MEYRICK, John (c.1673-c.1735), of Bush, Pemb.
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Family and Education
b. c.1673, 1st s. of Essex Meyrick of Bush by Jane, da. of Robert Corbett of Ynysmaengwyn, Merion. educ. Jesus, Oxf. matric. 22 Mar. 1689, aged 15; M. Temple 1691, called 1697, bencher 1723. m. Mary (d. bef.1732), da. and coh. of John Williams of Norchard, Pemb., 1s. 1da. suc. fa. c.1711.1
Puisne judge, Anglesey circuit 1712–15.
Meyrick’s paternal grandfather Sir John† was a professional soldier who served as adjutant-general in the Earl of Essex’s army during the Civil War but disapproved of the regicide and spent the Interregnum in retirement, dying in 1659. His father, who in early life had figured as one of the ‘moderates’ restored to the Pembrokeshire county committee after the final dissolution of the Rump, was proposed as one of the knights of the Royal Oak at the Restoration (with an estate of only £600 a year), and seems to have developed into a Tory in his later years. Absent when King James’s questions were put regarding the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act, he acted as mayor of Pembroke in 1688 and after the Revolution was presented by a grand jury for refusing the oath of allegiance.2
Meyrick himself was returned unopposed on the Owen interest for Pembroke Boroughs to the first two Parliaments of Queen Anne. He presented a bill on 22 Dec. 1702 for the encouragement of the woollen industry through the amendment of legislation affecting apprenticeships, and another on 18 Jan. 1704 for the ease of sheriffs in the execution of their office. Although forecast in October 1704 as a probable opponent of the Tack, he in fact voted for it on 28 Nov. In January and February 1705 he assisted in the management of a private bill. An analysis of the 1705 Parliament listed Meyrick with other Tackers as ‘True Church’, and though he was absent from the division of 25 Oct. 1705 on the choice of Speaker, he was still listed as a Tory in early 1708. In the general election of that year he seems to have switched his attention away from Pembrokeshire. At one stage the nominee of the Tory interests of Lewis Pryse* and John Pugh* in Cardiganshire, he withdrew in favour of Pryse, in return for a promise to be returned subsequently in the Cardigan Boroughs constituency, where Pryse was also standing. This agreement he waived on behalf of Sir Humphrey Mackworth*, but in 1710 he was at last chosen for the seat, presumably on Pryse’s recommendation. In this election in Pembrokeshire he gave his support to John Barlow* as knight of the shire, while in the Boroughs he did his best to assist a candidate favoured by Robert Harley* despite the embarrassment of prior commitments elsewhere. ‘If he be agreeable to you’, he remarked to Harley of the man in question, ‘he cannot fail to be so to me.’ In the case of Barlow, he informed (Sir) Thomas Mansel (5th Bt.) I* that his influence had been decisive, ‘and [Sir] Arthur Owen [3rd Bt. II*] was so sensible of it’, he added, ‘that he offered me Pembroke [Boroughs] for life if I would join his interest this time’. Meyrick was also anxious to refute stories that he had ‘sold his interest’. Far from gaining financially by his connexion with the Barlows, he claimed he could
make it appear that Mr Barlow’s family is the better for me by some thousands and they cannot say that I ever took one farthing of their money though I have been concerned in seven or eight Chancery suits at one time and so continued for several years and brought them all to a good period, besides a great many other instances of my service in the course of my profession and otherwise.3
Classified in the ‘Hanover list’ as a Tory, and listed among the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session of this Parliament exposed the mismanagements of the old ministry, Meyrick was granted leave of absence on 15 Feb. 1711 on account of his father’s illness. In February 1712 he left the House on being appointed to a Welsh judgeship worth £300 p.a. This he retained for only a brief spell after the Hanoverian succession, being replaced in January 1715. He did not stand for Parliament again, and, indeed, adopted a low profile in local politics. However, his continuing Toryism is apparent in a letter to the Carmarthenshire Tory Sir Nicholas Williams, 1st Bt.†, prior to the 1722 election, in which he urged reconciliation with another Tory elsewhere.4
Meyrick was ‘sick in body’ when he made his will on 28 Dec. 1732. It was proved on 6 May 1735. His son Essex achieved a fleeting and unwelcome publicity as one of the unsuccessful suitors of (Sir) Richard Steele’s* heiress Elizabeth, who cruelly preserved some of his love-letters for posterity.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. T. Phillipps, Pemb. Peds. 43; J. E. Griffith, Peds. Anglesey and Caern. Fams. 126; W. R. Williams, Gt. Sess. Wales, 113; W. Wales Hist. Recs. v. 126; PCC 106 Ducie; CJ, xvi. 498.
- 2. DWB, 630; A. H. Dodd, Studies in Stuart Wales, 174; W. R. Williams, Old Wales, iii. 20; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 286; W. Wales Hist. Recs. 123; Trans. Cymmro. Soc. (1946–7), 219.
- 3. Bull. IHR. xxxvii. 24; HMC Portland, iv. 489, 494, 542, 569–70; M. E. Jones, ‘Parlty. Rep. Pemb. 1536–1761’ (Wales Univ. M.A. thesis, 1958), 119, 198.
- 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvi. 528; xxix. 343; P. S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, pp. 153–4; R. Fenton, Hist. Tour of Pemb. (1903), 253; Carm. Antiquary, iv. 36.
- 5. PCC 106 Ducie; G. A. Aitken, Life of Steele, ii. 330; E. Laws, Little England beyond Wales, 365.