PRYSE, Pryse (1774-1849), of Gogerddan, Card. and Buscot Park, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

18 Apr. 1842 - 4 Jan. 1849

Family and Education

bap. 1 June 1774, o. surv. s. of Edward Loveden Loveden† of Buscot and 1st w. Margaret, da. and h. of Lewis Pryse of Woodstock, Oxon. and Gogerddan. educ. Eton 1789-91; Christ Church, Oxf. 1792. m. (1) 20 July 1798, Hon. Harriet Flower (d. 14 Jan. 1813), da. of William, 2nd Visct. Ashbrook[I], wid. of Rev. the Hon. John Ellis Agar, s.p.; (2) 29 Apr. 1815, Jane, da. of Peter Cavallier of Guisborough, Yorks., 3s. suc. grandmo. Margaret Pryse to Gogerddan and took name of Pryse 24 Mar. 1798; fa. to Buscot 1822. d. 4 Jan. 1849.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Card. 1799-1800.

Ensign, Berks. militia 1794, capt. (vols.) 1794-6; lt. Oxf. yeomanry 1803.

Biography

Pryse, a committed Whig whose pedigree and 30,000 acres in Cardiganshire gave him a strong claim to the county seat, had overcome the tribulations of his father’s divorce (from his third wife) and his own wife’s tragic death and lived with his second wife at Gogerddan, whose administration Loveden had surrendered to him under threat of litigation. At the dissolution in 1820 it was widely reported that he would stand for Cardiganshire, so terminating an arrangement made in 1816 with the sitting Tory, the lord lieutenant William Powell, whose election he had condoned in exchange for support in the less prestigious Cardigan Boroughs, that had first returned him in 1818.1 However, he again canvassed the Boroughs, where he had been a generous benefactor, and came in unopposed in 1820 at a personal cost of £169 15s.6d. His addresses and speeches called for further retrenchment and lower taxes.2

Pryse aligned in Berkshire with John Berkeley Monck* and the reformers and in West Wales with the Blues, while in the Commons he divided regularly and consistently with the main Whig opposition. Until 1823, he also supported the ‘Mountain’ and Hume’s campaigns for economy and retrenchment, often voting in small minorities. He divided for parliamentary reform, 9, 10 May 1821, 25 Apr. 1822, 27 Apr. 1826. He paired for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, but subsequently abstained on the issue ‘because he had no strong feelings of his own and was therefore prepared to concede a little to the views of his friends’. He wrote to correct a report in The Times that he had voted for relief, 21 Apr. 1825.3 A radical publication that session noted that he ‘attended frequently and voted with the opposition’.4 Pryse, never a significant debater in the Commons, spoke ‘in so low a tone of voice’ on presenting a petition from Carmarthenshire for reform of the Welsh courts of great sessions, 25 May 1820, that The Times, which may have confused him and George Rice Rice, was ‘not able to distinguish the object of it’, and assumed it came from Caernarvonshire.5 Queen Caroline’s health had been drunk at proclamation celebrations that Pryse chaired at Aberystwyth in February, and he supported the 1820 and 1821 parliamentary and extra-parliamentary campaigns on her behalf and authorized celebrations at Gogerddan when her prosecution was abandoned in November 1820.6 His efforts as a speaker for the Newington select vestry bill met with little success, 21 Mar., 16 May 1821.7 He had a net income of some £6,000 a year from the Gogerddan estate, where he spent the 1821 recess, taking a keen interest in the home farm and the hunting, and also contributed £200 towards erecting a gallery at St. Mary’s church, Cardigan.8

Loveden died, 6 Jan. 1822, and Pryse inherited a life interest in his 3,000-acre Berkshire estates at Buscot, Eaton Hastings and Farringdon.9 These were mortgaged for £15,760 to his brother-in-law, the Rev. Samuel Wilson Warneford, and were charged with £1,000 annuities for his sister (Margaret Warneford) and half-sister Jane Loveden. Family correspondence and Pryse’s letters to the solicitor Charles Deare, 1822-9, describe his problems in providing for his relations as his father had directed, even after letting Woodstock, selling bark and timber and taking out £29,750 in mortgages.10 It persuaded him to authorize trustees under his own will of 3 Dec. 1822 to sell mortgaged estates.11 From Gogerddan, where he had reduced his rents to alleviate distress, he led the opposition in 1822-3 to the county’s largest tithe owner, Col. John Palmer Chichester, who had extend the range of titheable goods, but the Lords decided in Chichester’s favour, and the campaign lost momentum when Pryse and his family moved to Buscot in 1823.12 In Berkshire as in Cardiganshire, he tended to keep aloof from the activities of the magistracy, but when Lord Folkestone* sought his signature on a requisition for a Berkshire reform meeting, Pryse was happy to provide it, 3 Jan. 1823, adding:

Although I am not one of those who consider that a reform of the Commons House would act as a cure for all evils under which we are suffering, still I am not the less convinced of the expediency of such a measure, and feel fully satisfied that if properly regulated it would tend much towards ameliorating the condition of this oppressed country.13

His main concern in Parliament in 1823 and 1824 was the Llanfihangel Genau’r Glyn and Llancynfelyn enclosure bill, which affected much of the Gogerddan estate and amended previous parliamentary enclosures. Working closely with the Carmarthen and Carmarthenshire Members John Jones and Rice (both Reds) and his local agent James Morris, he secured its enactment, 17 June 1824, and subsequently corresponded with the office of woods and forests about Cyfoeth Y Brenin and draining Cors Fochno.14 He voted for inquiry into the currency, 12 June, against the usury laws repeal bill, 17, 27 June 1823, and to permit defence by counsel in cases of felony, 6 Apr. 1824. The Welsh language periodical Seren Gomer praised him as the presenter of Aberystwyth’s petition for the gradual abolition of negro slavery, 14 Apr., and for voting in condemnation of the indictment in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 11 June 1824.15 Possibly in response to Powell’s increased involvement in the borough, he had 39 of his tenants admitted as burgesses of Cardigan, 27 Dec. 1824.16 He voted against the proposed relaxation of the corn laws which his constituents opposed, 8, 11 May 1826, was unopposed at the general election in June, and paid £158 4s. for the customary entertainments.17 He played no part in the proceedings resulting from the Myfenydd enclosure riots, although a critical petition of 12 June 1826 from the hundred of Ilar urged him to take action against the squire, Augustus Brackenbury.18

Pryse divided against the grant to the duke of Clarence, 16 Mar., and to delay supplies, 30 Mar., including the Irish estimates, 5 Apr., pending resolution of the succession to Lord Liverpool as premier, and voted against the corn bill, 2 Apr. 1827. He seems to have stayed away from the House for the next 22 months, but he was a frequent visitor to Wales and Bath, where Jane Loveden had settled. He arranged her move to the family’s town house in Aberystwyth in March 1828 and oversaw plans for post-enclosure sales and the cultivation of Genau’r Glyn.19 He assured Thomas Lloyd of Coedmore, the anxious proprietor of a weir on the Teifi, that ‘the salmon bill has been floored for this session [1828]’, and ‘if it should be renewed next year, I shall be very happy to attend to any suggestions of yours respecting it’.20 He held aloof from the petitioning for repeal of the Test Acts in 1828 and was similarly reticent on Catholic emancipation. Listed by the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary Planta in February 1829 as ‘opposed to securities’, he delayed voting for the measure until its third reading, 30 Mar.21 When in July he sought patronage through Lord Dalhousie for a constituent (one of the Lloyds of Dôl-haidd), his Berkshire neighbour the earl of Kintore commended him as that county’s ‘ace of trumps’.22 He adopted a higher profile in Cardiganshire in the autumn of 1829, when Cardigan’s future as an assize town was threatened by the law commission’s endorsement of Lord Cawdor’s proposals for abolition of the Welsh judicature and courts of great sessions and reorganization of assize districts. He did not, like several other Blues, sign the Cardiganshire gentry’s favourable memorial promoted by Cawdor’s agents, and when the county met in protest at Aberaeron, 18 Nov., he explained that he remained undecided on the matter and would fall in with his constituents’ views.23 His attendance early in 1830 was lax, but he divided steadily with the revived Whig opposition, 22 Mar.-6 July, including for Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June. He presented a petition from Cardigan against abolition of the great sessions and Welsh judicature, 27 Apr., and voted against the recommittal on 18 June of the administration of justice bill by which it was enacted, earning belated recognition in the Carmarthen Journal as one of its ‘active opponents’. Herbert Evans of Highmead had confirmed Pryse’s popularity at Lampeter in October 1829, but his strength in the Boroughs was nevertheless tested in 1830 by Edward Lloyd Williams, the barrister son of John Lloyd Wiliams of Gwernant. The proprietor of Peterwell, John Scandrett Harford, came from Gloucestershire to assess the situation, but Pryse had rushed to Cardiganshire to take a prominent part in celebrations marking the accession of William IV and he avoided a contest at the ensuing general election.24

Ministers naturally listed him among their ‘foes’ and he divided against them on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented and endorsed petitions against colonial slavery from the inhabitants of Aberystwyth and Cardigan and several Dissenting and Nonconformist congregations, 18 Dec. 1830, 30 Mar. 1831. He divided for the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr., and brought up Aberystwyth’s reform petition endorsing the bill the following day. A county meeting at Lampeter, 7 Apr., commended his conduct and his return at the general election in May was a formality. On the hustings, he promised consistent support for ministers ‘on this vital question of parliamentary reform, and in all such measures as may appear to me likely to promote the general welfare of the country’.25 He divided for the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, against adjourning its committee stage, 12 July 1831, and steadily for its details. He voted against granting borough freeholders county votes, 17 Aug., but cast a wayward vote (attuned to local interests) for the enfranchisement of £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of Scottish reform bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct., but failed to attend the Cardigan reform meeting, 14 Nov.26 He divided for the revised reform bill at its second and third readings, 17 Dec. 1831, 22 Mar. 1832. He was ‘in the country’ when the House adopted an address asking the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May, but later ‘welcomed’ the opportunity to present a similarly worded address from Cardigan.27 He divided with government on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831, but against their temporizing amendment to Buxton’s motion for a select committee on colonial slavery, 24 May 1832. He voted in the majority against suspending the Liverpool writ, 5 Sept. 1831, and was absent when party strength was tested on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832. He now received a gift of plate from his tenants in Genau’r Glyn and he was praised in the Welshman and Greal y Bedyddwyr as a supporter of reform and the campaign against colonial slavery.28

Pryse was returned unopposed for the new Cardigan Boroughs constituency in December 1832, when the arrival at the nomination of a lady in orange to await a second candidate caused a flurry of excitement.29 He almost lost to a Conservative in 1841, when a double return was made but rescinded on petition, but held the seat for life.30 He died in Carmarthen in January 1849 and was buried with his ancestors at Llanbadarn Fawr (Aberystwyth), recalled as a generous benefactor and for his opposition to the establishment of a county police force in Cardiganshire at the time of the Rebecca riots.31 His Woodstock and Cardiganshire estates had been settled since 1846 on his eldest son, Pryse Pryse (1815-55), his successor as Liberal Member for Cardigan Boroughs, who later that year readopted the name and arms of Loveden. When he faced insolvency in October 1852 it was decided that his father (Pryse), whose will had provided generously for his widow and relations, had ‘had no power to charge the real estate with payment of said £20,000’ for the younger sons.32

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott

Notes

  • 1. R.J. Colyer, ‘Pryse Family of Gogerddan’, WHR, ix (1979), 408-9; HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 457-8, 901-2; NLW, Nanteos mss L930.
  • 2. Cambrian, 22 Jan., 11, 18, 25 Mar.; Carmarthen Jnl. 4 Feb., 17 Mar.; NLW, Glanpaith mss F164; Ceredigion Archives CDM/SE6/34; NLW, Gogerddan mss (uncatalogued), election bills Mar. 1820.
  • 3. The Times, 25 Apr. 1825.
  • 4. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 482.
  • 5. The Times, 26 May 1820.
  • 6. Carmarthen Jnl. 18 Feb., 1 Dec. 1820.
  • 7. The Times, 22 Mar., 17 May 1821.
  • 8. Colyer, ‘Gogerddan Demense Farm’, Ceredigion, vii (1972-5), 170-88; Gogerddan mss RA60-82; Greal y Bedyddwyr, v (1831), 192.
  • 9. PROB 11/1657/265; IR26/916/433; Berks. RO D/ECr/E3.
  • 10. Colyer, WHR, ix. 410-12; Gogerddan mss, Deare to Pryse, 5 Oct 1824; NLW ms 19001 C, passim.
  • 11. PROB 11/2095/464; NLW ms 19001 C, f. 3.
  • 12. J. Barber, ‘Tithe Unrest in Card. 1796-1823’, WHR, xvi (1992), 181-201.
  • 13. Gogerddan mss, J. Gill to Mrs. Pryse, 22 May 1822; Pryse mss (History of Parliament Aspinall transcripts), Folkestone to Pryse, 16 Dec. 1822, reply, 3 Jan. [1823].
  • 14. CJ, lxxviii. 54, 159; lxxxix. 63, 191, 364, 435, 468, 504; Gogerddan mss, Pryse-Morris corresp. 17 Mar. 1823-4 July 1829; Colyer, ‘Enclosure of Cors Fochno’, Ceredigion, viii (1976-9), 181-92.
  • 15. Seren Gomer, vii (1824), 189-90, 224-5; The Times, 15 Apr. 1824.
  • 16. Ceredigion Archives CDM/44, 45; Gogerddan mss RB55.
  • 17. Cambrian, 10, 24 June; Carmarthen Jnl. 23 June; Gogerddan mss, election bills, June 1826.
  • 18. D. Jenkins, ‘Rhyfel y Sais bach’, Ceredigion, i (1950-1), 199-200; Cambrian, 8 July, 26 Aug., 21 Oct. 1826.
  • 19. Cambrian, 22 Sept. 1827; Gogerddan mss, letters to Pryse from Jane Loveden, Richard Griffiths of Bishop’s Castle, Thomas Morris and John Ball, 1827-8.
  • 20. Carmarthen Jnl. 1, 22 Feb. 1828, 13 Feb. 1829; Cambrian, 1 Mar. 1828, 14 Feb. 1829; Gogerddan mss, Pryse to Tufnell, 19 June 1829; Carm. RO, Lloyd of Coedmore mss D/LL/865.
  • 21. Seren Gomer, xii (1829), 155.
  • 22. NLW, Penty Park mss 100.
  • 23. Cambrian, 7 Mar., 18 Apr., 14, 21 Nov.; Carmarthen Jnl. 16 Oct., 13, 20, 27 Nov. 1829.
  • 24. Carmarthen Jnl. 16, 23, 30 July, 6, 13 Aug. 1830; Pryse mss (Aspinall transcripts), H. Evans to Pryse, 19 Oct. 1829; Cambrian, 24, 31 July 1830; Bristol RO, Blaise Castle mss 28048/C3; Ceredigion Archives CDM/SE8/35.
  • 25. Cambrian, 2, 16 Apr., 7, 14 May; Seren Gomer, xiv (1831), 155; Greal y Bedyddwyr, v (1831), 192; Carmarthen Jnl. 12 May 1831.
  • 26. Carmarthen Jnl. 6 Dec. 1831.
  • 27. Ibid. 30 Mar.; W