Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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WYNNE , JOHN ( 1650 - 1714 ), industrial pioneer ,

the son of the squire of Copa'rleni (the name has several forms — see Ellis Davies , Prehistoric and Roman Remains of Flintshire , 159-60; the old mansion is now a farmhouse, known as ‘ Y Gop ’), Trelawnyd (‘ Newmarket ’), Flints . His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all named John Wynne ; the great-grandfather was the son of Edward ap John Wynne ap Robert ap Ieuan ap Cynwrig ap Ieuan ap Dafydd ap Cynwrig , who was descended from Edwin ap Gronw (q.v.) of Tegeingl ( Powys Fadog , iv 99, v 244, and elsewhere; T. A. Glenn , Griffith of Garn , 77); Copa'rleni was in the possession of Ieuan ap Dafydd ap Cynwrig in 1441 , and we find a reference, to his son Cynwrig in 1467 . The surname ‘ Wynne ’ was finally adopted in the reign of Elizabeth , and from about the same time the heir was regularly named ‘ John ’; they were mostly lawyers . The John Wynne of ‘ Rhylofnoyd ,’ who matriculated from Jesus College , Oxford , ‘aged 17’ ( Foster , Alumni Oxon. ), and m. Catherine Thelwall of Bathafarn , was probably our John 's father; and it seems likely that his grandfather, who m. Elizabeth Salusbury of Llewesog , was the man of that name who was sheriff of Flintshire in 1677 . The subject of this article entered Jesus College , Oxford , in 1668 , ‘aged 18,’ and joined Gray's Inn in 1669 . He m. ( 1673 ) Jane , daughter of Robert Wynne of Voelas . But the truth is that we know very little about his career, except that he, too, was sheriff of Flintshire in 1695 . For all that, he was a most interesting character. In the first place, he was one of the ‘spirited proprietors.’ He believed that Trelawnyd had a future as a centre of the lead industry, and aimed at converting the hamlet (an insignificant chapelry of the parish of Diserth ) of ten houses ( Lhuyd , Parochialia , i, 59-61) into an industrial town; he built a considerable number of houses and of ‘noble public buildings’ at his own expense ; he established a weekly market and an annual fair , and in 1710 obtained permission from the bishop's court to rename it ‘ Newmarket ’ — ‘ as the old name appears in a dozen or more different ways ,’ says the petition ( Thomas , S. Asaph , i, 408-10). However, the works did not materialise, and all that remains of Wynne 's dream is the name ‘ Newmarket ’ [now in its turn discontinued]. Again, Wynne was a Nonconformist (there is a suggestion that he was connected with Wrexham ), and in 1701 he presented Trelawnyd with a Nonconformist chapel — a chapel of which Thomas Perrott (q.v.) became minister ; in this we can, doubtless, see the hand of James Owen (q.v.) . The services were conducted in English , and the chapel was intended to serve not the native-born Welsh of the neighbourhood but the labour imported from across the border. When John Evans ( c. 1680 - 1730 ) (q.v.) collected his statistics, the congregation numbered 30. As the lead industry declined, so the congregation faded away, and in any event the ministers were, for the most part, a very uninspiring lot. By about 1793 , there was only one surviving member (an old Scotswoman ), and so it was reconstitued as a Welsh congregation ( H. Egl. Ann. , iv, 213-4). Finally, John Wynne was a believer in education . There was already, according to Lhuyd , an elementary school at Trelawnyd , run by ‘ one Mr. Turner , an Anabaptist ’ and his assistants, and Lhuyd says that it was Wynne 's intention to open a mathematical school as well. His plan can be studied in detail in the codicil to his will, dated 17 Oct. 1713 . A grammar school was to be founded to teach Latin , Greek , and French , mathematics and navigation, with ‘ Mr. Thomas Parrott ’, assisted by a staff, as headmaster ; the full details can be studied in the Report of the Charity Commissioners, 1815-39 (‘ Flints. ’, 216-26), and even more fully in Thomas , S. Asaph , loc. cit. The school died of inanition and its endowments were wrongfully diverted to other purposes — as were the endowments left by Wynne to relieve the poor at Trelawnyd . John Wynne d. 31 Dec. 1714 , and was buried in the Nonconformist chapel at Trelawnyd . It is recorded that he had a brother, Edward (who seems to have predeceased him), and three sisters: Mary , Elizabeth (who was m. to John Hough of Chester in 1700 , by the celebrated Independent minister James Owen ), and Catherine . According to Powys Fadog (iv, 298) and J. E. Griffith ( Pedigrees , 299), he had a daughter and heiress, Catherine , who m. John Lloyd of Rhagad in Edeirnion ; but, having regard to the frequency of the name ‘ John Wynne ’ in the family tree, there is a distinct possibility that this was his sister and not his daughter. At any rate, she was the heiress. Unless Dr. John Evans (or Dr. Daniel Williams ) had collected his statistics before the death of John Wynne (which might well have been the case), Catherine must have been a Nonconformist , at least at that time; for John Evans says that there was one member of the Trelawnyd congregation ‘worth £14-15,000,’ and this could only have been the owner of Copa'rleni . In the litigation concerning the Wynne endowments, mention is made of one Elizabeth Wynne , who had d. before 1764 .

Sources:

  • Records of the see of S. Asaph;
  • N.L.W. Wynnstay Manuscript at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth 143 (134);
  • and the other references given above.

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959