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Crown Servants' papers (1515-1698)

A selection of papers, microfilmed from collections in the National Library of Wales, from the family papers of the Wynns of Gwydir (1515-1690), and also the letters from the Clennenau Papers (1584-1698). Both domestic and official correspondence is included, and topics covered include Catholicism under Mary I, preparations for wars in Scotland, the Civil Wars especially regarding north Wales, the Gunpowder Plot, the outbreak of the Plague and the Great Fire in London.

The Wynns of Gwydir, (1515-1690) were the most powerful family in North Wales. Sir John Wynn (1553-1627), the first baronet, was a landowner, administrator, patron of the arts and businessman. A member of the Council of Marches in Wales, he served as Deputy Lieutenant of Caernarvonshire and was involved in the mustering of soldiers and the administration of local government. Like many prominent local landowners Sir John kept in close touch with Court life and London business by sending his son to Court. Sir Richard Wynn, his son, served successively as assistant to the Lord Chamberlain, Secretary to Prince Charles, Groom of the Bedchamber to King Charles I, and Treasurer of the Household to Queen Henrietta Maria. Richard was thus at the heart of the Royal establishment and in an excellent position to feed his father with information and gossip, enabling him to stay one step ahead of his local rivals. Sir John’s brother Owen and Sir John’s other sons, Maurice and William, also held a variety of positions in local and national government enabling the family to keep a firm grip on power. The correspondence between the various family members and their agents in London and Wales covers a wide range of events of both national and local importance. There are numerous references to and evaluations of such events as: Catholicism under Mary I, and the return of Protestantism under Elizabeth I; the Gunpowder Plot and other intrigues; the Civil War, including the conflicts in Ireland and Scotland; the Restoration and revenge on regicides; and the Great Plague and the Fire of London.

Supplementing and complementing these papers are letters from the Clenennau Papers (1584-1698). The Clenennau estate was one of the most important in Caernarvonshire, and its owners were amongst the county’s elite.  Covering the period 1584-1698, the documents in this collection fall into three distinct groups. The first group of papers relate to Sir William Maurice and cover the period 1584-1622; the second group belongs to his successor at Clenennau, the royalist Sir John Owen, and are dated between 1628-1666; while the final selection originated with Sir Robert Owen and deals with events between 1666-1698. Many of the letters in the Clenennau Collection are written by or to members of the Wynn family, and highlight the acrimony and differences of opinion that existed, especially between Sir John Wynn and Sir William Maurice.  

As well as high politics, these collections contain documents of a more personal and every-day nature, such as household accounts, comments on travelling the country, the publication of a Welsh dictionary, family relationships and business.

Date range: 1515-1698

Significance:  Significant in Wales and the United Kingdom.

Size: 16 microfilm reels

Language: English

Keywords:   Wales, Britain, Scotland, Wynn, family of Gwydir, Great Britain, history, Tudors.

Notes: See also the Thomas Tanner Papers and the Baxter Collection for coverage of slightly later period.