Single Member Welsh County

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Number of voters:

about 1,500


24 Apr. 1754Charles Edwin 
23 Dec. 1756Thomas William Mathews vice Edwin, deceased954
 Charles Van212
15 Apr. 1761Sir Edmund Thomas 
11 May 1763Thomas re-elected after appointment to office 
16 Dec. 1767Richard Turbervill vice Thomas, deceased 
6 Apr. 1768George Venables Vernon 
24 Oct. 1774George Venables Vernon 
4 Oct. 1780Charles Edwin 
14 Apr. 1784Charles Edwin 
4 Sept. 1789Thomas Wyndham vice Edwin, vacated his seat 

Main Article

About the middle of the century Glamorgan was fairly evenly divided between Whigs and Tories: Lord Talbot, Admiral Thomas Mathews, and Thomas Morgan of Ruperra were the leaders of the Whigs; the Duke of Beaufort, Lord Windsor, and Sir Charles Tynte, the leaders of the Tories. But the distinction between the two sides was fast disappearing, and the dissolution of the old political system was accelerated by changes in the ownership of the principal estates in the county. The Mansell property was divided on the death of the last Lord Mansell in 1750, Margam going to his nephew Thomas Talbot, and Briton Ferry to his daughter Barbara, who in 1757 married George Venables Vernon. The 4th Duke of Beaufort died in 1756, leaving a twelve-year-old heir; and on the death of Lord Windsor in 1758 his widow controlled his estates until Lord Mountstuart married his heiress daughter in 1766.

Nothing is known of the alignments at the general election of 1754 or at the by-election of 1756, when Thomas William Mathews, son of the Admiral, decisively defeated Charles Van of Llanwern, who stood against the advice of his father-in-law, Thomas Morgan of Ruperra.1 Mathews faced a more formidable rival when in 1759 Sir Edmund Thomas of Wenvoe began canvassing for the next general election. Thomas obtained the support of Lord Talbot, Sir Charles Tynte, Lady Windsor, and Charles Wyndham, who in 1756 had succeeded to the Llanvihangel estate of his uncle Charles Edwin and was soon to assume his name. Although George Venables Vernon declared for Mathews, on 21 Feb. 1761 he withdrew.2

As the general election of 1768 approached, Thomas was faced with an opposition from the traditionally Tory interests. His opponent, George Venables Vernon, was supported by the Duke of Beaufort, Sir Charles Tynte, and Lady Windsor; and also by the Duke of Newcastle—here, therefore, was no contest on former party lines.3 But Thomas died on 15 Oct. 1767, before the general election, and Lord Talbot and his friends then put up John Aubrey at the ensuing by-election. When Vernon was refused the Chiltern Hundreds to stand for Glamorgan, a local squire, Richard Turbervill of Ewenny, came forward on the Mansell interest to fill the seat for the remainder of the Parliament; and Aubrey withdrew.4

Vernon was returned unopposed in 1768 and 1774; and the county continued to be controlled by the coalition of the Duke of Beaufort, Lord Mountstuart, Lord Vernon, and Thomas Mansell Talbot of Margam. When Vernon succeeded to the peerage in 1780, he was replaced by Charles Edwin, Thomas Price of Duffryn having declined the poll; and Edwin was returned unopposed in 1784.

The coalition broke up when Edwin vacated his seat because of ill health in 1789. He applied to the Duke of Beaufort to support his son Thomas Wyndham; but the Duke, Lord Vernon, and Lord Mountstuart chose Thomas Windsor as their candidate. Wyndham persisted in standing; and was supported by Lady Dinevor, heiress of her father Lord Talbot, and Thomas Mansell Talbot, who put himself at the head of the independent gentry. A bitter propaganda campaign depicted the contest as one between a handful of absentee aristocrats and the independent freeholders of the county. Windsor retired before the poll, and Wyndham held the seat until his death in 1814.5

Author: Peter D.G. Thomas


  • 1. Works of Sir Chas. Hanbury Williams, iii. 104.
  • 2. Kemys Tynte mss, 1/84-7, Glam. RO.
  • 3. Add. 32977, ff. 385-6.
  • 4. Glocester Jnl. 2, 16, 30 Nov. 7, 21 Dec. 1767.
  • 5. Ll. B. John, ‘Parlty, Rep. Glam. 1536-1832’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis).