Flint Boroughs


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 inhabitants paying scot and lot of the boroughs of Flint, Caergwrle, Caerwys, Overton and Rhuddlan

Estimated number qualified to vote:

1,185 in Feb. 1832 (Flint 449; Caergwrle 120; Caerwys 130; Overton 300; Rhuddlan 186);1 previously 1,2002


(1821): Flint 1,612; Caergwrle 2,498; Caerwys 952; Overton 1,668; Rhuddlan 1,467; (1831): Flint 2,216; Caergwrle 2,747; Caerwys 985; Overton 1,746; Rhuddlan 2,100


22 Sept. 1831HENRY GLYNNE vice Lloyd, called to the Upper House
25 Feb. 1832SIR STEPHEN RICHARD GLYNNE, bt. vice Glynne, vacated his seat

Main Article

The coastal borough of Flint (Y Fflint) was increasingly overshadowed by its unfranchised industrial neighbour Holywell (Treffynnon, population c. 9,000) and shared its assizes and functions as a county town with Mold (Yr Wyddgrug), six-and-a-half miles to the south. Flint was the polling town and its annually elected bailiffs were the returning officers for a contributory boroughs constituency where the franchise was confined to the inhabitant ratepayers and no single interest prevailed.3 Power in Flint was also vested locally in the mayor or constable of the castle, a crown appointment held by David Pennant of Downing, and most county families had tenements and thereby votes in the borough.4 In the out-borough of Caergwrle, a township on the River Alyn in the parish of Hope, five miles north of Wrexham, the interest of the lords of the manor, the Smith Stanleys, earls of Derby, prevailed;5 and the county Member, Sir Thomas Mostyn of Mostyn, similarly influenced the impoverished market and eisteddfod town of Caerwys on the River Clydd, four miles south-west of Holywell.6 Overton, overlooking the River Dee, about five miles north-north-west of Ellesmere, was the only out-borough in the detached part of Flintshire known as Maelor Sais. The former stronghold of the Hanmers of Bettisfield, its recent industrialization enabled Frederick Richard Price of Bryn-y-Pys and Lord Kenyon of Gredington to command many electors, especially miners, and in 1830 its annual mayoral elections were revived.7 The marshes of Rhuddlan, three miles north-north-west of the cathedral city of St. Asaph, were undergoing drainage following recent enclosures, and the borough remained under the control of the Shipley family of Bodrhyddan.8 The Mostyns had dominated the representation of the county in the eighteenth century, leaving other resident squires to vie for the Boroughs, which since 1715 had been polled five times (1727, 1734, 1741, 1806, 1807). The outcome of subsequent petitions hinged on interpretations of ‘burgesses at large’ (1728) and the rights of landlords to enfranchise tenants by paying their rates (1737) or to create fictitious tenements (1741). Polls in 1806 and 1807 reflected the trial of strength between William Shipley† and Sir Stephen Richard Glynne, whose families had shared in the representation, and Mostyn’s brother-in-law, the Whig Sir Edward Pryce Lloyd of Pengwern. Supported by Mostyn and Price of Bryn-y-Pys, Lloyd had capitalized on subsequent minorities in the Shipley Conway, Glynne and Hanmer families and from 1812 had sat undisturbed.9 The ratepayers’ franchise had depressed burgess creation and ‘enabled the more responsible inhabitants to apply an easy and effective remedy by taking such duties on themselves’, thereby increasing employer, gentry and landlord control and inhibiting organized corporate activity and petitioning.10

Lloyd was frequently called on to compensate for Mostyn’s indolence as a county Member and faced increasing pressure to act on behalf of the newer industrial interests, but his return in 1820 was unopposed. As was customary, the indenture was signed by representatives from each borough, and Lloyd threw silver coins to the populace as he was chaired through Flint, where he dined his supporters at the Ship and provided ‘cwrw da’ for the populace.11 Flint signatories featured frequently on requisitions for meetings and petitions to Parliament, but most were on Holywell or county concerns. In August 1824, the secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society, Thomas Clarkson, hoped Flint would join Holywell in petitioning against colonial slavery, but it failed to do so.12 At the 1826 general election, Lloyd’s cavalcade passed through Holywell on its way from Pengwern to Flint, where he was nominated by Major Fletcher of Gwernheulog, seconded by Thomas Wynne Edwards, vicar of Rhuddlan, and returned by the bailiffs, Kenrick and Ledsham. No speeches were reported, and Lloyd made no reference to political issues in his addresses.13 The farmers and inhabitants of Rhuddlan petitioned the Lords for agricultural protection, 3 May 1827.14 The Dissenters of Flint petitioned the Commons for repeal of the Test Acts, 8 June 1827, as did those of Rhuddlan, 25 Feb. 1828.15 Catholic relief, and Lloyd and Mostyn’s support for it, had been the dominant issue at the 1807 election, and its concession dominated county politics in 1829, when, among many from the county, the Lords received a hostile petition from the magistrates, gentry and inhabitants of Caerwys.16 The magistrates at quarter sessions and the assizes petitioned against the threat to the assizes and county boundary posed by the 1830 administration of justice bill by which the Welsh courts of great sessions and judicature were abolished; and petitions against distress, and fiscal and economic policies adversely affecting trade and mercantile interests in the Boroughs were organized and dispatched from Holywell, Mold and the county.17

Sir Stephen Glynne, 9th bt., of Hawarden and Captain William Shipley Conway of Bodrhyddan were of age by the dissolution of 1830 and Sir John Hanmer† of Bettisfield five months short of his majority. Lloyd, however, remained unchallenged, and as Flint town hall was declared structurally unsafe, his sixth return was proclaimed by the bailiffs, Robert Eyton and David Scott, from newly erected hustings. He was proposed by Price as ‘a man of real independence and of strict political integrity ... not swayed by ministerial influence’, and seconded by William Thomas Ellis of Cornist. Both acknowledged their previous differences with Lloyd over Catholic emancipation, and Lloyd was applauded when he said his pro-Catholic votes had been ‘cast firmly on principle’. He also declared for retrenchment and against the East India Company’s trading monopoly and promised to promote the reform of all abuses in church and state, ‘notably in the representation of the people in Parliament’. A late concession had left the county’s assize structure intact under the Administration of Justice Act and Lloyd claimed that he had ‘exerted myself to the utmost of my power’ to secure it.18

The Wesleyan Methodists of Caergwrle and Overton petitioned the Lords for the abolition of West Indian slavery, 16 Nov. 1830, and both Houses received similar petitions from the Baptists of Flint and Rhuddlan, 28 Mar.-20 Apr. 1831.19 The Grey ministry’s reform bill proposed adding Holywell and Mold to the constituency. A meeting at Flint, chaired by the bailiffs, 18 Mar., approved the proposal, and Flint joined St. Asaph, Holywell, Mold and the county in petitioning for the bill. St. Asaph also sought enfranchisement as a contributory of Flint.20 Lloyd, who presented the petitions, 29 Mar., voted for the bill’s second reading, 22 Mar., and he paired against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831 (two days after Mostyn’s death). Many expected him to stand for the vacant county seat and anticipated a contest for the Boroughs; but instead, he successfully strove to bring in his son Edward Mostyn Lloyd Mostyn for the county, where they saw off a challenge from Hanmer, and declared again for the Boroughs.21 His nomination was proposed by Price and the Flint banker George Roskell and publicly endorsed by the Rev. Charles Shipley, dean of St. Asaph. The attendant festivities afforded Lloyd and his son an opportunity to rally support and display their strength in the county. News of Gascoyne’s defeat at Liverpool arrived during the dinner and was loudly cheered. Lloyd promised to support the reform bill, peace, and retrenchment, and to attend to local interests.22

St. Asaph was included in the Flint group of boroughs in the reintroduced reform bill, which Lloyd and his son supported.23 In the Commons, 10 Aug. 1831, Lloyd secured an amendment whereby ‘the town’ (population 1,000) and not the parish (population 6,000) of Mold was enfranchised, and the same principle was applied to St. Asaph. However, in Holywell, the entire parish was enfranchised. Lloyd’s elevation to the peerage as Baron Mostyn at the coronation precipitated a by-election, for which the writ was issued, 7 Sept.24 It had been evident at the county reform meeting, which he chaired, and also at the May election, that Sir Stephen Glynne supported the government’s bill, and many now hoped he would stand; but, notwithstanding reports to the contrary, he remained disqualified as sheriff from doing so.25 Price declared his candidature, 12 Sept., as a moderate reformer and supporter of economy, retrenchment, and the abolition of slavery, and claimed Glynne and Mostyn’s support; but Roskell and Eyton opposed him and by the 17th he had decided to retire, convinced that even if he now came in, supported by Mostyn and the Grosvenor interest of the lord lieutenant, the marquess of Westminster, his well-publicized criticism of the reform bill at the Flintshire county meeting precluded his future success at a general election, when Glynne would be eligible to stand.26 Requisitions to William Shipley Conway, then with his regiment in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and to the younger David Pennant from 123 working men at a Holywell meeting chaired by Thomas Mather were rejected, and the Catholic baronet, Sir Edward Mostyn of Talacre, pronounced himself too ill and old to stand. Mostyn was reluctant to put forward his younger son, Thomas, and by 20 Sept., when the Chester Courant carried an advertisement for ‘a decent chap’, the only declared candidate was an anti-reformer, ‘Serjeant Jones of Flint’ (probably Major Trevor Owen Jones of Wpre). He issued no circulars and had no prospect of success, but it was reported that he was determined to keep the poll open as long as possible.27 The Glynnes meanwhile contemplated means of reserving the representation for Sir Stephen. Directly Lady Mary Glynne was informed that the bishop of London thought that a brief, inactive period in Parliament would be no bar to the intended career in the church of her younger son Henry, a 21-year-old Oxford undergraduate, and had received written confirmation that the Eyton (Leeswood), Mostyn, Pennant, Smith Stanley and Yonge interests would not oppose his return as his brother’s locum, 21 Sept., they decided to proceed with his candidature. The Glynnes also received favourable responses from the Conservatives, Sir John Williams of Bodelwyddan, John Hooson of Flint and Sir Robert Williames Vaughan*.28 Robert Eyton of Flint and Mostyn’s agents were initially disappointed at Shipley Conway’s refusal, but endorsed the new arrangement as the least troublesome for Lloyd Mostyn in the county.29 Writing to Lady Glynne, Serjeant Jones declared that he would decline nomination against Henry, who commenced canvassing only on the eve of his nomination.30 According to an account of the proceedings sent to Lord Mostyn:

The day has passed off in the quietest manner possible. There was no catechising, no speechifying. Mr. Glynne was proposed by Colonel Fletcher and was seconded by Mr. Lewis of Bryn Edwin. Both Mr. Glynne and Sir Stephen declared their approval of the ministerial plan of reform, which, of course, made them many friends. The attendance in Flint was very good, and the day has altogether gone off well and in a manner that must be very gratifying to the family.31

The Chester Courant reported that there were about 30 vehicles, many decked with reform banners, in Glynne’s procession. Two-hundred dined at inns in Flint, where John Wynne Eyton of Leeswood, the Talacre Mostyns and the merchant Richard Addison were among Glynne’s guests at the Ship. There were also celebrations and beer for the populace at Rhuddlan and the Glynnes’ Hawarden tenantry.32

The dispatch of the return was delayed, but Glynne took his seat in time to vote for Lord Ebrington’s motion of confidence in the government, 10 Oct., and he divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831.33 Sir Stephen had confirmed his support for the whole bill at the 28 Sept. county meeting, and in October 1831 Pennant and his son issued notices firmly declining Holywell’s offer to nominate Pennant junior to represent them in the reformed Parliament. Pennant refused to be tied on questions of policy and referred specifically to the difficulties his strong anti-Catholic views and objections to the Maynooth grant would pose.34 Mostyn and his son co-operated with the Glynnes to ensure that no time was lost in obtaining a writ, 16 Feb., when Sir Stephen’s period of office expired; and he was returned unopposed, proposed by Fletcher and seconded by Roskell. On the hustings, he confirmed his support for reform, bemoaned the loss of the late bill in the Lords, and called for the abolition of sinecures and useless places, economy and retrenchment. He also expressed sympathy with the poor and the distressed mine workers and promised to seek government assistance for miners and farmers. According to some reports, a combination of ‘cwrw da’ and scavenging for silver at Glynne’s chairing led to mob violence.35 Glynne was only marginally more active in Parliament than his brother, but his votes for the reform bill and for immediate consideration of the slavery question proved popular, and his return as a Liberal at the general election in December 1832 was unopposed.36

As the anti-reform North Wales Chronicle had complained in January 1832, the population of the new Flint District constituency exceeded 25,000.37 The commissioners had recommended no changes in the boundaries of Flint and its old contributories, to which were added the township of Mold and the townships and suburbs of St. Asaph and parish of Holywell (which already coveted corporate status).38 Plans to transfer Maelor to Shropshire would have made Overton, whose boundaries were disputed in April 1832, a Welsh contributory borough located in England, and were abandoned.39 George Cornewall Lewis†, Thomas Frankland Lewis’s* elder son, was the revising barrister, and of 1,359 voters registered, 976 qualified by scot and lot (361 in Flint, 64 in Caergwrle, 128 in Caerwys, 254 in Overton and 169 in Rhuddlan) and 383 as £10 householders (14 in Flint, 40 in Caergwrle, 62 in St. Asaph, 176 in Holywell and 91 in Mold). Flint retained the largest share of the electorate, but without a dominant interest.40 Both the Conservatives and the Liberals were well organized in the constituency by the mid 1830s. The electors were polled in 1837, 1852, 1874, 1878 and 1880, but excluding Glynne’s return in 1835 as a Liberal Conservative, the representation remained solidly Liberal.41

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 607.
  • 2. Yr Eurgawn Wesleyaidd, xxiv (1832), 319; PP (1831-2) lxi. 70, 73, 75, 83, 85; D.A. Wager ‘Welsh Politics and Parl. Reform, 1780-1835’ (Univ. of Wales Ph.D. thesis, 1972), 371.
  • 3. P.D.G. Thomas, Politics in 18th Cent. Wales, 40.
  • 4. PP (1835), xxvi. 2680-1.
  • 5. Ibid. 2603-6.
  • 6. Ibid. 2609.
  • 7. Ibid. 2817-21.
  • 8. Parl. Gazetteer of England and Wales (1844), i. 338, 340; ii. 102-3; iii. 574; iv. 26-27.
  • 9. Thomas, 40-42.
  • 10. G. Roberts, ‘Parl. Hist. N. Wales Boroughs’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis, 1928), 172, 191.
  • 11. Chester Chron. 25 Feb., 3, 10, 17, 24 Mar. 1820; Flint RO B/37, 38.
  • 12. NLW ms 14984 A, pt. ii. 49-51.
  • 13. Chester Chron. 9, 23 June; N. Wales Gazette, 29 June 1826.
  • 14. LJ, lix. 262.
  • 15. The Times, 8 June 1827; CJ, lxxxiii. 100.
  • 16. LJ, lxi. 14.
  • 17. Chester Courant, 2, 9 Feb., 16, 30 Mar. 1830; Flint RO D/KK/467-9; CJ, lxxxv. 178, 263, 409, 479, 638; LJ, lxii. 167, 409, 710, 863.
  • 18. H. Taylor, Historic Notices of Flint, 181; N. Wales Chron. 12 Aug.; Chester Chron. 16 Aug. 1830.
  • 19. LJ, lxiii. 68, 486; CJ, lxxxvi. 444.
  • 20. Chester Courant, 29 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 456.
  • 21. UCNW, Mostyn of Mostyn mss 7904-8085; Flint RO D/KK/461; Chester Courant, 26 Apr., 3 May 1831; Y Gwyliedydd, viii (1831), 221-3.
  • 22. Chester Courant, 10, 17 May 1831.
  • 23. D.A. Wager, ‘Welsh Politics and Parl. Reform, 1780-1832’, WHR, vii (1974), 439, n. 74.
  • 24. Chester Courant, 6 Sept.; Chester Chron. 16 Sept. 1831.
  • 25. Chester Chron. 25 Mar. 1831; NLW, Glynne of Hawarden mss 5398; NLW, Coedymaen mss 220, 221.
  • 26. Chester Courant, 13, 20 Sept.; Chester Chron. 16 Sept. 1831; Glynne of Hawarden mss 5400, 5404, 5406; Mostyn of Mostyn mss 8128-31, 8133, 8134, 8136, 8137, 8139-44.
  • 27. Flint RO D/KK/463; Mostyn of Mostyn mss 265, Ll. Lloyd to bro. [Sept. 1831]; 8130-4, 8143, 8144; Chester Courant, 20 Sept.; Salopian Jnl. 21 Sept.; Chester Chron. 23 Sept. 1831; Warws. RO, Pennant mss CR2017/TP433/1, 2; TP463/1, 2.
  • 28. Glynne of Hawarden mss 5392, 5396, 5397, 5399, 5401, 5402, 5405, 5410, 5411.
  • 29. Mostyn of Mostyn mss 8135, 8136, 8138.
  • 30. Glynne of Hawarden mss 5400.
  • 31. Mostyn of Mostyn mss 8135.
  • 32. Chester Courant, 27 Sept. 1831; Flint RO, Glynne mss D/HA/1251, 2.
  • 33. Glynne of Hawarden mss 5391, 5394, 5395, 5403.
  • 34. Chester Courant, 4 Oct. 1831; Glynne of Hawarden mss 6409; Pennant mss CR2017/TP433/3-9, 11.
  • 35. Mostyn of Mostyn mss 265, E.M.Ll. Mostyn to fa. Jan-Feb. 1832; 8155-8; Caernarvon Herald, 18, 25 Feb., 3 Mar.; Chester Courant, 21, 28 Feb.; N. Wales Chron. 21 Feb.; Chester Chron. 24 Feb., 2 Mar. 1832.
  • 36. Mostyn of Mostyn mss 265, E.M.Ll. Mostyn to fa., 17 Mar. 1832; Pennant mss CR2107/TP433/10; N. Wales Chron. 1 Jan. 1833.
  • 37. N. Wales Chron. 24 Jan. 1832.
  • 38. PP (1831-2), lxi. 69-86; Caernarvon Herald, 3 Mar.; Spectator, 7 July 1832.
  • 39. Mostyn of Mostyn mss 265, 8159-62; PP (1835), xxvi. 2817-21.
  • 40. NLW, Harpton Court mss 3655; PP (1835), xxvi. 2686.
  • 41. M. Cragoe, Culture, Politics, and National Identity in Wales, 1832-1886, pp. 52, 63, 84, 85, 87, 95, 247-9.