WYNNE, Owen (c.1756-1841), of Hazelwood, co. Sligo.
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Family and Education
b. c. 1756, 1st s. of Owen Wynne, MP [I], of Hazelwood by Hon. Anne Maxwell, da. of John, 1st Baron Farnham [I]. m. 20 Jan. 1790, Lady Sarah Elizabeth Cole, da. of William, 1st Earl of Enniskillen [I], 2s. 4da. suc. fa. 1789.
MP [I] 1776-1790, 1791-1800.
Collector, Sligo 1784-1801; sheriff, co. Sligo 1819-20, 1833-4; gov. and custos rot. 1789-d.
Trustee, linen board [I] 1795.
Capt. Carbery vol. cav. 1796.
Wynne, who was heir to valuable estates in counties Sligo and Leitrim, and to the parliamentary patronage of Sligo borough, succeeded his father as county Member in 1776. A placeman who supported government, he occupied his borough seat after his defeat for the county in 1790. He could not be brought to support the Union and from his friendship with John Foster was thought likely to share the latter’s critical attitude to Addington’s administration.1 Yet Wynne, whose brother Robert was controller of the household to the lord lieutenant, made no mark in Parliament: no speech or minority vote is known. He had not taken his seat by 25 Mar. 1801. In January 1802 he surprised the Castle, who had him earmarked as sheriff of Leitrim, by asking to be excused this to stand for county Sligo. The viceroy was reluctant to grant the request, but insisted that there was ‘no idea of acting improperly by Mr Wynne’, as it was not Leitrim that he meant to contest.2 Wynne did not contest the county, nor, to the relief of Charles O’Hara* in June 1803, did he mean to do so at the next election.3
Wynne’s attendance was unreliable. He was in London in March 1802, but did not attend the new Parliament until the spring of 1804, when it was thought that John Foster could procure him for Pitt’s administration. Wynne’s price was a church living of some £500 or £600 p.a. for his brother, which he had been promised by Lord Camden some years before and requested from Addington’s administration in December 1803. Pitt was ‘excessively well disposed to Mr Owen Wynne’, so the chief secretary informed the viceroy, 2 June 1804, ‘and will be very much gratified by your Excellency’s giving his brother a good living’. Meanwhile Wynne had attempted to take his seat, 16 May 1804, only to be frustrated that day by an informality, there being no lord steward to commission the deputation that swore him in. He was in Ireland in the spring of 1805 and, when pressed to attend in June, excused himself on account of his wife’s illness and his reluctance to leave a helpless family at the mercy of invaders.4
On 28 Nov. 1805 Wynne asked the viceroy, whom he believed to be leaving Ireland, for an Irish privy councillorship, of which his father had been thought worthy. The chief secretary, Long, disliked such hereditary pretensions and, while he thought no man could be more respectable, feared a precedent would be created which would lead to a flood of such applications. Lord Hawkesbury suggested to the viceroy that
if it is conferred sometimes on gentlemen of landed property who are county Members it should be limited to those who have either rendered some important public service or whose time of life and long attendance at parliamentary duties would entitle them to the distinction.
Pitt’s death shelved the problem.5
It had been proposed to Wynne in the summer of 1805 that he should vacate his seat and give it to government, ‘but he felt disgusted at the proposal being made without a person being mentioned, and declined it’. Subsequently, when collared by the viceroy on the subject, Wynne informed him that he would have been glad to comply but had previously determined to go to England that winter. In January 1806, Lord Hardwicke thought Wynne might be ready to surrender the seat to his wife’s connexion Frederick John Robinson*. In June 1806, Wynne arrived in London and the Grenville ministry learnt that he would attend and vote with government: his real purpose was evidently to resign his seat, which to the surprise of government he sold to Col. George Canning. He expressed an interest in contesting county Sligo in 1807, but the Castle were unable to persuade him to persevere in it, though as Edward Wakefield reported not long afterwards, with reference to Wynne’s qualities as a resident landowner with ‘a princely income’, as a parent and as an impartial magistrate, ‘Mr Wynne is as proper a choice for a county Member, as any person in the United Empire’.6 Although out of Parliament until 1820, he was prepared to suggest improvements in Ireland through correspondence with the Castle, though he never uttered while at Westminster. He died 12 Dec. 1841, incorrectly believed to be the last surviving member of the Irish house of commons.