WILLIAMS, Sir Henry, 2nd Bt. (c.1635-66), of Gwernyfed, Aberllynfi, Brec.
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Family and Education
b. c.1635, 1st s. of Sir Henry Williams, 1st Bt., of Gwernyfed by Anne, da. of Sir Walter Pye of The Mynde, Much Dewchurch, Herefs. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1651. m. Jan. 1658, Abigail, da. of Samuel Wightwick of Marlston, Berks., 4da. suc. fa. c.1652.1
Commr. for militia, Brec. Mar. 1660, col. of militia ft. Apr. 1660-1, j.p. July 1660-d., commr. for assessment Aug. 1660-d., dep. lt. 1661-d.2
Williams was the great-grandson of David Williams, a distinguished lawyer who was Member for Brecon in four Elizabethan Parliaments. His father, who sat for the county in 1628, was named to the commission of array and created a baronet during the Civil War; information was laid against him as a Royalist, but he never compounded, perhaps because his estates were too encumbered to bear a fine. Consequently Williams was not inhibited from standing at the general election of 1660, though he modestly contented himself with the borough seat, which his father-in-law had occupied in the previous Parliament. He was not an active Member of the Convention, in which he was named to six committees, the most important being to consider the defects of the Poll Act. His vigorous repression of a ‘seditious preaching’ at Llanddetty on 22 July provoked a riot among the followers of the popular Baptist republican, Jenkin Jones. He stood for the county at the next general election against the courtier Sir Herbert Price, who had the support of the lord president of Wales, the Earl of Carbery. Williams laid down his commission in disgust at the use made of the militia against him in the election. Nevertheless he was returned to the Cavalier Parliament, listed as a moderate by Lord Wharton, and named to the committees for the corporations and uniformity bills. But on 25 July 1661 Job Charlton reported from the elections committee that there had been several miscarriages in the Breconshire election, and the House agreed to declare it void. Whether Williams stood again is not known; he was clearly in financial difficulties, for the King wrote to the Windsor chapter asking them to renew his lease of some tithes on easy terms in consideration of his father’s loyalty and sufferings. His whole estate was valued at £700 p.a., of which his wife’s jointure accounted for more than half. He died in February 1666 ‘very much indebted’; a bill to make provision for his widow and daughters was introduced into the Lower House in November, but never passed. His brother, the third and last baronet, never entered Parliament, but his daughter brought Gwernyfed to her husband, Sir Edward Williams, who represented the county as a Tory in six Parliaments. The younger son of Sir Thomas Williams, he was apparently of different stock from his wife’s family.3