GRIFFITH WYNNE, Charles Wynne (1780-1865), of 39 Portman Square, Mdx.; Voelas, Denb. and Cefnamlwch, Caern.
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Family and Educationb. 4 Mar. 1780, 1st. s. of Hon. Charles Finch† and Jane, da. and h. of Watkin Wynne of Voelas. educ. Westminster 1795; Brasenose, Oxf. 1797, fellow, All Souls 1800-12; L. Inn 1799. m. 14 May 1812, Sarah, da. and coh. of Rev. Henry Hildyard of Stokesley, Yorks., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. Took names of Griffith and Wynne by royal lic. 26 June 1804; suc. mother to Voelas and Cefnamlwch 1811; fa. 1819. d. 22 Mar. 1865.
Sheriff, Caern. 1814-15; Denb. 1815-16.
This Member’s father, the 3rd earl of Aylesford’s second son, sat briefly for Castle Rising and Maidstone after marrying a Welsh heiress five years his senior, who was destined to inherit her father’s Denbighshire estate and the 4,200 acres of their kinsman John Griffith of Cefnamlwch (d. 1794).1 Finch, as he was first known, was brought up in London and attended Westminster School before going up to Oxford in May 1797. His withdrawal from Brasenose College six month later was attributed to his parents’ separation. This, his mother declared in her will (of 11 June 1798) ‘was not promoted be me’. She subsequently lived in Mill Hill, Middlesex, and her Denbighshire home, Lima, overlooking the Conway Valley near Pentre Foelas, while his father resided in Hill Street, Berkeley Square. Eighteen months after entering Lincoln’s Inn, Finch was admitted to All Souls, remaining there until he married, shortly after inheriting his mother’s estates. He had taken the names of Griffith and Wynne in 1804 as her heir presumptive. His mother’s brother-in-law, Thomas Assheton Smith I* of Vaenol, and his co-executors renounced probate and Griffith Wynne found that providing for his younger brother and sisters as she had directed rendered Lima, Llanfynydd and their Spytty holdings virtually insolvent by 1820. Lima was reserved for his sisters until they married, and he raised his own family in Coleshill, Warwickshire, which, with his father’s share in other properties that had formerly belonged to his maternal grandmother Lady Charlotte Seymour, reverted to him in 1819.2
The Griffith family of Cefnamlwch had a controlling interest in Aberdaron, near the borough of Nefyn, and had dominated the representation of Caernarvonshire, 1715-41, but the Assheton Smiths, who hoped to do the same, had failed to secure the seat for more than the Parliament of 1774.3 Griffith Wynne controlled approximately 160 Caernarvonshire votes, but paid little attention to the county’s politics before 1825, when Assheton Smith as lord lieutenant backed the campaign to oust the sitting Member Sir Robert Williams. Canvassing as Assheton Smith’s representative with the chairman of the county magistrates John Edwards of Nanhoron, Griffith Wynne assisted and nominated the anti-Catholic Lord Newborough of Glynllifon when he deprived Williams of the seat in 1826, and it was subsequently alleged that he had only refused the nomination himself because he had a large family to support.4 He responded sparingly and equivocally to the 1828 justice commissioners’ inquiries into the administration of justice in Wales, whose subsequent proposals to change the assize districts were locally resented.5 At the dissolution in 1830 he announced his candidature for Caernarvonshire, where his cousin Thomas Assheton Smith II had succeeded his father in 1828 and wished to try his strength. Newborough and Sir Robert Williams were abroad for health reasons and he came in unopposed.6 He had recently shown ‘much liberality to his tenants’ and refused to support the marquess of Anglesey’s brother Sir Charles Paget* in Caernarvon Boroughs, where he assisted the Ultra, William Ormsby Gore*.7 At Michaelmas 1830 the yearly rental on his estates totalled almost £8,542: £4,037 from Cefnamlwch, £3,106 from Voelas and £1,398 from his English holdings.8
The Wellington ministry listed Griffith Wynne among their ‘friends’, but, like Assheton Smith, whose political line he toed, he was absent when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He made no reported parliamentary speeches and freely admitted that he was ‘no orator’ when, with Newborough and Ormsby Gore, he addressed the January 1831 county meeting which petitioned for repeal of the coastwise duties on coal and slate. He agreed to support the petition despite his misgivings that ‘it would go before Parliament at rather an unseasonable time to ask for the repeal of a tax’ (the coal duty was conceded in April).9 He divided against the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. Assheton Smith chose not to stand at the ensuing election, so Griffith Wynne hurried to Caernarvonshire where he was returned unopposed, sponsored by Edwards of Nanhoron and Newborough. He promised on the hustings to ‘consult his constituents’ and attend to their ‘individual interests’.10 He divided against the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, for an adjournment, 12 July, and to make the 1831 census the criterion for borough disfranchisements, 19 July 1831. Illness prevented him voting again during the bill’s committee stage or at its passage, 21 Sept. 1831. Proposing a toast to him at the Caernarvon Michaelmas dinner, the pro-Paget Whig, Thomas Parry Jones Parry, explained that Griffith Wynne was ‘prevented by illness from mixing much in public life’, and ‘by attendance to his duties in Parliament he had suffered so much that his physicians had been obliged to tell him that it was as much as his life was worth to continue his exertions’.11 He divided against the revised reform bill at its committal, 20 Jan., and third reading, 22 Mar., having also voted against enfranchising Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb. 1832. He divided against the Irish reform bill at its second reading, 25 May, and for Alexander Baring’s bill to deny insolvent debtors parliamentary privilege, 27 June. He voted against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July. With Assheton Smith and Ormsby Gore out of Parliament, it had fallen on Griffith Wynne to represent their interests in the select committees on the contentious Ffestiniog railway and Caernarvon roads bills, which were both enacted, 23 May 1832.12
Throughout the summer of 1832, Ormsby Gore and the Tory North Wales Chronicle made much of Griffith Wynne’s ‘attention to his parliamentary duties’, claiming again that they had ruined his health, making it the reason for retirement after warming the Caernarvonshire seat for Assheton Smith. At his election dinner in December, Assheton Smith proposed a toast to ‘his cousin’, who he hoped ‘had given satisfaction’.13 Ever the caretaker Member and party man, Griffith Wynne gave his Boroughs votes in 1832 to the Conservative, Nanney.14 He did not stand for Parliament again. ‘Ready to promote the material comfort and moral welfare of all within his influence’, he divided his time between Denbighshire and his London house in Portman Square, where he died in March 1865. He was buried at the church he had built and endowed in Pentre Foelas.15 His successor at Voelas and Cefnamlwch, his eldest son Charles (1815-74), Liberal Conservative Member for Caernarvon Boroughs, 1859-65, had inherited Stokesley in 1860 and assumed the names Wynne Finch in lieu of Griffith Wynne shortly before his second marriage in 1863. Griffith Wynn’s will of 1 Aug. 1855 confirmed previous settlements and provided for family Members, but disinherited his son John Henry Griffith Wynne (1819-93) under a codicil dated 5 July 1864.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. HP Commons, 1754-90, ii. 424.
- 2. PROB 11/1531/120; 1623/571; IR26/543/97; 782/1033; Gwynedd Archives, Caernarfon, Poole mss 6328, 6329.
- 3. K. Evans, ‘Caernarvon Borough’, Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. vii (1947), 57-61, 65; P.D.G. Thomas, ‘Parl. Rep. Caern. in 18th Cent.’ ibid. xix (1958), 42-53; xx (1959), 77-83.
- 4. Gwynedd Archives, Caernarfon, Glynllifon mss 4328; N. Wales Gazette, 22, 29 June 1826; UCNW, Plas Newydd mss i. 393.
- 5. PP (1829), ix. 400-1.
- 6. Plas Newydd mss i. 393, 479, 465; N. Wales Chron. 1, 8, 22, 29 July, 5, 12, 19 Aug. 1830.
- 7. N. Wales Chron. 18 Feb., 25 Mar. 1830; Plas Newydd mss i. 463, 490.
- 8. NLW, Voelas and Cefnamlwch mss 3.
- 9. Caernarvon Herald, 22 Jan. 1831.
- 10. Plas Newydd mss i. 577; Caernarvon Herald, 30 Apr., 7 May 1831.
- 11. Caernarvon Herald, 1 Oct. 1831.
- 12. CJ, lxxxvii. 51, 58, 135, 286, 304, 331-2.
- 13. Caernarvon Herald, 14 July, 11 Aug.; N. Wales Chron. 17 July, 14 Aug., 25 Dec. 1832.
- 14. Plas Newydd mss iii. 3617.