PRYSE, Lewis (c.1683-1720), of Gogerddan, Card.
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Family and Education
b. c.1683, o. s. of Thomas Pryse of Glanfraed, Llanfihangel Geneu’r Glynn, Card. by Margaret, da. of Lewis Owen† of Peniarth, Merion. educ. Ruthin; Jesus, Oxf. matric. 1 Apr. 1699, aged 15. m. Ann, da. and h. of John Lloyd of Aberllefenni, Merion., 2s. d.v.p. 4da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. gt.-uncle Edward Pryse at Glanfraed and Gogerddan c.1701.1
Pryse, in the words of a contemporary panegyric, ‘was endowed with most excellent natural parts, which he took care to improve by a constant and assiduous application to his studies (unless the gout, which unhappily seized him at about 16 years of age, prevented him)’. Shortly after succeeding to the extensive Gogerddan estate formerly held by his fourth cousin Sir Carbery Pryse, 4th Bt.*, and while still a minor, Pryse was elected for Cardiganshire in December 1701. Classed with the Tories in Robert Harley’s* analysis of this Parliament, Pryse was also listed as having favoured the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the proceedings of the first 1701 Parliament in the impeachments of the four Whig lords. The nature of Pryse’s Toryism is suggested by the welcome he gave to the accession of Queen Anne, expressing in a private letter the belief that ‘we are now come to some prospect of a future happiness for sure a Stuart can have no aversion to a Stuart’, and his behaviour in the Commons had led to suggestions that the Whig Viscount Carbery (John Vaughan I*) would contest the next county election. No such Whig challenge was made at the 1702 election, but Pryse stood aside to allow the election of Sir Humphrey Mackworth*, whom he described in a speech made at the election as ‘in all respects the fittest person to serve the country’. Once Pryse had attained his majority he came in for Cardigan Boroughs. Listed as a ‘Churchman’, he voted on 25 Oct. 1705 against the Court candidate for Speaker, and was marked as a Tory in two lists of 1708.2
At the 1708 general election Pryse defeated a Whig opponent in the county but found himself facing a petition that was not in fact decided, in his favour, until 18 Jan. 1710. He had taken the precaution of having himself returned for the borough constituency as well, with the complaisance of other interested Tories, notably Mackworth, and was thus able to keep both seats until it was safe to opt for the county. By a previous arrangement, Mackworth should then have filled the vacancy, but Pryse urged him to desist ‘for this time, having his [Pryse] interest for all future Parliaments’. Mackworth was willing to acquiesce, provided Pryse ‘made choice of a good man’, but on being informed that the intended nominee was (Sir) Simon Harcourt I*, the horrified Mackworth withheld consent. Unabashed, Pryse, who a year before, on 20 Jan. 1709, had assisted as a teller in a Tory attempt, via a motion for adjournment, to avert the unseating of Harcourt in the notorious Abingdon election case, continued with his recommendation and secured Harcourt’s return. Pryse was already showing himself a staunch party man in the Commons, and a considerably hotter Tory than Mackworth. He had served as a teller on 7 Mar. 1709 for an amendment to the naturalization bill to prevent its beneficiaries voting in, or standing at, parliamentary elections; and on 19 Apr., in what seems to have been a party cause, albeit an unlikely one, in favour of a rider to the Middlesex registry bill. Pryse also voted in 1710 against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. At some time in 1710 he and a few cronies, Tory ‘gentlemen of quality’, met at a private house in Aberystwyth and ‘drank to the Pretender’s health and return upon their knees’. The incident was reported to the secretary of state, and would probably have resulted in a prosecution had it not been for the change of administration, though in an undated document Pryse protested that the allegations had been prompted by ‘some gentlemen in the county of the contrary party’.3
By the summer of 1710 the Tory interest in Cardiganshire was seriously split, and Pryse, as the chief of the ‘honest gentlemen’ (his own expression), that is to say the more extreme Tories, could not get himself elected, either in that year or in 1713. The divisions were healed by 1715, however, and he was once more chosen as knight of the shire. Although an analysis of the new House unaccountably described him as a Whig, his Jacobite leanings were well enough known for his enemies to speculate in September 1714 that he might be preparing to go over to France, and when he failed to attend the Parliament, citing as his excuse an especially severe ‘fit of the gout’ and claiming that he had been returned in absentia (in fact, while at Bath) and without his knowledge or consent, the House appears to have recognized this as a cover for refusing the oaths and he was expelled. He kept up his contacts with the exiled court and in 1717 Lord Mar wrote to tell him and ‘other loyal men’ of Jacobite hopes for the imminent success of the Swedish Plot and ‘a happy restoration to old England’. After Pryse’s death at ‘his seat of Aberllefenni’ on 11 Aug. 1720, aged 38, the Pretender’s agents lamented a ‘most worthy patriot’ who ‘ruled’ his shire; others ‘a complete gentleman’ and ‘a polite scholar’ who had been ‘a great master of all the Christian virtues’, not least his patient suffering of chronic gout. The succession to the Gogerddan estate, estimated at some £3,000 a year, took further sideways shifts, to a first cousin and thence to another distant cousin, Thomas Pryse, MP for Cardigan Boroughs 1741–5.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Boyer, Pol. State, xx. 159; Meyrick, Card. 310; PCC 180 Dyer.
- 2. Boyer, 158–9; Nicholas, Co. Fams. of Wales, i. 209; DWB, 808; Add. 70283, Pryse to Mrs Wogan, 9 Apr. 1702 (copy); NLW, ms 14632E, Mackworth’s diary, 5 Aug. 1702.
- 3. Add. 61637, ff. 102, 111; 70292, case of Pryse et al. n.d.; Welsh Hist. Rev. i. 284.
- 4. Add. 61637, f. 153; 70205, Pryse to Robert Harley, 21 Nov. 1710; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 61; Ceredigion, v. 404; Salop RO 1536/4, Lady Lisburne to Mrs B. Vaughan, 7 Sept. 1714; Welsh Hist. Rev. 284–5; NLW Jnl. viii. 184; Boyer, 158–9; The Gen. n.s. ii. 145–6; P. S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, p. 154; info. from Mr R. G. Thorne; Meyrick, 310.