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


30 June 1790SIR ROGER MOSTYN, Bt. 
6 June 1796SIR ROGER MOSTYN, Bt. 
8 Nov. 1796 SIR THOMAS MOSTYN, Bt., vice Mostyn, deceased52
 John Lloyd30
 Hon. Lloyd Kenyon10
 LLOYD vice Mostyn, on petition, 12 June 1797 
8 Nov. 1799 SIR THOMAS MOSTYN, Bt., vice Lloyd, vacated his seat 
16 July 1802SIR THOMAS MOSTYN, Bt. 
13 Nov. 1806SIR THOMAS MOSTYN, Bt. 
18 May 1807SIR THOMAS MOSTYN, Bt. 
14 Oct. 1812SIR THOMAS MOSTYN, Bt. 
25 June 1818SIRTHOMAS MOSTYN, Bt. 

Main Article

Flintshire was represented by members of the Mostyn family of Mostyn almost throughout the 18th century. Sir Roger Mostyn, 5th Bt., held the seat unchallenged until his death in July 1796, just after being returned a ninth time. Opposition to him had been advertised in 1796, but it was apparently a stunt of the friends of (Sir) Robert Williams I* in Caernarvonshire to prevent Mostyn from supporting Lord Penrhyn there, and it ‘had the desired effect, as he left Caernarvonshire’. Mostyn’s Whig politics had certainly not been approved by Pitt’s friends in the county, at the head of them Mostyn’s own brother-in-law, Thomas Pennant of Downing, the celebrated tourist, who had threatened an opposition in 1784 in the name of Sir Thomas Hanmer, 2nd Bt., of Bettisfield and inspired the loyalist Flintshire Association of 1792. Mostyn joined this and did not thereafter oppose government, apart from his votes for peace, 1794-5. Pennant’s pretensions were resisted when he went so far as to encourage the candidature of his son David on the vacancy in 1796, of which Sir Joseph Banks remarked that Pennant ‘had written about birds and beasts till he really believed he was of some political importance’. Pennant’s son offered himself ‘on the general interest united to that of the Mostyn family’. He explained that he scorned being ‘a locum tenens but never had thoughts of keeping the Mostyns out of the seat in due and honourable time’.1 The Mostyn heir, Sir Thomas, who was not yet of age, was induced to offer himself, after Richard Puleston, Mostyn Edwards and Thomas Swymmer Champneys (the late Member’s son-in-law) had declined to stand on the Mostyn interest. At the nomination meeting Peter Whitehall Davies of Broughton proposed Sir Thomas Hanmer, who according to his grandson had ‘as little relation with the world outside his park gates as anyone I ever saw’.2

On the other hand the dean of St. Asaph,3 after a long eulogium, or as one of the speakers called his speech, a funeral sermon on their late representative Sir [Roger] Mostyn, proposed his son ... though under age to succeed his father. This was forcibly objected to by a Mr Williams of Ruthin, a young counsellor, as illegal and unconstitutional, minors being incapacitated from sitting or voting in the House of Commons by an express Act of Parliament in the time of William and Mary.4 The dean, nevertheless, persisted in his nomination of the young baronet, insisting that minors, to his certain knowledge had been permitted to sit in both Houses of Parliament in the last two sessions. In short, Sir T. Hanmer being afraid of the expenses of a contest as is supposed, left his friends in the lurch and declined standing a poll to the no small chagrin and disappointment of his adherents. Had he stood it out like a man, he must have been the sitting Member, even supposing his disqualified opponent had had a majority of votes, of which however there was little opportunity. Sir T. Hanmer by his pusillanimity has lost an opportunity of representing the county of Flint (in which he has a better estate than any man) which may never occur again to himself or any of his family. Tuesday last the day of the nomination was extremely sultry and though the scene of action was a large open field, the intense heat was insupportable.

Thus Rev. Reginald Heber, writing to his sister, 31 Aug. 1796. On 3 Sept. he resumed the story:

The Flintshire freeholders are very indignified at the insolent conduct of the dean of St. Asaph in attempting to impose an unqualified ineligible minor upon them ... and I have reason to believe that Lloyd Kenyon, Lord Kenyon’s eldest son, will be set up in opposition to Sir T. Mostyn. The pusillanimous behaviour of poor Sir Thomas Hanmer, or rather his parsimony, has made him the object of ridicule and contempt.5

Lord Chief Justice Kenyon, whose family was seated at Gredington and who succeeded Sir Roger Mostyn as lieutenant of the county, 1796-8, did indeed sponsor his son’s candidature, claiming that Mostyn could not be elected, while his son, who ‘literally speaking’ had ‘not asked a vote’, could. Kenyon’s advertisement was much criticized, whereupon the Mostyn party devised the stratagem of encouraging the candidature of John Lloyd of Hafodunos and Tyddyn. He was an innocuous country gentleman of learned tastes, who had supported Mostyn at the nomination and who was said to have advertised without the knowledge of the Mostyn party, but to have gained their support ‘through the medium of friends’, though he ‘reprobated the idea of being locum tenens to any man or any family’. A correspondent of Lord Kenyon’s informed him, 25 Sept. 1796:

I daresay that your lordship was not a little surprised at Mr Lloyd of Hafodunos’s address to the county of Flint. I have taken some pains to be informed whether he means to stand upon his own bottom as an independent man or as a dependant upon Sir Thomas Mostyn’s interest. The result of my inquiry is that he is mean enough to stand as a parliamentary stopgap until Sir Thomas Mostyn comes of age.6

In any case, Kenyon’s friends mismanaged matters; on election day, they neglected to produce proof of Mostyn’s minority and allowed the sheriff, Sir Edward Pryce Lloyd*, who was Mostyn’s brother-in-law, to secure the advantage for the Mostyn interest. Sir Thomas Hanmer described the election to Lord Kenyon, 9 Nov. 1796:

Sir T. Mostyn was proposed again, upon which your son was proposed by Mr Davies and seconded by Mr Waring. They then put up John Lloyd of Hafodunos: upon which a poll was demanded for Mr Kenyon, and we polled a tally of the first ten votes; they then polled a tally of the same number for Mr J. Lloyd, and then they polled for Sir Thos. Mostyn. Upon this I spoke to Mr Bennion, and he seemed to think that our business was done, and did not poll a second tally, though there was more to poll. Upon which the other party polled on for a majority for J. Lloyd; and lastly, they polled a majority beyond J. Lloyd for Sir Thos. Mostyn: upon which the sheriff declared Sir Thos. Mostyn duly elected, and returned him. So you see they have John Lloyd ahead of your son, in case there is a petition against Sir Thos. Mostyn ... I think they are very much ashamed of being driven to the distress of taking the Philosopher, as we call him, J. Lloyd, for a deputy; and I suppose Mr Davies will write you fully about it, and acquaint you that it is our wish that a petition should be presented against the return: which, I think, will mortify them very much; and whoever the man may be that sits at last, it will show that we have power to prevent Sir Thos. Mostyn from sitting this time, which in some degree will answer our end.7

Kenyon’s friends expected that Mostyn would try to frustrate their petition by obstructing the production of proof of his minority and other delaying tactics until he came of age, but he did not seek to defend himself, merely seeing to it that Lloyd petitioned as well, and he (Lloyd) gained his seat on the strength of the mock poll.8 The au dessous des cartes was revealed in 1799 when Lloyd, a friend of Pitt’s government, vacated his seat in Mostyn’s favour, and the latter was returned unchallenged thenceforth until his death in 1831, without feeling obliged to utter one word in the House or deviate a jot from the Whig traditions of his family. He was threatened with opposition in 1807, ‘but by whom’, he wrote, ‘I have not heard’. He was also severely criticized for his address and parliamentary conduct at the election of 1812, when Col. Thomas Hanmer (Sir Thomas’s heir) promised future opposition on behalf of ‘Church and King’. Mostyn conciliated his critics, and although many were thought ‘sufficiently angry to support an opposition against him ... a majority would desert their colours at the cry of "Mostyn for ever"’. In his address of June 1818, Mostyn stated that he was ‘fully sensible that my political principles have not on all occasions coincided with those of a large portion of my constituents’.9

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. NLW mss 12411, Eliza Griffith to Phoebe Lloyd, 13 June; 12421, Pennant to Lloyd, 3 Aug.; UCNW, Gwysaney mss 707, Pennant to Mrs Puleston, 5 Aug. 1796.
  • 2. NLW, Glynne mss 5225, Sir E. P. Lloyd to Lady Glynne, 3 Aug.; 4262, 5226, Pennant to same, 7, 11 Aug.; NLW mss 12415, Sir J. Banks to Lloyd, 5 Sept.; 12422, Puleston to same, 30 July 1796; UCNW, Mostyn mss 7897, Porth yr Aur mss 12616; Ld. Hanmer, Memorial of Hanmer, 206; H. Taylor, Hist. Notices of Flint, 172.
  • 3. Very Rev. William Davies Shipley, father of William Shipley and a staunch Whig, reported to have secured the bishop’s support for Mostyn, HMC Kenyon, 545.
  • 4. 7 and 8 Wm. III. c.25.
  • 5. Heber Letters, 97-98.
  • 6. NLW, Glynne mss 4263, Kenyon to Lady Glynne, 25 Oct.; UCNW, Mostyn mss 7897; Kenyon mss, Jones to Kenyon, 25 Sept. 1796.
  • 7. HMC Kenyon, 545; CJ, lii. 150-1; G. Kenyon, Life of Lloyd First Lord Kenyon, 326.
  • 8. Kenyon, 328; CJ, lii. 509, 649; Debrett (ser. 3), ii. 389; UCNW, Mostyn mss 7897.
  • 9. Glynne-Gladstone mss at St. Deiniols, G.4, Sir T. Mostyn to Sir S. Glynne, 8 May 1807; Kenyon mss, Davies to Kenyon, 19 Oct. [1812]; UCNW, Mostyn mss 7898.