WILLIAMS, James Hamlyn (1765-1829), of Edwinsford, Carm. and Clovelly Court, Devon.

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



1802 - 1806

Family and Education

bap. 25 Oct. 1765, 1st s. of James Hamlyn*. educ. Westminster 1773-81; Emmanuel, Camb. 1782. m. 22 July 1789, Diana Anne, da. of Abraham Whitaker, merchant, of Stratford, Essex, 3s. 3da. suc. mother to Edwinsford 1797 and took name of Williams 6 Mar. 1798; fa. as 2nd Bt. 28 May 1811.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Carm. 1811-12.

Capt. E. Devon militia 1787, maj. 1798.


Williams succeeded his father to the county seat in 1802, after an expensive contest during which he, a relative newcomer to the county, and his wife, said to be foolish, fond of drink and a tradesman’s daughter, were exposed to much scurrility by the squib writers. In fact, he owed his seat to the interest of Lord Dynevor, the leader of the Reds in the county, who had opposed his father in 1796. He complained bitterly of the expense of the election, which prevented him from visiting Edwinsford for fear of bills and thus from commanding some volunteers, instead of being in the Devon militia. Moreover, his wife found that ‘a London life does not agree with him like the country’.1

In Parliament he gave an independent support to government, like his father, who was thought to be ambitious for a peerage. No speech is known, but he was active on committees for local bills and was praised in the local press for his personal efforts in March 1805 to prevent additional taxation of horses in husbandry. He was likewise hostile to the iron tax in May 1806.2 In May 1804 the Pittites were ‘doubtful’ of him; in September listed him as one of their friends; but in July 1805 as ‘doubtful Sidmouth’. This followed his votes against the salt tax, 4 Mar., and with the majorities for the censure and criminal prosecution of Melville, 8 Apr., 12 June 1805. His Devonshire connexions no doubt encouraged association with Lord Sidmouth.

Williams could not afford another contest in 1806 and stood down, not without criticizing his successor Paxton for his pro-Catholic sympathies. He had hoped the freeholders would ‘remember the friend that stood forward to save them from the heavy taxes, viz horses, salt and iron, two of which he carried’. In 1807, though still short of funds, he hoped to be put up with Dynevor’s support, but the latter transferred his backing to Lord Robert Seymour: there was some sympathy for Williams who was seen as the victim of a ‘job’, rejected by the Reds because he was not sufficiently servile to ministers.3 In 1812 he was promised support and let it be known that he would offer himself in future, but did not do so, though he showed indignation at not being considered in 1820 and still did not wish to be thought ‘hors de combat’.4

His son obtained the county seat as a reformer in 1831. Williams died 3 Dec. 1829; unlike his father, he spent more time at Edwinsford than at Clovelly, though he was an improving landlord in both places.5

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. 546; Williams Drummond, Edwinsford ; NLW, Edwinsford mss 2987, 3012.
  • 2. Cambrian, 16 Mar. 1805; Carm. Historian, v. 30; Edwinsford mss 3022, 3042.
  • 3. Cambrian, 8 Nov. 1806; Edwinsford mss 3026; NLW mss 12169, f. 13.
  • 4. Cambrian, 31 Oct. 1812; Carm. RO, Dynevor mss 161/5, Williams to Dynevor, 17 Feb. 1820.
  • 5. Carm. Historian, v. 17.