Fonds GB 0210 GWYDIR - Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers,

Maurice Wynn of Gwydir's memorandum book,

Identity area

Reference code



Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers,


  • 1515-[c. 1684] / (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

28 vols (2806 items)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

The Wynn family of Gwydir claimed descent from Owain Gwynedd's second marriage, to Christiana daughter of Goronwy ap Owain ap Edwin, lord of Englefield. Maredudd ap Ifan (c. 1460-1525) of Cwm Penanmaen, Dolwyddelan, bought Gwydir from Dafydd ap Hywel Coetmor. Humphrey Wynn ap Maredudd of Cesailgyfarch, his son, was the first of the family to use the name Wynn. John Wynn (c. 1553-1626) was created a baronet in 1611. Sir John was a member of the Council of Wales and the Marches, deputy lieutenant of Caernarfonshire and twice sheriff of the same county. His son Sir Rchard Wynn became treasurer of Queen Henrietta Maria's household. His grandson, Sir Richard Wynne (d. 1674), 4th baronet, was succeeded by his daughter Mary, his sole heiress. The baronetcy passed to a cousin, on whose death it became extinct. In 1678 Mary Wynne married Robert Bertie (1660-1723), 1st duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, and carried the Gwydir estate into that family.

Archival history

These papers remained in the 'old paper-room' at Gwydir until at least 1789, when four letters from the collection were sent to the Gentleman's Magazine for publication. Shortly afterwards, the papers were dispersed, being divided into two main groups, one of which went to Paul Panton (1727-1797) of Plasgwyn, Anglesey, and the other to the Rev. John Williams (1760-1826), lecturer and master of the free school at Llanrwst.
The Panton papers were purchased from Panton's heirs in 1919 by Sir John Herbert Lewis (1858-1933), president of the NLW, and presented by him to the library. These papers are now NLW MSS 9051-69. A few documents remained at Plasgwyn, where they were seen by the compilers of the Calendar of Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers.
The other main group of papers were less fortunate. The Rev. John Williams became rector of Llanbedr-y-cennin and Caerhun, and, in addition to the Gwydir papers, he acquired an extensive collection of papers and manuscripts. These were all rather hurriedly sold by his daughters after his death, being obliged to vacate the rectory of Llanbedr-y-cennin. Part of the collection was sold to the Rev. Howell Holland Edwards of Pennant Erethlyn, Eglwysbach, Denbighshire. The papers passed successively to his brother-in-law, the Rev. John Boulger, and to his nephew, the Rev. Henry Palmer (d. 1871). He took the letters and their large wooden box to his parish of Little Laver, in Essex. On his death his executor gave the contents of the box to the Rev. D. James Davies, vicar of North Benfleet, also in Essex. He presented two letters written by William Morgan, bishop of St Asaph and translator of the Bible into Welsh, to the St Asaph cathedral library, and sent the remainder to his cousin, Sir John Williams, who in January 1909 transferred the collection to NLW along with his library of manuscripts and printed books.
In 1896 Cardiff Public Library acquired a group of 58 Gwydir papers as part of the Welsh manuscripts from the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) of Middle Hill, Worcestershire. It is not known how he acquired these Gwydir papers, but it is quite possible that he bought them at the 1826 sale of Rev. John Williams's library, or from a dealer who bought them then. These papers are held among the Cardiff MSS, and are included in the Calendar of Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers.
A few papers included in the Calendar had become detached from the main groups. When the Rev. Henry Palmer removed the old box of papers to Essex, the Rev. Howell Holland Edwards's books (with at least a few papers inserted) remained at Pennant Erethlyn until the death in 1903 of Miss Margaret Grace Jones of Bryneisteddfod, near Conwy, who had succeeded to Pennant Erethlyn after the death of the Rev. John Boulger. Miss Jones bequeathed her estate to the children of Francis W. Lloyd Edwards of Nanhoron, and the books at Pennant were divided between his surviving son and daughter, Claude Henry Lloyd Edwards of Nanhoron and Mrs Alan Gough [i.e. Mary G. Gough] of Gelliwig, Pwllheli.
Of the 2,891 items in the collection, 2,806 were in NLW in 1926, and 58 in Cardiff Public Library. The remaining papers were then still in private hands, and their present whereabouts is unknown. Most of the papers at NLW are now NLW MSS 407 and 463-70 (Sir John Williams's 1909 donation), and 9051-69 (the Panton Gwydir papers). Those papers at Cardiff Public Library are now among the Cardiff MSS.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated in 1909 and 1919 by Sir John Williams and Sir John Herbert Lewis.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Personal papers and especially papers relating to the public offices of members of the Wynn family of Gwydir, Caernarfonshire. These include letters and orders from the Privy Council and from Thomas Gerard, Ralph Eure, William, earl of Northampton, etc., as Lords President of the Council of Wales and the Marches to Sir John Wynn, 1st baronet, relating to the government of Caernarfonshire and the mustering of soldiers for various wars. The papers from the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary chiefly relate to preparations for wars in Scotland and France, whilst the papers from the reign of Elizabeth I chiefly relate to preparations for wars in Ireland and against Spain. The archive also includes papers relating to the Civil war and to elections in Caernarfonshire. The archive is an important source for local administration in late sixteeenth and seventeenth century Wales and for the relationship between local and central government. Most of the papers relating to the Gwydir estate for this period have not survived.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All records donated to NLW have been retained.


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form. In order to preserve the originals, microfilm copies will be issued to readers.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Calendar of Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers in the National Library of Wales and elsewhere (Aberystwyth: NLW, 1926).

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

The collection has been microfilmed. Copies can be purchased from Adam Mathews Publications.

Related units of description

Further Gwydir estate papers are Gwydir (BRA) Papers and in Panton Deeds and Sir John Williams Deeds and Documents, all at the National Library of Wales. Further deeds and estate papers, 17-20 cent., are Caernarfon Record Office, XD 38. Further 17th cent. papers, including Sir Richard Wynn's accounts as treasurer of Queen Henrietta Maria's household, 1629-1642, are in National Library of Wales, Wynnstay Estate Records. Fifty eight items calendared in Calendar of Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers at the National Library of Wales and elsewhere are in Cardiff Public Library.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Calendar of Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers in the National Library of Wales and elsewhere (Aberystwyth: NLW, 1926).

Notes area


Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

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


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

June 2002.


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Calendar of Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers in the National Library of Wales and elsewhere (Aberystwyth: 1926); Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, 1959); Griffith, John Edward, Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families (Wrexham,1998 reprint).

Archivist's note

Compiled by Stephen Benham.

Accession area