PUGH, John (c.1675-1737), of Mathavarn, Llanwrin, Mont.
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Family and Education
b. c.1675, 1st s. of William Pugh of Mathavarn by Margaret, da. of John Lloyd of Ceiswyn and Aberllefenni, Merion. educ. I. Temple 1690, called 1700; Jesus, Oxf. matric. 13 June 1691, aged 15. m. c.1708, Elizabeth, da. of John Scudamore†, 2nd Visct. Scudamore [I], sis. of James Scudamore*, 3rd Visct., 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1719.1
Pugh, one of whose forebears had sat in Elizabethan Parliaments for Montgomery Boroughs, came of an ancient Montgomeryshire line. Pronounced Royalist sympathies, which had incurred the destruction of Mathavarn by Parliamentarian forces during the Civil War, earned his grandfather and namesake inclusion among the proposed knights of the Royal Oak at the Restoration (the estate being then estimated at £1,000 a year) and later the grant of another manor in the county. His father, as one of ‘the chief of the gentry’ of Montgomeryshire, had been selected at a county meeting in September 1688 as candidate for knight of the shire in James II’s projected Parliament, this after having taken a fairly stiff line against the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. He was not, however, returned to the Convention. Pugh himself, a friend of the scholar Edward Lluyd, was, strangely enough, removed from the commission of the peace in a Tory purge around 1702, only to be reinstated after his election to Parliament at the behest of Lord Lisburne (John Vaughan I*). In the meantime, in 1703, he had been named to the county lieutenancy.2
Pugh’s return for Cardiganshire in 1705 was almost certainly accomplished through the influence of Lewis Pryse*. While Pugh was classified as ‘True Church’ in a list of the new Parliament, Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) could do no more in calculating the effect of his election than mark it as ‘doubtful’. In the House Pugh quickly showed his party colours, voting against the Court candidate in the division on the Speaker, 25 Oct. 1705, and told on the Tory side on 22 Jan. 1706 in favour of a motion to adjourn in order to prevent the passage of further Whig resolutions on the Huntingdon election. He also told on 6 Mar. 1706 against an additional clause to the bill to prevent frauds by bankrupts. A list of 1708 described him as a Tory.
Originally expected to be Pryse’s nominee again in Cardiganshire in 1708, Pugh switched to Montgomeryshire Boroughs, where his family enjoyed a traditional interest and where he probably had the support of Edward Vaughan*. He was still close to Pryse, and was present at the notorious meeting of Tory gentlemen in Aberystwyth in 1709–10 when the Pretender’s health was drunk by Pryse and the assembled company on their knees. Classed in the ‘Hanover list’ as a Tory on his return to Parliament in 1710, he was not a particularly active partisan and on 19 Mar. 1711 was granted a month’s leave of absence. Though appointed on 7 Dec. to draft the address, he was granted a further six weeks’ leave on 18 Mar. 1712. On the other hand, he was put down as a Tory in the Worsley list and in two lists of the Members re-elected in 1715, and his tellership on 29 June 1714 in a division on the Southwark election may perhaps indicate Jacobite associations. On 12 Aug. 1714 he presented a bill to amend the 1714 Land Tax Act by rectifying mistakes in the lists of commissioners.3
Inactive in the 1715 Parliament, during which, in 1719, Pugh was committed to custody for defaulting on a call of the House, he was described in Jacobite sources as a dominant figure in Montgomeryshire politics, once he had succeeded his father, and his name was sent to the Pretender in 1721 as a ‘worthy man . . . to be relied on’ in the event of a rising. His last election in 1722 was effected with the assistance of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, 3rd Bt.† He stood down in 1727 but testified as a witness for the Tory candidate on the election petition. Pugh died on 30 Nov. 1737, and was buried at Llanwrin. His heiress was a niece, the wife of Thomas Pryse† of Gogerddan, but the Mathavarn estate was later sold, for £33,400, to the trustees of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, and merged into that of Wynnstay.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Mont. Colls. iii. 45; v. 494–5.
- 2. Ibid. i. 474–5; v. 488–95; lv. p. vi; Herbert Corresp. ed. W. J. Smith (Univ. of Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xxi), 345–6, 352; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 284; Arch. Camb. ser. 3, vi. 19; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 176–7; CSP Dom. 1703–4, p. 279.
- 3. NLW Jnl. viii. 182; Bull. Bd. of Celtic Studies, xx. 299; Welsh Hist. Rev. i. 284; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 201; Szechi thesis, App. 1.
- 4. P. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, p. 154; Bull. Bd. of Celtic Studies, 300; Mont. Colls. iii. 46; v. 495.