POWELL, William Edward (1788-1854), of Nanteos, Card.

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



27 May 1816 - Feb. 1854

Family and Education

b. 16 Feb. 1788, 1st s. of Thomas Powell of Nanteos by Elinor, da. of Edward Maurice Corbet of Ynysmaengwyn, Merion. educ. Westminster 1801-3; Christ Church, Oxf. 1804. m. (1) 4 Oct. 1810, Laura Edwyna (d. Sept. 1822), da. of James Sackville Tufton Phelp of Coston House, Leics., 2s.; (2) 21 Apr. 1841, Harriet Dell, da. of Henry Hutton of Cherry Willingham, Lincs., wid. of George Ackers of Moreton Hall, Cheshire, s.p. suc. fa. 1797.

Offices Held

Ensign, 18 Drag. 1811, half-pay 1822; maj. R. Card. militia 1811, col. 1816, lt.-col. commdt. (with rank of col.) 1823-d.

Sheriff, Card. 1810-11; ld.-lt. Oct. 1816-d.


Powell’s family had long been associated with county politics: his great-uncle Thomas Powell had represented the boroughs in 1725 and Cardiganshire in the Parliament of 1741, and both his grandfather and his father pulled their weight in elections, the latter allying himself in 1788 and 1796 with Edward Loveden Loveden* of Gogerddan against Lord Lisburne.1 Nothing came of this, and Powell’s father died when he was a boy. Nanteos was let to strangers and he did not return there until 1811. During his absence, his estate, which included the Cwmystwyth lead mines, was subject to ‘depredation and idleness’.2 He himself came in for the county unopposed on the death of Thomas Johnes in 1816; Pryse Pryse* also canvassed but stood down in his favour with the assurance of the boroughs seat at the next opportunity.

Powell also obtained the lord lieutenancy. At his election he was reminded by one of the senior gentry, Gwynne of Monachty, that he had yet to prove his worth and he sought to gain approval. In February 1817 he chaired the county meeting for a petition against the sea coal duties and earned thanks for his part in securing their reduction in September.3 On 7 Feb. 1817 he was in the minority which wished to replace Lord Binning on the finance committee by a county Member, and on 25 Feb. in the minority in favour of Ridley’s motion on the lords of Admiralty. On 25 Mar. he presented a county petition on agricultural distress. On 2 June he voted for Charles Williams Wynn in the contest for the Speakership. He supported government over the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and on the Duke of Clarence’s marriage grant, 15 Apr. 1818. In January 1818 he had escaped shipwreck off Boulogne.4 He was returned unopposed at the election of 1818 and retained the seat virtually for life. In that Parliament, he was in the minority only on the Windsor establishment bill, 22 Feb. 1819, and voted against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June. He also supported legislation against sedition in December 1819. Powell’s politics remained Tory. An improving landlord, he died 10 Apr. 1854.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. R. D. Rees ‘Parl. Rep. S. Wales 1790-1830’ (Reading Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1962), ii. 456.
  • 2. NLW, Nanteos mss, Edwards to Powell, n.d. [?1813].
  • 3. Carm. Jnl. 10 May; Cambrian, 25 May 1816, 27 Feb., 20 Sept. 1817.
  • 4. Carm. Jnl. 23 Jan. 1818.