PARRY, John (1724-97), of Wernfawr, Caern.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1780 - 1790

Family and Education

b. 22 Sept. 1724, 2nd s. of Love Parry of Wernfawr by Rachel, da. of Vincent Corbet of Ynysymaengwyn, Merion.  educ. Wrexham; St. John’s, Camb. 1742; L. Inn 1742, called 1748, bencher 1772, treasurer 1785.  m. Elizabeth, da. of George Warrington of Wrexham, s.p.

Offices Held

Attorney-gen. for North Wales circuit June 1769-Apr. 1797; constable of Conway castle Dec. 1769- d.


Parry declared himself a candidate for Caernarvonshire well before the 1780 general election. On 31 May 1780 Lord Bulkeley, who had a powerful interest in the county, wrote to Sir Hugh Williams: ‘I cannot avoid declaring myself for Counsellor Parry, and will certainly in that case canvass my friends for him.’1 This support was decisive, and Parry was returned unopposed.

Robinson, in his survey of 1780, hoped that Parry, through his connexion with Beard, the Welsh judge, would be ‘well inclined’ to Government, but Parry followed Lord Bulkeley’s line and voted with the Opposition. On 18 Feb. 1783 he supported Shelburne’s peace preliminaries; voted against Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783; and was classed by Robinson in December 1783 as a follower of Pitt. At the general election he was returned unopposed, with the backing of the Committee of Association for Caernarvonshire, an organization pledged to promote parliamentary reform.

Parry’s ambition was a Welsh judgeship, but he was passed over on a vacancy in 1787 in favour of George Hardinge. Though Pitt promised him the next vacancy, he was once more passed over the following year. Lord Buckingham wrote to W. W. Grenville, 13 May 1788:2

I have heard from Lord Bulkeley upon a subject that gives me the most sensible concern. You know his anxiety for Mr. Parry, who has stood fairly by us from 1782 to the present moment ... Lord Bulkeley has now the mortification to see this vacancy given to Mr. Burton, without one word of explanation; and in consequence of it, Mr. Parry deservedly incensed to the highest pitch, and declining to stand again for Caernarvonshire.

The obstacle in Parry’s path, according to Lord Buckingham, was Thurlow, the lord chancellor, and it was to him that Parry’s letter, 24 May 1788, in the Chatham mss, was presumably addressed:

I have been longer in practice on the Welsh circuit than any barrister in the kingdom. I have had the principal business on the North Wales circuit for five and twenty years, twenty of which I have been attorney-general ... The minister has intimated he would have been pleased to recommend me to be a Welsh judge, had not your Lordship made objections thereto. The disappointment of promotion would not affect me much, but objections coming from a man of your Lordship’s character and rank hurt me very much indeed; it is a stigma that will follow me during my whole life.

Nothing was done for Parry, though Lord Buckingham wrote that ‘the poor devil is ruined, and must quit the county if he has no bread’.3 He did not stand in 1790. His only reported speech in the House was in the debate of 6 Mar. 1786, when he intervened on the instructions of his constituents, to oppose the building of a bridge over the Menai Straits.4

He died 26 Oct. 1797.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Peter D.G. Thomas


  • 1. UCNW, Baron Hill mss.
  • 2. HMC Fortescue, i. 327.
  • 3. Ibid. 334.
  • 4. Debrett, xix. 301.