WILLIAMS, Watkin (1742-1808), of Penbedw, Denb. and Erbistock, Flints.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



9 June 1772 - 1774
26 June 1777 - 1806

Family and Education

b. 1742, 1st s. of Richard Williams of Penbedw by 3rd w. Annabella, da. of Charles Lloyd of Drenewydd, Salop. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 25 June 1760, aged 17. m. 1767, Elizabeth, da. of Col. James Russell Stapleton of Bodrhyddan, Flints., s.p. suc. fa. 1759.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Merion. Aug. 1989-June 1793; ld. lt. Denb. 1792-3; constable, Flint Castle Mar. 1799-d.

Maj. Salop militia 1766-96, Flints. fusiliers 1803.


Upon the death of his cousin Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, 4th Bt., in 1789, ‘Major Williams’, as he was always called, became lieutenant of Merioneth (and subsequently of Denbigh) thanks to Pitt’s promise to do something for the Wynnstay family, whose heir was a minor. Williams continued in Parliament, in unchallenged possession of a seat where the family interest was paramount, until his retirement. He made no mark in the House, giving when present a silent support to government, though no vote of his is known. He was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. He not infrequently applied to Pitt for patronage on behalf of constituents and on 27 Sept. 1798 applied for the constableship of Flint Castle for himself, explaining:

I have represented Flint so long and the castle being within seven miles of my house render it a most desirable feather to me. I may likewise add that though I have been in Parliament 20 years it is the only thing I ever requested for myself, or family.1

He obtained it. He was listed a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry, though at first with a query.

On the eve of the election of 1806, he was persuaded to retire ‘on account of his infirmities’, in favour of his wife’s great-nephew Col. Shipley who was, however, defeated. Williams had the satisfaction of seeing Shipley returned before his death, 30 Nov. 1808, aged 66.

A giant in his own estimation, he was not more than five feet three or four inches in height: but he made the most of that height by the soldier-like carriage of his person, together with something of the peacock’s strut. Then he never appeared from home except in high form, with four chestnuts in his chariot, outriders with pistols and suchlike demonstrations of the little-great man. Notwithstanding all this, he was an excellent private character and a very good companion: and having a fine landed property, he had a right to indulge himself in these personal distinctions.2

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. HMC Kenyon, 528; PRO 30/8/190, ff. 65 seq.
  • 2. Fortescue mss, Grenville to Grosvenor, 22 Oct. 1806; C. J. Apperley, My Life and Times, 55.