WYNN, William (c.1595-1663/5), of Westminster Abbey and Isleworth, Mdx.; later of Garthgynan, Llanvair Dyffryn Clwyd, Denb. and Hammersmith, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1595,1 5th but 3rd surv. s. of Sir John Wynn†, 1st bt. of Gwydir, Caern. and Sidney, da. of Sir William Gerard† of Ince, Lancs., ld. chan. [I] 1576-81;2 bro. of Henry* and Sir Richard*. educ. ?Westminster sch. 1608; St. John’s, Camb. 1611; G. Inn 1621.3 m. settlement 26 Oct. 1624, Jane, da. and h. of Thomas Lloyd of Milton, Kent, 3s. 1da.4 d. 1663/5.5 sig. William Wynn.
Servant to Sir Lionel Cranfield*, master, Gt. Wardrobe and Ct. of Wards 1619-21, to John Williams, bp. of Lincoln and ld. kpr. 1621-5.6
Commr. subsidy, Denb. 1621-2, 1624, Denb. and Merion. 1641;7 dep. lt. Denb. ?by 1626-42, 1662-d.;8 commr. Forced Loan, Denb. 1626-7, Poll Tax, Denb. and Merion. 1641, Caern. 1660;9 prothonotary, N. Wales 1641-2, 1660-d.;10 commr. assessment, Denb. and Merion. 1642, Denb. 1657, Irish aid 1642;11 j.p. Denb. 1644-6, 1660-d.;12 commr. ?sequestration and compounding, N. Wales 1649, Propagation of the Gospel, Wales 1650, N. Wales 1654, relief of prisoners, Denb., Flint. 1653.13
Wynn’s ‘weak constitution’ disrupted his education and presumably affected his chances for early advancement. In November 1611 he joined his elder brother Robert at St. John’s, Cambridge, but his stay was cut short by illness and he returned to Gwydir without matriculating, probably in the autumn of 1612.14 Nothing more is known of his circumstances until May 1619, when his father brought him to London. He was initially left to care for his consumptive younger brother Ellis, but by November he had been placed in the household of Sir Lionel Cranfield by his courtier brother Sir Richard Wynn.15
Wynn’s post included board and lodging at the Great Wardrobe, but carried no fee, leaving him dependent upon the £40 a year which he received from his father. The alleged inadequacy of this allowance formed a regular source of friction between the two men: Wynn insisted that ‘things are now at three times a dearer rate than they were in your time’; protested that his brothers had formerly been allowed £50 a year; and complained that his father neglected to pay both his annuity and the bills for goods he had bought on credit for dispatch to Gwydir.16 Wynn’s predicament was shared by many younger sons who tried to make their way in London, but, given that he enjoyed free board, his necessary expenses were modest and his protests perhaps a little shrill. While in London Wynn performed a range of errands for his relatives, including shopping for clothes and household goods, negotiating for a lease of chambers at the Inner Temple for his brother Henry, paying and receiving money and furthering the family’s many lawsuits. Sir Richard was better placed than he to lobby for political favours, but in November 1620 he persuaded Cranfield get his brother-in-law Sir John Bodvel excused from the shrievalty. He spent so much time on family matters that he was once obliged to warn his father that ‘your employment of me in your business ... will be a just occasion for my master to let fall the good opinion he doth hold of me, thereby hindering my preferment’.17
Wynn played only a peripheral part in the hard-fought Caernarvonshire election of December 1620. The family’s candidate, Sir Richard, incurred his father’s wrath for allowing the election writ to fall into the hands of his enemies, but Wynn recruited John Williams, dean of Westminster, an old family friend, to explain that the fault lay with lord chancellor St. Alban (Sir Francis Bacon*). With his prospects looking bleak, Sir Richard assured his father that he would be able to gain a borough seat elsewhere, and suggested that his brother William should be nominated in his stead, ‘such an affront would it be to [John] Griffith [III*] and all his abettors that it lay in your power to make one of your youngest sons his competitor, and carry it’. Wynn’s prospects of victory would have been negligible in these circumstances, but the strategy was a valid one to mitigate a humiliating defeat, and on election day Sir Richard’s place was taken by not by his brother, but by Griffith Jones of Castellmarch.18
One unexpected consequence of the 1621 Parliament was the impeachment of Bacon, and the elevation of dean Williams to the keepership. When Wynn discussed his career with his father a year earlier he had envisaged continuing in service under Cranfield, who was hotly favoured to fill the vacant treasurership, ‘so by his raising I make no question but it will be some benefit unto me, and will gain me respect and good opinion in the world’. However, he conceded that ‘this shall not hinder my preferment otherwise, if ... you can hearken out a good place for me’. A year later, with the treasurership in the hands of Sir Henry Montagu* rather than Cranfield, Williams appeared to be a much better prospect, and Wynn duly transferred to his service.19
It was probably Williams, an energetic electoral patron, who encouraged Wynn to stand for Caernarvon Boroughs at the general election of January 1624. Wynn applied for support to Sir William Thomas and William Griffith, his family’s closest allies on the Caernarvon corporation, and with the memory of 1620 very much in mind, he assured his father ‘I will take care to procure the writ to be sent you’. However, the fruits of his careful preparation were enjoyed by Sir Peter Mutton, chief justice of North Wales, whom his brother Owen had originally proposed for the county seat.20 Wynn was eventually returned for Lyme Regis, Dorset at a by-election held in the autumn, a seat he presumably owed to Williams’s nomination, as his family was unconnected with the area. He never took his seat, however, as Parliament was dissolved by the king’s death before it met again. At the general election which followed Charles’s accession, Williams approached William Cecil*, 2nd earl of Salisbury on Wynn’s behalf for a seat at Hertford, but the earl was unable to oblige, as he had already promised his interest to Thomas Fanshawe II*. Meanwhile, at Caernarvon, Sir William Thomas began canvassing for Wynn once again, only to find that Sir John Wynn and Mutton had arranged to back Edward Littleton II*, the junior judge on the north Wales circuit.21
As a younger son, Wynn’s best prospects lay in a good marriage. In September 1620 he brushed aside his father’s suggestion for a match (either for himself or his brother Henry) with one of the daughters of John Panton*, on the grounds that the proposed bride was only 11 years old. Four years later he married an heiress, who brought him not only a modest landed estate in Merioneth and Kent, but also the profits of her recently deceased father’s droving and moneylending enterprises. One of his wife’s largest assets was a mortgage of part of William Salesbury’s* estate at Bachymbyd, Denbighshire, which may explain why Wynn’s father settled his own estate at nearby Garthgynan, worth £200 a year, upon the couple.22 The match was warmly welcomed by Williams, who acted as a party to the settlement, visited the couple’s home in 1625, and promised the bride that she should ‘never repent her of her match with his cousin Wynn’. Wynn was similarly delighted by his new wife, but must have been less happy about the effort involved in securing her inheritance: Salesbury redeemed his mortgage for £3,300 in three years, but Wynn spent many years chasing a large number of small debts, and insisted on pursuing a lengthy and ultimately fruitless dispute with the executors of his father-in-law’s will.23
With his financial future secure, Williams’s fall in November 1625 was less of a catastrophe for Wynn than it might have been. He showed solidarity with his disgraced master by accompanying him to the episcopal palace at Buckden, Huntingdonshire, but soon returned to London. He presumably resigned his post at this time, although he remained alert to the possibility that Williams might return to favour at Court.24 Wynn spent much of the 1630s in Wales, where he is easily confused with his neighbour William Wynne of Melai, sheriff of Denbighshire in 1636-7, but he returned to London in 1639, leasing a house in Hammersmith. He secured a new patron in 1641 when Edward Littleton II, upon whose behalf he had waived the Caernarvon seat in 1625, was appointed lord keeper, but the only long-term dividend he gained from this association was a patent as prothonotary of north Wales, an office he already held in reversion.25
Wynn returned to Wales on the outbreak of Civil War, but was not a committed supporter of either side, and continued as prothonotary throughout all the changes of regime.26 He drafted his will on 21 Oct. 1662, assigning the profits of his office to raise a dowry of £900 for his daughter Sydney and leaving his lands to his eldest son Richard. Still alive on 3 Feb. 1663, when he was re-commissioned as a deputy lieutenant, he was dead by 25 Apr. 1665, when probate of his will was granted to his widow. Wynn’s estates ultimately passed to his daughter, who married Edward Thelwall of Plas y Ward. Their grandson, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, also inherited the Wattstay estate in 1719 upon the death of the last male member of the Gwydir family, Sir John Wynn†, 5th bt.27
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. Assuming age 16 at matriculation at Cambridge.
- 2. J.E. Grifith, Peds. Anglesey and Caern. Fams. 281.
- 3. J. Gwynfor Jones, Wyn Fam. of Gwydir, 151-3; NLW, 9054E/571; GI Admiss.
- 4. Denb. RO, DD/WY/6557; C2/Chas.I/L45/2.
- 5. NLW, Wynnstay 88/75; PROB 11/316, f. 264.
- 6. NLW, 9056E/878; 9057E/960-1; 9060E/1376; 9061E/1418.
- 7. C212/22/20-23; SR v. 68, 90-1.
- 8. APC, 1626, p. 113; SP16/462, f. 1; NLW, Wynnstay 68/62; 88/75; CSP Dom. 1664-5, p. 46; 1665-6, p. 374.
- 9. C193/12/2; SR, v. 107, 157-8.
- 10. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 631; 1664-5, p. 158.
- 11. SR, v. 141, 222; A. and O. ii. 1086.
- 12. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 75, 78-80.
- 13. A. and O. ii. 343, 761, 991.
- 14. NLW, 9054E/571; 9055E/736-7.
- 15. NLW, 9056E/866-7, 878, 882, 886; 9057E/923.
- 16. NLW, 9057E/923, 938; 9059E/1174.
- 17. NLW, 9057E/915, 923.
- 18. Ibid. 926, 933; 466E/1000.
- 19. NLW, 9057E/903, 960-1.
- 20. NLW, 9059E/1176, 1178, 1189; SIR PETER MUTTON.
- 21. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 205, 246; Procs. 1625, pp. 672-6.
- 22. NLW, 9057E/903; Denb. RO, DD/WY/6557; C2/Chas.I/W36/65.
- 23. NLW, 9059E/1254A; 9060E/1356; 9061E/1391; C2/Chas.I/L45/2; 2/Chas.I/W12/56; 2/Chas.I/W23/7; 2/Chas.I/W36/65; 2/Chas.I/W60/17; 2/Chas.I/W74/17; 2/Chas.I/W84/2.
- 24. NLW, 9060E/1376, 1380; 9061E/1443.
- 25. CSP Dom. 1636-7, pp. 325, 487, 492; 1637, pp. 95, 104, 391, 532; NLW, 9062E/1647, 1676; C8/47/149; Denb. RO, DD/WY/6697.
- 26. C8/47/149; NLW, 9063E/747; 9064E/1965; 467E/1813.
- 27. PROB 11/316, ff. 263-4; NLW, Wynnstay 88/75; Gwynfor Jones, 107-8.