WYNN, Sir Watkin Williams, 4th Bt. (1748-89), of Wynnstay, Denb.

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



5 Mar. 1772 - 1774
1774 - 29 July 1789

Family and Education

b. 8 May 1748, 1st s. of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, 3rd Bt., M.P., by his 1st w. Ann, da. of Edward Vaughan, M.P., of Llwydiarth, Mont.  educ. Westminster 1764-5, Oriel, Oxf. 1766.  m. (1) 11 Apr. 1769, Lady Henrietta Somerset (d. 24 July 1769), da. of Charles, 4th Duke of Beaufort, s.p.; (2) 21 Dec. 1771, Charlotte, da. of Hon. George Grenville, 3s. 3da.  suc. fa. 26 Sept. 1749.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Merion. June 1775- d.


Wynn’s father was the most powerful leader the Tories ever threw up in Wales, and one of the leaders of the opposition to Sir Robert Walpole. When the coming of age of the heir was celebrated, ‘there were at least 15,000 people at dinner in Sir Watkin’s park, all at the same time’.1 ‘The bill of fare at the entertainment’ is formidable even by eighteenth-century standards: 31 bullocks, 50 hogs, 50 calves, 80 sheep, 18,000 eggs, 150 gallons of milk, 60 quarts of cream, etc. But the Wynnstay influence, which had shrunk during the long minority, was never fully re-established. In 1772 Wynn was returned unopposed for Shropshire, and in 1774 stepped into his father’s place as Member for Denbighshire, which he retained unopposed till his death. In 1768 and 1774 he re-asserted the Wynnstay influence in Merioneth, and in 1774 and 1780 fought the Powis Castle influence in Montgomeryshire. But Wynn never pursued politics as his father had done. An art collector, member of the Dilettanti Society, interested in drama and music, he had his private theatre at Wynnstay. His attendance in Parliament was poor, and he was criticized for it.2 In the first divisions in which his name appears, he voted with the Opposition: 25 Feb. 1774, to perpetuate the Grenville Act, the work of his late father-in-law; and on Wilkes, 22 Feb. 1775. But on the death of William Vaughan in April 1775 Wynn applied through Lord North to succeed to the lieutenancy of Merioneth.3 The King replied:

I consent to Sir Watkin Williams being lieutenant of Merioneth, if he means to be grateful, otherwise favours granted to persons in opposition is not very political.

Wynn was appointed, and during the next four years supported Government. But the Treasury plan of 1778 to inquire into the encroachments on the Crown lands in Wales made Wynn fly off at once.4From now onwards he voted regularly with the Opposition to North’s Administration. He voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries; was absent from the divisions on Fox’s East India bill; and opposed Pitt.  He died 29 July 1789.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Peter D.G. Thomas


  • 1. Gent. Mag. 1770, p. 233.
  • 2. G. T. Kenyon, Life of Ld. Kenyon, 117-18.
  • 3. Fortescue, iii. 205-6, 207.
  • 4. Walpole, Last Jnls. ii. 213-14.