POWELL, Sir Thomas, 1st Bt. (c.1665-1720), of Broadway, Laugharne, Carm. and Coldbrook Park, Mon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1705 - 1708
1710 - 1715

Family and Education

b. c.1665, o. s. of Sir John Powell, j.c.p. and Kb, of Pentre Meyrick, Llanwrda, Carm. and Broadway by da. of Nicholas Williams of Rhydodyn, Llansawel, Carm.  educ. St. Catherine’s, Camb. 1680; M. Temple 1681, called 1687, reader 1702.  m. (1) Elizabeth (d. 1697), da. of Thomas Mansel† of Briton Ferry, Glam. and Penderyn, Brec., gdda. of Bussy Mansel* and sis. of Thomas Mansel II*, 1da.; (2) 27 July 1698, aged 32, Judith, da. and h. of Sir James Herbert† (d. 1709), of Coldbrook Park, 1s. 3da.  suc. fa. 1696; cr. Bt. 19 July 1698.1

Offices Held

Common councilman, Carmarthen 1686; recorder, Oswestry 1698; freeman, Neath by 1706.2

Attorney-gen. Carmarthen circuit 1695–1715.3


Powell’s career was dominated by the figure of his father, under whose ‘instruction’ he was educated ‘in the profession of the law’. Sir John Powell had been dismissed from King’s bench by King James after giving his opinion in favour of the seven bishops, and restored in 1689. Indeed, King William had originally offered him the lord keepership. Thomas’ appointment to the mid-Wales circuit was presumably made to gratify his father, and even after Sir John’s death royal favour continued to flow: a grant in 1697 of a market and two fairs to be held annually in his town of Laugharne; the following year a baronetcy.4

Unable to make much headway in his native county, where he was defeated by the Whig Griffith Rice* in the election for knight of the shire in December 1701, Powell turned to Monmouthshire, where his father-in-law’s estate lay. Supported by the Duke of Beaufort for both the county and borough seats in 1705, he was defeated in the former constituency and contented himself with the latter, in which he was returned unopposed. Classed as a ‘Churchman’ in an analysis of the new Parliament, he needed to be ‘quickened’ by Beaufort to go up to London ‘soon enough’ to cast his vote against the Court in the election to the Speakership on 25 Oct. 1705, but before long was given leave of absence, on 25 Jan. 1706 for a month. In early 1708 Powell was listed as a Tory. He did not stand for re-election later that year, but in 1710 took advantage of a Sacheverellite backlash in Carmarthenshire to turn the tables on Griffith Rice. Classed in the ‘Hanover list’ as a Tory, and included among the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the 1710–11 session exposed the mismanagements of the previous ministry, he acted as a teller on the Tory side on 5 Apr. 1711, for an amendment to the bill to prevent bribery and corruption at elections, but five days later was granted another month’s leave of absence. In January 1712 he irritated Beaufort and the other Monmouthshire Tories by moving the writ for the county election before local canvassing was complete: an ‘inadvertent’ blunder in the mistaken belief that ‘it was doing his country’ (and his party) ‘service’. Though included on Lord Treasurer Oxford’s (Robert Harley*) canvassing list of early 1712 concerning the parliamentary attack upon the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), Powell made little impact upon the records of this session, and on 17 May was granted a leave of absence on the grounds of ill-health. One of the Tory rebels in the division on 18 June 1713 on the French commerce bill, he had taken a consistent line on the issue, having told on 4 May against the preparatory bill to suspend duties on French wines. The 1713 general election saw him returned again unopposed, his position having been strengthened, or so Whigs were to allege, by a purge of the local commission of the peace carried out according to his recommendations. He may not have continued his ‘whimsical’ cross-voting in the 1713–14 Parliament, for the Worsley list classified him as a Tory.5

Defeated by a Whig in Carmarthenshire in 1715, and stripped of his office, he appears to have taken no further part in politics. He died at Broadway, on 22 Aug. 1720, aged 56. Among other bequests, he left a sum of money for the erection of a monument in Laugharne parish church to his ‘most honoured and dear father’, with whom he wished to be buried. His only son died within a year, s.p., leaving an estate of around £3,000 p.a. to be divided among the surviving daughters.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. T. Nicholas, Co. Fams. Wales (1875), i. 270; HMC Lords, n.s. v. 357; Trans. Carm. Antiq. Soc. xvii. 29–30; xxvii. pp. vii–viii.
  • 2. Williams, Old Wales, i. 174–6; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 358; Univ. Coll. Swansea, Mackworth mss, lists of freeholders and burgesses of Neath, Oct. 1706.
  • 3. W. R. Williams, Gt. Sess. Wales, 141, 191.
  • 4. Trans. Carm. Antiq. Soc. xvii. 29–30; DNB (Powell, Sir John); CSP Dom. 1697, p. 86.
  • 5. Carmarthen Antiquary, iv. 32–34; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 31; NLW, Tredegar mss 96, box 53, Beaufort to [–], 16 Apr. 1705; HMC Portland, iv. 195; Yorks. Arch. Soc. (Leeds) Leeds mss DD5, box 20, bdle. 1, Granville to Beaufort, Oct. 1705; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, Beaufort to ‘Mr Morgan’, 15 Jan. 1712; Add. 70331, canvassing list, [c.Jan. 1712]; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 241.
  • 6. Trans. Carm. Antiq. Soc. xvii. 29–30; The Gen. n.s. iii. 85.