Gwyn, Francis (DNB00)

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GWYN, FRANCIS (1648?–1734), politician, son and heir of Edward Gwyn of Llansannor, Glamorganshire, who married Eleanor, youngest daughter of Sir Francis Popham of Littlecott, Wiltshire, was born at Combe Florey in Somersetshire about 1648. He was trained for the profession of the law, but being possessed of ample means soon showed a preference for politics. On a by-election in February 1673 he was returned for Chippenham. After the dissolution in January 1679 he remained outside the house discharging his official duties, but in 1685 was elected for Cardiff. In the Convention parliament of 1689-90 and in its successor from 1690 to 1695 he sat for Christchurch in Hampshire, and on the latter, if not on the first occasion, he was recommended by Henry, earl of Clarendon. He represented Callington, Cornwall, from 1695 to 1698, and was elected for Totnes in 1699 and 1701. From 1701 till 1710 he represented Christchurch, and Totnes again from 1710 to 1715. Gwyn was a tory, and lost his seat on the accession of George I until in March 1717 he was re-elected for Christchurch. At the general election in 1722 he was returned for both Christchurch and Wells, when he chose Wells, and at the dissolution in 1727 he retired from parliamentary life. In return for the sum of 2,500l Sir Robert Southwell vacated for Gwyn the post of clerk of the council, and he was sworn in on 5 Dec. 1679, holding the office until January 1685. Until the death of Charles II he was a groom of the bedchamber, and he was twice under-secretary of state, from February 1681 to January 1683, under his cousin, Edward, earl of Conway, and from Christmas 1688 to Michaelmas 1689. The minutes of the business which he transacted during these periods of office were sold with the effects of Ford Abbey in 1846. When Lord Rochester was lord high treasurer under James II, Gwyn was joint secretary to the treasury with Henry Guy [q. v.], and when Rochester was made lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 1701 Gwyn was his chief secretary, and a privy councillor. He accompanied James on his expedition to the west in November 1688, and his diary of the journey was printed by Mr. C. T. Gatty in the 'Fortnightly Review,' xlvi. 358-64 (1886). When the House of Lords met at the Guildhall, London, in December 1688, he acted as their secretary, and kept a journal of the proceedings, which has not yet been printed. At one time he served as a commissioner of public accounts. From June 1711 to August 1713 he was a commissioner of the board of trade, and he was then secretary at war until 24 Sept. 1714, when he received a letter of dismissal from Lord Townshend. He was recorder of Totnes and steward of Brecknock. He died at Ford Abbey on 2 June 1734, aged 86, being buried in its chapel.

In 1690 Gwyn married his cousin Margaret, third daughter of Edmund Prideaux, by his wife Amy Fraunceis, coheiress of John Fraunceis of Combe Florey, and grand-daughter of Edmund Prideaux, attorney-general of Cornwall. They had four sons and three daughters, besides others who died young, and their issue is duly set out in the pedigree in Hutchins's 'History of Dorset.' By this union Gwyn eventually became owner of the property of that branch of the Prideaux family, including Ford Abbey. This property passed from the family on the death of J. F. Gwyn in 1846, and there was an eight days' sale of the abbey's contents. The sale of the plate, some of which had belonged to Francis Gwyn, occupied almost the whole of the first day. The family portraits, collected by him and his father-in-law, were also sold. In the grand saloon was hung the splendid tapestry said to have been wrought at Arras, and given to Gwyn by Queen Anne, depicting the cartoons of Raphael, for which. Catharine of Russia, through Count Orloff, offered 30,000l., and this was sold to the new proprietor for 2,200l. One room at Ford Abbey is called 'Queen Anne's,' for whom it was fitted up when its owner was secretary at war; and the walls were adorned with tapestry representing a Welsh wedding; the furniture and tapestry were also purchased for preservation with the house. Several letters by Gwyn dated 1686 and 1687, one of which was written when he was setting out with Lord Rochester and James Kendall on a visit to Spa, are printed in the 'Ellis Correspondence ' (ed. by Lord Dover), i. 170-171, 202-3, 253-4, 314-15. In 'Notes and Queries,' 2nd ser. xii. 44 (1861), is inserted a letter from him to Harley, introducing Narcissus Luttrell the diarist, and many other communications to and from him are referred to in the Historical MSS. Commission's reports. The constancy of his friendship with Rochester was so notorious that in the 'Wentworth Papers,' p. 163, occurs the sentence 'Frank Gwin, Lord Rotchester's gwine as they call him.'

[Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs, i. 27, 325, iv. 74, 370, 718, v. 73, vi. 674; Diary of Henry, Earl Clarendon, ed. Singer, ii. 305; Pulman's Book of Axe, pp. 422, 428; M. A [llen]'s Ford Abbey, pp. 66-98; Hutchins's Dorset, ed. 1873, iv. 527-9; Gent. Mag. 1846, pt. ii. 625-6; Oldfield's Parl. History, iv. 427-8, v. 160; Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. App. pp. 736-8, 7th Rep. App. passim.]

W. P. C.