Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

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Main Article

Carmarthenshire was comprised of eight hundreds (Carnwallon, Carthinog, Cayo, Derllys, Elvet, Iskennen, Kidwelly and Perfedd) and the chief towns were the county town and borough of Carmarthen, Llandovery, Kidwelly, Llandeilo, Llanelli, Llandybie, Newcastle Emlyn and St. Clears.2 Areas rich in coal, iron and lead had undergone substantial industrialization in the eighteenth century, but by 1830 the population in many districts was in decline.3 Apart from Dynevor and Golden Grove, Carmarthenshire was ‘singularly lacking in large territorial aggregations’, and was a county of squires’ estates, whose owners’ patronage requirements and political interests frequently crossed county boundaries and could not be overlooked.4 Leading families with ancient Welsh pedigrees and a tradition of political involvement included Bowen of Laugharne and Llwyngwair, Evans of Highmead, Gwynne of Glanbran, Hughes of Tregib, Johnes of Dolaucothi, Lewes of Llysnewydd, Mansel and subsequently Picton of Iscoed, Philipps of Cwmgwili, Powell of Maesgwyn, Pryse Lloyd of Glansevin, Rice of Newton and Dynevor, and Williams of Edwinsford. Among the newcomers, the nabob and banker Sir William Paxton had built Middleton Hall and represented Carmarthen, 1803-6, and the county, 1806-7; the influence of the Stepney, Gulston and Chambers families grew as Llanelli was transformed from a decayed market town to a new centre for the coal and iron industry; and the Bristol banker Richard Hart Davis* of Peterwell, the East India Company surgeon Thomas Philipps of Aberglasney, Rees Goring Thomas of Llanon and William Henry Yelverton† of Whitland Abbey were eager to acquire political influence. Costly challenges and contests prompted by the succession to the peerage as 3rd Baron Dynevor in 1793 of George Trevor Rice (formerly De Cardonnel)†, the leader of the county’s Reds (Tories), abated in the county constituency with the election in 1807 of the wealthy newcomer, the Tory 2nd marquess of Hertford’s brother Lord Robert Seymour of Taliaris, whom Dynevor backed as a locum during his son George Rice Rice’s minority. Seymour also benefited from the decision of the leading Blue, the Whig John Vaughan of Golden Grove (d. 1804), to bequeath his 50,000-acre estates to the Campbells, Barons Cawdor of Stackpole Court, Pembrokeshire, and through his daughters’ marriages to two leading West Wales Whigs, John Hensleigh Allen* of Cresselly and Herbert Evans of Highmead.5 At the dissolution in 1820 Rice was 24 and the elderly Seymour stood down in his favour, causing speculation that he was being forced out; and another Red, the 1802-6 Member Sir James Hamlyn Williams of Edwinsford, who considered himself ‘a person not quite to be placed hors de jeu or hors de combat’, wrote to Dynevor, 17 Feb:

Your son certainly stands in the foremost rank, but there are others who have a right to look to that honour; it therefore will in my opinion be right and fair that a meeting of the county should be called for the purpose of ascertaining who has the good wishes of the freeholders at large. Having seen the evils of a contested election, I am the last person that would wish to renew such a horror, but still I can never consent to see the county placed in the hands of anyone, not even your son (of whom I think very highly, and who I should be as happy to see our representative as anyone could be, provided he has the general approbation of the gentlemen and freeholders) without which he ought not to be thrust upon us by any manoeuvre.6

Rice, however, had already consulted and secured backing for the arrangement from another leading Red, William Lewes of Llysnewydd, as well as the Philippses of Cwmgwili, whose father and grandfather had previously represented Carmarthen in the Blue interest, and no county nomination meeting was called.7 The threat of a Blue opposition disappeared once John Jones* of Ystrad, a popular local barrister and the Red opponent in Carmarthen in 1812 and 1818 of the 1st Baron Cawdor’s son John Frederick Campbell*, desisted there to assist Rice, who was returned unopposed at Llandeilo amid the usual festivities, including bell ringing at five guineas a ringer.8 In a comment to his fiancée in 1824, Rice said that he considered canvassing a man’s business.9

Opinion in West Wales was divided on the future of the Welsh courts of great sessions and judicature, the Blues favouring their abolition and the Reds their reform and retention. Influenced by Jones, who had drafted remedial legislation, on 10 May 1820 a county meeting at Llandeilo resolved to petition requesting improvements to the Welsh judicial system to ensure that witnesses living beyond the jurisdiction of each circuit court attended when summoned; that English practices and procedures governing fines, recoveries, securities and payment of the king’s silver applied, and that expensive suits in English courts could be avoided and elderly or infirm judges qualified for retirement pensions. Both Houses received the petition, 25 May 1820, when it was opposed in the Lords by Cawdor and in the Commons by Campbell and Allen.10 The county is not known to have petitioned on Queen Caroline’s case, but Carmarthen and Llandovery and surrounding districts celebrated the abandonment of the bill of pains and penalties in November 1820 with parades, rough music and illuminations.11 Rice’s ministerial votes on taxation were noted with hostility in the Welsh language press; and the magistrates at the 1822 spring great sessions, chaired by Seymour, petitioned the Commons for action to combat distress and called for repeal of the duties on salt, 24 Apr., 1 May. The county’s tanners petitioned against the leather tax, 29 Apr. 1823.12 John Jones, the victor at the 1821 Carmarthen by-election following Campbell’s succession as 2nd Baron Cawdor, criticized the government’s relief proposals, 20, 21 Feb. 1822, called for lower taxes on salt and leather in preference to malt, and urged ministers to heed the pleas of distress petitions on everything except parliamentary reform’.13 Agriculture remained depressed when the county met in Llandeilo to petition in January 1823.14 Colonel Sackville Gwynne of Glanbran and J.G. H.G. Williams of Llwynywormwood proposed petitioning both Houses for retrenchment, lower taxes on candles, hops, leather, malt and soap, a modified property tax, and interest rates of four per cent, but Captain Walter Rice, seconded by Walter Rice Howell Powell of Maesgwyn, moved an alternative petition with greater emphasis on the currency and taxing wealth. The Carmarthen attorney George Thomas, a Unitarian and sometime agent of Cawdor, introduced an amendment to include parliamentary reform, but Rice spoke strongly against it and it failed. John Jones missed the meeting as a result of an accident at Ystrad. A compromise petition was adopted which included Gwynne’s proposals on taxation, sought economies in revenue collection and the public service, a return to peacetime (1792) spending levels for civil and military establishments, abolition of ‘all useless places and pensions and sinecures obtained without acknowledged public services’, and for

personal property to be made liable to contribute with the landed interest towards the support of the poor, so that money may bear its proportion in the maintenance of that poor, alike useful to every class of the community; and that the House will be pleased to reduce the legal interest of money to four per cent and to postpone the total resumption of cash payments beyond the period now fixed by law.15

It was received by the Commons, 17 Feb. 1823, and the Lords on the 24th.16

On 2 May 1823 the grand jury petitioned for John Jones’s bill to extend the powers of the Welsh courts of great sessions and their judges. It foundered that session, was ‘passed with difficulty’ and much amended in the Commons, 24 May 1824, and after undergoing further amendment in the Lords, where it was sponsored by Dynevor and had lord chancellor Eldon’s support, it received royal assent, 24 June 1824.17 Dissenting and Nonconformist congregations espoused the cause of the Methodist missionary John Smith, indicted in Demerara for encouraging slaves to riot, but excluding Carmarthen, few chapels petitioned in condemnation of his treatment.18 Llanelli’s coal owners petitioned for repeal of the coastwise coal duties, 23 Feb., and Jones and Rice introduced and took charge of the Carmarthen and Kidwelly road bills, which received royal assent, 16 Mar. 1824.19 A proposed canal between Kidwelly and the east Carmarthenshire coalfield was legislated for in the 1824 Pembrey harbour bill, which received royal assent, 10 June 1824.20 When the county met at Carmarthen to petition against the proposed repeal of the usury laws, 30 Mar., Gwynne, seconded by the Carmarthen Red, Charles Morgan of Furnace, moved resolutions condemning the bill as ‘an experiment, but a fearful inroad upon the ancient institutions of the country’, which would only benefit the moneyed interest. The Cambrian, which was inclined to liberalism, welcomed the bill’s defeat.21 Assessed taxes remained unpopular and the nobility, clergy, freeholders and certain inhabitants petitioned for repeal of the window tax, 10, 11 May 1824, 21 Mar. 1825.22 As elsewhere in the diocese of St. Davids, the clergy opposed Catholic relief, and the Lords received petitions against granting it from the deaneries of Upper and Lower Carmarthenshire, Llandeilo and Kidwelly, 9, 11 Apr. 1821, 6, 17-19 June 1822 (when the Emlyn and Llangadog deaneries also petitioned).23 The Carmarthen West deanery petitioned against granting voting rights to English Catholics, 24 May 1824.24 Most petitions against the 1825 relief bill were adopted at parish level and included ones to both Houses from Cilycwm, Llandingat and Llanfair-ar-y-Bryn, 15 Apr., Llangadog and Llangathen, 24 Apr.; and to the Lords from the hundred of Elvet, 10 May, St. Clears and the parishes of Henllan Argoed, Llanboidy, Llanegan, Llanining, Mydrym, 16 May. When a public meeting was held in Carmarthen with a view to petitioning, 29 Apr., it was reported that ‘scarce a gentleman attended except Colonel Gwynne’.25 Legislation had been sought in 1822 to prevent the bishop of St. Davids appropriating and leasing certain tithes;26 and, concerned lest the proposed relaxation of restrictions on corn imports should reduce their tithe revenues, the parish clergy had the county convened, 21 Apr., and the nobility, clergy, freeholders and inhabitants petitioned against any alteration, 3 May 1825.27

The campaigning against corn law reform continued and, though the county did not petition again, agricultural protection was an important issue at the 1826 general election.28 Before it arrangements were made to assist the creditors of Gibbins, Eaton and Stroud, whose Llandeilo bank was a casualty of the 1825-6 crisis, and public meetings in Kidwelly, Llanelli and St. Clears petitioned for the abolition of West Indian slavery, 5 Mar., 25, 26 Apr. 1826.29 James Hamlyn Williams of Edwinsford, the elder son of the former county Member, had consulted Cawdor in November 1825 about ‘offering himself for the county’ at the next opportunity. Their intermediary, Cawdor’s agent, the Llandeilo attorney Richard Bowen Williams, thought his kinsman ‘might have a good chance’ if he could ‘secure a very considerable part of the interest which supported his father ... especially if he could add to that any great proportion of the Blue interest’, and had suggested testing the opinions of the small freeholders through ‘Jones the Banker at Llandovery’. Hamlyn Williams claimed to be ‘certain of Glanbran, Abermarlais and Llwynywormwood’, but he was not yet sure of Llysnewydd and Tregib. Williams disapproved of his plan ‘to make a start on the day of the election’ to prevent an early canvass by Rice and the Dynevor interest.30 Hamlyn Williams’s candidature remained unannounced, but Rice, who had been obliged to take the surname Trevor in November 1824 as a beneficiary of Lord Hampden’s will, started canvassing in January 1826 as a precaution. His address contained no statement of policy, but he promised the freeholders that he would ‘consult the welfare and interests of every class amongst you’.31 Jones campaigned strenuously for him and they travelled together in the Dynevor carriage to the election in Llandeilo, where Rice Trevor was proposed by Edward Pryse Lloyd of Glansevin and seconded by William Hughes of Tregib. Though unopposed, he was taken to task, possibly on R.B. Williams’s instructions, by the Llandeilo attorney Thomas Bishop, for his votes ‘adverse to the agricultural interest’. According to the Carmarthen Journal, he ‘explained and vindicated his parliamentary conduct’.32

The route from London to Milford Haven traversed Carmarthenshire, and Jones and Rice Trevor were included on the 1827 select committee on communications with Ireland via Milford. Landholders and tradesmen in the parishes of the hundred of Perfedd petitioned individually and collectively against corn law revision and added a request for government action to safeguard the depressed wool trade, 8 Mar. 1827.33 The progress of the Llanwrda, Llandovery and Lampeter roads bill, which had its first reading in the Commons, 25 Feb., and was enacted, 23 May 1828, was anxiously watched, as was the Llanelli railway and docks bill, which received royal assent, 19 June. Opposition to the latter was organized locally by John Johnes of Dolaucothi, and raised in the Commons by Sir George Phillips, Lord William Powlett, Charles Tennyson and Sir Hussey Vivian, and their counsel and hostile testimony from Llanelli property owners was heard by the Lords, 3, 4 June.34 John Jones organized the Reds’ resistance to Cawdor’s repeated attempts to levy market tolls at Llanelli, where William Chambers, who had acquired the Stepney estates in 1825, had provided a new market hall.35 Jones was a staunch advocate of repeal of the Test Acts, for which he presented petitions to the Commons from Dissenters in the south-west of the county in June 1827, and congregations and parishes countywide in 1828, when many favourable petitions were also forwarded to the Lords.36 Jones and Rice voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, and Rice presented anti-Catholic petitions from the Calvinistic Methodists of Kidwelly, Llanelli, Llandovery, Llangadog and Newcastle Emlyn, 29 Apr. 1828. As elsewhere, hostile petitioning at parish level peaked when emancipation was conceded in 1829 and the Lords alone received over 40 petitions. However, few were dispatched from communities where the Unitarians had a strong following.37 Dynevor and his son divided resolutely against the measure. Jones, who opposed it on principle, cast a solitary and controversial favourable vote ‘with Peel’, 6 Mar. 1829.38

The 1828 commission on the courts of common law requested the county’s views on the future of the Welsh courts and judicature. Cawdor published an open letter to the lord chancellor advocating abolition and incorporation of the Welsh counties into the English circuit system, and R.B. Williams arranged for Cawdor’s tenants and supporters to sign pro-abolition memorials for submission and drafted a favourable letter from the gentry of Carmarthenshire. This was signed by Thomas Beynon of Greenmeadow, William Owen Brigstocke of Gelli Dywyll, Thomas Foley of Abermarlais, James Richard Lewes Lloyd of Dolhaidd, the Carmarthen bankers Morris and Sons, M. Philipps of Cwmgwili, Walter Price of Llwynbrain and James Hamlyn Williams. Herbert Evans supported them, but Dynevor and John Jones, who also testified on the county’s behalf, still had misgivings.39 When the commissioners reported in April 1829, the Carmarthenshire grand jury sent Peel an anti-abolition memorial.40 Abolition lost gentry support once it was realized that the commission accepted Cawdor’s recommendation for the partitioning and amalgamation of counties to create new territorial units for the administration of justice. Carmarthenshire was not thus affected and Carmarthen was to keep its assizes, but the county and borough Reds proposed a hostile petition at a county meeting in Carmarthen, 23 Oct. 1829.41 Walter Rice Howell Powell and Gwynne proposed petitioning for improvement and against change. Allen, Cawdor, John George Philipps of Cwmgwili and George Thomas spoke against doing so, but they failed to secure an amendment, and their counter-petition, proposed by Thomas and David Morris, the banker, was negatived. Many, like Rees Goring Thomas, ‘saw nothing to be gained ... from a separation from England’, and wanted the current jurisdiction, ‘especially the mode of action by concessit solvere’ (which expedited prosecutions for debt), retained and administered by Westminster Hall judges. The Cambrian reported that the meeting, which lasted almost five hours, was well attended and good humoured and that ‘several ladies from the town and its vicinity’ were present.42 Cawdor became a Carmarthenshire magistrate in January so that he could promote a county petition for equal legal privileges for Wales and England, which Lord John Russell presented to the Commons, 26 Feb. 1830. It had been received by the Lords the previous day, with several petitions against change. A hostile petition signed by 800 freeholders was received by the Commons, with similar ones from Kidwelly, when the administration of justice bill by which the courts of great sessions were abolished was introduced, 9 Mar., and again at its second reading, 27 Apr.43 Further unfavourable petitions from the grand jury and inhabitants were received by the Commons, 28 Apr., and the Lords, 13, 17 May, and, despite concessions which left the assize districts almost unchanged, the West Wales Reds or Tories lobbied against and opposed the measure until its enactment, 23 July 1830, immediately before the dissolution precipitated by George IV’s death.44 Rice Trevor, who had been confined to his London house as a result of a strain, asked the able young lawyer John Johnes of Dolaucothi to assist him at the election. Edward Bowles Symes of Brynhafod had declared himself in the Blue interest, and issued handbills criticizing Rice Trevor’s parliamentary conduct.45 Symes, a possible stalking horse for the absent Hamlyn Williams, was denied backers of substance, but he arrived in Llandeilo on election day dressed in blue. Rice Trevor was nominated by Pryse Lloyd as previously and seconded by George Price Watkins of Tenby, the Whig recorder of Carmarthen. His uncontested return was not in doubt, but he spent an uncomfortable hour on the hustings where, to the delight of Cawdor’s supporters, he was harangued by Bishop and two other attorneys for parliamentary delinquency, particularly over distress and the abolition of slavery. His addresses had revealed nothing of his politics, but when forced to defend his conduct he said that he accepted that Catholics were now legally emancipated, hoped the corn laws would be retained and favoured the ‘gradual extinction of slavery’. He also claimed that his votes with government on the agricultural horse tax and salt duties were not for measures of oppression and said that had he been present, 26 Mar., he would have voted against the Bathurst and Dundas pensions. Once he was declared elected, Gwynne intervened to try to make him promise that he would resign if he went against his constituents’ wishes in future; he promised consultation. Contrary to expectations, the fate of the Welsh judicature was not a major electioneering issue, and no mention was made of the recent passage of the Brechfa and the Carmarthen and Lampeter road bills, 8, 9 Apr., or the Kidwelly enclosure bill, 29 May, against which there had been much petitioning.46

At least 48 Carmarthenshire petitions for the abolition of slavery were presented to the Commons between 19 Nov. 1830 and 24 Mar. 1831, and a similar number (including 23 from Welsh Calvinistic Methodist and 13 from Wesleyan Methodist chapels), were received by the Lords that session. Almost all had been adopted by Nonconformist congregations and women’s groups in and around Carmarthen, Kidwelly, Llandovery, Llanelli, Newcastle Emlyn and St. Clears, and several originated from the Llansawel area where Sir James Hamlyn Williams had influence.47 Hamlyn Williams, a friend of Gwynne, was considering a parliamentary career. He had inherited his father’s baronetcy and estates in December 1829, having previously administered them and patronized local causes. The grand jury, of which he was foreman in March 1831, petitioned for parliamentary reform, repeal of the assessed taxes and malt duties, abolition of sinecures and the removal of placemen. As requested, Rice Trevor presented the petition to the Commons, 11 Mar., but, as expected, he refused to support it.48 Petitions sent up from Pencarreg complained of the ‘oppressive tithe system’.49 West Wales reformers looked to Lord Kensington, a powerful orator and former Member for Haverfordwest, for leadership; and on 23 Mar. his name headed the requisition for a county meeting at Carmarthen, 29 Mar., to approve the Grey ministry’s plan of reform. Like Kensington, many signatories had strong interests in Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire, and they were joined by Yelverton and the Rev. Edward Picton, a leading Carmarthen Red and supporter of Jones. The sheriff, Edward Hamlin Adams†, whose father had purchased Middleton Hall following Paxton’s death, was another reformer with political aspirations.50 Kensington declared on moving the first resolution that he could no longer support Rice Trevor because he had voted against the second reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar. Gwynne seconded him, and John Lloyd Davies, Herbert Evans’s nephew Delme Seymour Davies†, James Lewes of Henllan, George Thomas, Hamlyn Williams and Yelverton also spoke. Letters of support from Herbert Evans and Rees Goring Thomas were read. The latter pressed the county’s case for additional representation on account of its size (over 600,000 acres), importance and population (over 100,000). The petition was readily adopted and Gwynne proposed that Dynevor and Rice Trevor be asked to present it as a test of the latter’s willingness to support his constituents’ views. Thomas and Yelverton objected, declaring that the house of Dynevor had already failed the test. The petition was left for signature in Carmarthen, St. Clears, Laugharne, Llanelli, Llandovery and Llandeilo, whence, on 12 Apr., it was to be forwarded to Lord Grey and Lord John Russell for presentation.51 Rice Trevor later complained that he had been ‘prevented from attending’ through lack of notice and, addressing the magistrates at their April dinner, he added:

Some of you may know, that soon after the last election, I pledged myself to resign my seat if my constituents declared themselves favourable to any measure that I could not support; and I came here for that purpose this day, thinking that the late county meeting was decisive proof of the feeling of my constituents on the proposed bill. But on looking at the terms of the requisition I find none but the favourers of the measure were invited to attend. Knowing that some declined going to the meeting under that impression; that the business of the meeting was held by the sheriff to be merely to express its concurrence in the plan of His Majesty’s ministers; and that he even refused to hear a gentleman who wished to discuss a part of the bill, namely the annexation of Llanelli to the borough of Carmarthen, I cannot look at the issue of that meeting, thinly attended as it was, as marking the sense of the majority of the freeholders of Carmarthenshire; for it would be strange indeed when a meeting is called to concur in a given measure, if those who stayed away were to be considered as being favourable to it. I have therefore altered my purpose, but I do not retract what I have before said; and now if the body of my constituents call on me to resign my trust into their hands, I am ready and willing to do so. For no one can expect, feeling as I do on this important measure, I could be brought to give it my support.52

Rice Trevor voted to wreck the bill, 19 Apr., and at the ensuing dissolution, 23 Apr., two days after the Lords received the favourable county petition, he announced that he would stand down, for he was aware that the freeholders would insist on a pledge of support for it, ‘or at any rate ... some of its provisions’.53 The Llanelli tithes bill and the Kidwelly, Llandovery (two bills), Three Commotes and Robeston Wathan-St. Clears road bills were all casualties of the dissolution that were later enacted.54 Rees Goring Thomas and Hamlyn Williams had been canvassing the county since March, and the former gave way to Hamlyn Williams, who had had the advantages of already being in Carmarthenshire and better government connections (Lord Ebrington* was his brother-in-law).55 Cawdor proved co-operative, R.B. Williams served on Hamlyn Williams’s election committee, and he was nominated by Gwynne, seconded by Hughes of Tregib and returned unopposed. On the hustings he professed his independence, declared himself a ‘friend to civil and religious liberty’, promised to vote for every measure of reform, seek additional representation for the county and an end to sinecures, and vote for the abolition of slavery, lower taxes and retrenchment. The Carmarthen currier and reformer Charles Jones asked him to dispense with the custom of throwing coins to the mob at the chairing and seek an alternative means of distributing charity, but the consensus was against deviating from the usual practice. Mindful of its symbolic significance, he was borne through Llandeilo by 16 of his tenants on the chair of his ancestor Sir Nicholas Williams. He dined 1,600 supporters, and his return cost him £817 17s. Edward Pryse Lloyd presided at the George, J.J. Lewis of Gilfach at the Castle, and Hamlyn Williams at the Bear, where he proposed a special toast to Rice Trevor. Responding, Johnes expressed gratitude that the ‘manly conduct’ of the late representative had enabled the peace of the county to be preserved and an expensive contest avoided. Others toasted included William Chambers, the Davieses of Maesycrugie, Delme Seymour Davies, John Evans, ‘the father of reform in Carmarthen’, L.O. Lewis, George Lloyd of Brunnant, Morris the bankers, J. Walters Philipps of Aberglasney and Lord Robert Seymour. Llandovery and Tregib were illuminated.56

The campaign to secure a second county seat had gathered momentum after one was awarded to Glamorgan on population grounds (over 100,000), and a county meeting at Llandeilo, 8 June 1831, called for on election day, adopted petitions for additional county representation and separate borough representation for Kidwelly, Llanelli and the eastern mining district. Hamlyn Williams presented both, 24 June, and the Commons received others from the grand jury for a second county Member, 30 July; from Hamlyn Williams’s stronghold of Derllys for £10 landowners to be given the same franchise rights as £10 householders, 4 Aug.; and from Kidwelly requesting contributory borough status, 30 Aug.57 Many resented the prospect of Llanelli becoming a contributory borough of Carmarthen, which, following the abandonment through violence of the April poll, remained unrepresented from the dissolution until 25 Aug., when Jones defeated the reformer John George Philipps in another unruly contest.58 Kidwelly petitioned urging the Lords to carry the reform bill and requesting contributory borough status, 4 Oct.59 Cawdor, Dynevor and the lieutenancy generally feared lest the unrest in Carmarthen and the South Wales coal and iron fields should spread to rural districts, magistrate and militia activity increased, and it proved difficult to find men to serve as constables. When the county met at Llandeilo to consider the Lords’ rejection of the reform bill, 21 Oct., Rice Trevor claimed that support for reform was on the wane; but mass meetings were still feared and contingency plans were made to call out the militia for the South Wales Political Clubs’ rally scheduled to take place in Llandovery, 15 Nov. Activists from Breconshire and the Merthyr Tydfil area were expected there, and Dynevor and Cawdor both expressed relief when the event, which they thought would be impossible to police, was belatedly cancelled, 13 Nov.60 Llanelli’s annexation to Carmarthen had been passed in the Commons without a division, 10 Aug., and Carmarthenshire was granted a second Member in the revised reform bill of December 1831. When it was enacted in June 1832, Carmarthen, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llanelli, Llansawel, Newcastle Emlyn and St. Clears became the county’s polling towns. On 18 June, Cawdor had written to Dynevor, who had tried to deny Carmarthen that status:

I am not sure that I am not upon consideration inclined to agree with those who have named Carmarthen as one of the polling places for the county. It is very convenient in many ways, St. Clears is a very poor place, and Newcastle on the confines of the county. One should hope that that rioting at Carmarthen will not be eternal, and, as to what took place at the last election, I do think that there was sufficient cause for any great excitement and that the excitement was much increased by the injudicious methods taken to put it down. However, I will not object to any arrangement that may be made and if Newcastle and St. Clears are thought more convenient I will not put any obstacle in the way.61

An attempt to make Rice Trevor county sheriff and thereby hors de combat had failed, and he stood as a Conservative in December 1832, when the registered electorate was 3,887. Church reform and the abolition of colonial slavery, for which the Protestant Dissenters of Saron Chapel Llangeler and others had recently petitioned, were the major issues and Rice Trevor, who had won respect by resigning over reform and retained the valuable support of Pryse Lloyd of Glansevin and Powell of Maesgwyn, topped the poll.62 Hamlyn Williams, who refused to stand as a Blue, was denied Cawdor’s backing and stood as an independent, supported by Herbert Evans, Gwynne, Hughes, Johnes and other squires, but finished a poor third behind the Blue nominee, the Liberal Edward Hamlin Adams of Middleton Hall.63 Trevor retained his seat until he succeeded his father in the peerage in 1852, and the second seat was contested a further five times. Hamlyn Williams allied with Cawdor to defeat John Jones and take it for the Liberals in 1835, but Jones, standing as a Conservative, outpolled him in 1837, and from 1842 until the second seat reverted to a Conservative in 1857 both seats were held by Protectionists. The Liberals gained a seat in 1868, restoring one-and-one representation, two Conservatives prevailed in 1874 and in 1880, for the first time, the county returned two Liberals.64

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. D.A. Wager, ‘Welsh Politics and Parl. Reform, 1780-1832’ (Univ. of Wales Ph.D. thesis, 1972), 367.
  • 2. Parl. Gazetteer of England and Wales (1844), i. 379.
  • 3. L.J. Williams, ‘Welsh Tinplate Trade in mid-18th Cent.’ EcHR (n.s.), xiii (1961), 440-9; M. Bowen Evans, ‘An aspect of population history in Carm.’ Carm. Antiq. xix (1983), 53-60.
  • 4. D. Howell, Land and People in 19th Cent. Wales, 21-23 and ‘Rural Society in 19th Cent. Carm.’ Carm. Antiq. xiii (1977), 72-81; Carm. RO, Dynevor mss 154/5, 6; NLW ms 481 E, Rice Trevor to John Jones, Oct. 1821.
  • 5. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 488-91; v. 123-4.
  • 6. Dynevor mss 161/5.
  • 7. Carm. RO, Cwmgwili mss 747.
  • 8. Cambrian, 12, 26 Feb.; Carmarthen Jnl. 25 Feb., 10, 17 Mar. 1820; Dynevor mss 161/4; F. O’Gorman, ‘Campaign Rituals and Ceremonies: The Social Meaning of Elections in England, 1780-1860’, P and P, xiii (1992), 97.
  • 9. NLW ms 21764 C, f. 12.
  • 10. Carmarthen Jnl. 28 Apr.; The Times, 26 May 1820; CJ, lxxv. 237; LJ, liii. 84.
  • 11. Carmarthen Jnl. 17, 24 Nov. 1820.
  • 12. Seren Gomer, iv (1821), 124-6, 154, 252; v (1822), 124-5; The Times, 25, 30 Apr., 1 May 1822; CJ, lxxvii. 214; Carmarthen Jnl. 26 Apr. 1822.
  • 13. Carmarthen Jnl. 21 Feb., 5, 7 Mar.; The Times, 21 Feb. 1822; Parl. Deb. (ser. 2), vi. 510.
  • 14. NLW, Lucas mss 3103.
  • 15. Carmarthen Jnl. 31 Jan.; Cambrian, 1 Feb.; The Times, 3 Feb. 1823; CJ, lxxviii. 27.
  • 16. The Times, 18 Feb. 1823; CJ, lxxviii. 28; LJ, liv. 532.
  • 17. CJ, lxxviii. 273; lxxxix. 150, 249, 378, 407, 530, 536; Seren Gomer, vii (1824), 92, 224; The Times, 22 June; Cambrian, 26 June 1824; M. Escott, ‘How Wales lost its Judicature: the making of the 1830 Act for the Abolition of the Court of Great Sessions’, Trans Hon. Soc. of Cymmrodorion (2006), 135-59.
  • 18. The Times, 27 May 1824; Seren Gomer, vii (1824), 224-5.
  • 19. CJ, lxxix. 13, 14, 38, 81, 115, 118, 165, 194, 384, 428; LJ, lxi. 84.
  • 20. NLW ms 21674 C, f. 19; CJ, lxxix. 81; LJ, lvii. 1015.
  • 21. Cambrian, 26 Mar., 3, 17 Apr. 1824.
  • 22. Ibid. 3 Apr.; The Times, 12 May 1824, 22 Mar. 1825; CJ, lxxx. 238; LJ, lvi. 204, 208.
  • 23. LJ, liv. 179, 188-9; lv. 222, 243, 245, 249-51.
  • 24. Ibid. lvi. 260.
  • 25. The Times, 22, 25 Apr. 1825; CJ, lxxx. 309, 326, 369; LJ, lvii. 558, 625, 776, 812; NLW, Dolaucothi mss V21/9.
  • 26. LJ, lv. 264.
  • 27. Cambrian, 30 Apr.; The Times, 5 May 1825; LJ, lvii. 743.
  • 28. Cambrian, 24 June 1826.
  • 29. Carmarthen Jnl. 27 Jan. 1826; The Times, 27 Apr. 1826; LJ, lviii. 40, 239, 297.
  • 30. Carm. RO, Cawdor mss 2/209.
  • 31. Cambrian, 21 Jan., 27 May; Carmarthen Jnl. 26 May 1826.
  • 32. Carmarthen Jnl. 2, 9, 23 June; Cambrian, 21 June 1826.
  • 33. LJ, lix. 145.
  • 34. Dolaucothi mss L3029, 3030, 3838, 3839, 4095; Carmarthen Jnl. 29 Feb. 1828; CJ, lxxxiii. 55, 148, 376, 448; LJ, lx. 479, 483, 486, 501, 507.
  • 35. Cambrian, 28 Jan., 19 Feb., 1 Mar.; Carmarthen Jnl. 7, 14 Mar. 1828.
  • 36. CJ, lxxxii. 520-1, 560, 594; lxxxiii. 41, 78, 87, 91, 92, 96, 100, 104, 181; LJ, lx. 47, 67, 72, 74, 75, 79, 80, 178; Cambrian, 16 Feb., 1 Mar.; Carmarthen Jnl. 29 Feb. 1828.
  • 37. CJ, lxxxiii. 282; lxxxiv. 14, 89, 98, 103, 121, 127, 140-1, 154, 182; LJ, lxi. 22, 23, 114, 121, 143, 146, 201, 251, 253-4. 326, 334, 339, 375; Carmarthen Jnl. 20, 27 Feb., 6, 20 Mar.; Cambrian, 7 Mar. 1829; NLW ms 12169 E, ff. 31-33.
  • 38. Carmarthen Jnl. 21 Mar., 17 Apr. 1829.
  • 39. PP (1829), ix. 43, 44, 62, 63, 388, 390-2, 427-30; Cambrian, 7 Mar.; Carmarthen Jnl. 17 Apr. 1829.
  • 40. Cambrian, 2 May 1829; TNA HO43/37, pp. 212, 286-7.
  • 41. Carmarthen Jnl. 16 Oct.; Cambrian, 17 Oct. 1829.
  • 42. Carmarthen Jnl. 30 Oct.; Cambrian, 31 Oct. 1829.
  • 43. Carmarthen Jnl. 15 Jan. 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 105, 152, 337; LJ, lxii. 39.
  • 44. Carmarthen Jnl. 2, 9, July 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 341; LJ, lxii. 384, 429; Mirror of Parl. (1830), 2740.
  • 45. Dolaucothi mss L3834; Cambrian, 3 July 1830.
  • 46. Carmarthen Jnl. 16, 23, 30 July, 13 Aug.; Cambrian, 14 Aug. 1830; NLW, Edwinsford mss 3072; Dynevor mss 160/13; CJ, lxxxv. 152, 279, 442, 501; LJ, lxii. 209, 578.
  • 47. Yr Efangylydd, i (1831), 31; CJ, lxxxvi. 117, 238, 269, 353.
  • 48. Carmarthen Jnl. 25 Mar. 1831.
  • 49. LJ, lxiii. 341.
  • 50. Carmarthen Jnl. 15 Mar.; Cambrian, 26 Mar. 1831.
  • 51. Carmarthen Jnl. 25 Mar., 1 Apr. 1831.
  • 52. Ibid. 22 Apr. 1831.
  • 53. LJ, liii. 493.
  • 54. Ibid. lxiii. 511, 893, 937; lxiv. 229
  • 55. Dolaucothi mss L3693; Cambrian, 23, 30 Apr.; Carmarthen Jnl. 29 Apr., 6 May 1831.
  • 56. Plas Llanstephan mss 924, 925; Dolaucothi mss L3834, 3841; NLW ms 13477 C, pp. 18-21; Edwinsford mss 3834; Carmarthen Jnl. 13 May; Cambrian, 12, 14 May 1831.
  • 57. PP (1831), xvi. 16-24, 251; Carmarthen Jnl. 27 May, 10 June 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 558.
  • 58. W. Spurrell, Carmarthen (1879), 144-5; D.J.V. Jones, ‘Carmarthen Riots of 1831’, WHR, iv (1968-9), 129-38.
  • 59. LJ, lxiii. 1057.
  • 60. D.J.V. Jones, WHR, iv. 129-42 and ‘Law Enforcement and Popular Disturbances in Wales, 1793-1835, JMH, xlii (1970), 516; Dynevor mss 159/4; Cambrian, 29 Oct. 1831; D.A. Wager, ‘Carm. Politics and Reform Act of 1832’, Carm. Antiq. x (1974), 106-7
  • 61. Dynevor mss 154/7.
  • 62. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale 21 Jan.; LJ, lxiv. 30; Carmarthen Jnl. 6 July 1832; Dolaucothi mss L3844; Seren Gomer, xv (1832), 250-51, 316; Yr Efangylydd, i. (1831), 256; D. Williams, Rebecca Riots (1972), 25; PP (1834), ix. 591.
  • 63. Plas Llanstephan mss 924, 925; Edwinsford mss 4148-52; Dolaucothi mss L1726, 3125, 3126, 3166-8, 3845, 3846, 3964-73, 4011, 4012; Highmead mss 3155; NLW ms 1172 E, ff. 29-37; Dynevor mss 161/5; Carmarthen Jnl. 13 July, 17, 24, 31 Aug., 28 Dec. 1832.
  • 64. M. Cragoe, ‘Carm. Co. Politics, 1804-37’, Carm. Antiq. xxx (1994), 73-9l; An Anglican Aristocracy: The Moral Economy of the Landed Estate in Carmarthenshire, 1832-1895, passim; and Culture, Politics and National Identity in Wales, 1832-86, pp. 23, 37, 65, 114; T.K Hoppen, ‘Grammar of Electoral Violence in 19th Cent. England’, EHR, cix (1994), 598; I. Matthews, ‘"Disturbing the Peace of the County": The Carm. General Election of 1868’, WHR, xix (1999), 453-86.