Williams Wynn Story

The Williams Wynn family of the Wynnstay in Ruabon Emerged as one of WALES’s wealthiest families in the early 18th century, A status they were to retain for over 200yrs.

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn was the 3rd Baronet, he was born in 1692, and He was the son of William Williams and Jane Thelwall.

His father Sir William William’s was the 2nd Baronet who was from Llanforda near Oswestry and his mother Jane Thelwall was a descendant of the antiquary Sir John Wynn of Caernarfonshire.

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn was first married to a Lady named Ann Vaughan who died in 1748, His second wife was Frances Shackerly.

He was educated at Jesus College in Oxford, he became a Welsh politician and a prominent Jacobite, He was the eldest son and heir of Sir William Williams, Williams succeeded to Wynnstay near Ruabon and also the estates of the Wynn Baronets, on the death of Sir John Wynn in 1719, This is when the family decided to add the name WYNN as a double barrel surname, WILLIAMS WYNN.

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn was a lifelong TORY and was a Member of Parliament for Denbighshire from 1716 until his death on the 26th Sept 1749, but for a brief interlude from 1741 to 1742 he was prominent among his opponents of Sir Robert Walpole.

Now who was Sir Robert Walpole: – He was our 1st British Prime Minister.

In the election of 1741 the Walpole administration targeted his Denbighshire seat, Although Watkin Williams Wynn won the popular vote by 1352 votes to 933 as the sheriff disallowed 594 of Wynn’s votes and returned his rival. This was walpoles first defeat in the ensuing parliament and was in a dispute of this election, then after Walpole’s resignation early in 1742, Watkin Williams Wynn won the seat back and the sheriff was jailed, but in the meantime Williams Wynn sat for Montgomeryshire but he vacated the seat on his re-election to Denbighshire.

Watkin Williams Wynn served as Mayor of OSWESTRY in 1728 and also of CHESTER in 1732.

Now going back to his education at Jesus College in Oxford, The college had a silver collection and one of the most notable single item in the collection was a massive silver gilt punch bowl that Watkin Williams Wynn presented it to the college in 1732, The bowl which weighs more than 200 ounces (5.7kg) and holds 10 Gallons (45ltr’s), this was most famously used at a dinner party held in Radcliffe Camera in 1814 to celebrate what was supposed to be a final defeat of Napoleon. Those present at the dinner included the King of Prussia, the Prince Regent the Duke of York and the Duke of Wellington. There was a college tradition that the bowl will be presented to anyone who could meet two challenges, The first was to put their arms around the bowl at its widest point, The second was to drain the bowl of a strong punch, The bowl measured 5ft 2in (1.57mtr) at its widest point, so the first challenge had only been accomplished rarely, Then the second challenge has never been accomplished.

A portrait of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn was acquired by the college in 1997, Now this is not on public display as it hangs in the senior common room at the college, The picture shows him wearing a sky blue waistcoat, the colour proclaimed his allegiance to the TORY Jacobite cause.  

Now going back to the early years to the 1720’s Watkin Williams Wynn headed one of the best known Jacobite clubs, the Cycle of the White Rose. His Jacobite leanings were never concealed as he even publicly burned a picture of George 1st in 1722.

Now in his private life Sir Watkin Williams Wynn commissioned the building of a NEW mansion at Wynnstay to replace the house built by William Eyton in 1616. But Sir Watkin Williams Wynn was killed by a fall while out hunting at the Acton Hall Estate in Wrexham on the 29th July 1789 as his horse pitched him over onto his head, which came into contact with the only stone on the field and so he died on the spot and was buried at Ruabon church. The memory of this became the erection of a column in Wynnstay Park from his mother Frances Williams Wynn.


At Sir Watkin’s death the Wynnstay Estates straddled at least five Welsh counties and even extended into Shropshire and Yielded an estimated rental income of £20.000 as this was a very substantial amount at the time.

Now his first wife Ann Vaughan was the Heiress of extensive estates in Montgomeryshire and Glan Llyn in Merionethshire and Llangedwyn in Denbighshire of which the latter still belongs to the family.

His son became the 4th Baronet who was born 3 days before his death, Williams Wynn was the eldest son of the second marriage of his father Sir Watkin Williams Wynn 3rd Baronet and his mother was Dame Frances of Cheshire. He was obviously a baby when his father met his death from the fall off his horse so he inherited the extensive Wynnstay Estates. Then on his coming of age in 1770 at the age of 21yrs old he held an extravagant party for 15000 guests. His name was Robert but kept his father’s name (Watkin).

So Sir Watkin Williams Wynn 4th was a Member of Parliament for Shropshire from 1772 to 1774 and then for Denbighshire from 1775 to 1789.

He was also married twice, first to Henrietta Somerset who died shortly afterwards and then in December 1771 to Charlotte Grenville. He had 3 Son’s and 2 Daughters from his second marriage. He Died on the 24th July 1789.

Now on to the 5th Baronet who once again kept the name Watkin Williams Wynn who was born on the 25th October 1772, He also grew up to become a Welsh politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1794 to 1840.

He was educated at Westminster school and Christ Church in Oxford. He succeeded his father in the baronetcy on the 29th July 1789 after his father’s death, He received an Honours Degree at Oxford in 1793 and was Lord Lieutenant of Merionethshire from 1793 to 1840 and also for Denbighshire from 1796 to 1840.

Williams Wynn 5th was even elected a Member of Parliament for Beaumaris in 1794 and held the seat until 1796. In 1796 he was elected MP for Denbighshire and held the seat until his Death in 1840. He was referred to as the Prince of Wales but (He was really known as the Prince in Wales not the Prince of Wales) he also had a keen interest in military affairs. In 1794 he raised a cavalry regiment called the “ANCIENT BRITISH FENCUBLES” and took part in the suppression of the Irish rebellion of 1798.

He married Lady Henrietta Antonia Clive who was the eldest daughter of Edward Clive who was the 1st Earl of Powys on the 4th of February 1817. In 1819 Williams Wynn was admitted to Magdalene College in Cambridge and was awarded a Master of Arts in 1819.

On his Death on the 6th of January 1840 his son again Watkin Williams Wynn succeeded to the baronetcy.

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn 6th Baronet was born on the 22nd May 1820 in London and was the eldest son of the 5th Baronet, He was educated at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford. He was a cornet in the 1st Life Guards in 1839 and a lieutenant in 1842.  He was elected as an MP for Denbighshire in 1841 and held the seat until his death in 1885, aged 64. The seat had previously been held by his father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather, all of whom were also named Watkin Williams Wynn.

Williams Wynn 6th was lieutenant of the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry from 1844 to 1877 and of the Denbighshire Volunteers from 1862 to 1885. He was A.D.C. To Queen Victoria in 1881. He hunted four days a week, having been made master of the hunt at 23 yrs.’ old.

In 1858 after Wynnstay was almost totally destroyed by fire, Sir Watkin had it re-built between 1859 and 1865 on the same site with Benjamin Ferrey as his architect.

Williams Wynn 6th married his cousin, Marie Emily Williams Wynn, youngest daughter of Sir Henry Watkin Williams Wynn, K.C.B, on the 28th April 1852. He had 2 daughters, Marie Nesta Williams Wynn born 23rd October 1868 but died 26th January 1883. She died young and is commemorated by a stained glass window at Ruabon parish church and Louisa Alexandra Williams Wynn was born in 1846 till 1911, she then became the sole heiress of the Wynnstay Estate as she also married her cousin, Herbert Lloyd Watkin Williams Wynn (6th June 1860 to 24th May 1944) who succeeded him and became the 7th Baronet on his death in 1885.

He was a Member of Parliament for Denbighshire from May to November 1885 and was also appointed as High Sheriff of Denbighshire for 1890.

He married his cousin Louisa Alexandra Williams Wynn, the sole Heiress of the Wynnstay Estate. During World War 1 he established a munitions factory on the estate.

He was succeeded by his son, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, the 8th Baronet. Born 1891 and got the title of Baronet on 26th January 1891.

He married a Lady called Daisy who was the youngest daughter of John Johnson Houghton of Neston. Now Inheritance tax severely affected the 100,000 acre estates and he could only afford to spend short periods of time at the Wynnstay Hall. He moved to Belan on the edge of Llangedwyn, The Llwydiarth estate in Montgomeryshire was sold and Glan-Llyn estate 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 Gobiath Cymru for use as a youth camp.

Wynnstay was sold to Lindisfarne public school. The Gentry period of the Wynn’s of Wynnstay thus came to an end.

Although the 8th Baronet had little connection with Wynnstay since his youth, he showed the same virtues as his father and grandfather when he came into his inheritance, had the family circumstances been different, he would, without doubt, have faithfully continued the family tradition. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a B.A. In 1913. He served with the Royal Dragoons in World War 1 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 has a son and 3 daughters. The death of his son in Barford camp, in Barnard’s Castle on the 18th January 1946 was a heavy blow. Sir Watkin died at Ruthin Castle on Monday 9th May 1949 and was buried at Llangedwyn chapel. A brass set of altar cross and candle sticks are inscribed “To the Glory of God and in Loving memory of my husband Watkin Williams Wynn, 8th Baronet 1891 – 1949 and of Watkin, our dearly loved only son, 1925 – 1946. Love never Faileth”

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, 9th Baronet. KCB, DSO.

His full name was Robert William Herbert Watkin Williams Wynn, Born in 1862, Now this was an Uncle to the family so when he took over the Baronetcy in 1949 this only lasted a few years as he Died on 23rd November 1951.

He was then succeeded by his son Sir Owen Watkin Williams Wynn CBE who was the 10th Baronet, he was born on the 30th November 1904 of Bodelwyddan, He was a Welsh soldier and land owner. He was also Lord Lieutenant of Denbighshire from 1966 to 1974, then Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd from 1976 to 1979.

He employed a Welsh speaking nanny to ensure that his son would be able to speak Welsh. He was educated at Eton and the Royal Military academy in Woolwich.

One of the few members of the surviving ancient Welsh nobility families, Williams Wynn was the closest certain heir of the House of Aberffraw, former ruling family of Gwynedd and Wales, who were deposed in the English conquest of 1282. The Williams Wynn Baronet’s were an important family of Denbighshire landowners, whose 17th century ancestors had married into the Wynn family of Gwydir, the patrilineal descendants of Owain Gwynedd, Prince of Gwynedd from 1137 to 1170 and in a time they became the senior surviving branch of his family.

The 10th Baronet served in the Royal Horse Artillery and was an Instructor at the Equestrian School and also became Adjutant of the 61st Carnarvon and Denbigh Yeomanry, this was a medium regiment as the Territorial Army from 1936 to 1940. Then he was promoted to Major in 1940 having been appointed Justice of the Peace in 1937. He was second in command of his regiment who was sent to France and was at the evacuation of Dunkirk, then was posted to the far east in Singapore and was mentioned twice in despatches, after the fall of Singapore in 1942 he was a prisoner of war of an Imperial Japanese Army on the Burma Railway until war ended in 1945.

In 1946 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and given command of the Territorial Royal Artillery until 1952, after which he was made Honorary Colonel of the Regiment until October 1957, he was also Master of the Flint and Denbigh Foxhounds from 1946 to 1961 and became joint Master of his own Sir Watkin Williams Wynn Hounds in 1957.

From 1961 to 1970 Williams Wynn 10th was Liaison Officer to the Ministry of Agriculture for North Wales and from 1963 to 1966 a member of the Nature Conservancy for Wales. He was a president of the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

At the time of his death on 13th May 1988 he was living at Llangedwyn Hall in Powys on the border of Oswestry in Shropshire. He left an estate worth at the time £736,062.

Sir David Watkin Williams Wynn became the 11th Baronet of Wynnstay, born in 1940, He continues to live within the boundaries of lower Gwynedd in St Asaph, Denbighshire, Wales and takes an active part in local and country life, being appointed High Sheriff of Clwyd for 1990. He was president of the Denbigh and Flint Agricultural Show in 1992. In the year of 2008 he was in the news because it was widely reported that his daughter Alexandra – a sculptor and student at the Royal Academy of Arts – had modelled nude for the famous artist Lucian Freud.

Eventually he will be succeeded by his son Charles Edward Watkin Williams Wynn who was born in 1970.

That will then give us the 12th Baronetcy of WYNNSTAY

Source: Written by John Davies 2015

Watkins Williams Wynn 3rd Baronet.
Watkins Williams Wynn 3rd Baronet.

Wynnstay, the seat of Sir W. W. Wynn.
Wynnstay, the seat of Sir W. W. Wynn.


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