WYNN, Thomas (1736-1807), of Glynnllivon, Caern.
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Family and Education
b. 1736, 1st s. of Sir John Wynn, 2nd Bt., and bro. of Glyn Wynn. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1754; Grand Tour 1758-60.1 m. (1) 15 Sept. 1766, Lady Catherine Perceval (d. June 1782), da. of John, 2nd Earl of Egmont, 1s.; (2) 10 Oct. 1786, Maria Stella Petronilla, da. of Lorenzo Chiappini, variously described as innkeeper, constable, or gaoler of Modigliana, naturalized 1798, she styled herself Marchesina of Modigliana,2 2s. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 14 Feb. 1773; cr. Baron Newborough  23 July 1776.
Auditor of the land revenue in Wales and Mon. 1756-81; ld. lt. Caern. 1761-81; custos rot. 1773-82; constable Caernarvon castle 1761-81.
In his first Parliament Wynn was usually bracketed with his father whose line he faithfully followed, voting invariably with the Government, even on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767. In 1768 Wynn had to fight a contested election. In the next Parliament he again regularly adhered to the Government. He was defeated for Caernarvonshire in 1774, but was returned by Government for St. Ives in 1775, and made an Irish peer in 1776. Subsequently he conveniently claimed to have suffered ‘ministerial persecutions for not voting, and for writing against the ruinous and disgraceful American war’;3 but the only two votes he is known to have given in the Parliament of 1774-80 were with the Government—on Dunning’s motion, 6 Apr. 1780, and the motion against prorogation, 24 Apr. In 1779 he was described in the Public Ledger as ‘an insignificant ministerialist’. At the general election of 1780 he stood again for Caernarvonshire.
Lord Newborough [wrote Robinson in his survey] ought to have the best interest, but he is personally disliked for some slights to the gentlemen, and therefore, although he thinks he shall succeed, yet it is very doubtful.
He was defeated once more.
Two months after the election, on 7 Nov. 1780, John Jones of the Middle Temple wrote to Hugh Ellis, an agent of Lord Paget:4
Lord Newborough is in Maidstone jail and detainers lodged against him for large sums. The Caernarvonshire militia have had no pay for some time as his bills are refused, so that it’s thought he will lose everything under Government.
That militia was apparently to a great extent a private venture of his, bound up with his feudal and martial fancies. He had built on the Glynnllivon estate two stone forts against foreign invasion, Fort Belan at the western entrance to the Menai Straits, and Fort Williamsburg on a crest in the park. Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey5 in 1907 found them still in perfect repair and armed—Newborough had fully equipped them
with cannon and muskets, and he, besides, trained a number of artillerymen and infantry to man them. He had, in fact, for many years, a small regiment of volunteers, known as the ‘Royal Caernarvon Grenadiers’, under his command, and he equipped and retained them at his own expense ... Within the fortification of Belan there is a dock to accommodate a vessel of considerable size, workshops for repairing her, and a complete establishment of marine storehouses, winches, cranes, and other fittings, such as are usually found in a Government yard of the same kind ... Fort Belan, it is said, having cost over £30,000 merely to build.
Moreover, on the day of George III’s coronation Newborough formed
‘The Society or Garrison at Fort Williamsburg in Glynllifon Park.’ Associated with it was a parallel organization, ‘The Holy Order of Sisterhood, United, Connected and Regulated with the Free, Firm and Friendly Garrison of Williamsburg.’ According to their Book of Laws, they were established ‘On the Principles of Freedom, Firmness and Friendship’ and the date of the foundation was ‘the glorious coronation day of a British King, whose reign ... will preserve to his subjects the fullest enjoyment of those Happy Privileges.’ The precise functions of the two organizations are not at all clear.6
With their oaths, secret proceedings, and quaint ceremonial, they were characteristic of the man and his time.
In 1781-2 Newborough was deprived of his local offices and honours (as foreseen by John Jones), and after the death of his wife, in June 1782, settled with his ten year-old son in Tuscany. Nevertheless, in the complex election manoeuvres of 1783-4, his name and interest were used by his agent Price, who on 23 Dec. 1783 issued a canvassing letter nominating him for Caernarvon Boroughs against his brother Glyn Wynn, with whom he had quarrelled. But Newborough was highly incensed at the support Price gave to John Parry in the county.
You will exert yourself [he wrote to an unnamed addressee from Florence on 15 Feb. 17847] ... with the assistance of my friends, tenants and independent freeholders of the county to support me and free the county from the disgrace they have suffered from such a man ...
The assurances I have received from the first interests convince me the county will again elect their faithful servant, and will remember my ministerial persecutions for not voting, and for writing against the ruinous and disgraceful American war. No person has suffered more ministerial persecution than myself ... a dismission from such appointments as no person was ever suffered to be deprived of by giving any vote in Parliament. All these circumstances will I am confident again raise the independent spirit of the county, and my friends will I doubt not unite in a society to support my exertions, and make it for the county, rather than the borough, and permit me to end my life, as I began it, in the service of my country.
This letter could not have reached Wales much before the end of March, and had no effect on the election which took place on 7 Apr. In the election for Caernarvon Boroughs, Newborough was defeated by his brother.
On 28 Feb. 1786 Sir Horace Mann, British minister at Florence, reported to the foreign secretary:8
Lord Newborough, who has resided here in a very obscure manner since 1782, on the 11th inst. signed a contract of marriage with a singing-girl about thirteen years of age, the daughter of a sbirro [constable].
Apparently between the signing of the marriage contract and the solemnization of the marriage on 10 Oct. attempts were made through the British representatives in Italy to have Newborough declared insane—some violent complaints of his against Mann and Udney, British consul at Leghorn, are quoted from Foreign Office records by Payne-Gallwey. In 1789 Lord Hervey, Mann’s successor, had to deal with ‘violent and ridiculous applications’ from Newborough ‘to interfere in his family disputes’ and ‘fortunately arranged Lord Newborough’s affairs’. Next Newborough’s father-in-law, Chiappini, who preyed on him financially, had him imprisoned for trying to leave Florence ‘without previously performing his engagements’ to him; and Hervey was daily tormented with ‘messages, notes, and letters’ from ‘this very unfortunate man’. Finally Price came to Florence with remittances and satisfied the creditors, and Newborough returned to England in 1792.
He died 12 Oct. 1807.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. Add. 32879, f. 465.
- 2. CP; Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey, Mystery of Maria Stella, Lady Newborough; M. Vitrac, Philippe-Egalité et Monsieur Chiappini.
- 3. Newborough to Price, 15 Feb. 1784, Plas Newydd mss.
- 4. Porth Yr Aur mss 12608, NLW.
- 5. Payne-Gallwey, 19-20.
- 6. Glyn Roberts, ‘The Glynnes and the Wynns of Glynnllivon’, Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. ix. 33.
- 7. Plas Newydd mss.
- 8. Payne-Gallwey, 21, 28-29, 34-38.