Wynnstay Manuscripts

Scope and Content

The Williams Wynne family traces its descendants back to Hugh Williams, D.D. (1596-1670), rector of Llantrisant and Llanrhyddlad, Anglesey, and second son of William Williams of Chwaen Isaf, Llantrisant. His son, Sir William Williams (1643-1700), established the beginnings of the family fortune. In 1675 William bought the Llanforda estate, Oswestry, from the Lloyd family. William was a lawyer, became Speaker of the House of Commons, 1680-1681, and was appointed attorney-general to James I, 1687, knighted in the same year, and created a baronet in 1688. He married Margaret, daughter of Watkin Kyfin, and through this marriage he acquired the Glascoed estate in Llansilin. Their son, Sir William Williams (1684-1740), 2nd Bart, married Jane, daughter and heiress of Edward Thelwall of Plas-y-ward, great-granddaughter of Sir John Wynne of Gwydir. Sir William and Jane's eldest son was Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (d. 1749), 3rd Bart, who in 1740 inherited his father's estates and title, and also through his mother the estate of Wynnstay, which had passed into the possession of Sir John Wynn (d. 1719), the last baronet of the direct Gwydir line, through Sir John's marriage with the heiress of Eyton Evans of Watstay (the former name of the mansion on the estate). On inheriting the Wynnstay estate, Sir Watkin Williams took on the additional surname of Wynn. He was an M.P. for Denbighshire, 1717-1741, but lost his seat in 1741 due to a trick played by the high sheriff at the time. However, in July 1742, the matter was resolved and Sir Watkin represented Denbighshire in Parliament until his death in 1749. In 1723 he established the Jacobite club, 'Circle of the White Rose'. He had added extensively to the Wynnstay estate by his marriage to Ann, daughter and heiress of Edward Vaughan of Llwydiarth and Llangedwyn. Sir Watkin commissioned the building of a new mansion at Wynnstay to replace the modest house built by William Eyton in 1616. By the time of his death in 1749 a small but substantial and pleasant house and stables had been erected. Sir Watkin was succeeded by Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1749-1789), 4th Bart, the eldest son of his second marriage, to Frances. He served as M.P. for Denbighshire, 1774-1789, and in 1775 was made Custos Rotulorum and Lord-lieutenant of Merionethshire. He was also a patron of the arts and contributed to the Welsh school in London and started two schools in his own locality. In 1768-1769 he toured France, Switzerland and Italy, spending lavishly on art. During his minority his mother purchased further estates to add to the extent of the Wynnstay estate. In 1762 she purchased the Mathafarn estate, including the manor of Cyfeiliog, and the Rhiwsaeson estate. Sir Watkin, 4th Bart, made extensions to Wynnstay in readiness for his coming of age. Sir Watkin's eldest son and heir was Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1772-1840), 5th Bart. He was M.P. for Beaumaris, 1794-1796, and for Denbighshire, 1796-1840. He was also Lord-lieutenant of Merionethshire and Denbighshire. He was accorded the unofficial title of 'Prince of Wales'. His main interest was military matters and in 1794 he raised a cavalry regiment, 'The Ancient British Fencibles', and took part in the suppression of the Irish rebellion in 1798. His son and heir was Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1820-1885), 6th Bart. He served as M.P for Denbighshire, 1841-1885. He was head of the free masons of North Wales. Sir Watkin also took on the duties of master of the hounds when he was 23 years old, his main activity. In 1852 he married his cousin, Marie Emily, daughter of Sir Henry Williams-Wynn of Llanfroda Hall. In 1858 the old mansion of Wynnstay was almost totally destroyed by fire, many valuable manuscripts being lost. Sir Watkin re-built the mansion in the same location, employing Benjamin Ferrey as architect. The building of the house lasted six years from 1859 to 1865. Sir Watkin and Marie had two daughters, one dying at the age of 14. The other daughter, Louisa Alexandra (1846-1911), sole heiress of the Wynnstay estate married her cousin, Herbert Lloyd Watkin Williams-Wynn (1860-1944), who succeeded to the baronetcy and estates on the death of his uncle and father-in-law, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1820-1885), 6th Bt. During World War I he established a munitions factory at Wynnstay. Herbert's heir was his son, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1891-1949), 8th Bart. Due to the burden of death duties on the estate he was unable to live at Wynnstay for long. He moved to Plas Belan on the outskirts of the park and subsequently to Llangedwyn. Sir Watkin was forced to sell the Llwydiarth estate in Montgomeryshire, and the Glan-llyn estate in Merionethshire was accepted in lieu for part of the death duties. Wynnstay mansion, five cottages and 150 acres of land was sold to Lindisfarne College in 1948 for £17,100. Most of the furniture and effects were sold at a three-day sale at Wynnstay in June 1947. The baronetcy was inherited by Sir Watkin's uncle, Sir Robert William Herbert Watkin Williams-Wynn (1862-1951), 9th Bart, of Plas-yn-cefn. The present baronet is Sir David Watkin Williams-Wynn (b. 1940), 11th Bart, who succeeded his father, Sir Owen Watkin Williams-Wynn (1904-1988), 10th Bart in 1988.


Arranged into the following: deeds: Welsh counties; deeds: English counties, and mixed Welsh and English counties; minerals; estate papers; manorial, lordship and borough records; family papers; official records; military; ecclesiastical; politics and elections; charities; public utilities; public affairs; legal papers; miscellaneous, and Wynnstay Addnl MSS containing deeds: Welsh counties, English counties, and mixed Welsh and English counties; minerals; estate papers; manorial, lordship and borough records; family papers; military; ecclesiastical; politics and elections; charities; schools; public utilities; legal papers; and miscellaneous.

Access Information

This collection is open for research. It is advisable to book in advance, for details and opening hours see http://archives.denbighshire.gov.uk/visit-us/. Access to some documents may be restricted due to Data Protection legislation, Denbighshire Archive Service will advise where this is the case.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Related Material

A number of maps are in National Library of Wales, Map Collections. Further papers relating to the Wynnstay estate held at the National Library of Wales are Wynnstay Estate Records, Percival Bevan Papers, Coedymaen Papers: Groups I-II (Group II remains uncatalogued), Canon Trevor Owen Papers, and Longueville & Co. (Solicitors) Papers (uncatalogued), and National Library of Wales MSS 2775-280,. An estate daybook, 1908-1910, is Denbighshire Record Office, DD/DM/100. See DD/DM/1278