Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the ‘burgesses’, i.e. freemen1

Estimated number qualified to vote:

723 in December 18312

Number of voters:

593 in 18213


8,902 (1821); 9,955 (1831)


5 July 1821JOHN JONES vice Campbell, called to the Upper House312
 Sir William Paxton281
9 June 1826JOHN JONES 
30 July 1830JOHN JONES 
30 Apr. 1831 No return made on account of riot. New writ ordered 10 Aug. 
25 Aug. 1831JOHN JONES274
 John George Philipps203

Main Article

The county of the borough of Carmarthen (Caerfyrddyn) was a well-built county town, administrative centre and inland port situated on the north-west bank of the River Towy, nine miles directly north of Carmarthen Bay on the Bristol Channel and 17 miles west by road from Llanelli. Formerly the Roman capital of Wales and the seat of the South Wales princes, its boundaries were coextensive with those of the parish of St. Peter (5,155 acres), and until eclipsed by Swansea in the early nineteenth century it was the region’s largest town. The dominant issues and families were those locally important in South-West Wales.4 ‘The most unruly borough in Wales’, Carmarthen’s politics were those of the mob, tempered by individual, family and factional allegiance to the Blues, whose leaders were Whigs, and the Reds, who espoused Tory principles. As in the county, the Blues accepted the leadership of the Campbells, Barons Cawdor, of Golden Grove and Stackpole Court, and the Reds that of George Talbot Rice†, 3rd Baron Dynevor. Other families whose influence could not be overlooked included Evans of Highmead, Hughes of Tregib, Johnes of Dolaucothi, Morgan of Furnace and Philipps of Cwmgwili. Thomas and William Morris rose to prominence with their bank, which was in competition with that of Robert Waters and David Jones, and there was an abundance of attorneys. The corporation was at least nominally Anglican but Dissenters and, to a lesser degree, Methodists (Wesleyan and Welsh Calvinistic) were a strong vocal force in borough politics.5

No party could be certain of its hold on the borough, but the corporation had been dominated by the Blues since the last charter was granted in 1764. Carmarthen’s mayor and six peers (among them the sheriffs who acted as returning officers) were elected annually and its 20 common councillors for life. Council meetings were always conducted in private and members had to take an oath of secrecy. They could pass local Acts by majority votes and were empowered to make persons paying scot and lot on property assessed at £10 and above ex gratia burgesses. De jure burgesses were required to have held freehold property in the borough worth £4 a year for at least three years prior to qualification. Eligibility was also conferred by serving a seven-year apprenticeship in Carmarthen, but of these there were ‘very few’. There was no set interval between a burgess’s admission and his swearing-in at the mayor’s fortnightly court, and a partisan mayor could keep those whose votes were not required unsworn. Nine-hundred-and-fifty-two were admitted, 1800-31, and in December 1831 there were 723 sworn and 132 unsworn burgesses. Admission fees of £1 3s. 6d. were levied, together with stamp duties and a 1s. registration fee, and the cost of burgesses creation was generally met by party leaders - West Wales squires and professional men who coveted the prestige attached to having town houses and votes in Carmarthen. Exploiting the £4 freehold qualification, multiple leases and releases were granted regularly to and by them before elections, and many subsequently withdrawn. The ability thus to evade the residence qualification imposed in 1764 (reversing the 1728 Commons ruling) and to marshal interests and tenantries on either side was resented by the borough’s growing middle class, who in the early nineteenth century frequently contemplated corrective legislation.6

Professor O’Gorman has classified Carmarthen as a constituency where ‘a new set of party distinctions was to emerge, superimposed upon the old conflicts between oligarchy and independence and focusing upon the conflict of parties at Westminster’.7 Attempts since 1796 by Dynevor to add control of Carmarthen to that of the county constituency had suffered a setback when Cawdor inherited his friend John Vaughan’s Golden Grove estate in 1804 and took over the leadership of the Carmarthen Blues from the Philippses of Cwmgwili. To defeat the Reds, Cawdor had to spend heavily at municipal and parliamentary elections, fielding only family candidates at the latter, and since 1813 the representation had been vested, albeit reluctantly on his part, in his son John Frederick Campbell. Like his uncle George Campbell† previously, Campbell had been opposed in 1818 by John Jones of Ystrad, the people’s barrister and son of a former Golden Grove agent, who had defected to the Reds and represented Pembroke Boroughs on their interest, 1815-18. Jones remained anxious to represent his home town in Parliament, successive editors of the Carmarthen Journal endorsed his politics, the Carmarthen mob were on his side and he contributed to local charities and entertainments. He also tried to weaken Cawdor’s hold on the corporation by instigating quo warranto proceedings against non-resident common councilmen in the Welsh courts of great sessions and Westminster courts.8 Cawdor, who railed against the Welsh courts, retained able lawyers, paid the £300 levy to have as much litigation as possible dealt with out-county in Hereford, and with the Morrises as go-betweens, he purchased Carmarthen dock when the corporation farm was sold in January 1820.9 The general election in March may have ‘followed too soon to allow of any change in the balance of parties’ since 1818.10 Jones again started against Campbell but withdrew, it was said, to facilitate the unopposed return of Dynevor’s son George Rice Rice in the county.11 Campbell, nominated by J.W.G. Hughes of Tregib and seconded by Sir William Paxton† of Middleton Hall, was duly returned without a poll, but the mob called for Jones and caused ‘the Scots intruder’ to leave before the chairing.12

The county petition for reforms in the administration of justice in Wales owed much to Jones and Carmarthen, and an angry Campbell spoke against it, 25 May 1820.13 There was great interest in Queen Caroline’s cause and the town marked the abandonment of her prosecution with illuminations, 13 Nov. One wag placed the notice ‘sold here, Brougham’s pills for non mi ricordo’ in a druggist’s window, as a reminder of Theodore Majoccione’s evidence.14 In December 1820 the Blues brought quo warranto proceedings against the Reds, who set up their own fighting fund at a meeting at the Ivy Bush chaired by the Rev. Edward Picton of Iscoed, 13 Jan. 1821.15 John Jones contributed £200. John Davies, Captain Gwynne, John Johnes, Robert Christopher Mansel, Picton, Walter Rice Howell Powell, John Saunders, a Mr. Stephenson and Robert Waters gave smaller sums, and William Jones, who had paid £5 3s. 6d. (another £7 10s. remained outstanding) to have 11 burgesses sworn in, 25 Sept. 1820, agreed to do ‘the professional business of prosecuting and defending ... without any costs but those out of pocket’.16 Subscriptions were also raised that month and separate ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’s’ committees formed to assist the distressed poor.17

Campbell’s succession to his father’s peerage in June 1821 caused a by-election for which the Reds, who in Jones already had a candidate, were the better prepared. On 15 June John Bowen, William Morgan, the Morris brothers, R.M. Philipps, John George Philipps, George Thomas, John Williams, Dr. Williams and Williams of Horeb met privately and sent for the 77-year-old Paxton, who had made his fortune in India, represented Carmarthen, 1803-6, and fought three expensive contests in the county which had returned him for a single Parliament in 1806. His ‘personal exertion’ was not required: ‘his once appearing at Carmarthen will answer every purpose’. William Hughes of Tregib, Herbert Evans and John George Philipps of Cwmgwili, a naval captain whose father and grandfather had represented the borough, were held in reserve, but there was also support for the borough recorder, George Pryce Watkins of Tenby.18 Paxton arrived late and Jones and the Reds exuded confidence but, as Dr. Charles Morgan of Furnace predicted, it was ‘a very close race’.19 In an attempt to avoid drunken disorder and violence, on 23 June the mayor and magistrates imposed a ten pm closing time on inns and licensed premises.20 Amid a strong gentry presence, Jones was nominated on the 25th by Charles Morgan and the Rev. Edward Picton, and Paxton by John George Philipps. Williams Hughes of Tregib seconded.21 For the first eight days the parties polled equally, and Paxton conceded defeat on the tenth, when Jones, who was brought in at ‘no personal cost’, had a majority of 31. At the victory dinner toasts were drunk to the duke of Beaufort, the marquess of Cholmondely, Dynevor, Sir Charles Morgan*, Lord Milford, Sir John Owen*, the Leweses of Llysnewydd and Llanaeron, Mansel, Grismond Philipps, Picton and many others connected with the borough; and the defection of the attorney Charles Morgan was considered crucial. Paxton complained that ‘the solicitation of votes was for some time suspended, and many friends of the Blue interest taken by surprise. To this may be attributed the defeat we have just sustained’. However, he did not petition and the Reds’ celebrations spread to Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Kidwelly, Narberth, Pembroke and Tenby.22

When the king passed through Carmarthen in September 1821 on his way to Ireland, the corporation prepared a loyal address, but George IV only had time to stop briefly at Dynevor.23 The Reds did not oppose Thomas Morris’s election as mayor in October 1821; and although he carefully scrutinized the new burgesses they proposed, most applications succeeded, a hundred being sworn in during the mayoralties of Morris and Charles Morgan, 1821-3. Meanwhile the Blues lost 29 Cawdor supporters through quo warranto proceedings, and 22 of Cawdor’s Tivyside tenants resigned their burgages in March 1822. Control of the corporation thus passed to the Reds who, according the Carmarthen Journal, could command the votes of 71 of the 84 admissions that October.24 In November 1823 Morris sought to be excused service as county sheriff because he was resident in the borough and had been twice mayor; and in March 1824 Jones sought patronage and preferment from ministers, claiming that he had ‘obtained a permanent and decisive interest in the borough of Carmarthen, which had been for half a century under the control of opposition Members’.25 By canvassing thoroughly every Michaelmas and returning their own men as peers, the Reds retained control of the corporation, but Cawdor’s influence did not disappear, and in December 1824 he endowed a new church, St. Paul’s, to rival St. Peter’s.26

The Commons received petitions from Carmarthen for repeal of the Insolvent Debtors Act, 20 Feb., and the salt and leather duties, 30 Apr. 1822, a cause Jones espoused, so earning the nickname ‘Jones yr Halen’ (Jones the Salt).27 A borough meeting, 30 Apr. 1824, petitioned against repealing the usury laws,28 and petitions were prepared and presented for repeal of the window and assessed taxes, 11 May 1824, 21 Mar. 1825, and inquiry into the indictment in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 26 May 1824, a popular cause among Dissenters, which Jones again readily supported.29 The diocesan clergy were overwhelmingly anti-Catholic, but a borough meeting in April to petition against the 1825 relief bill was poorly attended, and, prompted by the Unitarian attorney George Thomas, the Friends of Religious Liberty resident in the town (adherents of the established church and Protestant Dissenters of various denominations), petitioned both Houses that month for religious freedom, including Catholic relief.30 As yet petitioning against alterations to the corn laws, a matter of concern to the clergy, who feared diminishing tithe revenues, was confined to the county.31 The mayor, burgesses and inhabitants of Carmarthen had petitioned for abolition of West Indian slavery, 12 June 1823; and a public meeting on 25 Jan. 1826 addressed by Jones, the former county Member Lord Robert Seymour of Taliaris, and leading churchmen, Dissenters and Nonconformists, petitioned similarly, but also endorsed Canning’s 1823 resolutions and incorporated ‘fair compensation for slave owners’ in their demands.32 Preparations for the general election had commenced and new electors’ lists were drafted when a dissolution was anticipated in the autumn of 1825.33 Jones’s principal supporters at the election were David John Edwards of Rhydygors, Thomas Lewis of Clynfiew, Walter Rice Howell Powell of Maesgwyn and William Henry Yelverton† of Whitland Abbey. He was again proposed by Picton and Charles Morgan and returned unopposed. Addressing a crowd of 5,000 from the hustings, he promised to promote Carmarthen’s interests and said that he wished to see retrenchment in public expenditure and repeal of the Test Acts, but not Catholic relief. He explained that he was against altering the corn laws, as agricultural protection was necessary, but otherwise backed the president of the board of trade Huskisson’s free trade proposals. He deliberately included his out-county supporters in the celebration toasts.34

In 1827 and 1828 Carmarthen’s churches and chapels petitioned steadily for repeal of the Test Acts, and Jones’s support for the cause was acknowledged in Seren Gomer, which was now printed in the town. It actively promoted their repeal, the spring guns bill, and the abolition of slavery and, like the Tory Carmarthen Journal, came out against Catholic relief.35 Although threatened, Morris’s bank had survived the 1826 crisis, but its rival, Waters’s bank, declined irreversibly following the death of Robert Waters early in 1828. In May that year, local concern and fears of distress caused Carmarthen, as the financial centre of West Wales, to petition the Commons against the small notes bill, 2 June, and Jones voted in the minorities against it, 16, 27 June.36 The Reds continued to manage corporation elections successfully and vacancies were filled by their own men.37 A common hall after the 1828 elections resolved to apply to Parliament for an Act to enable borough magistrates in sessions to try petty larcenies and to hold their sittings four times a year, but the scheme lapsed.38 Jones’s decision to vote with the home secretary Peel for Catholic emancipation, 6 Mar. 1829, caused concern and cost him some support. The corporation and inhabitants petitioned both Houses against it, 29 Mar., 3 Apr. 1829, but, no congregation did so.39

By the autumn of 1829 Carmarthen’s main political concern was the law commission’s report recommending abolition of the separate Welsh courts and assimilation of the Welsh counties into the English assize system. Carmarthen’s assize town status was never at risk and, as Cawdor had suggested in 1828 in an open letter to lord chancellor Lyndhurst, it had been designated the sole assize town for Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and south Cardiganshire. Submissions to the commissioners from Jones and fellow Reds favoured retaining and improving the Welsh courts. The Carmarthen Journal backed the reformers and the Cambrian the abolitionists, but all shades of opinion were reported in both.40 The borough met to petition against the proposals, 26 Oct. 1829, three days after a rowdy county meeting in the town at which Cawdor, Jones’s old Pembroke adversary John Hensleigh Allen* of Cresselly, John George Philipps, George Thomas and Rees Goring Thomas failed to carry a favourable petition, despite the emphasis their speeches placed on the benefits to Carmarthen of extra trade brought by extended sessions and assizes. At the borough meeting George Thomas, whose counter-petition failed, detailed the financial, legal and practical shortcomings of the Welsh system, claiming that it was inferior to and less efficient than the English in all save actions of concessit solvere, and that ‘all that could be done in the way of amendment was accomplished by ... Jones’s [1824] Act’. Jones agreed that his Act ‘had achieved as much as it was going to’, but insisted that further improvement was possible and preferable to abolition and suggested creating North and South Wales circuits, each with a permanent judge, and holding courts of great session twice a year at Carmarthen and Cardiff and alternately at Brecon, Cardigan, Haverfordwest and Presteign. Only the Morrises voted against petitioning to retain the courts. Two prominent radical attorneys, James Evans and the future Chartist leader Hugh Williams, refused to follow the Blue leadership and backed the call for reform. The Lords received the 430-signature anti-abolition petition of the mayor, burgess and commonalty, with another instigated by the bankers for ‘equal rights and privileges in matters of law in common with ... England’, 25 Feb. 1830. The latter was presented to the Commons the next day, but Jones delayed bringing up the anti-abolition petition until Peel introduced the administration of justice bill that proposed it, 9 Mar. 1830.41 Notwithstanding further opposition urged by the Reds, it was hurriedly enacted before the dissolution, 23 July, with effect from October 1830. At the 1830 general election both parties commended Jones’s parliamentary conduct on this issue and he was returned unopposed by public subscription. He had already provided a pre-election déjeuné for the gentlemen and post-election beer for the populace at Ystrad. On the hustings, he promised to vote against the duke of Wellington’s ministry ‘as necessary’, and at the celebration dinner afterwards Rees Goring Thomas, claimed that Jones had ‘annihilated the Blue-Red divide’.42

Carmarthen’s Independents, Welsh Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists supported the 1831-2 campaign for the abolition of colonial slavery and suspected that Jones’s support for abolition was not genuine, although he presented and endorsed their petitions. His vote with the administration when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830, and stance on parliamentary reform caused further unease.43 At Michaelmas, the borough’s Whig and radical attorneys had lent their support to the Blue campaign to oust the Reds from the corporation. In king’s bench in January 1831 they failed to prevent William Jones holding the offices of ‘town clerk, clerk of the peace, clerk of assize and prothonotary, common councillor and corporation solicitor’ concurrently, and the magistracy remained solidly Red.44 The borough reform meeting, 22 Feb. 1831, revealed divisions between the Blues led by George Thomas, who proposed a moderate reform petition, and the radicals led by Hugh Williams, who succeeded in amending it to include demands for the ballot and the ‘restoration of triennial parliaments’.45 It was received by both Houses, 28 Feb. On presenting it and in an open letter that day, Jones, who had been unable to attend the meeting, announced that he did not concur with the petitioners’ demands for short parliaments, universal suffrage or any proposal involving the disfranchisement of existing voters, but declared that he was ‘friendly towards reform’ and franchise transfers from decaying boroughs to populous towns.46 The county reform meeting in Carmarthen, 29 Mar., gave George Thomas, Rees Goring Thomas, Yelverton and other West Wales gentlemen, who in 1830 had praised Jones, a platform to denounce his 22 Mar. vote against the government’s reform bill, and adopt petitions in its favour from the county and borough which the Lords received, 21 Apr.47 Opinion in Carmarthen had also been tested at a poorly attended public meeting (12 Apr.), convened to petition against the bill’s proposal to make Llanelli a contributory borough of Carmarthen, which the Carmarthen Journal of 18 Mar. had denounced as ‘a piece of pure political meddling for which there exists not a shade of necessity’, a measure tantamount to partial disfranchisement. Most of Cawdor’s supporters stayed away and the petition was moved by a certain John Davies, who insisted that it was not a party matter. Opposing him, Hugh Williams and Charles Jones the currier argued that the addition of Llanelli was justified on account of the commercial strength of both towns. Their counter-petition failed, and Davies’s, which Charles Morgan seconded, was carried by 32-4. John Jones already had a personal following in Llanelli, and found it expedient to state that it had been made a contributory of Carmarthen at a late stage in the bill’s preparation, and to suggest petitioning instead for a separate Llanelli Boroughs constituency. Few backed him. He also tried to justify his 22 Mar. vote by highlighting the plight of the poor hatters of Water Street who risked disfranchisement under the reform bill, and defending their right to retain their voting rights. Hugh Williams poured scorn on his remarks and George Thomas declared in an open letter of 14 Apr. 1831 that Jones’s arguments on behalf of the Water Street voters were invalid as they had already petitioned to ‘welcome their own doom’.48

Jones thought that notwithstanding his majority vote for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831, he had moved far enough on reform to satisfy his constituents, and he did not anticipate opposition in Carmarthen at the ensuing general election. His declared opponent, sanctioned by Cawdor, was John George Philipps.49 During the brief canvass the Blues made much of Jones’s votes for Wellington and against the bill, alluded frequently to Philipps’s lineage and promoted him as a local candidate, uncompromising reformer and supporter of retrenchment and the abolition of colonial slavery. On 29 Apr. Picton and Morgan sponsored Jones as previously, and Philipps was nominated by Thomas Morris and seconded by John Hensleigh Allen.50 According to the Independents’ magazine Yr Efangylydd, more hatred was shown to anti-reformers in Carmarthen than anywhere else in Wales; and Professor Hoppen suggests that ‘evictions, sectarian violence, and conflicts over rents and wages between landlord, tenant and labourer’ may have been factors in the ensuing riots.51 Voters refused to listen to Jones and rejected his hospitality. Fists, among them Jones’s, were raised, and polling was postponed to the 30th, when the Reds conceded a Blue victory on a show of hands. Rioting, instigated by the curriers, immediately ensued and caused the town clerk to hurry away with the burgess enrolment book after only three votes per candidate had been recorded. The sheriffs, David Davies and Isaac Jones, adjourned and then abandoned the poll and issued a special return, 30 Apr.52 Philipps was chaired in a boat by his supporters, and ‘A Burgess’ writing in the Cambrian claimed that seven votes had been cast for Philipps and three for Jones.53 The claim was repeated in a petition received by the Commons, 5 July, from Philipps and the merchants John Jones and William Philipps, alleging that the sheriffs’ decision to close the poll was not justified and demonstrated partiality.54 Cawdor and Dynevor submitted evidence on the riot to the home secretary Lord Melbourne and attempted to pack the election committee named on 26 July.55 Meanwhile in Carmarthen, reform meetings and dinners continued, the mob remained restive and Jones was accused of having 14 or 15 of the rioters at the general election arrested by a partisan magistracy. When the mayor refused, George Thomas chaired a meeting to petition for reform and separate representation for Llanelli. On 27 July Johnes of Dolaucothi’s aunt wrote:

This place is particularly stupid at present, not even the Blues perform any exploits to enliven us. Between 40 or 50 of the Blues and Reds have been summoned to London on Captain Philipps’s petition. It is to be hoped that the Reds will have a little more justice done them there than they have had here. Everything is now carried by the mob. I hope I shall be from here when the election for this borough takes place.56

On 10 Aug., the day the Commons resolved to add Llanelli to the Carmarthen constituency, the election committee reported that the special return made on 30 Apr. had not been justified and a greater effort should have been made to keep the poll open. The defence of the sheriffs was deemed neither frivolous nor vexatious and a new writ was issued.57 Morris’s bank wrote to leading Blues requesting further donations to the cause.58 Jones had already received £300 from the Tories’ Charles Street committee’s election fund and was reported to have spent over £1,400 of his own money.59 Before polling began, 20 Aug., London policemen were deployed in Carmarthen and troops were held in readiness at Llandeilo. The candidates had the same proposers, but Philipps, whose supporters cried out for ‘Philipps, the ministers and the king’, was now seconded by William Hughes of Tregib, who had seconded the reformer Sir James Hamlyn Williams* in the county.60 There were adjournments and sporadic mob violence continued, but the booths were kept open and Jones was elected after a five-day poll. During it and afterwards he was lampooned as a ‘weathercock Member’, ‘pretended reformer’ and friend of slave owners, and a 12-verse ballad entitled ‘Jack Slack’s petition’ recalled embarrassing events in ‘the turncoat’s’ life and speculated over his bachelor status and domestic arrangements at Ystrad. (Jones lived with his unmarried sister and acknowledged an illegitimate son.) He refused to dispense with the chairing, at which ‘true Red blood flowed’ when he was hit on the head by a stone, and he was obliged to miss the celebration dinner.61

Capitalizing on the continued unpopularity of the Reds, at the corporation elections Philipps stood for the mayoralty against Daniel Prytherch and Hughes of Tregib challenged Philipps’s brother Grismond (a loyal Red) for a seat on the common council. John George Philipps failed by 208-175 and Hughes by 191-180, but the mob was behind them and rioters were again detained. Few volunteers for the constabulary could be found.62 News of the reform bill’s Lords’ defeat brought a further reform meeting, 11 Oct. 1831, violence and petitioning, but there was always an element of social malaise in the disturbances. Threats to stop paying market tolls and corporation taxes were justified as a means of exerting pressure for reform.63 The proposal for a Carmarthen and Llanelli constituency was unchanged in the revised reform bill. When in May 1832 it was jeopardized by a further Lords’ defeat, Lord Grey’s resignation and the king’s overture to Wellington, a meeting chaired by Thomas Morris and addressed by John George Philipps, George Thomas, Charles Jones, George Bagnall and James Evans petitioned urging the creation of additional peers to ensure its enactment. They had the support of the Nonconformist clergy and looked to Cawdor, Lord Kensington† and Hamlyn Williams to represent their interests.64 Jones did not regain his popularity despite voting for reform. The Carmarthen Journal, which did not share his conversion, found it even harder to defend him and he was criticized regularly by George Thomas in the Welshman, a pro-reform weekly paper launched in Carmarthen in 1832 and printed by J.L. Brigstocke. The shareholders included Thomas, Charles Jones, the wine merchants Andrew Burdett and Thomas Morgan, and the bookseller John Evans.65 Slavery and church reform were petitioned for in May 1832, and both were promoted by the newly enfranchised middle class, many of whom were Nonconformists and Dissenters.66 Grismond Philipps replaced Prytherch as mayor in October 1832 amid scenes of violence which led to George Thomas’s arrest and, like Dynevor’s attempts to deny Carmarthen county polling town status, did little to improve Jones’s prospects against the Liberal Yelverton at the December 1832 election.67 The Reform Act reduced the Carmarthen electorate to 559 (280 burgesses and 279 £10 householders), but added to them 125 Llanelli £10 householders: a combined registered electorate of 684 in December 1832, when Yelverton defeated Jones.68 The constituency was polled a further five times before 1885. A Conservative won in 1835, but David Morris (d. 1864) regained the seat in 1837 for the Liberals and retained it for life. His nephew William Morris (1811-77), who succeeded him in the representation, had to make way for another Liberal in 1868. A Conservative won in 1874, a Liberal two years later, and despite regular opposition from Unionist candidates, they retained the seat until 1918.

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. HP Commons, 1660-1690, i. 510. The town clerk William Jones reported to Parliament in December 1831: ‘As to freemen we know nothing of the term, and it is never used in respect to any person having a right to vote within this county borough’ (PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 510-11).
  • 2. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 510-11.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dict. of Wales (unpaginated).
  • 5. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 491-4.
  • 6. Paragraph based on PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 510-11; (1835), xxiii. 341-6; Carm. RO, Plas Llanstephan mss 1237-1329; Carm. RO, Cawdor mss 42/5826; J.E. Lloyd, Hist. Carm. ii. 9-10; P.D.G. Thomas, Politics in 18th Cent. Wales, 30, 34; HP Commons, 1754-90, i. 462-3; HP Commons, 1790-1820, i. 64.
  • 7. F. O’Gorman, Voters, Patrons, and Parties, 346.
  • 8. Carmarthen Jnl. 3 July 1818; R.D. Rees ‘S. Wales and Mon. Newspapers under Stamp Act’, WHR, i (1960-3), 309; NLW, Dolaucothi mss V2/36; W. Spurrell, Carmarthen (1879), 140; NLW ms 481 E, f. 28; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 493-4.
  • 9. Cawdor mss 2/137, 262.
  • 10. Lloyd, ii. 62; but R.D. Rees, ‘Parl. Rep. S. Wales, 1790-1830’ (Univ. of Reading Ph.D. thesis, 1962), 192, 193, 389, argues otherwise. Yearly totals of burgess creations in PP (1831-2), xxvi. 511 tend to support Lloyd.
  • 11. Cambrian, 12 Feb.; Carmarthen Jnl. 25 Feb. 1820.
  • 12. Cawdor mss 2/135; Carmarthen Jnl. 10, 17 Mar.; Cambrian, 11 Mar. 1820.
  • 13. CJ, lxxv. 237; LJ, liii. 84; The Times, 26 May 1820.
  • 14. Spurrell, 40; Carmarthen Jnl. 17 Nov.; Cambrian, 18 Nov. 1820.
  • 15. NLW ms 482 E, ff. 17-20; Cawdor mss 2/135; Carmarthen Jnl. 26 Jan. 1821.
  • 16. Dynevor mss 159/12; NLW ms 482 E, ff. 16, 17.
  • 17. Carmarthen Jnl. 19 Jan. 1821.
  • 18. Cawdor mss 2/136.
  • 19. Dolaucothi mss V2/38; Carmarthen Jnl. 15, 22 June 1821; G.E. Evans, ‘Morgan (Furnace) Pprs.’ Trans. Carm. Antiq. Soc. xx (1926-7), 58.
  • 20. Cawdor mss 2/137.
  • 21. Carmarthen Jnl. 29 June 1821.
  • 22. Ibid. 6, 13 July 1821; M. Cragoe, ‘Golden Grove Interest in Carm. Politics, 1804-21’, WHR, xvi (1993), 467-93, especially 473.
  • 23. Dynevor mss 159/4.
  • 24. Evans, Trans. Carm. Antiq. Soc. xx. 58; Salopian Jnl. 5 Sept. 1821 (king v. Morgan, etc. at Hereford Assizes); Cawdor mss 2/135; Cambrian, 26 Jan. 1822; Carmarthen Jnl. 11 Oct. 1822; Rees, thesis, 195.
  • 25. Add. 40359, ff. 78-80; 40363, f. 145.
  • 26. Cambrian, 8 Oct., 11 Dec. 1824.
  • 27. The Times, 21 Feb., 1 May 1822.
  • 28. Cambrian, 3 Apr. 1824.
  • 29. The Times, 12, 27 May 1824, 22 Mar. 1825; CJ, lxxviii. 430; Seren Gomer, vii (1824), 224-5.
  • 30. Cambrian, 30 Apr.; The Times, 5 May 1825; LJ, lvii. 734.
  • 31. Cambrian, 30 Apr. 1825. See CARMARTHENSHIRE.
  • 32. CJ, lxxviii. 387; LJ, lviii. 239; Carmarthen Jnl. 20, 27 Jan.; Cambrian, 28 Jan.; The Times, 14 Apr. 1826.
  • 33. NLW, Glansevin mss 6; Cambrian, 21 Jan. 1826.
  • 34. Carmarthen Jnl. 26 May, 2, 16, 23, 30 June; Cambrian, 27 May, 17, 24 June, 1 July 1826.
  • 35. Seren Gomer, x (1827), 218; The Times, 7, 15 June 1827; CJ, lxxxii. 521; lxxxiii. 87; LJ, lx. 45, 66; Cambrian, 16 Feb., 1 Mar.; Carmarthen Jnl. 29 Feb., 7, 14 Mar. 1828.
  • 36. Cambrian, 2 Feb., 29 Mar.; Carmarthen Jnl. 21 Mar. 1828; CJ, lxxxiii. 389.
  • 37. Cambrian, 6 Oct. 1827, 2 Feb., 29 Mar. 18, 24 Oct. 1828; Carmarthen Jnl. 21 Mar., 10 Oct. 1828.
  • 38. Carmarthen Jnl. 24 Oct.; Cambrian, 8 Nov. 1828.
  • 39. CJ, lxxxiii. 282; LJ, lxi. 339; Carmarthen Jnl. 17 Apr. 1829.
  • 40. Rees, WHR, i. (1960-3), 309-11; Carmarthen Jnl. 24 Apr. 1829; M. Escott, ‘How Wales lost its Judicature: the making of the 1830 Act for the Abolition of the Courts of Great Sessions’, Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion, (2006), 135-59.
  • 41. PP (1829), ix. 388; Cambrian, 17, 24, 31 Oct., 7 Nov.; Carmarthen Jnl. 16, 23, 30 Oct. 1829; LJ, lxii. 39; CJ, lxxxv. 105, 152.
  • 42. Cambrian, 26 Sept., 22 Oct. 1829, 7, 14 Aug. 1830; Carmarthen Jnl. 1 Jan., 2, 23, 30 July, 6, 13 Aug. 1830.
  • 43. CJ, lxxxvi. 238, 269, 353; LJ, lxii. 243, 499; Carmarthen Jnl. 28 Jan., 4, 11, 18 Feb. 1831.
  • 44. Carmarthen Jnl. 4 Feb. 1831.
  • 45. Ibid. 25 Feb.; Cambrian, 28 Feb. 1831.
  • 46. Carmarthen Jnl. 4 Mar. 1831.
  • 47. Ibid. 18, 25 Mar. 1831; LJ, lxii. 493.
  • 48. Carmarthen Jnl. 15, 22 Apr.; Cambrian, 16 Apr. 1831.
  • 49. Dolaucothi mss L3031, 4013; Cawdor mss 2/136; D.J.V. Jones, ‘Carmarthen Riots of 1831’, WHR, iv (1968-9), 131-2.
  • 50. Cambrian, 30 Apr. 1831.
  • 51. Yr Efangylydd, i (1831), 193; T.K. Hoppen, ‘Grammar of Electoral Violence in 19th Cent. England’, EHR, cix (1994), 598.
  • 52. Carm. RO, Cwmgwili mss 745; Carmarthen Jnl. 29 Apr., 6, 13 May, 3 June; Jones, WHR, iv. 132-6; E.V. Jones, ‘Through Riot to Parl.’ Carm. Historian, xiv (1977), 59-63; Greal y Bedyddwyr, v (1831), 190.
  • 53. Cambrian, 14 May 1831.
  • 54. CJ, lxxxvi. 615-7.
  • 55. Jones, WHR, iv. 135; CJ, lxxxvi. 697.
  • 56. Carmarthen Jnl. 10, 24 June, 8 July 1831; Dolaucothi mss V21/40; Yr Efangylydd, i (1831), 191-4.
  • 57. CJ, lxxxvi. 741-2; The Times, 11 Aug. 1831.
  • 58. NLW, Highmead mss 3151, 3152.
  • 59. Wellington mss, Holmes to Arbuthnot, 9 Aug., Arbuthnot to Wellington, 10 Aug. 1831.
  • 60. Jones, WHR, iv. 136-7; NLW ms 13477 C, p. 21.
  • 61. Carmarthen Jnl. 26 Aug. 1831; G.E. Evans, ‘Election Squibs’, Trans. Carm. Antiq. Soc. vii (1911-12), 82-83; D.A. Wager, ‘Carm. Politics and Reform Act of 1832’, Carm. Antiq. x (1974), 104; Spurrell, 144-5.
  • 62. Carmarthen Jnl. 7 Oct. 1831; Dynevor mss 159/4.
  • 63. Carmarthen Jnl. 14 Oct. 1832; Jones, WHR, iv. 139-41.
  • 64. Carmarthen Jnl. 4, 18 May 1832; Highmead mss 3186.
  • 65. Seren Gomer, xv (1832), 312; Rees, WHR, i.189.
  • 66. CJ, lxxxvii. 336; LJ, lxi. 219; Seren Gomer, xv (1832), 183.
  • 67. Dynevor mss 154/7; The Times, 9 Oct., 8 Nov. 1832; Highmead mss 3156; Dynevor mss 159/4; Yr Efangylydd, ii (1832), 355, 356, 384.
  • 68. The Times, 16 Jan. 1833; PP (1834), ix. 593; (1835), xxiii. 349.