WILLIAMS, Sir Hopton, 3rd Bt. (c.1663-1723), of Llangibby Castle, Mon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1663, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Trevor Williams, 1st Bt.†, of Llangibby Castle by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Morgan† of Machen, Mon., sis. of John Morgan I*; bro. of Sir John Williams, 2nd Bt.* m. 7 Sept. 1683, Frances Williams, 1s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. bro. as 3rd Bt. by 21 Nov. 1704.1
Portreeve, Usk 1708.2
According to his unfortunate wife (who is unlikely to have been the ‘servant maid’ Peter Le Neve claimed she was), Williams proved not only a faithless but a violent husband, ‘often reviling, abusing, beating and kicking her, and threatening to murder her’. A prolonged liaison in the early 1690s with a butcher’s wife in Llangibby, while he was living nearby at Lau Cays in Usk, culminated in his separating from his wife, whom he placed in lodgings with their two children. After she had rejected an offer of £5 p.a. to make the separation permanent, he cut off all maintenance and abandoned her and the children to the ‘charity’ of her family and friends. He eventually removed to Westminster, where he lived as man and wife with one Anne Warner, another victim of his propensity for physical violence. By this time he had become, in his wife’s words, ‘one of the Queen’s Life Guards’. A further improvement in his circumstances, namely succession to the Llangibby estate valued as being worth over £1,400 p.a. in about 1709, encouraged his wife to institute proceedings for divorce in the ecclesiastical courts. She, meanwhile, had returned to Usk and established herself in a house there, only for Williams to discover the fact and sell off all her furniture and household goods, leaving her once again destitute. Her process in the court of arches was inhibited when on 10 Nov. 1705 the newly elected Williams claimed a breach of parliamentary privilege, and although the committee of privileges never reported its adjudication, the divorce action lapsed, possibly in consequence of an out-of-court agreement.3
Williams had been returned as knight of the shire in 1705 after a contest in which he and a Tory, Sir Thomas Powell, 1st Bt.*, backed by the Duke of Beaufort, challenged the powerful interest of his kinsmen, the Whig Morgans of Tredegar. It was probably this electoral alliance which induced the compiler of an analysis of the new Parliament to describe him as a ‘Churchman’, and made Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) reckon his election in place of his deceased brother Sir John as a ‘loss’. However, Williams was subsequently listed as voting for the Court candidate in the division on the Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705, and for the Court over the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill on 18 Feb. 1706. Otherwise he proved an inactive Member, three times granted leave of absence in his short parliamentary career: on 28 Jan. 1706 (which must cast doubt on his reported vote on the regency bill); 12 Feb. 1707, for a month; and 12 Dec. 1707, for six weeks. He lost his seat in 1708 as a result of an electoral reconciliation between the Beaufort and Morgan interests, who combined to share the representation and to push him down to third place in the poll. Sunderland now considered his exclusion a ‘loss’. Though he began to make interest for the 1710 election, he withdrew before the poll, and by the time of the 1712 by-election Beaufort could comment that ‘I wish some care were taken to secure Sir Hopton Williams’ interest, who I believe will make little of it himself’. The following year the Duke himself took such an initiative, requesting Williams’ favour for his candidate for knight of the shire at the general election, Sir Charles Kemys, 4th Bt.*4
Williams’ last years seem to have been spent in retirement at Llangibby, where he improved the grounds by planting an avenue of fir trees leading down to the river. He died there, on 20 Nov. 1723. No will has been discovered. In 1726 administration of his wife’s property was granted to her ‘natural son’ Leonard Williams. The baronetcy and estate at Llangibby passed to a nephew. But the decline of the family was not arrested, and so far as is known, no subsequent representative sat in Parliament.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Bradney, Mon. iii. 101; London Par. Regs. ed. Phillimore and Cokayne, i. 308.
- 2. E. E. Havill, ‘Parlty. Rep. Mon. 1536–1832’ (Wales Univ. MA thesis, 1949), 88.
- 3. NLW, Llangibby Castle mss C.890, rental, c.1709; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Ct. of Arches recs. A25, f. 3; G5/18; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 489.
- 4. NLW, Tredegar mss 53/96, Beaufort to William Lewis, 16 Apr. 1705; HMC Portland, iv. 195; Bull. IHR, xlv. 46, 61, 65; NLW Jnl. x. 168–9; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, Beaufort to Mr Gwyn, 12 Jan. 1712, same to Williams and others, 11 July 1713.
- 5. Bradney, 103; Boyer, Pol. State, xxvi. 671; PROB 6/102, f. 23; Hist. Jnl. xxix. 573.