Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Number of voters:

about 1,000


26 June 1790WILMOT VAUGHAN, Earl of Lisburne [I]
27 May 1816WILLIAM EDWARD POWELL vice Johnes, deceased

Main Article

The county had not gone to a poll since 1741 and the tendency of the aligned county families to avert the threat of a contest by compromise again operated in this period when vacancies arose in 1796 and 1816.1 In 1790 Lord Lisburne was returned for the fifth consecutive election: since 1774 he and the family of Thomas Johnes of Hafod had been allies in county politics2 and were too strong for opposition. This came from Edward Loveden Loveden* of Gogerddan and Thomas Powell (d.1797) of Nanteos, who in 1788 united against the prevailing interest,3 but did nothing in 1790 and were unable to find a suitable candidate in 1796, when the retirement of the aged and infirm sitting Member gave them an opening. Loveden pressed his son Pryse to stand, but the latter was reluctant and, in any case, scarcely known locally. Thomas Johnes, who had decided to give up his seat for Radnorshire, came forward instead of Lisburne, whose son John Vaughan was compensated with the boroughs seat.4 Johnes had a high reputation in the county, where his chief interest lay, and a rumoured attempt to frustrate his views by putting up James Greene* came to nothing.5 Johnes was jubilant: he informed his friend Cumberland, 17 June 1796,6

Loveden seems to have completely done for himself. He has lost his own seat ... He was indifferent who came in for this county and town, provided Mr Vaughan and myself were excluded. No county ever behaved more handsomely nor has anyone ever received more personal marks of attachment, which as long as I retain, he may vent his malice, but can never carry it into effect ... Nor has any election cost so little, considering there was a sort of contest; a very few hundreds will pay for all. My opponent does not come off so cheap.

Johnes retained the seat unopposed, despite a bid ‘to raise an opposition’ to him by Herbert Lloyd of Carmarthen in 18067 and declining fortune and health, until his death in 1816 when, since he left no heir and John Vaughan was deep in debt, the dominant interest collapsed. On the other side, Powell of Nanteos and Pryse Pryse of Gogerddan had for several years been interested and both canvassed. Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne of Monachty alleged that neither of these young men was fit to represent the county. John Lloyd of Mabws, whose grandfather Richard Lloyd had represented the boroughs, was sure of support, but declined for fear of the expense of a contest. At the county meeting, 14 May 1816, both Powell and Pryse were proposed and, on a show of hands, Powell prevailed. Pryse then withdrew on the understanding that he would be supported for the boroughs seat on the next vacancy. Gwynne of Monachty entered a caveat and Lloyd of Mabws gave only a conditional support to Powell, but he came in unopposed on 27 May, having been seconded, as a demonstration of the compromise, by Pryse’s proposer.8

A contemporary account of the by-election of 1816 by Job Sheldon of Aberystwyth runs:

as soon as the death of Mr Johnes was known Mr Powell of Nanteos commenced canvassing. Mr Pryse of Gogerddan hearing this did not wish or choose that Mr P. should walk over the [?] corn—but recommended Mr P. not to canvass but await and take the opinion of a meeting which was called by the sheriff which took place at Cardigan on Sunday last. But Mr Powell refused and said he had begun and would go on with it which caused Mr Pryse to canvass also but told his friends that he did not wish to disturb the peace of the county these bad times, which was repeated in the hall at Cardigan and in consequence of which friends of both sides interfered and proposed a compromise and after a good deal of conversation for and against, it was agreed the two candidates should toss up for it and the winner’s party should support the loser at the next general election for the borough. The toss was won by Mr Powell—but am [sic] afraid they have tossed poor Col. Vaughan [Member for the boroughs] upon the shelf—he did not appear nor no one for him.9

Powell so far established his eligibility to be county Member as to retain the seat until shortly before his death in 1854.

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. R. D. Rees, ‘Parl. Rep. S. Wales 1790-1830’ (Reading Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1962), i. 137.
  • 2. NLW, Trawsgoed deeds iii. 24, Wilmot Vaughan to Johnes, 9 Mar. 1774.
  • 3. Ibid. iii. 62, Lisburne to Lloyd of Mabws, 23 Nov. 1788.
  • 4. D. Jenkins, JNLW, viii. 179, citing Lisburne to Loveden, 14 Apr. 1796; Berks RO, Preston mss, Loveden to Sellwood, 9 May 1796.
  • 5. Carm. RO, 1 Cawdor 129, Vaughan of Golden Grove to Campbell, 19 Mar. 1795. James Greene of Stradmore was the husband of Anne Brigstocke of Blaenpant, Card.
  • 6. H. M. Vaughan, Y Cymmrodor (1925), 204.
  • 7. Johnes to — Taylor, 13 Nov. 1806, ex. inf. Maj. Herbert Lloyd-Johnes.
  • 8. NLW, Nanteos mss, Hughes to Powell, 16, 23 Sept. 1812, Edwards to same [c. Sept. 1814]; Carm. Jnl. 10, 17, 24 May; cf. NLW, Nanteos mss, Jones Gwynne jun. to Powell, 13 May; Cambrian, 4, 18, 25 May, 1 June 1816.
  • 9. NLW, Powis Castle mss 4151, Sheldon to Wilding, 16 May 1816.