RICE, Griffith (c.1664-1729), of Newton, Llandesfaison, Carm.

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



Dec. 1701 - 1710

Family and Education

b. c.1664, 1st and o. surv. s. of Walter Rice of Newton by Elizabeth, da. of Pierce Deere of Glam., wid. of Richard Games of Penderyn and Llanelly, Brec.  educ. Jesus, Oxf. matric. 30 May 1682, aged 17.  m. (1) Catherine, da. and coh. of Philip Hoby of Neath Abbey, Glam., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) Elizabeth, da. of John Morgan of Baylyvicar, Carm., s.psuc. fa. by 1680.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Carm. 1693–4.


The fortunes of the Rhys family (who anglicized their name to Rice) had been established by Sir Rhys ap Thomas, who led the Welsh contingent of Henry Tudor’s army at Bosworth and was amply rewarded. ‘Never more than a knight, yet little less than a prince in his native county’, Sir Rhys built the family seat of Newton in the grounds of the recently acquired Dynevor Castle. A century later (Sir) Walter Rice represented Carmarthenshire and Carmarthen Boroughs in the later Parliaments of Queen Elizabeth. Griffith Rice, a patron of Welsh literature and one of the leading gentlemen of Carmarthenshire, though an absentee sheriff in 1694, was something of an unknown quantity when returned as knight of the shire in December 1701. Though he had been supported by the Golden Grove interest, and opposed by the Tory Sir Thomas Powell, 1st Bt.*, he was listed at first with the Tories. However, he soon showed his true colours, voting on 13 Feb. 1703 in favour of agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration and according to tradition giving the decisive vote against a Tory amendment to the bill. On 28 Nov. 1704, he divided, as forecast, against the Tack, after which he was described in a list of the 1705 Parliament as ‘Low Church’. He voted for the Court candidate in the election of a Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705, and with the Court on 18 Feb. 1706 over the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill. In terms of parliamentary activity, he accomplished little. Twice he was granted leave of absence: in February 1705, for three weeks; and on 18 Dec. 1708, for two months. Listed again as a Whig early in 1708, he toed the party line in voting for the naturalization bill in 1709 and the following year for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, suffering in consequence a Tory backlash at the 1710 general election, when he was defeated by Sir Thomas Powell. Rice, whose son Edward (d.v.p. 1727) briefly held the county seat from 1722 until removed on petition in 1724, died ‘of a palsy’ at Bath on 26 Sept. 1729, aged 65, and was buried in the abbey there. His grandson and heir, George Rice, sat as knight of the shire 1754–79, and through marriage brought the family the barony of Dinevor.2

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Trans. West Wales Hist. Soc. i. 66; Trans. Carm. Antiq. Soc. xxix. 96–97; Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 709; vii. 361, 488–9.
  • 2. DWB, 846–7; J. E. Lloyd, Hist. Carm. ii. 432; CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 144; 1700–2, p. 254; Carmarthen Antiquary, iii. 209–10; iv. 32–33; Williams, Parlty. Rep. Wales, 46; Boyer, Pol. State, xxxviii. 304; Trans. Carm. Antiq. Soc. 96–97; The Gen. n.s. viii. 170.