GRIFFITH, William (c.1620-88), of Cefnamwlch, Lleyn, Caern.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1620, 2nd s. of John Griffith (d.1643) of Cefnamwlch by Margaret, da. and coh. of Sir Richard Trevor of Trevalun, Denb. educ.Charterhouse 1631, L. Inn, entered 1638; All Souls’, Oxf. 1639. m.Elizabeth, da. and h. of Arthur Davenport of Calveley, Cheshire, 1s. d.v.p.4da. suc. bro. John Griffith c.1650.1

Offices Held

Lt. of horse (royalist) 1643-6.2

J.p. Caern. 1643-6, July 1660-87; commr. for assessment, Caern. 1657, Aug. 1660-80, Anglesey 1673-80; sheriff, Caern. by Sept. 1661, dep. lt. 1661-Feb. 1688, col. of militia c.1663-?66.3


Griffith’s ancestors had held Cefnamwlch since the 15th century and first served for Caernarvon Boroughs in 1604. His father, who sat for Beaumaris in the Long Parliament, was a Straffordian and a commissioner of array during the Civil War until his death at Oxford. His elder brother, a pictuesque character known as ‘Prince Griffin’, represented the county until expelled the House for attempted rape on 10 Aug. 1642, after which he received a commission in the parliamentary army; but he had to flee the country to avoid a murder charge in 1648, and died in Paris soon afterwards. Griffith himself was intended for the legal profession. He was taken prisoner during the Irish rebellion, but subsequently fought for the King in the Caernarvonshire horse. Not only did he avoid sequestration, but he was also canvassed for his vote in the 1656 elections, when ‘malignants’ were generally ‘ticketed’. His offer to serve as sheriff in the following year was not accepted, but he was appointed to the assessment commission.4

Griffith apparently had some thoughts of standing in 1660, but is unlikely to have gone to the poll against the Glynne interest. At the Restoration he offered to lease the Caernarvonshire and Flintshire fines at £20 p.a. He was elected to the Cavalier Parliament by agreement with Sir Richard Wynn, whose convivial habits he shared. Although energetic in repressing local disaffection and dissent, he proved inactive in the House. He was appointed to only 13 committees, of which the most important was to recommend measures against conventicles in 1663. Nevertheless by promoting the transfer of the assizes to Caernarvon he left his mark on the statute book, though it was alleged that he had acted ‘more out of design than any love to the town or the country’. His was the first name on the committee for the bill, which he carried to the Lords on 4 June. Although he had promised to attend, he was listed as a defaulter in 1666, and again in 1668 and 1671. On the last occasion he was vouched for by (Sir) John Berkenhead, but Sir Trevor Williams told Sir Robert Carr that he was able to travel, and he was ordered to pay double taxation. On a list of government supporters drawn up by Sir Richard Wiseman he was noted as absent throughout the autumn session of 1675, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’. Although never blacklisted, he is unlikely to have stood again. He failed to answer the questions on the Tests and Penal Laws, being ‘aged and very infirm’, and was removed from the lieutenancy. He died on 31 July 1688, aged 68.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. J. E. Griffith, Peds. Anglesey and Caern. Fams. 169; Cheshire Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. xciii) 34.
  • 2. N. Tucker, Royalist Officers in North Wales , 31.
  • 3. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 364; Cal. North Wales Letters (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xxiii) 161; NLW, Clenennau mss 726.
  • 4. Keeler, Long Parl. 197-8; L. Inn Black Bks. i. 375; Cal. Wynn Pprs. 346, 348.
  • 5. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 355, 361, 368, 374, 383, 386; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 395; 1663-4, p. 312; CJ, viii. 482; Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. vii. 33.