Cwmgwili and Its Families
By Major FRANCIS JONES,
C.V.O., T.D., D.L., F.S.A.,
Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary
Some time after I came to live in the county town, Sir Grismond Philipps, C.V.O., then Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum, discussed with me the possibility of producing a detailed study of the Cwmgwili family, its ancestry, vicissitudes and achievements, and contributions to public life, based on authentic records and presented without recourse to adjectival extravagance or flattery. This I undertook to do. Alas, he died before the work was completed. Now that I have brought it to some degree of fruition, I offer it as a tribute to the memory of Sir Grismond, one of Wales's most distinguished sons, in whom were combined the virtues of the traditional country gentleman and the perspicacity of an observer of the contemporary scene, which made him one of the most respected, indeed loved, public figures of our times. It is appropriate that this essay should appear in the
Carmarthen Historian, a journal established under the auspices of the former Carmarthenshire Community Council, of which Sir Grismond had been President since its inception, and whose aims and activities he had constantly forwarded and supported until his untimely departure from our midst. Memoria est thesaurus omnium rerum e custos. F.J.
ON a hill-slope overlooking the wooded vale of the Gwili stands an ancient country house whose owners at various times have made notable contributions to the history of Carmarthenshire. Appropriately named Cwmgwili, the present house containing seventeenth-century features to which extensive additions were made during the eighteenth century, stands on the site of a house that stood there during the late middle ages. Although it has been the home of different families, it has always changed hands through marriage of heiresses or a testamentary devise, and has never been sold during the six hundred years of its existence. The mansion is on the western side of the parish of Abergwili, within whose boundaries at one time were eight seats of well-known landowning families; of these Cwmgwili alone remains. Residence in the parish held considerable advantages for families involved in county administration, for its western boundary lay within two miles of Carmarthen where all public business was transacted, and whose port and markets provided facilities for their economic and domestic concerns.
The Earlier Families of Cwmgwili
No reference to Cwmgwili has been found in early documents, and we have to rely on genealogies for information about its original occupiers. According to these, the first-known proprietor was one Griffith ap Lewis ap Thomas ap John ap Rhys ap Ieuan ap Rickard. Griffith was living about 1550, while his ancestor lived about two hundred years earlier, and while there is no direct evidence, it is probable that Rickard had lived at Cwmgwili. Although the lineage is not traced to an established Welsh chieftain, Griffith clearly belonged to bonheddig
stock, and the fact that his only child and heiress, Catherine, married a son of one of the oldest and most influential Carmarthenshire families suggests that the Cwmgwili estate was substantial at that period.
The husband of Catherine verch Griffith was Richard Jones, second son of Sir Thomas Jones of Abermarlais (High Sheriff in 1544), whose family was an offshoot of the powerful house of Dynevor. After marriage Richard settled at his wife's home, and as his name does not appear in public records he probably confined his time to estate and domestic affairs. They had three children, Thomas and Joyce who both died without issue, probably at a young age, and Catherine who became sole heiress of Cwmgwili.
Catherine Jones, heiress of Cwmgwili, married a neighbouring landowner, Charles Vaughan of Penybanc Issa son of Walter Vaughan of Pembrey, descendant of Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine and his wife Gwladys daughter of David Gam who fell at Agincourt. Accordingly, Charles came to live at Cwmgwili.
The marriage took place in, or before, 1589, for on 28 July of that year, a final concord was made in respect of a fine levied in the Great Sessions for Carmarthenshire, between Sir Thomas Jones of Abermarlais and Edward Donne Lee of Pibwr, plaintiffs, and Charles Vaughan and Catherine his wife, deforceants, concerning messuages and lands in the parishes and hamlets of Abergwili, Abernant, Brechfa Gothy, Carmarthen, Conwil Elfed, Kidwelly, Llandyfaelog, Llangunnor, Llanarthney, Llanddarog, Llanegwad, Llanfihangel Yeroth, Llanllawddog, Llangyndeyrn, 'Llanllygeyn', Llanpumpsaint, Llanwinio, Meidrim, Newchurch, and Cwm Gwili1
. This transaction clearly formed part of a post-nuptial settlement, and shows the estate alive in 1592, and ten years later her husband served as High Sheriff of the county.
In 1597, Lewys Dwnn, the deputy herald of arms, called at Cwmgwili, where he examined and recorded the family tree, afterwards signed by Charles Vaughan and his son Thomas, who gave five shillings to the visitor for his pains. The chart contained the ancestry of both Charles and Catherine, and the names of their five sons and four daughters. The eldest of the sons, Thomas Vaughan, inherited the estate, served as mayor of Carmarthen in 1608 and High Sheriff of the county in 1635. By his wife Gwenllian daughter and heiress of Oliver Hodges of Carmarthen, he had two children, Thomas Vaughan the younger and Catherine. This Thomas Vaughan the younger married Margaret daughter of Edward Vaughan of Trawscoed (Crosswood), Cardiganshire, by whom he had an only child, Charles.
Charles was the last of the Vaughans of Cwmgwili. He married Anne daughter of John Vaughan of Llanelli, member of a cadet family of Golden Grove. He died without issue in 1678, leaving Cwmgwili to his wife, who afterwards married Griffith Lloyd, serjeant-at-law, son of William Lloyd, who traced his lineage to the family of Rhydodin. Anne died on 31 January 1706, and her second husband thereupon became owner of Cwmgwili.
The widower did not remain long before acquiring a second partner. On 27 September 1709 he married Dame Beatrice Rudd, widow of Sir Anthony Rudd of Aberglasney, daughter of Sir John Barlow of Slebech, Pembrokeshire. By Beatrice he had an only child, William, born in 1710, and died in infancy.
Griffith Lloyd was born in Llanarthney, educated at Queen's College, Cambridge (1659), admitted at Gray's Inn on 11 April 1660, later called to the Bar, and was an Ancient in 1680. He was a man of considerable wealth, some inherited from his father, some acquired as a result of successful legal practice, and further augmented by marriage to well-dowered widows. He made his will on 28 March 1713, which his widow Beatrice proved on 11 February 1713-14 in Doctor's Commons (PCC. 12 Ashton).
He left most of the estate (including Cwmgwili) to the use of his nephew and godson, Grismond Philipps eldest son of John Philipps of White House, gentleman, and the heirs of his body, and in default to Thomas Philipps second son of the said John, and the heirs of his body, and in default to the said John and testator's right heirs, for ever. To the said Grismond he also gave the reversion of the jointure lands after Dame Beatrice's death, and lands in Llanarthney held on a lease from the late Earl of Carbery. By a codicil dated 6 April 1713, he left to his nephew Grismond Philipps, 8 cows, 4 work horses, and 30 sheep at Rhyd y walchen in Abergwili parish, and 4 feather beds with curtains, bedsteads, and hangings at Cwmgwili. He may have been buried at St. Peter's Carmarthen, where there is a fine enclosed pew inscribed "By virtue of a Commission and Decree of the Ecclesiastical Court this ground was assigned to Griffith Lloyd, Esqr, whereupon he built this seat A.D. 1709".
In the will, Griffith Lloyd describes Grismond Philipps as his nephew,
but in fact he was his great-nephew,
for, as we shall see, it was through the marriage of Griffith Lloyd's sister Catherine to Griffith Philipps of Ty Gwyn (White House), grandparents of the lucky Grismond, that the relationship came.
Here, it were well to offer comment on the spelling of the surname of the family whose fortunes now engage our attention. In earlier times the descendants of the widespread house of Cilsant and Picton Castle, spelled their name in several ways Philips, Phillips, Philippes, Phillippes, Philipps even brothers would spell their name in different ways, and the same Wellerian principle operated in legal documents and public records concerning members of the family. By the early eighteenth century it had assumed the permanent form, Philipps, so that thenceforward this became the distinguishing mark of families claiming descent from Cilsant and Picton Castle. To achieve consistency, I have adopted the final form throughout this essay except when quoting directly from contemporary documents.
Origins of the Philipps Family of Cwmgwili
Since no early pedigree of the family of Philipps of Cwmgwili has been recorded in genealogical literature, it becomes necessary to construct it from such original sources as are available. The earliest known pedigree was drawn up in 1835, as follows:
From the above the descent is continued to the brothers Captain John George Philipps R.N. and Grismond Philipps, who were living in 1835. It is in this form that the pedigree appears in modern books of reference, e.g. in Nicholas' County Families 1872,
and Burke's Landed Gentry 1898,
and subsequent editions.
Towards the end of the last century, the antiquary, W. G. Stedman Thomas of Belle Vue House, Carmarthen, published his version of the family tree in Yr Haul.
Although an impressive production, it did not meet with the entire approval of Mr Grismond Philipps, who drew the author's attention to some discrepancies contained therein. On 4 December 1891 Stedman Thomas wrote the following letter to Grismond Philipps 2
"I can now state through your favour of the accompanying which I now return with thanks [i.e. the pedigree chart of 1835], that the account you verbally gave me here before you left is fully borne out by this, your family pedigree, which is again verified by the framed very old account preserved by Mr. Williams of Cambray House where I went and examined with that gentleman yesterday at noon. How this slight difference has occurred relative to the marriage of John Philipps of White House in the printed pedigree bearing my name and the one given me by the late Walter Owen Price of Castle Pigyn, I am now through lapse of time quite unable to determine, unless indeed Mr W. O. Price himself had been at the pains of preserving the will of Griffith Lloyd of Cwmgwili circa 1713 and thus taking the more certain degree of relationship from that legal instrument. However this may be Mr Williams's framed account positively gives John Philipp's wife as Elizabeth Grismond of Ludlow, and further states that they were married on a Friday 168-something, but so illegibly that Mr W could not clearly make it all out. With regard to Griffith Philipps's immediate line and parentage, after what I have before mentioned to yourself as well as to Major Horne it is by no means so clear. However, as this was as it now stands published in the Haul
as well as in that which I now return, I should leave it to stand for it is not at all likely that any other individual will point out to you what I have relative to this little matter which under present circumstances had therefore now better rest and remain as published so long since".
Mr. Stedman Thomas had other doubts which he stated in one of his manuscripts3
"It has been said that this family paternally derived through John Phillipps of White House near Llandeilo, and tanners, from the Phillipses of Pantwdog, Conwil Elvet, freeholders, and also largely engaged in the tannery trade both in that parish as well as in Mydrim".
To resolve these discrepancies it is necessary to establish the identity of Griffith Philipps, who is the key figure in the genealogy. In the Cwmgwili version he is said to have been a younger son of James Philipps of Pentypark in Walton East, Pembrokeshire. The descent of James Philipps from Sir Thomas Philipp of Picton Castle is as given in the family tree, and it is equally true that the said James had a younger son named Griffith Philipps.4
But neither Dwnn nor any other genealogist states that this Griffith ever married, and there is evidence that he died young, under distressing circumstances, unmarried and without issue. This evidence is provided by a contemporary, Alban Stepney of Prendergast (d. 1611), who described Griffith Philipps as "one of the cosens-germanes removed, viz keverthers to Mary my wief", and opposite Griffith's name he wrote "obiit morte" (he died the deathy)5
. Furthermore, a manuscript in the hand of George William Griffith of Penybenglog adds to Griffith's name these doom-laden words, "SI [without issue] exec' fuit pro murder' John ap Owen", and the Golden Grove MS states succinctly, "suspensus". The victim of the murder, John Jones, also known as John ap Owen, was the son of an important Pembrokeshire landowner, John ap Owen of Trecwn, in whose family tree the son's name is followed by the words "killed at Newport", the place where Griffith Philipps had set about him.
The Plea Rolls of the Great Sessions held for Pembrokeshire in September 1579 provide us with the unhappy details. One James Routh, a tanner of Haverfordwest met Nicholas Dawes on 5 July previously, and told him, "I am sorye for the death of your cozyn Griffith Phillipps (which said Griffith Phillipps had been lately indicted, convicted, and hanged for the murder of John Jones)", and went on to say that his execution was due to "that villain Griffith White who hathe worne a bloddye butcher's jerkyn theise twenty yeres", and who wished that all the Philippses were in the same condition as theie hanged kinsman.
No evidence whatsoever has been found concerning the alleged wife "Mary daughter of Thomas Jones", referred to in the family tree. In any case, Griffith who was hanged before 1579, could hardly have been the father of Griffith Philipps of Whitehouse (of whom later) who died at the end of 1689, one hundred and ten years later. And so we must eliminate Griffith Philipps of Pentypark from the Cwmgwili pedigree.
We now have to look for others who bore the name Griffith Philipps. William Philipps of Pentypark (father of the executed Griffith) had a younger son, William who settled at Coedgain in Llangunnor parish, where his descendants continued to live for over two centuries. This William Philipps married Jane daughter of Rhys William Thomas Goch of Ystradffin, by whom he had two sons Thomas Philipps of Coedgain (will proved 1609) and Griffith Philipps. This Griffith Philipps whose will was proved in 1614, was married to Mary, by whom he certainly had a son Richard, and may have had other issue as well.
Just over ten years later on we meet the name Griffith Phillips again. This Griffith Philipps of Llangunnor parish made his will in 1625 and named three sons, Griffith Philipps (buried at Llangunnor in 1684), Thomas Philipps (buried in 1685) and William. It is quite likely that these persons were descended from the Griffith Philipps who made his will in 1614, and so were akin to the family of Coedgain, a fact we should bear in mind in view of evidence we shall examine in due course.
We now come to Griffith Philipps of Ty Gwyn (White House), who had a brother Thomas Philipps, and there is a strong presumption that they were members of a branch of the Coedgain family. The Philippses of Cwmgwili are the undoubted descendants of this Griffith Philipps who lived at Ty Gwyn in the parish of Llandeilofawr, across the river from the town of Llandeilo. The Ty Gwyn estate formed part of the possessions of the Vaughans of Derwydd, and Griffith Philipps held the house and demesne on a lease. He also had an interest in lands at Rhosmaen concerning which, and other lands in Llandeilofawr, he had a dispute with Sir Henry Vaughan of Derwydd.6
He may have been the Griffith Philipps described as of Llandeilo Iskennen who served on a jury in the Carmarthenshire Great Sessions in 1682.
From the inventory of goods attached to the will of Griffith Philipps of Ty Gwyn it is clear that he farmed, for nearly two-thirds of the value of his goods, apprized on 13 February 1689-90, came from agricultural possessions. He died between 11 November 1689 when he made the will, and 13 January 1689-90 when it was proved. In his will he made bequests to his daughter Alice and her husband Edward Williams of Llandeilo Villa, mercer and their children Richard and Anne; to his daughter Mary, wife of Thomas William David of Llandeilofawr parish, yeoman; to his brother Thomas Philipps of Llanddarog parish, gentleman; and to his son John, residuary legatee and sole executor. The inventory is as follows:
In the Parlour:
2 tables, 12 chairs, 2 pictures (valued at £1 18 4). In the Hall: 2 tables, an old cupboard, benches, and other furniture (6s 8d). In the Kitchen and other rooms:
brass, pewter, iron and wooden utensils (£14). In the Buttery, Dairy, and other places:
cheese, butter, and other provision (£6 1 6). In the Chamber above the Parlour:
bed and furniture (£6). In the Chamber
above the former chamber: a bed with appurtenances, and a few old chairs (£2 5 0). In deceased's Chamber and Closet:
2 beds with appurtenances, tables, chairs, and trunks (£4). Deceased's wearing apparel (£8). In two rooms
above his chamber: 2 old beds and a table (£2 1 6). Six pairs of fine sheets and all the table linnen (£5 3 8). All other coarse linen (10s). Wheat in the ground (£4). Corn in the barn and granary (£46 6 8). 106 sheep (£16 5 0). Deceased's saddle horse with furniture (£6). 9 horses of all sorts (£10). A bull and 20 milch cows (£42). 8 oxen (£24 5 0). 20 young cattle (£24 4 0). 6 yearlings (£3). 40 pigs, small and great (£5 10 0). 2 carts and all other implements of husbandry (£6 2 4). All the plate (£14 5 4). All other small things uninventoried (11s). This shows a total value of £246 6 0.
Griffith Philipps sealed the will with an armorial device, namely a lion rampant collared and chained, the well-known arms of all male descendants of Philipps of Cilsant. Although the use of such a seal does not prove kinship, it does indicate that testator claimed descent from the stock to which his descendants say he belonged. The question of his wife, not named in the will, will be discussed later.
Of Griffith's brother Thomas we know more, and his will provides stronger evidence of the family's probable origin. Thomas Philipps married Elizabeth widow of William Vaughan of Lletherllesty in Llanddarog parish, daughter of a London stationer. By will dated 3 November 1705, he left all goods in his house in King Street, Carmarthen, to his wife for life, and made bequests to his step-children. To his own relations he bequeathed as follows: to Grismond Philipps, gentleman, eldest son of testator's nephew John Philipps, £5 when he became 21 years of age: to Thomas Philipps second son of the said John, £30 when he became 21 years of age or on marriage: to his nephew John Jones eldest son of testator's sister Mary, £5: to Henry Jones second son of the said Mary, £30 and wearing apparel, and forgave him such debts as he owed testator: to Thomas Jones son of the said Henry, £5: to Elizabeth Russell daughter of testator's niece Elizabeth Davies, £5: to Rachell Philipps, one of the daughters of the said John Philipps, £20 when she became 21 years of age or on marriage: to my kinsman Richard Philipps of the county borough of Carmarthen, gentleman, second son of George Philipps of Coedgaing, gentleman, deceased, £20: to my kinsman William Philipps another son of the said George, £10: to Mary, (daughter of testator's niece Katherine wife of Evan Rees), £5: to his nephew John Philipps of Whitehouse, gentleman, residue of testator's personalty, and appointed him sole executor.
The description of the Philippses of Coedgain as kinsmen is significant, especially as the Christian name Griffith also occurs in the Coedgain pedigree. The precise degree of relationship is not known. A first-cousin is sometimes described as first-cousin or as cousin-german, but second or more distant cousins, are often described as 'kinsman' during the period when this will was written.
It seems clear that the Philippses of Ty Gwyn were related to those of Coedgain, who were undoubted descendants of the Pentypark family.
Now, all modern pedigrees trace the Cwmgwili ancestry to a Richard Philipps, said to have been a son of Griffith Philipps of Ty Gwyn, but no evidence has been found to establish the paternity. A Richard Philipps, gentleman, was buried at Llandeilo on 25 January 1683-4; and administration of the estate of Thomas Phillips of Ffairfach, gentleman, was granted at Carmarthen on 12 February 1696-7 to his next of kin Richard Phillips of Llandeilofawr, gentleman; but no evidence exists to connect them with the Ty Gwyn family.
From the wills of Griffith Phillips of Ty Gwyn and his brother Thomas we can construct the following tree:
Since Grismond is specifically described as son of John Philipps and grandson of Griffith Philipps, we can accept the statement as correct. Thus, the Richard Philipps of the printed pedigree must be dismissed as a myth.
The connection with the Edwin family is proved from Cwmgwili deeds. On 16 June 1685 the Earl of Carbery granted a lease of Gwern y Bongam, Llanarthney parish, for three lives to Griffith Phillipps of the White House, gentleman, Alice Edwyn his daughter,
and John Phillipps his son, at a yearly rent of £4 10 8; and on 23 March 1686-7 Thomas Edwynne of Llandilofawr gave a receipt to my father in law
Griffith Philipps of Whitehouse, gentleman, for £200 mortgage money and £36 consideration money mentioned in a release of even date. In his will proved on 26 August 1687, Thomas Edwin, Mercer, names his wife Alice, who was again a widow before 26 November 1706, when she appeared in a Chancery suit relating to lands in Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llandingat, and Llanarthney, and mentions her former husband
Thomas Edwin, her late
husband Edward Williams who had five small children, her father
Griffith Philipps and his brother
Thomas, and her nephew
Grismond Philipps (PRO. C5. Bridges 235/25 and 347/20).
The wife of Griffith Philipps of Ty Gwyn was Catherine Lloyd sister of the barrister-at-law Griffith Lloyd of Llanarthney, who became owner of Cwmgwili, which he left to Catherine's grandson, Grismond Philipps. She is not named in her husband's will, probably having predeceased him.
John Philipps, executor of his father's will in 1689, and of his uncle's will in 1705, lived at Ty Gwyn. On Friday 24 June 1681 he married Elizabeth Grismond, said to have come from a place near Ludlow in Shropshire. According to an oft-quoted observation by a genealogist in the Golden Grove MS "they had 20 children in 28 years, besides 11 miscarriages in the meantime". The late Alcwyn Evans
, an assiduous compiler of Carmarthenshire pedigrees, describes John Philipps as a tanner. He may have been the John Philipps of Whitehouse, gentleman, who was party to a settlement of the Peterwell estates in the counties of Carmarthen, Cardigan, and Pembroke on 17 September 1722, but it must be remembered that he had a son of that name.
The names of the children of John Philipps and Elizabeth (Grismond) are entered in the old family Bible of Williams of Bryn-hafod,7
Grismond Philipps, 1686-1740
- Elizabeth Philipps, born 8 April 1685, married 16 February 1704, Anthony Williams of Brynhafod, Llangathen, by whom she had six children Anthony, Elizabeth, Blanche, Rice, Margaret, and Rachel. Mrs. Elizabeth Williams was still alive in 1737.
- Grismond Philipps, born 5 January 1686-7see later.
- Griffith Philipps, born 3 November 1688, buried at Llandeilo 5 January 1689-90 (? 25 July 1694).
- Thomas Philipps, born 24 May 1689, lived at Pentre, Llandeilofawr parish, and married Margaret Morley at Llandeilo on 28 January 1709-10. He was buried at Llandeilo on 25 July 1740, and his widow in July 1748. They had five children i. Evan Philipps, who succeeded to Pentre, an extravagant fellow, living in 1750. ii. Thomas Philipps, alive in 1740. Mary, lived at Pentre, will dated 16 May 1765. iv. Catherine, alive in 1746. v. Elizabeth married in February 1738-9 Henry Vaughan Horton of Lletherllesty and had issue.
- Grace Philipps, born 6 August 1690, married on 20 November 1708, Charles Griffith of Rhosmaen, son of Charles Griffith, tanner. They had three children Jane, Elizabeth, Mary.
- Anne Philipps, born 22 August 1691, buried 7 March 1693-4.
- Rachel Philipps, born 22 December 1692, buried 28 February 1693-4.
- Rachel Philipps, born 15 August 1694, married at Llandeilo on 5 October 1713 the Revd John James, then curate of Llandeilo. He was ordained deacon and licensed to Llansawel on 18 September 1708; became curate of Llandeilo, afterwards of Mitcheldean, Glos; on Michaelmas day 1725 he was collated to the vicarage of Mydrim at the parsonage house of Withington, Glos, by Dr Smallbrook, Bishop of St Davids, and inducted on Saturday 16 October by the Revd Anthony Jones in the presence of Grismond Philipps esquire, and Anthony Williams of Brynhafod, gentleman, and held Mydrim till his death. He lived at Laugharne and seldom officiated. He probably officiated at the clandestine marriage of Sir Edward Vaughan Mansel and Nancy Rees of Gellivergam about 1733, and is said to "have covered them with a rug or quilt".8 By his will, dated 11 May 1745, proved 17 January 1746, he desired to be interred "privately at night", and instructed that "the little I have in the vicarage Rachel and Mary, and commended his wife "to the house of Cwmgwili". He was buried at Mydrim on 20 December 1746. His wife survived him. "Their children were Rachel, born on house and on the glebe" be sold for the benefit of his daughters 28 March 1715, and Mary born on 30 June 1725.
- Anne Philipps, born 10 October 1695, married John David otherwise Rees, of Llangathen. She was living in 1740, when her brother Thomas bequeathed £10 to her.
- Jane Philipps, born 20 January 1696-7, died an infant.
- Rowland Philipps, born 7 June 1698, buried 23 July 1700.
- Jane Philipps, born 17 September 1699. On 1 September 1711, this little girl, upon payment of £15, was apprenticed for seven years to Charles Hugill of Carmarthen and Anne his wife, to learn the trade of periwig-maker.9
- Willoughby Philipps, born 16 December 1700, died 8 February 1702-3; the Brynhafod Bible calls her "Willabee 9th daughter".
- John Philipps, born 16 February 1701, became an attorney-at-law, Deputy Receiver of the King's Silver on the Breconshire circuit, and lived at Tregaer which he purchased. By his will, dated 27 August 1763, proved in PCC 10 February 1764, he bequeathed lands and personalty to his son-in-law John Roberts and "my kinsman" Evan Davies of Penylan, on trust to pay the £225 mortgage on the Tregaer estate "lately purchased" from John Lloyd, esquire, and to discharge £4000 which he had covenanted to pay John Roberts (of Abergavenny) as marriage portion of Elizabeth his wife; he left the residue to his daughter Dorothy Philipps (who afterwards married Hugh Bold of Brecon); desired his wife Rebecca "to be kind" to his sister-in-law Margaret Sandys, spinster; mentioned his kinsman Griffith Philipps of Cwmgwili, esquire; and desired to be buried in Llanfrynach church, Breconshire.
- Richard Philipps, born 22 May 1703, dead before 1737.
- Catherine Philipps, born 7 May 1704, married at Llandeilo on 15 April 1749, the Revd John Rogers, curate of Llandeilo. The pre- and post-nuptial settlements were dated 12 April 1749 and 1 November 1750.
- Mary Anne Philipps, born 11 September 1705. In the Brynhafod Bible she is called "Mary Amney".
- Margaret Philipps, born 12 January 1706-7.
- William Philipps, born 8 August 1711, and alive in 1740.
- Philippa Philipps, born 23 December 1712, buried at Llandeilo on the following day.
Grismond Philipps, eldest son of John Philipps and Elizabeth (Grismond) was the luckiest member of the family. At the age of 27 years he inherited the Cwmgwili estate under the will of his great-uncle Griffith Lloyd, and thereafter is consistently described as 'esquire', whereas in pre-1714 documents both he and the other members of his family had been described as 'gentlemen'. As soon as he inherited he started taking part in public life. On 12 September 1714 the Marquess of Winchester (later Duke of Bolton), who had married the heiress of Golden Grove, appointed Grismond to be one of his stewards for the lordship of Iscennen, Elfed, and Widigada, an appointment renewed from time to time, until his death; and on 12 September 1727, the Duke appointed him to be one of the stewards of Mabelfyw, Mabedrid, and Forest Glyn Cothi. He presided over the leet courts and several records of those lordships and manors are preserved in the Cwmgwili muniments. In 1715 he served as High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire, and in 1717 became a burgess of the county town.
On 24 January 1708-9 he had married at Llandeilo, Jane daughter of Miles Stedman of Dolygaer, Breconshire, a family that claimed descent from an Arab converted to the Christian faith, who returned with the crusaders to England where he acquired an English wife. The first appearance in west Wales occurs in 1571, when John Stedman bought from Viscount Hereford the site of the dissolved abbey of Ystrad Fflur with its demesne lands and tenements, and for the following two-and-a-half centuries his descendants were important landowners and holders of public offices. John Stedman (d 1607) married Anne daughter of William Philipps of Pentypark, son of Sir Thomas Philipps of Picton Castle, and it was the great-great-great-great-grand-daughter of that union who married Grismond Philipps. After inheriting the Cwmgwili estate, Grismond made a further settlement on 2 January 1714-15 to the use of himself and his wife and their issue, of the capital messuage and demesne lands of Cwmgwili, Cwmgwili Mill and also the tucking mill, Rhyd-walchen, and Rhydyrhaw, in Abergwili parish; and Pant Elen, Gwaun Llanne (Waunllannau), Pistill Gwyon, and Bwlch Tomlyd, in Newchurch parish. Sackville Gwynne of Glanbran, Richard Vaughan of Derwydd, Miles Stedman of Dolegaer, esquires, and the Revd Francis Stedman of Pentrecwn, Carmarthenshire, clerk, were trustees.
Grismond added to his estate by purchase. On 9 April 1720 the Marquess of Winchester mortgaged the farms of Blaenige in Newchurch, and Derymisk in Llanpumpsaint, for £400, to be held by Grismond at sixpence per annum. In due course these properties became part of the Cwmgwili estate. On 24 April 1730 Francis Browne of Frood, Llangyndeyrn, esquire, entered into agreement with Grismond Philipps for the conveyance to the latter of Tir y Maen Bras, Ffoes y maen, and Gwaun yr Helfa in the parishes of Abergwili and Llanpumpsaint, for £560. He also farmed the tithes of wool in the parishes of Abergwili, Llanllawddog, and Llanpumpsaint. The only alienation I have noticed is a release made on 17 July 1714, from Grismond and his wife, of Tir Ffynnon Drain in Newchurch parish to Nathaniel Morgan of Carmarthen, gentleman, for £120.
He granted numerous leases, usually for lives, and also took out some leases himself. For instance, on 4 November 1724, Richard Thomas of Abergwili parish, gentleman, granted him a lease for 199 years of Dolewyrdd and Llain Blawd in Llanegwad parish, at a yearly rent of £10. He continued to hold the leasehold of the old family home, Ty Gwyn, which was sub-let in 1728 to a tenant at a yearly rent of £125.
On 10 March 1736-7 he mortgaged the following properties in £4000 to Bridget Hanbury of Pontypool, Monmouthshire, widow Glantowy in the parishes of Abergwili and Llanarthney; Llechigon, Penllwyncrwn alias Gelli Gwynidd, Waun Rhydd, Cefncilgwyn, Cwm Cunnon alias Cunnen, Goitre, Y Foe!, Goitre Cwm y Castell, Park Newydd bach, Park y bannal, Ffoeslline, in Newchurch parish; Perth Dwy and Nantypair in the parishes Merthyr and Abernant; Tir y bannal, Tir Park y Berllan, and an un-named messuage in Merthyr parish; Penrhiw y baily and Gwrach Du in Trelech-ar-bettws parish; Trefynis and Park y Cwm in Abergwili parish; and Ffynnon Deilo alias Tochloyan in Llandeilofawr parish. He did not redeem this mortgage which proved an embarrassment to his successors.
A rental for the year 1725 shows that the estate included 32 properties in Abergwili parish, 14 in Newchurch, 5 in Merthyr, Abernant and Trelech-ar-bettws, 3 in Cynwil and Llanpumpsaint, 2 in Llanegwad, 3 in Llandeilofawr, and 3 in the county borough of Carmarthen, making a total of 63 properties at rent, and in addition there was the residence of Cwmgwili with its demesne lands and mill held in Mr Philipps's own hands. By 1731 he owned properties in Llanllawddog and Llanfihangel Rhosycorn. Acreages are not given but an idea of the extent may be obtained from an exemplification of a recovery made on 20 September 1714, where the estate is described as comprising 40 messuages, 7 cottages, 60 gardens, a water grain mill, a fulling mill, and 6800 acres of land in the parishes of Abergwili, Abernant, Cynwyl Elfed, Llanarthney, Newchurch, Merthyr, and Trelech-ar-bettws: the Llandeilofawr properties were not included, possibly because his father was still alive.
A few glimpses of his domestic life occur in letters and bills preserved in the family archives. He paid £1 to the excise authority for "malt composition" and 3s 7d for "duty of hops" and 8 shillings for "candle compound" (1717), and in the same year paid a bill of £1 5 8½ for newspapers sent from London; and £1 8 0 for "ring cole" and "hard cole" (1723). He seems to have experienced difficulty in acquiring drinkable rum, and on 18 February 1728-9, John Stepney of Llanelly informed him "when I last saw you att Carmarthen you were pleased to tell me you had been disappointed as to your rum, upon which I told you I would endeavour to help you to some. My cosen Allen came home two nights agoe and I have prevailed for five gallons for you att prime cost which is four and six a gallon". Four shillings and six pence for a gallon of rum! Those indeed were the days! In this and other letters, Stepney addresses him as "good cousin Philipps". "affectionate kinsman", and speaks of "our Relations at Cwmgwilly", but I have been unable to establish the relationship.
Grismond was a kindly man, as indeed were all his descendants. In 1714 he sent £3 to one Thomas Price who had applied to him for "a little supply" of money. On 17 July 1731 Thomas Rees wrote from London to thank him for the favour Grismond had shown him when "in town", and adds that he had dispatched on board Captain Morgan's ship, a hamper containing two dozen bottles of wine "packed up and sealed with a black seal", a cask of soap, a gallon bottle of oil, a tobacco bottle, and a hat box, to be ultimately offloaded at the quay of Carmarthen. In 1738 he promised to intercede with Mr. Herbert of Court Henry on behalf of Woodford Rice, then at Berllandowyll, in respect of a debt of £21.
It was a great period of present-giving, usually partridge, wood-cock, pheasant, and other game. Thus in 1731 Sackville Gwynne of Glanbran sent to "my good friend" Grismond Philipps, half a doe from his park, "ye best my keeper is affoard me".
Like most country gentlemen he was interested in breeding dogs, and the late Sir Grismond Philipps informed me that his ancestor had kept a pack of hounds at Cwmgwili. An echo of this is contained in a letter written to him on 8 December 1734 by another great sportsman, William Edwardes of Johnston, Pembrokeshire, who said, "I have bred so long out of my own kind of dogs that they begin to grow smaller, and as I am informed that your kind are large, if you'l favour me with a belly of whelps of your largest kind, it shall be owned as an obligation by, Sir", etc.
Evidently he was making improvements to the home and renewing interior furnishings in 1738, and ordered several items from London which in due course arrived at the quayside of Carmarthen. On 19 May 1738, Francis Morgan sent him a 'note of freight' for the following goods: a large round twig cask, 3 feather beds, 2 cases of drawers, 6 copper pots and kettles, a large crane, a small copper kettle, a cradle and chair, 3 large chests, a book chest, a bundle of large pictures, a case of glasses, a large case with a clock, bellows, a large curtain rod, a small trunk, a leather trunk, a small hamper, a bundle of bed cottons, 3 chamber grates and appurtenances, and a large kitchen grate; the total bill for carriage came to £4 17 9.
Grismond Philipps died at the age of 54 years and was buried at Abergwili on 27 May 1740. By his will dated 17 January 1739-40, proved at Carmarthen on 8 July 1741, he desired to be buried "in my family vault in Abergwilly church" in a decent manner, the expenses of his obsequies not to exceed £50.
The children of Grismond Philipps and Jane his wife were:
Griffith Philipps, M.P., 1712-1781
- John Philipps, born about 1711, matriculated at Christchurch College, Oxford, on 1 April 1728, aged 17. He died in London, unmarried, in his father's lifetime.
- Griffith Philipps see later.
- Grismond Philipps, junior, baptised at Abergwili on 6 September 1714. In 1737 he married his cousin-german Dorothy, daughter of Miles Stedman of Dolegaer, but had no children. He died in his father's lifetime, and was buried at Abergwili on 22 April 1738. The widow married in the following year to the Revd. Thomas Protheroe, vicar of Llywel from 1750 to 1768, which he exchanged in the latter year for health reasons, for Llangammarch, where he died less than a year of his arrival there. Dorothy then came to live in Carmarthen, afterwards at Kidwelly and was buried in the Mansel chapel at St Mary's church there. By her second husband she had six children a descendant of one of them being W. G. Stedman Thomas of Carmarthen, merchant and antiquary.
- Thomas Philipps, baptised at Abergwili on 17 July 1716, seems to have been somewhat of a rover, and spent part of his life in the West Indies. His will dated 4 August 1744, and proved on 5 November of that year, describes him as "late of Bristol, but now of Carmarthen". Of his wife, who proved the will, nothing is known except her name, Agnes.
- Anne Philipps, born November 1709, married John Lloyd of Glangwili, son of Walter Lloyd of Olmarch, Cardiganshire. She died in April 1736 aged 39. He died on 19 June 1765, aged 66. They had issue.
- Elizabeth Philipps, younger daughter, married William Blane, esquire, but had no issue.
Griffith Philipps, successor to the estate, had been bred to the law, and called to the bar at Lincolns Inn in 1741. On 29 November 1740 the Duke of Bolton appointed him steward of the manor of Widigada, a post his father had held for so long. In 1749 he was made a Common Councilman of the Corporation of Carmarthen, and on 2 April 1750 sworn Recorder in room of Sir John Philipps, Baronet, who had been disenfranchised, and was again sworn in the same appointment on 20 August 1764. He was a Justice of the Peace for the county. A zealous Whig, and liberal in outlook, Griffith Philipps, together with John Williams of Whitland Abbey, sitting on the Bench in Carmarthen licensed Thomas Williams, author of "Oeslyfr", to preach as a dissenting minister.
When reading for the bar he came into contact with a number of men who were politically inclined, among them Peregrine Bertie (succeeded as Duke of Ancaster in 1742), who remained one of his warmest friends. His ambition was to secure a seat in the House of Commons, and he made his first bid when he contested Carmarthen Borough in the election of 1741, challenging John Philipps of Kilgetty (who afterwards succeeded to the Picton Castle baronetcy), a man of High Tory principles, President of the exclusive Society of Sea Serjeants, with decisive influence in the Borough. When the poll was declared on 18 May, John Philipps was elected, receiving 208 votes to his opponent's 172. Griffith petitioned, and some of his friends believed that the result would be in his favour. On 1 January 1741-2, William Williams of Ivy Tower near Tenby, a pronounced Whig, wrote from London to Griffith's uncle, John Philipps the Brecon attorney, saying "If the information received by me is trew, there is no doubt that your nephew Mr Griffith Philipps will be the sitting member". But the information was far from "trew", and in February 1742 the petition was dismissed, "affairs being made up; in other words Griffith Philipps withdrew from the case. This was the opening round in the battle to gain control of the borough, then in Tory hands. But affairs were becoming chaotic and each faction elected its own mayor and other officials, resulting in considerable confusion.
Griffith Philipps took steps to ensure local support which, in due course, might help him to capture the seat. The Whigs were looking for a man who "would inevitably dislodge the Baronet". In the election of 1747 their candidate, Admiral Thomas Matthews of Llandaff, was returned without opposition, the Tory candidate, James Philipps of Pentypark, retiring before polling day as he realised the opposition was too strong.
The Whigs decided that the candidate to follow Matthews was to be the squire of Cwmgwili. On 14 December 1749 James Phillipps wrote from Carmarthen to Griffith, then at Great Palace Yard, London, to inform him that at a meeting held at the Nag's Head nearly forty of the chief inhabitants unanimously declared him (Griffith Philipps) as fit to be their candidate and signed a paper to that effect.
In 1751 Admiral Matthews died. The Whigs put up Griffith Philipps, "our worthy Recorder", who was returned unopposed on 22 November. Determined to recapture the seat, the Tories in 1754 prevailed upon Sir Thomas Stepney10
to stand against Griffith Philipps. Realising the danger, the sitting member quickly circulated the burgesses soliciting their votes. On 18 March 1754 Samuel Morris wrote to him, "Tho' Sir Thomas Stepney designs opposing you att the next election .... You may depend of my vote, and if possibly I can my father's vote too or at least I hope my brother-in-law Jak Griffith. If all the Stepney and all the Vaughans in the world were candidates, I am for Cwmgwilly for ever". On 19 March John Campbell of Stackpole Court wrote to him from London, "I shall be sorry if Sir Thomas Stepney allows his name to be made use of in Carmarthen, but I hope nothing will be able to break the Whig Interest in that town". Arthur Owen of Orielton wrote on 26 March, saying he would instruct his tenants to vote for him, adding that he deserved to be member for the people of Carmarthen "as you have been at so much expence and trouble to support their liberties".
In the event Griffith Philipps retained the seat. The Tory Common Council and Burgesses, on behalf of the defeated candidate, presented a petition to the House of Commons on 25 November, alleging that the two borough sheriffs (illegally holding that office) "allied to or near relatives of Griffith Philipps" had shown undue partiality. However, Stepney withdrew his case on 4
February 1756, and Griffith Philipps continued safely in the saddle.
Griffith Philipps must have spent an uneasy time for some years following, for the Council was hopelessly divided, each faction seeking to prove that it controlled the legal government of the town. This led to disorders and riots, and the anxiety of the burgesses is clearly reflected in letters sent to Griffith Philipps. On 24 November 1755 Evan Davies, attorney-at-law (who had married Griffith Philipps's daughter Jane) wrote from Carmarthen that he expected the town "to be in flames every minute.... There are Five Hundred desperate Fellows come to Town from Pembrokeshire and other places arm'd with Fire Arms and Quarter pieces, and I am told Ship Guns, with a Great Number of Gentlemen, such as they are, and that you know, together with some Pembrokeshire Gentlemen, I verily believe to do Mischiefe, and I really dread the Consequences. . . . I have sent to the Country for assistance and hope some will come to our relief. Still I must say I dread the Consequences . . . . the Lives and Properties of the Inhabitants are in the greatest danger, as the Mobb and Rioters are publickly supported and espous'd by a set of Gentlemen, some of whom are of the Sea Serjeants Club, and I am possitive disaffected to the Government. I am very well inform'd that there are from four to Five Hundred men in Town desperate I am sure, and all the shops are shut up. I am extreamly hurried and much fatigu'd ..."
On 4 December 1755, the apprehensive Evan Davies wrote a particularly doleful letter to Griffith speaking of dangers from "The great body of armed people that are assembled in this town. . . . They have attackt and several have been wounded, I dread some mortally"; he expects more desperadoes to arrive, and says "it was in the back of your house I was shot at yesterday, and it was in your dining room I sat today when the firing began from the back part. I imagine that if they have success this house will be the first rased to the ground. . . . I verily believe that as soon as I turn my back, the inhabitants will be massacred". His fears were not exaggerated, but on 11 December he wrote that "since the engagement this day se'enight the town appears quiet and the rebels are dispers'd. Some fear they may rally again"; Mr. John Lewis the bookseller died on Tuesday night "of the wounds received from the Red Lion11
gentry. . . . the lives and limbs lost on account of those Pembrokeshire desperadoes are many . . . . the fortification at the upper gate house in Carmarthen's old town wall remains in the same posture, and an arm'd body of men are garrison'd there, and people are afraid of passing and repassing that way as they fire at everyone they dislike".
As a result, a body of regular troops was sent to the town, and a truce arranged between the factions. On 12 February 1756 Evan Davies, writing from his home at Penylan, informed Griffith Philipps that "the Red Lion Gentry had broken their treaty. . . . It is verily my beliefe that as soon as the Major Farquhar and his detachment quit the town the place will be in the same confusion 'twas in a little before he arriv'd there. For the prospect of having only 50 Invalids who are by the desperadoes esteem'd of no consequence, gives the fellows who began the riots, and who are greatly caress'd and encourag'd by the Gentlemen of the Red Lion, great hopes they shall be able to reek their vengeance on the inhabitants of the place, and already begin to exult, and assault all persons they dislike whenever they had an opportunity".
On 23 February 1756 Charles Webbe, a Carmarthen attorney, says that the town is quiet apart from efforts by officials of the Tory faction "skulking night after night about people's houses" in efforts to serve writs on their opponents. About twenty of the principal tradesmen "last night" met at the New Bumper inn "where everyone declared his satisfaction of your conduct, and expressed themselves with the highest regard and esteem for you and your interest, and acknowledged the many obligations they are under to you". But this was merely a lull in the storm, and John Morgan, of Carmarthen, informed Griffith Philipps on 10 March, "the Newgate mob still continue tiranical outragious and rebellious in opposition to Justice and Law and in defiance of Heaven itself. In short we live in a world of misery and trouble". On March 28, John Philipps of Brecon, informs his nephew Griffith Philipps of the difficulty of obtaining verdicts against the transgressors in the local courts, and says "I think it the business of every Whig in S. Wales to interest himselfe to procure a repeal of the Act of Hen: the 8 which impowers the indicting and tryeing of all murders and felons comitted in Wales, in the next English county. . . . for wofull experience manifests that any man that bears the denomination of a Whig has no more chance of his life and property at Hereford than a heretick has at an Inquisition at Lisbon". On the following day Albert Davids, barrister-at-law of Carmarthen, wrote to him about the difficulty of getting justice as the Tories managed to empanell juries from their own friends in order to harass their opponents, so that the people of Carmarthen are reduced "to a very melancholy state", and implores Griffith to make a personal appearance at the Sessions to confound their machinations.
The Tories, nothing if not persistent, continued their efforts to regain local ascendancy. In June 1758 Evan Davies, the Jeremiah of Penylan, informed Griffith that there was trouble still in Carmarthen, and "the Red Lion Gentry" active. The difficulty was that both parties continued to elect corporation officers so that there were two mayors in being, each struggling to assert his position as the legal representative. On 18 October 1758 Woodford Rice of Gellifergam, writing from Carmarthen, complained bitterly of the arbitrary way people were arrested and imprisoned by the rival mayor and his officers, and interfering with collection of toll etc. Apparently Captain Veal commanding officer of the Invalids was not as effective or as impartial as might have been expected "This is a true state of affairs in this place, my constables are intimidated and will not act, nor can I blame them, when these desperate people have the gaol in [their] possession, and are backed by a military power whose too easy compliance, to say no worse, with a bloody Magistrate we have already had a melancholly instance of in short I think it is full time to apply to the highest power for redress".
Griffith Philipps suffered occasionally from bouts of ill-health and this may have something to do with the fact that he did not contest the Borough election in 1761, and on 19 May of that year Ralph, Earl Verney12
was returned as Member. It is likely that the local Tories helped to produce this situation in order to dish Griffith Philipps.
During the years he was out of parliament he took a leading part in obtaining a new charter for Carmarthen designed to put an end to the anarchic conditions within the borough. He had been in favour of this for several years, and eventually, with the help of George Rice of Newton (Dynevor) and Lord Verney, was responsible for obtaining a new charter in 1764. This was particularly valuable to the Carmarthen Whigs, who felt that the government of the Borough would no longer be dominated by the Tory faction. A local rhymester celebrated the occasion in the following lines.
Fine would my muse in soft and humble verse
The Glories of this welcome day rehearse.
Let's all rejoice, for Philipps reigns once more
With glorious honours crowned and doubled power.13
The cost of obtaining the charter had been high, and on 28 July 1764 George Rice wrote to Griffith Philipps, "I hope the drover will soon pay in the money you sent by him, our expenses are enormous"; and in November of that year the Town Clerk prepared to arrange a mortgage to defray the sum of £2059 14 0 which the Corporation owed for obtaining the charter.
Thereafter borough affairs became more stable, and in the 1768 election the Whigs nominated Griffith Philipps to be their candidate. He was opposed by Joseph Bullock, who made the Red Lion inn as his headquarters. The contest turned out to be a close-run affair, Philipps receiving 52 votes to his opponent's 42. The defeated candidate petitioned, alleging partiality by the sheriffs, but in March 1770 the House declared Philipps to be the lawful member. He continued to represent the Borough until 1774, when he decided not to stand again, and the seat was taken by John Adams of Peterwell, near Lampeter, who had a landed interest both in the borough and county. Griffith Philipps remained a force in local politics, but it is clear that he was a tired man, possibly disillusioned by the endless skirmishes within the borough he had chosen to represent.
Little is known of his career in the House of Commons. Apart from serving on committees and supporting Whig measures in the lobby, he does not seem to have shown that political skill necessary for advancement to office. In the county, Members of Parliament enjoyed considerable social prestige, but what made them really important was power of patronage, particularly when their party was in office. Although this could prove unattractive when the member used such power for self-aggrandizement, it was natural enough for his supporters to claim or to expect preference. During all periods in history, in every sphere, influence, or "patronage" as it was called in the eighteenth century, was necessary to ensure success. The Member with contacts in government and in London was well-placed to help friends and supporters.
Few examples exist to suggest that Griffith Philipps used his position to advance family interest. In 1757 he applied to the Duke of Newcastle for the office of Customer of Milford Haven for his son George, justifying his application by "the persecutions I have for several years sustained on account of my attachments to the government, and in particular to your Grace and your brother Mr Pelham". After his defeat in 1761, he tried, in order to increase his influence in the constituency, to obtain the appointment of Chamberlain of Carmarthen, and although at one time there seemed to he a chance of success, he was informed by a London official in November 1762, that his application "had been postponed" in fact it went into cold storage.
Carmarthenshire friends were more persistent. On 4 February 1745-6, Griffith Bowen of Gurrey, near Llandilo asked Griffith to procure for him a commission in the army "either a Lieutenancy, Ensigncy, or anything else. . . . as I am sensible that you are a Gentleman who is highly esteemed by all who hath the honour of your acquaintance, I make no doubt but you can procure anything". He gave a helping hand, but Bowen blotted his copybook and Griffith Philipps was afterwards asked to assist in buying him out of the army!
He asked John Vaughan of Great Ormond Street (later of Golden Grove) to see the Lord Chancellor about obtaining the chapel of Llanllwch for a friend, and on 25 April 1747 Vaughan informed him that he had seen the Lord Chancellor about the matter. On 31 March 1758, Lieutenant John Williams, R.N., of HMS Ambuscade
lying off Leghorn, wrote to ask Griffith to support his application to the Admiralty for command of a vessel. Occasionally he was asked to intercede on behalf of law-breakers. Evasion of excise was pretty widespread at that time, and in 1759 we hear of two Carmarthen men, Morris and Jones, whose vessel "had been eschequered" for carrying Irish butter which they had sworn to be the British product, and they would have been ruined had Griffith Philipps not interceded in their behalf. In the same year, one of his tenants, Thomas of Pante, ran into trouble when the excise officer "found a box of candels" with him, and Thomas begged "the favour of you to write to Mr. Dalton [the officer concerned] in my behalfe". In 1761, David Jones, excise officer at Bristol, asked him to secure his transfer to a similar post at Swansea or Cardiff. Attention to such requests was important, for it often decided the way in which an applicant would cast his vote at the hustings.
He married twice. His first wife was Avis, probably a Londoner. There is no doubt whatsoever that her father or her mother was a Brockhurst, for it is certain that her grandfather was a Major Brockhurst. This is proved by the codicil dated 15 May 1801 of Avis's daughter, Mrs. Jane Davies of Penylan (née Philipps), whereby she bequeathed to her son Griffith Davies "the cornelian seal of my great grandfather Major Brockhurst's arms (which is now to my watch)". Some Brockhurst papers14
included among the Cwmgwili muniments show that Major Francis Brockhurst was agent of George (Villiers) Duke of Buckingham15
in the years 1659-1681; in 1675 he was living at Wallingford House, Whitehall, and reference is made to Mrs. Brockhurst, probably his wife.
Avis never enjoyed robust health, and Musgrave's Obituary
records her death as taking place on 15 September 1755; she was buried at Abergwili on 20 September. In February 1757, Griffith Philipps married, secondly, the 22-years old Lucretia Elizabeth Folkes, a member of the family seated at Hillington, Norfolk.16
She out-lived him by nearly twenty years, and died on 31 January 1801, aged 80.
One of Avis's children, Jane Philipps, grew to a woman of considerable character, and until she married, helped to bring up her brothers and sisters at Cwmgwili, and took an energetic part in running domestic and estate affairs during her father's long absences in London. In 1757 she wrote to him that the hay at Cwmgwili had been sold for £31 10, leaving sufficient for the horses: the Rhiwdowyll horse "is in such good order and spirits that he breaks over all hedges &c, and they fear unless he is kept in for a little that he will stake himself. . . . I hope by this time you are much recovered and able to move". On 14 March 1757 she informed her father that she had been to Carmarthen where the tythe money and "the lactuaries" were settled, and she had received £59 4 0; she also informed him that barley, oats, and hay, at Cwmgwili, had been sold for £62 1 0, but John Rees (factor at Cwmgwili) had not yet received the money, so "I told him you must have it all in before April" ; her brother, George, was on a visit to Brecon, whence he was going to Oxford; cousin Evan Davies was going to the Hereford assizes; she asks for a dozen franks as she had many correspondents; she hoped to visit Sussex taking her maid Nancy Pitt with her, and "I beg I may hear as often as possible while in Wales", During this time she lived mainly at Penylan, but kept a close eye on affairs at Cwmgwili. Although respectful to her father she could be quite firm as the following letter, written from Penylan on 14 April 1757, shows : "Honoured Sir. Last post I was favoured with your letter after a silence of about a fortnight. I return my thanks for your kind expressions of affection, but permit me to inform you that can give but little satisfaction unless joined to proofs of that desire to make everything agreeable to me, which I have not at present experienced, as even the first request I make is not granted, for what reason I cannot imagine. I think there can be none improper for me to know by letter, therefore I suppose that is only to defer giving me my answer, as I fear you will not be so kind as I could wish; my reason for mentioning a design to take Nancy with me was least my absence might have been an excuse for discharging which I was desirous to prevent, and rather than it should be, I will not go to Sussex: perhaps you may be displeased at giving my sentiments thus freely, but notwithstanding how unwilling I am to give the least offence I cannot omit adding that I am greatly surprised Mrs Phillip' [her step-mother] will interfere in this as it is hard for us now grown up not to have that attendance we ever were used to. I will do my best about the hay etc. You had an account what could be sold and sufficient left for the horses, they shall be taken care of, but for the design you mention I must presume to object to, for I cannot undertake to ride to London, which I think is a little unreasonable to expect, especially by myself, and although the conveniency of having your horses up there may be one of your motives. I beg you will recollect that it is impossible for me to ride so long a journey and I never doubted but that Jack was to come down, for please to consider how odd it will be for me to go without a servant of yours and too disagreeable for me to be without a servant I know. I am much relieved from my anxiety concerning your health by the agreeable account that Mr Sharpe's [a London doctor] attendance was no longer necessary and I hope it never will again; for you to enjoy uninterrupted health is my prayer, for I am very sensible of the immense loss of good parents. I am concerned to find that my brother gives you so much vexation. He may be in fault but indeed I don't think him so blameable as represented when I consider. When next you see my sister please to give my love to her. I long to he with her, though I own I was displeased when I found she neglected me, but that is now forgot. I should be glad to know where your house is situated; it will be elegant if the sum you mention is laid out. I desire by return of post the favour of franks, for I have none. This family [of Penylan] desire their compliments. I am Honoured Sir, your affectionate obedient daughter, J. Philipps".17
In another letter, undated but of this period, she described how the barley, oats, and hay at Cwmgwili had been sold, and reverts to her travelling difficulties and the inadequacy of Nancy as a travelling companion "I cannot go in the machine alone with Nancy, I had much rather ride than that. But as to a servant to go with me I cannot think of one, for I will not go with any vulgar fellow, and no other can be had".
Griffith administered the estate in the traditional manner. He gave numerous leases, usually for three lives. The water of the Gwili river, in addition to sporting diversion, augmented the rental by being used for industrial concerns. Thus on 27 October 1779, Griffith Philipps confirmed to John Morgan of Carmarthen (second son, devisee, and executor of Robert Morgan, deceased) existing leases and granted further ones for three lives of a parcel of land called Gwern Fach in the Cwmgwili demesne, with liberty to erect and extend a head weir and other weirs across the Gwili, to divert water to three mills called the Priory Mills, and for the use of furnaces built by or for lessee, at a yearly rent of £10.18
The Charity established by Griffith Lloyd (1713) also demanded his attention. On 6 September 1759 he granted to Daniel Davies a lease of Tir y Graig in Abergwili parish, for 99 years at a yearly rent of £9 9 0, which was to be devoted to the maintenance of a schoolmaster to teach poor boys in a schoolhouse at Abergwili, and to the maintenance of poor men at the almshouse in the same village.19
By his two wives Griffith Philipps had eight children, and in 1757 made a settlement for raising portions of £2000 for his daughters and younger son. He died on 27 March 1781 at his Carmarthen house called Pensteps, in Lower Market Street (now Hall Street) and was buried at Abergwili. By his will and codicil, dated respectively 19 August 1779 and 28 August 1780, and proved in PCC on 27 April 1781, he bequeathed as follows:
the capital messuage of Cwmgwili, demesne and corn mill, his house in King Street, Carmarthen (in occupation of his daughter Jane Davies, widow), Penyglog in Llanarthney parish, Bailiglas (which had been devised to testator by John Williams of that place, esquire, deceased) to Martin Challis of Clapton, Middlesex, Albany Wallis of Norfolk Street, St Clement Danes, esquires, and the Revd Thomas Lloyd of Glangwili, on trust to pay the following annuities: £70 to his daughter Martha Philipps for life; £70 to his daughter Dorothy Plowden during her mother's lifetime, until they were paid £1500; £60 to his daughter Lucretia Elizabeth Harris during her mother's lifetime, until she or they received the interest at 5 per cent of two sums of £700 and £300, and after her mother's death, Lucretia Elizabeth was to receive £20 annually for life over and above the interest of the said two sums, on condition that she did not call in the said sum of £300 during the lifetime of her husband Henry Harris; the reversionary interest in £650 to which he was entitled by Jane Alcock's will (dated 1753) he gave to his said daughters Dorothy and Lucretia Elizabeth, and further gave them £100 each. He nominated his son John George Philipps to be residuary legatee and executor, and by the codicil appointed the three trustees, named in the will, to be additional and joint executors with his said son.
By the first wife, Avis, he had four children:
- George Philipps, admitted to Westminster School in March 1748 aged 12, and to Christchurch College, Oxford on 26 February 1754. Little is known of him. In 1752 he was living at Mr John Jones's house in Cowley Street, Westminster, and on 26 April of that year his father wrote to him from Cwmgwili, saying that his father and mother had been glad to hear from him: "there are this day to be hangd in Carmarthen two men for house-breaking which I suppose will draw all ye Country people together it being a very uncommon thing here to see 'em hangd by pairs. I believe when you come to ye Country at Bartlemewtide you will be very well mounted, and I hope you will find for your use one or two as good as any this country can produce. I can give you no account of your little mare but that she is very fat and rough having never been rode since you saw her"; and adds that he has received a letter from "my Lady Jane wrote in a very good hand of her own and in a very indifferent style, all somebody else's", and sends love to Jane, Mrs and Mr Smith and Miss Threlkeld. On 23 January 1756 he was admitted to Lincolns Inn. He never inherited, and died unmarried on 4 January 1760.
- Jane Philipps, the 'Lady Jane' of the above letter, baptised at St Peter's, Carmarthen on 16 August 1738. She married Evan Davies of Penlan, Llanfynydd parish, son of William Davies of Brynhafod, Llangathen parish, by Elizabeth eldest daughter of Captain Anthony Williams, R.N. of Brynhafod. Evan, an attorney-at-law, became Clerk of the Peace for Carmarthenshire. He died at Penylan in October 1773, aged 49, and his wife in 1803. From this union descended the family of Davies-Evans formerly of Penylan and Highmead.
- Martha ("Patty") Philipps, born in June 1742, married after 1779, Thomas John Roberts of Abergavenny. She wrote to her half-brother, J. G. Philipps on 16 December 1791, saying she had been ill for three months suffering from an internal complaint. They had no issue.
- Mary Philipps, died an infant.
By the second wife, Lucretia Elizabeth, he had the following children:
John George Philipps, M.P., 1761-1816
- John George Philipps, born in 1761 see later.
- Dorothy ("Dolly") Philipps, born 1758, married before 1779, Francis Plowden, LL.D., barrister-at-law and historian. They lived mainly in London. Dorothy was uncommonly beautiful, with literary tastes, and wrote a comic opera, Virginia, which was performed at Drury Lane (1800) but, alas, "condemned on the first night". She died at the residence of her daughter and son-in-law, the Earl of Dundonald, at Hammersmith in October 1827 in her 69th year. Her eldest son was shot in a duel in Jamaica where he was A.D.C. to General Churchill.
- Lucretia Elizabeth Philipps, married, much against parental wishes, one Henry Harris, a menial from Llanstephan parish. On 6 November 1778 she wrote from Great Newport Street, London, a pitiful letter to her father, begging pardon for having offended, and asks him to have pity on her, and to give assistance "as a critical, trying period approaches"; she stands in need of absolute necessaries, is without a shoe to her foot, although under "the hospitable roof of Lady Ann Hamilton whose tenderness and humanity to me, my heart must ever bear the most greateful testimony". On 9 December 1782 she wrote from Sunderland to her brother, J. G. Philipps, pleading great distress, caused not by extravagance but by ill fortune, having been confined to bed for three months, and owes the physician £20: she cannot look after housekeeping and her four children; creditors threaten to imprison her husband which will mean that "he will lose his place"; and asks him to arrange the payment of her year's income. The unhappy woman eventually died in Llanstephan parish before 1792, and was buried under the Philipps pew in Abergwili church, her elder brother defraying the funeral expenses of £30. The husband was then living in Carmarthen but the care of the children seems to have passed to Richard Jones Llwyd20 of Berllandowyll who informed J. G. Philipps on 12 July 1794 that he had found a home to place Harris's children, with "every prospect of accomodation and cleanliness and where they may have the advantage of an excellent day school", namely Tynyffordd near Llanegwad village; "the man is a considerable farmer, his wife remarkable for cleanliness, and have no children of their own the cost is £16 a year for their board and lodging, mending and washing their clothes etc; their schooling will stand about £3 or £4 more". He wrote to J. G. Philipps on 16 October 1797, acknowledging receipt of the annuity to be applied to their maintenance, but which was not enough as he had to pay for "half a year's maintenance, schooling, and clothing. . . . I have been endeavouring all I can to send the eldest boy to sea, but have not as yet found an eligible situation though I am in some expectation. . . . I am determined to put them all out as soon as I can, as they are become very headstrong and troublesome". The children were: i. Charles Henry Herbert Harris, privately baptized in London on 4 April 1779, and publicly at Abergwili Church on 4 November 1784, became a schoolmaster near Newport, Mon., married and had issue; in 1812 he pestered his uncle J. G. Philipps for money, threatening to dump his family at Abergwili, and in 1813 was again pleading for money, "I am lost in the world for want of a friend". In February 1813, he writes to R. Davies, Heligenlas, Abergwili, asking him to forward the money due from Mr. Philipps, "otherwise, as I can't maintain my family I will have them removed by pass to Abergwilly, which is no disgrace to me. . . . I will not be trifled with by any man in this mean way". On 5 July 1813 he wrote a similar begging-threatening letter to J. G. Philipps, who answered that he had not withheld any money, that Llanstephan was the parish of settlement, not Abergwili, and enclosed £1 to relieve his immediate distress. Applications continued, and on 20 December 1813, J. G. Philipps, thoroughly exasperated, wrote "I enclose one pound note and once for all tell you that if you send me any more letters I have given orders not to take them from the post office, and if by mistake they should come to hand I shall send them unopened back". He continued to write, and his letters, if never answered, were certainly opened. The last was written by Charles Harris, then at Carmarthen, on 23 March 1815, asking J. G. Philipps, for money due to "my late brother William". After that, silence. ii. William Harris, dead before March 1815. iii. John Robert Harris, baptised at Abergwili on 4 November 1784, joined the Royal Navy; on 10 June 1812 the Navy Office informed Charles Harris, schoolmaster, near Newport, Mon, that his brother was dead. iv. Dorothy Harris, who married and had issue.
- Herbert Martin Philipps, educated at Westminster School, lived in the county town, and in 1787 was a lieutenant in the Carmarthenshire Militia. Of somewhat volatile temperament, he failed to make a success of life and fell heavily in debt. He married one Jane Rowlands of Carmarthen. In July 1790 he was living in Quay Street, and, harassed by creditors, asked his brother for help. He died in February 1792, and was buried under the family pew in Abergwili church, next to his unhappy sister, Mrs. Harris. On 28 February 1792 John Lloyd of Carmarthen wrote to Mrs. Philipps at Cwmgwili saying that Herbert's widow had been left penniless, and could not bury her husband "commonly decent", and he offered to arrange the funeral at a cost of not more than £10. On 2 March he wrote to J. G. Philipps, then in London, that Herbert had been "decently and genteely buried and with as little expense as possible". The widow died in April 1819, aged 54. He left four children: i. Griffith Martin Philipps. ii. Herbert John Philipps (died at Johnstown on 5 November 1847) married on 10 September 1823, Sarah Morey, and had a son Samuel John Philipps (alive 1879) and others. iii. a daughter. iv. Richard Posthumous Philipps, born shortly after his father's death; he became a druggist, but did not remain long in that calling, then kept the Old Iron Foundry at Carmarthen, and lived at Baili Sivi in Llangain; on 10 December 1818 he married Helena eldest daughter of Walter Williams of Penycoed, near St Clears. She died on 26 January 1869 aged 66 and was buried in Braddon churchyard, Isle of Man. Their only child, Jane Clarke Sophia Philipps, born on 8 September 1819, married on 6 October 1842, Lieutenant Henry Wright, R.N., and had four children all of whom were living in 1854. By his will, dated 30 March 1855 and proved on 9 April, Richard Posthumous Philipps left an annuity of 40 guineas to his wife Helena; to his housekeeper Eliza Evans he left the lease of Baili Sivi, furniture, farming stock, etc, while she remained unmarried, but if she married she was to received £50 yearly for life; after Eliza's death the estate was to be devoted to the use of her children, Laura Philipps, Mary Anne Philipps, and any other child born to Eliza during testator's life, equally as tenants in common; and desired to be buried in his vault at Llangain, and that Eliza should be buried there too if she wished. Richard Posthumous Philipps had been very attached to his housekeeper, Eliza Evans who presented him with four pledges of affection, all of whom were styled Philipps, namely (a) Laura, who married on 30 March 1876 the Revd John Morgan Jones, Independent Minister of Llanfynydd, near Wrexham. (b) Brianna. (c) Mary Anne, who died unmarried at Nantyglastwr, Llandefaelog, on 13 September 1872, aged 21. (d) Richard Posthumous Philipps, born at Baili Sivi on 1 March 1855, became a draper's assistant at Peckham Rye, Surrey, where he was living in 1878. Richard Posthumous Philipps the elder, also behaved affectionately towards one Anne Owen of Trevaughan (died 21 March 1879), by whom he had Maria Philipps and Eliza Philipps.
John George Philipps, eldest surviving son of Griffith Philipps by his second wife, was admitted to Westminster School on 15 January 1773, and matriculated at Brazenose College, Oxford, on 16 December 1779, aged 18 years. Like his father he read for the law, and was admitted a member of the Honourable Society of Lincolns Inn on 27 July 1781, the expenses for admission amounting to £11 8 6.
He was only 20 years of age when he succeeded to the estate, and 21 when he acquired a wife. She was Anne daughter of John Ball, J.P. of Aberystwyth and his wife Catherine. John Ball was an entrepreneur concerned with lead-mining at Esker Mwyn, and owned property in Cardiganshire and Montgomeryshire. By his will dated 13 January 1775, proved in London on 10 June 1776, he made bequests to his sons John and Herbert Ball, his daughter Catherine wife of John Jones of Troedyrhiw, Cardiganshire, his daughter Anne Ball, his nephew William Ball (son of testator's brother William), John Edwards of London, and John Nevill, "my son Ralph Ball by my former wife", and "my eldest reputed son Ralph"; and appointed his friend John Lewes of Carmarthen, esquire, and his brother Peter Ball of Barkham, Berkshire, to be trustees. The widow, Mrs. Catherine Ball, went to live at Pimlico, where she made her will in 1789.
Anne was under age when she married John George Philipps, with the consent of trustees, on 10 January 1782. She came of age on 17 October following. It was evidently a love-match, and their affection for each other continued undiminished throughout their lives.
Under her father's will, she was to receive £1500 on marriage or when she came of age, and experienced some difficulty in obtaining the money, because her brother Herbert, also under age, brought an action through a guardian, in the High Court of Chancery against his sisters and the trustees, seeking to invalidate the will. The action failed and on 25 February 1784 the Court decreed the will established. By the post-nuptial settlement, made on 12 November 1788, John George Philipps granted Cwmhowel, Galltwyon, Greyhouse (Tyllwyd), Derwengroes, Bedw bach, Park y gove, Trefynis, Derymisk, Cappel bach, and Baily glas, in the parishes of Abergwili and LIanpumpsaint, Ffynnon y wiber in Newchurch parish, Dolewyrdd in Llanegwad parish, to Richard Jones L1wyd of Pantglas and Vaughan Horton of Lletherllesty, esquires, for the use of grantor with remainder to his eldest son Griffith and his issue, with remainder to his second son John George Philipps and his issue, and empowered the trustees to raise £1500 to be divided among the younger children.
Shortly after he had inherited the Cwmgwili estate, J. G. Philipps took steps to break the entail, so that he could make a resettlement and dispose the property in the way he felt inclined. On 1 and 2 August 1783, J. G. Philipps and Anne his wife gave a lease and release to Richard Howell of Carmarthen, gentleman, and Vaughan Horton of Lletherllesty, esquire, to make a tenant to the precipe for suffering two recoveries of the following properties: the capital messuage of Cwmgwili, messuages and lands called Cwmhowel, Galltwyon, Llainybattis, Parkwggan, Greyhouse, Glantowy, Cwmgwili Mill and the Tucking Mill, Rhiwdowill, Wythfawr, Ffoesymaen, Parkydunstan, Park y Guibtha, Derwen Groes, Bedw bach, Tir Benjamin, Park y gof, Trefynis, Derrymisk, Park y Cwm alias Cwm y park, Danrhiw, Cappel bach, Bailyglas, cottages and a stable at Glangwili, all in the parishes of Abergwili, Llanarthney, Llanpumpsaint, Llanllawddog, and Llanegwad; and also Goytre, Ffynnon y wiber, Parknewydd bach, Park y bannal, Park y Naine wrth y Capel, Ffoes Nine, Llecheigon, Blaenige, Cwmcunnon alias Cwmicen, Ffoes Lline, Wainrydd alias Winerydd, Cilgwyn alias Cefen Cilgwyn, Godre Cwmcastell, Y Vole alias Vole Vach, Penllwyn Goren alias Gelly Gwinnidd, all in the parish of Newchurch; and also Dolewyrdd in the parish of Llanegwad, Ffynnon Dilo alias Tochloyan in the parish of Llandilofawr; Ffoes Giath and Penygloyne in the parish of Llanarthney; Place Parkeu, Tiryberllan alias Tir park y berllan, Tirbannal, Perth Dwy, Nantypair, Cwmduhen, in the parishes of Abernant and Merthyr; and also Manllwyd in the parish of Cynwyl Elfed; a burgage in King Street, Carmarthen, and lands called Henallt in the parish of St. Peter's; and the grantors stipulated that Rhydwalchen, Rhydyrhaw, Pant-claw, Gwaynellane, Pistillgwyon, and Bwlch Tomlyn, in the parishes of Abergwili and Newchurch were to be excepted from the transaction.21
From this we can see that it was a large and fairly compact estate. It still bore the mortgage of £4000, created so long ago as 1737, which during the incumbency of J. G. Philipps was to be assigned several times.
J. G. Philipps was attracted by public life from a young age. He made his debut at the age of 22, in 1783, as Mayor of Carmarthen, a town with which the family had always had close ties. He seems to have suffered from shyness at the start of his political career, and on 24 February 1784, Herbert Lloyd (at that time his friend) wrote advising him to cultivate Lord Dynevor, Mr Johnes (of Hafod) and Mr Albany Wallis "being intimate with those persons, I assure you, will be of great use to you in every respect you will excuse the liberty I take in mentioning this, and am induced to remind you thereof from my knowledge of your shyness in visiting but it is absolutely necessary for you to do so, as you have entered into a Public Life, and to form a good acquaintance [with the] above". He yearned to occupy his father's old parliamentary seat, and already had valuable 'contacts' in London. On 20 February 1783 a friend wrote to him from London: "The present Ministers it is said are all going to quit, and Charles Fox and your old friend Lord North is to succeed".22
In fact this did occur after the combined forces of Fox and North had defeated the Ministry on 17 February, and they became joint secretaries under the Duke of Portland, First Lord of the Treasury, but the new ministry did not last long. J. G. Philipps was a friend of both C. J. Fox and Portland, and rendered many services to them in the political field, but nevertheless retained his independence and was not afraid to express his own views. Thus in 1794 he remained with Fox in opposition when his friend Portland joined the government, and he voted against the policy of war against France.
In 1784 George Philipps of Coedgain, member for the Borough died, and J. G. Philipps was elected in his place. A staunch Whig, possessing even radical opinions, he voted in the Commons for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, an action that aroused the wrath of Samuel Horsley, Bishop of St Davids, a supporter of the Tory standpoint. As a result the Bishop sent a circular in 1785 to those clergymen who had votes in the Borough. Expressing his sentiments in firm terms, he wrote "Mr Philipps has received the thanks of the dissenters for the part he took in a late attempt to overthrow our excellent ecclesiastical constitution. . . . By this it is easy to guess what part he is likely to take in any future attempt for that purpose. I trust I shall not have the mortification to find a single clergyman in my diocese who will be so false to his own character and fame, and to his duty to the established church, as to give his vote to a man who has ventured to discover such principles". Nevertheless the projected repeal had plenty of local supporters, such as William Williams of Carmarthen, who answered Mr Philipps's appeal for his vote in the following words, on 28 August 1789 "I shall hold myself disengaged untill I have a reciprocal promise that the interest of the Protestant dissenters in this kingdom will have your future support and countenance, if a successful candidate, as any further dissension of this first and natural claim to an equality of liberty and privileges as citizens and loyal subjects, more particularly by a repeal of the infamous Test Act that is so disgraceful to our [lacuna] and in a variety of instances a terror to the nonconformist". On the same day another William Williams, of Pentre, wrote to assure him of his vote "at the next general election, as the principles you have adopted and mean to pursue have claims on those who are the friends of liberty. Respecting myself I have no personal view by the desired appeal (?repeal), but the high qualifications of emancipating the body of men possessed of as much capability to be useful members of the state, as others, when they can act consistent with the sacred rights of conscience. The description of men who become adverserious of you for supporting the just rights of men, have little claims to liberality, or the temper of that religion that teaches an universal toleration and an equality of freedom".23
At the same time he received letters of support from a number of friends, among them Thomas Johnes of Hafod, John Vaughan of Crosswood, Arthur Owen, Meyrick Price, John Hills of London, John Vaughan of Golden Grove (Lord Lieutenant) and George Rice member for the County. Even some tenants of Tory landlords pledged their support, like Thomas Jones of Cwmcoch, who wrote to Philipps on 19 October 1789, "I will give you my vote for the town of Carmarthen at the next election, for all I am tenant to Mr Hodgkinson and Lady Stepney".
His opponents were by no means idle, and on 16 November 1788, Herbert Lloyd the attorney urged him to visit the borough for "your presence here is of consequence to secure your seat", and in the following March told him "I hope you will think of canvassing all the burgesses you meet with in the town. You will have an opposition".24
Herbert Lloyd fancied himself as a "fixer", and would change his loyalties when it suited his purposes. "Thus in 1786 he had threatened that he would influence the justices to refuse licences to all those publicans who had voted for Mr Philipps of Cwmgwili.
Sir William Mansel of Iscoed had accepted the Tory invitation to stand against Mr Philipps at the next election, but towards the end of April 1790 withdrew his candidature.25
On 11 June Parliament was dissolved and in the ensuing election Mr Philipps was returned unopposed for the Borough, his success being an occasion for great rejoicings culminating in a public dinner on 31 June.
However, the Tories were determined more than ever to de-throne the local idol. There had been a change in political alignment, for Lord Dynevor withdrew his support from Philipps, and persuaded his brother-in-law, Magens Dorrien Magens, a London banker, to accept nomination both for the Borough and the County. Herbert Lloyd became an active leader of the Tories, with the result that in September 1795 the Dynevor party was able to place its nominees in the offices of mayor and town sheriff, which could be extremely useful during election time.
There is evidence that J. G. Philipps had been complacent and dilatory about canvassing in preparation for a future contest. John Brown, a Carmarthen attorney, wrote to him on 30 November 1795 that he should exert himself at once, and informed him of the activities of the Tories. For instance, the Corporation had agreed that an address should be presented on their behalf by Mr Philipps, as Borough Member, to the King congratulating him on his escape from the recent attempt on his life, but Herbert Lloyd had circumvented this by sending the address to the County Member, Sir James Hamlyn, who was to present it; Lord Dynevor was canvassing actively on Magens' behalf; reports had been circulated that Mr Philipps did not propose to stand again; and Herbert Lloyd had "asserted that he will, against all opposition, prevent you being again returned for this Borough, that he will put in a member of his own". Mr Brown suggested that Mr Philipps should inform John Vaughan of Golden Grove of Lloyd's intemperate threats.26
Another Whig, John Lloyd of Carmarthen, warned him on 20 November about Herbert Lloyd's action in respect of the address, and said that Dynevor had "been for some time privately canvassing", and if Philipps meant to become candidate he should do likewise, and consult Mr Vaughan of Golden Grove as soon as possible.27
On 30 December 1795, his brother-in-law, Herbert Ball, told him of Dynevor's activity, and warned him, "Be cautious how you fold your letters as the Postmaster is no friend of yours".28
He seems to have taken the hint and wrote to Vaughan, who answered on 10 December that "I am your well wisher, and any little influence I may have in that Borough you may depend on being in your favor".29
His friend, John Macbride,30
RN, of Cowes, tried to encourage him, and in a breezy letter dated 27 January 1796, said, "From all I hear you will carry your point, and not ruin your fortune. I am sure if you was to suffer yourself to be swindled out of the Burrough, it would be much more likely to affect your health. Courage, you'l carry it with a high hand, observe appearances has great weight amongst both friends and foes, as you are determined to abide the Tryal put on the best countenance, on with the helmet, draw your sabre and clap spurrs to the 'General'.31
The fact that Dynevor, despite the family connection, had brought a stranger to contest the Carmarthenshire seats rankled with some of his own supporters, as shown by the letter written to J. G. Philipps by David Edwardes Lewes Lloyd from Bath on 27 January 1796 "Tho I do not exactly accord with you in political sentiments, yet believing that you have acted uprightly and independently in conformity with the dictates of your conscience. . . . my vote shall certainly by at your service. I find Lord Dynevor has started his brother-in-law against you, a man perfectly unknown in the country, and consequently without the smallest pretensions for I cannot consider the mere connections with him as give him any; this is really treating the country as if he looked upon the representations of the town and county of Carmarthen (for I believe he aims at both) as part of the hereditary possessions of his family, and had a right to transfer them as he thought proper. I trust and hope however that my countrymen have spirit enough to feel and assert their own independence, and not suffer themselves to be dictated to by any man. With my most sincere wishes for your success".32
Clearly, personalities were becoming an issue, and prejudice against the design of a magnate to dominate the county politically, and against the introduction of a 'stranger', might sometimes prove stronger than traditional political attachment. Mr Philipps' inactivity still worried his friends. John Lloyd urged him on 28 January "to come to town as soon as possible. You will lose most of your Pembrokeshire friends unless you go down soon. . . . they (the Tories) are all activity and we must not be indolent. Foes as well as friends must be asked"; and on the following day David J. Edwardes of Job's Well told him, "The sooner you wait on your friends the more politic".33
His supporters were now more active, as shown by the numerous letters he received from them. On 15 February John Jones of Conwil told his kinsman David Morgans of Cwmdwyfran that he had been canvassing, and he trusts that Mr Philipps's "troops will vigorously and unitedly step forward at ye day of combat, that ye great Tyrant of King Street may he deservedly defeated and checked with derision, which is the ardent wish of Mr Philipps's friends".34
The "Tyrant" was Herbert Lloyd whose actions towards Philipps seems to have boomeranged. On 25 February Thomas Watkins (of the Pennoyre family) promised support, "I am much interested about your success, and I hope triumph, over the silly Peer and that Leviathan of Malevolence his chief Counsellor" [H. Lloyd].35
When Hugh Barlow wrote to William Williams of Ivy Tower near Tenby, asking him to vote for Lord Dynevor's candidate, he received a dusty reply "What they have to do with my concerns in Carmarthenshire I less understand, and least of all that I have any attachment to Lord Dinevor, or any Lords but One . . . my tenant goes for Mr Philipps of Cwmgwilly, to ye entire satisfaction of, Sir, your most humble servant".36
In April he received the support of Sir John Stepney.37
Some supporters still felt he was insufficiently active in preparing for the fray, and on 8 April Richard Jones Llwyd of Pantglas warned him, "Recollect my friend that your success will be remembered for years, your defeat will bear its glory for an equal duration to your disgrace. I lament much to see the exertion of your opponents that so much exceed your own",38
Accordingly Philipps wrote to tell his friends that he had been assured of Stepney's support, adding, "I do not think defeat is probable if we keep a good look-out, but the Borough of Carmarthen may become an appendage to the House of Newton, under the management of a certain attorney".
The election took place on 27 May and was attended with much violence and disorder. The streets of Carmarthen were crowded with rival gangs, windows were boarded up by their owners, pistols were fired, and at least one man was shot. At the end of the poll Magens emerged victorious with 94 votes to Philipps' 89. In the following month Magens contested the County seat against the sitting member, Sir James Hamlyn, and lost only by a small margin.
On 6 June Mr Philipps issued a printed address thanking his supporters and expressing his intention of presenting a Petition to the House of Commons. The address read as follows:39
"To the Independent Burgesses of the County of the Borough of Carmarthen. I should but ill deserve the very distinguished Honour you did me, by giving me your Support at the last Election, and greatly wanting in Gratitude were I not to return you my sincere and unfeigned Thanks for the flattering Manner in which you gave your Suffrages in my Favour. It has impressed my heart with a due sense of the indelible Obligation I am under to merit your Approbation and Esteem by every Means in my Power. Be assured, Gentlemen, that an apparent Triumph, gained by the BASEST ARTIFICES THAT EVER DISGRACED AN ELECTION will be of VERY SHORT DURATION, and that those very high and truly respectable Characters who so HONOURABLY and INDEPENDENTLY supported me will not tamely submit to so daring an Infringement and Violation of their Rights; and I should indeed be unworthy of their Choice were I not to exert myself to the utmost to support their manly and generous Intentions in bringing this UNJUST and UNFAIR RE-TURN before the House of Commons, which I pledge myself to do. The Manner in which this Return was made is already known to you: VOTES on the side of my Opponent were ADMITTED though subject to the very same objections for which Votes tendered in MY FAVOUR were REJECTED. I scarcely think, gentlemen, that there ever was an Instance of a Return made against so considerably a Mapority of Legal Votes where Rights must be established when investigated by a Committee of the House of Commons. I have the Honour to be / And shall for ever remain / With the most profound Respect / GENTLEMEN / Your faithful and obliged Servant / JOHN GEORGE PHILIPPS. Cwmgwilly."
Petitioning against an election return was a costly business, and the defeated candidate and his friends immediately set about collecting subscriptions. Among subscribers was the Pembrokeshire radical, William Williams, who told Mr Philipps, "I will support the petition by money, but it must be a secret". Williams' brother, Alexander Williams of Chichester was also active and on 17 June said he would write to M.P.s of his acquaintance he named thirteen to ask for their support when the Petition was presented.40
Other subscribers were John Nash
, the well-known architect, an old friend of Cwmgwili, who suggested that an agent be employed to raise money in London,41
Mr Vaughan of Golden Grove, Mr Brigstocke of Blaenpant, D. J. Edwardes, and Richard Jones Llwyd. In September Herbert Lloyd, "Leviathan of Malevolence", boasted that the petition would be rejected "in spite of all support",42
an incautious remark which made Philipps's supporters all the more determined to press their case.
On October 7 the Petition was presented to the House and a committee of fifteen members formed to enquire into the business. The crux of the matter involved the conduct of John Rees Stokes of Haverfordwest, attorney-at-law, poll-clerk, and adviser of the sheriffs, who had ruled that an Act of Parliament passed in 1763 governing the right to vote, did not apply to Carmarthen; nevertheless it was applied to Philipps's supporters but not to those of his opponent. The evidence showed that Stokes, the Mayor, and town sheriffs, had shown favour to Magens, while Philipps's only representatives at the poll were his election agent, Richard Jones Llwyd, and the town clerk, Walter Horton (a relative of the Cwmgwili family). On 7 November the Committee decided in favour of Philipps, who thereupon took his seat in Parliament.43
The radical of Ivy Tower, who wrote to congratulate him on 13 November was pleased to observe, "there seems to be a sense of honour still prevelent in St Stephens Chapel".
The election and petition had proved colossally expensive for both parties, particularly for J. G. Philipps. It became known as the "£64,000 election" probably greatly exaggerated but although precise figures are not available, there can be no doubt that the total sum was a formidable one. Both parties raised money through subscriptions, but the candidates themselves had to bear a share of the burden. There is evidence that Whig subscribers were less enthusiastic than the Tories on this occasion, and Philipps' election account had still not been settled in May 1799.
With Mr Philipps snug in Westminster, his local supporters turned their attention to securing a firmer grip on the government of
the borough of Carmarthen. As Richard Jones Llwyd wrote in a letter dated 19 December 1796, "To gain the Common Council is now our great object; and depend on it, the other side will not be wanting in every possible exertion which they can make; firmness and activity is the order of the day". An account of the manoeuvres whereby the Tory element on the Council was finally subdued appears in the second volume of Lloyd's History of Carmarthenshire.
His career in parliament was undistinguished, and it seems that he was losing enthusiasm for political life. On 3 April 1803 his friend John Nash
, the architect, wrote to him that Parliament would probably be dissolved during the following Spring, and refers to "your present intentions of declining not only a contest but even to represent the borough any more", and speaks of "the reason you give, namely being disgusted with politics and tired of Parliament".44
One of the reasons for his attitude was that his health was causing concern and domestic cares were pressing heavily on him, especially the education of his children and settling them in life. Nash mentions these matters in his letter, and suggests that Philipps should come to live in Kensington or Hampstead, and visit Cwmgwili for one month in the year. In London, he says the children would be near good schools, adding, "I have other views in wishing you at Kensington or Hampstead. I think amongst the wealthy merchants in such neighbourhoods, your two beautiful girls may stand better chances of getting husbands". While he was in London, his family continued to live at Cwmgwili, so that he enjoyed little home life. On May 25, John LIoyd wrote asking him to write to his wife at Cwmgwili for "Mrs Philipps is miserable in not hearing from you, and so are the children indeed".45
His friends were anxious that he should continue to represent the Borough, and William Williams of Ivy Tower, wrote on 13 October 1801, "I desire earnestly that you will not desist to represent Carmarthen in the next parliament. For my part, Edwinsford and Cwmgwilly united shall be secure of my best wishes, who will ever remain attached to ye Revolution principles, unfashionable or at least unpolite as they now are . . . . I hope you will adhere to Mr Fox".46
In the event Philipps decided to stand again, and early in 1802 his friends were actively canvassing. On May 4, David J. Edwardes of Job's Well, urged him to come to Carmarthen to render service to the cause "as the Freeholders have not forgot Cwmgwilly".47
They need not have worried, for Philipps was firmly entrenched in the Borough and on 26 July 1802 was returned unopposed.
However, he did not remain in Parliament for long, and towards the end of the following year accepted the stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds. We have seen that it had been his intention to retire from parliamentary politics before this, but whether his ultimate resignation was voluntary is not clear. A letter written to him by George P. Watkins (Recorder of Carmarthen for nineteen years) contains a suggestion that his own supporters felt that the time had come for a change. Writing from Bath on 7 December 1803, Watkins says, "I have been informed that a meeting of the Party is to be held at Carmarthen for the purpose of requiring you to vacate your seat, and to nominate Sir W. Paxton as successor. I know not how to think this is with your concurrence", and goes on to say that he (Watkins) wished to be the successor, and asks for Mr Philipps' support.48
Whatever the reasons, Philipps did resign, and on 27 December, Sir William Paxton of Middleton Hall, an extremely rich Whig, was elected unopposed for the Borough.
J. G. Philipps continued to take an active part in borough and county politics, and remained a staunch Whig until his death. In the Borough he had plenty to do, for the Tories, led by that irrepressible hornet Herbert Lloyd, continued their efforts to recapture control of the government of the borough and eventually the seat. On 6 September 1804 William Morris, the banker, wrote to Philipps, then at Tenby, complaining of the actions of the Reds, "It is extremely unpleasant to see the peace of the town continually disturbed in this manner, and my zeal and warmth on this occasion to oppose the tyrannical views of Herbert, will, I am confident, be a sufficient apology to you for making thus free".49
In 1806, Paxton transferred to the County seat, and Admiral George Campbell (brother of the first Lord Cawdor) was elected for the Borough, receiving the support of Cwmgwili and his friends.
Philipps served as Mayor of the town in 1810-11, and his friend Lord Cawdor sent a buck from Stackpole to be cooked for "the Mayor's Feast" held in the Old Ivy Bush on 17 September 1811. He served the same office in 1816, and in 1812 was High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire. His main concern was to ensure a Whig majority on the Common Council, and to see that Whigs held offices that could influence elections; but he kept in touch with his London political friends, and in 1812 was invited to join The Hampden Club and a society that had been formed to further the cause of parliamentary reform.
In addition to political duties as member of parliament, he had to attend to numerous applications made on behalf of his supporters, friends, and kinsfolk. Many of the applications must have taken up a good deal of the member's time (and sometimes money), and some might have strained his patience. In 1785 William Owen of Glangwili asked him to arrange for the discharge of Harry Lloyd (a reputed son of Mr John Lloyd) from the 39th Regiment; the Revd David Scurlock of Blaencorse wished to obtain the living of Llanedy "which would be very comfortable to us who have a large and increasing family"; R. L. Davids of Carmarthen asked for a post in the customs for a friend; in 1787 he was asked to intercede with the Bishop of St Davids for the preferment of a parson, "quite destitute of friends", who had been a curate for 23 years; the Revd Peter Williams of Carmarthen asked him to obtain a post in the Excise office for a friend. In 1788 Thomas Blome of Castle Piggin, "urged by the most pressing solicitations of that infernal plague, my relation Mr John Blome, and backed by my sister Mrs H. Lloyd, I take the liberty of requesting a favour of you"; about two years since, the said John Blome had been "exchequered for selling a pack of cards with about 2 gallons of Geneva in his possession"; the Board of Excise dropped the case as Blome was very poor, but someone afterwards told the Board that he was affluent and "had very great connections", so that the case was being revived, and Mr Philipps was now asked to see the Commissioners and halt proceedings. In 1788 too, Richard Jones Llwyd wrote, "If you could make Mr John Lloyd a magistrate you would forever rivett him and his brother to your interest, for Jack is not without vanity".
As ever, the filling of dead men's shoes was an enterprise that attracted our forebears, as indeed it does their descendants. Thus on 29 April 1789 Herbert Lloyd wrote to J. G. Philipps, telling him that "your relation" David Williams of Carmarthen cannot live many days, and asking that he will endeavour to appoint one George Rhyddro to the dying man's post of Salt and Land Waiter of the port of Carmarthen. But other eyes were watching and when the ailing David died on 9 May, his brother wrote on the following day to Mr Philipps asking him to help him to obtain his dead brother's post. In 1790, his nephew, George Davies, a naval officer, asked him to "continue your applications for my promotion". In 1793 D. Forrest writes from Portsmouth that he has obtained an appointment for "your kinsman", Mr John Evans, as Clerk to Captain Sotheron of H.M.S. Fairy,
and as the commander was Admiral Macbride (a friend of J. G. Philipps) "it may assist him (i.e. Evans) in procuring a Purser's warrant". In 1796 his brother-in-law, the Revd John Ball, curate of Winfrith, asks him to use his influence with the patron to have him presented to the Carmarthenshire livings of Llanfairarybryn and Llangadock.50
Seventeen years later poor Mr Ball wrote from Swanage, Dorset, desiring him to ask Lord Cawdor to secure "a Lord Chancellor living" for him, as "I have been a curate for upwards of 38 years, I am now unprovided for, and am a person of a fair character".
He did not neglect the claims of his own family, and on 23 March 1790 the Hon George Rice, M.P. reminds him "to thank the Duke of Newcastle for the studentship of Christ Church, which he had promised to secure from Dr Benham for your son".
A few applied for charity. In 1785 Anne Blome a member of the family of Penybanc in Abergwili parish, informed him that through misfortunes and sickness she could not pay the rent, and asked him for his help "as a worthy gentleman, and on my family's account... . Had your worthy father lived to see any of my father's children want he would relieve them, as my poor father served the country at the hazard of his life and lost it....once more, for God's sake, bestow your charity".
Petitions and applications to support or oppose bills in parliament were addressed to him. On 28 April 1785 he received from the Oxford Coffee House, London the following communication "Mr Griffith, Chairman of the Committee of Navigation of the county of Carnarvon, presents his compliments to Mr Philipps, and has the honor to send him a duplicate of a Petition from the Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders, Merchants and Traders of the County of Carnarvon against the proposed Bridge over the streights of Menai, a measure of the most dangerous speculation, and if practicable, it is evidently prejudicial to their interests, and from the advantages of which they are necessarily deprived". In May 1785 Thomas Blome sent him a petition from the principal merchants and other inhabitants of Carmarthen, for the suppression of hawkers and pedlars.
On 22 March 1787, the following letter was sent from the Revd Richard Lloyd, Minister of the Dissenting Congregation in Lammas Street, Carmarthen: "The within address is signed by several of this Congregation and burgesses who are favourable to your interests. They wish not to influence your judgement, nor to attempt it. If you think that the case of the Protestant dissenters deserves to be patronised in the present application, they wish you would give it your support and encouragement in the house. It is all that we request of you". The enclosed address read: "Sir. The inclosed case of the Protestant dissenters will inform you of their intended application to Parliament for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts as far as they relate to them. The liberal spirit which now generally prevails gives us hope that the Application will be attended with success. It will, we believe, be allowed that no class of his Majesty's subjects are more eminent for their attachment to the principles of the Revolution, their loyalty to the illustrious house of Hanover, and their regard to civil and religious Liberty, than Protestant Dissenters. Are they not therefore in common with their fellow-subjects intituled to every claim for civil and military employment? We hope the Application will meet with your approbation and support in the House, which lay an obligation upon us, who are in the name of others our friends in this neighbourhood": [signed] Jeremiah Owen, mayor. John Lewis and Samuel Thomas, sheriffs. Thomas Lewis. William Rees. George Thomas. Nathaniel Thomas. Joseph Clement. Morgan Lewis. Thomas Williams. John Morgans. William John. Thomas Evans. Griffith Morris. J. Ross, printer. T. Llewellyn.51
On 1 March 1792, L. B. Gwyn of Glyn Abbey wrote to him, "It would be of much service to the country if you and Mr Price would get an Act passed to preserve the breed of fish in the river of Towy and the other rivers of this county during the time of their going to and returning from spawning as is practised in Lancashire and many other countys".52
On 9 April 1794, L. B. Gwyn sent him a letter about a Bill before Parliament for imposing a duty upon iron-stone borne "coastways from county to county", and he hoped that Mr Philipps would support it "for the benefit of Carmarthenshire" by making the duty considerable to oblige the iron-masters to erect furnaces where the iron-stone lay, so that each county would receive the benefit of its own productions.53
[To be continued]