II. Wales

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Prior to the implementation of the 1832 Reform Act, Wales returned 24 Members: one for each of its 12 county and 12 borough constituencies, seven of which had out-boroughs. Monmouthshire was historically and dynastically part of Wales, but legally part of England, having been excluded from the judicial and enfranchising provisions made for Wales in the first and second Acts of Union.1 After the abolition of the Council of Wales in 1689, the dynastic party politics of the plasty (mansion) dominated both parliamentary representation and county and corporate administration where, as preparatory to and at elections, quarter sessions chairmen, agents and lawyers played a vital role. Electoral influence appertained to estates, not individuals, and Members were drawn from an exclusive landed elite with claims to an ancient Welsh pedigree; however, the influence of even the largest estates was rarely sufficient to guarantee political control of a county without some form of inter-dynastic agreement extending to its borough(s) or a neighbouring county. Borough seats had consequently evolved into less prestigious second county ones, polling was uncommon in both and voter mobilization rates were predictably low, as in regional peripheries throughout Europe.2 This did not signify ‘backwardness’, a lack of political and corporate activity or of popular involvement in politics. Rather, polling was the outcome of political or dynastic splits and realignments unsanctioned by pacts, compromises and corporations, and as such it tended to be episodic and specific to certain districts or constituencies.3

Dynastic banners, liveries and colours evoking past party conflicts predominated. The Williams Wynns of Wynnstay, Denbighshire, whose estates and influence ranged over seven counties in North Wales and the Marches, distributed green and red favours (their racing colours) at elections and insisted that tenants and guests at their bow meetings sported Wynnstay green. Others, including the Wynns of Glynllifon, used evergreens, preferably laurel.4 In Carmarthen, where corporation elections were hotly contested and the threat of mob violence ever present, ‘a new set of party distinctions’, Blue (Whig) and Red (Tory), had been ‘superimposed upon the old conflicts between oligarchy and independence’ that ‘broadly represented the conflicting parties at Westminster’.5 Their colours (those of the sporting kennels of the Philippses of Cwmgwili and Vaughans of Golden Grove in Blue Street and the Rice family of Newton and Dinefwr in Red Street) extended to Carmarthenshire and neighbouring counties, where Tories also wore Orange.6 Blue was almost universally the colour of reform in 1831, when doggerel adapted to local circumstances summoned the loyal Welsh speaking electors of Montgomeryshire in droves to vote for king, country and the reformer Joseph Hayes Lyon, in an unsuccessful bid to oust Charles Williams Wynn, who had resigned from Lord Grey’s government and voted to wreck its reform bill. A stanza played on Wynn as a derivative of gwyn (white) ‘Aeth WYNN yn DDU’ (white became black), the dual meaning of llew (lion or god of light), and the similarity of llyw (leader) and lliw (colour) and urged voters to switch to loyal (ffyddlon) Lyon, the llew who would improve their lot:

Fel Cymry llon dewch heddiw’n llu

Etholwyr Swydd Derfaldwyn sy’

Yn caru’ch llyw a’ch gwlad.

Aeth WYNN yn DDU i ni, o na odde’

Cewch ffyddlon LYON yn ei le

Llew yw, fe fyn wellhâd.7

Welsh was ‘only marginally and adventitiously the language of politics’,8 but the increase in local newspapers9 and the growth, as monthly publications exempt from stamp duty, of a largely Nonconformist Welsh language press, professing itself free from political extremism (‘Y wasg Gymreig sydd yn parhau yn bur, dan reolaeth rheswm a chrefydd’),10 was of paramount importance.11 Their journals, and that of the established church, Y Gwyliedydd (The Sentinel), published judgmental reports on foreign affairs and parliamentary proceedings, offered Welsh synopses and ad hoc translations of legislation, and encouraged petitioning on religious issues and the establishment of Welsh congregations (and societies) in London, Chester, Liverpool and Manchester.12 Seren Gomer, the first to berate the Welsh electorate for their apathy and choice of representatives in 1818, was also the first to scrutinize systematically the conduct of individual Welsh Members.13 The electoral muscle of industrialists dictating their workmen’s votes, the Welsh press and the Nonconformists was becoming apparent; but the ‘political nation of Wales’ credited to them lay largely dormant until the 1860s.14

There was no specific Welsh whip and successive ministries made no attempt to control the Welsh Members as a separate cohesive group as happened in Scotland and Ireland.15 Rather, they took soundings from their friends and partisans in North and South Wales and their Marches, much as they had done since the late seventeenth century.16 With at most 24 votes, Welsh constituency Members rarely determined divisions or policy, but they did retain their own lobbying organization in London: The Right Honourable and Honourable the Noblemen and Gentlemen of the Welsh Members of both Houses of Parliament Club. Possibly a vestige of collective opposition to a treasury warrant of 1778 (instituting inquiry into crown lands in Wales) and threats to Welsh institutions, the club donated £50 annually to the Society of Ancient Britons for the London Welsh charity school in Gray’s Inn Road.17 The pocket books of Sir Thomas Mostyn and Sir John Nicholl record ‘Welsh Club’ meetings on 10, 24 June, 15 July 1820, 20 May 1821, 1 Apr., 17 May, 19 May 1829, and 2 May 1830, when the future of the Welsh judicature was a parliamentary issue. There were doubtless others.18

Administratively and to an extent politically, Wales comprised four distinct regions coinciding roughly with its bishoprics (Bangor, St. Asaph, St. Davids and Llandaff) and the circuits of the courts of great sessions—the peculiarly Welsh and patronage-rich institutions where until October 1830 judges appointed by the treasury administered English law and provided equitable and criminal jurisdiction for North Wales (Anglesey, Caernarvonshire and Merioneth), Chester (the north-eastern counties of Denbigh, Flint and Montgomery), Carmarthen (the south-western counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke) and Brecon (the south-eastern counties of Brecon, Glamorgan and Radnor). Glamorgan, within the see of Llandaff, stood out on account of its complex political structure and rapid industrialization. (Breconshire and Radnorshire were mainly in St. Davids.)19

Since 1790 a dynastic alliance had restricted the representation of the northern counties of Anglesey and Caernarvonshire and their boroughs to the Bulkeleys of Baron Hill and the Pagets of Plas Newydd, Anglesey, who secured the lord lieutenancies of both counties. As intended, their arrangement checked the local aspirations of the Meyrick family of Bodorgan, Anglesey, and the Caernarvonshire families of Pennant (afterwards Dawkins Pennant) of Penrhyn Castle, Wynn of Bodfean and Glynllifon, Griffith of Cefnamlwch, Assheton Smith of Faenol, Mostyn of Gloddaeth and Ormsby (formerly Owen) of Ystum Cegid and Clennenau.20 In Merioneth, the prominence of the Vaughans of Hengwrt, Nannau and Rûg, and Mostyn (formerly Vaughan) of Corsygedol was sanctioned, but not encouraged, by the lord lieutenant and greatest landowner, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. The representation was vested from 1792-1836 in the Tory Sir Robert Williames Vaughan of Nannau and opposition centred, as it had done in 1774, on the Corbet family of Ynysmaengwyn.21

In the north-east, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, politically and dynastically (through his mother) a Grenvillite Whig, was lord lieutenant of Denbighshire, which he had represented since 1796. Tenants were often also burgesses, and a war of attrition for control of the Denbigh Boroughs, waged by the co-heiresses of the last Richard Myddelton (d.1796) of Chirk Castle, increased Wynnstay’s electoral costs in Denbighshire.22 However, Sir Watkin’s cross-party marriage alliance of 1817 virtually eliminated the prospect of successful opposition to his brother Charles in Montgomeryshire, where his father-in-law and erstwhile rival, the lord lieutenant Edward Clive, 1st earl of Powis, subsequently confined his ambitions to Montgomery.23 Intermarriage with the politically ambitious Shipley Conways of Bodrhyddan and Glynnes of Hawarden had, at a price, increased Wynnstay’s influence in Flintshire, where the Chester Grosvenors were lords lieutenant and representation of the county and its boroughs was vested in the largest proprietor, the Whig Sir Thomas Mostyn of Mostyn and his brother-in-law and hunting companion Sir Edward Pryce Lloyd of Pengwern.24

Landowners of all ranks in the south-west had property or influence in neighbouring counties and elections there were particularly hard-fought.25 Aristocratic domination by the leading Blue, John Frederick Campbell of Stackpole Court, Pembrokeshire, since 1796 Baron Cawdor and from 1804 the owner of Carmarthenshire’s prestigious Golden Grove estate, had been resisted through the aegis of the lord lieutenant of Carmarthenshire, the Red 3rd Baron Dynevor. Dynevor’s partisan Sir John Owen of Orielton, Pembrokeshire, had outpolled Cawdor’s heir (John Frederick Campbell) to take the county seat in 1812 and became lord lieutenant in 1823; but the previous Member and lord lieutenant Richard Philipps, 1st Baron Milford (d.1823) of Picton Castle, sanctioned Cawdor’s schemes.26 Cardiganshire’s Hafod, Lisburne (Trawscoed) and Peterwell interests were eclipsed when the representation and lieutenancy passed in 1816 to the Tory William Edward Powell of Nanteos, who in 1818 ensured that his closest rival, the Whig squire of Gogerddan, Pryse Pryse, deprived John Vaughan of Trawscoed of the Boroughs seat. Their arrangement endured for 30 years.27

In the south-east the waning influence in Radnorshire and its Boroughs of the Harley family, earls of Oxford, lords lieutenant and stewards, until 1824, of Cantref Maelienydd, left room for intervention by outsiders and the power-hungry Lewises of Harpton Court.28 Breconshire’s lord lieutenant, the 6th duke of Beaufort, whose sons shared the representation of Monmouthshire and its boroughs with Sir Charles Morgan of Y Dderw, Breconshire, and Tredegar, Monmouthshire, and Morgan himself were involved on different sides in the protracted canvass of the complex Glamorgan and Cardiff Boroughs constituencies, where the 2nd marquess of Bute’s influence as lord lieutenant and borough lord was parried and polls were expected.29 The Morgans, whose politics were Tory and anti-Catholic, had failed to recapture the Breconshire seat in 1818 from the Tory Thomas Wood (of Gwernyfed). Fears that their tussle (which involved Brecon and threatened to spread to Monmouthshire) would continue at the next election sapped until 1821 the political harmony necessary for the formation of Cymmrodorion Gwent.30


The Counties

The 40s. county freehold franchise qualification predominated and, showing some correlation to size and the propinquity of polls, electorates ranged from 600 in Anglesey and Merioneth, small counties with large estates, last contested in 1784 and 1774, to 1,200-1,500 in Caernarvonshire and Flintshire, which had polled in 1796, and over 3,000 in populous Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire, where numbers were repeatedly inflated by splitting freeholds and creating leaseholds in anticipation of and during contests.

County representation of Wales31


Seats (1832)

Population less boroughs in 1831

Estimated pre-reform electorate


Percentage enfranchised electorate in 1832
















































































There were four out of a possible 48 county polls at general elections between 1820 and 1831; but only in Glamorgan in 1820, when the contest was three-cornered and the boroughs also polled, was a sitting Member, the Tory John Edwards (Vaughan), defeated. The candidates’ credentials as Welshmen, agriculturists and industrialists, and their attitudes to Nonconformists and Roman Catholics were hotly debated; but the outcome was determined by family ties, friendships, feuds, daily contact and the ability to summon out-voters. The victor, the Cornish naval captain Sir Christopher Cole, was a pragmatic Tory who sustained the Margam and Penrice interests until his stepson, the Whig Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot, was of age and quietly completed the dynastic and political transition in 1830.32 Representatives of rival Whig families standing as reformers, with artisan, political union and government backing, failed to outpoll the sitting Tories in Breconshire, Montgomeryshire and Pembrokeshire (twice) in 1831. However, like the Tory Members for Cardiganshire and Denbighshire, they were subsequently obliged to demonstrate support for the Grey ministry’s reform bills to safeguard their seats. The Pembrokeshire contest, in essence a replay of that of 1812, was, according to The Times, the most bitterly fought in the United Kingdom at the 1831 general election. Hostilities were instigated by Cawdor and his allies, whose bid to oust Owen capitalized on the popularity of reform and the availability as a candidate of Robert Fulke Greville, a declared supporter of the reform bill whose Lawrenny estate extended to Milford Haven’s naval dockyard (a local source of government patronage). Owen canvassed as a supporter of ‘real reform’ who disliked the ‘particulars of the present bill’ and exploited past differences among local Blues on Catholic emancipation, the Welsh courts and slavery. Gentry, freeholders and lawyers on both sides established committees in Pembrokeshire’s seven hundreds and throughout the south-west and summoned distant out-voters. ‘Hundred’ booths were erected on the election field outside Haverfordwest, where polling continued tumultuously for the full 15 days, amid pleas to assessors, the swearing of long oaths and other delaying tactics. Fisticuffs between Greville’s Milford men and Owen’s Llanstinan colliers frequently barred access to the booths. Voting was determined by landowner influence and Owen was the dubious victor by 1,949 to 1,850. On petition, the Commons ordered a re-run and had the sheriff, Morgan Jones of Cilwendeg, prosecuted (successfully) for negligence. Pleading gout, he had delegated his functions as returning officer to Blue deputies and gone home. Owen, who had divided consistently for reform, won the ensuing nine-day poll. With petitioning costs it almost bankrupted him and dissipated Greville’s estates. Two duels were fought and disturbances and litigation continued.33

Counties changed hands unpolled twice in 1820, once in 1826 and 1828, twice in 1830, and twice in 1831. George Rice (Trevor) of Dinefwr’s election for Carmarthenshire in 1820 brought provisions for his minority to a successful close. Changes in Anglesey in 1820 and Flintshire in 1831 were partisan and interfamilial. Those in Caernarvonshire in 1826 from the Grenvillite Williams of Arianwst (Baron Hill) to the Tory Wynn of Glynllifon, in Radnorshire in 1828 from the Whig Wilkins of Maesllwch to the Tory Thomas Frankland Lewis of Harpton Court, and in Carmarthenshire in 1831 from the Tory Rice Trevor to the Whig Hamlyn Williams of Edwinsford, were dynastic and political. The transfer of Caernarvonshire from Wynn of Glynllifon to Charles Griffith Wynne of Cefnamlwch (Faenol) in 1830 was essentially dynastic.

Any change required careful preparations to minimise the risk of public failure. Rice Trevor was unopposed in 1820 because his local party called off their opposition to the sitting Blue, Cawdor’s heir, in Carmarthen, when the Reds campaigned to reform and the Blues to abolish the Welsh courts. The switch in Anglesey from Lord Anglesey’s brother to his heir Lord Uxbridge was executed in 1820 because a favourable outcome seemed certain. Edward Mostyn Lloyd Mostyn saw off his Tory opponent Sir John Hanmer of Bettisfield, when his uncle Sir Thomas Mostyn’s sudden death created a vacancy in Flintshire in 1831; but the prospect, as in this instance, of county and boroughs represented by father and son, with the experienced Lloyd retaining the latter, was disliked. It was the family’s support for reform and ability to sway elections in Caernarvonshire, Caernarvon Boroughs and Montgomeryshire through their Bodfach Gloddaeth, Corsygedol and Llanidloes estates that proved decisive. In Caernarvonshire, where Sir Robert Williams retired late to avoid defeat in 1826, ‘No Popery’ served to mask the local commercial and dynastic ambitions unleashed by Lord Bulkeley’s death (1822) and the coming of age in 1823 of Thomas John Wynn, 2nd Baron Newborough [I], of Glynllifon. After overspending to take the seat in 1826, Newborough fell prey to Thomas Assheton Smith II of Faenol (son of the 1774-80 Member), who, preparatory to standing successfully himself in 1832, returned his cousin of Cefnamwch in 1830 and 1831 as a stalking horse. Frankland Lewis secured the Radnorshire seat ‘on trial’ on a vacancy in 1828, under a longstanding reciprocal ‘arrangement’ with the Tory Member for New Radnor, Richard Price. Reform and a coup caused the anti-reformer Rice Trevor to stand down to avoid defeat in Carmarthenshire in 1831, but he rallied his supporters, regained the seat in 1832 and held it for Dinefwr and the Conservatives until he succeed his father in the peerage in 1852.

Threatened opposition prompted by local dissatisfaction and political and dynastic motives came to nothing in Anglesey (1826), Caernarvonshire (1830, 1831), Cardiganshire (1820), Carmarthenshire (1826, 1830), Denbighshire (1830, 1831) and Radnorshire (April 1830, 1831). However, as intended, in each case the sitting Member feared defeat, faced public criticism from rivals and freeholders and incurred additional canvassing and hospitality costs. Rival parties and dynasties also tested their strength by fielding candidates and canvassing at coroners’ elections. They did so in Pembrokeshire in October 1823, when a political realignment was anticipated following Lord Milford’s death; in Cardiganshire immediately before the general election of 1826, when both Members were absentees, and the heirs of Mabws and Alltyrodyn, whose forbears had represented the county, were newly of age; and in Breconshire in January 1828, June 1831 and March 1832, when the Whig reformer John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins of Penoyre was a contender for the county and Brecon.


The Boroughs

Nominally, and as a vestige of the pre-Restoration system whereby ‘cities, boroughs and towns’ contributed to Members’ wages, Welsh borough representation was vested, as it had been since 1728, in the compounded electorates of 38 towns, namely the county corporate of Haverfordwest, 11 ancient shire towns or returning (polling) boroughs and 26 settlements designated for political purposes as appertaining to seven of them: a mixture of substantial towns and mere villages. Merioneth had been deemed too poor to warrant borough representation; and though not formally disfranchised, Cardigan’s contributory of Adpar did not participate in elections after 1741 and remained effectively defunct until 1832. Collectively, 30 of the 37 Welsh boroughs participating in the election of Members possessed some form of corporation.34 About half of these, including the returning boroughs of Cardigan and Pembroke, were deliberately administered prescriptively,35 and half—ten returning boroughs, Conway, Cowbridge, Holt, Lampeter and Ruthin—ostensibly according to their governing charters; but everywhere, the influence of borough lords, landowners and employers generally prevailed.36

As in England, no two corporations were the same, either in terms of their composition or the role they played locally at elections.37 In Beaumaris and Brecon, which had electorates of 22 and 21 in 1831, co-opted corporations returned their patron’s nominees. Beaumaris was by charter a corporation borough; its patrons the Bulkeleys nominated Members at will and it was the only Welsh constituency to return a fee-paying outsider (Frankland Lewis, 1812-26) in this period. Brecon’s electorate had been deliberately reduced by the Morgans to appear corporate and the residence required by charter was feigned. Local ‘independents’ had failed, on a technicality, to overthrow the corporation and establish a scot and lot electorate there in 1820 by means of quo warranto actions and Sir Charles Morgan felt it necessary to parade with his tenantry in livery and become mayor (returning officer) at Michaelmas 1829, before switching the representation (in 1830) between his sons.38 Corporation control was of paramount importance in the management of Carmarthen and Haverfordwest, which had electorates of 723 and 500 in 1831. In Carmarthen residence required under the 1764 charter was routinely evaded by subdividing land within the borough into £4 lots held solely and successively for the minimum three-year qualifying period for burgess creation. Successful quo warranto proceedings gave the Reds control of the corporation in 1821. Their candidate, the barrister John Jones, the victor at a by-election that year, held the seat until 1832, but he was twice fiercely and violently opposed in 1831 (the first contest was a non-return) by John George Philipps of Cwmgwili, a Blue sponsored as a reform candidate by Cawdor. Quo warranto proceedings challenging Picton Castle’s management of Haverfordwest, where freeholders, burgesses and inhabitant ratepayers were collectively enfranchised, were abandoned in 1820 and Lord Milford’s heir Richard Bulkeley Philipps Grant Philipps was substituted as Member for his nominee William Henry Scourfield of the Moat as planned in 1826. However, Picton Castle Blues had to moderate their parliamentary conduct throughout to placate influential Orange corporators. Montgomery, having shed its contributories, was managed oligarchically by Powis and returned his distant kinsman Henry Clive, 1818-32. Voter creation continued as an electoral ploy and it had an electorate of 135 in 1831.

Although there was no potential for splitting votes, thus far the management of borough constituencies is comparable with England. It was rarely so in the remaining borough constituencies, where diverse corporate and manorially managed electorates participated in the election of a single Member (for example, seven boroughs were polled in Cardiff, five in New Radnor and three in Denbigh in 1820). As polls were decided by the total vote cast, not by the determination of the individual boroughs as in Scotland, the logistics of voter mobilization were complex. Testifying before the 1827 Commons select committee on borough polls, the sitting Member Frederick West complained of the cost of transporting Holt voters to Denbigh and suggested, as a ‘considerable improvement’, polling in each or in the most central town, namely his stronghold of Ruthin.39 But the distinguishing feature of electioneering and borough management in Wales (and Monmouth Boroughs) was competitive voter creation by borough, a manoeuvre whereby rival borough patrons exploited complex and poorly defined criteria for creating electors to alter the balance of power in a constituency, either as a means of gaining overall control or as a threat or negotiating ploy to secure a compromise. Agreements, for example that of 1816 concerning Lord Cawdor’s manorial out-borough of Wiston (approximate population 130), a contributory with Tenby of Pembroke, generally involved mutual restrictions on creating voters. However, closing a borough by reducing its electorate took time and although no Wiston freemen were admitted after the agreement lapsed in 1820, 500 of the 1,000 created as an electoral threat in 1812 retained their voting rights in 1831, when Pembroke and Tenby, whose corporations Sir John Owen administered in tandem, had a joint electorate of 900.

Returning to the franchise, historiographically enduring assumptions by the Porritts and others that Welsh boroughs had a uniform scot and lot or freeman franchise and that the same enfranchisement criteria applied in a returning borough and its contributories require qualification.40 To the detriment of corporate activity, in Flint and its four contributories, which had a combined electorate of 1,185 and population of 9,794 in 1831, it was scot and lot.41 Attempts by ‘independence parties’ in Cardiff and Denbigh to overthrow their corporations by means of quo warranto actions, as a prelude to establishing scot and lot electorates, stalled after the Cardiff case failed in 1820.42 It was also mooted by anti-Paget factions in Caernarvon, where ironically the Commons ruled retrospectively to the Pagets’ advantage, on little proof, in 1833, that the franchise in Caernarvon and its pre-1832 out-boroughs should have been ‘resident or scot and lot’. Before 1832, some kind of ‘freeman’ or burgess qualification predominated, but Parliament’s failure to impose a residence stipulation for the boroughs and out-boroughs of Caernarvon, Cardiff, Cardigan and Pembroke and its decision to do so for New Radnor, but not its contributories, meant that mass burgess admissions were possible in 23 individual boroughs.43 Furthermore, where few economic privileges were attached to the freedom, the provisions of the 1763 Durham Act, requiring admission 12 months before a poll, were regularly bypassed or evaded by electing freemen (burgesses) ‘according to the customary of the corporation’.44 Lampeter, under its governing charter, Criccieth and the courts leet of sparsely populated Aberavon (where proceedings were conducted in Welsh), Kenfig, Loughor and Nefyn were open to such patronal manipulation, like Wiston and the New Radnor boroughs previously. As in England, patrons recruited non-resident and honorary freemen to bolster their corporations, and offset local admission claims by oligarchic control, by-laws and exorbitant fees. Generally the practice was declining. In Swansea each freeman (100 in a population of 10,005 in 1820; 64 in 13,265 in 1831) shared in the revenue from ‘the burrows’ and benefited directly from their borough lord Beaufort’s restrictive admissions policy.45 Uniquely in the Cardiff group, the burgess qualification at Llantrisant, where Bute had a local rival in the lawyer William Vaughan of Lanelay, accrued retrospectively to children born before their father’s admission. Allowing for this, the marquess requested before financing admissions in April 1826, that they be

elderly people who are either unmarried or have no children, provided always that they are of a respectable character and who, if not my tenants, are to say the least employed in works where the proprietors are at present friendly to me.46

By contrast Talbot, who could order creations at will by presentment before the portreeve of Kenfig, was reluctant in 1828 to spend on stamps for freemen who ‘may be old men and not likely to be of use in another election’.47 Patronal burgess creation was of course most marked in anticipation of a severe contest. Cardiff, Kenfig, Aberavon and Loughor experienced decisive surges in admissions before and during the 1820 general election and again during the victor Wyndham Lewis’s three-year ‘quarrel’ with Bute and negotiations with Beaufort, prior to Lord James Crichton Stuart’s resumption of the representation in 1826. Creations peaked in Denbigh Boroughs before the 1820 and 1826 elections and again immediately after the latter (a double return), in anticipation of a second poll. Post-poll petitions and legal actions there capitalized on the laxity with which Denbigh and Ruthin’s boundaries had been defined and differing interpretations of the rights of non-resident freemen—especially the ‘English burgesses’ of Holt. William Ormsby Gore (as mayor) admitted up to 300 Criccieth freemen, 1828-9, including many from his Shropshire and Irish estates, before contesting Caernarvon Boroughs. There were also substantial ‘batch creations’ in Cardigan and its contributories, which remained unpolled. Electoral size depended on historic factors, the outcome of ongoing dynastic rivalries and the freeman admission policies open to and pursued by individual borough lords to establish and retain commercial and patronal control. Correlations between population and voterate are meaningless, and the available evidence is in any case distorted by the systemic failure of Parliament, except in cases of disputed elections, to collect statistics for the electorates of out-boroughs. Replying to a government questionnaire in 1831, the bailiffs of Caernarvon, which had an electorate of 480, cautioned in an unheeded caveat that the total was for ‘Caernarvon alone. Not Pwllheli, Conwy, Nefyn and Criccieth’.48

There were only six out of possible 48 borough polls at general elections, but 15 changes in representation: three in Caernarvon Boroughs (1826, 1830, 1831); two in Beaumaris (1826, 1831), Cardiff Boroughs (1820, 1826), Denbigh Boroughs (1826, 1830) and Flint Boroughs (September 1831, February 1832); and one in Brecon (1830), Carmarthen (1821), Haverfordwest (1826) and Pembroke Boroughs (1826). Polls failed to secure changes on four occasions: in Denbigh Boroughs and New Radnor Boroughs in 1820 and Carmarthen (twice) in 1831. Including by-elections, they were instrumental in doing so in another four: Cardiff Boroughs (1820), Carmarthen (1821), Denbigh Boroughs (1826) and Caernarvon Boroughs (1831); and dynastic and political changes were effected without polls in Pembroke Boroughs (1826), Caernarvon Boroughs (1830), Denbigh Boroughs (1830) and Flint Boroughs (1831). Representational changes in Caernarvon Boroughs in 1826, Brecon in 1830, Beaumaris in February 1831 and Flint Boroughs in February 1832 were interfamilial and family Members also quietly replaced their nominees in Beaumaris and Haverfordwest in 1826. A threatened poll was avoided in Cardigan Boroughs in 1830, but the incumbent Pryse suffered the ignominy of being proposed by the county Member Powell, so signalling that he owed his unopposed return to their pact and the opposite party.

Welsh boroughs rarely accommodated ‘paying guests’.49 Where a ruling dynasty feared defeat, for example the Butes in Cardiff Boroughs in 1820, or had no suitable family candidate to offer (Carmarthen in 1821, Denbigh Boroughs, Haverfordwest and Pembroke Boroughs until 1826), an influential local landowner, lawyer or employer of similar politics and pedigree filled the breach on terms calculated to reduce the risk of him making the seat his own.50 Lord Anglesey’s inability to offer a suitable family candidate for Caernarvon Boroughs following his son Lord William Paget’s decision to support Catholic relief in 1828—a cause célèbre in Caernarvon and Dublin, where Anglesey was lord lieutenant—was compounded in 1830 by Lloyd Edwards of Nanhoron’s refusal to stand on the Plas Newydd interest and the rejection by a faction on Caernarvon corporation and certain county gentry of Anglesey’s late nominee, the Irishman William Wynne (of Maesyneuadd).51 The Ultra Ormsby Gore was returned, and to defeat him in 1831 Anglesey had to field his brother Sir Charles Paget instead of his intended candidate Sir John Byng (his son-in-law’s father) and draw support from reformers throughout North Wales.52


The Members

Defining Welsh Members is never straightforward. For example, those for Monmouthshire and Monmouth Boroughs (Sir Charles Morgan, William Addams Williams, Somerset, his brother Lord Worcester and Benjamin Hall) were invariably treated as such in the summary division lists specific to Welsh Members published in Seren Gomer. Forty Members occupied Welsh seats, 1820-32, and four of these also sat elsewhere.53 There were besides at least 50 others who were Welshmen or closely identified with Wales. A small but significant number, including the chairman of the Caernarvonshire magistrates and lord lieutenant of that county (1822-8) Thomas Assheton Smith I, Sir Charles Morgan, Edwards Vaughan and Berkeley Paget had held Welsh seats previously. Assheton Smith II, the Dowlais ironmaster Josiah John Guest and Sir John Benn Walsh did so only after 1832, when Love Parry Jones Parry of Madryn, who sat for Horsham, 1807-8, returned to the House as Member for Caernarvon Boroughs, 1835-7. Lloyd Kenyon of Gredington, the defeated Conservative in Denbighshire in 1832, and Panton Corbett of Leighton, the defeated Conservative in Montgomery Boroughs in April 1833 and 1837, represented English boroughs, as did Queen Caroline’s chamberlain William Alexander Madocks of Fron Yw, Denbighshire. He was the developer of Porthmadog and Tremadog and squire by right of his wife of Tregunter, Breconshire, where local radicals turned to him for support. Nicholl of Merthyr Mawr, Glamorgan, sat for Great Bedwyn but paved the way for his namesake son to represent Cardiff Boroughs as a Conservative, 1832-52. Foster Cunliffe Offley of Aston Hall and Henry Edwardes (Lord Kensington’s son) both died before succeeding to their fathers’ Welsh estates and political interests. Wrexham-born Robert Waithman, the London alderman and radical Member, remained an influential sponsor of London Welsh charities and societies. Owen Williams and Thomas Peers Williams, William Lewis Hughes (Lord Dinorben) and his brother James had estates, close family networks and business interests (copper and banking) in North Wales. Like Waithman, they understood Welsh, even if they rarely spoke it. Sir Edward Owen advised his kinsmen of Glansevern, Montgomeryshire, on the judicature question, patronage and electoral politics. The Foster Barhams of Trecw^n, Pembrokeshire, and George Hay Dawkins Pennant of Penrhyn Castle, Caernarvonshire, were politically active in those counties and the only Members connected with Wales with significant West Indian interests.

The Father of the House Sir John Aubrey, Charles Kemeys Kemeys Tynte of Cefn Mabli, Guest and James Lewis Knight were contenders at some point for a Glamorgan seat. Charles Hanbury Tracy of Gregynog and his son Thomas Charles Leigh were considered for Montgomeryshire, where as peers (Barons Sudeley) they became the lord lieutenants. John Severn of Penybont had offered for Radnorshire. The Bristol bankers Richard Hart Davis (who sold out to his son-in-law John Scandrett Harford) and Philip John Miles hoped tenure of the Peterwell (Falcondale) and Cardigan Priory estates would enable them to represent Cardigan Boroughs. Cadwallader Davis Blayney, George Pryse Campbell, Wynn Ellis, Henry Hanmer, Richard Jenkins, Theobald Jones, Samuel Grove Price, Edward John Stanley, George Tudor and John Williams II claimed Welsh descent. Walter Wilkins, the industrialist and squire of Llandaff Court, was an active Glamorgan magistrate and reformer who did not share his estranged wife’s interest in the Welsh language. Sir Henry Edward Bunbury, John Finchett Maddock, Robert Knight and others acquired Welsh property, but cannot be termed Welsh; nor, though contemporaries sometimes regarded them as such, can the Welsh judges in the House, Jonathan Raine and Charles Warren. The administrative conventions of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists (Crynhodeb o’r Weithred) were drafted in 1823-5 by another Englishman with Welsh connections, the secretary of the Protestant Society for the Protection of Religious Liberty, John Wilks I, Member for Boston. His father Matthew Wilks (d.1829), the minister of Whitley’s Tabernacle, Tottenham Court Road, had trained at Trefecca.

Including the elder Assheton Smith and Lord Clive (substituted for his father in Montgomeryshire in April 1830), six sitting Members were lord lieutenants of Welsh counties and another ten were subsequently appointed.54 Thirty-two served as Welsh county sheriffs, several more than once. Among the six serving in this period, Dawkins Pennant and Guest presided at elections in Caernarvonshire and Glamorgan in 1820 and Ebenezer Fuller Maitland and Sir Stephen Glynne in Breconshire and Flintshire in 1831. Glynne’s office prevented him standing at the 1831 Flintshire Boroughs by-election, so the seat was reserved for him until his term expired by his brother Henry. At barely 21, the youngest Member in the Commons, Henry Glynne, was also deliberately the most reticent, lest political activity should compromise his intended church career.55

Few Welsh Members distinguished themselves as orators in Parliament, where, as has been pointed out elsewhere, most spoke infrequently or on very few topics and concentrated on constituency, select committee and private business.56 The exception was Charles Williams Wynn (Sqwynne), an expert on Commons procedures who in January 1822 became the first Welsh Member to hold cabinet office since Robert Harley in 1711. His high-pitched voice marred his delivery and he and his bubble-tongued brother Sir Watkin, whose remarks were generally confined to militia and agricultural issues, were lampooned as ‘Bubble and Squeak’. The somnolent 18-stone Sir Watkin, the uchelwr and mountain giant Williames Vaughan, the ‘Colossus of Roads’ of the 1824 turnpike select committees, and Wyndham Lewis, who, being tall, pale and as thin as a reed, became ‘Timothy Weasel’, were among several Welsh Members of striking appearance. There were no complete outsiders, but, unsurprisingly, Cole was lampooned as a Cornishman, Crichton Stuart as a Scot and Ormsby Gore as an Irishman. Five were peers’ sons, 16 were baronets or their heirs, one (fewer than previously) an Irish peer. The familiar Welsh dynastic surnames predominated, yet to achieve this Charles Wynne Griffith Wynne had rejected his father’s name of Finch; Sir Charles Morgan of Y Dderw and Tredegar (and his sons) the surname Gould; Sir John Owen of Orielton (and his son) that of Lord, and Pryse of Gogerddan that of his father Edward Loveden Loveden. Richard Bulkeley Philipps Grant of Picton Castle took the additional name of Philipps, Edward Mostyn Lloyd that of Mostyn, and Sir Richard Bulkeley Williams the surname of Bulkeley. Sixteen of the 40 were new to the House. Nine of these were aged 25 or under, with little outside experience when first elected; another three were under 30. Two experienced Members, Frankland Lewis, a revenue and education commissioner, 1821-8, and Sir Charles Paget, a member of the royal household, 1822-37, were placemen. Their father Anglesey, as Irish viceroy, appointed Uxbridge (a future placeman) and Lord William Paget to his Dublin household. Unlike Clive, home office under-secretary, 1818-22, Frankland Lewis performed adequately in debate as a junior minister, 1828-30. Wood did so when campaigning for abolition of the tax on pit ponies and to secure Merthyr Tydfil separate representation, 1831-2;57 but his tendency to pontificate on the judicature and Welsh issues of which he had no experience caused annoyance.58 Charles Williams Wynn described him dismissively in 1820 as ‘a very good natured, very silly brother-in-law of Lord Castlereagh who resides but little in Wales but has a great love for speechifying’.59 Allen, John Jones, Griffith and Sir Robert Williams rarely succeeded in adapting for the debating chamber the techniques that made them persuasive orators at the sessions and county meetings. Yet it was Jones who, with the Liverpool government’s acquiescence, eventually secured important reforms to the Welsh courts in 1824 (5 Geo. IV, c. 106), when Allen, who owed his seat to the 1st and 2nd Barons Cawdor, called for their abolition.

Griffith, Jones, Lloyd Mostyn and his father Sir Edward Pryce Lloyd were among the handful of fluent Welsh public speakers in the House—a skill that Myddelton Biddulph, Vaughan, Williams Bulkeley and the Williams Wynns (Charles’s interest in Welsh was largely antiquarian) conspicuously lacked and soon coveted at constituency level when the franchise was extended in 1832.60 In addition to the usual constituency activities, Welsh Members and candidates were expected to patronize the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion or Metropolitan Cambrian Institution, re-established in June 1820 under the presidency of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. It promoted the Welsh school and regional and local Cymmrodorion societies fostered by the bishop of St. Davids and leading Welsh clerics and scholars. Eight Members (including four English ones) were also honorary members of the less highbrow Gwyneddigion, who generally conducted proceedings in Welsh, and all were obliged to attend their joint north-south network of eisteddfodau.61 If the penillion-singer and secretary of the Gwyneddigion William Davies Leathart (writing in 1830-1) is to be believed, cultural exchanges with the True Highlanders and Breton, Hibernian and Cornish societies in London in the late 1820s were also arranged through parliamentary channels.62 It was almost impossible, if in London, to avoid attending the St. David’s Day (1 Mar.) charity school procession and glittering entertainments of the Ancient Britons (Sir Watkin Williams Wynn and Sir Charles Morgan were trustees), and the Welsh tended to be heckled when they arrived in the Commons afterwards sporting the national emblem, the leek.63 The London celebrations were postponed and the procession dispensed with when the Grey ministry introduced their reform bill on 1 Mar. 1831.64


Welsh Politics

In the following table figures refer to the numbers of Tory, Whig and other Members chosen for Welsh constituencies at each general election, taking into account double or voided returns, but not election petitions. Numbers remaining in each category at the dissolution of the Parliament are given in parentheses.






11 (16)

6 (8)

5 (0)


17 (13)

7 (6)

0 (4)


12 (12)

8 (9)

4 (2)


4 (11)

18 (10)

2 (3)


Plotting political allegiance in Wales through the politics of its representatives is complicated by the occasional placeman and the significant Grenvillite presence provided in 1820 by the Williams Wynns, Frankland Lewis and Sir Robert Williams, to whom can briefly be added another Whig, John Frederick Campbell. His seat went to an independently minded Tory in July 1821. The Liverpool ministry recruited Frankland Lewis that month and the Williams Wynns in January 1822, which gave them 14-16 Welsh votes. Those of Cole and Wyndham Lewis could not always be relied on. There were six firm adherents of the Whig opposition in the 1820 Parliament: Allen, John Wynne Griffith, Edward Pryce Lloyd, Sir Thomas Mostyn, Pryse and Wilkins. Sir Robert Williams and the inconsistent Scourfield generally aligned with them. The Liverpool government gained three and lost two Welsh seats in 1826. The Williams Wynns and Frankland Lewis adhered to the Canning and Goderich coalition ministries in 1827. Lewis (a Canningite) remained in office under Wellington until the Huskissonite exodus of May 1828 and rejoined the ministry in February 1830. The Williams Wynns were in opposition from January 1828 to November 1830, when Lord Grey became premier. Ten Welsh Members divided against Catholic relief in 1827;65 12 did so in 1828.66 Nine, three more than the government expected, voted at least once against the concession of emancipation in 1829,67 and 12 for it. After the 1830 general election the Wellington ministry listed half (12) the Welsh Members among their ‘friends’;68 six (Lloyd, Mostyn, Myddelton Biddulph, Pryse, Talbot and Sir Robert Williams) as ‘foes’; two (Crichton Stuart and Bulkeley Philipps) as ‘good doubtfuls’; two (the Williams Wynns) as ‘bad doubtfuls’, and two (Ormsby Gore and Uxbridge) as ‘Ultras’. When they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830, six, including Ormsby Gore, divided with them, five against, Price’s vote is unclear and 12 were away. Thirteen divided for and eleven against the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar. 1831, but four of these favourable votes were pragmatic ones.69 On 19 Apr. 13 voted for and nine against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment; the Williams Wynns and Wood were among 15 overall who had changed sides, Mostyn was dead and Charles Robinson Morgan did not vote. At the 1831 general election the Whigs gained only two Welsh seats, Carmarthen submitted a void return and Sir John Owen’s for Pembrokeshire was voided on petition. (He won the ensuing by-election as a reformer and the Grey ministry considered him loyal.) Only four Welsh Members confirmed that they were anti-reformers by dividing against the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July 1831;70 but another four (duly criticized in The Times) soon joined them.71 The four West Wales Reds in the House were never more than reformers of necessity. The Glynnes, who represented Flint Boroughs from September 1831, were semi-detached. Divisions on confidence motions and the Russian-Dutch loan indicate that by the summer of 1832 the government could rarely rely on more than ten Welsh votes.72

The abolition of the courts of great sessions and Welsh judicature under the 1830 Administration of Justice Act (11 Geo. IV & 1 Gul. IV, c. 70) was the defining issue in Welsh politics, 1800-47.73 It had been revived in 1817, as part of the Whig Mountain’s general attack on placemen, of which Welsh judges, who unlike their English counterparts were treasury appointees eligible to sit in the Commons and practice as English barristers, were good examples. It was referred to the 1817-18 and 1820-21 Commons select committees ‘to inquire and report opinion on the administration of justice in Wales’, but no decision on the courts’ future was reached until Wellington’s ministry referred the matter to the 1828-31 royal commission on the courts of common law.74 Making the reform of provincial jurisdictions a priority, the commissioners sounded opinion among lawyers and in the Welsh counties (lord lieutenants and quarter sessions chairmen) through leading questionnaires. Eight Welsh Members were respondents.75 The merits and flaws of the great sessions were vigorously debated in English and Welsh, and Cawdor expanded on their shortcomings in a vitriolic open letter of August 1828 to lord chancellor Lyndhurst, who had been instrumental in securing him an earldom the previous year.76 Outside Wales, as Cawdor intended, his ‘letter’ was accepted as an accurate reflection of educated Welsh opinion on the subject. Within Wales Cawdor’s endeavours to impose his views through his agents and by personally addressing public petitioning meetings were largely resisted outside Glamorgan, 1828-30, as were the Williams Wynns’ efforts. Petitions defending the courts, drafted by the Caernarvonshire magistrates and south-west Wales Reds, were generally preferred and adopted. The law commissioners ignored them and any submissions that failed to endorse their 1829 report. It recommended abolishing the Welsh judicature and changing the Welsh assize districts by partitioning and amalgamating counties, adding eastern districts to neighbouring English shires and incorporating the whole of Wales into the English circuit system. This placed the status of ten Welsh assize towns in jeopardy.77 Correctly predicting a political storm, the Welsh Members and peers lobbied ministers collectively in London, and the home secretary Robert Peel afterwards asked the commissioners to heed their views; but to little apparent effect. Frequent and unpredictable postponements and late night scheduling made concerted opposition to the 1830 administration of justice bill, proposing the changes, difficult to organize. Cheshire was affected by and campaigned against the measure, but refused to ‘make common cause with the gentlemen of Wales’. London Welshmen preferred to call for legal documents and texts to be made available in Welsh and the ‘appointment of a permanent native interpreter’ to each court.78 The navy treasurer Frankland Lewis vainly suggested combining Radnorshire with Herefordshire, ‘not Welsh-speaking Breconshire’. In May he informed his brother-in-law:

We are all in an odd state respecting the Welsh jurisdiction and I do not see my way to any sensible result ... The Welsh gentlemen are extremely impracticable about it, but all the English Members laugh at our opposition and if the king’s death does not stop everything the attorney-general [Sir James Scarlett] will carry his measure.79

Sir John Owen was the teller for a motley minority of only 30-129 against the bill’s recommittal, 18 June. Excepting Rice Trevor, the south-west Wales Members (Jones, Hugh Owen, Philipps, Powell and Pryse) divided with him. So did Edward Rogers and Assheton Smith II, chairmen respectively of the Radnorshire and Caernarvonshire magistrates, and Owen Williams, Thomas Peers Williams and James Hughes, who wished to prevent the transfer of the Beaumaris assizes to the mainland, for the judges’ convenience. As agreed in cabinet (3 July), the ‘Scarlett peril’ received royal assent, before the dissolution, 23 July. A conference with the Lords on botched amendments was refused when it returned to the Commons, 22 July 1830, whereupon Charles Williams Wynn entered an individual protest ‘against the principle of agreeing to amendments for which no reason has been given’.80 A late concession left the Welsh county assize structure almost intact, but in terms of the judicature, the Act completed the Union with England.

Magistrates and seaports lobbied and sent up petitions regularly, 1820-31, urging repeal of the differential coal duties that placed Welsh ports and producers at a disadvantage with those of Cumbria and Monmouthshire. Northern and western counties called additionally for repeal of the coastwise duty on culm and slate, which was a divisive issue at the Caernarvonshire election of 1830 and again in 1831, when individuals and rival parties claimed the credit for securing recent concessions.81 The arrival of Welsh language petitions, such as those supporting Queen Caroline from Llangyfelach and Llandeilo-Talybont (Glamorgan) in February 1821, inevitably caused a stir.82 So did preferential (jobbing) sales of crown land in the Brecon forest and Caernarvonshire slate districts.83 The Wellington ministry refused to sponsor legislation for a police force and stipendiary magistracy for Merthyr Tydfil (population, 22,000) and the surrounding iron district. Ironmasters in Parliament opposed it on financial grounds (higher rates), as they would similar measures for Staffordshire. A bill sponsored by Bute as lord lieutenant of Glamorgan, making John Bruce Bruce the stipendiary, was nevertheless enacted in June 1829.84 Competitive lobbying and petitioning by landowners and entrepreneurs was a feature of the large-scale enclosures legislated for at Llanllechid, Llanwnda, Llandwrog and Morfa Dinas Dinlle, Caernarvonshire;85 and at Cors Fochno and Mynydd Bach, Cardiganshire, where the change was violently resisted.86 Tactical parliamentary opposition also delayed and increased the costs of great industrial undertakings, including the Ffestiniog railway and the Bute ship canal.87

Overall, the petitioning pattern for Wales was similar to the English one; but there were important differences in the campaigns against Catholic relief and for repeal of the Test Acts. Welsh Baptists, Congregationalists and Unitarians came broadly under the remit of the Association of Dissenting Deputies and contributed to their petitioning campaigns. The Wesleyans and the Calvinistic Methodists (numerically the largest denominations in the north and west, where the established church was weak) had no such affiliation, but they had preachers capable of commanding individual circuits and vast outdoor meetings.88 Old Dissent led the clamour for repeal of the Test Acts, but many Methodist chapels (Wesleyan and Calvinist) sent up favourable petitions prior to its concession in 1828, when at least 150 were received from Wales.89 That year five members of their London (Jewin Crescent) chapel were excommunicated by the Calvinists’ leader John Elias, Y Pab Methodistaidd (The Methodist Pope), for including religious toleration and Catholic relief in their petition’s demands without the entire congregation’s consent. That this petition was in Welsh and drafted according to William Owen Pughe’s idiosyncratic London-Welsh orthography was another problem.90 John Elias attended the 1829 parliamentary debates on Catholic emancipation and most Welsh Calvinistic Methodist chapels adopted ‘anti-Catholic’ petitions approved and circulated by their leaders. They also approved a Welsh translation of the Ultra Lord Kenyon’s petition. Wales was overwhelmingly anti-Catholic and sent almost 300 hostile petitions (and less than ten favourable ones) to each House.91 The Wesleyans, however, praised Peel for offering himself for re-election for Oxford University, and their journals commented favourably on and offered an early translation of the new declarations of supremacy and allegiance.92 The furore generated against Lord William Paget and Newborough in Caernarvonshire for not adhering to election promises to oppose Catholic relief was part of a wider campaign by the Brunswickers to secure changes in parliamentary representation.93 All denominations supported the 1830-1 petitioning campaign for the abolition of colonial slavery, and including Baptist women’s groups and Welsh chapels outside Wales, the tally of petitions received was about 280. As in 1828 and 1829, the names of hundreds of small communities and chapels rarely heard of outside Wales were entered in the Commons and Lords Journals.94 There had been further high-profile expulsions in 1829 (for radicalism) from the Jewin Crescent chapel, and Methodist leaders claimed that they encouraged their flocks to stand aloof from popular politics and disturbances. Some threatened to excommunicate members who joined marauding bands (the Scotch cattle) and political unions during the reform era.95


The Welsh Reform Legislation

Parliamentary reform had been on the agenda of Welsh radicals since the 1780s, but, unlike Monmouthshire, rarely outside Seren Tan Gwmmwl (1795) and Toriad y Dydd (1797), the Painite writings of Jac Glan y Gors (1759-1821), and certain Hampden Club circulars had it been perceived as other than remedial. What was called for was equitable distribution by giving second seats to Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire and any large county meriting it on a par with England. Welsh Whigs voted for reform, but nothing came of attempts to attach it to distress petitions from Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire in 1822 or Carmarthenshire in 1823.96 When this occurred early in 1830, the editor of the Cambrian described reform as an economic issue in the ‘radical’ south, a religious one in the north and agrarian in the ‘apathetic’ west.97 Excepting Denbigh Boroughs, where Griffith raised it, and Glamorgan, where Talbot predicted it would bring down the Wellington ministry, it remained a background issue at the 1830 general election, peripheral to the judicature’s extinction, religious toleration, slavery, the East India Company’s monopoly, the condition of the local economy and allegiance to the duke. Montgomeryshire’s Whigs and weavers organized a reform petition and tried to make Charles Williams Wynn recant his 1822 refutation of parliamentary reform ‘by principle and application’ at his re-election as a member of Grey’s reform ministry in December 1830. However, disturbances in the Llanidloes-Newtown area and the Denbighshire coalfield that month and early in 1831 curtailed the reformers’ campaign in north-east Wales.98 Petitions received before details of the government’s reform bill were announced in March 1831 (from Aberdare, Bridgend, Carmarthen, Holywell and Merthyr Tydfil) were radical ones demanding the ballot.99 A Carmarthen borough hall rejected a moderate petition requesting second Members for each Welsh county.100

Changes in the franchise and election management announced in the bill were common to England and Wales; but the major redistribution of seats proposed for England was not matched for Wales, where the only disfranchisement announced, Criccieth’s, was perceived as an act of vengeance against Ormsby Gore. In Wales, borough enfranchisement was increased and the representation of county towns kept virtually intact by amending contributory borough representation, or, as Y Drysorfa observed, by adding neighbouring towns to the small boroughs.101 Adpar was confirmed as a contributory of Cardigan. Brecon and Pembroke Boroughs were unchanged. Bangor was added to the Caernarvon group; Holyhead to Beaumaris; St. Davids, Fishguard, Milford and Narberth to Haverfordwest. Carmarthen acquired Llanelli; New Radnor Boroughs, Presteigne; Denbigh Boroughs, Wrexham; Holywell and Mold joined Flint. Cardiff kept Cowbridge and Llantrisant and acquired Llandaff and Merthyr Tydfil. Swansea, the ‘capital’ of west Glamorgan, was to head a separate constituency, with Aberavon, Kenfig, Loughor and Neath—the only new seat awarded to Wales. Another major change involved restoring its former contributories (Llanidloes, Machynlleth and Welshpool) to Montgomery, adding to them Llanfyllin and Newtown.102 Talbot was surprised to find that Kenfig and Aberavon were not to be disfranchised;103 but these small boroughs with few county votes and sizeable, albeit diminishing contingents of local freemen could be of more use in the short term in establishing partisan control in their district of boroughs.

Petitions approving the ministerial bill were adopted throughout Wales over the next three weeks. The exact number is unclear. Many remained unpresented at the dissolution precipitated by its defeat, and when alternative petitions, or ones from places with similarly sounding names were sent up, their origin and detailed objectives can be difficult to confirm.104 Wrexham’s favourable petition, adopted on 15 Mar. and presented to the Commons on the 18th, thanked the king and ministers for the bill and its own enfranchisement.105 Others capitalized on the retention of the contributory boroughs and suggested amendments. William Lewis Hughes and the Pagets had a personal stake in the copper town of Amlwch’s request to return a Member with Beaumaris and Holyhead. Amlwch’s population and assessed tax payments warranted it and it was conceded.106 St. Asaph protested that it was the only diocesan town left unenfranchised and requested inclusion in the Flint Boroughs, which was granted.107 Other requests, for example the suburb of Prendergast seeking confirmation that it would be incorporated into Haverfordwest, were shelved for referral to the boundary commissioners.108 Bridgend, Glamorgan’s centrally located county town, failed to secure enfranchisement as an out-borough of Cardiff or Swansea. It had claimed in justification that its many Cardiff Boroughs electors would be disfranchised under the bill’s residence qualification.109 The corporation and freemen of Caernarvon were commended for petitioning for the bill, despite the proposed enfranchisement of its rival, Bangor. Criccieth naturally petitioned against reform and its own disfranchisement.110 Excepting Merthyr Tydfil’s, petitions requesting removal from a borough district were rare. Nor did reform petitions from out-boroughs such as Aberystwyth, which might have merited it, request separate enfranchisement.111 Carmarthen and Montgomery objected to having out-boroughs foisted on them, while Brecon did not.112 Caernarvonshire and Merioneth were the only Welsh counties that failed to meet to adopt reform petitions before the 1831 dissolution.113

Few criticized the bill publicly, but silent Tories and moderate reformers of convenience were not trusted and county reform meetings became last minute affairs, promoted, as throughout the south-west, by Whig gentry and urban reformers who travelled from meeting to meeting to procure petitions. Ostensibly for the sheriff’s convenience, the Cardiganshire meeting of 7 Mar. 1831 was tactically held in Lampeter on the Carmarthenshire border, with very few Reds and many Blues in attendance. The latter were already manoeuvring against Sir John Owen in Pembrokeshire and Rice Trevor in Carmarthenshire, and they made a reformer that day of the sitting Tory Powell.114 In Denbighshire the Tory sheriff delayed convening the county until 24 Mar., to allow time for Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, who risked censure, to pre-empt his critics with a tactical vote for the bill.115 The radical candidates William Davies of Caebalfa, Edmund Lechmere Charlton and Edward Romilly addressed meetings throughout east Wales and the Marches, where the Radnorshire Grey Coat Club was re-established to promote reform.116 A delegation to the leader of the Commons, Lord Althorp, on 11 Apr. pressed for Merthyr’s separate enfranchisement on grounds of its population and importance as an iron town. No promise was made, but shortly afterwards (ostensibly as its population was above 100,000) Glamorgan was verbally awarded the second Member requested by the magistrates at their Easter sessions.117

When the bill’s defeat brought a snap election, political unionists in Lancashire and Cheshire and contingents of workmen from Merthyr, Monmouthshire and Montgomeryshire promised the Whigs practical support. Reformers did not contest a Welsh county and its borough(s) in tandem and they failed to recruit well-known politicians to oppose Charles Williams Wynn and Frankland Lewis. However, reform and a coup persuaded Rice Trevor to make way for a Whig rather than risk defeat in Carmarthenshire. The Pagets, as placemen and reformers, regained Caernarvon Boroughs, where Dissenters and Nonconformists (franchised and unfranchised) openly assisted their cause after the Methodists’ May seiat (synod) at Llanidloes condoned their involvement. John Elias later forbade it. Rival contingents of Faenol quarrymen and Amlwch miners acting as stavemen blocked access to the polling booths, adding to the violence. Bucking the national trend, reformers were easily outpolled in Breconshire and Montgomeryshire, where the Newtown political union afterwards published instances of harsh treatment and forced votes.118 Mob participation, petitioning and back-to-back polls made Carmarthen the maelstrom of reform in South Wales from April to September 1831; but the war of attrition was in Pembrokeshire, which also polled twice, and where the petitioning and election costs were higher. In both cases the aristocracy, with government backing, instigated hostilities through dynastically acceptable candidates, but the incumbent Reds modified their politics and prevailed.119 The scale and violence of the Merthyr rising (after the Breconshire poll) that so alarmed the government and delayed its separate enfranchisement did not appear so revolutionary in Wales, where gorthrymder (oppression) and hardship were blamed; but Crichton Stuart and others failed to dissuade lord chancellor Brougham from making a martyr on the gallows of the convicted rioter Dic Penderyn (Richard Lewis). Political union activities there had emanated from outside Wales in the winter of 1830-1; and although union activity in the summer of 1831 was not denied, formal federated branches were not established in the Merthyr area until November.120

The reform bill reintroduced in June 1831 reinstated Criccieth, confirmed the enfranchisement of St. Asaph and Amlwch and, to the annoyance of the Whig Sir John Stanley of Alderley and Penrhos (Holyhead), added Llangefni to the Beaumaris group. Anglesey Tories proceeded to press Newborough’s claims and organized petitions for the enfranchisement of the villages of Bodedern and Llanerchymedd; and Lord Boston proposed sluicing the franchise at Beaumaris with the hundred of Menai, including Porthaethwy (Menai Bridge).121 These and other post-election claims were rejected. Merioneth failed to secure boroughs representation centred on Dolgellau with Bala, Corwen, Barmouth and Towyn as contributories, or a separate Lly^n and Eifionydd (Caernarvonshire/Merioneth) constituency.122 However, this second wave of urban reform petitions had a dual purpose, for it highlighted towns as likely county polling places. Carmarthenshire freeholders at Llandeilo, 8 June, sent up alternative petitions: one for a second Member; another, designed to spare Carmarthen its single borough status, requested separate representation for the mining district centred on Llanelli and Kidwelly, which belatedly petitioned for reform and its own enfranchisement.123 Fearing the preponderance of Wrexham, Denbigh reformers encouraged Abergele and Llanrwst to petition for inclusion in Denbigh Boroughs.124 Llanrwst did so and failed, 22 June; but the bill’s critic Charles Williams Wynn addressed the problem by carrying an amendment, which Waithman opposed, confining Wrexham’s franchise to Wrexham Abbot and Wrexham Regis, so restoring the rural townships to the county constituency, 10 Aug.125 The anti-reformer Frankland Lewis repeatedly complained (9, 10 Aug., 6 Sept. 1831) that there was no sense in applying the same £10 franchise qualification in Marylebone and New Radnor (where he was the recorder); but the £5 valuation, or a variation he suggested based on the value of a house plus land, was rejected. It would have greatly increased the Welsh borough electorate. He did secure changes confining the boundaries of the Whig stronghold of Presteigne to its Welsh township, 9 Aug., and sought clarification, 10 Aug., whereby it was confirmed that henceforward polling booths would be provided in the Welsh out-boroughs. Williams Wynn had already suggested (13, 15 July) extending the multiple borough system to England to boost enfranchisement and avoid disfranchisements. The anti-reformer John Croker took up the idea, ostensibly to spare the neighbouring Suffolk boroughs of Aldeburgh and Orford from disfranchisement (22 July 1831, 23 Jan. 1832); but his intention was to wreck the disfranchisement schedules and thereby the bill. In another abortive wrecking amendment (18 Aug. 1831), Lloyd Kenyon capitalized on differences in English and Welsh representation and proposed granting each Welsh county two seats, stating in justification that the assimilation of the Welsh courts had demolished the case for retaining the distinction whereby they had one. Second seats were conceded to Carmarthenshire and Denbighshire (on population grounds), 14 Sept. Next day ‘Blue’ Milford was transferred from the Haverfordwest to the Pembroke district of boroughs.

An opposition Member, Thomas Wood, briefed by both parties, led the campaign to secure Merthyr Tydfil’s enfranchisement, which initially failed despite further petitioning and Bute’s support. Ten Welsh Members divided with government to enfranchise Gateshead (not Merthyr), 5 Aug., and on the 10th the Commons refused (by 164-123) to remove Merthyr from Cardiff Boroughs. This proposal had attracted bipartisan support and only four Welsh Members voted with government to defeat it (Lloyd, Lloyd Mostyn, Bulkeley Philipps and Hamlyn Williams). Ministers argued that Merthy had been catered for by giving Glamorgan a second seat, and sought to divide Merthyr’s apologists by fuelling rumours that it might be added to Swansea, or that the Swansea and Cardiff Boroughs would be merged to spare it a Member.126 The controversy did not affect the heavy petitioning urging the Lords to carry the bill following its passage in the Commons, 22 Sept. Reform was seen as the panacea to relieve oppression, abolish sinecures and reform tithes, and meetings that month popularized the £10 vote as the facilitator of long leases and as a stimulant to industry and house building.127 Reform and political union meetings followed the bill’s defeat in the Lords, 8 Oct., when Anglesey, Cawdor, Oxford and the coronation peers Mostyn (E. P. Lloyd) and Dinorben (W. L. Hughes) divided for it. Beaufort, Bute, Camden, Powis, Dynevor, Kenyon and the bishops of Llandaff, Bangor and St. Asaph voted against, the last two by proxy. Afterwards bishops and Tories became ‘Meibion (sons of) Belial’, and the bill’s radical detractors ‘Gwyr Gwyllt (madmen)’. Denbighshire did not risk holding another county meeting. The Newtown political union did, and troops were on standby before the South Wales Political Clubs’ rally in Llandovery, 15 Nov. It was cancelled on the 13th following rioting in Brecon and Carmarthen. The lieutenancies warned of civil war if reform was delayed.128

The revised reform bill of 12 Dec. 1831 confirmed previously agreed changes, omitted St. Davids and Llandaff, and left Merthyr Tydfil in the Cardiff District.129 Merthyr’s case and minutiae concerning boundaries and franchise arrangements were the issues of interest in Wales. From January 1832 the campaign to secure a seat for Merthyr was vigorously pursued locally by Bruce and the ironmasters, assisted by the Nonconformists and ‘shopocracy’; and in London by Bute, Guest, James Lewis Knight, Crichton Stuart, Thompson and Wood. Wood’s second attempt to substitute Merthyr for Gateshead in schedule D failed (by 214-167, 5 Mar.), but the division was better than expected and they carried the debate. Only four Welsh constituency Members (Sir Stephen Glynne, Sir John Owen, Sir Charles Paget and Hamlyn Williams) divided with government.130 When Merthyr and Aberdare petitioned the Commons for omission from the Cardiff group should they fail to secure separate enfranchisement (14 Mar.), the government announced (as previously agreed) that they would receive the third seat intended for Monmouthshire. Talbot denounced this privately as ‘a job’ that discredited ministers and emanated from a desire to curb Beaufort’s influence.131 Welsh Members voted by 11 to eight (with three absentees) for the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar. In the Lords, the bishops of Llandaff and St. Davids no longer opposed the measure, but Bute, Camden, Kenyon and Powis were among the 73 signatories to Wellington’s protest, 13 Apr. 1832. Carmarthen, Radnorshire and Swansea addressed the king and the Cardiff Tories celebrated when Wellington was invited to form a government in May, but the prompt reinstatement of the Grey ministry stalled petitioning for supplies to be withheld until the reform bill became law. Rarely outside the newly enfranchised towns and Whig strongholds was its enactment in June 1832 celebrated.132

There had been tussles locally and in Parliament over constituency boundaries, especially the transfer of the hundreds of Eirias and Maenan from Caernarvonshire to Denbighshire, Glasbury from Radnor to Brecon and the proposed transfer of Maelor to Shropshire. This would have placed Overton, whose boundaries were in any case disputed, in England and was abandoned as ‘no Welsh contributory borough should be located in England’. No such qualms were raised about the perpetuation of Monmouth Boroughs.133 The choice of county polling towns and borough boundaries was contentious, and nowhere more so than in the new Montgomery District, where the proprietoral influence of Lord Mostyn, Powis and the Williams Wynns was evenly matched and Wynnstay agents failed to produce the charter of Mostyn’s borough of Llanidloes.134 Swansea’s boundaries were redrawn to include Morriston.135 In the counties, central polling was to continue in Breconshire (to Builth’s dismay—it petitioned in 1833). Carmarthenshire had seven polling places, the largest number in Wales, partly on account of availability, partly because Dynevor objected until mid-June to polling in ‘riotous’ Carmarthen.136 Old and new out-boroughs quibbled over the designation within each of a polling place; the choice of the church vestry at Merthyr, the only Welsh schedule D borough, was especially disliked.137 Another bone of contention in the old out-boroughs was the point from which the seven-mile residence boundary for ‘burgesses’ retaining voting rights would be drawn. For the latter, Parliament selected 15 parish churches, five town halls, three bridges, two castles and a market place. This complied with the guidelines to commissioners, but partisan manipulations were evident, especially in the coastal out-boroughs of Caernarvon and Cardigan.138 Llanfyllin and other ‘revived’ boroughs tried to exploit the continuity in their corporations and burgess creation, but to no avail. A late amendment denied these freemen parliamentary votes.139 Clause eight stipulated that ‘for the purpose of the Act, out-boroughs are considered to be within the boundaries of the shire towns’, and clause ten perpetually barred all freemen of the old Cardiff Boroughs constituency from holding a dual qualification in the Cardiff and Swansea constituencies.140

The benefits of determining valid votes without a poll were appreciated from the outset and registration was closely fought in the autumn of 1832; but there was a general reluctance in the counties for landlords to pay to register the tenants of others, and especially to employ lawyers for this purpose.141 In Denbighshire, where a severe contest was expected for the new second seat and split voting was on trial, registration courts were held at Llangedwyn, Llangollen, Cerrigydrudion, Llanrwst, Abergele, Denbigh and Ruthin. The registers were delayed pending judgment on Follett’s rulings that cottagers could not be enfranchised without at least 20 years’ proven occupation and that trustees and ministers of Dissenters’ chapels ‘cannot vote unless the chapel is of sufficient value to give each the £10 or 40s. per annum’. Counsel ruled ‘against all the encroachment or cottage votes that are not above 60 years standing’. 142 A fresh attempt to place 123 ‘ancient burgesses’ of Llanfyllin, Machynlleth and Welshpool on the register for Montgomery Boroughs as freemen failed.143 Lord Granville Somerset oversaw registration in his father Beaufort’s constituencies and also acted with Bute and a cartel of south-east Wales magnates and Tory gentry to establish a regional Conservative newspaper, the Glamorgan, Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian, and organize canvassing and candidates throughout the region.144 All the aristocracy and resident and absentee landowners in Glamorgan financed their tenants’ registration, whereby it emerged that control of concentrations of freeholders in west Glamorgan was the key to taking the county.145

In December 1832 Wales, less Monmouthshire, had 29 seats and 36,909 registered electors in a population of 806,182 (790,798 allowing for boundary changes), roughly one Member per 21,452, which was higher than in England (1:27,709). The Reform Act increased the Welsh county electorate by more than 27 per cent to an average in 1832 of 2,121 (significantly lower than England). In the rural north-west and also in Breconshire, Cardiganshire, Flintshire and Radnorshire, where copyhold was infrequent, electorates were small. The greatest increase, probably through aggressive registration and copyhold, was in Montgomeryshire, where it more than doubled to 2,523; the smallest were in Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire, where substantial numbers polled before 1832.146 That the population of the new Flint Boroughs constituency was approximately 23,000 and that of the county constituency barely 30,000 also caused comment.147 Post-1832 borough electorates can never be precisely measured because of inconsistent dual registration of freeman £10 voters and the variety of sources (parliamentary returns, newspapers, correspondence and borough records) from which information on individual out-boroughs is derived. The registered electorate was well below the recorded 11,419 in a constituency population of 182,352 (on the revised 1835 figures given in the table), and the urban enfranchisement rate was less than one in 15. A detailed study of Caernarvon Boroughs in 1832 concluded that 544 (64 per cent) of the registered electorate of 855 were £10 householders, that 106 of these had dual registration, making the actual electorate 749, and that up to 183 of the 343 Caernarvon burgesses polled in 1831 had lost their votes through reform. In Pembroke 120-126 had dual registration in 1832, in Cardigan 59.148 Merthyr’s electorate of 520 could not, as predicted, have outpolled Cardiff and its contributories. Carmarthen’s of 559 (excluding Llanelli) was 164 less than in 1831, when another 132 vetted burgesses were already on the books. The increases in Beaumaris, Brecon and Montgomery were much as predicted.149

At the general election in December 1832 Wales returned 16 Liberals (six county and ten borough Members) and 13 Conservatives (nine county and four borough Members), among them the Owens and David Pughe, whose election for Montgomery was voided on petition. Liberals were ostensibly returned for the five new seats, and prior to corporation reform the extended contributory boroughs system seemed to favour them.

Population and electorate of enfranchised Welsh towns in 1832
(boroughs marked * were designated as municipal only in name in 1835)150

Returning Boroughs                                    



borough population                




& lot                       


£10 voters                      







(electorate 329)



















(electorate 242)











(electorate 855)



































(705 including dual

registration revised to 687)





















(electorate 1,081)

























(electorate 684)















(electorate 1,130)

























(electorate 1,359)





































(electorate 690)















(electorate 520)









(electorate 723)




























(electorate 529)



















(electorate 1,311





including 120 dual






















(electorate 1,407)

























Grand Total





Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott

End Notes

  • 1. 27 Hen. VIII, c. 26; 34 Hen. VIII, c. 26; 35 Hen. VIII c. 11; P.R. Roberts, ‘The Act of Union in Welsh History’, Trans. Hon. Soc. of Cymmrodorion (1972-3), pp. 51-52. As in previous volumes of the History, Monmouthshire is included in England.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1690-1715, i. 139; HP Commons, 1754-1790, i. 37-38; HP Commons, 1790-1820, i. 66-68; P.D.G. Thomas, Politics in 18th Century Wales (1998), x, xi, 1-2; J. Mitchell, The Organization of Opinion: Open Voting in England, 1832-1868 (2008), pp. 44-46.
  • 3. Thomas, 236-8. But see also M. Cragoe, ‘The Golden Grove Interest in Carm. Politics, 1804-21’, WHR, xvi (1993), pp. 467-93, and S. Howard, ‘Riotous Community: Crowds, Politics and Society in Wales c.1700-1840’, ibid. xx (2000-1), pp. 656-86.
  • 4. F. O’Gorman, Voters, Patrons, and Parties (Oxford, 1989), pp. 72, 113, 136; R.J. Moore Colyer, ‘Gentlemen, Horses and the Turf in 19th Cent. Wales’, WHR, xvi (1992-3), 49-60; B. Ellis, ‘Parl. Rep. Mont. 1728-1868’, Mont. Colls. lxiii (1973-4), p. 82; NLW ms 2796 D, Sir W. to H. Williams Wynn, 18 Aug. 1828; Gwynedd RO (Caernarfon), Glynllifon mss 4238.
  • 5. O’Gorman, 346-7; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 491-4.
  • 6. A.G. Prys Jones, Story of Carmarthenshire (1972), ii. 339.
  • 7. See also Ellis, Mont. Colls. lxiii. 83.
  • 8. I. Gwynedd Jones, ‘The Welsh Language and Politics, 1800-1880’, in The Welsh Language and its Social Domains, 1801-1911 ed. G.H. Jenkins (2000), 505-31.
  • 9. Chester, Hereford and Shrewsbury papers competed with the Cambrian, (Swansea), the Carmarthen Journal and the North Wales Gazette (Bangor), relaunched in 1827 as the North Wales Chron. The Caernarvon Advertiser (1822), Cardiff Reporter (1822) and Cardiff Recorder (1825), were short-lived. The Monmouthshire Merlin commenced publication in 1829; the Caernarvon Herald in 1831; the Welshman (Carmarthen) and Glamorgan, Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian (Merthyr Tydfil) in 1832.
  • 10. ‘The Welsh press, controlled by reason and religion, is pure.’ A. Jones, Press, Politics and Society: a history of journalism in Wales (1993), 61-62; A Nation and its Books ed. P.H. Jones and E. Rees (1998), pp. 196-222. Titles included Yr Eurgawn Wesleyaidd; Seren Gomer (Unitarian/Baptist); Goleuad Cymru (M.C.); Y Dysgedydd Crefydol (Unitarian); Greal y Bedyddwyr (1827); LLeuad Yr Oes (1828); Yr Efangylydd (M.C. 1831). See also the list in The Times, 27 Sept. 1832. The citation is from Seren Gomer, ii (1819), p. 75.
  • 11. I. Gwynedd Jones, Essays in Social History of Victorian Wales (1981), p. 294.
  • 12. For example: Greal y Bedyddwyr, ii (1828), pp. 93, 126, 189-90; Yr Eurgawn Wesleyaidd, xxi (1829), pp. 126-8.
  • 13. Seren Gomer, ii (1819), pp. 75, 238.
  • 14. See also on this point D.R. Hughes, Cymru Fydd (2006), pp. 1-3; G.A. Williams, ‘Locating a Welsh Working Class: the frontier years’, in A People and A Proletariat: Essays in History of Wales, 1780-1980 ed. D. Smith (1980), pp. 18, 19, 25; I. Gwynedd Jones, K.O. Morgan and R. Merfyn Jones, ‘Beyond Identity: The Reconstruction of the Welsh’, JBS, xxxi (1992), pp. 330-57.
  • 15. HP Commons, 1790-1820, i. 68.
  • 16. NLW, Coedymaen mss, bdle. 29, C. Williams Wynn to Phillimore, 25 Mar. 1820; NLW ms 10804 D, notebk. ii, same to Buckingham, 24 June 1826.
  • 17. P.D.G. Thomas, ‘A Welsh Political Storm: The Treasury Warrant of 1778 concerning Crown Lands in Wales’, WHR, xviii (1997), 430-49; [Anon], A Brief Account of the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Most Honourable and Loyal Society of Ancient Britons, for supporting the Charity School erected at the north end of Gray’s Inn Lane, London, with a List of the President, Vice-Presidents, Treasurers, Governors, Trustees, and Annual Subscribers (London, 1817); W.D. Leathart, The Origin and Progress of the Gwyneddigion Society of London (1831), app.
  • 18. Merthyr Mawr mss (seen by arrangement with the owner at Glam. RO) F/2/3; Bangor Univ. Archives, Mostyn of Mostyn mss 256.
  • 19. G. Parry, Guide to Recs. of Great Sessions in Wales (NLW, 1995); M. Ellis Jones, ‘“An invidious attempt to accelerate the extinction of our Language”: The abolition of the Court of Great Sessions and the Welsh Language’, WHR, xix (1998), pp. 226-64; M. Escott, ‘How Wales lost its Judicature: the Making of the 1830 Act for the Abolition of the Court of Great Sessions’, Trans. Hon. Soc. of Cymmrodorion (2006), pp. 134-59; Thomas, 14-15.
  • 20. Thomas, 230-31.
  • 21. Ibid. 215.
  • 22. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 494-5; NLW, Wynnstay mss L1233.
  • 23. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 502-3.
  • 24. Ibid. ii. 496-9.
  • 25. M. Escott, ‘Parl. Rep.: From the French Revolution to the Passage of the Reform Bill’, Card. Co. Hist. iii. ed. G.H. Jenkins and I. Gwynedd Jones (1998), p. 368.
  • 26. R.G. Thorne, ‘Pemb. and National Politics, 1815-1974’, Pemb. Co. Hist. iv. ed. D. Howell (1993), pp. 227-30; Cragoe, WHR, xvi. 467-93.
  • 27. Escott, Card. Co. Hist. iii. 376-8.
  • 28. Thomas, 46.
  • 29. Ibid. 15; R.T. Jenkins and H. M. Ramage, Hist. Hon. Soc. of Cymmrodorion and of Gwyneddigion and Cymreigyddion Socs. 1751-1951 (1951), p. 146; E. Ball, ‘Glam. Members During the Reform Period’, Morgannwg, x (1966), pp. 5-7; L. Hargett, ‘Cardiff’s “Spasm of Rebellion” in 1818’, ibid. xxi (1977), p. 69-88.
  • 30. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 482-3; Cragoe, WHR, xvi, 467-93.
  • 31. Sources are those cited in the individual constituency articles.
  • 32. H.M. Williams, ‘Geographic Distribution of Political Opinion in Glam. Parl. Elections, 1820-1950’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis, 1951), pp. 13-39; BL, Talbot Coll. Fox Talbot mss, Talbot to Fox Talbot [14] July 1830; G. A. Williams, The Merthyr Rising (1978), p. 98.
  • 33. Pemb. RO D/CT/464, 465; NLW, Lucas mss 3; D. J. V. Jones, Before Rebecca (1973), 117-132; D. Williams, ‘Pemb. Elections of 1831’, WHR, i (1960-3), pp. 37-64.
  • 34. [Adpar], Caergwrle, Caerwys, Cefnllys, Cnwclas, Knighton, Rhayader and Wiston were municipal in name only.
  • 35. The others were Aberystwyth, Aberavon, Criccieth, Kenfig, Loughor, Llantrisant, Neath, Nefyn, Overton (where mayoral elections were revived in 1830), Pwllheli, Rhuddlan, Swansea and Tenby.
  • 36. The best account of Welsh borough representation, 1660-1832, is that by Thomas, Politics, 28-53, on which this section draws.
  • 37. P. Salmon, ‘“Reform should begin at home”: English Municipal and Parliamentary Reform, 1818-32’, in Partisan Politics, Principle and Reform in Parliament and the Constituencies, 1689-1880 ed. C. Jones, P. Salmon and R.W. Davis (Edinburgh, 2005), pp. 93-113.
  • 38. Thomas, Politics, 22, 30.
  • 39. PP (1826-7), iv. 1143-4.
  • 40. E. and A.G. Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons, 2 vols. (Cambridge,1903), i. 107-8; J. H. Philbin, Parliamentary Representation 1832: England and Wales (New Haven, 1965), pp. 243-66.
  • 41. G. Roberts, ‘Parl. Hist. N. Wales Boroughs’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis, 1928), pp. 172, 191.
  • 42. Franchise changes in Cardiff and Denbigh could have affected their out-boroughs.
  • 43. HP Commons, 1790-1820, i. 64.
  • 44. Thomas, Politics, 31.
  • 45. R. Sweet, ‘Stability and Continuity: Swansea Politics and Reform, 1780-1820’, WHR, xviii (1996), pp. 14-39; The City of Swansea ed. R. Griffiths (1990), pp. 7-15.
  • 46. Ball, 42; Glam. RO DA12/74.
  • 47. NLW, Penrice and Margam mss 9237, Talbot to G. Llewellyn, 27 Sept. 1829.
  • 48.  PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 510-1.
  • 49.  HP Commons, 1690-1715, i. 139; HP Commons, 1754-1790, i. 37-38; HP Commons, 1790-1820, i. 66-68.
  • 50. John Hensleigh Allen (Pembroke Boroughs); Griffith (Denbigh Boroughs); Wyndham Lewis (Cardiff Boroughs); Scourfield (Haverfordwest) and, to a certain extent, the fiercely independent Jones (Carmarthen). See also HP Commons, 1790-1820, i. 66.
  • 51. W. Hinde, Catholic Emancipation: A Shake to Men’s Minds (1992), pp. 66-67.
  • 52. Ll. Jones, ‘Sir Charles Paget and Caernarvon Boroughs, 1830-32’, Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. (1960), xxi. 109-14.
  • 53.  Crichton Stuart (Buteshire); Frankland Lewis (Ennis); Wyndham Lewis (Aldeburgh); West (East Grinstead).
  • 54. Sir Richard Williams Bulkeley (Caernarvonshire); Sir Stephen Richard Glynne (Flintshire); Hanbury Tracy and Leigh (Montgomeryshire); Edward Lloyd Mostyn (Merioneth); Robert Myddelton Biddulph (Denbighshire); Uxbridge (Anglesey); Lord Brecknock (Breconshire); Talbot (Glamorgan), and Walsh (Radnorshire).
  • 55. NLW, Glynne of Hawarden mss 5402.
  • 56. M. Cragoe, Culture, Politics, and National Identity in Wales, 1832-1886 (2004), p. 2.
  • 57.  NLW, Maybery mss 6574-6, 6931; Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83 (33); NLW, mân adnau 1341 A; NLW, Gwernyfed mss, bdle. 36, Wood to J. Jones, 4 July 1832.
  • 58.  Seren Gomer, iii (1820), pp. 219-21; T. Evans, The Background of Modern Welsh Politics, 1786-1846 (1936), pp. 92-93.
  • 59.  Coedymaen mss 939.
  • 60.  Mostyn of Mostyn mss 7876-80; M. Ll. Williams, Hanes yr Eisteddfod ym Môn yn y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg, 1800-1850 (2006), pp. 45, 49.
  • 61.  NLW ms 11116 E, ff. 1, 77-79; E. Jones and D.W. Powell, The Cymmrodorion Society: A Concise History, 1751-2001 (2004), pp. 4-7; Beaumaris Eisteddfod ed. W. Jones (1832). The honorary Gwyneddigion were (in order of admission) the Williams Wynns, Waithman, Griffith, Sir Edward Pryce Lloyd, Lord Clive, Louis Hayes Petit and Lord Ashley.
  • 62.  Leathart, 54-88.
  • 63.  The Welsh in London, 1500-2000 ed. E. Jones, 63-65; Morning Chron. 2 Mar. 1824.
  • 64.  Leathart, 92-93.
  • 65.  Henry Clive, Cole, Jones, Newborough, Sir John Owen, Powell, Sir Richard Philipps, Lord William Paget, Uxbridge and Vaughan.
  • 66.  Clive, Cole, Jones, George Morgan, Newborough, Hugh Owen Owen, Philipps, Powell, Rice Trevor, Uxbridge, Vaughan and West.
  • 67.  Newborough, George Morgan, Philipps, Powell, Richard Price, Rice Trevor, Uxbridge, West and Wood (from constituency pressure). Vaughan was too ill to cast his intended hostile vote.
  • 68.  Clive, Charles Griffith Wynne, Jones, Frankland Lewis, Charles Robinson Morgan, the two Owens, Powell, Price, Rice Trevor, Vaughan and Wood.
  • 69.  By Charles Robinson Morgan, Powell and the Williams Wynns.
  • 70. Clive, Griffith Wynne, Price and Vaughan.
  • 71.  Frankland Lewis, Charles Robinson Morgan, the Williams Wynns and Wood. See The Times, 21 July 1831.
  • 72.  Crichton Stuart, Hamlyn Williams, Edward Lloyd Mostyn, Myddelton Biddulph, Sir Charles Paget, Philipps, Pryse, Christopher Talbot, Uxbridge and Sir Richard Bulkeley Williams.
  • 73.  A.W. Wade-Evans, The Historical Basis of Welsh Nationalism (Cardiff, 1950), pp. 99-129. The topic is treated in detail in Escott, Trans. Hon. Soc. of Cymmrodorion (2006), pp. 134-59, from which information in the next section is derived.
  • 74.  Northants. RO, Agar Ellis diary, 7 Feb. 1828; PP (1829), ix. 380-1, 417-19.
  • 75.  TNA HO43/36, p. 476; PP (1829), ix. 36. The Members were Cole, Crichton Stuart, Jones, Sir Charles Morgan, Vaughan, Sir Robert Williams, Wood and Charles Griffith Wynne.
  • 76.  The Times, 20 August 1828; D.J.V. Jones, Crime in Nineteenth Century Wales (1992), p. 254.
  • 77.  Principally affected were Brecon, Beaumaris, Caernarvon, Cardigan, Cardiff, Denbigh, Flint, Haverfordwest, Montgomery and New Radnor. Flint’s assizes had already been transferred to Mold, Denbigh’s to Ruthin, New Radnor’s to Presteigne and Montgomeryshire’s to Machynlleth and Welshpool.
  • 78. Leathart, 92. The translations were requested during a period of heightened controversy between Welshmen in London and Wales over correct Welsh orthography.
  • 79. NLW, Harpton Court mss C/605.
  • 80. The Times, 23 July 1830; P.C. Scarlett, Mem. Lord Abinger (1877), p. 121.
  • 81. D. Roberts, ‘Pemb. Slate Industry’, Pemb. Co. Hist. iv. ed. D. Howell, 138-5; NLW, Nanhoron mss 823; P. K. Crimmin, `William Alexander Madocks and the Removal of Welsh Coal Duties, Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. xliii (1982), 122-5.
  • 82. Seren Gomer, iv (1821), pp. 60-62; L. W. Dillwyn, Contributions Towards a History of Swansea (1840), pp. 52-53.
  • 83. P.R. Reynolds, The Brecon Forest Tramroad (1979), pp. 56-67; S. Hughes, The Archaeology of an Early Railway System: the Brecon Forest Tramroad (1990); PP (1823), xv. 347-429.
  • 84. E. Ball, ‘Glamorgan: A Study of the Co. and the Work of its Members in the Commons, 1825-1835’ (Univ. of London Ph.D. thesis, 1965), pp. 149-53; D. Philips, ‘Black Country Magistracy, 1835-60’, Midland Hist. iii (1976), pp. 161-90.
  • 85. Glynllifon mss 6063; The Times, 21, 22 May 1827. See also A.H. Dodd, The Industrial Revolution in North Wales (1990 edn.).
  • 86. Jones, Before Rebecca, 35-66; D. Jenkins, ‘Rhyfel y Sais Bach’, Ceredigion, i (1950-1), pp. 199-200; R.J. Colyer, ‘The enclosure and drainage of Cors Fochno, 1813-37’, ibid. viii (1977), pp. 181-92; G. Jenkins, ‘Hetwyr Llangynfelyn’, ibid. x (1984-7), pp. 18-30.
  • 87. J.I.C. Boyd, The Ffestiniog Railway, i (1975), passim; Ball, thesis, 126.
  • 88. M.R. Watts, The Dissenters, ii (1995), pp. 41, 611-12; Evans, Background of Modern Welsh Politics, 203.
  • 89. Yr Eurgawn Wesleyaidd, xx (1828), p. 137, 169; Gwynedd Jones, ‘Welsh Language and Politics’, 507.
  • 90. CJ, lxxxiii. 415, 421; Pritchard, 235-43; H. Hughes, Y Trefnyddion a’r Pabyddion (1829).
  • 91. W. Pritchard, John Elias A’i Oes (1911), pp. 230-5; Goleuad Cymru, v (1827-8), pp. 45, 68, 89, 115, 144, 180, 192, 259, 334, 455; vi (1829), pp. 61-62, 90-105, 120-3.
  • 92. Yr Eurgawn Wesleyaidd xxi (1829), pp. 126-8.
  • 93. G.I.T. Machin, ‘No-Popery Movement in Britain in 1828-9’, HJ, vi (1963), pp. 193-5, 206; and The Catholic Question in English Politics, 1820 to 1830 (Oxford, 1966), pp. 142-5.
  • 94. Yr Eurgawn Wesleyaidd, xxiii (1831), p. 96.
  • 95. Jenkins and Ramage, 125; Cambrian, 19 Oct. 1831; Evans, Background of Modern Welsh Politics, 203.
  • 96. D.A. Wager, ‘Welsh Politics and Parl. Reform, 1780-1832’, WHR, vii (1974), pp. 429-7; Jones, Before Rebecca, 121.
  • 97. Evans, Background of Modern Welsh Politics, 88.
  • 98. NLW, Garn mss (1956), W. Owen to J.W. Griffith, 1 Jan. 1831; Jones, Before Rebecca, 117-18.
  • 99. Chester Chron. 14 Jan., 26 Feb. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 217, 307, 389; LJ, lxiii. 261.
  • 100. Carmarthen Jnl. 25 Feb. 1831.
  • 101. Y Drysorfa, i (1831), pp. 124-5.
  • 102. PP (1830-31), ii. 215.
  • 103. Penrice and Margam mss 9238, Talbot to G. Llewellyn, 7, 15 Mar. 1831.
  • 104. This is especially the case for the busy boroughs and counties of Caernarvon and Carmarthen.
  • 105. NLW ms 2797 D, C. to H. Williams Wynn, 3 Mar.; N. Wales Chron. 17 Mar.; Chester Chron. 18, 25 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 402.
  • 106. LJ, lxiii. 407; Plas Newydd mss i. 194; vii. 282; PP (1830-31), ii. 250-1.
  • 107. Mostyn mss 7903; Chester Courant, 29 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 456.
  • 108. CJ, lxxxvi. 457.
  • 109. Cambrian, 12 Mar. 1831.
  • 110. CJ, lxxxvi. 381, 491; LJ, lxii. 354; Plas Newydd mss i. 500, 560; Chester Courant, 15 Mar.; N. Wales Chron. 5 Apr. 1831.
  • 111.  LJ, lxiii. 384; CJ, lxxxvi. 509.
  • 112. CJ, lxxxvi. 77; PP (1838), xxxv. 223; Carmarthen Jnl. 18 Mar., 15, 22 Apr.; Cambrian, 16 Apr. 1831; Y Gwyliedydd (1831), p. 279.
  • 113. Plas Newydd mss i. 551, 554, 567; CJ, lxxxvi. 311; Chester Courant, 3, 17 May 1831.
  • 114. Cambrian, 9, 16 Apr., 7, 14 May 1831.
  • 115. Chester Chron. 18, 25 Mar. 1831; Yr Efangylydd (1831), p. 129.
  • 116. Hereford Jnl. 16 Mar., 13 Apr. 1831; Salop Archives, Ludford Park mss 11/992; W. H. Howse, ‘Grey Coat Club’, Trans. Rad. Soc. xiv (1944), pp. 29-32.
  • 117. Cambrian, 23 Apr. 1831; Penrice and Margam mss 9238; CJ, lxxxvi. 495.
  • 118. NLW, Powis Castle mss C/180; Shrewsbury Chron. 18 Nov.-30 Dec. 1831.
  • 119. Pemb. RO D/CT/464, 465; Lucas mss 3; Jones, Before Rebecca, 117-132; D. Williams, ‘Pemb. Elections of 1831’, WHR, i (1960-3), pp. 37-64.
  • 120. N. LoPatin, Political Unions, Popular Politics and the Great Reform Act of 1832 (1999), pp. 103, 165, 174, which underestimates union activity in Wales; Jones, Before Rebecca, 129; Brougham mss, Crichton Stuart to Brougham, 28 July 1831; Williams, Merthyr Rising, passim.
  • 121. PP (1831), iii (unfol.), bill of 25 June 1831; Cheshire and Chester Archives, Stanley of Alderley mss DSA 12c.; LJ, lxiii. 840; CJ, lxxxvi. 564, 729; Bangor Univ. Archives, Baron Hill mss 5630.
  • 122. Salopian Jnl. 22 June; The Times, 25 June 1831; Mostyn of Mostyn mss 8419; CJ, lxxxvi. 611.
  • 123. Carmarthen Jnl. 10 June 1831; LJ, lxiii. 1057.
  • 124. Mostyn of Mostyn mss 7871.
  • 125. Ibid. 7872; CJ, lxxxvi. 729; N. Wales Chron. 16 Aug. 1831.
  • 126. NLW, Bute mss L74/160-161.
  • 127. Evans, Background of Modern Welsh Politics, 94, 95.
  • 128. Maybery mss 2319-21, 2632; D.J.V. Jones, WHR, iv. 129-42 and ‘Law Enforcement and Popular Disturbances in Wales, 1793-1835’, JMH, xlii (1970), 516; Dynevor mss 159/4; TNA HO52/16, Dynevor to Melbourne, 10 Nov. 1831; D.A. Wager, ‘Carm. Politics and Reform Act of 1832’, Carm. Antiq. x (1974), 106-7.
  • 129. PP (1831-2), iii (unfol.), reform bills of 7, 15 Sept. 1831.
  • 130. Maybery mss 6590.
  • 131. CJ, lxxxvii. 189; Bute mss L75/34; Mon. Merlin, 17 Mar.; Penrice and Margam mss 9239, Talbot to G. Llewellyn, 20 Mar. 1832.
  • 132.  Carmarthen Jnl. 4, 18 May 1832; Highmead mss 3186; Cardiff Central Lib. Bute estate letterbks. ii. 333-4; Mon. Merlin, 12 May; Hereford Jnl. 13 June, 22 Aug; Welshman, 20, 27 June; Cambrian, 30 June 1832.
  • 133.  PP (1831-2), iii. 300; Mostyn of Mostyn mss 265, 8159-62; PP (1835), xxvi. 2817-21.
  • 134.  PP (1831-2), xli. 131, 133, 141-5; (1838), xxxv. 255-65, 299-300, 361-7; The Times, 15 Mar.; Mostyn of Mostyn mss 6238; Spectator, 4 Aug. 1832; M. Ll. Chapman, R. Morgan, E.R. Morris, ‘Hist. Llanidloes Borough Charters’, Mont. Colls. lxxix (1991), pp. 11-27.
  • 135.  Cambrian, 30 June 1832.
  • 136.  PP (1832), iii. 726, 819; Dynevor mss 154/7. The boroughs were Kidwelly, Laugharne, Llandovery and St. Clears.
  • 137.  Ball, thesis, 64-65; Maybery mss 6599.
  • 138.  PP (1831-2), lxi. 45-50; Reform Act clause lxxiv, schedule E (2); PP (1832), iii. 747, 823; CJ, lxxxvii. 217; NLW, Henry Rumsey Williams mss 2145.
  • 139.  CJ, lxxxvii. 205.
  • 140.  PP (1832), iii. 726.
  • 141.  Plas Newydd mss iii. 3359; M. Cragoe, An Anglican Aristocracy: The Moral Economy of the Landed Estate in Carm. 1832-1895 (1996), pp. 14, 151-2.
  • 142.  Salopian Jnl. 17 Oct., 5 Dec. 1832; Mostyn of Mostyn mss 7873-5.
  • 143.  Ellis, Mont. Colls. lxiii (1973), 74-95.
  • 144.  Bute mss L75/122, 133-46, 149, 149; Bute estate letterbks. ii. 276, 333-6, 346-7; iii. 1-13, 19, 36, 71; Cragoe, Culture, Politics and National Identity, 85-86.
  • 145.  Bute mss L75/99; Penrice and Margam mss 9239, Talbot to G. Llewellyn, 1 Aug., 7 Sept.; Cambrian, 27 Oct. 1832.
  • 146.  Monmouthshire is included in Wales in the totals in Cragoe, Culture, Politics and National Identity, 83, and post-19th cent. monographs.; PP (1834), ix. 591; R.G. Thomas, ‘Politics in Anglesey and Caern. 1826-52’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis, 1970), p. 73.
  • 147.  N. Wales Chron. 24 Jan. 1832.
  • 148.  PP (1833), xxvii. passim; R.G. Thomas, thesis, 207.
  • 149.  NLW, Glansevern mss 14037.
  • 150.  1831 population totals allow for boundary changes; source of electoral size: PP (1833), xxvii; Glansevern mss 14037.