GWYNNE, Howell (1718-80), of Garth in Llanleonfel, Brec.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



11 Mar. 1755 - 1761
1761 - 1768

Family and Education

b. 16 Apr. 1718, 1st s. of Marmaduke Gwynne1 by Sarah, da. of Daniel Evans of Peterwell. educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1736. m. 1751, Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Powell, 1st Bt., wid. of Sir John Rudd, 4th and last Bt., 1s. His sis. Sarah m. in 1749 Charles Wesley. suc. fa. 13 Apr. 1769.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Rad. Dec. 1755-66.


At the general election of 1754 Gwynne unsuccessfully contested Breconshire. But the previous year, when a vacancy was expected in Radnorshire, Henry Pelham had consulted Lord Powis, and Gwynne ‘was fixed upon as a proper candidate’;2and when it occurred in February 1755, he was recommended to Newcastle by Powis and his friends as ‘a gentleman of known zeal for his Majesty and his royal family, and of very considerable property in the county’.3 An opposition was threatened by Sir Richard Chase, supported by Lords Oxford and Carnarvon and the Tories, but on his declining, Gwynne was returned unopposed; the very moderate expense of £173 was paid out of secret service money.4

On 15 Dec. 1755 Powis wrote to Newcastle:5 Your Grace was pleased to tell me that I must take care of Mr. Howell Gwynne ... And I have the pleasure to assure your Grace that his conduct in Parliament has hitherto been agreeable to your wishes. I am under a necessity now of putting him into your Grace’s hands, recommending to your Grace in my turn, that you will take care of him.

Gwynne wished his brother to be made customer of the port of Milford—‘on easier terms, your Grace could scarce desire it, and it will oblige him’.

At the end of the month Gwynne was appointed lord lieutenant of Radnorshire, to the indignation of Carnarvon who on the accession of George III set out to supplant Gwynne both in his parliamentary seat and in the lord lieutenancy. Gwynne seems to have been anxious not to offend the new court, and in the ensuing transactions appears much more as a pawn in the hands of his friends than as a principal. Early in March 1761 an agreement was reached whereby Gwynne was to relinquish Radnorshire to Carnarvon for this Parliament, be returned elsewhere free of expense, and retain the lord lieutenancy for the next five years.6 He was placed by Newcastle at Old Sarum.

In October 1761 Gwynne still received Newcastle’s parliamentary whip through Powis, and in Bute’s list of December 1761 was first marked ‘Newcastle’; but next ‘Fox’: he is included in Fox’s list of Members in favour of the peace preliminaries. In the autumn of 1763 Jenkinson classed him as ‘pro’, and his name does not appear in any of the minority lists under the Grenville Administration. Marked as ‘contra’ by Rockingham in July 1765, he voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act. There is no record of his having spoken in the House. Dim and independent, he was listed by Rockingham in November 1766 as a Grenvillite, by Charles Townshend in January 1767 as a Rockingham, and by Newcastle in March 1767 as a follower of Administration. He did not vote either on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, or on nullum tempus, 17 Feb. 1768.

Chase Price wrote (to the Duke of Portland) in September 1765 about Gwynne ‘canvassing hourly’ in Radnorshire; and Price’s brother Richard reported to him on 13 Oct. that Carnarvon had informed Gwynne he would not stand again in 1768.7 But next Chase Price declared his candidature, and although Gwynne was supported by Lords Powis, Oxford and Bateman, Price established such superiority on the canvass that Gwynne declined the poll. He did not stand again, and died in 1780.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. G. J. Stevenson, Memorials Wesley Fam. 427-30; Add. 39746 f. 290.
  • 2. Geo. Rice to Newcastle, 7 Feb. 1755, Add. 32852, f. 388.
  • 3. Newcastle to Ld. Carnarvon, 8 Feb. 1755, ibid. f. 404.
  • 4. Namier, Structure, 255, 436.
  • 5. Add. 32861, ff. 316-17.
  • 6. Namier, 168-79.
  • 7. Portland mss.