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

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



6 Mar. 1677 - Mar. 1679
Mar. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1690 - c. Sept. 1692

Family and Education

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

Offices Held

Common councilman, New Radnor by 1689–Dec. 1690.


Williams, an active Whig in Radnorshire even though for the most part an inactive Member at Westminster, switched from the borough to the county seat in 1690 as part of an agreement with Sir Rowland Gwynne*, for whom he had stood down at elections twice before. On this occasion the change was designed by Gwynne as a manoeuvre to dish the Harleys of Brampton Bryan, and keep Robert Harley* from being returned as borough Member. Gwynne felt himself to be stronger at New Radnor Boroughs; Williams, with his manifold connexions (he could count himself a ‘cousin’ of Robert Harley and had ties with some of the Harleys’ close associates) and his record of parliamentary service, believed himself to be safe in the county; and so it proved, with Gwynne defeating Harley and Williams returned unopposed as knight of the shire. When Harley’s petition came before the committee Williams spoke on Gwynne’s behalf, and at the report, in November 1690, his was the only voice heard in the sitting Member’s defence. Even though Williams was probably marked by Robert Harley in April 1691 as a Country opponent of the ministry, he remained in alliance with Harley’s enemies in New Radnor, backing an alternative candidate to Harley’s nominee in the election for bailiff in September, and continuing this ‘trial of skill’ into the following year. However, a letter from a local agent to Harley in October 1691 suggests that Williams, observing the turning tide of political fortunes, may have begun to dissociate himself from Gwynne and make overtures to Harley. Williams was buried in his mother’s parish of Whitney on 4 Sept. 1692, and was succeeded by his only surviving brother Thomas, who himself died without male heir in 1704, thus effectively ending the Cabalfa line. A year later a private Act was passed to permit the sale of ‘several manors and lands’ in Breconshire, Herefordshire and Radnorshire, to pay the brothers’ accumulated debts.2

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. C 6/216/80; PCC 26 Bence, 216 Fane.
  • 2. D. R. L. Adams, ‘Parlty. Rep. Rad. 1536–1832’ (Wales Univ. MA thesis, 1969), 160, 173–8; Trans. Rad. Soc. xlvi. 11, 17; HMC Portland, iii. 444; Add. 70236, Edward* to Robert Harley, 18 Sept. 1691; 70254, William Probert to same, 16 Oct. 1691; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 252–3.