Fonds GB 0210 WYNNSTAY - Wynnstay Estate Records.

Identity area

Reference code



Wynnstay Estate Records.


  • 1183-1957 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

10.563 cubic metres (182 boxes, 593 volumes, 9 outsize folders)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

The Williams-Wynn family traces its ancestors back to Hugh Williams, D.D. (1596-1670), rector of Llantrisant and Llanrhyddlad, Anglesey, and second son of William Williams of Chwaen Isaf, Llantrisant. His son, Sir William Williams (1634-1700), was a lawyer, became Speaker of the House of Commons 1680-1681, and was appointed Solicitor-general to James II in 1687, knighted in the same year, and created a baronet in 1688. He was the heir to Chwaen Isaf, and in 1675 he acquired property near Oswestry through the purchase of the Llanforda estate from Edward Lloyd. He married Margaret, daughter of Watkin Kyffin (c. 1664) and through this marriage he acquired the Glascoed estate in Llansilin, Denbighshire. Their son, Sir William Williams (c. 1665-1740), 2nd Bart., married Jane, daughter and heiress of Edward Thelwall of Plas-y-ward, great-granddaughter of Sir John Wynn of Gwydir in 1684. Sir William and Jane's eldest son was Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1692-1749), 3rd Bart., who inherited his father's estates and title, and also through his mother, the estate of Wynnstay (formerly Watstay), which had passed into the possession of Sir John Wynn (d. 1719), the last baronet of the direct Gwydir line, through Sir John's marriage with the heiress of Eyton Evans of Watstay. Through Katherine (nee Lloyd), mother of the last Sir John Wynn, the family had also gained the Rhiwgoch estate. On inheriting the Wynnstay estate, Sir Watkin Williams took on the additional surname of Wynn. He was M.P. for Denbighshire 1717-1741, but lost his seat in 1741 due to a trick played by the high sheriff at the time. However, in July 1742, the matter was resolved and Sir Watkin represented Denbighshire in Parliament until his death in 1749. In 1723 he established the Jacobite club, 'Circle of the White Rose'. He had added extensively to the Wynnstay estate by acquiring the Llwydiarth, Langedwyn and Glan-llyn estates in Montgomeryshire and Denbighshire through his his marriage to Ann, daughter and heiress of Edward Vaughan in 1715. Sir Watkin commissioned the building of a new mansion at Wynnstay to replace the modest house built by William Eyton in 1616. By the time of his death in 1749, a substantial house and stables had been erected. Sir Watkin was succeeded by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1749-1789), 4th Bart., the surviving son of his second marriage. He served as M.P. for Denbighshire 1774-1789, and in 1775 was made Custos Rotulorum and Lord-lieutenant of Merionethshire. He was also a patron of the arts, and contributed to the Welsh school in London and started two schools in his own locality. In 1768-1769 he toured France, Switzerland and Italy, spending lavishly on art. During his minority his mother purchased further estates to add to the extent of the Wynnstay estate. In 1754 she purchased the Mathafarn from Gogerddan for £33,400 which lay in the manor or lordship of Cyfeiliog. Rhiwsaeson was purchased in 1758 and Tirymynech in 1762. Sir Watkin, 4th Bart., made extensions to Wynnstay in readiness for his coming of age. Sir Watkin's eldest son and heir was Sir Watkin William-Wynn (1772-1840), 5th Bart. He was an M.P. for Beaumaris 1794-1796, and for Denbighshire 1796-1840. He was also Lord-lieutenant of Merionethshire and Denbighshire. He was accorded the unofficial title of 'Prince of Wales'. His main interest was military matters and in 1794 he raised a cavalry regiment, 'The Ancient British Fencibles' and took part in the suppression of the Irish rebellion in 1798. His son and heir was Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1820-1885), 6th Bart. He served as M.P for Denbighshire 1841-1885. He was head of the free masons of North Wales. Sir Watkin also took on the duties of master of the hounds when he was 23 years old, his main activity. In 1852 he married his cousin, Marie Emily, daughter of the Sir Henry Williams-Wynn, of Llanforda Hall. In 1858, the old mansion of Wynnstay was almost totally destroyed by fire, many valuable manuscripts being lost. Sir Watkin re-built the mansion in the same location, employing Benjamin Ferrey as architect. The building of the house took six years from 1859 to 1865. Sir Watkin and Marie had two daughters, one dying at the age of 14. The other daughter, Louisa Alexandra (1846-1911), sole heiress of the Wynnstay estate married her cousin, Herbert Lloyd Watkin Williams-Wynn (1860-1944), who succeeded to the baronetcy and estates on the death of his uncle and father-in-law, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1820-1885), 6th Bart. During World War I he established a munitions factory at Wynnstay. Herbert's heir was his son, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1891-1949), 8th Bart. Due to the burden of death duties on the estate, he was unable to live at Wynnstay for long. He moved to Plas Belan on the outskirts of the park, and subsequently to Llangedwyn. Sir Watkin was forced to sell the Llwydiarth estate in Montgomeryshire, part of it to the Forestry Commission. Glan-llyn estate in Merionethshire was accepted by the Treasury in lieu of part of the death duties. Wynnstay mansion, five cottages and 150 acres of land was sold to Lindisfarne College in 1948 for £17,100. Most of the furniture and effects were sold at a three-day sale at Wynnstay in June 1947. The baronetcy was inherited by Sir Watkin's uncle, Sir Robert William Herbert Watkin Williams-Wynn (1862-1951), 9th Bart., of Plas-yn-cefn. The present baronet is Sir David Watkin Williams-Wynn (b. 1940), 11 Bart., who succeeded his father, Sir Owen Watkin Williams-Wynn (1904-1988), 10th Bart. in 1988.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Deposited by Sir Herbert Lloyd Watkin Williams Wynn, 7th Bart., between 1934 and 1940; B2001/9.

Wynnstay MSS 187-188; Deposited at Denbighshire Record Office, Ruthin, by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (see Denbighshire Record Office DD/WY)

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Estate and family records, 1183-1957, of the Wynn and Williams Wynn family of Wynnstay, Denbighshire. The archive includes a group of architectural drawings, c. 1770, by James Byres; a group of early charters and deeds, 1183-1676, from the Cistercian Abbey of Strata Marcella near Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, and elsewhere; antiquarian, legal and literary manuscripts; account rolls of Sir Richard Wynn, Treasurer to Queen Henrietta Maria, 1627-1649; manorial records relating to manors and boroughs in Denbighshire, Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, 1364-1895 (1934-40 and 1952 deposits); parliamentary election papers for Anglesey, Cardigan (county and borough), Denbighshire, Flintshire and Montgomeryshire, 1621-1883; family and estate correspondence, including part of that of Sir William Williams (1634-1700), Speaker of the House of Commons; rentals and account books, 1300-1925 (preserved in an almost unbroken series from the time of Sir William Williams); over 5000 title deeds and documents, [pre-1290]-[c. 1910], mainly relating to properties in the six North Wales counties and Shropshire, including records for Glascoed and Llanforda, Llwydiarth, Llangedwyn and Glanllyn, Plas-y-Ward, Rhiwgoch and Mathafarn, which were estates acquired either by marriage or purchase in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; together with papers relating to administration of the estates and household (NB especially the accounts of the 4th baronet, patron of music and the arts), 1573-1946; family papers, 1499-1913, county and central government administration papers, 1608-1880; two discrete groups of Much Wenlock estate records, 1534-1860, and Nantcriba estate records, 1381-1680; and various maps. There is an additional group of papers relating to the Wynnstay estate which came from the office of Longueville Gittins solicitors, Oswestry, 1582-1957.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to the original manuscripts of Wynnstay MSS 1-27, 29-36, 38-114 and 116-173 by authorised permission only. Readers are directed to use surrogate copies.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • English
  • Latin
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Latin, Welsh.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Further details relating to manorial records within the archive can be accessed on-line from The National Archives Manorial Documents Register.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Wynnstay MSS 1-27, 29-36, 38-114 and 116-173 available on microfilm at the Library.

Related units of description

A number of maps and architectural drawings are in NLW, Maps and Special Collections. Further papers relevant to the Wynnstay estate held at NLW are Wynn Family of Gwydir Papers, Gwydir (BRA) Papers, NLW MSS 2775-2806, 5249C, 23301-3, NLW ex 1329-30, Percival Bevan Papers, Coedymaen Papers: Groups I-II (Group II remains uncatalogued), Canon Trevor Owen Papers, and Longueville & Co. (Solicitors) Papers. A substantial part of the archive is in Denbighshire Record Office, DD/WY. An estate daybook, 1908-1910, is in Denbighshire Record Office, DD/DM/100.

Related descriptions

Publication note

T. W. Pritchard, The Wynns at Wynnstay (Caerwys, 1982); Peter Asher, 'Troubled history at Wynnstay Hall...', Country Quest, April 2001 ; Askew Roberts, Wynnstay & the Wynns: A volume of varieties (Oswestry, 1876)

Notes area


Descriptions and digital images of the Ystrad Marchell / Strata Marcella charters held among the Wynnstay Estate Records, and in other archives held by a number of repositories, can be accessed from <>; June 2002

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Place access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

June 2002, amended Februray 2014.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Mair James; amended by Hilary Peters.

Archivist's note

The following sources were used in the completion of this description: <>, (15 January 2002), Griffith, John Edwards, Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families, (Wrexham, 1998 reprint); James, Brian, 'The Great Landowners of Wales in 1873', National Library of Wales Journal, XIV (1965-66); Pritchard, T.W, The Wynns at Wynnstay, (Caerwys, 1982); Asher, Peter, 'Troubled history at Wynnstay Hall...', Country Quest, April 2001 ; Roberts, Askew, Wynnstay & the Wynns: A volume of varieties, (Oswestry, 1876); Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940, (London, 1959); Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig 1951-1970 gyda atodiad i'r Bywgraffiadur Cymreig hyd 1940 a'r Bywgraffiadur Cymreig 1941-1950, (Llundain, 1997);

Accession area