WILLIAMS BULKELEY, Sir Richard Bulkeley, 10th bt. (1801-1875), of Baron Hill, Anglesey

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

Constituency

Dates

8 Feb. 1831 - 1832
1832 - Jan. 1837
1841 - 1847
1847 - 1868

Family and Education

b. 23 Sept. 1801, 1st s. of Sir Robert Williams*, 9th bt., of Plas y Nant, Caern. and Friars, Anglesey and Anne, da. of Rev. Edward Hughes of Kinmel Park, Denb. educ. Westminster 1815-19; Christ Church, Oxf. 1820. m. (1) 27 May 1828, his cos. Charlotte Mary (d. 11 May 1829), da. of William Lewis Hughes*; (2) 20 Aug. 1830, Maria Frances, da. of Sir Thomas Stanley Massey Stanley of Hooton, Cheshire, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) suc. to estates of uncle Thomas James Bulkeley†, 7th Visct. Bulkeley [I] and 1st Bar. Bulkeley [UK], 3 June 1822; fa. as 10th bt. 1 Dec. 1830. Took name and arms of Bulkeley and assumed the style Sir Richard Bulkeley by royal lic. 26 June 1827. d. 28 Aug. 1875.

Offices Held

Mayor, Beaumaris 1824-5, 1830-1; recorder 1831-5.

Sheriff, Caern. 1838-9; ld. lt. Caern. 1851-66; sheriff, Anglesey 1870.

Biography

Williams, as he was first known, could trace his ancestry to Ednyfed Fychan. More recently, his family had profited from the development of Anglesey’s copper mines, in which his maternal uncles William Lewis Hughes, the future Lord Dinorben, and Owen Williams* held an interest, and also through their connection with his father’s half-brother, Lord Bulkeley of Baron Hill. The latter returned the Member for Beaumaris, and since 1784 they had controlled the representation of Caernarvonshire by arrangement with the Pagets of Plas Newydd in return for their support for a Paget in Anglesey. Bulkeley was childless and early versions of his will reflected his concern for the manner in which ‘Sir Robert’s son’ should be groomed to succeed him. He was to attend Westminster School and ‘Christ Church or other eminent college at Oxford’, not Cambridge, and ‘have a tutor while he remains in college’.1 He entered Christ Church from Westminster in 1820 with Bulkeley’s godson Lord Newborough* of Glynllifon; but only after Magdalene College, Cambridge had refused him a scholarship on Dr. Millington’s foundation because he ‘left school so ill informed as to the first principles of grammar’. Nothing had come of Bulkeley’s late suggestion that he try Peterhouse, Cambridge.2

Williams was almost 21 when Bulkeley died, 3 June 1822, and was not destined to inherit Baron Hill, of which his father was the trustee and in which Lady Bulkeley retained a controlling interest, until his 25th birthday. However, in 1823 he signed agreements pledging future estate income to settle family debts.3 Lady Bulkeley judged her nephew to be ‘much improved in appearance and manner’ from residence in France with his family, 1820-2, and considered returning him for Beaumaris, but wrote that ‘he has more of the father than one could wish’.4 Her death left Williams in control of Beaumaris at the 1826 general election when, declining to return the sitting Member, Thomas Frankland Lewis, he made the seat available to his father, to dissuade him from proceeding with an expensive contest against Newborough in Caernarvonshire. This, and his readiness to ease his family’s financial predicaments, led his father to comment, ‘My boy is acting so honourable a part I can refuse him nothing’.5 He was a personable man and an able public speaker, who participated readily at Beaumaris hunt week and county occasions, and there was great rejoicing on his marriage to his cousin Charlotte in 1828 and sorrow at her premature death the following year.6 As stipulated in Bulkeley’s will, he took that surname in 1827 and adopted the style of Sir Richard Bulkeley. He was in Cadiz at the dissolution in 1830 and reputedly not interested in coming into Parliament when Beaumaris again returned his father.7 His father’s death in Nice, 1 Dec. 1830, left Bulkeley, who failed to arrive in time to see him, in possession of about 36,000 acres in Anglesey and Caernarvonshire, with over £30,000 to clear in bond debts and annuities averaging £17,000 drawn on Baron Hill, which rarely yielded over £14,000.8 He was returned in absentia for Beaumaris without the customary celebrations, 8 Feb. 1831.9

Bulkeley, who is not known to have spoken in debate in this period, was granted a week’s leave to attend to urgent private business after serving on the Dunbartonshire election committee, 14 Mar. He divided for the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. The bill proposed making Holyhead, where the Stanleys of Alderley and Penrhos were in control, a contributory of Beaumaris, and arrangements were also in hand for the enfranchisement of Amlwch and Llangefni, where Anglesey, Hughes and Bulkeley were the largest landlords.10 Bodley’s Librarian, Dr. Bulkeley Bandinel, advised him and Beaumaris corporation that the bill would ‘only act as a prelude to much more and much worse’;11 but in circulars and at his election for Beaumaris following its defeat, Bulkeley confirmed his support for reform, describing it as ‘the renovation of the constitution, not a revolution’, and he cautioned the corporation against putting their private interests first. He canvassed actively with Anglesey’s son and heir Lord Uxbridge for Sir Charles Paget in Caernarvon Boroughs, and as he had been injured in a clash with William Ormsby Gore’s* supporters, his brother Robert Griffith Williams deputized for him at Uxbridge’s election for Anglesey.12 Uxbridge expected to be elevated to the peerage and Bulkeley hoped to come in for Anglesey at the first post-reform election. To facilitate it he offered his interest in Beaumaris to a Paget. However, resisting, Anglesey, then lord lieutenant of Ireland, warned from Dublin, 17 June 1831, ‘if Sir B. Williams ever gets in, there he will stay’.13

The reintroduced reform bill provided for the enfranchisement of Amlwch, Holyhead and Llangefni with Beaumaris, and Bulkeley divided for it at its second reading, 6 July, sparingly for its details, 26, 27 July, 5, 9 Aug., and for its passage, 21 Sept. 1831. His support for the revised reform bill was erratic. He was absent from the division on its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831. He voted against an amendment for a £10 poor rate franchise, 3 Feb., and to leave Helston in schedule B, 23 Feb., but against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and awarding Gateshead separate representation, 5 Mar. 1832 - a protest vote commonly cast by Welsh Members angered by the meagre provision for Merthyr Tydfil. He divided for the third reading, 22 Mar., but was out of town when the House divided on the address requesting the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May. He had little local legislation to attend to, but he presented Bangor’s petition against the Caernarvonshire roads bill, 26 Feb., and was appointed to the select committee on communications between Great Britain and Ireland, 16 Mar. He divided with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16 July, and information on Portugal, 9 Feb. 1832.

His main interests were his racehorses, courtship of the Catholic heiress Maria Stanley, and the future representation of Anglesey. He handled negotiations for the latter astutely, heeding advice from Dinorben, and profiting from the uncertainty concerning Uxbridge’s peerage and his own residence in Anglesey, where opposition from the Stanleys of Penrhos and Fuller Meyrick of Bodorgan was anticipated. Negotiations with Plas Newydd, however, languished until Robert, one of Anglesey’s aides-de-camp, spoke ‘openly and confidently’ of the matter in Dublin in March 1832.14 On 21 Apr. Uxbridge, Bulkeley, and the Plas Newydd agent John Sanderson agreed to form a coalition ‘quietly ... respecting the county and borough’, but Anglesey only approved the plan, under which Bulkeley gave the Pagets his Conway and Beaumaris interests, after he paid him a personal visit in Dublin in November 1832, and quashed rumours that he might bring in his brother or one of the Stanleys of Penrhos for Beaumaris.15 Despite Bulkeley’s claim that ‘love and business go d--d badly together’, the close proximity in time of the celebration of his second marriage with Anglican and Catholic rites in August 1832, the Beaumaris eisteddfod and regatta, Princess Victoria’s visit and the hunt week, served well to publicize his supremacy in Anglesey, which returned him unopposed as a Liberal in December 1832, despite resentment at the pact and rumblings of discontent from Tory squires.16 A fire at Baron Hill increased his financial worries and he relinquished the county seat in 1837, but regained it without a contest in 1847, after representing Flint Boroughs for a single Parliament. Although a lifelong Liberal, he supported the Conservative Dawkins Pennant in Caernarvonshire in 1852 and his sons were staunch Conservatives. His retirement in 1868 was attributed to misgivings about the 1867 Reform Act, but he supported the Liberal Richard Davies in Anglesey in 1868 and 1874, when his eldest son Richard Mostyn Williams Bulkeley (1833-84), a captain in the Horse Guards, was the defeated candidate. Lord Melbourne and Lord John Russell as prime ministers rejected his requests for a peerage, and he died in August 1875, having dominated local government and politics in Anglesey for half a century. He was buried at Llanfaes and commemorated by a monument on Cremlyn Hill above Beaumaris.