Wardle, Gwyllym Lloyd (DNB00)

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WARDLE, GWYLLYM LLOYD (1762?–1833), soldier and politician, born at Chester about 1762, was the only son of Francis Wardle, J.P., of Hartsheath, near Mold in Flintshire, who married Miss Gwyllym, a descendant of Sir John Gwyllym. He is said to have been at Harrow school, but to have left through ill-health. He was afterwards educated in the school of George Henry Glasse [q. v.] at Greenford, near Ealing, Middlesex, and was admitted pensioner at St. John's College, Cambridge, on 12 Feb. 1780, but did not take a degree. After travelling on the continent, he settled at Hartsheath. About 1792 he married Miss Parry of Carnarvonshire, who brought him considerable estates in that county.

When Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn raised a troop of dragoons, officially called ‘the ancient British Light Dragoons,’ and popularly known as ‘Wynn's Lambs,’ Wardle served in the troop, accompanied it to Ireland, and is said to have fought at Vinegar Hill. At the peace of Amiens the troop was disbanded, and Wardle, who desired in vain to be incorporated with the regular forces, retired with the rank of lieutenant-colonel (Jones, Wrexham, p. 116).

Wardle removed about 1800 to Green Park Place, Bath, and is said by William Farquharson, in a pamphlet on him, to have been concerned in a gin distillery in Jersey. He was resident at Bath when elected as member of parliament for Okehampton in Devonshire in 1807. He was at the head of the poll with 113 votes, and is said to have been returned without the support of the borough's patron. The scandals arising out of the connection of Frederick, duke of York, the commander-in-chief of the army, with Mary Anne Clarke [q. v.] came under his notice, and on 27 Jan. 1809 he brought forward a motion against that prince. The house went into committee on the subject on 1 Feb., and the proceedings lasted until 20 March. Though he failed in convicting the duke of personal corruption, sufficient indiscretions were proved to necessitate his retirement. Up to this date Wardle had been ‘known more as a convivial companion and an ardent sportsman’ than a politician, but he stuck to his case with determination, though he was not skilful in examination and his set speeches were unimpressive (Browne, State Trials, i. 243–94; Le Marchant, Earl Spencer, pp. 92–112; Brougham, Statesmen of George III, ed. 1856, ii. 425–35). He made a long speech in parliament on 19 June 1809 on public economy, and all his resolutions on this subject were agreed to.

This was the crowning point in Wardle's popularity. The freedom of the city of London was voted to him on 6 April 1809 and congratulatory addresses were presented to him by many corporations throughout the kingdom. A medallion, with a striking likeness of him, was published by Bisset of Birmingham, and a mezzotint-portrait painted by A. W. Devis, was engraved by Robert Dunkarton, and published on 24 June 1809. Portraits of him were also engraved by Hopwood—one from a sketch by Rowlandson, the other from a miniature by Armstrong. By the following summer his popularity was gone. An upholsterer, called Francis Wright, brought an action against him on 3 July for furnishing Mrs. Clarke's house, and he was cast in a large sum of money. He thereupon issued a letter to the people of the United Kingdom asserting his freedom from any share in this transaction, and brought, on 11 Dec., an action against the Wrights and Mrs. Clarke for conspiracy. But in this also he failed.

Wardle was not re-elected at the dissolution in 1812—a Westminster politician, named Brooks, is said to have raised a subscription of 4,000l. for him—and withdrew to a farm between Tunbridge and Rochester, taking, as Mrs. Clarke said, ‘to selling milk about Tunbridge’ (Diary on Times of George IV, ii. 406). Afterwards, under pecuniary pressure, he fled to the continent. An address from ‘Colonel Wardle to his countrymen’ arguing for catholic emancipation was circulated in 1828. It was dated ‘Florence, 3 Nov. 1827,’ and referred to the happy conditions of life in catholic Tuscany. He died in that city on 30 Nov. 1833, aged 71. He had seven children by his wife; lines to him, on the death of a child, are in Miss Mitford's ‘Poems’ (1810, pp. 94–6).

[Drakard's edition of Wardle's Life (with print of him, dated 1 Oct. 1809); Reid's Memoirs of Col. Wardle; Gent. Mag. 1809 i. 348, 373, ii. 673, 1810 i. 175, 1834 i. 555; Bridges's Okehampton, 1889, p. 144; Byron's Poems, 1898, i. 391, Letters, 1898, i. 218; Chaloner Smith's Portraits, i. 233–4; Smith's Cobbett, ii. 57–62; Mrs. Clarke's Works, passim; information from Mr. R. F. Scott of St. John's College, Cambridge.]

W. P. C.