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Welsh History Review


Vol. 9, nos. 1-4 1978-79

The Wynns of Gwydir and Parliamentary elections in Wales, 1604-40

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possibly difficult situation when Bishop Williams intervened and in
effect ordered that Sir John's candidate for Caernarvonshire,
Mutton, must 'absolutely stand for a place in Denbighshire', where
Mutton had formerly (1604-10) served. Given Mutton's fate in
Caernarvonshire's election, Williams may have been right, but his
instructions came too late. Wynn, it seems, stayed clear of any
further entanglement in the county election, for after his victory
Middleton acknowledged his friendship in no uncertain terms.
Perhaps a compromise between the various Denbighshire candidates
was reached and a contest avoided.69
The Wynns typified the striving, ambitious and electorally in-
fluential gentry that often dominated early-Stuart elections. Sir
John Wynn's electioneering could be compared with that exercised
by Sir Thomas Wentworth in Yorkshire or Sir Thomas Pelham in
Sussex.70 It was in Caernarvonshire's elections that the Wynns were
understandably most active. It was their home county and no one
can doubt the importance to Sir John and his family of electoral
success there. They were involved in at least seven, if not all, of
Caernarvonshire's elections in this period. However, their very
influence and prestige contributed to their downfall. Those whom
they backed-Maurice, Sir Richard Wynn and Thomas Glynn-
won but three elections. The revolt against their authority, led by
John Griffith, succeeded perhaps even beyond Griffith's wildest
hopes. Their competition for county supremacy, which even involved
the court, was fierce and unrelenting. It is a mark of the Wynn's
influence that, even after their defeat in 1621, they remained a force
to be reckoned with in Caernarvonshire's stormy electoral politics.
At Caernarvon, they were more successful; of its nine burgesses
chosen between 1604 and 1640, three-Mutton, Littleton and
Glynn-won five of the contests. They can also be credited with
three knight-ships in Merioneth, but to achieve that, the Wynns
heavily depended upon the favour of Merioneth's leading gentry,
44 It is possible that Denbighshire's squirearchy avoided any contest through negotiations
which led both Sir Thomas Wynn and its previous member, Sir Eubule Thelwall, to stand
down (assuming Thelwall was a candidate) in Middleton's favour. If that is true, then perhaps
the agreement made in 1625 included a promise from Middleton not to try for parliament
again for Denbighshire since Thelwall, who had served in 1624, served again for Denbighshire
in 1626 and 1628. Middleton was chosen for the county again in the autumn of 1640. Sir
Thomas Myddleton to Sir John Wynn, 7 April 1625, Sir John Wynn to Myddleton, 8 April
1625, Sir Roger Mostyn to Sir John Wynn, 15 April 1625, Myddleton to Sir John Wynn,
20 April 1625, N.L.W., Wynn MSS. 1315, 1317, 1324, 1332 (MS.9060E); D.N.B., sub. 'Sir
Eubule Thelwall'. For similar attempts at compromise, see Hirst, Representative, pp. 15-16.
70 Fletcher, County Community, pp. 243, 248.
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