Available from Boydell and Brewer
Number of voters:
1,800 in 16811
|c. Apr. 1660||SIR THOMAS MYDDELTON|
|10 Apr. 1661||(SIR) THOMAS MYDDELTON, 1st Bt.|
|4 May 1664||JOHN WYNNE vice Myddelton, deceased|
|19 Feb. 1679||SIR THOMAS MYDDELTON, 2nd Bt.|
|3 Sept. 1679||SIR THOMAS MYDDELTON, 2nd Bt.|
|14 Feb. 1681||SIR JOHN TREVOR|
|8 Apr. 1685||SIR RICHARD MYDDELTON, Bt.|
|15 Apr. 1689||SIR RICHARD MYDDELTON, Bt.|
The Chirk Castle interest dominated Denbighshire politics throughout the period, taking the county seat at every general election except in 1681, and even on that occasion they claimed a thousand votes to their opponent’s 800 and were only thwarted by a technicality. Such predominance naturally aroused jealousy among the lesser squires, but no polls are known or probable. Elections were held alternately at Wrexham and Denbigh, the latter venue being cheaper for the Myddeltons, who had a town house there. The head of the family, despite the handicaps of a parliamentarian record in the Civil War and participation in the comically unsuccessful rising of 1659, was elected at Wrexham to the Convention at the cost of £38 5s.2d. The stewards appointed at the Restoration for the extensive crown lands, (Sir) John Carter for the lordship of Denbigh and Henry Wynn for Bromfield and Yale, while not themselves candidates for the county, had an important electoral influence. Myddelton brought the writ down from London. on 10 Feb. 1661, but stood down in favour of his son, less compromised by his Civil War record, who had been created a baronet, and secured an assurance of support from John Wynne of Melai, head of the leading Cavalier family in the county. Efforts to find another candidate failed, though Thomas Price of Y Giler (father of Robert Price) assured Henry Wynn’s nephew, Sir Richard Wynn, of strong opposition to the Chirk interest. When the younger Myddelton died in 1663, his sons were under age and his father in his late seventies. With loyal enthusiasm still at its height, Wynne was elected by ‘the major part of the freeholders and residents’ as a stop-gap.2
Electoral activity began again as early as 1675, when Edward Thelwall of Plas-y-Ward secured several pledges of support. On 26 Dec. Wynne, who did not wish to stand again, urged Sir Thomas Myddelton, the eldest son of the 1661 Member, to rally the Chirk interest by appearing at the quarter sessions. Promises of reciprocal support for county and borough were probably exchanged with Sir John Salusbury. Carter’s exertions against the Myddelton interest were terminated by his premature death, whereupon Sir John Trevor, a court lawyer with a considerable following in East Denbighshire, entered a caveat for the vacant stewardship. But after two years’ delay the post was given to Myddelton’s henchman, Wynne, and Myddelton himself was elected at Wrexham to the first Exclusion Parliament by ‘the greater part of the whole county’ at the cost of £68 6s.6d. Thelwall revived his candidature for the next election, with the support of William Williams. They were accused of attempting to ‘abridge the freeholders of the freedom of voting’ by a preliminary gentry meeting. But as Wynne wrote:
I am sure the Parliament would not thank these gentlemen for that good opinion they have of themselves, contrary to all the laws in being for a freedom to all persons that have 40s. p.a. to dispose of themselves as they think good.
Despite doubts whether the sheriff would ‘carry himself as becomes him in the election’s, the writ arrived at Chirk Castle on 20 Aug. 1679, and Myddelton’s election at Denbigh a fortnight later cost him only £43 18s.6d.3
In 1681, Myddelton stood down, perhaps for reasons of health, in favour of his younger brother Richard, who was still on his travels when the writ was issued. Trevor, well versed in the ‘knavish part of the law’, seized on this technicality, persuaded the sheriff to declare Myddelton disqualified, and was returned without a poll. The disorder was considerable, for Denbigh was teeming with the supporters of the two factions. Prosecutions for riot followed, and the unsuccessful candidate first challenged Trevor to a duel for calling his grandfather a rebel, and then sought to have him removed from the county bench. After Salusbury’s death, harmony was restored by the Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset), who persuaded Trevor to step down to the borough seat, on a promise of mutual support. He wrote to the leading gentry that both Trevor and Myddelton, who had succeeded to the baronetcy, were acceptable to the King, adding that he could not look upon anyone who opposed the arrangement ‘as a good subject, a good Briton, nor a good Christian’. Myddelton was elected by ‘the major part of the county’ at Wrexham at the cost of £63 13s.6d.4
The Roman Catholic Marquess of Powys was appointed steward of the lordship in April 1688, but took to flight with his master before the next election. Trevor was also temporarily discredited, and though Sir Robert Cotton, Bt., who had succeeded to the Salusbury estate, instructed his tenants to reserve their position until the gentry could meet, Myddelton was returned at Denbigh ‘openly and unanimously without opposition or contradiction of anyone’. At £21 12s.2d. his election expenses were the lowest recorded for the period in the family accounts.5
Author: A. M. Mimardière
- 1. A. H. Dodd, Studies in Stuart Wales, 205.
- 2. W. M. Myddelton, Chirk Castle Accounts 1605-66, pp. 85, 93, 95; CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 137, 138; Cal. Wynn Pprs. 361, 363-5.
- 3. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 415; NLW, 18094E, Thelwall to Edwards, 30 Nov. 1675; Chirk Castle mss F10793, letter of John Wynne, 26 Dec. 1675; F64815, Wynne to Myddelton, 12 Aug. 1679; CSP Dom. 1676-7, p. 474; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 392; Myddelton, Chirk Castle Accounts 1667-1753, pp. 132, 135-6.
- 4. NLW, Chirk Castle mss E558, Lloyd to Myddelton, 18 Feb. 1681; E53, Wynne to Myddelton, 25 Sept. 1681; E43, letter of Beaufort, 7 Mar. 1685; True Prot. Merc., 23, 26 Feb. 1681; CSP Dom. 1680-1, pp. 476-7; Chirk Castle Accounts 1667-1753, pp. 191-2.
- 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1832; A. L. Cust, Chrons. of Erthig, i. 68; Chirk Castle Accounts 1667-1753, p. 241.