WYNN (FAMILY), Wynnstay.

The article in DWB takes the family history down to the 5th Baronet, Sir WATKIN WILLIAMS WYNN (1772 - 1840), and his two brothers, Charles and Henry, the trio nicknamed ‘Pip, Squeak and Bubble’. Charles married Mary, eldest daughter of Sir Foster Cunliffe and they made their home in Llangedwyn. Henry's wife was Hesther Smith, the daughter of Lord Carrington.

The title and estates were inherited by the eldest son of the 5th Baronet,

Sir WATKIN WILLIAMS WYNN, the 6th Baronet (1820 - 1885).

He had been born in the family home in St. James's Square, London, 22 May 1820 and was educ. at Westminster School before going to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1837. When he entered into his inheritance in 1840 he was under-age to follow his father in the family seat for Denbighshire but he was elected M.P. in July 1841 and he retained the seat for the rest of his life. He did not make a name for himself in the House; it is said that he never made a speech there but voted consistently for his party. According to William Rees (‘Gwilym Hiraethog’) he was not a fluent speaker and was halting in his speech. Nevertheless, he was well regarded as a landowner and benefactor in spite of the oppressive attitude of some of his agents and there is no doubt about his popularity among ordinary folk. As a mark of respect, for his memory, when he died, as one of the gentry, a countryman and patron of eisteddfodau the Denbighshire Liberals decided not to nominate a candidate for the vacant seat were the Tories to select his young successor to represent them. He was shown great respect throughout his life. There were great celebrations on the family estates when he was born. He was 12 years old when Princess Victoria and her mother stayed at Wynnstay and gave further distinction to the family. That was when the ‘King's Head’ hotel in Llangollen became the ‘Royal Hotel’. There were even greater celebrations when he came of age in 1841. He married his cousin Marie Emily, daughter of Sir Henry Williams Wynn, K.C.B., in St. James's church, London, 25 April 1852. A tragedy, which brought a host of messages of sympathy from individuals and public bodies in Wales, occurred 5 March 1858 when a large part of Wynnstay mansion was burnt, destroying many treasures, including the valuable library of Welsh MSS. Among the messages received was an address from the Calvinistic Methodist Association in the North. The present house was rebuilt and Sir Watkin began to re-establish the library by purchasing the genealogical MSS. of Joseph Morris, Shrewsbury. He held his family's traditional offices in the administration of Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire, and with the 1st Denbighshire Volunteer Corps and the Montgomeryshire Yeoman Cavalry. He was the chief officer of the Free Masons in north Wales and he was responsible for establishing a number of lodges. There was a special room for them in Wynnstay. He had an interest in the National Eisteddfod and was called upon to preside as the ‘Prince of Wales’ on chairing day. He was accepted as a member of the Gorsedd of Bards under the name ‘Eryr eryrod Eryri’, the family motto which confirmed the eagles of Owain Gwynedd on his coat of arms. He was president of the Hon. Soc. of Cymmrodorion and such was his interest in the Welsh School at Ashford that a special memorial service was held for him in Ashford parish church. His health was frail in his last years. He regained a measure of health following a Mediterranean cruise on his yacht ‘Hebe’ in the winter and autumn of 1875-76. Sir William Jenner attended him in his last illness. He died Saturday 9 May 1885 at Wynnstay and was born in Llangedwyn the following Friday.

The younger of his two daughters died when she was 14 but the elder, Louisa Alexandra (1864 - 1911) had married her cousin HERBERT LLOYD WATKIN WILLIAMS-WYNN (1860 - 1944) on 26 August the previous year. This nephew and son-in-law, therefore, succeeded to the title and estates as the 7th Baronet. He was born 6 June 1860, second son of Herbert Watkin Williams-Wynn, the younger brother of the 6th Baronet. He was educ. at Wellington School and Trinity College Cambridge where he took his B.A. He was M.P. for Denbighshire from May to November 1885 but the constituencies were restructured before the general election in December to create two constituencies in place of a single two-member seat. He stood as candidate in east Denbigh but was defeated by the Liberal candidate, George Osborne Morgan and though he stood again in 1886 and 1892 he was not successful and the Wynnstay family lost the representation which had been, in a sense, their heritage. He devoted himself, thereafter, to his local activities, serving his community faithfully for close on 60 years. He was elected to Denbigh county council as member for the Ruabon district in 1888 retaining the seat for the rest of his life. He was chairman of the quarter sessions, 1905, High Sheriff of Denbighshire, 1890 and Lord Lieutenant of Montgomeryshire. He served on the commission of peace in a number of counties; he was a member of the Territorial Army, raising a cavalry regiment during the South African War. He supported the ambulance service and was created a knight of St. John's. During World War I he established a munitions factory at Wynnstay and in 1939 he gave the stables and other buildings for government use. He had a deep interest in engineering and construction and he did much to improve his estates. Following his father and grandfathers he was Master of the famous Wynnstay hunt and a presentation was made to him in 1935 after 50 years in that office. For many years he held high office with the Freemasons and like his predecessors he set up many lodges. A keen churchman he was a member of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales and as a lay reader he took services in local churches as well as being a faithful member of the congregation at Ruabon parish church. He spent his life simply and unpretentiously amongst his people and like any other farmer he would work on the hay with his workers. He placed a large collection of estate papers in the National Library for safe keeping and invited the Library to collect and conserve other documents which were at risk when the army took over some of the buildings. At the same time he placed the Wynnstay MSS. in the National Library for safe keeping. He died in Wynnstay, Saturday 24 May 1944 and was buried in Llangedwyn. He and his wife had divorced in 1898; she died in 1911. They had a son and 2 daughters.

His son, Sir WATKIN WILLIAMS-WYNN (1891 - 1949), the 8th Baronet, succeeded to the title. Born 26 January 1891, he married, 14 September 1920, Daisy, youngest daughter of John Johnson Houghton, Westwood, Neston. Inheritance tax severely affected the 100,000-acre estates and the 8th Baronet could afford to spend only brief periods at Wynnstay. He moved to Belan on the edge of the park and then to Llangedwyn. The Llwydiarth estate in Montgomeryshire was sold and Glan-llyn estate, Mer., was accepted by the Treasury in lieu of part of the inheritance tax and was transferred to the care of the Agricultural Land Commission to be administered by the Welsh Sub-commission. Plas Glan-llyn, Glan-llyn Isa house and some land were leased to Urdd Gobaith Cymru for use as a youth camp. Wynnstay was sold to Lindisfarne public school. The gentry period of the Wynns of Wynnstay thus came to an end. Though the 8th Baronet had had little connection with Wynnstay since his youth, he showed the same virtues as his father and grandfather when he came into his inheritance, and had the family circumstances been different, he would, without doubt, have faithfully continued the family tradition. He was educ. at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1913. He served with the Royal Dragoons in World War I and was wounded. He took up his father's social and religious activities in the community and local government. He was High Sheriff of Denbighshire and undertook the modernisation of the administration of what remained of the estate. He and his wife had a son and 3 daughters. The death of his son in a fire in Barford camp, Barnard's Castle, 18 January 1946, was a heavy blow. Sir Watkin died at Ruthin Castle, Monday 9 May 1949 and he was buried at Llangedwyn 12 May.

The baronetcy was inherited by his uncle, Sir ROBERT WILLIAM HERBERT WATKIN WILLIAMS-WYNN, Plas-yn-cefn (1862 - 1951), the 9th Baronet. The 5th Baronet had 2 sons, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1820 - 1885), the 6th Baronet, and Herbert Watkin Williams-Wynn, M.P. for Montgomeryshire 1850-62, who married Anna, daughter and heiress of Edward Lloyd, Cefn Meriadog, Denbighshire. They had 3 sons, (1) Edward Watkin who was drowned near Windsor in 1888, (2) Sir Herbert Lloyd Watkin Williams-Wynn (1860 - 1944), the 7th Baronet, (3) Robert William Herbert Watkin Williams-Wynn who became the 9th Baronet. Born 3 June 1862 and educ. at Wellington School and Christ Church, Oxford, he joined the army, serving with the Imperial Yeomanry in the South African War 1900-01 and being mentioned in dispatches as well as winning the D.S.O. He was made hon. Capt. in 1900. He was a Lieut. Colonel and commander of the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry, 1906-1917, and went out with them to Egypt in 1916. He was commander of the South Egypt division from 1917 to 1919. He stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate in Montgomeryshire in 1894, 1895 and 1900 against Arthur Charles Humphreys-Owen, Glansevern. He was awarded a C.B. in 1923, K.C.B. 1938. He was Master of the Flint and Denbigh hunt from 1888 to 1946 and he also had an interest in the Wynnstay hunt. He married in 1904 Elizabeth Ida, 2nd daughter of George W. Lawther, Swillington, Yorkshire, and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters. He died at his home, Plas-yn-cefn, 23 November 1951.

He was succeeded by his son, Sir OWEN WATKIN WILLIAMS-WYNN, the 10th Baronet (1904 - 1988).


Published date: 2001

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