WILLIAMS, Sir Hugh, 8th Bt. (1718-94), of Nant, Caern.
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Family and Education
b. 1718, s. of Col. Griffith Williams of Arianys, Caern. by Mary, da. of Robert Williams of Roe, Caern. m. 28 June 1760, Emma, da. and h. of Thomas Rowlands of Caerau, Anglesey, wid. of James, 6th Visct. Bulkeley [I], M.P., 2s. 2da.; step-fa. of Thomas James, 7th Visct. Bulkeley. suc. fa. at Arianys 1725; his cos. Sir Robert Williams as 8th Bt. Nov. 1745; his w. at Nant 1770.
Entered army 1739; capt. 34 Ft. 1744; maj. 6 Ft. Jan. 1756; maj. 85 Ft. July 1759; lt.-col. 53 Ft. Feb. 1761; half-pay Dec. 1764.
Constable of Beaumaris castle July 1761- d.
Williams’s marriage to the dowager Viscountess Bulkeley turned his thoughts towards a parliamentary career. The Bulkeley family controlled the borough of Beaumaris, and Lord Bulkeley was still under age in 1760. On the day of George II’s death Williams wrote to Lady Bulkeley:1
Lucky is he who gets into this present Parliament, for it will be the seat of promotion ... I am very sorry to find you inclined to continue the present Member [for Beaumaris]. If you regard your son’s future interest and glory, and your husband’s satisfaction, you must not hesitate to endeavour to turn out Mr. [Richard] Price, even at the hazard of a poll ... if you don’t do it now, you never will, or can have the least right to call that borough the property of the House of Baron Hill, and it must be looked upon as lost by your bad management.
But her father, a zealous Tory, wished to return Price, and, since he disapproved of Williams, their marriage had been kept secret.
Your concealing our marriage from your father, I am afraid disqualifies me from serving the borough—which should be your natural dependence and interest at present. But if I cannot be qualified, let me recommend a person who will give me the Duke of Bedford’s interest for promotion and ensure me a lieutenant-colonelcy immediately, and a thousand pounds in ready cash.
In further letters from Southampton he pressed her to inform her father of their marriage and advised her how best to secure both county and borough for her son when he came of age.
As to the borough you must somehow get me a qualification to stand for it ... it is the desire of every person to be in Parliament at this juncture, believe me it will be of infinite consequence to any young man, especially warriors.
She replied on 12 Nov.:
Nor do I yet despair of seeing you, my dearest Baronet, mighty snugly established in the borough of Beaumaris, then Price may hang himself if he pleases ... To now talk of party, whatever my real opinion is I shall keep it to myself, only I must be excused from drinking to the ... memory of either Georgites or Old Will.
She now told her father about her marriage—but as to elections hardly seems to have followed her husband’s advice; indeed, he complained of her being uncommunicative to him on the subject. He continued to press her, but was not returned at the general election of 1761.
On 12 Dec. Charles Townshend, then secretary at war, requested Williams to rejoin his regiment; and from Gibraltar on 20 Aug. 1762 Williams appealed to Townshend to be allowed to exchange for a company in the Guards, so as ‘to get out of this vile climate where I have been eleven years’. On 6 June 1763, still from Gibraltar, he wrote to Welbore Ellis, newly appointed secretary at war:
Last post brought me account of the death of my father-in-law, which event puts me in possession of an estate of near a thousand pounds per annum. I find he died with his affairs in disorder and confusion which presses my coming home ... Many other reasons require my being soon at home, one in particular (I beg leave to mention to yourself only). Ever since the death of the late Lord Bulkeley my father-in-law had the management of the borough of Beaumaris in Wales, which belongs to the Bulkeley family. My father [-in-law] and I never thought the same in matters of politics, therefore he declined giving me a seat in Parliament last election. His choice I suppose you know, his name is Price. The borough consists of 24 electors, I have the honour to be one, and if I am at home in August next I shall have the management of putting in two which is now vacant, and will secure my being in Parliament next election, but if I am absent at that time the present Member may establish himself that I may find it difficult to supplant him, therefore his Majesty will lose a faithful servant in Parliament.
If his request were refused he would have ‘to sell out of the army or exchange on half pay’—which he did in December 1764.
Returned at last for Beaumaris in 1768, he seems not to have spoken in the House before 1790. Nor does his name appear in any of the division lists on Wilkes and the Middlesex election, 1769-70. Subsequently he voted with Opposition, on the Spanish convention, 13 Feb. 1771; the Grenville Act, 25 Feb. 1774; and Wilkes, 22 Feb. 1775. After that again his name does not appear in division lists for five years. Meanwhile Lord Bulkeley, now of age and in Parliament, having wholeheartedly joined the Opposition, was pressing Williams to attend. Thus on 15 Jan. 1780:
If the people of England are in earnest, now is the moment for contracting the enormous influence of the Crown and keeping placemen and pensioners within proper limits ... As Colonel [Glynn] Wynn after some solicitation on my part has promised me to come to town, I hope you’ll not think it an hardship to accompany him and I do assure you I’ll not detain you longer than you can conveniently stay. You must know that some popular questions coming on will be the time to show the weight and consequence of Sir Hugh Williams, Colonel Wynn, Sir George Warren, and Lord Bulkeley being united together in a little parliamentary phalanx.
Williams obeyed the summons, and in six divisions, February-April 1780, voted with the Opposition.
Looking forward to the next general election, Bulkeley wrote to Williams on 31 May 1780:
With respect to Caernarvonshire politics, I can only say that as there would be no doubt of a contest in case of your standing, I will freely confess that however my inclination might lead me, my purse would not allow of my embarking, and I know the jealousy of many individuals would take fire at my endeavouring to fix so near a relation as yourself in that county. You will please to recollect that your language to me for some years back has been against Parliament, the expense and inconvenience of which you have frequently represented to me. Notwithstanding this, I should certainly have begged you to have continued in the borough if Sir George Warren had not expressed himself so strongly for it, that considering his claims upon me as the father of my wife it was impossible for me to deny him.
Williams seems to have resented being left out, and when Bulkeley did not accept a recommendation of his to some post, he wrote, 2 Apr. 1781, about the mortification of having his ‘consequence’ taken away after ‘twenty years faithful service to the prejudice of my constitution and pocket’, and his intention to ‘retire from all public business’. The quarrel was made up within a month, but Williams was not returned again till July 1785. He did not vote in the division on Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786; but over the Regency, 1788-9, voted with Pitt.
He died 19 Aug. 1794.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Peter D.G. Thomas
- 1. Baron Hill mss, UCNW Lib.