WYNN, Sir John, 2nd Bt. (1701-73), of Glynnllivon, Caern.

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



2 Jan. 1740 - 1741
1741 - 1747
1754 - 1761

Family and Education

b. Sept. 1701, o.s. of Sir Thomas Wynn, 1st Bt., M.P., by Frances, da. and h. of John Glynn of Glynnllivon.  educ. Queens’, Camb. 1720.  m. in or bef. 1735, Jane, da. and h. of John Wynne, M.P., of Melai, Denb. and Maenan, Caern. by Sydney, sis. of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, 3rd Bt., M.P., 4s. 3da.  suc. fa. 13 Apr. 1749.

Offices Held

Deputy cofferer of the Household Jan.-Dec. 1743; deputy treasurer, Chelsea Hospital 1744-54; surveyor gen. of mines in N. Wales; constable Caernarvon castle 1727-61; custos rot. Caern. 1756- d.


The Wynns of Glynnllivon were one of the leading Whig families in North Wales. From 1715 to 1790 they controlled Caernarvon Boroughs, and from 1754 to 1774 held the county seat. Sir John Wynn’s father was a placeman and in 1744 Wynn himself obtained a lucrative post at Chelsea Hospital, which in 1747 became incompatible with a seat in Parliament. In 1754 Wynn decided to give up his place and stand for Caernarvonshire: Pelham, he claimed, had promised to provide for him as occasion offered. In a letter to Newcastle on 23 Mar. 1754 he cited his merits:

The expense of bringing myself and another sure friend into Parliament ... my zeal upon all occasions for his Majesty’s measures and ministers; and the constant opposition I gave in Wales to Sir Watkin Williams and all his clan.

His claims were pressed by Henry Fox who, on taking office in September 1755, named Wynn among the five friends to be considered for places. On 27 Dec., when asking that the reversion of the auditorship of the land revenue should be given to Wynn’s sons, he wrote:

Sir John Wynn is of the old corps certainly; and I will be bound to any forfeiture if Sir John Wynn ever fails of giving the most zealous assistance, or asks for any other favour.1

Before the next general election, on 24 Feb. 1761, Wynn wrote to Newcastle:

No one is more ambitious to merit the honour of your Grace’s friendship than I am, and no one will be more steadily attached to your Grace. I can with truth say no family in Wales has demonstrated so much attachment to the Hanover Succession as mine has. We have withstood the attacks and enmity of all the Jacobites in that part of the world above fifty years. I have stood three contested elections against the warmest efforts of Sir Watkin [Williams Wynn] at my own expense and disappointed that great champion in every one of them. At the request of Sir R. Walpole I raised an opposition to Sir Watkin, which cost him above twenty thousand pounds.
At the request of Mr. Pelham, I brought Bodvell into Parliament for the county of Caernarvon. During the last fifty years no Member for that county or borough has given a vote against the measures of the royal family. Nor I hope, ever will, as long as my family subsists. I shall bring my son and myself into the next Parliament, and I believe I may venture to say I have it in my power to determine which of the candidates shall come in for the county of Anglesey. I therefore presume to hope your Grace will think I have just pretensions to the small layouts I shall now ask.2

Because of age, ill-health, and a threatened opposition in the county, Wynn removed himself to the boroughs, while putting up his eldest son Thomas for the county; both were returned unopposed.

Wynn’s vows of the most steady attachment were to Newcastle’s office and not to his person; and Newcastle, however prone to delusions, by 13 Nov. 1762 classed Wynn as an opponent.3 In Bute’s list he was marked ‘Fox and Government’, and he was indeed active on their side. On 26 Oct. 1762 he wrote to Richard Myddelton about talks he had had with Fox, who would this time send out the invitations to Members to attend the meeting at the Cockpit on the night before Parliament met.

I hope it will be convenient to you to come, for in whatever friendship you profess, Mr. Fox will meet you more than half-way, and I can be answerable for his sincerity.4

Both Wynn and his son Thomas naturally appear in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries.

After the crisis of August 1763 the reconstructed Grenville Administration, facing Pitt, Bute, and the Newcastle Whigs, tried to secure the early attendance of its friends in the new session. Sandwich, writing to Bedford on 17 Sept., asked whether Bedford would apply to Wynn.5 And on 26 Sept. Sandwich sent Lord Holland a list of fourteen Members ‘to be applied to’ by him: at the top of it appeared again ‘Sir John Wynn and son’.6 Holland, replying from France, 2 Oct.,7 discussed the more difficult cases, but included the Wynns in ‘the rest’ which ‘I think you’ll have’.

Wynn faithfully adhered to the Grenvilles, and preserved his unchanging fidelity to Government however much Governments changed. In the summer of 1765 Rockingham, in his list of the House of Commons, marked the two Wynns as ‘doubtful’; but next added the note: ‘Saw Sir John Sept. the 26th and he and his son to be marked pro.’ They similarly supported the Chatham Administration, and Wynn’s vote against Savile’s nullum tempus bill was his last on record: he did not stand again in 1768.

He died 14 Feb. 1773.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Add. 32852, ff. 564-5; 32734, ff. 297-8, 312-13; 32995, f. 262; 32861, ff. 477-8.
  • 2. Add. 32919, f. 267.
  • 3. Add. 33000, f. 160.
  • 4. Chirk Castle mss, NLW.
  • 5. Bedford mss 48, f. 102.
  • 6. Henry Fox mss.
  • 7. Sandwich mss.