Reference code(s): GB 0210 WYNNSTAY
Title: Wynnstay Estate Records
Short title: Wynnstay Estate records
Dates of creation: 1176-
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 10.563 cubic metres (146 boxes, 591 vols, 1 wallet)
Name of creator(s): Wynnstay Estate
Administrative and biographical history: The Williams-Wynn 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 (1634-1700), was a lawyer, became Speaker of the House of Commons 1680-1681, and was appointed Solicitor-general to James II in 1687, knighted in the same year, and created a baronet in 1688. He was the heir to Chwaen Isaf, and in 1675 he acquired property near Oswestry through the purchase of the Llanforda estate from Edward Lloyd. in 1664 he married Margaret, daughter of Watkin Kyffin and through this marriage he acquired the Glascoed estate in Llansilin, Denbighshire. Their son, Sir William Williams (c. 1665-1740), 2nd Bart., married Jane, daughter and heiress of Edward Thelwall of Plas-y-ward, great-granddaughter of Sir John Wynn of Gwydir in 1689. Sir William and Jane's eldest son was Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1692-1749), 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). Through the mother of the last Sir John Wynn the family had also gained the Rhiwgoch estate. On inheriting the Wynnstay estate, Sir Watkin Williams took on the additional surname of Wynn. He was 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 acquiring the Llwydiarth, Langedwyn and Glan-llyn estates in Montgomeryshire and Denbighshire through his his marriage to Ann, daughter and heiress of Edward Vaughan. 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 surviving son of his second marriage. 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 1754 the Mathafarn estate was purchased, including the manor of Cyfeiliog, followed by the Rhiwsaeson estate and Tirymynech. 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 William-Wynn (1772-1840), 5th Bart. He was an 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 the Sir Henry Williams-Wynn, of Llanforda 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 took 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 Bart. 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), 11 Bart., who succeeded his father, Sir Owen Watkin Williams-Wynn (1904-1988), 10th Bart. in 1988.
Scope and content: Family and estate records, 1176-1925, of the Wynn and Williams Wynn family of Wynnstay, Denbighshire. The archive includes a group of architectural drawings, c. 1770, by James Byres; a group of early charters and related deeds, 1176-1676, from the Cistercian Abbey of Strata Marcella near Welshpool, Montgomeryshire; antiquarian, legal and literary manuscripts; account rolls of Sir Richard Wynn, Treasurer to Queen Henrietta Maria, 1627-1649; manorial records relating to manors and boroughs in Denbighshire, Montgomeryshire and Shropshire; parliamentary election papers for Anglesey, Cardigan (county and borough), Denbighshire, Flintshire and Montgomeryshire, 1621-1883; family and estate correspondence, including part of that of Sir William Williams (1634-1700), Speaker of the House of Commons; rentals and account books, 1300-1925 (preserved in an almost unbroken series from the time of Sir William Williams); together with title deeds and documents, mainly relating to properties in the six North Wales counties and Shropshire, including records for Glascoed and Llanforda, Llwydiarth, Llangedwyn and Glanllyn, Plas-y-Ward, Rhiwgoch and Mathafarn, estates acquired by marriage and purchase in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Language/script: English, Latin, Welsh
System of arrangement: Currently arranged by deposit: the 1934-1940 deposits, catalogued in the Schedule of Wynnstay Manuscripts and Documents, 1940; the 1945 deposit, comprising mostly the Strata Marcella charters, described in the published works noted below; the rentals and accounts from the 1952 deposit, listed in a Schedule of Wynnstay Archives, Vol. 1 (1980); and the remainder of the 1952 deposit, outlined in an unsatisfactory Preliminary Schedule of the Wynnstay Manuscripts and Documents, 1952. Cataloguing is due to resume in spring 2008.
Conditions governing access: No restrictions
Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained
Accruals: Accruals are not expected
Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by Sir Herbert Lloyd Watkin Williams Wynn, 7th Bart., between 1934 and 1940; by the trustees of the Wynnstay estates (Sir John Eldon Bankes, Captain Harry George Best and Mr Henry Robertson) in 1945; and by Sir Owen Watkin Williams Wynn, Bart., Plas-yn-Cefn, St. Asaph, and the trustees of the Wynnstay estates, per Mr J. Iorwerth Williams, Oswestry in 1952. All these deposits were purchased from Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn in March 2001.
Existence and location of copies: Digitised copies of the Ystrad Marchell or Strata Marcella charters can be accessed from http://www.llgc.org.uk/drych/drych_c018.htm, June 2002
Related units of description: A number of maps and architectural drawings are in NLW, Maps and Special Collections. Further papers relevant to the Wynnstay estate held at NLW are Wynn Family of Gwydir Papers, Gwydir (BRA) Papers, NLW MSS 2775-2806, 5249C, 23301-3, NLW Ex 1329-30, Percival Bevan Papers, Coedymaen Papers: Groups I-II (Group II remains uncatalogued), Canon Trevor Owen Papers, and Longueville & Co. (Solicitors) Papers (uncatalogued). A substantial part of the archive is Denbighshire Record Office, DD/WY. An estate daybook, 1908-1910, is Denbighshire Record Office, DD/DM/100.
Publication note: Davies, J. Conway, 'Strata Marcella Documents', Montgomeryshire Collections, 51 (1949-1950), pp. 164-187, The charters of the Abbey of Ystrad Marchell. Graham C. G. Thomas, ed.(Aberystwyth : The National Library of Wales, 1997).
Archivist's note: Compiled by Mair James. The following sources were used in the completion of this description:
Rules or conventions: This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR II; and LCSH.
Date(s) of description: June 2002