WYNDHAM, Thomas (?1763-1814), of Dunraven Castle, Glam.
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Family and Education
b. ?1763, o.s. of Charles Wyndham (afterwards Edwin†) of Dunraven Castle, and Clearwell Court, Glos. by 1st w. Eleanor, da. of James Rooke, sis. of James Rooke* of Bigsweir. Mon. educ. Eton 1776-9; Wadham, Oxf. 6 Dec. 1779, aged 16. m. 15 Mar. 1787, Anna Maria Charlotte, da. of Thomas Ashby of Isleworth, Mdx., 2s. d.v.p., 1da. suc. fa. 1801.
Vice-lt. Glam, 1804-d.
Lt.-col. 1 regt. W. Glam. vols. 1794-1804; capt. commdt. Glam. provisional cav. 1797.
Wyndham’s grandfather, Thomas Wyndham of Cromer, acquired Dunraven by his first marriage, and by his second marriage to Anne Edwin of Llanmihangel that estate passed to his son Charles, who assumed the name of Edwin and sat for Glamorgan from 1780 with the support of the aristocratic alliance headed by the Duke of Beaufort. In 1789, in anticipation of his own retirement, Edwin sought Beaufort’s support for his son Thomas, but Beaufort and his friends decided to back a naval absentee, the Hon. Thomas Windsor. Thereupon Edwin retired before the dissolution to facilitate his son’s return, which was secured by the defection of Talbot of Margam from the aristocratic group and by an appeal to the independence of the county against their control. With a family estate worth £10,000 p.a. and connexions by marriage with the Jones family of Fonmon, Wyndham was basically distinguishable from the other territorial magnates only by the absence of a title, but he held his seat unopposed as the champion of the independent freeholders who had guaranteed his return.1
Wyndham’s father had supported Pitt in the Parliament of 1784 and he did so ‘steadily’, if silently. In 1791 he was listed among opponents of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. He applied to Pitt for patronage for his friends. He was, however, disappointed in 1794 when on the death of Lord Mountstuart he applied to succeed him as lord lieutenant: he was sure ‘such an appointment would not be displeasing to the county at large’ and would encourage his friends to serve as militia officers under him. When he received no reply and the lieutenancy was put in commission for friends of Lord Bute, he protested, 19 Mar. In his application, 5 Feb. 1794, he had explained:
I am much mortified at not being able to attend Parliament, but the injury I received in my ankle at the time my leg was broke, is so great, that I am now unable to put it to the ground.2
While Wyndham was engaged in promoting local harbour, road and canal bills in this Parliament, and in particular opposed Beaufort over the Swansea Canal bill, 1794, his attendance subsequently fell off and in later years there were long absences. He accordingly appeared as ‘doubtful’ in the party lists, probably more from the standpoint of attendance than from that of support for the government, for he became ‘doubtful Pitt’ in July 1805 and was listed ‘government’ by the Treasury after the election of 1812. His one minority vote known was against Catholic relief, 2 Mar. 1813, and his only reported speech the presentation of the report of the East Retford election committee, 26 May 1803.
He had since 1802 excused his negligence to his constituents on the ground of ill health. In 1806 the Glamorgan ironmasters complained of it when they opposed the iron duty; in 1807 he was threatened with opposition from his own camp, as a pretext for securing a promise of better attendance in future. He did not improve: in 1810 he was chairman of a county meeting for tax relief, but the petition had to be placed in other hands, as often before.3
Wyndham died 8 Nov. 1814. His two sons died young and his daughter and heiress found the estate encumbered through his embellishment of Dunraven, where he was a popular and hospitable squire, a keen sportsman and a model of benevolence.4 His daughter married