss, i. 358–9, has only a short notice of him. Considerable materials for an adequate biography are collected by the Rev. John Peter (Ioan Pedr) of Bala in vol. ii. of the Welsh works of Walter Davies (Gwallter Mechain), 1868, in Enwogion y Ffydd (1874?), i. 33–53, and in Mr. Charles Ashton's (Welsh) Life and Times of Bishop Morgan (1891), pp. 48–62, 71–83, 181–4. See also Dr. Lewis Edwards's Traethodau Llenyddol, pp. 80–92; Williams's Eminent Welshmen, p. 466; Y Cymmrodor, i. 107–25; Arch. Cambr. 5th ser. ix. 177–91. Rowlands, in his Cambrian Bibliography, gives particulars of most of his books, but is not wholly to be relied upon. The critical articles on Salesbury's work as translator, by Dr. T. C. Edwards, in the Transactions of the Liverpool Welsh National Society (first session, 1885–6), pp. 51–81, and by Professor Hugh Williams in Y Drysorfa, 1888, are valuable.]
SALISBURY or SALESBURY, WILLIAM (1580?–1659?), royalist, born about 1580, was the third son of John Salisbury (d 1580) of Rûg, Merionethshire, by Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir John Salisbury of Llewenny. Two members of his family, Captains Owen and John Salisbury, probably an uncle and a brother of William, were adherents of Sir Gelly Meyrick [q. v.], and were slain in the Essex rising of 1601 (cf. Cal. State Papers, 1598–1601, pp. 548–549, 573–5, 582, 586; Howell, State Trials, i. 1446; Ashmolean MS. 862, f. 229). William seems to have matriculated from Oriel College, Oxford, on 19 Oct. 1599; but he is said to have experienced so much unkindness from his elder brothers that he quitted his home, and earned his living for some time as a drover. On 1 Jan. 1607, however, the death of John, only son of his brother Sir Robert Salisbury, placed him in possession of the family estate of Rûg, together with the Bachumbydd property in Denbighshire, and he served as knight of the shire for Merioneth in 1620–2. At the outbreak of the civil war he raised a regiment twelve hundred strong (‘poor Welsh vermin, the offscouring of the nation’) under the king's commission of colonel, which formed the only troop of infantry reserve at Edgehill on 23 Oct. 1642 (Nugent, Hampden, 3rd ed. p. 308). The troops are said to have shown a lack of courage, but they redeemed their honour soon afterwards by forcing the parliamentary barricades at Brentford (Clarendon, Rebellion, vi. 135). Appointed governor of Denbigh Castle the following year, he and his kindred repaired it at their own cost (Symonds, Diary, Camden Soc. p. 243), making it one of the strongest fortresses in the land; so that when the parliamentary general, Sir Thomas Myddelton (1586–1666) [q. v.], summoned the castle to surrender on 14 Nov. 1643, ‘Old Blue Stockings’ (Hen Hosanau Gleision), as his devoted followers styled him, laughed the proposal to scorn, and, despairing of success, Myddelton marched away. After his defeat at Rowton Heath, Charles I stayed at Denbigh Castle from 25 to 28 Sept. 1645 as Salisbury's guest. Symonds described Salisbury as an upright, honourable man; and Sir Edward Walker said that under cover of a countryman he had more experience, courage, and loyalty than many that made far greater professions. The next year General Mytton, having taken Ruthin, summoned Denbigh to surrender on 17 April, but was answered by the governor that he resolved to make good the place till he received the king's command and warrant for his discharge. Mytton then laid close siege to it, endeavouring to effect by famine what he feared to attempt by assault. ‘Its Governor, William Salisbury’ (the parliamentary commissioners reported), ‘is a very wilful man, and hath very nigh 500 able fighting men in it.’ Again summoned to surrender on 24 June, with the information that Carnarvon and Beaumaris castles had now fallen, the veteran coolly replied that that did not concern him, and managed to send through the enemy's lines a letter to the king at Newcastle acquainting him with the state of the beleaguered garrison. On 13 Sept. his majesty wrote thanking him for his loyal conduct, but authorising him by warrant to surrender the fortress, out of his anxiety to secure the peace of the kingdom. Accordingly, on 27 Oct. 1646, Denbigh Castle, which was one of the last of the royal strongholds to yield, surrendered on favourable terms (printed in Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1645–7, pp. 477–8), and its garrison of two hundred men marched out with all the honours of war.
After paying a fine, Salisbury was pardoned by parliament for taking up arms for the king, 8 Aug. 1648, and thenceforth lived in ‘obscurity and comparative indigence’ at Bodtegym. He died about 1659. Salisbury married Dorothy, daughter of Owain