WYN AP HUGH, John (by 1525-76), of Bodvel in Llannor, Caern.
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Family and Education
Jt. (with David Lloyd ap Thomas†) bailiff, Pwllheli and high constable, commote of Gafflogion, Caern. in 1546; j.p. Caern. 1550, sheriff 1550-1, 1559-60; commr. relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, loan 1557, tanneries 1574.2
Wyn’s family was of ancient descent and substantial fortune. Why Wyn was returned to Parliament for his county in 1571 after an interval of some 18 years is not clear. Conceivably, as one of the wealthiest among them, he was put up by the group of Caernarvonshire gentlemen opposed to the interference of the Earl of Leicester in the affairs of that county. Wyn acquired lands in Gafflogion and the neighbouring commote of Cymydmaen—some of which he later disposed of to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, an assiduous collector of Welsh lands and offices—and secured a reversion to his son Hugh of a crown lease he held in the neighbourhood of Dolwyddelan, in the east of the shire. At some unknown date he also secured the farm of the tolls of Pwllheli and of the town fields. His acquisitions brought the usual crop of litigation. One grant was challenged in the court of augmentations by ‘upwards of a hundred’ persons who alleged he had turned them out of their holdings in Bardsey or Aberdaron, and appealed to a prior lease from Henry VIII. In 1569 he was further charged in Star Chamber with using Bardsey as a depot for pirates, keeping a factor there to despatch the booty to Chester by sea, and involving his less canny neighbours in prosecutions which he himself evaded as ‘a man of good countenance, great power, ability and friendship’ in the county.3
Politically Wyn was one of the leading men of his shire, and his influence was buttressed by his marriage into the Puleston family, which also linked him with the rising house of Gwydir. Though in 1553 Wyn was one of four Caernarvonshire gentlemen associated with the sheriff in a letter from Archbishop Heath, then president of the council of Wales, directing them to choose for Mary’s first Parliament ‘well-ordered men ... specially of the Catholic religion’, it is problematic how far he remained a Catholic. His name appears in a list of Catholics in Wales drawn up by an optimistic supporter of the Queen of Scots in 1574 (with a significant indication that his house lay near the sea); and it was just about this time that he began to take a prominent part in the agitation of the local gentry against the designs on the ‘enroached’ lands of that protestant champion the Earl of Leicester as forester of Snowdon. The agitation led to many charges and counter-charges of recusancy, in the course of which John’s son Hugh Gwyn alias Bodvel suffered a term of imprisonment. It is possible that Robert Gwynne, the Catholic missionary and controversialist, was another son, not named in the pedigrees, and that two other missionary priests, Charles Gwynne alias Bodvel and Roger Gwynne (a ‘seminary’ accused of plotting the assassination of James I) were grandsons of his.
Wyn made his nuncupative will 11 Oct. 1576, just before his death. The will was proved 6 Nov. of that year. His son Hugh Gwyn alias Bodvel inherited the lands, and with them the money his father had left on mortgage—on condition that he provided for the education of his half-brother William, John Wyn’s illegitimate son. There were also legacies to the poor of Llannor and Aberdaron.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Dwnn, Vis. Wales, ii. 174.
- 2. Cal. Caern. Q. Sess. Rec. ed. W. O. Williams, i. 32, 38, 67, 248 et al.; CPR 1553 and App. Edw. VI, 363, 419; Cal. Wynn Pprs. 4; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 127.
- 3. Augmentations, ed. Lewis and Davies (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 60, 298, 302; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (same ser. iv), 52, 79; Star Chamber, ed. Edwards (same ser. i), 32; APC, iv. 209; CPR, 1547-8, p. 32.
- 4. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 3, 4, 9, 12, 13; Griffith, Peds. 181, 275; CPR, 1553 and App. Edw. VI, 317; Neale, Commons, 286; Cath. Rec. Soc. xiii. 108; EHR, liii. 635; lix. 353-4; Trans. Cymmrod. Soc. 1936, p. 99; DWB, 42-3, 332-3; Gardiner, Hist. i. 106; PCC 30 Carew.