Caernarvonshire

County

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
1558/9ROBERT PUGH 1
13 Jan. 1563MAURICE WYNN
1571JOHN WYN AP HUGH
23 Apr. 1572JOHN GWYNNE II
1 July 1574 (new writ)WILLIAM THOMAS I vice Gwynne, deceased.2
1584WILLIAM THOMAS I 3
1586JOHN WYNN
16 Oct. 1588HUGH GWYN alias Bodvel
1593WILLIAM MAURICE
5 Oct. 1597WILLIAM GRIFFITH II 4
30 Sept. 1601WILLIAM JONES

Main Article

During Elizabeth’s reign the Wynns of Gwydir were the leading family in Caernarvonshire and three members of the family took county seats. Despite the difference in surname, Maurice Wynn (1563) and John Gwynne II (1572) were brothers. Maurice, as eldest son of John Wynn ap Meredydd, had succeeded to the Gwydir estates in 1559, while John had left Wales to make his future in Cambridge and London, where he settled. The third member of the family was John Wynn (1586), eldest son of Maurice and by the time of his election well established in possession of his estates. He was connected both personally and through his marriage with the Earl of Leicester, a powerful but unpopular figure in North Wales. Another follower of Leicester to represent Caernarvonshire was a soldier, William Thomas I, who had not yet succeeded to his estates when he came in at a by-election in 1576 to replace John Gwynne II. Thomas sat again in 1584. There was, however, a strong faction among the Welsh gentry which opposed Leicester’s influence in North Wales. John Wyn ap Hugh of Bodvel was of this faction, and the desire to challenge Leicester’s growing influence in Caernarvonshire may explain his return to county representation in 1571 after 18 years’ absence from Parliament. Wyn’s son, Hugh Gwyn alias Bodvel, sat in 1589.

Of the four remaining MPs, three were from Caernarvonshire landowning families. William Maurice (1593) was joint deputy lieutenant of the county with John Wynn of Gwydir. William Jones (1601) handled the legal affairs of the Wynn family. William Griffith II (1597) was the son-in-law of Hugh Gwynalias Bodvel. Robert Pugh (1559) held little or no land in Caernarvonshire in his own right and his 1559 county seat depended entirely on his fortunate marriage. He had married the widow of Rheinalt ap Ieuan of Penrhyn Creuddyn and obtained the wardship of her son from the Crown.

Author: M.A.P.

Notes

  • 1. E371/402(1).
  • 2. OR (1878), app. xxxv.
  • 3. Browne Willis.
  • 4. Folger V. b. 298.

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