WILLIAMS, Richard (c.1654-92), of Cabalfa, Clyro, Rad.

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



6 Mar. 1677
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
1690 - Sept. 1692

Family and Education

b. c.1654, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Williams of Cabalfa by 1st w. Susan, da. of Sir Robert Whitney of Whitney Court, Herefs. and coh. to her bro. Thomas. educ. Pembroke, Oxf. matric. 11 May 1669, aged 15. m. Magdalen, s.p. suc. fa. 1675.1

Offices Held

J.p. Rad. 1676-Apr. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., Herefs. and Brec. 1676-80; commr. for assessment, Herefs. Hereford, Brec. and Rad. 1677-80, Herefs. Brec. Brecon and Rad. 1689-90, Hereford 1690; dep. lt. Rad. 1683-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., Brec. 1689-d.; alderman, New Radnor by 1689.2


Williams was a second cousin of Sir Henry Williams. Unlike the royalist senior branch of the family, his father proved one of the most adaptable of the Radnorshire gentry during the Interregnum, making a profitable business of sequestration under the corrupt rule of the commissioners for the propagation of the gospel and representing the county during the Protectorate. On the partition of the Whitney estates in 1761, he seems to have succeeded to Whitney Court, and his last official act was to preside over the 1675 by-election at Weobley as sheriff of Herefordshire.3

Reluctantly supported by the Marquess of Worcester (Henry Somerset) as the lesser of two evils at the Radnorshire by-election of 1677, Williams was marked ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury. He was clearly inactive, though he may have served on the committee for the bill to hinder Papists from sitting in Parliament in the last session, but his alignment with the Opposition did not pass unnoticed in the highest quarters. Lord Worcester wrote to his wife on 20 Feb. 1679:

I find that Mr Williams ... has been very factious and gone along all the last Parliament with Sir Trevor [Williams] and Mr [Thomas] Mansel [I], and the King is possessed with it, [so] that he is not at all pleased at my having recommended him.

Williams’s consistency in opposition was undoubtedly exaggerated by Charles, for, at the height of the excitement over the Popish Plot, he obtained leave to go into the country for the recovery of his health. His real offence was his standing down in Radnorshire to the benefit of Rowland Gwynne and removing to Breconshire, where he had also inherited property, in order to oust the courtier Edward Progers at the next general election. In the first Exclusion Parliament, he was again noted as ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list, and voted for the bill. He twice acted as teller in 1679 against the import of Irish cattle, and was presumably named to the committee for this bill, but it is not known whether he served on any others. At the second general election of 1679 it was reported that ‘all the gentry are absolutely fixed for Mr Williams’, but in 1681 he was opposed by a Tory candidate put up by Lord Worcester. He was completely inactive in both Parliaments.4

Williams was described as ‘disaffected’ and gave shelter to his kinsman John Dutton Colt in 1682. He was again returned for Radnorshire to James II’s Parliament, and again no certain activity can be attributed to him. He gave negative answers to the questions on the repeal of the Test and Penal Laws. At the Revolution he stepped down from the county seat, as he had ten years earlier, in favour of Sir Rowland Gwynne. But although he was a member of the Twenty-Five at New Radnor, he encountered much opposition from the out-boroughs, and he was fortunate not to have his election declared void. In the Convention he was probably totally inactive, apart from obtaining parliamentary privilege against four men who had been felling his timber. Williams regained the county seat in 1690, but was buried at Whitney on 4 Sept. 1692. His heir was his brother Thomas, the last of the Cabalfa branch, who had died childless and without parliamentary service by 1704.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. C6/216/80; PCC 26 Bence, 216 Fane.
  • 2. CJ, x. 88.
  • 3. Jones, Brec. iii. 83; A. H. Dodd, Studies in Stuart Wales, 123, 133.
  • 4. Beaufort mss; CJ, ix. 558; Dodd, 202; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 151.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1682, p. 576; 1684-5, pp. 93-94; CJ, x. 125; HMC Portland, iii. 504; Herefs. RO, bishops’ transcripts, Whitney par.; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 252.