WYNN, Robert (1520-98), of Plas Mawr, Conway, Caern.
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Family and Education
b. 1520, 3rd s. of John Wynn ap Meredydd† of Gwydir by Ellen, da. of Maurice ap John of Clenennau; bro. of Morris. m. (1) by 1576, Dorothy, da. of Sir William Griffith of Penrhyn, wid. of William Williams of Cochwillan, Llandegal, s.p.; (2) c.1586, Dorothy, da. of Edward (or Thomas) Dymock of Willington, Flints., 2s. 5da.1
J.p. Merion. from c.1573, Caern. from 1575; sheriff, Caern. 1590-1.
As a younger son, Wynn had to make his own way. He served under Sir Philip Hoby at Boulogne in 1544, receiving a gunshot wound ‘whereof’, said his nephew John Wynn, ‘he was long lame’. He fought again in the expedition against Scotland, 1547, and attended Hoby on several of his European missions.2
In 1554 Wynn secured crown leases both in the Conway valley and farther west in Caernarvonshire, including some of the former lands of the abbey of Maenan. His father arranged that he should share with his brothers part of the ancestral lands in Dolwyddelan and elsewhere, but his nephew John was convinced that Robert in collusion with his brother Dr. John Gwynne had over-reached their elder brother Maurice—Sir John’s father—and the legal battle was prolonged into the next generation. Under John Gwynne’s will he also claimed a quarter share of the rectory of Eglwys Rhos, near Conway.3
His patron, Sir Philip Hoby, had died in 1558, and it was probably about this time that Wynn returned to Wales. He seems to have owed his place on the county bench, alongside his elder brother Maurice, to the influential circles in London in which his brother John moved. From 1566 he was assessed for subsidy at a slightly higher figure than his brother Maurice, and at the musters of 1570 he was charged with ‘one light horseman furnished’—the normal complement for the Caernarvonshire gentry except the house of Penrhyn. By 1576 he had married into this pre-eminent house, and between then and 1580 he built at Conway the stately mansion—still surviving—of Plas Mawr. His return to Parliament for Caernarvon was probably due to his marriage into the Griffith family, who dominated borough elections throughout most of the reign.4
Wynn’s will, dated 12 Oct. 1595, was proved 31 Jan. 1599, the heir being Thomas, son of his second marriage. He was buried at Conway on 30 Nov. 1598.5
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Griffith, Peds. 280, 360.
- 2. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 4, 158; LP Hen. VIII. xxi(2), pp. 171, 199; CPR, 1553, p. 377; Wynn, Gwydir Fam. ed. Ballinger, 69-71.
- 3. CPR, 1563-6, pp. 10, 523-4; Cal. Wynn Pprs. 6, 9, 235; Exchequer Jas. I, ed. T. I. J. Jones (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xv), 51, 71, 74; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (same ser. iv), 79.
- 4. DNB; Cal. Wynn Pprs. 7; E179/220/111, 141, 144; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 75; RCHM Caern. i. 58-64; Griffith, loc. cit.; A. and H. Baker, Plas Mawr, Conway, passim.
- 5. PCC 5, 6 Kidd; RCHM Caern. i. 44; R. Williams, Aberconway, 105.