KEMYS, Sir Charles, 4th Bt. (1688-1735), of Cefn Mabli, Glam.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1713 - 1715
22 Feb. 1716 - 1734

Family and Education

b. 23 Nov. 1688, 1st and o. surv. s. of Sir Charles Kemys, 3rd Bt.*, by his 1st w.  educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1706; travelled abroad (Germany) 1707. unmsuc. fa. as 4th Bt., Dec. 1702.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Glam. 1712–13.


Following his father’s death, Kemys’s upbringing was entrusted to his maternal uncle the 5th Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*), the Welsh Tory Robert Price* and the west country Tory lawyer Thomas Edwards*. Admitted to Cambridge in May 1706, he had inside a year abandoned the confines of his college, without the knowledge or permission of his guardians, for the attractions of London. Kemys refused to return to Cambridge, and in June 1707 his guardians agreed to indulge his desire to travel on the Continent. The Toryism that Kemys’s father had demonstrated prior to the Revolution had been tempered during the 1690s by the Whiggish influence of his first wife, Wharton’s sister, and the financial difficulties that occasioned a need for official favour. Though the fourth baronet was a godson of the Tory Marquess of Worcester (Charles Somerset*) and thereby connected to the Tory Dukes of Beaufort, it was through the influence of his Whig uncle that he first endeavoured to enter the Commons. In 1710 Wharton expressed a concern that Kemys make interest for either a Welsh constituency or, preferably, the county of Monmouthshire. This county presented a Sacheverellite address in 1710, and the report that Kemys had failed to support this initiative may suggest that at this time he shared Wharton’s Whig sympathies. He did not stand for a Welsh seat at the election of that year, and instead contested Appleby upon his uncle’s interest. Defeated at the poll he petitioned unsuccessfully. His first appearance in Monmouthshire politics, as a candidate in the county by-election of February 1712, was in opposition to the Beaufort interest. Withdrawal before the poll on that occasion did not, as he had hoped, win any favour from the 2nd Duke of Beaufort, who refused to recommend him in a second by-election in April 1713. It was only afterwards, when Beaufort became disillusioned with his nominee Thomas Lewis II*, that he considered Kemys worth supporting, and then, in the 1713 general election, the Duke characteristically gave Sir Charles wholehearted and vigorous assistance. By this time Kemys had returned to the High Church allegiance of his forebears. He was introduced as a member of the ‘Board of Brothers’, and though little is known of his conduct in the 1713 Parliament he made sufficient impact upon contemporaries to be classed in the Worsley list as a Tory. In the light of his later behaviour he has been described as being at this time a ‘probable’ and even as a ‘conspicuous’ Jacobite.2

According to tradition, Kemys had been ‘much distinguished at Hanover’, which he had visited during his continental travels in about 1707, ‘on account of the lessons he had given the court . . . in the British accomplishments of drinking and smoking tobacco’. Hence, soon after his succession, George I earnestly pressed him to attend his levée, but Kemys is said to have declined forcibly, saying ‘I should be happy to smoke a pipe with him as Elector of Hanover, but I cannot think of it as King of England’. In 1721 his name was sent to the Pretender as a likely supporter in the event of a rising, and he was described as the ‘chief’ of the anti-Mansel faction among the Tories in Glamorgan, for which county he had sat on his own interest since a by-election in 1716. Again in 1730 he was listed as one of the four Jacobite leaders in the west, and stories of his Jacobite extremism were to survive in local folklore.3

Having retired from Parliament on grounds of ill-health at the 1734 general election, Kemys died on 29 Jan. 1735, some £35,000 in debt. His estate passed to his only married sister, the wife of Sir John Tynte, 2nd Bt., of Halswell, Somerset. Their son Sir Charles Kemys Tynte, 5th Bt., sat for Monmouthshire 1745–7 and Somerset 1747–74, as a Tory.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Northants. RO, Isham mss L5275, diary of Justinian Isham, 12 Sept. 1707.
  • 2. P. Jenkins, Making of a Ruling Class, 138, 202; Bristol Central Lib. Ellacombe mss vol. 8, pp. 89, 93–94; Oldmixon, Hist. Addresses, ii. 108; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/43, James Lowther* to William Gilpin, 15 July 1710; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, Coventry pprs. Beaufort to James Gunter*, 10 Jan. 1712, same to Mr Gwyn, 12 Jan. 1712, same to John Curre, 1 Nov. 1712, 11 July 1713, same to Giles Meredith, 11 July 1713, same to Thomas Lewis, [1713], same to Kemys, 11 July 1713, same to Ld. Chancellor Harcourt (Simon I*), 15 Aug. 1713, circular letter, 11 July 1713, list of Board of Brothers, [1714]; NLW, Tredegar mss box 53/107, Beaufort to John Morgan II*, 11 July 1713; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 147, 201; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 280, 332.
  • 3. D. Williams, Hist. Mon. 321; P. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, p. 153; Welsh Hist. Rev. i. 282; Jenkins, 135, 155, 166; Trans. Cymmro. Soc. (1920–1), 19–20.
  • 4. Jenkins, 67.