In the han system, Hirado was a political and economic abstraction based on periodic cadastral surveys and projected agricultural yields. In other words, the domain was defined in terms of kokudaka, not land area. This was different from the feudalism of the West.
After Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s successful conquest of Kyushu, local warlord Matsura Shigenobu was granted Hirado County and the Oki Islands to be his domain. During the Japanese invasions of Korea, Hirado was a forward base of operations for Japanese forces. In 1599, Matsuura Shigenobu erected a castle called Hinotake-jō on the site of the present-day Hirado Castle. However, he burned the castle down himself in 1613, as a gesture of loyalty towards Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu, having served in the losing Toyotomi side during the Battle of Sekigahara. In return, he was allowed to retain his position as daimyō of Hirado Domain under the Tokugawa bakufu.
The present Hirado Castle was constructed in 1704 by order of the 5th daimyō of Hirado domain, Matsura Takashi with the assistance of the Tokugawa shogunate to be the keystone in seaward defenses of Japan in the East China Sea region, now that the country had implemented a policy of national seclusion against western traders and missionaries. Also during the period of Matsuura Takashi, a subsidiary domain (Hirado Nitta Domain) of 10,000 koku was created for his younger brother, Matsura Masashi. Matsuura Takashi served in a number of important posts in the Tokugawa Shogunate, including that of Jisha-bugyō, a post traditionally reserved only for fudai daimyō. However, his expenses in rebuilding Hirado Castle all but bankrupt the domain.
The 9th daimyō, Matsura Kiyoshi, was a noted essayist and political commentor. The final daimyō, Matsura Akira, he commanded his forces as part of the Satchō Alliance during the Boshin War of the Meiji Restoration, in support of Emperor Meiji, and fought at the Battle of Toba-Fushimi and against the Tokugawa remnants of the Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei in northern Japan, at Morioka and Akita. In April 1884, he was made a count in the new kazoku peerage system. From 1890, he served in the House of Peers of the Diet of Japan. He was later awarded 2nd Court rank.
List of daimyo
The hereditary daimyo were head of the clan and head of the domain.
Name Tenure Courtesy title Court Rank Revenue 1 Matsuuta Shigenobu (松浦鎮信?) 1587–1600 Hizen-no-kami Lower 4th (従四位下) 63,200 koku 2 Matsuura Hisanobu (松浦久信?) 1600–1602 Hizen-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 63,200 koku 3 Matsuura Takanobu (松浦隆信?) 1603–1637 Hizen-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 63,200 koku 4 Matsuura Shigenobu (松浦鎮信?) 1637–1689 Hizen-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 61,700 koku 5 Matsuura Takashi (松浦棟?) 1689–1713 Hizen-no-kami, Jisha-bugyō Lower 5th (従五位下) 51,700 koku 6 Matsuura Atsunobu (松浦篤信?) 1713–1727 Hizen-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 51,700 koku 7 Matsuura Arinobu (松浦有信?) 1727–1728 Hizen-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 51,700 koku 8 Matsuura Sanenobu (松浦誠信?) 1728–1775 Hizen-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 51,700 koku 9 Matsuura Kiyoshi (松浦清?) 1775–1806 Iki-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 51,700 koku 10 Matsuura Hiromu (松浦熈?) 1806–1841 Hizen-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 51,700 koku 11 Matsuura Terasu (松浦曜?) 1841–1858 Iki-no-kami Lower 5th (従五位下) 51,700 koku 12 Matsuura Akira (松浦詮?) 1858–1871 Hizen-no-kami 2nd (正二位), Count (伯爵) 61,700 koku
- "Hizen Province" at JapaneseCastleExplorer.com; retrieved 2013-5-28.
- Mass, Jeffrey P. and William B. Hauser. (1987). The Bakufu in Japanese History, p. 150.
- Elison, George and Bardwell L. Smith (1987). Warlords, Artists, & Commoners: Japan in the Sixteenth Century, p. 18.
- Papinot, Jacques Edmond Joseph. (1906). Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie du Japon; Papinot, (2003). "Gotō" at Nobiliare du Japon, p. 33; retrieved 2013-6-2.